Finishing April with a bang!

This last week of April reading had been fantastic! Seven books – 1 play, 1 inspirational, 1 thriller, 1 kids fiction, 1 fiction, 1 historical fiction, 1 non-fiction/current affairs. I was all over the genres and it worked 🙂

Listed in the order I liked them best with my Instagram thoughts posted.

Leaving Coy's Hill by Katherine A. Sherbrooke
Leaving Coy’s Hill by Katherine A Sherbrooke

Leaving Coy’s Hill is my last book of April and one of my favorites! Lucy Stone isn’t a trailblazer I knew anything about, except to hear her named linked to Susan B Anthony or Elizabeth Stanton. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on this one when it comes out next week (May 4).

Lucy, raised by an abolitionist father, became a skilled orator as she paid her own way through Oberlin in in the mid 1800s. Her skills caught the eye of William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas and she began touring the northeast for their anti-slavery group. Her experiences led her to start fighting for women’s rights as well.

This is a work of fiction, based on real people and facts. I loved every page and have already done some quick reading on Lucy and her family, so it inspired me to want to know more. I was swept up in the time period and what is was like for women at the time. I’m so glad that I read more about the women and men fighting the good fight for blacks and women when it was dangerous to do so. An immensely readable and inspiring novel.

The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey
The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by Oprah Winfrey

This was my morning reading for over a month. Some mornings I only had time to read two pages, sometimes more, but my day was better either way. I always found ideas and thoughts to add to my journal.

After 200 interviews for her Sunday show, Oprah decided to compile a book with quotes or parts of interviews broken into 10 areas, like intention, forgiveness, and fulfillment. Some of the speakers that went into my journaling were Father Richard Rogers, Deepak Chopra, Thomas Moore, Devon Franklin, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Elizabeth Gilbert, Geneen Roth, Glennon Doyle, and many others. You can slide through some random pages I flipped through to take a look.

It’s a beautiful, heartfelt book that’s good for the soul AND would make a great Mother’s Day gift 🌷

Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose
Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose

I saw the 1957 movie, years ago, and was pleasantly surprised that I liked this at least as much. I’d like to see the movie again and do a comparison. The playwright, Rose, wrote the adapted screenplay so it’s probably as true as it can be to the play. My initial thought is that reading it was much easier to digest than the fighting and arguing over each other of the film.

Twelve men walk into a jury room charged with deciding whether a 16 year old boy lives or dies. Initially, only juror 8 (you never learn their names) is the only one who votes not guilty and he’s not even claiming the boy is innocent. Jeers, jokes, and fights ensue. What does it mean to be a juror in the American justice system? Is there justice in the system? Can regular citizens be expected to set aside prejudices and do the right thing (whatever that may be)?

This should be required reading for all and at 74 pages it will only take an hour or two, even less time than it would to watch the movie. A look at prejudice and faith in the ideals of America.

Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder

Before there was Nomadland the Oscar winning movie there was Nomadland:Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder. Older Americans, lost in the shuffle of a changing economy, are forced into making choices they never thought they would be forced to make, including getting rid of their biggest expense, their home. They move about the country in whatever kind of mobile home they could afford, finding jobs by companies that seem intent on taking advantage of them.

These people lived sometimes day to day, finding a place to move their vehicle and having enough food to eat. There is a subculture that Bruder covers well.

My greatest anger was at some of these employers who clearly take advantage of people who have no where else to go. Although Amazon stories have been told there are many others using this mostly older demographic as cheap labor.

While some chose this way of life or learned to embrace the perceived freedom, it was still a sad book. The people were resilient, but we have failed them as a country, vilifying instead of making their lives a little easier.

I both read and listened and much preferred reading. I liked the book but felt it could have been a bit shorter.

Her Stories by Virginia Hamilton
Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales by Virginia Hamilton

I read the last Virginia Hamilton book I have checked out of the library, Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon. If you are reading your children fairy tales, please make sure you add a Hamilton book or two to your list. These are so rich in history, which she does a great job of explaining in a paragraph or two at the end of each chapter, and so different that every child should be to exposed to them. Obviously, when they are of fairy tale age, but also at the time that slavery is introduced in their learning. These stories were passed down from slaves and Virginia makes them easier to read and understand.

Loved this 112 page book of 19 stories as much as I have loved all of her others.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

So, I read this book in my early 20s and fell in love with Jon and his journey to perfection, or Heaven. I’d never read anything like it. Reading it again in my late 40s, having more than doubled the age when I first read it, I’m less enamored with the tale, but still loved its lightness and spiritual exploration. Definitely a fantastical tale worth an hour of your reading time. Your day will be enriched.

Have you read this classic? What did you think of it?

