Books that Came My Way in October 2019

New Books

This is my monthly roundup of books that were added to my shelves in the last month. I also share an update with you on other things going on in my life.

The marching band season turned cold by the end of the competition season. We still loved cheering on our favorite drummer while sitting under blankets and using handwarmers! Reagan enjoyed her first year of marching band.
Both my husband and I celebrated birthdays in October. It’s been a busy month but we celebrated with friends at two new restaurants in our area…both with Whisky in the name!
It isn’t very often our college kids come home, but a last-minute decision gave us an unexpected weekend with Bennett.
Patrick ran in his last XC meet of his sophomore season and his last one with his high school friend, Eli, who is a senior. It was a cold and muddy race!
state solo
At the exact same time that Patrick was running his 8K, our daughter was performing in her very first state dance solo competition. She choreographed her own routine and I am so proud of how hard she worked.

Now on to the books! My mailbox was crazy busy this month! I’m sharing 16 children’s books and 15 adult books today. It’s crazy how many books come in every month and maybe even a bit embarrassing. I know how lucky I am to have this gig and I am so thrilled I can share all these fabulous books with you.

I’m crazy busy subbing in Junior English. The grading is taking all my free-reading time, plus I’m reading a couple of books that the kids are reading for class so I can help with comprehension questions. I’ll be really glad when Thanksgiving arrives and I can get my regular life back. If you have missed any of my recent book reviews, you can see all of them by clicking, HERE.  Or you can stay up to date with my monthly Quick Lit Roundup.

The Christmas season is upon us! Many of these would make excellent Christmas gifts!

Books make the best gifts. I may be a little biased, but I love giving books as gifts. I think they offer a personal connection. You are either saying, I loved this book and I think you will too. Or, I know you love cats, science, history, etc so I thought this would be a great book for you. It means you have listened to them when they have shared something with you and that you took the time to notice. To see all the posts in this series, click HERE

If you choose to make a purchase through any of the links I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.


October 2019 kids books

FLASH THE LITTLE FIRE ENGINE

By: Pam Calvert

Illustrated by: Jen Taylor

Published: November 5, 2019

Publisher: Two Lions

Fiction

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

For all the kids who thought they were too small or too young to do something, meet Flash! I’ve reviewed this one already, HERE. I’ve also seen Jen Taylor’s awesome illustrations in NINJA CAMP.

It’s Flash’s first day on the job as a little fire engine—and it’s going to be a busy one! But Flash is ready to jump into action and save the day. The only problem is, every time Flash tries to pitch in, he is either too little or too late to help out. What if no one needs him? When a fire erupts in the middle of town, it looks like Flash might be the only one available to help. Does he have what it takes to save the day? 

SANTA’S STORY

By: Will Hillenbrand

Published: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Two Lions

Fiction

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I love Will Hillenbrand’s writing and illustrations including SNOWMAN’S STORY which is a wordless picture book.

Santa is ready to leave on Christmas Eve, but he can’t find the reindeer anywhere. Dasher is busy dashing, Donner is dozing, and Cupid is crooning. It isn’t until Santa remembers their annual tradition—reading a Christmas story together—that the reindeer are ready.

Reindeer merriment abounds in this charming yuletide tale about honoring the celebration of holiday customs with those you love.

THIS BOOK IS GRAY

By: Lindsay Ward

Published: November 1, 2019

Publisher: Two Lions

Fiction

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I love Ward’s DEXTER T. REXTER series and this book just sends an important message for kids.

Gray just wants to be included. But the other colors are always leaving him out. So he decides to create his own project: an all-gray book. Once upon a time, there lived a wolf, a kitten, and a hippo…

Gray just knows it’s going to be perfect. But as he adds page after page, the Primary and Secondary colors show up…and they aren’t quite so complimentary.

A book within a book, this colorful tale explores the ideas of fitting in, appreciating others, and looking at things from another perspective and also uses personality and wit to introduce basic color concepts. 

DISNEY STORIES FOR 2-YEAR-OLDS

By: Editors of Studio Fun International

Published: September 10, 2019

Publisher: SFI Readerlink Dist

Fiction

Format: Hardcover Storybook Collection

Introduce your toddler to cute stories from classic Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Pluto. This book is so fun and sure to be a treasured one among toddlers.

Join Mickey, Minnie, and all their friends in this collection of stories just right for 2-year-olds! Disney Stories for 2-Year-Olds includes fourteen stories with short, simplified text and bright illustrations, perfect for youngsters to follow along as parents introduce the adventures of Mickey and his friends. Whether it’s a camping adventure, the story of when Mickey first met Pluto, or a case of missing flowers from Minnie’s garden, this collectible makes a perfect gift for anyone turning two!

