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Month: September 2017

Book a Day Challenge – Days 26-28

Book a Day Challenge – Days 26-28

Coming down to the wire.  I need to finish two tomorrow so we’ll see if I can do it.  I’ve got a few started but none of them are grabbing me so I may have to rely on a few super short ones.

IMG_1700 (2)G and I took turns reading Clifford Sees America.  He read one half one day and then the other half the next day.  He felt proud of himself, but still tends to be too hard on himself when he doesn’t know words, even words he has no way of knowing.  We’ll get there.  He also wanted to make sure his sandwich got in the pic 🙂

I read the graphic memoir Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley.  This is my third book by the talented graphic artist and author and this feel between the two for me.  I liked it and loved her drawings, but I was also bored.  Wedding planning is a wonderful and tedious business and it is probably most interesting to the people who know you or are going through the same process.  I do think this would be a perfect gift for the newly engaged.

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G read From Head to Toe by Eric Carle – fun!  and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold.  They are reading all the Fly Guy books for school.  They are just right where he needs to be to be pushing himself a bit.

I listened to Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen, read by Hillary Huber.  The Mennonites aren’t new to me,  live within an hours or so of the biggest Amish community outside of Pennsylvania and have visited often, but if they had been maybe this would have been a little more interesting.  Rhoda had a string of bad luck culminating when her husband left for someone he met on and she moved back in with her parents in her 40’s.  It was a little disjointed, but ultimately I liked it.

I read Hourglass: Time, Memoir, Marriage by Dani Shapiro.  This slight memoir flitting around her marriage from before to beginning to present with little vignettes about things that happened over the years of their 18 year marriage.  The writing was beautiful and some of it was thought provoking, although I had expected it to go a bit deeper.  I enjoyed the writing so I’ll have to add some of Shapiro’s fiction to my reading list.  Thank to my friend Britt who recommended this 145 page book to get me close to the finish line of this month’s challenge.


Book A Day Challenge Days 24 & 25

Book A Day Challenge Days 24 & 25

It’s going to be an exciting finish.  We’ll see if I can make it to 30!

IMG_1692G read two Eric Carle books, Today is Monday, which was hard, and The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, which wasn’t.  But both super fun and he liked them.

I listened to Yes Please by Amy Pohler.  She read it along with a few friends helping her along the way: Kathleen Turner, Seth Meyers, Patrick Stewart, Carol Burnett, her parent, and probably one or two more that I forgot about.

I liked it, but for me, I felt like she was trying to hard.  Maybe that’s just part of her charm, because I know she’s funny.  I laughed and learned that she’d been at this comedy thing longer than I thought.  I was impressed to learn about the Upright Citizens’ Brigade that she helped form, less impressed with her sex tips. She is accomplished and successful and full of energy.  I LOVE Parks and Recreation and might have loved a book written by the great Leslie Knope even better.

I also listened to what will surely be added to my list of favorite books, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines.  I found it addictive.  I couldn’t wait to sit down and put my feet up to read.  But, I should point out that this is not a true story, it is not an autobiography.  It’s fiction.  Miss Jane was 110 years old when she was being interviewed for this book, having been a slave until Lincoln freed her. She thinks she was 11, but isn’t sure.  She tried to start walking to Ohio, but never did make it out of Louisiana.  Her plight was choppy, I mean, she ‘s covering 110 years in a 300 page book, but her stories were perfect.  I loved the writing and I broke into tears in the middle (this almost never happens!)  I wanted to spend way more time with Miss Jane, but I find solace in the fact that there is an old movie I can watch.


Book a Day Challenge – Day 23

Book a Day Challenge – Day 23

I could do more reviews, but I’ve got to wait until G gets home to catch up on the pictures of the books we’ve read.

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G read I See A Cat and it was fun and easy and he enjoyed it.

I read What Would Martin Say? by Clarence B. Jones and Joel Engel.

