Finishing up June & thoughts about my challenges

I’m adding 13 books to my June count, finishing up the month with 44 books and 3 bookish movies.

Since this is also the md-year point, let’s do an update on my two challenges. The Book a Day Challenge has been easier than expected. As you’ve noticed, I’ve read a lot of kids books and that’s helped, but I’ve also watched a lot less bookish movies than I thought I would. I’ve read 217 books and watched 7 movies. This challenge, that I update daily on IG, is a fun challenge that I’m loving.

My other challenge was my lose 50 by 50 challenge. Let’s just say that it’s not going well, and for my own mental health all I’m going to say is that I’m a work in progress 🙂

Here are the books I read since last week…

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The Husbands by Chandler Baker. Published 2021, 352 pages

 Nora was on a fast track to senior partner with a 4 year old daughter and a baby on the way. She was stressed and needed more help and understanding from her husband. When she is welcomed into a close knit suburban community full of accomplished women with doting husbands she begins to imagine a new type of marriage.

I liked the idea of this, but it took me a while to get into it. Once I did I enjoyed the modern spin on the Stepford Wives concept. How far are you willing to go for a perfect marriage?

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A Guide to Photographing the Art of Nature by Bruce Heinemann. Published 1994, 152 pages

There are 3 chapters and lots of photos. The chapters (lighting, seeing, creating) are just as much about how to see than they are about how to take the photo. It’s a lovely book I’m happy to have in my house to look at anytime I want (I’m looking at you Cleveland winter!).

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Answers for the 4A Epidemic by Joseph Cannizzaro, MD. Published 2012, 256 pages

I read Answers for the 4A Epidemic: Healing for Kids with Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies. Cannizzaro is an MD who makes the very solid case for kids who have any of these diagnoses to have an integrative doctor onboard. I couldn’t agree more.

He does a great job of explaining the often complicated processes of out of sync bodies and what we, as parents, can do to help. He was great at explaining the breakdown, with some places to start with diet, if interested. Obviously, not for every kid, but diet makes a big difference here.

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Creekfinding by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Claudia McGehee. Published 2017 pages, 36 pages.

I loved the illustrations and the true story about a man who buys property and resurrects a creek that had been filled in. The man? Michael Osterholm who is currently on President Biden’s Covid Advisory Council.

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Dark Was the Night by Gary Golio and EB Lewis. Published 2020, 32 pages.

Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars was such a treat. Johnson, who went blind as a child, played in street corners in Texas. Now his music is flying on Voyager I outside our galaxy on the Golden Record.

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The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola. Published 1983, 32 pages.

A fun retelling of a Texas legend involving the Comanche people and the bluebonnet, the state flower.

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Small Room, Big Dreams by Monica Brown and Mirelle Ortega. Published 2021, 40 pages.

Small Room, Big Dreams: The Journey of Julian and Joaquin Castro is a great new book about the twins and how they have always been involved in wanting to make life better for people.

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Nacho’s Nachos by Sandra Nickel and Oliver Dominguez. Published 2020, 32 pages.

Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack takes place in Mexico, but it was included in my search because in 1940 Mamie Finan came from just over the border to The Victory Club and inspired Ignacio Anaya (Nacho for short) to create the first delicious snack that bears his name.

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Waynetta and the Cornstalk by Helen Ketteman and Diane Greenseid. Published 2007, 32 pages.

Waynetta and the Cornstalk was a fun Texas fairytale involving some magic corn, giants and a brave little girl.

Pumpkin Island by Arthur Geisert
Pumpkin Island by Arthur Geisert. Published 2018, 40 pages

Pumpkin Island was a fun and silly story about pumpkins taking over a small town. Loved the illustrations in this one as well.

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Diary of Sarah Gillespie by Sarah Gillespie. Published 2014, 32 pages.

Diary of Sarah Gillespie has entries from the teen’s diary growing up on a 100 acre farm in the 1880’s. There was added definitions, clarification, and photos.

