book · reviews

The Bette Davis Club– book review

I know it has been forever since I wrote a book review. At the end of the summer, I was plowing through a book series that I was picking up from the library.

After we dropped off our last set of books to the library, I dove back into my kindle reading list. The book I choose to read was The Bette Davis Club, by Jane Lotter.

The Bette Davis Club

Margo Just traveled to CA for her niece’s wedding. She didn’t really want to go, but since her half-sister Charlotte was footing the bill, Margo decided to consider it a vacation. When Georgia, Margo’s niece, runs away on her wedding day everything begins to take a very interesting turn of events. Charlotte offers to pay Margo to go find Georgia and a “few things” that Georgia took from the house as well. Here’s the kicker, Charlotte will allow Margo to take their father’s 55 MG, but the would be groom has to drive.

Margo and Tully, the would be groom, travel from CA in search of Georgia and manage to meet a variety of unique characters along the way.

Through the story the author weaves in a multitude of Margo’s back story. How she moved to England, the relationship between herself and her father, her one love (or so she thought) Finn, and so much more that makes Margo…. Margo.

Will they find Georgia? Will anyone find happiness? Can Charlotte and Margo mend the fences that came about in their youth? Will Margo learn to love and come to some type of peace with her past?

 

I did enjoy this book and found it a good read. It wasn’t super deep and while there were a few twists and turns it was not a “OMG I can’t put this book down” type of book in any way shape or form. The relationships were a bit weak, but worth reading about. I am glad I read the book, if only to have read the touching forward written by the author’s daughter. You see this book was actually published after Jane Lotter passed away. She never saw her dream of publishing come to completion, but it was. We can only hope that she is able to rest in peace knowing that many readers are picking up and reading “The Bette Davis Club.”

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book · reviews

Beautiful Exiles

I know it has been forever since I did a book review! I have been reading a lot of Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen Series. I am also almost done reading young adult series, by Kiera Cass, which started with Selection.

Last week I finished my library books early so I had a lot of time to devote to a story I’ve been reading on my Kindle, Beautiful Exiles by Meg Write Clayton.

Beautiful Exiles tells the story of Martha Gellhorn who is a headstrong, independent, journalist in a time where most people felt that women needed to be in the house not on the battlefield.

In 1936, Martha along with her mother and brother go to Key West for the holidays. There they meet Ernest Hemmingway. Martha is awestruck as she views Hemmingway as a journalist to model herself after.

Hemmingway, married at the time to his second wife, finds the company of Martha quite enjoyable. He woos her with his words and the prospect of travels to war torn places. Hemmingway states that the best love stories are written against the fury of war.

Both Hemmingway and Gellhorn travel to Spain to cover the beginning steps of World War II. There Gellhorn falls deeper in love with both Hemmingway and the nature of being a war journalist.

The book follows them through their relationship right up until Hemmingway’s death. They have a very turbulent relationship in all aspects. While the book tells about their relationship it is far from a love story. This book touches on all aspects of life… the good, the bad and the ugly. It is told from the perspective of Gellhorn and is a great way to show how even when it is enough, it isn’t enough. She was a strong female who stood up for what she believed in. She struggled to find balance between her dreams and goals and being the wife the Hemmingway expected her to be.

This is one of those books that I wouldn’t read again. It’s not a book that I’m going to say… go out and get this book now! But, I didn’t put it down either. I didn’t delete it. It was a good book. It was informative. It told a lot about life in the world during the pre-WWII era.

I will admit that I’ve never read anything written by Hemmingway. I never heard of Gellhorn before reading this book. But I did find them both to be intriguing.

 

book · Education · family · life · reviews

Grit Part 2- parents and educators

I wrote a few week ago about reading the book Grit, by Angela Duckworth. You can read that post here. I still haven’t finished the book, sorry it is going so slowly but it is deep and I feel like I need to read some and then digest it before reading more.

As the title of my blog states, going from being a teacher to being a mother is not always as easy as it sounds. When I read the section on teachers and helping children develop grit and such, I was like… that’s me… that’s how I run my class. I’m not sure I have provided my sons the grit they need, but that too is addressed in the book.

