Wednesday, April 1, 2020

How To Use Picture Books for Number Learning

I know a lot of people are at home with their kids and the expectations of teaching / helping the when they are out of school are nerve wracking.  Some districts have given direction, some have not.  Some schools are closed for THE SCHOOL YEAR.  (OH , my heart.)

Using books to learn is kind of my wheel house as a former preschool teacher.  I'm going to share a day in the life at our house where we focused on 'numbers.'  Keep in mind I have a third grader and an almost 6 month old.

Mind you, we do not have a strong focus every day.  We are currently on 'spring break' and my daughters school district has been incredible.  We are a 1:1 technology district and they are all set up in google classroom and have been sharing ideas, lessons, zooms and more with our families.  This is simply a way to EASILY incorporate some learning into your reading.  Use your books and your kid to focus on certain topics/strategies.  I do this more for me on some days than the kids.  On a typical day it would be me and the baby and I try to pick out different books to read to her so I do not get bored of the same ole thing.  And if you just can't? So be it.  Hug your kids, settle them in for some snuggles and we will get through this.

10:45 I get the baby out of her crib and change her.  Then we settle on her rug in her bedroom and I give her a book to chew and scrunch on as I scan the shelves.  I decided to do books that had to something to do with numbers because my end goal was to have a small conversation about fractions with the 8 year old to see what she really knew about them.


We read through these.  She rolled on the floor, sometimes watching, mostly just listening.  She chewed on books and touched them.

While reading 1,2,3, Counting I...

- Pointed at each object and counted them, alternating between Spanish counting and English counting because I can, sometimes I have the 8 year old count to her in Mandarin because she knows that and it keeps her skills fresh

While reading Jane Eyre I,

- I read the words and then pointed and counted out the objects on each page

While reading the others, I used different voices and pointed out the number of objects on each page.

In the middle of this reading which took all of 15 minutes, probably was less time, the 8 year old appeared and did some choral reading (reading at the same time) with me to finish out The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  That's when I told her to go to her room and find books that had something to do with numbers and bring them out to the living room because at this point her sister was cranky and needed to nurse.

11:15ish We put the baby in the excersaucer and we settled in with the books she brought out.



We started with 1,2,3 Peas and I

- Asked how many peas do you think are on this page?
- The 8 year old asked on page 60, "I wonder if there really are 60 peas.  I'm going to count." So she did.
- She did the same on the 70s page.
- Then she asked me to count on the 80s page.




We read One Fish,  Two Fish,  Red Fish, Blue Fish and...

- A character had 11 fingers and I said, "how many fingers does Adeline have?" The 8 year old counted them.  Then I said how many do you have and she counted her fingers.  I asked how many I had and she said 10.  I said how many do we have all together and she said 30.  And I said, yes, 3 people times 10 fingers is 30!

- Then the 8 year old said, "We all have 10 toes too." So we have 30 toes too."

- There was a line about ears.  And the 8 year old pointed to the baby and said, "she has 2 ears. we all have to ears.  All of us toether have 6 ears. " And I said , "yup.  2 ears times 3 people equals 6.'

- There was a line about 10 cats on a head.  So I asked, "are there really 10 cats on his head?" And the 8 year old counted them out.

Bonus non math learning...
We talked about rhyming and did choral reading..



We read Pete the Cat's First Thanksgiving and...

- We talked about the amount of time they sailed on the ship
- We counted the calendar days on a calendar in the book.

Bonus non math learning...
- We talked about what we were thankful for.
- The 8 year old read what was underneath all the flaps.

We read The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Pig and...

(this is when the rails went off for the baby... she stopped bouncing and we had to move her around and entertain her to get through this one ha)

Bonus non math learning
- 8 year old predicted that the strength of the houses would go in reverse order than the first book (strongest to weakest)

After we finished reading this book, I told the 8 year old I wanted her to draw a brick house using two different colors of bricks and to make sure you could see the difference between the bricks.

