October is here

It’s over a week into October and here I am. October is a crazy month for us, We have 2 birthdays and an anniversary in within a week and half and this year we decided to add a four state road trip into the mix, lol.

I’ve been trying to read some creepy books for this spooky month.


I woke up to find 50 flowers waiting for me. Happy birthday month to me!

I’m intending to read from these stacks worthy of #ripxiv #ripperils 💀. I’ve got ghosts, magic, horror, and mystery waiting for me this month.

What’s your favorite story with a ghost?

For my first ghostly story I read the kids book The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall and loved it! What a great intro for kids into the the horror stories of the day. It had a little Haunting of Bly Manor feel, only with a 12 year old orphan girl protagonist. There was real danger and scares here.
First flowers and this morning balloons! I’m feeling the birthday love and I still have 9 days to go! 🎉

The Flip by Phillip Michael Cash was full of ghosts, just what this month calls for. A newly married couple flips houses and one of them falls in love with an old Victorian, hoping to make it their permanent home. The other feels the presence of spirits not altogether friendly. The ghosts are dealing with issues of their own and you even get their backstory of their time in the house.

A quick and ghostly October read 👻
This morning a vintage 1971 wine glass and a bottle of Korbel, added to my earlier balloons, and flowers and I’m convinced I should turn 50 every year! Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

And I finished up Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz. An evil wanna be god nicknamed Tick Tock because he tells people when they’re gonna die, wreaks havoc. Fortunately, there’s a hero dog that saves the day more than once. A decent audio for October listening.

The birthday fairy came again and brought 50 chocolates from @malleyschoc 🧚‍♂️ You may notice the pack of 2 chocolate covered pretzels is already empty. 🥨🍫

I read the spooky Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child and loved it for an October read. People in the Catskills are being brutally murdered. First they say it’s a bear, and then a wolf, but some people suspect a more human element.

This is the most recent of the Jeremy Logan series and even though I haven’t read any of the others I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I’m tempted to go back and read a few others this month. Think X-Files or Supernatural.
My birthday fairy brought some sparkly numbers s as d 2 books on turning 50. At breakfast Gage and I read All the Great Things About Turning 50. I’ll be using it as a journal since it’s 104 empty pages 🤣🤣. The other one, 50 Things To Do When You Turn 50, looked a bit more serious. I’ll keep you posted.

I read Gage the 84 page book, Scary Tales: One-Eyed Doll. Spooky and fun, it was a great atmospheric October read. Siblings dig up an old box from the yard of an abandoned house. Inside the locked box they found a doll. The 5 year old girl takes it home and starts to act strangely forcing her brother to ask questions about the house. Loved the layout of the book and the few pictures included. I’m going to track down some more of this series this month.

A few years ago Jason bought me a Keurig and we use the reusable pods because all of this plastic trash everyday would drive me nuts. But I’m not gonna lie, when the birthday fairy brought me an assortment of 50 coffees for the machine I was happy to know that on more difficult mornings I could skip a few steps for my joe. It even came with a fun mug for those mornings 😆

Gage read me Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol: The Sleepwalking Snowman. This is #7 and we haven’t read any of the others, but when the library put up their spooky story display for kids I grabbed randomly. Desmond and his best friend Andres (who happens to be the book’s author) are called upon to solve a case from someone in their school. What the find is a snowball bully and something scary enough to only come to life in a dream.

Loved the humor, the illustrations, and the spookiness of this Halloween thriller for the older elementary school set. We will definitely be picking up more from this series! 120 pages.
The birthday fairy doesn’t seem to be pacing himself. Day 7 of his visits brought me shirts that I will be wearing proudly. Most especially the one touting all original parts, although there are a few I wouldn’t mind trading in for newer models. Still 4 days til the big day.

I listened to another from the Jeremy Logan series by Lincoln Child since I liked the other one I read. It was just as appropriate for October since Dr. Logan is a ghost hunter. This one is about a mysterious scientific think tank and the scientists who are going crazy. Logan discovers a secret room with a machine that seems to summon the supernatural. I like Logan, the atmospheric setting, and the moral quandary presented. This is a fun series!
Have you ever been mentioned in a book? Thank you Ivy Zelman for the nice mention of Jason is your book, Gimme Shelter: Hard Calls + Soft Skills From a Wall Street Trailblazer.

