Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Synopsis

Defending JacobDefending Jacob by William Landay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I purchased this book for $1.99 through one of my Book Bub daily email deals. It was definitely a bargain, and I wouldn’t have minded paying full price for it, but you never know what you’re going to get based on only a “blurb.” I was pleasantly surprised.

The blurb described Defending Jacob as a legal thriller, one of my favorite genres. The book is about Andy Barber, assistant district attorney, and his family. Andy is on the case when a 14 year old boy is murdered, but he must recuse himself when his sfon Jacob is accused murdering his classmate. The courtroom drama is expertly interwoven with family drama.

I admit that the story moved somewhat slowly in the beginning, and the chapters were rather long making it difficult to find a stopping place. But once I was about 100 pages in, I didn’t want to find a stopping point. The clues kept me interested and engaged. There were several plot twists that I didn’t see coming, and the ending surprised me.

This book reminded me of Jodi Piccoult’s House Rules, another book I thoroughly enjoyed. Both feature teenagers are accused of murdering a classmate. Both of the boys admit being at the scene at some point, and neither teen is asked point blank if he did it. The young man in House Rules is autistic. While the teenager accused in Defending Jacob is never labelled autistic in the book, many of his behaviors indicate that he is somewhere on the spectrum.

What a dilemma, to have your son prosecuted by your condescending former mentee, to be on the other side of the fence. Are Andy and his wife blind to their son’s guilt, or are they certain of their son’s innocence?

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Coffee Chat and a Little Random Anyway.

I usually link up with Stacy for some random thoughts, but she's got so much going on with her move, the holidays, etc., that she's taking a short bloggy break. However, I can't let Tuesday go by without some random nonsense. But first... Coffee Chat!

Our hostess says:
Update your challenge.  
Or in honour of American Thanksgiving, 
tell us what you're thankful for right now.

Since I didn't really set a challenge for myself, the current challenge I'm facing right now is healing from my surgery.  The pain medicine is the worst!  Once my nerve block wore off, I started using my medications.  I had to stop, though. Too many side effects!  Extreme itching (I should buy stock in Benadryl!), terrible heart burn (more stock in Tums), and a few other difficulties which are a little embarrassing to write here.  I requested a different medication, but I'm having trouble with that one, too.  And crazy muscle spasms!  The side effects of meds are as bad as the pain.
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I'm thankful that everything went well with the surgery.  I will see my doctor tomorrow to find out when physical therapy starts and when I might be able to return to work.

I tried telling the nurse not to put the IV on the inside of my arm, but she didn't listen and ended up sticking me twice anyway leaving huge, purple bruises.  I tried telling her my veins would collapse.  Someone else had to come in and do my IV.  Needless to say, my blood pressure shot up after that.
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And I'm thankful for the sedative they gave me before the nerve block.  If I hadn't been kind of loopy, there's no way I would have let them approach me to put that giant needle in my neck.  LOL

One of the most important things I'm thankful for, not just right now, but always, is my family.  I wish my dad were still with us, but I'm grateful for my husband, kids, mom, sister, and even my in-laws.  I love them.  How many people can say that?

I'm thankful for friends, entertainment, technology, and most of all, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
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I'm thankful for time off from work, not just to heal, but to enjoy the holidays.  One of the few perks of being a teacher is being off work when your kids are out of school.  With all of the changes in curriculum and instruction in my district right now, some days I just want to quit.  Bureaucracy has sucked the joy out of teaching, red tape, differing philosophies, disrespect from students and, in come cases, their parents, and lack of support from administration.

And now... I'm going to continue my Judge Judy marathon!  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Synopsis Sunday

The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #9)The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listened to this book read by Tim Curry of Rocky Horror Picture Show fame. No one could have read it better! He had the most realistic and humorous expressions and voices for the different characters. If I were reviewing that alone, I would give 4 or 5 stars. But based only on the book, I have to give it 3. I liked it, but it wasn't the very best book, although I do think it is a "just right" book for many of my sixth graders. Lemony Snicket's style, which here means the wording he chooses, becomes stale when overused. (Did you see what I did there?) It's a cute, though unrealistic story, which is what I expected, but this one lacked the youthful sense of adventure as the others.

