April reading is off to a good start

A week into April and I’m having a nice reading month so far. I’ve read 11 books: 4 picture books (all black folklore), 2 kids biographies, 1 thriller, 1 romantic mystery, 1 fiction, 1 poetry, 1 inspirational.

This is my April TBR, I’ve read 8 so far.

Posted in the order I liked them best. These pics are from my Instagram account, so let’s connect there as well! @stacybuckeye

I love the Myron Bolitar series and everyone who loves Myron, most likely, loves his BFF Windsor Horne Lockwood III. With Myron off living his dream, it was time for Win to get his own book.

Win is rich. No, not just rich but like uber elite, you’ll never know anyone this rich, rich. He’s old money (duh, his name) and has a family legacy to protect and questionable morals when it comes to violence and sex. He’s very open about all of this in this first person thriller. Someone’s been murdered with a priceless piece of art stolen from the Lockwoods and also an old suitcase of Win’s at the crime scene. Win steps in, at the behest of an old FBI buddy, to right some wrongs. But what can he find out 20-30 years later?

Win is a different kind of hero and this book was really good. I loved getting to know more about his background and family. And the mysteries were excellent, as always. Another winner by the master.
My book of the day is a beautiful Italian novel so my guys helped me finish the beautiful panoramic Venice puzzle (1000 pieces) we started last week.

A Girl Returned by Donatello Di Pietrantonio (translated by Ann Goldstein) was a fantastic read. I first saw it reviewed by Diane and I’m so glad our library had a copy.😁

A 13 year old has been raised by two loving parents who one day, inexplicably, ‘return’ her to a family she never knew existed. Once a well taken care of only child, she becomes one of six who all sleep in the same room and receive daily abuse from the parents. Told from the girl’s point of view, you can feel her anger, sadness, and confusion.

It’s such an achingly vivid short novel (170 pages) that shouldn’t be missed.
Crumb-Sized: Poems by Marlena Cherrock was a lovely way to start the National Poetry Month. Cherrock shares her experience with skeletal dysplasia, which is why she was called crumb-sized on the playground. She also talks about space and her (our) place in it.

I’m not typically a poetry reader, but I loved this little collection. It was full of hope and pain, you know, life. I read about a life that is different than my own, yet completely recognizable.

I’m positive I’ll be picking this up to read again. I loved the smaller, crumb-sized, size of the book and the way they separated the poems inside, reminding me of a clock and the rings of a tree. It was perfectly done.
Let me tell you about a lady from Ohio, Virginia Hamilton. The young reader’s biography by Rubin came through the library cast offs and I thought I’d take a look. I read the 100+ page book in one sitting and felt true embarrassment that I really hadn’t known anything about this treasure from my state. She won nearly every award in her field and became the most honored author of children’s literature ever. She was a rock star, speaking and accepting awards around the world before her death in 2002.

As soon as I finished the bio I read 3 of the picture books I had checked out. They. Are. Beautiful. The way that Hamilton wrote stories about African American fables and stories that she first heard at her grandpa’s knee was groundbreaking at the time. I adored the stories, the artwork, and most especially the page at the end of each one telling the history of each story.

The People Could Fly was the first tale in her American black folktales book by the same name and was published as a stand-alone picture book after her death.

The Girl Who Spun Gold is a West Indies retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl was another story from Plantation era storytellers and published after her death.
When Birds Could Talk and Bats Could Sing. These stories were first collected by Martha Young who had grown up on plantations where her father kept slaves. After the Civil War they became house servants. Young became Alabama’s most well-known collector of black folktales. Hamilton has taken the tongue-twisting dialect and turned them into a collection of easy-to-read animal stories.

I loved it. Why is the male cardinal red? Why is the bat ugly and why can’t he sing? Why does the swallow look the way she does? Will the buzzard ever get his just desserts? These questions and more are answered! 😆

I love reading Virginia Hamilton’s African American folktales and look forward to more.
Annie Oakley (Phoebe Ann Mosey) was born and raised in Ohio before marrying Frank Butler at 15. The two sharpshooters then began touring the country in their very own show before eventually joining the biggest traveling show at the time, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, in 1885. She traveled the world and became a household name everywhere she went. A far cry from her humble beginnings when at the age of 9 her mother had to send her to the Darke County Infirmary to work for room and board.