DISNEY STORIES FOR 3-YEAR-OLDS

By: Editors of Studio Fun International

Published: September 10, 2019

Publisher: SFI Readerlink Dist

Fiction

Format: Hardcover Storybook Collection

This collection for 3-year-olds features Disney classic movie favorites like 101 Dalmations and Dumbo.

From Peter Pan to 101 Dalmatians, three-year-olds will be introduced to wonderful Disney adventures in Disney Stories for 3-Year-Olds! This treasury includes fourteen classic Disney stories retold and simplified for a younger audience. With the same spirit as the extended versions and paired with colorful illustrations, this book is perfect for parents introducing their children to classic Disney adventures. With fourteen stories to choose from, youngsters can treat themselves to a favorite Disney classic story anytime! 

MARLON BUNDO’S BEST CHRISTMAS EVER

By: Charlotte Pence

Illustrated by: Karen Pence

Published: October 29, 2019

Publisher: Regnery Kids

Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

Experience Christmas in Washington D.C. with the famous pet bunny of the Vice President Pence family. I’ve previously reviewed the other two books about Marlon Bundo, HERE.

America’s favorite bunny is back! Little black-and-white Marlon Bundo charmed his way into the hearts of Vice President Mike Pence, his wife Karen, and his daughter Charlotte–and with national bestseller A Day in the Life of the Vice President, Bundo became perhaps the most famous pet bunny in America. Now, in this holiday adventure penned by Charlotte Pence and illustrated with original watercolors by Second Lady Karen Pence, Marlon Bundo experiences a Washington, D.C. Christmas!

WELCOME TO JAZZ

A Swing-Along Celebration of America’s Music Featuring “When the Saint’s Go Marching In”

By: Carolyn Sloan

Illustrated by: Jessica Gibson

Published: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Workman Publishing Company

Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover Interactive Picture Book

I loved Sloan’s WELCOME TO THE SYMPHONY book for kids and can’t wait to check out this one and take it to school to share with kids.

AN INTERACTIVE, SWING-ALONG PICTURE BOOK—WITH 12 SOUND CHIPS!
 

 Are you ready to swing? Discover the wonders of jazz: How to get in the groove, what it means to play a solo, and the joy of singing along in a call-and-response.
 
In this interactive swing-along picture book with 12 sound chips, you’ll hear the instruments of jazz—the rhythm section with its banjo, drums, and tuba, and the leads, like the clarinet, trumpet, and trombone. And you’ll hear singers scat, improvising melodies with nonsense syllables like be-bop and doo-we-ah!
 
Along the way, you’ll learn how this unique African American art form started in New Orleans, and how jazz changed over time as innovative musicians like King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday added their own ideas to it. 
 
Press the buttons to hear the band, the rhythms, and the singer calling out: “OH WHEN THE SAINTS—oh when the saints…” 

ALL AROUND BUSTLETOWN WINTER

By: Rotraut Susanne Berner

Published: October 22, 2019

Publisher: Prestel Junior

Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover

This is the kind of book that kids can look at over and over again. It’s perfect for travel because there is so much to see on each page.

Kids will cozy up for hours of fun as they peruse this joyfully illustrated book that shows the endless ways winter takes hold in a busy, charming town.

Winter has arrived and everywhere you look people are embracing the season. At home there’s baking, reading, and sleeping in, while on the farm the fields are fallow and quiet. Outside people are bundled up against the cold as they are skating, sledding, and running to catch a crowded bus. The town’s buildings are alive with activity–piano lessons, a dentist appointment, shopping for presents, and visiting the museum. And if you look closer, you’ll recognize the same characters on page after page, each with their own story. Wilfred the jogger has lost his keys, and Erica is shopping for a Christmas tree. Each minutely detailed scene is bursting with different people, such as a cheerful lady with an umbrella and a young violinist, as well as animals and birds. In the tradition of Richard Scarry and Where’s Waldo, this book encourages kids to return again and again to these charming spreads, following along with the characters and inventing their own stories. They’ll recognize parts of their own world, while also learning about the endless ways we live, work, and play in the winter.

SURPRISING STORIES BEHIND EVERYDAY STUFF

By: Stephanie Warren Drimmer

Published: September 10, 2019

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books

Non-Fiction

Format: Paperback

I always learn from these types of National Geographic Kids Books and they are always the first ones chosen from my teacher book bag. Stephanie Warren Drimmer also wrote these books.

