Monday, August 20, 2018

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Four Months in Brighton Park by Larry Ehrhorn
  • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez

The two Jacquline Woodson books both were sent by Penguin for review and Four Months in Brighton Park was a Twitter drawing win.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez
  • Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
  • In the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

It may seem weird that I received 2 Woodson books and read them both immediately but one is a tour book, to be reviewed next week, and one is a picture book. I always read picture books when they walk in the door. I loved one and was lukewarm about the other. You'll hear about them both, soon. In the Corner of the Oval is a memoir and I admit to struggling with it a little. I liked learning about her perspective on life as an employee in the Obama Administration, but the focus was on her life -- her terrible choices of boyfriends, the partying with coworkers, the grueling hours at work -- rather than the more detailed observations I was hoping for. But, that's OK. I can use a fluffy break, now and then, and there are some other White House memoirs I'm interested in reading. I'll see if my library has any of them.

Currently reading:

  • Death of the Snake Catcher: Short Stories by Ak Welsapar
  • Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson

I've read two of the short stories in Death of a Snake Catcher. Of those two, the second one was the one I enjoyed the most. "Love in Lilac" is the story of a young man who falls in love with a visitor from another country. But, he lives in a regime where being seen with foreigners can be dangerous. What happens when he's arrested in the middle of class is seriously tense and will make you rethink the strange quotes that have been flying around about authoritarianism not being such a terrible thing, after all. Yes, it is. It is bad.

I've read around 50 pages of Sons and Soldiers and I can't help but think that this is the kind of book that we all need to be reading, right now. The first 50 pages introduce the reader to several Jewish boys who were sent to America alone when their families were unable to get enough visas to travel together, during the years before WWII. One of the boys' fathers was already imprisoned in a concentration camp for a time, but then released. I'll be surprised if I find out any of their family members survived. What you really get out of the beginning of the book is that creeping sense of terror as neighbors and friends slowly backed away from Jewish citizens, new laws made it impossible for them to do business or go to school, and violence against Jews increased.

Last week's posts:

I couldn't get myself going on the Unpunished Murder review, the day I [eventually] wrote it, so instead I sat down and wrote a long-winded essay. That got the cogs turning. It wasn't anything I really wanted to publish or even keep, so I deleted it and then tried reviewing again. No luck, hence the self-interview. I don't think I'll ever thoroughly understand why interviewing myself (or pretending that an inanimate object interviews me) works, but it does and I had a good time rather than pulling my hair out from frustration.

In other news:

I watched Arrival twice, last week. The first time, I just randomly turned it on thinking, "I'll watch a few minutes of this while I eat my supper." I was alone, so I often will turn on the TV for companionship while I eat. I found it thoughtful and utterly captivating, so I finished it. But, then I wasn't entirely certain that I'd understood the movie. So, I looked up a synopsis to see if I was right about what exactly it meant.

Yes, I was correct. But, once you understand what happened and that the movie is not linear, it's fun to go back and view the movie from a different perspective -- knowing what's happening and what's already happened or will happen. At any rate, I enjoyed it every bit as much the second time. There's one particular scene that I'm slightly confused about, but the rest of it made sense.

And, then, since Arrival got me into a Sci-Fi mood, I looked up Sci-Fi series and discovered that all of the seasons of Torchwood are still available to view on Amazon Prime. So, I watched a few episodes of Torchwood. It's been a few years since I watched every season of Torchwood sequentially. I thought the series started out fantastic and then gradually went downhill, that first time, so I don't know that I'll watch the entire collection all over again. But I do love the action. So much running!

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  1. I love your interview reviews. I’m going to have to borrow that format one day. It sure would come in handy. Arrival was really great and I think I should rewatch it. Never heard of Torcheood. I’ll have to check it out.

    1. Thanks! I try to save the "self-interviews" for when I'm struggling so they don't get old. It's amazing how they help. Feel free to steal the idea, any time. I guess it's the Q/A concept that makes it easier to write about a book when it's just not happening in review style. I'm not certain, but it always seems to help me - especially when I'm all locked up because a book is particularly important or special and I'm afraid I won't get that across.

      Torchwood is crazy. I love it for the action. It takes place in Cardiff so that Southern Welsh accent can take some getting used to. This time, I don't seem to be having any trouble understanding it, though, which has surprised me.


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