"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Short book reviews---catching up

In an attempt to catch up on past book reviews, here are a few short ones: 

For the Love of Books: Stories of Literary Lives, Author Feuds, Extraordinary Characters, and More
by Graham Tarrant (Skyhorse, 2019, 240 pages)

    As the title does more than suggest, this book is full of stories about authors with each chapter fulfilling information on a theme. For example one chapter was about feuding authors while another was about literary felons. Ultimately For the Love of Books is a book about books—and the inside stories about the people who write them. 

    I found the book completely compelling, at least most of it---I just skipped those stories I didn't care about and felt no guilt whatsoever in doing so. I found myself reading aloud little snippets to my poor husband who was trying to do something other than engage with me on the topic of books and authors. Nothing earth-shattering happened and my life wasn't changed because of it, but I sure enjoyed it and found it to be a perfect indulgence in the age of pandemics when one has nothing much to do except read. My rating: 4 out of 5 stars. (Print source from public library.)

Oona Out of Order
by Margarita Montimore (Flatiron Books, 2020, 339 pages)

    Oona wakes up on New Year's Day in 1982, the day of her 19th birthday, and she is thirty-two years into her future. She is still Oona. Her mother is still her mother. She is just a lot older and she doesn't remember anything from her past except her first eighteen years. Every New Year's Day the same thing happens and Oona doesn't  know ahead of time where she will land on her timeline. Who will she be next year? A philanthropist? A young, hip twenty-something? A wife to a man she doesn't know? As we learn Oona's story so does she. 

    It seemed like the whole of blogdom was talking about this book earlier this year, so I had to read it. Now it doesn't seem like anyone is talking about it and I wonder why I did. Let's put it this way. The book provided a diversion to my small, pandemic-centic life but I wouldn't put it on any favorites lists. I didn't particularly like Oona or even feel much sympathy for her, at least in the early chapters. That was probably the problem. Anyway, the book is different than any I've ever read, and it was fun (odd) to wonder about living my own life out of order. I doubt I'd cope very well either. My rating: 3 out of 5. (Audiobook e-source available from the library.)

Finders Keepers
by Stephen King (Scribner, 2015, 434 pages)

    I am never sure how much of a summary readers want for mysteries. Because, um, won't summaries wreck the mysteries? Instead of telling you very much, here is a tiny little teaser... Finders Keepers is the second book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy. Bill Hodges is a retired cop who works on solving situations with an oddball assortment of colleagues---Holly Gibney, an OCD computer genius with few people skills, and Jerome Robinson, a now college freshman with lots of enthusiasm. Their company is called "Finders Keepers." In the first half of the book none of these characters make an appearance all. Instead we meet an author who is very popular but hasn't published anything for years, the man who commits a crime against him, and, many years later, a boy who unwittingly steps into the mystery. It is this boy who needs the help of Bill Hodges and friends.

    My daughter and I listened to the audiobook on a long, hot drive from California to Washington State. We were pretty distracted by our drive and the uncomfortable conditions (no air-conditioning) so our judgment of the book is tainted. The book was authored by Stephen King, so immediately one knows there will be some really gory parts, and there were. Even though there were plenty of dragon's teeth along the way, enough so we had the mystery figured out before the climax, the tension of that climax was palpable. We were driving as fast as conditions allowed us and the action was happening at the same break-neck speed. Start with the first book in the series, Mercedes Man, because this book makes references to the action and characters in that book. My rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars. (Audiobook obtained e-sources through public library.)

by Paul Harding (Bellevue Literary Press, 2009, 192 pages)

    An old man lays dying, surrounded by his family in the home where he has lived most of his life. As he drifts in and out of consciousness his memories seem to intertwine with those of his father, an itinerant peddler, and his grandfather, a minister beset by madness.  His life as a clock repairman serves the reader with the symbolism of time running out.

