Showing Posts From: Entertainment

19 Dec, 2017

The Newcomers

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading The Newcomers The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom by Helen Thorpe
on November 14th 2017
Narrator: Kate Handford
Length: 15:09
Genres: Nonfiction, Social Science
Published by Dreamscape Media
Format: Audiobook

Offering a nuanced and transformative take on immigration, multiculturalism, and America's role on the global stage, The Newcomers follows and reflects on the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of their 2015-2016 school year at Denver's South High School. Unfamiliar with American culture or the English language, the students range from the age of fourteen to nineteen and come from nations struggling with drought, famine, or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, and some arrive alone, having left or lost every other member of their family. Their stories are poignant and remarkable, and at the center of their combined story is Mr. Williams: the dedicated and endlessly resourceful teacher of their English Language Acquisition class-a class which was created specifically for them and which will provide them with the foundation they need to face the enormous challenges of adapting to life in America.

Goodreads

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to move to the U.S. from a non-English speaking country and have to learn to survive here.  This is a book that answers those questions.  I think this should be required reading for anyone who wants to talk intelligently about the immigration debate in the U.S.  

The author spends 18 months with a group of teenagers who are in a Newcomers class in a Denver high school.  All of them are recent immigrants and have tested at the bottom level of English language proficiency.  They represent most of the major conflict zones on the planet – The Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Iraq, Burma, Central America, Eritrea.  The school year starts with learning how to introduce yourself in English.  Most of the kids are stumped.

One of the things I found interesting in this book was the transparency of the author’s process.  She is writing about minors who have all experienced a great deal of upheaval and trauma in their lives.  She explains how she approaches the kids with a translator in their home language to ask if she can include their stories in the book.  There are kids who say no at this point and she respects that.  If they agreed, she sent home a letter written in their language to their parents that requested permission to interview the children and requested to interview them.  If permission is given, then home visits are started with an interpreter.  In spite of all these precautions, there are still communication errors and just the plain inability of an American to truly understand the lives that refugees have led.  She discusses her thought process about what questions to ask about their backgrounds.  When does reporting the story just become an excuse to pry into things for the sake of the sensational details?  She talks about when she chose to walk away from lines of questioning that are relevant to the story but would lead to retraumatizing the people being interviewed.

For the families that agreed to participate, it opens a window in to the lives in war zones.  Hearing what they had to endure before fleeing their homes was heartbreaking.  There are Iraqis who worked with the U.S. Army and then were left behind.  A Central American female police officer was targeted for murder after arresting gang members and when they couldn’t get to her they starting threatening her children.  A family with 10 children had to walk out of the DRC to avoid repeated violence.  Some of the kids were born in refugee camps.  Most are already multi-lingual.

Life in the U.S. isn’t easy.  Resettlement agencies help but families are required to be self-supporting within 4 months of arrival.  That’s hard when you don’t speak the language and can’t get a good job.  I’m surprised how many families did it.  Other families’ stories show how one small setback can upset their whole resettlement journey. 

The importance of this story is underscored by the fact that it takes place from September 2015 to December 2016.  Reading about the rise of Donald Trump as it relates to these families was stressful all over again.  Incidents of racism rise on public transport as the election takes place.  Court cases to receive asylum for Central American children are suddenly in doubt.  Family members scheduled to arrive from Somalia are suddenly turned back at the airport.  

The author does go to the DRC to see where the family that she knew from Denver came from.  She traces their route to refugee camp and meets friends and family members who have been left behind.

This is an ultimately hopeful book as you see how far the kids come in 18 months.  Some go from silent observers on day 1 to being a part of the student government a year later.  Others are still struggling with English but are able to have full conversations.  No one who reads about these families would think they are lazy and trying to work the system.  This is a book I’d love to force all Trump fans to listen to in order to see if these people’s realities align with their idea of what immigrants are.  

 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Audiobooks
  • Books Set in Africa
  • Books Set in North America
18 Dec, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

 

Finished This Week

 

New This Week

I’ve fallen into a historical romance rabbit hole.  I keep adding more and more to my ereader.  Here’s a bunch of books I bought this week that I haven’t read yet.

 

 

What Am I Listening To?

I’m not sure yet.  I finished The Newcomers and after that I started a few that didn’t stick.  I went through and cleaned out my Playster list and then added new releases that sounded good to me. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Dec, 2017

The Baleful Godmother series

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading The Baleful Godmother series Unmasking Miss Appleby by Emily Larkin
on November 7th 2016
Pages: 391
Series: Baleful Godmother #1
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Historical
Published by Emily Larkin
Format: eBook
Source: Owned

On her 25th birthday, Charlotte Appleby receives a most unusual gift from the Faerie godmother she never knew she had: the ability to change shape.
Penniless and orphaned, she sets off for London to make her fortune as a man. But a position as secretary to Lord Cosgrove proves unexpectedly challenging. Someone is trying to destroy Cosgrove and his life is increasingly in jeopardy.
As Charlotte plunges into London’s backstreets and brothels at Cosgrove’s side, hunting his persecutor, she finds herself fighting for her life—and falling in love…

Goodreads

This is historical romance series with a fantasy twist.  Once upon a time a fairy was helped by a woman.  In exchange, she asked for each of her female descendants to be granted one wish when they are in their early twenties.  This series covers a few of the descendants as they choose their gift and then deal with the consequences in their lives.  I hadn’t read a series before that combined fantasy and Regency romance.

In the first book Charlotte decides to wish for the ability to shapeshift.  She uses this gift to disguise herself as a man to attempt to live an independent life.  This is a good opening for some social commentary about the restrictions on women.  The book is also funny as Charlotte tries to control a male body with its over large hands and obvious responses to sexual attraction.  Her employer (and eventual love interest) thinks he is taking a young, particularly naive man under his wing and teaching what life in London is like.  As their friendship and attraction deepen, both need to comes to terms with their own understanding of what it means to be attracted to a personality no matter the shape of the body that it is in.


The Baleful Godmother series Resisting Miss Merryweather by Emily Larkin
on December 5th 2016
Pages: 157
Series: Baleful Godmother #2

Sir Barnaby Ware made a mistake two and a half years ago. A massive mistake. The sort of mistake that can never be atoned for.
He knows himself to be irredeemable, but the captivating and unconventional Miss Merryweather is determined to prove him wrong…
The daughter of a dancing master and a noblewoman, Miss Merryweather had an unusual upbringing. She sees things no one else sees—and she says things no one else says.
Sir Barnaby knows he’s the villain in this piece, but Miss Merryweather thinks he’s the hero—and she is damnably hard to resist…

Goodreads

Barnaby Ware was introduced in book 1 as the man who broke up a marriage and a lifelong friendship by having an affair.   When the wronged party attempts to reach out to him in forgiveness, he resists because he feels that what he did was unforgivable.  When he visits his former friend he meets Miss Merryweather.  Unbeknownst to him, she is due to receive her fairy gift in a few days.

This is a novella instead of a full length novel.  It is also the most forgettable of these books for me.  I was more interested in the friendship that was trying to be repaired instead of the romance that is supposed to be blossoming.


The Baleful Godmother series Trusting Miss Trentham by Emily Larkin
on January 9th 2017
Pages: 375
Series: Baleful Godmother #3
Published by Emily Larkin

Letitia Trentham is noteworthy for three reasons. One, she’s extremely wealthy. Two, she can distinguish truth from lies. Three, she’s refused every man who’s ever proposed to her.
Until Letty receives a proposal she can’t turn down.
Icarus Reid barely survived the Battle of Vimeiro. He lives for one thing—to find the man who betrayed him to the French. He doesn’t want to marry Miss Trentham; he wants to use her talent for uncovering lies.
Suddenly, Letty finds herself breaking the rules, pretending to be someone she’s not, and doing things a lady would never do. But her hunt for the truth may uncover more than one secret—including the secret that haunts Icarus day and night. The secret he intends to take to his grave…

Goodreads

This is one of my favorites of the series.  Lydia has been living with her gift – the ability to tell lies from truth – for several years.  She has refused all offers of marriage because she knows that the men have only wanted her money and not her.  She gets involved with an injured former soldier who hears about her ability (but not the magical reason).  He wants her to help him find out what happened in the ambush where he was injured and all his companions were killed.

I liked the fact that this book had an older and wiser heroine.  She’s seen it all moving through society with the ability to cut through all the games and polite phrases.  The chance to do something new thrills her.

Icarus is suffering from severe PTSD.  He’s suicidal and has nightmares every night.  It is a good representation of this.  As the wife of a veteran with PTSD, I appreciated the thoughtful portrayal.


The Baleful Godmother series Claiming Mister Kemp by Emily Larkin
on February 6th 2017
Pages: 220
Series: Baleful Godmother #4
Published by Emily Larkin

Lucas Kemp’s twin sister died last year. He’s put aside his mourning clothes, but not his heartache. If Lucas ever needed a friend, it’s now—and who should walk in his door but Lieutenant Thomas Matlock…
Lucas and Tom are more than just best friends; they’ve been in love with each other for years. In love with each other—and pretending not to know it.
But this time, Tom’s not going to ignore the attraction between them. This time, he’s going to push the issue.
He’s going to teach Lucas how to laugh again—and he’s going to take Lucas as his lover…

Goodreads

I did not like this book.  I wanted to.  This book focuses on two male characters who were important in the last book.  I liked them.  I wanted to find out more about their relationship.  My problem with this one was the way the sex was handled.  I’m not a huge fan of sex in books anyway.  I much prefer slow burn romances and fade to black sex scenes.  While the other books have had sex scenes there was enough romance and character development to balance them.

In this book, there is just sex.  You don’t get the romantic parts that were seen in the other books.  I think that the difference was here because it was switched to a m/m story instead of a male/virginal female story.  I don’t think that is a good reason to leave out the romance and tenderness though.  Relationship development is still important and that didn’t happen here.


The Baleful Godmother series Ruining Miss Wrotham (Baleful Godmother, #5) by Emily Larkin
on May 25th 2017
Pages: 390
Published by Emily Larkin

Eleanor Wrotham has sworn off overbearing men, but she needs a man’s help—and the man who steps forward is as domineering as he is dangerous: the notorious Mordecai Black.
The illegitimate son of an earl, Mordecai is infamous for his skill with women. His affairs are legendary—but few people realize that Mordecai has rules, and one of them is: Never ruin a woman.
But if Mordecai helps Miss Wrotham, she will be ruined.

Goodreads

Eleanor is searching for her sister, who ran away to marry a soldier.  Eleanor’s fiance ran off because of the scandal her sister caused.  Her father and aunt kept her sister’s letters from her.  Now she has found a several month old letter saying that her sister is in trouble. The only person willing to help her is a relative of the man who jilted her. 

This ends up being a road trip story like book 3.  I don’t think it is quite as strong as that one but is enjoyable nonetheless.


The Baleful Godmother series Discovering Miss Dalrymple by Emily Larkin
on October 24, 2017
Series: Baleful Godmother #6

At the age of four Lord Vickery was stolen by gypsies and sold to a chimney sweep. At the age of five he was reunited with his father. His history is no secret—everyone in the ton knows of his miraculous rescue.
But when Vickery finds his father’s diaries, he discovers that there may be a secret buried in his past…
Georgiana Dalrymple knows all about secrets. She has several herself—and one of those secrets is her ability to find missing people.
When Lord Vickery turns to her for help, Georgiana sets out to discover just who he actually is…

Goodreads

Georgiana can find anything, including the answers to old mysteries if she just asks the right questions.  But is uncovering the truth always for the best?

I liked this book a lot.  It was nice to see the heroine trying to convince the hero that she would stand by him instead of the other other way around like it is common in a lot of historical romances.  There is no meet-cute here.  They have known each other all their lives and their relationship is formed out of their friendship.  It was a nice end to the series.

Overall, I’d highly recommend this series if you like historical romances.  Just skip the third book. 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Books Set in Europe
13 Dec, 2017

Favorite Book to Movie or TV Shows #AMonthofFaves

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

What book to TV adaptions am I excited to see?

I’m so excited for this series.  This is a book series that I reread at least once a year.  If you follow the author Deborah Harkness and/or @daemonsdomain on Instagram or Twitter you can see updates from the current filming of the TV series in Wales.  Just the behind the scenes photos are beautiful so I think the TV show is going to look amazing.  At this point the show doesn’t have a U.S. network that has contracted to air it, which needs to get fixed ASAP.  I think it is scheduled to air in England sometime in 2018.

This is also a favorite reread.  The miniseries currently shooting stars David Tennant who is my all time favorite so I’m all in on this one.  

This is the book that turned me into a raging Nnedi Okorafor fan.  Of her books, it is probably the last one I’d think about turning into a TV show but I’m excited anyways.  This will be on HBO. 

What upcoming adaptations are you excited to see?

