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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: a Novel

            Life as a genius isn’t easy all of the time. Geniuses have problems too. Just look at Bee, a fifteen-year-old student at a private school in Seattle. When she aces her report card yet again, Bee reminds her parents that they promised her a family vacation in Antarctica. They agree, begin planning the trip, and then the hilarity starts.

            Bee’s parents also aren’t average. Her father, Elgin Branch, is a star at Microsoft; her mother Bernadette is a once famous Los Angeles architect who suffered a major professional defeat, left the industry, and is now a virtual recluse. After agreeing to the trip, Bernadette realizes that she can’t be among the other tourists for the three-week timespan. She begins to plan ways to opt out of it, sending Bee and Elgin by themselves. Meanwhile, other incidents occur, escalating into major crises. The removal of vines from the Branch’s property results in a mudslide into their neighbor’s yard; this neighbor happens to be the mother of one of Bee’s classmates. Then another class mother who also is employed by Microsoft receives a transfer, becoming Elgin’s administrative assistant. Elgin decides that Bernadette is undergoing a psychotic episode and needs an intervention and a sojourn at the local mental health facility. Bernadette escapes from the intervention and seems to have fallen off of the face of the earth. Bee and Elgin set off in search of her.

            Author Maria Semple, a novelist and television writer for such shows as Arrested Development and Mad about You, presents a satirical, uproarious story told completely through correspondence – personal and business letters, emails, and documents. No group – Seattle residents, Microsoft employees, helicopter parents, and more --  escapes her sarcastic wit. But it’s all in good fun.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

                Share some of the stories presented by these authors; they or their loved ones were diagnosed with breast cancer.
            Promise Me: how a Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer, is written by Nancy Brinker, the founder and CEO of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, one of the most powerful health charities in the world. Susan is Nancy’s sister and a casualty of breast cancer. Before her death, she made Nancy promise to bring the disease out into the open and help fund a cure. This is the story of how Nancy does this and more. Also featured are the stories of other sufferers, those famous as well as those ordinary.  

            Eating Pomegranates: a Memoir of Mothers, Daughters, and the BRCA Gene, is written by Sarah Gabriel. A journalist by trade, Gabriel’s focus is on her genetic legacy – a mutation on the BRCA1 gene that caused the death of her mother from breast cancer when Sarah was still a teen – and later strikes her with the same disease. She bravely showcases the physical and emotional toll taken by the disease on her and on her family. 

             Most of Me: Surviving my Medical Meltdown, is written by Robyn Michele Levy, who experienced a double whammy – diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer, for which she underwent a double mastectomy. She was able to cope with these two serious diseases through the support of her friends and family and by finding humor in her circumstances and joy in her life.

            Everybody’s Got Something is written by Robin Roberts, well-known newswoman and anchor of Good Morning, America. Five years after achieving remission from breast cancer, Roberts was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare condition that affects blood and bone marrow, and is potentially fatal. Fortunately, Roberts was able to accept a bone marrow transplant from her sister. Her survival also is sustained by the support of her family and friends and by her deep faith and inner strength.

            The Dog Lived (and so Will I): a Memoir, is written by Teresa J. Rhyne. She has a lot of new things in her life, a boyfriend, a beagle, house, and more. But then they discover a lump on her dog Seamus and he is diagnosed with an aggressive, one-year-to-live cancer. She fights his cancer through surgery and chemotherapy. Then Teresa herself is diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, and faces her own struggle. Humor and faith help win the battle for both.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Crafty Ideas

           Crafts are for everybody! Whether you’re an adult or child, female or male, there are many ways that you can express your creativity. Are you looking for ideas? Here are some books to help.
            Just Us Girls: 48 Creative Art & Craft Projects for Mothers & Daughters to Do Together, written by Cindy Ann Ganaden, presents instructions for more than forty earth-centered activities arranged by season, to be enjoyed by all ages. Templates, designs and full-color photos abound.

            Boy Craft: Loads of Things to Make for and with Boys (and Girls), written by Sara Duchars and Sarah Marks, is designed for boys and tomboys. Many of the projects are made from old junk (recyclables). There’s paper craft, stitchery, crafts made from wood, model-making, projects made from yarn, and more. Detailed instructions are accompanied by drawings and color photos to help the crafter.

            Candy Aisle Crafts: Create Fun Projects with Supermarket Sweets, written by Jodi Levine, relies on candies, cookies and cereal for decorative projects to make on your own. They can be for special occasions, holidays, or anytime fun; the color photos show how tempting these crafts can be.
            Friendship Bracelets All Grown Up: Hemp, Floss, and other Boho Chic Designs to Make, written by Suzanne McNeill, shows how to make bracelets out of knotwork using a variety of materials. Clear instructional drawings aid the novice.

            A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home: Painting, Crafting, and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space, written by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, the creators of the d├ęcor blog A Beautiful Mess. Travelling room-by-room around the house from living room to bedroom to playroom and more, a multitude of color photos, supply lists, and easygoing text make crafting for the home a breeze.
            Felt-o-Ween: 40 Scary-Cute Projects to Celebrate Halloween, written by Kathy Sheldon and Amanda Carestio, features felt, that favorite craft fabric. Make home decorations, clothing accessories, and more! Templates and color photos included.