We then took a break for lunch, making baby oatmeal for tomorrow, doing dishes, 8 year old got dressed/went outside to pick up sticks and jump rope, I nursed the baby again, folded clothes, switched laundry, and got the baby back down.

 1:00 ish... The 8 year old finished her drawing.  I had her count all of the bricks.  Then I had her count out how many orange/yellow bricks, then how many brown bricks.  I had her add them up to see if the total matched.  She was getting a little frustrated and wasn't sure how many she counted but we decided 56 was her number.

I asked her if she knew how to write this information as a fraction.  She said no, but I can put it in a pie graph.  So I showed her what I meant and she showed me what she meant.

Then I asked her if she had ever seen fractions written  like 1/3, 1/4 etc.  She didn't remember them from school but knew what I meant from baking.  So then I had her get me a cup measurement and a 1/3 cup measurement.  I asked her how many of the 1/3 cups she thought it would take to fill up the cup.  She said 2.  So I told her to go out to the kitchen and fill up the 1/3 and see how many times she could pour it in.  She got 2 in and said, I can't get anymore! I said there's room but you may not be able to carry it out here, so go see.  So then she filled up one more 1/3 cup full and it fit.

So then I showed her how to write the fractions and how a pie graph of 1/3, 2/3, and 3/3 cups of water would look like.


As you can see super formal here on a back of a worksheet with a drawing from a Mo Doodles the other day.  :)

Then we took a break so she could read more Harry Potter.  And at some point in the afternoon she did play on Prodigy  (math related site) for awhile.

Hours later, we went on a family walk.  I said, "Hey we have 4 people in our family, what fraction of our family are girls?" She said 3 out of 4," which is correct.  So I asked about boys, she replied, " one fourth," also correct.  My husband then said, "what is 3/4 plus 1/4" and she said, "4 out 4 or 1 whole."

So what I got out of this, is my kid DOES know some stuff about fractions even though she claimed she didn't.  She got practice counting, reading, and teaching her baby sister.  The baby got positive interaction, number words, and learns about different voices of reading.

It can be super simple.  It can get more complicated.  There are TONS of activities you could do with these books.  Or not.  Or just read.  Or watch tv and ask questions.  We will get through this.

And if you want some suggestions? I'll be glad to send you ideas and resources.

What are some of your favorite books that have numbers in them?



Thursday, March 5, 2020

A Place Called Jubilee


I was given the opportunity to read and review, A Place Called Jubilee by Timothy J Garrett.  I was intrigued by the description:

"Deception, witchcraft, and the secrets of a long-dead former slave churn the life of ambitious young clergyman Coleman Hightower – even as fear, bombings, and riots rock the nation. Timothy J. Garrett’s historical novel A PLACE CALLED JUBILEE tells Coleman’s story as he leaves his mountain home and arrives in Washington D.C. in 1961 as the Civil Rights movement explodes across America. Coleman’s plans for a prestigious life are torn apart by his forbidden longing for beautiful and fiery activist Rosalee. His search for meaning turns into a desperate journey that takes him and the woman of his dreams all the way to Jubilee, Alabama – a place where intrigue, betrayal, and murder combine to make Coleman wonder if he will win Rosalee’s love or even leave the tiny town alive. "


The book does change time and place between chapters (easy to follow and each chapter tells you the time and place) but the majority of the story takes place following President Kennedy's 1961 inauguration that Coleman witnesses.  

The reader is introduced to Coleman and the rough childhood he had in the mountains.  He was raised by is Granny who we are told was a conjurer and his rough and stoic father.  His granny always told him e would be 'more' and he was able to break out of the mountains and attend college.  Following college he moved to Washington D.C. to learn from a pastor and to one day have his own church.

However, following the inauguration, Coleman is almost killed and is saved by a young woman who changes the course of his life.  Rosalee makes Coleman question all that he thought he was going to do with his life.

She is heavily involved in the civil rights movement and this intrigues Coleman. 

Another life altering moment occurs and Coleman is faced with a choice, Rosalee or becoming a prominent pastor.

