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.

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.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon

24hrreading1-thumb It’s 8 am and here in Cleveland, Ohio and here I am with my coffee, my stack of books and 24 hours to read.  I’ll be reading books, a few magazines, books with my son, audio books for when I need to move or cook, and even blogs for a change of pace.

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This is somewhere around a dozen Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thons for me and it will be my last one.  When I did my first one 11 years ago, well, I was 11 years younger and without child.  I loved the challenge of trying to stay awake 24 to devote time to my favorite activity.  And I LOVED the mini-challenges.  I loved checking in on the blog each hour or two and trying a fun bookish challenge and seeing everyone giving it a try too.  Over the years I hosted mini-challenges probably as many times as I read.  I think one of my mini-challenges is still my most viewed post ever and it’s from years ago.  The whole 24 hours I felt like I was part of a community and it was a blast.

So why is this the last one?  Well, I see that Andi and Heather are passing the reins on to someone else after all these years and thought it would be a fitting time to bow out.  You can, of course, participate just reading when you can, no stress, but that’s rarely the way I roll 🙂  I like the idea of staying up 24 hours, but now the day after is really not my best day and I hate not being fully present for 2 whole days when I have a kid who needs me.  Although, with this quarantine business I’m re-thinking that.  We’ve been able to spend lots of quality time together lately, lol.

Anyway, if you are reading in the read-a-thon today too leave me a message and I’ll stop by to say hi.  I’ll be updating on Instagram (@stacybuckeye) and the Facebook group.  Stay home and read on!