Sunday Morning for the Kids! Featuring King of the Tightrope by Donna Janell Bowman, Adam Gustavson (Illustrator)

Sat morning kids(1)

Good morning! I love Sunday mornings because I adore reviewing Children’s books. I always manage to learn something new and different when I read this genre. Does that mean I’m still a child? Hopefully, it means you are  never too old to learn!

KING OF THE TIGHTROPE: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara by Donna Janell Bowman, Adam Gustavson (Illustrator)

9781561459377_20019

I love all things related to the circus and being a mom of a circus performer, I have heard a lot about the kings of the tightrope – those daring men, and a few women, who boldly did (do) what others could not or will not do. Blondin is one of the most famous of these dare-devils because he was the first in many areas, particularly the first to actually walk on a rope across Niagara Falls, a feat that many considered his death sentence. They were wrong. Not only did he do it, he went on to even greater stunts. But how does a young boy decide this is what he will do when he is older? That is the story given to us here with Bowman’s wonderfully written, beautifully illustrated book: King of the Tightrope.

This is the story of how a boy who was born into a performing family – as many are – became bored with the acts he was doing and began challenging himself to do bigger, greater, more daring acts that he and others never had done before. What is so fascinating about this is that he had to use physics and mathematics to figure out how to accomplish these feats without falling. It is both an art and science to all of these types of performances. Kids reading this book are subtly made aware of how important being knowledgeable and well rounded is for success.  In addition, the illustrations are marvelous! Using bold, bright colors, the illustrator creates images that stimulate the child’s imagination, as well as those of an adult. This is a book that opens up new possibilities for kids of all ages. My own son had a such an “aha moment” experience when he was quite young and it led him to be a circus performer for the largest circus in the world – Cirque du Soleil. You never know what being introduced to magical performances will bring.

74585858_2751838364840710_1175653082877394944_o

My son, Toby, during a recent performance of the “O” show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

King of the Tightrope is the perfect book for children ages 6-11ish. I hope they will love it as much as I did!

 

 

 

Fab Fiction on Friday: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Let me just say that Such a Fun Age definitely will be on my Top Ten list of reads for 2020. That just goes without saying, I think, and I also think it will be on a lot of “favorite” lists this year. I have, however, hesitated to write a review of the book out of fear of diminishing its importance as well as its enjoyability.  Such a Fun Age is a cross-genre tale about race, class, upbringing and the difficulty it is to cross those barriers. Age even plays a role in this clever, well written, very timely book.

such a fun age

Emira is a babysitter – not a nanny – for Peter and Alix (who changed the spelling of her name to be more relevant.) Peter is a newsreader on television and Alix is an “influencer” on social media. Emira is charged with caring for Briar, their very precocious, charming daughter and she loves it. There is a beautiful, loving relationship throughout the book between Emira and Briar. It reminded me a bit of the The Help, another book that looks at these same themes. Problems arise when Peter makes a racist on-air remark and their house is egged as a result. Alix asks Emira to take Briar out of the house to an upscale store until things can get sorted. There, however, Emira is accused of kidnapping Briar; after all, why would a black teenage girl have a white little girl at a store at 11pm? There is a huge scene and isn’t resolved until Peter arrives to clear up the confusion. Emira remarks that the security guard should be pleased since “Peter is an old, white guy.”  Things escalate from there as Alix and her extremely politically correct friends try to make things better for Emira who is more concerned about not having health care than she is about “the incident.” Things grow more tense throughout the book leaving you feeling as though you are watching a snowball grow into an avalanche until the very final page of this book.

So, after reading Such a Fun Age twice through, I realized that this is far more than a book about “transactional relationships,” – seriously, did you even know that word existed until this book? I didn’t. It is far more than a book about race, although it very clearly is that too. This is a story about the disconnect we all have with one another as we make assumptions about the people who come into and out of our lives. Do I treat the migrant differently than I treat others in my world? Do I see a person in their 30s and immediately make assumption about their “millennial” lifestyle? Do I try to make others see me as “relevant,” when, in fact, we all are. But, what I came away with most is that Emira was her own person, with her own goals and her own identity. She didn’t want to be super successful like some of her “home girls.” Neither did she want to be left behind in the job market. Most importantly, she didn’t have her life all figured out on the time-table that society set for her – few do! We forget that we are individuals and each of us – regardless of race or religion or lifestyle choices – have to allow that individuality to flourish. Stop putting people into boxes to fit your own ideas, ideals or beliefs. It really is that simple and Such a Fun Age illustrates this beautifully.