There are a few twists and turns and a little magical realism that just kind of muddles things a bit and a lot of talk about civil rights, relationships between black and white people and the treatment of black people by white people.  There is heavy use of the 'n' word.

If you would like to win a copy of this book check out the Rafflecopter below.

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I was given a copy of this book for review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

What I read in February

My reading in February was kind of funny.  I did most of it on the weekend.  I don't know why, but usually during the week, specifically during the day, it feels weird to just read.  Now if I am on a deadline for book club or if I just HAVE to know 'who did it' I will sometimes read during the week day, but for the most part I read a lot in the evening and on the weekends.  All of these books were read practically all in one day chunks.  On the weekends.  I've already read differently than this since March started, but it was interesting to see that fact of February.  Which, I read far more THIS February than last, when I only read 3 books as I was in the throes of morning/all day sickness!



Real Murders is the first book in the Aurora Teagarden series by Charlaine Harris, who wrote the Sookie Stackhouse books. She's written others, but I honestly only knew she wrote those until I found Aurora Teagarden on Hallmark!  The book vs. movie has a ton of differences.  I watched the movies first and the read the books.  If I could pick, I'd have read the books first because there are some significant character differences and it makes it hard when the movies were fresh to readjust to the book!  Aurora is a small town librarian who is in a club called Real Murders Club.  They like to discuss real murders and murderers.  In this book, someone is stalking members of the club and setting up them up for murder!  These are a really quick read and a very cozy mystery feel.  If you like Amanda Flower mysteries, I'd check out this series.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a re-read.  As when I read it the first time, I devoured it.  Highly recommend if you need a good story.  There is some sadness, but the overall story is just a good story, full of funny, strong female characters.  If you enjoyed The Help, Dollbaby, or Gods in Alabama, I'd recommend this book.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota was another book I really enjoyed. 

"A novel of family, Midwestern values, hard work, fate and the secrets of making a world-class beer.

Two sisters, one farm. A family is split when their father leaves their shared inheritance entirely to Helen, his younger daughter. Despite baking award-winning pies at the local nursing home, her older sister, Edith, struggles to make what most people would call a living. So she can't help wondering what her life would have been like with even a portion of the farm money her sister kept for herself.

With the proceeds from the farm, Helen builds one of the most successful light breweries in the country, and makes their company motto ubiquitous: "Drink lots. It's Blotz." Where Edith has a heart as big as Minnesota, Helen's is as rigid as a steel keg. Yet one day, Helen will find she needs some help herself, and she could find a potential savior close to home. . . if it's not too late.

Meanwhile, Edith's granddaughter, Diana, grows up knowing that the real world requires a tougher constitution than her grandmother possesses. She earns a shot at learning the IPA business from the ground up--will that change their fortunes forever, and perhaps reunite her splintered family?
Here we meet a cast of lovable, funny, quintessentially American characters eager to make their mark in a world that's often stacked against them. In this deeply affecting family saga, resolution can take generations, but when it finally comes, we're surprised, moved, and delighted."

I honestly cannot believe that the dad cut the one daughter out of the will and there was no discussion!!! But that is the midwest for you.  Don't talk about the uncomfortable and ignore! This book was funny , quirky and also had lots of strong female characters! If you like the Elmwood Springs series by Fannie Flagg, I'd recommend this book!

Little Women Letters is a modern day take on Little Women.  The sisters in this book are related to the Little Women from the Louisa May book.  One of the sisters finds letters from Jo to her sisters and it comes at a time in her life when she needs to make some decisions.  It was cute, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you've read Little Women, otherwise, it wouldn't have as much meaning/connections. If you liked Little Women, then yes, definitely read this book!

A Place Called Jubilee is a book I received for a review (coming tomorrow!).  It is about a man, Coleman, who is living at a rectory intent on becoming a minister when the inauguration of JFK spurs a bunch of changes in his life.  It has deceit, mystery, the hint of unknown forces, racism, civil rights, love, and a mystery.  It's a fairly quick read with some in depth descriptive writing.  If you liked The Third Hill North of Town, I'd recommend this book.

