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The Week in Review: 08.23.2019

August 23, 2019


Between the Covers

Finished last week:

WE WALKED THE SKY by Lisa Fiedler intertwines the stories of Victoria and her granddaughter Callie.  Fleeing an unhappy home life, Victoria joined up with the circus for what she thought would be a short stint.  She was willing to do anything and ended up becoming a tightrope walker.  Callie grows up with the circus, learning from her grandmother, and becomes quite talented on the tightrope herself.  Then, Victoria passes away and Callie and her mother leave the circus.  At sixteen years old Callie finds herself learning to navigate a new world with the help of some things from her grandmother.

I really enjoyed this book and its unique setting.  The point of view shifts between Victoria and Callie and I thought both of their stories were compelling.  Both were trying to make new lives for themselves in settings that were unique to them.  Callie might have had an unusual life but she’s still a typical teenager – she isn’t happy with her mother and longs to be accepted.  She was extremely close to her grandmother and is dealing with grief as well as a lot of changes in her life.  This would be a fun book for book clubs – there’s a lot to discuss and it would be easy to come up with refreshment ideas.  I listened to the audio version of the book, which is narrated by Erin Spencer.  I thought she did a good job but think the book would have been better served with two narrators – it wasn’t always easy to tell whose story I was listening to.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)


THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA by J. Ryan Stradal is the story of two sisters – Helen and Edith – who become estranged when their father leaves the family farm to Helen.  Helen sells the farm and uses the money to start a successful brewery.  At the same time, Edith’s life is a struggle even when she becomes well known for the pies she bakes at the nursing home she works for.  When her daughter passes away, she takes in her granddaughter Diana and the two of them work hard to make ends meet.  When Diana gets a job with a new brewery, Helen and Edith’s worlds collide in an unexpected way.

If there was ever a book written for me, this was it!  I thought the characters and story were terrific and loved that it included craft beer!  It’s obvious Stradal knows a thing or two about beer because he is spot on when he writes about beer.  One brewery scene had me laughing out loud because it was so true to life.  If you enjoy family drama, great characters, and/or beer, you’ll want to pick this book up.  I listened to the audio version of this book and Judith Ivey’s terrific narration kept me entertained in a horrible traffic jam.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)


Once again, National Geographic Kids proves that they know how to make learning fun with BRAIN GAMES: MIGHTY BOOK OF MIND BENDERS by Stephanie Warren Drimmer and Dr. Gareth Moore.  This book starts out with a brief explanation of the brain and includes interesting facts like

There are no pain sensors in your brain, but there are in your skull.

The book then moves on to the senses and includes a Stroop test and a rail track illusion.  To make things even better, it explains why we perceive things the way we do.

Also included is a section on words and language with lots of fun puzzles, another on spatial intelligence that includes puzzles focusing on dimensional themes.  The next chapter is about problem solving and decision making.  It talks about decisions we have to make in our lives each day.  The puzzles in this section are a little tougher but are still fun.

There’s also a chapter on memory that includes memory games and shares information on how we make memories.  It tells us

Most people can hold about seven digits in their head for about 30 seconds.

The final chapter is on mysteries of the brain because we still have lots to learn about the brain, like why we dream and what causes emotions.

The puzzles in this book are fantastic and I love that Drimmer and Moore have included explanations for many of of them.  Answers and an index are included in the back and readers are encouraged to try their hand at creating a puzzle or two of their own.  BRAIN GAMES is printed on high quality paper that is easy to write on.  I loved books like this when I was a kid (and still do) and think this one’s perfect for curious kids ages eight and up.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

I went to see Where’d You Go, Bernadette with a friend since we both loved the book.  (She’s read it twice.)  It’s the story of an architect wife and mother who withdraws from mainstream society and eventually disappears and her family’s search to find her.  It’s been almost seven years since I read the book so I’m not sure how faithful the movie was to the plot but I am sure the movie lacked its charm.  I thought the casting was terrific and enjoyed a lot of the scenery but thought the movie was slow.  This is one you’ll want to wait for in streaming services.

Off the blog

  • Carl and I signed all the paper work for our wills and it took forever.  I’m glad to have that task done.
  • I went back to the car dealer for a lesson on my car.  New cars are complicated!
  • Vance is in Maine so I’ve been working a little extra.
  • I walked at least three miles every morning and averaged almost 16,750 Fitbit steps a day.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?

26 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2019 7:23 am

    The setting for We Walked the Sky interests me.
    Have a great reading week:)

  2. August 23, 2019 7:46 am

    I want to see the Bernadette movie, primarily because I like Cate Blanchett. I gave the book five stars (checked my Goodreads rating), but looking back, I don’t remember liking it that much. Probably because of all the emails, etc.

    Enjoy your books and your weekend.

  3. August 23, 2019 8:20 am

    I have been very excited about THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA by J. Ryan Stradal since I saw it was pub’d but did not know it also features PIE! YIPPEE. I really need to just go buy this book. and yes, Modern Life and new cars = complicated.

  4. Lloyd Russell permalink
    August 23, 2019 8:44 am

    You are so right about Bernadette. I wasn’t a huge fan of the book, but I liked it better than the movie. I could only give the movie a 2.5/4. I have read one Stradal – Kitchens of the Great Midwest. Again, it wasn’t my favorite. But I did enjoy seeing him at an author event.

