Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Minor Characters–Canine Edition

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Last year I did a Top Ten Tuesday post on this topic, so I decided to spin it a bit differently. Today’s list–favorite minor DOG characters!

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Norman the big, black, cow-sized, farting, loving, protector-dog. All kids who don’t mesh with the so-called popular kids deserve a real animal to love and to be loved and protected by.  Norman went above and beyond the call of duty for his girl. You can read my review here.

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

 

 

 

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Barnabas–Father Tim’s, big dog who can only be calmed with Bible verses! Love the big lug.

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Anne Tyler is a favorite of mine and this is one of her best books.  I love Edward–the dog who is the catalyst for the story. It is Edward who brings Macon and Muriel together. He was even cooler in the movie since he was played by a tri-colored Corgi.

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

 

 

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Salty is pastry chef Livvy’s wonderful dog who goes to work with her.

City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

 

 

 

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Arthur Guiness–named for the famed brewer of Guiness beer, is a black lab–a big lummox! He retrieves Wellington boots left out on neighbors’ back steps. But Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly and his housekeeper, Mrs. Kinky Kincaid, couldn’t get along without him

The Irish Country Doctor series

A Bonus dog

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Hound Penderwick, loyal companion of Batty–the youngest Penderwick sister. He is the dog every kid should get to grow up with.

The Penderwicks series

Top 5 Wednesday is a group you can join on Goodreads. Every Wednesday members post blog or video posts with the week’s list.

Top 5 Wednesday: Summer Books for all ages

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This week’s topic is what books remind you of summer and are your quintessential summer reads?

The Mom’s Choice

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A reading/writing friend cites this as one of her life-long favorite books. I owned a copy that looked like this and probably DID read it in 1973 or ’74. I liked the movie when I saw it in junior high school, so I got the book. Hence, the tie-in cover. Very much a “summer” book and movie–only because of the title.

The Summer of ’42  by Herman Ruacher.

The Family Choice

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The introduction to the Penderwick family series begins with the family going off for summer vacation and meeting Jeffrey. This is a delightful book (and series) that fans of Elizabeth Enright will love–well, that anyone who likes a true “family” book will love. I have loved listening to each of the books in this series–each as wonderful as the other. I love the way they are growing up. I feel like a proud Mom listening to them.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

The Little Ones’ Choice

HarrySea

My favorite childhood summer book–Harry by the Sea. Love Harry the Dirty Dog and No Roses for Harry, too. I have the one volume treasury of Harry in fact.

Harry By The Sea by Gene Zion

The Book Club’s Controversial Choice

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I remember the books I read in the summer so much better than many of the books and short stories that were assigned reading in school or college. In the summer of 1976 I took a break from re-reading and re-reading GWTW to read Edna Ferber’s classic Showboat. I’ve chosen it as a summer book because its a great read. Sadly, how we classify people is still an issue. Who is African American, who is mixed race, who is white is still a question that divides our society.

I won’t kid you–racism is alive and well in this book, written in 1926 during the great Klan era of the 20th Century. There are words and sentiments that we make us cringe and rightfully feel ashamed today. But the story is still relevant today. Discrimination is still alive and thriving. My hope is that if more people read this for the story the racism will be seen as the vile shame it has always been. I do not post this to glorify racism–never. The story is well worth it. If your only knowledge of this book is Paul Robeson singing “Ol’ Man River” in old-time “slave” dialect, then you haven’t dug into the book and should.

This book also ties in with tomorrow’s great summer book review [tune in tomorrow–same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!]. Magnolia (Nola/Noly) and Gaylord are a classic couple, too. Who doesn’t enjoy a great summer romance?Especially with a roguish, rapscallion of a bad-boy too handsome to resist? And, with the 50th Anniversary this year of Loving v Virginia making inter-racial marriage legal, Steve and Julie’s story is especially poignant.

Show Boat by Edna Ferber

Note: Ferber’s other fabulous book, Giant, made famous by Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson and James Dean in the movie version, is equally relevant for the same reasons. It explores the issue of fair treatment for Mexicans. It’s size makes it an entire summer’s worth of reading.

One More Note: Teachers & Professors who assign students the task of writing a book review on Amazon should definitely fail anyone who posts his review on the wrong book. Lots of reviews on the Show Boat by Edna Ferber page are for a book on Kobe Bryant.