    I selected this read because it was the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner for literature. Unfortunately that was the best thing it had going for it. The shifts in focus from man to parent to grandparent and back were completely confusing. It was impossible to like or even root for any of the characters because they were held so far at arms length away. Goodreads reviewers who liked the book speak of the writing as ethereal, other-worldly. Here is a quote from someone's review: "Tinkers often reads more like a poem than a novel, holding extended passages describing nature or recollection in huge, meandering sentences that carry meaning and feeling like a swollen river delivers silt. It is not an easy read." The only thing I would agree with this reviewer about is the last sentence: it is not an easy read. Every once in a while I would get the feeling that I knew what the author was doing--reminding us that the process of dying a dislodging of us from the present. For that, I suspect, the author won the big prize. But the book is too confusing to recommend to anyone. My rating: 2 out of 5 stars. (Print book that I own.)


Monday, September 28, 2020

TTT: Favorite quotes from books I've read in 2020 (so far)

Top Ten Tuesday: 

Favorite quotes from a few of the books I've read in 2020 (so far)

...paradise is a world where everything
is a sanctuary & nothing is a gun...
”  -from Don't Call Us Dead: poems by Danez Smith

And then it is another day and another and another but I will not go on about this because no doubt you too have experienced time.” -from Weather by Jenny Offill

Perhaps this is how racism feels no matter the context—randomly the rules everyone else gets to play by no longer apply to you, and to call this out by calling out “I swear to God!” is to be called insane, crass, crazy. Bad sportsmanship.” -from Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankin

The masters could not bring water to boil, harness to horse or strap their own drawers without us. We were better than them. We had to be. Sloth was literal death for us, while for them it was the whole ambition of their lives.” -from The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

There will come a time when we will love humanity, when we will gain the courage to fight for an equitable society for our beloved humanity, knowing, intelligently, that when we fight for humanity, we are fighting for ourselves.” -from Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds

“It is folly to say you know what is happening to other people. Only they know, if they exist. They have their own Universes of their own eyes and ears.” -The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

I do not think it is brave to pick up a gun or to carry a bomb, but it is brave to open yourself up to the potential for loss and disappointment when you have already felt too much of its sting.” -from Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais

The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters.” -from Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtrey

You're in a world full of color and you want to see it in black and white.” -from The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman

People like you to be something, preferably what they are.” -from East of Eden by John Steinbeck


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sunday Salon, September 27

We have had rainy, cold days the past few days. The weather report for the coming week, however, is for warmer, drier days.

Family News: Our new grandson is making a home in our hearts. Above is a photo of grandpa with his grandsons.

Still sad and mad about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and about Trump announcing her replacement, an ultra-conservative. Listen to this speech made by Senator Amy Klobachar after Sen, Ted Cruz justified the GOPs decision to replace RBG now and their hypocrisy. Klobacher is full of righteous indignation.

Good News:

1. This opinion piece titled "Americans are finding out this emperor is naked, and his private parts are not impressive," helped me make it through the week. The author talks about the ways Trump is trying to steal the election and how others will not let it happen. (Dkos)

2. 489 National Security leaders for Biden. Read their statement published in an open letter here. It is fairly brief so I really recommend that you read it all (plus it will give you talking points if you have a chance to inform another voter about Biden's good qualities.) It ends with this, "Joe Biden has the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire. That is why Joe Biden must be the next President of the United States; why we vigorously support his election; and why we urge our fellow citizens to do the same."

3.  The FDA has finally come out with a statement that the process for approving a coronavirus vaccine will not be politicized. Trump is not happy with them, of course, but at least we know that if and when a vaccine does arrive it won't be rushed in the process.

4. As you know, Biden's polling numbers look good, giving Democrats reason to hope. This week the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School reported a Youth Poll (voters aged 18-29) and found the youth support for Biden very high, near the number that Obama got in 2008. 60% support Biden while only 27% support Trump. For contrast, Hillary only got 49% of the youth vote in 2016. And state numbers are looking good, too. Check this out from Georgia:

5. The US Postal Service is undoing all the slow-down measures they recently did and will prioritize election mail. "Ready to deliver Election mail to the nation. Sept. 24 Stand Up memo." The memo was leaked to the press.

6. As you may know Trump is actually talking about a coup if he doesn't win on election night. Here is an excellent article that everyone should read about ten things we can do to stop the coup. (Waging Nonviolence.) After reading the list, sign the pledge (below) at Choose Democracy.

7. Bernie Sanders is very precise about what needs to be done to make sure we have a peaceful transfer of authority in November. Here is a clip from the excellent speech he gave on Thursday this week. For the full speech click here.

8. On a completely unrelated topic, I found these articles so interesting about the value of forest fires. It has been such a horrible year for all the fires in the West but it is good to know that positive things may come from them. Here is the sentence that really got me: "Two years ago, a wildfire that swept the western Columbia River Gorge appeared to be a disaster. Instead, it turned out to be a miracle." (Willamette Week) And another article talks about how forest fires have saved an endangered woodpecker species. (GNN)

On the lighter side:


2. I've wondered this myself about Trump and his rhetoric...

3. I think this cartoon needs wide distribution. Trump and the GOP are doing a head-fake and people aren't paying attention to what they are doing about Social Security and health care.

5. This book it is called There's a Monster at the End of the Book. (Contributed by my daughter and sister.)
6. Ever feel like all of the GOP talking points show us how selfish they really are?


  • Completed
    •  Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. A book club gem We had a great discussion. I finished it just in the nick of time. (Audio)
  • Currently reading
    • Princess Bride by William Goldman. You've seen the movie, did you know there was a book? E-book, 49%.
    • A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig. Washington Post reporters write about the first three years of Trumps presidency. Even though I've heard of all of the events already it is good to have them placed in context to other events. Super well-written.  (Audio, 13%)

I want to know you were here reading this post. Please leave a comment about your thoughts, even if they don't match up with mine. Thanks so much.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Pending reviews

Every once in a while I start feeling overwhelmed because I am falling behind on my blog reviews of books I recently, or not-so-recently read. Today I am making a list of these books, mainly as a catalyst for me to get going, to help me catch up on them. Hyperlinks will appear on this page as I finish up the reviews, if you care to read them.

1. Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore, completed July 6th

2. This Book is Anti-racist by Tiffany Jewell. completed July 9th

3. Kent State by Deborah Wiles, completed  July 31st

4. Tinkers by Paul Harding, completed August 19th

5. Be the Bridge by LaTasha Morrison, completed August 21st

6. For the Love of Books by Graham Tarrant, completed August 26th

7. Finders Keepers by Stephen King, completed  September 1st

8. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, completed September 2nd

9. Bird Box by Josh Malerman, completed September 11th

There are several other books I've read that I am ambivalent about reviewing. I may get to them, or not. Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater (Read in February) and New Kid by Jerry Craft (Read in March) are on that list.



Redhead By the Side of the Road
is Anne Tyler's latest book and my first by the author. I found Redhead a calming, compact read, just right for these days of pandemic lock downs, polarizing politics, and confusing racial tension. 

In this gem, readers meet Micah Mortimer, a 43-year-old man who owns his own business, Tech Hermit, where he is the only employee. He lives in the basement apartment rent-free since he is the "super" for the building doing odd jobs to keep up the repairs and needed tasks to keep thing running smoothly. He lives a simple life full of little routines that give his life the patina of order. For example, he always mops on Mondays and vacuums on Fridays. Even when others tease him about his schedule, he doesn't alter his routine. He has a girl friend, Cassie, and they enjoy a warm and friendly relationship until suddenly they don't. Micah can't figure out what he has does wrong. Around the same time, a person from Micah's past unexpectedly shows up causing further disruptions to his ordered life.

Redhead By the Side of the Road has many positive aspects to it, starting with the title. I usually search for the meaning of the title as I read and this one finally hit me over the head about mid-book. It isn't a person, as I thought it would be, but is a metaphor for the different ways that Micah is blind to his own faults and perceptions. He needs help to see them clearly. 

According to what I've learned from my little bit of research on the author, Micah is a typical Tyler character. He is likable and quirky. "Whether she's writing about unfulfilled empty-nesters, lonely widowers or young control freaks, Tyler's novels demonstrate that it's never too late to change your life" (NPR). Even though Micah leads a perfectly structured life, which is the life he thinks he wants, relationships don't always fit into this kind of organization neatly.  Tyler lets us get very close to Micah as he starts to recognize this. Don't you love a novel where the protagonist makes good growth? I do.

Micah may be a man of routines but he is also goofy and funny. He likes to speak french to himself when he cooks and he thinks that the traffic gods are always looking down on him when he is driving, remarking about the amazing fetes that Micah pulls off on the road. I laughed every single time that Micah evoked a comment from them. When an immature teenager is seen wearing a t-shirt with the words "Grown Up" on the front I couldn't help but laugh at the irony. I was delighted when Micah was tripped by a coat left on the ground by children jumping rope while singing out what sounds like "mislaid mislaid." 

Redhead By the Side of the Road is a small story with a very small set of a characters. It was a calm book to read with just enough humor to keep it lighthearted even when worrying situations arise. I'd say it is the perfect book to read right now with all the turmoil in our lives and I'm glad I did.

I listened to the audiobook, expertly read by MacLeod Andrews. He voice is both warm and wry, just right to be narrating a story about Micah who is also warm and wry. It is the book club selection for September's meeting. I'll circle back after our discussion to update you.

PS-We had a great discussion. It was a fun book to dissect. Here is a list of good reader's guide.


(RHS Book Club, September 2020)

Monday, September 21, 2020

TTT: Fall Reading List

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my fall reading list (and how I did on my summer reading list.) 

Overdrive audio or e-books:

  1. Writers and Lovers by Lily King
  2. A Very Stable Genius by Rucker and Leonnig
  3. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
  4. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  5. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  6. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  7. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  8. Princess Bride by William Goldman
Print books
  1. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesey
  2. Lifting As We Climb by Evette Dionne
  3. Poisoned Water by Candy Cooper
  4. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
  5. Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

How did I do on my Summer list? I had a lot of books on my list and I didn't do too bad. Checks mean I finished the book. A few books I started but didn't finish, look for those notes. Of the nineteen books, only four books were not started at all. Four books are half finished and I plan to finish soon. Eleven books completed from the list.

  1. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult☑
  2. Hinds' Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard☑
  3. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce☑
  4. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King✗
  5. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo✗
  6. How Lovely the Ruins: Inspirational Poems and Words for Difficult Times by Annie Chagnot☑
  7. A Very Stable Genius: Donald Trump's Testing of America by Philip Rucker and Corl Leonnig-Currently on my audio playlist
  8. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood Was returned to library before I finished it, I will request it again to finish it.
  9. Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore☑
  10. Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore☑
  11. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine☑
  12. The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd✗
  13. This Train is Being Held by Ismee Williams  Read half and did not finish.
  14. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins☑
  15. This Book is Anti-racist by Tiffany Jewell☑
  16. Tiny Habits: Small Changes that Change Everything by B.F. Fogg Set aside to tackle at a later date.
  17. Tinkers by Paul Harding☑
  18. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom✗
  19. Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation by LaTasha Morrison☑ 


Monday, September 14, 2020

TTT: The Evolution of Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday: The Evolution of Books Covers

1. Pride and Prejudice... so many to choose from now.

2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit...why mess with success?

3. The Hobbit... can you believe how ugly the original book was? But why not feature an actual hobbit?

4. Animal Farm...A Fairy Story? Really? Notice that part of the title is dropped.

5.To Kill a Mockingbird...the original cover is still available, too.

6. A Clockwork Orange...I don't like either of the covers or the book.

 7. A Wrinkle in Time...I think the version I read the first time had a creepy, Sci-Fi cover.

8. Slaughterhouse-Five...I don't think either of these covers capture the message of the book.

9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone...I love every edition.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Sunday Salon. Sept. 13

My favorite photo of Ian and my Dad. It was taken in September 2018, just months before Dad died. Ian is turning one here and Dad is 90. Love!