It’s Ivy who brought us to Cleveland in 2000. Her maternity leave allowed us to live in up in midtown Manhattan for 4 months. She always treated Jason and I well, even inviting us to parties at her home and events for her kids. Thanks to her I attended my first and only Bris. Soon after he started, fresh out of college, I remember her gifting him a $200 dinner wherever he wanted to go. Needless to say, we had to do a little looking to find out where we could blow $200 on a dinner for 2 😂. Now I request Johnny’s downtown every birthday!

She has written a book about her ascent to the #1 analyst in her field and the lessons she learned along the way. In a male dominated profession she did things differently, not relying on her name or degree at an Ivy League school. I liked getting a different, more personal perspective from a powerhouse woman. And yes, the best page is 74, the one pictured, for obvious reasons.

Jason worked for Ivy for 4 years and she taught him well.

September wrap up and favorites

I’m barely holding on to my sanity right now, but my book a day success continues (barely).

My September reads with my favorites front ant center.

❤️ Infinite Hope: A Black Artists’ Journey From WWII to Peace by Ashley Bryan

❤️ Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

❤️ The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab

❤️ I Am Beauty: Timeless Skincare and Beauty for Women 40 and Over by Riku Campo

❤️ March trilogy by John Lewis

What was the best thing you read in September?

A few I haven’t talked about yet…

Are you a library book sale lover? We had our first book sale in 2 years. I helped set up Wednesday and Thursday and yesterday I wheeled 7 carts of books outside and spent the day talking to folks and directing them inside to where we had thousands of books waiting for them.

A few fun happenings…
💵 a man paid with a $2 bill. I joked with him about it and he pulled out a second one and gave it to me as a tip. I don’t think I’ve ever held 2 $2 bills at once!

📖a conversation with a retired librarian led to a few fun personal stories about children’s authors Dav Pilkey and Cynthia Rylant when they lived together in the area way back when. Conversations like this made my day.

❤️ it was around 5 and I had been in the sun since 9, but people were still looking at the carts and I started a conversation with one of the last women about the latest Lisa Kleypas book that she had just checked out. This led to a 15 minute conversation about historical romances where she tried to convince me that I had to read the Bridgerton series instead of just watching the Netflix series. She was just as passionate as you were @oursewgoodlife so I’m in 😁

A fun day day, but I’m burnt and exhausted and taking today off 😁. I did manage to read through Seinfeld Companion about the first 61 episodes of my favorite show ever and it was a fun, light diversion between bookish fun.

I didn’t post yesterday but we watched The Tale of Desperaux as a family. Gage loved the book, calls it his favorite, so it was fun to discuss the many, many changes the movie made and possible reasons why. Even with all of the changes he still really liked the movie too.

I always bring home Jack Reacher books when I find them, knowing I’ll get to them all eventually. I didn’t have #20 so I listened instead.

The driving storyline behind this one is horrific on many levels, but it takes awhile to get there so it’s not all dark.

Reacher meets a woman 😱. I know, I know, this is a common occurrence but something different and unexpected happens with this one…and it’s not just that she convinces him to go to the emergency room.

This wasn’t my favorite, but learning a bit more about the workings of the dark web was interesting. Looking forward to following Reacher on his continued journey.
What’s up with all of the honey bears around my book of the day? Gage took The World of Honey taste testing class online at @outschool today. We love Outschool classes and this was the first one that we had to order our supplies, but it was so worth it! These honeys came from a farm here in Ohio, Kline’s Honey Bee Farm (you can order these samplers that come with colorful fliers and information on bees and honey on @etsy ). I made him take the class in the kitchen so I could follow along 😂. All three of us had different favorites, but universally hated buckwheat and fall honey.

Do you have a favorite honey?

I picked up my book at the library sale over the weekend. Long Story Short has (mostly) 3 panel comics for 100 (mostly) classics. The illustrations were great and I loved that there were more recent titles like, A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Graveyard Book by Gaiman alongside the oldies but goodies. It fell short in the humor department for me. Maybe it just wasn’t my taste, but I was underwhelmed.

