Category Archives: Mostly About Reading

4 new brief book reviews: The Tale of Despereaux – Kate DiCamillo; Someone To Watch Over Me – Jill Churchill; The Pursuit of Happyness – Chris Gardner; White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo

Reading is my go-to thing, more than ever. Although I’m painting on Thursdays again I’m keeping up my close relationship with books. Here I’m continuing to tell you about the books I’ve read for the reading challenges. Perhaps you have read some of them.

Title: The Tale of Despereaux

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Published: September 9, 2008

This is the four-part sweet story of a teeny, tiny mouse – Despereaux – who fell in love with a human princess. Because of that, and not repenting of it, he was condemned to the castle dungeon where rats lived and mice died. Despereaux proved to be clever and brave, not only for himself but for the princess who was in danger. Enjoyable black and white illustrations.
In the 52books challenge, I used it for prompt “author with a 9-letter last name,” but it could also fit four other prompts.

Title: Someone To Watch Over Me

Author: Jill Churchill

Published: September 3, 2002

I read this book for an extra challenge prompt (author or character with a floral name) for 52booksclub, and found it to be quite enjoyable. A brother and sister – Robert and Lily Brewster – who were once wealthy, now lived in their uncle’s mansion after the Crash of 1929. Robert finds a man’s mummified body in the old icehouse, and soon after that another man’s body was found in the woods. New to the community, the Brewsters tried to help the police chief solve the mysteries.


Title: The Pursuit of Happyness

Author: Chris Gardner

Published: October 24, 2006

Having seen the movie starring Will Smith, I was pleased to have found the book. I used it for the 52BooksClub reading challenge, prompt #31 – Book that shares a similar title to another book. (The Pursuit of Happiness by Douglas Kennedy)
Chris Gardner lived through an unenviable childhood of poverty and abuse, shuttled from one family to another. His mother was the person he most loved, but who was not always able to be there for or with him. It was she who planted in him the desire to succeed in life, and the belief that he could succeed in a big way. This is his story of how that transpired, and it is told in an open, honest, raw way, foul language and questionable behaviour included. It is a true rags-to-riches story, and the promise of a boy-to-man to always be there for his future children.


Title: White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Author: Robin DiAngelo

Published: June 26, 2018

This is a difficult book for me to review as it is told from the viewpoint of someone who teaches others how to define and expose racism that seems to be in everyone, and how to recognize it. She then explains ways to deal with it in oneself and when noticing it in others. It is rather like a textbook in content and presentation, but still is interesting, educational, and helpful.

I chose this book for the Indigo reading challenge for prompt “A book to build your antiracist reading list.”

So… have you? Read any of these, I mean? Or maybe they are on your TBR list? What are your thoughts?

Thanks for stopping in, and … Happy Reading! 🙂

4 Brief Book Reviews: Reagandoodle and Little Buddy – Sandi Swiridoff; Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt; The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – Kim Michele Richardson; My Sister the Moon – Sue Harrison

Wow! This past week went quickly and I realized I hadn’t posted another set of reviews for you. So, here it is.

Title: Reagandoodle and Little Buddy: The True Story of a Labradoodle and His Toddler Best Friend

Author: Sandi Swiridoff

Published: October 2, 2018

I chose this book for the 52Bookclub challenge, prompt “featuring adoption.”

This is such a fun story, a serious story but told from the voice of the dog which makes it quite enjoyable. The main focus of this true story is fostering and adoption – fostering Little Buddy and other children, and including the adoption of Reagandoodle, a labradoodle. It is gorgeously illustrated with photography of the boy and dog together in many situations, in matching outfits. Fun, sweet, a forever friendship.
“A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to help support children in foster care.”

Title: Angela’s Ashes

Author: Frank McCourt

Published: November 30, 1999

This is a raw, truthful, very revealing memoir set mainly in Ireland. The poverty the author lived through in his childhood was ghastly and painful to read about, and the fact that he survived at all is amazing. He tells of the extremes of poverty and the negligence of his alcoholic father who failed to provide for his family even when he’d manage to land a job for a few weeks. His mother suffered greatly, several of his siblings died, he himself almost succumbed to typhoid. Even with all this, the story is such a good read by a man who was brave enough to share it.

I used this book for The 52Bookclub challenge for two prompts – “Related to the word “fire””, and for the club’s March mini-challenge prompt “Set in Ireland.”

Title: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Author: Kim Michele Richardson

Published: May 7, 2019

This is such a good book written from facts – as in book women and blue-skinned families of Kentucky. In this fictional account, a young woman and her father, both of the generational line of blue people, live in poverty as did many families in the hills of Kentucky. We read how blue people were feared and treated with prejudice, but were kind and gentle themselves. The blue lady is a book woman who rides her feisty mule to remote homes, schools, and small communities to deliver library books for loan. Her work is difficult and dangerous, but she loves it, although her life and safety are threatened. She feels ashamed of her blue skin and expects to never have a home and family of her own. Sad, bad, and surprising things happen, all making this a fabulous story. There is an author’s note at the end which provides further information of interest.