12 Dec, 2017

The Promise Kitchen

/ posted in: Reading The Promise Kitchen The Promise Kitchen by Peggy Lampman
on August 16th 2016
Pages: 380
Genres: Fiction
Published by Lake Union Publishing
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Setting: Georgia

Shelby Preston, a young single mother, is at a crossroads. She feels suffocated by her hardscrabble life in rural Georgia and dreams of becoming a professional chef. Lord knows her family could use a pot of something good.
In Atlanta, Mallory Lakes is reeling from a bad breakup. The newspaper food columnist is also bracing for major changes at work that could put her job at risk. Determined to find the perfect recipe for how to reinvent herself, she gets involved in the growing farm-to-table movement. But an emotional setback threatens to derail everything she’s worked for. Shelby and Mallory couldn’t be more different. But through their shared passion for food, they form an unlikely friendship—a bond that just might be their salvation.

Goodreads

This book has been sitting on my ereader for a long time.  Now I’m upset that I didn’t read it sooner.

Shelby is a young single mother who follows food blogger Mallory and loves to make her recipes.  She wants to be a chef but that would require her to leave her daughter with her mother in southern Georgia and move to Atlanta to work and go to school.

The newspaper Mallory writes for has just moved totally online and she has thrown herself into creating a new, indispensable, digital persona.

Shelby and Mallory cross paths at the grocery where Shelby gets a job.  Their lives start to intersect more and more until the day when they are bound together by an accident.

The writing in this book was very beautifully done and pulled me in immediately.  I loved the contrast between the poor, rural Shelby who dreams of a better life and urban Mallory.  One of the themes in the book that haven’t seen written about much in foodie fiction was the accessibility of foodie culture.  Shelby decides which of the meals that she will make based on what is available and affordable at her local grocery store.  She talks about how she understands that Mallory feels that all the produce needs to be organic but that isn’t possible for her.  When Shelby tries to get a job in a deli at the grocery store, she wears her best clothes for the interview but realizes that they are shabby compared to the affluent people she sees there.  The grocery store in question just rebranded as an upscale store, losing some neighborhood clients in the process.

Overall, I wasn’t as invested in the story by the end as I was in the beginning.  I wasn’t a fan of the romance angle for Mallory or of the accident plot that seemed like it wasn’t necessary.  However, I think that the well done characterizations of Shelby and the secondary characters is still enough to recommend this book.


There are recipes in the back of this book like there are in a lot of books that feature food.  But guys, I actually made one of the recipes.  I know, shocking, right.  I think that reading all the people who link up at the Foodies Read pages is getting to me.

There was a recipe for Pimento Cheese.  I eat 99% vegan at home but back in time I really did love some pimento cheese.  I decided to try to veganize it.  I used vegan mayo and Daiya cheddar shreds.  I love Just Mayo’s vegan mayo but I actually hate Daiya fake cheese.  I think they taste like wax.  There wasn’t another cheddar selection in the store though so I gave it a try.

It was amazing!  Totally had the right taste and texture.  I can’t take attractive food pictures to save my life and I contend that there is nothing that can make pimento cheese photogenic anyway, but here it is.

IMG_0038.JPG

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Backlist Books
  • Books Set in North America
  • Foodies Read 2017
11 Dec, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

 

Finished This Week

 

What Am I Reading?

 

I got the library to order this one and they finally got it in.  You know when you have been anticipating a book for a long time and suddenly you have it but you don’t actually want to start it because you don’t want to finish it?  I’m there with this one.  I have read the absolutely amazing prologue though which is everything I’ve ever wanted in a recap.  Of course it was Nnedi Okorafor who wrote the prologue of my dreams.

 

What Am I Listening To?

 

The Newcomers follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado, in an English Language Acquisition class created specifically for them. Speaking no English, unfamiliar with American culture, their stories are poignant and remarkable as they face the enormous challenge of adapting. These newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, come from nations convulsed by drought or famine or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, after experiencing dire forms of cataclysm. Some arrive alone, having left or lost every other member of their original family.

Yep, still.  Almost done!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

08 Dec, 2017

4 Popular Books Worth the Hype #AMonthofFaves

/ posted in: Reading

I’m one of those readers who is normally totally out of the loop as to what the newest greatest book is. But this year I have read a few that have a lot of buzz around them. These are four books that totally deserve the hype.

Seriously, you can quit reading now. Just buy the above books.

The Hate U Give – There isn’t much I can say about this that hasn’t already been said. The movie has already wrapped. Read this one before the movie comes out because there is no way a 2 hour movie will be able to capture all the nuance of this book about the aftermath of a cop shooting a black teenager.

Allegedly – A black girl was charged with killing a white baby who was being babysat at her house. Now she’s a teenager and is pregnant. In order to keep her baby she needs to convince people that she did not commit the murder. Depressing, suspenseful, and wonderful.

River of Teeth – Alternate history based on the fact that there was once a proposal to release hippos in the Mississippi River. This is a western with hippos instead of horses.

Dear Martin – A black teenager is racially profiled and detained by police. Afterwards, he starts to write a series of letters to Martin Luther King to work out how to live his life in the face of the racism he sees around him.

06 Dec, 2017

This Is How We Blog #AMonthofFaves

/ posted in: Reading

Join hosts  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge for our 4th annual #AMonthofFaves blog event – a fun way to recap the year that was. We have every day of the event (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) planned out for you, so you can join in anytime. There will also be a link-up on all our blogs – put a link to your post so  that we can stop by each and every post to leave comments, high fives, good vibes and well wishes.

Wed. | Dec. 6 – This Is How We Blog #AMonthofFaves – Essential Computer Programs, Browser Plugins, Websites and / or your blogging routine, blogs on blogging that you follow, blog tips you learned and used this year

 

I already wrote a post about all my favorite blogging tools this year.  Today I want to talk about what I’ve learned about blogging after doing this for a very long time.  It will be 14 years in January.

No one cares about your schedule

I see this question all the time from bloggers.  How often should I post?  What if I need to miss a day?  Is Monday-Wednesday-Friday better than Tuesday-Thursday? 

I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t matter one bit.  Think about the blogs you follow.  Off the top of your head do you know if they have a posting schedule if they don’t announce it?  Would you really notice if they posted a day “late”.  I bet you wouldn’t. 

Ignore the stats

I always feel like patting baby bloggers on the head when sometime in their first year of blogging they get stat obsessed.  It happens to almost everybody.   Suddenly they are all about the page views and improving SEO and backlinking.  Then one of two things happens.