But, hey, the honey tasting was fun! 🐝
So, do you think masks like this are creepy or beautiful?

I bought this in Venice on our 2008 Italy trip. I love these masks and find them creepy AND beautiful.

This is the last book I found at the library book sale over the weekend and was a relaxing way to spend some time. A glass of wine is a must. Italian Dreams is mainly a book of interesting photographs with quotes about Italy. The pictures are not your typical tourist shots and are mini works of art. I love Italy and this is perfect for my bookshelf.
We read When Sue Found Sue: Sue Hendrickson Discovers Her T. Rex because we’re learning about South Dakota this week. The book is beautifully told and illustrated. Starting with her childhood as a shy girl who didn’t like the same things other kids did and continuing her habit of ‘looking for things’ into adulthood, this book gives hope to all kids everywhere.

Sue found the largest, most complete at 90%, and best preserved T. Rex ever found. And her coworkers named the T. Rex after her in honor of her discovery.

Great for younger or older elementary, especially for girls, any kid who feels different, or those interested in dinosaurs or science. That covers almost everyone right?

Paris in July Wrap Up

This will be a long post, but you can scroll to the end if you want to see my July favorites 🙂

In July I read 31 books and watched 3 movies. 24 were Paris related, 2 were Gage read alongs, 2 were for homeschool, 1 devotional, and 1 for a book tour.

Here’s a link to my Paris in July posts 1 2 3 4 5 6 I’m so thankful to Tamara at Thyme for Tea for hosting such a fun event!

Here’s a rundown of what I’ve read this last week…

Sunday was ‘work’ reading. I’ve set aside this week for homeschool prep and this book was a great reminder of what I like most about homeschooling. I thought our first year went well, but I was determined to find a full curriculum this year to make it easier on me. It was nice to remind myself that I am pretty good at making learning fun, if only I keep the expectations at bay. Trying to homeschool like regular school is where many of our struggles came from last year and committing to someone else’s curriculum takes away the flexibility I love so much.

The Call of the Wild + Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child’s Education by Ainsley Arment is a great book if you’re thinking about homeschooling or if you’re already homeschooling but need a little encouragement.

Not to let a July day go by without a little French love, I drank several glasses of Cotes du Rhone while I read the book. And I’ve included a few pics of the beautiful city of Lyon.
My most vivid image of Joan of Arc is from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, so obviously, starting at this level 4, 48 page book is where I needed to be. Now I feel liked I have some context relating to the saints Joan the Maid (as she called herself) heard. I’m still not exactly sure what to make of her. Mad skills, mad followers or just plain mad? A tragedy any way you look at it.

Any Joan fans out there? What do you like about her story?

Since were nearing the end of Paris in July I threw in a few photos from Lyon, which is obviously not Paris, but certainly closer than where I am now!

I thought I was going to love this book, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. A dark story about a serial killer with the best nose in the world, what’s not to love? Well, quite a bit actually.

In 19th century Paris, Grenouille was born in a fish market to a mother who immediately threw him in the trash just like she had all the ones before him. He survived (his mother did not) but barely, managing an okay existence until his ability to identify any smell landed him as an apprentice to a perfumer. And then his obsession and killing began.

I was amused by the first chapter or two but really struggled to finish this one. I got lost in the writing and that may have been due to the the translation from German, but maybe not since the story also bored me. Even a random city-wide public orgy couldn’t save it 🤷🏻‍♀️
Let’s start with our pics from Montmartre. 11 years later and I still remember our afternoon spent there because I tasted my first crepe with Nutella and banana and it was glorious.

I read Sarah’s Key. It’s been around awhile but I’ve never had a desire to read it even with all of the positive reviews of it. Dual storylines, one in 1942 an one in the early 2000s, both in France. A heartbreaking time in history as the French police rounded up Jewish families. It took me a little while to warm to the current storyline, but I did. I really liked this one.