I chose this book for The 52BookClub challenge for the May mini-challenge, prompt “a book published in spring – any year.”

Title: My Sister The Moon

Author: Sue Harrison

Published: February 13, 1992

This is the second book in the Ivory Carver series, a saga based in prehistoric Alaska. In this story the second generation is featured, the children of the main characters in the first book, and focuses mainly on Kiin (pronounced keen) who is an unwanted daughter. She is strong in spirit, brave in character, and sharp in mind – and has to be in order to survive the abuse and hatred of her father and brother. It is not her fault that she, and not her brother, was the firstborn, but beliefs and superstitions make her life extremely hard.
This is a difficult story to read at times, but it is so well researched and written that it is a totally believable historical fiction. The characters were invented, but the history surrounding them was not.
I am eager to read book three.

I used this book for the 52bookclub challenge, prompt #48 – “a cover with a woman facing away”; and for the Indigo 2021 reading challenge, prompt “a book to help you escape to another world.” (in this case it is the prehistoric world)

Have you read any of the above books yet?

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

Book Review: 6 Week Money Challenge for your personal finances – by Steve Repak, CFP

Having written a review of Steve Repak’s first book, Dollars & Uncommon Sense: Basic Training for Your Money, I was asked if I would review this one. I’ve sent an apology to the author for taking far too long to do so; I got overwhelmed with life stuff. But here is my review of this great little book.

Title: 6 Week Money Challenge for your personal finances

Author: Steve Repak, CFP

Published: 2016

This beautifully published little 5″ x 7″ book packs a big wallop. It is attractively presented with a hard cover and an attached lime green ribbon bookmark.

Steve Repak, a Certified Financial Planner, is the author of the very helpful Dollars and Uncommon Sense: Basic Training For Your Money – which I also reviewed.

In this book, his purpose is to help people wisely and responsibly manage their personal finances. The book is designed to take the reader through 6 weeks, giving valuable information and challenging the reader to break old/bad money habits and to begin practicing new good behaviours to carry them forward.

As a Christian, Mr. Repak based this step-by-step program on biblical principles, and even if the reader is not a Christian the advice given works for anyone needing it.
After the Foreword written by Boyd Bailey, CEO of Ministry Ventures and author, is an introduction with a few questions to answer and sections to prepare you – The Inspiration Behind This Book, How to Use This Book, What You Will Learn in This Book, Are You Ready For a Challenge?

Each week’s reading is divided into parts. Beginning with a scripture, the author then proceeds to tell you some things that are helpful and interesting, follows with a few questions to consider, and continues with great teaching, examples, personal experiences stories, and encouragement.

Week 1: The Biblical Foundations of a Solid Financial Future
Week 2: Spending
Week 3: Debt and Credit
Week 4: Savings and Investments
Week 5: Estate Planning Documents and Insurance
Week 6: Review (here he goes back to the theme of each previous week’s reading and gives extra challenges.)
Resources – suggestions to help you set up your finances
About the Author

This is a must-have book if you want to set your finances in order.
I included this book in my reading for the 52bookclub for prompt “an educational read.” Well suited!

 

Have you ever found this type of book helpful?

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

4 brief reviews: Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston; Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert; The Calculating Stars – Mary Robinette Kowal; Before Green Gables – Budge Wilson

I am late with this group of four books I read for the 52bookClub challenge. There has been a lot going on for me, and I get quite tired, but here they are.

Title: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Author: Zora Neale Hurston

Published: May 30th 2006

This is an interesting story in which Janie, a beautiful Black woman, tells her story to her good friend in later years. The reader gets to go along through her life as she finds her own voice and strength while living through three marriages. She was ill-treated and not respected because she was a woman, but her third husband – the love of her life – showed her more freedom and a way of living she had not experienced before. The ending of this story is not what I expected as I was so pulled into the story that I forgot how it had started.

I read this book for the 52books in 52 weeks challenge, and for now I am using it for the prompt “An ending that surprises you.” I am also using it for the Feb mini-challenge in 52 Books, for prompt “a great platonic relationship.”

Title: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Published: September 22, 2015

This is one of those books which I only read a few pages in, and that took up space on my shelf. Later, because of a reading challenge, I found it is a book I should have read long ago! But yet, perhaps this is exactly the right time.

Elizabeth Gilbert encourages the creative reader to grab inspiration when it visits and see where it leads. In many short and interesting chapters she tells it like it is as she helps one to see creativity with new understanding and the possibilities with boundless acceptance. She urges to leave fear behind and trust the process; to stop limiting and judging oneself, and to let the treasures hidden inside come out.

