Monthly Archives: June 2021

Brief Book Reviews: Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman; My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; The Answer is … Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek; The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Hi Everyone!

Here are brief reviews of four more of the books I’ve read for the challenges this year. I’m a little later with this than I planned to be, and more are coming.

Title: Catherine, Called Birdy

Author: Karen Cushman

Published: July 2019

This is an interesting fictional journal by a young girl in medieval times. Intriguing, funny, full of angst – the diary tells of Catherine’s hilarious attempts to not be betrothed to anyone not of her own choosing. Her father has other ideas, usually uninteresting, well-off, older men. The entries also tell of the poor life she lived and what life was like then.

I chose this book for the 52BookClub challenge for prompt #42 – “An epistolary,” and also for the Indigo reading challenge for the prompt “a prize-winning book” as it was a Newbery honor book.

Title: My Brilliant Friend

Author: Elena Ferrante

Published: September 2012

Two girls from poor families in Italy compete with one another and cheer each other on through childhood, school years, and eventually different paths in adulthood. It is a story of privilege and wealth, poverty and hard work, adolescent discoveries and rivalries, love, and hard decisions. The characters draw the reader into their lives and earn her/his interest and caring. Interesting story.

I chose this book for the 52BookClub reading challenge and used it for prompt #9 – “set in a Mediterranean country”, and in the Indigo 2021 reading challenge for prompt “a book in another format: (eBook/audiobook).”

Title: The Answer Is … Reflections on My Life

Author: Alex Trebek

Published: July 2020

Alex Trebek, Jeopardy game show host, was a Canadian who made his mark and became well loved and respected by millions of people in Canada and the US. In this memoir he talks about things openly, things from his own life experience, including his decades of hosting a popular quiz show and the many steps he took to get there. Very interesting, touching, informative.

I chose this book as my read in the 52BookClub for prompt #14 – “written by an author over 65 (when published).” Alex Trebek was 79 when his book was published.

Title: The Sun Down Motel

Author: Simone St. James

Published: February 2020

In the 1980’s several young women in one small town were murdered, and the body of a missing girl was never found. Over 30 years later, Carly, the niece of the missing girl, begins investigating by taking a job as night clerk in the Sun Down Motel where her aunt had worked that shift. Strange and creepy things happen, and Carly finds herself involved in a dangerous situation when she becomes suspicious of a certain man. This is an intriguing story in which reality and the supernatural collide. The reader is taken back and forth over time lines in following the story from different viewpoints of both Carly and her aunt from years before. A little creepy, a little strange, a lot mysterious and clue-seeking combine to make this a good murder mystery with a serious twist.

This book is my choice for prompt #40 – “Found via Bookstagram” for the 52BookClub challenge.

Have you read, or are you interested in reading any of these?

Thanks for reading, and … Blessings on your day!

Book Reviews: The Alice Network – Kate Quinn; The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah; Pier 21 – Steven Schwinghamer; Puff, the Magic Dragon – Peter Yarrow

Hello everyone! I decided that I would post the short reviews I wrote for some of the books I’ve read for the reading challenges I’m participating in this year. Perhaps it will encourage you to read a few of the books. I’ll do a few per post.

Title: The Alice Network

Author: Kate Quinn

Published: June 6, 2017

What a great story! The reader is taken back and forth in time as a young woman searches for her cousin who was lost in the war. She meets a woman who was scarred, not just physically, but by what she suffered in the war, and their lives become intertwined. We learn about that woman’s life and difficult experiences as she did her part for the war. Very interesting and dramatic story.

In the 52BookClub 2021 challenge, this book fits prom
pt #3 – “a dual timeline.”

Title: The Great Alone

Author: Kristin Hannah

Published: February 6, 2018

This novel is fully captivating. A family of three, one being a Vietnam War veteran who has severe PTSD, move from place to place. Finally, after losing another job, he moves his wife and daughter to Alaska and a rugged life “off the grid.” His violent outbursts come back, though, affected by the few hours of light during Alaska winter, and his family lives in fear again. Things get very complicated and the reader gets pulled into their lives quite easily. There is much to learn about life there as the story unfurls.
This is a very good story with twists and drama that keep one reading, or listening on audio. Well worth it.

In the 52BookClub 2021 challenge, this book fits prompt #21 – “book by Kristin Hannah.”

Title: Pier 21: a History

Author: Steven Schwinghamer

Published: March 31, 2020

For anyone interested in the history of Nova Scotia, Canada, specifically Pier 21, immigration, movement of troops in the World Wars – this is the book to read. Very interesting information about the history of Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, including personal testimonies of immigrants’ experiences.

In the 52BookClub 2021 challenge, this book fits prompt #8 -“a book in the 900’s Dewey Decimal System.”

Title: Puff, the Magic Dragon

Author: Peter Yarrow

Published: August 1, 2007

I chose this for the 52BookClub 2021 challenge under prompt #30 – “watch out for dragons!”

