Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sunday Syopsis

The Last Book in the UniverseThe Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was hard to get started. There was so much jargon: latches, zooming, cancel, proov, stacks, geez, red, and so on. If the jargon really bothered me at first, I can imagine a young adult having a difficult time realizing what is going on enough to keep moving forward.

But move forward, I did. The setting is in the cyber-punk slums of the post-apocalyptic future. The world has almost been destroyed. The main character is Spaz, named for his behavior when he experiences epileptic seizures. Spaz meets an old man named Ryter who once was a writer, but all books, except for the one Ryter still has possession of, have been destroyed. Ryter attempts to explain to Spaz what life was like pre-apocalypse.

Spaz's former foster sister is sick and may die. Ryter agrees to help Spaz get to the latch and see her one last time. Little Face joins them. The result is a fast-paced adventure that has the reader rooting for the threesome. Once Spaz sees "Bean," he decides he has to find a way to heal her, and the adventure continues.

I liked this story. I can't say I loved it for a few reasons, one being, of course, the jargon. Another is how much we must suspend belief to understand some of the things in the book. True, it is science fiction, but some of the events just didn't make sense. Last, I wasn't satisfied with the ending. I'm glad I read it, but it doesn't make it onto my favorite books list.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thursday Thirteen

As a teacher of 11-13 year olds, I hear my fair share of slang words.
 Here are 13 words I wish would just go away!

1. Bae (short for baby) 

2. Yaaasss! (Yes plus excitement) 

3. Wifey (married woman) 
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4. Lit (cool or high on drugs or alcohol)

5. Woke (culturally or politically aware)
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 6. GOAT (Greatest of all time) 

7. Extra (over the top) 

8. Keep it 100 (keeping it real)

 9. Savage (someone who doesn’t care) 

10. Bruh (means bro, often pronounced bra) 
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11. Squad (friend group) 

12. Cray-Cray (crazy) 
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13. Snatched (you look great)

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Random Tuesday

Tuesday seems to be coming around faster than it usually does!  Oh, I know it happens once every 7 days, but life seems to be going by too fast!  I'm linking up with Stacy to share some random nonsense.

I need a new TV show to watch.  I like a good drama.  I've seen all the Law & Order Shows, Criminal Minds, OITNB, Lost, Prison Break, Breaking Bad,  Handmaid's Tale, and a dozen other shows.  I tried going back to rewatch Criminal Minds thinking I would have forgotten most of it by now, but I didn't forget. Forgetfulone, right?  Maybe not so much!  So, any ideas?
I am on a very wacky sleep schedule already.  Summer started a week ago, and I'm staying up till 2 or 3 in the morning and/or taking naps during the day.  I kinda like it, but it doesn't lend itself to getting a whole lot done, so it's going to have to change.  Maybe.

My husband and I are going to go camping at Blanco State Park in a few weeks.  I'm looking forward to it.  We can fish, swim, cook out, picnic, and go geocaching.  I've never done that before, and I'm really looking forward to it!  Have you ever done that?

Can you believe this grocery store (Publix) was unfamiliar with the term "summa cum laude?"
They used dashes to replace "cum" thinking it was a naughty word.  It actually means "with" in Latin!

The real-life Grumpy Cat won a $700,000 lawsuit.
Grumpy's owner sued Grenade (beverage company) who used Grumpy Cat's likeness in ads beyond the scope of what was contracted.  I also learned that the reason Grumpy Cat looks the way she does it because she suffers from dwarfism and an underbite.  That makes me sad.

Can anyone be this stupid?
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Can these girls really be this dumb?
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And last, but not least...
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Have a great week!

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Synopsis

The Girl in the Maze (Martha Covington #1)The Girl in the Maze by R.K. Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like author Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Dark Places), you'll like The Girl in the Maze, so the website said. And I did like it, although it was actually quite different.

It is a psychological thriller set in the seaside town of Amberleen, Georgia. The main character is Martha, a college student, who is diagnosed with psychosis. After a serious breakdown, she seeks treatment. Her doctor recommends that she take a break from college and take a temporary job at the Amberleen Historical Society in hopes that the voices won't return. The job will use her talents in transcribing and writing. She is tentative at first, but she enjoys her work.

Soon, Martha gets caught up in a secret plot. A group of men and a Japanese investor want to sell out the Geechees on Shell Heap Island. They intend to convert the island into a high class resort area.

Martha begins to hear the voices again. She has only one friend in the town, her boss. When her boss is murdered, everyone believes she is guilty. She nearly dies after taking a bullet in her calf but is rescued by Jarrell, a young man with a past of his own. She and Jarrell search for the truth, how to prove it, and how to stop it. A hurricane blows into town to further complicate matters.

The Girl in the Maze was an action-packed read that was difficult to put down. I could picture the characters and setting in my head. There were plot twists, suspense, and a little spookiness. It came together as a brilliant, enjoyable story. I'm thinking I will read Kiss of the Sun this summer, another Martha Covington mystery.