The Aesthetic Choice

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This series of incredible, mostly wordless picture books are a treasure. I have many of them. I love anything Edwardian so these are a joy to me. Although they are out-of-print they can be purchased used for reasonable prices and a few libraries have them, too.

An Edwardian Summer by John S. Goodall

But wait! There’s more!

The Beach or Pool Book

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A few weeks ago, I reviewed this book about summer of 1914 in an English village. As you know, World War I began for those in Europe on August 4, 1914. The U.S.A. joined the fighting three years later.   My review is here, but you’ll need to scroll way down to read it.

The Summer Before the War: A Novel by Helen Simonson

Top 5 Wednesday is a group at Goodreads. Why not join the group and post your own list (or video) next week?

Top 5 Wednesday: Books As Event Themes–not the usual ones, either!

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This week’s topic is books as themes for events. I love this! I tried to go beyond the one’s that will be over-used like Harry Potter, Gone With the Wind, Hunger Games, Anne of Green Gables,  Jane Austen etc.

Here are my Top 5

Biglaw

To celebrate leaving big law firm hell whether by choice or by “chance” (firing). Who cares if you can’t bill 2,000 hours! You CAN wait tables, right? Per hour its about the same money on Friday and Saturday! And think of the fun when you can spill a tray of drinks on your former “Mentoring Partner”  Biglaw by Lindsay Cameron.

Decor should be ugly, neutral, corporate art and those ubiquitous carpet squares. Or, if the firm had artsy inspirations, tacky art work like bad modern statutes.

Food should be picked over sandwich trays (i.e. left over catered lunches).

Gifts should be tacky logo-ed items [any logo] like Christmas ornaments. And, of course, a donation to the United Way.

Fun stuff:  Law Firm Partner Charades in which the partner gives a fraction of the information to a team of 3 to 5 people and they must all research and brief it. The one who actually gets ALL the information makes “partner” and has to pay the bar tab–you’re an “owner” now, hahahahahah!

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To celebrate a woman’s 60th birthday or her retirement or both us No! I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club-a fun look at getting older, but still being fully alive.

Decor should be displays of the most overly-read book club books. You know, the ones no one actually has read?

Gifts should be Victoria Secret gift cards.

Food should be wine and more wine.

Fun stuff: Grace & Frankie marathon!

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When your BFF’s scumbag husband leaves her for her younger work protege (double back-stab) [or simply a younger woman] then this is your theme-book! Revenge of the Middle Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan.

Decor should be the items scumbag loved that your BFF got in the divorce for spite. A bass boat, the BMW, his fly fishing crap, his firearms, his baseball card collection, his NFL memorabilia or whatever it is.

Gifts should be the stuff the Scumbag vetoed over the years that she really liked or wanted.

Food should be the stuff  SHE loves that she never got to serve or eat while married.

Fun stuff would include Pin the Tail on the Jack A**, A strip-o-gram from [Pick her fave] a kilted Highland Warrior, a Smokin’ Hot Firefighter, etc…

Note: Great for a gal’s only getaway.

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When a gal-pal of beyond normal college age goes back to school, use She Got Up Off The Couch as your theme.

Decor should be a well-used, preferably an ugly 60’s/70’s sofa and a pile of laundry or two–clean or dirty, either is fine. VW Bug toys cars or other VW Bug items and Herbal Essence Shampoo bottles. [Read the book and it’ll make sense]. CLEP test study guides are good, too.

Gifts should be B/N Gift Cards, Laptop or Tablet sleeve, backpack and some early 70’s college girl thing like a crocheted poncho for fun.  Homemade frozen meals are good, too as are TRULY redeemable homemade gift certificates for child care.

Food should be the popular thing food at that college and beer. Lots of beer. Or, if it’s a Christian college the beer “substitute.” [One college has Ginger Ale parties–that kind of thing is a beer substitute.]  Or, if it’s graduate school, Big cans of Red Bull.

Fun Stuff: Drinking games (regardless of whether drinks have alcohol). Or if graduate school, then a dissertation guessing game. Read off dissertation titles and guess the student’s subject (major).

