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Monday, April 23, 2012

A Woman's Place


A Woman's Place by Lynn Austin

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "Virginia Mitchell watched her husband carve the Sunday pot roast and wondered if he was having an affair. He showed more interest in the way the meat was cooked than he did in her. But maybe it was better if she didn't know for certain. This way she wouldn't be forced to decide whether to live with the knowledge in silence, forgive him, or leave him. She found it difficult enough to decide what to fix for dinner, let alone wrestle with questions of infidelity and trust....Virginia's insecurity regarding her marriage casts a pall over her future. But with the devastating news of America's entrance into WWII. Ginny feels called to make a difference. As she embarks on this journey, she'll meet three other women--and in the process, change her world.")

I liked this book a lot. I found it so interesting to learn about these four (and later on, a fifth) women and their lives. I liked how their lives intertwined, and how they forged friendships and also how they forged a way for women into the workplace during the WWII era. I liked each of the characters, and felt as if I could walk into their world and fit right in. It did take me awhile to get them straight, and remember who was who, but by the end they felt like my friends. I liked how each of them dealt with her own trials, and yet they all faced many of the same trials together. They helped each other, and came to rely on each other. The men in the book made me furious. I did like Earl. Ginny's husband drove me crazy! And the men workers at the factory were awful. I found it difficult to believe that some of those problems existed in the 1940's. I knew women worked during WWII because I have seen the Rosie the Riveter poster:

but I'd never thought about how that made the men feel, or what those women did once the war was over. I enjoyed this book and recommend it.

The writing style is hard to get used to at the beginning, but becomes easier by the end. It is a little slow in some parts, but it was engaging enough to keep me reading. There are some scenes in the book that are difficult to read because of the way the people were treated. There is some harsh racial violence (beatings, and a terrible "accident") and you learn of characters dying in the war. There is some language. One of the characters has a habit of drinking and getting drunk. There is a little bit of a Christian message in the book because a couple of the characters discuss God and His influence in their lives.

Rating: PG-13+ (Racial beatings, a so-called "accident," characters dying in the war, sparse language, drinking, and Ginny wondering about an affair.)

Recommendation: High School and Up. I took a Women's History class in high school, and this would have been a great read for that class. It is fiction, but it's great to see a different viewpoint of WWII.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Blogger Award

Hooray! My blog is entered in the Goodreads Book Blogger Award contest!!!! The winner gets a trip to New York City for the Book Expo America! So, if you're reading my blog and you like what you see, please take a minute to vote for me. There is a link at the top right-hand corner of my blog. Just click on it and you can vote! Thank you so much to all my readers and friends and family!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mystery of the Puzzle Bones


Mystery of the Puzzle Bones by T.A. Smith

(Summary taken from the back book cover) "Jaydon, Caleb, Ethan, Brandon and Roscoe the dog have a great hideout, but someone is leaving a strange puzzle of bones in the Boardunders Clubhouse. Someone has found them and wants to lead them deeper into the sewers to a place that doesn't want to be found and a people that would do anything to protect their secret. The danger becomes extreme when they are forced to run for their lives. Can they escape, and who can they trust to help?"

**Spoiler Alert!!!! But if you are a parent who has a child that wants to read this book, please read on.**

I was really excited to read this book. I have a ten year-old who reads so much I can't keep up. I am out of ideas for him at the moment, and thought this sounded like a great book for him. I liked it at the beginning. The boys seemed nice, although I would have liked some more development with each character. I never really felt a connection to any of them. Jaydon was the best developed, but I digress. I know my son would love their hideout and was getting excited when they found the puzzle bones. Then it all went downhill. I was so sad. The kids go after the dog (I did like the dog) and find a secret doorway. This leads them down some rickety stairs (I liked it to here.) and into an underground shanty town filled with homeless people and fugitives. And most of these characters are scary and dangerous. They do not want to be found out, so they will kill these children. They find this little girl, who happened to be the one that left the bones, and she takes them to her dad, who isn't too happy to see them. They run for their lives and manage to escape before this scary, dangerous, armed man comes after them. They go home. Then Caleb goes with his dad to the Rescue Mission (Caleb quotes scriptures and almost preaches to the other boys throughout the book, which I was fine with.) and takes Ethan with him. Inside the Rescue Mission they see a poster of the girl they found underground, and she has been kidnapped by her dad, and taken away from her mom. It gets worse. Ethan thinks they should save her, so he hides in a bag of blankets and goes back down into the shanty town to save her.

Okay. I loved the concept of this book. Kids with a secret hideout and finding lots of adventures is fun. I liked the bones mystery, I liked them exploring. But I really think that the content of an underground shanty town filled with fugitives and kidnapped children is too much for this age group. I do not want my ten year-old being scared that there are people living in our sewer system, I do not want him reading about children being kidnapped by their dads and hidden in deplorable conditions underground. This reminds me too much of a very adult book I reveiwed a while back called "The Liquid City" by Curtis Hopfenbeck that had a very similar situation and it was not child-friendly at all. Also, I do not want my child to think that he can solve problems like that on his own. Those children should have gone straight to their parents for help. Instead, they decided to put their lives in danger. Also, because of their actions, the town was cleared out by the time the police got there. The police could have taken in the fugitives and maybe helped some of the people living there if they had gotten there first. I would have loved it if the boys had found an underground fantasy world or aliens living underground, or even a homeless family that they could have helped. Unfortunately, I think this storyline is just too much for the 8-12 age group.