    Lloyd (408) 348-4849

    On Fri, Aug 23, 2019 at 1:00 AM Bermudaonion’s Weblog wrote:

    > BermudaOnion posted: ” Between the Covers Finished last week: WE WALKED > THE SKY by Lisa Fiedler intertwines the stories of Victoria and her > granddaughter Callie. Fleeing an unhappy home life, Victoria joined up > with the circus for what she thought would be a short stint.” >

  5. Erin Cook permalink
    August 23, 2019 8:50 am

    Lager Queen is in my top five for the year so far! I’ve been recommending it to everyone – I think it would appeal to men as well. Our book club decided on waiting to see Bernadette until it’s on a streaming service. Book is usually always the best but sad that this book didn’t translate to screen. It had so many laugh out loud moments!

  6. August 23, 2019 9:10 am

    I’m looking forward to The Lager Queen of Minnesota… maybe I’ll listen instead of read. New cars are so complicated. I’ve had mine for 3 years now and just learned that there’s a button to collapse the side-view mirrors automatically! Who knew??

  7. August 23, 2019 10:49 am

    I liked Bernadette too! Gotta watch the movie

  8. Beth F permalink
    August 23, 2019 10:55 am

    Lager Queen was great, I agree. We rented a new car in Colorado and had to go back inside just to figure out how to turn it on. LOL

  9. August 23, 2019 2:23 pm

    I’m interested in the NatGeo book. Thanks for the heads up on Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I was going to go to see it soon but now I’ll watch for it on Netflix, PrimeVideo, etc.

    • August 23, 2019 2:29 pm

      BTW: One day while shopping it started pouring rain and my daughter said she’d go get my car and bring it closer.I watched her get in the car but the lights never came on (they come on as soon as you start it). I waited and waited and finally called her cell phone to see what was taking her so long.. She said she couldn’t figure out how to start it. It’s a push button start and you have to hold the brake down or it won’t start. She’d never driven a push start before.

  10. August 23, 2019 3:09 pm

    I also went back to the dealer this week to ask questions about my car! They were super helpful.

  11. August 23, 2019 3:56 pm

    I can’t wait to read the Stradal book!

  12. Diane permalink
    August 23, 2019 5:53 pm

    Wow busy week. I didn’t care for the “Bernadette” book so probably won’t see the movie. You had a great week in books too.

  13. August 23, 2019 7:41 pm


    I read Where’d You Go, Bernadette, too, so I’d like to see the movie. Thanks for all of your honest reviews here. I hope you’re enjoying your new car a lot. Have a great weekend!

  14. August 24, 2019 7:58 am

    So many good reviews of Lager Queen so I’m putting on my audible wish list. Also will wait to see Bernadette on my small screen. Good luck getting used to your car. I bought my dad’s car (less than a year old) after he died. I’d been driving a 20 year old Volvo wagon so the switch to a 2017 car with a screen as well as a rear facing camera was an adjustment. Now I don’t want to live without either, ha.

  15. August 24, 2019 8:47 am

    Our book club talked about going to see the movie together since we read the book together, but I told them I’d heard the movie was just so-so, and we decided to pass on it.

    Thanks for sharing the book reviews. I’m always on the lookout for good books for our book club.

    We printed wills from the net and had them notarized. It took us forever to get around to doing that.

    Have a great week!

  16. August 25, 2019 9:40 am

    That’s great about the morning walks!
    I want to eventually watch Where’d You Go, Bernadette, but I haven’t read the book. Brain Games sounds fun and The Lager Queen of Minnesota sounds really good.
    Happy reading this week!

  17. August 25, 2019 11:47 am

    Initially I was excited by the prospect of a Where’d You Go, Bernadette movie, but then I’ve been seeing some of the reviews, including yours, and wondering. It’s been awhile since I read the book too, so I don’t know if I’d remember either what happened. But I think for now, based on your recommendation, I’m going to skip it.

  18. Literary Feline permalink
    August 25, 2019 9:46 pm

    We Walked the Sky does sound good. I am glad you enjoyed the audio. My mom has one of those hybrid cars and it is a bit of a challenge sometimes to understand. She seems to really like it overall. My husband and I really need to set up a will . . . I hope you have a great week, Kathy.

  19. August 26, 2019 7:46 am

    I loved Cara Wall’s The Dearly Beloved. I can’t wait to hear what you thought of it.

  20. August 26, 2019 2:24 pm

    I’m excited for the Stradal book. I am so glad to hear you enjoyed it because I loved his last one. But gosh, i am so behind with my reading at the moment. I’ve been reading a lot but not what I want to read. Bleh.

  21. August 26, 2019 9:45 pm

    Can you believe I still haven’t read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? It’s now back on my TBR list.

  22. Carol Evans permalink
    August 29, 2019 9:38 am

    Good to know Where’d You Go, Bernadette was not a must watch movie. I’d hate to drag my husband to it and have him be bored. I haven’t read the book yet – I probably should.

  23. August 30, 2019 11:49 pm

    I was one of the few who didn’t fall in love with Bernadette so I’m not sure even streaming would convince me to see it! My parents just got a new third car. I’m over here trying to figure out where we need to move so we only need one 🙂

  24. September 3, 2019 10:11 am

    brain games should like a good read.

  25. bookingmama permalink
    September 16, 2019 5:57 pm

    LAGER QUEEN is on my list of must-reads. I love the author! Glad to hear that you liked it!

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