I've already finished 2 books in March and I got a good stack from the library! The eight year old and I signed up for our library's March is reading month challenge to read at least 20 minutes a day using the BeanStack app.  Here's to hoping I can remember to log us in and remember to track it on the calendar from her school!

What was your favorite book read in February? Any recommendations to add to my list?

Friday, February 28, 2020

TGIF!

I say it every year, but it's the truth, February flew by! January lasted 234234 years and then February zipped by.  I'm a bit sad because my parents escaped to Florida for the next 6 weeks and it has been bitter cold this week.  A huge snowstorm missed us completely, but it is just so darn cold.  We got teased last weekend when it was in the upper 40s and even hit 50.  We did enjoy it by going downtown and checking out a new to us lunch spot and stopping at a favorite bar to try some beers.

My favorite pictures from the week:



The eight year old did a biography report on Malala for her 3rd grade class earlier in the week and part of her presentation was dressing up as her person!



Enjoying the uppers 40s at the park on Sunday!



This is funny because she hates bottles.  She only drank a half ounce.




The high of my week was book club with my friends!  We read/discussed Saving CeeCee Honeycutt which was a great re-read for me!

The low of my week was my parents leaving, it being cold, and feeling like I'm stuck in my house because of illnesses and weather.

Meal plan for the week was

Monday - Wild Mushroom Beef Stew
Tuesday -  leftovers from Sunday (pork tenderloin)
Wednesday -  Chicken Sandwiches,  garlic/parm noodles, applesauce
Thursday -  I had book club and the rest had leftover beef stew
Friday - Roasted Tomato Soup and grilled cheese

The best money I spent was on hoping that the Lee jeans I bought on Amazon are the best things ever when they get here.  I currently own 8 pairs of jeans and none of them fit well.  One pair I can wear out of the house if needed but I don't really like them.  Another pair are so loose they will fall off.  And then the rest all too tight at the moment in various spots.  I live in workout pants or I have 2 pairs of black dressier pants from Maurices I wear.  I also have some dressier Apt. 9 pants from Kohls I wear when I need to be a grown up ha.

What I’m listening to I have been listening to the podcast Dolly Parton's America.  I really like it! Also, I just started listening to the podcast Friendlier and catching up on Family Secrets!

What I’m watching I watched a bunch of Mystery Woman movies I recorded this week as I was walking laps around my living room for my fitbit challenges! I also started watching When Hope Calls and When Calls the Heart.

What I’m reading: A Place Called Jubilee by Timothy J Garrett

My plans for the weekend include taking the 8 year old to get a hair cut and then nothing else is set in stone.  

What are you watching/reading/listening to?

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Library Haul

Our weather forecast the other day made it seem like we were going to get a huge snow storm and may get some snow days this week.  So I put in some requests at the library and picked them up before the storm hit.


After I finished a re-read of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, which I still LOVE THE CRAP out of I went through goodreads to find some books that they deem you may like if you liked reading that book.  That got me Velva Jean learns to Drive.  It is the first in a series and is set in Appalachia right before WWII.

I also got Whistling Past the Graveyard based upon this recommendation, and it is set in 1963 Mississippi. 

"The summer of 1963 begins like any other for nine-year-old Starla Claudelle. Born to teenage parents in Mississippi, Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother, Mamie, whose worst fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother. Starla hasn’t seen her momma since she was three, but is convinced that her mother will keep her promise to take Starla and her daddy to Nashville, where her mother hopes to become a famous singer—and that one day her family will be whole and perfect.

When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla’s fear that Mamie will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride, with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville.

As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla’s eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 southern segregation. Through talks with Eula, reconnecting with her parents, and encountering a series of surprising misadventures, Starla learns to let go of long-held dreams and realizes family is forged from those who will sacrifice all for you, no matter if bound by blood or by the heart."


A Bone to Pick is the second in the Aurora Teagarden series.  I got an Agatha Christie, because I do enjoy her mysteries every now and then.  Shamed, is the lastest book in the Kate Burkholder series, which is set in Ohio Amish country and Evvie Drake Starts Over is written by Linda Holmes who is a host for NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour.  I've been wanting to check this book out for awhile!