  1. They get over it
  2. They quit blogging because it isn’t fun anymore

Unless you are trying to make a living from blogging, ignore the stats.  Find a core audience who likes what you write.  Write what you want to write when you want to write it.

Enjoy what you are learning

I think about Malcolm Gladwell’s advice that it takes 10,000 hours to get good at something.  I see this in action when I have to write something now that isn’t on the blog.  I can sit down and write out papers for work, etc in no time.  Write every day for NaNoWriMo?  No problem.  You are learning to write when you blog.  Enjoy your learning.  Don’t rush.

It’s Ok to have a hobby

I get this one mostly from nonbloggers who hear I’ve been doing this for a while.  How much money do you make?  They are surprised when I say none.  I’m not trying to make money doing this.  I have a job.  This is a hobby.  It’s ok if you don’t want to make money doing it.  For me the work involved in trying to monetize isn’t worth the small amount of money I might make.  Other people may make other decisions.  It is all ok.

 My number one piece of blogging advice:

Do whatever it is that attracted you blogging in the first place.  If you wanted to write about your day, do that.  If you want to review books or movies or products, do that.  If want you want to write about changes over time, fine.  Go with it.  You do you.  Don’t try to please everyone else. 

What have you learned from blogging?

 

04 Dec, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

 

Finished This Week

 

What Am I Reading?

Andorra Pett is a book I got for review.  It is basically a cozy mystery set on a space station in cafe.  How could I pass that up?  The review isn’t scheduled until February but it is very good so far.

The Taliban Cricket Club is fiction about a woman who is trying to use cricket to escape Afghanistan.

 

 

What Am I Listening To?

 

The Newcomers follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado, in an English Language Acquisition class created specifically for them. Speaking no English, unfamiliar with American culture, their stories are poignant and remarkable as they face the enormous challenge of adapting. These newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, come from nations convulsed by drought or famine or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, after experiencing dire forms of cataclysm. Some arrive alone, having left or lost every other member of their original family.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

01 Dec, 2017

December 2017 Foodies Read

/ posted in: Reading

Welcome to December’s Foodies Read and the Introduction for 2018!

We had 17 posts linked up in November.  The winner of the giveaway for the month is Tina for her review of the Magpie Murders.

Here are the books that she will be able to choose from. Click the picture to go to the Goodreads summary.

Fiction

Nonfiction


 

 Loading InLinkz ...

 


 

 

It’s time to get ready for 2018!  Thank you to everyone who participated in 2017.  Please help spread the word about the linkup.

  • Let other bloggers who read foodie books know about the link up
  • If you see book reviews that fit our criteria, leave a comment and let them know about it

The Rules:

  • This is a very informal link up for reviews of books about food.  Any book where food is a main part of the plot is welcome.  They can be fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, graphic novels, audiobooks, anything about food.
  • The link up is posted on the morning of the first of each month.  There is a link to the month’s post on the right sidebar. 
  • All links will be posted on Twitter with the hashtag #foodiesread and will be posted to our Pinterest page
  • You don’t need to sign up in advance.  Just link up when you have a review posted.

The Monthly Drawing:

  • There is a drawing each month for a foodie book.  The selections are posted when the winner is chosen.
  • The drawing is open internationally.
  • Starting in January 2018, anyone who has won the drawing in the last 6 months will not be eligible to win in order to let more people have a chance to win. 

Feel free to snag a graphic if you want it for your posts. 

 

30 Nov, 2017

November 2017 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

This was the slumpiest of slumpy reading slump months.

I feel like a read a lot but didn’t finish many books at all.  I started the month with huge goals for Nonfiction November.

 

My goal was to read nonfiction that was not written by white men to try to fix my HUGE imbalance in this area.  How did that go?

Nonfiction

Fiction

 And then I cheated

 

(In my defense, I was super slumpy so I just picked this up since I had it at home.  I figured there was no way I’d read it all in the few days left of November.  I read it in 2 days.  It was good.)

So, 11 books and 2 were in the last two days.  I’m usually closer to high teens.  I had an additional six books that I read a good portion of and then I just wandered away from them.  It wasn’t that they weren’t interesting.  I’d probably like all of them in different circumstances but nothing was really holding my attention this month.

The books I finished were:

  • Set in Australia, Nigeria, Malawi, England/Scotland, Israel, and the United States
  • 2 audiobooks

The authors were:

  •  8 female authors, 3 male authors
  •  6 or 7 POC authors (I’m not sure how one identifies) and the rest were white

Reading All Around the World challenge from Howling Frog Books

  • Read a nonfiction book about the country – or
  • Read fiction written by a native of the country or someone living for a long time in the country.

I added Malawi and Israel this month.

 

 


I was also doing the #AusReadingMonth challenge for books from Australia.  I did read Am I Black Enough for You? which was written by an Australian author.  One of the books I wandered off from was also Australian.  I did find some other Australian books that I have added to my TBR.


I am challengeless for December which usually leaves me feeling a bit at a loss for what book from the vast TBR to pick up next.  However, I think I’m going to pick up anything that catches my eye for a while to try to break out of this slump. 

21 Nov, 2017

Book Blogger Test Tag

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

1. What are your top three book pet hates?

  • Shirtless men on book covers although I’m generally a fan of muscle-y shirtless men.

Nauti Nights (Nauti, #2) I’m sorry. I’m sure you are a lovely book.

 

 

 

  • Book jackets on hardcovers that slip down when you are reading
  • Whitewashing models on book covers when the characters are very clearly not white

2. Describe your perfect reading spot.

In bed.  I like to be comfy.

3. Tell us three book confessions.

  • I don’t really care about owning books.  I’d rather read them and then give them away (or have them go back to the library)
  • I don’t want to meet authors
  • I prefer ebooks to physical most of the time.

4. When was the last time you cried at a book?

I am a cold hearted hateful person who rarely cries about anything that doesn’t involve animals.  I can read about mass slaughters of humans but if the killers kick a dog on the way out of town that book is dead to me.  That being said, the ghosts of men who died in the early years of the AIDS crisis in Two Boys Kissing got me all teary.

Two Boys KissingTwo Boys Kissing by David Levithan

 

“You can’t know what it is like for us now — you will always be one step behind.

Be thankful for that.

You can’t know what it was like for us then — you will always be one step ahead.

Be thankful for that too.”

5. How many books are on your bedside table?

Three I think.  I also have my iPad which has all my ebooks.

6. What is your favorite snack whist you’re reading?

I don’t snack while reading.  I’ll eat whole meals but I don’t tend to just snack.  I’m not sure why.

