Photo Challenge #25 / Modern

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“Wind Power” / Theme: Modern

A little about this photo…

I took this photo while we were driving. (Don’t worry. I wasn’t the one in the driver’s seat!) These modern windmills pepper the landscape on this one stretch of highway. They are huge! You can see the power lines in the back and that one tree is pretty big in and of itself.

For this pic, I wanted to capture some of the motion of the car, which is why you see the foreground all wispy and streaky. I wish I could have gotten some movement to the actual windmills, but they were going too slow, and we were going too fast.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join us in posting your own photos with #2018picoftheweek

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Tag / This or That?

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I don’t often do tags, but I thought this one sounded like fun. And I was nominated by Dani @ Perspective of a Writer. Thanks, Dani! This is for you!

The Rules

  • Mention the creator: Anita from Discovering Your Happiness, of the This or That Tag as a way to get to know bloggers’ preferences.
  • Thank and link back to the person who nominated you so they can read your answers.
  • Answer the Questions.
  • Nominate 10+ bloggers.

This or That // My Answers

Dog or Cat?
Um… Probably neither. Our family was more a bird family. I like dogs, but I wouldn’t want to walk a dog everyday. And cats… hmm, I’m not really a cat person.

Netflix or YouTube?
Youtube. I’m frugal (Read: cheap?). I don’t like the idea of paying for Netflix.

Phone Call or Text?
Phone call.

Toast or Eggs?
Is this an either/or? I usually have toast for breakfast. And when I eat eggs, I need toast. So, I guess that answers the questions. Toast, all the way!

Cardio or Weights?
Cardio.

Facebook or Twitter?
Facebook.

Ice Cream Cone or Snow Cone?
Ice Cream Cone.

Mobile Games or Console Games?
**Rolls eyes** (I haven’t played a computer game since the 1980s.)

While walking: Music or Podcasts?
Neither. I talk to myself instead. I think through writing ideas mostly.

Although I do like to listen to music while I’m working. Usually while I’m in Photoshop. I find music inspiring! And I also like to listen to podcasts. Again, while I’m working.

iOS or Android?
Can you believe it? I do NOT own a smart phone!

Cake or Pie?
Pie. (Unless it’s pumpkin pie. If it’s pumpkin pie, then I’ll have the cake, please!)

Swimming or Sunbathing?
I’m not crazy about either.

Big Party or Small Gathering?
Small Gathering!

New Clothes or New Phone?
I’d rather have a new piece of photography equipment instead.

Rich Friend or Loyal Friend?
Loyal Friend. Definitely.

Football or Basketball?
Figure Skating?

Nice Car or Nice Home Interior?
Nice Camera.

What’s worse: Laundry or Dishes?
Dishes. Especially pots and pans.

Jogging or Hiking?
Hiking. (So, I can take my camera.)

Bath or Shower?
Shower. I don’t understand why grown-ups like baths. I understand why kids like baths, ’cause you can actually float in the bathtub. So, unless it’s a hot tub, I don’t care for baths.

Sneakers or Sandals?
Sneakers.

Glasses or Contacts?
Glasses. I’m scared of contacts.

Hamburger or Taco?
Both!

Couch or Recliner?
Couch.

Online Shopping or Shopping in a Store?
Online.

Receive: Email or Letter?
Letter.

Passenger or Driver?
Passenger. I’d rather daydream. I rather somebody else pay attention to the road. (But I am glad I know how to drive.)

Tablet or Computer?
Computer.

Most important in a partner: Intelligent or Funny?
The problem with this question is that I want both. I wouldn’t want somebody to be intelligent but have no sense of humour. And if somebody was funny without being intelligent? That person is probably NOT for me.

Car or Truck?
Car.

Blue or Red?
Blue.

Money or Free Time?
Free Time.

Amusement Park or Day at the Beach?
How about going to the Theatre.

At a movie: Candy or Popcorn?
Neither. Too expensive. (I’m cheap, remember?)