Weather: Smokey. Rain is in the forecast for Tuesday. It will not come soon enough.

Family: Today is Ian's 3rd birthday. We will help celebrate the day of his birth with other family members and friends at a county park near their home. Keeping fingers crossed that the smoke doesn't necessitate a cancellation.


  • Currently reading
    • True Trump: An Honest Biography of Trump for Young Adults by Ross Rosenfeld. I agreed to read and review this book for the author. I wish I hadn't. Not because the book is bad, I just hate Trump so much I don't like reading about him for long stretches of time. (e-book, 26%)
  • Completed this week
    • The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Futures of America's Presidents by Kate Messner. A Children's book. It takes an interesting angle---right now there are maybe as many as eight people alive who will become president some day. (e-book)
    • Bird Box by Josh Malerman. A thriller of a post-apocalypse in the near future. Also a book club selection well out of our normal type of selection. (Audio) After I finished listening to it, we watched the movie of it starring Sandra Bullock.

Bad News: 

I know I don't usually spend any time here on this post highlighting the bad news of the week but my thoughts and feelings these days are quite negative. We are living in what smells like a camp fire with forest fires not far from our home causing the need for the evacuation of several friends and church members. Out of caution my sister, who lives in Oregon, evacuated from her home to stay with our mother several miles away. The fire that threatened her home did destroy several small communities on the McKenzie River and it is still raging. The whole west coast seems to be burning.

In addition the news out of Washington, DC was very discouraging this week: President Trump knew in January how contagious the coronavirus was and how it is spread through airborne transmission. Yet, he spent months and months saying it wasn't too bad and no worse than the flu. Soon our country will exceed 200,000 deaths from the virus, after his followers decided to take him at his words, and not wear masks or successfully social distance. Some of his followers still consider the virus to be a hoax. He has also decided to disallow any efforts on the part of any governmental agency to conduct any anti-racism training for the employees. After last week's revelations that he called war heroes who died in service to our country, "losers and suckers," it is amazing to me that he still has any followers left. Yet, he does. How can that be?

Finally, we watched "Unfit" last night on 'On Demand'. It is about how Trump is unfit to be president based on his mental health and his authoritarian impulses. It is very upsetting yet I recommend that you watch and ask your relatives to do so, too. This man needs help. We do not need him running our country. (We had to rent it for $5.99)


Good News: A few positive pieces of news found their way through the smokey haze---

1. Look to God for the Strength to Transcend Our Divisions and Build a More Just America. OpEd by John Kasich. (USA Today) This is worth the time to read the whole thing, but here is my favorite paragraph that comes after the paragraph where Kasich, a republican, says everyone should vote for Biden:

Many of our great leaders, here at home and throughout the world, have seen fit to call on the power of God to intervene in the affairs of men or to inspire us to listen to our better angels. Consider the words of Abraham Lincoln, speaking to Congress in 1861: “…having thus chosen our course, without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear, and with manly hearts.” Consider, too, these words from Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936: “No greater thing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of religion — a revival that would sweep through the homes of the Nation and stir the hearts of men and women of all faiths to a reassertion of their belief in God and their dedication to His will for themselves and for their world.”

2. The Navajo Nation, reeling from so many coronavirus deaths, has now turned its attention to the election under its bipartisan leadership.  (ABC) If you would like to donate to their efforts to get-out-the-vote in Arizona, please follow this link. They currently have 22 paid workers in the field and need our help to support their efforts. (ActBlueNavajo)

3. Trump's idea to defer payroll taxes has turned into a liability for him. It was a bad idea which no one liked, but Trump made it an executive order anyway. Now he says if he is reelected he will make it permanent. That would spell the end for Social Security. It's turning out to be a very bad idea for Trump. (WaPo)

4. Dare I say it? The polls for Biden are looking very good right now. (dKos) Here are few tidbits that really intrigue me:

