Paris in July 2022


It’s Paris in July 2022, hosted by Thyme for Tea and Readerbuzz. Last year I shared photos and stories of our trip there in 2010, but this time around I’ll be doing some of the usual things, books, movies, puzzles, postcards, food, wine..

Here are some of the books I’ve set aside for the month and it was the extent of my pre-planning, lol, BUT this week I watched James Corden’s Crosswalk the Musical in Paris -Les Miserables again and laughed out loud just like the first time I saw it. Enjoy.

June Stats and Favorites

I finished 10 books this month, The Bat by Jo Nesbit isn’t pictured because it was an audio. I don’t remember the last time I liked all of my reads so much. 6 of the 10 were sent to me in exchange for a review, so most of these are new and for the first time in forever, no library books!

You can see my 3 favorites, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them! And honestly, from the time I took these pics this morning to the time I’m posting this I already would have changed one of my favorites 😆. Just add them all to your list.

I’ve read 166 books of my 300 goal so I’m on track.

What was your favorite book this month?

Ghost Games by Brooke Mackenzie

Ghost Games by Brooke Mackenzie, 4.25/5 stars, 264 pages, 2022

Do not play these games.  This is the standard Internet disclaimer given to anyone who wishes to summon the supernatural through a potentially dangerous ritual or game.  

But how scary can a game really be?

As it turns out, games can be terrifying. GHOST GAMES is a collection of short horror fiction intended for adults (but appropriate for young adults), in which the female main characters throw caution to the wind, play a game, and summon an entity.  What happens next will make you think twice before riding in an elevator, looking in a mirror, or soaking in a bathtub. There are seven fictional stories—each one devoted to a specific game—and one non-fiction story, in which the author describes her real-life encounter with an evil spirit after playing with a Ouija Board.

The stories in GHOST GAMES thrill with satisfying scares, and tap into each character’s internal psychological struggles as the motivation behind wanting to escape reality. The reader develops a relationship with the characters, making each of their experiences all the more harrowing.  While the stories themselves are fiction, each of the games they describe has a life of its own on the Internet, and several forums are filled with firsthand accounts of bold (or foolhardy) players who played the games with terrifying results. 

from bamackenzie.com

Ghost Games by Brooke Mackenzie is a spookily great collection of fiction stories based on known and searchable urban legends. Not that you need to search because at the end the book she includes the rules for each of the games and where they came from.

I’m not a ghost seeker, but I flew through these eight fun and eerie stories. I’d never heard of these before, but some of you probably have. The Elevator Game, the Three Kings Game, the Closet Game, Bloody Mary, the Telephone Game, the Bathtub Game, the Hide-and-Seek Game and the tried and true Ouija which I have tried with no success.

I really loved these stories and think even those who get spooked easily will love them too. I’m not sure I can even pick a favorite, there wasn’t a clunker in the bunch. The protagonists were all women living an upper midclass lives, a choice the author purposely made. The women in stories ranged in age from teens to 40’s.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour and Brooke Mackenzie for sending me a copy of the book. I’m excited to see what you write next!

The Craigslist Incident by Jason Fisk

The Craigslist Incident by Jason Fisk, 4/5 stars, 218 pages, 2022

In The Craigslist Incident, Edna Barrett takes an advertisement out on Craigslist: I’m an 18-year-old female and I want to take a hit out on myself. Joe Dolsen, a 20-year-old who has suffered from periodic blackouts his whole life, answers the ad. What would bring two people to such ominous points at such young ages, and will they actually go through with it? from Goodreads

“Women Seeking Men: I’m an 18-year-old female and I want to take a hit out on myself.”

You know from the first page that it’s going to be a wild one. Edna’s father killed himself when she was a teen and she had a hard time adjusting, getting into fights and writing disturbing poetry for class assignments. Joe, raised by a religious fanatic mother who thought his blackouts were a sign from God, had his own violent tendencies. They had been failed by the system and/or their parents.

