Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mother Daughter Book Club 2015.

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For the third year, we met with our moms for mother/daughter book club in June. We like the excuse to buy books for our moms and get everyone together. I already mentioned that we read The Red Notebook, and we gathered at Room 39 in Mission Farms to chat about the book.
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You gotta love a restaurant that serves both brunch and lunch at 11:30 am so that everyone can get what they want. We had about twelve of us for lunch which is challenging in most restaurants. They are happy to accommodate us - including separate checks - but it can be tough to hear everyone around a table! However, this time our conversation about the book was lively, and there was lots to say.
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I made everyone take a photo with their mom (but set up the lighting on my own the most poorly!) Baby Beckett was there too and slept in my arms for a good portion of our lunch. What a darling little boy with a great head of hair! It's fun to see this tradition live on for book club.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Ten Books of June.

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I participated in fifteen discussion boards over the five week course I took this summer. Each one required multiple posts, questions, follow-ups, and they had to be done on different days. So I didn't want to blog much while the class was going on, but I didn't mind burying myself in books. Anything to not look at the computer screen any longer.

Early Warning is book two in Jane Smiley's series following the same family from Iowa as in Some Luck. Book pal Ginny's review is here, and I mostly concur. I'm not sure I liked it better - Frank makes me crazy - but I can't wait till the third book comes out in October. My mom just started the series as well, and I'm looking for more people who want to talk about how it's so much better than Follet's latest series. I read the first book in the series is back in January.

The Red Notebook was the selection for the third annual Mother/Daughter book club. We had a lively discussion though I'm not sure everyone loved it. AND I'd like to add we had a great discussion without any discussion questions available on the internet. If you've been to Paris it is extra lovely to read, and it can be easily finished in one sitting.

Everything I Never Told You is heavy but beautifully written. I didn't know much going in about the book, but it follows a family before and after the death of their middle daughter. It has the right balance of suspense, heartbreak and excellent character development. I had only one minor complaint when I was done, and I definitely needed to talk about it with Kate when she finished it too. It's not a great beach read, but I think it would be good for book clubs.

Station Eleven has to be one of my absolute favorites of the year. I picked it up at an independent bookstore in Chicago, and I am in awe of the characters and stories Emily St. John Mandel weaves about life twenty years after a flu pandemic changes the whole world. It's a touching story, not a dystopia, and makes you really consider what matters and what will last. This is a good interview if you have read it and want to know a little bit about how she crafted the story.
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On to the young adult books of the month...

Roller Girl is a graphic novel and should be read by anyone who loves roller derby or stories about how middle school is just rough. I thought the illustrations were awesome, the story solid, and bonus points for a Hispanic main character and a single mom.

The Red Pencil is heartbreaking. A little girl and her sister live with her family in Sudan, where she is expected to learn to work in the home but not to read and write. She uses a stick to draw but her whole world is uprooted when her father is killed, and they escape to a refuge camp. There are few bright spots, but it's based in fact and the tough reality of the region. It is written in verse.

The Heir follows up with our beloved characters from The Selection series and is just not quite as good. It's mostly because the protagonist, Princess Eadlyn, is not as likeable as her mother. I'm sure teenage girls will like it just as much as the first series, and I thought the male suitors were mostly charming.
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Waistcoats & Weaponry is the third book in the Finishing School series. I love listening to the narrator, but the story is getting a bit old. One more book comes out this fall, and I'll probably finish up with Gail Carriger's books with the final book. Steampunk is probably not for me in the long run.

Feathers is an older book by Jacqueline Woodson (author of Brown Girl Dreaming) written for elementary school children. I loved the way she writes and tells the story so much that after listening to it, I ordered a used paperback copy for my own piles of YA books. Frannie is a darling little character with a brother who is deaf and a keen habit of observing everyone. So many beautiful passages in this one.

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town has been sitting around in my old building for a while, but I never picked it up. I needed an audio book for the last final weeks of commuting and grabbed it from the library. It's read by Will Patton (the white coach in Remember the Titans!) and an excellent Vietnam era story in a sleepy Texas town. Toby's mother has just left town to audition in Nashville and the "world's largest boy," Zachary Beaver, has just arrived in town as a side show attraction. I liked it, and I can see why teachers would chose it. I'm not sure it would appeal to our students, but I like how it pushes multiple perspectives.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pie Flights in Downtown OP.

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Sort of a time sensitive post for you - it's already almost the third Friday of the month again here in KC! Last month Kip and I took a date night to downtown Overland Park for their "open late" specials on the Third Friday. We had never been before and were mostly going for pie, but we were surprised by the whole event.

It was super crowded with groups of all ages walking around and enjoying a nice evening in June. We saw groups of friends our parents age, couples about our age and even some young kiddos enjoying the sites, sounds and food. We wandered in and out of a couple stores, stopping to sample food and drinks at the Culinary Center. They had wine tasting and were making up fresh batches of fancy foods and a simple, lighter, corn casserole that we tried and loved. We brought the recipe home and made it this week with fresh corn from farmer's market!
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Our final stop was for pie flights at the Upper Crust. I noticed some couples sharing a pie flight, but if you thought that was going to happen in our house, you've never met my husband. For $7, you get three small servings of pie. Kip had blackberry apple (his favorite), cherry, and blubarb. Mine were coconut custard (TO DIE FOR), cherry, and peach praline. All were good except for the peach (not the best peaches yet), but it will probably be even better this month thanks to more gorgeous peaches ripe and ready for eating!

Kip polished his off in the store, and I took parts of mine home for snacking later that night and the next morning. We should have carried our slices down to listen to the music while we ate - it was a fun eclectic band! Here's the line-up for tomorrow's event, and it looks just as good as last month. We highly recommend the whole night!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bucktown Farmer's Market, Four Years Apart.

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We walked to Farmer's Market on Sunday morning, and I snapped the photo above of Jennie's family as it looks now in 2015. But it reminded me of the photo below and the last time we were in the same farmer's market back in 2011.  photo Blog_1043.jpg
Jennie and Joe were almost engaged (but we didn't know it yet!) and now they have sweet baby Grace. I had just moved back to Kansas City, was living all on my own for the first time and barely surviving my first weeks as a teacher leader.

We talked a couple of times about how different snapshots stand out as markers in time. One of our favorites to compare was when Jennie came to town for my 30th birthday party and her first Threshing Bee. We sat on a hay bale and toasted our cans of Coors Light when the band sang Deanna Carter's line from Strawberry Wine, "I still remember, when thirty was old..." We had the best time. And then a few weeks later I met Kip Lynch. At the next Threshing Bee? He was there as my fiance. This summer we're going back as married folks! Jennie and I were already plotting an eventual trip to the Threshing Bee with Grace because it's an experience probably everyone should have.

That's the nice thing about long time best friends. They help keep track of where you were, and where you are, and where you hope to be.