Angela Duckworth addresses parenting and the development of grit. She discussed two different types of parents. One being the parents of quarterback Steve Young. They pushed Steve to excel. They wouldn’t let him quit. Steve Young stated that he became a stronger player because his father pushed him to go beyond the basics. He was never satisfied with ok, he needed to be the best. It didn’t matter what he did, he had to do it to the best of his ability. One could state the Steve Young’s parents believed in the philosophy of tough love, they were there for their children, but the children had to step up and do beyond their best.

The second set of parents were the parents of Francesca Martinez, who is now a comedian in Britain. Francesca was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age two. Her parents did not push her in any direction. They allowed her to figure out life on her own. The supported her and the decisions that she made. They allowed her to leave her formal education at 16 and focus on following her dreams of acting on tv. Her brother also dropped out of school to become a portrait painter. Her parents state that they didn’t over indulge the children nor did they spoil them, they believed in “no-nonsense parenting”, “follow your dreams parenting”.

While these parents may seem on opposite ends of the spectrum they have a few things in common. Both parents were child-centered in the aspect of putting their children’s interest first. They were not trying to relive their own dreams through their children. They supported their children and helped them, in very different ways, realize their true potential.

She encourages parents to develop a warm, supportive and respectful relationship with their children. There is a need for rules and high expectations to foster the grit needed for success. Children need to view you being gritty if you want them to become gritty. When children understand that everyone works hard in what they do and love to do they will understand that they too need to work hard.

We as parents need to look at effort, work ethics in their children. They need to show the same passion and perseverance in their own life. We need to model that the effort is just as important if not more important than skill/talent. We need to stop praising children for each step, but instead point out what they could do to make things better. Not being super criticizing, just letting them know you know they can do more.

In the classroom you will often see teachers tell their student that they know they can do more/better than they are doing now. I often could be heard telling my stuggling readers that I know they can read, that I need them to realize they can read. That I need them to do x,y,z to become stronger at whatever topic/subject we are working on at the time. An outstanding teacher sets the bar higher than each child can achieve and pushes the individuals to reach and exceed the bar.

The challenge with parenting is so often you are just excited to see the littler steps in your children. You find yourself cheering the children on for each step instead of pushing them to see where they can grow. As parents we often forget to set the bar high enough so the children have a place to grow towards. Do we show our children what we are working towards? Do they see that even adults need grit? That each step of the process is a step towards a long term goal? She states that we need to create an environment that acknowledges the rule “If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded. If you don’t, you won’t”. Parents need to stop making life easy for their kids and start helping their children see that hard work pays off.

Angela Duckworth discusses that with her own children she talks about them each having a ” A Hard Thing” to work on. The children have to pick their own hard task, and they had to stick with it for the whole season/session/ whatever you paid for. She has one daughter who found her hard thing in playing the piano as her hard thing. Whereas her other daughter has bounced around trying a variety of different things, finally landing on the viola. She also explained to her children that her work and her husband’s work were their hard thing and that they worked hard at the things needed to be successful in  their careers. The parents also have a physical activity that they consider their hard thing.

Duckworth discovered that colleges and universities look for students who stick with activities. They also discovered through research that students who stick with a given activity for at least two years in high school are more likely to be successful in the college years. This shows an additional level of grit.

How can we help? Stop focusing on and praising the steps. Show how they can improve and get better going forward. Give children specific tasks to work on and improve. Model grit and the understanding that hard work pays off. Provide opportunities for children to choose their hard thing and then have the stick with it. Let them interact with others (teachers, coaches, etc…) who can push them to excel and see their own potential. Recognize that finding the right thing is hard, but it is necessary. When you have passion for something you have the drive to work hard. You want to succeed and move forward in the learning of the activity.

I promise at least one more post on grit once I finish the book!

book · reviews

The Patchwork Bride- book review

This week when I was at the library I quickly picked up on book and then couldn’t decide what to get for my second book. I wanted a few different books, but they were not available.