Have you read any of these books? Which book should I start with after I finish my current read which is A Place Called Jubilee?




Wednesday, February 26, 2020

5 Bookish Things I'm Loving Right Now

Here is the 7th enthralling installment of 5 Bookish Things I'm Loving Right Now! You can find my last installment here.  

1.  Out of Print has a lot of election/politics related paraphernalia and I am a lover of hats (undecided if they love me back) and totes.  This tote, cracked me up, and is so very true. 


People we are in trouble.  I will just say that.

2.  I am not a movie person.  I have upped my movie going in the last few years by taking the oldest child. If we watch movies at home, I am mostly doing other things.  Paying a bit of attention.  However, since October when the youngest child was born, I have gotten into the Hallmark network.  I have watched a ton of Christmas movies and then found their mysteries.  A lot of these mysteries are based on cozy mystery series.  So then I added books to my TBR and actually have read Book 1 for the most favorite of my series so far (Aurora Teagarden).  Charlaine Harris writes this series and I find it funny that I've managed to check the first book of this series out and read it already, and I've owned the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series for YEARS and haven't read it yet.  Whoops. 

This is a long ways to say that Hallmark is making a TV adaption to a YA novel called, You Bacon Me Crazy,  I love the sound of that name! I hadn't heard of the book ahead of time.  I am going to have to add it to my library list before they  make this adult adaptation.  It involves a food truck and bacon, so count me in!

3.

It's probably hard to read this page, but it is from a book I am reading, A Place Called Jubilee, by Timothy J Garrett, and it resonated with me.  The setting for this quote is 1961 Washington D.C.  The speaker, is a black woman in her twenties.  It's talking about racism and she is telling a new acquaintance that you shouldn't have to be told to know that treating people evilly is wrong.  AMEN.  There should be no further conversation.  It doesn't matter the location or time.  You SHOULD know that people are people.  You should KNOW that killing is wrong.  Full stop.  None of the "south' has always been that way.  IT NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN THAT way.  You should not have to be told this to do better.

4. 

Quite true.  I need to do better weeding out some of the children books we have.  The ones that enter I try to make very conscious choices about.

5. How Ramona Quimby Taught a Generation of Girls to Embrace Brashness is a great read.  It's kind of lengthy but worth it.  It dives into how Pippi Longstocking and Ramona Quimby helped show girls that it was okay to be you.  It's okay to not censor your behavior to be docile or how 'girls' should behave.  It's okay to be you.   Your loud annoying self, is you.  You do not have to change.  

"Upon a cursory read, it might be tempting to describe Ramona as mischievous, but Cleary herself has protested against this accusation, and with good reason. Ramona loves the world with ferocity; she does not so much want to disturb it as she yearns to discover, to turn it over, examine every piece and crook and marvel at why each creature, commodity, and substance exists the way it does. “She was a girl who could not wait. Life was so interesting she had to find out what happened next,” explains Cleary in Ramona the Pest."

I feel this along the same lines as 'bossy.'  It's leadership skills.  It's knowing what you want.  It's not compromising yourself to accommodate others.  (While a good skill to have, sometimes you need to be strong in your beliefs). 


What bookish things are you loving? Did you read Pippi or Ramona has a child?



Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Currently: February

Here is what I'm up to now..

Reading:  The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly

Loving:  watching my girls together.  So glad that I do not have to go to a job every day.  I love our routines.  I am just so happy.  If there was no snow, it'd be perfect. :)

Feeling: tired, but glad that we've been able to hang out with friends again after a little hiatus after having Adeline.  We had a party for the Super Bowl and had a ton of adults and kids here and it was fun! We used to host all the time, and this was the first real party we've had in months.


Adeline is a party animal who wouldn't go to bed until we assured her that everyone was gone!!


Anticipating: our spring break get away.  We rented a house on Lake Huron for a few days.


Grateful: For my healthy growing children!