Who invented pizza? Why do people shake hands? Why do we wear underwear? You’ll find the answers to these questions and more in this new series from National Geographic Kids!

Ever wonder how basketball got started? Why we have birthday cakes? And why some people use forks and some use chopsticks? Prepare to be amazed by the surprising backstories behind the things you use or do every day! From familiar foods to common clothing items to bizarre beauty regimens, this book covers all your burning questions: Who thought of that? Where did that come from? Why is that a thing? Presented in a bold, colorful design, with stunning photos, and jam-packed with awesome facts, this book will have you totally riveted! Once you know all this cool stuff about the origins of everyday stuff, you can “wow” your friends and family. 

DON’T READ THIS BOOK BEFORE DINNER

Revoltingly True Tales of Foul Food, Icky Animals, Horrible History, and More

By: Anna Claybourne

Published: July 30, 2019

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books

Non-Fiction

Format: Paperback

This title alone will make kids want to read it! Claybourne also wrote this awesome Scanorama book.

If you love to be grossed out, grab a seat at the table to revel in some of the most repulsive and downright disgusting true stories from around the globe.

From wretched rodents and beastly bugs to putrid plants and muck-filled moats, step right in to find out more about the icky, sticky world around you. Gloriously gross stories of decaying delicacies, foul fashion, horrible history, awful animals, and more are paired with eye-popping pictures, fun facts, and hilarious quizzes in this fun book. Topics go way beyond food to include art, plants, animals, fashion, pop culture, medicine, the human body, and beyond. It’s a hot mess to digest, but it’s sure to leave kids disgusted and delighted. Read if you dare, but don’t say we didn’t warn you! Sometimes you CAN judge a book by its cover!

CODE THIS!

Puzzles, Games, Challenges, and Computer Coding Concepts for the Problem Solver in You

By: Jennifer Szymanski

Published: August 27, 2019

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books

Non-Fiction

Format: Paperback

If there is a STEM or Makerspace fan in your house, get them this book or get it for your child’s teacher!

Programming concepts come to life in this kid-friendly intro to the basics of computer science and coding, with puzzles, games, and quirky characters.

Welcome to the Coder Crew, where you’re on a mission. You’ll write algorithms to find hidden treasures, decode ciphers to read secret messages, create loops to program an expedition, and more. Along the way, you’ll learn the art of figuring out how to do things in general. That’s called computer science. You’ll also learn the art of explaining something in particular. That’s called programming, or coding.

Then you can put your skills to the test to help Cody the Robot. Whenever the Code This! Explorers need a hand, Cody is there to help. Unfortunately, this robot is very particular about the details. It can’t simply collect a rare type of bacteria from a volcano. It needs step-by-step instructions on where to go, how to collect the bacteria, what bacteria to collect, and how to get back to the Explorers. Even more unfortunately, the Explorers are superbusy folks with a lot of cool stuff on their minds. That means they rarely give Cody the instructions it needs, which makes it want to totally short-circuit. That’s where YOU come in to help Cody succeed at some of the trickiest, most awesome missions on Earth.

THE BOOK OF KINGS

Magnificent Monarchs, Notorious Nobles, and Distinguished Dudes Who Ruled the World

By: Caleb Magyar and Stephanie Warren Drimmer

Published: November 12, 2019

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books

Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover

Another great collaboration from Stephanie Warren Drimmer.

Mighty monarchs, powerful presidents, legendary leaders … discover more than 100 true stories of magnificent men who changed the world.

They’re kings wielding scepters and sitting on thrones, they’re revolutionaries on the front lines of change, they’re presidents and prime ministers leading their nations, or they’re CEOs, scientists, sports legends, and artists who rose to the top of their fields. Welcome to The Book of Kings, where being a mighty monarch doesn’t just mean wearing a crown. Leaders like these come from all over the globe and have different talents. But most of all? They rule!

Kids are sure to enjoy meeting these mighty men. Some wielded their might for good while others let their power go to their heads. Yet all are (or were) powerful people who changed the course of history. From Henry VIII to Steve Jobs to Lin-Manuel Miranda, and more, every regal ruler in this book showcases the kind of guts, smarts, and strength it takes to lead. And while there are some kings who you might recognize, others may leave you wondering why so many brave, smart, and hardworking people have gone unnoticed … until now. Whether real-life royals or average Joes who rose to rule, get ready to be inspired by their stories. 

