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books and reading

Multicultural Children’s Book Day “Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club”

*I was gifted this book to review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day*

I have the privilege of reviewing Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. The book is a collaboration with Yellow Arrow Publishing.

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The Girlfriends Book Club is a “stress-free group for girls that encourages reading, vocabulary expansion, comprehension skills, & confidence.” You can find them on Instagram and Twitter. The editor from Yellow Arrow Publishing, Leila Warshaw, explains that this amazing group was started by a mom, her daughter, and her daughter’s friends. The girls have monthly book readings, attend book festivals, meet authors, and participate in literary podcasts.

As a former middle school teacher, I absolutely love how this group encourages young ladies to use their brains, be creative, and project their voices into the world. Many people don’t take young ladies seriously for various reasons. And what a tragedy that is. What a joy it was to read these short stories by five amazing girls, Sarah Ford, Aubrey Heiges, Nadia Lessing, Valerie Swing, and Makayla Wright. Every story in this collection was excellent, and I absolutely enjoyed reading them. The tales are all creative and different from one another, which was great, but all had common themes of helping others, overcoming adversity, dealing with tough situations, and some even provided a bit of mystery. Whether these girls become authors or not, they have bright futures ahead of them, and I love how their Girlfriends Book Club encourages and supports them.

The cover of the book (see photo above) is a collage of drawings from the girls themselves. They drew “anything related to their story,” and after reading their stories, I can see which drawing goes with which story. I’m so thankful that I was allowed to read this book and marvel at these delightful young ladies.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

 

Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

Platinum

Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,

Gold

Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,

Silver

Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Bronze

Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

 

Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

 

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

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books and reading

Verity

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What in the fucking fuck did I just read? My gosh. I’ve read a lot of crazy stuff, but this one might be at the top of the list. Infidelity- check. Murder- check. Narcissism- check. Secrets- check. Botched abortions- check. Child abuse- check. Descriptive sex scenes- check. Psychopaths- check. Stupid character names- check. This book has it all!

Lowen (ugh) is a mediocre writer who has been asked to finish a popular book series written by Verity (ugh) Crawford. Lowen will go live in Verity’s house with Verity’s husband, Jeremy (the only reasonable name in this entire book) and their son, Crew (ugh). Verity was recently in a car accident following the tragic deaths of her daughters, Chastin (seriously, I can’t make this stuff up) and Harper. Verity is unable to complete the series, so Lowen is getting paid to take over.

Weird things start happening in the house. Verity is awake, but unaware and non-responsive. However, Crew mentions talking to his mother, and Lowen claims to see Verity walking around. Lowen also finds a manuscript that Verity wrote about her life. Lowen quickly discovered that Verity is probably a psychopath and no longer feels badly for her.

Of course, this book must have ridiculous sex scenes between Lowen and Jeremy, because he can’t stand to have her in the house for two weeks without falling in love with her, even though he’s fully committed to Verity’s recovery. Give me a break….Ugh.

I kept reading this book, mostly to see if Verity was faking or not, or if Lowen was going crazy. I’ve only read one other CoHo book, and apparently, this one is out of the norm. I just don’t think she’s a writer for me.

 

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books and reading

The Perfect Nanny

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I love a good thriller. Only a few stand out, though. The Silent Patient, Gone Girl, All the Missing Girls, and Girl in Snow, and Baby Teeth all come to mind as being better than the rest. I’m always searching for another good one. Unfortunately, most are just ridiculous. An Anonymous Girl, The Woman in the Window, The Woman in Cabin 10, all just irritated me. Sadly, The Perfect Nanny joins this list, but for reasons different from the aforementioned titles. Most fall into terrible tropes, namely the “I drink too much and can’t remember anything” one. I am just so over that type of story.

The Perfect Nanny starts with the ending. And I HATE that concept. It completely takes me out of the plot. Instead of wondering what will happen, I am left wondering why. I *should* be wondering both, especially in a thriller where a terrible event happens. Even though it’s not the first chapter, I’m not going to say what it is, other than awful. Skip ahead a bit, Louise is a dream come true in the nanny world. The kids adore her, she cooks, cleans, can stay late or come early, and the parents end up relying on her more and more. All seems well.

What’s frustrating about this book is that it’s an omniscient narrator, so you never really get into Louise’s head. She’s clearly not a good person, and you learn a bit about her back story, but nothing really explains her anger. She has a “mood disorder,” barely mentioned, but that’s really all we learn about her mindset, other than a few flashbacks. This book would have been so much better from her perspective to really get into the unreliable narrator’s thoughts. I fit this book into the “book with a three-word title” for the PopSugar Reading Challenge but was ultimately disappointed.

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books and reading

The Book of Lost Things

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For the PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge, I need to read a book with a book on the cover. Surprisingly, this was a difficult challenge. I scoured my shelves and ended up with the silhouette of a book and called it a day. This one had been recommended to me ages ago, but I never got around to it. So, I was excited to give this one a chance, even though I really knew nothing about it.

The story is set in the 1930s, and after David’s mother dies, his father remarries and has a baby boy with the new woman. David feels like he has pushed to the side and is really struggling with this new family. His only escape is within a book, and, thankfully, his new home is full of them. David begins fainting every now and then, and while he’s out, the books whisper to him. Slowly, David gets drawn into the books, and eventually, he hears his mother’s voice calling to him. David goes into the garden and somehow slips into another world.

This new world is lorded over by a king, and David believes this king can help him get home. Along the way, David meets plenty of people who want to help him, but many who don’t, namely the Crooked Man who tries to get David to tell him the name of his little brother. Clearly, the Crooked Man is evil, but David tries his hardest to escape him. While traveling to the king, David stumbles upon various tales like Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and “The Most Dangerous Game.” I was shocked at how violent this book was. It’s not that I was offended by it, but I thought this book was for kids, so the violence took me aback.

As much as I rooted for David, I really didn’t get sucked into the story. Most days, I just read just to get to the end of the book. That said, it’s probably just a personal preference. This is a really creative book, and David’s a great character, but it just didn’t capture me.

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books and reading

The Maid’s Secret

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I’m so glad I discovered Emily Organ and the Penny Green series. These books are just much fun to read. I started with Limelight and recently finished The Rookery. The stories follow a female news reporter in the late 1800s in London. Penny isn’t well-received by most because she is unmarried, has no desire to be married, and has a job. Penny is a great character though. She makes no apologies for her position and is very good at her job.

Penny has some overarching plots that have, so far, extended through the first three books. Namely, her quest to find her father’s whereabouts. He’s an explorer, but no one has seen him in several years. Penny and her sister, Eliza, fear him dead. Penny also has a working relationship with a member of the Scotland Yard, James Blakely. It’s obvious they have feelings for each other, but he’s engaged and she has no desire to be married. But their relationship is fun to watch.

This story finds Penny undercover as a maid for the newspaper (and James is aware of the situation) trying to find out the secrets of a family that has a reputation for being cruel to its factory workers. While there, one of the members of the family meets an untimely end and it’s up to Penny and James to figure out if that person was murdered, and if so, by whom.

I just fly through these books. As much as I enjoy modern-day mysteries with DNA and fingerprint analysis, a good old-fashioned whodunit and also a lot of fun. I have all intentions of finishing these books and highly recommend them. They are on Kindle Unlimited, for those who have it. Absolutely delightful books.

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books and reading

Still Life With Woodpecker

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A friend of mine read this in school as an example of satire, a genre I enjoy, but I had never heard of this book. But, she recommends pretty great stuff, so I added it to my list and didn’t think much more about it. I stumbled across a cheap copy somewhere and bought it, simply for the delicious old book smell, but also in case I decided to read it. The 2020 PopSugar Reading Challenge requires a book with a great first line. So, while searching the internet for great first lines, this book is recommended for the following: “If this typewriter can’t do it, then fuck it, it can’t be done.” Consider me sold.

This bizarre love story follows Princess Leigh-Cheri and her would-be love interest, The Woodpecker, AKA Bernard. She is an environmentally conscious teen, he’s an older dynamite enthusiast. Match made in Heaven, right? They meet in Hawaii, and their love blossoms, as do their explicitly described sexual escapades, so what could go wrong? Unfortunately, Bernard gets caught up with “the law” and ends up in prison. Leigh-Cheri knows what she must do while she waits for his release. She must also imprison herself with nothing more than Bernard has. A simple cot, a chamber pot, and a pack of Camels. Ain’t love grand?

Leigh-Cheri is young and really doesn’t know much about love. Bernard is more of a rapscallion than Leigh-Cheri admits, so this separation doesn’t go as well as expected, but I’ll leave you to find out why. To put it straight, this book is hilarious. There are so many delightful phrases I flat out snorted at in laughter. It did take a bit to get into, but once they get to Hawaii, the pace picks up quite a bit. I’m going to be honest and say that this book is flat-out bizarre, but I really enjoyed it.

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books and reading

Big Sky

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In my effort to get caught up on series I started but never finished, the Jackson Brodie series was at the top of my list. I read and loved Case Histories a few years ago. But after the third book, I got distracted and didn’t pursue the series. Big Sky came out a few months ago, and I knew I  needed to finish and see what Brodie was up to.

Jackson is a former police officer turned private investigator. He’s pretty grumpy, but he has a good heart and wants to do right by people. His love life is a mess, a couple ex-wives, a couple strained relationships with his children, a dog he loves, but he can’t settle. He wanders and can’t decide where to go.

This book finds him temporarily settled, trying to connect with his son, but at odds with his daughter. What I love about these books is that Jackson really just stumbles upon people in need. He doesn’t have an office and doesn’t take “clients.” He just helps when he sees people who need it. The plot of this one involves trafficking women, kidnapping, and a murder.  Brodie, although a curmudgeon, is a likable guy, and I have enjoyed all his reluctant adventures.

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books and reading

Glass Sword

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I  wasn’t a fan of Red Queen. I ‘m just going to put that right out there. The gaping plot hole presented just turned me off the series. Yet, here I am. I had been assured that the series gets better. So, in my effort to wrap up some series I’ve started, I went ahead and gave it a shot. And while there isn’t a terrible plot hole, it’s not the greatest book, either. But definitely better than the first.

We see Mare and Cal again, trying to round up other Newbloods, who are reds with silver abilities, and they concoct a plan to use these Newbloods to overthrow as many Silvers as they can. You guessed it…things go awry. Some great characters are introduced, some great ones die, and the book ends on a total cliffhanger.

I’m less angry now that time has passed and this second book is a bit better. So, stay tuned for my next review to see how the series continues.

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books and reading

The Girl Who Lived Twice

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I’ve been a big fan of the Millennium series from early on. I read the first two in the original series, but the newest trilogy by David Lagercrantz isn’t quite the same. If you are judging them separate from the first, they definitely hold up on their own as interesting murder mysteries. This book meets the “book about or by a journalist” category in the 2020 PopSugar Reading Challenge.

This newest installment finds Lisbeth in hiding, yet again, plugging away at some version of revenge. Mikael Blomkvist is investigating a mysterious death, even though he really has other stories he should be writing. We meet a few new characters including a journalist “lady friend” of Mikael’s and as he digs deeper into the death, he unlocks a lot more information than he really intended to. I really don’t know much about Russian or Swedish espionage, so a lot of it I just read without understanding the magnitude of the betrayals, but the point gets across anyway.

These books are worth reading, even if they aren’t the original. I have enjoyed them quite a bit, and I like to see how Lisbeth has evolved. It might not be a huge evolution (spoiler alert, she’s still sullen in this one), but she has let a few people into her life, which is a big step. I’m not sure if there will be other books in the series, but I will stick with them, if Lagercrantz writers more.

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books and reading

2019 Wrap-Up

My goal is always to read more pages than the year before, rather than more books. I  almost made it this year, by Goodreads standards. In 2018, I read 110 books for 36914 pages, and in 2019 I read 132 books for 36038 pages. A good chunk of the books I read were ones I edited, which are kids’ books and pretty short. If I count all the books I edited that aren’t on Goodreads, I definitely surpassed the page number goal.

Here are some reviews for the highlights of my reading year.

Best book I read this year: The Book of M by Peng Shepherd. It’s dystopian, but in a way I had never read before. And it gutted me. I read it in January, and it’s stayed with me all year. I think about it a lot.

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. Wow. As a parent, this one is horrifying. About a little girl who is a sociopath and has a desire to harm her mother. But it’s so good.

I really enjoyed The Fourth Monkey series. It’s a “police catching a serial killer” series, and the dialogue is cheesy, but it kept me guessing.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. An excellent ghost story.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Same author as The Goldfinch. I just love everything she writes.

The Jack Caffery series by Mo Hayder is another great police detective series, but it’s very graphic. Birdman is the first.

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay. Another one that left me guessing. I’ve read a few of Tremblay’s books, and he’s really good.

The Girls by Emma Cline. This one was wacky. It’s a fictional story of the Charles Manson group and subsequent murders.

The Run of His Life: The People vs OJ Simpson. I couldn’t believe how much I learned from this book. I know a lot about the case already, but this had info I had never heard.

The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. I really don’t care for fantasy, but these are excellent young adult books.

The Dublin Murder Squad books by Tana French. I read two of them this year. Each one is better than the last. In the Woods is the first, the Likeness is the second, Faithful Place is the third.

Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. I read a lot of true crime, but this one stands out. The author is simultaneously doing research into a crime, yet learning things about herself. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. Again, another I was expecting not to think was so great, but I was blown away. Crichton really was ahead of his time in describing DNA, technology, etc.

Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen. Unlike Columbine by the same author (EXCELLENT BOOK) this one doesn’t focus on the shooter or the day, but rather the students who started a movement for gun control. Gives me hope for the future.

I read some great own voices books this year: A Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob, and Shanghai Girls by Lisa See were both great.

Best thriller I read was The Silent Patient. It wasn’t the greatest thriller ever, but it didn’t fall into the stupid thriller tropes like A Woman in the Window. Ugh that one was awful.

I started a lot of great series this year: the Harry Hole detective series, the Penny Green series about a Victorian reporter who also solves crimes, the Armand Gamache Canadian detective series, which is a good cozy mystery series.