Sammi and I both have the same feeling about this one The Grand Odalisque. A stylish, sexy graphic novel about two and then three women who steal paintings from Paris museums. I’m sure this has a wide fan base, but not so much here. I do like the occasional graphic novel, I’ve read two manga already this month, but prefer more substance. I did like the look of the oversized hardcover though which is half the battle in a picture book for adults 😄
Two fantastic picture books today! I recommend them both. Let’s start with the newest one.

Begin with a Bee is a beautifully illustrated book with a full circle story sure to please and educate kids. It’s about the rusty-patched bumblebee, native to the United States (honestly I never really knew the significance of this) and the first bee species put on the Endangered Species list in 2017. The story of a year in the life of a queen bee followed by 2 pages of facts and what you can do to help convinced me that I need to purchase this one after I return this to the library.

A Map to the World is a timely one if you are watching the Olympics with your kids. The family is part of the Hmong community in Minnesota. No it’s not about gymnast Sunni Lee, but I was struck by the coincidence. This is fiction, but based on the author’s own experience. It was touching and sweet. I do wish that there’d been some additional information about the Hmong people at the end of the book.

And drumroll please…

We finished our 1000 piece Paris Night & Day puzzle and had a fun time with it. I’ve also included my five favorite reads of the month, two being non-fiction!

Notre-Dame: The Soul of France by Agnes Poirier

My Life in France by Julia Child

The Little French Bistro by Nina George

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Paris then and now


I loved this book! Notre-Dame: The Soul of France was written after the devastating 2019 fire that left the church crumbling, but still standing. It starts with the shock of the fire told by those that were there and those tasked with taking care of the cathedral. It was riveting.
The bulk of the slim book covers Notre- Dame from its first stone in 1163 to the new bells of 2013. It covers each era of the cathedral and the politics, uprisings, and Paris events of the day. It’s a bite-sized history of France told through the lens of Notre-Dame.

The last section is about what’s happening now in the aftermath of the fire. The summation pages were some of my favorites.

“For she is not just any people’s palace. Notre-Dame is the beating heart of Paris. For more than 850 years, the echo of France’s glory and misery, of France’s victories and disasters, has resounded under those vaults. For more than 850 years, the French people have rolled for their deaths, sounded the tocsin and chimed their joy with the bells and bourbons of her towers. Atheists and believers can find the same memories, for they are France’s memories.”

It’s current events and history in one book and I highly recommend it.

I included a few pics from our 2010 trip. I shed some tears as I watched it burning on tv.

Have you been to Notre-Dame?
To continue my Paris travels I read the first of the Hugo Marston series, The Bookseller. Hugo, an American in charge of security at the US embassy in Paris, is on vacation. He goes to his favorite bookseller by the Seine and witnesses him being roughed up and kidnapped. No one will back up his story so he’s on his own and been told to lay off. Oh, and his trip back the States to see his wife? She tells him not to bother.

I liked getting to know more about the book trade in Paris, it’s serious business! I liked the day to day description of Paris and the diplomacy needed when working at the embassy. This is a nice start to an ongoing series (there are 10 so far). Off to see if my library has the second one.
A Dream of Flight: Alberto Santos-Dumont’s Race Around the Eiffel Tower is a great picture book about something I knew nothing about. At the turn of the century Henri Deutsch offered a prize of 100,000 francs to the first person who could pilot an airship from the Aero Club around the Eiffel Tower and back within 30 minutes. Santos-Dumont had been working on his hot air balloon with a motor inspired airship for a while, even crashing a few already, when he finally managed the feat. A nice piece of history and good illustrations.

Visit more posts from Paris in July at Thyme for Tea.

Paris in July Books, Memories, and a Puzzle!

Happy Fourth of July my American friends! We went to our local fireworks show on Friday night and are going to grill and spend the night in our tent tonight in our backyard! I imagine we’ll be up until very late hearing fireworks go off 🙂 I read one non-Paris book Homeschool Hacks by Linsey Knerl and thought it was well done for the beginning homeschool family.

I’ve been enjoying my memories of Paris and reading books set there this week. Here’s a recap (follow me on IG for everyday thoughts).

Still taking recommendations for anything French this month and make sure you visit Thyme For Tea to see what other bloggers are choosing to write about this month!

When we visited France in 2010 we went to visit friends who had moved to Lyon two years earlier. We stayed with them for 5 days and then went to Paris for 5 days. We had our days for Paris roughly planned (our friends met us up there for a few days too), but asked for recommendations because our train was going to get us there earlier than we thought. Our friends knew us well and we ended up in one of the coolest places, Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

It’s a 110 acre garden cemetery that opened in 1804. We didn’t have nearly enough time to spend there but appreciated our time, even managing to find a few famous people by just following the crowds. You can see our photos of the burial sites of Jim Morrison and Collette. Now I always recommend it for Paris traveling friends.

This ties into Anna in the French Kiss because these students who were attending the American School in Paris went there. Anna from Atlanta was sent to the boarding school for her senior year because her famous novelist dad (who very much brought Nicholas Sparks to mind) wanted her to have the best.

Anna finds friends, French cinema, and love for the city while also falling in love herself. I listened to this one and loved the narration by Kim Mai Guest. This was a fun, light teen novel., even if I did get frustrated with the girl!


Eiffel Tower

Sitting outside with my coffee thinking of Paris. The photo is from our trip 11 years ago.

I don’t know about you, but I get too many magazines. They get thrown in a box and I read them when I have time. Yesterday we had a pool date at a friend’s house and I grabbed 4 magazines to take. This was the one on the bottom. It’s from June 2020 😂. It was fated that I just now find it.

I read Paris Nocturne by Patrick Modiano and translated by Phoebe Weston-Evans. This was a confusing and strange little book, only 148 pages. A teenage boy is hit by a car in the streets of Paris and is injured badly enough to be in the hospital for a bit. When he’s sent home, a man from the accident makes him sign a paper and hands him a wad of money.

The narrator, some 40 years later, tells what happens next, but he also throws in scenes, thoughts, and dreams from his childhood and just before the accident. I’m ambivalent about this one, but was happy to read a book by a Nobel laureate.


Started a 1500 piece puzzle with the most important part!

That’s me with the Seine and the Eiffel Tower (you may need glasses to see it) behind me.

Paris in July begins

I like months where I try to refine my reading list, so I was happy to be reminded of Thyme for Tea’s Paris in July. I looked through my to-be-read stacks, placed a bunch of books on hold at the library (some I’m still waiting for), bought a few Paris puzzles, and bought some French wine. I’m all in! I’ll be including pictures of our Paris trip 11 years ago, some postcards I’ve received and who knows what else I’ll find around here!

In my head this was going to look like the Eiffel Tower. Clearly, it needs some refinement, but that can’t be helped now 🙂

My current stack of possible reading .

My first choice was the one in the middle, To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin. Beginning in 1887 as the Eiffel Tower was being erected, it’s a love story. Although fiction, one main character is loosely based on a real person Emile Nouguier, one of the engineers working on the tower. Cait, a widow from Scotland, is in the city as a companion to a wealthy (and annoying) brother and sister. Emile would be a great catch for the sister, but it’s Emile and Cait who share sparks. The two were from very different social classes and at the time that made it impossible to see a future together. I liked the description of the city and the building of the tower, both of which were as much a part of the story as anything else. I can’t say I loved the book, but did at least love the last chapter set a few years into the future, as it gave the hope and light that the rest of the book was missing.

If you have a book or movie to recommend for this month, let me know 🙂

April Wrap Up & May Intentions

I read 39 books in April, the most of them picture books, 8 fiction and 5 non-fiction. With 3 more kids non-fiction, that means my total ‘adult’ reading was 23 books with my top three genres being mystery/thriller and fiction with 5 each, and non-fiction with 4. The rest of the categories were inspirational, plays, historical fiction, and poetry. I also watched 1 bookish movie, Fences (I read the play in January).

In my quest to finish a book a day this year, by the end of April I’d finished 140 books and 3 bookish movies in 120 days. Obviously, I’m thrilled that this has been doable. It felt like such a huge goal at the beginning of the year and at this point it feels like a way of life 🙂 Picture books have been such a fun surprise for me. The more we read for homeschool the more I fall in love with them. Go check out a stack of kids books from your library and (I recommend putting everything by Virginia Hamilton on hold that they have) and spend a day being a kid again. I read 5 of her black folktale picture books this month and they were entertaining and educational.

My 5 Favorites in April

Win by Harlan Coben
Because I pretty much love everything he writes. This was the first in a series about Win, who we know from the Myron Bolitar series. It’s a fast, witty read that was hard to put down. More here.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
This was our book club pick this month and I loved it. So many triggers to turn people away, but if you love dark and twisty and are willing to feel uncomfortable this is a great debut thriller about motherhood. More here.
Leaving Coy's Hill by Katherine A. Sherbrooke
I loved this historical fiction about Lucy Stone the 1800’s fighter for African-American and women’s rights. A great look at the trailblazers of the time told with heart. More here.
What Unites Us by Dan Rather
A series of essays about America and the values its citizens share. An uplifting book for divided times. More here.
The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey
I used this book of quotes from Oprah’s interviews for my morning reading for the month and always felt a little more centered and ready to tackle the day. Would make a great gift 🙂 More here.

At the beginning of every month I compile a stack of books for the month. I don’t always stick to it (in April I read 20 of the 30 – not bad), but I feel better with a smaller stack to choose from on a daily basis. It also makes me add some healthy reading, not just all fluff. This month I put them on my new office rug. I got it from Etsy and it makes me happy 🙂

Thursday’s Bookish Thoughts – Tana for the win!

Thursday I have more time to post so here I am! We’ll see if the day sticks. Since last update I’ve read 5 books and watched one bookish movie. I’m at 84 books and 3 bookish movies for the year. Honestly, not the best reading week so far. I’d only recommend the first two!

The images and thoughts (added to or sliced up) are from my daily Instagram (follow me there @stacybuckeye)

Faithful Place. Mystery, 400 pages.

This was the third book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, but I’d only read the first and didn’t feel like I missed anything, even though the main character, Frank, first appeared in #2. The complex characters, historic Dublin setting, and slow build mystery, all made this a page-turner.

Frank, an undercover cop from a neighborhood who viewed him as a turncoat because of it, had never come to grips with the disappearance of his first love. He viewed his family as poison and went on to marry and have a daughter and kept them as far away from the madness as possible. But when his first love’s old suitcase is found, he must head back home and face the music.

So, so good. I loved Frank for all his flaws and getting to understand him in relation to where he grew up, which felt like a character of its own. The resolution was both real and heartbreaking. I love gritty thrillers like this. Highly recommend!

The Call of the Wild, 2020 film starring Harrison Ford

Chipotle and movie night, the one night a month Gage gets to stay up as late as he wants watching movies with us.

My one request was The Call of the Wild with Harrison Ford so that it would count for my bookish movie of the day. I haven’t read the Jack London classic in a few years, but I still consider it a favorite. The computer generated Buck gave him (and the other dogs) a more human feel, which is opposite of Buck’s story, but I see why they did it 🤷🏻‍♀️ I really liked the movie and had no problem falling in love with the fake Buck, maybe because I already knew his journey. I may have also been the only one who shed tears at the end, even though I knew what was coming!

Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champion. Picture book biography, 40 pages.

Known for his boxing skills, his colorful personality, his conversion to Islam and his new name, his objection to being drafted that ended his career for a time, his activism for civil rights and the Rumble in the Jungle, this book did an excellent job of including it all. This book was written before his death, but it does include his thoughts on having Parkinson’s disease.

Gage had never heard of Muhammad Ali 😮 so this was fun for him. He wanted to know more about the Sportsman of the Century. It was also fun reading some of his more famous quotes as poetry.

Hamnet. Fiction, 308 pages.

Our book club pick this month was Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. There were nine of us Zooming last night and I was in the minority on this one. It’s ultimately the story of of Anne ‘Agnes’ Hathaway from the time she met and married William Shakespeare through her grief of losing their son.

Little is known of Shakespeare’s life, but he did marry a woman older than him and they did have three children. We know that the son Hamnet died when he was 11. Shakespeare wrote the play Hamlet four years later.

