Book Review, The Inquisitor’s Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Box of books found at The Book Shed.

On a recent visit to my brother and his family, my daughter and I discovered a hidden gem, a great idea, and the reason we’d been receiving random gifts of books…The Book Shed. In Newton, Massachusetts’ Recycling Depot, gently used books organized by genre and author are stored in a shed, and you know what? You can take as many books as you want!

So many stories. So many worlds to explore. Not enough hours in a day!

I didn’t pick up The Inquisitor’s Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog at The Book Shed, but I did listen to it on Audible. This middle grade novel, written by Adam Gidwitz and illustrated by Hatem Aly, is a 2017 Newbery Honor Book and Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

The story is outrageous, hilarious, fascinating, engrossing, and excellently written. This book may be for 8 – 12 year-olds but, hon, its a must-read for any age. I loved it!

The bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm takes on medieval times in an exciting and hilarious new adventure about history, religion . . . and farting dragons.

1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children: William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead.

As the narrator collects their tales, the story of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

Their adventures take them on a chase through France to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned. They’re taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. And as their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

Beloved bestselling author Adam Gidwitz makes his long awaited return with his first new world since his hilarious and critically acclaimed Grimm series. Featuring manuscript illuminations throughout by illustrator Hatem Aly and filled with Adam’s trademark style and humor, The Inquisitor’s Tale is bold storytelling that’s richly researched and adventure-packed.

Goodreads.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

 

Top Ten Patriotic Desserts

In preparation for the unofficial start to summer, here are the Top Ten Patriotic Desserts. Click on dessert names under the photos for links to each recipe.

Ever wonder how Memorial Day originated?

HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAY care of History.com

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, but in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees and declared Memorial Day a federal holiday. The change went into effect in 1971.

Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. On a less somber note, many people take weekend trips or throw parties and barbecues on the holiday.

Happy Holiday, hon!

Sources: insidebrucrewlife.com, tasteofhome.com, delish.commarthastewart.com, yummyhealthyeasy.com, familycircle.com, thououghlynourishedlife.com, history.com

 

Live Event: Martha Graham, a Short Video

My daughters love to dance!

My youngest daughter (aka Plus One) takes ballet, jazz and modern. Combine a show by her dance company Dance Innovations, the Martha Graham studio in Manhattan, and a Digital Video Production class project, and you get a short video showing the girls’ trip into New York, warm-ups, parts of the show, and my daughter and friends relaxing afterward.

Click here to watch the 2-minute video titled “Live Event: Martha Graham.”

My daughter (left) and her friends.

Where it all started.

Short Video: “Live Event: Martha Graham.”

 

Book Review, The Nightingale

I’m addicted.

I love words, sentences, and stories, but my compulsion to work until I drop doesn’t allow much time for reading novels. Books I intend to read pile up while books I’ve started sit on my nightstand barely touched. Last year, I had a revelation–audio books! Sure, I’ve borrowed audio books from the library (think long car trips) and listened to a few podcasts, but it was a once-in-awhile-thing. Enter Audible. Last year, when I started taking the train regularly from New Jersey to Baltimore, I subscribed to Audible and became addicted to listening to books while I ride a train, drive, cook, knit, walk Lucy…hon, you get the idea.

Now that I am reading–umm, I mean listening–to books, I want to share the ones I like with you. Welcome to a new category on the Bmore Energy…Book Reviews. I’d love to hear if you’ve read or listened to= these books, too. What did you think?

Exquisite is the word that came to mind when I finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I wiped away tears at the unexpected ending. Breathtaking writing combined with  a gripping story puts The Nightingale on the list of my favorite books ever!

Summary from Goodreads:

Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

Quotes from the book:

“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”

“Today’s young people want to know everything about everyone. They think talking about a problem will solve it. I come from a quieter generation. We understand the value of forgetting, the lure of reinvention.”

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

“But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.”

― Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale

DIY Wedding Decorations, Food and Drinks (Part 3)

A table set with love.

Head Table

Linh and Dan didn’t sit much, but their table was set with His and Hers wine glasses, votive candles and an array of succulents, ranunculus and roses. Dusty green, pink, peach and ivory were carried through the centerpieces and decorations.

Toast the newlyweds.

How great is this bottle cork heart? It sat by the bar where a sign (below) featured a drink called the “Berry Marry Sangria” and said, “Eat, Drink and Be Married.”

Centerpieces.

The centerpieces were creative and lovely. Tables were wet with stacked books, clustered corks, votive candles, and mason jars of succulents, ranunculus, roses and hydrangeas.  This place setting would be beautiful at a brunch, engagement party, bridal party or–think picture books–a baby shower.

Opaque bottles decorated the dessert table.

Lots of “Love” to go around.

 

 

 

 

 

Birds and a birdcage are sweet accessories.

Wedding cake.

I’m guessing the wooden perch that the cut-out birds are resting had stakes to stand inside the cake.

Happy party planning, hon.

Related Posts:

DIY Wedding Decorations, Ceremony (Part 1)

DIY Wedding Decoration, Cocktail Hour (Part 2)

 

DIY Wedding Decorations, Cocktail Hour (Part 2)

Welcome-to-the-Celebration-Table

Wedding Wishes

One of the benefits of an October wedding in Paso Robles, California is dry weather. In the  Northeast, there’d have to be a rain date or a tent!

Welcome-to-the-Celebration-Table

The table displayed the light, airy and romantic mood with its floral lace tablecloth, photos of the bride and groom, handkerchiefs, bubbles, potted plants, and sweet accessories.

Guests were invited to take dainty handkerchiefs–for tears of joy, of course.

I love the potted succulents and ranunculus!

Jenga Advice along with Shabby Chic  “L & D” and stacked books.

Advice for newlyweds? Guests could pen theirs on Jenga pieces.

Next Up: The party continues.

Related Post: DIY Wedding Decorations, Ceremony (Part 1)

DIY Wedding Decorations, Ceremony (Part 1)

Wedding Season

Hubby and I attended an October wedding in Paso Robles, a city in San Luis Obispo, California where we were amazed by the ever-changing landscape. One minute, there were farms, the next wineries, forests and the Pacific Ocean. Gorgeous!

Not only was the landscape a treat, the wedding was beautiful and–hon, you know I love a theme–I appreciated the DIY details that the bride attended to. Shout out to Linh, the lovely bride who put it all together.

Wedding Greeter.

A chalkboard sitting on an easel greeted guests.

This way!

How cute is this sign?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handprinted signs pointed the way. We didn’t know that ceremony would be under a..

A screen of flowers hung as a backdrop to the ceremony.

…300 year-old tree. This floral backdrop set the mood for the romantic, airy wedding.

Bride and groom.

Lining the aisle.

Lining the aisle were mason jars hanging on hooked stakes.

A lily pond and mini waterfall were nestled along the path. So pretty!

Next up: DIY wedding decoration continues all this week. Happy planning, hon.

Related Post: DIY Wedding Decorations, Cocktail Hour (Part 2)

Roof Garden Art, Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout

Hedge Two-way Mirror Walkabout.

Hedge Two-way Mirror Walkabout.

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When I visit the The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, I try to visit the roof garden. Not only are installations interactive, the view of Central Park is beautiful.

I hope to get to The Met’s current roof garden Installation, The Theater of Disappearance by Adrián Villar Rojas, which in on display until October 29, 2017.

Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout, exhibited in 2014, was created by American artist Dan Graham and Swiss landscape architect Günther Vogt. “Comprising curves of steel and two-way mirrored glass between ivy hedgerows, Graham’s structure is part garden maze and part modernist skyscraper façade, set within a specially engineered terrain.” The glass was “both transparent and reflective, creating a changing and visually complex environment for visitors.”

“For decades, Dan Graham has created work that challenges viewers to think in new and thought-provoking ways about the streets and cities they traverse every day,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum.

For the artist, the mirrored cladding of a corporate headquarters symbolizes economic power and sleek efficiency; it also provides a certain camouflage, reflecting the world around it as it shields what happens inside from prying eyes.

With this signature material, Graham’s pavilions also transform observers of the work into performers within it, and, through the sight of their own reflections, make them acutely aware of their own viewership.

The evergreen plantings that edge the parapets also reminded Graham of the shrubbery that often demarcates private property lines in the New Jersey suburbs of his youth. Graham’s collaboration with Günther Vogt further illuminates the site’s multilayered references—historic gardens, public parks, contemporary corporate architecture, and the suburban lawn—as its pavilion engages the viewer in a historic and complex mirror-play.

Glass and steel "pavilion."

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” Emile Zola

Sources:

Click here to link to The Met’s page with a cool video on how the art was installed.

Click Interesting interview with Dan Graham to learn more about Graham’s work.

Top Ten April Fool’s Pranks, Part 2

Welcome to Top Ten April Fool’s Day Pranks, Part 2.

I’d love to hear if you have a favorite.

I must add a retraction to yesterday’s post.

Correction: Hubby pranks our kids. Example: Our youngest daughter scheduled an interview with the owner of a restaurant for a school project. Hubby told her a pipe burst at the restaurant and it would be closed for the month. “Oh no!” said our daughter. “April Fool’s!”said Hubby.

6) Subway Car Surfaces, 2001

Residents of Copenhagen who visited the square in front of the town hall were greeted by a strange sight. One of the subway cars from the city’s new subway, which was under construction, appeared to have burst up through the pavement. The subway car actually was a retired vehicle from the Stockholm subway. It had been cut at an angle and loose bricks were placed around it, to give the illusion that it had crashed up from below.

The stunt was sponsored by Gevalia Coffee, whose advertisements had an ongoing theme of vehicles popping up in strange locations, with the tagline “Be ready for unexpected guests.”

Real crash or subway car cut at an angle?


7) $99 Flights to Mars, 2009

Vacation at a real hot spot.

Internet-based travel site Expedia.com announced it was offering flights to Mars for only $99, which it calculated to be a savings of $3 trillion for travelers. “In this economy, you can’t afford NOT to go!” it declared.


8Kids Fly Free, 2004

Fly free?

Visitors to the website of discount airline RyanAir were greeted by the news that as a special April Fool’s Day offer kids would be allowed to ride free. A few seconds later the announcement added the second part of the offer: “For as long as they can hold on.”


9) King’s College Choir Uses Helium, 2014

The renowned King’s College Choir is not known for farce. This made it noteworthy when they released a video announcing that complex regulations had made it impractical to continue featuring young boys in the choir, and that they had been forced to find other ways to replicate the high pitch of the boys’ preadolescent voices. Because the older choral scholars had vetoed the “surgical solution,” the choir leaders had finally adopted a suggestion made by a colleague in the Chemistry Department — use helium. The video, demonstrating the use of helium during a performance, generated over 2 million views on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukDAfF0-8q8


10) Eau de Chlôrine, a perfume that makes you smell like a swimming pool, 2017

USA Swimming just put out this ad: Eau de Chlôrine is an exhilarating race of the senses that never lets up. It starts off strong, fast and soggy. A cannonball that bursts with a lasting and immense feeling of amusement. Buoyed by the passions of a life spent floating through love, happiness and chlorinated water. Eau de Chlôrine is a powerful, heady scent that leaves an impression — both in and out of the pool.

The tag line: With spring upon us, now is the time to swim in our scent.

Related Post: Top Ten April Fool’s Pranks, Part 1

Sources: Hoaxes.org, Washingtonpost.com, Youtube.com, theverge.com

 

Top 10 April Fool’s Pranks, Part 1

Hon, pulling pranks on April Fool’s Day may not be a tradition in my house, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good one. After scouring lists of news reports, advertisements, and videos, I came up with a list of my favorite…

Top Ten April Fool’s Pranks

1) The Tasmanian Mock Walrus, 1984

In 1984, The Orlando Sentinel ran a story about a creature known as the Tasmanian Mock Walrus (or TMW for short) that it said made a perfect pet. The creature was only four inches long, resembled a walrus, purred like a cat, and had the temperament of a hamster. What made it such an ideal pet was that it never had to be bathed, used a litter box, and ate cockroaches. In fact, a single TMW could entirely rid a house of its cockroach problem.

Reportedly, some TMWs had been smuggled in from Tasmania, and there were efforts being made to breed them, but the local pest-control industry, sensing that the TMW posed a threat to its business, was pressuring the government not to allow them in the country. An accompanying photo showed protestors picketing outside the offices of the Orlando city government to call attention to the plight of the TMW. Dozens of people called the paper trying to find out where they could obtain their own TMW.

Skeptics noted that the photo of a TMW accompanying the article showed a creature that looked suspiciously like a mole rat.

Tasmanian Mock Walrus or Mole Rat?


2) UFO Lands Near London, 1989

On March 31, 1989, thousands of motorists driving on the highway outside London looked up in the air to see a glowing flying saucer descending on their city. Many of them pulled to the side of the road to watch the bizarre craft float through the air. The saucer finally landed in a field on the outskirts of London where local residents immediately called the police to warn them of an alien invasion. Soon the police arrived on the scene, and one brave officer approached the craft with his truncheon extended before him. When a door in the craft popped open, and a small, silver-suited figure emerged, the policeman ran in the opposite direction.

The saucer turned out to be a hot-air balloon that had been specially built to look like a UFO by Richard Branson, the 36-year-old chairman of Virgin Records. The stunt combined his passion for ballooning with his love of pranks. His plan was to land the craft in London’s Hyde Park on April 1. Unfortunately, the wind blew him off course, and he was forced to land a day early in the wrong location.

UFO or hot air balloon?


3) The Taco Liberty Bell

On April 1, 1996, a full page ad appeared in six major American newspapers (The Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, and USA Today) announcing that the fast food chain Taco Bell had purchased the Liberty Bell. The full text of the ad read:

Taco Bell Buys The Liberty Bell
In an effort to help the national debt, Taco Bell is pleased to announce that we have agreed to purchase the Liberty Bell, one of our country’s most historic treasures. It will now be called the “Taco Liberty Bell” and will still be accessible to the American public for viewing. While some may find this controversial, we hope our move will prompt other corporations to take similar action to do their part to reduce the country’s debt.

Response
Taco Bell’s announcement generated an enormous response. Thousands of worried citizens called both Taco Bell’s headquarters and the National Park Service in Philadelphia to find out if the Bell had really been sold. Elaine Sevy, a Park Service spokeswoman, was quoted as saying, “We were shocked. We had no idea this was happening. We have just been getting hammered with phone calls from the public.”

The Philadelphia branch of the National Park Service arranged a midmorning news conference to assure the public that the Bell had not been sold. “The Liberty Bell is safe. It’s not for sale,” a spokeswoman announced.

In fact, the Bell could not have been sold by the federal government, as the ad implied, because the federal government did not own the Bell. It was the property of the City of Philadelphia.

At noon on April 1st, Taco Bell issued a second press release in which they confessed to the hoax, describing it as “The Best Joke of the Day.” The company also announced that it would donate $50,000 for the upkeep of the Liberty Bell.

Even the White House got in on the joke that same day when press secretary Mike McCurry told reporters that, as part of its ongoing privatization efforts “We’ll be doing a series of these. Ford Motor Co. is joining today in an effort to refurbish the Lincoln Memorial. It will be the Lincoln Mercury Memorial.”

The Liberty Bell or the Taco Liberty Bell?


4) Flying Penguins, 2008

The BBC announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution had captured footage of Adélie penguins taking to the air. It even offered a video clip of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet.

Presenter Terry Jones explained that, instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins took to the air and flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they “spend the winter basking in the tropical sun.” A follow-up video explained how the BBC created the special effects of the flying penguins.

 


5) Amazon, 2017

Amazon has created an Alexa-themed joke, with a new “Petlexa” integration, that purports to make your Echo capable of understanding queries from your pets. It mostly just consists of this video, since Amazon (understandably) didn’t build a functional version of this.

Part 2 of the “Top Ten April Fool’s Pranks” will be posted tomorrow. Which one was your favorite so far?

Related Post: Top Ten April Fool’s Pranks, Part 2

Sources: Hoaxes.org, The Verge.com, Washingtonpost.comYoutube.com