She was a woman ahead of her time to be sure. She was the best at what she did (shooting), knew how to sell herself, and loved her life. I loved learning about her later years, especially her 55 libel cases against newspapers who smeared her good name. She won 54 cases, but collected less than the legal fees. She wasn’t interested in the money, only the truth being told. Loved getting to know her better with Gage and Razzi 🙂
Perfectly Matched by Heather Webber (also known as Heather Blake) is the 4th in the Lucy Valentine series. As much as I love Lucy and her psychic abilities AND her first 3 books, this one just had too many psychics running around. There were 5 Boston psychic in this one competing/helping Lucy and the arsons involving Sean’s past made this one a disappointment. I’m hoping the 5th and final one brings everything to a happy conclusion.
In honor of Easter I read this little gift book by Joyce Meyer, The Power of Being Positive: Enjoying God Forever. Each page had a verse from the Bible and thoughts on how it affects your life. It dressed how important it is to fill your mind and heart with positivity because that’s what God wants. That part of the message worked for me, a few of the other things not so much. It was a quick read.

Finishing Up March Reading

Since my last book update I’ve finished 5 books. The first three in a romantic mystery series, one fiction, and one kid non-fiction. Obviously, I’m loving the Lucy Valentine series and expect I’ll finish up the last two soon, while I’ve still got my mom’s Kindle.

Truly, Madly by Heather Webber

So much fun! The Valentine family has been able to read auras for generations. They turned this secret ability into a very successful Boston matchmaking service. Lucy must take the lead, but her secret ability has nothing to do with auras.

There’s a missing toddler and a skeleton buried in a shallow grave in the woods and Lucy can see them both. Enter a sexy firefighter, a meddling grandmother, two best friends, a three legged cat, and new hamster and you’ve got the makings of a fun mystery.

Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber

I read the second book of the Lucy Valentine series sooner rather than later even if it meant reading on a device – which. I HATE. But, even that couldn’t ruin it. Lucy and her merry group of family, friends, and foes were back and I was happy to spend time with them. Oh, and the sexy firefighter/PI was back too. Certainly can’t forget him!

Lucy now has her own division of her family matchmaking company, finding lost lives. She’s also helping the police on cases if she can using her special ability of being able to shake a person’s hand and locate what they’ve lost. One case from each of these, along with a myriad of other personal issues keep this book hopping. Lucy can accomplish a lot in a day!

There was no let down with this second book. The first few chapters were skimmable because they were full of info from the first book, but maybe only to me since I just read the first book two days ago.

I love all of the characters, and there are plenty, and how much each one is integral to her daily life. I don’t think Lucy would have done so well in Covid lockdown. Maybe that’s why it’s extra fun to read about her now.

Absolutely, Positively by Heather Webber

The third of the Lucy Valentine series didn’t disappoint. I love the kind-hearted, special powers to save the world, Lucy. Her family, friends, and various cohorts are always a hoot. This time she’s helping the police find a missing man who may have committed suicide and also trying to find a lost love for a client that puts her in the crosshairs of the FBI. Oh, and there’s a Lone Ranger who comes along every few days to shower the city of Boston with thousands in $20 bills.

The sexy boyfriend has a heart condition that keeps the story grounded, but even that storyline pulls at the heartstrings instead of bringing you down.

Limitless: 24 Remarkable American Women of Vision, Grit, and Guts by Leah Tinari

This came up in a search for another book at the library and I was intrigued enough to check it out. I love the included backstory of how this book project began. Her son was interested in the presidents, so she began researching and drawing their portraits for him. She became frustrated and galvanized after drawing 44 portraits of men. Hence this book.

I loved this book! There’s a quote for each woman and a portrait full of information. There is also a follow up at the end listing all of the women, when they lived, and a powerful moment. This is inspired art and I only wish it had been longer!

The first portrait she did was the one on the cover, Carrie Fisher. Some others included are Yuri Kochiyama, Dian Fossey, Shirley Muldowney, Betsey Johnson, and Abby Wambach. I learned about some new women and spent time on Google finding out more.

Always the Last To Know by Kristan Higgins

I love Kristan Higgins. I’ve read about half of her books and am always entertained with laughs and heart. She has a light touch, wicked sense of humor and great characters. Unfortunately, for the first time, I found it hard to generate any excitement for this one. The only reason I buckled down and finished listening last night was because it was Higgins.

The Frost family is in turmoil. The head of the family has had a stroke, something his wife finds out on the day she plans to divorce him. As he lies in the hospital, she discovers he’s been having an affair. Their oldest, perfect daughter is going through a midlife crisis professionally and personally and their youngest daughter just got down in one knee to propose to her boyfriend of two years. He said no.

I couldn’t have cared less about them, even actively disliking most of them at any given time. I’m hoping this was just a one time thing from this reliable author. And, hey, I’m sure some people loved it 😁. I did love the multi person audio performance.

