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The Week in Review: 10.25.2019

October 25, 2019
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

THE SECRETS WE KEPT by Lara Prescott is set during the Cold War and tells the story of two women who are typists for the CIA and and asked to go on a secret mission to smuggle the novel DOCTOR ZHIVAGO into the Soviet Union.  The book has been banned there but published in Italy.   The CIA has printed some copies in Russian for the women to distribute at the World’s Fair.

Of course, the plot is more complicated than I’ve made it sound and I found it fascinating.  It got a lot of buzz at Book Expo and I can see why.  It’s based on a true story and is filled with fascinating characters, a terrific plot, and a peek into an interesting period of history.  It’s told from multiple perspectives, including Boris Pasternak’s lover.  I found the ending to be a little anti-climatic but that didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying this terrific novel. It’s made me want to read DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, or at least see the movie.  I listened to the audio version which is expertly narrated by a full cast including Mozhan Marnò, Carlotta Brentan, and Cynthia Farrell.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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I AM LOVE: A BOOK OF COMPASSION by Susan Verde is a small picture book with a big message.  This sweet book shows how we can use love to help others as well as ourselves.  It teaches ways we can show love to others who are having a hard time, sometimes just by being present.  The beautiful illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds show love and compassion and feature a diverse group of characters.  Verde is a kids’ yoga and mindfulness teacher and includes yoga poses that allow us “to lead with our hearts” and instructions on heart meditation.  This is the perfect book to spark a discussion of emotions, love, and caring with your little ones.  It’s a lesson more and more people seem to need these days.  (Review copy provided by Abrams.)

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Sunny is back, learning the ropes of middle school.  Things are confusing because her best friend, Deb, is into clothes and boys and just wants to be cool.  Sunny doesn’t get it but she tries to play along, making herself feel very uncool.  She’s happiest and feels the most like herself when she plays Dungeons & Dragons with some new friends she’s made.

SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm has a great message about being true to yourself that will resonate with most middle grade readers.  As they enter middle school, Sunny and her best friend are drifting apart.  Sunny doesn’t want to lose her friend but also wants to stay true to herself which is a situation many young people find themselves in.  I loved the 70’s pop references included in the book but have to admit that this was my least favorite of the Sunny graphic novel series.  It’s definitely worth reading but it had too many D & D references (a game the authors loved when they were young) for my taste.  (Review copy provided by Scholastic.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

I watched most of Dancing with the Stars.  I still don’t have a favorite but thought most of the dancing was good.  Sean Spicer is obviously the weakest dancer so I was disappointed he was safe.

Off the blog

  • I finished the puzzle my sister gave me.  It was a fun one!
  • We got a little bit of weather from the remnants of Tropical Storm Nestor – mostly rain.  Even though it made Saturday cold and dreary, we’ve been under drought conditions and were happy for the rain.  I think we experienced every single season before the week ended.
  • I bought my first Christmas gift of the year this week.
  • I walked at least three miles every day and averaged just under 16,500 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

October 23, 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 discovered a new word in one of my Word Genius emails this week.

1. metanoia – “I experienced a profound metanoia and renounced all of my sinful ways.”

Metanoia is a noun that can mean a transformational change in one’s way of life or a change resulting from repentance and spiritual awareness.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

October 21, 2019

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.  I didn’t get a lot of books this week but I’m excited about those I did get.  Here’s a peek into my mailbox:

Tuesday

Friday

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 10.18.2019

October 18, 2019
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

HERE COMES SANTA PAWS by Laurien Berenson is the twenty-fourth in her Melanie Travis Canine Mystery series.  Melanie’s ex-husband’s current wife, Claire, calls Melanie for support after she stumbles upon the body of a client.  Melanie rushes to the scene  and is dismayed when Claire disappears as soon as she can.  When Claire needs help locating something she fears might be at the crime scene, she looks for Melanie’s help once again.  In her usual fashion, Melanie and her Aunt Peg get involved in the investigation.

I’m a fan of this fun cozy mystery series and this addition did not disappoint – I can’t imagine how hard it is to keep a series going this long and am glad Berenson manages to do it so well.  This mystery is solid and it’s not graphic so it can be enjoyed by young teens on up.  Dogs aren’t featured as much as usual but that didn’t bother me.  It’s not necessary to be familiar with this series to enjoy this light mystery set during the holidays but once you read it, you’ll want to read the rest of the series.  I look forward to more stories featuring Melanie and her family.  (Review copy provided by Kensington.)

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Matthew’s not happy when his family moves to California and things don’t get any better when they get there.  How can it be Christmas without snow and with dry, prickly trees?  He thinks it will take a miracle to save Christmas and his sister, Lucy, is determined to find one.  In the end, he learns what Christmas is truly about.

THE WORST CHRISTMAS EVER by Kathleen Long Bostrom is a sweet picture book for the pre-school set.  Things don’t seem to be going well for Matthew in California but he’s not making as much of an effort as he could.  He thinks Christmas is all about the trimmings and isn’t very excited about it.  He does experience a miracle of sorts on Christmas Eve that makes him realize what is important to him.  I love the message of this book and the terrific illustrations by Guy Porfirio and think it’s a great book to start a wonderful discussion about thankfulness with little ones.  (Review copy provided by Flyaway Books.)

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When I saw Deb of Readerbuzz mention SPEAKING AMERICAN: HOW Y’ALL, YOUSE, AND YOU GUYS TALK by Josh Katz, it reminded me I just barely missed getting it at my book club’s Dirty Santa book swap a few years ago.  I still wanted to read it and was happy to see that our local library had a copy.  In 2013, Katz used an online survey to gather data on how different regions of the US speak.  He received over 350,000 responses and used the data he collected to create some fascinating maps.