Pen or Pencil?
Pen. (Except when I’m lining a script. Then pencil.)

Toilet paper: Over or Under?
Over.

Cups in the cupboard: Right Side Up or Up Side Down?
Up side down.

Pancake or Waffle?
Waffle.

Coke or Pepsi?
I used to like Coke better. But I don’t drink either anymore.

Coffee Cup or Thermos?
I prefer a Ceramic Mug, if that’s what you’re asking.

Blinds or Curtain?
Blinds.

Train or Plane?
Train.

Phone or Tablet?
Neither. I’d rather have a Laptop.

Iced Coffee or Hot Coffee?
I don’t drink coffee.

Meat or Vegetables?
I don’t eat a lot meat, but I do like meat. I also like vegetables.

International Vacation or a New TV?
International Vacation. Think of all the photos…

Save or Spend?
I love to Save!

Honesty or Other’s Feelings?
Other’s Feelings.

Coffee or Tea?
Tea!

TV or Book?
Book!

Movie at Home or Movie at the Theater?
Probably, Movie at Home.

Ocean or Mountains?
Mountains.

Horror Movie or Comedy Movie?
Comedy. I don’t do Horror.

City or Countryside?
It depends.

Winter or Summer?
Spring.

Mac or PC?
PC.

Console Gaming or PC Gaming?
Haven’t I answered this question already?!

Soup or Sandwich?
Soup in winter. Sandwich in summer.

Card Game or Board Game?
Board Game.

Camping or Binge Watching Shows at Home?
I guess I’ll pick the Binge Watching Shows at Home. I’m a home body.

Working Alone or Working in a Team?
Working Alone.

Dine In or Delivery?
Dine In.

Sweater or Hoodie?
Hoodie.

Motorcycle or Bicycle?
Bicycle. Motorcycles scare me.

Book or eBook?
Book!

When sleeping: Fan or No Fan?
Usually… No Fan.

TV Shows or Movies?
Movies.


Wow! That was A LOT of questions…

As for Nominations… I nominate YOU… if you want to do this. And if you do, please link back to me so I can read your answers. 🙂

Newbery Verdict: Gone Away Lake

Gone Away Lake // by Elizabeth Enright

gone-awayNewbery Honor Book (1958)
Genre: MG, Contemporary (Historical)
Rating: 2.5 Stars*

(Note: *Sorry, Elizabeth Enright, I usually LOVE your books, but I just couldn’t love this one. Although, I think that I’d probably have given it a higher rating if I were a kid reading it.)

Basic Plot: Portia and Foster are a sister and brother, who along with their cousin, Julian, discover secrets of a forgotten lake-side community called Gone-Away Lake.

MY THOUGHTS…

Gone-Away Lake and the old houses are uber-cool! As a child, I would have really liked this and as an adult I did. Bonus points! I liked Mrs. Cheever and Mr. Payton who were a little like Miss Havisham, but in a good way. I enjoyed the old stories about the people who summered at the lake. Rescuing the cats. The Philosopher’s stone. These stories in themselves are worth the read.

However, I wasn’t crazy about the main characters. I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t love them either. Then when the grown-ups come in, some of the magic disappeared. (And I’m not talking about the Gone-Away grown-ups).

FAVOURITE QUOTE…

Portia and Julian drew in a breath of surprise at exactly the same instant, because at the northeast end of the swamp, between the reeds and the woods, and quite near to them, they saw a row of wrecked old houses. There were perhaps a dozen of them; all large and shabby, though once they must have been quite elaborate, adorned as they were with balconies, turrets, widows’ walks, and lacy wooden trimming. But now the balconies were sagging and the turrets tipsy; the shutters were crooked or gone, and large sections of wooden trimming had broken off. There was a tree sticking out of one of the windows, not into it but out of it. And everything was as still as death.

“Now who would go and build a lot of houses on the edge of a mosquitoey old swamp like that?” inquired Julian. But the next time he spoke it was in a whisper. “Porsh! Those houses are empty! They’re all deserted, Porsh! It’s a ghost town.”

(Chapter 2)

NEWBERY VERDICT…

This book was published in 1958. I hate to say that I don’t think it has aged very well. I love, love, love this author’s The Saturdays (and its sequels). I wish I could say the same for this book. That said, I do think I probably would have loved reading it as a child, just because of the old, abandoned ghost town. However, the mark of a truly great children’s book is for an adult to pick it up and love it (despite not being a child anymore). Did I just read this book too late??

YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Did you read this a kid? Did you love it? Am I being too harsh on this book? Let me know in the comments!


Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal, or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.

Photo Challenge #24 / Sparkle

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“Peek-a-Boo Fish” / Theme: Sparkle

A little about this photo…

This is kind of a sad post for me. This is Roger, my fish. He died this week. Many will think: Who cares! It’s a goldfish. They never live very long anyway. Did you know that Roger lived for almost 10 years! I know. Who knew goldfish could live that long?

I inherited him from my sister’s kids who were moving away for a year (summer 2010-2011). Their mom (my sister) told me NOT to let Roger die or else the children would be devastated. When they came back after the year, I was happy to return Roger to them, safe and sound. A year later, the family moved away again. Guess who got the fish? Yes, Auntie Maria has taken care of Roger for over seven and a half years now.

Okay, so this little fish’s death hasn’t devastated me, but it is still a little sad. He was such a happy, sparkly fish! (Hence the theme: Sparkle)

P.S. This is the first photo I’ve posted for this challenge that wasn’t taken in 2018. (I took this back in 2016.) At first, I thought this was a throw-away shot. But it has since become my favourite photo of Roger. I love its simplicity. The diagonal lines and other shapes. I love how it looks like he’s playing peek-a-boo.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join us in posting your own photos with #2018picoftheweek

What Do You Consider a Historical Novel?

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I love history. I love novels. Put those two together, and you’ve got one of my favourite things: Historical Novels!

But what exactly makes a novel “historical”?

Jane Austen’s books are set in the 1800s, but that doesn’t make them “historical novels”. And yet Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is considered to be a historical novel simply because Dickens was writing about historical events that took place sixty-some years earlier.

But what about more recent history?

Last month, I read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. As I was reading, I got the sense that this book wasn’t set in today’s world… a realization that was solidified with the mention that the sitting president was Bill Clinton. Aha, said my brain. It’s the 1990s!

little-fires-everywhere.jpgNow, as it turns out, Clinton’s presidency (or rather the Monica Lewinsky scandal) weaves its way into the book. Not that President Clinton is an actual character in the book—he’s not; nor is Monica—but he’s talked about, primarily by the narrator… for thematic purposes.

Okay, I reasoned… so, this book is a contemporary read. In fact, I’ve noticed that many bloggers categorize it as such. Which means it must have been written in the late 90s or early 2000s, right?

I checked the copyright date.

2017.

Wait a minute. That’s last year! In case, you didn’t already know. 😉

So, is this book considered contemporary fiction? Or is it historical fiction?

Historical fiction is usually defined as a book where the historical setting is important to the plot of the book. It’s easy to categorize a book set in Japan during World War II, or one set in London during the time of Elizabeth I.

I would argue that the historical references of the 1990s in this book are rather important to the plot. (And it isn’t just the stuff about Clinton. It’s also the timing with regards to test-tubes babies and the days when infertility was discussed in hushed whispers; the nature of Mia’s photography and art; the Jerry Springer talk show phenomenon; an era before smart phones existed.)

Your Turn…

My question is this… Does all this make the book historical fiction? The 90s really isn’t that long ago, and I get the sense that many people don’t like to think of the recent past as “historical”.

So, how would you classify it? Do you call it “historical fiction” if it’s history of the recent past? Or do you consider the 1990s (or even the 1980s or 1960s or 70s for that matter) to be too recent to be labelled “historical”? (And if so, where’s the cut off point for you?)