  • Trumps approval rating: Taken all together and aggregating the seven polls that were reported, average out to a margin of -11.43%.  
  • Predicted percentage of the vote: Trump 39.78%, Biden 54.58%. Just 4 days ago, on Sept. 5, the USC Dornsife poll showed a 9% margin. It is now a 15% margin.  In this poll Biden’s lead has widened by 6% over the last 5 days!//One week ago, on Sept. 2, the Reuters/Ipsos poll showed a 7% margin. It is now a 12% margin.  In this poll Biden’s lead has widened by 5% over the last week.
  • How does this compare to 2016? There are half as many undecided voters as there were at this time in 2016. Also 1% of Clinton voters say they will support Trump while 8% of Trump voters in 2016 now say they will vote for Biden. What I don't know is where are these 8% of voters living? If they are all in California or New York, it doesn't help.

5. Twitter saved me a few times this week, especially reading the thread from the tweet from Jon Meacham, a presidential historian, after Trump compared his actions of not telling the American people about the seriousness of the coronavirus to what Churchill told the Brits during WWII...

On the lighter side, and boy do I need a lighter side this week:

1. On a related note...

2. This goes without saying...

3. Ever feel like you are living in a Dystopian novel? 


4. I chuckle about this one every time I think about it.

5. And this one, forwarded to me by my husband...

6. As a teacher, I can't help myself...

7. Right about now Van Gogh is wishing he hadn't cut off his ear (forwarded to me from my daughter)

8. Sometimes we just don't seem to be communicating on the same level. (Shared by my other daughter). Here God and an angel have some miscommunication...

I hope next week I am a more cheerful version of myself. What will help make me happy right now is if you leave me a comment below or on my Facebook page. Thanks. I appreciate it that you took the time to read this.


Friday, September 11, 2020

Review and quotes: DANCING AT THE PITY PARTY

: Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir by Tyler Feder

Book Beginnings (page 1):

Friday56 quote (page 49, last on free preview):

Summary: Described as "part poignant cancer memoir and part humorous reflection on a motherless life", Tyler Feder's debut work is touching and funny, sad but hopeful, while being brutally honest and raw. From beginnings as the oldest of three sisters to loving Jewish parents, through the first oncology appointments, through the progression of the disease and eventual death, sitting Shiva, and finally to the days, months, and years of being motherless, Feder draws you into her world in a touching and personal way.

Review: I admit that I am a fan of the graphic biography. I don't often read memoirs and biographies because they are so long and often full of details I don't care about. But the graphic memoir is a perfect medium to read about a life while being entertained with the artists' ideas of what is important. I read Dancing At the Pity Party in one go, stopping only occasionally to dab my eyes and blow my nose for crying. In addition to the story of her life, Feder includes lists of information tht are helpful to anyone who has a friend or family member experiencing the same thing. For example she creates a list of what to say to a grieving person and what NOT to say. I forwarded it to a group of friends in my church. It was so practical.

As I was looking through the reviews on Goodreads, I noticed this one written by Steven Feder (Hmm, same last name.) Yes, it was written by her father...

Steven Feder rated it: amazing. My late wife (and Tyler's mother), Rhonda, was a bright, beautiful, sensitive, loving and very kind woman, unlike anyone I had ever known. She was a wonderful wife of 21 years and an adoring mother. She epitomized the meaning of the word "mother" and was totally devoted to her children. Rhonda "walked softly but carried a big stick". She was respected and admired by all who knew her and her loss was and continues to be seismic. In reading my daughter Tyler's memoir, "Dancing at the Pity Party", I gained an even greater insight into the special relationship between them. Through my daughter's ever-lasting love for her mother, and her immense talent, I am so glad the memory of this amazing woman can be honored in this special way. Thank you, Tyler. I love you.

That alone should be enough to encourage you to read it. I found my copy as an e-book at my library. Check out your library to see if they have it. If not, request that they buy it. It is worth the effort.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.   