Not only does he cover different terms used in different parts of the country (pop vs soda vs coke), he address the way we pronounce certain words (like pecan).  He also has some fun pages that teach readers how to pretend like they’re from a particular state.   Since I’ve spent most of my life below the Mason – Dixon line and been teased about my pronounciations and phrases, I found this book fascinating.  I thought it was accurate for the most part but do admit that I did disagree with it a time or two.  Even with that, I enjoyed reading this book and had fun sharing parts of it with friends.

Currently reading:

On the Screen

I haven’t been keeping up with Dancing with the Stars this season but I did watch it Monday night.  I’m not familiar with a lot of the “stars” and don’t have a favorite but, overall, I thought they danced well.  I think Sean Spicer should be the next one voted off.

Off the blog

  • My book club met to discuss THE LAST LIGHT OVER CAROLINA by Mary Alice Monroe.  Everyone enjoyed the book but one person said she thought the ending was too predictable.  We found a lot to discuss, including love versus romance, why people stay with careers that don’t pay the bills, and being conscious of where our food comes from.
  • We finally got some fall weather plus some nights that felt like winter!
  • I walked at least three miles every morning and averaged just under 16,750 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

October 16, 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 get an email from Word Genius every weekday with a vocabulary word and, for the most part, they’re words that I know.   I’ve decided to share a few today, though, just because I think they’re fun.

1. phantasmagoria – “On the ride home, he unfocused his eyes so that the lights outside his window raced past in a brilliant phantasmagoria.”

This is such a fun word to say!  It can mean a dreamlike state in which images both real or imagined blur together or a constantly changing series of scenes or events that shift in color and intensity.

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2. bugaboo – “The recurring computer virus was the bugaboo that plagued the office for weeks.”

Another fun word to say!  A bugaboo is an imaginary object that inspires needless fright or a problem that persists.

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3. milquetoast – “I love Jerry, but he can be a bit of a milquetoast when it comes to standing up for himself.”

A milquetoast is a timid or meek individual.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

October 14, 2019

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.  I didn’t make a dent in my TBR pile this week but I’m excited about all the cozy mysteries I received so I’m not going to complain.

Monday

Wednesday

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 10.11.2019

October 11, 2019
tags: ,

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

When I saw NEW KID by Jerry Craft reviewed on Helen’s Book Blog, I knew I had to read it and, thankfully, our library had a copy.  Even though he wants to go to art school, Jordan Banks’ parents have decided to send him to Riverdale Academy Day School – a prestigious prep school with very few students of color – and he has to navigate being the new kid in a school where most of the kids have known each other their whole lives and still try to fit in with his friends in the neighborhood.

This full color graphic novel is fabulous.  Not only is it about fitting in – it’s about racism (both subtle and glaring), friendship, and bullying.  I think all kids from middle school on up can benefit from reading this book and most will see themselves in at least one of the characters.  Both the art and the story are wonderful and will appeal to both avid and reluctant readers!

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Sisters Ruth and June have always been competitive and that competition has caused a rift between them.  June is living a glamorous life – married to a doctor and working as a Betty Crocker – while Ruth is struggling to keep her family farm running while her husband suffers from a sleeping sickness that’s sweeping across the country.  Their mother goes to help Ruth and calls June and asks her to visit, reuniting the sisters for the first time in years.

Set during the Depression, THE SISTERS OF SUMMIT AVENUE by Lynn Cullen is a story of family, loyalty, and forgiveness.  I was anxious to read it after hearing Cullen speak at SIBA and, I’m sorry to say, it didn’t live up to the lofty expectations I’d set for it.  I thought the writing was great, loved the time period, and appreciated the historical detail but wanted a little more from the plot, the pacing, and the characters.  The story is told from three points of view and the transitions weren’t very smooth.  I enjoyed the book but can’t say that I loved it.  (Review copy provided by Gallery Books.)

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I REMEMBER NOTHING: AND OTHER REFLECTIONS is a series of essays by Nora Ephron.  She studied journalism and recalls her first job in the mailroom of Newsweek because women couldn’t write for the magazine at the time.  She eventually became a researcher, though, filling in details for reporters.  She also writes of what she calls the “Six Stages of E-mail,” from initial excitement of getting email until the forwarded spam starts rolling in.  Also included is the story of a restaurant naming a dish after her and her disappointment when it’s later removed from the menu.  I obviously enjoyed some of the essays more than others and found this collection to be pretty uneven.  I listened to the audio version which was narrated by the author – she did a terrific job and made the book an enjoyable experience.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

When I went to see Judy, starring Renée Zellweger, the audience was completely female and of a more mature age and, even though, Zellweger’s performance is outstanding, I think that’s what it will take to appreciate the movie.  This biopic film tells Judy Garland’s story by alternating between her time on the set of the Wizard of Oz and her final days performing in London without much explanation.  If you’re not familiar with Garland’s life story, I think it would be confusing.  The middle of the movie really dragged for me.  Zellweger will surely win some awards but the movie will not.  This is a movie you can wait to see streaming.

Off the blog

  • A dear friend of ours passed away last week and we attended the memorial service Sunday.

  • We went on a little day trip to shop and met a couple of my childhood friends for lunch.  It was so good to catch up with them.  (The picture was taken with a wide angle lens and makes the guys look bigger than they are.)
  • We walked at least three miles every day, except the day we went on our day trip (see above) and I averaged almost 14,500 Fitbit steps a day.

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