#throwbackthursday Refugee by Alan Gratz [Book Review]

May 7, 2020

Refugee by Alan Gratz
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of a favorite MG/YA read, Refugee by Alan Gratz.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Refugee by Alan Gratz (cover) Image: a small child with back to camera in a small red rowboat on a stormy ocean

Genre/Categories: Middle Grade through Adult, Historical Fiction, Global Issues, Refugees

My Summary:

“Refugee is the relevant story of the refugee experience from three unique perspectives:

  • 12/13-year-old Josef and family are Jewish and attempt to escape Nazi Germany in 1938 aboard a ship bound for a country(Cuba) that will accept them.
  • 12-year-old Isabel and family are Cuban and flee riots and unrest in Cuba in 1994 on a homemade raft pointed toward safety in Miami, Florida.
  • 12-year-old Mahmoud and family are Syrian and seek to escape war-torn Aleppo in 2015 and relocate to Germany.

Even though these families are separated by continents and decades, their stories share certain similarities. Each journey is fraught with harrowing adventures, frustration, courage, resiliency, heartache, injustice, persecution, dangers, children assuming adult roles and responsibility, loss of childhood innocence and joy, and loss of family members. However, the families have hope that drives them forward. Amazon Rating (May): 4.8 Stars (This is a very high rating in which 85% of the stars are in the 5 star category.)”

“See us, he thought. Hear us. Help us.”

Continue reading my review of Refugee to see what I loved….

QOTD: Have you read Refugee or is it on your TBR?

#throwbackthursday The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

April 16, 2020

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas as well as sharing several of my favorite diverse reads. Have you read THUG or seen the movie?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (cover) Image: an African American girl holdinga large white poster with the book title

Genre/Categories: YA Contemporary Fiction, African-American

My Summary:

“Our sixteen-year-old main character, Starr, lives in a poor inner-city neighborhood and her mother drives her to an upper-middle-class private school miles across town for her education. Starr’s parents can afford to move out of the poorer neighborhood, but her dad, a former gang member and convict, believes it’s important to stay in the neighborhood to help solve the problems there and to be a role model and support for the young African-American males who desire to leave the gang life and pursue better options. Starr’s mother would like to move across town to the middle class more diverse neighborhood where Starr and her siblings attend a (predominately white) private school and where the family attends a “diverse” church “(she nicknames it “the diverse church). Starr manages to live between her two worlds of the Williamson private school crowd and her neighborhood friends. This causes her some stress because she feels she can’t totally be herself in either place. One night Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed childhood best friend by a police officer. The officer-involved shooting and her friend’s death make national headlines. Starr is faced with opinions and actions from both sides. Some reporters and private school friends say that the victim was a thug and perhaps a gang member and drug dealer and deserved to die. Friends in the neighborhood, including Starr who really knew the victim, defend him. As Starr faces her role as a witness, interrogation by the DA, involvement in protests, and publicity, she and her family also endure intimidation by the local drug lord (because if she testifies, she might incriminate him). Starr summons up all her courage so that her testimony and answers are honest and truthful to the best of her ability. What she says could endanger her life and cause further protests in the community. How will she use her voice?”

Click here to continue reading my review of The Hate U Give (plus more recommendations for diverse reads)….

QOTD: Have you read The Hate U Give or is it on your TBR?

Big Lies in a Small Town: A Review

January 29, 2020

 Big Lies in a Small Town: by Diane Chamberlain

Big Lies in a Small Town (cover)

Genre/Categories: Light Historical fiction, Light Mystery, Southern Fiction, Art

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Secrets, prejudice, and making peace with the past ….

Two young women living several decades apart are focused on the same mural….one is creating the mural in 1940 and the other is restoring the same mural in 2018. In alternate viewpoints and dual timelines, we hear both stories, the mystery of what happened to the original artist is uncovered, and connections between the two are revealed.