Never Go Back by Lee Child
Never Look Back by Lee Child

This is the book that the second Jack Reacher movie was based on and,no surprise, many changes were made. This is the 18th book in the series and the first one with a hint of Reacher showing positive feelings for a happily ever after or kids. He’s also been recommissioned back into the Army.

This is not the first book to try if you haven’t read the others, too many anomalies from the first 17. But if you’ve read the series it was a fun diversion. I’ve grown to really like Dick Hill’s narration of Reacher and enjoy listening as much as reading these books.

Such Good Reading!

It’s been a fantastic reading and watching week. I loved everything!

3 fiction, 3 Picture books (2 fiction, 1 non-fiction), 1 Non-Fiction, 1 Mystery, 1 Movie

So have you read any of these? What did you think?

Fences (film).png
Fences, 2016 with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. I read the August Wilson play in January and loved it. This was good too, but different. I’ll be writing a post comparing the two next week. Viola Davis won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for this role. Jason and I watched this on our ‘date night’. Not recommended unless you’d like to spend the rest of the evening talking it out while feeling a heavy sense of sadness.
The Push by Ashley Audrain. The Push was our book club choice for the month and it generated some very strong feelings. Personally, disturbing as it was, this was a great book. It’s a complicated story about motherhood, all of the ugly parts no one talks about and the absolute highs when you are exactly the mother you thought you’d be.

Blythe comes from generations of bad mothers. The stories of her mother and grandmother are interspersed throughout the novel. Blythe falls in love, gets married and is nervous to start a family of her own. Motherhood comes and I’ll tell you no more.

This debut novel is well written, perfectly paced, and hard to put down. But it’s not an easy read. It’s difficult at times to take in what’s happening and I think a lot of women could be upset by much of what happens. It’s a love or hate book for most and I’m standing on the love side.
Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner. I read the oldie but goodie, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, originally published in 1994. I was happy to see how well these stories held up. My favorite was Little Red Riding Hood so I’ll leave you a few quotes…

“One day her mother asked her to take a basket of fresh fruit and mineral water to her grandmother’s house-not because this was women’s work, mind you, but because the deed was generous and helped engender feelings of community.”

“He burst into the house and ate Grandma, an entirely valid course of action for a carnivore such as himself. Then, not hampered by rigid, traditionalist notions of what was masculine or feminine, he put on Grandma’s nightclothes and crawled into bed.”

I chuckled through all 13 stories.
Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey. Feels like Falling should be packed in your summer beach bag. It splits time between two very different women who become friends. One is a recent divorcee and one just left her dead end boyfriend. One is living in one of her million dollar houses for the summer and the other is sleeping in her car. While only 6 years apart the two are decades apart in maturity. I liked it, it tackled serious topics but in a light way, hence the beach recommendation. Gray’s obsession with age got old, but it didn’t ruin the book, just made me like Diana more 😁
National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Night Sky. Check out my thoughts form this week here. (Loved it!)
The Black Book by Ian Rankin. Rebus is a great detective, so good he often rubs people the wrong way. He’s just been kicked out of his girlfriend’s house and moves back to his apartment, one that’s full of subletting students, and his brother fresh from prison. One of his partners ends up in a coma after investigating a five year old murder, so Rebus takes the reins.

This was not my favorite of the series, it took me too long to get invested, but if you love police procedurals, especially those set in different locales, this is a great series.
Ramadan Moon by Na’Ima B Robert. A great, and beautifully illustrated, introduction to Ramadan in a sweet fictional story for kids.
Bobbie: The Wonder Dog by Tricia Brown. Bobbie the Wonder Dog: A True Story starts in 1923 Oregon. On a trip to visit family in Indiana the family dog, Bobbie,runs away. The family is sad to have to leave before finding him, but 6 months later Bobbie shows up at their restaurant back in Oregon, having travelled 2800 miles on his own. He became a countrywide sensation. An adventurous and touching story.

Riding To Washington by Gwenyth Swain. Riding to Washington is about a young white girl’s bus journey to the March on Washington with her dad. She was too little to understand everything and yet was able to convey that she understood the importance of the moment. The author’s father and grandfather made the trip in 1963 and she always imagined what it would have been like to go with them.

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.

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.

Weekly Book Wrap Up, the First 9

I have no idea if this will be the way I do this in the future, but I do want to have all the books I read this year listed so we’ll try this. It’s the 9th and I’ve reads 9 books, woo hoo! I’m going to list the book in the order I liked them and include some of my thoughts about them. Let me know what you thought if you read any of these.

3 adult fiction, 3 adult non-fiction, 3 kids books – all non-fiction.

The Falconer

The Falconer by Elaine Clark McCarthy.

The Falconer by Elaine Clark McCarthy is a hidden gem. Published in 1996 at only 134 pages it was a wonderful way to spend a few hours, entrapped in the words of a poet. It was beautiful, odd, tragic.