Reading Great Books

It was a fantastic reading week! 6 kids picture books (4 fiction, 2 non-fiction), 2 kids non-fiction, 1 non-fiction, 1 historical fiction, 1 fiction, 1 mystery,

I loved the Dictionary for a Better World so much I bought a copy for us to keep. We Should All Be Feminists was a great book AND TED Talk. I loved learning about Hedy Lamarr and I loved catching up with series favorite Mrs. Pollifax. I loved reading about a wintery and it’s soap opera like plots. I’ve loved starting our Ohio history unit with Gage. I’m on a reading roll and I like it!

Dictionary For a Better World
I love this book so much! Gage and I have been reading one letter every day, some letters have a few words, some only one. There’s a poem, an explanation of what type of poem it is, a quote, a paragraph about the word written by Charles or Irene, and then an action.

This is the beautiful way we’ve started our learning everyday. We read, we discussed, and used the poems as cursive practice. The book and pages are gorgeous and I’ve already ordered our own copy, since this is a library book. We finished up with Zest and pages of further reading recommendations which I plan on using! This the second collaboration between these authors and I definitely need to get their first book.

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We Should All Be Feminists

This is an adaptation from Adiche’s Nigerian TED talk and it breathed new life into the word feminist. When people who are against something try to make the word or anyone who associated with it a slur it always leads to small minded thinking and division.

Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

This was the definition she grew up with and included. And she’s right, we should all be feminists. Everyone has time to read this one or watch the TED Talk on YouTube.

The Only Woman in the Room

Hedwig Keisler, an Austrian stage actress, caught the eye of a powerful ammunition manufacturer when she was just 19. Marrying him was one way to keep her Jewish family safe since Hitler was starting Jewish eradication in Germany. The marriage was not a good one.

A daring escape led her to Hollywood where she earned a living the only way she knew how and became the legendary Hedy Lamarr. She also invented a frequency-hopping spread spectrum with the help of composer George Antheil. While the Navy didn’t use it for the war, it was used later by the military.

A fascinating woman who has me wanting to know more. Well done!

Eight Hundred Grapes

A fun, quick, soapy read that I devoured in no time. And I drank wine while doing it. 🍇🍷
Georgia shows up at her family’s Sonoma County vineyard in her wedding dress, having abandoned LA in the middle of her dress fitting. In short order she finds out her parents are taking time apart, her brothers are fighting, and her father’s selling the family business. Oh, and she’s not talking to her fiancé who she is marrying in a week. So much drama and I was there for it all.

Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station

This is my 11th Mrs. Pollifax (only 3 left!) and, except for the first one, it’s probably my favorite. Emily Pollifax happened into her top secret life as a CIA spy when she was older, widowed, and with two grown children. She lives her life as a quiet garden enthusiast but sometimes gets a call for a mission that needs her aged wisdom.

In this book she’s taxed with getting into China and ferreting out information from an unsuspecting dissident and then getting that info to her partner in crime who remains a mystery. Then the struggle to get out of China with a person of interest under the watchful eye of the police.

Of course trouble ensues and therein lies the fun. Emily takes no prisoners and gains admirers everywhere she goes. She’s a grandma with a plan, hope, and a twinkle in her eye.

The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby: The Story of Jimmy Winkfield

As someone who knew nothing about horse racing and the role of slavery at its inception, I learned so much (and so did Razzi). The very first Kentucky Derby in 1875 had 14 black jockeys to just one white. This would reverse itself in the early 1900s.

The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby is the story of Jimmy ‘Wink’ Winkfield. The 17th child of sharecroppers in Kentucky he went on to become one of the premier jockeys, narrowly losing what would have been his 3rd Kentucky Derby win in a row in 1903.

Kids will love the illustrations and descriptions of the races and the older folks will love the extra historical information before and after the story. Loved it.

Ohio

Ohio is sometimes called the Mother of Presidents because 7 of them were born here. Neil Armstrong and John Glenn too. The Wright brothers flew their plane at Kitty Hawk but made it here. Doris Day, Clark Gable, Paul Newman, Halle Berry, and Steven Spielberg are all Buckeyes. Gloria Steinem, Toni Morrison, and Thomas Edison all born here too.

We’re the 7th largest state by population, but 34th by total area, so we’re not all flat farmland. The 3 C’s (Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati) have much Midwest goodness to share.

I remember doing an Ohio history unit in the 4th grade and look forward to sharing some home state pride with Gage.

Remember: The Journey to School Integration. The Tortoise or the Hare. Little Cloud and Lady Wind. Peeny Butter Fudge. Please Louise.

