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