7. Name three books you’d recommend to everyone.

That’s hard because my tastes are varied and strange.  Books I love most people may think are bizarre.  These are important books though.

8. Show us a picture of your favorite shelf on your bookcase.

20171120_122720.jpg

I don’t really have pretty bookshelves artfully arranged. This is my Terry Pratchett shelf in my sewing room. This is as close as it gets to organized and decorated.

9. Write how much books mean to you in 3 words.

Entertain my brain

10. What’s your biggest reading secret?

I have an extensive list of “classics” that I’ve never read.  Jane Eyre?  Nope.  Wuthering Heights?  Nope.  A Wrinkle in Time?  Nope.  (I should read that one before the movie comes out though.)

 


Tag yourself if you’d like to play and let me know so I can see your answers!

20 Nov, 2017

Favorites – Nonfiction November

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

Week 4: (Nov. 20 to 24) – Katie @ Doing Dewey: Nonfiction Favorites: We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.

Learn Something New with a Memorable Hook

Obviously we love nonfiction that teaches us about something that we didn’t know before.  Books that open up a whole new world are great favorites.

Moby-Duck did that well.  It introduced the effects of pollution in the Pacific Ocean and taught me a lot about plastic by following the stories of the bath toys that were spilled in the ocean.  Since then I’ve read other books like Junk Raft to learn even more. 

Seriously, look at that little ducky face.  How could you not read his book? 

Come for the cute little duck and stay for the learning.

 

 

Narrative is the Way to Go

I have an ongoing discussion with my husband about this.  He thinks books are frivolous if they aren’t very, very serious with lots of citations and footnotes.  He used to try to get snobby on me about fiction and even narrative nonfiction.  He even tried to dismiss a book because he enjoyed reading it so it wasn’t serious.  I reminded him of all he learned in the book.  He had to admit that it was an impressive amount.  So why shouldn’t you enjoy learning.  Why should it have to be a slog to be considered serious? 

The way I see it is that good writers can make any subject interesting.  Boring books aren’t because of super serious subjects.  That’s just boring writers. 

I still read nonfiction books that aren’t narrative but I’m less and less tolerant of them if they seem to take themselves too seriously.

Be Funny

There is humor even in very serious subjects. I’ll remember your book more if you point out the lighter or ridiculous parts of the story.

 

17 Nov, 2017

Hiddensee

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Hiddensee Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire, Tbd
on October 31st 2017
Genres: Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Book Tour, From author/publisher
Setting: Germany

In this imaginative novel rooted in the rich soil of early-nineteenth-century German Romanticism, beloved New York Times bestselling author Gregory Maguire twins an origin legend of the famous Nutcracker with the life of Drosselmeier, the toymaker who carves him.
Gregory Maguire’s novels have been called "bewitching," "remarkable," "extraordinary," "engrossing," "amazing," and "delicious." Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked, Wonderland in After Alice and Dickensian London in Lost, Maguire now takes us to the Black Forest of Bavaria and Munich of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffman. Hiddensee recreates the backstory of the Nutcracker, reimaging how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how it magically guided an ailing little girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a snowy Christmas Eve. It also brings to life the mysterious godfather Drosselmeier—the ominous, canny, one-eyed toymaker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s ballet—who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.
But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism a migrating strain of a Hellenic mystery-cult, and ponders a profound question: how a person who is abused by life, short-changed and challenged, can access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless. Ultimately, Hiddensee, offers a message of hope. If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized on the eve of a winter holiday, has something precious to share.

Goodreads

I came at this book with no idea of the story of The Nutcracker.  I’ve never seen it.  I know there are mice and some soldiers.  That’s all I know.  I didn’t even know that there was a grandfather who made a nutcracker. 

If you aren’t like me (several hundred years out of date with your pop culture), you may see more allusions to the story you know.  For me this was just a series of vignettes in the life of a boy named Dirk.  He was a foundling who seems to move randomly in and out of different people’s lives in Germany.  My favorite part was the subtle, dry humor that is slid into the narrative.

For me this book didn’t stand up to the love that I have for Wicked.  I keep waiting for a book from this author to reach those heights for me.  Hoping for this level of love did decrease my enjoyment of this book somewhat.  It is harder to let this book try to stand on its own without the expectations placed on it. 

This would be a good book for fans of The Nutcracker who want to delve more deeply into the world.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Books Set in Europe
16 Nov, 2017

How To Write A Memoir for Me to Read

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

I read a lot of memoirs. When reviewing them I find myself bringing up the same points over and over.  Because I am so freaking helpful, I have decided to write a guide for How to Write A Memoir that Isn’t Going to Make Me Cranky.  Just fill in your life details.

Prologue

Who the heck are you?

Maybe it is just me but I find myself picking up a lot of memoirs by people I’ve never heard of.  Does any one else do that? The issue is that I then sometimes find myself so far out of my depth that I feel like I have to research a person before I read their memoir.

Example, I picked up a book by the first Welsh rugby player to publically announce that he was gay. That sounded interesting. That’s a really macho subculture. I wondered how that went for him. I’m also of Welsh heritage and am interested in reading more books set there. But …  I was lost from the beginning. I don’t know rugby. Things that Welsh rugby fans would know like famous matches and rivalries were written about like they were obvious and I had no clue. I know I wasn’t the target audience so that’s where my prologue comes in.

This is a primer on your life.

  • I am famous because of ……
  • Terms you need to know to understand my story are …..
  • Here’s some links to video, websites, etc. to get your bearings before you read on

If you know who the person is, you can skip the prologue. I’m currently reading/listening to two memoirs. Both authors are vague at first about who they are. I can mentally fill in the blanks with one because I’m familiar with her but I’m lost on the other.

Get to the Point

Chapter 1 – Talk about your highlight

I picked up your book.  Now you have to convince me to keep reading.  Show me something from the highlight reel.

Zach Anner did this well. He got famous through a contest to win a spot on a reality show. He led with this story.  Then once you were invested in his life he went back and started talking about what it was like to grow up with cerebral palsy.  That is so much better than slogging through chapters and chapters knowing that something interesting happens when he is 22 but now you’re 100 pages in and the author hasn’t started kindergarten yet.  Ugh, DNF!

The memoir doesn’t have to be chronological.  Just get to the point.