Extra: Be sure to write her name in her coat and in her back pack. Offer to go to the campus with her and take a picture for her first day holding a sign with what she wants to be when she “grows up.” Walk her to her first class! Be there when she gets home so someone will listen to her tell excitedly about her first day (or express her horror at how much work there is!)

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When the kids have fled the nest and your buddy and her hubby are ALONE at last then Fun Without Dick and Jane will help launch their delightfully empty nest.

Decor should a totally unadorned refrigerator, a soccer ball (substitute any sports crap)-free entry way, a full cabinet of BOTH matching dishes AND glasses, only one load of laundry left undone and no socks, dirty glasses, half-eaten sandwiches left in the living room.

Gifts should be classy nightwear but nothing TOO racy or the kids will come back and spoil it. [Raunchier gifts if appropriate to the friendship–it’s YOUR party].

Food should not include pizza (unless Artisan made, wood-fired and costing over $50 each) no mac ‘n anything, no hotdogs, no Bagel Bites no Hot Pockets etc.

Fun Stuff: Family Feud-style game of stuff we won’t miss our kids doing/bringinghome/eating/etc.

Top 5 Wednesday is a group at Goodreads. Why not join the group and post your own list (or video) next week?

Top 5 Wednesday: The only Sci-Fi I’ve Ever Read

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This month’s topics are all going to be difficult for me! Take this week–I’m so NOT a sci-fi fan. The Empire Strikes back was the worst date of my life. I pretty much loathe sci fi, though I did like an article in the 80’s in an academic journal on popular culture that compared the tv show Battlestar Galactica to Mormon Theology…..THAT was creative! Apologies to any LDS reading this (or to BG fans). Heck, I couldn’t stand Lost in Space as a kid!

For the record, I’m not hot on fantasy either, but have enjoyed a few of those. I consider Wrinkle in Time to be fantasy, not sci fi.

Please note: I make an exception for the original Star Trek. I’m not a trekkie by any means, but I can watch that. Especially the old Chicago one, the one with the love potion and the tribbles. And the cartoon of Spock’s childhood.

 

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This book may well have spawned my dislike of sci-fi. I remember reading part of it in 5th grade and thinking (though we didn’t say that back then) WT????

 

These books were only marginally better than my other nemesis of my Freshman year in college–Waiting for Godot. They killed and I do mean KILLED an entire weekend holed up in my grandmother’s den hibernating reading these so I could get a respectable grade in the first course in my major–Intro to International Relations. Yes, these perfectly illustration the Uni-Polar, Bi-Polar and Multi-Polar political models of the world. I understand from a sci fi-freak friend who read them gladly when I offered them to her, that these are GREAT. If you are a sci fi reader, have at it. If not, move on. The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov.

 

planet

It took dogged determination to stay awake thru this one. Considering I listened to the audio on my daily commute that was essential. I love C.S. Lewis, but not this. Out of the Silent Planet.

 

Top 5 Friday is a group at Goodreads. Why not join the group and post your own list (or video) next week?

 

 

Top Five Wednesday: Future Classics of Social Justice

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Ok, I tweaked the topic a little. But it’s what’s coming to mind today, so I just added the subtitle. Everyone else will have Harry Potter. This list is different.

My Choices

underground

No question about it. This one is, will be and will remain, a classic. After students read Uncle Tom’s Cabin they will read the Underground Railroad. My review.

Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead

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Students of late Colonialism and African Independence will read this for generations. I hope students in seminaries and Bible Colleges aiming for Missionary work will, too, if only to remember how badly done it used to be.

Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

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The nonfiction book I reviewed yesterday, A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea, is another war book, like Zlata’s Diary , that hopefully will help the world learn about war and refugees and make us stop manufacturing both. There are many others in this genre that should be read along with The Diary of Young Girl by Anne Frank to emphasize humanity against in humanity.  You can read yesterday’s review here.

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming

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T.C. Boyle’s book shows the staggering wealth of America against the equally staggering despair of so many illegal immigrants to the USA. It’s the Grapes of Wrath for today. Like Grapes of Wrath, it will be read for generations.

The Tortilla Curtain: A Novel by T.C. Boyle.

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Let’s hope people in medical ethics, sociology and women’s studies, will all read this one attentively. I could have included several others here–Five Days at Memorial, for example. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

 

On Future Classics in General

In 2012, The Smithsonian published predictions of future classics from 1936. The list was about 50% right. Read it all here.

 

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Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Angsty Romances

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Angsty Romances you ask? A bit of brooding? Yes, those with a bit of attitude or a bit of angst. We all know the big one, right? Heathcliff!

Emily Bronte about invented this genre! Heathcliff and Cathy. Say no more. Angsty, brooding, violent, horrible weather–you name it, its got it. Wuthering Heights It’s available in a zillion editions, but I love the new annotated one on the right.

Poe is a romantic to me–love lost to death is tragic. There is angst. There is brooding. These are poems so you get two for one. The Raven and Annabel Lee.

Another two-for because they are first and second parts of the same story. I found a lot of angst here and a lot of typical teenage/young adult uncertainty. I loved these books, too, which surprised me since I’m 55. If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman.

Another classic, but honestly can you think of anything more angst-inducing than vampires? Once again a fine new annotated edition and a zillion others. Dracula (Annotated).

Only four this week–I don’t read a lot of upsetting things. 50 Shades is not my thing. Dystopian and Vampires aren’t either.

Top 5 Wednesday is a group you can join on Goodreads.com. Then you can post your list or do a video on youtube!

Top 5 Wednesday: Fictional Jobs I’d Love

Fictional Jobs You’d Want to Have

 

One

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Just about anything in Jed Bartlett’s White House staff

 

Two

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Librarian at Hogwarts. These kids need some serious Bibliographic Instruction. But, there’s a spell you can use that teaches it. I just want to play with flying books.

 

Three

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Librarian for for the Larrabee Company–either version. I’d keep Linus up-to-date on important Deals and Mergers, identify target companies and other cool stuff.

Four

charing

An employee of any rank at Marks & Co.

Five

 

truth

A researcher and writer for the WPA West Virginia Guide

The Guides were real, but I’d want to work with the characters in this novel.

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Top Five Wednesday: Book Trends I’m Tired of

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Titles that tell the whole story

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Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems by David Rakoff. Saves me ever having to read it. It took an hour to get thru the title. There are too many examples like this to post them all. Fiction and Non-fiction are equally impacted by this awful trend.

Title: A Novel

And why do they tack on   “A Novel….”???  That really bugs me. It’s fiction. We get it.

 

Characters with stupid, unbelievable names

Slip? Alaska? Carson? Periwinkle?  Tibby? All for women?  I could go on and on with this.  Often they are such a turn-off I put them back on the shelf and forget them. Even when I do love the book ( Looking for Alaska or the Cherry Cola Book Club series) it doesn’t make me remember more about the character–I just get the name as a sort of literary earworm.

Ever since Harper Lee’s Scout came along this has gone beyond an occasional oddity. It’s now almost mandatory. And Harper Lee wasn’t even called “Harper” in real life!! It’s one thing in a certain category of Romance novels to have someone named Myst or something equally unreal, but I’ve honestly never known anyone with a stupid nickname, unless you count guys forced to answer to Bud, Chip, Junior or Skip. Yet they’re EVERYWHERE in novels. Some authors, like Pat Conroy or Anne Tyler, make this seamless. Everywhere else they mostly merit an exaggerated eye-roll.

Another aspect of this is names not even given in the years of the story. Do authors not know that you can look up the popularity of a name? I suppose the one girl named, say, Dimitri, who is 53 in the story was born in a log cabin to reclusive parents who feared the government and so never registered her birth and she magically made it thru life without need of a Social Security card? Please…. Keep it real.

The Name Claire

Or Clare. I’ve met one Clare in my life. One. Maybe it’s just the area where I live. I have heard of some girls with that name now. And, one of my great-grandmothers was named Clara–like in the Nutcraker. But in novels? If they aren’t named Kate or Tess, they are ALL named Clare! I honestly have started a spreadsheet to track them all! Geeky? Sure, but it’s that bad.

Graphic sex that doesn’t do anything for the story

Slipping in a memory of licking an eyeball made me throw a book across the room and never finish it. Then there was the book where the author just had to tell us her character licked the sweat from hubs a#& crack…yum….brain bleach please……Don’t even get me started on The Signature of All Things and the library closet….yick.

Copying Book Covers

I realize the author often has no say at all on this. But,seriously? Does the marketing department think I’m so wildly unfocused that I’ll pick up the wrong book?? Or that since I bought the original I’ll buy others with cloned covers?? So many best-sellers have cloned covers it’s ridiculous.

Plural narrative

I really don’t know what this style is called so I’ve Christened it “plural narrative.” On Amazon one reviewer put it best when she asked how she was to relate to this style of storytelling. “All our Marsha’s” and the rest just make it difficult to follow the story–and to accept it as credible. Both of these books should have been incredibly interesting. But they were like literature class poetry–forced. Make this go away and stay away. Do not write like this. All your Marsha’s will thank you.

 

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Top 5 Wednesday: Current favorites that aren’t books

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This week is an unusual week for Top 5 Wednesday.

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from books and talk about some other things you’ve been obsessed with. These all don’t have to be in the same category. Mix it up! What TV shows have you been enjoying, makeup you’ve been wearing, food you’ve been eating, etc.?? 

So, here’s my top 5 of the moment!

Current Favorite Indulgence

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My serious chocolate

Current Favorite Zone-Out Tool

solitaire

I only allow myself to play in the winter. Then it gets deleted. Otherwise I’d be a zombie.

Current Pinterset Favorite

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Love these cartoons

Current Favorite Writing Project

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Photo Source

My still untitled contemporary romance. You can check out the book’s Pinterest board which includes the physical models for my characters and ideas for their “world.”

Current Favorite Background Music

The Chairman of the Board. I’ve listened to him exclusively the last week or so.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Underrated Books

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This week we’re looking at our top 5 favorite under-rated books.Being poor at math, I’ve posted 6–but only because the last 3 are a triology.

I’m starting my list with two I’ve pushed a lot on this blog. One is my Must-Read Book of 2017 and the other was a very close runner-up. Both are nonfiction and both are such amazing reads!

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

My review

Barefoot at the Lake by Bruce Fogle

My review

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Mr. Charwell, is a delightful little book–how odd to say “delightful” about a story centered on depression! But, it IS delightful! (The book, of course, not depression!) It’s the week of Sir Winston Churchill’s long-long delayed retirement from Parliament. Now in his 89th year and only months from death, Sir Winston’s “black dog,” as he called depression, has come to life and is visiting House of Common’s library clerk, Esther who soon is called to a rendevous with destiny at Chartwell, Sir Winston’s home, as his substitute secretary. “Black Pat,” the dog who arrives at Esther’s home to rent her spare room and calling himself “Mr. Chartwell,” is the palpable presence of depression in the most literal sense. He is a huge, hairy black dog who tries to suck the life, the will, the energy out of his “clients.”

As a sufferer of depression who has been in what I call “the fog” of depression at various times since high school, I loved this book for the very real way it describes just what the “Black Dog” does to those of us whose lives it entangles. As the parent of a sufferer of depression, I wish this book had been around when my child was younger–it’s such a great way to help someone understand what depression does in a life.

As for the fateful meeting of Esther and Sir Winston, I’ll leave that for you to read about! (This review was published on my old blog on May 6, 2011).

Portofino   Zermatt (book 2) Saving Grandma (book 3)

Frank Schaeffer’s Calvin Becker Trilogy is one of the funniest coming-of-age stories ever written. It is also regarded as heresy and sacrilegious by many, many Evangelical Christians. I couldn’t care less–it’s hilarious. It’s a not-very-nice fictionalized (barely) send-up of Frank’s rather neglectful parents, Fran and Edith, who are nearly Saints in the modern American Evangelical movement. [For the record–there IS much to admire about the Schaeffers and their daughters–and Frank, as well. I’ve read many of their books and admire much of what they wrote, but I can laugh at myself and I don’t take anyone too seriously].  Frank’s–well Calvin’s upbringing in Switzerland was hardly the typical missionary kid upbringing, but then with those parents, how could it be? From the cripplingly funny story of the Gospel Walnut, to father’s needs in the bedroom, this trio is a scream. Admittedly, I found Zermatt to be “less” than the other two books in every way. But the blasting Opera music, the profane Granny in the back bedroom, the girls and Mom being On The Roof.…stop I’m laughing too hard. Time for some of Calvin’s grease bread and a visit to an old Queen. I’ll probably have to re-read these now.

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