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The Week in Review: 12.14.2018

December 14, 2018


Between the Covers

Finished last week:

National Geographic Kids WEIRD BUT TRUE! 10: 350 OUTRAGEOUS FACTS might be aimed at 8 to 12 year olds but I loved and I think anyone who loves trivia will too.  This small full color book (6½ inches square) has a shiny cover and is printed on high quality, glossy paper.  It contains great, eye-catching photos and graphics and an index in the back.  My favorite part, though, is all the obscure facts it contains.  I practically read the book to my family, so I’m sure they were glad when I was through with it.  I’m sure I’ll pick it up again to flip through it and impress people with my knowledge.  I think WEIRD BUT TRUE! would make a fabulous gift for you or someone else.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)


I was excited to pick up IN PIECES by Sally Field since I enjoy her work and like to read memoirs.  Field starts the book recalling her childhood (mostly her home life) in a very detailed manner – almost too detailed for me – that almost became tedious after a while.  Thankfully, it became less detailed and I was able to settle in with the story but was rather surprised that it ended with the death of her mother.  Even with all her success, hers was not a happy life, so the book is raw and grim.  I thought Field’s writing was solid but found her approach to telling her story uneven.  I’m sure writing it was cathartic for her but it left me feeling rather sad and unsettled.  I liked the book okay but can’t say that I loved it.  (Review copy provided by Grand Central Publishing.)


MARCUS VEGA DOESN’T SPEAK SPANISH by Pablo Cartaya is a wonderful middle grade book about hope, family, and doing the right thing.  Marcus is big for an 8th grader so he stands out.  His dad isn’t around and his mom works hard to make ends meet.  Marcus tries to help his mom by earning money escorting kids to and from school.  He also tries to protect his special needs brother.  When he stands up to a bully at school and lands in hot water, his mom decides it’s time for a trip to Puerto Rico to see family.  Marcus loves the idea and secretly hopes he’ll find his father but he finds so much more.

I liked everything about this book.  The characters are great – I adored Marcus and his family.  I thought the story was terrific too.  I know many young people will relate to Marcus and his home life.  I loved the setting too – parts of the book almost felt like a love letter to Puerto Rico and its people.  The author reads the audio version and I was very impressed with his work – he was expressive and did voices and accents well.  Middle grade readers on up will enjoy Marcus and his story.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Carl and I watched Dumplin’ and I thought it was terrific!  Willowdean is crazy about her Aunt Lucy but doesn’t feel like she lives up to the standards of her former beauty queen mother.  After Lucy passes away, Willowdean (called Dumplin’ by her mother) decides to enter a pageant as a protest.  A few other girls follow her lead and learn a lot about themselves along the way.  I thought the casting and acting were terrific and laughed and cried my way through this movie.  I’ve had the book for a while and want to read it soon.

Off the blog

  • My Christmas cactus is finally blooming.  It usually blooms around Thanksgiving, so it’s a little late this year.

  • We got a little snow Saturday night.  Things were worse than this photo shows, though, because we got rain and sleet on top of the snow.  Other parts of our area got more than we did – 2.8 inches, which was a record for the date.
  • Between the snow and ice on Sunday and minor outpatient surgery on Wednesday, I didn’t get many walks in last week and averaged just under 12,500 Fitbit steps a day.

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

19 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2018 6:14 am

    I love those kind of books with “weird but true” facts. I agree with you that they are for ALL ages! I usually drive my family crazy too when I read them and feel compelled to “share”! I’m very envious of your green thumb too!

  2. Beth F permalink
    December 14, 2018 6:20 am

    Put me in the camp that loves those fact books! And yes, Dumplin’ was so well done. We both loved it. Yikes on the ice, but glad you weren’t smothered in snow.

  3. Diane permalink
    December 14, 2018 6:54 am

    In Pieces was more sad than happy for sure. I can’t believe you got so much snow last week, especially NC, we just had some flurries yesterday. Enjoy the weekend.

  4. December 14, 2018 7:12 am

    Adding Weird But True 10 to my list. Gorgeous Christmas cactus. Glad it finally bloomed. I’ve heard good things about Dumplin’ so glad you added your voice to those reviews.

  5. Jeane permalink
    December 14, 2018 8:11 am

    Hey I think you’ve actually got a Thanksgiving cactus. Christmas cactus is usually red flowers and blooms in late Dec. Thanksgiving cactus pink flowers, blooms in mid or late November. They’re closely related schlumbergera genus, but the leaves are slightly different- does yours have little spikes on the edges of the leaves?

  6. December 14, 2018 9:50 am

    The books are eclectic and the cactus is lovely! I was wondering when your surgery was…hopefully you are fine and not inconvenienced too much! You have more snow than we do! We have none!

  7. December 14, 2018 9:59 am

    Just finished a very good memoir by Jessica Fechtor called Stir, My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home. Very moving and well-written. Plus she’s got 27 recipes in it. Highly recommended.

  8. December 14, 2018 10:26 am

    I actually loved In Pieces, but that’s how it goes with books: we love them or not so much. I saw Dumplin’ on Netflix, and really enjoyed it. I’m thinking of reading the book.

    Enjoy your weekend…and hopefully the snow won’t give you problems. Good luck on the surgery.

  9. December 14, 2018 11:06 am

    Dumplin’ sounds wonderful… hope we can watch it this weekend. I think I’ll pass on In Pieces though. We’ve had a blanket of snow on the ground since the week before Thanksgiving. I’m ready to go back to Florida!

  10. December 14, 2018 12:58 pm

    That’s too bad about the Sally Field book. I was looking forward to reading it. I’m glad your Christmas cactus decided to bloom at Christmas. I’ve had many Christmas Cactus, but none ever bloomed at Christmas. Have a great weekend Kathy.

  11. December 14, 2018 1:25 pm

    I have always love Field but I heard the book was choppy and unbalanced. Maybe listening to it would be better.

  12. December 14, 2018 2:06 pm

    Weird But True sounds like a good one. I didn’t like the Field book even though I’ve loved her since Gidget. The book was very sad. I never got the feeling that she was ever a happy person.

  13. December 14, 2018 2:34 pm

    Xmas cactus! Cool

  14. December 14, 2018 3:31 pm

    I’m interested in Sally’s memoir too. Sorry to hear its uneven.

  15. December 14, 2018 4:53 pm

    I am so glad to hear that Dumplin’ is a good movie because I loved the book.

  16. The Cue Card permalink
    December 15, 2018 8:31 pm

    Wow your Christmas cactus is looking good. I hope the ice there will depart so you can get back your walking routine. The Sally Field memoir sounds a bit sad & grim … perhaps I will skip it. I’m more curious about her movie roles etc.

  17. December 15, 2018 8:47 pm the Marcus book. It sounds very educative reading especially for that age group.
    We are having a lot of cool breezes now which is typical for December. The days are hot of course.

  18. December 16, 2018 7:26 am

    The Marcus book sounds great. I have a Christmas cactus that doesn’t do anything. I’m thinking of pitching it out!

  19. December 29, 2018 2:47 am

    Adding Marcus Vega to my list! I loved Dumplin’ too. She was in Bird Box too, so I’ve seen her twice this month 🙂

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