Toni Morrison is from Lorain, Ohio so we learned a little bit more about her yesterday and spent some time at the end of our school day reading some of the picture books she’d written with her son Slade. (except for the first, Remember)

Remember: The Journey to School Integration has historical photos and text written by Morrison to tell the story of that time in the south. Swipe through to see a few of the pages. It’s just the right length to share with older elementary kids. The actual photos make it more real for Gage.

Gage’s favorite picture book was a the Tortoise or the Hare, a retelling of the classic fable. My favorite was Please, Louise where she shares the magic of libraries. Morrison’s bio in the back even mentions he high school job as a page in the Lorain Library.

Back on Track with Books

I’d like to do these book posts on Fridays, so no time like the present, even if I did just post an update earlier this week. After 71 days this year I’ve finished 79 books and two bookish movies. If you have any recommendations for good one day books let me know!

Here’s what I read in the second half of this week. 2 Picture books (1 fiction, 1 non-fiction), 1 Kids book (non-fiction, 1 Mystery, and 1 Graphic Memoir.

Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley is on loan from the library. I loved this book! I’ve read a few of her other graphic memoirs, but this may be my favorite so far.

Knisley has always wanted a child. When the time came for her and her husband it didn’t go according to plan. After two miscarriages, infertility visits , and lots of research, her dream was realized. Only that didn’t go as planned either.

This book covers so much! Sex Ed, historical views on the womans’ body, infertility, pregnancy, childbirth, and many of the things you don’t know until you know. Having suffered a miscarriage and pre-eclampsia (although mine was correctly diagnosed and not life-threatening) her experiences spoke to me.

Perfect for any friend even thinking about getting pregnant!
Gage and I read Going Up! Elisha Otis’s Trip To the Top by Monica Kulling and illustrated by David Parkins. It’s a short picture book about how Elisha’s childhood on the farm influenced him and his creation of the safety brake for elevators. No one was interested In his passenger elevator until a demonstration at New York City’s World Fair in 1854 convinced people it could be safe. The first elevator installed in NYC in the 1850’s still works today and the Otis Elevator Company is still around. Quite a legacy!

I also finished up I is for Innocent in Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone series. Kinsey is helping a lawyer friend prep for a civil trial by doing some last minute investigating when she begins to doubt the identity of the murderer. I listened to most of this and found all of the characters hard to track at first, but I really liked the resolution of the plotlines. I’m enjoying reading my way through this mystery series.
 The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee. I actually read this back in January but couldn’t mention it until my time as a @cybilsawards judge was over. We used it for what we’re now calling Reading With Razzi. First, the illustrations are gorgeous. Such a beautiful book. The story is about a young boy who must go to work with his parents at night because the sitter is unavailable. They are night janitors and tell their son fantastic tales of the people who work there. Based on the author’s own childhood this is heartfelt and engaging.
Gage read Daring Amelia by Barbara Lowell to me and Razzi. He doesn’t like to read out loud, but we must to get/keep his reading up to speed. He actually thanked me yesterday when I gave him this as his reading because it was below his level and therefore easy for him. It was a win for me because I actually learned a few new things about Amelia Earhart and he did his reading happily. Every day doesn’t have to be a reading struggle 😁

March 1-9

I’m working on a post about our trip, but want to get the easy part done first. I am sooooo glad to be home working on my computer!

For Women’s History Month my reading goal is to read women I have a history with at least once a day, the one exception being the Mike Fiorito book for the TLC book tour.

I read and watched Murder On the Orient Express this last week. We watched the 2017 film with Kenneth Branaugh as Hercules Peroit and I actually thought it had a chance to be better than the book, which I thought was ok but not great. Unfortunately, although it made changes to make it more exciting onscreen it still failed to wow me.

I read 9 books – 2 mysteries, 1 each of picture books, thriller, memoir, kids fiction, sci-fi, historical romance, and fiction.

The books in the order I liked them best…

I adore Susanna Kearsley and her most recent book is a collaboration with three other women, none of whom I’ve read before. I’m going to ruin the surprise and tell you that I loved this. The Deadly Hours by Susanna Kearsley, CS Harris, Anna Lee Huber, & Christina Trent



There once was a watch made from cursed gold and it ruined the lives of all who touched it. The four women seamlessly tell the tale of the watch, from its inception in 1700s Spain (Kearsley), to 1831 Scotland (Huber), 1870 London (Trent), and finally to 1944 Kent (Harris). The authors use characters from their previous books or series which will make their readers happy, but didn’t confuse me when I wasn’t familiar. It only made me want to read more about them.