These are genuine questions and I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

ARC Review: The Button War

button-warThe Button War // by Avi
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Genre: Upper MG, Historical (WWI)
My Rating: 4 Stars

**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the people at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Basic Plot: It’s August 1914 in a small village in Poland. The Great War has begun, but Patryk and his six friends are caught up in their own Button War… to see which boy can find (read: steal) the best button from the uniforms of the various occupying soldiers. Little do they know that this war is going to have deadly consequences.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Thank-you, Mr. Avi, for putting “August 1914” before the first chapter. It set the scene right off the bat. I knew exactly what time period I was reading about.

2) I love learning something new. This story takes place in Poland at the outset of the First World War. The inciting incident involves an aeroplane dropping a bomb. Now, I always associate bombs with WWII, not WWI, so I found this an extremely interesting plot point. (And I did some research. Yes, bombing did happen during WWI.)

3) The bickering between the boys. I love how this is portrayed, especially early on in the book. I reminded me of Stand by Me… the Polish version! The sausage-eating Wojtex… Drugi, the one who asks all the questions… Jurek who keeps telling everybody that he’s the descendant of King Boleslaw… and the narrator, Patryk, who’s trying to keep everything balanced.

Next moment, Wojtex said, “My father told me that more Russain soldiers were coming. Maybe Cossacks.”

Jurek said, “Love to see them.”

“Why?” asked Drugi.

Jurek said, “They’re the best fighters in the world.”

Drugi asked, “Who are the Russian going to fight?”

“Germans,” said Wojtex. …

There was a moment of silence. After which Drugi asked, “What’s the war about?”

We were silent. No one knew the answer.

(Chapter 7)

4) The buttons! Maybe because I’ve always had a thing about buttons, I loved the collecting and the descriptions.

5) I love how the button contest echoes what happening with regards to the Great War. The boys are vying to be Button King, just as the nations of Europe were going to war to be king of the world. You have Jurek, the bully who will stop at nothing to be king, dragging the rest of the boys into the Button War, whether they want to or not. And then, really bad things happen.

6) The foreshadowing is just… wow. I didn’t catch all of it, but peeking back at earlier chapters after completing the book, I definitely saw various instances of foreshadowing. Like the the mention of the Cosacks… And the fierce look in Jurek’s eyes after Patryk throws away the first button.

7) The ending is very sad. Although, it’s not necessarily an “unhappy” ending. The last quarter of the book or so, there’s a lot of bloodshed (off screen). Jurek’s claim at the very end is troubling; sad because it’s also so empty. Like, doesn’t he realize what has happened.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) The super short chapters. Argh! I don’t understand why authors choose to write super short chapters.

2) I found the names to be difficult at times. I could not always remember who was who. This might have been partly because of all the Polish names I wasn’t familiar with, but it’s also because there are seven boys. And not all the boys are as important to the story as the others are, so it was sometimes hard to keep track of who was who.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I really enjoyed this book, if “enjoyed” can be a word to describe it. The book deals with some very troubling aspects of war. Actually, come to think of it, it has some overtones of Lord of the Flies. Very interesting on the historical side of things and I would recommend this to anybody who wants to read something something a little different about World War I. Definitely this book is meant for a more mature reader.

Photo Challenge #23 / Entrance

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“Doorway to Someplace Magical” / Theme: Entrance

A little about this photo…

This is the site of the ruins of the old Woollen Mill, built in 1824, near Jordan, Ontario. At one time, it was a grand five story building. This photo shows what is left of it. This doorway is probably an old window. And it is indeed an entrance to a creek below. And if you climb the rocks to follow the creek, you’ll get to a beautiful waterfall.

That’s the prosaic explanation. But, I always think it looks like a doorway to another world. Narnia perhaps?


