Cultivated -- Beautiful and challenging 1,000 piece puzzle


Disclosure: I was sent this puzzle in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I love puzzles. I tend to get a bit engrossed in them. Hazel realized at a young age to have Steve do puzzles with her because I get too obsessed with them. Today's puzzle challenged me quite a bit. I love the picture of the beautiful flowers on it, but the border was so hard!! This puzzle is Cultivated 1000 Piece Puzzle by Christin Geall. 

The photograph is beautiful and with winter still upon us the flowers are a sign of spring coming. Inside the box are the 1,000 pieces and as well as a photograph of the complete picture. I always start a puzzle by finding the edge pieces and piecing the border. This I found extremely hard. In fact I didn't finish the border until near the end of the completing the puzzle. The dark border and the dark background was a real challenge plus the edge pieces fit together not always in the proper order. I kept undoing what I thought was right. I couldn't complete the left border until I had the pieces that connected them to the interior in place.

Once I started on the flowers it became a bit easier. I enjoyed this puzzle and found it to be a good challenge. I do recommend it for older puzzle lovers say 14+. I did not work on it constantly but it took a couple weeks for me to complete it. The border did frustrate me which made me take a bit of a break from it. The puzzle is a wonderful quality and the photograph on it is beautiful.

I will say that I am rather proud to have completed this one!! If you love flowers and puzzles this one is for you!! 

The Awakening Malcolm X -- YA Novel with many insights to Malcolm X's life and thoughts


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

It is hard to believe it is the last week of February. For our last week of Black History Month we are sharing a new novel about Malcolm X that is co-written by his daughter. Now a few years ago I shared her first novel about her father, X: A Novel. Today's book picks up where that one leaves off, but you do not need to have read the last one to read this one. Today's is The Awakening of Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson. 

Reading Thursday: What I am currently reading...


Disclosure: Some of these books I was sent in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

As a book reviewer I find I need to schedule time to read the books. I am not a fast reader. I insist on novels being physical books. I can only do digital books for craft books and picture books. Otherwise the reviews won't get written because I won't get through them. As I thought about what to share today I decided to share with you what I am currently reading. Some of these books are for future reviews and some are for myself. The first book I will share is one I was told by my gynecologist to read because I turned 50 this summer and am starting menopause. The truth is I wish I read this about five years ago!! If you are in your 40s you want to get a copy of this book because the changes start happening well before you realize it. The book is The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup. 

From the Publisher:

Dr. Christiane Northrup’s #1 New York Times bestseller The Wisdom of Menopause has inspired more than a million women with a dramatically new vision of midlife—and will continue to do so for generations to come. As Dr. Northrup has championed, the “change” is not simply a collection of physical symptoms to be “fixed,” but a mind-body revolution that brings the greatest opportunity for growth since adolescence. The choices a woman makes now—from the quality of her relationships to the quality of her diet—have the power to secure vibrant health and well-being for the rest of her life.

Now completely revised, this groundbreaking classic draws on the current research and medical advances in women’s health, and includes

• a new section on sex after 50—and how, if need be, you can rejuvenate your sex life
• updated mammogram guidelines—and how thermography improves breast health
• the latest on the glycemic index, optimal blood sugar levels, and ways to prevent diabetes
• dietary guidelines revealing that hidden sugar—not dietary fat—is the main culprit in heart disease, cancer, and obesity
• all you need to know about perimenopause and why it’s critical to your well-being
• a vital program for ensuring pelvic health during and after menopause
• strategies to combat osteoporosis and strengthen bones for life

With this trusted resource, Dr. Christiane Northrup shows that women can make menopause a time of personal empowerment—emerging wiser, healthier, and stronger in both mind and body than ever before.

From Me:
I need to make more time to read this one. I was hooked on it when I read the first page. It resonated with me and what has been going on in my own life/body. I definitely suggest it for anyone in their 40s or more.

The next book that I'm reading is for personal reasons. It is The Wedding Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini. It is the next book from where I left off in the Elm Creek Quilt series. 

From the Publisher:
The New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series continues, with a novel that celebrates one of America's most romantic and enduring traditions.

