Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “Books”

National Poetry Month: Doorways


Friday Film Finds:


At the end of the week I’m ready to kick back with a bowl of popcorn with a remote in hand.

As much as I need to read, there are times when settling back to watch a movie is the ticket to totally unwinding from the week’s stress.

I have discovered I have lost my interest in films that are steeped in human dramas—maybe it’s because I’m living my own. Big, raucous CGI flicks, like the Marvel world offers, are okay for mindless escapism. What I discovered that engages my interest most are nature documentaries. I subscribe to PBS mainly for their Nature program.

Our library carries an impressive array of DVD and Blu-Ray offerings, especially in nature shows. Browsing the stacks one day I discovered an amazing series:

A definite WOW!

From the library catalog description:

Narrated by David Tennant, this exhilarating adventure was filmed over four years and forty countries with help from camera-carrying birds, drones, paragliders and remote-countrol microflight planes. This wondrous aerial spectacle will make your spirits soar!

It is indeed exhilarating to be so up close to birds in flight and to witness behaviors not easily accessible by humans. The dedication and ingenuity of the film crew is certainly impressive.

As a Whovian, it was an added bonus listening to David Tennant’s Scottish-infused narration. I half expected the Tardis to be spied among the migrating flocks of geese.

Film Faves:

  • Extras: the behind the scenes of how the series was filmed
  • the gathering of the flamingos, acres and acres of the delicate pink birds was visually stunning
  • murmurations—how starlings swarm and cavort in the sky
  • penguins-it’s hard to go wrong with penguins

I suppose there is some therapeutic aspect to watching the life and times of animals, especially birds. There is wonder and appreciation for the natural world. The joy and satisfaction of knowing there is so much beauty and marvel in the world that is available with a click of the remote is indeed a welcome balm after a long, long week.

What is your animal of choice to watch?

Word Nerds: Contronyms


I was quite chuffed, having received quite a positive response from my Kangaroo Words post.

And there it was—another strange lexiconical usage of a word. You see “chuffed” (British slang) can mean one is pleased or displeased. It becomes its own antonym. These words are known as “contronyms.”

Here’s a list to get a better idea:

bolt – to secure; to run away

cleave – separate, adhere

clip – fasten, detach

custom- usual, special

dust – add fine particles, remove fine particles

enjoin – prescribe, prohibit

fast – quick, unmoving

fix – restore, castrate

garnish – enhance (e.g., food), curtail (e.g., wages)

give out – produce, stop production

handicap – advantage, disadvantage

left – remaining, departed from

mean – average, excellent (e.g., “plays a mean game”)

out – visible (e.g., stars), invisible (e.g., lights)

put out – extinguish, generate (e.g., something putting out light)

quite – rather, completely

ravel – tangle, disentangle

sanction – approve, boycott

screen – show, hide

table – propose (in the United Kingdom), set aside (in the United States)

unbending – rigid, relaxing

weather – withstand, wear away

Talk about shades of ambiguity! Then again it keeps people on their toes to pay closer attention to the context to better understand the content.

March: National Reading Month


Oh my. Not just the one day celebration for book lovers. An entire month dedicated to reading.
I’m in.
How to celebrate this wondramazing celebration?

Hmm…

How about a book recommendation for each day of the month?
From A to Z, I hope you will find a book to read:

Any title grab your eye? Tickle your interest? Call to your favorite bookmark?

Happy Reading!

Word Nerd: Kangaroo Words


Ah, words within words…

Kangaroo Word: A synonym within a word, like a little joey tucked away within the mama kangaroo.

alone=one

astound=stun

blossom =bloom

calumnies =lies

cavern=cave

contaminate=taint

dazzle=daze

enjoyment=joy

fabrication=fiction

honorable=noble

impair=mar

joviality =joy

lighted=lit

myself=me

nourished=nursed

observe=see

plagiarist=liar

quiescent =quiet

respite=rest

substandard=bad

A word within a word that reflects the host word—now that is a Word Nerd discovery of delight!

Binging, Anyone?


