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The Week in Review: 09.06.2019

September 6, 2019
tags: ,

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

Everyone in my family loves to grocery shop, except me – somehow I missed that gene – so I thought GROCERY; THE BUYING AND SELLING OF FOOD IN AMERICA by Michael Ruhlman might help me understand why.  Ruhlman is a well known food writer and he says right up front that he doesn’t hide his opinion.  The book started out strong for me – I enjoyed the interesting facts Ruhlman shared and shared them with others – but I thought it lost steam about half way through for a couple of reasons.  For one, he concentrated on Heinen’s, a small Ohio chain, and, as far as I know, there are no stores similar to them in our area.  (Reading about Heinen’s made me wish for a store like it nearby, though.)  He also wrote a lot about nutrition; so much so it started to feel like a lecture to me.  I did appreciate his passion for food and grocery stores and will pass GROCERY on to my mother because I think she will enjoy it immensely.  (Review copy provided by Abrams.)

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THE NICKEL BOYS by Colson Whitehead is the story of two young men – Elwood and Turner – sentenced to time in Nickel Academy, a reform school that claims to rehabilitate their charges and make them into honorable men.  The young men are from very different backgrounds and have different outlooks on life.  Elwood was raised by a grandmother who believed in him and he had plans to go to college; Turner thinks the world is dishonest and out to get him and does his best to avoid trouble.  Together, they do whatever it takes to survive the horrors of the ghastly school they find themselves in.

Nickel Academy is based on a real place in the panhandle of Florida that was open for over a hundred years and ruined the lives of thousands of young men.  THE NICKEL BOYS is an important book that is difficult to stomach yet hard to put down.  I fell in love with Elwood and needed to know how he would fare the brutal place he found himself.  I listened to the audio version which is narrated by JD Jackson who has a marvelous voice but I found his delivery somewhat monotonous.  Older teens on up need to read this book!  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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MY LIFE AS AN ICE CREAM SANDWICH by Ibi Zoboi is the story of young Ebony-Grace Norfleet.  Ebony-Grace has been sent from her Huntsville, Alabama home to live with her father in Harlem while her mother deals with some issues Ebony-Grace’s grandfather is having.  He’s an engineer at NASA and has always encouraged Ebony-Grace’s love of science fiction and fantasy.  The two of them created their own imaginary world and Ebony-Grace escapes to it to cope with the changes in her life.

I loved Ebony-Grace and her big imagination.  Her world has been turned upside down and she’s not really sure what’s going on and uses her fantasy world to cope.  I think a lot of middle grade readers will relate to her and the situation she’s in and will understand her need to escape.  I enjoyed Ebony-Grace’s story in the real world but have to admit I got tired of her fantasy world after a while – that’s proably just me, though, since I’m not a fan of science fiction.  In the end, I liked the book but didn’t love it.  The author narrates the audio version and does a great job with it.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

College football!  My three favorite teams – Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and whoever plays Virginia – played this weekend and, sadly, they all lost.  I think it’s going to be a loooong season for Hokies.

 

I went to see The Art of Racing in the Rain with a friend and I think we started crying almost from the beginning of the movie – it was a good cry, though.  For those who don’t know, The Art of Racing in the Rain is the story of a family, told from the point of view of their dog, Enzo, as his life is coming to an end.  It’s been over ten years since I read the book but I felt the movie was faithful to its spirit.  There were some minor changes but they didn’t bother me.  I just loved this movie – I thought the casting, the acting, and the story were all wonderful.  You don’t want to miss it, but be sure to have tissues handy.

Off the blog

  • I started a new puzzle – it’s hard to tell from the picture but it’s of an angel holding a dove.
  • We walked at least three miles every morning and I averaged almost 16,500 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

September 4, 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 week’s word is from 1,001 FACTS ABOUT ANCIENT EGYPT by Nancy Honovich.

1. natron – “To purify himself for the gods, a priest shaved his head and body and chewed balls of salt called natron to clean his mouth.”

I looked this up to see what makes natron different from ordinary salt and discovered natron is a naturally occurring mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, and sodium sulfate.  You can read more about it here.  

