Thursday, November 23, 2017

Review: Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution

Title: Bernie SandersGuide to Political Revolution
Author: Bernie Sanders
Year Published: 2017

Genre: YA non-fiction
Pages: 205 (plus glossary)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2017 Google Reading map)USA

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): The political revolution is just beginning. The economy, health care, education, the environment, social justice, and immigration. What role will you play?

Review: I picked this book up because the reviews I've seen are good and it will probably be in round two of the Cybils for which I am a judge (junior high/high school non-fiction). So, I got an early start on reading it.

I think this would be a great book for high school students, especially those taking Government and/or Economics during their senior year. At that age they are ready to hear information that is a bit more advanced, connects to voting, and applies to their lives as they leave high school and become more independent.

The chapters cover really important topics such as the minimum wage, health care, tax reform, climate change, and our police/justice system. While the information is not easy to digest, it is definitely written for teens (but trust me, I learned something as well) with statistics and graphs done in graphic novel-style illustrations and interspersed with images of Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail.

"If there was ever a time in history for a generation to be bold and think big, to stand up and to fight back, now is that time." --Bernie Sanders
Yes, this is a book that liberals will embrace (and so I did). Sanders is writing for youth and those that support government programs, free education and health care as a right and not a privilege, and redistribution of wealth so that everyone in America can succeed. There are comparisons of the US to other industrialized nations (so embarrassing) and calls for "mobilization" and "learning" at the end of each chapter. 

I would definitely put this on every high school library shelf and will donate my copy to the high school where I worked until last year.

Challenges for which this counts:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review: Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton

Title: Y is for Yesterday
Author: Sue Grafton
Year Published: 2017

Genre: Adult fiction (mystery)
Pages: 483
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2017 Google Reading map)USA (CA)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): The darkest and most disturbing case report from the files of Kinsey Millhone begins in 1979, at an elite private school that sets a high bar for academic achievement and turns a blind eye to the risky behavior and social sabotage students use to get what they want. With absentee parents and the money to make mistakes disappear, they are free to make their own rules.

That is, until four teenage boys sexually assault a freshman--and film the attack. Not long after, the tape goes missing and the suspected thief, a fellow classmate, is murdered. In the investigation that follows, one boy turns state's evidence and two of his peers are convicted. But the ring-leader disappears without a trace.

Now it's ten years later and one of the perpetrators, Fritz McCabe, has been released from prison. Moody, unrepentant, and angry, he is a stunted child expecting to pick up his old friendships and familiar habits--until a copy of the missing tape arrives with a ransom demand. That's when his parent call Kinsey Millhone for help. As she is drawn into their family drama, she keeps a watchful eye on Fritz. But he's not he only one being haunted by the past. The vicious sociopath last seen in X has a grudge against Millhone and is leaving traces of himself for her to find....

Review: The second to last Sue Grafton novel! I just had to read this and I will also definitely read the "Z" book when it comes out. I love that these mysteries are set in my town, Santa Barbara, even though she calls it Santa Teresa. I like that I know the businesses and streets that she is talking about!

I think this is my favorite of Sue Grafton's mysteries and it gripped me from the first page. Maybe that's because I hadn't read a Grafton novel in a long time and it felt like "coming home." Or maybe it's because the storyline reminded me of a local news story from around the year 2000 to which I felt quite connected. The real story didn't involve a sex tape (but that seems to be common now, so a very timely plot!), but rather a drug debt. 5 boys/young men kidnapped a teen, held him and drugged him for 3 days and then killed him, burying him in our local hills. I knew two of the boys: one was my student and one played soccer for my (now) ex-husband. It was all horrifying and eventually a movie was made about it ("Alpha Dog," which I refuse to see).

Anyway, I thought her characters were very believable, the story was gripping, and I love revisiting with Kinsey and all her neighbors and friends!

Challenges for which this counts:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Readathon

I haven't done a readathon a long time and Thanksgiving break seems like a good time to do one again.

I first read about this on Maphead's blog and was redirected to the hosts of this readathon: Ottavia at Novels and Nonfiction and Jackie at Death at Tsundoku. The idea is to read as much as you can between November 22 and November 26.

I am not sure how much reading I'll get done since my daughter is home from boarding school and I want to spend lots of time with her, but I am on holiday so that means more reading time.

The books I'd like to read for this read-a-thon are:

  • Jenny D. Williams' The Atlas of Forgotten Places 
  • Erika L. Sanchez' I am not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (YA)
  • Bernie Sanders' Guide to Political Revolution (YA)
  • Sue Grafton's Y is for Yesterday 

  • Happy Thanksgiving!

    Sunday, November 19, 2017

    Sunday Salon: November 19, 2017

    My life in books:
    Since my last Sunday Salon, here's what I've read. I feel like I'm getting my reading mojo back and the holidays are coming up so there's lot of reading in my future!

    • Currently reading--Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton
    Challenge updates:
    • Read Your Own Damn Books--My goal was to read 25 books from my TBR shelves this year and I am up to 34.
    • Travel the World in Books--The idea is to read books set in as many countries as possible. I added Switzerland and Bolivia in the past two weeks.
    • Literary Escapes--Similar to the previous challenge, this one tracks the US states. I didn't add any new states because every YA book is set in New York. :-)
    • Read all of the ALA YA Award Winners--complete
    My life outside books:
    I have taken on another project at work: getting bilingual signage at all of our school sites. I attended a week at the Institute for Equity in Education back in October and we had to create a project. That was mine and the superintendent wants to do and he'll find the funding. So, he has asked me to start with one of our elementary schools that is 98% Latino.

    My daughter is busy working on college applications; it's so different from when I applied. I remember filling them all in by hand, the same information for every college. Now they have the Common Application process, which seems so much more streamlined. The University of California has it's own system, but dealing with two versions isn't too bad. I am so eager to see where she ends up! She is applying to Vassar, Reed, Wellesley, Kenyon, Bowdoin, Connecticut College, Williams, and UC Berkeley. It's a great list and I think she'll be happy no matter which one she goes to.

    She came home yesterday for the holiday and it's wonderful to have her home. She also got her senior photo and I think it came out beautifully.


    I was so excited about a week ago to attend an evening with Samantha Bee. I was ready to laugh... a lot. So, you can imagine my disappointment when we got into the theater and saw two chairs on stage. It wasn't stand up, but a conversation with Samantha Bee (that's not how it was advertised). The interviewer asked boring questions (where do you get your blazers? How do stay trim? What's your morning routine?) and we were all sorely disappointed! Samantha Bee kept saying "Are you sure you want to hear this?" Um... not really. I was ready for political commentary and witty insights. Guess not.

    I am watching the new/current seasons of:
    • Madam Secretary
    • Criminal Minds
    • Project Runway--just watched the final episode
    • Will and Grace

    Saturday, November 18, 2017

    Review: The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah

    Title: The Lines We Cross
    Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah
    Year Published: 2017

    Genre: YA fiction 
    Pages: 389
    Rating: 4 out of 5

    Location (my 2017 Google Reading map): Australia

    FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

    Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Michael likes to hang out with his friends and play with the latest graphic design software. His parents drag him to rallies held by their anti-immigrant group, which rails against the tide of refugees flooding the country. And it all makes sense to Michael.

    Until Mina, a beautiful girl from the other side of the protest lines, shows up at his school, and turns out to be funny, smart--and a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. Suddenly, his parents' politics seem much more complicated.

    Mina has a long and dangerous journey fleeing her besieged home in Afghanistan, and now faces a frigid reception at her new prep school, where she is on scholarship. As tensions rise, lines are drawn. Michael has to decide where he stands. Mina has to protect herself and her family. Both have to choose what they want their world to look like.

    Review: This novel seemed so timely and I enjoyed Abdel-Fattah's other book that I read (Does My Head Look Big in This?) so I couldn't resist buying it as one of the books to pull me out of my reading slump. What a good choice!

    With all the nasty political rhetoric being thrown around in the US these days this book fit right in. The way that Michael's parents feel about refugees coming to Australia sounds very like the way Trump and his supporters feel in this country. It makes me sad to think that people are so scared of the "other" that they will go to extremes to get rid of them. I don't want to give away any of the plot, so I won't elaborate on that.

    Somewhere near page 300 I felt that this book was going to be too long, it needed to pick up the pace and get the story progressing and the next thing I knew I had read the final 89 pages and I was done! So, it lagged a for about 30 to 40 pages, but otherwise had a good story and characters that I like.

    Mina is a good main character; she is bright, thoughtful, and though she has had a tough life, she gets on with it. She doesn't wallow in her past, but rather uses it to urge her to success. Michael is struggling with his parents' racist views, trying to figure out what he believes and wants in life. That's difficult to go against everything you've heard in your house from a young age. To go against one's parents takes time and this story shows that.

    I also like the message the novel gives that speaking up for what you believe, whether it's poplar or not, isn't easy, but it's important.

    Challenges for which this counts: