"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Friday, July 22, 2016

Two nonfiction short reviews

We Will Not by Silent: the White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman. When many people are tiring of the never-ending parade of books about WWII, some stories of heroism in the face of terrible consequences bear repeating. The story of Hans and Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Resistance Movement they started in response to the Nazis is such a tale.

Hans and Sophie Scholl were a brother and sister growing up in Germany in the 1930s. Both joined the Hitler Youth organizations but grew disillusioned with it as they saw how it did not allow for independent thought or individualism. But because of their ages they were both tapped for community service in lieu of military service before they could attend university. Hans, three years older than his sister, had already started medical school and made friends with like-minded friends before Sophie was able to join him Munich and fall in with his group. All the students were disillusioned with the Nazis and what was happening to their country. As an act of deviance and courage they put together several tracks which they distributed secretly. The tracks accused the government of needlessly killing people, of crimes against Jews, of the problems with blindly following Hitler. Needless to say the Nazi officials were very upset about the tracks and were on high alert to find their creators. When they caught Sophie and Hans in the act of distributing them, they swiftly meted out punishing by beheading them.

But the White Rose movement did not die with the brother and sister team. Students and others in Germany picked up the cause and continued to pass around the tracks. At one point the tracks made their way to London where they were reproduced and returned to Germany in the form of flyers dropped by the thousands from planes.

Today a memorial at Munich University is found outside the main entrance of the Geschwister-School-Platz-Scholl Siblings Square. A unique memorial in front of the entrance is made of tiles depicting White Rose leaflets that appear to have been dropped on the cobblestones. When asked why he did such a dangerous thing, Hans Scholl wrote, "I'm searching for myself, just myself, because this much I do know: I'll only find the truth inside me."

The book is touching and important. It is considered a junior-level book but I will likley purchase it for my library. It is difficult to find nonfiction books which teenagers will read. This book which is stuffed with old photos and is short on text will likely be attractive to teen researchers.

Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America by Gail Jarrow is the third book in the Deadly Diseases series by the author. With its deadly consequences we all know a bit about the disease often called the Black Death but few know the details of when the disease landed in San Francisco in 1900s and the on-going effects of that "visit".
In March 1900, San Francisco’s health department investigated a strange and horrible death in Chinatown. A man had died of bubonic plague, one of the world’s deadliest diseases. But how could that be possible? Bubonic Panic tells the true story of America’s first plague epidemic—the public health doctors who desperately fought to end it, the political leaders who tried to keep it hidden, and the brave scientists who uncovered the plague’s secrets. Once again, acclaimed author and scientific expert Gail Jarrow brings the history of a medical mystery to life in vivid and exciting detail for young readers. This title includes photographs and drawings, a glossary, a timeline, further resources, an author’s note, and source notes.- Goodreads
The book not only covers the first outbreak in the USA, but covers the whole history of the disease going back to the Justinian Pandemic which began in 542 AD and killed tens of millions before it disappeared for a few hundred years before reemerging again in Europe in the 1300s where 1/4th to 1/2 of the population died from it. Jarrow also explains the efforts that scientists took to discover the cause of the plague, often at their own peril.

Bubonic Panic is also aimed at the middle school student. This book is longer than the first but it also contains lots of photographs and captioned charts. I will certainly purchase this book for my library collection.

Both books came to my attention because of the starred reviews they have received. Since they were both published in 2016 they qualify for Printz consideration. However, I do not think either of the books will be seriously looked at by the real committee. Since the formation of the YALSA Awards for Excellence in Nonfiction for YA it appears the Printz committee's main focus is fiction. I recommend both books but not as Printz-worthy considerations.

Ratings: 4 stars for both books

Source: I checked both books out of the public library

2017 Printz Award Contenders

21 / 35 books. 60% done!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Friday Quotes, July 21

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest, or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. This is the book I'm reading right now---

Book Title: Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley

Book Beginning:
The last person up here never made it down alive, but there was no point thinking about that.
Friday 56:
Will he live or will he die? Either way, the outcome for me was flight or death, but I needed to know, if only so I could come to terms with what I had done.
Comment: I guess you can tell I've got a murder mystery on my hands. So far so good. I am pretty excited because usually YA mysteries aren't so complicated and interesting. This one is breaking that mold.

The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen

Mary Bowser was a slave in Richmond, Virginia prior to the Civil War. Her owner, Mrs. Van Lew, freed all her slaves at the urging of her daughter Elizabeth after her husband's death. Elizabeth made arrangements for Mary to live in Philadelphia, where she went to school and furthered her education. At some point Mary returned to Richmond, as a free black woman and married Wilson Bowser just a day before the start of the Civil War. Working alongside her former owner Wilson and Mary participated in efforts to thwart the Confederacy. At some point Mary was placed in the Jefferson Davis household as a servant where she worked at a spy for the Union. No one in the Davis household suspected that a colored woman could read or think so they were not careful to shield their papers or conversations from her. Working through a network of other spies, Mary would pass on information she had gleaned from Jefferson Davis in the Grey House.

Not much is known about Mary after the Civil War as records of individuals who assisted the Union were destroyed so as to preserve their anonymity. But in 1995 she was recognized by the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame with these words,
"Ms. Bowser certainly succeeded in a highly dangerous mission to the great benefit of the Union effort. She was one of the highest placed and most productive espionage agents of the Civil War." (American Civil War Story)
Lois Leveen, the author of The Secrets of Mary Bowser, is described as a person who dwells in the spaces between literature and history (Leveen). She was able to take the outline and fragments of what is known of Mary Bowser's life and make a very interesting and satisfying novelization of details to fill in the holes. This gives the reader a sense of the accomplishments of a true, yet little known, American hero and spy.

The Secrets of Mary Bowser also seems to be the type of book which would lend itself to classroom use or study. Leveen lists a few themes which emerge from the text: the power to overcome stereotypes; the power of education and reading; the ability to act for the benefit of the larger community; parental expectations and determining a personal path; learning to work with people who are different than you; and the role women played in American History (Leveen Teaching).

When we selected The Secrets of Mary Bowser for our July book club meeting none of us knew more than the briefest of outlines of the storyline. Yesterday when we met to discuss the book we all unanimously praised the book and the subject. This is rare. Usually at least one person in the group will find fault in the book of the month. If there was any criticism it was mild---the book is quite long, 453 pages. The portion of the story focused on the spying didn't begin until around three quarters of the way through. But that said, much of the back story was necessary to understand Mary Bowser's motivations and her genius. All in all it is a delightful and insightful book. We are all glad we read it. And I would recommend it for any reading group or book club as it really  lends itself to discussion.

(A side note, the length of the book, 453 pages, qualifies for my Big Book Summer Reading Challenge hosted by Sue at Book by Book.)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: print edition checked out from the public library.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Big Book Summer Challenge

As in past summers I am joining the Big Book Summer Challenge which gives me an excuse to read at least one big book, over 400 pages, during our warmest months. All I have to do is read at least one long book, write an entry post (this one) and an exit post in September with my updates. I am going to attempt to read three or four big books, which won't be that hard since I've already read two. Ha! Join in the fun. Click the link above for more details and to sign up.

My list of possible selections:

  • The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry @478 pages. Update: completed.
  • The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen @450 pages. Update: completed
  • Draw the Line by Laurent Linn @528 pages. Update: hold placed on library book
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson @455. Update: checked out from my library but I haven't started it.
  • Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey @665 pages. Update: the book was given to me this past week by a friend from Australia.
  • The Slap by Chistos Tsiolkas @570 pages. Update: another gift book. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

TTT: Books Set Outside the USA

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish
Top Ten Tuesday: Books set outside the USA which I have recently read and recommend

West with the Night1. West with the Night by Beryl Markham, published in 1942, set in British East Africa, before Kenya was Kenya. I love, love this classic book and will gush about it for years I fear. The author was a British citizen but lived in Kenya most of her life.

The Bitter Side of Sweet2. The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan, published in 2016, set in Ivory Coast in West Africa. About the near slavery endured by workers in the cacao plantations. The author is a US citizen who has lived in many places around the world.

Razorhurst3. Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier, published in 2015 in USA, set in Australia the Razorhurst area of Sydney in the 1930s. A fascinating look at a piece of history I never heard about before reading this book. The author is Australian.

Unbecoming4. Unbecoming by Jenny Downham, published in 2016 in the USA, set in the UK. The best LGBT book I've ever read which isn't really a LGBT book. Go figure. The author is British.

The Passion of Dolssa5. The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry, published in the 2016, set in the late 1200s in what is now Southern France. This is my favorite YA book so far this year.

Salt to the Sea6. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, published in 2016, set during the last days of WWII in what was called West Prussia, which I think is Poland today.

Running the Rift7. Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron, pub. in 2012, about the Rwandan genocide. It won the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaging literature.

The Last Leaves Falling8. Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell, published in 2015, set in Japan about a boy dying from ALS and his attempts at living the life he wants.

The Shipping News9. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx, published in 1993, set in Newfoundland, Canada. I love this quirky book. It has long been a favorite.

The Carnival at Bray10. The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley, published in 2014, set in Ireland, it has a historical feel to it since it is also set in the 1980s.

I will keep going since I am having so much fun...

A Tale for the Time Being11. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, published in 2013, set half in British Columbia, Canada and and half in Japan. A unique and superbly written tale. The author is American-Canadian.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao12. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, published in 2007, set partially in Dominican Republic, this book is so good it won the Pulitzer Prize the year it was published. The author is Dominican-American

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman, #1)13. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, published in 2013, set in Australia where the main character has Aspberger's syndrome. It is hilarious. The author is Australian.

A Time to Dance14. A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman, published in 2014, set in India, the main character struggles to learn to dance again after losing a leg. The author is Indian.

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books,  #1)15. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, published in 2004, set in Spain. I am a big fan of this author. This is a very atmospheric book. The author is Spanish.

In Darkness16. In Darkness by Nick Lake, published in 2012, set in Haiti, tells the story of Haiti's history and events in modern times.

Like Water for Chocolate17. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, 1989, set in Mexico in the Magical Realism style, Weird but wonderful. The author is Mexican.

one more and I'll stop (but I could go on)

The Elegance of the Hedgehog18. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Murial Barbery. published in 2008, set in France, is a top ten book of mine but it is not light reading. The author is French.

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

I was halfway through the book and thought it would never end. I heard myself singing the silly song, The Song That Doesn't End except I was reworking the lyrics into "The Book that Doesn't End..." I didn't like any of the characters, with the possible exception of Marshall when he wasn't high or drunk. None of the high school scenes seemed realistic. For goodness sake, hosting dance committee planning meetings at your house and caring about the decorations so emphatically. Who does that? None of the teenagers I know. Seriously one page from setting the book aside as a DNF I kept reading for lack of anything else to read when things shifted.

But wait. I get ahead of myself. Here is the summary of the book from Goodreads:

Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.

Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.

But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

See why I was interested in the book in the first place? A girl entering a boy's life via a dream field of sorts. And it is a reverse "Pretty in Pink" story. The boy is from the wrong side of life. The girl has everything yet is attracted to him, but can't possibly let anyone know for fear of losing the life she knows. I ended up really liking the second half of the book, especially the way the characters grew and came to understand things about themselves.

So let me just say this. Places No One Knows is not a good book to piddle around with. Read it fast, in one or two sittings and you will catch the magic. Read it slowly and you will be tortured. I will be purchasing this book for my library for those incurably romantic types. I bet they will love it. Who doesn't like a good girl catches bad boy story (or was it a bad girl caught by a kind boy)?

Now, do I think the book is Printz-worthy? No, but then neither are 99% of books so that doesn't detract from it much. Read it if you are looking for a good romance this summer.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: checked out from the public library

2017 Printz Award Contenders

19 / 35 books. 54% done!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Salon, July 17

Space Needle as seen through the conservatory of the Chihuly Glass Garden. Photo by Anne B. Rights reserved.
Weather: Partly sunny. Temperature very comfortable, mid 70s.

Visit by friends from Australia: Our friends Claire and Rob from Melbourne visited our area this week. The weather wasn't fantastic but we were able to show off Washington State a bit:  Ruston Way, Pt. Defiance Park, and the glass bridge in Tacoma; a ride on a Washington State ferry from Bremerton to Seattle, Pike Place Market, Seattle Center, Space Needle, Chihuly Glass Garden, Pacific Science Center, and a ride on the monorail. We also visited the REI flagship store in Seattle, the men played a round of golf at High Cedars, and high tea for the gals. We crammed a lot of fun into a few days! Thanks for the visit, Claire and Rob!

The rugged Rugosa rose: Don and I spent hours yesterday digging up and cutting down our prolific/invasive rose which was taking over the back corner of our lot. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT plant one of these roses in your yard unless you are the wicked queen in Sleeping Beauty and you want to build a barrier so princes can't make their way into the castle where she sleeps! I am not kidding. The thorns on this rose are completely wicked.

Amazing golf: I admit it. I watched the British Open on TV with Don. If you missed it, It was amazing. Stenson won the thing with a -20 strokes, a record.

Books read this week:

  • The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen---based on a real person, a freed slave who spied for the Union in the Gray House, home of the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis. This is for book club this week. It should be fodder for a good discussion.
Currently reading: 

  • Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen---I suspect it will takes me months to finish this classic. But I want to read it as I am still engulfed in my Kenya phase. No progress this week.
  • The Splendid Outcast: Eight Africa Stories by Beryl Markham---I found this gem at a used book shop. Also part of my Kenya phase, or should I say, craze? Progress: one story, 10%.
  • Places Like No Other by Brenna Yovanoff---a YA selection. Not far enough into it to make much of a report. Progress: 26%.
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson---an audiobook read by the author. This is for an upcoming book club session. Don and I have been laughing our way through it. Progress: 15%.
Summer Reading Goal, mid-way point: Every summer I attempt to read 30+ books. It is the mid-way point (between Memorial Day and Labor Day) and I've read 14 books. I'm nearly at my mid-goal. Yay!

Claire and Rob admire the Chihuly glass exhibit on the Glass Bridge in Tacoma

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge is tale with layers to explore.

On the surface the story is about a family, set in Victorian Britain, interested in scientific exploration yet taunted by rumors and lies which could ruin them all. Faith, the teen daughter of Erasmus Sunderly, a clergyman turned scientist, is forced to live a double life. She is interested in science and math, pursuits not encouraged for young ladies of the day. Therefore, Faith is forced to keen and secretive observer of things that interest her. She knows secrets no one suspects of her. For example, she knows why her family suddenly moves to Vane, an island off the coast which has an interesting archaeological dig site. She has figured out that her father is running away from Kent and the damning rumors reported in the newspaper. Not long after the family arrives on Vane her father dies and Faith is convinced he was murdered. She looks through his papers to try and discover any information which might lead to the murderer and uncovers an unusual discovery: a tree which only grows in the dark and feeds on lies. Faith decides to feed the tree so it will bear fruit, fruit which will help uncover hidden truths. But lies have a life of their own, often outside the control of the liar herself.

Below the surface, there are rather profound messages in The Lie Tree. It is hard to ignore the message that Hardinge gives her readers about women in the Sciences or other intellectual pursuits. Even her father, whom Faith admires, has this to say on the subject, "Listen, Faith. A girl cannot be brave, or clever, or skilled as a boy. If she is not good, she is nothing. Do you understand?" Yet, it is Faith's ingenuity and curiosity, not her brother's, which saves his reputation in the end. Hardinge also includes information about some of the rather silly aspects of science of the day: after-death photography, treating left-handed children as if they are wrong, and craniometry, which is measuring the size of the skull and assigning higher intellect to those with larger skulls. The doctor and local carniologist tells Faith that women aren't as intellectual as men because of the inferior size of their skulls. Yet her mother, who on the surface seems to espouse these statements about women, tells Faith, "Women find themselves on battlefields just as men do. We are given no weapons, and cannot be seen to fight. But fight we must, or perish." Faith's mother and other women on the island who all seemed to be enemies or against discovering the truth that Faith was seeking, ended up being allies in the end. Faith learned a valuable lesson about not assuming things about people based on rumors and first impressions.

The deepest level in The Lie Tree deals with TRUTH and LIES. The lie tree only grows in the dark and when it is exposed to the light it bursts into flames and burns up. This implies that lies are like fire, the slightest bit of wind or fuel can fan the flames. These flames may get out of control easily. Lies are certainly that way. Once a lie is spoken aloud it takes on a life of its own. The only remedy is to always be truthful. "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive" (Sir Walter Scott).

The Lie Tree won the Costa Book Award for 2015 in United Kingdom. This award is given to the best books written by authors in UK and Ireland. Because of its spectacular writing and deep symbolism I think this book will certainly be considered by the Printz committee here in the US this year.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Print version checked out from the public library.

2017 Printz Award Contenders

18 / 35 books. 51% done!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor

One of the best things about reviewing a classic book like A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor is that it really isn't necessary to review review it, since the novel, or in this case, the collection of short stories, has already been reviewed by scads of people, most of them much more knowledgeable than me. So I am left with the fun job of giving my impression of the writing or the author and reporting a few tidbits of information you may have missed about the author or the time period in which she wrote.

In her short lifetime, thirty-nine years, Flannery O'Connor, only published two novels and several dozen short stories. Yet, she has been revered for her writing skills ever since. Her writing style is known as Southern Gothic, "a style rooted firmly in the American South that emphasizes the grotesque, the horrifying, and the-just-plain-wrong. In the Southern Gothic tradition, it's impossible to look away from life's horrors"(Shmoop). As one reads her stories it is hard to miss the foreshadowing but the reader will probably also notice a feeling of  foreboding. One is told something awful is going to happen and then the whole story evolves into one horrifying mess, little by little. It is a little like watching a movie and when the music gives off this creepy vibe the audience is warned to beware.

The title story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," the opening line sets the stage for bad things to come: "The grandmother didn't want to go to Florida." And she tries to talk her family out of going by telling them she heard that the Misfit has escaped from prison in Florida. What are the chances of that deterring her family from taking the trip? None. Now here is what makes O'Connor so brilliant, according to the author of The Art of X-Ray Reading, she plants dragon's teeth along the way. In other words consider, "a dragon's tooth as a seed---detail, dialogue, place name--- that will sprout into something significant later in the story. When you see a sign for a town named Toombsboro, the author has planted a dragon's tooth" (Clark 79). The seventeen pages of the opening story are full of dragon's teeth right up to the horrifying conclusion, which, by the way, the reader is prepared for thanks to the hints along the way...and you guessed it, Misfit is part of the ending.

Another story in the collection, "Good Country People" is
as hilarious as the first is horrifying. But other elements are familiar: the culture of the southern countryside, the authentic feel for rural speech patterns, the interesting blend among characters of familiar and bizarre. The channels may be different, but the voices sound as if they are coming through the same radio (Clark 85).
Story titles are helpful little dragon's teeth, too. O'Connor gives her readers little clues to assemble as the story is read. "Ah, here it the title," the reader may exclaim to herself when she finds in the text. In several of the stories the phrase that makes up the title is repeated over and over as in the stories "Good Country People" and "The Displaced Person." It was fun uncovering the titles, especially those which provided clues for the remainder of the story.

No wonder Flannery O'Connor's stories have been read and dissected by so many schoolchildren and college students over the years, they are so rich with symbolism, foreshadowing, and other literary devices. I am guessing that the use of her stories has fallen off in recent years, however, because of her frequent and often disparaging use of the N-word. I get it that she lived in the South prior to the Civil Rights Movement, but that doesn't make repeated use of the term any less egregious. Readers beware.

Flannery O'Connor was a Roman Catholic. She "was at heart a Christian writer, and all of her stories were in one way or another related to the life of Christ. Their religious themes could be difficult for the average reader to spot (Shmoop). In her own writings in Mystery and Manners, O'Connor said, "The universe of the Catholic fiction writer is one that is founded on the theological truths of the Faith, but particularly on three of them which are basic -- the Fall, the Redemption, and the Judgment" (185). Now I am not sure I saw too much redemption in her ten stories in this book, but I sure noticed a lot of falling and judgment.

All in all I am glad for a chance to read this author and a book that is considered one of the 75 best books of the past 75 years. But I am with TS Eliot who was "quite horrified by her stories." It is unlikely I will be reading too many of them in the future.

Works Cited:

Clark, Roy Peter. The Art of X-Ray Reading. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 2016. Print.

O'Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. New York: Harcourt and Brace. 1984. Print.

O'Connor, Flannery. Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, selected and edited by Sally and Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1961. Web.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "Flannery O'Connor: Biography. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 10 Jul. 2016.

Spin selection book

Read a classics book, if for no other reason than you will feel good about yourself when you are done!

Sunday Salon, July 10th

This week's book haul
Weather: Sprinkling. It has been spring-like weather most of the week with intermittent rain and sun-breaks.

The literary equivalent to "her eyes were bigger than her stomach": This week I visited two used bookstores and three libraries (one of them mine) and checked-out or purchased a huge pile of books (see photo above.) When do I think I will have the time to read that many books all at once? I couldn't stop myself. It is laughable or pathetic, depending on how one looks at it.

The good news and the bad news about the weather: the weather has been rainy and cool, not exactly sit-outside-and-read weather. So I've had a pretty good excuse to sit-inside-and-read. (Which is lucky since I have so many books to get through! ha!)

Appointments: I spent one day this week arranging appointments for the rest of the summer. Dental, vision, chiropractic, doctor, car tune-up, and dermatology. Now I will spend the rest of the summer going to them. Ha!
Elfie on the 4th of July. Looking rather patriotic.
4th of July: We weren't very festive this year. We spent our national holiday at our daughter's house, playing games, and hanging out with her cat. Rita and her hubby are in Germany right now so her sister has been going to the house every other day or so to check on the cat and to give her a little bit of company.  We went home with enough time to tend our own pets. The 4th of July is so torturous on pets. All the exploding sounds of fireworks going off just about scared them to death. It really is pretty awful for them.

Books read this week:
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson---Stevenson is a lawyer who is attempting to get rid of the death penalty and long prison sentences for inmates who were juveniles convicted as adults, and addressing the inequality in our justice system. This is an important and extremely distressing book. (Audiobook)
  • A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor---this classic collection of short stories was O'Connor's first. I read it as part of the Classics Club's current challenge. The review should be ready later today.
  • Unbecoming by Jenny Downham---a YA book about three generations of women and the unraveling of a mystery which has them at odds with each other and themselves. Click on this link to read my review.
Currently reading (or at least I've read a tiny bit on lots of books):
  • Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen---I suspect it will takes me months to finish this classic. But I want to read it as I am still engulfed in my Kenya phase. Progress: less than 10%
  • The Splendid Outcast: Eight Africa Stories by Beryl Markham---I found this gem at a used book shop. Also part of my Kenya phase, or should I say, craze? Progress: I've only read the introduction.
  • Places Like No Other by Brenna Yovanoff---a YA selection. Not far enough into it to make much of a report. Progress: less than 10%.
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson---an audiobook read by the author. This is for an upcoming book club session. Progress: less than 5%.
  • The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen---another book club selection, this one is based a real historical figure who was a spy during the Civil War. It is a long book, I must put my greatest effort into this one this week. Less than 10%. (Notice a theme? I am reading five books and have hardly made a dent in any of them. Ha!)
Prayers for: my brother. He met with the oncologist this week about his melanomas. He is going to have to be vigilant for the rest of his life. I am praying that he has seen the last of the cancerous moles.

65th wedding anniversary: My siblings and I are planning a celebration for our folks for later in the summer. We're at the invitations and planning food and music phase.

An awful week in our nation: the the needless death of two black men and then the killing of the four police officers in Dallas. Trevor Noah makes some good points: we should all be pro-black and pro-police.

Late for church: While having fun blogging this morning I lost track of time so would be late for church. Should I go? I decided that being late was better than not going, just for the nurturing part of being among my friends and worshiping together. It seems that it was a theme as this quote was on the front of the church bulletin today:
"I go to church every Sunday, which is like going to the gas station
once a week and really, really filling up."
-Anne Lamott.

Have a good week!