This is a quiet, thoughtful book about the time (late 1500s) and of grief. While I did like parts of it, shedding tears when Agnes prepared her son for burial and appreciating the concluding last scene, I didn’t really care for the book. Much of it felt like a slog. But 6 of the 9 loved it and it’s gotten rave reviews everywhere.

The Pinballs. Kids fiction, 144 pages.

The Pinballs by Betsy Byars was first published in 1977 and it shows, especially in the first third of the book. Three kids show up at the Mason home as first time foster kids. Carlie, the TV obsessed tough girl, Harvey, the boy with two broken legs thanks to his father, and Thomas J, raised by 82 year twins after he was abandoned by his parents.

Gage was curious about foster homes and this helped explain how some kids ended up in the system. The kids are sad, but the Masons were loving and patient. I loved how the kids came to support each other.

Go To Sleep (I Miss You): Cartoons From the Fog of New Parenthood. 178 pages

Unfortunately, this one was a little bit of a letdown after my love for Knisley’s graphic memoir about pregnancy. This is different because it’s a collection of comics from her first year of having a baby. It actually felt like the first year of motherhood with its random, but honestly funny, observations. It was short and didn’t take long to read, but I missed the story aspect of her other books.

Books of the week – January review

I’m technically a month into my #booked365 challenge. I read a day ahead of when I post on IG for a few reasons, the main one being timing. Having done these book a day challenges for a few years, too often I’m finishing up a book at 11 or even closer to midnight for the day which doesn’t leave time to really post about it. Now, I read a book and take a fun picture so that when I have a few minutes the next morning I have time to post my thoughts before moving on to my next book. So far this has worked swimmingly. Have I read my book for January 31? I have and for the purpose of summing up the month I’ll include it here, even though I won’t review it until tomorrow. I’m sure none of you care, but it makes me clear on what I’m doing in case I forget later, lol.

January reads (minus 4 audio books, 1 book I loaned my mom, and 1 movie).

I felt quite accomplished adding finished books to this pile! My favorites for the month would be my top 2 this week (look below!) and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi, The Falconer by Elaine Clark McCarthy, and Good Citizens by Thich Nhat Hanh

I read 8 picture books (7 non-fiction, 1 poetry), 7 mystery/thrillers, 6 non-fiction, 4 fiction, 4 kids books (3 non-fiction, 1 fiction), 2 historical fiction, 1 humor book.

I started with a pile of ‘intended’ books for the month and read 10 of 13, not so bad!

For February, Black History Month, I’ll be reading a book by a person of color everyday. If you have a book I should definitely read, let me know!

Books read this week and my thoughts, listed in the order I liked them best…

Strange Planet by Nathan W Pyle was just what I needed. I laughed out loud at the antics of these alien creatures and their take on how we humans exist in the world. It won the 2020 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Humor.

Insightful, funny, and sweet – this is a keeper, which means I’ll have to buy my own copy since I checked this out of the library. Can you guess what he’s describing here? Plant liquid partially digested by insects and then stolen? Seriousness cloth? Personal star dimmers? Either way, make sure you give this one your time.

Razzi likes to cuddle when I’m reading so that’s how he ended up here just after I finished Girls Like Us by Christina Alger. I loved this mystery/police procedural/psychological thriller! It’s slow, but worth the dive into the head of FBI agent Nell Flynn and the atmospheric Suffolk County area. It was a dark book and I loved it. Perfect for the cold, snowy days of winter.

Nell returned to Long Island to bury her father, her only family left since her mother was murdered when she was 7. He had been a drunk homicide detective and their relationship had been strained her whole life. What she finds is suspicion. Nell could feel something was off and when a childhood friend asks for help she finds herself looking at Pandora’s box.

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler is a quick, under 200 page satisfying little story. Micah, a bachelor in his 40’s, has a girlfriend he likes and a job that he’s good at and allows him to be his own boss. He’s known to his loyal and loving family as ‘finicky’ and that’s just the way he likes it. But one day a boy shows up at his place claiming that Micah is his dad.

As with most things Anne Tyler this was quirky and worth the read.