 

Your Childhood Isn’t Interesting

Chapter 2 is all you get for your childhood

Unless you were a child actor or a prodigy at something, your childhood was not as interesting as you think it is.  I get it.  You feel like where you grew up shaped you.  Ok, here’s your chance to represent the old neighborhood and get it out of your system.  You get one chapter.  One short chapter.  I don’t need to know all about your background and your parents’ backgrounds if this is never going to come up again in the story.  Hit what is important and move on to the real story.   For example, I love Eddie Izzard and am loathe to make him a poor example but he went on and on about being born in Yemen (yes, interesting) and then every place he lived after that and who he played with when he was five and then never saw again….  I would have run away screaming if I wasn’t really a big fan.  Seriously, I listened on audio and it took HOURS to get to when he became a performer.  

 

Why Are You Writing This?

Chapters 3 through Infinity – Tell your story

Obviously, I like it when people tell me their stories.  I also like memoirs that aren’t necessarily about the facts of a person’s life but about issues they believe in.  Whatever type of memoir you write, just remember what you want to convey.  Own it.  Don’t get halfway through and then totally change the focus of the story or start wandering off on tangents that don’t lead anywhere so you have to course correct later.  I just finished a memoir that according to the cover blurb is about a court case.  That’s why I picked it up.  It is briefly mentioned in a few spots in the book.  Apparently it was famous in the country where this took place so the author assumes we all are so tired of hearing the details.  I’m not from that country.  I’m done with the book and couldn’t really tell you what happened except she won.  Yay!  I guess?  I spent the whole book thinking, “Ok, this is your life but what about this court case that is supposed to be such a big deal?”


If you love reading memoirs, what are your pet peeves?

 

15 Nov, 2017

A Country Between

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading A Country Between A Country Between: Making a Home Where Both Sides of Jerusalem Collide by Stephanie Saldana
on February 7, 2017
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Setting: Israel

When American writer Stephanie Saldana finds herself in an empty house at the beginning of Nablus Road, the dividing line between East and West Jerusalem, she is a new wife trying to navigate a fragile terrain, both within her marriage and throughout the country in which she has chosen to live.
Pregnant with her first child, Stephanie struggles to protect her family, their faith, and herself from the cracks of Middle Eastern conflict that threaten to shatter the world around her. But as her due date approaches, she must reconcile herself with her choice to bring a child into a dangerous world. Determined to piece together life from the brokenness, she sets out to uncover small instances of beauty to balance the delicate coexistence between love, motherhood, and a country so often at war.
In an urban valley in Jerusalem, A Country Between captures the fragile ecosystem of the Middle East and the difficult first years of motherhood in the midst of a conflict-torn city. What unfolds is a celebration of faith, language, family, and love that fills the space between what was shattered, leaving us whole once more.

Goodreads

This memoir is the story of an American woman who was considering becoming a nun in a Syrian monastery.  She met a French novice monk there.  Eventually, they left and married. 

Through a series of unplanned events, they found themselves setting up their first household in Jerusalem.  It was near the dividing line between Palestinian and Jewish areas near the Damascus Gate.

gate-of-damascus-676492_1280

“The sun rose in the east speaking Arabic and set in the west speaking Hebrew, and we tried to find our way in between.”

 

This is the story of trying to make a marriage while dealing with your husband’s deep grief about leaving the monastery.  It is worrying about what might happen every time you leave the house.

“…a great many of the dramas that happen in the Middle East begin with the simple intention of leaving the house to buy vegetables.”

 

This is a very lyrical memoir of their lives in this house.  I think that it started too slowly.  There was too much information about her childhood.  It slowed down the pace of the book.  Now I know that there was a first memoir about meeting her husband and the decision to leave the monastery.  This was also covered here for those of us who didn’t read the first book.

F6A1BB54-4D3B-4A30-9743-1B4F6280D765

There is some discussion of the larger political issues that affected their day to day lives but mostly she discusses the affect of policy on her street.  She discusses roadblocks and violence.  She talks about taking her kids to play in touristy areas.  Her neighborhood is a microcosm of all the religions that call Jerusalem home.

It can also be funny.

 

“When the Franciscans came into view in their brown cassocks, Joseph’s face became overcome with wonder. He ran to them and quietly bowed his head. Then he whispered, in solemn greeting, “Heigh-ho. Heigh-ho.””

 

Ultimately I would have liked more politics to understand what was happening but that isn’t the point of this book.  Read this one if you like beautifully written slice of life stories.

“If I can ask you to remember only one thing, then let it be this: keep watch. You have not been born into an easy world. But every now and then, in the midst of our daily lives, a miracle strikes.”

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Books Set in the Middle East
14 Nov, 2017

Beyond the Messy Truth

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Beyond the Messy Truth Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together by Van Jones
on October 10th 2017
Length: 7:16
Genres: Nonfiction, Political Science
Published by Books on Tape
Format: Audiobook
Source: Playster

Van Jones burst into the American consciousness during the 2016 presidential campaign with an unscripted, truth-telling style and an already established history of bridge-building across party lines. His election night commentary became a viral sensation. A longtime progressive activist with deep roots in the conservative South, Jones has made it his mission to challenge voters and viewers to stand in one another's shoes and disagree constructively.
Now, in Beyond the Messy Truth, Jones offers a blueprint for transforming our collective anxiety into meaningful change. Tough on Donald Trump but showing respect and empathy for his supporters, Jones takes aim at the failures of both parties before and after Trump's victory. He urges both sides to abandon the politics of accusation and focus on real solutions. Calling us to a deeper patriotism, he shows us how to get down to the vital business of solving, together, some of our toughest problems.
"The entire national conversation today can be reduced to a simple statement--'I'm right, and you're wrong, '" Jones has said. But the truth is messier; both sides have flaws. Both parties have strayed from their highest principles and let down their core constituencies. Rejecting today's political tribalism, Jones issues a stirring call for a new "bipartisanship from below." Recognizing that tough challenges require the best wisdom from both liberals and conservatives, he points us toward practical answers to problems that affect us all regardless of region or ideology: rural and inner-city poverty, unemployment, addiction, unfair incarceration, and the devastating effects of the pollution-based economy on both coal country and our urban centers.
In explaining how he arrived at his views, Jones shares behind-the-scenes memories from his decades spent marching and protesting on behalf of working people, inspiring stories of ordinary citizens who became champions of their communities, and little-known examples of cooperation that have risen from the fog of partisan conflict. In his quest for positive solutions, Van Jones encourages us to set fire to our old ways of thinking about politics and come together where the pain is greatest.

Goodreads

I could identify with Van Jones.  He is a liberal who grew up in a conservative area.  He can understand where people on both sides of the political divide are coming from.  He tries to offer insights to both sides in this book.

He points out that many people in this situation end up moving away from rural conservative areas which makes the isolation from people with differing viewpoints get worse and worse.  He talks about the problems of trying to go home and convert your friends and relatives to your point of view.

He also gives real life examples of how he has worked with bipartisan groups on issues like green energy and prison reform.  He specifically talks about working with Newt Gingrich.  He was a fan of how he built a huge conservative movement (but not of his politics).  He had read all of his books when he found himself working with him on CNN.  They have some interesting joint projects. 

I thought that the chapter on Prince was amazing.  Prince attempted to donate to one of his projects anonymously.  He refused the money because he didn’t take donations that he couldn’t trace.  Eventually Prince introduced himself and they started working together.  He uses examples from Prince’s philanthropy to show how people can be creative and make a difference in the world.  As he says, Prince’s thinking wasn’t “red or blue.  He was Purple.” 

It is rare to have a book that discusses all these serious issues be ultimately hopeful but this one manages. 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Audiobooks
  • POC authors
13 Nov, 2017

Be the Expert – Nonfiction November

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

Week 3: (Nov. 13 to 17) – Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness: Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I want to talk about books I read written by or about people who had to leave their homes.

 

Prize-winning journalist and the co-author of smash New York Times bestseller I Am Malala, Christina Lamb, now tells the inspiring true story of another remarkable young hero: Nujeen Mustafa, a teenager born with cerebral palsy, whose harrowing journey from war-ravaged Syria to Germany in a wheelchair is a breathtaking tale of fortitude, grit, and hope that lends a face to the greatest humanitarian issue of our time, the Syrian refugee crisis.

For millions around the globe, sixteen-year-old Nujeen Mustafa embodies the best of the human spirit. Confined to a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy and denied formal schooling in Syria because of her illness, Nujeen taught herself English by watching American soap operas. When her small town became the epicenter of the brutal fight between ISIS militants and US-backed Kurdish troops in 2014, she and her family were forced to flee.

Despite her physical limitations, Nujeen embarked on the arduous trek to safety and a new life. The grueling sixteen-month odyssey by foot, boat, and bus took her across Turkey and the Mediterranean to Greece, through Macedonia to Serbia and Hungary, and finally, to Germany.”

This is a book that I want everyone to read.  It is a story that makes you realize that political unrest could happen anywhere.  It shows you that even if there is fighting in one part of a country that people will think it won’t affect them because they live in a civilized city, like Aleppo. 


 

Sandra was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. She had watched as rebels gunned down her mother and six-year-old sister in a refugee camp. Remarkably, the rebel didn’t pull the trigger, and Sandra escaped.

Thus began a new life for her and her surviving family members. With no home and no money, they struggled to stay alive. Eventually, through a United Nations refugee program, they moved to America, only to face yet another ethnic disconnect. Sandra may have crossed an ocean, but there was now a much wider divide she had to overcome. And it started with middle school in New York.

In this memoir, Sandra tells the story of her survival, of finding her place in a new country, of her hope for the future, and how she found a way to give voice to her people.”

I like the fact that this book doesn’t end with Sandra and her family getting to America.  It deals with the PTSD she is living with as a result of her trauma that didn’t manifest until her physical safety was ensured.  It gives hope for the future but not a false Happily Every After.


 

“The Jon Stewart of the Arabic World”—the creator of The Program, the most popular television show in Egypt’s history—chronicles his transformation from heart surgeon to political satirist, and offers crucial insight into the Arab Spring, the Egyptian Revolution, and the turmoil roiling the modern Middle East.

Bassem Youssef’s incendiary satirical news program, Al-Bernameg (The Program), chronicled the events of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, and the rise of Mubarak’s successor, Mohamed Morsi. Youssef not only captured his nation’s dissent but stamped it with his own brand of humorous political criticism, in which the Egyptian government became the prime laughing stock.

So potent were Youssef’s skits, jokes, and commentary, the authoritarian government accused him of insulting the Egyptian presidency and Islam. After a six-hour long police interrogation, Youssef was released. While his case was eventually dismissed, his television show was terminated, and Youssef, fearful for his safety, fled his homeland.”

This book is different than the first two.  He was wealthy enough to fly out of Egypt and not have to live out the worst experiences of other refugees but he still fled on short notice.  This book is funny and daring and inspiring.


London, 1947. He was the heir to an African kingdom. She was a white English insurance clerk. When they met and fell in love, it would change the world.

This is the inspiring true story of Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams, whose marriage sent shockwaves through the establishment, defied an empire – and, finally, triumphed over the prejudices of their age.”

This book has a happier ending than the others.  Seretse and Ruth Khama were eventually allowed to return to his country which became Botswana.  The racism of the British Empire is on full, detailed display in this book.

 

10 Nov, 2017

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer
on September 29, 2009
Pages: 292
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Published by HarperCollins
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Setting: Malawi

William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, Africa, a country plagued by AIDS and poverty. Like most people in his village, his family subsisted on the meager crops they could grow, living without the luxuries—consider necessities in the West—of electricity or running water. Already living on the edge, the situation became dire when, in 2002, Malawi experienced the worst famine in 50 years. Struggling to survive, 14-year-old William was forced to drop out of school because his family could not afford the $80-a-year tuition.Though he was not in a classroom, William continued to think, learn—and dream. Armed with curiosity, determination, and a library book he discovered in a nearby library, he embarked on a daring plan—to build a windmill that could bring his family the electricity only two percent of Malawians could afford. Using scrap metal, tractor parts, and blue-gum trees, William forged a crude yet working windmill, an unlikely hand-built contraption that would successfully power four light bulbs and two radios in his family’s compound. Soon, news of his invention spread, attracting interest and offers of help from around the world. Not only did William return to school but he and was offered the opportunity to visit wind farms in the United States, much like the ones he hopes to build across Africa.

Goodreads

This story started slow for me.  I’m not a fan of detailed description of childhood in memoirs unless you were doing something very interesting as a child.  Most people aren’t.

The main point of this story started with a drought and subsequent famine that hit Malawi in the early 2000s.  It was devastating.  The author’s family was no longer able to afford his school fees so he had to drop out.  He wanted to continue his education so he went to a library and started to read the books there.  He applied what he learned in a basic physics book to build a windmill from spare parts.  This allowed his family to have lights in their house for the first time.  He went on to build other windmills to pump water for irrigation and personal use, freeing up hours a day that were otherwise spent going to and from wells. He even made cell phone charging stations.

The dynamo had given me a small taste of electricity, and that made me want to figure out how to create my own. Only 2 percent of Malawians have electricity, and this is a huge problem. Having no electricity meant no lights, which meant I could never do anything at night, such as study or finish my radio repairs, much less see the roaches, mice, and spiders that crawled the walls and floors in the dark. Once the sun goes down, and if there’s no moon, everyone stops what they’re doing, brushes their teeth, and just goes to sleep. Not at 10:00 P.M., or even nine o’clock—but seven in the evening! Who goes to bed at seven in the evening? Well, I can tell you, most of Africa.

 

This part of the story was interesting.  He was dedicated to the idea of building his windmill but scavenging the parts took a long time.  It showed a lot of ingenuity.

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 8.29.59 PM

One strange section was about witchcraft.  He reports it as fact.

The previous famine had led to reports in the southern region that the government was banding with packs of vampires to steal people’s blood, then selling it to international aid groups.

 

Following the strange beast of Dowa, many people across Malawi reported having their private parts stolen in the night, many of them waking up in the morning with their sheets bloody. Men who’d been drinking in bars were the easiest targets. As they stumbled home in the darkness, an evil creature—perhaps a gang of witch children—would pull them behind a tree and remove their parts with a knife. It was later revealed that most of the victims had been virgins, and their parts had been sold to witches, Satan worshippers, and business tycoons.

 

This often happens while we sleep—the witch children can take our heads and return them before morning, all without us knowing. It’s a serious problem.

 

He was accused of witchcraft for making electricity from the wind.  A bad storm came and the windmill was spinning rapidly.  People accused him of causing storms. 

This book was published in 2009. Since then William has graduated from college. He has an NGO to support community based projects around his hometown. On his webpage you can even donate to the library where he found his physics book.

This is a great story of innovation and survival.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Backlist Books
  • Books Set in Africa
  • POC authors
08 Nov, 2017

Made for Me

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Made for Me Made for Me by Kathryn R. Biel
on October 4th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Love & Romance
Published by Kathryn R. Biel
Format: eBook
Source: Owned

Michele's lack of focus in life hasn't bothered her, until the day she finds herself with mounting credit card debt, unable to afford her rent, and without a job. While her meddling family questions how she can end up in this predicament, at the age of 29, and single to boot, Michele doesn't want to admit the truth. All she wants to do is sew.
Faced with the prospect of moving back into her parents' house, Michele throws a Hail Mary pass and applies for a TV design contest, Made for Me. In order to win the contest, Michele will have to compete with nine other contestants to design the new wardrobe for Duchess Maryn Medrovovich, who's about to marry Prince Stephan of the United Republic of Montabago.
While in the seclusion of the show, Michele starts to realize where her focus in life should be, and what's truly important to her. However, a dashing competitor might just cause her to lose her focus once and for all. Can Michele keep her eye on the prize while being true to herself?

Goodreads

I’ve mostly been reviewing very serious books lately so I decided to throw in some lighter fare to prove that I haven’t lost my love of pink books.

Made for Me starts this series of related books.  Each one features a secondary character from the previous books. 

This book was pure fun.  It is set on a Project Runway knock-off reality show called Made for Me.  (The contestants aren’t allowed to mention Project Runway by name.)  Every challenge is to make a look for a commoner who is about to marry into the royal family of an European country.  The winner will win a job as her designer for a year.

The fun of this book is mixing in the competition aspect of the reality show with the chick lit standards of finding yourself and maybe finding love. 

What I didn’t like was the attitude that the main character had about a bisexual contestant.  She voiced a lot of stereotypical thoughts about him.  She assumed that he would be unfaithful in an monogamous relationship purely because he was bisexual.  That’s a stereotype that I thought we were all moving past but it still lives here.  It is challenged lightly. 

Besides that, this one was cute and fun.  I’d recommend it.


Made for Me New Attitude by Kathryn R. Biel
on March 14th 2017
Published by Kathryn R. Biel

As if it's not bad enough that I didn't win the reality design TV show I was on, try coming home to a one word note indicating that my ten-year marriage is over. So here I am, a suddenly single mother in my mid-thirties, doing what everyone advises me to do—have a fling. Except it doesn't go as planned, so I do the next best thing, which is sit on the couch and mope. But having to provide for a five-year-old doesn't let me stay home for too long. Before I know it, I'm back to dying my hair wild colors and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.
Except Tony, the fling that wasn't, keeps popping up in the most unlikely places and won't leave me alone. I'd like to be strong—I'm way too old for him—but he's cute and funny and sexy and oh, my ex is getting married to a girl named Bambi. All I know is the way I'm doing things isn't working. If I want to be happy again, I'm going to need to get a new attitude.

Goodreads


This book follows another contestant from Made for Me when she goes home after the show.  Her husband has left her and she needs to decide what to do with her life.

Starting out I liked this book more than the first one.  Kira is older and has a child.  She has to get herself together and act like a grown up.  I appreciate that in a book. 

I wasn’t thrilled about the end of this book.  It took the plot to a place I’m not fond of.  The book also seemed to treat the main character of Made for Me as more flightly and unprofessional than she was made out to be in the first book.


Made for Me Once in a Lifetime by Kathryn R. Biel

Ten years ago, the Sassy Cats were at the top of the charts until Callie Smalls walked away to pursue her career in fashion and television. The other four members—Angie, Tabitha, Mandy, and Daphne—were left to fend for themselves and continue on with their lives.That is, until the day when Callie decides to book a gig for the group at a major music festival, without talking to her former band mates. Scattered across the country, at different points in life, can they rekindle the magic in the music?A soccer mom who's husband doesn't know about her past. A fading star, sacrificing all to stay in the spotlight just one second more. A party girl, challenged with her most important role yet. A tiger mom, fighting for her son. A desperate woman, unhappy and alone. A lot can change in the course of a decade. Will it be harmony or hatred for the Sassy Cats?

Goodreads


This book looks at the life of the host from the Made for Me TV show.  This was a more difficult book for me to get into because of the completely unlikeable main character.  

I also wasn’t a fan of some of the romance here.  It seemed very forced.  The relationship was argumentative and somehow that was supposed to clue us all in that they loved each other.  Not a story line that I’m very fond of. 

The relationship that I did like was the mother of the autistic child.  She had to let go of her attempts to control the situation and accept help from her husband.  That felt very realistic to me. 

Overall, I’d say read Made for Me and maybe skip the other two.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Books Set in North America
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