WWW Wednesday: 12 October 2016

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Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday post, a meme hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Don’t forget to go take a look at what everyone else is reading! You can post your own WWW in the comment thread here.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

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Leave Me by Gayle Forman. The verdict is still out about how I feel about this one. The storyline didn’t capture me at the beginning, but I am slowly warming to the characters and plot. Maybe.

Just Finished: 

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty. Such a good book, and there is a long queue at the library for the next one!

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Not what I expected, and not my favorite classic, but definitely thought-provoking and interesting.

Hopefully reviews for both of these books will go up on Thursday and Friday.

Up Next: 

Little Girls Can be Mean by Michelle Anthony. This has been sitting in my library book basket for a few weeks now, hopefully I’ll get around to reading it before it is due back!

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. For the Halloween TBR challenge, and because I love to read spooky books in October!

What are you reading this week?

Read Watch Play #4

Read Watch Play is my own version of a Sunday Salon: a round-up of bookish and non-bookish entertainment going on in my home this week. Feel free to join in and let me know what fun you have had this week!

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What I’m watching: 

I still haven’t finished Stranger Things, TV time these days is rare, indeed. I have two more episodes to go. I am really loving Eleven’s backstory, she is such a fascinating kid. I hope she finds some peace and happiness by the end of this season!

I watch Once Upon a Time every Sunday, and I have to admit, I relish this season’s return of the Evil Queen! Lana Parilla must have so much fun playing the part, and the Queen’s costumes are always amazing! Do you think Regina and/or her sister will succumb to the Evil Queen’s tactics? Emma’s premonition is certainly setting up an interesting arc for the first half of this season, but part of me thinks this season is too busy. Between Mr. Hyde, the Evil Queen, the entrance of the Aladdin characters and other untold stories, Emma’s premonition, and whatever Rumple is getting up to these days, there is a lot going on in Storybrooke right now.

I will also be watching the Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump debate tonight. That should be an interesting one. Will you be watching?

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What I’m playing:

I mentioned last week that I am participating in a virtual triathlon this month. I don’t usually like to toot my own horn, but…toot, toot! I am so happy with my progress so far this week.

The Jimmie Johnson Foundation Virtual Triathlon runs from October 1 – October 31. It is a 140.6 mile virtual race that involves a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles cycling, and a 26 mile run/walk/jog. It is not done at once, but broken up into however many workouts you need to get it done.

Right now, I am ahead of schedule, and might be on track to complete the triathlon a week early! My biggest achievement this week was my first swim. I love swimming, but I haven’t actually swam as exercise in years. I jumped in the pool on Tuesday with a goal of as many laps as I could do in a one hour period. I stepped out of the pool 1 hour 15 minutes later having swum 70 lengths (35 down-and back laps) in a 25 yard pool. That’s a freakin’ mile, people! Amazingly, I wasn’t sore the next day either! Although I did have horribly matted hair. I bought a swim cap on my way home.

JJF Race Stats (October 9)

1.7/2.4 mile swim (71% complete)

42.64/112 mile bike (38% complete)

8.1/26.2 mile run (31% complete)

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What I’m Cooking: 

Meatballs. This batch almost didn’t make it into the oven without losing a few to a curious cat! This is Hello Kitty, lover of tuna, goldfish crackers, and meatballs.

Our meatballs change depending on my mood, but here is the base recipe I build upon.

Italian Style Meatballs

  • 1 1/2 pounds grassfed beef
  • 1 1/2 pounds mild italian sausage
  • one thick slice of firm bread of your choosing (sourdough, whole wheat, baguette…I think I have used them all).
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, finely shredded
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons italian seasoning (I use salt-free Catazano herbs from Savory Spice Shop. It contains garlic, lemon peel, marjoram, European basil, Mediterranean thyme, rosemary and Greek oregano).

Directions:

Have your sauce of choice ready to go on the stovetop.

Turn on the broiler. Pour the milk over the bread until it is saturated, and let it soak for a few minutes. Squeeze out the excess milk, and quickly pulse in a food processor. Gently combine all of the ingredients with your hands until just mixed together. Form into medium-large size meatballs (about the size of a Ping Pong ball). Broil in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, until the outside has browned, then transfer the meatballs into your sauce and finish cooking in the sauce on the stovetop, about another 15 minutes or so.

Bon Appetit!

What I’m Reading:

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty. I just finished reading Serafina and the Black Cloak this morning. I think I will count this for Wonderless Review’s Halloween Readathon, even though it is not on my original list. A review will be posted tomorrow! It was interesting to read a book set at the Biltmore Estate, near Asheville, a place I have visited many times!

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I’m starting this one today! It looks like it will be a quick read. I have been meaning to read this book for ages. There are so many cultural references to Jekyll and Hyde, I have always felt remiss about not reading the original!

