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review 2018-03-20 20:39
Unsettling, entrancing tale of escaping the traps we're born to
Along the Indigo - Elsie Chapman

Disclaimer: Reviewing pre-publication proof via NetGalley

 

I loved this. Vivid, strong character writing and a fully fleshed-out sense of place from the first page made this an engaging story, and the dark fantasy/paranormal elements, while light, tinted the story with a deliciously creepy atmosphere.

 

Marsden is saving up to skip town with her 8-year-old little sister before one or both of them get roped into joining Nina's girls like their mom. Their dad died (or killed himself) when she was her sister's age, and their mom started working the not-so-secret nightshift in the boarding house they live in/brothel.

 

Being pressured toward sex work isn't the only source of Marsden's misery. She's half Chinese in a white, rural American town. Her mother's job - and her likely future - are an open secret, and the predatory, bullying behaviour of her peers and neighbours has her self-isolating to survive. And she can't hear the voices of the dead - despite regularly visiting the covert behind the boardinghouse to strip the bodies of the dead for cash. It's the last remaining piece of family property, a sort of suicide forest, tainted by the murder spree of a mad ancestor.

 

So there's a lot going on here. The visible minority/POC/mixed ancestry thing is handled well and comes up in Mars & her sister's experience, as well as another boy in town's story. The absent/abusive parent thing is troubling but very well handled, as is the dysfunctional community. And the suicides. There's heaps upon heaps of messed up in this book, but the author doesn't bury you in it. It's an engaging read, atmospheric and challenging without feeling hopeless. It reminds me of Brenna Yovanoff's books, and Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed In Blood just a touch. I think it's set in eastern Oregon or Washington maybe, or one of the prairie/desert states further east of there, but it has more in common with Southern Gothic paranormals. Creepy, foreign and familiar at the same time, unsettling and entrancing. Will circle back to this author's earlier works and follow her future books with great interest. Highly recommended read.

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review 2018-02-21 06:44
Mixed Me!
Mixed Me! - Taye Diggs,Shane W. Evans

Mixed Me gives us a glance at the everyday adversity that biracial children might face. Mike is full of confidence, and faces his struggles head on - with humor! This book is another exciting way to introduce new cultures and heritages in the classroom. I would love to read this book when discussing bullying or self-esteem. I would accompany this text with a color mixing activity. This is an easy way to incorporate a hands on experience while teaching acceptance. 

 

color mixing activity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCMHw6NDJ0I

AR - 1.8

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text 2018-02-04 18:35
Mixed Signals by Alyssa Cole $2.99
Mixed Signals (Off the Grid) - Alyssa Cole

Four years after the Flare, the world is finally starting to rebuild

For Maggie Seong, that means leaving the safety of her family's cabin for college. She won't be alone, though—hunky former military cadet Edwin Hernandez, family friend and self-appointed Protector of Maggie's Virtue, will be there. Maggie would much prefer that Edwin himself dispose of her "innocence," but he's already rejected her advances once, and a girl has her pride.


Things look pretty bleak romance-wise until Maggie discovers that Devon, the pre-Flare internet boyfriend she'd assumed was dead, is not only alive but on campus. Despite the passage of time, their bond is strong, and they quickly pick up where they left off. Even as Devon aims for a chance at love IRL—everything Maggie thought she'd wanted—Edwin's desire to protect her makes her question her heart.


Maggie's torn between the future she didn't dare to hope for and the past she can't let go of. And when a group of neo-Luddite terrorists threaten the campus, everyone's loyalties will be tested. To ensure that the world doesn't go back to the dark days following the Flare, Maggie might have to sacrifice it all.

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text 2018-02-01 05:11
January is over already! Reading summary.
The Diary of a Bookseller - Shaun Bythell
The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford
The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen
The Mayor's Wife - Anna Katharine Green
A Short History of Drunkenness - Mark Forsyth
Pomfret Towers - Angela Thirkell
The One-Cent Magenta - James Barron
The Bee Friendly Garden: Easy Ways to Help the Bees and Make Your Garden Grow - Doug Purdie
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - E.L. Konigsburg

I don't want to go back to work!

 

I read 33 books in January.  It's always by far my biggest reading month.  I work in schools, which means I get the summer holidays off.  December is crazy with holidays and MT being off work, but January I'm on my own all day and can read and read and read.

 

Of the 33 books, only 1 wasn't on my TBR pile when the month started.  I had 2 five-star reads, and 7 four-and-a-half star reads, so on average an excellent month.  My least favourite was a 2 star read; a collection of essays about libraries that I found repetitive.

 

Since the woman-author reading challenge is taking place this year, here are my "gender" stats:

Women authors:  15

Male authors: 17

Mixed: 1

 

A whopping 23 were non-fiction, compared to 10 fiction.

 

As for my TBR Challenge of only allowing myself to buy half as many books as I've read, I actually did o.k.  I did have a small cheat, because on New Year's Day, my neighbour came over and offered me 6 boxes of books she was getting rid of.  Karma was rigging the system for failure!!  After going through the boxes I chose 6, but didn't count them against my book budget; I categorised them as 'gifts' and I'd said from the start gifts didn't count.

 

So:

January's book buying budget: 12 books.

Bought:  9

Balance: 3 

Total TBR: 322

 

For February, my book budget is 16 books (January's 33 rounded down and divided by 2).

 

Go me!  ;)

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review 2018-01-27 10:12
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - E.L. Konigsburg

I love this book.  I must have read it when I was a kid - I know I did - but beyond the museum, and the statue, I remembered almost nothing.  Which was great, because I got to discover it all over again.

 

It starts a tad slow, as Claudia meticulously plans her running away, but once they hit the museum, it's an adventure for the reader as well as Claudia and Jaime.  I can't imagine nowadays you'd ever be able to so much as touch the floor of the Museum after closing hours, but how amazing would it have been to spend the night there?  

 

Still a classic, even if the prices and the lack of pressure sensitive security dates it.  I doubt kids will care.

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