How to find a Read-A-Like

Dear Fellow Journalers,

If you read series books, I have mentioned my favorites in the past (Murder She Wrote, Cosy Mystery series from Joanne Fluke and Miranda James) when you’re either waiting for the author’s next book or just wanting to find a read-a-like, where do you find it?  This article from the Cheshire Library Blog may help you.

~Sallie

New post on The Cheshire Library Blog

How to Find a Read-alike by Mary

If you are like me, when I find a series I love I burn through it in record time and then am left mourning that I have finished the series. Finding a new series can be difficult, so invariably I turn to NoveList for help.

NoveList is an online database that offers recommended reading lists. You can sort by age and genre and even by topics such as “fast-paced and amusing” or “moving and haunting” and even “snarky and compelling”. However my favorite part of NoveList is the Read-alike links.

If you type in a book title or author, NoveList will produce a list of results that include three very handy links: Title Read-alikes, Author Read-Alikes and Series Read-alikes.

What is a Read-alike?

A read-alike is a book, author, or series that shares some of the basic characteristics of another book, author, or series. It means that if you enjoy, say, author Marcia Muller, you may also like books by Laurie R. King, Kate Wilhelm, or Iain Pears,

For example, type in Lord Peter Wimsey (one of my favorite British mystery sleuths), click on Series Read-alikes, and you will get a list of recommendations that include the Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood (stories that have also been turned into a wonderful BBC drama: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) and the Adam Dalgliesh mysteries by P.D. James, among many others.

Bingo! Two more series just waiting to be devoured.

Try NoveList. It works!

A little bit of this and that

Dear Fellow Journalers,,

Some humor from long ago. Enjoy!

Sallie

Fellow Journalers,,

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty much frustrated with all the goings on in my town, state, country. Life is hard enough without the negativity that surrounds us on a daily basis. Some days it is really hard to write about anything positive so I decided to take a break and offer you a little bit of what I have seen lately that will, hopefully take you away from the stresses you are under. This first bit is a piece I saw in the New Haven Register dated September 20, 2018. It is a story by Bob Story entitled ” How to give your cat a pill.” I must warn you, this piece is really funny!

” Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as though holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on the other side of cat’s mouth, and gently apply pressure to his cheeks. When cat open up, pop pill into mouth. Cat will then close mouth and swallow.

Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Repeat the process. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away. Kneel on floor with cat wedged between knees, immobilizing front and rear paws. Ask assistant  to hold cat’s head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into cat’s throat. Flick pill down ruler with forefinger, and rub cat’s throat vigorously.

Retrieve cat from living room curtain valance. Carefully sweep shattered figurines from hearth, and set aside for later gluing. Remove next pill from foil wrap.

Wrap cat in beach towel, and ask assistant to lie prone on cat with cat’s head visible under assistant’s armpit. Put pill in end of paper tube you’ve made for this purpose. Then force cat’s mouth open with pencil and blow.

Check label to make sure pill is not lethal to humans. Apply bandage to assistant’s forearm, and remove blood from carpet with soap and cold water.

Call 911 and ask fire department to retrieve cat from eucalyptus tree. Remove remaining pill from foil wrap. Tie cat’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine, and securely tie leg of dining table. Put on heavy-duty pruning gloves. Force cat’s mouth open with tire iron. Drop pill, previously hidden in one ounce raw hamburger into cat’s mouth. Hold head vertically with nose pointed to ceiling and pour one-half pint of water down cat’s throat.

Ask assistant to drive you to emergency room, Sit quietly while doctor administers anesthetic, stitches forearm and removes pill remnants from eye. Drop off cat, along with a generous donation, at animal shelter, and adopt a goldfish.”

Don’t try this at home!

Who are you?

There is one event during the month of October that young children look forward to – Halloween! On Halloween, children wear masks to disguise their faces. But masks are worn every day by everyone. We hide our emotions, our thoughts, our lives from others. There’s a saying “See something, say something”. The problem is, that many of us don’t. We are more afraid of speaking up or standing up for others. First responders run toward trouble while everyone else runs away. How many of us hide our true selves?

In another time, “G” wrote the following post. Let me know what you think.

JUST WHO ARE YOU?

Have you ever stopped and taken stock of who you are? I mean REALLY who you are. Just who ARE you?

