Skip to content

The Week in Review: 01.31.2020

January 31, 2020


Between the Covers

Finished last week:

I was lucky enough to hear Julie Murphy speak at last year’s SIBA Trade Show and pick up a copy of her first middle grade book, DEAR SWEET PEA.  Patricia “Sweet Pea” has a lot going on.  Her parents are getting a divorce (because her dad is gay) and have decided having two houses close together is best way to handle things.  In fact, there’s only one house between the two of them – that of Miss Flora Mae, who writes an advice column called Miss Flora Mae I?.  Now that they’re in middle school, Sweet Pea’s best friend has ditched her for a more popular crowd.

When Miss Flora Mae goes out of town she asks Sweet Pea to look out for her house and mail the letters for her advice column to her.  When Sweet Pea recognizes the handwriting on one of the envelopes she decides to take matters into her own hands.

This is another winner from Murphy!  Once again, she writes fabulous characters and a fun (even if it is implausible) plot.  I loved Sweet Pea, her parents, and her friends, even when Sweet Pea made poor decisions.  I rooted for her to figure things out, though, and she didn’t let me down.  Middle grade readers will relate to the complications of friendships at that age and Sweet Pea’s frustrations with them.  I think readers from middle school on up will enjoy this terrific book.  (Review copy provided by Balzer + Bray.)


When the database at Aldrich University is hacked, everyone’s – faculty, staff, and students – emails are posted on the internet for the whole world to see.  Many of them reveal things the senders would rather not be public.  Well regarded heart surgeon, Dr. Greg Strasser, is one of those affected and things really heat up when he’s murdered.  His wife’s sister is an investigative reporter and, when she comes home for the funeral, she decides to take matters into her own hands to solve the case.

There wasn’t a single likable character in REPUTATION by Sara Shepard but I still enjoyed the book.  The point of view shifts to five different characters but they were easy to tell apart.  Everyone had something to hide and many of the secrets were tangled up with each other.  There were lots of characters with motives which kept me guessing and I was satisfied with the solution.  I listened to the audio version which was narrated by Lisa Flanagan, Allyson Ryan, Phoebe Strole, Brittany Pressley, and Karissa Vacker and I thought they all did a great job.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)


A VOICE NAMED ARETHA by Katheryn Russell-Brown is a biography of Aretha Franklin for the picture book set.  It starts during her childhood when Aretha sang in the choir of her father’s church.  Her parents divorced and Aretha and her siblings lived with their father in Detroit, visiting their mother in Buffalo during the summer.  When Aretha was ten, her mother passed away and Aretha learned how to draw strength from her sadness.  She realized music was her passion and by the age of eighteen, she moved to New York to make it her career.  It wasn’t easy, though, but she stuck it out and eventually became very successful.

Youngsters will not only learn about Aretha Franklin and her music, they’ll learn about the 1960s and some of the difficulties African Americans faced then.  Russell-Brown gives more details in the back that parents and caregivers can share depending on a child’s maturity.  There’s also a list of some of her more popular songs as well as a list of sources.  Laura Freeman‘s vibrant illustrations bring the story alive.  You’ll find yourself listening to the Queen of Soul after you read this terrific book.  (Review copy provided by Bloomsbury.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • I spent most of the week visiting my mom and celebrating her 93rd birthday!  (As you can see, I’m not very good at taking selfies.)

  • I started the all black puzzle Carl gave me for Christmas.  This is going to be a tough one.
  • I averaged almost 8,400 Fitbit steps a day.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?

24 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2020 7:32 am

    Happy Birthday to your mom!
    All three books sound fantastic.

  2. January 31, 2020 8:00 am

    Wow, Happy 93rd Birthday to your mom!! She looks great!

  3. January 31, 2020 8:23 am

    Happy birthday to your mom! Great photo, and what fun to celebrate together.

    I am curious about Reputation; even if the characters are unlikable, it sounds like fun.

    Enjoy your weekend.

  4. January 31, 2020 8:25 am

    Happy Birthday to your Mom!! Looks like you had a great time celebrating 🙂
    Reputation and Dear Sweet Pea sound great – I’m adding them to my TBR. That black puzzle – whoa! Hope you have a great weekend!!

  5. January 31, 2020 8:36 am

    I think the picture is lovely! Happy Birthday to your Mom! Glad you’re able to spend time with her. I have Reputation on my Kindle, but haven’t started it yet. One day. A black puzzle – wow! Good luck with it!

  6. January 31, 2020 10:51 am

    Happy Birthday to your mom and that is a very good selfie!

    An all black puzzle sounds like torture to me.

    Dear Sweet Pea sounds like a good read.

    I am at work today. I have a few projects to work on and a focus group to attend. Can’t wait for the weekend to begin. I wanted to finish my book this morning but have ten pages left!

  7. January 31, 2020 11:01 am

    Happy bday to your mum!

  8. January 31, 2020 12:25 pm

    You did just fine with the selfie! It’s a great picture of the three of you and your mom looks wonderful! An all black puzzle???? Yikes! I need a lot of detail in my puzzles. That would drive me bonkers! 🙂

  9. January 31, 2020 3:40 pm

    Happy Birthday to you mom! You are very Blessed to have her still with you!

  10. January 31, 2020 3:59 pm

    Happy Birthday to your Mom!! So blessed to still have her and in good health. ENJOY!!

    Have a great weekend and upcoming week.

  11. Jeane permalink
    January 31, 2020 4:06 pm

    I’ve seen those all-one-color puzzles before- they look incredibly hard! It’s cool how the central pieces go in a circle pattern, though.

  12. January 31, 2020 5:49 pm

    My corner of the world (Illinois) is gloomy grey and snowy, and probably 4 or 5 more weeks of that to go…
    Congrats on your Mom’s birthday, she looks great!!
    Reputation sounds good. I’m surprised sometimes to enjoy some books where I hate all the characters!!
    Wow, all black puzzle!! Are you familiar with the French painter Pierre Soulages? All his paintings are basically black, but he works a lot with textures. He was born in 1919 and is still alive!:

  13. January 31, 2020 6:31 pm

    Happy birthday to your mom! The selfie is great! Dear Sweet Pea sounds especially enchanting. Boy does that puzzle look challenging!

    This week flew by for me. It was a nice mix of work, social activities, and a bit of reading.

    Have a wonderful weekend, Kathy!

  14. February 1, 2020 2:52 pm

    Happy Birthday to your mom – she looks great! That puzzle is going to be be something else I’m sure.I love the biographical picture books. I always end up learning just as much as Gage does.

  15. February 1, 2020 11:14 pm

    My dad celebrated his 93rd birthday on January 3rd of this year. They were born at almost the same time. Happy birthday to your mom.

    My sister has a watch that keeps up with steps, so every day I have recorded my miles and flights of stairs in my journal. I have never really known that much about steps, but now I see that you are a strong walker.

    My book club is planning to read the first Julie Murphy book in March. Thanks for sharing this new book. Maybe I’ll get a chance to read it, too.

    Have a lovely week!

  16. February 2, 2020 9:40 am

    I assumed Reputation was a YA novel, I like the premise.

    Wishing you a great reading week, and happy birthday to your mother.

  17. February 2, 2020 11:03 am

    You’re in the photo. I’d say that’s a good selfie. 🙂

  18. Helen Murdoch permalink
    February 2, 2020 1:51 pm

    Gosh, good reading this week! And an all-black puzzle? That just seems cruel. 🙂

  19. February 2, 2020 2:05 pm

    Lovely photo of the celebration with your mum.
    Glad to know that I’m not the only one who enjoys books even when I dislike the characters – some readers feel that is a major detriment to their enjoyment

  20. February 2, 2020 2:17 pm

    Happy birthday to your mom! Wow – I do love that photo with her! I’ll be following your puzzle progress – hope it’s as fun as it is challenging!

  21. Sarah Sammis permalink
    February 2, 2020 9:54 pm

    Happy birthday to your mom! Your books look great. My weekly update

  22. February 3, 2020 1:20 pm

    Happy Birthday to your mom. Wow, that black puzzle looks daunting, but I know you’ll get it done.

  23. Carol Evans permalink
    February 3, 2020 2:35 pm

    Happy birthday to your mom!
    We’re working on a Mars puzzle that seems to be beyond our skill level.

  24. February 3, 2020 5:54 pm

    An all black puzzle would be too tough for me, good luck! Hope your mom had a wonderful birthday. Love the photo!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: