Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sunday Salon: September 27, 2020

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz runs The Sunday Salon. 

Books read over the past week:   
 
 
  • The Home Edit: A Guide to Organizing and Realizing your House Goals by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin
  • The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler

Challenge progress 2020

  • Big Summer Book Challenge--5 books total (completed)
  • Literary Escapes Challenge--This week: 2 states and 0 countries. 26 states and 27 countries total
  • Mount TBR Challenge--2 book read this week, 61 books total
  • Popsugar reading challenge--1 books read this week, 34 books total
  • Social Justice Challenge--1 books read this month, 9 books total
  • YA Award Winners--0 books read this week, 8 books total

My life outside books:

So, I read the Home Edit books in the wrong order, silly me. But, I really enjoyed reading the first one (the second one I read) as they walk you through the process of editing your stuff, categorizing your stuff, measuring your spaces, and organizing your stuff. They say to start small, but of course I had already ordered "product" that arrived on Thursday so I launched right in and re-did parts of my bathroom. I hadn't ordered enough and got inspired to do other small spaces around the house (junk drawers, under sinks, etc) so I've ordered more and look forward to a few little projects when it all arrives.

Our county has improving COVID numbers and we've actually entered a new color/phase (California has colored phases that denote how well we're doing). This means our school district is talking about bringing back small cohorts (moderate to severe special education students, newcomers, and housing insecure students) to learn in person. By mid-October we might be back in a hybrid teaching situation (2 days at school and 3 at home with 50% class sizes). I spent a good portion of this past week negotiating the return to school for our members; I hope we've done enough!

Have any of you read The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré? What did you think of it? The summary sounds so good, but I will admit that I am having a bit of trouble getting used to the dialect, but want to push through if you've liked it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Review: Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler

Title: Tourist Attraction

AuthorSarah Morgenthaler

Year Published: 2020

Category: Adult fiction (romance)
Pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map)USA (AK)

FTC Disclosure: I paid for this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): The PHe had a strict "no tourists" policy...until she broke all of his rules.When Graham Barnett named his diner The Tourist Trap, he meant it as a joke. Now he's stuck slinging reindeer dogs to an endless parade of resort visitors who couldn't interest him less. Not even the sweet, enthusiastic tourist in the corner who blushes every time he looks her way...

Two weeks in Alaska isn't just the top item on Zoey Caldwell's bucket list. It's the whole bucket. One look at the mountain town of Moose Springs and she's smitten. But when an act of kindness brings Zoey into Graham's world, she may just find there's more to the grumpy local than meets the eye...and more to love in Moose Springs than just the Alaskan wilderness.

This story of Alaska marries together all the things you didn't realize you needed: a whirlwind vacation, a friendly moose, a grumpy diner owner, a quirky tourist, plenty of restaurant humor, and a happy ending that'll take you away from it all.
 
Review: This book is the perfect antidote to our current world. It's fun, it's entertaining, it's fairly predictable, and it's a romance. Pure escapism and I needed that.

At first I thought this book wasn't going to work for me, I could see where it was going long term and didn't know if I wanted to be on the journey. And all of a sudden I found myself absorbed in the trials and tribulations of Zoey and Graham, so much so that I stayed up well past my usual bedtime to finish the novel. Always a good sign.

Zoey's life is fine. Just fine. But not exciting. I loved her wonder at being in Alaska and could see the scenery as it was described. I am not an outdoorsy person, but this book made me want to get away to Alaska or somewhere similar to be away from life for a bit and sit in wonder of nature.

Did I like the way Graham kept "saving" Zoey? Not really, but it's pretty par for the course in romances so I went with it. Zoey is actually a character who stands up for herself when she needs to so that was a good counter-balance. There is some added classism stuff that comes up in the story, which is handled well as well as gentrification issues.

If you're looking for a light read that will pull you in, I recommend this one.

Challenges for which this counts: 
This counts for the Popsugar challenge because it has a pun in the title (Tourist--Zoey-- Attraction--the place and the relationship)
 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Syria in books and film

As you know, if you have visited this blog at all, I usually post about books and on Sundays a bit about my life. But this post is different. I just watched a documentary about Syria, specifically Aleppo, and I am moved to post about it. My daughter watched this documentary, For Sama, for one of her classes and urged me to watch it. Though it is brutal and raw, it is so well done.

Americans are aware of the civil war in Syria. Oh my gosh, I hope they are aware of it. Anyway, I feel like I've read quite a few books on the subject and seen a couple really good documentaries so it's worth a post to highlight them and the plight of Syrians. I don't know what I or we can do about what is going on there, except to learn as much as we can and support refugees if they live in our town. We can also pressure our government officials to stop selling weapons to the regime and to ensure we don't bomb more than we already have.

