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