I read this book for the February mini-challenge in the 52BookClub reading challenge and used it for the prompt “related to the word magical.” It is a book I will likely refer to many times.

Title: The Calculating Stars

Author: Mary Robinette Kowal

Published: July 3, 2018

I enjoyed this book and had chosen it for the 52 Books Club challenge, prompt “An alternate history novel.”

The time is 1952, and a meteorite hits and obliterates the eastern coast of the US and Canada, including Washington, DC. At first, the world is in a panic, but as time goes on passivity settles in – except for those whose training tells them Earth has not much time left.
This story centers around one couple – Elma who was a pilot in WWII and is now a mathematician working as a computer (a person who does the computing of numbers before electronic computers took over), and her husband Nathaniel who is a rocket scientist. It is determined that climate change will drastically change over a very few years, and it is time to colonize the moon and other planets besides earth. Elma badly wants to be an astronaut and to be selected to go, but women are not being considered, so Elma – encouraging other female pilots – sets out to change that.
Great story, although Elma was rather whiny at times. The story gets tense over mental health issues and an officer who hates Elma and does what he can to keep her grounded.

Title: Before Green Gables

Author: Budge Wilson

Published: March 1, 2008

I loved this story! I wish I had read it earlier so that I could have told the author so when I’d written her a letter months before. At a little over half way through this story I learned of Budge Wilson’s passing the day before – March 20’21. She was a very talented award-winning author, and someone I am glad I was able to meet and correspond with for awhile. I had chosen this particular book simply because I was interested, but upon learning of the author’s passing I am using it for 52 Books challenge and the prompt “an author that is deceased.”

This is the life of Anne Shirley before she met the Cuthberts and became part of their household. Anne’s life was very difficult after she was orphaned. The families who took her in treated her more as a servant to help with babies and housework. All in all, this is a marvellously told story, true to the character of Anne, and such a wonderful lead-in to Anne of Green Gables.

Another excellent book, Budge, and thank you for your friendship and inspiration.

On that note, let people know you appreciate them!

Have you read any of these books? Any opinions?

Thanks for coming by, and .. Blessings on your day! 🙂

4 Reviews: Uncommon Danger by Eric Ambler; Krambambuli by Syr Ruus; St. George and the Dragon by Beth Andrews; The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson

Hi Everyone! I hope you are finding books to read from these brief reviews. Here are four more.

Title: Uncommon Danger

Author: Eric Ambler

Published: 1937

This is an old book I found – I love old books – and selected for prompt #17 – “A character “on the run”” in the 52BookClub challenge.

A freelance journalist is travelling by train when he meets another man who befriends him. That man asks him to carry an envelope for him, that he says holds his savings, because he is afraid that he will be relieved of it at checkpoints. The journalist thinks it odd but reluctantly agrees. That decision places the journalist in great danger when he finds the man murdered. The story involves government secrets, theft, villains, kidnappings, and much going on. Good mystery story.

Title: Krambambuli

Author: Syr Ruus

Published: October 2018

This is the book I chose for the 52bookclub reading challenge prompt #34 “a 5-star read.” I also used this book for the Indigo reading challenge under the prompt “A non-fiction book by a Canadian author.”


I don’t want to say too much and perhaps fail to do this book justice.
This is a memoir that is so very interesting, educational, personal. The author (with whom I am privileged to be acquainted) was born in Estonia, her life being deeply affected by WWII. She, with her mother, became displaced persons who lived in three different countries while trying to find a safe place to make their home. As immigrants they found passage to the US on a ship they hoped would not be bombed along the way. (Imagine it!)
The story is told through memories from the author’s childhood when she was a little girl full of fears and feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. (Her father was more absent than present in her life.) She tells about her life later in North America and her difficult relationship with her mother during her life in the US and after she immigrated to Canada. It made me wonder and marvel at the lovely woman that little girl became, overcoming so much. She has authored several very interesting books and is an encouragement to other writers.

Title: St. George and the Dragon

Author: Beth Andrews

Published: July 2005

I chose this book for the 52BookClub challenge and used it for prompt #43 – “a character with a pet cat.” The cat shows up rather late in the story but it still counts.

This story is based in England when the greatest courtesy was shown ladies by gentlemen, all in great formality and proper etiquette. A man of status challenged his nephew and his friend to accept a wager. He had them go to the elegant home of two young women who lived quiet, private lives, with instructions to woo them, win them, and then jilt them. Their reward would be a large sum of money. There is the suspected matter of “the dragon”, but things do not go quite as planned. Through surprises, resistance, humorous incidents, misunderstandings, the men realize their uncle and friend had placed them in an unexpected position.

