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The Week in Review: 05.08.2020

May 8, 2020
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

I needed something light to read so I picked up MISS JULIA LAYS DOWN THE LAW by Ann B. Ross.  It’s the seventh book in the Miss Julia series.  For those not familiar with Miss Julia, she’s a very proper, wealthy, Southern widow who, after his death, discovered her late husband had a child out of wedlock.  She befriends his former mistress and they, along with a varied cast of characters, form a family of sorts.

In this book, Connie Clayborn has moved to Abbotsville and proceeds to tell the women of the small town everything that’s wrong with their community and her plans to make it right.  This doesn’t sit well with most of them, most especially Miss Julia.  At the request of her preacher, Miss Julia makes an appointment to speak to Connie and is shocked to find her dead.  In true Miss Julia form, she investigates the death on her own.

I didn’t think this was the strongest book in the Miss Julia series but it was still fun.  I’m always charmed by Abbotsville and its citizens, especially Miss Julia.  She reminds me of so many strong Southern women I’ve known and never fails to make me chuckle.

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When Michael and Hilary Gustafson opened Literati Bookstore in, 2013, Michael set out a typewriter for anyone to use and was surprised by the thoughts customers left behind.  He shares some of the most interesting in NOTES FROM A PUBLIC TYPEWRITER edited by Michael Gustafson and Oliver Uberti.  Gustafson was amazed at what those typewriters (he had to replace them from time to time) came to mean and the notes people left.  Some were witty, some were profound, and others were deeply personal.

Why does this thing have a hashtag symbol? They didn’t have Twitter.  #weird

I am 7 months sober today.  I’m finally learning how to forgive.  Not only those who hurt me, but myself.

Someone left a typewriter in our store and people had a lot of fun with it.  I was shocked at how many kids had never seen one before.  They thought I was a genius when I showed them how to backspace or make an exclamation point.  This book made me think about that typewriter and I found it a delight to read.  It moved me to laughter and tears.  Be sure to pick it up – it would make a great gift for yourself or someone else.  (Deb of Readerbuzz sent this book to me.)

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I’m a big fan of Chris Bohjalian‘s books so I picked up THE RED LOTUS without knowing anything about it.  It’s the story of emergency room physician Alexis.  She travels to Vietnam with her boyfriend Austin for a biking vacation.  He takes off on his own to visit the places his father and uncle served during the Vietnam War.  Alexis becomes upset when he doesn’t return and sets out to find him.  What she finds doesn’t make sense and she becomes determined to discover just what happened.

I don’t want to say too much but this was a very timely book and I really enjoyed it.  Rats are featured quite a bit and there are a few gut-churning moments but they didn’t keep me from reading as quickly as I could.  I thought both the characters and the story were well done.  Rebecca Lowman reads the audio and does an outstanding job.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Nothing.

Off the blog

  • My latest puzzle is taking me to New York.  I was able to order it from a local gift shop that’s providing curbside pickup.
  • 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

May 6, 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 this word in a review of LIGHT CHANGES EVERYTHING by Nancy E. Turner on Rhapsody in Books.

1. aleatory – “Like the author Paulette Jiles, Turner depicts the aleatory nature of existence in the wild areas of the Southwest in the period after the Civil War but before statehood restored some sense of law and order.”

Aleatory means relating to luck and especially to bad luck.

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Mailbox Monday

May 4, 2020

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.   Here’s a peek into my mailbox:

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

 

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 05.01.2020

May 1, 2020
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

STEPPING STONES by Lucy Knisley is a graphic novel for the middle grade set inspired by Knisley’s own childhood.  In the book, Jen’s parents are divorced and her mother has moved from the city to a farm.  Jen is expected to do chores and help at the farmer’s market.  Her mother’s boyfriend is overbearing and annoying and his daughters (who come up for the weekend) are just as bad.  Jen hates the country and longs for the city.  The girls make their peace, though, and learn to become “part-time sisters.”

I love Knisley’s work – she does a fabulous job of telling a story and showing emotion with a few words and her wonderful illustrations – and this book was no exception.  In her note to her readers she includes photos from her childhood and says:

One of the worst things about being a kid is finding yourself in these situations where you have no control over the decisions the adults are making that affect you.  But sometimes it’s also one of the best things — to find yourself in a situation you couldn’t possibly have chosen for yourself, totally at sea.  It can sometimes bring unexpected beauty, and introduce strangers that become family.

I think it’s a sentiment many kids can relate to and hopefully this gem of a book will help them see the silver lining in their clouds.  (Review copy provided by RH Graphic.)

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I’ve always been curious about the events surrounding her death so I picked up NATALIE WOOD: THE COMPLETE BIOGRAPHY by Suzanne Finstad.  It recounts Wood’s life from birth to her tragic death in a well researched, detailed manner.  Born Natasha Zakharenko to Russian immigrant parents, Wood’s mother was the ultimate stage mother – she would do anything to make Wood a star.  Intelligent and eager to please, the pliable Wood did as she was asked and her career soared.  Her personal life was another matter, though.

