Show Us Your Books-December 2021

Bookshelf filled with books with the words So many books... at the top and So little time. at the bottom

This is my first time participating in this linky (see the bottom of the post for the link); I never knew it existed until I ran across an IG post from a blogger I've followed for years. I haven't read much in the past few years; I haven't blogged much in the past few years. With some important life decisions that were made over the past year, I'm gearing up for having some time to write more after the 2022-2023 school year. (Hello, retirement!) But that's a post for another day.

At a meeting in October, a friend & I spent most of the time recommending books to each other. My local library uses Libby by Overdrive; I had no idea I could tag books I wanted to read and create a list! I really need to retire so I can get through all of these good books I now have on that list. After not spending very much time reading, it seems like since Fall Break (the first week of Oct.) all I've been doing in my spare time is read. 

But I digress. By beginning this blog post 2 hours ago, I went down a rabbit hole with Goodreads. I discovered I had 2 different accounts so I researched & imported one list into the other and deleted the old one. WHEW! All of this while having my coffee and before showering!

I read some excellent books in November. I discovered a new favorite author. She intertwines historical events to modern-day. I love it when an author really takes the time to do some heavy research and bring to light historical events that aren't well known. 

This is my new favorite author: Lisa Wingate. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I borrowed this book from the library 3 times and just couldn't get into the first 2. By the 3rd time, I was enough into it that it was pretty intriguing. The modern-day involved a teacher who just began teaching in a rural high school in Louisiana. She was on a quest for her students to be interested in reading. As she learns more about the area and the people, she fights harder for her students and makes them aware of the history of the area. The past involves a former slave, her "miss", and her miss's half-sister. They are all on a quest to find family: the former slave looking for her mother and siblings, the "miss"  and the half-sister are looking for their father in order to determine wealth. The author includes actual notices in newspapers from former slaves looking for family members after the Civil War. 

 Once I found my interest, I was enthralled with what all of the girls were going through and how it would end. It just took me a couple of tries to be vested in it.  

Another book by Lisa Wingate, I had no difficulty being interested in this one. A big-time editor in NYC finds a partial manuscript on her desk on her first day on a new job. She reads it and it consumes her. There is no reference to who wrote it or where it came from. After coming to the conclusion that it was sent from NC, near her home, she researches until she has a pretty good idea about who the author is. She ends up back in Appalachia, where she grew up. She has to confront her past and her family, as well as the cycle of poverty that is prevalent there. The past includes a Melungeon girl and a wealthy boy from Charleston who is taking the winter to learn the ways of the people of Appalachia. There is a bit of an underlying love story that occurs in both parts of the book which makes it a little cheesy and predictable. This book reminds me so much of so many kids I know. The cycle is there and they have no idea that can break it. 

First let me say: OH.MY. I absolutely could not put this book down. I read it in just a few days (3, I think), every spare minute I had. Based on historical events, Eva is a Jew living in Paris during WWII. She and her mother escape to a mountain village where she is told they can stay until they are able to cross into Switzerland. But to get to the village, she has to forge papers so they can travel. Once in the village, she becomes a forger for the Resistance. Modern-day Eva is a librarian in Florida, her husband has passed away and her grown son is extremely busy with his job. She has never shared her past with him. The book begins with Eva seeing a picture in the local paper of a man in Berlin holding a book. He is in possession of books the Nazis confiscated during the war and, for some reason, did not end up being burned. She recognizes the book right away and knows she has to fly to Berlin to retrieve the book. Spoiler alert: This is the way a book is supposed to end! 😉
I am obsessed with this time period. There were so many ordinary people who did such extraordinary things to save not only themselves but others. It didn't matter if they were Christian or Jew, they were people.  This is just another example of the unsung heroes who saved many people from the clutches of the Nazis. 

Click on the image below to be taken to the linky to add more books to your "need to read" list.

Life According to Steph

A Festive Hodgepodge


Floral wreath in pastel with the words "Wednesday Hodgepodge" and From This Side of the Pond
Joyce hosts most weeks and provides questions for us to ponder and then answer. Check out how others answered the questions at From This Side of the Pond.

1. 'Tis the season to be are you? 
Not yet...but I'm trying to be. There's too much to do between school and church to be jolly just yet.

2. Do you trim a tree this time of year, and if so is yours all done? What's something in your home-closet-life that needs to be trimmed in the new year? 
I don't put up a tree until a week or 2 before Christmas and then leave it up until Jesus' Baptism (Jan. 9 in 2022). FYI: In case you weren't aware, I'm Catholic; we celebrate Christmas until Jesus' Baptism. So if you're all about Christmas, it gives you a reason to enjoy your decorations a little longer! (You're welcome!) I've decided to only do a small tabletop tree this year, along with having another small one somewhere else in the house. There are no grandkids and each of my boys has announced that they don't like Christmas, so I'm not bothering too much with it this year. 

Our basement needs some serious cleaning out. I have a lot of stuff that I saved from the boys' childhood that they don't care about. I need to get down there, sift through everything, throw a lot of it most of it out. 

3. Are you 'dreaming of a white Christmas'? Is that a possibility where you'll be celebrating? According to this site the top ten places in the US you can count on for a white Christmas are- North Pole Alaska, Crater Lake Oregon, Yellowstone National Park, Winthrop Washington, Aspen Colorado, Ketchum Idaho, Mt. Washington New Hampshire, Whitefish Montana, Duluth Minnesota, and the Lake Tahoe town of Truckee California

Of the snowy spots listed which would you most like to visit? 
We had a very rare white Christmas last year. It was just about the most perfect Christmas ever. I even wrote about it!  A Perfect Way to End a Year

Hmmmm...where to visit? We were close to Mt. Washington a few years ago when we stopped by a friend's to visit on our way to Canada; Duluth just sounds too cold.  Okay, I have no idea where I'd like to visit!

4. December 8th is National Brownie Day...will you be celebrating? How do you like your brownies-chewy or cake-like, frosted or plain, nuts or no nuts, a piece from the middle or give me the corner? As a child were you a member of a brownie troop? 
Well, I will be celebrating now that I know it!!! I use the Ghiradelli brand of brownie mix; the dark chocolate is the family fave. I use the cake-like version, plain, no nuts. I'm not real picky about which brownie I get.
I was a Brownie for a short while. In 2nd grade, I wore my uniform to school one day. This was my first year in public school so I didn't really know all of the rules yet. After we were given an ice cream, the teacher told us to stay in our seat. I was through with mine so I just sat there holding my stick. A classmate told me to go throw it away but I told her we couldn't get up. She encouraged me to get up, the teacher wouldn't mind. That earned me my only paddling of my school days. The classmate got one as well (not her first or last!)...and I never wore my uniform to school again. Isn't it funny what we remember from our childhood?

5. Share a favorite line or two from a Christmas carol or holiday tune. 
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on
Our troubles will be out of sight

The song is in both of my all-time favorite movies: The Holiday and Family Stone. I've already watched The Holiday and there will be more viewings between now & Christmas!

Here's something very interesting. These aren't the original words. Apparently, when Judy Garland sang this in Meet Me In St. Louis she objected to the original words, but Hugh Martin was against changing them. He finally gave in and re-wrote it. Then, Frank Sinatra changed "until then we'll have to muddle through somehow" to "hang a shining star upon the highest bough". Want to know what the original words are? I found them on

6. Insert your own random thought here. 
The SLPs (Speech-Language Pathologists) in my district had a combo baby shower/Christmas Party last week. The food decor was just incredible! Here's a peek:

This was purchased from Swiss Colony. Aren't the raccoons just adorable?
And this cheese hedgehog!
The best part? All I had to do was show up! 😉

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