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The Week in Review: 02.28.2020

February 28, 2020
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

I first heard about AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins at Book Expo last year.  Then, I heard the author speak at SIBA and was able to snag a copy.  I was excited to pick it up and was almost done with it when I started reading about all the controversy surrounding it.  Then, Oprah picked it for her latest book club selection.  It’s been a little while since I finished the book and I thought about not posting about it because I’m still mulling things around in my head.

The book is about Lydia, a young Mexican mother and her son Luca.  While they’re at a family celebration, the rest of their family is massacred by a Mexican drug cartel.  They escape and try to make their way to the US.  Along the way, they encounter other migrants who are making the journey for different reasons.

Cummins says she researched the book for four years to get things right and I get that she’s trying to show what it’s like to be a migrant.  I’m not sure it’s particularly well written but the story is fraught with tension and horror so it was a quick read for me.  I did wonder about some things as I read it, though – like why would Lydia think she’d be safe from drug cartel violence in the US?  How did she and her son adapt to the life of a migrant so quickly?

If you’ve read the book, what did you think?  Do you know of a migrant story written by a migrant?  (Review copy provided by Flatiron Books.)

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Raised in a Quaker family, Susan B. Anthony believed everyone is equal, regardless of sex or race.  She was against slavery and thought women should be able to vote.  At a time when women were discouraged from speaking out, Anthony worked hard to abolish slavery and to secure suffrage for women.

SUSAN B. ANTHONY by Kitson Jazynka is a wonderful book about a strong woman for early readers.  This is a National Geographic Kids Level 1 Book and inside the front cover are directions for reading it.  Parents and caregivers are to read the more difficult page on the left hand side and youngsters read the right hand side.  Harder words, like abolish and petition, are introduced on the left hand side.  There are lots of photographs and illustration as well as activities to enforce learning throughout the book.  I loved the format of this book and enjoyed reading it.  It would make a fine addition to any library.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

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Several years ago, Hoda Kotb posted an inspirational post on Instagram and got a great response so she decided to post one daily.  She shares a year’s worth of those quotes in her book I REALLY NEEDED THIS TODAY.  After each quote, she explains why the quote has meaning to her or someone in her life.

I listened to this book and enjoyed it and Kotb’s narration of it.  There is background music as she reads the quote and none while she explains why it’s meaningful.  Many of the quotes hit home for me but, of course, I don’t remember them, so I do think this would be a nice book to own in print.  I think it would be fun to read a quote a day or dip in and out of it.  This would make a lovely gift for yourself or a friend.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

I watched the documentary Born Rich.  It was created by Jamie Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune about what it’s like to grow up filthy rich and features people like Georgina Bloomberg (daughter of Michael Bloomberg), Christina Floyd (her father was golf great Raymond Floyd), Josiah Hornblower (Vanderbilt/Whitney heir), and Ivanka Trump.  I thought it was a fascinating peek into a life I’ll never know and I was struck at how differently the wealth they grew up affected these individuals.

Off the blog

  • I walked at least three miles every morning and averaged almost 16,500 Fitbit steps a day.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?

Wondrous Words Wednesday

February 26, 2020

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

These words are from WHERE HAVE ALL THE BOYS GONE? by Jenny Colgan.

1. bothy – “‘I didn’t even know what a bothy was.'”

A bothy is a small hut or cottage in Scotland.

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2. ickle – “‘One of them gave Harry an ickle baby wave.'”

Ickle is British slang for little.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

February 24, 2020

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.   Here’s a peek into my mailbox:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 02.21.2020

February 21, 2020
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

ALMOST AMERICAN GIRL is a graphic memoir by Robin Ha.  As the only child of a single mother in Korea, things were always a little different for Ha.  Single parents were rare in Korea as was having a mother who worked.  When Ha was fourteen, she and her mother went to Alabama on vacation and, while they were there, her mother told Ha she was marrying the man they were staying with.  Ha found herself in a new school where they spoke a language she couldn’t understand.  She was teased and ridiculed and didn’t know what was going on most of the time.  To make matters worse, she didn’t fit in with her new step-family either.

Oh, how I loved this book!  I understood that Ha’s mother was trying to make their life better but, boy were things difficult to begin with.  I admired her tenacity, though, and wondered if I would have had the same strength.  Ha was strong, too, and felt for her and cheered for her as she found her way.  Vance went to a very diverse high school where many foreign students enrolled each year.  After reading this book, I talked to him about the way they were treated and integrated into the student body.  I was happy to hear that, for the most part, the students were receptive to them.  Ha’s illustrations are wonderful and bring her story to life.  This terrific book needs to be in every middle school and high school and would be great for a classroom discussion.  (Review copy provided by Balzer + Bray.)

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HARRIET TUBMAN by Barbara Kramer is a National Geographic Kids Level 2 (Reading Independently) Reader but I learned a lot.  When I went to school, we weren’t taught much about women or African Americans in history class so about all I knew about Tubman was she was part of the Underground Railroad.  I knew she must be brave but I had no idea just how brave.  Since this book is for early readers, I know her life story was simplified but I really appreciated that they included photos of and quotes from Tubman herself.  I also appreciated that the treatment of slaves was not glossed over.  It states:

Slaves had no rights and were usually mistreated.  They were listed as property along with their owner’s animals.  They could be sold to other masters to work without pay at any time.  Children were often taken from their parents to be sold.

