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The Week in Review: 11.01.2019

November 1, 2019


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.)


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.)


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?

26 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2019 4:58 am

    Great week for you.

    That puzzle looks difficult. Have fun completing it.

    Our trick-or-treat was postponed due to heavy rain and winds.

    Happy November!!

  2. Diane permalink
    November 1, 2019 6:41 am

    Interesting reads this week. Frankie sounds cute! We’ve had some nasty rain/wind but should be nice for next 4 days.

  3. November 1, 2019 7:04 am

    We had 5 inches of snow yesterday but our trick or treat day is always the Sunday before Halloween. It was sunny and high 50s here on Sunday 😉 I like the look of the puzzle. Good luck!

  4. November 1, 2019 8:08 am

    I’m picky about memoirs, and tend to read those that are inspiring to me. I haven’t worked on a puzzle in years but hope to pick up this habit again.

  5. November 1, 2019 8:59 am

    I just heard about Unfollow on a podcast yesterday and was curious, but will probably give it a pass since I have so many other nonfiction titles on my list this month. We had the warmest Halloween on record in SWFL- over 90 degrees! The promised cold front hasn’t arrived yet…

  6. November 1, 2019 9:33 am

    That’s such a good point that the people who got through most strongly to Phelps-Roper were the ones who were calm and kind and intelligent about it. I liked her memoir but was also left wondering about a lot of the workings of the church, and didn’t get the charisma around or appeal of her grandfather to get them all under his total control. Was still an interesting read though, great to hear your thoughts on it!

  7. Lloyd Russell permalink
    November 1, 2019 9:36 am

    When Sean was announced safe, it was one of the worst reactions I’ve ever seen pretty much from everybody. I was hoping he would voluntarily back out. But that’s an unrealistic hope.

    Lloyd (408) 348-4849

    On Fri, Nov 1, 2019 at 1:02 AM Bermudaonion’s Weblog wrote:

    > BermudaOnion posted: ” 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 bor” >

  8. November 1, 2019 10:26 am

    Books like Unfollow leave me both repulsed and attracted! Sounds powerful reading.

  9. November 1, 2019 11:11 am

    Unfollow would probably arouse feelings of anger and repulsion, as I had a glimpse of that kind of thinking growing up.

    Rise sounds inspirational.

    Enjoy your week, and we’re trying to steer clear of the wildfires and the smoke residue that reaches out to us.

  10. November 1, 2019 11:11 am

    You have reminded me that I have been thinking it’s a good time to get back to doing puzzles!

  11. Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf permalink
    November 1, 2019 11:14 am

    Both books you finished this week sound so good. We had bad weather clear out just in time for trick or treating, too, but it was super windy and cold for my Florida kid and her friends.

  12. Felicity Grace terry permalink
    November 1, 2019 12:30 pm

    What a wonderfully eclectic selection of books you feature this week.

    Wet and cold here today, thankfully it was mild yesterday which meant we got to give out lots of treats this Halloween

  13. November 1, 2019 12:33 pm

    I really want to read Unfollow. I only live about an hour from Topeka so the Westboro Baptist Church protests everything around here. You can’t go to any big public event, like a rock concert without seeing them. It’s really annoying. I don’t think they have any rationale behind their beliefs – I think they’re just hateful, angry people.

    Frankie’s Scared of Everything would be great for my daughter. She has a very active imagination and often has trouble sleeping because of it.

  14. November 1, 2019 12:37 pm

    A few years ago Westboro Baptist showed up on a corner in our city and it was clear that they were drinking the juice. I am open to other religions but fanatical, cultish religions? Nope. I’d be fascinated with the book though.

  15. November 1, 2019 2:56 pm

    Kathy, thank you for your mini reviews. I admire your ability with puzzles. The new one looks challenging. Our weather here has been pleasant lately, and the winds have thankfully lessened. Have a terrific weekend!

  16. Helen Murdoch permalink
    November 1, 2019 10:40 pm

    Both adult books that you reviewed sound like they could have been excellent, but didn’t quite live up to their potential. That’s too bad as they cover such interesting topics.

  17. Beth F permalink
    November 2, 2019 6:27 am

    Our local Halloween was postponed until Saturday — but of course we didn’t know until Friday morning. Bummer that the memoirs weren’t as good as they could have been.

  18. November 2, 2019 2:45 pm

    All of those book look good. I put Long Way Home on my Audible wish list to read soon and may add some of the others later.

    I keep forgetting to ask you what you do with the puzzle once you finish them?

    I hope you have a great week Kathy!

  19. November 2, 2019 9:21 pm

    I’m taken, too, by how Megan Phelps-Roper was influenced to the good by people who spoke calmly to her. That is interesting.

    I wish you had liked Rise more. It sounds like it would be a fascinating read.

    I think it is a good thing to run out of candy. I’m glad you had so many trick-or-treaters.

    Have a wonderful week.

  20. November 3, 2019 12:05 am

    I’ve done that puzzle, too! And, I’ve just gotten back into the puzzle mode after taking the warmer months off. There’s something about sitting inside in the late afternoon, working on a puzzle while sipping a glass of wine. 🙂

    Yes, I have no idea how it became November so quickly. I’m not ready for the holidays, but I’m looking forward to another road trip in February/March, so let the days fly. 🙂

  21. November 3, 2019 7:55 pm

    We had snow, a 2-hour school delay and 30 degree temps on Halloween. So my trick or treater visits were down and I have tons of playdoh and candy leftover. I’ve heard of the book RISE and am impressed with the mom going after her dream. Maybe it would make a good audiobook…if available.

  22. Literary Feline permalink
    November 3, 2019 8:41 pm

    Megan’s experience seems to be common for those in a similar position who have held similar hate-filled beliefs. Patience and calm on the part of those with opposing views seems to get through–which makes sense. We all tend to become more defensive when people come at us with accusations and blame. I am glad she was able to open her mind and leave the cult behind in the end.

    I can’t believe it is November either. These next two months are going to fly by. I hope you have a great week, Kathy.

  23. Sarah Sammis permalink
    November 3, 2019 11:01 pm

    Your puzzle looks fun. I only do them over New Year’s. If I had a dedicated space, I would do them more frequently. My weekly update

  24. November 4, 2019 12:00 am

    I like the sound of both Unfollow and Rise, great picks for Nonfiction November:)

    Wishing you a great reading week

  25. November 7, 2019 3:40 pm

    We had ZERO trick or treaters! Gage went to a friend’s neighborhood. Interesting about the Westboro memoir. Twitter can be good for the world instead of spreading hate and conspiracies from the White House?

  26. November 7, 2019 5:38 pm

    Gosh I hadn’t heard of the Westboro Baptist Church …. it sounds like a hateful bunch … though it seems from the reviews that people are flocking to Megan’s memoir … maybe she’ll change some of the minds still in the church … we can only hope.

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