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

September 2, 2019

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.  I hope everyone in the US is has a safe, relaxing Labor Day.  Last week was famine and this week was feast – my mailbox exploded.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 08.30.2019

August 30, 2019
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

I’m a huge fan of Joshilyn Jackson and was excited to pick up her latest novel, NEVER HAVE I EVER.  It’s the story of Amy, who’s made a nice life for herself with her professor husband, teenaged stepdaughter, and baby son.  Her best friend, Charlotte, lives across the street and the two spend a lot of time together.  When Roux appears in Amy’s life, she threatens to reveal a secret from Amy’s past if Amy doesn’t turn over the money in her trust to her.  Amy is torn – should she pay Roux or allow her to share her secret and see what happens?

This was quite a departure for Jackson and her usual southern fiction and, boy, was it good!  I loved everything about it – the story, the characters, and the suspense.  I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and stayed up way too late to finish this book.  I think it would make a fabulous movie and would love to see it on the big screen.  If you enjoy suspense, you don’t want to miss this book – I have a feeling it will be on my list of favorites for the year.  (Review copy provided by Harper Collins.)

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I’m not a particularly big fan of Ben Folds but I do enjoy memoirs so I decided to listen to A DREAM ABOUT LIGHTNING BUGS: A LIFE OF MUSIC AND CHEAP LESSONS.  It’s the story of Folds from childhood to the present day – in fact the title comes from a dream he had as a child.  Folds doesn’t always come out looking great so I felt he was open and honest.  His quirky sense of humor shines throughout the book.  Folds narrates the audio book and does a great job – the production is a lot of fun with some sound effects and musical riffs throughout.  I enjoyed this book and recommend it to fans of Ben Folds and Ben Folds Five and those who enjoy memoirs.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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1,000 FACTS ABOUT ANCIENT EGYPT by Nancy Honovich might be published by National Geographic Kids for middle grade readers but I just loved it.  The thousand facts are presented in such a fun way.  They’re divided into chapters like Daily Life, Female Rulers, Food, and Crime and Punishment and each chapter takes up a two-page spread.  There are full color photos and illustrations spread throughout and a glossary, a map of a royal tomb, a timeline, and an index are included in the back of the book.  The book is printed on heavy duty, glossy paper and is nicely bound so it will endure lots of handling.

I’ve always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt and learned so much as I read this book, like

Scientists have found no cavities in Tutankhamun’s teeth.

There was no formal marriage ceremony.  The bride simply moved into her husband’s home with her possessions.

Headaches were treated by rubbing the head with a fried catfish.

I think young readers will enjoy this book as much as I did and will flip through it over and over again.  It’s a great resource that belongs in all school and classroom libraries.    (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

I watched the Clemson – Georgia Tech football game.  It was hard to know who to root for.  Clemson is our “local” college team but our nephew is a graduate of Georgia Tech.  The game ended up the way I thought it would and, frankly, I thought it was kind of boring.

Off the blog

  • We had a few days of cooler temperatures and even went to a bonfire Saturday night!
  • I registered for SIBA in September!

  • It took me a while but I finally finished my puzzle.  There was an extra piece that I suspect might be from an earlier puzzle.
  • I walked at least three miles every morning (and got caught in a downpour Tuesday) and averaged almost 17,500 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

August 28, 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 new-to-me word is from GROCERY by Michael Ruhlman.

1. salumi – “He appreciates great wines and cheeses and salumi.”

I suspected this might be a typo but decided to look it up and discovered salumi are Italian cold cuts usually made from pork.  Salami is a specific type of salumi. 

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

August 26, 2019

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.  This was a slow week for me but that’s perfectly fine – it allowed me to make the tiniest dent in my TBR pile.

Friday

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 08.23.2019

August 23, 2019
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

WE WALKED THE SKY by Lisa Fiedler intertwines the stories of Victoria and her granddaughter Callie.  Fleeing an unhappy home life, Victoria joined up with the circus for what she thought would be a short stint.  She was willing to do anything and ended up becoming a tightrope walker.  Callie grows up with the circus, learning from her grandmother, and becomes quite talented on the tightrope herself.  Then, Victoria passes away and Callie and her mother leave the circus.  At sixteen years old Callie finds herself learning to navigate a new world with the help of some things from her grandmother.

I really enjoyed this book and its unique setting.  The point of view shifts between Victoria and Callie and I thought both of their stories were compelling.  Both were trying to make new lives for themselves in settings that were unique to them.  Callie might have had an unusual life but she’s still a typical teenager – she isn’t happy with her mother and longs to be accepted.  She was extremely close to her grandmother and is dealing with grief as well as a lot of changes in her life.  This would be a fun book for book clubs – there’s a lot to discuss and it would be easy to come up with refreshment ideas.  I listened to the audio version of the book, which is narrated by Erin Spencer.  I thought she did a good job but think the book would have been better served with two narrators – it wasn’t always easy to tell whose story I was listening to.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA by J. Ryan Stradal is the story of two sisters – Helen and Edith – who become estranged when their father leaves the family farm to Helen.  Helen sells the farm and uses the money to start a successful brewery.  At the same time, Edith’s life is a struggle even when she becomes well known for the pies she bakes at the nursing home she works for.  When her daughter passes away, she takes in her granddaughter Diana and the two of them work hard to make ends meet.  When Diana gets a job with a new brewery, Helen and Edith’s worlds collide in an unexpected way.

If there was ever a book written for me, this was it!  I thought the characters and story were terrific and loved that it included craft beer!  It’s obvious Stradal knows a thing or two about beer because he is spot on when he writes about beer.  One brewery scene had me laughing out loud because it was so true to life.  If you enjoy family drama, great characters, and/or beer, you’ll want to pick this book up.  I listened to the audio version of this book and Judith Ivey’s terrific narration kept me entertained in a horrible traffic jam.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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Once again, National Geographic Kids proves that they know how to make learning fun with BRAIN GAMES: MIGHTY BOOK OF MIND BENDERS by Stephanie Warren Drimmer and Dr. Gareth Moore.  This book starts out with a brief explanation of the brain and includes interesting facts like

There are no pain sensors in your brain, but there are in your skull.

The book then moves on to the senses and includes a Stroop test and a rail track illusion.  To make things even better, it explains why we perceive things the way we do.

Also included is a section on words and language with lots of fun puzzles, another on spatial intelligence that includes puzzles focusing on dimensional themes.  The next chapter is about problem solving and decision making.  It talks about decisions we have to make in our lives each day.  The puzzles in this section are a little tougher but are still fun.

There’s also a chapter on memory that includes memory games and shares information on how we make memories.  It tells us

Most people can hold about seven digits in their head for about 30 seconds.

The final chapter is on mysteries of the brain because we still have lots to learn about the brain, like why we dream and what causes emotions.

The puzzles in this book are fantastic and I love that Drimmer and Moore have included explanations for many of of them.  Answers and an index are included in the back and readers are encouraged to try their hand at creating a puzzle or two of their own.  BRAIN GAMES is printed on high quality paper that is easy to write on.  I loved books like this when I was a kid (and still do) and think this one’s perfect for curious kids ages eight and up.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

I went to see Where’d You Go, Bernadette with a friend since we both loved the book.  (She’s read it twice.)  It’s the story of an architect wife and mother who withdraws from mainstream society and eventually disappears and her family’s search to find her.  It’s been almost seven years since I read the book so I’m not sure how faithful the movie was to the plot but I am sure the movie lacked its charm.  I thought the casting was terrific and enjoyed a lot of the scenery but thought the movie was slow.  This is one you’ll want to wait for in streaming services.

Off the blog

  • Carl and I signed all the paper work for our wills and it took forever.  I’m glad to have that task done.
  • I went back to the car dealer for a lesson on my car.  New cars are complicated!
  • Vance is in Maine so I’ve been working a little extra.
  • I walked at least three miles every morning and averaged almost 16,750 Fitbit steps a day.

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