Sunday, April 11, 2021

Sunday Salon: April 11, 2021

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz runs The Sunday Salon. 


Mom brag: my daughter got offered two fantastic internships for this summer and accepted the first one she was offered, which is working with the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs. I am so excited for her! But, she is not allowed to leave the country during the internship so that means my trip to the UK (if it is allowed to take place) will be shorter with a focus on visiting family.
I haven't watched any shows lately except on my treadmill (I am watching New Girl, which I love). But, this past week I've begun watching Atlantic Crossing (PBS), which is about Norway during WWII the relationship between FDR and Norway's royal family. It's a story that I hadn't heard before and I am really enjoying watching a good historical drama. I particularly find it fascinating that the King spoke in Danish, his son, the Crown Prince, in Norwegian, and the son's wife, the Crown Princess, in Swedish so the show is mostly in those three languages.

We're still doing monthly zooms with my dad's side of the family, which is really nice. And I just got off a cousin-only zoom with my mom's side, which was nice as well. It's been far too long since the six of us have chatted.

I got nothing special to put in this part of today's post. 

This graphic is a link to my Challenges page.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Review: First Comes Like by Alisha Rai

Title: First Comes Like

Author: Alisha Rai

Year Published: 2021

Category: Adult fiction (romance)
Pages: 432
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) USA (CA)

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?

Review: After reading the intense The Stills, I was in the mood for something light and this novel fit the bill. It's fun, entertaining, easy to read, and a good story.

The bright and happy cover of this book sets the tone for this contemporary romance. Going from catfishing to tentative friendship/fake dating to real dating is a great arc, especially since it probably wouldn't happen in real life. And I am totally okay with that fantasy version of reality. As with these novels, the general trajectory of the plot isn't a surprise, but there are things I didn't expect along the way and that's a good thing.

Jai and Dev are both likable characters and I wanted them to get together from the beginning. They are kind, thoughtful, unsure of themselves in social situations, yet confident in who they are as professionals and people. Yes, they have some family baggage, but don't we all! Actually, extended family plays quite a large role in the story, which is appropriate because Dev's family comes from India and Jai's comes from Pakistan. I like that aspect of the story.

With a good story, nice characters, some Bollywood/Hollywood, and an internet influencer, this novel all worked for me.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Diversity--South Asian (April challenge)

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Review: The Stills by Jess Montgomery

Title: The Stills

Author: Jess Montgomery

Year Published: 2021

Category: Adult fiction (mystery)
Pages: 352
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) USA (OH)

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Ohio, 1927: Moonshining is a way of life in rural Bronwyn County, and even the otherwise upstanding Sheriff Lily Ross has been known to turn a blind eye when it comes to stills in the area. But when thirteen-year-old Zebediah Harkins almost dies after drinking tainted moonshine, Lily knows that someone has gone too far, and―with the help of organizer and moonshiner Marvena Whitcomb―is determined to find out who.

But then, Lily’s nemesis, the businessman George Vogel, reappears in town with his new wife, Fiona. Along with them is also her former brother-in-law Luther Ross, now an agent for the newly formed Bureau of Prohibition. To Lily, it seems too much of a coincidence that they should arrive now.

As fall turns to winter, a blizzard closes in. Lily starts to peel back the layers of deception shrouding the town of Kinship, but soon she discovers that many around her seem to be betraying those they hold dear―and that Fiona too may have an agenda of her own.

Purchase Links: Macmillan | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Jess: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review: When I saw this book on offer from TLC Tours I was excited since I liked The Widows, the first book in the series. I haven't read book 2, but these can each work as stand-alones. This book is well written and a good story.

The story is told through alternating chapters: Lily, the sheriff, and Fiona, the mobster's wife. Lily is the more straightforward, reliable character: strong, reasonable, honest, and caring about the people in her town. She enforces the laws even when she doesn't agree with them, trying to do what is right in all circumstances. Fiona, on the other hand, is dishonest, conniving, reliant on the men in her life, and scared. Scared of her husband, his bodyguards, their maid, and being left behind. What I liked is that, as the story progressed, Fiona gained strength and smarts, manipulating events to better her own life.

Montgomery is good at setting the time and scene. Small town Appalachia in the 1920s during prohibition and the growth of unions cannot have been an easy life and that shows in the clothing, the houses, the, lives the people living in the town of Kinship. I can see these books becoming a really good TV series. 

