What’s Ashley Reading?: Clue Mystery Readathon

Clue Mystery Readathon!

I love a good reading challenge! It makes me read books that have been on my TBR list and diversify my selections as well. Plus it is fun! I was so excited when Alyssa decided to do another readathon this fall and I immediately started looking at which books to choose. My final list is below.

  • The criminal was Colonel Mustard (a book set during a time of war).
  • The weapon was a rope (the next book in a series).
  • The location was the billiard room (a book written by a person of color).
  • The motive was secrets (a book with a one-word title).
  • The witness was the motorist (a book that contains travel).
  • The final end was with a getaway car (a book that’s under 200 pages).

My favorite of the six books was Mindy Kaling’s collection of essays. I follow her on all the social media. She is funny, insightful and just a happy person. Her other two books, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and Why Not Me?, are great as well. If you want a laugh then these are perfect! I had a great time reading these books! I cannot wait to do another challenge.

Amelia’s Favorites: What Matters Most

What Matters Most by Emma Dodd

A young horse discovers that, whatever our differences, love connects us all. (summary from back cover)

Amelia loved this book immediately. The different contrasts of the illustrations caught her eyes. She’s very much into the moon & stars right now, and quite a few pages had something related to that. She also loved what she called “The baby horse and mama horse” and enjoyed seeing the two of them interacting throughout the pages. It’s another one of those books that there isn’t a lot of reading to it, which Amelia prefers right now, because she studies the pictures pretty closely. She wanted to  “read” to me. 

Amelia’s rating 5 stars! 

What’s Ashley Reading?: Invisible Girl

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

First line: I duck down and pull my hoodie close around my face.

Summary: Owen Pick, a college teacher, has just lost his job after a student accuses him of inappropriate actions. He doesn’t remember the incident and he tries to be very professional in all things. When he goes looking for advice he finds “incel” forums. Through the chatrooms he meets other men who have had similar experiences but are much more radical in their beliefs.

The Fours family live across the street from Owen. He has always seemed a little odd. When a teenage girl goes missing in their area they believe that it may have something to do with the creepy single man who lives on their street. And maybe he has something to do with the other sexual assaults happening in the area too?

My Thoughts: This is the first book by Lisa Jewell that I was not really impressed with. I liked it. It kept me reading till the end but it just didn’t have the same magic. I would almost say that it is mix of thriller and chick lit. It had more of a drama feel rather than suspense.

I liked the characters but most of them fell flat. I think they needed more developing. Everything seemed so obvious. I kept hoping for something shocking. Even at the end. But the last chapter was exactly what I expected. I felt very let down by this book.

FYI: Not as good as her previous book, The Family Upstairs.

Linda’s Favorite Books: A Bridge Across the Ocean

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

First Line: A friend’s baby shower was the last place Brette Caslake expected to encounter a ghost.

Summary: It’s 1946 World War 2 is over and Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy are among the hundreds of European war brides aboard the RMS Queen Mary crossing the Atlantic to be reunited with their American husbands. But secrets come to light in their shared stateroom and when the ship lands in New York Harbor, only one of them embarks.

PRESENT DAY. Brette Caslake is facing difficult decisions in her life when she visits the famously haunted Queen Mary. What she finds there will cause her to solve a seventy-year old tragedy that will shake her mentally, and emotionally concerning the heartaches and triumphs of the war brides.

Thoughts: I enjoyed this book as I am an avid reader of historical fiction, especially books based on true stories of World War 2. I learned about the lives of war brides and how difficult it would be to come to America to start a new life with a husband and family they barely knew. I would recommend this book as a great historical fiction book!

Halloween Celebrations!

Due to some truly boring and frankly hard to spell medical stuff, my middle child was unable to eat most common foods until he was roughly 9. This meant 9 holiday celebrations that we had to find different ways for him to be included. My daughter’s 4th birthday was celebrated surrounded by a house of unopened packing boxes, in a brand new city, with a cake we had literally just grabbed from the grocery store. Another time a particularly rotten cold and flu season had us laid up during Christmas. One of the benefits in having older kids is being able to look back and see that we will all miss out on some particular celebration due to things outside our control. And sometimes those moments really do create some truly magical memories.

There are some really fun ways to celebrate a holiday or event even without the traditions you may have been expecting. Here are some of the fun ways I have found:

Halloween Fairy

This lovely lady is a life saver. She usually comes during the night of Halloween to whisk away the bulk of the candy your darling children have received through their Trick of Treating, and leaves behind a new book or small toy. This is particularly wonderful for those of us who have no self-control and will be the ones eating the majority of those mini-Snickers. It’s also nice for families dealing with food allergies! Perhaps this year, she might be filling their Trick or Treating buckets with candy and other surprises for them to find.

You’ve Been Boo’ed!

Have your children help you put together small bags or buckets filled with Halloween themed goodies to deliver to the front porch of friends and families. Make sure to include a note letting them know who “booed” them!

Pumpkin Patches

There is no reason not to continue this outdoor tradition! Fall weather and pumpkin patches are one of the big perks to living in the Midwest. So triple check the ever-changing temperatures, grab a mask/hand sanitizer, and have a great time picking your pumpkins and burning off some kid energy!

Family Fun Challenge

After you bring home your pumpkin patch pumpkins, it’s time to decorate them! Carving them and roasting the seeds is always fun, but with little’s it might lean towards the “are you kidding me” level of project. Instead you can readily find plenty of kits that will help your family decorate the pumpkins in style. Even a page of stickers can be the perfect way to let their creativity shine. Once you are all done, submit a picture to enter to win 1 of 5 Party Packs from the library!

Library Drive-Thru

The week of Halloween, put those costumes on your kids, toss them in the car, and stop by the library drive-thru. We will have plenty of candy to give your little darlings as well “ohhs and ahhs” at the ready to marvel over their costumes!

My crew of kiddo’s are all over the age of 10, so I can ask them what they remember about those non-traditional holidays. Did they miss out? Did they feel different? Sad? And other than my daughter wishing to keep 50 pounds of candy(never going to happen), they remember nothing but happiness. We can’t always create the picture we have in our heads of the experience we want to give out children. This year has been particularly filled with those moments and will likely continue to be. All we can do is focus on our children, and remember that they won’t feel like they missed out. They will remember their family, happily celebrating in the best way they can.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Goodnight Beautiful

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

First line: The door opens, and I look up as a man with ruddy cheeks and a crew cut walks into the restaurant, shaking rain from his baseball cap.

Summary: Newlyweds, Annie and Sam, have moved from New York City to Sam’s hometown to be closer to his ailing mother. He finds the perfect location for his psychiatric office in the extra room of an old house. Even though the owner seems to be a little strange he doesn’t let this bother him. Then one night after Sam leaves his office he goes missing. There is no sign of him. As Annie and the police look for Sam they discover thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Did Sam run away? Or is someone else behind his disappearance?

My Thoughts: Though I have never read Misery (but I plan to) I know the basic story line. This was very reminiscent of what I know of the story. Molloy fills her story with lots of twists and turns. Every few chapters something new is revealed. I really enjoyed how fast paced everything was. I would find myself trying to find time to listen to it whenever I could.

The one part of the audio book that I wasn’t too sold on was the voices. At the beginning I thought they did not find actors that fit the characters. And then as reveals happen it makes more sense. So it starts as misleading and then makes sense but also seems to hint at something to come. It helps and hinders the story.

FYI: Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware.

Dylan’s Book Recommendation: Freak The Mighty

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

First line: I never had a brain until Freak came along and let me borrow his for a while, and that’s the truth, the whole truth.

Summary: “I never had a brain until Freak came along.” That’s what Max thought. All his life he’d been called stupid. Dumb. Slow. It didn’t help that his body seemed to be growing faster than his mind. It didn’t help that people were afraid of him. So Max learned how to be alone. At least until Freak came along. Freak was weird, too. He had a little body–and a really big brain.Together Max and Freak were unstoppable. Together, they were Freak the Mighty. (summary from back of book)

Thoughts: This is a story about the unlikely friendship about two people who use their characteristics to form a great team. Big brains+big body= Freak The Mighty. This book is kinda sad though, so be ready. Also, you might as well read it because if Covid-19 allows schools to re-open, you are going to be required to read this book anyway. So if you choose to read it, you’ll be ahead of the game

What’s Ashley Reading?: Queens of the Conquest

Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir

First line: Imagine a land centuries before industrialization, a rural, green land of vast royal forests and open fields, wild moorlands and undrained marshlands, with scattered villages overshadowed by towering castles, and small, bustling walled towns.

Summary: In the first of a four book set, Alison Weir looks at the lives of the first five queens of England after the Norman conquest: Matilda of Flanders, Matilda of Scotland, Adeliza of Louvain, Matilda of Boulogne and the Empress Matilda. Each woman made their mark on the early part of English history through their good works, descendants and political maneuvers.

My Thoughts: I love to read nonfiction and biographies most of all. They tell so much about a person’s life but also about the time period. And this one was particularly fascinating. These women lived almost one thousand years ago but we know quite a lot about who they were, where they were at certain times and what they did. Some of the queens even left behind letters, their personal seals and elaborate tombs for historians and lovers of history to see.

I was not very familiar with these early queens so I learned a lot from reading Weir’s book. The fact that 4 of the 5 queens were named Matilda made the reading a little bit confusing but the author tried to make sure she differentiated between them either with their titles or other names they went my such as Maud. Life during these years was very hard and life was short but these women accomplished a lot during their time. And that so many of them spent such a short amount of time in England is shocking. They helped rule over several duchies in France and had to split their times between each country.

If you are looking for a great insight into medieval England then I would highly recommend picking this book up. It is a big book and very dense but filled with lots of information and several pictures are included in the middle too.

FYI: The next book, Queens of the Crusades, will be out on February 23, 2021.

Rachel’s Recommendations: Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

First Line: Pinch myself and say I AM AWAKE once an hour.

Summary: Louise is a single mom who lives in London with her son, Adam. Juggling motherhood and a job as a secretary, Louise is in a never-ending cycle of boring. That is, until she meets a charming stranger in a bar. However, this new stranger is her new boss. Just when things couldn’t get worse, Louise bumps into Adele, the wife of Louise’s new boss, David. Soon Louise finds herself in the middle of a dangerous game with the two stars being Adele and David.

Can Louise figure out the secret that David is hiding? Who’s telling the truth and who isn’t? There’s only one way to find out…

My Thoughts: Behind Her Eyes started out a little slow, but soon picks up as you try to figure out the strange relationship between David and Adele. I stayed up all night reading the book so I could find out the ending. I really enjoyed it, and would recommend this to anyone who likes a good book with plot twists. The ending of Behind Her Eyes threw me for loop. It was an ending I was not expecting.

Trigger Warnings: drug use, violence, sexual situations, and language.

What’s Ashley Reading?: ‘Salem’s Lot

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

First line: Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.

Summary: Ben Mears decides to move back to his hometown of Jerusalem’s Lot in order to work on a book he has been writing. Upon returning to the Lot he sees that not much has changed in the small town. He sees that the Marsten House is still standing but when he tries to rent the old house he finds that it has recently been sold to a couple of antique dealers.

‘Salem’s Lot is a small town that notices when new residents move to town. And then when suspicious events start to affect the town’s people they are the first ones people look at. What is going on in this small Maine town? And who is behind it all?

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book but it was not my favorite King novel. I liked the premise and the ending was really fast paced and fun but the beginning was a little slow as we got to know the town and the characters. And maybe part of it was that I had an idea of what may be coming from watching Castle Rock on Hulu.

I really liked the character, Mark. He is a young boy with lots of knowledge about what is happening in the town. He seems to be able to handle anything that is thrown at him. A tough boy for sure! I was definitely rooting for him the whole time.

I liked the ending. It was much better than the 2004 movie adaptation. I watched it but didn’t have high hopes because King’s novels never seem to be translated on to the screen well with the exception of Carrie and Doctor Sleep.

This would be a good novel to read around Halloween. It has lots of spooks and scares. And maybe leave the lights on!

FYI: I would highly recommend Pet Semetary for another Halloween read!