What are you up to this week? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

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Title: Flora & Ulysses

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Illustrator: K.G. Cambell

Genre: Middle grade

Kate DiCamillo never, ever disappoints. I have long loved Because of Winn-Dixie, and all of her other subsequent books. She’s an author that you are never too old to read! Flora & Ulysses comes very, very close to out-ranking Winn-Dixie as my all-time favorite DiCamillo book.

Flora & Ulysses is written in a new format for the author, with comic-book style sequences and full-page illustrations dispersed between the text. The story is about a 10-year old cynic named Flora, who one day saves a squirrel that has accidentally been sucked up into her neighbor’s vacuum cleaner. She performs CPR, the squirrel is saved, and soon they find out that this little squirrel now has superpowers! It comes as a surprise to both Flora and the squirrel, who is coined Ulysses after the vacuum that gave him his newfound powers.

What are these powers you ask? He can type! He can fly! He can type poetry!

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? ANY other author, and this story would have fallen flat on its face. But in the hands of the gifted Kate DiCamillo, it soars. It is hilarious and incredibly touching, all at the same time. It is certainly worthy of the 2014 Newbery Medal it received.

You see, Flora’s parents recently went through a divorce, and both Flora and her parents seem to be floundering in an attempt to find their new normal. Flora uses her cynicism as a way to protect her capacious heart, until Ulysses comes along and opens it up. Flora & Ulysses is a story of loneliness, and longing, despite the whimsical and silly tone.

“Bah, cynics,” said Dr. Meescham. “Cynics are people who are afraid to believe.”

Kate DiCamillo is a master of the art of storytelling, as I had the pleasure to witness first-hand at the Festival of Books and Authors last weekend. Every question that was asked by the audience, she managed to turn into a delightful story in her response. We were all spellbound. I look forward to reading her latest book, Raymie Nightingale, and she said she is currently working on her next novel! No details were given, but I can’t wait to find out what it is.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Bookmarks 2016 Festival of Books and Authors

Yesterday started off with a road trip to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to visit the Bookmarks 2016 Festival of Books and Authors.

Winston-Salem, home for many years to the esteemed Maya Angelou, is only an hour’s drive from where we live in Charlotte, but I had only ever visited once before (it was another author event – Isabel Allende).

We arrived at the Festival around 10am, on a scorching hot day. Summer has continued unabated here in the South, and while I typically like the heat, it did make for an incredibly sweaty day!

I arrived at the festival with quite the book stash, and left with even more! By the end of the day, all of my books ended up personalized and signed!! This was our total haul by the end:

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The number of authors present was very impressive, we will definitely be coming back again next year! I did not attend any of the ticketed events, most of which were held on Friday or Sunday, so everything that we did was free of charge. There were 6 stages, both inside and outside, so the day was filled with panel discussions, forums and presentations. The author with the longest line by far was Sarah J. Maas; we did not wait in that line. 🙂

Highlights:

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Jaqueline Woodson

One of the first events we went to was Jaqueline Woodson’s presentation. She had two forums that day, and her first one focused more on some of her earlier work, particularly Brown Girl Dreaming and Each Kindness. We love Brown Girl Dreaming, a Newbery Honor Book and winner of both the National Book Award and Coretta Scott King Award. I will definitely be reading her first adult novel in 20 years, that was just published, Another Brooklyn.

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Victoria Schwab

I have to admit, I haven’t read the Shades of Magic books yet. They have been on my TBR list for a while, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity get them personalized. I love that Victoria Schwab wrote in Stas Reskon in one book, and Travars in the other. I do wish I had already read these, so I had a deeper understanding of what that actually means!

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Colson Whitehead

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“I’m not sticking to the facts, I’m sticking to the truth.” ~ Colson Whitehead

My hubby and M went out exploring the streets surrounding the Festival while I went to Colson Whitehead’s forum. His newest book, The Underground Railroad, is getting a lot of attention right now, it is currently at the top of the New York Times bestsellers list. It has also been picked as the next title for Oprah’s Book Club – a status that I originally held against it. I don’t usually like Oprah Book Club selections. I started the first chapter while waiting for the Colson’s presentation to begin, and I am hooked.

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Kate DiCamillo

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Kate DiCamillo is as enchanting as her books. She has long been a staple in our home, going back to her first book, Because of Winn-Dixie, published in 2000 when I was in college. More recently, M has enjoyed the Bink & Gollie series, Tale of Desperaux, and Flora & Ulysses. We were both thrilled to meet her! We ended up getting four books personalized by her. I can’t wait to read her newest novel, Raymie Nightingale.

We finished off the day by going to Kate DiCamillo’s kid-friendly forum and Q&A. It was a blast; she had a story for every question she received.

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