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Mailbox Monday

October 15, 2018

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.   I found these books in my mailbox last week:

Tuesday

Wednesday

Friday

What did you find in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 10.12.2018

October 12, 2018
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

When I picked up THE SHORT AND TRAGIC LIFE OF ROBERT PEACE: A BRILLIANT YOUNG MAN WHO LEFT NEWARK FOR THE IVY LEAGUE by Jeff Hobbs I knew it wouldn’t have a happy ending but I wasn’t prepared for the way it would gut me.  Rob grew up in drug and gang infested Newark, New Jersey area.  His mother realized his intelligence early on and had big dreams for her son.  She worked hard and made sacrifices to help him get ahead.  Even though his parents weren’t married, Rob’s father was very involved in his life until he was incarcerated when Rob was seven years old.  Rob remained close to both parents and felt a responsibility toward both – he took any job he could find to help his mother with bills and visited his father often and helped with his legal proceedings.  He was generous, charismatic, curious, and loving and straddled different worlds with what appeared to be ease.

Jeff Hobbs was one of Rob’s roommates at Yale.  It’s evident he did a lot of research before writing this book.  It’s also obvious he had a great affection for his friend.  I thought the book was very well written and compelling.  I fell in love with Rob quickly and rooted for him even when he made mistakes, even though I knew things would not turn out well.  I talked about this book a lot as I read it and cried at the end.  It’s moving, disturbing, and thought provoking.  I think it would make a great book club pick.  (Review copy provided by Scribner.)

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HEY, KIDDO: HOW I LOST MY MOTHER, FOUND MY FATHER, AND DEALT WITH FAMILY ADDICTION by Jarrett J. Krosoczka is a wonderful graphic memoir for the YA set.  Jarrett was born to Leslie, a single mother who lived with her parents at the time of his birth.  His grandfather bought a house for them and things went okay for a while.  Drugs took over Leslie’s life, though, so Jarrett went to live with his grandparents.  They loved Jarrett but they were crude and sassy and didn’t really “get” kids anymore.  Art was Jarrett’s escape for his unpleasant reality.  I thought the illustrations in this book were terrific.  The story was well told even though it was heartbreaking at times.  It really is a terrific book that will resonate with so many kids these days and show them there is hope.  I recommend it for early teens on up.  (Review copy provided by Scholastic.)

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I was anxious to pick up HEARTLAND: A DAUGHTER OF THE WORKING CLASS RECONCILES AN AMERICAN DIVIDE by Sarah Smarsh when I heard it compared to HILLYBILLY ELEGY by J. D. Vance and, I’m sorry to say, for me, it didn’t live up to the comparison.  Smarsh grew up poor in Kansas – she moved around a lot as a child and teen pregnancies were common in her family.  Smarsh was determined to break the cycle – she worked hard in school and made sure she didn’t become a teen mother.  I admire her and what she achieved but felt her book needed more focus.  It’s written to the child she didn’t have as a teen (an imagined girl she named August) and is more about her grandparents and parents and the politics of the time than about her.  The book made me think on several occasions with passages like this,

If you live in a house that needs shingles, you will attend a school that needs books, and while sitting in that school’s desk you’ll struggle to focus because your tooth needs a dentist or your stomach needs food.  Teachers, for such children, become mothers; schools become houses; and cafeterias become hearths.

I’m glad I read HEARTLAND, even though I only truly became invested in the story at the end, but it won’t make my list of favorites for the year.  (Review copy provided by Scribner.)

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I was in the mood for some lighter fare so I picked up CHRISTMAS CAKE MURDER by Joanne Fluke.  It’s the 23rd book in the Hannah Swensen Mystery series and is a prequel but it stands on its own just fine.  Hannah has returned from college and has decided to open a bakery.  She and her family and a few other residents have decided to recreate the Christmas Ball that aging resident Essie Granger remembers from her past.  They discover a story Essie wrote years ago and become captivated by it.  On the night of the ball, they realize that story holds the answer to a mystery.

I thought this was a sweet story but the mystery came late in the book and, when it did, it was rather flimsy.  It can be read any time of the year because, even though, it was set around the ball, it didn’t have a holiday feel to it.  There are 14 detailed recipes throughout the book – I did read them and some sound good – but I haven’t tried any of them.  CHRISTMAS CAKE MURDER didn’t knock my socks off but it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours.  (Review copy provided by Kensington.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • Carl went to visit his dad so I spent some extra time at the store this week.
  • We got a little bit of weather from Hurricane Michael but, thankfully, it didn’t do much damage in our area.  It did drop 4 inches of rain on us.
  • I walked at least three miles every morning, except yesterday (because of Michael), and averaged just over 17,775 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

October 10, 2018

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

My first two words are from LISTEN TO THE MARRIAGE by John Jay Osborn:

1. semiotics – “Semiotics and hermeneutics.”

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.

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2. hermeneutics – “Semiotics and hermeneutics.”

Hermeneutics is the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts.

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This word is from THE ALMOST SISTERS by Joshilyn Jackson.

3. propitiation – “He was almost cringing with propitiation.”

Propitiation means the action of propitiating or appeasing a god, spirit, or person.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

October 8, 2018

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.   I found these books in my mailbox last week:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

  • SWING by Kwame Alexander came from Amazon Vine

What did you find in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 10.05.2018

October 5, 2018
tags: ,

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

I’ve loved pop-up books ever since I saw my first one as a young child.  Thanks to great paper engineers like Bruce Foster, they’ve become more and more sophisticated so my love for them has never waned.  I was beyond excited to receive a copy of TO THE MOON AND BACK: MY APOLLO 11 ADVENTURE by Buzz Aldrin with Marianne J. Dyson and dug into it immediately.  I read through it once for the story and have gone back and lingered over the details of all the beautiful pop-ups created by Foster.  As the title suggests, the book is about Aldrin’s role in man’s first steps on the moon and, let me tell you, it’s a gem.  Aimed at late early readers or early middle readers, this book brings history alive through story telling and dramatic pop-ups.  Readers learn about the Space Race and the history of the Apollo program, including failures and successes.  There are even a few paragraphs from Aldrin’s children about what it was like to have their dad go in space.  Besides the pop-ups, there are flaps to lift and tabs to pull, and a lunar module to assemble yourself, keeping curious young readers engaged throughout this fun, educational book.  As usual with a National Geographic book, it’s filled with full color illustrations.  I think TO THE MOON AND BACK is perfect for kids who love science and space as well as reluctant readers.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

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AN ABSOLUTELY REMARKABLE THING by Hank Green (John’s brother) is a little outside my comfort zone but I decided to give it a go and, for the most part, I thought it was fun.  When April May stumbles across a new sculpture on the streets of New York City in the middle of the night, she gets her friend Andy to meet her and help her make a video about it.  She dubs the sculpture Carl, puts the video on YouTube and finds herself an instant social media celebrity.  “Carls” have appeared all over the world and April feels they’re here for peaceful reasons but not everyone agrees with her.  With the help of a new personal assistant, she has to learn to juggle media appearances and her personal life while trying to solve the mystery of the Carls.  There’s a lot of action and food for thought in this lesson about instant fame.  Some things were a little too “out there” for me but, overall, I enjoyed the book.  The audio version is narrated by Kristen Sieh with Hank Green and I thought it was very well done.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

This was one of the displays at 2018’s Book Expo.

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I didn’t realize IF THEY COME FOR US by Fatimah Asghar was a collection of poems until after I started the book on audio.  In these poems, Asghar shares what it’s like to be a Pakistani-American woman in today’s world.  She speaks of her religion and of the country her parents immigrated from.  At first, I had a lot of trouble following the poems and their cadence but did adjust somewhat before I was done.  Still, since I’m inexperienced with poetry, I think I would have been better served reading this collection in print.  I believe those who are more adept at poetry will do just fine with the audio version but I did find the author’s delivery grating before I was done.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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Any kid who likes soccer will love ABSOLUTE EXPERT: SOCCER by Eric Zweig.  This wonderful book is published by National Geographic Kids and is beautifully bound, printed on high quality paper, and contains lots of full color photos and graphics.  Readers learn about playing the game, the history of the game, soccer around the world, and soccer in North America.  Professional referee Mark Geiger shares his experience with soccer and his journey to becoming a full time ref.  There are a couple fun quizzes in the book as well as suggestions for other soccer books and an index.  Soccer wasn’t very popular when I was growing up so I learned a lot as I read this book.  I imagine kids who’ve grown up with the game won’t learn as much but they’ll still love reading this fact filled book.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • Carl and I went to see an aunt who lives about an hour away.  She’d moved and we’d lost contact with her but I recently got her address so we decided to surprise her.  She was married to my dad’s brother.  She and my mom are the last two of their generation on both sides of my family.  We had a wonderful visit and learned she belongs to 3 book clubs!
  • We walked at least three miles every morning and I averaged just over 16,300 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

October 3, 2018

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

It was back to my Word-a-Day calendar for me this week.

1. clerihew – “When the news reached his old school, the boys celebrated with a clerihew:

‘Turing
Must have been alluring
To get made a don
So early on.'”

The New Yorker, February 6, 2006

A clerihew is a light verse quatrain rhyming aabb and usually dealing with a person named in the initial rhyme.

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2. jeremiad – “Mr. Wilson waggled a finger at us and launched into a doleful jeremiad about how would would come to no good end.”

Jeremiad is a noun that means a prolonged lamentation or complaint: a cautionary or angry harangue.

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3. comity – “The meeting was as good a display of bipartisan comity as can be expected in an era of political division.” — Centre Daily Times, March 2, 2010

What a relevant word – we need more comity these days.  It means friendly civility: courtesy.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

October 1, 2018

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.   I found these books in my mailbox last week:

Tuesday

Wednesday

Friday

What did you find in your mailbox?