History for Kids – California Gold Rush

Not long ago we were in San Francisco listening to a presentation on local history. Even though I am a native Californian, I must have slept through the history lessons in class. The discussion prompted me to check out a few books from the library, all of them children’s books. I confess I don’t usually enjoy the history books written for grown ups, and I usually don’t finish them. But kids books? Easy peasy.

Here’s a couple I read recently:


By Jean Blashfield

My GoodReads Review

This children’s book is a potpourri of facts about the Gold Rush. There are some social commentaries thrown in as if they were facts, but not enough to taint the book completely.

Interesting photos and timelines are included. The book is not very colorful, as it is done in sepia and lighter yellow tones.

If giving this to a kid to read, the kid will either need to be writing a report for school, or be extremely interested in facts related to that era. 

I gave the book a three star review.


By Caroline Attia

Here’s my brief GoodReads Review

Good art and an interesting story. When my 10 year old read it, she told me she wanted to know what happened next.

I gave the book a four star review, mainly because it was interesting. I don’t know that I had read anything that also included the Chinese immigrant perspective.


These two books are the lightest of the five books we got from the library. A good starting point, perhaps, for someone interested in expanding their knowledge on this era.


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Along the Sacramento River

Sometimes other people’s wit catches us by surprise.

My son and I have been walking along the Sacramento River now and again, and this grafitti never fails to amuse me.

Love is Free. …So is poop.

All the more relevant as there are homeless encampements and lots of dogs in the area. Love and Poop. That’s all we need. Or is it?



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The Whispered Word – Book Review

I thoroughly enjoyed The Whispered Word by Ellery Adams. You can read my review of the first book in the series here.


Here’s the book blurb from Amazon:

Nora Pennington, owner of Miracle Books, believes that a well-chosen novel can bring healing and hope. But she and the other members of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society know that sometimes practical help is needed too. Such is the case with the reed-thin girl hiding in the fiction section of Nora’s store, wearing a hospital ID and a patchwork of faded bruises. She calls herself Abilene but won’t reveal much else. And when a customer is found dead in an assumed suicide, Nora uncovers a connection that points to Abilene as either a suspect—or another target. After a second death hits town, Nora and her intrepid friends must help the new, greenhorn sheriff discern fact from fiction—and stop a killer intent on bringing another victim’s story to a close . . .


This was a better than expected second installment in an interesting series. I love the author’s idea of bibliotherapy throughout the book, and the books that are recommended reading to the main character’s customers.

This book had many layers of interesting characters and interactions. I finished it feeling as though I had also had some bibliotherapy of sorts.

Recommended reading.

5 Stars.



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Bronte’s Mistress – Book Review

There are few books that I think about for days after I finish them. I am a voracious reader. I will open up a book, get into the story, and then when I am done with the book, I move on to the next. Not so for Bronte’s Mistress by Finola Austin.



As nearly anyone who has studied English Literature at some time or another, I was of course familiar with the three Bronte sisters, and I recall reading something that mentioned their poet brother Branwell, who had such promise, but who never reached the literary heights that his sisters did. He was just a faceless name in the pages and pages of literary analysis undergrads are supposed to read.

Not any more.

Ms. Finola Austin has breathed life into his character, although her goal was to give a voice to the infamous Mrs. Robinson, Branwell Bronte’s purported mistress.

She has done both remarkably well.


A drawing of Branwell Bronte

Here’s my brief review from Goodreads:

Compelling and tragic, this novel breathed life into literary characters I have known about for decades.

Recommended reading.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I gave it a 5 star rating. Because I read it with interest, disgust, and curiosity. And I’m still thinking about it, a few days later.

Let me know what you think.



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