THE BOOK OF QUEENS

Legendary Leaders, Fierce Females, and Wonder Women Who Ruled the World

By: Stephanie Warren Drimmer

Published: November 12, 2019

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books

Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover

We can’t have a book on Kings without one about Queens. Stephanie Warren Drimmer is a pro with nonfiction for kids.

Empire builders, legendary leaders, revolutionary rebels, powerful pioneers, and more … discover more than 100 wonder women who prove that girls totally rule.

They’re queens wielding scepters and sitting on thrones, they’re revolutionaries on the front lines of change, they’re presidents and prime ministers leading their nation, or they’re CEOs, scientists, sports legends, and artists who are have risen to the top of their fields. Welcome to The Book of Queens, where being a mighty monarch doesn’t just mean wearing a crown. Leaders like these come from all over the globe and have different talents. But most of all? They rule!

Are you ready to be inspired by the most powerful women in history? Some wielded their might for good while others let their power go to their heads. Yet all were powerful people who changed the course of history. From Elizabeth I to Cleopatra to Beyonce, every regal ruler in this book showcases the kind of guts, smarts, and strength it takes to lead. And while there are some wonder women you might recognize, others may leave you wondering why so many brave, smart, and hardworking ladies have gone unnoticed … until now. Whether real-life royals or average Janes who rose to rule, get ready to be inspired by their stories.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN INDIAN HISTORY AND CULTURE

Stories, Timelines, Maps, and More

By: Cynthia O’Brien

Published: October 29, 2019

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books

Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover

Just a quick skim of this book already tells me that this is an amazing reference on American Indian culture.

American Indian customs, stories, and history come to life in this important and authoritative reference, artfully designed and packaged for kids and students.

More than 160 tribes are featured in this outstanding new encyclopedia, which presents a comprehensive overview of the history of North America’s Native peoples. From the Apache to the Zuni, readers will learn about each tribe’s history, traditions, and culture, including the impact of European expansion across the land and how tribes live today. Features include maps of ancestral lands; timelines of important dates and events; fact boxes for each tribe; bios of influential American Indians such as Sitting Bull; sidebars on daily life, homes, food, clothing, jewelry, and games; Did You Know facts with photographs; and traditional Native stories. The design is compelling and colorful, packed with full-color photographs.

To help give kids the lay of the land, this reference is arranged by region, and all federally recognized tribes are included. Tribal members representing each region and experts at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution were involved in its creation. With nothing comparable available, it is sure to be a valuable resource for kids, students, librarians, and families. 


HOME OF THE BRAVE: AN AMERICAN HISTORY BOOK FOR KIDS

15 Immigrants Who Shaped U.S. History

By: Brooke Khan

Published: November 5, 2019

Publisher: Rockridge Press

Non-Fiction

Format: Paperback

I love learning true or amazing stories of famous people and this one sounds so great for kids.

Discover the stories of extraordinary immigrants who changed America.

The United States has always been a nation of immigrants—and now you can learn all about the amazing people who’ve helped shape it, with this history book for kids age 9-12. Home of the Brave: An American History Book for Kids gives you an exciting and engaging look into the lives and contributions of these incredible individuals.


From Levi Strauss to Isabel Allende, discover how these dedicated and creative people made their mark—and how you can follow in their footsteps—with this fun history book for kids age 9-12.

VOICES OF THE TITANIC

A Titanic Book for Kids

By: Mary Montero

Published: November 19, 2019

Publisher: Rockridge Press

Non-Fiction

Format: Paperback

I am fascinated by the history of the Titanic and though this book for kids would be an interesting read.

Learn the story of the world’s most famous ship–from people who were actually there.

Voices of the Titanic is a standout among Titanic books for kids that will give you insights into the disaster like never before. Take a new look at the sinking of the RMS Titanic through the eyes of the heroes and the cowards, the wealthy and the poor, the survivors and those who went down with the ship.


In one of the best Titanic books for kids, you’ll read the stories of real passengers and how they found their place on board. Of all the Titanic books for kids, the fascinating accounts and tantalizing tales in this one will keep you captivated for hours.


MEAL PREP FOR WEIGHT LOSS

Weekly Plans and Recipes to Lose Weight the Healthy Way

By: Kelli Shallal RD

Published: October 29, 2019

Publisher: Rockridge Press

Non-Fiction/ Cookbook

Format: Paperback

After doing another round of Whole30 and trying to eat healthier, this book piqued my interest. I like the idea of making one meal for lunches for the week.

Losing weight can be as easy as cooking one day per week. Meal Prep for Weight Loss equips you with the knowledge to properly prepare balanced meals ahead of time, so you can lose weight and keep it off. No crash diets, no spending hours in the kitchen.


