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

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.

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Back to School Giveaway Is Over

At the Little Free Library in my yard, ever since last weekend I have been placing free school supplies (animal-themed folders, notebooks, mechanical pencils, pens, markers, erasers etc.) a few at a time in the LFL to entice kids to open the door and see the books inside.  Usually I have a few bright first- readers-books bought from Half Price Books or provided by the across-the-street- elementary school’s book drives; a few really good chapter books for fourth and fifth graders; some YA novels and at least a Debbie McComber or Nicholas Sparks (or good, page-turning mystery) for Moms to read in the car-riders pick up line. I have as many cars stop (We are on the main drag leading into the subdivision.) as I do curious students walking the sidewalks, probably more, for the kids are always looking down at their phones.

Even with the stormy, humid weather, the attempt was a success.  Today marked the end of the first week of school, and there are about six books of various and sundry descriptions left.  All the “prizes” have disappeared.  Even better, three cozy mysteries and a “young person’s” romance have magically appeared.  Thank you neighbors!

I plan to clean down to the bare bones inside and out (It will take clorox) and make a trip to Half Price Books with books contributed from a friend who is downsizing and just wants to get several boxes of older books “out of here.” Then we should be back in business by Monday or Tuesday.

The next big event is Halloween with Trick or Treating in the side yard where the library is located and Halloween decorations and items like fake spiders from the Dollar Store in the LFL for the taking.  I have about twenty-five Goosebumps books, Halloween mysteries, Werewolf and other Monsters books which will be free for the taking.

Last year we had a storm, including a tornado which passed over us on the way to the next town down the highway. Halloween activities around town were cancelled.  Pray for good weather.

 

SARAH’S KEY by TatianaRosnay

A family secret is always a good basis for a novel, and when an outsider who has married into the family begins to investigate what happened, it almost always makes for “good reading.”

Beautifully researched, the novel deals with the great Vel’ d’ Hir’ roundup of Parisian Jews that took place on July 16, 1942. The atrocities that took place, interestingly enough, were not instigated by the Germans, but by the Paris police. Those Parisians who did not participate, turned their faces away.

Ten year old Sarah, in a moment of horror and terror, has made a promise to her younger brother and pockets the key it will take to fulfill that promise. What follows is a “heart thumping story…a book that will stay in your mind long after it’s back on the shelf.”

Sarah’s Key alternates in time between 1972 and present day Paris (2007), but is easy to follow, unlike many novels that attempt the same technique. The suspense is heightened by this technique as we follow Julie, a modern day journalist as she attempts to uncover the story of Sarah’s Key .

THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR by Helen Simonson (published 2016)

The author of the impressive debut novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, has done the impossible: her second novel is as good as her first. The story takes place in East Sussix, England (town of Rye) beginning in 1914 and covers the period just before and just after The Great War. At the opening of this novel, one is reminded of a country Downton Abbey, and we get to know the characters and situation in the English countryside as England gets ready to go to war.

Hugh, the medical student nephew of Aunt Agatha and Uncle John, who works for the Foreign Office, meets Beatrice, the unexpectedly attractive and freethinking new Latin mistress, supported and encouraged by Agatha.  The little town is the opposite of progressive-thinking, and many characters have definite opinions on the “proper” goings ons in the lives of the young people, Beatrice, Hugh, and Hugh’s cousin, Aunt Agatha’s favorite, a sensitive young poet.

What happens to the residents of this town and what going to war will (and does) mean to them really matters to the reader as he/she reads the novel. One critic describes Simonson as “…like a Jane Austin for our day and age.” Booklist advertises this engaging novel as “leisurely fiction steeped in the British past,” and another blurb on the cover says it is “…historically accurate.”  What more could one want in a good read?

THE MOTHER TONGUE by Bill Bryson

The monthly library book club assignment was to read “something” by Bill Bryson.  I had read The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid before Christmas last year and had enjoyed it immensely.  Since his Road to Little Dribbling had just come out and was on the best seller list at that time, I read it too. Although Iwould have enjoyed it even more had I read the book it was based on (revisiting small, out-of-the-way places in the UK previously visited 20 years before), I thoroughly enjoyed Bryson’s unique style of writing and found myself laughing out loud in spots.

For the book club assignment, a friend lent me her copy of The Mother Tongue:English and How It Got That Way, knowing that I was an English and Literature major in school and telling me she knew I would enjoy it. The book was published in 1990,but is as timely today as when originally written. The first four chapters were two undergraduate classes–The History of the English Language, and Linguistics–revisited.  And, unfortunately, they were as boring as the courses.  HOWEVER, things changed rapidly thereafter, and much for the better! The idiosyncrasies  and contradictions of the English language and the contrast between British English and American English, as well as Good English and Bad English (a chapter holds this title) were laugh out loud funny.  Often my husband gave me a “look” like “What in the world are you reading?” and I would be forced to read aloud a passage.  He would politely give a chuckle of appreciation.

This book is meticulously and scholarly researched (Both bibliography and index are flawless and extensive.), and yet it holds appeal to more than scholars of English or “word-a-philes” like myself.  It’s something you can put down and pick up easily, and one is bound to find something that tickles his funny-bone.

 

EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN by Chris Cleave

Chris Cleave has captured the grit and grind of the bombing of London in his 1916 publication, Everyone Brave is Forgiven. Mary North, our protagonist, is of the “upper class” frittering away her days with her best friend, Hilda, concerned only with eligible young gentlemen, and how to hook them into matrimony.

WAR IS DECLARED, and Mary heads to the nearest recruitment office to “do her part” and to “get in on the action,” with dreams of espionage missions and other assignments suitable to her education and background.  Hilda dreams of all the young officers who will need to be consoled before shipping out and from whom promises of marriage might be obtained.

Alistair and Tony, flatmates and properly educated gentlemen ,choose not to enlist but to wait out the war with as little disturbance to their lifestyles and friendship as possible. Fate and the Axis have other plans for all these young people.

The growth of character through the intertwining of these four young lives during WWII (covers the years 1939 to 1942, specifically) is the fascinating story of this novel.  Cleave, author of the awesome Little Bee, never promises a happy-ever-after-ending, but he always delivers a satisfactory one,which is good enough for me. There is enough humor, some of it dark, to get you through the tough, brutal aftermath of the bombings, and the novel employs several important themes: racial  discrimination in England during the War, the love of teaching, women’s “place” and how the war changes it, romance, and the difficulties of communication.

The book has been described as “Inspirational…” and “Moving…” by critics.  I found it both.

High Summer Read-a-Thon

Because I enjoyed my first Read-a-Thon last October, I decided to say farewell to summer by entering The High Summer Read-a-Thon this morning.  Dewey’s, the only other one I have done ,was a 24 hour thing, but this one is a week long.

As contestant #57, I am leaving the starting gate late (I must have not heard the starting gun–not checked my e-mail) for it started yesterday. I have already begun this morning by starting to finish a lovely novel about WWI, The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonsson.  I am only on chapter 8, and already it is as engaging as the author’s debut novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, one of my favorite novels.  Simonsson is a true storyteller who makes one care about the characters and what happens to them.

I will keep you posted on my progress through the coming days and will post as I finish books here at PWR. I am not setting a goal except to make a dent in my TBR (to be read) reading list and put some good books into circulation by loaning them out when through.

KEEP reading and keep up with the HS Read-a-Thon here.

Rae