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The Week in Review: 11.15.2019

November 15, 2019


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.)


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.)


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?

25 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2019 7:33 am

    Congrats to Vance on his new home! I’ve had the same cold for over two weeks and think its starting to leave. I hope so. Have a nice weekend!

  2. Beth F permalink
    November 15, 2019 8:19 am

    All your books sound good this week. I was wondering how well the stories connected in Let It Snow, so I’m glad they seemed to blend well. Yay for Vance!

  3. November 15, 2019 8:42 am

    That’s disappointing to hear that Life Undercover wasn’t so great, I’ve been reading a bit about it lately and couldn’t decide if I wanted to read it or not. But if it’s more about her personal life than her work then it’s not what I wanted. Good to know, thanks for the heads up. I have a review copy of another one, The Unexpected Spy by Tracy Walder, that’s out in February. She was also in the CIA, maybe that one will focus more on the work and might be of interest to you.

  4. November 15, 2019 8:45 am

    Congrats to Vance on his house… such an exciting time! I’m sure you must have had a great discussion about Dopesick. I think my NY book club is going to read it in the spring.

  5. November 15, 2019 10:14 am

    Congrats to Vance! Thankfully, you are feeling better. I swear these colds seems to last longer and longer each year. Sounds like book club had a great discussion on Dopesick 🙂 I bookmarked Let it Snow, so I’m excited to see it now. Hope you have a great weekend!

  6. November 15, 2019 11:19 am

    Congrats on Vance’s new house! Moving into a new place can be so exciting.

    Enjoy your books.

  7. Helen Murdoch permalink
    November 15, 2019 11:29 am

    So glad your cold is finally done and hoping mine follows suit soon. The YA short stories sound fun so I’ll have to pay attention to Netflix and get in the holiday mood.

  8. November 15, 2019 4:34 pm

    I saw it on netflix, but thought eh, but maybe I need to give it a go

  9. November 15, 2019 5:40 pm

    Congratulations to Vance! Moving itself is a pain, but once one gets settled in, it can be so rewarding!

  10. November 15, 2019 6:18 pm

    White Bird sounds like a book I should read. The puzzle is lovely. I’m glad your cold is over. Congrats to your son! I hope he’ll enjoy his new home. Have a relaxing weekend, Kathy!

  11. November 16, 2019 1:51 am

    Its the memoir that caught my eye. Sounds fascinating especially with the Myanmar background too.

  12. November 16, 2019 9:30 am

    I’ve avoided White Bird. I loved Wonder and I didn’t see how anything could live up to it. Now that you have given your thumbs up signal for White Bird, I think I shall look for it.

    My sister-in-law knows my love for all-things-French and she gave me a coffee mug with your puzzle painting. I bet you love to listen to audiobooks and put together puzzles.

    I’m glad your cold is gone.

    Have a wonderful week!

  13. November 16, 2019 2:40 pm

    I enjoyed working on that puzzle, although it was a bit more challenging than I anticipated. We have one going right now that I hope to finish before Thanksgiving. It’s on the dining room table, so I better hurry up!

    I’ve been playing nursemaid to my husband, who just had gall bladder/pancreatitis surgery, and to my mom, who has a terrible cold. I’m hoping we all sleep well tonight!

  14. Literary Feline permalink
    November 16, 2019 7:31 pm

    Life Undercover sounds like an interesting read. I like reading books about women like that as well. It’s too bad it wasn’t better, but at least you liked it, even if you didn’t love it. Let It Snw sounds fun. Congratulations to Vance! I hope he is settling in well in his new home. I am glad you are feeling better. My daughter’s night cough seems to have passed on to me. At least she’s not coughing anymore.

    I hope you have a wonderful week, Kathy!

  15. November 17, 2019 10:46 am

    I always wonder about memoirs from former spies because I would assume much of what they did would be classified and as such they couldn’t share it. Have you ever watched Covert Affairs? it’s a tv series about a female CIA operative, I’m sure it bears no relation to reality, but it’s fun to watch.

    Wishing you a great reading week, stay well!

  16. Diane permalink
    November 17, 2019 1:57 pm

    How great for your son getting a home of his own; congrats to Vance. I haven’t had the best week so my reading has suffered. We bought a couple puzzles but our 2 cats make assembly challenging! LOL

  17. November 17, 2019 8:45 pm

    Thanks for telling me about Let It Snow! I think both my daughter and I would enjoy reading it and watching the movie! I’m thrilled to hear Palacio wrote another book and one on the Holocaust. I’ll have to look for that one as well.

  18. November 17, 2019 9:33 pm

    I read Let It Snow last Christmas. I agree that The Jubilee Express is the strongest story. I loved the humor. Have a great week!

  19. November 17, 2019 10:06 pm

    Congratulations to Vance for the purchase of his new home! I like audiobooks with full casts. The graphic novel of White Bird sounds like a perfect book for MG. Enjoy your reading week!

  20. Sarah Sammis permalink
    November 17, 2019 11:46 pm

    Congrats to Vance on the new home! I haven’t read Wonder and don’t have any immediate plans to. So a follow up book isn’t on my radar. My weekly update

  21. November 18, 2019 11:14 am

    So happy for Vance and that he has a new home to celebrate! Glad you are almost over your cold. I have had a sniffly nose for over a week but no cold. I think residual fire/ash and allergies possibly.

  22. November 19, 2019 5:13 am

    i can understand why the Amaryllis Fox book didn’t hit the mark. I bet most people bought it expecting to learn what it’s like to be a spy and thats the only reason they bought it – not to learn about her

  23. November 20, 2019 7:21 am

    I’m reading Life Undercover too and I feel the same as you do.

  24. November 24, 2019 11:49 pm

    I;m definitely going to look for Let It Snow on Netflix! And YAY for Vance’s new house. How exciting. Did he stay close?

  25. The Cue Card permalink
    November 27, 2019 5:25 pm

    Too bad about the CIA undercover book! I would’ve loved more dirt on being spy etc.

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