When You Find Out the World Is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments by Kelly Oxford

The World is Against You

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A special thank-you to Dey Street Books and Goodreads for providing an ARC for me to review!

Title: When You Find Out the World Is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments by Kelly Oxford

Premise:

This book is a memoir detailing a variety of especially awkward and/or funny episodes from Kelly’s life.  The stories run the gamut from childhood social gaffes to raising her own children, divorce to sexual assault.  Whatever the circumstances, Kelly’s keen observations, wit and humor shine through to help give perspective to each story.

My thoughts:

There were parts of the book which were very entertaining and I found myself getting quite wrapped up in them (like when Kelly went to camp!).  There were a couple of chapters, however, which kind of fell flat for me.  For some reason they didn’t pull me in and didn’t seem to add a lot of value to the book.

With that being said though, overall I enjoyed the book very much.  I read through it fairly quickly and it was easy to digest each chapter as a separate anecdote.  Some of Kelly’s antics are so socially awkward that it’s difficult to read about them.  The story about her husband and the guy he meets in the gym comes immediately to mind.  Yikes!!!  I’m too embarrassed to even tell you what it’s about online–you’ll have to read it for yourself.

Probably the chapter I appreciated most was the last one about Kelly’s reaction to the Trump and Billy Bush recording when they were talking about sexually assaulting women.  I had to psych myself up to the read the chapter after I skimmed it and saw all of the tweets by other women who had experienced sexual assault.  It was right before bed and I put the book down, deciding that I had better wait to read that chapter until the morning when I’d have the whole day to process it and work through the unhappy feelings before trying to go to sleep.  The way that Kelly helped so many women to feel connected and heard was amazing!  Quite frankly, I think it was necessary at the time, especially since the behavior and language of those men was being justified by so many.  For all of the women who’ve been on the receiving end inappropriate behavior or language, it’s like a slap in the face seeing it brushed off as “locker room talk”.  So on behalf of all of the women who were feeling marginalized by that recording and the ensuing justification of it, thank you Kelly for putting yourself out there to start the conversation on healthy attitudes towards women.

I recommend When You Find Out the World Is Against You to adults who like funny and/or awkward memoirs.  Kelly is an entertaining lady and you just might enjoy exploring some of her more memorable socially awkward moments.

A Favorite quote:

“The loudest drunks are groups of sober teenage girls.  They think all their jokes are hilarious.  All their drama is the biggest deal in the whole wide world.”  (p. 259-260)

Possible Objections:

  • lots of swear words (not used offensively, but sprinkled generously as potpourri)
  • explicit talk about sexual stuff (particularly in reference to sexual assault)
  • a bit of drug use

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Grieving the Loss of a Loved One Giveaway — OPEN

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My Bookshelf Giveaway: Grieving the Loss of a Loved One: A Devotional of Comfort as you Mourn by Kathe Wunnenberg

Read my review here

Enter by following the link below.  It’s open internationally to participants 18 years and older and will end on June 30, 2017.  The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

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Enslaved by the Desert Trader Giveaway — OPEN

Giveaway 7

My Bookshelf Giveaway: Enslaved by the Desert Trader by Greta Gilbert

Read my review here

Enter by following the link below.  It’s open internationally to participants 18 years and older and will end on June 30, 2017.  The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

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The Mists of Avalon Giveaway — OPEN

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I’m starting something new in terms of my book blog giveaways.  In an effort to share the books I’ve read and keep my own bookshelf under control, I will start giving away some of the books which I’ve already read and reviewed.  This month I’ll be offering three such books.  They will be given away separately so that you can sign up for only the books you’d actually like to read.

My Bookshelf Giveaway: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Read my review here

Enter by following the link below.  It’s open internationally to participants 18 years and older and will end on May 31, 2017.  The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

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Celtic Journal & Bookmark Giveaway Winner!

Giveaway 3

Congratulations to this month’s winner — Deborah F.!

I’ll email you to set up delivery and I hope you enjoy your new journal and bookmark!

**Sorry for the lack of posts recently.  We were right in the middle of a major move and though we’re in our new house now, things are still very chaotic.  I’ll try to post my next giveaway ASAP.

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Printable Pride and Prejudice Word Find Puzzle – Characters

I had the genius idea the other day that it would be fun to start developing word puzzles based on literary works and posting them for others to use on my blog.  Of course I had to start with one of my absolute favorite books — Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

I’m a big fan of word find and crossword puzzles, but for the first one I wanted to keep it simple and start with a word find.  It highlights the main characters in the book.  In future I will probably do other puzzles which feature place names or some other aspect of the book.

Simply click on the link below and either print or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

Pride and Prejudice Word Find Puzzle – Characters

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Celtic Journal & Bookmark Giveaway — CLOSED

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This month’s giveaway is this really neat Celtic journal which you can fill with all your secret dreams and aspirations–or anything else you want to write down.  Also included is the bookmark beside it with a pertinent quote about life.  I just really like both of these items and wanted to share them with one of you!

Enter by following the link below.  It’s open internationally to participants 18 years and older and will end on April 30, 2017.  The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

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Word Search Book Bag Giveaway Winner!

book-bag-giveaway

Congratulations to this month’s winner — Darla!

I’ll email you to set up delivery and I hope you enjoy your new book bag and kitty sticky notes!

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4 Favorite Children’s Books #3

4 Fav. Kids Books #3

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Four more fun children’s books that we really enjoyed!

One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo

This is a really cute story about a boy who brings home a penguin from the zoo as his new pet.  His father is oblivious to the arrangement until the very end of the book.  The illustrations are unique and remind me of the 1970’s for some reason.  It’s a Caldecott Honor book, too.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

Stellaluna is separated from her mother when she is just a baby bat.  A mother bird raises Stellaluna alongside her own babies, but she struggles to fit in.  One night Stellaluna encounters other bats and discovers the wonderful things that she’s capable of.

How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture by Tonya Bolden

This is a really interesting book which chronicles the journey of planning and building the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.  Kids will enjoy reading it because it’s chock full of informative tidbits and wonderful photos.  It’s astounding how long it took for this museum to come into being!

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

Here’s another charming and simple book from Janet and Allan!  The text is very simple rhyme and the pictures are an I Spy game featuring well-known nursery rhyme characters.  I’ve always loved the illustrations in the books by the Ahlbergs–they are so quaint and adorable!

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

HP Prisoner of Azkaban

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Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Premise:

In Harry’s third year at Hogwarts all heck breaks loose!  Notorious criminal Sirius Black has broken out of Azkaban prison and is bent on seeking revenge.  Meanwhile, Harry, Ron and Hermione are buried in schoolwork as they prepare to take their OWLs (final exams).  Quidditch is just as drama-filled as ever, and Harry learns to defend himself against Dementors–the terrifying Azkaban guards who are keeping guard at Hogwarts.

My thoughts:

This is another wonderfully rollicking Harry Potter story that embodies the elements of fun and adventure.  The Quidditch scenes are just as harrowing as in previous books; the school drama just as satisfying; the mischief just as exciting!

With this book, however, the series seems to have taken a turn into more mature themes.  Not anything inappropriate, but more mature in terms of emotions and motivation.  It deals with themes of hatred, revenge, betrayal, and how people react in adverse circumstances.  Harry really comes to a crisis point in his thinking when he understands how fully somebody hurt him and has to decide whether to embrace his hatred or let it go.  I like that kids get to explore those more complex emotional issues in this story.

The story itself feels like it’s more complex and well-planned than the previous two.  The plot is more involved and interconnected, with some decidedly clever bits that make you say, “Oh, now I get it!“.  I don’t want to give anything away, but Hermione’s “tool” is an awesome plot device.

I love Lupin and wish that he were a bigger part of the story.  It seems like there is so much about his character and history that is only hinted at and I’d love to get a fuller look at that.  One character who I think is portrayed quite differently in the movie is Crookshanks.  In the book he’s much more intelligent and plays a greater role in the story.  The movie Crookshanks is mostly just an ill-tempered cat.  It’s too bad he was dumbed-down for the movie.

Finally, it was very satisfying to learn more about the history of Harry’s parents and friends.  It helps round out the story and characters, and really adds a depth of understanding to everything that happens in the series.  If there’s one thing that J.K. Rowling does well, it’s writing well-developed characters.

I highly recommend Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to kids from elementary school up through teens.  It’s also a great family read-aloud.  It’s definitely a family-favorite at our house!

Possible Objections:

  • 2 uses of the d-word
  • 1 use of the b-word (though it’s used in reference to a female dog)

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

HP Chamber of Secrets

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Title: Harry Potter and The Chamber Of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Premise:

Harry Potter is back for his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!  Don’t get too comfortable, though–danger lurks yet again for our dauntless hero and his friends.  Someone is determined to rid the school of students who are from non-wizarding families.  Can Harry, Ron and Hermione stop them before somebody is truly hurt?

My thoughts:

This book is possibly my favorite Harry Potter novel (though I’ll have to go through and compare all of them again to judge fairly).  The story is fun and charming; the characters are engaging and still fresh; the plot elements are fun and adventurous!  If ever there was a satisfying adventure story written for children–this is it!

Chamber of Secrets really capitalizes on the cohesive friendship of Harry, Ron and Hermione, where the first book only touched the surface.  In this book the friends really function as a team and figure out how they work best together.  Also, Hermione’s character became much less annoying and much more fleshed out.

Speaking of characters, I think that this book really did an admirable job of bringing in some very interesting and entertaining new ones–Professor Lockhart, Moaning Myrtle, and even Dobby.  An author should never underestimate the power of good supporting characters, and this story sure does deliver on that front.

As for the story line, it is so much fun–a flying car, the Forbidden Forest, the magical creatures, and the final scene in the Chamber of Secrets–who wouldn’t love it?

If you are familiar with the movie adaptation of this book, you will notice that the book and the movie are nearly identical.  It almost feels like you’re reading the screenplay.  Of course I know that the book came first, but I can picture the movie scenes in my head.  It’s a bit strange.

I highly recommend Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to kids all the way from elementary school up through teens.  It’s also a great family read-aloud.  The story is timeless and would appeal to many ages.

A Favorite quote:

“’So Dobby stopped us from getting on the train and broke your arm….’  He shook his head.  ‘You know what, Harry?  If he doesn’t stop trying to save your life he’s going to kill you.’”  (p. 184)

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

HP Sorcerers Stone

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I read the Harry Potter series years ago, though not when they first came out.  I had a thing back then about reading books which were being talked about non-stop.  The more someone told me, you have to read this book, the less I wanted to read it.  I finally caved and ended up absolutely falling in love with the books.  Now my kids are starting to read the Harry Potter series and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to revisit them myself.  We currently have five people in our family reading through the series.  I think that’s pretty awesome!

Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Premise:

Harry Potter has been raised unloved and mistreated by his aunt and uncle who took him in as an infant when his parents died.  Much to his surprise, Harry finds out that he has been accepted into a school for witchcraft and wizardry, and that he is in fact quite famous for having survived an attack by a powerful wizard named Voldemort.  Follow Harry in his first-year adventures–playing quidditch, making friends, and unraveling the mystery of who is trying to steal a valuable and potentially dangerous substance from the school!

My thoughts:

It is a bit difficult to review this book objectively because I’ve seen the movie multiple times.  How do I separate my impressions of the one without talking about the other?  I’m not sure that I can.  Rest assured, I’ll go back and watch the movie to post a review of it at some later date.

I love, love, love this book!  Rowling’s style of storytelling is wonderful!  She balances the dialogue and action well, keeping the story going at just the right pace.  Her characters are well-developed and relatable.  By the end of the book they end up feeling like old friends (and enemies).

The author also has an uncanny ability to inject humor into the story–through interesting and feisty  characters, humorous situations, and the wonderful medium that is British humor.  In the books a lot more of that subtle humor comes through, which unfortunately, doesn’t always make it into the movies.  Don’t get me wrong–I love the movies, but they don’t catch the full personality of the book characters, nor the subtleties of every situation.

There was one section of the book which I thought was really hilarious, which was shortened and condensed for the movie.  The part about the lengths that Harry’s uncle Vernon goes to in trying to escape the letters is absolute gold.  I thought it was one of the funniest parts of the book.

I was also struck by how long it took for Harry and Ron to accept Hermione as one of the gang.  In the book she is much more awkward, talkative, overbearing and disliked.  I don’t think the movie was wrong in speeding up that sequence, it’s just different.  Honestly, I think I prefer the movie version of that aspect of the story because it makes Hermione more likable and less socially awkward.

Another thing I noticed was that in the scene where Harry defeats the antagonist, the person is burned.  I appreciated that they changed that for the movie because I think it would have been a bit much visually for kids to handle.

I highly recommend Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to kids all the way from elementary school up through teens.  It’s also a great family read-aloud.  The story is timeless and would appeal to many ages.