Working: on selling things on marketplace.  I really wish our house was a better location for a garage sale.  I need to get rid of this baby stuff!

Listening: podcasts.  Catching up on Case Closed, Crooked Minis, Already Gone and All the Books!

Watching: Cozy Mysteries on Hallmark!

Wishing: for summer weather!

What are you reading> What are you loving?

Monday, February 10, 2020

What the 8 year old read in January

Isla's goal for 2020 is to read 100 books.  I have no doubt she will blow that out of the water.  She started the year off strong with 8 books read!


Her favorites were Wonderland, Old Town in the Green Groves and The Great Brain. 

Wonderland is by Barbara O'Connor who also wrote the book Wish, which she read last year and loved.  Isla said that she recommends this book for anyone who loves dogs. 

"Mavis Jeeter is fearless and bold, but she has never lived in one place long enough to have a real best friend. Her flighty mother has uprooted them again to another new home and taken a job as a housekeeper for the Tully family. Mavis wants this home to be permanent--which means finding herself a best friend.

Rose Tully is a worrier who feels like she doesn't quite fit in with the other girls in her neighborhood. Her closest friend is Mr. Duffy, but he hasn't been himself since his dog died. Rose may have to break a few of her mother's many rules to help Mr. Duffy--and find someone who really understands her.

Henry has run away from home, but he craves kindness and comfort--and doesn't know where to look for them.

When Mavis and Rose hatch a scheme to find Mr. Duffy a new dog, their lives and Henry's intersect--and they all come to find friendship in places they never expected.
 "

She also said that if you read and loved the Little House in the Prairie books you most definitely need to read Old Town in the Green Groves by Cynthia Rylant.  It is set in the two year time frame that isn't covered in the series.  The author used Laura's memoirs and imagination to tell the story of what happened with the Ingalls family during that time. 

The Great Brain is by John D. Fitzgerald she recommends to those who like a 'good book!" She's requested the second in the series for our next library trip.

"The best con man in the Midwest is only ten years old. Tom, a.k.a., the Great Brain, is a silver-tongued genius with a knack for turning a profit. When the Jenkins boys get lost in Skeleton Cave, the Great Brain saves the day. Whether it's saving the kids at school, or helping out Peg-leg Andy, or Basil, the new kid at school, the Great Brain always manages to come out on top—and line his pockets in the process."

Have you read any books by Barbara O'Connor? They are on my list to check out for the year.  Wish and Wonderland seemed like great books, and we own them, so I will get around to them!



Friday, February 7, 2020

TGIF!

I cannot believe it is already the end of the first week of February 2020.  January did seem pretty long but the first week of February has flown by.  Adeline has her second cold and has been hacking and snotting for a week, followed by her second round of shots.  Oddly enough, she was sick for her 2 month shots too. Poor kid.  Sleep had been getting better and then this illness has got it back to being so random.  We had naps going in her crib and then the snot and laying flat was not good.  So back to all sleep in our bedroom.  Oh well, it will get there.

My favorite pictures from the week:









The high of my week was getting 3 straight hours of sleep twice in one night. :)

The low of my week was both of my kids not feeling well and the sadness of shots.

Meal plan for the week was

Monday - Lasagna and garlic bread
Tuesday -  leftovers lasagna, salad, applesauce and garlic bread
Wednesday -  Chicken sandwich, guacamole and chips, and applesauce
Thursday -  Hungry Howie's pizza, chicken wings, and garlic bread
Friday - steak stir fry with rice, and crab rangoons

The best money I spent was on Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens for March's book club.

What I’m listening to back logs of Case Closed and Atlanta Monster.

What I’m watching still finishing up Aurora Teagarden movies and Murder She Baked movies!

What I’m reading: The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly

My plans for the weekend include hopefully finally having a dinner with friends that has been rescheduled multiple times since December 26th! 

What are you watching/reading/listening to?

Thursday, February 6, 2020

What I Read in January

I started January 2020 with 6 books read.  They were all pretty good.  I think I gave them all 4s or 5s on goodreads except one I gave a three. 


My favorite was The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. It's set in the 1970s and the main character Leni, moves to Alaska with her family.  It is a brilliant heartbreaking story about survival, PTSD, and love.  Highly recommend it!  If you enjoyed The Nightingale by Hannah, I bet you will like this one too!

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams was the first book I read in 2020.  It is the first book in the Schulyer Sisters series.  It goes back and forth from the 1960s and the 1930s. In 1964 Vivian Schulyer is living a life of independence that only a wealthy young woman of the 60s could.  She has a college degree and is fetching coffee at a magazine office where she'd much rather be writing the stories.  A suitcase appears into her life of a Violet Grant, who turns out to be a long lost aunt of Vivian's who had disappeared at the beginning of WWII after her husband was found dead.  It's beautifully written and the back and forth of the time frame keeps you engaged and wanting to find out what happened to Violet Grant. If you like Sarah Jio's books, I'd recommend this one for you!

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch is about a group of friends who gather for the 40th birthday of their friend in the house they lived together in college.  The book jumps between each of the friends and you find out bits about them that they don't share with their friends trying to keep up 'perfect' fronts.  I flew through this book and enjoyed it, except for the last bit.  I didn't like how to was summed up at the end.  However, the whole story was fun! 

I also read the second book in the Hope River midwife series, The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman.  It was really good! This book has a different main character, Becky, who had a smaller role in the first book.  It read super fast and kept my attention.  This book focused on the hardships that the Depression put on people of West Virginia and how the CCC helped the area with jobs/buying in the community.  Highly recommend this series!

I also read Fudge Bites by Nancy Coco, the newest installment in the Fudge series.

"Halloween on Mackinac Island is a season of fun tricks, but finding a corpse is no treat for fudge shop owner Allie McMurphy . . .
 
It’s late October, off-season for tourists, but locals are up and lurching for the annual zombie walk charity event. Though everyone’s living it up, trouble is a just a few pawprints away. Allie’s followed the bloody tracks of her calico cat, Carmella, to a body in the alley behind the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop. Unlike the island’s other walking dead, this one’s flatlined for good. It seems that someone is using the zombie fest as the perfect backdrop for murder. Now amateur sleuth Allie and dreamboat officer Rex Manning must use every trick in their treat bag to unmask a killer in disguise. "

I also finished the Winter series by Elin Hilderband and read Winter Solistice.  I was really glad that she added on a 4th book and didn't end it with the third, because that would have been disappointing.  I really liked how the storylines ended more naturally with this 4th book.


What was your favorite book you read in January?  What's a book I should read in 2020?



Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Great Alone


The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah was my book club’s January selection.  I love Kristin Hannah.  I feel like she has really grown as a writer from what I perceived as chick lit to well thought out books.  She has expanded as I expanded my reading and as an adult reader she has consistently written books that I’ve adored.  I think I’ve only been disappointed once? Those are good odds!

The Great Alone is not what I would call light or a happy read.  It was dark, real and practically perfect for a January winter read.  It was dark, depressing and covered those emotions in the characters in the book.

The book is set in the 1970s and is about a family that moves to Alaska to start over AGAIN, because the dad needs a change.  He was a POW in the Vietnam War and he is not okay.  He clearly has what today would definitely be considered PTSD if not a host of other mental ailments.  He treats his family horrendously, and as his teen age daughter learns, beats his wife.

He is convinced that this chance to move to Alaska is what will make him better.  No one out there telling him what to do, living off the land, etc. etc.  They move to Alaska so unprepared.  They move in May and as soon as they get there everyone is talking about what to do to get ready for the winter.  Winter that according to the calendar doesn’t start until December.  But they learn quickly what winter in Alaska means.  They are woefully unprepared.  And the constant darkness? Spoiler alert:  It does not help his paranoia.

I read this book super fast.  I’ve struggled in my sleep deprived haze the last few months to barrel through brooks at the pace I’m accustomed, but this book was a very quick read.  I read it all on my phone and that may have had something to do with it.  I mean, I spend about 3 plus hours of my day nursing, and Adeline is not a calm nurser.  If I’m holding a book she is trying to kick it out of my hands.  She is funny, she demands constant attention.  As in, if you try to multi task while nursing me, even if my eyes are closed, I will try to disrupt you.  The phone is easier to hide from her but she still does her dardnest to knock it out!!!

Anyway, when we talked about it at book club, we had come across a series of questions and I wanted to post some here and answer them and invite others to answer them, as I know others have read this book too! So feel free to pick and choose if you’ve read the book, and if you haven’t I highly recommend it!

What aspects of the Alaska/homesteader lifestyle would you find the most challenging in the wild? How would you handle the isolation, the interdependence among neighbors, the climate? Would you have what it takes to survive?

I honestly would not be able to handle a lot of it.  I’m a wuss.  I do not hunt.  I do NOT like the idea of eating so much meat from having to depend on hunting.  I am not handy.  I cannot sew.  I also love electricity.  I am not someone anyone would want if the world was ending.  I also think that I could do okay in small bursts with isolation.  But for long periods of time I may not be able to handle it.  I think I can handle it now, because of social media.  But to eliminate ANY communication with people would be tough.  And limited books.  Eeek.

The Great Alone is set in the turbulent world of America in the 1970’s. Why do you think the author chose this time period? How did the world at that time, with the political unrest and kidnappings and plane hijackings, factor into the plot? Why do you believe the back-to-the-earth movement spoke to so many people in the seventies? Why did it speak to Ernt?

I think the time period helps the reader to understand the lack of outside communication, the ability to slip into new identities, no electricity, PTSD with no help, and the POW storyline.  All the doomsday news items helped Ernt ( the dad) delve into the paranoia he had about why they needed to be away from society and make their own way.

One of the issues highlighted in the novel is the lack of legal support for women in the seventies. Large Marge often makes the point that the law can’t help women like Cora, and Leni, even as young as she is, intuits that only Cora can save herself. Do you think that was true then? Is it true today? Does the law do enough to help battered women?

I think in some ways it is better and in some ways has not been fixed.  Shooting someone in the back does not go over well.  Even if he was attacking her daughter at the time.  I think people are more apt to believe women, but it is still EXTREMELY difficult for them to proceed in legal matters.

What is your favorite Kristin Hannah novel? Have you ever been to Alaska?

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

5 Bookish Things I'm Loving Right Now

I'm back with the sixth installment of bookish things, that have caught my eye.  You can find my fifth installment here.  

1.

We were gifted this adorable and so appropriate shirt from a cousin when I was pregnant.  We just got to bust it out! I couldn't resist a little photo op.  

I was a little disappointed that right after I grabbed a Nancy Drew for the 8 year old to read, I read an article about the racism in Nancy Drew books.  Ugh.  I haven't looked at these books since I was a kid and clearly didn't recognize it back then, but as a parent who is raising children to fight against that, it's disheartening.  Unsure, how she will feel about this book, but we may be having another frank discussion about books and racism soon.

2. 

My eight year old LOVE puzzles.  And needs a challenge.  I came across this puzzle at Barnes and Noble when I was picking up a gift card.  I couldn't resist.  They also had a YA one and another genre that I cannot recall at the time.  



3. 

I mentioned these socks in my last post, but I had to snap a picture of them on the child!!!

4.  This book review of The Tenant by Katrine Engberg has me interested in checking out the book! It looks like this author has a series (and we all know how much I love a good series!!!).  I added it to my TBR on goodreads and when I finish my current library pile I plan on checking this author/series out!

5. Reading with Adeline! I am trying to make a habit of sitting down in her bedroom and reading books until she gets bored/cranky once a day or so mid-day.  The following pictures are the books we got through until she was fussy one day recently.

 This is a cute book and I liked the colors and illustrations.


 I do not care for the Croc book but I do love me some hungry caterpillar!
She was trying to touch the black and white book.  By the middle of Go Dog Go, she was done! She wanted to go!

What bookish things are you loving right now?