Skip to content

The Week in Review: 01.10.2020

January 10, 2020
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

I’m a big fan of Ruta Sepetys and her writing because she brings history alive for me.  I was excited to pick up her latest, THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE, and she did not disappoint.

Eighteen year old American Daniel is in Madrid with his parents – his father is from Texas and his mother is from Spain.  Daniel befriends some young Spaniards and, through them and his photography, learns what it’s like to live under Franco’s dictatorship, discovering a horrible secret.

I have to admit I knew little about this period of history in Spain and was shocked by the scandal Daniel uncovered.  I couldn’t believe it was true but have researched it and I was sad to learn it was.  (I won’t reveal the scandal because I don’t want to spoil things for other readers.)  As usual, Sepetys’ writing is top notch – I loved the way she told this story through the eyes of a young American.  There are historical quotes spread throughout the book.  The audio version is narrated by Maite Jáuregui and Richard Ferrone.  Jáuregui did the bulk of the narration while Ferrone reads the historical quotes.  I loved the way the production was presented but was bothered when Jáuregui mispronounced some fairly common words like dynasty, identification, and cemetery – as a matter of fact, it took me a little while to figure out a few of the words.  This YA book is a must read for anyone who loves history and I would still recommend the audio version.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

DEAR JUSTICE LEAGUE by Michael Northrop is a fun graphic novel for middle grade readers.  Members of the Justice League answer letters they receive from fans, showing they’re no more perfect than anyone else.  A young fan who has messed up big time wants to know if Superman is super all of the time.  Another wants to know if Aquaman smells like fish.  Green Lantern is asked if he gets tired of wearing black and green all the time.  You get the idea.  The answers are clever and humorous and also serious when they need to be.  Gustavo Duarte’s full color illustrations are fabulous and will help keep reluctant readers engaged.  I enjoyed this book and chuckled a time or two and think it will hold broad appeal for the middle grade set.  (Review copy provided by DC Comics.)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I’ve heard a lot about Patti Smith‘s writing so I was excited to pick up YEAR OF THE MONKEY.  It’s a memoir of 2016, the year Smith turned 70 – a year she spent wandering along the west coast with a trip to Kentucky thrown in.  I found it to be light on experiences and more focused on her meandering thoughts and musings which I didn’t find particularly profound.  I listened to the audio version which is narrated by Smith and I thought her delivery was monotone and unremarkable.  This book was a miss for me but I do wonder if I would have enjoyed the book more in print because it’s gotten a lot of great reviews.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • I got my second (and final) shingles vaccine this week.  I’m glad to have that behind me and hope it’s as effective as they claim it is.

  • I started the puzzle Vance gave me for my birthday in November.
  • I had a follow-up visit on my eye.  Even though it’s healing well, the doctor has decided to keep me on the steroid eye drops in addition to the anti-viral medication.  I sure hope it works.
  • We walked at least three miles every morning and I averaged just over 16,150 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

January 8, 2020

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 didn’t read much over the holidays and didn’t find any new to me words in what I did read so I had to turn back to my Word-a-Day calendar this week.

1. nychthemeron – “The new diet recommends that followers fast for one nychthemeron to purify themselves before beginning the recommended eating plan.”

A Nychthemeron is a full period of night and a day.

________________________________________________

2. extremophile –  “As a microbiologist, Anna is most interested in studying how extremophiles thrive in conditions that kill most organisms.”

Extremophile is a noun that means an organism that lives under extreme environmental conditions.

________________________________________________

3. scilicet –  “‘All appointments must be approved by the United States of America, scilicet, the Presdient of the United States,’ stated the bill concerning the restructuring of the island’s government.”

Scilicet is mostly used in legal proceedings and instruments and means to wit or namely.

________________________________________________

Favorite Books of 2019

January 6, 2020
tags:

It’s hard to believe it’s already 2020.  It seems like everyone was worrying about “Y2K” just a few years ago.  I managed to read 159 books in 2019 – 95 print, 56 audio, and 8 e-books.  These were books I read last year – not all of them were published in 2019.  It was hard to select just a few favorites but, in the end, I chose those that have stuck with me.  Here they are, with links to my thoughts, in no particular order.

The Week in Review: 01.03.2020

January 3, 2020
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

Chanel Miller is the young woman who was sexually assaulted by Stanford swimmer Brock Turner in 2015.  She has reclaimed her life and her identity by writing her memoir, KNOW MY NAME.  She gives her background and explains how she ended up at the party where she was sexually assaulted.  She shares that the assault she experienced in the court system was even worse than the assault she suffered at the hands of Turner.  At the trial, people were brought in be character witnesses for Brock while his lawyer did everything he could to destroy Miller’s reputation.  Her witness impact statement was shared in places like Buzzfeed and the floor of Congress.

I found this well-written book to be disturbing, thought provoking, and emotional.  I commend Miller for having the bravery to write it.  I listened to the audio version which is narrated by the author.  At first, I thought her delivery was somewhat monotone but I adjusted to it and came to appreciate it.  I think this relevant book is an important read for everyone who’s interested in social justice and/or equality for women.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

MEG & JO by Virginia Kantra was inspired by one of my favorite books, LITTLE WOMEN, with the focus on the two oldest March sisters.

Meg has remained in their small hometown of Bunyan, NC.  She’s married, has twins, and is the backbone of the family.  She wants more than motherhood, though, and finds it when her mother falls ill and needs help with the family business.

Jo has moved to New York to pursue her journalistic dream.  Things aren’t working out like they’re supposed to, though, and she finds herself working in a restaurant.  She blogs about food and falls for the restaurant’s owner.  She returns home for the holidays and starts to rethink her dream.

