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review 2020-07-01 18:01
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race - Margot Lee Shetterly,Laura Freeman ,Winifred Conkling

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A great story to share with young readers. These women's journeys are inspiring and show what hard work can accomplish. While it is unfortunate that they were unrecognized for so long, it is wonderful to see their stories told in a variety of formats (picture books, adult non-fiction, film) in recent years.

Overall, the book was well done. Any of the issues I had with it pretty much stem from taking a full chapter book for adults and trying to reduce it down to a short read understandable to children. That's a big task and overall it was done well.

The illustrations were lovely. There was nice detail and I really enjoyed the space-themed/math-themed backgrounds. It was also cool to have other important figures from the time period come up in the illustrations such as Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., and Daisy Bates (although it might have been nice to label them somewhere since they were not explicitly mentioned in the text). These worked as a great point to branch off into discussions of the Civil Rights movements and a few important figures in African American history.

The book nicely incorporates definitions for tricky and unfamiliar works throughout the text. This is a great way to add in some extra teaching moments while still keeping the story going. There is also a glossary of terms at the end of the book.

I also thought the book did well setting the stage in describing segregation in a simple way that would be easy for children to understand. Throughout the book, it showed some of the changes made throughout time in a very simplified way. This worked well and allowed for expansion through discussion and explanation when reading with an adult.

I did find some of the narration choppy because of the time stretch and multiple women highlighted. It may have worked better to incorporate chapters for each woman instead of blurring them all together. Also, because it is so simplified, most of the women are reduced to "good at math. Really good." While this was obviously an important feature, I wish they were more developed and their other characteristics highlighted. One doesn't become NASA's first African-American supervisor or first female African-American aerospace engineer solely because one is good at math. It takes drive, passion, persuasion, persistence, bravery, determination, and a willingness to fight for what you want. I wanted more of these characteristics to come out, but again the small space dedicated to each woman didn't really allow for much elaboration.

At the end of the book are some additional resources for further information about the women. Besides the glossary, there is also a timeline of events including when each woman started and ended their work at NACA/NASA and a brief bio about each woman.

Overall, the book was well done. The short space only allowed for a very simplified version of events, but it is a great introduction to the contribution these women made as well as the history of segregation and the Civil Rights Movement.

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review 2020-06-15 15:45
My One True Cowboy - Soraya Lane

This author really knows how to write a tear jerker scene, and this one had several that I just couldn’t stop crying for. The hero is so scarred and in need of healing and he lashes out at Angelina a few times, but she is so strong and they were so great together that they really carried the story well. It was real, passionate, beautiful, heartwarming, sad, and perfect. Such a beautiful story. Loved every second of it, even the parts that had me crying. The plot is strong, the conflict was real and handled well, and the characters were well-rounded and vibrant on the page. Every second of the story was great.

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review 2020-06-10 15:13
Chase Darkness With Me
Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders - Billy Jensen

I dithered about the rating. This wasn't a bad book, but it definitely starts to drag around the 60 percent mark. I think if Jensen had followed the conclusion to the cases he introduces readers to through and moved on to another case it would have worked better. Instead the book starts off trying to do that, and then it goes into how he meets Michelle McNamara and her quest to find the Golden State Killer. And from there the book focuses on her death and it jumps around a lot to Jensen talking about a case and then Michelle or a case and the Golden State Killer. Then the last portion is focused on Citizen Detectives and I hard cringed about it. I don't know. Jensen seems adamant that he does not expect to be praised by law enforcement and he does the things he is doing to help the families of murder victims, but then at other times in the book you can "see" his frustration with law enforcement not looping him in on things or not giving credit to Michelle McNamara. I think I would compare this book more to a journal where he is getting all of his feelings out about a whole host of subjects.