Binging is becoming a bit of a habit in my determination to stay home and be safe mode. And I am not sure if it’s a problem or simply a by product of the current situation.

It would be too easy to fall into binging on comfort food like chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, yet even thinking about such caloric delights becomes a weighty problem requires exercising discretion.

Instead, I am trying more constructive avenues of occupying myself in my downtime.

Puzzles are a bit of mainstay in our household. Hours are spent putting chaos in order, except I quickly lose interest if the remaining section is all sky or water.

A piece at a time can be peaceful

Books. So easy to get lost reading a batch of novels. I’ve read six novels so far this year. It’s finding a stack to keep on the ready being the problem. I’m finding the fifty page rule is invoked more often than not these days—it has to pass muster by fifty pages or back in the bag. This is vexing when it takes ever so long to select to scout out book bag candidates at the library.

Booking an appointment for a good read

Oh, and now it’s at the true moment of binging confession: PBS series. I gave myself a Christmas present of PBS Passport which allows me to unlock episodes prior to their actual release. I have already zipped through the first season of All Creatures Great and Small and Miss Scarlett and the Duke and picked through Nature seasons. I rewatched Wolf Hall.It’s akin to a viewing buffet. Hours swish by.

Tuning in, Tuning Out

And I will quickly move past that I had an Angry Bird Bubble Pop phase replaced by Wordscapes. No worries, by apps deleted. I’m back to the infrequent checkers game as a boredom buster.

So—is binging good, bad, or indifferent? Is it avoidance, escape, therapeutic? Has it increased during our increased home time?

To binge or not to binge?

Now there is an interesting binge—a Hamlet fest.

Maybe instead of binging I can call it researching and do away with any guilt feelings of excessiveness.

All Creatures Redeux


As a fan of All Creatures Great and Small, both the books and the original television series, I have mixed feelings about the recently released update to Herriot’s classic.

New faces for an old favorite

On one hand, I’m thrilled to see an updated version since the old version’s filming style was not very creative, just basic camera angles and editing.

Then again, an update might focus too much on making the series “pretty” through extra scenery shots which takes away from how the books focused on the dynamics of the people, as well as the wonderful animals.

On one hand, I look forward to seeing new faces in old roles.

Then again, how can anyone expect to replace the absolutely marvelous cast led by Robert Hardy?

So—last night I tuned in my PBS Passport (best ever Christmas present to myself) and watched the first two episodes of the first season.

Verdict:

It is a pretty update, with its sweeping shots of Yorkshire, and there is plenty attention on building dynamics within the cast. We’ll make that a positive.

As for the cast itself. Samuel West brings credit to the inexplicably frustrating, insufferable, yet charming Siegfried Farnon. The other cast members are unknowns, and hold their own. I am puzzled by Mrs. Hall, the housekeeper. I remember her being much older in the books, and in this update she appears to be Siegfried’s age, and their inevitable clashes come off more as married couple bantering than the respected nemesis that the original Mrs. Hall appeared to be. This is a marring point, because Mrs. Hall apparently has a wayward son by the name of Edward, but she doesn’t appear old enough to have a son able to be out and about living independently. Sadly, this is a sticking point for me. Mrs. Hall wasn’t that prominent of a character, yet here she is quite entrenched in the household.

Overall verdict:

To be fair, I will have to put aside my strong allegiance to the old series and view this new series on its own merits.

What are your thoughts on the updated All Creatures Great and Small?

All in the Name


In my exploration of ways to promote my book, Someday We Will, I discovered the website TeachingBooks. Their opening statement says it well:

“TeachingBooks strives to enrich everyone’s experience reading children’s and young adult books with our original and curated literary resources.”

They feature hundreds of kid lit authors and provide study guides and other resources for teachers and students. I immediately signed up and created my own author page. After all, who wouldn’t want to be in the company of authors like Eric Carle, Madeleine L’Engle, Lois Duncan, Walter Dean Myers and other notables?

TeachingBooks
Like kid lit? Check out this site.
Read more…

Stressed? Try Cow Hugging


I have long appreciated cows. They have an inherent lassitude that encourages one to slow down to stop and smell, or in their case, eat the roses (do cows eat roses?)

Well, the world is discovering how therapeutic a cow can be. Cow hugging is now a thing.

Hugging a cow helps with emootional release

Having been around cows, I had not considered them as hug therapy candidates. They are rather massive. rather bony, and rather, well, they are rather a bit on the earthy side of clean. Apparently I am missing something.

Hugging one another, especially those outside of our “safe” circle is risky these days. I’ve been sent videos where it shows people hugging their pets as a means of relieving their anxiety. A hug is immensely therapeutic. And if hugging humans is not readily available then a pet often suffices.

Pet therapy is well-known, which is why there is such a surge in therapy animals. And this was prior to COVID-19.

So, hugging cows is understandable, and cuddling with a dog or cat is well-established as therapeutic, but hugging a person truly can’t be replaced, and I look forward to returning to a world where a hug isn’t life threatening.

Someday We Will not have to be socially distant although hugging cows can remain a practice. I imagine cows need hugs too.

Reader Round Up: August


Ah, August—the last month of summer. The weather is still amazing with its warm days and blue skies, essential ingredients for reading in the backyard hammock. I made good use of blogger suggestions and kept my library busy with hold requests. Unfortunately, the library has returned to only providing curbside service which means I no longer can browse the shelves and can request an unsatisfying six books at a time. *Sigh*

Some incredibly fun reads in August:

Frindle by Andrew Clements ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

As a Word Nerd, I cheered how a boy created a new word as a prank only to have amazing consequences. A new favorite. Goodreads

How Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Having just watched March of the Penguins this was a natural to read. If you like cranky oldster novels, this is recommended. Goodreads

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Semi-autobiographical, this is an engaging account of a Jewish girl and her family become refugees as they try to escape Hitler’s persecution. Goodreads

Coffee with Shakespeare by Stanley Wells ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

As a Bardinator I am always up for another book providing more insights about Shakespeare. Stanley Wells create a mock interview and it is fun and informative. Goodreads

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

A favorite read and reread. Bradbury supplies a truly spellbinding reminiscent semi-autobiographical tale of a summer before life became so dependent on technology. Goodreads

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I missed this one as a kid. Glad I caught up to it finally. Precocious children running away to a museum. Perfect. Goodreads

Dragonwyck by Ana Seton ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

In the midst of my kid reads I found a classic adult gothic to read, much like those of Daphne Du Maurier. Goodreads

Onion John by Joseph Krumgold ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I thought I had read this as kid. As an adult I appreciate how it is a coming of age for young readers and as an adult I see it as a parent parable. Goodreads

The View from Saturday by E.L. Koningsburg ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Another unique story from Konigsburg. This one is about friendship and accepting differences and learning how to cope with difficulties. Goodreads

Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

Published in 1940, it’s a fine classic adventure and its message about overcoming tough situations is quite appropriate for our current times Goodreads

Carry On, Mr Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

Another fine children’s classic, this is a biographical novel based on Nate Bowditch whose contributions to maritime navigation are still respected today. Goodreads

The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Bears ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

The message of the book seems to be “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and how it’s caring for people is what really matters. Another timely story for today’s world. Goodreads

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyeau ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

Surprised this isn’t a Newberry winner. For those who appreciated Wonder, this is another important book about how kindness makes a difference. Goodreads

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

As a bonafide Book Booster I could not resist Bogel’s book of essays on being a Reader. Quite relatable. Goodreads

Yes, there were quite a few kid selections this month. I am trying to read all the Newbery winners, many I have read, but I have missed a few over the years. It’s never too late to enjoy a well-written kids’ book!

An update in statistics:

  • Hit my Goodreads goal of 101 books
  • I have read most of the Newberry winners
  • Read 55 books this summer (a number of them were children’s books, I grant that fact)

WONDERFUL UPDATE:

The library is opening its doors once again on September first!

Throughout the summer I appreciated the library’s curbside and inter-library loan service. I’m not sure what I would have done without the availability of books to checkout.

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