I was looking through the “to be restocked” carts for a book that Colby wanted and happened upon The Patchwork Bride, by Sandra Dallas. I’m not sure what caught my attention, the cover is pretty plain and I had no clue what the story would be about from the title, but I picked it up anyway.

When we got home, I decided to dive into this book first. I just finished reading it.

Ellen is working hard on finishing up the bridal quilt she is making for her granddaughter June, when June shows up on her doorstep. June has run-away. She left her fiance. She left her family who was planning the wedding. She ran to the comfort of her grandparent’s farm. When June was a child she loved spending summers at this farm, and felt this was the place to go and seek comfort.

Ellen decides to tell June the story of a girl, Nell, who ran away from not one but three weddings.

Nell lived with her grandparents on their farm in Kansas. She did not see any ideal options for men to marry in the town she lived in, so she left Kansas and went to live with her aunt Lucy in the New Mexico Territory. She lived and worked on the Rockin’ A as a hired girl. She learned to live the life on the ranch and handler not only her chores but working side by side with the hired hands. There Nell meets “Buddy” who she plans to marry, but Buddy breaks her heart and she runs away home to Kansas.

She then decides to travel to again. Twice more she meets men who ask for her hand in marriage. Twice again she realizes that this isn’t meant to be.

Will Nell ever find the man of her dreams. Will she find a man to marry her so she doesn’t have to become an “old spinster” living in someone else’s house? Will this story help June with her crisis of heart?

I encourage you to read this realistic historical fiction book. It is set back in the 1890s when life was very different for women and the country. It was an easy read, and very romantic at time (not smut at all just good old fashion romance). I would not call this story a romance novel, but more of a real life story.

I didn’t want to put it down when I got to the end of the book. I was happy with the ending even if I had already picked up on the direction it was taking. It is a good read and I would encourage you to read it too!

book · reviews

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder– book review

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen series Book 1)I guess I’ve been in the food + mystery = good read thinking at the library lately. I posted about two food related mysteries here and here. I love reading book series and was looking for the book Peach Pies and Alibis which is the one after Pies and Prejudice, but they didn’t have it on the shelf in the library. Sooooo I picked up the first in a different food mystery series. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke.  This book became a Hallmark Mysteries movie, I guess I’ll have to find that although I doubt it will be as good as the book. Plus the main character in the story had curly red hair and they have Alison Sweeny on the cover with blonde hair… ummm something is a miss there people.

Hannah moved back to her home town after her father passed away. Her sister was struggling to help their mother while trying to raise her daughter. Hannah left a life of school and academia and ended up opening her own cookie store “The Cookie Jar”. One morning before she opened her store for business she stumbled upon a murder! The milkman was late delivering her shipment and Hannah went out back to see if he was there, only to find him dead in his milk truck. Hannah’s brother-in-law, Bill, just passed his detective test and is ready to solve his first murder. Can Hannah help Bill solve the mystery?

This wasn’t a really deep book, but still a good read. I picked up another book in this series at the library yesterday. I couldn’t get the second one… what’s up with the second book in the mysteries all being MIA?

book · reviews

Palisades Park- Book review

Palisades ParkI began reading Palisades Park by Alan Brennert before we left for Hershey and finished it up on the trip. It worked out to be the perfect story to read right before traveling to a theme park. While I am way too young to have ever experienced Palisades Park, and I didn’t grow up in NJ, I at least had heard of Palisades Park before reading this story.

Palisades Park begins by telling you the back story of how Eddie and Adele met and fell in love at Palisades Park in the 1930s. Eddie had left home as a teenager and started off by jumping from carnival to carnival. He would take any carnival job he could get and then hop on the nearest train and find another carnival to join and make a bit of money.  He then decided to get off the train back in NJ and go to Palisades Park, the place he remembers from his youth with a smile. Adele began her life working for her father as an actor, but when the movie industry moved to CA, her father stayed in NJ. Adele got a job working at a root beer stand at Palisades Park.

Eddie and Adele get married when she gets pregnant.  They decide to purchase a French Fry stand in Palisades Park and work it together. They have a beautiful daughter which they named Antoinette. Antoinette, who decides to refer to herself as Toni, much to her mother’s chagrin. She enjoys playing with her brother Jack and the rest of the boys in the neighborhood. She spends her days at Palisades where she meets Bunty Hill who teaches her to swim and later dive right in the pool at Palisades.