Sarah McClure arrived at Elm Creek Manor as a newlywed, never suspecting that her quilting lessons with master quilter Sylvia Bergstrom Compson would inspire the successful and enduring business Elm Creek Quilts, whose members have nurtured a circle of friendship spanning generations.

The Wedding Quilt opens as the wedding day of Sarah's daughter Caroline approaches. As Sarah has learned, a union celebrates not only the betrothed couple's passage into wedlock, but also the contributions of those who have made the bride and groom the unique people they are. Thus Sarah's thoughts are filled with brides of Elm Creek Manor past and present-the traditions they honored, the legacies they bequeathed, and the wedding quilts that contain their stories in every stitch.

A wedding quilt is a powerful metaphor: of sisterhood, of community, of hope for the future. The blocks in Caroline's wedding quilt will display the signatures of beloved guests. As the Elm Creek Quilters circulate amid the festive preparations with pens and fabric in hand, memories of the Manor-and of the women who have lived there, in happiness and in sorrow-spill forth, rendering a vivid pastiche of family, friendship, and love in all its varieties.

From Me:
I'm loving how this book is full of memories from the earlier books in the series. It honestly feels like I'm catching up with old friends.

The next book I was hoping to review today but I just haven't had enough time to finish it. It is Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood by Gary Paulsen.

From the Publisher: 
A middle grade memoir from a living literary legend, giving readers a new perspective on the origins of Gary Paulsen's famed survival stories.

His name is synonymous with high-stakes wilderness survival stories. Now, beloved author Gary Paulsen portrays a series of life-altering moments from his turbulent childhood as his own original survival story. If not for his summer escape from a shockingly neglectful Chicago upbringing to a North Woods homestead at age five, there never would have been a Hatchet. Without the encouragement of the librarian who handed him his first book at age thirteen, he may never have become a reader. And without his desperate teenage enlistment in the Army, he would not have discovered his true calling as a storyteller.

A moving and enthralling story of grit and growing up, Gone to the Woods is perfect for newcomers to the voice and lifelong fans alike, from the acclaimed author at his rawest and realest.

From Me: 
I am enjoying reading this book. It is so interesting to hear the details of his life. It is well written and pulls the reader in. I'm about a third of the way through it and the truth is when I start reading it I have trouble putting it down. I just haven't had enough time to read it. I hope you will check it out and stay tuned for my full review.

My final book is the book I'm hoping to share on Monday for our final Black History Month post. It is The Awakening of Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson. 

From the Publisher: 
The Awakening of Malcolm X is a powerful narrative account of the activist's adolescent years in jail, written by his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz along with 2019 Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe award-winning author, Tiffany D. Jackson.

No one can be at peace until he has his freedom.

In Charlestown Prison, Malcolm Little struggles with the weight of his past. Plagued by nightmares, Malcolm drifts through days, unsure of his future. Slowly, he befriends other prisoners and writes to his family. He reads all the books in the prison library, joins the debate team and the Nation of Islam. Malcolm grapples with race, politics, religion, and justice in the 1940s. And as his time in jail comes to an end, he begins to awaken -- emerging from prison more than just Malcolm Little: Now, he is Malcolm X.

Here is an intimate look at Malcolm X's young adult years. While this book chronologically follows X: A Novel, it can be read as a stand-alone historical novel that invites larger discussions on black power, prison reform, and civil rights.

From Me:
Again I'm enjoying it. When I pick it up I have trouble putting it down. Steve noticed it and asked to read it after me. I was shocked. He hardly reads novels and doesn't pay that much attention to Black history. I am hoping to get this one finished for my last Black History Month post for this year! Tune in Monday to get my full review of it!

A Book that Teaches a Girl's Rights to Her Body & Emotions


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

There have been a few books I have shared over the years that are must reads. When I say must read these are books that are about making our girls strong and keeping them safe. Today's book is one of these. I want girls that teach girls that they don't have to put up with the boys pressuring them into sex or that they need to change their ways because of boys. I want our girls to be confident, smart and happy. I'm still looking for books that teach our boys to control their own desires instead of putting it on the victims, but until those books are written I will keep sharing my must read books. Today's book is A Girl's Bill of Rights by Amy B. Mucha and illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda. 

Math, Art, Crafting and More in a Box!


Disclosure: I was sent one of these kits in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today I am going to share with you a fun building kit. It involves some crafting, math, art and more and I always love when you can make learning fun. Mind-Blowing Paper Puzzles by Haruki Nakamura does just that. 

Tulsa's Greenwood District -- The 1921 Tulsa Racial Riot and a new YA Historical Fiction Novel


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today I am going to share a young adult novel set in 1921 in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Do you know about Greenwood? Perhaps you have heard of it as the Black Wall Street? Or maybe have heard of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot? Before I share the novel with you I thought I would tell you about Greenwood and the Tulsa Race Riot. 

Black people arrived in Oklahoma with the Native Americans on the Trail of Tears. Some were slaves and some were freed. Some of these Black people became citizens of the Native American nations. After the Civil War, due to the negotiations between the U.S. Government and the Native Americans land some of the Black tribal citizens were granted large parcels of land. As a result some of the Blacks welcomed other Southeastern Blacks and were able to form dozens of all-Black towns in the region. In fact in 1890 Edwin McCabe met with President Benjamin Harrison to try to get the Oklahoma territory turned into an all-Black state. 

Where the World Ends -- New Fun Picture Book


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Have you ever wondered where the clouds go after they float by? Today's book, Where the World Ends: A Zip, Trik, and Flip Adventure by Davide Cali and illustrated by Maria Dek, begins with three animal friends wondering just this. The three friends decide to go on an adventure to find the end of the world.

One Jar of Magic -- new middle school novel about disappointment, dreams, friends, family and more


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and a small compensation gift. All opinions are my own.

Today I get to share with you an amazing new middle grades novel. This post is part of the Awareness Tour hosted by The Children's Book Review which includes a giveaway!! I will start with the publishers information about the book. The book is One Jar of Magic by Corey Ann Haydu.

A New Book Perfect for Presidents Day


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

It is hard to believe that Monday is Presidents' Day. I am thinking back to last Presidents' Day and how much has changed including our President. Last Presidents' Day my family was getting ready for our big trip to Florida. Hazel had asked for Christmas and her birthday for a trip to Disney. We picked her February vacation to do it. That trip is the last time we were out of Massachusetts. When we returned we found a new school for Hazel. My car needed to be replaced and then the lockdown happened. Presidents' Day represents what was my normal life for me before this pandemic. And of course, the President and the election were BIG news this year. Well today I am going to share with you National Geographic's 2020 Edition of Our Country's Presidents: A Complete Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency by Ann Bausum. Every four years National Geographic Kids puts out a new edition.

Dovey Johnson Roundtree -- Civil Rights Activist & More #blacklivesmatter


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I saw a meme on Facebook recently about how we shouldn't need Black History Month, Asian American History Month, etc. because it should all be covered in US History. My first thought was that I agreed. It would be wonderful to be able to study history and know it was all in there. But I have been thinking more about it. I am remembering my own schooling and how much I found history pretty boring. Back then the books were all about white males with perhaps a mention of a woman or Black person. It was about memorizing dates (how does that help me in real life?) and names and not really about understanding the whys. To me the reason to study history is to understand the whys so we don't repeat the bad things. We need to learn from our mistakes even if the mistakes are of our ancestors. Plus can you imagine how big the history books would be if they included everything. I do believe our history books need to include all history but I love having the heritage months to focus on different groups because otherwise I might not get a chance to read a book like the one I'm sharing today. I might not have learned about Dovey Johnson Roundtree and her significant role in the Civil Rights Movement. Have you heard of Dovey? I know I hadn't until I read this book. The book is Mighty Justice (Young Reader's Edition): The Untold Story of Civil Rights Trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe and adapted by Jabari Asim.

Paper Quilling Chinese Style -- Getting Ready for Chinese New Year


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The lunar new year begins this week (on the 12th). The most famous celebrations of the lunar new year are the Chinese. I thought in preparation of the Chinese New Year I would share two paper quilling books both in Chinese style that has projects that will lend with the Chinese New Year as well as spring and more. The first book is Paper Quilling Adorable Animals Chinese Style by Zhu Liqun Paper Arts Museum.  

