Oct 212022
 

Attack of the Black Rectangles

Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King

Award-winning author Amy Sarig King takes on censorship and intolerance in a novel she was born to write.
When Mac first opens his classroom copy of Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic and finds some words blacked out, he thinks it must be a mistake. But then when he and his friends discover what the missing words are, he’s outraged.

Someone in his school is trying to prevent kids from reading the full story.

But who?

Even though his unreliable dad tells him to not get so emotional about a book (or anything else), Mac has been raised by his mom and grandad to call out things that are wrong. He and his friends head to the principal’s office to protest the censorship… but her response doesn’t take them seriously.

So many adults want Mac to keep his words to himself.

Mac’s about to see the power of letting them out.

In Attack of the Black Rectangles, acclaimed author Amy Sarig King shows all the ways truth can be hard… but still worth fighting for.

Thoughts
I loved this book more than I thought I would. The book deals with the thoughts and actions of kids who find a book in the school library that has black rectangles blocking out words that someone finds offensive.

Mac and two of his friends think blocking out words is ridiculous because they are in the 6th grade after all. They decide to confront their teacher and Mac even writes the author to tell her what someone did to her books and is very surprised when she writes him back.

This book is about so much more than censorship, it’s about friends, family, and doing what you think is right even if it’s not easy. I think no book should ever be censored. If a book has words or subjects that I’m not comfortable reading, I just don’t read it, it’s not my place to keep someone else from reading it.

I  loved the relationships of Mac and his friends, their courage, and their strength for doing what they thought was right. Also, the parts about Mac’s grandfather were a great addition to the story and added a lighter, funny aspect to the book.

I first saw this book at Helen’s Book Blog

 Posted by at 11:28 AM
Sep 302022
 

Nowhere for Very Long: The Unexpected Road to an Unconventional Life

Nowhere For Very Long: The Unexpected Road To An Unconventional Life by Brianna Madia

A woman defined by motion, Brianna Madia bought a beat-up bright orange van, filled it with her two dogs Bucket and Dagwood, and headed into the canyons of Utah with her husband. Nowhere for Very Long is her deeply felt, immaculately told story of exploration—of the world outside and the spirit within.

However, pursuing a life of intention isn’t always what it seems. In fact, at times it was downright boring, exhausting, and even desperate—when Bertha overheated and she was forced to pull over on a lonely stretch of South Dakota highway; when the weather was bitterly cold and her water jugs froze beneath her as she slept in the parking lot of her office; when she worried about money, her marriage, and the looming question mark of her future. But Brianna was committed to living a life true to herself, come what may, and that made all the difference.

Nowhere for Very Long is the true story of a woman learning and unlearning, from backroads to breakdowns, from married to solo, and finally, from lost to found to lost again…this time, on purpose.

Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book. I started going camping when I was growing up and my husband and I bought an old school bus in the early 90’s and converted it into a motor home. It was beautiful. I looked for the photos but can’t find them. Must be in a box of other things I haven’t found, hopefully I will soon.

This story kept my attention right from the start. There was a lot of adventure and scary moments that I was thinking “why in the world are they/she doing that?”

There is so much adventure and also some sadness that I can’t mention or it will spoil a major part of the book.

If you like this kind of book, I highly recommend it!

 

 

 Posted by at 4:07 PM
Sep 132022
 

 

The Littlest Library: A Novel

The Littlest Library Poppy Alexander

A heartwarming literary-themed novel about a woman who turns an ordinary red phone box into the littlest library in England and brings together a struggling town.

A little red telephone box full of stories, a chance to change her life…

Jess Metcalf is perfectly content with her quiet, predictable life. But when her beloved grandmother passes away and she loses her job at the local library, Jess’ life is turned upside down.

Determined to pick up the pieces, Jess decides it’s time for a new beginning. Unable to part with her grandmother’s cherished books, she packs them all up and moves to a tiny cottage in the English countryside. To her surprise, Jess discovers that she’s now the owner of an old red phone box that was left on the property. Missing her job at the local library, Jess decides to give back to her new community—using her grandmother’s collection to turn the ordinary phone box into the littlest library in England.

It’s not long before the books are borrowed and begin to work their literary magic—bringing the villagers together… and managing to draw Jess’ grumpy but handsome neighbor out of his shell.

Maybe it’s finally time for Jess to follow her heart, let go of her old life, and make the village her home? But will she be able to take the leap?

Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book! I liked that although Jess was afraid of change and life without her grandmother, she decided to make a change anyway. I loved reading about the relationships with the friends she made, the good and the bad. I love learning how the littlest library came about, and when the library was threatened to be closed I was eager to find out if would stay open.

Jess had a great relationship with Aidan’s young daughter from the time they met. As for her dad and Jess, it was rough from the start. As they started to loose some of the tension between them, along comes his ex-wife to complicate it even more.  I wondered if it would work out in the end.

The book is narrated by Karen Cass who did a great job. Very easy to listen to!

The book gave me all kinds of feels and now I want to read her other books:
25 Days Till Christmas
12 Days Of Christmas

 Posted by at 4:03 PM
Sep 012022
 

The Beach Trap

The Beach Trap by Ali Brady
Narrated by Brittany Pressley

When 12-year-olds Kat Steiner and Blake O’Neill meet at Camp Chickawah, they have an instant connection. But everything falls apart when they learn they’re not just best friends—they’re also half sisters. Confused and betrayed, the girls break off all contact.

Fifteen years later, when their father dies suddenly, Kat and Blake discover he’s left them a joint inheritance: the family beach house in Destin, Florida. The two sisters are immediately at odds. Blake, who has recently been demoted from regular nanny to dog nanny, wants to sell the house, while social media influencer Kat is desperate to hold on to the place where she lived so many happy memories.

Kat and Blake reluctantly join forces to renovate the dilapidated house, with the understanding that Kat will try to buy Blake out at the end of the summer. The women clash as Blake’s renovation plans conflict with Kat’s creative vision; meanwhile, each sister finds herself drawn into a summer romance. As the weeks pass, the two women realize the most difficult project they face this summer will be coming to grips with their shared past—and learning how to become sisters.

Thoughts
As soon as I saw the cover of this book I knew I wanted to listen to it. Then I read the synopsis and knew it would jump to the top of my tbr list as soon as I finished my current book.

This was a 5* for me. I loved it. The girls first met at a summer camp and it reminded me of the times spent with my Girl Scout Troop, I loved every minute of those times. Kat and Blake became the best of friends right away. They felt like sisters.  Then Kat learns that her dad is coming to pick her up because of a death in the family and both girls learn that they’re more than “feel like sisters”, and all contact is broken off.

They meet again 15 yrs. later when their father dies and leaves each of them 1/2 of the family beach house.

Both girls are still hurt and angry. Kat is more so because she doesn’t think Blake deserves any part of the house. So much goes on with these two and then you add in boys they each start seeing and things go from bad to worse.

I liked both girls but Blake was my favorite. Kat had an attitude problem that really aggravated me at times. She was also always jumping to conclusions that were way off. Then at the end things happened that made them very close again. This book is very good and I would definitely read more from this author.

Brittany Pressley did a great job with the narration.

FYI: There are some scenes in the book that weren’t for me but you can fast forward through them.

 Posted by at 3:30 PM
Aug 122022
 

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

The swimmers are unknown to one another except through their private routines (slow lane, medium lane, fast lane) and the solace each takes in their morning or afternoon laps. But when a crack appears at the bottom of the pool, they are cast out into an unforgiving world without comfort or relief.

One of these swimmers is Alice, who is slowly losing her memory. For Alice, the pool was a final stand against the darkness of her encroaching dementia. Without the fellowship of other swimmers and the routine of her daily laps she is plunged into dislocation and chaos, swept into memories of her childhood and the Japanese American incarceration camp in which she spent the war. Alice’s estranged daughter, reentering her mother’s life too late, witnesses her stark and devastating decline.

Thoughts
Growing up, one of my favorite things to do was to spend summer days at the pool with my friends. I continued swimming as an adult but haven’t for many years and I miss it. When I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it.

The book starts off with us learning about the pool and the people who swim there, most of them on a daily basis. We learn their specific routines, how they are alike and different, what motivates them to swim, and about the pool itself. I really enjoyed getting to know the swimmers.

One day someone notices a tiny crack in the bottom of the pool, then more swimmers start to notice it and soon they are all keeping an eye on it to see if it looks like it might cause problems. There were some interesting thoughts about what caused the crack, what it means, and what would happen if it started getting bigger. Then they start worrying for their safety if it keep growing, and if they would have to close the pool so it could be fixed. It was even seen as bad luck. When the crack does start growing, the management informs the swimmers that the pool will be closing for good. Not just long enough to be repaired, but for good! The swimmers are not happy at all.

