Thursday, August 22, 2019

Childhood Favorites

A friend recently had a baby and yesterday I spent some time with them, bringing her some of my favorite childhood books as a present. It got me thinking about the books I loved when I was young and the books my daughter loved as well.

What were some of your favorites?

My parents are British immigrants so many of my early favorites came from the UK)

Don Freeman lived in Santa Barbara, my town, and named the lion in his book after the lion at our local zoo.

These are some of my daughter's childhood favorites. These books that, at age 18, she still remembers as favorites.
And once she was able to read books on her own, these are the ones that made an impact. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

YA Review: Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

Title: Genesis Begins Again
Author: Alicia D. Williams
Year Published: 2019

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 364
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)USA (MI)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): There are ninety-six reasons why thirteen-year-old Genesis dislikes herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list: 

  • Because her family is always being put out of their house.
  • Because her dad has a gambling problem. And maybe a drinking problem.
  • Because Genesis knows this is all her fault.
  • Because she wasn't born looking like Mama
  • Because she is too black.
Genesis is determined to fix her family, and she's willing to try anything to do so...even if it means harming herself in the process. But when she starts tofind a thing or two she actually likes about herself, she discovers that changing her own attitude is the first step in helping others.

Review: Let's talk first about this cover. I love it; it does a great job of capturing Genesis and the beauty of her skin color (which is very relevant to her story). And the dedication of the book: "For every person who felt as if they weren't good enough. You were. And will be always." This sets the tone and goal for the book and it is so good.

Genesis is so real. She's a middle school student who just wants to have friends and she thinks that means lighter skin, straighter hair, and coolness. All of which she doesn't have. Instead she is poor, has course hair, really dark skin, a dad who drinks, and a mom who seems unaware. 

But what's great about this story is that Genesis figures things out, but that doesn't mean everything ends perfectly. She has a gift. You'll have to read the book to find out what it is, but it's worth it. I love Genesis and think you will, too.

Challenges for which this counts: 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Salon: August 18, 2019

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz has taken over running The Sunday Salon.

My life in books over the past week: 

  • A to Z Reading--I have read books with titles for 21 letters so far: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, and W.
  • Big Book Challenge--I have read 8 books over 400 pages.
  • Diversity Reading Challenge--I have read 47 books.
  • Literary Escapes--I have read books set in 33 states so far, adding Virginia in the past week. I have read in 50 countries so far, adding no new countries in the past week.
  • Motif Reading Challenge--The August motif is "Mode of Transportation."
  • Non-fiction--I have read 18 books so far.
  • YA Award Winners--I have read 10 of the 11 winners
Completed challenges:
  • My Own Books--I read 21 books off my shelves from March 15 to May 15, 2019.
My life outside books:
Students officially come back to school this next week so things will begin to ramp up at work. I have a new colleague (the English Coach) who seems really nice; I think she will fit in with our group.

I did not get into the Google program, which is a bummer. However, I realize I feel more sad because it means I won't go to New York and get to see my daughter and niece at their colleges. So, I'm thinking of the money I'll save!

My daughter leaves for her second year at Vassar tomorrow; I'm really going to miss her. We've had a great summer of "us" time; it's great to see the adult she is becoming.

This past week , in addition to work, I have read and gone for walks with friends I haven't seen in a while so it's been nice and relaxing.

Review: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Title: Miracle Creek
Author: Angie Kim
Year Published: 2019

Genre: Adult fiction (mystery)
Pages: 351
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)USA (VA)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): In rural Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device called the Miracle Submarine. A pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic "dives," it's also a repository for hopes and dreams; the dream of a mom that her child can be like other kids; the dream of a young doctor desperate to cure his infertility and save his marriage; the dream of the Yoos themselves, Korean immigrants who have come to the United States so their teenage daughter can have a better life.

When the oxygen chamber mysteriously explodes, killing two people, all these dreams shatter with it, and the ensuing murder trial uncovers unimaginable secrets and lies.

Review: I like a good courtroom drama and this one fit the bill. It's got multiple families, all of whom have secrets to keep and lies to tell, children, a fire, a sexual assault, immigrants, and rural America. Doesn't that sound good?

It's such an odd concept: put people (kids) into a submarine and expose them to pure oxygen and hope that it cures autism, cerebral palsy, and other issues. But maybe it's only odd because I don't need it's service and have never heard of it. In fact, this book mentions many "cures" that I had never heard of, many of them frightening. It turns out the author has experienced the "submarine" so knows of what she writes. That's why it feels so real.

The story is a good one and I didn't figure out the details until they were revealed as I read; always a good sign in a mystery.

Challenges for which this counts:

Friday, August 16, 2019

Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager
Year Published: 2019

Genre: Adult fiction (thriller)
Pages: 368
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)USA (NY)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents. All of whom are rich or famous or both.

These are only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most glamorous and secretive buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is captivated by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly reminds her of her sister who vanished eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and that the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story...until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid's disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew's sordid past and the mysteries kept within its walls. What she discovers pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building's hidden secrets, and escape a dream apartment that has quickly turned into a nightmare.

Review: This thriller kept me turning pages well past my bedtime. I like that we know where things end up (sort of) in the first few pages then the novel alternates between NOW and the 5 days building up to NOW so that we see how it all unfolds.

Is everyone in the Bartholomew in on the weirdness? Do they just not notice the oddities? Is Jules going crazy? These are the questions that raced through my mind as I read this book. Although Jules is young and a bit scattered, she is a reliable narrator that I believed and supported throughout.

I thought I had it all figured out then there was a twist! So good. Evil lurks in this book and it is good. If that makes sense. Evil done well.

Challenges for which this counts: none