Balanced meals lead to better energy levels and fewer cravings, which lays the foundation for sustainable weight loss. And it’s easier to make these meals consistently if you plan ahead. Meal Prep for Weight Loss shows you how, with 3-recipe and 6-recipe weekly meal plans, accessible ingredients, and a wide range of fun, flavorful, batch-friendly recipes.

ONE-POT COOKING FOR TWO

Effortless Meals for Your Sheet Pan, Skillet, Slow Cooker, and More

By: Linda Kurniadi

Published: October 29, 2019

Publisher: Rockridge Press

Non-Fiction/Cookbook

Format: Paperback

I’ve already skimmed through this cookbook and made a recipe from it. I’ll be sharing my thoughts soon. But, I was interested in this cookbook because my husband and I are often the only ones home at night since the boys are at college and our daughter is busy with her high school activities. I need to learn how to make smaller meals.

It’s time to leave leftovers behind. One-Pot Cooking for Two shows you how to put an end to oversized servings and wasted food using easy-to-make and tasty recipes that only need a single pot to cook—and two dishes to serve.


From Mediterranean Breakfast Pitas to Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Garlic-Lime Fish Tacos to Sheet Pan Steakhouse Dinner, discover tons of delicious one-pot dishes, each featuring informative labels and tips that make picking the right meal and customizing it to your needs a breeze. One-Pot Cooking for Two is also filled with simple and effective tips for minimizing food waste, as well as guides to shopping, meal planning, and cooking for just the two (or one) of you.

EASY AS PIE

The Essential Pie Cookbook for Every Season and Reason

By: Saura Madani

Published: November 19, 2019

Publisher: Rockridge Press

Non-Fiction/Cookbook

Format: Paperback

I am not very talented at making pies. I can do the usual, but I don’t feel confident. I’ve never even made a pumpkin pie! My mom is amazing at baking pies and I’d love to learn how to make excellent pies.

A warm slice of homemade pie can complete any celebration―but every baker knows that a problematic pie is enough to sour a sweet occasion. This pie cookbook gives you the support you need to start making perfect, homemade pies from scratch.


This pie cookbook gets your dough rolling, complete with step-by-step techniques for mixing, shaping, rolling, and finishing your dough. Refine your pastry base with a fail-safe, flaky, buttery crust recipe―or taste the seasons with 50 creative and classic seasonal pies.

THE OFFICIAL NINJA FOODI DIGITAL AIR FRY OVEN COOKBOOK

75 Recipes for Quick and Easy Sheet Pan Meals

By: Janet A. Zimmerman

Published: November 19, 2019

Publisher: Rockridge Press

Non-Fiction/Cookbook

Format: Paperback

My husband gave me this Ninja Foodi Digital Oven for my birthday. I haven’t used it a whole lot yet, but when I saw this cookbook, I knew I had to check it out. I’m anxious to try all kinds of fun things in it. It’s perfect for just the two of us when baking or air frying. I’m loving it so far and it stores upright on your counter.

The Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven–the oven that crisps and flips up and away–is here, and there’s never been a simpler way to master its many features. Here’s a sheet pan cookbook (Ninja) that’s bursting with hot tips and tasty recipes for cooking with this incredible countertop appliance.

A great choice for new owners, this sheet pan cookbook (Ninja) offers a complete introduction to the Digital Air Fry Oven. From 60-second preheats to big-batch sheet pan cooking, discover new ways to take your meals to the next level.


WAKING IN HAVANA

A Memoir of AIDS and Healing in Cuba

By: Elena Schwolsky

Published: November 12, 2019

Publisher: She Writes Press

Non-Fiction/Memoir

Format: Paperback

When I was approached about this book I was extremely intrigued because I know very little about Cuba or the AIDS epidemic. Plus the cover especially caught my eye.

In 1972, when she was a young, divorced, single mother, restless and idealistic, Elena Schwolsky made a decision that changed her life: leaving her eighteen-month-old son with his father, she joined hundreds of other young Americans on a work brigade in Cuba. They spent their days building cinderblock houses for workers and their nights partying and debating politics. The Cuban revolution was young, and so were they. At a moment of transition in Schwolsky’s life, Cuba represented hope and the power to change.

Twenty years later, she is drawn back to this forbidden island, yearning to move out of grief following the death of her husband from AIDS and feeling burned out after spending ten years as a nurse on the frontlines of the epidemic. Back in Cuba, she experiences the chaotic bustle of a Havana most Americans never see―a city frozen in time yet constantly changing. She takes readers along with her through her humorous attempts to communicate in a new language and navigate this very different culture―through the leafy tranquility of the controversial AIDS Sanitorium and into the lives of the resilient, opinionated, and passionate Cubans who become her family and help her to heal.

ENDING BACK PAIN

5 Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand, and Treat Your Ailing Back

By: Jack Stern, MD PhD

Published: August 5, 2014

Publisher: Avery

Non-fiction

Format: Paperback

I had an issue with back pain one time in my life and it ended up being a pelvis issue and not a back issue. But, that pain was awful and I could not do any of my normal activity let alone walk or sit. Thankfully physical therapy helped me, but having some of these tips in my back pocket will be nice in case it happens again.

Virtually every American will suffer from back pain at some point. Dr. Jack Stern, a neurosurgeon and professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, brings relief to these millions of sufferers (including himself) who literally ache for help. Based on the latest scientific data, Dr. Stern developed a five-step solution with a multidisciplinary, holistic perspective that’s been missing from conventional back pain wisdom:


Step One: Unlock your back’s unique pain code
Step Two: Prepare to work with health care professionals
Step Three: Ensure proper diagnosis
Step Four: Embrace various pathways to healing
Step Five: Live a life that supports a strong, healthy back

Engagingly written and chock-full of enlightening case studies, Ending Back Pain finally shares the program that’s already helped more than 10,000 grateful patients.

HYMNS OF THE REPUBLIC

The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War

By: S.C. Gwynne

Published: October 29, 2019

Publisher: Scribner

Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover

I’m not usually a fan of the Civil War era. My husband loves reading about the Civil War though and this book would be right up his alley. We have visited Gettysburg and I found that interesting. So, I may give this book a try.

The fourth and final year of the Civil War offers one of that era’s most compelling narratives, defining the nation and one of history’s great turning points. Now, S.C. Gwynne’s Hymns of the Republic addresses the time Ulysses S. Grant arrives to take command of all Union armies in March 1864 to the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox a year later. Gwynne breathes new life into the epic battle between Lee and Grant; the advent of 180,000 black soldiers in the Union army; William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea; the rise of Clara Barton; the election of 1864 (which Lincoln nearly lost); the wild and violent guerrilla war in Missouri; and the dramatic final events of the war, including the surrender at Appomattox and the murder of Abraham Lincoln.

Hymns of the Republic offers angles and insights on the war that will surprise many readers. Robert E. Lee, known as a great general and southern hero, is presented here as a man dealing with frustration, failure, and loss. Ulysses S. Grant is known for his prowess as a field commander, but in the final year of the war he largely fails at that. His most amazing accomplishments actually began the moment he stopped fighting. William Tecumseh Sherman, Gwynne argues, was a lousy general, but probably the single most brilliant man in the war. We also meet a different Clara Barton, one of the greatest and most compelling characters, who redefined the idea of medical care in wartime. And proper attention is paid to the role played by large numbers of black union soldiers—most of them former slaves. They changed the war and forced the South to come up with a plan to use its own black soldiers.

Popular history at its best, from Pulitzer Prize finalist S.C. Gwynne, Hymns of the Republic reveals the creation that arose from destruction in this thrilling read.

THE WAY I HEARD IT

By: Mike Rowe

Published: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Gallery Books

Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover

I pre-ordered this one as soon as I heard about it. Mike Rowe’s podcast by the same name is one I listen to every episode. I am a huge fan of Mike Rowe and I’m always telling my husband about his podcast episodes. So, I got the book for my husband’s birthday….knowing I would be reading it too!

Mike Rowe’s The Way I Heard It collects thirty-five fascinating stories “for the curious mind with a short attention span.” Five-minute mysteries about people you know, filled with facts that you didn’t. Movie stars, presidents, Nazis, and bloody do-gooders—they’re all here, waiting to shake your hand, hoping you’ll remember them. Delivered with Mike’s signature blend of charm, wit, and ingenuity, their stories are part of a larger mosaic—a memoir crammed with recollections, insights, and intimate, behind-the-scenes moments drawn from Mike’s own remarkable life and career.

THE ONLY PLANE IN THE SKY

An Oral History of 9/11

By: Garrett M. Graff

Published: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover

I have heard about this book on several podcasts, in publications, and on television. As soon as I heard about it the first time, I pre-ordered it. I gave this one to my husband too, but I’ll be reading it as well.

Over the past eighteen years, monumental literature has been published about 9/11, from Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, which traced the rise of al-Qaeda, to The 9/11 Commission Report, the government’s definitive factual retrospective of the attacks. But one perspective has been missing up to this point—a 360-degree account of the day told through the voices of the people who experienced it.

Now, in The Only Plane in the Sky, award-winning journalist and bestselling historian Garrett Graff tells the story of the day as it was lived—in the words of those who lived it. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, original interviews, and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members, Graff paints the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet.

Beginning in the predawn hours of airports in the Northeast, we meet the ticket agents who unknowingly usher terrorists onto their flights, and the flight attendants inside the hijacked planes. In New York City, first responders confront a scene of unimaginable horror at the Twin Towers. From a secret bunker underneath the White House, officials watch for incoming planes on radar. Aboard the small number of unarmed fighter jets in the air, pilots make a pact to fly into a hijacked airliner if necessary to bring it down. In the skies above Pennsylvania, civilians aboard United Flight 93 make the ultimate sacrifice in their place. Then, as the day moves forward and flights are grounded nationwide, Air Force One circles the country alone, its passengers isolated and afraid.

More than simply a collection of eyewitness testimonies, The Only Plane in the Sky is the historic narrative of how ordinary people grappled with extraordinary events in real time: the father and son working in the North Tower, caught on different ends of the impact zone; the firefighter searching for his wife who works at the World Trade Center; the operator of in-flight telephone calls who promises to share a passenger’s last words with his family; the beloved FDNY chaplain who bravely performs last rites for the dying, losing his own life when the Towers collapse; and the generals at the Pentagon who break down and weep when they are barred from rushing into the burning building to try to rescue their colleagues.

At once a powerful tribute to the courage of everyday Americans and an essential addition to the literature of 9/11, The Only Plane in the Sky weaves together the unforgettable personal experiences of the men and women who found themselves caught at the center of an unprecedented human drama. The result is a unique, profound, and searing exploration of humanity on a day that changed the course of history, and all of our lives.

CONFESSIONS OF A FUNERAL DIRECTOR

How the Business of Death Saved My Life

By: Caleb Wilde

Published: September 26, 2017

Publisher: HarperOne

Non-Fiction

Format: eBook

These types of books are always intriguing to me. My cousin is a Funeral Director in a big city and we have just the most interesting chats. This was part of a Kindle Deal and with eBook credits for delaying my Amazon Prime 2-day shipping, I got this one free!

The blogger behind Confessions of a Funeral Director—what Time magazine called a “must read”—reflects on mortality and the powerful lessons death holds for every one of us in this compassionate and thoughtful spiritual memoir that combines the humor and insight of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes with the poignancy and brevity of When Breath Becomes Air.

Death. It happens to everyone, yet most of us don’t want to talk about this final chapter of existence. Sixth-generation funeral director Caleb Wilde intimately understands this reticence and fear. The son of an undertaker, he hesitated to embrace the legacy of running his family’s business. Yet he discovered that caring for the deceased and their loved ones profoundly changed his faith and his perspective on death—and life itself. “Yes, death can be bad. Yes, death can be negative,” he acknowledges, “but it can also be beautiful. And that alternate narrative needs to be discussed.”

In Confessions of a Funeral Director, he talks about his experiences and pushes back against the death-negative ethos of our culture, opening a thoughtful, poignant conversation to help us see the end of life in a positive and liberating way. In the wry, compassionate, and honest voice that has charmed his growing legions of blog readers, Wilde offers an intimate look inside his business, offering information on unspoken practices around death such as the embalming process, beautiful and memorable stories about families in the wake of death, and, most importantly, a fresh and wise perspective on how embracing death can allow us to embrace life.

Confessions of a Funeral Director is the story of one man learning how death illuminates and deepens the meaning of existence—insights that can help us all pursue and cherish full, rich lives.
 

CHANCER

How One Good Boy Saved Another

By: Donnie Kanter Winokur

Published: August 22, 2017

Publisher: Grand Harbor Press

Non-Fiction/Memoir

Format: eBook

As part of being an IHG Hotels rewards member, there is always a list of free Kindle books to choose from each year. This was my choice.

Donnie Kanter Winokur and her husband, Harvey, never could have imagined the heart-wrenching struggle that becomes their new reality after they decide to adopt two infants from Russia. As Iyal and Morasha grow, it becomes clear that Iyal’s development is drastically lagging behind his sister’s. By age four, he has a devastating diagnosis: fetal alcohol syndrome. But naming their battle provides little relief as Iyal and his family try to cope with the lifelong impact of his invisible disability. As the Winokurs’ marriage is unraveling, Donnie and Harvey hang on to the last shreds of their own promise.

