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The Week in Review: 03.08.2019

March 8, 2019
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

When I saw THE PROPOSAL by Jasmine Guillory is a Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine Book Club pick I decided to give it a try.  It’s the story of Nikole Patterson.  When her short term boyfriend, Fisher, proposes to her in front of thousands of people at Dodger Stadium she’s shocked and horrified.  She doesn’t want to marry Fisher; as a matter of fact, she figured it was time for them to go their separate ways.  When she turns him down, Carlos and his sister notice cameras zooming in on her so they rush to rescue her.  She leaves with them and sparks fly but neither Nik or Carlos are interested in a relationship so they decide to just have fun.

I thought THE PROPOSAL was fun but very predictable.  I liked Nik’s relationship with her girlfriends and Carlos’ relationship with his family and thought the diverse characters were great but some of the dialogue felt awkward and some of the language seemed unnecessary.  In the end, I liked the book but didn’t love it.  The audio book is narrated by Janina Edwards and I thought she did a good job.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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TO NIGHT OWL FROM DOGFISH by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer is a fabulous, relevant, epistolary story for middle grade readers.  Bett and Avery live on opposite coasts and couldn’t be more different except that they’re both being raised by single, gay dads.  Bett discovers the two dads met on a business trip and are dating seriously.  They’ve planned a big trip and are sending the girls to the same camp so they can get to know each other.  The girls are not happy about the situation and decide not to speak to each other at camp.  Things don’t go as planned, though – for the girls or their fathers.

The story is told through emails, letters, text messages, and voicemail and I thought it was so much fun.  Bett is carefree, outdoorsy, and daring while Avery is cautious, bookish, and serious and I thought they were both fabulous characters.  I’m sure young readers will relate to one (or even both) of them.  There a are a few twists and turns so I didn’t see the ending coming but I loved it – it was the perfect way to end this book!  Middle grade readers on up will love this book the way I did.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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WINGSPAN by Chris Bohjalian is a one act play centered around a flight attendant who’s afraid to fly.  Emily is on her first trans-Atlantic flight and veteran flight attendant Karen engages her in conversation to try to ease her fears.  Karen learns that Emily’s fear of flying is the least of her worries.

This short play has been released as an audio book featuring the actresses who played the roles in the play off Broadway with Bohjalian himself reading the stage directions.  They all did a pretty good job and kept me engaged the whole time.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • I got Vance’s taxes down this week.  Two down, one to go!

  • I finished the puzzle my sister gave me for Christmas.
  • We had a few days of sunshine this week which made me happy because we’ve had lots of rain this winter.
  • We walked at least three miles every morning and I averaged just over 17,000 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

March 6, 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 found several new to me words in SMALL FRY by Lisa Brennan-Jobs:

1. baize – “The grass at the resort was mown short as baize and dotted with shade from palm trees with long, thing trunks, like strings.”

Baize is a coarse, typically green woolen material resembling felt, used for covering billiard and card tables.  I always called that material felt.  

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2. abstemious – “The purity and abstemiousness of our diet, the sparse furnishings of the house exposing the beauty of its bones, beams like ribs; the entrance unlocked, so that anyone could wander in: a holy quiet.”

This is one of those words I felt I should be able to define but couldn’t.  Abstemious means not self-indulgent, especially when eating and drinking.

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3. gamboge – “I picked at the splotches on the board she used as a palette — indigo, carmine, white, gamboge, which seemed to be a dull, pasty brown but when mixed with water became electric yellow, the color of a mosquito whine.”

Gamboge is is a partially transparent deep saffron to mustard yellow pigment. It is used to dye Buddhist monks’ robes.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

March 4, 2019

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

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Friday

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 03.01.2019

March 1, 2019
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

COME WITH ME by Helen Schulman is rather hard to describe.  It’s the story of Amy and Dan and their three kids – their family is struggling to keep things together.  Amy works for the son of an old old college roommate in his tech start up company.  He’s created a program that simulates all your alternate lives and he’s using Amy as a guinea pig – needless to say, she doesn’t like some of what she sees.  Dan is without a job and decides to head off to Japan with Maryam to work on a documentary.  He’s attracted to Maryam and lies to Amy about where he’s going.  Meanwhile, their son Jack is having a intimate, virtual relationship with his girlfriend who lives far away.  Things come to a head when there’s a crisis at home and Amy can’t get hold of Dan.