My Thoughts:

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Bookish Themed Hanukkah: Sixth Candle: The Extra Sense #eightcandlebooktag

December 27, 2019

 Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: Sixth Candle–The Extra Sense

#eightcandlebooktag

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today with Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends.  #eightcandlebooktag  Join us! (find my first candle here, find my second candle here, third candle here, fourth here, fifth here)

Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!

8th-candle

 

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

Sixth Candle: The Extra Sense

A book that scared you, worried you, or that was edgy or spooky in some way (doesn’t have to be a paranormal book).

Well…you’ll notice a dearth of reviews for scary, spooky thrillers on my blog! It doesn’t take too much to scare me or provoke a bad dream. Usually if something is scary, spooky, or too thrilling, it gets shelved without hesitation as a DNF. I think I’m classified as a HSP (highly sensitive person) in my reading life! So today’s prompt stumps me!

Since I haven’t read any really scary books, I finally considered other books that disturb me in some way and make me uncomfortable while reading. I read a great deal of WW11 histfic, so some of the concentration camp passages are highly disturbing. A couple of examples of some of the most difficult “concentration camp” passages I’ve read include books like The Lilac Girls, Between Shades of Gray, and The Nightingale. Often, books that describe the unfortunate plight of innocent children are quite difficult to read. Examples include Before We Were Yours and Orphan Train.

However, for this prompt I decided to go another direction with a book that is uncomfortable or disturbing to read and that is Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I found that the chapters that focused on Turk and his racism and white supremacy especially difficult to read. I remember having feelings of dread every time his chapter came up, and wishing I could skip them.

For today’s post, I’m choosing to highlight Small Great Things

  small great things

The following brief overview has been published previously on this blog:

Amazon Summary:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

My Thoughts:

This is an important and memorable read; however, it was difficult for me to rate. First, I would award it 4 stars for being a page turner and for the focus on an important issue. At the same time, I would rate it 3 stars for the author’s overly pedantic tone (for my preference), one-sided political insults, and the too convenient plot twists at the end. Overall, that would average out to a 3.5 star rating. On Goodreads, I rounded that up to 4 stars. This rating comes with a word of caution that the author was heavy handed in her message and her political comments….it seems that most of her fans might already be aware that her stories are sometimes controversial because of their polarizing themes.

I’m conflicted as I write this because it’s an important issue and message, but at times it felt like a lecture and a political attack. In the end, I admire her bravery at tackling this important and sensitive issue. The chapters involving Turk, the white supremacist, were especially difficult to read because they were filled with hate.

Without hesitation, though, I recommend this book for readers who enjoy controversial and current topics, for nurses and legal professionals, and for those readers who want to form their own opinions on trending new releases and relevant topics. Small Great Things would make a terrific selection for a book club discussion. Plus, if you’re a huge Jodi Picoult fan you might not want to miss this story with its ambitious themes.

My Rating: 4 stars

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small great things

Small Great Things Information

Meet the Author, Jodi Picoult

Jodi PicoultJodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers “The Storyteller,” “Lone Wolf,” “Between the Lines,” “Sing You Home,” “House Rules,” “Handle with Care,” “Change of Heart,” “Nineteen Minutes,” and “My Sister’s Keeper.” She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Read more at http://www.jodipicoult.com/



QOTD!

Have you read Small Great Things or is it on your TBR?

Are you a Jodi Picoult fan?



ICYMI

I have finished my Fall TBR!
(just in time to begin my Winter TBR!)

Winter 2019 TBR

My Nonfiction November Posts:
2019 Nonfiction Reads
Nonfiction and Racial Injustice
Nonfiction/Fiction Pairings
Favorite Nonfiction Books
2020 Nonfiction TBR
Finding Chika by Mitch Albom



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt: A Review

October 23, 2019

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea BobotisLast List of Miss Judith Kratt review

Genre/Categories: Southern Historical Fiction, Family Drama, Small Town/Rural, Racism

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Dark secrets and multilayered family drama….