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Cloak and Dagger
  • Historical fiction

Review Tour:

Monday, March 8th: PhDiva Blog and @thephdivabooks

Tuesday, March 9th: @jessicamap

Wednesday, March 10th: Nurse Bookie and @nurse_bookie

Thursday, March 11th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, March 12th: Bewitched Bookworms

Friday, March 12th: @thebookclubmom

Monday, March 15th: Living My Best Book Life and @livingmybestbooklife

Wednesday, March 17th: Leighellen Landskov and @mommaleighellensbooknook

Thursday, March 18th: Reading Reality

Thursday, March 18th: Berit Talks Books and @berittalksbooks

Friday, March 19th: @bibliolau19

Monday, March 22nd: @aimeedarsreads

Tuesday, March 23rd: @lovelyplacebooks

Thursday, March 25th: Pacific Northwest Bookworm and @pnwbookworm

Friday, March 26th: Amy’s Book-et List and @amysbooketlist

Monday, March 29th: @the.caffeinated.reader

Wednesday, March 31st: @welovebigbooksandwecannotlie

Friday, April 2nd: Books and Bindings

Monday, April 5th: Buried Under Books

Wednesday, April 7th: Helen’s Book Blog

Friday, April 16th: Books Cooks Looks

Saturday, April 17th: Blunt Scissors Book Reviews and @bluntscissorsbookreviews

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Sunday Salon: April 4, 2021

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz runs The Sunday Salon. 


Mini-reviews of children's social justice books (all 4 on the same post)

  • The Power of Her Pen by Lesa Cline-Ransome and John Parra
  • Emmanuel's Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls
  • Young Native Activist by Aslan Tudor
  • Young Water Protectors by Aslan Tudor
I got my second Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday! And yes, I got my vaccination card laminated. I feel like getting the second shot allows me to start planning a trip. The thought of leaving my town after a year feels a little scary. In fact, reentry feels scary. Anyone else feel that way?

This image shows the books I set out to read in March. I finished them all plus 8 more! I did have spring break this month and I read 4 YA novels so that helps up the number of books read this month.
This image shows the books I hope to read in April (plus more if life allows). And, I've already read 2 of them (both YA and quick good reads).

This graphic is a link to my Challenges page.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Mini Reviews: Social Justice-oriented Children's books

I am co-presenting later this month on using literature to get students to write for action. We are  using a number of children's books (and a couple secondary) to show how all grade levels can benefit from hearing children's literature then applying it to not only writing activities, but having the students act on issues about which they are passionate.

These are the four children's books we're talking about and I loved them all!

Title: Young Water Protectors: A Story about Standing Rock

Author: Aslan Tudor and Kelly Tudor

Year Published: 2018

Pages: 24 (paperback)

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map)USA (ND, SD, MT, WY, NE) 

Ages: 9 and up

Summary and thoughts: At the not-so-tender age of 8, Aslan arrived in North Dakota to help stop a pipeline. A few months later he returned - and saw the whole world watching. Read about his inspiring experiences in the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock. Learn about what exactly happened there, and why. Be inspired by Aslan’s story of the daily life of Standing Rock’s young water protectors. Mni Wiconi ... Water is Life. I love that this comes from an 11 year old's viewpoint!

Title: Young Native Activist: Growing Up in Native American Rights Movements

Author: Aslan Tudor and Kelly Tudor

Year Published: 2019

Pages: 19

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map)USA (CA, Washington, DC, OH, IL, ND, IN, TX)

Ages: 8 and up

Summary and thoughts: This is 11 year old Aslan's story. An activist is someone who tries to make changes or raise awareness about political or social issues. As Native Americans we fight for our rights as the first people of this land. Aslan has been protecting rights since he was just a youngster. Aslan tells the story of the different ways that he has protested (drumming, marches, dances, protests, etc) and why it matters to him. This one is Aslan's second book and I think it's even better than the first because it shows a variety of experiences and issues that he cares about.

Title: Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

Author: Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls

Year Published: 2015

Pages: 40

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) Ghana

Ages: 4 and up

Summary and thoughts: Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah's inspiring true story—which was turned into a film, Emmanuel's Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey—is nothing short of remarkable. Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled. A moving and inspiring story that will surely get students talking. We are going to suggest that kids look around their own school and neighborhood to see what it would be like to have a disability and navigate their world.

Title: The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne

Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome and John Parra

Year Published: 2020

Pages: 48

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) USA (IL, Washington DC), Japan

Ages: 4 and up

Summary and thoughts: “I’ve had a box seat on history.” Ethel Payne always had an ear for stories. Seeking truth, justice, and equality, Ethel followed stories from her school newspaper in Chicago to Japan during World War II. It even led her to the White House briefing room, where she broke barriers as the only black female journalist. Ethel wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions of presidents, elected officials, or anyone else in charge, earning her the title, “First Lady of the Black Press.” Fearless and determined, Ethel Payne shined a light on the darkest moments in history, and her ear for stories sought answers to the questions that mattered most in the fight for Civil Rights. What an inspiring story! I had never heard of Ethel Payne and now want all teachers to include her in their US curriculum.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Children's historical fiction--WWII, Civil Rights (historical event in my lifetime, a real female hero from the past)
  • Diversity--Native American, Black, person with a disability
  • Historical fiction--WWII, Civil Rights
  • Literary Escapes--North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Ghana
  • Popsugar--book with a heart on the cover