I had mixed feelings about this book.  I get that Schulman is making a commentary on technology and the pervasive use of media in our lives but it felt like she tried a little too hard at times.  I had trouble buying the program that could create alternate lives and also felt like Schulman included a few too many social issues.  But the book made me think and that’s always a good thing.  I read this book for book club and look forward to seeing what everyone else has to say about it.  (I won this book from Book Club Cookbook’s Gallery Match program.)

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Since I loved PACHINKO so much, I decided to read Min Jin Lee‘s first book, FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES.  Set in a Korean community in Queens, New York, the story centers around Casey Han.  Casey’s parents immigrated from Korea and run a dry cleaning business.  Casey has recently graduated from Princeton but hasn’t found a job so she’s living with her parents.  When she and her father argue, he kicks her out of the house and Casey finds herself relying on friends, new and old, to survive.

I loved the characters, the setting, and the writing in this, Lee’s debut novel.  I thought Lee did a terrific job of weaving topics like privilege, racism, sexism, and class (among other things) in this multi-generational story.  Lee is oh-so-smart and a fabulous storyteller and I look forward to whatever she writes next.  (I won this book from Grand Central Publishing.)

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I AM BILLIE JEAN KING by Brad Meltzer is the seventeenth book in his Ordinary People Change the World biography series for kids.  Told from the first person point of view, it shares King’s accomplishments both on and off the tennis court.  King fought for equality, especially for women in the sporting world with a lot of success.  I well remember watching her play Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” and being thrilled when she won.  I thought Meltzer did a terrific job highlighting her achievements, even giving some background information when necessary – such as the disparity in winnings for the men’s and women’s tennis circuits and what it means to be gay.  I listened to the audio version of this book so I didn’t see the illustrations but I do love the cover.  I was very impressed by the audio production which is narrated by Robin Miles and various others.  I loved this book so much, I’d like to go back and read some of Meltzer’s other biographies for kids.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Carl and I grew up with the music of Queen so decided to watch Bohemian Rhapsody Sunday night.  I’m sure everyone knows it’s the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen.  The movie begins as the band is formed and ends with their performance at Live Aid.  I’ve heard mixed things about the movie and, to be honest, I can see why.  I enjoyed the music of the movie but thought the acting and the way the story was told were rather flat.  There were several inaccuracies and some of them bothered me.  Maybe this is one of those movies best seen on the big screen.  Frankly, I’m surprised it was nominated for Best Picture.  We’re in the minority, but neither one of us loved this movie but I liked it more than Carl did.

We watched the first episode of Trigger Warning with Killer Mike.  Killer Mike is one half of the hip-hop duo Run the Jewels and is an activist in the Atlanta community.  The first episode of his show focuses on black owned businesses.  When Killer Mike learns that one dollar stays in the Asian community 28 days, the Jewish community 21 days, the white community 23 days, and the black community 6 HOURS, he decides to only support black owned businesses for 3 days and it’s harder to do than he thinks.  This made us think about black owned businesses in our community and, I’m sad to say, we could only think of one.  I thought this show was thought provoking and well worth watching but if nudity or language offend you, you might want to skip it.

Off the blog

  • I got our taxes done over the weekend and am glad to have that task behind me.

  • I hosted this month’s book club meeting.  We discussed COME WITH ME by Helen Schulman.  There were mixed reactions to the book but we had a terrific discussion about social media, technology, family dynamics, and loyalty.  I think it was one of our longer book discussions.