As Amazon says, "Everybody loves a carnival, right?" The unfortunate event in this story is being part of the "freak" show at a carnival. Amazon rightly describes the characters as "colorful." The Baudelaire orphans are hardly better off and know little to nothing more than they did at the end of the previous book. Still, it is read-worthy if you're looking for a light, fun, sometimes funny read.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Surgery Prep

It's the big day!  Surgery day!  I have no idea what they're going to find once they get in there to look at my shoulder again.  A year and a half ago, they went in thinking there might be a small tear, but my bicep tendon had to be repaired and reattached.  They had to clean off a bone spur, clean up some arthritis tissue, and release an impingement.  Well, 18 months later, I'm still in pain.  Could be another impingement.  Could be a small tear.  Could just be another bone spur and scar tissue.  I'm hoping for the fewest issues so that recovery won't take as long.

I've been prepping for surgery all week.  Painting, crafting, making cards, cleaning house, Christmas shopping,  planning finals care packages for our 3 college students, and planning 7 days of lessons for school.  That's how I prep!

Have you ever had to use those disinfecting wipes the hospital gives you prior to surgery now?  They are called sage wipes.  They're supposed to be used "nose to toes" to help prevent surgical site infections.  What I don't understand is that if you use them the night before, how does that help? Shouldn't you use them at the hospital right before the surgery?  Besides, they're super sticky, and you have to air dry, and did I mention they're sticky?  Icky!  But I'm a good patient, and I did what I was supposed to do.

I think my surgeon has a pretty cushy schedule (jk!).  He doesn't start till 10.  I'm scheduled for 11:00 today.  I wonder what time I'll be home?  I'm sure all I'll want to do is sleep.  Well... gotta get going!  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Random Tuesday and Coffee Chat

I'm linking up with Stacy's Random Thoughts.
 Let me just start by saying, it's been a helluva week!  I don't mean the election! I mean work.  I had a teacher leadership training Friday before last.  Stomach virus on Monday (it was awful!). Our students were off school Tuesday last week because our school is used as an election site.  Teachers had to report to work, though.  Today I will be on a field trip.  When can I actually teach?  Not for a while.  I'm taking off to have my shoulder surgery.  Please keep me in your prayers Thursday.

And now... I don't like to talk politics on my blog, and I'm not going to.  This is just a reminder that we Americans are bigger than this!  One person wins an election.  That's the way it is.  My friends are still my friends regardless of who they voted for.  Let's handle this, both sides, with dignity and grace.  It's time to show our true character.  One man doesn't determine the fate of the entire country.  We will survive and thrive.  We're Americans! (And if you need a review of civics to remember why we use the Electoral College and not the popular vote, like I did, check out this video I posted. It's worth 5 minutes because it makes it so perfectly clear.)

And now, this commercial break.  Not really!  I get so frustrated with commercials.  But there are a few that make me laugh every time.

  And another!

That cracks me up every time!

 And now it's time for Coffee Chat!
You can take these November chats to update about your 
personal task for the month, or;   
share a Currently post:  
what you're reading, listening, watching, eating, wearing, etc.

Right now I'm reading a courtroom/family drama called Defending Jacob.  It took a while to get into it, but I like it.  It reminds me a great deal of House Rules by Jodi Piccoult which was about an autistic boy who is accused of murder.  The boy in Defending Jacob is not labelled autistic, but his behaviors indicate that he would be on the spectrum somewhere.  I'm over halfway finished, and I will write a review when I'm done.  I love to read!  What are you reading right now?

I especially enjoy keeping track of my books on Goodreads.  You know how sometimes you see a book that sparks your interest, so you get it, then you realize you've already read it?  Goodreads helps me keep up with books I've already read as well as those I want to read.

And that's a wrap!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Synopsis

Rogue LawyerRogue Lawyer by John Grisham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disappointing. I've read most of Grisham's books, and I am a huge fan, but I like this one the least. His latest books have taken longer to get into, but this one's plot is so choppy, it never reached the point where I really cared about the characters.

The main character is Sebastian Rudd, defense attorney. He represents the criminals no one else will. Everyone deserves a good defense, no matter their crime. He works out of his office, a bulletproof van equipped with a bar and WiFi (a la Lincoln Lawyer). Rudd occasionally has fatherly duties when his ex-wife and her new wife allow it. He doesn't seem fond of his own son or seem to take his parental job seriously.

The first half of the book reads like a series of short stories. There is no continuity, each chapter a different case. The second half of the book follows an actual plot line, albeit preposterous. The ending leaves the reader unsatisfied because, although the conflict is resolved for the secondary characters, the situation with the main character is in suspension, likely leaving things open for a sequel.

The cases are definitely interesting: an innocent man accused of murder; a cage fighter claiming insanity in an aggressive, senseless killing; a mob boss on death row whose appeals have run out. Grisham touches on topics such as kidnapping, prison escape, jury tampering, and sex trafficking. All of the elements of a good legal thriller are present, but they just don't integrate into the kind of novel for which Grisham is known.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Do You Understand the Electoral College?

Click this link for a 5 minute video about the electoral college. It helped me remember and understand why we use it to elect our president. Do You Understand the Electoral College?: Do you understand what the Electoral College is? Or how it works? Or why America uses it to elect its presidents instead of just using a straight popular vote? Author, lawyer and Electoral College expert Tara Ross does, and she explains that to understand the Electoral College is to understand American democracy.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Random Nonsense and Coffee Chat

I'm linking up with Stacy for some Randomness.
On a completely random note... A friend of a friend posted a picture of her in a fancy evening dress and a young lady in a white ball gown.

The caption said, "My baby cousin's debut." The post included a "check in" at a country club.  I didn't comment, but I wanted to.  I wanted to say, "debut into what?"  I thought debutante balls were a thing of the past.  How is a debutante ball relevant in this day and time?  Isn't it just a ridiculous display of wealth?

Another random note:  I'm liking these 2 new comedies:  Kevin Can Wait and Man with a Plan. I'm not sure if they're really good, but the characters are familiar, and I like 'em.  Designated Survivor has caught my eye, too.  Again, a familiar character.  I so miss 24.  These are the only new shows I like right now.
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And yet another random note:  I've had the dreaded stomach bug.  First my husband had it, and he rarely ever gets sick.  He stayed home from work Friday.  He was better the third day, then I got it.  I stayed home a day, too.  It was obviously contagious.  Think I'm ready to go back now.  It was gruesome!

And on a relevant note - I'm thinking about Christmas gifts.  Since I'm having surgery soon, I can't leave it to the last minute.  I've got ten days to get as much done as I can.  There are so many crafty things I want to do, but I don't know if I'll have time, which brings me to Coffee Chat.

Our fearless hostess asks us...
I'm going to give you a challenge for the rest of this month.   I want you to think about something in your life you'd like to focus on -- just for you - and commit to that task.  Maybe it will require a daily check in.  Maybe only weekly.   Perhaps it's writing a certain number of words per day.  Or a photo a day.   The only rule is that it is For YOU.  Your need.  
Right now, there are
47 days
until Christmas 2016!
But keep reading for more from Santa's Grumpy Elf!
(He's grumpy because there are 3,997,635 seconds until Christmas!)
Cute website here.
 I have gifts to order and wrap.  And I have gifts I want to make.  I've started on two of them:  wooden letters I've painted that I am planning to modpodge some lace and flowers to.  I'm also painting a wooden "book" that is actually a storage box.  In addition, I have gifts I want to make with Mason jars.
But I don't want to stress myself since I'm having surgery on the 17th, and I don't know how long I will be unable to move my left arm.  So, my plan is to take baby steps between now and then.  I've got nine days.  If I do a little a day, I can do it!  I need to stop spending so much time at work and bringing so much work home with me in order to accomplish this, so it's going to be a challenge.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Sunday Synopsis

Matched (Matched, #1)Matched by Ally Condie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I just wanted this book to end. It seemed to go on and on and on. The same thing happened again and again, and the author said it in the same way every time. They were on the hill wanting to kiss. Then they were on the hill wanting to kiss. Then they were on the hill wanting to kiss. It gets old. It would have been a good story if told in a more sophisticated way. However, it was extremely similar to The Giver, though not told as well. It was so much like The Giver, the same dystopian society, that if I were the author, I would be afraid of being sued. Matched read like fan fiction. It is unlikely I will read the other two books in the trilogy.

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