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review 2019-01-24 13:06
The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me
The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me - Olivia Hinebaugh

​Best friends Lacey, Theo and Evita have their year planned out- do good in school, practice their music apply to Berklee and live together in Boston jamming together with their band.  However, things begin to change for Lacey.  Lacey's mom was a teenage mom, now a labor and delivery nurse who has always been upfront and direct with Lacey about sex, consent, protection and staying healthy.  Lacey has no experience with this herself, she has never even been kissed.  But when her senior seminar class begins to preach abstinence only education and being fearful or ashamed of sex, Lacey steps up in order to make sure her classmates are safe and protected, Lacey becomes a guru for sex questions and she, Theo and Evita help pass out condoms and other forms of protection to students.  The school is not appreciative of their efforts, however and suspends the trio for passing out lewd material.  In between all of this, Lacey and Theo realize that they have feelings for one another and begin to navigate a sexual relationship of their own.

The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me is a wonderful, sex-positive and health conscious story that is appropriate and informational for young adults while being entertaining.  I loved Lacey's character as well as her mom.  Even though Lacey was inexperienced, she held a wealth of knowledge thanks to her mother's open attitude and positive conversations.  Not everyone can have a mom like Lacey's though, which is why it is important for schools to teach about sexual health.  The reaction from the school was very surprising to me, it seemed to me that if they could turn a blind eye to all of the pregnant girls maybe they could do the same for a girl passing out condoms.  I do wish that Lacey, Evita and Theo would have worked with the adults more for their project instead of going rouge.  I do like how everything panned out in the end.  Another great aspect to the story was the friendship between Lacey, Theo and Evita.  Talking things out with friends is another step in healthy relationships and these guys had a lot of difficult conversations.  The straightforward conversations between Lacey and Theo about consent and sex are wonderful examples of how to start a sexual relationship.  In reading these conversations, they did seem a little awkward and uncomfortable to me, but I also think that is the reality of the situation.  Lacey and Theo's budding romance as well as their band add to the excitement of this fun and realistic young adult novel. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

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review 2019-01-24 12:12
Numerology: Dancing the Spiral of Time - Elen Sentier

by Elen Sentier


This was very different from what I expected. Rather than being specifically about numerology, the book is effectively a guidebook for a certain set of new age and Pagan beliefs that might or might not be associated with numerology. People interested in the title subject will have to wade through reincarnation, dowsing to establish your time of conception and some 'out there' concepts to find relevant information.


The graphs and charts make no sense to me at all. The author suggests meditating over them until it sinks in, but I'd rather have had the system explained in some manner than just thrown out there to absorb. Eventually she does write about number meanings and later gets into how to establish birth and name numbers in the same ways that other numerology books do, but there is only references to [number] people like 5 people, eight people, etc and no extrapolation of the relevance of birth number as opposed to name number apart from one is flexible and the other not, and nothing whatsoever about combining the two.


Overall I found the writing disjointed and digressive with very little clear information offered. I get the impression that the author does have some deep understandings, but just hasn't worked out how to express them. I had hoped for more, I admit. More commercial books on the subject seem cold and limited, but they actually offer more information than I found here. Very disappointing.

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review 2019-01-24 11:28
"My Sister The Serial Killer" by Oyinkan Braithwaite - more than the title suggests
My Sister, the Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite

"My Sister, The Serial Killer" both is and is not what the title and the cover would lead you to expect.


It is a book set in Lagos about two sisters, the younger of whom, Ayoola, has, by the start of the novel, already killed three men and the older sister, Korede, has always helped clean up the mess.


It is not a "normal" serial killer book. This isn't a who did it and how were they caught mystery, nor is it a voyeuristic gorefest. The emphasis on sister is much stronger than the emphasis on serial killer in this story.


The story is told from Korede's point of view. She's the big sister: organised, cool-headed, deeply protective of her younger, more attractive, more impulsive, sometimes lethal sister.


Korede is a nurse, good at her job and slowly, timidly falling for a Doctor in the hospital she works in. Ayoola is stunningly beautiful, the jewel of her mother's heart, who designs and sells dresses over the internet. Men don't tend to notice Korede and they can't look away from Ayoola. Korede is compulsively tidy and constantly alert for threats. Ayoola leaves clutter everywhere and is almost totally self-absorbed. Yet the bond between these two is strong.


It seems to me that the book is about taking sides. Korede has to decide whether to side with the men who have or who are going to, fall prey to her sister's need to kill or with her sister. It explores the bond between them, the family history that forged that bond and the society that both stresses and strengthens it.


Men do not come off well in this book. There are some who are kind and gentle, one of the doctors and one of the patients, but only by comparison to the aggressive, patriarchal, entitled men around them. As Ayoola says of one of them: "He is not deep. All he wants is a pretty face." Except these men want and expect more than that. They expect submission and they want devotion.


I know nothing about Nigeria, but the Lagos of this book is vividly evoked as a modern, vibrant city with a culture very different to my own, from the attitudes of the bribe-me-or-I'll-arrest-you traffic cop, through the I-am-a-chief-so-you-girl-are-mine-if-I-wish-it, to the I-enforce-my-will-with-this-cane father and head of the household.


This is the backdrop against which Korede has to choose sides. Personally, I think the choice is not a hard one but the road to it is difficult and beautifully described.



Weruche Opia

I strongly recommend listening to the audiobook version, performed by the British-based Nigerian actress, Weruche Opia.


Her performance is flawless. She gives each character the perfect voice and reads the text in a Nigerian middle-class accent that brings its richness to life.


I went looking for a sample on SoundCloud and found only a version read by Adepero Oduyewhich I did not like as much as it sounded too American to me.









Oyinkan Braithwaite

If you'd like to know how Oyinkan Braithwaite went about writing "My Sister, The Serial Killer", I recommend this in LARB article "Stuck with Them: An Interview with Oyinkan Braithwaite"by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

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text 2019-01-24 09:16
Reading progress update: I've read 5 out of 108 pages.
Julian Opie Collected Works - Sandy Nair... Julian Opie Collected Works - Sandy Nairne,Julian Opie

This is one of those weird books where if you turn to the back then rotate 180 degrees, you find there's another book starting there...also there are no page numbers. Reading from one end you have art Opie made. Reading from the other you have art by others that Opie has collected. I wish they'd just made it normally and simply divided it into two parts, so you can have...page numbers!

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review 2019-01-23 23:36
Ms. Harris' Overview of Guess How Much I Love You
Guess How Much I Love You - Sam McBratney,Anita Jeram

A great book for a Valentines day! It is placed at a 2.8 reading level and is guaranteed to touch hearts. Little Nut Brown Hare tries to prove to his mother just how much he loves her. Big Nut Brown Hare out does Little Nut Brown Hare every time. You will have to read to experience the sweet ending. An exciting activity for students to participate in is to have the teacher read this to students during Valentines day and the teacher will cut out hearts that have sight words and/or spelling words. The students will have to spell the words correctly and say the word aloud. This activity could be called "Un-breaking Hearts" as the students put the hearts back together with the correct pronunciation. 

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