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt takes place in the small southern town of Bound, South Carolina. We are introduced to elderly Miss Judith Kratt as she begins to take inventory of her important and cherished household items. As she generates the list, we are given the back story for each item. Through these flashbacks to 1929, complicated family drama and dark secrets are revealed.

My Thoughts:

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The Water Dancer: A Review

October 17, 2019

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Water Dancer review.jpg

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, African-American, Slavery, Underground Railroad

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Water Dancer tells the engaging and powerful story of Hiram Walker who is born into slavery and who has a mysterious and magical power. He is compelled to leave his home and adopted mother as he follows his rebellious spirit and searches for freedom. Hiram connects with the Underground Railroad, masters his mysterious power, and seeks to return home on his own terms to rescue his adopted mother and his love interest.

Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars

My Thoughts:

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With the Fire on High: A Review

September 17, 2019

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High Review.png

Genre/Categories: Contemporary YA Fiction, Cooking, Multi-Generational Family, Coming of Age

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Emoni Santiago is a responsible, creative, and determined teenage mother. In addition to caring for her young daughter, living with and helping to support her grandmother, and navigating her classes as a high school senior, Emoni is well known for her extraordinary cooking skills. For her, cooking is an artistic adventure. A new culinary arts class is offered at her school along with a class trip to Spain. Given all her responsibilities and financial situation, can she possibly risk everything to follow her dreams?

Amazon Rating: 4.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

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If You Want To Make God Laugh: A Review

September 13, 2019

If You Want To Make God Laugh
by Bianca Marais

If You Want to Make God Laugh Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, South Africa, Family Life

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

If You Want to Make God Laugh is the story of three unforgettable women living in post-Apartheid South Africa at the time of a growing AIDS epidemic and threats of civil war. Zodwa is seventeen, pregnant, poor, and lives in a squatter’s camp. Ruth and Delilah are middle-aged sisters who live on an inherited, rural farm. While Ruth is an unhappy, disillusioned, and newly divorced socialite, Delilah is a former nun and social worker who is hiding a big secret. A newborn baby will bring these characters together, and this is a story of their precarious relationships, of sibling jealousy, rivalry, and healing, and of found family.

My Thoughts:

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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Review

August 16, 2019

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Southern Fiction, Book About Books, Racism, Prejudice, Poverty

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

In the 1930s, nineteen-year-old Cussy Carter and her father live in the isolated woods of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. They are the last of the “blue people” of Kentucky and endure racism and prejudice because of the blue hue of their skin. They are considered “colored.” Dad risks his life and health working long hours in the coal mines and Cussy takes a government job with the historical Pack Horse Library Project. As a “librarian,” she travels across treacherous mountains and dangerous creeks on her mule, Junia, to deliver books and other reading materials to the mountain folk who have few resources. She does what she can to meet their most dire needs. Incidentally, she doesn’t cuss! (She’s named after a town in France.)

Early Amazon Rating (August): 4.7 Stars

My Thoughts:

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On The Come Up: A Review

June 6, 2019

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up Review

Genre/Categories: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Homelessness, Poverty, Family Life, YA Music, Racism

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The daughter of a Garden Heights rap legend, sixteen-year-old Bri’s greatest desires include making it as a rapper, making enough money to take care of her mom and siblings, and moving out of the neighborhood. Bri is distracted at school by her rapping goals and neighborhood performances. At home, her mom has lost her job and the family is facing unpaid bills, shut off notices, an empty refrigerator, and the threat of homelessness. Suddenly, Bri not only wants to make it as a rapper, now she has to make it. Bri makes some impulsive decisions as she fights to make her dreams a reality. This is a story about fighting for your dreams against the odds as it portrays the realities of poor and working-class black families. Author Angie Thomas has experience in the art of rapping and her authentic voice fills all the spaces in this realistic story with vivid details of the Garden Heights community and its memorable characters. Although the story takes place in the same community and makes a reference to the shooting at the center of The Hate You Give, this is not a sequel to THUG and can be read as a stand-alone. Each book is a unique reading experience.

My Thoughts:

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