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join us in posting your own photos with #2018picoftheweek

Thanks for the Recommendation #1

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This blog post is a thank-you to all you book bloggers who bring various books to my attention. I particularly like that aspect of the blog community. So, here are three books that I read, thanks to you… (In turn, I recommend them to the rest of you!)


Phantom-TollboothThe Phantom Tollbooth // by Norton Juster

Recommended by Kimberly @ Narnia to Neverland
Genre: MG Fantasy
My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: For some reason, I have not read this book before now.

The book is part Alice in Wonderland, part Pilgrim’s Progress. (Although, from what I understand, Juster had read neither of these books… so, that’s just a coincidence.) As somebody who loves wordplay, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It isn’t plot-heavy, by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, Milo and his gang ARE on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason (who have been banished). But it’s the journey, not so much the destination, that’s important.

Actually, that’s it. The book delights in imagination. And (minor SPOILER HERE), at the end of the book, when the tollbooth disappears, there’s the hope that maybe, just maybe, you’ll find the tollbooth in YOUR room.

A Few Favourite Quotes from the Book

Here’s a taste of some of the wonderful words in this book. (There are really too many examples to list, so this is really just a small sample…)

“To be sure,” said Canby; “you’re on the Island of Conclusions. Make yourself at home. You’re apt to be here for some time.”

“But how did we get here?” asked Milo, who was still a bit puzzled by being there at all.

“You jumped, of course.”

The Phantom Tollbooth (Chapter 13)

and

“I am the Spelling Bee,” announced the Spelling Bee. “Don’t be alarmed — a-l-a-r-m-e-d.”

Tock ducked under the wagon, and Milo, who was not overly fond of normal-sized bees, began to back away slowly.

“I can spell anything — a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g,” he boasted, testing his wings. “Try me, try me!”

“Can you spell goodby?” suggested Milo as he continued to back away.

The Phantom Tollbooth (Chapter 4)


letter-from-new-yorkLetter from New York // by Helene Hanff

Recommended by Laila @bigreadinglife
Genre: Adult, Non-Fiction/Memoir
My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: This book was brought to my attention in a comment on my blog post about how much I loved Helene Hanff’s book: 84, Charing Cross Road.

This is Hanff’s “love letter” to New York City. I used to live in New York in the early 2000s, and I’ve discovered that there’s something very real about that slogan: I Heart NY. It is so true that this city has the ability to worm its way into your heart! The book is set in the late 1970s and early 80s, but even so, I easily recognized New York City. It didn’t change that much 🙂

Now, I don’t think this book is as good at Hanff’s masterpiece, 84, Charing Cross Road. (Which, if you haven’t read, I highly recommend.) But it’s a delightful memoir that gives us a peek into one of the most famous cities in the world.

P.S. I keep thinking the book should be Letters from New York (plural), but no, it’s Letter from New York (singular). Which feels weird and somehow wrong to me. But, you know what? That’s just a minor complaint. Hanff’s writing is wonderful and engaging.

A Few Favourite Quotes from the Book

First you queue up at Lord & Taylor’s to see their Christmas windows. This year’s windows feature Come Home for Christmas. One window has a replica of a JFK airport terminal, complete with life-like passengers, luggage and waiting room. Another has a replica of the George Washington Bridge, with the lights, the traffic—and a hapless driver stuck with a flat tire. My favorite window has a replica of a New York subway station, with crowds, a snack bar and a gent coming down the steps with a Christmas tree over his shoulder.   (1978, December)

A week later, there’s a high construction wall around each lot. But each wall has a hole in it large enough for two human eyes. New Yorkers think it’s their God-given right to supervise construction, and any builder who didn’t order a hole cut in the wall would find holes cut in it for him by volunteers. (1979, March)


HereHere // by Richard McGuire

Recommended by Zezee with Books
Genre: Adult, Graphic Novel
My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: This book is a journey through the life of room in a house. I initially was thrown off by the fact that it is NOT in chronological order. Instead, the years jump all over the place. But I like the effect. I really liked the windows into the various time periods, even before the house is built!

One sequence I loved was the family of kids taking the yearly family portrait on the couch. From the time the children a little (in 1959) to them all grown up (in 1983). It was fun to see the technology change with the house. And the decor!

And finally, I liked the surprise cameo by Ben Franklin!

WARNING – This book is really meant for adults, not children. 95% of it would be fine for kids, however there ARE a couple “adult” scenes; nothing super graphic. But it may be cause for some awkward questions.

A Favourite Quote from the Book

Since it’s a graphic novel, I’ll have to post one of my favourite spreads in the book:

here-inside

Review: Supergifted

supergiftedBook: Supergifted
Author: Gordon Korman
Genre: MG, Contemporary/School
Rating: 3 Stars

Basic Plot: Donovan and Noah are back from Ungifted. This time, they’re both attending “regular” school. Noah is thrilled at getting his first low grade. But when Donovan tries to protect Noah from a bully, he ends up putting the family dog in jeopardy. Which means, Donovan can’t be seen anywhere near the bully’s home unless he wants the dog to be declared vicious. But, Noah has ideas that set about a course of events that lead to the creation of “Superkid”.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) The friendship and the loyalty. I love how Donovan is SO loyal to Noah. Even when Noah does things that hurt him. He knows Noah is a little clueless.

2) The theme of fame and what it can do to us. This was an interesting look at how fame can go to the head… how we blindly worship and adore fame… and how fame can also be so fleeting.

3) The stereotypes. I’m usually not crazy about stereotypes in books. But somehow Gordon Korman knows how to make them work. We have likable ruffian (Donovan); the super-geek (Noah); the super cheerful cheerleader (Megan); the jock/bully (Hashtag).

4) The chapter titles. Korman did something very similar with the first book: Ungifted. Each chapter is called “Super Something-Something”. It’s very clever and it’s always fun to try to figure out what the Something-Something could mean prior to reading the chapter…

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Plot holes. There are a bunch of plot holes throughout the book. The biggest one happens during the event involving the big propane truck. Both Donovan and Noah are present. Noah is in this crazy costume–trying to look like a wrestling star, complete with folding chair. And somehow, the driver of the propane truck does not notice Noah. Really?

Another plot hole happens when Donovan goes to Megan’s party. Again, there’s no reason to incite his going. One minute he’s talking to his sister, Katie, about this missing bone. And the next minute, he’s on his way to the party. There’s no correlation action/reaction to these two scenes.

2) At one point, Hashtag mentions that the cheerleaders have tryouts. If Noah is such a klutz (one that manages to send a cheerleader to the hospital), why don’t the tryouts apply to him. Korman does try to get around this by making the teacher tell Megan that Noah must be on the team… but really, it doesn’t make sense. As in any sport, if one athlete is even a potential danger to the rest of the team, that guy should be out of there!

3) I didn’t believe all the hero-worship of the Super Kid. I mean, it’s the whole school, the whole town, even the governor? It’s not like he saved City Hall or something. He just saved one girl’s house. Yes, the girl’s family is thankful. But the whole state???

FINAL THOUGHTS…

My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – Will kids like this book? Yes, I think so. It’s a fun read, and I did enjoy it. But, it’s not Korman’s best. It seems like he’s churning out the books and I wonder if he has the time to really perfect them all…


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Photo Challenge #22 / Trees

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“Lilac Garden” / Theme: Trees

A little about this photo…

One of my favourite trees are lilac trees. Every spring, I go to photograph a lilac garden near where I live. This garden has every type of lilac you’ve never heard about. This year, we went a little later than usual, and most of the blossoms had wilted and died. But not all! There were a few late blooming lilac trees.

I went specifically near sunset to take advantage of “pretty light”. However, the clouds covered up the sun for most of the time, except for this brief moment. That’s when I went running to this tree so I could get this shot.

Got it!


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2018picoftheweek