Are you what other people say / think you are? Are you what you THINK you are? Are you what the “social measurements” say you are? Are you what you’ve been, or what you’re becoming? Just who ARE you?

And when you look in the mirror who do you see? Do you see you, or someone else? Just who are you?

And by the way, are you who YOU are, or what someone else WANTS you to be. Just who ARE you?

Are you what you started out to be, or are you still looking for what you WANT to be? Just who ARE you?

And say, if you know who you are today, are you certain it’s who you want to be TOMORROW? How difficult is it to be who you are, and how difficult is it to change? Just who ARE you?

Then is who you are what you WANT to be? Just who ARE you?

And while we’re at it, are you a human being or a human BECOMING? Just who ARE you?

Have you ever helped someone become what they wanted to be? Or have you spoiled someone’s dream of what they wanted to be? Just who ARE you?

Excuse me now, while you ponder “Just who ARE you?” I’ve got to go figure out —–Just who I am!

It makes so much more sense now..

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Have you ever read an article that after reading it, you sat up and said “it makes so much more sense now!” Well, here, in its entirety is such an article! Hope it helps you.

Sallie

I Forgot How to Hang Out

Photo: by the Cut; Photos Getty Images

A few weeks ago, my wife Lydia and I met another couple — outside, at a distance, masked — at a park halfway between our two Southern California cities. Our friends have a new puppy they wanted to socialize with a known and trusted dog (ours was flattered), but, perhaps more important, each of us desperately wanted to interact with someone other than our spouse. Or so we thought.are u coming?Late-night dispatches from a city ready to party.

After parking our cars, we spread out our picnics six feet apart, ate hastily, and talked briefly about how depressed we’d been lately. We finished eating, walked our dogs to the designated play area and let them politely ignore each other for a while as we tried to encourage them (and, privately, ourselves) to engage socially. When we finally said goodbye and got back in our for the drive home, only an hour had passed. Later that afternoon, our friend texted to tell us how tired she felt; her husband was already asleep on the couch.

A year into the COVID pandemic, as the vaccine continues to roll out, socializing is still dangerous and illegal at worst and precarious and exhausting at best. I never considered myself an extrovert or a particularly gifted conversationalist, but 12 months of near-total isolation have sapped me of whatever social stamina and charm I once possessed. The other day, a barista at the drive-through Starbucks Lydia and I frequent — because there is nothing else to do — cheerfully noted that I was there alone. “Yep,” I said, dumbly. And that was that.

Though it remains difficult to believe, someday we will be able to gather in each other’s houses again. We will once again make unmasked, unharried small talk with cashiers and servers and see our coworkers in person and attend social events both obligatory and optional. But, upon resuming our social lives, how will we ensure that we neither embarrass ourselves completely nor become so exhausted we lapse back into semi-involuntary hermitude? I contacted a number of experts in varying fields seeking both an explanation (Why am I so tired after grunting three sentence fragments at a well-meaning neighbor?) and advice (Is there some sort of breathing exercise I should be doing that would help?). Here’s what they said about how our social isolation impacts different areas of our lives (and our brains).

Personal

A small reassurance: There is an actual physiological reason we’re so tired after short, socially distanced interactions with friends. “When you communicate at a distance, you have to use a lot more wind to talk,” says Chris Segrin, a professor of communication at the University of Arizona. “We have to project a lot more deliberately, and that’s exhausting for a long period of time.” With masks, too, we lose roughly half our cues to someone’s meaning; a raised eyebrow can only communicate so much. Add to that the stress inherent to being outdoors and around people (every last one a potential vector of disease), and it’s no wonder a half hour walk can drain you for days.

Like any other skill set, social skills atrophy from disuse, says Segrin. (“That probably explains what you see in people who are behaving awkwardly,” he explains.) The good news is that one’s ability to carry a semi-normal conversation should come back in time, with practice.

In the meantime, it’s essential that we remember we are all stressed, and stressed people are generally thinking mostly about their own stressors. “If you’re focused on what’s upsetting you now, if you’re anxious and stressed out, you have less attention to pay to the other person, and that diminishes how skillfully you’ll interact with them,” says Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and the author of Emotional Intelligence. “If we’re upset and anxious, we’re primed to misinterpret what other people do or say.”

Impossible though it may be, we’d all do well to extend social leniency toward our neighbors, our friends, and — please, I’m sorry — even the oddly curt woman in our drive-through window who simply could not think of what else to say.

Professional

Before we lost it completely, office small talk was widely considered a deadening, dumbing force. Discussing commute time, the weather, and nearby lunch options may never have been one’s most enjoyable source of human connection, but it was, perhaps, the most reliable one. Working apart — or with masks, trying not to get too close — means the face-to-face interactions we have with co-workers are somewhat strained. For people working from home, seeing each other’s faces means planned meetings, which means Zoom or something like it.

Where once we thought remote work might improve accessibility, it has, so far, only extended the work day, requiring increased availability from us all. The jokes about sweatpants freedom have long ceased being funny; neither liberating nor effective, the ascendancy of Zoom has instead contributed to collective burnout for many — particularly those tasked with frequent, highly attended meetings. “When you’re on a Zoom with two or three other people, it’s not that different from being with them in person, because you can see everyone and the conversation flows,” says David Deming, economist and professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. “Once you get above five or seven people, it starts to feel like a webinar, and that’s not at all similar to an in-person meeting.”

Even smaller meetings, though, tend to be more tiring than an in-person chat. “There are a lot of things going on neurologically and biologically that make Zoom uniquely exhausting to your system,” says Celeste Headlee, a journalist and the author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter. One reason is that Zoom only provides the illusion of eye contact — if you’re looking at your camera to seem as though you’re making eye contact with the other attendees, you can’t see them. If you’re looking at them, they can’t look you in the eye. Shifting constantly between the two is cognitively taxing, says Headlee, and denies our brains the benefit we ordinarily receive from face-to-face interaction.

Zoom also tends to freeze, which exacerbates our frustration and cuts the conversational benefit down further. It’s also intrusive, says Headlee. Our backgrounds are also our homes, and in some cases, our schools. “There’s the fear that something could go wrong behind you,” she says. Each of these seemingly minor stressors builds to a cascade of dread that hits us whenever we click “Join Meeting.” Though Zoom may remain the best option we’ve got, meeting organizers would do well to limit the lengths of meetings and stop trying to make them fun.

A Humble Alternative

There exists no technology that perfectly mimics the fullness, the richness, or even the weirdness of our pre-COVID social lives. Still, some options are better than others. Consider the tool once beloved and mastered by the preteen girl: the telephone call. Phone calls provide verbal cues and connection without Zoom’s glitches or eye-contact issues. Phone calls give us access to the same mood-boosting and stress-reducing effects that in-person conversations do, and they don’t need to be very long for us to feel the effects, says Headlee, who suggests asking a friend if they have five or ten minutes to chat, and then sticking to that timeframe. All we have right now are imperfect avatars of interaction, vivid daydreams of the parties and dinners and dates that once were and may yet be. In the meantime, if nothing else, it’s nice just knowing that other people are out there somewhere, wanting to listen and talk.

The Big Open

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Just as we we were beginning to normalize our lives, a variant of Covid entered our lives and masks, social distancing, and isolation appeared again. The brief and yet so welcome respite refreshed our hearts and souls. Desperate folks saw lights at the end of their tunnels. Rather tan get angry at the current state of affairs, why not embrace the peace we felt a short time ago?

The world is still spinning on its axis and we’re still here, banged up a bit and disillusioned but still here. Why not keep an open mind and search for ways to get into the world again – “The Big Open ” is still calling!

One of the themes in the Laramie Fan Fiction stories (my story site) is the theme of “The Big Open”.” It refers to a “place” (new territory, if you will) where you can go exploring, where no one knows your name, where you are free to be who you are. Why not go exploring? Ok, Sallie, you’re asking me. Where can I explore? What can I explore? In A Word – EVERYTHING!! Books, music, foods, virtual museums, crafts, skills etc. etc.!!

The Open Road awaits:

Write and share where you are exploring.

~Sallie

Stop the Drama! or Where did Kindness go?

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Recently there was an article about the disagreement between the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy that reminded me of a “he said, she said” teen fights we all witnessed or were a part of during “the day.”

I think we can all say stop the drama! Where did kindness go? I think it’s still around but the media continues to drive the stories we see on tv or read in newspapers. It’s hard to look for kindness and my journal has a lot of empty pages but I share when I can. I recently found a Facebook group that will help: Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Here are three videos that will keep you smiling:

And my favorite!

~Sallie

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