My view last night as I met with the book club ladies (@bonniesjourney ) to discuss The Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood. This historical fiction novel is based on the life of Emily Roebling, the woman who helped design and complete the Brooklyn Bridge during a time when it really wasn’t allowed. In the second half of the 19th century the country, including her brother and husband-to-be, was fighting a Civil War. After the war Emily married Washington Roebling who was building bridges with his father with their sights set on a monumental bridge in New York.

I loved so much of this book but had real issues with a few points. I liked having the beginning take place during the Civil War, the details of how the bridge actually got built, and the suffragette movement of the time. These were all well done. Emily herself was a complicated woman, especially for the time, and I respected her strength. I’m very interested in learning more about her and her very prominent role in a man’s world.

Historical fiction is always tricky because of the fiction part. Sometimes I’ll get to the end of a book and feel as though I’d been hoodwinked. In this story Emily begins an affair of sorts with PT Barnum. He’s a crucial player in much of this book. Only there is zero evidence that Emily either had an affair or knew PT. It was too much of a stretch for me, but most of my other book clubbers weren’t as bothered by it.

What do you do when you have 30 minutes in the sauna? Why read about Robert Frost, of course! Papa is a Poet by Natalie S Bober and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon is a nice introduction to the poet. The story is told from the perspective of his daughter, Lesley, and the thoughts and memories are taken directly from the diary she kept as a child.

The story’s focus is their farm in New Hampshire (surprise, surprise, our state this week) where Frost is a farmer and an unpaid poet. It contains lines from some of his poems throughout. After the story there’s more information and real photos as well as quotations and 12 of his poems. It’s a nice introductory picture book. I had to use a different book for a more complete summary of his life, but this was my favorite of the two. 40 pages.

I wish I had a photo of our August homeschooling bookshelf, because it looked quite different than this January homeschooling mess 😆. The materials I’m using for the week are always on our table ready to go, so this is where I come to get what I need for the week and to file papers (ha!). Why am I showing this embarrassing picture? I picked up today’s book thinking I was going to read it for Gage only to realize I might be the one to benefit the most 😬

How ADHD Affects Home Organization: Understanding the Role of the 8 Key Executive Functions of the Mind by Lisa K Woodruff starts with best of intentions and has some good ideas, but, ultimately, it felt incomplete. Woodruff does a good job of summarizing 8 executive functions by how she understands them through clients in her home organization business. She offers a few tips on how to train yourself to get past these issues, but her suggestions always seem to rely on going to her podcasts (she lists several specific episodes at the end of each chapter) or Facebook group. Just jump straight to her podcasts and save yourself some time.

Betrayal at Ravenswick by Kelly Oliver

Betrayal at Ravenswick (Fiona Figg Series #1)
Betrayal at Ravenswick. Finished 1-19-21, mystery, 4.25/5 stars, pub. 2020

Fiona Figg #1

Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie…

What’s the best way to purge an unfaithful husband?
Become a spy for British Intelligence, of course.

Desperate to get out of London, and determined to help the war effort and stop thinking about her philandering husband, Fiona Figg volunteers to go undercover.

At Ravenswick Abbey a charming South African war correspondent has tongues wagging. His friends say he’s a crack huntsman. The War Office is convinced he’s a traitor. Fiona thinks he’s a pompous prig.

What sort of name is Fredrick Fredricks anyway?

Too bad Fiona doesn’t own a Wolseley pith helmet. from Goodreads

Fiona was just what I needed. A woman who looks heartbreak in the face and carries on saving the world anyway. It’s three years into World War I and London can be a tense place to be, especially if your husband comes back injured from the war only to leave you for his secretary after you nursed him back to health. Fiona works as a file clerk at the War Office, the top secret Room 40, and enjoys a friendly and nosy relationship with the men running the show. She uses her smarts and plain looks to get herself hired as a spy trying to get intel on a German spy.

I loved this cozy mystery. Fiona was still smarting from her husband leaving her, but that didn’t stop her from moving forward. She not only took her job seriously but she also volunteered as a nurse when wounded soldiers came to the hospital. I thought the book and her adventures were great fun. Did she ever get her man? Well, yes and no. This first book leaves us with many questions, but Fiona’s on the hunt. I’m looking forward to reading her continued chase in book two that was just released.

And look at that cover. Love it!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here