I’ve read most of Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax series and continue to do so as I find them. Her memoir came through the library donations – a used copy with a name written in the front cover, covered with protective tape, and two post it notes stuck in the back telling a friend why this was her favorite book. It’s been well loved and has found a new home.

Gilman divorced her husband, raised her two sons alone, and found herself at a crossroads when she sent her last son to college. She took the bold move of buying 10 acres in Nova Scotia and making the harsh landscape her home. She speaks of lobsterman, herbs, growing her own food, living in a small, closed community, the isolation of living alone, and does it all with the words of someone who has thought about her place in the world.

A New Kind of Country took place in the 1970’s and while it’s somewhat dated, the truth of a single woman’s role still rings true. This was perfect reading for Women’s History Month.
We listened to Double Fudge by Judy Blume on the way home from our Tennessee trip. We read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, the first Fudge book, last month and this 5th and last book about Peter and Fudge was perfect family listening. Peter is now in the 7th grade and Fudge is in kindergarten and OBSESSED with money. He has a money song, a new best friend named Rich, and his own Fudge Bucks that he tries to spend around town. He also meets a family member with his name who is just as much trouble as he is.

Judy Blume is so tuned in to the kid mind. I loved her as a child and love reading her books with Gage 40 years later just as much. Even Jason laughed at Fudge’s exploits 😁
Falling From Trees by Mike Fiorito is a fun collection of sci-fi stories about aliens, communication through dreams, colors and images, longevity, climate change consequences and the journey between space and time. I enjoyed my few hours with these interconnected stories. Each one with something new to consider. Dystopian but not in a dreary way. The stories were short, some only a few pages, but the imagery came through.
I listened to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express read by Dan Stevens. Hercules Poirot is always fun for all of his pompousness and the train whodunit was told at just the right pace. It wasn’t my favorite of hers, but I always appreciate her ability to say so much with fewer words than most and the thoughtfulness of the mystery itself. There’s a reason Christie is still the master after all these years.
I managed to finish High Treason At the Grand Hotel: A Fiona Figg Mystery by Kelly Oliver. I read the first in the series in January and liked it. Fiona is working at the London War Office during WWII and has been given the opportunity to continue her spying, something she’s not trained for but has come to love. She heads to Paris and runs into all kinds of old friends and a few new ones who meet unfortunate ends.

I like that Fiona bucks the tradition of the day and her obsession with being in disguise. She seemed to have more confidence in her ability to fool professionals than was warranted this time around. Fiona is a fun character who finds herself in crazy situations.

I love the covers of The Ravenels series by Lisa Kleypas. There is always a gorgeous gown that I would love to try on (in the appropriate size after I’ve lost 20 pounds of course!). Then I’d need a place to wear it. And a suitor/husband that was as rich as Jeff Bezos and as sexy as David Beckham. Oh, and I’d need some kind of heavy duty makeover so that I’d stop men in their tracks. There. I think I’ve summed up the series for you!

Chasing Cassandra begins with Cassandra watching her twin sister marry the richest man she knows. She’s upset because she will be left alone in their family home and then real richest man sees her and wants her. So begins a merry chase between two people who obviously care about each other but find a multitude of ways to stay apart.

I poke fun, but I love this historical romance series! I love that each book has the whole family show up at different points so that we can check in with our favorite couples. If you like this genre I think you’ll like the series. And those beautiful covers can sit on your shelves.
Me For You by Lolly Winston. Rudy woke up one morning to find his beloved wife dead. She had passed unexpectedly in her sleep after a doctor declared her healthy the day before. This book covered his year and a half grieving process that landed him in the hospital psych ward for a bit. His daughter and work crush helped him heal while dealing with their own issues.

I didn’t ever really connect to Rudy like I did to the characters in her first two books, but he grew on me and I was happy to see him get a second chance at love. It had some good insight about depression and grieving.
Gage and I read The Night Gardener by the Fan brothers. The story about neighbors that came together over unexpected overnight creations was a little short on details. It’s the topiary creations that steal the show. This was a quick read that sparked the imagination, especially now during this time of finding ways to bring a community together safely.

TLC Book Tour – Falling From Trees by Mike Fiorito

Falling from Trees by Mike Fiorito.

• Publisher: Loyola College/Apprentice House (February 9, 2021)
• Paperback: 115 pages

“Exploring the possibility of sentient knowledge, FALLING FROM TREES by Mike Fiorito is a unique collection of short stories with sci-fi undertones. Perfectly  pitched and paced, they are a refreshing addition to the short story genre in the tradition of Italo Calvino, Stanislaw Lem, and Philip K. Dick. Fiorito’s stories grab the reader from the very first sentence and never let go. In clear, provocative and often poetic prose, they explore love, consciousness, identity and the human condition—and succeed in elevating the commonplace to the surreal. Fiorito invites us to interrogate our thinking. “These are not cynical tales,” he writes in the book’s preface. “In fact, they celebrate our potential salvation.”

Heartfelt, with longing and humor, Fiorito’s stories are written in short bursts of other-worldly auras as they knowingly vacillate between science fiction, speculative and literary genres. A few of the stories portray quasi-realistic scenes from the lives of couples and families. Others create worlds that are strange and sad, hopeful and poignant, brilliant and mysterious.

In “Climbing Time,” the first story in FALLING FROM TREES, aliens reach out to individuals with Asperger’s, communicating through vivid, wordless dreams. Other stories contemplate the disastrous impact of climate change. The interconnected “Pale Leviathan” and “Tomorrow’s Ghost” depict the ferocity of the sun invading homes cooled with “freezing air units” and the claustrophobia of a world where children are forced to stay indoors. “The Numbers Man,” “A Star in Time,” and other interconnected stories follow the enigmatic alien Smith through believable yet mysterious encounters with humans in a homeless encampment, a National Park, a beach town and a bar.”

I liked this collection of short stories that were science fiction, alternative reality based. I didn’t always feel the connection between the stories, but I did enjoy reading them. There are 21 stories and 115 pages so you can see how short they really are. Some of them I loved and some of the really brief ones left me wanting a few more lines for closure. I loved the author’s poetic way with words and the beautiful worlds he created in his stories. This was a great way to spend an hour or two and I love the cover!

Thanks for having me TLC Book Tours and for a copy of the book!

February Wrap Up

I’m still not home, but I don’t want to get too far behind in recording my thoughts and favorites, however brief this may be.
I read 32 books in February. Picture books 8 (5 non-fiction, 3 fiction), Fiction 4, Plays 3, Thrillers 3, Non-fiction 3, Kids fiction 3, Kids non-fiction 3, Historical romances 2, Memoir 1, Short stories 1, YA 1.

My top 5 books of the month- Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, Kindred by Octavia Butler, Fences by August Wilson, and The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. So much goodness in all of these!

In March for Women’s History Month I’ll be changing the theme to Women I Have History With Month and reading books by some of my favorite women authors.


To finish up my February recaps of authors of color, here are my last seven.

Kindred is one of those books that was about more than it first appeared to be. Dana found herself transported from 1970s California to 1815 Maryland at any time with no control over when or if it will happen. What is a time travel tale becomes a examination on the making of a slave. Don’t miss it.

A Raisin In the Sun is one of those classics that has passed be by until now. I loved this play and look forward to checking out the movie about the Younger family of South Side Chicago.

Toni Morrison never disappoints and I was drawn into the lives of the Money brother and sister as they navigated post war and post abuse life.

A strange and compelling Nigerian thriller. Love this cover!

A fun read with Gage as we learned more about the legend.

I liked this book about civil rights legend Rosa Parks, but wish there had been more. It felt a little incomplete. I adored the illustrations though.

This was a fun read with Gage. Lots of it went over his head (but I laughed) and much of it was too silly for words (and he laughed) so it had a little something for both of us.

So Many Good Books

We have just finished week two of our retreat to a Tennessee lake house with still more than a week to go. We were on the edge of the polar vortex mess that crippled much of the country so our time here hasn’t been what I’d hoped. I also fell on the icy road and my head bounced off the ground 🙁 (I’m fine). But, this is why we chose this place…



Even during all of the snow and freezing temps this was the sunset from our deck a few days ago. We are too isolated for this city girl (seriously, the roads were impassable until today) but this view is one I could get used to taking in for quite a while.

I’m still homeschooling and Jason is still working and we’ve got no complaints. Well, except that I haven’t been able to access my Google account and that means I can’t comment on a lot of your blogs when I visit, but know that I am visiting! I have to do this on our iPad which I’m finding to be a bit of a pain.


The books I’ve finished since my last update in the order I liked them, but there really wasn’t a dud in the lot of them.
3 picture books, 2 kids books, 2 non-fiction, 1 thriller, 1 historical romance, 1 play, 1 novel, 1 short story collection, and 1 young adult.

If you somehow missed this beautifully brutal book about 14 year old Esch and her family in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, do yourself a favor and find a copy. Be warned that there is a gruesome dog fighting scene that will likely disturb most.

Another one that took me too long to read. This is a must read for everyone. Justice isn’t blind and there are angels among us fighting the good fight. Powerful book.