GENRE: Domestic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Thank you to #PenguinPublishingGroup and #GPPutnamandSons

AtoZ Reading Challenge 2020

via AtoZ Reading Challenge 2020retro open book isolated on white background

This reading challenge is created and hosted by Megan and Crystal from GingerMomAndCompany and they’ve been doing this for three years now. I discovered it through Lili’s Blissful Pages and now will share it with you. This really shouldn’t be too difficult, should it? I even have the “Z” book already started!! Each week I will update this page to reflect my progress .I hope you will join in the fun too!

UPDATED THROUGH JANUARY

First Cut by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

First Cut is the first book in an exciting new series featuring Dr. Jessie Teska (don’t even ask what her first name really is!) She is brilliant, thorough and very flawed, exactly the type of character I love in books.

First Cut

Dr. Teska has newly arrived in San Francisco where a drug epidemic seems to be washing through the city. A new, highly volatile version of heroin has hit the streets causing overdoses among the most hardened users. Dr. Teska begins to see a pattern, however, in those who are ending up on her slab and the results of her investigation leads a little to close to home – the ME’s office!

The writing in First Cut is taut, precise and it is obvious the author knows her craft – Melinek is, or was, an ME. The computer stuff was a bit over my head but still easy to follow and actually quite fascinating. The characters were interesting and, while I didn’t like them all and some of them made me physically ill to imagine their existence in my world, they were exceptionally well written. I can’t wait for the next in this series!

The Turning – a collection by Henry James

Bwahahaha – horror is back and it is back with a vengeance! Welcome to The Turning….
The Turning

Growing up in the 70s, I cut my teeth reading Stephen King’s original books, you know, their first publication back in the day and when I couldn’t get more of King, I turned to the classics like Shelley’s Frankenstein, a love story (!), Shirley Jackson and Henry James. My favorite of all was Henry James and his terrifying short stories. Every now and again someone makes a movie about the Turn of the Screw and 2020 is apparently the year for major film producers to go all out trying to outdo one another. The Turning is a compilation of James’ short stories as a movie tie-in for the first 2020 release, The Turning, directed by Stephen Spielberg. It is a great, and horrifying re-grouping of James’ most noteworthy scary tales. If you love classic horror then this should be a must read for you! I loved having them collected all together. Yes, it is written in his original stilted Victorian prose but, for me, that just makes it all the better.

As a side note, the director who brought us The Haunting of Hill House also is creating a sequel based on James’ short stories called “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” You will want to read The Turning to be fully prepared for this spine=tingling, nerve-rattling sequel when it airs in a few months!

Recent Reads and Rapid Reviews

Recent and Rapid

Below are a few quick reviews of books I’ve read recently. First up is Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty.

51S0l2E0CtL

The Cold Cold Ground is the first book of what has now become a series revolving around Detective Sean Duffy a Catholic cop in the middle of the protestant end of Ireland in the 1980s. Not a good place to stay alive so it’s a good thing they have Duffy, a sharp, educated “peeler” who is as tenacious as a bulldog. Duffy is a combination of Harry Bosch (in his younger days) and Harry Hole with his own brand of justice. I stayed up all night reading this one and I think you will enjoy it too. Now, I’m off to see if I can find the second in this series.

Thanks to Sandy at Sandy’s Book A Day Blog for her fabulous review(HERE) that inspired by search for this book.

LAST DAY by Luanne Rice

Luanne Rice is a master storyteller and that truly shines in her latest novel, Last Day, the story of four friends, two deaths and the secrets kept hidden to the end.

Sisters Kate and Beth had survived a tragic ordeal in their teen years but, like so many, that tragedy pushed them apart rather than pulling them together. Kate is closed off from all emotion and Beth has infused her life with love, giving to the community, loving her daughter and caring for her friends. When Beth is murdered, Kate digs in to find the answers to her sister’s murder. What she finds instead are layers of secrets.

While I was a bit disappointed in the ending, the overall story is brilliantly told. Last Day was my January selection for Amazon First Reads and will be available on February 1st.

THE PASSENGERS  by John Marrs

9781984806970_a5657

I have been on a John Marrs kick for the last year. I’ve loved every single thing he has written. He’s different, his ideas are original, his writing is superb. However I was a bit disappointed with The Passengers. The story itself, self-driving cars which have been “hacked,” is one that actually terrifies me to think about. For reasons I never could put my finger on, though, the characters never resonated with me and I simply didn’t care who survived and who didn’t. Of course I will continue to read Marrs’ books in the future but The Passengers just fell a bit short.