Title: The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

Author: Sloan Wilson

Published: 1955

This is a really enjoyable read, which I chose for the 52BookClub challenge prompt #19 – “Book with a deckled edge.” I also used it for the club’s February mini-challenge prompt ”book with a red spine.” (My copy of the book is not the same as shown here, but is a gray hardcover with a red spine.)


A young man and his wife live in a lower class area and want a better home for themselves and their three children. He changes jobs, going to work for a wealthy businessman, with the hope of moving up in salary and importance, and then suffers through the changes it causes in his life. He also is haunted by a relationship he had during the war when he was away from his wife. He and his wife struggle in their marriage and realize they must be honest with themselves and one another in order to make a future together.
It seems a bit too cut and dried in my opinion by today’s standards, but it still is a great story.

Any comments on these books? Have you enjoyed any of them?

Thanks for reading, and … Happy Musings! 🙂

4 Reviews: Good Mothers Don’t – by Laura Best; A Soldier’s Sketchbook – by John Wilson; You Had Me At Hola – by Alexis Daria; When Late the Sweet Birds Sang – by Kate Wilhelm

Hi there! Ready for another four book reviews? This is quite a varied selection.

Title: Good Mothers Don’t

Author: Laura Best

Published: April 2021

This is a thought-provoking story about mental illness and a family trying to function when mental illness takes the mother away from her husband and children. Told from several points of view, it keeps the reader paying close attention.

A woman struggles to survive and exist in a world that often makes no sense to her. Her father is the one who holds her together, who understands her best, and when he dies it is as if she is cut adrift. Her world collapses around her. As she struggles to get well many changes occur in the family she had to leave.

I marvel that writers come up with such amazing stories. Laura Best is very convincing, writing as if she has personal knowledge and understanding of what goes on in the mind of someone so distraught, whose life is so disjointed, that no one in her family knows how to help her anymore. The reader wants to hang in there to find out what happens to this woman, why does she think that way and feel that way, how her life turns out and if her family wants her back.

For the Indigo challenge, I chose this book as my read for the category “A book by a local author.”
For the 52BookClub challenge, I placed it in the category “a book with multiple character POV” for prompt #25.

Laura Best is a talented Canadian author who takes the reader on a marvellous journey every time.

Title: A Soldier’s Sketchbook: the Illustrated First World War Diary of R.H. Rabjohn

Author: John Wilson

Published: March 2017

This is my selection for the 52BookClub under prompt #24 – “a book you think they should read in schools.”

This true story is about World War I from the experience and diary of 18-year-old Russell Rabjohn from Ontario, Canada. When he came of age he immediately joined the Canadian military and eventually was shipped overseas to fight. Russell began a diary September 7, 1916, which is how this book was compiled by the author who included Russell’s amazing drawings.

When it was discovered that Russell was very talented at drawing, he became the official artist for the war. This book uses his diary entries in which Russell expresses his horror of things that happened. His drawings are accurate and descriptive and give the reader more understanding of warfare at that time.

This book could be used in schools in history and in art.


Title: You Had Me At Hola

Author: Alexis Daria

Published: August 2020

This a romance novel, a genre I don’t usually read. Except for the erotic scenes, which I preferred to skip over, it was a good read. I chose it for the 52BookClub challenge and used it for prompt #32 – “a selfish character.”

It is about an actress who is quite selfish (but who has a good heart underneath her feelings of insecurity) and who is just out of a relationship gone bad publicly. She and an actor/singer with a life-changing secret he has been keeping are cast in the main roles in a remake of a telenovella. Along with the stress of feeling very uncomfortable with one another at first because of media gossip, they have to play the roles of a divorced couple who still love each other. Things get steamy, and then things get really complicated.

Title: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Author: Kate Wilhelm

Published: December 1977

I chose this book for prompt #49 – “a book with a flavour in the title” for the 52BookClub challenge.

What a read! It took a little while to get into it, and I thought, “What have I gotten myself into here?” because it was slow and a trifle boring. That changed quickly enough the further I got into the story, and I discovered I was reading (listening to) a dystopian novel.
Cloning, routines, mindless obedience, breeding chambers, everyone thinking the same … except not quite everyone. One girl was exceptional. She thought and heard things apart from the others, she was creative, she was more independent. She was trouble because no one of the newer generations was supposed to do that!
This is a story that takes the reader through a generation and the changes that are bound to occur because of one different person being defiant and adventurous. When she is brought back into the fold … there is no reasonable way to prevent the continuing of what she had started.
Great story very well narrated in audio format – borrowed from library.

I hope you find these books appealing. You can see I have a wide range of interest in my reading.

Have you read any of these, or now want to?

Thanks for reading, and … Happy Musings! 🙂

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!