I really felt for both Edna and Joe and their struggle to make their way. Edna’s depression and the way that adults failed her, except for her mother, was an easy thing to believe because we’ve all seen it happen. One bad decision at 18 and her life goes off the rails.

This book reads fast and really showed the mental health crisis many are facing in this country firsthand. I really liked it, especially the unexpected ending.

I’m on a book tour for The Craigslist Incident today. The author was kind enough to mail me a copy. Thanks TLC Book Tours and Jason Fisk

This Week -A tough one

It’s been a week of unsettling news and I’m still feeling very sad about Friday’s Supreme Court news. I don’t think the government has a say in ANY health decisions made between a woman and her doctor. And as someone who had a miscarriage at 6 weeks I can say that my experience reinforced my view that conception may mean possible life, but it doesn’t mean baby. I can’t believe we’re at a place that if my miscarriage happened now it would be considered suspect.

On a positive note, Jason and I went out to an actual restaurant without the boy for the first time in over two years last night. We ate outside which is really what I’m comfortable with at this point. We made it to the bottom of the strawberry daquiri 🙂

Gage finished up his third week of camp with his fourth starting tomorrow. This week he’ll be going with two friends and we’re going to carpool! As a stay at home mama I’m usually the one to trek the kids around if necessary, but this week those working moms have insisted on covering 3 days. I am grateful.

Books finished

To Marry and to Meddle by Martha Waters, 3.5/5 stars, 336 pages, 2022

Lady Emily has spent her life being perfect so that no touch of scandal could touch her cash strapped family. Lord Julian Belfry needed this pristine reputation to bring respectability to his theatre. It was a marriage of convenience. Will these two, both looking for acceptance from their parents, fall in love along the way? It is a romance after all!

My favorite character was Cecil, the kitten who brought bloodshed to their wedding night 😽. This is book 3 in the Regency Vows series and can be read alone, as I did. But I do wish I’d read the first two so I could have spent more time with Emily’s friends.

Read Dangerously: The Submersive Power of Literature in Troubled Times by Azar Nafisi, 4/5 stars, 256 pages, 2022

Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times by Azar Nafisi is pure delight for lovers of literature and its power of illumination. My book club read her bestseller, Reading Lolita in Tehran, a few years ago and I loved it for all that I learned about Iran. In this book,as an American citizen now, she takes on current America.

What’s missing in our current discourse? Nuance and empathy. These are things that you can find in great literature, especially those books that go against the norm and force you to think about what’s being said. She takes on politics, democracy, freedom, and Trump by analyzing some of the greats like Morrison, Baldwin, Atwood, and Plato.

It’s a book to be loved by anyone who has spent time reading literature. I mostly listened but had my hard copy handy to mark up thoughts I wanted to revisit. She’s got some powerful stuff in here.

There are 5 sections and in section 3 I was so moved that I put one of the books she talked about, Places & Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning by former marine Elliot Ackerman, on hold at the library. He writes fiction now, but this is his memoir.

This was in my latest #gettbr box and it was just what I needed. It’s not an easy read, but one I’m glad someone chose for me.

I talked about Remember Whose Little Girl You Are by Ellen Nichols for a TLC Book Tour here.

On the Screen

We watched two little known movies this week.

I LOVED The Devil All the Time on Netflix.

American Hangman was interesting, but had some problems for me.

We’re in the middle of the mini-series, The Night Manager and are really liking it.

Plans for the weekend

Yesterday was so busy so I promised Gage a quieter day today. We’re going to visit a few houses on the Parade of Homes and he’s got to visit a home to get directions for his next pet sitting/plant watering gig.

What’s up in your corner of the world?

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are by Ellen Nichols

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are by Ellen Nichols. 4/5 stars, 129 pages, 2022

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are captures the flavor of the Deep South like no author since Eudora Welty or Flannery O’Connor. Ellen Nichols captures the tenor of small-town Southern life in the fifties and sixties, with its vicissitudes and hilarity. One is captured with her openness and drawn deeply into the dialogue-so much as to, according to one reader, sometimes feel guilty of spying.