A Favorite quote:

“’Oh, these people’s minds work in strange ways, Petunia, they’re not like you and me,’ said Uncle Vernon, trying to knock in a nail with the piece of fruitcake Aunt Petunia had just brought him.”  (p. 40)

Possible Objections:

  • 1 use of the d-word

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Ugly by Robert Hoge

Ugly

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Title: Ugly by Robert Hoge

Premise:

Robert was born with some major birth defects (a growth in the middle of his face and deformed legs) because of a medication his mother took while he was in utero.  His life is a tale of resilience and the quest to fit in in a world that too often judges people based on appearance.  Though the cards are stacked against him, Robert comes of age as a well-adjusted young adult, demonstrating to all that a person’s looks don’t define who they are as a person.

My thoughts:

Thank you to smile rac for recommending this book!

Wow–what a refreshing and well-timed book!  There is so much talk nowadays about acceptance and mainstreaming children with special needs, but that was not the case back when Robert was a child.  It was even a fight for him to be accepted into his own home!

Robert’s memoir is poignant and entertaining at the same time.  His wry humor helps take the edge off of some very painful experiences and helps the reader to identify with the human behind the hurt.  The narrative is detailed enough to keep the attention of older readers, but simple enough that it’s still accessible to a younger audience.  I appreciate that Robert left out offensive language, etc. which would have been questionable for the younger crowd.

The surgery which doctors performed on Robert’s face took place during the early days of craniofacial surgery.  Truly he underwent a groundbreaking surgery which helped pave the way for so many after him.  I thought that was pretty interesting, though I don’t know that he feels particularly heroic for doctors having experimented on his face when he really had no say in the matter.  I’m not sure how I would feel about that, if I were in his place.

For any child or parent who has a friend or family member with special needs, this is an especially important read.  When you feel different it can be very cathartic to hear from others who have gone through the same experiences.  It leaves you feeling a little less alone, a little more hopeful, and a whole lot more understood.  I highly recommend Ugly to all kids–elementary through teens.  For those with a personal tie to special needs or those who have experienced bullying, I recommend it doubly!

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

Sign of the Beaver

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Title: The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

Notable: Newbery Honor book, 1984

Premise:

Matt and his father have claimed a homestead in the Maine wilderness, but Matt’s father must return to civilization to bring the rest of his family  back.  Does Matt have what it takes to protect their claim and survive until his father returns?  When Matt experiences misfortune, a couple of members of the local Penobscot tribe help him survive.  But how do white settlers and Native People coexist?

My thoughts:

I’m really conflicted on this book.  I enjoyed the story, Matt’s fight for survival, and the blossoming friendship between Attean and Matt.  On the other hand, there were aspects of the book which I really disliked–the dumbing down of the Native Americans, the offensive language, the almost too subtle social commentary.

I’m not a prude when it comes to offensive language in a book, but this is a book aimed at children.  They won’t know that some of the words are outdated or downright offensive.  If it were just a couple of instances it would be easier to overlook, but it’s pretty pervasive.  I most certainly wouldn’t want my child to think that it’s okay to call a woman a “squaw” or a Native American a “savage”.  Okay, rant over.

Apart from that, there are several passages when Matt’s accepted way of thinking is challenged and he comes to a new understanding.  He entertains the idea that perhaps slavery is wrong…maybe Native Americans aren’t as “savage” as he thought…perhaps the white man’s priorities in life are not always superior.  I appreciate that Matt has those crises of thinking, but I think that they are not always spelled out clearly enough that a child would pick up on them.  I hesitate to introduce racist ideas to a child without a very clear follow-up that shows the child why those ideas are wrong.

I suppose the only way I can recommend this book is if you read it with your child and have some very candid discussions about what you are reading.  Some of the issues that will need addressing are slavery, racial terminology, gender roles and terminology, and a more in-depth look at Native American culture.  You can learn more about the Penobscot tribe here.  Also, this link has some helpful curriculum discussion points to address the issues I mentioned.

Possible Objections:

  • Outdated and/or offensive racial language (i.e. Indians, savages, heathen, squaw)
  • Outdated modes of thinking (racism, slavery is normal, Native Americans are uncivilized, etc.)

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Word Search Book Bag Giveaway — CLOSED

Book Bag Giveaway.jpg

This month’s giveaway is this roomy word search canvas book bag, and a pack of Cats in the Box.  The cats are little sticky notes, but they are so adorable that I don’t know if you could bear to use them!  I gave a set to a friend and had to get some for a giveaway, as well.  They’re too cute not to share.  Let the giveaway begin my darlings!

Enter by following the link below.  It’s open to participants in the United States and will end on March 31, 2017.  The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

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