The World of the First Christians -- Kids Book Review


Disclosure: I was sent a digital review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

When you read the Bible do you ever wonder about life during the times it is telling us? What were houses like? What was travel like? As Christians today our world is so different. We are accepted and often leaders in the US at least. We have luxuries such as indoor plumbing and private bathrooms as well as electricity. Plus many families take vacations all over the world. As a Sunday School teacher and mother I know kids wonder often about what the world was like during Biblical times. Today's book is a book to help them understand more about the Biblical world. The book is The World of the First Christians: A Curious Kid's Guide to the Early Church by Marc Olson and illustrated by Jemima Maybank. 

This book is very kid friendly. It is full of illustrations and bits of information. It is organized not to overwhelm but to educate. It is recommended for ages 8 to 12 and I would say that is the perfect age to go with this book. The book deals with who the first Christians were and what they did. It also shares about life in Rome and other Roman cities. The details are very interesting and explain a bit about life and yes there is bathroom talk in parts of it!

The illustrations are clear and add to the information shared. This book is more of a guide to educate than a picture book. It goes through many different things as well as relating them to the different parts of the Bible. The Gospel is explained as well as the Apostles and the letters. It even goes into how the letters were delivered. 

Modes of transportation are addressed as well as people like the Egyptian Monks and Paul. The words are also described as well as where they come from. It is such an interesting book full of facts you do not see every day. If you have a kid who is curious and asking questions about the Bible, take a look at this book and the Bible will come even more alive for you and that kid. 

A Book to Help Teens Relate to a Loved One with Dementia


Disclosure: I was sent a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Does someone in your life have dementia? My father has Alzheimer's disease. This year has been even harder because of it. When the pandemic hit and everything shut down our lives all changed but especially my father's. His schedule was gone. The bus didn't come to pick him up for his day program three times a week. He didn't have his volunteer job at the Alzheimer's center anymore. He and my mother were home alone basically all the time. They are both 80 or older now. It was too dangerous to let them run their errands. My sister went to see them every weekend to run errands and give my mom a break. This summer while staying at the family house near them my family experienced the first time we knew my father had no idea who we were. He was spending the day with us and woke up from a nap and kept talking about wanting to see my mother by her first name. I couldn't calm him until I called my mother to come get him. It was heartbreaking for me. I was use to being called by one of my sisters' name--he has been doing that my whole life--but this time it was obvious he had no idea I was his daughter or that Hazel was his granddaughter. It is so hard to deal with for me and I can only imagine what it is like for Hazel. Today's book is to help teens and even tweens understand dementia and find ways to relate to the loved one with dementia. It is A Loved One with Dementia by Jean Rawitt. It is part of the Empowering You series

Never After -- Review of a New Fantasy Middle Grades Novel


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Hazel's favorite genre is fantasy or magical and fairy tale and today's book fits right in. It asks what if fairy tales were real and goes from there. I'll be honest I was excited to get this book because I know it is one Hazel will want. It is written by Melissa de la Cruz who also wrote The Descendants Series which is one of Hazel's favorites (both books and movies) right now. The truth is I thought Hazel would review this one for me except she received so many books for Christmas and her birthday and she has not had the time to check it out yet, but wants to. The book is the first in a new series. It is Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy

It's All Love -- A book of reflections for teens about love for selves, others, life and more


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

February is the month for love! It has Valentine's Day (14th) and Random Acts of Kindness Day (17th) in it. Yet in this world of ours love can be hard and hurtful. How do we teach our kids about love? Who should they love? Well for one thing they need to love themselves. Today I am sharing a book by teen actress Jenna Ortega. The book is It's All Love: Reflections for Your Heart & Soul. It is a book written for teens and will also be good for people in their 20's.

Facts about Simone Biles and Review of Flying High


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Want are your favorite events to watch during the Olympics? I fell in love with gymnastics at a young age. One of my sisters was very good at gymnastics when she was young and really loved watching them. It drives me crazy that they put the gymnastic competitions on so late so it has been hard to watch them with Hazel. Of course relatively new to the scene but with amazing success is Simone Biles. Today we are going to focus on Simone Biles and her life and success as well as share a new picture book about her.