  • I started the puzzle my sister gave me for Christmas.  It’s fun but tough so far.
  • In spite of all the rain, I walked three miles every morning and averaged almost 17,000 Fitbit steps a day.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

February 27, 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 words are from COME WITH ME by Helen Schulman:

1. detritivores – “Intellectual detritivores, news-junkie arthropods, scandal-loving pill bugs, bottom feeders, creepers, slugs.”

A detritivore is an animal which feeds on dead organic material.

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2. cesium – “The cesium.”

It’s been a long time since I took chemistry.  Cesium is a chemical element.

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3. contrapuntal – “In between the mellow bass notes of his own (he’d hoped) soothing phrasing — take it easy, kid, take it easy — Dan could hear the agonizing contrapuntal sounds of his boy Jack frantically fighting for breath.”

Contrapuntal means polyphonic.  Polyphony means a style of musical composition employing two or more simultaneous but relatively independent melodic lines.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

February 25, 2019

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.

Monday:

Tuesday

Thursday

 

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 02.22.2019

February 22, 2019
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

MAX AND THE MIDKNIGHTS by Lincoln Peirce is the story of Max, a young girl who travels with her Uncle Budrick, who’s a traveling minstrel.  It’s customary in Byjovia for children to follow in the footsteps of their parents (or guardians) but Max doesn’t want to be an entertainer; she desperately wants to be a knight.  When her uncle is kidnapped, she has to act fast  in order to save him.

I thought this book was great fun!  I loved that Max was a girl busting stereotypes in a middle grade book.  The plot is a little silly at times but I think the target audience will love the humor.  It made me laugh a few times myself.  The book is a hybrid of narrative and graphic novel but I listened to it and it and thought the full cast of narrators did a terrific job of bringing it to life.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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When I picked up THE TRUTHS WE HOLD: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY by Kamala Harris, I thought it was the story of her life as the child of immigrants and it was, at least at the beginning.  Both of Harris’s parents immigrated to the US to attend college – her mother from India, her father from Jamaica – and met when they became involved in the Civil Rights Movement.  The marriage didn’t last, though, and Harris and her sister lived with their research scientist mother.  They were encouraged to be involved and fight for what they believed in.  Harris became a lawyer and became involved in politics and is currently a US Senator who’s running for President.

I thought this book was well written and engaging and enjoyed the parts about Harris’s personal life and career but thought it became a little tiresome when she wrote of current events and the current administration – in fact, it started to feel like one long campaign speech at that point.  I wonder how well it will hold up through the years because of that content.  Harris listed her achievements but never shared any of the objections that have been raised about her programs.  I still think the book is worth reading if you’re interested in learning more about her background.  Harris reads the audio version herself and does a terrific job.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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I picked up MARGARET AND THE MOON: HOW MARGARET HAMILTON SAVE THE FIRST LUNAR LANDING by Dean Robbins because it’s illustrated by Lucy Knisley.  I was expecting a graphic novel but got a great picture book about Margaret Hamilton instead.  Hamilton was curious and hard working and questioned why there weren’t more female doctors or scientists.  Margaret loved math and eventually discovered computers and taught herself how to write code.  She was so good at it, she began to work at NASA on the Apollo missions.

I’m embarrassed to say I knew nothing about Hamilton before I read this terrific book.  I love the way it presented Hamilton’s curiosity and tenacity.  The author’s note in the back gives more information on Hamilton and includes a bibliography and a suggested reading list.  Of course, I loved Knisley’s illustrations and the fact that there are photographs of Hamilton on the back endpapers.  Pick this picture book up for the future scientist in your life.

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • Carl joined his brother and sister-in-law at the beach for a few days so I worked a little extra this week.
  • It seemed like all it did was rain all week.  We’re ready for some sunshine.

  • I finished the mystery puzzle I got for Christmas.  It was tough at first but a lot of fun to do.
  • I walked at least three miles every morning, except Thursday when I got caught in a thunderstorm and had to head home early, and averaged almost 17,350 Fitbit steps a day.

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