Gage and I read this together and I’d love to be able to take him to see the memorial that a middle school created to honor the victims of the Holocaust. There are videos on YouTube if you’re curious.

My first Beverly Jenkins romance but not my last! Loved the post Civil War Wyoming setting and the wildly independent Spring Lee.

A sad but very powerful picture book about kindness.

Slavery from the mouths of slaves. This award winner compiles compelling first hand accounts from slaves before, during, and after the Civil War and provides context.

A great picture book about the life of playwright August Wilson. For the older elementary crowd. He earned a diploma from a library, need I say more?

I loved this picture book about a minister who started with bringing in a few boys from the cold and ended up starting an orphanage and founding a world renowned band. Inspiring.

These are such great books to read together, especially since Gage is more interested in non-fiction. He’s making me way smarter 😁

I’m not a big short story fan, but I really liked this collection of eight stories about the Haitian American experience.

This was a quiet story of generational family relationships.

After loving Fences so much I thought I’d try another from Wilson’s Century Collection. I’m guessing that I’ll be reading the last eight before the year is out. I wish I’d started with the first and read them in order since they each represent a decade of the 1900s, this one being the 1940s contribution.

This was another entry into the stranded island mystery genre with more than a few shades of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Fun thriller.

Catching Up

It’s already the 10th and I haven’t told you what I’ve been reading. We’ve ‘moved’ to a house on a lake in Tennessee for a bit, so that took some strategic planning since Jason is still working and I’m still homeschooling Gage. I’ve amazed myself that I have, on day 40, been able to keep up with my book a day challenge. The weight loss, not as much success, but I’m not giving up on that. I’m sure I’ll post more details about our getaway at some point, but for now I’ll just talk books 😀

4 picture books, 2 kids books, 2 non-fiction, 1 thriller, 1 Young adult, 1 historical romance, 1 screenplay. Yes, some days I read two because I committed to reading a book by or about a person of color this month, an additional challenge I’m finding rewarding.

In the order I liked them best…

Such a powerful story. I’m looking forward to watching the movie.
I loved this story of fate and star crossed love. Also looking forward to this movie!
So beautiful in every way, words and illustrations. A perfect read for this month.
It was dated, but Gage and I loved it anyway (well until that Dribble tragedy). Fun sharing one of my childhood favorites with him.

I didn’t know anything about the Children’s March in 1965 that led to thousands of kids being jailed, including Audrey who was nine. Powerful and inspiring.
A great memoir by the first black woman editor-in-chief in the Condé Nast magazine family.
I’m a NYC lover so this book made me happy.
A surprising romance set during the Civil War in the South between a black woman and white man.
Lots of buzz about this thriller about gentrification and I liked it.
We listened to these 10 short stories on our road trip and really liked most of them and a few I’m still thinking about. In a good way!
I’m glad I read it, but I can’t say I enjoyed it. It was definitely worth the few hours of reading and the new considerations on race that it inspired.
Arthur Ashe was such an inspirational person, but this picture book was mainly for tennis lovers.

Books of the Week

The idea is that I post this list on Saturdays, but yesterday I spent all day sorting, moving, selling (online), organizing, and then stacking 30 boxes of books for our Friends group. I. was. beat. It was a good workout day though 🙂

Here’s what I read this week in the order that I enjoyed them. Pictures and thoughts taken from my Instagram.

Lots of picture books, 2 audio books, on e-book, and two actual paper books (my favorite). Three mysteries, and 4 non-fiction kids books (one adult too).

Have you read any of these?

Read! Read! Read! by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke

We used this book for poetry reading and cursive practice for the last week. We read a few poems a day, so we were able to stretch the 23 poems out.

I adored the fun poems and the beautiful illustrations. It’s nice when a kid can see the joy and even laughs a poem can bring when the words and pictures were so cleverly put together. This books is for the younger child about the excitement reading can bring. We read the companion, and just as wonderful, Write! Write! Write! last fall.

Highly recommended for early readers.

The Hollow Of Fear by Sherry Thomas (Lady Sherlock #3) and Brian Wildsmith’s Animal Gallery

Jill of Rhapsody in Books sent Gage this gorgeous Brian Wildsmith book. It was so much fun to read together and definitely a keeper because of animal illustrations. Thank you Jill!

I also finished the audio The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas, the third in the Lady Sherlock series. I’ve loved this series from the start and this book brings the wide range of characters together for a very personal investigation as Charlotte dons a Mr. Sherlock disguise to help save Lord Ingram from conviction. So many moving parts from one book to the next that I sometimes have a hard time keeping up, but do enjoy these characters so much.

Betrayal at Ravenwick by Kelly Oliver (Fiona Figg #1)

 I really enjoyed this cozy mystery set in WWI England.