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Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express by Eleanor Coerr and Don Bolognese. Published 1995, 64 pages.

Buffalo Bill was born in Iowa even though this story about his time in the Pony Express didn’t take place there.

Hurricane Heroes in Texas by Mary Pope Osborne
Magic Tree House #30 Hurricane Heroes in Texas by Mary Pope Osborne. Published 2018, 112 pages.

I really don’t like these books. The writing isn’t great, but the idea is usually good. We were studying Texas last week so this worked.

June Movies and Money for Charity

You know the drill, add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment and earn $1 for charity. Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity. Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to. Anyone is welcome to join in at any time. Click here to see past movie posts.

What do I need to see in July?

We’re at $79 right now.  Your charity could be next 

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The Hate U Give, 2018 (Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Common, Anthony Mackie, KJ Apa, Sabrina Carpenter) Grade B

Police killing with a witness.

Police killing with a witness lives changed. (Bill R)

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Our Souls at Night, 2017 (Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Matthias Schoenaerts, Iain Armitage, Judy Greer, Phyllis Somerville, Bruce Dern) Grade B

Bold love affair meets reality.

Bold love affair meets reality, reality wins. (Bill R)

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Snatched, 2017 (Amy Schumer, Goldie Hahn, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Christopher Meloni) Grade C+

“I’ll go first. Because I’m a man.” LOL moments worth the ridiculous ones.

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Lovebirds, 2020 (Kumail Nanjiani, Issa Rae, Paul Sparks) Grade C+

Break-Up, Smash-Up, Set-Up, Screw-Up, Make-Up

Break up, Smash up, set up, screw up, makeup , wild ride worth taking. (Bill R)

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His House, 2020 (Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu, Matt Smith) Grade C

Refugees haunted by past mistakes.

An okay reading and movie week

When I set my book a day goal at the beginning of the year I knew I had to add in some days that would fit in with family life, so I decided to okay movies based on books (preferably ones I read or planned to read). We’re closing in on the halfway point of the year and this week I watched movies 6 & 7. Hopefully, I’ll get a comparison of one of them done next week.

For July, I’ve signed up for Thyme for Tea’s Paris in July event. I hope to add as much reading and movie watching set in Paris as I possibly can. I’ll even see if I can find some pics from our France trip 10 years ago.

This week I watched 2 movies, read 2 non-fiction, 1 fiction, 1 kids nonfiction, 1 picture book fiction, 1 picture book nonfiction. Here they are listed in the order I liked them best. I’ve already read and reviewed Indestructible: The Hidden Gift of Trauma by Krista Nerestant here.

The Hate U Give, 2018, based on the novel by Angie Thomas, 2017

Starr (played by Amandla Stenberg) has a loving family and lives in a neighborhood riddled with violence. At ten she watched her best friend get gunned down and she’s about to witness the same thing, only this time it’s a policeman who does the shooting.

It was a great book and a good movie, written before George Floyd changed the protest landscape. This one is worth reading and watching. I loved watching Russell Hornsby as Mav the most.

Our Souls At Night, 2017, based on the novel by Ken Haruf, 2015

The movie starred Jane Fonda and Robert Redford as two lonely neighbors who tried something scandalous to get through the nights. It was pretty faithful to the book until close to the end and I thought the changes they made actually made more sense! It’s a quiet movie and nice to see a story featuring older folks.

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Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan, 2016, 56 pages, 4 stars

The celebrated author and illustrator Ashley Bryan, came into possession of a bill of sale, where slaves were listed (not by name) alongside cattle and crop. He imagined the lives of each of these 11 slaves and what their hopes and dreams may have looked like. A powerful picture book.

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1618.The_Curious_Incident_of_the_Dog_in_the_Night_TimeThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, 2013, 226 pages, 4 stars

I finally read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I need to take some time to process. As many of you know Gage is on the spectrum, so my feelings are mixed. I recognized so many Gage behaviors, but am not sure the author was doing justice to the main character, 15 year old Christopher. It was nice to have autism front and center, but I hope all who read it understand that it’s fiction and not representative.