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Saturday, June 09, 2018

Do not Despair

Everyone has heard the news about Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.  My husband thoroughly enjoyed watching Bourdain and reading his book.  We were shocked.  I really didn't know anything about Kate Spade except that she was married to actor David Spade's brother, and I loved her designs.  But Bourdain?  He seemed so  stable and balanced, which proves you never know what someone is going through.
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I also learned some things I didn't know.  The suicide rate has gone up 25% in the last 30 years.  I learned that the increase has been seen in both genders, all races, and all ages.  I learned the US is not doing well in training mental health professionals.  I learned that we have inadequate funding for prevention and mental health research.

Did you know that in 40 of the 50 United States, suicide prevention training is NOT required for health professionals?

Did you know that 2/3 of gun-related deaths are suicides?

Did you know that the CDC found that 54% of Americans who committed suicide had NO known mental health illness?

It's been suggested that just like we teach people to read and write, we need to teach people to cope with loss and disappointment.  I would take that opportunity.

I want to include this link here that a friend posted on Facebook:  If You Stick Around (a Letter...)

And I'll leave this right here, too.
Where to get help
From Canada or US: If you're in an emergency, please call 911
You can contact the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Test Line by texting HOME to 741741
Young people in need of help can call Kids Help Phone on 1-800-668-6868
If you are in the UK, you can call the Samaritans on 116123
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Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Random Tuesday

I'm linking up with Stacy!

This is my first Random for the summer!  The weather sure feels like summer here!

I'm not much for summer weather, though.  A lot of people can't wait to get out to the pool or park, but I prefer my AC.
This school year has been rough.  And long.  The eclipse.  Hurricane Harvey.  School shootings, one of them less than 20 miles from my school.  And a dozen other difficulties.  I am looking forward to a chance to de-stress, maybe do some scrapbooking and crafting, relax, visit with friends and family, and maybe take in a few movies, and of course, celebrate my twins turning 22! It will be nice to feel carefree for almost two months.  This is how I would describe summer:
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My summer will be cut short a couple of weeks because I am teaching a summer session, but I don't want to think about that right now!
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Have any of you watched The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu?  One of our daughters recommended it to me.  It's definitely "dark."  Sometimes I find it interesting, and sometimes I just find it bizarre.  I just watched season 2, episode 2, and it was so disappointingly slow and boring!  If the rest of the episodes are like that, I will give it up for something else.  What are your suggestions?  I need a show to binge!

And now... some puns!  I love puns!
Especially good for the English teacher in me!
Another great one for English teachers!

This kills me!

That's all for today!

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Saturday, June 02, 2018

Sunday Synopsis

A Family ReunitedA Family Reunited by Jeffery Tracey Sr
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A story is only as good as its storytelling. Seinfeld proved that. They took a show about nothing and turned it into a hit due to good storytelling. Jeff Tracey could use some storytelling lessons.

I came across this book when the author was in Kroger doing a book signing. No one seemed interested in talking to him, so I went over and struck up a conversation. He seemed like a kind, grandfatherly gentleman, and when he told me his book was based on his life, I was intrigued, and I purchased a signed copy.

The story is about a boy whose mom cannot afford to raise her children. Three of her sons are with foster parents, and the youngest stays with her. They are then reunited with one brother, the father, then the other two brothers. That part of the story comprises a few paragraphs although I was led to believe it was a major plot element. Most of the story is about the author's childhood growing up on a farm in Kansas and some of the various accidents and mischief he and his brothers created. It sounded entertaining, but it wasn't.

First, the writing lacks polish. In my classroom, I have a sign given to me by a teacher-friend that reads, "I am silently correcting your grammar." I was doing this throughout the book. There are errors in sentence construction, pronoun usage, use of quotation marks, paragraphing, and subject-verb agreement. That should not be the case in any published book. I felt like I was reading one of my sixth grader's essays.

In addition, the author needs a lesson in sentence combining. Let me give you an example: "The doctors told mom... The doctor told mom... The doctor said... He said... The doctor said... The doctor said..." (p 59). These sentences comprise one paragraph. It gets very tiring reading this kind of sentence over and over. He repeats phrases such as, "We are Traceys. We earn our keep," "Life it not fair. Life is what it is," and "Like I said." On page 84, there are seven sentences in a row that begin, "She told me..." There really is no excuse for that type of writing from a published author.

Basically, the book is a collection of short stories. The stories themselves are probably quite entertaining, but the storytelling lacks excitement, passion, conflict-development, compelling dialogue, and characterization. The characters are one-dimensional, flat, and static. The conflict is not explored in much depth, only mentioned here and there. There is no climax; it is just a collection of anecdotes. The theme is not apparent.

Feeling as though you are "grading" an essay when you are reading a book is not an enjoyable experience. I was not left wanting to know what happens next. It's a shame, too. I really wanted to like it.

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