I usually do not read other reviews of books I review, but this time I wanted to see what other people said. I wanted to see if I was being over-sensitive. According to the other reviews, I am. The other reviews I read seemed fine with the content. So I asked around. I asked my husband and a few friends with kids in this age group, and they agreed with me. They, too, thought the storyline was too heavy for children this age. Therefore, it is up to you, as a parent , to decide what is best for your child.

Rating: PG-13 (Underground shanty town with fugitives, kidnapped children, armed men)

Recommendation: 16 years and up. I might even go older. It is up to the parent to decide for each individual child.

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I thank Media Guests and T.A. Smith for the opportunity to review this book. I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my review, but that does not sway my review. My reviews are all honest.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Dreams, My Choices


My Dreams, My Choices by Clementine Wamboye Girenge

"The simple act of going to school represents enormous ambition for Felly, the protagonist of this powerful true story about growing up in rural Kenya. In the town of Mumias lies a small village where Felly's family is known to everyone. The life of her paternal grandparents is like an open book, a story filled with sorrow and strife that turns her grandmother into a cold and hardened woman. Felly on the other hand, grows up in a home surrounded by her parents' love that is based on a very strong foundation, which sets the stage for this brave youngster to make and achieve her goals. One of them is receiving a top-notch education. My Dreams, My Choices documents Felly's drive to expand her horizons. At the same time, this frank and eye-opening book reveals what it's like to grow up in Africa today, detailing a life of hardship touched by contemporary African issues. At a young age, Felly witnesses how her family stands against the ordeals that come their way. As she grows older, she discovers that she will also have to surpass personal struggles blocking her way. There are times when she almost surrenders, refusing to move forward and climb over the barriers. She experiences profound culture shock upon setting sight for the first time on Nairobi. And she faces down tremendous odds to graduate at the top of her class from one of the best schools in the country. Richly detailed, the vividly recalled life story will captivate you with a fresh perspective on contemporary Kenyan life and people."

I love to read about other people's lives, especially when they are very different from my own. This book was no exception. I have heard about Kenya in the news, but that is about it. Learning about her family and why they acted the way they did gave insight into why we need to be less judgmental about people. We don't know what they have been through, and we down't realize what we can learn from them. Getting a good education was always at the top of my parents' list for me as well, but it was much easier for me than it was for her. I think I took my education for granted.

This book is filled with good quotes. My favorite is: "Success was not based on the color of my hands but the strength I put in my hands to color my dreams. I needed to color them big!"

Some parts of this book are a little hard to follow. It doesn't always go chronologically in order. Also, I had to reread some paragraphs in order to understand the language. I did enjoy this book and would recommend it. Like I said, I do enjoy learning about the way other people live, and it's always a good reminder as to how blessed I am. She is also a great example of working hard to overcome the odds.

Rating: PG-13 (Some of the content is difficult to read because of the harsh envirnonment. You read about a boy who was killed by a teacher at school because he was late, because he helped that very same teacher push his bike into the school yard. That part was graphic and hard to read. So there is that death, other children die of disease.)

Recommendation: 16 years and up. This could be a really good learning tool for teenagers. It definitely makes you take a step back and realize that even though you have problems, they aren't as big as other peoples' problems.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Best Worst Thing


The Best Worst Thing by Kristen K. Brown

(Summary taken from the back book cover) "One day, that's all it takes to change a life...As a wife, new mother, and successful career woman, Kristen Brown thinks her life is set. Until one morning, her husband doesn't wake up. This bittersweet memoir shares the experience of Brown's new life as a young widowed mother grappling with the shock, pain, and regret following her husband's unexpected death while managing a stressful work situation amid the downfall of the economy. Not wanting to be a "sad mom," she instead harnesses her emotions into a positive force in her life. Through a process of life-changing experiences like surfing, getting "inked," and starting her own company that takes her to Hollywood, she discovers her life's purpose to be the role model for her daughter she longs to be--and becomes a role model for others in the process."

This book takes you on an emotional roller-coaster ride. You learn of how Ms. Brown met her husband, how they dated and you read about their wedding day. You learn of how they have their daughter and how they are a real couple with good days in their marriage and some not-so-good days. You see how they may not be treating each other as they should. And then you read the part in the story where her husband dies, and it is so sad. I cried. I can't imagine losing my husband. I felt so bad for her as she described what happened and how she felt in the months after he died. I cheered her on when she began to heal and find herself in her new normal. Sometimes challenges bring out the best in us, after we crawl out of our holes.

This book is well written. I like Ms. Brown's style of writing. It is easy to read and packed full of emotion. I felt like I was with her through all of it. Most of it is clean: however, she does use the "f" word 3 times on page 75, and then again on page 203. I don't usually put page numbers for profanity, but this way you can just skip it and read the rest of the book. There are occasional swear words throughout the rest of the book, but not too many. The lesson learned are worth skipping a few pages. I have always tried not to take my husband for granted, but after reading this book I hug him longer and harder. I have told him more often how much I love and appreciate him. My kids too. Life is so short, and you never know what is going to happen, so take the time each day, and many times a day, to show love to those around you. Ms. Brown is a good example of picking yourself up and moving on. She's a good example of why we women need a good education and why we need to take care of ourselves.

Rating: R  (Have to go with this because of the language. Sorry.)

Recommendation: 18 years and up.