 

"Chase Darkness With Me" is a memoir written by Billy Jensen that shows how he became invested in true crime cases and why he started to report and then help investigate them. I think some True Crime readers and podcast followers recognize his name. I only became aware of him when I read Michelle McNamara's book and I knew he was one of the people who helped finish her book after her death. I have tried to get into podcasts here and there on True Crime, but honestly the only one that I like these days is "Murder Minute." I don't like to listen to Stay Sexy Don't Get Murdered because it definitely got too big for me to stay into it anymore. Most of the show seems to be the hosts trying out their comedy routine with each other and the victims in the story don't feel important. I love Murder Minute since they walk you through current murders in the U.S. and then into their topic of the day. I tried to listen to Mr. Jensen and Mr. Paul Holes's podcast but I could not get into it. 

 

So first off Jensen seems like a nice guy, but his writing I found to be all over the place. I think the first part of the book with him showing us how his father got him into true crime was really good. And then we get to see his first case he got involved with that I even know about (Howard B. Elkins murdered a woman he was having an affair with, Reyna Angélica Marroquín who was pregnant at the time). From there Jensen just jumps around in his narrative and tries to provide us information about cases that have stayed with him.

 

I honestly think the book could have cut out how he used social media to track down suspected murderers. He explained it once to readers and we didn't need to read it every time. And then at times he seems to want praise for spending his own money on this and then frustrated when he doesn't hear back from the police right away. I don't know, this memoir was weird for me. I get his frustrations. When he explains the number of unsolved murders in the United States and how many more get added on every year i shook my head. I mean I knew just on talking to my friends in law enforcement how many murders are not solved without a confession or a killer whose DNA is already in the system. I don't know if Citizen Detectives are the answer though. I joke about "Black Twitter" tracking down people, but I caution people doing that on a day to day basis. Especially after Twitter people wrongly identified a man as the one who assaulted two children this past weekend. The wrongly identified man ended up getting death threats over it. Social media is very powerful as we have seen over the past few weeks, but I think everyone has to be careful how they use it. 

 

And when Jensen tries to go into the Golden State Killer case I just got totally lost. I already read McNamara's book so it didn't really need to be included here as well, except I guess to show how it affected him and others involved in the True Crime business. 

 

The book ends on tips to be a citizen detective and I had a flashback to when at the end of G.I. Joe cartoons they always did a PSA to the kids watching and ended on Go Joe. It just didn't add much to the book for me and I really don't know about a bunch of untrained people running around trying to solve crimes. Jensen tries to show positive and negative outcomes to these detectives, but I was left baffled in the end. 

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review 2020-06-03 07:08
Challenge
Conventionally Yours - Annabeth Albert

Conrad is in it to win it.  He and a few other gamers are given the chance to get to a convention full of players who enjoy the same game.  His reasons for wanting to win are his own.  The attraction he suddenty feels for another gamer shocks him.  Will he be brave and share some of himself?

 

Alden has always been the one not good enough.  Finally he has a chance to prove he is good at something.  Something for himself.  He puts it all out there for someone who only gives him glimpses of himself.  He too, has his reasons to want to win.  Can they compromise somehow?

 

These characters were brilliant in their own right.  Both bringing so much to the story it almost blinded me.  I loved the friendships gained, and the journey itself.  Each of the students seemed to have so much to them.  I am eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.  I give this a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This early copy was given by Netgalley and its publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2020-05-26 19:52
Book Review: The Green Dress
The Green Dress - Liz Tolsma

The Green Dress is about a woman who is staying with the Robinson family. There seem to be strange illnesses or deaths occur. It seems to be about a woman named Sarah Jane Robinson. What is going on in the house is strange.

Harriet seems to bring in a Dr. Weaton. She moved into the Robinson family household but things seem to happen more once Lizzie passes away. But we do not know who it is. As the story goes on and more death occurs. The suspicions rise. Who is killing the Robinson family members and why?

The author does a wonderful job of having you trying to figure out the culprit. You get a history of some of the members. What a way to show some true colors in some folks. This story has you wanting to turn the pages and rooting for the heroes to save the day. You are pulled in emotionally as well. I was guessing Dr. Beers or even Mrs. Robinson. Can Michael and Harriet save the Robinson family members or will it all go bad?

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