Sunday, July 16, 2017

Week in Review: July 16, 2017

How can it be that we are already in the middle of July?! I suppose Mom was right... the older we get, the faster time flies.


Currently reading The Chaperone by Laura Moriarity. I decided to read this book first from the stack I showcased last week because...
1) I like the historical time period: New York City in the mid-1920s
2) I like books that fluidly flow back and forth between the story of the past and the narrative of the present
3) the author is a local Kansas girl

The story centers around two women from Wichita: fifteen-year-old Louise who wants to escape the boredom of the Midwest in order to find fame and fortune in the New York entertainment world... and Cora, the 30-something year old housewife who acts as the young lady's chaperone, but really desires to return to her roots and discover her hidden past.

So far I am about one-third of the way through, and I look forward to learning more of Cora's life before she was put on the orphan train to Kansas.

Now, I have NO business looking at more books. As I reported last week, I recently added about ten books from the library book sale, and I have dozens on my TBR list waiting patiently for their turn.

But... my fellow reading friend and I decided to escape the heat and visit our local Barnes and Noble on Friday. And of course, I found a number of books I needed to investigate.

The original review stack was about twice this size, but these are the ones that made the cut. I managed to use great restraint and not buy anything, but I'm certain these will make their way into my home at some point:
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I was immediately intrigued by the character, who is described as "... struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit and a bit of a loner." Of course, the high praise of one of my favorite book bloggers, Deb, solidified my interest.
  • The Little French Bistro by Nina George. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a devoted Francophile (see my second Paris book below). So the title immediately attracted my attention. But I read the author's The Little Paris Bookshop earlier this year and liked it, so I think I would enjoy escaping into this story as well.
  • Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo. A book that is described as "... a love letter to literature and its power to transcend social barriers" is a must-read for any bibliophile.
  • A Paris All Your Own compiled by Eleanor Brown. "A collection of Paris-themed essays written by some of the biggest names in women's fiction." What more needs to be said...
  • Delicious by Ruth Reichl. There was a time in my life where I dreamed of writing about food. I collected books by Reichl, MFK Fisher, and Laurie Colwin... but alas, that dream never materialized. This book caught my eye, in part, because Delicious is the name of a fictitious foodie magazine (I devoured every issue of Bon Appetit and Gourmet in the 80s), but also because "... In a hidden room in the magazine's library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by LuLu Swan, a plucky 12-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard." Historical fiction supported by a cache of letters with James Beard as a central figure?! What's not to love about this.
  • The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg. Any book title that makes me laugh out loud is worthy of the TBR list.
  • What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman. My book-loving friend recommended this title to me, which is reason enough to add to the list. But I also find the premise fascinating. "Izzy's new foster parents, employees at a local museum, have enlisted her help in cataloging items at a long-shuddered state asylum. There, amid piles of abandoned belongings, Izzy discovers a stack of unopened letters, a decades old journal, and a window into her own past."

Do any of these books interest you? Have you read any of them? Which ones would you recommend I read first?


I'm still working on the revisions for my Middle-Grade novel. I did, however, receive feedback from one of my beta readers - a sixth grader who read the first half of the book a  year ago and wanted to know how it ended. Her feedback was sweet: "I didn't want to put the book down."

This gives me hope that perhaps there is a viable story here. So I will continue to work toward the goal of self-publication next month.

In the meantime, I continue to market Journaling Toward Wholeness.

I created a GoodReads campaign where I will be giving away five copies of the book. The campaign started July 9th and runs through August 15th. So far... over 200 people have entered, and 100 have added the book to their "want to read" list. I am beyond thrilled there is this kind of interest in journaling.

I'm still working on the Polaroid Prompts concept - to help those who want to journal, but don't know what to write. My current thought is to create a series of monthly polaroids with suggestions for how to interpret the image... and then publish the collection in 2019 as a Year of Journaling Prompts book. We shall see...

In the meantime, here's another Polaroid Prompt idea. I'd love to hear how you might interpret this photo: a past memory? a future DIY project? a fictional story?

Other Happenings:

This summer I have designated Thursdays as Brynn day. It is a time for me to spend some quality time with my six-year-old granddaughter.

So far we have seen the Captain Underpants movie (surprisingly entertaining) ... learned to paint a giraffe (we both left wanting to do it again... except next time we BOTH paint) ... and the most recent outing was to the Nelson-Atkins Museum to view the Bloch Galleries permanent collection of Impressionist art.

To be honest, I wasn't quite sure how a six-year-old would take to viewing art, especially since this was her first time to visit a museum. So I went with no expectations. If she lasted five minutes, that would be fine with me.

Left to her own devices, she would probably have danced through the entire exhibit in about ninety seconds, but I persevered.

First, I would read the placard next to each painting, telling her the artist's name and the title. She seemed to enjoy this information and was anxious to read the title of each new artwork we viewed.

Often I would ask how the title pertained to the art. Sometimes she would engage, other times she would shrug her shoulders and move on. Interestingly, she enjoyed the decorative arts (vases and chairs) more than the paintings.

I must commend the Nelson, however, for making this exhibit user-friendly for all ages and attention spans. Ipads are located throughout the gallery, preloaded with information about the artwork, the artists, and several interactive art games. Brynn enjoyed looking at pictures of the artwork, selecting a piece and then searching for it within the gallery space. This kept her occupied for about thirty minutes!

The final room of the exhibit contained a large computer screen where both of us could sit and view a few of the paintings up close. We could zoom in and see the brushstrokes and identify various shades of paint. For example, we learned that Renoir used green and pink in the hair of the little blonde boy and at least five different shades of blue in his coat.

In all, we spent about 45 minutes discussing art. It was a lovely day.

Other summer outings might include a visit to Legoland, the Aquarium, and the Miniature Toy Museum.

What summer activities do you enjoy doing with elementary children? I'm always searching for new ideas.



  1. Summer is a great time to cook or bake with children, I think. I also love trying origami or other crafts like a simple crochet pattern. My sons actually kept a small journal (a few lines of text at the bottom and a picture to illustrate the text at the top) each summer. My grandma taught me to make country biscuits one summer, and another summer she helped me start a quilt. Enjoy!

    1. These are all GREAT ideas, Deb - thank you! Interestingly... after we viewed the exhibit we spent some time in the museum's bookstore. She loved looking at the "how to draw" books. Perhaps that is a hint of what we should do :)

  2. It looks like you picked up some great books! I loved The Chaperone when I read it.

    1. I'm not sure why I waited so long to read this book. It's been on my list for years :)

  3. I love that you did an art outing with your granddaughter. What a great way to spend time together.


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