Wood married Robert Wagner and divorced him several years later when she caught him in a compromising position.  She couldn’t get him out of her system, though, and remarried him in 1972, leading to her death, made all the more tragic because of her deep fear of “dark water.”  Her drowning and the bungling of its investigation has made the headlines several times throughout the years.  Finstad has researched it extensively and believes she knows what happened and shares her thoughts in this book.  I found it plausible and think she is likely correct.

I found this book to be well written, compelling and sad.  I listened to the audio version and thought Rose McGowan did a good job with the narration.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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Jack Harris’s wife was killed in a mass shooting leaving him to raise his daughter alone.  Several years later, when the father of the shooter is murdered, Jack is the prime suspect.  When he’s arrested, Jack’s daughter contacts Olivia, his ex-fiancé, to defend him.  Olivia didn’t treat Jack that well so she feels like this could be her chance to redeem herself.

THE EX by Alafair Burke was just the book I needed to distract me from the news.  I thought the plot was well done and the characters were better developed than usual in this type of book.  There were several twists along the way and I only figured out the big one right before it was revealed.  This was my first book by Burke and I’m wondering why I waited so long.  I’ll definitely be reading more of her work in the future.  (Review copy provided by Harper Collins.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

At Ti‘s recommendation, we’ve started watching The Stranger.  In it, a stranger comes to town and turns lives upside down by revealing secrets to families and friends.  We’re not sure yet how all the stories tie together and are curious enough to keep watching to find out.

Off the blog

  • On Sunday, a tornado touched down very close to Vance’s house.  Luckily, no one was injured and his property didn’t sustain any damage.

  • I finished my puzzle and will start a new one soon.
  • We walked at least three miles every morning and I averaged just over 16,250 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

April 29, 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!

No new words in my reading so these are from my Word-a-Day calendar.

1. poikilotherm – “The researcher studied the habits of frogs and other poikilotherms on both sunny and rainy days.”

I’m sure I’ll never have a reason to use this noun.  Poikilotherm means an organism with a variable body temperature that tends to fluctuate with and is similar to or slightly higher than the temperature of its environment.

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2. debouch – “We pulled our kayaks out of the river several miles before the point where it debouches into the ocean.”

Debouch is a verb that, in this case, means to march out into open ground: emerge, issue.

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Mailbox Monday

April 27, 2020

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.   Here’s a peek into my mailbox:

Tuesday

Friday

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 04.24.2020

April 24, 2020
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

When Iris and Ivy’s parents divorce the twins are separated – Ivy lives with their dad while Iris stays with their mom.  They see each on the occasional weekend and holiday and for a few weeks in the summer.  When their mother dies, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their dad.  Ivy thinks Iris is trying to take over her life and turning her friends against her but no one else sees it.  Is she right or is she paranoid?

I listened to THE TWIN by Natasha Preston and liked it a lot.  Things are different for Ivy when her twin sister comes to live with her and her dad but readers aren’t quite sure if Iris is after her or if Ivy is jealous or paranoid.  Since it’s aimed at the YA audience the book isn’t graphic.  I liked the way Preston kicked up the tension and was shocked by the big twist at the end.  Emma Galvin does a great job with the audio.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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ONE FOX: A COUNTING BOOK THRILLER by Kate Read is a unique counting picture book.  It counts from one to ten starting with one very hungry fox.  The tension ramps up when it discovers three hens but the author is sure to note

No hens or foxes were harmed in the making of this book.

The illustrations in this book are gorgeous – even the endpapers are beautiful.  I love this picture book and think little ones will delight in the story and the surprise ending and will enjoy the pictures as well.  (Review copy provided by Peachtree Publishers.)

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I’m a big fan of memoirs and I’d heard good things about WILD GAME: MY MOTHER, HER LOVER, AND ME by Adrienne Brodeur so I was excited to pick it up.  When Brodeur was a young teen, her mother decided to take her into her confidence about an extra-marital affair she was having.  Not only did her mother tell her some deeply personal things, she enlisted her to help cover up the affair.  Brodeur didn’t realize the oddity of her situation until she was older and making some poor relationship decisions of her own.

I liked this book quite a bit but didn’t love it the way others have.  The writing was great and the story was unsettling but there just wasn’t enough meat to the story, if that makes sense.  Of course, the timing of my reading the book could have impacted my enjoyment as well – it can be hard to focus right now!  If you like memoirs and/or family stories, give this one a try.  (Review copy provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Nothing.

Off the blog

  • The highlight of our week was when our Instacart shopper scored toilet paper for us at Costco.
  • I played games with some friends virtually this week, using a chat app.  It wasn’t perfect but it was fun and it sure was good to laugh with everyone again!
  • I walked at least three miles every morning and averaged just under 16,850 Fitbit steps a day.

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