Desperate to alleviate her son’s constant rages and their crushing toll on the family, Donnie comes up with an innovative, untested, four-pawed solution: a golden retriever service dog named Chancer. Chancer is specially trained to give Iyal a unique love he desperately needs. But in this true-life tale infused with moments of despair, tenderness, and humor, Chancer turns out to be what the entire family has needed to stay—and grow—together. 

HOME FOR ERRING AND OUTCAST GIRLS

By: Julie Kibler

Published: July 23, 2019

Publisher: Crown

Fiction

Format: Hardcover

I used my birthday coupon at Half-Price Books to purchase this one. Julie Kibler’s CALLING ME HOME is an all-time favorite book. I can’t wait to read this one.

An emotionally raw and resonant story of love, loss, and the enduring power of friendship, following the lives of two young women connected by a home for “fallen girls,” and inspired by historical events.

In turn-of-the-20th century Texas, the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls is an unprecedented beacon of hope for young women consigned to the dangerous poverty of the streets by birth, circumstance, or personal tragedy. Built in 1903 on the dusty outskirts of Arlington, a remote dot between Dallas and Fort Worth’s red-light districts, the progressive home bucks public opinion by offering faith, training, and rehabilitation to prostitutes, addicts, unwed mothers, and “ruined” girls without forcibly separating mothers from children. When Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride meet there—one sick and abused, but desperately clinging to her young daughter, the other jilted by the beau who fathered her ailing son—they form a friendship that will see them through unbearable loss, heartbreak, difficult choices, and ultimately, diverging paths.

A century later, Cate Sutton, a reclusive university librarian, uncovers the hidden histories of the two troubled women as she stumbles upon the cemetery on the home’s former grounds and begins to comb through its archives in her library. Pulled by an indescribable connection, what Cate discovers about their stories leads her to confront her own heartbreaking past, and to reclaim the life she thought she’d let go forever. With great pathos and powerful emotional resonance, Home for Erring and Outcast Girls explores the dark roads that lead us to ruin, and the paths we take to return to ourselves.

OLIVE, AGAIN

By: Elizabeth Strout

Published: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Random House

Fiction

Format: Hardcover

This is another book I purchased with my coupon at Half-Price Books. I absolutely loved OLIVE KITTERIDGE and knew I needed to read this follow-up. I wrote about OLIVE KITTERIDGE, HERE.

Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.

THE WATER DANCER

By: Ta-Nehisi Coates

Published: September 24, 2019

Publisher: One World

Fiction

Format: Hardcover

This was my Book of the Month choice for October.

Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known.

So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.

THE GLASS OCEAN

By: Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White

Published: September 4, 2018

Publisher: William Morrow

Historical Fiction

Format: eBook

This is another book I got for free since it was a Kindle Deal and I had eBook credits. I read another collaboration by these three authors, THE FORGOTTEN ROOM, and loved it.

From the New York Times bestselling authors of The Forgotten Room comes a captivating historical mystery, infused with romance, that links the lives of three women across a century—two deep in the past, one in the present—to the doomed passenger liner, RMS Lusitania.

May 2013
Her finances are in dire straits and bestselling author Sarah Blake is struggling to find a big idea for her next book. Desperate, she breaks the one promise she made to her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and opens an old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915. What she discovers there could change history. Sarah embarks on an ambitious journey to England to enlist the help of John Langford, a recently disgraced Member of Parliament whose family archives might contain the only key to the long-ago catastrophe. . . .

April 1915
Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter’s marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, pre-occupied with business . . . and something else that she can’t quite put a finger on. She’s hoping a trip to London in Lusitania’s lavish first-class accommodations will help them reconnect—but she can’t ignore the spark she feels for her old friend, Robert Langford, who turns out to be on the same voyage. Feeling restless and longing for a different existence, Caroline is determined to stop being a bystander, and take charge of her own life. . . .

Tessa Fairweather is traveling second-class on the Lusitania, returning home to Devon. Or at least, that’s her story. Tessa has never left the United States and her English accent is a hasty fake. She’s really Tennessee Schaff, the daughter of a roving con man, and she can steal and forge just about anything. But she’s had enough. Her partner has promised that if they can pull off this one last heist aboard the Lusitania, they’ll finally leave the game behind. Tess desperately wants to believe that, but Tess has the uneasy feeling there’s something about this job that isn’t as it seems. . . .

As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives . . . and history itself.

To see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves, click HERE.

So many books, so little time!

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