Toni’s family has to learn to deal with the Great Depression, Eddie enlisting in World War II, the Palisades Park fires, discrimination and so much more. Can the family survive the changes and growing up and growing apart that takes place in life? Will Toni figure out how to reach her own goals in a world that sees her as just a girl? Can Jack find his place in the world? Will Eddie find a way to keep his head above water after the war? Will Adele ever find a way to accomplish her dream of being a movie star?

This was a great historical fiction. I enjoyed this story and felt it was an easy read. There were things that were predictable, but it didn’t make the story feel predictable. You will find yourself wanting to read what happens next. The story begins with Eddie as a boy himself and ends after Palisades Park closes in 1971. I enjoyed the fact that Toni was given a backbone and stood up for what she believed in during a time when it was frowned upon. I also enjoyed reading more about the life of the people who worked in Palisades. It gives you enjoy of a glimpse into the backstage life of the workers and their relationships. Being at Hershey while reading this I noticed many of the rides mentioned in this book as well it gave me an appreciation for the people who choose to work in the parks.

I encourage you to pick up Palisades Park by Alan Brennert, I know I will be looking at other books written by him.

book · life · reviews · Uncategorized

Star Girl and Mockingbird book reviews

This summer the boys and I got library cards. We have been going to the library every week. Each week Blake gets 7-9 books and Colby gets 5-7 books. I have been picking up 2 books each week. I am always shocked to see that we have plowed through the books and are ready to return them the next week.

The last two weeks Colby has been choosing books off a list we found of books for children who liked the Wonder series. He asked me to read one last week and one this week.

Book - Stargirl by Jerry SpinelliLast week he had me read Star Girl, by Jerry Spinneli. Star Girl is written about how a school deals with “The new girl” who starts school for the first time. Leo tells the story of how Star Girl changes Mica High from the first day she arrived. Star Girl did not look, act or even think like anyone else in the school. Is it good to be THAT different? Can the positive energy and unique desire to be happy all the time, that is Star Girl, bring about a change in the culture of a whole school, or at least a few of the students there?

I really enjoyed this story and so did Colby. I believe in some ways he could relate to Star Girl. He was just the new kid and he too is very emotional, passionate and always wants people to be happy. Now don’t get me wrong he doesn’t dress crazy, or call himself a unique name, or go out of his way to feel that different, but he knows his personality draws people in and makes them happy.  This is a YA book and one that is a good read for teen and tweens. The story is written from the voice of Leo and how he reacts to Star Girl. Both male and female readers can relate to this story.Book - Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Colby and I both plowed through the book Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine yesterday. It’s not that the book was super short, it was just that good. Caitlin is in the fifth grade. She is bight, a gifted reader and a talented artist. Caitlin also has Asperger’s syndrome. Before, her brother Devon helped her negotiate how to fit into a world that makes little to no sense to her. But, then the unspeakable happened. Devon was killed in a school shooting. Her father doesn’t no know to deal with his own emotions never mind those of his daughter. The school counselor tries to help Caitlin see that with a little guidance she can understand empathy and then understand how to help herself and so many other people in her life that are hurting after this tragedy.

This book is a good ready for anyone! It was an interesting look into the thought process of a child with Asperger’s. I have taught children with this and I could relate. I have know children with his and see how they just don’t fit in even when they don’t realize they don’t fit in. They see the world through their own set of eyes. This book did an excellent job of showing how important it is to see each person for their strengths and that if you just step back and look at the person for their strengths and not the aspects of why they don’t fit in you may see you have more in common than you realize.

