Monday, August 3, 2015

Nonfiction Book Club: Packing For Mars

There’s something new in the blogging universe; Katie at Doing Dewey is hosting an online NONFICTION book club on her blog! This is the debut month, so it is easy to jump in. I did! I can’t say I know exactly how it is going to all work, but it looks simple enough, and a lot of fun. And I’m sure they more that participate, the more fun we will have.

The first selection is Packing For Mars by Mary Roach. 

Here’s a synopsis from Goodreads.

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour?

To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

Hop on over to Doing Dewey and read all about it, Then get the book and jump in! You can find the kick-off post here.

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Reading Map: August 2015

It’s the beginning of the month and time to plan out my reading. I do this with a ‘Reading Map’. This is like a road map of my reading journey. Each month I do a ‘check-up’ to help me see what I’ve accomplished towards my reading goals and to help me see what needs to be done next.

I like to start with a look at what I’ve done since the last map.

What I’ve read in July.

What I’m currently reading.

What I chose not to read at this time.

I don’t feel too badly about not reading these. If I don’t have a review commitment I use my list as a guideline only and I don’t feel guilty if something else catches my eye. Last month at book fair I found a book about writing down your family history, and had a similar one come in from the reserve list at the library, so I have been making my way through those. Also, I misread my bookclub list and 1984 isn’t even on the list until October, so no reason to rush that one. I did read this month’s book selection, though, Whistling In The Dark.

Now it’s time to take a look at my reading map for August.

August 2015 Reading Map

One is a reread for book club and three are for book tour reviews. I am also participating in Doing Dewey’s online Nonfiction Book Club. I leave myself open to picking up a different book if  the mood strikes me, so i may well not get to all of these, but at least I have a plan!

Do you have a ‘map’ to help guide your reading? If so, share it below in the comments. Maybe I’ll see something I want to add to my list! Happy reading!
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: Orphan #8

Orphan #8
by Kim van Alkemade

Why did you choose this book? great cover and interesting synopsis
When did you read this book? July 2015
Who should read this book? readers of historical fiction with something new
Source: TLC Book Tours
Here is a synopsis of Orphan #8 from TLC Book Tours

A stunning debut novel of historical fiction set in the forgotten world of New York City’s Jewish orphanages.

In 1919, four-year-old Rachel Rabinowitz is placed in the Hebrew Infant Home where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research on the children. Dr. Solomon subjects Rachel to an experimental course of X-ray treatments that establish the doctor’s reputation while risking the little girl’s health. Now it’s 1954, and Rachel is a nurse in the hospice wing of the Old Hebrews Home when elderly Dr. Solomon becomes her patient. Realizing the power she holds over the helpless doctor, Rachel embarks on a dangerous experiment of her own design. Before the night shift ends, Rachel will be forced to choose between forgiveness and revenge.

Inspired by true events, Orphan #8 is a powerful novel about the human capacity to harm—and to love.

My Review

I love the cover on this one, and doesn’t the synopsis pull you right in? I have to admit that during the first chapter, I was a little worried that I would struggle to finish, but pretty quickly that changed! This one really kept me turning the pages!

As the story begins, we meet Rachel, a four year old with a temper, and her brother, Sam, who knows how to calm her. When tragedy strikes and family circumstances change, the siblings find themselves orphaned and sent to different orphanages. The book reminded me a little of Orphan Train with the setting and the hardships placed on the orphans. There is a compassionate social worker who really tried hard to help these kids, much like the social worker in Necessary Lies.

As in Orphan Train the story is told in alternating time periods, which really worked well for me! We follow Rachel and Sam as they experience many of the historical events of the first half of the twentieth centure; the orphanage, the depression, WWII, and now the post-war period. Grown-up Rachel is a nurse working in a home for the elderly on floor 5, where it is understood patients come to spend their final days. When Dr. Mildred Solomon appears as one of her patients, Rachel recognizes her as the doctor who ‘treated’ her at the orphanage. Meeting the doctor again triggers painful memories for Rachel and leads to ethical decisions she must make as she faces her past.

This book will make a fantastic book club selection! There are so many discussion points a group can touch on; medical experimentation, gay marriage, foster care, the Holocaust and Nazis, and Israel and Palestine, to mention just a few. The book touches on many of the same issues that were touched on in All I Know and Love, but in my opinion, this one did it so much better! The author has background information and discussion questions on her website.

I don’t give out 5 star reviews very often, and almost NEVER two in a row, but try as I might, I can’t find anything I didn’t like about this one….so 5 stars it is! Enjoy!

About Kim van Alkemade

Kim van Alkemade was born in New York. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in literary journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, So to Speak, and CutBank. She teaches writing at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

Find out more about Kim at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

My Rating:  ★★★★★    5 Stars

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes.

Kim’s Tour Stops
Thursday, July 9th: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, July 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, July 20th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, July 21st: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, July 22nd: Novel Escapes
Thursday, July 23rd: Kritters Ramblings
Friday, July 24th: As I turn the pages
Friday, July 24th: A Literary Vacation
Monday, July 27th: The Reader’s Hollow
Tuesday, July 28th: Mel’s Shelves
Wednesday, July 29th: Bibliophiliac
Thursday, July 30th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, July 30th: Time 2 Read
Friday, July 31st: FictionZeal
Monday, August 3rd: Cold Read
Thursday, August 6th: Books on the Table
TBD: Kahakai Kitchen

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday Memes: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph, or a few, of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along!

Today I am spotlighting A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness -- in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.


   Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York. Especially in the summer of 1912. Somber, as a word, was better. But it did not apply to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Prairie was lovely and Shenandoah had a beautiful sound, but you couldn’t fit those words into Brooklyn. Serene was the only word for it; especially on a Saturday afternoon in summer.

My Teaser

    A person who pulls himself up from a low environment via the bootstrap route has two choices. Having risen above his environment, he can forget it; or, he can rise above it and never forget it and keep compassion and understanding in his heart for those he has left behind him in the cruel upclimb.
page 147

So...what do you think? Is this one you would pick up? Leave a comment below!
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