After I finished the book I told Jason I had to sit with it for a bit before we watched something together (we eventually watched the finale of Bridgerton). Not only was I caught up in the story and the beautiful way it was told, but the ending elevated it and I wasn’t quite ready for it to be over.

India has just found out she has cancer and has maybe six months to live, so you know from the get go that this will likely not end well. It’s a book about living, death, the afterlife, passion and what our life choices look like when we know the end is near.

Will also appeal to anyone interested in falconry.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds Ibram X. Kendi.

 It’s a Remix of the National Book Award-winning ‘Stamped from the Beginning’. Kendi wrote a book about racism, from inception to current day and Reynolds made it easily accessible to teens in about half the number of pages.

Reynolds has a very conversational writing style that makes it all interesting and easy to digest. The complexity of some of the civil rights icons of the past is fascinating. Are you a segregationalist, assimilationist, or an antiracist? Turns out that some of these leaders were more than one at different points in their lives. I learned a lot and also was able to see different points in history in a new way. I think this is a must read starting point for teens.

Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law

Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsberg on Life, Love, Liberty and Law by Jeffery Rosen.

What an inspirational listen. The woman was a force and women everywhere lost one of their biggest champions when she died last fall.

The book was a series of conversations between friends, some of which were in front of audiences. I especially liked the end where there was a real clip from a talk given, so you can hear her voice and the applause she received when she was done speaking. Some of the conversations overlapped or covered some of the same thoughts more than once, but her thoughts on a multitude of court cases, the Supreme Court when she joined and today, and how she viewed the future, left me sad all over again that we lost such a voice for women and all the disenfranchised. We were lucky to have her. Loved this audiobook.

Disappearing Ink: The Insider, the FBI, and the Looting of the Kenyon College Library (Kindle Single)

Disappearing Ink: The Insider, the FBI and the Looting of the Kenyon College Library by Travis McDade.

David Breithaupt was hired as Kenyon College Library’s part-time supervisor after a decade spent in NYC working around books and writers. At Kenyon he managed to walk out the door with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of, sometimes rare and irreplaceable, books. He treated the library like his own personal candy store for a decade. He was finally found out when someone recognized something Breithaupt was trying to sell on eBay and contacted the school.

I enjoyed this story for many reasons but having many parts of it take place so close to where I grew up was my favorite. If you have any interest is learning a little about how college libraries work or true crime then this is a winner.

The Stone Girl

The Stone Girl by Dirk Wittenborn.

This is a monster sized book (480 pages) with a lot and subsequently not much going on. Evie’s childhood in the hills of the Adirondacks was full of angst and self-reliance. She managed to get out, even making a life and family in Paris, but her past became her present when her daughter got sick and she had to go back home.

I liked the story, but it felt really bogged down with the addition of so many characters. I would have liked it a lot better if it had been 100 pages shorter. I actually started this book last summer, put it down because my pleasure reading took a back seat to homeschool. I’m glad I finished it because the second half was better than the first.

The Brothers Kennedy: John, Robert, Edward

The Brothers Kennedy: Jack, Robert, Edward by Kathleen Krull and Amy June Bates

The Brothers Kennedy: John, Robert, Edward by Kathleen Krull and Amy June Bates is 40 pages and a nice introduction to the Kennedy’s for the older picture book set. I’m not sure why Joe isn’t in the title since he gets his own section and is part of the storytelling (this bothers me more than it should). The book isn’t perfect but it does explain each of the four brothers and what they believed in. It really gave me the opportunity to expand on the book with more information as we read. When each brother died it showed the rest mourning, counting down until there was only Teddy (Edward). So, its not your light, upbeat kids book, you could feel the tragedies this family suffered as its 3 oldest sons were killed.

Who Was P. T. Barnum?

Who Was P.T. Barnum? by Kirsten Anderson

Barnum was a prankster and always ready to exchange truth for a great story. He was born with privilege since his grandfather was a important man able to provide Taylor (PT) with his first businesses. And there were many before he finally found his true calling.

This book was fun and full of Barnum’s biggest successes and failures. It was also interesting to learn a little more about his political life in his later years. A good, quickish read for anyone who loved the movie.

You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

It was a cross between Mean Girls and Strangers on a Train. I like psychological thrillers, but this one failed to grab me. Shay was a sympathetic character, mostly, but the reveal at the end didn’t really wow enough for me to love it.

Henry and the Huckeberries: A Visit with Mr. Thoreau at Walden Pond by Sally Sanford and Ilse Plume

he author calls this story reality fiction. It’s based on an actual documented huckleberry party. Thoreau is joined by three children, two of them based on children who wrote about their experiences later and one based on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s son. Thoreau and Emerson helped me fall in love with transcendental writing so I love that these characters and story were based on real people and event.

The story might be a little slow for smaller kids but older elementary kids will get something out of it, especially the nature lovers! And the illustrations were perfect.