Read it and see if you want those times back-or are just relieved they’re gone.

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are is a memoir of growing up in the South during the 1940s-60s as a preacher’s kid. Ellen Nichols tells her stories with an intimacy that make you feel like you’re sitting around the kitchen table with a girlfriend.

I loved her stories from her early childhood best as she moved every few years with her family, but her college years had the added layer of the civil rights era protests that she participated in in both small and large ways.

A fun southern memoir that is brief enough to be finished in one sitting.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me and Claire McKinney PR for the book and 🧦.

This Week – Nature

Gage spent the week at a nature camp with a friend this week and had a great time. The Nature Center of Shaker Lakes is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Cleveland, even having made a half hearted attempt for us to move there a few years ago. It didn’t happen, but I loved that after dropping Gage off at camp I could walk and enjoy the neighborhood once again.

I visited two independent bookstores for the Zibby Books 22in22 challenge to visit and log 22 bookstore trips this year. Loganberry Books in Cleveland Heights and Appletree Books in Cleveland were visits 6 & 7. It’s never too late to sign up. There are prizes 🙂

What I read

I shared my thoughts about both here.

I’ve finished 161 books so far this year.

On the Screen

We finished season one of the comedy show Ghosts, so much fun. And we finished part one of season four of Stranger Things. So looking forward to the conclusion next month.

We also watched the Netflix movie The Wrath of God, an adaptation of the book The Book of Murder. Jason thought the psychological thriller was boring, but I really liked it.

Puzzle finished (with a bonus Sammi)

Plans for the weekend

We’re going to the toy store today to pick up a game and for Gage to spend some of his money. Tomorrow we’ll serve Jason breakfast in bed (he’s requested waffles) and go over to my parent’s for a bit to mark the day. What do you have planned this Father’s Day weekend? Or the long weekend if you also get Juneteenth off on Monday?

Some Quick Book Thoughts

In my attempt to get more of my thoughts on the books I read on here I’m going to share a few. I’ve had a great reading month so far!

Secret Identity by Alex Segura, 4.5/5 stars, 368 pages, 2022

Set in 1970’s New York City’s comic book publishing industry, this book wasn’t something that grabbed me right away, but I quickly got so sucked into this noir-ish mystery that I listened to the audio when I couldn’t be reading. I’m not a comic book reader and the comic world was fresh for me. The struggles of a woman, Carmen, trying to prove that she was worthy during that time was recognizable.

I never would have chosen this for myself and that’s why I love having someone picking books just for me. This was a thumbs up.

I’m not really doing any special reading for pride month, but with that in mind it’s worth noting that Carmen is a lesbian and it’s a part of her story. She’s a gritty and admirable heroine. Loved her.

The Patron Saints of Second Chances by Christine Simon, 4/5 stars, 304 pages, 2022

This is a zany Italian romp. I was enchanted even as I rolled my eyes at some of the antics.

Signor Speranza is the mayor (self appointed) of a small town in Italy, Prometta, population 212, and he’s just been told that they must pay an exorbitant amount of money or the water will be shut off to the whole town. Speranza comes up with one crazy idea that gets out of hand.

It’s a fun, summer read, especially for lovers of Italy. 

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, 4.25/5 stars365 pages, 2016

This was a delicious way to start the summer. I absolutely loved the snark and the sexual tension.

Lucy and Joshua share an office and an attitude of dislike for each other. Then Lucy has an erotic dream and things start to get fuzzy. Is it really hate she feels?

Although the hate/love relationship is a predictable one, this story started right where it needed to keep the story moving forward with no down time. This is not a high brow romance and it definitely falls into some issues with the physical aspects of the characters, but it was also a lot of fun. Perfect for summer.

I listened to this one and the audio was very good.

The Bat by Jo Nesbo, 4/5 stars, 369 pages, 1997

I listened to The Bat, the first in the Harry Hole series. I’ve always wanted to give this Norwegian Jo Nesbit mystery series a try and it was a great audio for puzzling and running errands. I look forward to more of this flawed character in the future.

This Week – Summer Break!

We have a 6th grader in the house! Woo hoo! We had a little party in the backyard. I reflected a bit on our two years of homeschooling and I’ll share here…

We fell into homeschooling at the beginning of Covid and I’ve discovered a whole new world, one with ups and downs, but ones we choose for ourselves. I love having relaxing mornings, walks at lunchtime, fieldtrips of our choosing, experiments that start because of an interest, Outschool for having quality led classes that I can choose at a moment’s notice if needed, flexibility to take trips when we want to, and more time together as a family. I even feel like my degree in education comes in handy.

It’s not exactly what I thought it would be, even now two years later, but it’s been that dirt path, the one I always want to take when exploring a new place. I’ve learned as much as Gage, not just the academics, but how to a become more patient, flexible, and present person. Gage will be finishing up 5th grade tomorrow 🥹 and I’ve had the pleasure of being his teacher and his student.

Gage finished his first week of summer camp this week and it was good for both of us. He has five more weeks at different camps, three of those weeks he’ll be going with friends so that’s a plus.

I hosted my book club this week for the first time in two and a half years and it was great to get together and for me to host! We’ve only had people over for outside gatherings since Covid and this was the first time I actually had to prep the house, lol.

What I finished this month so far…

reviewed here.

I’ve read 159 books so far this year.

On the screen

I posted about my April and May movies here.

Last week, during a night of horrible insomnia, I watched these back to back to back. I have no excuse except I wasn’t in my right mind. And I’m more than a little miffed that the third, the supposed end of the trilogy, is only the first part so I didn’t even get the ending, however ridiculous it might be.

Jason and I are currently watching the latest season of Stranger Things. Anyone else binged it?

Plans for the weekend

Gage and Jason went swimming at a friend’s house yesterday while I went to the library to do some work for the Friends. As treasurer I have more to do today since our board meeting is tomorrow. I’m also hoping to do the fun job of clearing the homeschool bookshelf and starting fresh. Something that will look worse way before it looks better, but I will feel so much lighter when it’s done.

Hopefully you have something more exciting planned for the day.

In Search of the Magic Theater by Karla Huebner

In Search of the Magic Theater by Karla Huebner, 4/5 stars, 254 pages, 2022

Why, the rather staid young cellist Sarah wonders, should her aunt rent their spare room to the perhaps unstable Kari Zilke? Like the nephew in Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf, Sarah finds herself taking an unexpected interest in the lodger, but she is unable to stop at providing a mere introduction to Kari’s narrative of mid-life crisis and self-discovery, and develops her own more troubled tale of personal angst and growth, entwined with the account Kari herself purportedly left behind. Generational tensions, artistic collaborations, and even a romance steeped in Greek myth follow as Kari and Sarah pursue their very different creative paths in theater and music. And while Kari seems to blossom post-divorce, Sarah must grapple with the question of what the role of mothers, fathers, aunts, mentors, and male collaborators should be in her life as a young musician. from Goodreads

In Search of the Magic Theater 🎭 is a sophisticated story of two women, both creatives, whose lives change because of one person. Kari, a recent mid-life divorcée, rents a room from Sarah, a young repressed cellist, and her aunt. As Kari tries to find her way back to her passion, experimental theater, Sarah tries to find any passion at all.

Set sometime in the 1990s and told with alternating chapters between the women, it surprised me by having me more interested in one at the beginning and the other near the end. It’s heavy in mythology, art, and theater, as well as music. I felt educated and entertained.

I enjoyed the story of these women and the different ways that each approached life and found their own happiness. Anyone interested in mythology or theater should definitely pick this one up.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours for getting this book to me and for the author for sending a sweet card and additional information.