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review 2018-03-20 23:48
Dear Martin -- my best YA read in recent memory
Dear Martin - Nic Stone





This is what I imagine Justyce, the MC, would do if asked to hold a sign about race early on.


There has been a stream of books about race and police brutality in the last few years. One could read nothing but books on the topic and still not keep up with the books available. What a great problem to have: too many books on important topics. Now if only these books were useless because the problem had been solved.


If one can "enjoy" a book like this, then I enjoyed Nic Stone's telling of tragedy story more than I've enjoyed almost any other. There are obvious comparisons both in other recent books but also to real cases in real America. Nic Stone writes for the young reader in a simple way that never is dumbed down or too basic. She has all the nuances and difficulties of her subject matter under command as she writes the story of Justyce and his friend Manny, two black kids at a liberal, elite school and the ways they handle casual, subtle, daily racialization, microaggressions, as well as the more obvious and deadly type.


The POV shifts between third person storytelling to Justyce's interior life to second-person letters/journaling to "Dear Martin" (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) Nic Stone makes excellent use of the "safe place" classroom, where the white students do all the talking on race while the black students sit uncomfortably or angrily by, but certainly don't feel "safe" on the topic of race, despite having a black teacher. There is confusion by the bundle for our protagonist, in the way his friends behave, the racial issues involved in dating, the always-difficult world of being a teenager. He takes refuge in writing honest letters to MLK, and it's here that he feels safe enough to say what he thinks. But can even Dr. King help Justyce when the world caves in?


This is, ultimately, an uplifting story with characters who grow in the face of extreme circumstances and stereotypes that threaten to keep them stuck. Well worth anyone's time.


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text 2018-03-16 16:54
Friday Reads - March 16, 2018
The Irish Americans: A History - Jay P. Dolan


I am of Irish descent on my mother's side and as usual I am making corned beef and cabbage with carrots for dinner tomorrow (crock pot) and something sweet for dessert. I go with corned beef rather than ham because the husband and daughter don't eat pork.


So this weekend I am focusing my attention on one book, The Irish Americans: A History because if I don't I will just leave it on my TBR forever with less than a chapter read. I just need to get over this hump (the Irish Americans who were living in the US pre-1840s Great Famine mass exodus) but colonial history/Early Republic history is a slow slog for me. I just don't get interested until we get mass immigration and railroads and the Gilded Age.  


Happy Reading!

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text 2018-03-09 10:01
Friday Reads - March 9, 2018
Forgotten Voices of the Great War - Max Arthur,Imperial War Museum
The Irish Americans: A History - Jay P. Dolan
Touching the Clouds - Bonnie Leon

I survived #thebeastfromtheeast (aka Storm Emma) last week. Now we are getting #thepestfromthewest, which will be bringing lots of rain to our area but warmer temperatures. Seriously, I just want one nice weather weekend to enjoy.


We got a Boy Scout Pinewood Car Derby on Saturday and on Sunday I am taking the kids to see A Wrinkle in Time. In between the chores, errands, and activities I hope to get through the year 1915 in Forgotten Voices from the Great War, some of The Irish Americans (it is so academically dry though...), and start Touching the Clouds. I also have a bunch of reviews to write and updating various reading trackers.


Happy Reading!

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review 2018-03-08 14:14
Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl by Rowell, Rainbow (2014) Paperback - Rainbow Rowell

In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.


Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.


Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.


Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.


For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? Open her heart to someone? Or will she just go on living inside somebody else’s fiction?






I saw this book everywhere and hearing good things so I finally decided to pick it up. And I was not disappointed. It was also a bit different than I thought it be. I thought it would be more about her and the fandom of Simon Snow and it is to a point but mainly about Cath and her new life in college. Or trying to navigate through college and trying new to her things.

I love the relationship Cath has with her family , I love even more that the family is far from perfect. We have mom that left when they were little, some mental health issues with dad and then there are Cath and Wren with their own set of issues… I like how things are handled and how each of them deals in their way as well.

Obviously I loved the close relationship Cath has with Wren, but things start out very rocky for them and they have to work through some stuff. I really enjoyed all her relationships and people she met. Good and bad because that helped her grow and see things differently. Reagan, man I loved her. Yeah she was a bitch but she was a nice bitch and in the end looked out for Cath. I really enjoyed her.

Levi. Not much to say about him other than that I absolutely loved him and must say he had a lot more patience than I ever would when it came to Cath. I loved how they relationship devolved slowly and how natural it felt. The ups and downs and everything in between.

Cath, herself, I really enjoyed her and her nerdiness … most of the time. It was easy to relate to her and feel for her as she struggled and tried to find new ways. Other times she got on my nerves a bit when she was more stubborn than scared to come out of her comfort zone, really the whole English paper thing drove me nuts and I wanted to smack her.

But overall I really enjoyed her. She and Levi made me laugh and swoon a lot throughout the book.

Now is where I probably lose a lot of people, but unlike most I didn’t care much for the fan fiction within the book. I didn’t not like it, I liked it, I just didn’t love it.

I listen to the audiobook and the narration was awesome.

I rate this book 4 ★


Image result for couple reading together gif







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review 2018-03-08 01:39
The Chalk Man -- Yay, a good 2018 mystery!
The Chalk Man: A Novel - C.J. Tudor

This is pretty dazzling debut, especially given all the clunky "just OK" mysteries that litter my house, library history, recommendations and my Read piles. I'll take a mystery no matter what, but it's very nice to get a good one.


As I read this, I was reminded repeatedly of less successful (in my eyes) books I've read recently. It does the back and forth from A Time Before to Present Day and back again, which is what apparently must be done in every book written since 2016, but it didn't irk me the way many others have. Even when we jumped time, the storyline continued through. The past had a lot to do with the present. It wasn't just some device. Or if it was, it was well handled.


I also noted that All the Missing Girls has a fair number of surface similarities - both set in small insular towns, involving a circle of friends who have known each other since childhood, cue the lifelong crush, and then there's the biggie -- two murders decades apart. The similarities end there though. First of all, the characters are all original in this book. People we would be led to feel sorry for in other books are strong in this one. People we would like in other books are unlikable in this one. Everyone is very human. Nobody is a cardboard cutout. And there are some nice twisty bits that require actual attention because you haven't read them a thousand times before.


Every time I thought I was onto a clue, I was dead wrong. Twist after twist, we're kept slightly off balance by a narrator who drinks too much and is a bit of a curmudgeon in everyman clothes. Maybe because I woke up early and read in the dark, but the whole book feels spooky and yet on the surface it all seems so normal. It's never good when things seem normal. I know this, so maybe I added to the spooky factor.


I can't tell you the plot. If I tell it, I'll give something away. Again, this is not a book anyone MUST read. But if you're looking for a good mystery that was released recently, this is the best "everyone's talking about it" book I've read in a while.


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