Told in the first person, Christopher lives with his father after his mother died and goes to a special school with an aide during the day. When a neighbor’s dog is murdered Christopher decides to find the killer. What he finds is much more than that, of course.

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So You Want To Be A Knight?, 2021, 96 pages, 4 stars

The good stuff- ➕everything your kid would want to know about how to become a knight is in here. ➕each spread of the 90 pages book is a different topic. ❤️ the instructions on making your own coat of arms. ❤️ the quiz on which order you should seek out based on your personality (I got Order of the Round Table)

The stuff I didn’t love 🤪 there was a lot to take in visually and the first few pages were confusing. It got better as the book went on. 😩 also there were some violently drawn cartoons that I could have done without even though I know knights are violent.

Gage didn’t want to read this straight through, but he did enjoy exploring the pages a few at time. I did read it straight through and liked all of the details. I feel so much smarter 😁

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Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson and Bryan Collier, 2007, 3.5 stars

Johnson wrote this song in 1900 to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and it has become known as the African American national anthem. Collier put beautiful artwork to the words.

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Expect A Miracle: A Mother and Son Asperger Journey of Determination and Triumph, 2014, 356 pages, 3.5 stars

Note: There is a second edition with additional chapters.

I met David Petrovic when he came to talk at Gage’s school a few years ago. He’s local, he has Aspergers, and he’s thriving. I just read a recent article that he’s now earned a Master’s Degree, is working as a middle school teacher, and living in his own.. This journey toward success is painstakingly detailed in this book by his mother and David from the time he was a baby through his second year of college.

Sandy breaks up the years and tells of each of his challenges, what interventions they used, and what insight she gained. Then David took his turn giving his perspective.

This isn’t a how-to or even a true memoir, but instead a true look at what goes into the day to day of helping a person living on the spectrum shine. Some of it was repetitive, but it was inspirational. Both mom and son worked tirelessly and optimistically so that David could live his best life. Hats off to both of them.

Have you read any of these?

Indestructible: The Hidden Gifts of Trauma by Krista Nerestant

Indestructible by Krista Nerestant

Welcome to Krista Nerestant’s journey from the other side of the globe-the islands of the Philippines-to the United States of America. Indestructible is where she shares the hidden gifts of trauma that have empowered her to not only survive but also thrive in a life most would have given up on. Krista was a traumatized overachiever bound by the cultural and societal limitations of her home country. But coming out as a spiritual medium exposed the many resources she had in her arsenal, inspiring her to embark on a healing journey. In Indestructible, she shares how she learned to extract life-healing lessons while overcoming a violent past, with the hope of inspiring and teaching survivors to approach personal wounds as a gateway to unleashing their self-actualization. Her story will stimulate you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually-but most of all, it will lead you to start your own journey of self-discovery and uncover your very own hidden gifts of trauma.

192 pages, Paperback

I forget why I initially agreed to read this book, but there must have been something in the pitch that appealed to me, because this is not my usual read. Whatever it was that drew me to it was right on point. Krista’s memoir of overcoming horrific abuse at the hands of her father in the Philippines, only to come to America as a teen and experience other kinds of trauma is one that pulls at the heartstrings. She explores the spiritual journey of the human spirit, no matter what it is that is holding us back. She gives hope for a better day, a better year, a better life because everything you need is within your grasp.

Her story is fascinating. Through her stories of childhood and experiences as an adult she shares how compassion and forgiveness are what you need to forge ahead and make a better life for yourself. It was a memoir with self-care strategies to make a more fulfilling life. She is a medium and a life coach and you can find her here.

A solid reading week with a clear winner

I’ve read 8 books since the last update; 2 romantic suspense, 2 kids non-fiction, 2 non-fiction picture books, 1 fiction and and 1 thriller. Drumroll for the winner… it’s the thriller! This has been a thriller/mystery heavy month for me. The good thing about this week’s reading is that there isn’t a stinker in the bunch. They’re all great or at least solid reads.

Listed in the order I liked best with a few sentences of thoughts and description. If you want the daily updates with more details you can follow me on Instagram.

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Final Girls by Riley Sager

This one is about those girls who are the only survivors of a mass murder, final girls. Quincy was partying at Pine Cottage with her friends when the unthinkable happens. Quincy managed to escape with only 3 stab wounds, a Xanax prescription, and a need for a perfectly controlled life. One day, another final girl shows up in her life and suddenly her perfect life turns inside out.

I loved this one.

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Undeniably Yours by Heather Webber

Lucy is a physic who is learning the extent of her skills. She has a loving and unruly family, best friends for life, a collection of animals, and a live-in boyfriend whom she’s madly in love with. The mystery was good, relatable, and complicated.

I’m sorry to see the end of the series with this fifth and final book.

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The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck

This is great southern fiction set in the 1970’s. Ora Lee is an old woman setting the story straight about what really happened back in the day. Racism, rape, and murder kept the story moving, but it’s Ora, a good Christian woman with nothing but love in her heart, realizing her own prejudices that are the moral of the story.

I thought the audio performance was perfection and highly recommend it.

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We Are Explorers by Kari Herbert

I always love reading about bold, passionate women who didn’t/ haven’t let expectations (or even sexist rules) stop them in pursuit of their dreams. A few of the women I’d heard of, like Sacajawea and Nelly Bly, but the most I hadn’t. I loved learning about these 13 women from around the world!

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Zaha Hadid by Ma Isabel Sanchez Vegara

I love this series. I love the choices of people and the illustrations. Zaha Hadid was the first woman and the first Muslim to be awarded the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor.

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Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham

A cult-like, ritualistic murder brings together Amy from the Florida state police and Hunter from the FBI. Hunter, having escaped a cult as a child, has first hand knowledge of the people who have taken over a small Florida town, abusing religion for power (sound familiar?). The ending has me thinking that we’ll be seeing more of this crime fighting duo.

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Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist Mavynee Betsch by Heidi Tyline King

I found the story of American Beach, a beach for all people to come together during the time of segregation an enlightening read. It mentioned that elsewhere a rope in the ocean divided the whites and blacks. It made me incredibly sad that the ugliness of racism could try to ruin something as magnificent as the ocean.

MaVynee’s grandfather purchased the beach and after mother got sick she went home and tried to save the land from development. She became known as the Beach Lady and managed to save the tallest sand dune in Florida. One person CAN make a difference.

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Who Was Henry Ford? by Michael Burgen

Of all the books of this series that we’ve read this has been my least favorite so far. It’s all about cars! 😂. This has to be one of my least favorite topics so getting to the end felt like an accomplishment and it’s only 105 pages.

What have you read lately that I should add to my list?

Book vs. Movie – The Sun is Also a Star

2016 book I read in February

VERSUS
2019 movie I watched this month

This might be the first book/movie comparison I’ve done where I say that I liked them both even though they were markedly different in the details. SKIP AHEAD TO THE PLOT PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON”T WANT SPOILERS!

The images of NYC in the movie were stunning and really set the vibe. In the book that vibe was set by the music they listened to and talked about.

In the book Natasha and her family were being deported THAT DAY, but in the movie it was the next morning.

The movie was completely missing the very important character of Irene and also much of the lawyer personal drama.

The reason for their deportation was different. In the movie it was a random raid by ICE, but in the book it was because her father was caught drunk driving.

The movie skipped Natasha and Daniel’s first meeting.

The ending was different and reflected the tone of each. In the movie it was 5 years later and in the book, 10 years.

PLOT/STORY High schooler Natasha and her family are being deported back to Jamaica. Daniel is set to have a college interview that his Korean/American parents are counting on to get him into an Ivy League school so that he can become a doctor. Natasha the pragmatist and Daniel the dreamer meet and spent the day together, falling in love. The book had more magic, more fairy dust and more of the real family relationships. Thumbs up- book

THE VISUAL The movie used NYC to its fullest advantage with the cinematography. The city has never looked better or more modern. Thumbs up – movie

CHARACTERS VS. ACTORS I liked the young characters in the book in all of their sometimes poor decision making glory. In the movie they both felt so much older. Charles Melton was ten years older than Daniel and although his acting was good, the age gap alone was noticeable. Yara Shahidi was closer to the right age. The acting and sparks were solid, but still… Thumbs up – book

THE ENDING As I discussed in the spoilers and a little in the plot, the book had that magical glow that continued all the way to the end. The movie, while I understand the choices that were made, was missing some of that. One ending relied on fate and one had Natasha taking fate into her own hands. Thumbs up- book

And the winner is… the book! I appreciated the movie and the choices it made too, but the book appealed more to the romantic in me.

Other book vs. movie polls you can still vote on: (Good Morning, Midnight/The Midnight Sky) (Before I Go To Sleep) (The Little Prince) (Charlie St. Cloud) (Far From the Madding Crowd(The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting)  (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)

June is for reading :)

I’ve been reading, 190 books so far this year. For these first 11 days in June I watched one movie based on a book I read in February (The Sun Is Also A Star) and read 17 books, 8 of them picture books by or about the celebrated illustrator Jerry Pinkney. I also read 4 fiction/thrillers, 1 play, 1 chapbook about aliens, 1 non-fiction, 1 YA fiction, and 1 kids fiction. I’ve really needed the fiction escape it seems!

The first 5 on this list (I’m counting all of the Pinkney books as a whole) I would heartily recommend.

The Woman in the Window
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Anna is agoraphobic, which began after a trauma the year before. She’s separated her family, has one therapist/frend, and access lots of alcohol and medication. She also has a camera and likes to keep an eye on her neighborhood. When new neighbors arrive at her doorstep, Anna’s carefully crafted (sad) life begins to unravel.

A fast-paced thriller perfect for summer. I really liked it. She’s an old movie buff, which I loved, and I need to go back and make a list of all the movies she mentioned so I can watch them (without a bottle of wine and pills).

The Last Flight
Last Flight by Julie Clark

Two women on opposite coasts are both in dangerous situations. They switch identities and flights and hope to evade the men sure to come looking for them. But one of the flights crashes.

Two compelling women with two compelling stories. I liked the back and forth and the switch between then and now. I was even surprised at the end (but probably shouldn’t have been).

I had a fun time with this one.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain
The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

I picked up John Boyne’s young adult historical and breezed right through it. He has the rare talent of writing unlikeable characters and still putting together a compelling story. A Ladder of Years is my favorite, but others will remember The Boy in the Striped Pajamas best.

In this short (260 pages) book, 7 year old Pierrot loses both parents, his best friend, and his home city of Paris as he sent to an orphanage. His aunt finds him and brings him to Berghof, where she is head housekeeper. Of course, this is also Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps. Hitler takes a special interest in the boy and Pierrot’s fate is sealed.

Can he recover from the things he did while so young? A good book about how any child’s future is shaped by their circumstances as well as their spirit. A tragic story but not one without hope.

I will read anything he writes.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes
The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

I loved this one! A teen who had no support, a man who needed her for a kidnapping scheme, death, stolen babies, changed identities and a lifetime of guilt. What’s not to love? And I really love the cover ❤️

Jerry Pinkney by Lisa M B Simons, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, The Three Bill Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney, The Talking Eggs: A Folktale from the American South by Robert D San Souci, John Henry by Julius Lester, Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder, The Further Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales by Joyce Cooper Arkhurst

Philadelphia born artist Pinkney has won numerous awards for his illustrations of children’s books, novels, magazines, and even a series of postage stamps starting in 1977. He’s still sharing his passion with the world at 81.

The Talking Eggs was my favorite. A sister is abused by her mother and sister, but is rewarded with her pure heart. It was a little more detailed than the other retellings of this Creole folktale and I loved it.

My other favorite was the classic John Henry, also different than other versions I’ve read, but I’m always up for a story about the legendary man. The song I learned as a kid still goes through my mind every time. Anyone else?

They’re all good. A Place To Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation is his most recent work (2019) and the first time he used collage. And The Lion and the Mouse (2009) is a wordless book that tells one of Aesop’s fables. And I always love reading the African tales about that wily Spider 🕷

I Survived the Joplin Tornado, 2011 (I Survived, #12)
I Survived: The Joplin Tornado, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis

I Survived The Joplin Tornado, 2011 was our before bed book for the week. I thought it was scarier than the last one we read about the Chicago Fire. At the end of a few of the chapters I wasn’t sure he’d make it – then I reminded myself the book I series is called I Survived 😆

The writing is simple and the books have a few pictures for interest and that makes them something Gage enjoys. So, for that I am grateful. Finding books that he is interested in reading continues to be a bit of a struggle and this series is a safe bet.

Tornadoes scare me. Have you ever experienced one firsthand?

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!
This is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison

I both listened a read and much preferred the audio. I liked that it was different, but I can’t say I loved the book.

Harriet, 79, is a recent widow with a shaky relationship with her kids. Her marriage was meh and she’s stuck in a rut. Enter the Alaskan cruise her late husband had won and his visits from beyond the grave and you have the start of an interesting story. I just didn’t care for the this-is-your-life way the story moved from one time to the next.

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Strange Land by The Poet’s Haven

Strange Land from Poet’s Haven Digest, 2017 is a chapbook given to me by a friend at the library who just happen to write the very first poem, #greenlivesmatter. There were poems and stories all with a different take on our alien friends and their feelings on us Earthlings. Made more interesting by the government’s recent acknowledgment of UFOs 👽 It was a fun, fast read perfect for the unofficial start of summer.

A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

I was hoping that this would provide insight into the classic movie, which I don’t like at all. Unfortunately, I ended up disliking the characters even more 😂

Blanche comes to live with her sister Stella and Stella’s husband Stanley. The three of them bump into and around each other in a small apartment until damage is done. Unlikeable characters in a sad tragedy of a story. But, hey, it’s a classic for a reason, so what do I know?

The Joy of Doing Just Enough by Jennifer McCartney
The Joy of Doing Just Enough by Jennifer McCaartney

The book, while tongue in cheek, isn’t quite funny enough for satire. It does its best to lower expectations at work, at home, in relationships, but, unfortunately, I couldn’t let go of my hope for more.

What’s been your favorite June read so far? Anything I need add to my reading list? Extra points if it’s on the shorter side 🙂

This Week (a month later)

It’s been a month since my last update, but it’s been a busy month.

Highlights of the week

We finished homeschooling on May 28th and I don’t know who was more excited, Gage or his teacher 😉 We are going to do it one more year, and that means that we started 5th grade this week. No rest for the weary! We’re only doing 2.5 hours a day, so it’s really the best of both worlds. In July we’ll do 1 hour a day, and back to 2.5 in August, before the full day (5 hours). This schedule will allow more full weeks off during the year (summer included) while still giving us way more school hours than required (900).

We had friends over for Memorial Day. We made it an outdoor get together and it was much needed after the last year. They have a pool so Gage is especially looking forward to more time together. They look so serious here playing chess but they spent most of the day playing badminton, and I took no pictures of that. I was too busy chatting with friends and it was glorious 🙂
Yesterday we put carts outside the library for the first time in an attempt to have a small book sale for the kids coming to sign up for the library’s summer reading program. This picture was set up, there were more carts later. I’m hoping to do this more often since some parents still prefer outside to inside, especially since the mask mandate was dropped this week.

Currently reading

May Reads My top 5 post is here.

On the tv

We are between series right now, so our hour of tv at night is spent watching season 1 of the Great British Bake-off, which we’ve never seen.

Movies

I’m going to do a book/movie comparison post this week.

Plans for the weekend

Nothing fun is left, lol. I’ve got a long to do list today and need to get through it so I can have an organized week.

I’m linking up with the Sunday Salon.

May Favorites and June Intentions

May brought us snow, rain, and 90 degree days. Welcome to Cleveland. We finished up our 4th grade homeschool year on Friday, but are starting half days today for the month of June. Mainly fun stuff and short worksheets, so I can assess what we need to work on next year.

May also gave me 32 books to add to my book a day totals, giving me 173 for the year. I added two bookish movies this month bringing that yearly total to 5.

My top category was kids non-fiction with 7, followed by 6 adult fiction, 6 non-fiction picture books. 4 thrillers, and 3 historical romances. Other categories included kids fiction, memoir, poetry, and fiction picture books.

My Top 5 in May

Our Souls at Night
Our Souls At Night was a lovely surprise. Seventy somethings looking for an answer to loneliness find more than they’d hoped for. 179 pages. Highly recommend.
Find Her (Detective D.D. Warren, #8)
Find Her is the 8th in a series but the first I read. Flora had been kidnapped for over a year before being found and now she must come to terms with the bad things that happened in the best way she can. More character depth than I anticipated for as fast as it read.
Seduce Me at Sunrise (The Hathaways, #2)
Seduce Me At Sunrise is a historical romance set in England with Romani men as heroes. Kleypas is becoming my favorite romance author.
Dawn
Dawn is a follow-up to Wiesel’s autobiographical book Night, but this one is fiction. Elisha, a Holocaust survivor is a Israeli freedom fighter (calling themselves the Movement) in British-controlled Palestine. He has been tasked with executing a British hostage at Dawn. It’s a short, introspective book (100 pages) about war, becoming a murderer, and how, we as a society, got to this point.
The Undocumented Americans
The Undocumented Americans is more than a memoir of her undocumented life, more than a series of interwoven stories of people living in fear, more than what gets printed by news sources. Its’s authentic. It’s raw. It’s impactful. It’s her truth and you don’t have to like it. 
My flag, of sorts, represents my short stack of books I’ll be looking at to choose my books this month. Last month I only read 17 of 35 from my May stack, but it’s nice to at least pare down some options from the beginning.

What was your favorite read in May?

Finishing up May

As the homeschool year was winding down, I found it harder to focus on reading, so Jason and I watched two bookish movies this week. We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Woman in the Window. I wrote a post comparing the book and movie, We Have Always Lived in the Castle. So, two movies and 9 books to finish up the month.

2 thrillers, 2 fiction, 2 kids non-fiction, 1 non-fiction picture book, 1 kids fiction, and 1 cult classic.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf

What a lovely book! I flew through this story about living boldly and making your own second chances. A quiet, spare book with a big heart.

Addie and Louis, both in their 70s and widowed were lonely. One day Addie walks around the block, knocks on his door, and asks Louis if he would like to spend nights in her bed. No funny business, just talk and sleep. He showed up at her house with his pajamas and a toothbrush in a brown paper bag after dark, they drank one glass of wine and a friendship began.

It’s not a love story, it’s a life story. It didn’t end as I expected or even hoped but I loved this book!

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
We Have Always Lived at the Castle by Shirley Jackson

 I loved the narration by Bernadette Dunne. She captured Merricat perfectly.

There’s a village and an estate that rules them all, at least in the mind of Merricat who lives the big house with her older sister Constance and ailing Uncle Julian. The rest of the family had been poisoned six years before and Constance had been acquitted of their murders, but now she never left the estate.

It was ominous and creepy, two things that go well together. I felt a little let down by the ending, but after some reflection and reading a few reviews, I saw things that I had missed initially. It made the story richer, but only after the fact 😁 It would be a fun group read with friends, and at 146 pages it would appeal to non-readers as well.

2034 by Elliot Ackerman
2034 by Eliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis

In 2034 the US has a woman president who isn’t affiliated with a political party. So, right off the bat, things are good, but we barely hear from her. This global conflict is told by military and political personnel from the US, China, Iran, and India.

I really liked getting a taste from the different countries and the four main characters were interesting. Are nuclear weapons in the next world war inevitable? It’s a sobering look at what lies ahead. Written by an ex-Marine and Admiral.

This was a fast, exciting read.

Who Was George Washington Carver? by Jim Gigliotti
Who Was George Washington Carver by Jim Gigliotti

George led an inspiring life. Born into slavery, being left for dead as a baby, taken in and raised by the Carver’s, George left at 13 years old to walk to a town that would teach blacks in school. He lived this way, getting town to town looking for more educational opportunities for much of his young life. He became the first black to graduate from Simpson College and the first college graduate and faculty member at Iowa State.

It was his years at Tuskegee Institute that made him famous and led to awards and accolades. He cared about the earth, the farmer, the food we eat, and doing his best to leave a positive mark on the world. He most certainly did that.

Who Was Milton Bradley? by Kirsten Anderson
Who Was Milton Bradley by Kirsten Anderson

Milton Bradley loved games, as a way to be social (he had dinner parties almost every night), to fill the time (he made special game sets for soldiers during the Civil War), and to teach (he became very involved in the kindergarten movement and toys for teachers).

He was always creating. He also took a nap everyday and shut down the machines in the company so he could do so in quiet 😂. He loves a good nap even more than I do and I’m a huge nap proponent. He worked hard, he played hard, and he stuck up for the things that mattered to him. A great read and one that reinforced our discussion from the movie Soul.

Pie Girl by Ellen Potter
Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Pie Girl by Ellen Potter

 This is the fifth in the Piper Green series, Pie Girl. I didn’t know this was part of a series when I requested it from the library, but we enjoyed the 126 page book anyway. Piper lives on an island of the coast of Maine and the ship that comes with the doctor once a year is set to arrive. The town hosts a potluck every year and this is the year she gets the coveted Pie Girl title. She also has a secret fairy tree and the latest gift from the fairies is an eye patch, so she becomes Pirate Pie Girl. Cute story with lovely illustrations for early elementary kids.

Earmuffs for Everyone! by Meghan Mccarthy
Earmuffs for Everyone; How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Meghan McCarthy

Earmuff For Everyone was how Chester Greenwood became known as the inventor of the earmuff, a parade being held in his hometown every year. Only he didn’t invent them, but did improve upon the design. This is such a great lesson for kids to learn about researching and seeking out the truth. Loved this one.

The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

 I listened and read the book. I really liked the narration, but wish they’d had someone else read the story within a story to.make it less confusing. I’m so much looking forward to what everyone has to say about it! This was originally published in Japan in 1994, but only translated to English in 2019.

Things are slowly disappearing from the island. Roses, hats, birds are all being taken away from the inhabitants and the militant Memory Police are ensuring compliance and sniffing out those few who remember everything. Our narrator decides to hide her editor in her home before the Memory Police take him away and kill him, like they did her mother.

Is it dystopian? Sci-fi? A cautionary tale? Surrealist? I found it all of these things. I liked the idea of it and I liked the writing and that was enough for most of the book, but in the end it sort of fell apart for me.

Personal by Lee Child
Personal by Lee Child

Personal, the 19th in the Jack Reacher series, takes us abroad in search of a skilled marksman that Reacher put away many years ago, it who is now taking shots at world leaders.

The book was good, not likely one I’ll remember, but I always enjoy spending time with Reacher.