Fiona Figg is still struggling to get over her ex-husband’s betrayal when she is given the unexpected opportunity to become a spy, at least for a short time. The only catch is that she must pretend to be a man. Obvious and not so obvious difficulties ensue. There is a murder and some suspect her, er, him.

The end has a bit of a cliffhanger and I’ve already downloaded the next Fiona Figg book!

We read 3 lovely picture books during our South Carolina studies. I’m starting with the one I think all parents should check out for their child, especially if you’re going to talk about Black History Month in February. The Escape of Robert Smalls: A Daring Voyage Out Of Slavery by Jehan Jones-Radgowski and illustrated by Poppy Kang was a great story. It’s a wordy but thrilling book about Robert’s almost fantastical escape from slavery during the Civil War. How could I never have heard this story before? Amazing man and an edge of your seat escape that will amaze your kids (and you!). He saved himself, his family and his small crew and their families. He went on to become the first black captain of a US military ship and later a US Congressman.

Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis’s Fleet-Of-Foot Girl by Megan Reid, illustrated by Laura Freeman would also fit into Black History Month studies. Althea became the first African American person to win a tennis Grand Slam and then went on to keep winning them during a time when most things were still segregated, even tennis clubs. An easier read than the first and and important story too.

And who doesn’t live an elepephant? Bubbles:An Elephant’s Story by Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle about the Myrtle Beach Safari was so sweet and fun. The pictures of Bubbles and his friends were fun reading, even/especially for the younger set. Gage and I both fell in love with animal ambassador and so will you. The picture are swoon worthy.

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka is a great little read. At only 144 pages it can be read during one sitting and it still manages to pack a punch.

Written in 5 sections, each one from a different point of view (mother, daughter, son, family, father) it tells of the treatment of Japanese Americans from right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the years of internment after. It’s both a little boring and heartbreaking (imagine being a kid being transported across country by train when you had to pull down the blinds as you went through towns). I found the most powerful section when they returned home after 3 years and 5 months. It would be over 4 years before the father was released from a different camp and by then he had gone a little mad.

An important read about a dark time in our nation’s history.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List by Lucy Foley was a Reece’s Book Club selection and the 2020 Goodreads Best Mystery & Thriller winner. It’s set in Ireland, a win for me, and since I listened I was able to enjoy the multitude of accents by the narrators, another win. It’s setting on a remote island only accessible by boat had the feel of having been done before, but it still worked.

The story is told in alternating voices. There’s the bride, the groom, the best man, the bridesmaid, the plus one, and the wedding planner. There are lots of reveals and twists with some going back and forth between past and present and it made a compelling thriller. The tension built the way a good thriller should, but for me, it fell a little bit flat in the end. I still liked it well enough to recommend to mystery lovers, especially those who embrace unlikeable characters.

A Florence Diary by Diana Athill

I had set aside this 65 page travel memoir for a day when I didn’t have a lot of time to spare. I’m happy to report that Diana Athill’s A Florence Diary was a delightful little transport back in time. Italy was our first overseas trip and I still remember our 3 days in Florence almost 12 years later. This book was just as much about Athill’s journey with her cousin from England to Italy as it was their time spent there. Learning about the 1947 boat and train experience and the people they met along the way was half the fun.

This was a charming little read if you want to travel to Florence and see it through the eyes of someone who experienced it over 70 years ago. There were some black and white photos mixed in with her thoughts. A nice little read to end the day.

Yes, this the mug I brought home from Italy and I use it all the time ☕️

Martin Luther King Jr.: Voice for Equality! (Show Me History!)

Show Me History: Martin Luther King Jr. by James Buckley Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.: Voice for Equality by James Buckley Jr. and Youneek Studios is a graphic novel that taught me a few things. It’s for kids and it’s ‘narrated’ by a young Lady Liberty and a young Uncle Sam. I found their narration a little off putting, but probably necessary for the younger set. I liked that they used different color balloons to differentiate between story and actual quotes. There were lots of quotes from his speeches and parts of his letters were included.

I learned a few things or maybe I had just forgotten that he was ‘little Mikey’ at birth until his father changed both of their names. I don’t remember learning that he skipped three grades. I was reading this in the family room and sharing interesting facts and when I got to that point Gage emphatically told me that he wasn’t interested in skipping to 7th grade.

He was a man who rose to meet the challenges of the day and we are all better off, even if we as a country tend to take two steps forward and one step back. “The arm of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

May we always strive to work toward equality. May we always strive for non-violence. May we always strive to put more love into the world so that it overpowers the hate.