Here is what I have read and watched (so far) about Syria, the Syrian civil war, and Syrian refugees. Do you have other recommendations?

Children, Middle Grade, and Young Adult

Adult

TV and documentaries

  • Transplant (currently on NBC, Syrian doctor in America)
  • For Sama (Frontline documentary, 1 hour 20, available on YouTube). Here's the trailer:

  • White Helmets (Netflix, but this link allows you to see it on YouTube, 40 minutes). Here's the trailer:

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sunday Salon: September 20, 2020

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz runs The Sunday Salon. 

Books read over the past week:   
 
 

Challenge progress 2020

  • Big Summer Book Challenge--5 books total (completed)
  • Literary Escapes Challenge--This week: 2 states and 0 countries. 26 states and 27 countries total
  • Mount TBR Challenge--2 book read this week, 61 books total
  • Popsugar reading challenge--0 books read this week, 33 books total
  • Social Justice Challenge--1 books read this month, 9 books total
  • YA Award Winners--0 books read this week, 8 books total

My life outside books:

I am a round 2 Cybils judge for YA fiction and speculative fiction (see my post here)! I am really excited, but admittedly a bit nervous about the speculative fiction books. Maybe I'll discover a new love for the genre? Now I need to think about books that I want to nominate. Nominations open in October.

I am always looking for a TV show or series that will hold my attention while I am on the treadmill in the mornings and am open to suggestions. Currently I am watching the latest season of Call the Midwife, which is fantastic and it's so great to see al these characters again. I forgot how much I talk to the TV/iPad when I watch it. Last week I watched the new Netflix series Get Organized: with The Home Edit. Well, I am hooked.

I now follow them on Instagram and have already ordered a bunch of products from The Container Store (apparently this is a common reaction after watching the show or reading their books). I am an organized person, but I have nothing on these women. They are fun to watch and I love seeing what they do with messy spaces. Good thing there's only one season so far. I even rearranged my To Be Read shelves (yes, there are far too many books, a side effect of pandemic book shopping) and the apps on my phone in rainbow order; they are right... it really is satisfying and pretty!

I am not even sure how to process the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It is sad on so many levels: for her family, all those she has worked with and championed for over the years, and, yes, us a nation. McConnell waited only an hour before gleefully announcing they will push through a new justice. It makes me sick, especially after what they did in 2016 (holding off Obama's nominee for 9 months). I really am fearful of the direction the US is taking.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Nonfiction Review: Tightrope by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Title: Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope

AuthorNicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Year Published: 2020

Category: Adult nonfiction
Pages: 320 (including notes and index)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map)USA (OR, AL, OK, MD)

FTC Disclosure: I paid for this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of the acclaimed, best-selling Half the Sky now issue a plea--deeply personal and told through the lives of real Americans--to address the crisis in working-class America, while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure.

With stark poignancy and political dispassion, Tightrope draws us deep into an "other America." The authors tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the children with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon, an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue-collar jobs disappeared. About one-quarter of the children on Kristof's old school bus died in adulthood from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents. And while these particular stories unfolded in one corner of the country, they are representative of many places the authors write about, ranging from the Dakotas and Oklahoma to New York and Virginia. But here too are stories about resurgence, among them: Annette Dove, who has devoted her life to helping the teenagers of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as they navigate the chaotic reality of growing up poor; Daniel McDowell, of Baltimore, whose tale of opioid addiction and recovery suggests that there are viable ways to solve our nation's drug epidemic. These accounts, illustrated with searing images by Lynsey Addario, the award-winning photographer, provide a picture of working-class families needlessly but profoundly damaged as a result of decades of policy mistakes. With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore.
 
Review: Kristof and WuDunn are so good at taking topics which could be dry and turning them into fascinating stories. They weave into the facts tales of friends and people they've met who symbolize the issues they are talking about.

This is an important book about topics that many Americans would prefer to ignore: childhood programs, education, drug and alcohol addiction (and recovery efforts), joblessness, prison sentencing, and the (mis)treatment of the working class.

Each chapter focuses on an issue, bu the above topics are themes that run through the entire book. I like at the end where the authors have 10 suggestions for what readers can do from donating to volunteering and they say what they feel needs to happen in order to combat these issues. Some examples are high-quality childhood programs; universal high school graduation (most everyone in this book seems to have dropped out by the age of fifteen); universal health coverage and more.

I was impressed with Kristof and WuDunn before when I read Half the Sky, but the fact that they are still so close to the people that Nick grew up with even though they differ politically, educationally, and in all facets of life, speaks volumes on both sides of their relationships.

Challenges for which this counts: