A BIT OF NON-FICTION TO BREAK THE PATTERN– THE FIVE CHOICES by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne: A Review

Reader,

Are you having an energy crisis? I am. That is why I decided to read this book donated to my LFL. It is a 1915 publication, but its tenets are still valuable to managers, bosses, and leaders of all sorts. I found the summaries at the end of sections helpful, and although all of the examples and anecdotes from business were interesting, I must confess, I skipped some of them. A reviewer describes this book as “Time Management for the 21st century.” Overall, it gives the reader advice on the sources of energy: moving, eating, sleeping, relaxing, and connecting. Most of the advice I’d heard before, but it was nice to have it all in one place, and it was a good review. The book’s goals: increasing productivity, helping with making decisions and choices, advising on investing time, [money], attention, and energy, are accomplished by the end of the book.

Choices deals with issues and problems in both the workplace and with individuals and is a must for team leaders and bosses. Energy Management was my favorite part. This section covered power naps, relaxing, taking breaks from the computer, eating the energy providing snacks and meals, etc. I will be able to make a few changes in my lifestyle, and hopefully, gain more energy and conserve it. It is a good source book to refer to as one goes about daily living.

WWW Wednesdays

This blogger asks us 3 questions:

WHAT have you finished reading?

WHAT are you reading now?

WHAT will you read next?

This 2021 novel deals with family drama and relationships.

One thing in this novel that interested me and kept my attention was its examination of public schools vs private ones. It also includes: social media, the value of therapy, bullying, and parenting issues.

One family has younger kids, and others have junior high age children, so most angles of modern school life are covered. Two of the mothers, whose stories are presented in Are We There Yet?, are sisters. In one family we see the relationships between mother and junior high age daughter, and the same mother and her mother, then the granddaughter and grandmother.

Alice Sloan is “one of those mothers who can’t control her kids. She is Teddy’s mom. Meredith is Sadie’s mom, and Nadia is Donovan’s (the “bad kid”) mom. Throughout the book, Nadia constantly measures herself by other’s standards. The author writes of the day to day interactions of these three women, heading each chapter with the featured woman’s name. Sometimes the kids’ names head up a chapter; regardless, It is not hard to keep track of who belongs to whom, thanks to the author’s skill.

The mystery of who is drawing penis graffiti all over the town underlies the conversations and intertwining relationships, and family secrets also abound. It is a darned good read.

I picked this up on a whim, thinking it referred to Queen Victoria. To my surprise, it is about Queen Elizabeth II.

This imaginary foray into Royal Life was published in 2007 to very little fuss and folderol in the publishing world. It begins when Queen Elizabeth stumbles upon the local book mobile parked at the palace’s kitchen door. Realizing her “error,” she checks out a book, which seems the “polite thing to do.” Norman, an ordinary kitchen hand is sitting in the bookmobile, reading avidly. Her Majesty is impressed with him and his reading skills and promotes him to the position of aide to The Queen. By the time Elizabeth II discovers the joys of reading and the books Norman recommends (often written by homosexual authors) she begins to carry books in her ever-present purse to “assign” to individuals who answer her seemingly-innocent questions of “Have you read So- and-So? with “No, Your Highness.”

Bennet’s self-deprecating humor turns these mere 120 pages into a “touching, thoughtful, hilarious, exquisitely written” heck of a read.

A student explained to me the weird title, and I was compelled to read the book, especially since I am a huge John Green fan.

My students introduced me to John Green’s books, and my Third Tuesday Book Club read The Fault Is in Our Stars, which we enjoyed a great deal. We agreed that the label YA makes good reading for older people as well. This story has family drama and deals mainly with relationships as well.

We meet Aza; her best friend, Daisy; and Davis and Noah, billionaire Russell Pickett’s sons. Aza’s therapist, Dr.Singe plays a secondary, but very important role. Aza has mental issues , often “spiraling into her own thoughts,” which she does in the story. Her relationship with her mother is also an integral part of the story. Pre-occupied with her digestive tract and whether she has Clostridum difficile (C diff, for short), she can barely function at school. Her obsessions are magnified because she “keeps things in,” so people won’t “think she is crazy.”

When the boy’s father suddenly and mysteriously disappears, Daisy and Aza get caught up in a scheme to find him and collect the reward money to help Daisy enter college in the fall, something her parents can neither afford or think is important.

To say that what happens is “crazy” would be inappropriate, in light of the serious, empathetic look at mental illness this novel presents. But as Aza spirals out and the boys wonder why their father left without explaining, the action takes on a frantic, unreal pace. The ending is satisfactory, but it is arrived at by many twists and turns. The author is a genius.

I read more than one book at a time; this week is no exception.

Wide Sargasso Sea for the Classics Club, which I need to finish soon to stay on schedule.

S
For My Madeline L’Engle “project”

Two Part Invention, another book of the Crosswick Journals for the project.

Something for Saturday Mornings for Kids on PWR

THAT’S WHAT I’M UP TO THIS WEEK WHILE SWAMPED WIT READING STUDENTS’ “ESSAY #1′ s”.

Have a good reading weekend. I’ll be frantically grading. LOL

BOOKS FROM THE BACKLOG

Carole at Random Life in Books created this meme to bring attention to books you want to read or have read that have not received enough exposure.

Today I was thinking about creativity and reading an old handout from many semesters ago that I asked students to respond to entitled, “Can Creativity Be Taught?” I remembered reading back in 2015 Gilbert’s book which explored just that question.

BIG MAGIC: A Review

This 2015 self-help book by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, is proof the author has still “got it.” As a matter fact, I liked this non-fiction exploration of “Creative Living Beyond Fear” much more than her earlier bestselling hit. In Big Magic, Gilbert discusses her own creative processes and her life as she expresses the wonder and joy of Creativity. She has written many “pieces” for magazines, novels, and non-fiction books, so she is definitely the one to consult concerning “Creativity.” She insists everyone has the ability to “make something”–create.

In her last section, “In Conclusion” she writes:

“Creativity is sacred and it is not sacred./ What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all./We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits./ We are terrified, and we are brave./Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege./Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us./Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise–you can make anything.”Advertisements

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Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching “under my belt.” I have taught all levels from pre-K “(library lady” or “book lady”–volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the “difficult years.” I had some of the “funnest” experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the “young, fun teacher,” I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a “dream-fit” for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is “in my blood,” so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to “come out and play.” View all posts by Rae LongestAuthor Rae LongestPosted on Categories UncategorizedTags bestsellersCreativityPWR recommendationreviewsself-help booksEdit”BIG MAGIC: A Review”

If you have not read this Book from my Backlog, give it a try. I guarantee you’ll learn something.

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOR KIDS ON SUNDAY

Just as Saturday Mornings were reserved for kids on TV programming, Powerful Women Readers reserves Saturday mornings for kids’ book recommendations. Today I am running a bit behind, so here is my recommendation for this weekend:

Gratz’s adventure/thriller novel takes place in three different time settings, with three different protagonists, yet their stories are linked in a clever way at the end.

Joseph, a young Jewish boy, who is thirteen, lives in 1930s’ Nazi Germany. With the threat of capture and concentration camps looming over their heads, Joseph and his family board a ship headed for anywhere in Europe to get away from war-prone Germany. Many countries turn them away, and their voyage is threatened by having to return to Germany, a sure death for them all.

Isabel, a Cuban teenager, lives during the uproar in her native Cuba starting in 1994. She and her family board a make-shift boat, heading for freedom in America. Their misadventures, the delivery of her brother during the trip, and a breath-holding chase by the Coast Guard make for turning pages rapidly.

Mahoumoud, a Syrian young man grows up in war-torn Syria, and his family heads to Europe on foot–heading “anywhere”away from the bombs and carnage. Mahoumoud, near the end of his story, has to take leadership and guide the other children and adults in an arduous walk. His story’s ending shines a light on refugees’ problems in adjusting to their new homes.

All three teens take “harrowing journeys,” coming of age under the most difficult circumstances. In this 2017 publication, the three different protagonists experience “drownings, bombings, and betrayals.” The sacrifices they and their family members are forced to make result in an unlikely feat for all–freedom. Their stories of tragic loss illustrate the “resilience of the human spirit.” Even the format of the book is unique; chapters arrive in cycles of three, and continue each teen’s story (marked by the name of the character and year at the top of each chapter for easy navigation). Refugee is available in audio and has won many awards. I would recommend it for ages 10 (or precocious 8 and 9 year olds) and up.

FINISHED

This past weekend, I finished up three books I was reading concurrently. I often read more than one book at a time with no confusion; however this time, one was historical fiction, very close to fact, set in WWII, so keeping the characters straight from the non-fiction characters in the diary made reading harder than usual.

This one begins with two women, prisoners in a German war camp,Greta and Mildred, who are charged with activities that aided the resistance fighters in Berlin under Hitler. They exchange a glance in the prison exercise yard. One woman is eventually executed, and the other is liberated from the prison by the Americans. The “meat” of the book tells both their stories, describing “the courage of ordinary people.”

The other WWII story deals with what happens to the women of Berlin during the Russian occupation. It is a true diary, published only after the anonymous author’s death, which describes April of 2945 through June of 1945. In the diaries, Anonymous, a 34-year-old journalist, casually tells how women who had not seen each other for a long time, greeted one another with, “How many times were you raped?” It is a story of rape and sexual collaboration for survival that is brutal to read and a horror to have lived through.

Finally, another horrific story, a memoir about the childhood of Mary Kaur,

was at times unbelievable, others down-right strange. Growing up with an alcoholic father and mentally ill , sometimes suicidal mother, Karr “speaks” in the “gritty, unforgettable voice of a seven-year-old. It is set early on in Texas, and later follows the mother and two daughters to a home in Colorado. The title comes from the b**sh**ting her father and his friends do at the local bar while seven-year-old Mary sits and listens. “Appalling” is the word that come to mind to describe the author’s earliest memories.

These three are not books one would read for pleasure, but ones that kindle our imaginations about the resilience of the human spirit.

THE LAST BOOK IN THE MADELINE L’ENGLE TIME TRAVEL QUINTET

As part of a personal “project” on Madeline L’Engle, I reread and reviewed all five books of her Murray family saga, both Many Waters and An Acceptable Time were read about the time I started blogging, so I didn’t have to write the review fresh, but could share an old review written years ago. Finishing up with books four and five completes a “chunk” of the project’s goals. Here is a review of the final book in this series:

AN ACCEPTABLE TIME by Madeline L’Engle: A Review

Polly, daughter of Meg Murry of A Wrinkle in Time, and neice of Sandy and Denys Murray of Many Waters, is spending time with her mother’s parents in New England. A neighbor, “Bishop Nase” manages to open a Time Gate which transports individuals back in time.  Both the Star Gazing Stone and the Old Wall act as portals for Polly on several occasions.  Meeting Anaral, a Druid who travels back and forth, and other characters from the time period, Polly and her cowardly friend Zak manage to become stuck 3,000 years before the present.

Back in time, Polly finds herself with The People of the Wind, and later captured by their enemies The People Across the Lake. They are besieged with drought and believe that a blood sacrifice is necessary to bring rain to their land and tribe.

Although the novel is not traditionally religious, it is spiritual and offers something for both believers and non-believers.

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Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching “under my belt.” I have taught all levels from pre-K “(library lady” or “book lady”–volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the “difficult years.” I had some of the “funnest” experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the “young, fun teacher,” I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a “dream-fit” for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is “in my blood,” so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to “come out and play.” View all posts by Rae LongestAuthor Rae LongestPosted on Categories UncategorizedTags Madeline L’Englereviewssci fitime travelYA novelsEdit

TUESDAY TEASER

THE PURPLE BOOKER asks us to copy a few lines from a current read to “tease” others into adding our book to their TBR pile. Here’s mine for 6/8/21, a memoir by Mary Karr.

After their parents broke up, Mary, the author, and her sister move with their mother to Antelope, Colorado:

“By daylight the landscape was capital-B Beautiful. But something grim and Gothic hung over the place. The mountains seemed to lurch over the town. Plus, that fall the sky stayed gray, not unlike the skies I’d read about in Dracula, vaulted over by the Carpathian Mountains with their bare trees clawing out.”

This does not bode well, considering the author’s mother’s fragile mental state.

READ ANY GOOD MEMOIRS LATELY? This one is as harrowing and horrible as anything you can imagine, but un-putdownable!

BOOKS FROM THE BACKLOG

This meme created by Carole at Random Life in Books is a way to think back over what you’ve read and give an “oldie but goodie” a second look.

This sci fi novel, written by a friend has everything–action, great characters who undergo change and development, and love. It deals with the issue of what it means to be human. Here is my original review of it:

Who Is the Human? Sam, Fred, Dylax: A Review of a Sci-Fi Novel

Gary Pegoda’s novel begins with a question posed on the title page: “If computers were human in every way, would it be human? How would you know?” In this day of messing around with IA, it is a question to be considered. The first character we meet is Sam, “I am Sam, the Star Bright Machine…” a computer activated in 2020 who is, in its/his own words, “intelligent,” and “conscious” although he/it is a quantum computer in reality. The second character we meet is Fred, who is escaping from Sam, in a series of fast-paced, action-filled escapes and near-escapes as Fred tries to decide whether he, Fred, is a human or a figment of Sam’s creation and imagination. When Dylax, who speaks strangely and is a bit hard to follow until one gets used to her disjointed, out-of-syntax speech, comes on the scene, she is the love-match for Fred, and the sex is out-of-this-world (pun intended).

Although the story is puzzling at times (I believe that is the author’s intention), the twists and turns keep readers turning the pages to see what happens next.  Oftentimes it is another beating, another capture, another operation to implant or take out implants on poor Fred.

Fortunately, the novel has a very satisfying ending, leaving it open for a sequel, which I hope the author will write.  I for one will follow these fascinating characters and their lives/existences.

If you like sci fi with a touch of philosophy, you’ll love this one.

CURRENT READ

As part of my Madeline L’Engle project, I am reading her autobiography, Circle of Quiet in an eBook. I read it years ago when I first discovered her, in the 70s, and remember being slightly disturbed by her broad spirituality and “religious” beliefs. Now, all these years later, my own philosophy of life and basic beliefs have, not so much changed as, “matured,” and reading her at this late stage of my life is an entirely different experience. I not only am being led by her to “think about things” from a different angle, but to examine my own inner thoughts and, perhaps, to adjust a few of them. Reading her story has been a growth experience. It reminds me of Cassandra Claire’s quote to beware of books because they have the power to change you.