Then the book turns solemn as it’s focus turns to Alice (who had dementia) and her daughter. Everything about Alice’s story was interesting and I enjoyed it, but would have liked knowing what happened to the other swimmers also.

This is a short book but it didn’t really feel short to me because the story was so interesting. It kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next.

I really enjoyed this so I checked out the authors other books and may add When The Emperor Was Divine, which also looks interesting.

 Posted by at 11:43 AM
Jun 172022
 

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons

Eudora Honeysett is done with this noisy, moronic world—all of it. She has witnessed the indignities and suffering of old age and has lived a full life. At eighty-five, she isn’t going to leave things to chance. Her end will be on her terms. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland, a plan is set in motion.

Then she meets ten-year-old Rose Trewidney, a whirling, pint-sized rainbow of color and sparkling cheer. All Eudora wants is to be left alone to set her affairs in order. Instead, she finds herself embarking on a series of adventures with the irrepressible Rose and their affable neighbor, the recently widowed Stanley—afternoon tea, shopping sprees, trips to the beach, birthday celebrations, pizza parties.

While the trio of unlikely BFFs grow closer and anxiously await the arrival of Rose’s new baby sister, Eudora is reminded of her own childhood—of losing her father during World War II and the devastating impact it had on her entire family. In reflecting on her past, Eudora realizes she must come to terms with what lies ahead.

But now that her joy for life has been rekindled, how can she possibly say goodbye?

Thoughts
Three unlikely friends who make each other’s lives better. What’s not to love?

And I absolutely did LOVE everything about this book! Eudora, Rose and Stanley are great characters and kept the story interesting and entertaining. Eudora is prim and proper, Stanley is dignified but a bit carefree, and Rose is a free spirit even at her young age. Put them together and you’ve got 3 people who are completely different but together they make the best of friends.

I loved reading about how their friendship started, all they did together, and how they changed each other’s lives. I felt all the emotions while reading this book and now I want to read more books by this author.

I hope that Annie Lyons see’s what a great character she created in Rose and writes a book based on her life. I would grab a copy as soon as it was published and I know others would too!

Will be going on my Favorite Books Of 2022!

 

 

 Posted by at 10:08 AM
May 042022
 

Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals by Laurie Zaleski

Laurie Zaleski never aspired to run an animal rescue; that was her mother Annie’s dream. But from girlhood, Laurie was determined to make the dream come true. Thirty years later as a successful businesswoman, she did it, buying a 15-acre farm deep in the Pinelands of South Jersey. She was planning to relocate Annie and her caravan of ragtag rescues – horses and goats, dogs and cats, chickens and pigs – when Annie died, just two weeks before moving day. In her heartbreak, Laurie resolved to make her mother’s dream her own. In 2001, she established the Funny Farm Animal Rescue outside Mays Landing, New Jersey. Today, she carries on Annie’s mission to save abused and neglected animals.

Funny Farm is Laurie’s story: of promises kept, dreams fulfilled, and animals lost and found. It’s the story of Annie McNulty, who fled a nightmarish marriage with few skills, no money and no resources, dragging three kids behind her, and accumulating hundreds of cast-off animals on the way. And lastly, it’s the story of the brave, incredible, and adorable animals that were rescued.

Thoughts
I first saw this book when Diane posted about it. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE animals, so it was an automatic “get this book”!

It starts with Laura’s childhood and you get to know the good, the bad, and the ugly of her family. I was glad the author added all that information, it added a lot to the story and let us get to know them up close and personal.

The story has a lot of information about the animals and the farms. Some hilarious, some sad, some info I didn’t know. I loved this book. It had all of my favorite things. Animals, family, humor, overcoming life’s hardships etc. It gave me all the feels.

I highly recommend it!

Funny Farm Rescue & Sanctuary is located in Mays Landing, NJ

It is free to the public

It’s run with the help of volunteers and donations

 Posted by at 2:08 PM
Mar 122022
 

The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People

The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People by Rick Bragg

Speck is not a good boy. He is a terrible boy, a defiant, self-destructive, often malodorous boy, a grave robber and screen door moocher who spends his days playing chicken with the Fed Ex man, picking fights with thousand-pound livestock, and rolling in donkey manure, and his nights howling at the moon. He has been that way since the moment he appeared on the ridgeline behind Rick Bragg’s house, a starved and half-dead creature, 76 pounds of wet hair and poor decisions.

Speck arrived in Rick’s life at a moment of looming uncertainty. A cancer diagnosis, chemo, kidney failure, and recurring pneumonia had left Rick lethargic and melancholy. Speck helped, and he is helping, still, when he is not peeing on the rose of Sharon.

Thoughts
First of all, I am a lifetime animal lover, especially dogs. Second of all, just look at how beautiful Speck is!

I’ve never read a book by this author before but when I saw the cover I fell in love with Speck and knew I would get a copy, which I did immediately.

This book was a 5* right from the beginning. I don’t think I could handle a dog like Speck, but I sure love him. It’s like he’s part dog, part rowdy boy. He sure keeps Bragg (and everyone else)  on his toes!

I don’t want to give away any of the story, but Speck gets into things. Lots of things. He has a mind of his own and does whatever pops into his head. And all he wants from Bragg or any of his other people is rubs, scratches, and food. All the foods!

This book is not only a great story about Speck that will give you all the feels, it’s about his people too.

Not only is Bragg the author, he also narrates it. I love his sense of humor, he is very funny! Now I want to read all his books, funny or not, I love the way he tells a story.

I laughed out loud many many times while listening to this book, and it was very much need!

 Posted by at 3:54 PM
Jan 202022
 

Grandma Gatewood's Walk

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery
Narrator: Patrick Lawlor
The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail

Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, sixty-seven-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. And in September 1955, atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin, she sang the first verse of “America, the Beautiful” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it. “Grandma Gatewood”, as the reporters called her, became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person-man or woman-to walk it twice and three times. The public attention she brought to the little-known footpath was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance and very likely saved the trail from extinction.

Thoughts
I don’t remember where I first saw this book, but as soon as I did I knew I was going to find a copy because I LOVE books like this, and it was doubly interesting because Grandma Gatewood was going to walk the length of the Appalachian Trail! At the age of 67! I was in awe of Emma! She wanted to walk the trail “on a lark”. She was a mother of 11, a grandmother of 23, and a survivor of more than 30 years of violent domestic abuse.

One of my favorite Emma quotes is “if those men can do it, I can do it.” And she did, 3 times!

What I didn’t know until I started listening to the book was that she was from a place I am very familiar with. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and my family had a cabin on Lake Jackson in Oak Hill, Ohio. In the summer between Jr. High and High School, my parents decided to hire someone to build a house on the land  so we could live at the lake full time.

Oak Hill was so small it was (still is) a Village, the nearest hospital to have a baby was in Gallipolis, where Emma Gatewood lived. All three of my kids were born in Gallipolis, and many places mentioned in the book are places I’m very familiar with, like Sardis, Ohio where my family lived when I was baby and visited friends there when I was growing up,  Old Man’s Cave where I went many times with my family and the Girl Scouts, Columbus, and many other towns/places in the area.

The author, Ben Montgomery, is the nephew of Emma Gatewood. He spent most of his 20 year newspaper career as an enterprise reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. He currently lives in Tampa, which is also interesting because I live  40 min. from Tampa.

I loved this book, but it is extra special to me because I was familiar with so many places in the book and familiar with where the author lives.

I think anyone interested in hiking, strong women, or books about woman in general will love this book!

In the book the narrator pronounces Gallipolis as “Gal O Police”, as do other people not from the area. Everyone who lives in the area or is familiar with Gallipolis pronounces it “Gal A Polis”.

My rating: 5*

 Posted by at 4:21 PM
Dec 082021
 
The Husband's Secret

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Narrated by Caroline Lee

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Thoughts
This was a good book and at times an emotional read. It is at times a very sad story and while I did enjoy it, I felt that there were too many characters. Also, for me there was too much going on at once and I had a little bit of trouble keeping everyone straight in my mind (which could have been me more than the book).

But when we learned the husband’s secret I was flabbergasted! Would have never suspected that was what his secret was, and then the book took a “wow” turn, getting more real and there were a few more smaller things that happened that surprised me.

Overall I enjoyed this book and would read more from this author. The narrator did a great job.

 Posted by at 2:27 PM