It’s hard to write this without spoilers … so SPOILER ALERT!

This is a sweet and sad story of a boy and his dragon, Puff. They play together for years, until the boy grows up and the dragon is left alone again. The ending is great, though, when the next generation meets Puff.
I read the book that includes a CD with four songs on it, the first being the well known song – Puff the Magic Dragon – which can be followed along in the book.
Fabulous illustrations.

What have you been reading … or writing?

Thanks for reading … and Blessings on your day!

Juneteenth (June 19) honours Black Americans. Here is a suitable Reading List.

Admittedly, I don’t venture far into books about race – and I don’t mean that in a bad way (I’m sorry … I don’t know how to phrase things to be sure it’s non-offensive) – but usually I don’t read a book because of who its author is or isn’t. Lately I have become more aware, you might say, and have read a few that, for me, are very educational and well worth reading. The following list of 35 books are some of many that are recommended reads in connection to Juneteenth and on issues of race.

  1. Four Hundred Souls – by Ibram X. Kendri
  2. On Juneteenth – by Annette Gordon-Reed
  3. Barracoon: the story of the last “Black Cargo” – by Zora Neale Hurston
  4. Frederick Douglass: prophet of freedom – by David W. Blight
  5. Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow – by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  6. A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance – by Hanif Abdurraqir
  7. How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America – by Kiera Laymon
  8. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness – by Austin Channing Brown
  9. Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All – by Martha S. Jones
  10. A Black Woman’s History of the United States – by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
  11. His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope – by Jon Meacham
  12. Wandering in Strange Lands: a Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots – by Morgan Jerkins
  13. Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own – by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
  14. Overground Railroad: the Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America – by Candace Taylor
  15. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism – by Robin DiAngelo
  16. The Souls of Black Folk – by W.E.B. Du Bois
  17. The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America – by Kahlil Gibran Muhammad
  18. The Origins of Others – by Toni Morrison
  19. White Rage: the Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide – by Carol Anderson
  20. Progressive Dystopia: Abolition, Antiblackness, and Schooling in San Francisco – by Savannah Sange
  21. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right – by Arli Hochschild
  22. City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles (1771-1965) – by Kelly Lytle Hernandez
  23. Race, Reform, and Rebellion: the Second Reconstruction and Beyond in Black America, 1945-2006 – by Manning Marable
  24. Racism: a Short History – by George M. Frederickson
  25. When Police Kill – by Franklin E. Zimring
  26. Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution and Imprisonment – by Angela Davis
  27. The Hate U Give – by Angie Thomas
  28. How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History Slavery Across America – by Clint Smith
  29. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together – by Heather McGhee
  30. From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century – by William A. Darity Jr. & A. Kirsten Mullen
  31. Pourin’ Down Rain: A Black Woman Claims Her Place in the Canadian West – by Cheryl Foggo
  32. At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance – A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power – by Danielle L. McGuire
  33. Kindred – by Octavia E. Butler
  34. Hidden Figures:The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race – by Margot Lee Shetterly
  35. Roots: the Saga of an American Family – by Alex Haley

The titles in bold type are the few on this list I have read so far. Which have you read? Do you have any suggestions to add to this list? If so, please mention them in the comments. Thank you!

Thanks for readings, and … Blessings on your day! 🙂

Ever Hear of TSUNDOKU?

Hi there!

I have a question for you to start this off … Do you practice Tsundoku? Had you ever heard of it?

Tsundoku – pronounced sun doe coo – is a Japanese expression meaning “leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books.” The word literally means reading pile. Someone by the name of Sanders said, “the Tsundoku scale can range from just one unread book to a serious hoard.”

Now can you say you practice it? 🙂 I definitely can! First, let me make it clear here that I am not a hoarder of books, I am a collector of books. There is a difference … right?

I have come to the conclusion that buying books and reading them are actually two entirely different hobbies. – Unknown

My reading pile consists of not only hard copies, (in the low hundreds) but it extends to e-books, and also audio books. So, yes, I have hundreds of unread books! Should I be ashamed of that? Well, maybe, but I prefer to embrace the fact that I have found books I am looking forward to reading, albeit many of those will be in the far-off future simply because of the quantity of them. Anyway … isn’t tsundoku a pretty word? 🙂

That is why I am happy to be participating in reading challenges — because I have so many of my own books to read that I can fill almost all of the prompts with them. I do still borrow the occasional novel from the library, because I have lists in my library account of the hundreds of books low thousands of books I want to read. I just can’t help myself!

As usual, on my “Books I’ve read in [whatever year]” page here on my blog, I keep track of the books I’ve read each year. There you can see I continue to read many picture books. It’s a record I keep for myself and for anyone who might be interested.

Now it’s your turn to share.

Do you practice tsundoku? Or, do you have lists of books you hope to borrow or buy to read? Are you participating in any reading challenges?

Thanks for reading, and blessings on your day! Let’s keep in touch.