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The Spoon Stealer, by Lesley Crewe

20/60 | Started 04.14.23 • Finished 04.26.23 | 3.5 stars

I loved everything about this book up until the last 10 minutes or so. Then the secret shoe dropped and it just didn't need to happen. It made no difference to the story but it took the novel down from "will recommend to everyone" to "decent". Now I can only suggest it to a few people instead of putting it on my list of recommendations.

"Feeling better?"
"Much. How do any of us get through life without friends?"

The novel follows the life story of Emmeline Darling, a rather eccentric woman who grows up in rural Nova Scotia under difficult circumstances and in the midst of two world wars. We meet her later in life when she begins attending a memoir-writing class at her local library. There she befriends some women and makes enemies of others, all the while sharing bit of pieces of her memoir. Her dog, Vera, plays an important part in the narrative, allowing us to hear what Emmeline is thinking and feeling.

What happens to one member of a family sends ripples through the nervous systems of the others. You are not one individual. You are linked to each other. You belong together.

After learning about her early life from these memoir readings, we are taken on a journey through the rest of her life, up until her death. Secrets are revealed throughout as she interacts with her friends and others. There are so many lovely characters. So many fun experiences that made me laugh out loud and events that made me pause. The ending was just completely unnecessary and the story wouldn't have changed a bit without it. I really really wish it hadn't taken the turn it did because it definitely ruined the whole experience for me.

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

14/60 | Started 03.20.23 • Finished 03.26.23 | 4 stars

Never read anything like it. Such a unique idea and well-executed. Usually brief commentary on any number of ordinary things, sometimes poignant and sometimes laugh out loud funny.

As kids, our stock answer to most every question was nothing. What did you do at school today? Nothing. What’s new? Nothing. Then, somewhere on the way to adulthood, we each took a 180-degree turn. We cashed in our nothing for busy.

Tidbit: read the copyright page. The reader's agreement is also quite amusing. I found her explanation of how the book came about to be extremely interesting. But that could just be the nerd in me coming out...

Amy is constantly filled with questions. Life seems extremely confusing, complex, layered. Is sure that adults attend a kind of convention where they are given all the answers, let in on subtle truths. She thinks she will never be able to utter a statement, to speak and not have it be a question. Idea of saying something in the affirmative seems unfathomable.

Some of my favorite entries were those that dealt with an idea being described, not just a term, or when she just gave an example of something rather than a succinct definition. I enjoyed "busy", "childhood", "encouragement, exercise video instructor who tries to give", "euphoric", "lacy undershirts", "stupid slow driver", "update", and "Van Gogh prints". If you're into memoirs, you might like this one, though it is a different take on that.

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz

19/60 | Started 03.10.23 • Finished 04.21.23 | 4 stars

A cute story about a brave and adventure-seeking pig named Flora. She lives a normal pig life until one day she is taken aboard a boat headed on an expedition to the South Pole. She doesn't realize it, but she is destined to become food for the crew. All she can dream about is being a sled dog - or rather, a sled pig. She strikes up a friendship with a cat named Sophia, and they work together to rid the cargo hold of rats. When the boat is shipwrecked, it's all Flora and Sophia can do to stay alive with the other survivors. The two befriend a sled dog named Oscar and together they help save the crew. Carolyn enjoyed this book very much - didn't want it to end - and we loved the delightful illustrations.

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