The theme of school shooting plays a back plot in this book. It is not discussed in great details, but more deals with how this effects those left behind. The purpose seemed to be to connect a variety of characters to the same tragedy. This is something that is being addressed in schools on a regular basis, and helping children see how the shooting effects more than just the victims themselves may help children see this act in a new light as well.  (this is also a YA story)

book · reviews

The Secret, Book & Scone Society

When we went to the library last week, I only planned on picking up The Elite. Colby wanted to go upstairs to the non-fiction section so I decided to go check out the fiction section while I was there. I found myself browsing through the new book section

ellery adams' THE SECRET, BOOK & SCONE SOCIETYWhile I was looking at the shelves the title of this book drew me in: The Secret, Book & Scone Society, by Ellery Adams. How could I walk away from a book that has both book and scone in the title? This book is a mystery which I enjoy but don’t read as often as I do other types of fiction.

Miracle Springs North Carolina was a picturesque town. People flooded here from “the city” to bask in the tranquil nature to take advantage of the natural springs, five star restaurants and inn. While there they found so much more.

Nora who owns Miracle Books will help the visitors find the best books to read to help them heal what ails them. Many of these visitors also visit The Gingerbread House owned by Hester to get her famous comfort scones.

When a visiting business man reaches out to both Nora and Hester for help, and then if found dead on the local train tracks, the town is turned on edge. Through this the Secret, Book & Scone Society was formed. Can a group of women who all have their own daemons to deal with ban together to discover the truth? Can the find friendship and healing, or will they keep their own secrets guarded as well as their hearts?

I enjoyed this story. It was a mystery, but even more than that it was a book about trust. It is about women working together to find the strength to deal with the past and move onto the future. Can they learn to trust each other enough to help each other while helping themselves.

I know I will be searching for more books by this author tomorrow when I head back to the library!

 

 

book · reviews

The Elite– book review

When I posted about reading The Selection by Kiera Cass, many of you said you felt the story sounded interesting and that you would like to hear if I read the second book. Well… I did! This week the boys and I went to the library and the first book I picked up for myself was The Elite.

If you want to refresh your memory about what happens in The Selection, you can read my post here.

35 girls arrived to steal the heart of the prince, and now only 6 remain. America Singer still doesn’t know what she wants to do. Who should she love? Does she stay and try to become the princess or leave and go back to her first love?

America went into the selection feeling that the whole process was wrong. She envisioned the prince picking based on looks, politics and/or other reasons than love. She saw that many of the girls involved were more in getting the crown than loving the man. But that all changed the more she got to know Maxon. Now she doesn’t know what to think.

America learns more about how Illea comes to be as well as why they now live in a caste system. What does she do with this new found information? Will it change how she feels about Maxon and the possibility of becoming a princess?

I can tell you this…. I’m ready to head back to the library and pick up the next book in the series!

 

book · reviews

Hello Love– book review

You can tell it is summer by the rate I am reading books. Or maybe it is because I have been reading lighter stories lately. Last night I finished reading Hello Love, by Karen McQuestion.

This is a really cute story, predictable, but cute.

Hello Love by [McQuestion, Karen]Dan lives with his daughter Lindsay and their dog Anni. Anni, so named because Dan’t wife Christine gave Dan Anni for their anniversary. Christine passed away a year ago of cancer and Dan is trying to hold all the pieces of their lives together. Every night Anni waits for Christine to come home, which makes it hard for Dan since he knows his beloved Christine will never return again.

Meanwhile… Andrea is dealing with moving past her recent divorce from Marco. Her friend Jade drags her off on an outing where Andrea is expected to push away all the negatives of her life and as the cosmos for something more positive. Andrea plays along even though she doesn’t believe it will work.

One day Lindsay lets Anni out and she is “dognapped” from their driveway. Lindsay and Dan are devastated.

Andrea, who works for a management company, get a complaint of an illegal dog. She finds the dog there and feels the dog is being abused. Instead of calling the police, she takes the dog and claims it as her own.

Dan and Andrea’s paths cross from time to time. Will they ever realize the connection they truly have. Can they each find what they are searching for in life?

This is a great summer/beach read (even if half the book is set in the winter… that’s not important). It is an easy read where even if you know what is going to happen you want to continue to read to make sure all is right in the world. There are a less predictable moments, and those help to keep the story rolling. If you like dogs and want a happy ending story, then Hello Love by, Karen McQuestion is a good book to pick up.