Beth and Amy are minor characters but are featured in this family story.  I enjoyed this modern day imagining of the March sisters’ lives because the characters felt real to me, with their hopes, dreams, and flaws.  The point of view alternates between Meg and Jo and I enjoyed them equally.  I listened to the audio version which is narrated by Shannon McManus and Karissa Vacker.  They both did a great job and it was easy to tell the characters apart.  You don’t need to be familiar with LITTLE WOMEN to enjoy this book.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

WITH ALL MY HEART by Stephanie Stansbie is a sweet picture book about a parent’s love for their child.  It features bears and the parent starts out by saying,

I saw your sweet smile

and I knew from the start,

I’d love you forever

with all of my heart.

and continues to let the child know that they’ll love them forever even when they’re apart.  Richard Smythe‘s illustrations are expressive and soothing.  There are shapes cut out of pages throughout the book which is always fun for the picture book crowd.  This book will reassure a child that they’re loved and they’re sure to ask for it over and over again.  It would make a terrific gift for new parents.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

I watched parts of several bowl games but didn’t manage to watch a complete game.

Off the blog

  • Carl and I had dinner with a cousin of mine who we haven’t seen in over 40 years.  It felt good to reconnect and we hope to do it again in a month or two.

  • I finished my puzzle.  This one took a while because of the holidays.
  • We rang in the new year with friends at a fun bonfire.
  • We walked at least three miles every morning and I averaged almost 17,250 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

January 1, 2020

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 found two words in WINNERS TAKE ALL by Anand Giridharadas.

1. exoticizing – “In an ideal version of these endeavors, the winner could enjoy an enticing combination of making money, doing good, feeling virtuous, working on hard and stimulating problems, feeling her impact, reducing suffering, spreading justice, exoticizing a résumé, traveling the world, and gaining a catchy cocktail-party spiel.”

I felt rather silly for looking this up after I saw the meaning.  Exoticize is a verb that means to portray (someone or something unfamiliar) as exotic or unusual; romanticize or glamorize.

_________________________________________

2. antipode – “They made ‘associations’ — a phrase he helped make famous — ‘to hold fêtes, found seminaries, build inns, construct churches, distribute books, dispatch missionaries to the antipodes.'”

Antipode is a noun that means the direct opposite of something.

_________________________________________

What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

December 30, 2019

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.  I found some great looking books in my mailbox this week!

Monday

Tuesday

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 12.27.2019

December 27, 2019
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

When I saw Sarah of Sarah’s Bookshelves rave about THE ONLY PLANE IN THE SKY: AN ORAL HISTORY OF 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff I made a mental note but thought I probably didn’t want to read a book about 9/11.  Then I saw Deb of Readerbuzz sing its praises and thought maybe I should read it so I put it on hold at the library.  And it came in right away.  I brought it home and let it sit on my desk for a while.  With the due date looming, I decided it was now or never and started to read it and couldn’t put it down.  This book gives a very detailed description of 9/11 told from the points of view of multiple people like Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condaleeza Wright, firefighters who were on the scene, people in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and relatives of victims.  The perspective switches often but it’s all in chronological order.  It sounds a little odd but it works very well.  I found this book engrossing, disturbing, emotional, and powerful.  I cried several times as I read this book and have talked about it a lot since.  Do yourself a favor and read this book!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Pencil loved to draw all by himself.  He wasn’t pleased when he met Eraser because Eraser loved to erase.  Eraser showed Pencil how he could make art by erasing things which really made Pencil unhappy because he “didn’t think his ART needed erasing to be great.”  Pencil challenged Eraser to make art out of a few scribbles and was amazed at what he created.  He realized he makes mistakes and his new friend Eraser could help fix them.  The two discovered they’re a great pair and have been sticking together ever since.

WHEN PENCIL MET ERASER by Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos, Jr. is perfect for kids starting school.  Germán Blanco’s illustrations are adorable and, except for Pencil and Eraser (and a few new friends they meet at the end of the story), are all in black and white.  I love that it shows how cooperation often leads to better things.  Young readers will also see the importance of not focusing on first impressions.  I have a feeling there’s a sequel in the works and I’m looking forward to it!  (Review copy provided by Imprint.)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ANTHEM by Deborah Wiles is the third book in The Sixties Trilogy and I just might have squealed a little bit when I got a copy at SIBA this year.  In this book, Molly and her cousin Norman have been sent across the country (from Charleston, SC to San Francisco) to get Molly’s brother, Barry, who left home after a fight with his father.  A draft notice has come for Barry and his mother wants him to deal with it.  Molly and Norman take off in the old school bus Norman has bought to use for his band (when he gets one, that is) and they really learn about America because they see all kinds of things and meet all kinds of people along the way.

This is another wonderful book in a fabulous series and a terrific way for it to end.  The series is a great way for middle grade readers to learn the history of the 60s.  The books are set in chronological order but each book stands on its own.  There are lots of photographs, news articles, and quotes from the time period that really help bring it to life.  Each chapter’s title is the name of a song that was popular in 1969 and I found myself listening to them more than once.  Pick this (and COUNTDOWN and REVOLUTION) up if you lived through the 60s or want to learn about them.  (Review copy provided by Scholastic.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

We watched a couple Christmas movies on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Off the blog

  • Things have been really busy so we were happy for a quiet, calm Christmas.  There was no exercise or work (except for meal prep) and we just enjoyed being with each other.  There were two books under our tree  – GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY, HOLLYWOOD, & THE PRISON OF BELIEF by Lawrence Wright for me and DIFFERENT SEASONS by Stephen King for Vance.
  • We didn’t get to walk on Monday because of rain and took Christmas Day off but walked at least three miles every other morning.  I averaged almost 14,900 Fitbit steps a day.

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