READING RACE COMING UP

Plans are now underway for the on-line PWR group to get together.  We are going to focus for approximately three days before our Sunday Afternoon Reading Race at Rae’s on those TBR piles and stacks that have filled up our bookshelves, book closets and various and sundry baskets or file containers in every room of the house. the idea is to set aside serious reading time to concentrate on finishing, starting, or completely reading as many books as possible during those three days, then report back on our successes on race day.

Sunday afternoon in a come and go format seems to work best for our group.  We have had so far a more or less formal buffet/party, a meeting at a local tea room, an all out Book Bash, and now we’re looking at our own little marathons and a race day celebration. This would work for any book club or as a one time thing for a civic group, PTO, Sunday School class, or any organization that respects literacy and agrees reading is the doorway to lifelong learning–all important goals.

Let us hear from your group, and after we have ironed out the details and met, I’ll report back on the winners and participants in the PWR Reading Race.

PWR TURNS ONE

I can’t believe it, but as September ends,the Powerful Women Readers group turns one year old.  The group was (re)formed in September of 2015 (See “Introduction” March 4, 2016), and the blog took life last March.  The name, which someone graciously commented on liking, was the result of a contest to select the name in our Alvin, Texas, Branch of AAUW. We were originally organized as an on-line group, and decided to meet face-to-face once every quarter.  We haven’t stuck to that plan, but we have had three get togethers and the fourth (overdue) is coming up the second week in October.  We have read, put books in a big pile in the middle of my living room floor and greedily taken what we wanted to read, and have more than once replenished my LFL (Little Free Library) with books for adults and children alike.  One of us has established her own LFL, and although it has been vandalized once, she is spreading literacy in nearby Manvel, Texas.

Even more important, we have formed bonds as “girlfriends” and have alerted each other to issues of literacy, women’s empowerment (or lack thereof), and just “been there” to encourage each other toward reading and life-long learning.  It has been a good year, full of fun, great food, and a special fellowship.

In the approach to the six month birthday of the blog, I would like to see two things: guest posts from the group about what they are reading and how reading more books is affecting their lives and more commenting/sharing about books we have read in common.

Contact me, either by clicking the contact line on this blog or at my personal e-mail address to volunteer or to make suggestions to improve either the blog or the group as a whole. I am looking forward to your reply.

RAE

THE PASSENGER: A REVIEW

This 1999 novel by Patrick A Davis came to me via a box of donations for my LFL (Little Free Library) from a friend who was moving. My husband confiscated the book for his own reading as he helped unpack the box, and after finishing it, said, “You’ve got to read this book.” And, I’m so glad I did. It was an action-packed mystery which included a military cover up and was a thriller in every since of the word.  Although written some time ago, the events could have been today’s headlines.

The blurb on the cover catches one’s attention, “A military jet crashes and Washington insiders scramble to cover their tracks.” Oh, and did I mention that the passenger of the title was the President’s half brother?

Colonel John Quinn, our protagonist, was declared, “not good enough to fly” after being shot down by an Iraqi missile, and when the novel opens, he is assigned to the Pentagon. His position leads to the “biggest investigation of his life.”  Ted, his disgraced, techie friend, who now owns a bar is called in to aid the investigation as a consultant. And Quinn’s ex-wife, Jennifer, shows up as a participant in the investigation as well.

The author was a military man, an Air Force Major, and is still a pilot for a major airline.  One can’t help but feel as he/she reads that the reader is getting the “real skinny” on what we don’t read in the headlines.

 

Sunday (Evening) Post

I follow a blogger who has a Sunday Post feature that is simply delightful and engaging, so I am posting my Sunday (evening) Post here:

What I am reading: DARING GREATLY by Brene Brown.  This was recommended to me by a friend and is all and more than she said it was.  It deals with vulnerability, shame, and expectations we have from others and from ourselves.  It is giving me a lot to think about and is very helpful to the pleaser and appeaser in me. At the same time, I have a novel going, BEHOLD THE DREAMERS by Imbolo Mbue .  It is a wonderful immigrants -in- America- story with “heart” and characters that will steal your heart.

What I have finished: THE AFTER PARTY (See today’s previous post). THE PASSENGER by Patrick Davis whose ending is so fast, so twisty-turny that I dare anyone to turn out the light until he/she reaches the end. It is a 1999 novel that turned up in a donation box for my Little Free Library which my husband confiscated to read and then he said, “You’ve got to read this!”  I’m glad I did!

What I’ve seen: This evening we saw Sully at the local theater.  It is well worth seeing, but be prepared to tear up if not get down right emotional, and to relive the self-doubt and fatigue Sully experienced which was not covered by the newspapers but was in his book on which the film was based.  Clint Eastwood is the director, and Tom Hanks played Sully, both magnificent accomplishments. Earlier today I finished I Love You Already on my laptop and although sad, very sad, it was a lovely picture.  Saturday I watched My Name is Kahn, and my only question was, how did I miss this one?

What I am watching:  The first episode of the new season of The Big Bang and the new The Good Place.  Big Bang is a staple, and I am reserving judgment on The Good Place until I have seen another episode. What I am eager to watch: The 1st episode of the new series, Designated Survivor.

That’s my past week, and I am looking forward to some really good watching, reading, and good things coming this new week.

 

 

 

A POTENTIAL BESTSELLER, THE AFTER PARTY by Anton Disclafani

Houston in all of its fifties glory–the heat and sun of Houston summers–River Oaks, The Shamrock, and the “…world of garden clubs and debutante balls”–is as much a character in this new (2016 publication) novel by the author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, as are Joan and Cece, the unforgettable main characters of The After Party.

Joan Fortier, “…the epitome of Texas glamor and the center of the Houston social scene…” and CeCe, her plain best friend and their strange friendship are at the heart of this novel. Joan is tall blonde and beautiful, everything CeCe is not, but CeCe is loyal and the only one who understands Joan (and the only one who will defend her to her critics).  It is the story of women’s friendships, family secrets and relationships, as well as women’s lack of power and status in the 1950’s.  In Houston, the “money flows as freely as oil, and the author who is an excellent story teller brings together “flawed characters worth knowing”and  involves the reader in the story of the novel as well as the intertwined stories of the two girls’ lives.

I considered it a good investment of my reading time.

BELOVED MESS: A Review

Beloved Mess by Kimm Crandall is a 2016 inspirational book that my church librarian was kind enough to order for our library at my recommendation.  I had read about the book, and it sounded like something that would help me in my day-to-day Christian walk. As the cover’s blurb said, it is “…funny, arresting, radical, and best of all, true.”

The author confesses to being a big mess.  In some ways, the book itself is a mess, but the author reminds us that by God’s grace, the messes are “beloved.”

The book is encouraging for people who have experienced depression and feel they are not good Christians or even good people because they do have these feelings.  Crandall points to our weaknesses, which are ok because we have “Christ who strengthens us.”  We are not strong, but because He is, it is ok.

Another jacket blurb points out, “God is not waiting for you to clean up your act before you come home to Him.  In fact, He wants you to stop trying to fix the mess and allow Him to wash it away.”

In all the messiness of life and the messes we get ourselves into, the author consistently reminds us that we and our messes are beloved by our Heavenly Father.

 

TWO GREAT CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Kenny’s Window, illustrated and written by Maurice Sendak is a true children’s classic.  Published in 1956, it marks the first time Sendak  writes the text as well as draws the illustrations. The poetic quality of the words is complemented by the soft greys and beiges of the dreamy drawings. Kenny, our protagonist is a dreamer, both figuratively and literally as well.  He dreams a dream in which he receives seven questions to answer, which he finds on a piece of crumpled paper in his pajama pocket the next morning.  In his nightly musings and dreams, he goes on adventures in search of the answers to the questions.  At the end, Kenny learns,”A wish is halfway to wherever you want to go.”As the book ends, Kenny, the dreamer, begins to wish, and what he wishes for in his dream-time, he gets.

A Man Named Thoreau, written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated, again in grey and blacks and whites, by Lloyd Bloom, tells of the life and thoughts of Henry David Thoreau. There are excellent quotes from Walden throughout, and the experience that was Walden is explained well and is aimed at a child’s understanding. The reference to Thoreau as a little boy sets the stage for understanding this man’s life, ” [Thoreau] had lived in Concord since he was a small boy…Most of them (the townspeople) thought he was a little strange.” There is mention of his literary friends, Emerson, Alcott, and others.  The narrative itself has a calm, soothing effect, much as one imagines Thoreau’s personality may have initially  been.  In the back appendix is a helpful timeline of Thoreau’s life.  For a sensitive child who loves nature and thinks about it, perhaps even marching to the beat of a different drummer, he/she will find a “hero” in Thoreau.

THE FAMILY : A Review

American Jewish immigrant stories are abundant, but this one tries to cover all branches of the family tree. It is the genealogy and history of the family that founded the MaidenForm Bra company and its rise to fame and fortune in America, the land of opportunity.  For part of the family, it is a Holocaust story; for another branch it is a story which takes on the founding of the state of Israel in the Palestinian Gaza Strip and the troubles which ensue. The action is a bit slow, but as examples of immigrants seeking a better life, it has something to offer.  It is detailed (maybe too detailed) and its many characters are hard to keep straight.

This was a Bargain Book from Deadalus Bookstore in NY City and a bargain at 3.98. I’m glad I read it.

Dear Committee Members by Julia Schumacher: A Review

This book was recommended by a colleague who has served on many search committees and has received many letters of recommendation for applicants, none of which could possibly be as clever or creative as the ones that the author strings together to create a novel.

It is a small book, and I checked it out from the Alvin Public Library.  I read it in a few hours during my private 24 hour Reading Marathon. The book is funny, sardonic, and too much like real life in academia.

The author has won awards for another novel, ALA Notable Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. She has written a short story collection and “five novels for young readers.” Schumacher explains she teaches at the University of Minnesota and has written many letters of recommendation.

What I am Reading, What I am Watching, and What I have to Read Next

What I am currently reading:

The After Party set in 1950’s Houston assigned for 3rd Tuesday Book Club at the Alvin library. I bought a copy. I am only 1/5 of the way in. It is due Tues the 20th.

Beloved Mess an inspirational book. Borrowed from church library.  Ordered because of my request.   Finished but copying pages and writing down quotes from famous “religious” people.

Passenger  It turned up in a box of donations for my LFL (Little Free Library) left at the back door.  My husband read it and said, “I think you will like this book.  I do.  I am half way through.

Two back issues of my New Yorker magazine.

One back issue of AARP magazine

The daily Houston Chronicle newspaper

What I am currently watching:
America’s Got Talent Finale  (watching  at this moment while I type during commercials and during clips I’ve seen.)  This has been some season!  How they will choose is unfathomable to me.

The Young and the Restless (about three episodes behind) I do not believe Adam died in the explosion, just for the record.

Anxiously awaiting the first episode of the new season of The Big Bang.  I’ve never missed an episode!

What I am about to read next:

Fellow’s new novel checked out from the Alvin Library (Downton Abbey author)

Three cozy mysteries a cousin sent which arrived in today’s mail

The last book of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

Sunday’s Sunday School quarterly for next Sunday’s lesson

A set of reading quizzes

CONCLUSION:

I am an eclectic reader!