There are lots of colorful illustrations and boxes with facts to keep young readers engaged.  There’s a timeline and a quiz in the back of the book.  Pick this outstanding book up for the young readers in your life!  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

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ONE OF US IS NEXT by Karen McManus is the sequel to ONE OF US IS LYING.  In this book students at Bayview High School, known nationwide for its gossip, start receiving texts about a Truth or Dare game.  The chosen student is given 24 hours to respond or a secret will be revealed about them.  The secrets that are exposed prove to be fatal for one unlucky student.  The point of view is shared by four different students giving a full picture of the what’s going on.

I haven’t read ONE OF US IS LYING but that didn’t keep me from enjoying this book.  The characters are pretty well developed and the plot is full of tension.   I found the twist at the end to be implausible but I was able to roll with it.  The audio version was narrated by Maria Liatis, Holly Linneman, Fred Berman, and Karissa Vacker.  Even though though a few of them sounded a little old for their role, they all did a good job.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • I started working on our taxes but realized we don’t have all the forms we need so will have to put them on hold for a few weeks.
  • It snowed for the third time this winter on Thursday.  Thankfully, it didn’t stick.
  • I walked at least three miles every day and averaged just over 17,100 steps a day.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?

Wondrous Words Wednesday

February 19, 2020

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I found one more word in SEPARATION ANXIETY by Laura Zigman.

1. mesial – “I look in the mirror again, this time biting and rebiting, baring my teeth like an angry babboon, trying to grasp the fact that there’s a seismic shift — mesial drift — going on inside my mouthg, especially in my lower teeth.”

Mesial is an adjective that means relating to or directed toward the middle line of a body.

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Mailbox Monday

February 17, 2020

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.   Here’s a peek into my mailbox:

Monday

Tuesday

Thursday

What was in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 02.14.2019

February 14, 2020
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

TIGHTROPE: AMERICANS REACHING FOR HOPE by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn is the story of working class Americans.  Americans who work hard yet can barely pay their bills, struggle to find health care, don’t have access to a good education, and whose families have been ravaged by drug abuse.  They’re people who the political system ignore so they feel powerless.  This book focuses on those living in rural areas and acknowledges that many people in inner cities face the same plight.

Kristof and Wudunn make the issues come alive by telling the stories of individuals and their families.  These are people with the same hopes and dreams as everyone else – hopes and dreams that are almost impossible to realize given their circumstances.  I was aware of most of the issues before I read the book and appreciated the respectful way Kristof and Wudunn told these people’s stories.

The authors take things one step farther, though, by presenting solutions to the problems we face.  They have researched solutions that have worked in other places, like decriminalizing drug use in Portugal – and explain how they could work here as well.  They also name steps we as individuals can take.  The audio version is narrated by Jennifer Garner and she does a terrific job.  I thought this book was extremely well done and highly recommend it to everyone interested in social issues.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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I had high hopes for HIDDEN AMERICA: FROM COAL MINERS TO COWBOYS, AN EXTRAORDINARY EXPLORATION OF THE UNSEEN PEOPLE WHO MAKE THIS COUNTRY WORK by Jeanne Marie Laskas and the book started out pretty strong for me with the chapters on coal miners and migrant farm workers.  I scratched my head at the inclusion of the Cincinnati Bengals cheerleaders and felt like later chapters were more about the author’s experience with them than about the workers themselves.  So, while I liked the idea of this book very much, I thought it was poorly executed.  If anyone knows of something along these lines that’s well written, I’d love to know about it.  (Review copy provided by Putnam.)

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WE LOVE BABIES! by Jill Esbaum is a sweet picture book for the preschool set.  It features gorgeous full-color photos of lots of babies animals with rhyming text about them.  The animals are big and small, alone and in groups, and always adorable!  Several times throughout the book, cartoon animals proclaim, “We love babies! Yes we do! We love babies! How about you?”  There are two pages in the back of the book that identify all of the animals and the special names of the babies, if there is one.  Early readers will delight in the photos and the fun text and ask for this book over and over again.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson was one of my favorite reads of 2018 so I was a little bit nervous about seeing the movie.   But I worried for nothing.  Rather than tell all the stories included in the book, the movie focuses on the case of Walter McMillian a man sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit.  It shows the hard work Stevenson and his colleagues put in and the frustrations they faced while working on McMillian’s case.  I thought the movie did a good job of capturing the spirit of the book and hope seeing it will encourage more people to read it.  I was disappointed that there were only four people in the theater but I have a feeling this movie will be shown in schools for years to come.  Bring tissues with you when you watch this important movie and be sure to watch the credits to see pictures and updates of those portrayed in the movie.

Off the blog

  • It snowed for several hours on Saturday but the little bit that stuck to the grass melted quickly.  One family in our neighborhood managed to put together a small snowman.  I hope we’re done with snow for the winter.  By Tuesday, our temperatures were back in the 70s.
  • I walked at least three miles every day and averaged just over 17,600 Fitbit steps a day.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?