I think I won this copy in a giveaway when it first came out…in 2008.  It looked interesting, but not interesting enough.  Now that I’ve finished it I feel much the same way.  It started so strong and I was loving it and then somewhere around the halfway point (on immigration) he lost me.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a man taken to soon by a madman’s bullet (too common even today because of the NRA). What would have happened if he lived (would he still be attending RNC conferences?)?  How different would America look?  See what I did here by adding pointless political comments that add nothing to the conversation?  Clarence B. Jones, King’s personal lawyer for eight years, couldn’t seem to stop from adding these asides to illuminate the Republican party in a positive light. The first half was so interesting and I loved the behind the scenes look at history.  It led to great discussions with Jason as I was reading.  This was pretty much a play by play of the conservative view of race and how it should be handled.  I recognized all of the talking points, but the stories and the ease of the storytelling made it fresh.  Then halfway in he turned to immigration, anti-Semitism, and terrorism and it felt more like Jones justifying how he felt and using King to do so.  The problem is that these are different problems than when Martin was alive and Jones was too adamant about putting words in King’s mouth, understandable since he helped write King’s speeches.  I no longer felt like he was channeling King.

So, it was a mixed bag for me.  I loved the history and personal stories.  The beginning about how King recruited him was fun and also showed a lot about King himself.  It was worth reading for sure, but it did disappoint in the end, not because I agreed or disagreed, but because he never really convinced me that he knew with certainty what Kings’ views would be.  It was a discussion starter for sure.

Book a Day Challenge – 20-22, Good Stuff

Book a Day Challenge – 20-22, Good Stuff

Okay, okay, I need catch up this week since day 30 is fast approaching.  I am one book behind.  Not panicking yet, but I’m close.  I made use of shorter books these past few days so that’s helped my sense of accomplishment.  Maybe next year I’ll do a graphic novel a day.

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G read Fly High, Fly Guy! by Tedd Arnold. This was to be read for school and he read it to his Grandma.

Last week when I took my mom vacation day I visited a new independent bookstore and found these two books featuring the Women’s March in January.  I wasn’t sure which one I wanted so I bought both.  Between the two, Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope by Artisan Press and Why I March: Images from the Woman’s March Around the World edited by Samantha Weiner and Emma Jacobs, I preferred the former (on the bottom in the picture).  It had quotes from the march in Washington DC that the other didn’t.  Both were great and took me back to one of the most inspiring days of my life.  This country needs a little more protesting and a little less sitting on our butts and complaining about people who don’t agree with us.  We need more of what I felt that day, hope.  And belief that there are enough good, decent people who are willing to take time out their days to fight for a kinder and smarter country with leaders we can actually be proud of.  There were marches on every continent – even Antarctica – and no arrests. I will always support a peaceful protest. I was inspired all over again.  Here are a few of my favorite signs.

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IMG_1671G read Have You Seen My Cat by Eric Carle.  At first he complained about all the words and how long it was and then he realize it was basically the same to sentences on every page.  Win for him.

I read The Writing Life by Annie Dillard.  I admit that I picked this up at a book sale last week because it was short and a memoir.  I’m so glad that I made the impulsive choice.  I’ve never read Annie Dillard before, but found her writing beautiful.  She doesn’t make the writing life sound like very much fun, but I loved the honesty and the insight into how a mind can go a little nutty while writing.  If you are a writer I think this slim book is worth reading.

IMG_1650 (2)G read Maisy Goes to Bed by Lucy Cousins.  This was pretty easy and it had stuff to move and open so that was fun.  So much fun I think he even liked reading it.

I read Candida Albicans: Could Yeast Be Your Problem by Leon Chaitow.  Last year a friend gave me this book when I told her I’d always suspected that G had a yeast problem.  I kept it, unread, until a Thursday doctor appointment confirming my suspicions (among many other things).  So, this book was helpful for me to get and overview and firmer grasp on treatment. A treatment I need to start for G this week which means changing about 75-80% of his diet. Fun times.

Book a Day Challenge – Bad Mother and Mr. Wonka

Book a Day Challenge – Bad Mother and Mr. Wonka

I’m never going to keep up with these reviews!  Nothing to be done for it but to fir them in when I can.  We combined our books for the 18th & 19th pic because we’re getting a little behind on the photo taking too.  This challenge is kicking my butt.


G read 2 Biscuit books and gave no complaints, woohoo!  Slowly, slowly but surely he is becoming more confident in himself and his reading abilities.

I read Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments Grace by Ayelet Waldman

I’m not sure why I was expecting something funny, but I was.  Although Waldman does write with humor this book was heartfelt and dealt with some heavy topics.  Sex, abortion, bipolar disorder, sexual identity, social media pushback, four kids with different needs.  There’s a lot to take in and appreciate.  Her honesty was admirable, her battles recognizable, and her love of family inspiring.  I really liked this one even though it wasn’t the barrels of laughs I was hoping for.

I also listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

The audio was excellent and even had sound effects.  At only 3 1/2 hours I’m thinking about listening to it again with G because I think this is perfect for kids.  Is Willy Wonka the best person to hold up as an example of all good things?  Nope.  But the story is so fantastical and fun that I can overlook that.  I loved the original movie with Gene Wilder and this took me right back there, to my childhood, excited every time one of the few channels on TV was showing the movie.  I can’t say enough good things about the audio production and am glad that I experienced the story that way for this one.


Book a Day Challenge – Days 16-17

Book a Day Challenge – Days 16-17

Okay, I’m here to do a bit of catching up before I get back to reading my book for the day.  Life has been busy and finding the time to read has been a struggle, but I will prevail.  I finished two books on Monday because I didn’t finish one on Sunday I chose a fun date night downtown with the hubby instead and he even put me up in a fancy hotel, woohoo :))  Anyhoo, here’s what we’ve been reading.



We’re looking at the computer because his teacher assigned him a book to read online so we counted it as his daily book.  It was called Fog by John Rousselle and he did a good job.  Unlike his mama, he prefers the nonfiction, give-me-the-facts books.

I listened to Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. I don’t keep up with Comedy Central’s The Daily Show much since Jon Stewart left, but I have seen Trevor and he’s good.  He’s smart and I love smart guys.  Also, as some of you may remember, we were able to have three Africans who were attending Mandela training here in the US over for dinner one night this summer and one of them was from South Africa, so I felt a real connection with Trevor and the stories from his home country.  Trevor’s honesty and humor about his early life during apartheid was shocking. His mother is black and his father is white.  Reading how he could not walk with his dad to the park or grocery shop with his mother made me so sad.  The memoir ended too soon and I wish it had been longer.  But now he can write another book and earn another payday.

IMG_1608G read Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.  This one was long with lots of words so I read it to him twice before I made him try it.  It’s a great book and I highly recommend.  A mother and child plant flowers, plants and flowers every year to make a rainbow in their garden when everything blooms.

I finished The Color Purple by Alice Walker and I loved it.  Honestly, it was one of those classics like 1984 that I thought would not live up to the hype.  Only it did.  It exceeded expectations and now I’m anxious to get my hands on the movie. I want to spend more time with Celie and Sofia and Shug and Nettie.  I kind of want to read it again right now.  In 1930’s Georgia what kind of life did black women lead?  Still relevant and still addictingly readable.


Book a Day – this challenge is hard!

Book a Day – this challenge is hard!

So, we’ve read 15 books in 15 days although I finished none yesterday and two today.  I took a much needed mom vacation yesterday.  After dropping off Gage at the school bus I came home and slept for two hours then went to two bookstores, one waterfall, two restaurants and two movies and came home after my two guys were sleeping.  It was an energizing and centering day.   Today we went to a water treatment plant open house and our first stop on the tour was where they take to poop out.  Back on mom duty 🙂

IMG_1514G read Swimmers.  Contrary to this smile, when we read it ten minutes later all I got was attitude 🙁

I read A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson.

I really connected with this woman who was feeling out of sorts in her life.  Her sons were on their own and her husband came home and said that he had taken a job that would force them to move.  I got her.  I was rooting for her when she embraced new challenges on her own.  I’ve never lived on my own, always having a roommate, so I was living vicariously.  It started strong, but she did lose me a little halfway through.  I liked then ending so, all in all, I’m glad I read it.

IMG_1525 (2)G read What a Week  and Cute! both by Cynthia Amoroso and Bob Noyed to Grandma.  He was pretty disgruntled by the second one, but probably because it was a little longer.

I read Hemann Hesse: A Pictorial Biography Edited by Volker Michels.  I have never read anything by Hermann Hesse, but on my mom vacation I saw this out of print book and was intrigued.  It is seriously like an Hesse Instgram.  Pictures, drawings, and book covers on every pages with captions to tell his story.  I thought this translation was fun and loved to see the pictures from pre 1900’s in Europe with the captions that told his story.  It didn’t necessarily make me want to read his classic Siddhartha, but I did find it interesting.  Instagram before its time.

Not sure why my fingers look so funky in this pic.

I also listened to 1984 by George Orwell.  I finished this five minutes ago and need to go to bed.  My initial thoughts are that it, a book written in 1949, has so much to say about  today it’s scary.  The Doublespeak coming from the White Hose everyday should scare the crap out of everyone, no exceptions.  As a story it wasn’t the best, but the world building and insight into human nature make this a worthy classic.


Book a Day – 3 for 3

Book a Day – 3 for 3

Yesterday, I got the worst sinus headache and had to lay down for a few hours after dinner almost foiling my plan to finish Three Men in a Boat.  Almost.  I’m stubborn and forced myself up and reading by some muted light.  I’ll say that this most likely affected my enjoyment of the book.  I read it with a smile on my face and even laughed out loud a few times, but found myself reading too fast just so I could finish.  Anyway, I’m back on track!

IMG_1481On Monday G brought home a book a book from school that he was supposed to color and read.  I think it’s called Where Animals Live.  I was very impressed that he read it almost flawlessly.  I’m not making him read challenging enough books!

I listened to Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell and I loved it.  The first line, “It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shred that, too.”  Just beautiful.  Caldwell is a Pulitzer Prize winner and this story of her friendship with author Caroline Knapp is so moving.  These two women shared such a bond and to have it broken at such an early age, Knapp was in her early 40’s, was heartbreaking.  The most moving to me was how Caldwell shared her own struggles with alcohol, something that she and Knapp shared.  It was a beautiful tribute to an enviable friendship.

IMG_1506On Tuesday G read Wet Pet by Harriet Ziefert and Yuko Kido.  He loved the layout of the book, with the cutout letters, the most.  What ever it takes to get him excited about a book he has to read himself!

I listened to and read Dryland: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety by Nancy Stearns Bercaw.  I read this for a TLC Book Tour.  I’m having trouble copying and pasting my review from my book blog so I’ll just link it here.

IMG_1511 (2)Yesterday G read Look! by Ted Lewin.  He was pretty whiny about reading it even though it was an easy book, but I don’t blame him.  On Wednesdays we go straight from the bus to OT and don’t get back home until after 5 and then he has to do homework!  Hopefully we’ll be back to happy reading tomorrow 🙂

As I mentioned above, I read Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. This classic from 1889 is still funny.  Three young men and a fox terrier take a boat down the Thames River.  I’m just going to leave you with a taste of the writing…

We got up tolerably early on the Monday morning at Marlow, and went for a bathe before breakfast; and, coming back, Montmorency made an awful ass of himself.  The only subject on which Montmorency and I have any serious difference of opinion is cats.  I like cats; Montmorency does not.

When I meet a cat, I say, ‘Poor Pussy!’ and stoop down and tickle the side of its head; and the cat sticks up its tail in a rigid, cast-iron manner, arches its back, and wipes its nose up against my trousers; and all is gentleness and peace.  When Montmorency meets a cat, the whole street knows about it; and there is enough bad language wasted in ten seconds to last an ordinary respectable man all his life, with care.

I do not blame the dog (contenting myself, as a rule, with merely clouting his head or throwing stones at him), because I take it that it is his nature.  Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs are, and it will take years and years of patient effort on the part of us Christians to bring about any appreciable reformation in the rowdiness of the fox terrier nature.


Book a Day Challenge – It’s Another Twofer

Book a Day Challenge – It’s Another Twofer

What a weekend.  As Jason went to bed tonight he said it’s been the worst weekend he can remember.  Poor guy has had a migraine after going over a year without one.  That meant that G and I got more one on one time which was nice.  After being together all summer it’s a weird adjustment when he goes back to school.  As you can see by the pics, we had a very laid back weekend.

IMG_1462What G read – On  the Boat by Cynthia Amoroso.  He’s getting tired of me asking what the books are about and said that all he was going to tell me was that he liked the girl’s surprised face on page 10.  Okay!

I read Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson.

I’m glad that I decided to add in classics this month.  I’ve read seven bios and three classics.  When I asked Jason how I was going to fit in a book today (we had 3 plans made, but cancelled 2) he told me he thought the challenge was too hard.  But by focusing on books on my shelves that I never take the time to read I get to discover gems that had I not given myself a deadline may never had happened.  Winesburg, Ohio is one of those.  It takes place in Ohio, check.  It’s on my Classics Club list, check.  Fellow book blogger Care sent it to me years ago, check.  Desire to read it, not so much.  It was a series of short stories and looked pretty boring. It wasn’t.

Winesburg, Ohio is a series of 22 stories set in the fictional town.  Anderson wrote them in 1915-1916 and Winseburg was a small farming town in northern Ohio. Newspaper reporter George Williard is in most of the stories as a main character or in the periphery.  Life in this town left no one unscathed, but the stories were beautifully intertwined, like a puzzle.  I was always happy to pick it back up to see who I’d be hearing about next.  The structure was unique at the time and it credited for influencing many writers like Hemingway, Faulkner, Updike, and Bradbury.  I loved it!


G read Lolli-Pops and I couldn’t tell you what it was about since he read it to Jason when I went grocery shopping 🙂

I read How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else by Michael Gates Gill.

Gill was successful ad man in New York City who met lots of famous people growing up.  His father, a writer at The New Yorker, ran in some pretty interesting circles.  But one day in his 50’s Gill is let go from his job, has an affair and gets her pregnant and then must come clean to his wife and four children.  He wasn’t exactly eliciting a great deal of sympathy.  After several years of trying to make it on his own he was out of money.  He happened into a job at Starbucks and turned into a walking advertisement for the company.  I don’t doubt his sincerity and I loved the connections he made, but he was still a man who loved to name drop and still seemed a little oblivious to the real world.  But, all in all, it was a heartwarming story and made me want to be reading it at a Starbucks!

Book a Day – A Mother’s love knows no limits

Book a Day – A Mother’s love knows no limits


G read The Red Car by Bobby Lynn Maslen and John R Maslen.  There were three names in the short book and he made me laugh every time he called Mark ‘Marble’.  I told him I was going to start calling him Garble 🙂

I read An Unexpected Life: A Mother and Son’s Story of Love, Determination, Autism and Art by Debra Chwast with paintings by Seth Chwast.

Jason and I were able to hear locals Debra and Seth speak at an autism conference years ago and it was inspiring to see what this tireless mother has done to make her son shine.  Seth was diagnosed with autism at a young age and Debra says in the book that she cried for three years.  “For most of Seth’s childhood I was frantic confused, weepy and in over my head”  She read and tried every therapy she could find, but when Seth turned 18, she was told that he was most suitable for dry mopping (whatever that it).  She hired art therapists, art teachers and just plain artists after it became apparent that Seth had a gift.  You can check out his paintings here.  Since then they have travelled extensively, had films made about him and even been on the Today Show twice.  His works have hung in some very prestigious places and yet he needs 24 hour supervision.  Even when he paints she must pay someone to be there otherwise Seth wouldn’t even pick up a brush.

The book is gorgeous and there are at least 120 paintings included, each one including Seth’s own description of it.  Seth and his mother have benefitted from an abundance of money, so this is not the autism story many can afford, but that in no way diminishes Seth’s talent.  He’s a true artist.  It’s how he communicates with the world.  You can visit his website here.