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Reviews: Nonfiction Children's Books

For the past three years I have served as a judge for the Cybils Book awards the JH/SH Nonfiction category. I placed my name in nomination to be a judge again but this year the category is extended to include nonfiction children's and middle grade books as well. I don't know if I will be selected but I thought I'd better dip my toe into the children's nonfiction water to see what I think, just in case I am. I couldn't be more delighted with the books I've read and look forward to exploring more children's nonfiction as books come to my attention.

Title: The Cat Man from Aleppo
Authors: Irene Latham and Kirim Shamsi-Basha
Illustrator: Yuko Shimizu
Publishing info: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, c. April 2020, 40 pages.
Age range: 4-8 years old
Summary: Alaa loved his city Aleppo but now that the Syrian Civil war has come to it, the city is unrecognizable and so empty---all except for cats. There are so many cats which were left behind when people fled their homes. Alaa decides he will do something to save the cats but soon he needs help from others to feed and protect them.
Review: I was touched by this true story about Alaa, his city Aleppo, and the many cats he has saved. The illustrations really drew me in. I was especially heart-broken to see the illustrations of Aleppo before the war compared to afterwards. The book would provide a good jumping off spot for parents or teachers to talk about the consequences of war and how one person can make a big difference if they put out a consistent effort.

Title: Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights
Author: Beth Anderson
Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
Publishing info: Calkins Creek, c. January 2020, 32 pages.
Age Range: 5-9 years old
Summary: In 1854 Lizzie Jennings, a black school teacher, is denied a seat on the streetcar. She fights back against the discrimination and so begins the long struggle of equal rights on public transportation in this country.
Review: I am so pleased that publishers are finally printing books about aspects of black history other than Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. Here, one hundred years before Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus, Lizzie Jennings fights for the right to ride a streetcar. Add this book to many others for young readers to learn about the many heroic stories of blacks fighting for their rights. It is a very timely read.

Title: The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read
Author: Rita Lorraine Hubbard
Illustrator: Oge Mora
Publishing info: Schwartz and Wade, c. January 2020, 40 pages.
Age range: 4-8 years old
Summary: In 1848 Mary Walker was born a slave. After the Civil War she was freed but she had to work very hard to make a living and raise her family. In 1964, when she was 116 years old, Mary Walker learned to read.
Review: I absolutely loved this charming story of Mary Walker and her determination to learn to read before she died. And if I was handing out the Caldecott Award for best illustrations, Oge Mora would win for this book. The illustrations were created in collage style and I loved the color and the texture on each page. Young readers will be amazed that someone so old hadn't learned to read yet, and adults will marvel at Mary's long life and her final accomplishment.

Title: Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera
Author: Candace Fleming
Illustrator: Eric Rohmann
Publishing info: Neal Porter Books, c. Febrauary 2020, 40 pages.
Age range: 6-9 years old, but everyone will like it
Summary: Get up close and personal with one honeybee, Apis, as she embarks on her journey through life.
Review: Think you know a lot about bees? Think again. You will realize you know very little about bees when you read and revel in this masterpiece about the life of one bee. I read this to my young grandson a few days ago and he really got into the story of what Apis does on each day of her short life. At the end of each page the reader is asked if Apis is ready to fly yet. The answer at the top of the next page is "Not yet!" Ian got into saying "not yet" with me. Apis has to do a lot of tasks before she is able to fly and collect nectar. This book is not only a personal favorite, it has received starred reviews from SEVEN publications, and rave reviews from many others who don't give stars. The illustrations are simply gorgeous.


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

TTT: Books My Teen Self Would Have Loved

 Top Ten Tuesday: Books My Younger Self Would have Loved
Note: When I was a teenager, there was barely such a thing as YA literature. So I read books written for adults which were much tamer than most adult books today. I remember one author would make her characters "kiss hard." I was innocent and thought that meant that their lips smashed together. Ha! So this is a list of YA titles I know I would have loved as a teenager, since I loved them as an adult. I was and are, a sucker for a tear-jerker, love story.

1. Stolen by Lucy Christopher
2. Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
4. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
5. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
6. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
7. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler 
8. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey 
9. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
10.  The Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater