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The Week in Review: 11.15.2019

November 15, 2019
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

WHITE BIRD by R. J. Palacio is a companion book to her blockbuster novel, WONDER.  In this story, Julian has to write an essay about someone he knows and he decides to write about his grandmother.  He calls her and learns about her childhood and how she survived in a Nazi occupied village during World War II.

I thought this middle grade book was a good introduction to the holocaust and the citizens who resisted the Nazis.  I’ve read similar stories more than once but I think the plot will be new to young readers.  The print version of this book is a graphic novel and I was surprised at how well it translated to audio.  The audio version is read by a full cast including Hillary Huber, Emily Ellet, and Michael Crouch and they all did a terrific job.  Pick this book up to start a conversation on the Holocaust and/or doing the right thing.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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Amaryllis Fox became fascinated with Burma when she did a project on the country as a high school student.  Once she graduated, she traveled there and did a little espionage on her own.  She went on to attend college at Oxford and Georgetown and was recruited to join the CIA where she posed as an arms dealer in order to uncover terrorists cells.  She writes about her experiences in LIFE UNDERCOVER: COMING OF AGE IN THE CIA.

I love memoirs and stories about strong women so I was excited to pick up this book but am sad to say it didn’t live up to my expectations.  Fox opens the book explaining that agents don’t try to lose tails; instead they go about a mundane day and act like they don’t realize they’re being followed.  From there, she gives her background and explains how and why she became a spy.  All of that was interesting but I wanted to know more about her life as a spy and mostly what I got was the story of her personal life.  I listened to the audio version which is narrated by the author and I thought she did a good enough job.  In the end, I liked this book but didn’t love it.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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LET IT SNOW is a collection of three interconnected short stories by well known YA authors Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle.

It opens with Johnson’s story, The Jubilee Express.  When her parents are arrested, Jubilee is put on a train to visit her grandmother for Christmas.  She’s disappointed to be away from her boyfriend who’s giving her mixed signals.  Her train gets stuck in the snow in a small North Carolina town and Jubilee gets off and heads to Waffle House where she meets and goes home with Stuart.

In a Cheertastic Christmas Miracle, John Green tells the story of three friends – Tobin, the Duke, and JP – who get a call to come to Waffle House because cheerleaders from the stuck train are there practicing cheers.

Things wind up with Myracle’s story – The Patron Saint of Pigs.  Addie is in charge of picking up a teacup pig for her friend Tegan but Addie’s just broken up with her boyfriend and forgets.  When she finally goes to pick the pig up, someone else has adopted it.  She manages to figure out who has it and must figure out a way to get the pig back.

I enjoyed all three stories but have to admit my favorite was The Jubilee Express.  I was impressed with the way the authors managed to weave the stories together.  The audio version is narrated by a full cast and they all do a terrific job.  I look forward to the watching the movie version on Netflix this month.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • Vance bought a house on Halloween and we’ve been helping him move ever since.  As of this week, he’s (mostly) moved in.

  • I finished my puzzle and will take a break from “puzzling” until after Thanksgiving.
  • My book club met last night to discuss DOPESICK by Beth Macy.  We talked about the book for at least an hour and a half.  Several people said they found the book disturbing but everyone was glad they’d read it.
  • I seem to have finally shaken my cold!
  • I walked at least three miles every day and averaged almost 15,300 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

November 13, 2019

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!

I had to turn back to my Word-a-Day Calendar for a new to me word this week.

1. concomitant – “Conservationists are gravely concerned about the increasing logging in the area and the concomitant displacement of wildlife.”

Concomitant is an adjective that means accompanying, especially in a subordinate or incidental way.

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2. oriflamme – “For many Americans, the photograph of the Iwo Jima flag raising served as an oriflamme and a reminder of the sacrifices and courage of the American servicemen.”

Orriflamme is a noun and it means a banner, symbol, or ideal inspiring devotion or courage.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

November 11, 2019

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.  Happy Veteran’s Day and thanks to all who have served this country.  My mailbox exploded this past week!

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Friday

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 11.08.2019

November 8, 2019
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

THE BODY: A GUIDE FOR OCCUPANTS by Bill Bryson is just what it says it is – an overview of the human body.  Bryson takes readers on a tour of the intricacies of the human body, system by system.  Not only does he describe each system, he gives details on diseases, research and medical pioneers, treatments, etc. all in a very readable, accessible way.

I found this book fascinating and always looked forward to returning to it.  I learned a lot and gladly shared the information with anyone who would listen.  A few of the things I learned were:

  • The only sure way to prevent male baldness is castration before hair loss begins.
  • We become nauseated when we’re dizzy because the body thinks it’s been poisoned.

I listened to the audio version which is narrated by Bryson himself.  At first it seemed odd to hear British pronounciations and an American accent but I adjusted to it quickly and ending up loving this book.  I wanted more and hated for it to end.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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WILLOW THE THERAPY DOG by Lisa M. Gerry is part of National Geographic Kids Doggy Defenders Series.  It features a rescued greyhound named Willow who has become a therapy dog.  Readers follow Willow for a day, starting in the morning when she puts on her therapy dog vest.  Once she’s ready, she visits patients (as well as doctors and nurses) in a hospital, children in a school, veterans in a home, and children in a library.  After her busy day, she goes home to relax, eat, and cuddle.

This sweet picture book contains lots of full color photos by Lori Epstein throughout Willow’s day.  The back of the book includes a Question and Answer with Willow’s owner about what it’s like to own a therapy dog and a page of tips on being a good friend and neighbor.  Young dog lovers will adore this book like I did and want to read it over and over again.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

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Shortly after Lucy Knisley got married, she and her husband decided to forgo birth control “not try but not try not to get pregnant,” and get pregnant she did.  Sadly that pregnancy ended in miscarriage and Knisley dealt with guilt, grief, and conception issues before her successful pregnancy.  She shares her journey in her latest graphic memoir, KID GLOVES: NINE MONTHS OF CAREFUL CHAOS.

I’m a big fan of Knisley’s work and was excited to see our library had a copy of her latest book.  This VERY personal memoir is informative, educational and entertaining.  I’m well past child-bearing years so most of the information in this book doesn’t pertain to me but I still thought the book and its artwork were terrific.  Not only does Knisley share a lot of information about pregnancy and birthing, she dispels many pregnancy myths.  Be forewarned, though, her childbirth experience was harrowing, so those about to give birth might want to wait to read this book.

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • Our warm weather seems to be gone for the season and I broke down and cut the heat on Monday morning.
  • I’ve noticed Christmas decorations popping up all over the place, including our neighborhood.
  • I’ve been fighting a cold all week and will be glad when I finally shake this thing.  It’s been years since I’ve had one so I’d forgotten how long they can linger.
  • I walked at least three miles every morning and averaged almost 16,100 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

November 6, 2019

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!

This word is from FENTANYL, INC by Ben Westhoff.

1. excoriation – “Though he was harshly reprimanded after China lost the First Opium War to Britain, history was subsequently revised to paint him as a hero, and students are now taught about his excoriation of Queen Victoria, written in a letter: ‘Let us ask, where is your conscience?'”

The most prevalent meaning of excoriation is to wear off the skin of but I knew that didn’t fit here so I kept searching.  In this case, excoriation means to censure scathingly.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

November 4, 2019

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.  We have a lot going on so I had a slow reading week and was glad my physical mailbox was empty.  I did download one audio book, though.

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 11.01.2019

November 1, 2019
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

Megan Phelps-Roper grew up attending the infamous Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.  Her grandfather was the preacher there and the congregation was mostly her extended family.  Her grandfather was born in the south and moved to Topeka after he was married.  He became the pastor of the newly formed Westboro Baptist Church and preached a literal interpretation of the Bible.  He earned his law degree and became a civil rights activist.  When he encountered some gay men at a park in Topeka, he demanded action from the city and, when they failed to respond, he took actions into his own hands – preaching hate (especially against gay people) and organizing protests.

UNFOLLOW: A MEMOIR OF LOVING AND LEAVING THE WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH by Phelps-Roper is her story as a member of the “most hated family in America.”  Phelps-Roper was an ardent believer and became a spokesperson for the church at a fairly young age, taking to social media to promote its values.  Her interaction with others on Twitter made her question her beliefs and eventually leave the church.  I found her story sad and fascinating. I was hoping for some insight into the church’s beliefs but her explanations just left me scratching my head.  I was struck by the fact that the people who got through to her were the ones who addressed her in a calm, respectful manner.  Pick this up if you enjoy memoirs or reading about cultish religions.  (Review copy provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.)

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FRANKIE’S SCARED OF EVERYTHING by Mathew Franklin is very aptly named.  Poor Frankie has trouble sleeping because of his vivid imagination.  He imagines every sound he hears is something horrible waiting to get him and he needs to plan an escape route.  He runs to his mom’s room and she explains that the noises he hears are perfectly normal things like the icemaker and a car outside.  She explains that imagination “can be a slippery slope” and all those machines began in someone’s imagination.  She encourages him to make something new with his imagination too.

I liked the way Frankie’s mom stayed calm and reassured her son when he came to her with his fears.  Franklin is a tattoo artist and I appreciated his illustrations but think they’re a little dark and scary for sensitive members of the picture book set.  If your little one’s imagination keeps them awake at night, you’ll want to check this book out.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

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Cara Brookins and her four children lived in fear of her ex-husband.  He was mentally ill and would show up periodically and threaten them so they never felt safe in their own home.  They rented a cabin in the woods and, while they were there, designed their dream home, even building a crude model.  Brookins decided to make their dream come true and bought an acre of land, got a bank loan, and, with the help of her children, started building their home.

In RISE: HOW A HOUSE BUILT A FAMILY, Brookins shares the story of the construction of her family’s house, alternating with her past to give readers a full picture of her life.  I admire her grit and determination and loved the way building their home brought her family together but felt there was something lacking in the telling.  I’ve since read that they used You Tube videos to learn about the construction process and I think that was only mentioned in passing one time in the book.  I appreciated and liked this memoir but can’t say that I loved it.  (Review copy provided by St. Martin’s Press.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

This week’s Dancing with the Stars was Halloween themed and most of the celebrities danced well but  I wasn’t a big fan of either of the team dances.  Sean Spicer is obviously the weakest dancer so I was very disappointed when he was declared safe once again – I hope he doesn’t last much longer.

Off the blog

  • I started a new puzzle.  I think I’ve got the easiest part done and it’ll be tougher from here on out.
  • Like everyone else, I’m wondering how it got to be November already.
  • We had some nasty weather the last few days and it looked like trick-or-treat might not happen.  Luckily, the weather cleared just in time for the little ones to get out and have fun.  Sadly, I thought I’d bought plenty of candy but ran out half-way through the evening.
  • I walked at least three miles every morning and averaged just under 16,500 Fitbit steps a day.

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