Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng


Grade: B
Rating: Adult


Synopsis:
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

My Thoughts: 
I am the first to admit that I don't often give in to hype. Cool new app? I'll be the last to download it. Everyone's obsessed with a song? I think it's "meh." So when this book first came out and the reviews were raving, I figured it was just another book that was only popular because a few celebrities liked it and wanted to make it into a TV show. Then I came across the show on HULU one day.... I had a dozen loads of laundry to fold so I thought, "why not?" One episode in and I was hooked. So when it came time to nominate a book for my book club's August read I decided it was time to give the book a fair shake.

My immediate thoughts about the book were that it was very detailed. Some parts of that felt excessive, like when it came to the scenery, but it also allowed for vivid character development. I felt like I was inside the Richardson family. I wanted to be friends with Lexie, to be part of the growth that she was going through. I wanted to bop Elena upside the head because her flaws were so real and relevant. I wanted to hug Izzy and make sure she felt loved. That's how real these characters were to me. When their hearts ached, so did mine. When they were angry, so was I.

As this novel went on the story line really got me thinking. I couldn't just passively read this one. Especially given our current climate in the US, I had opinions about every aspect. I found myself asking "would I have done the same thing?" "Would I have stood up?" That is what made this such a great novel to me. It wasn't light and fluffy. There were so many layers of depth, so much to peel back, without it being some massive 500 page book.

If you, like me, find yourself often turned off by excessive hype. If you usually dislike the books the world seems to be amazed with. If you usually shy away from books that are turned into movies or shows. Do yourself a favor and give in here. You won't regret it.

Monday, August 3, 2020

7 years later.....





Woah. It's been 7 years since I've logged into this blog. This used to be my baby. I spent so many hours writing and networking. So many more hours reading. This blog provided me with some amazing opportunities! Meeting more authors than I can count; Suzanne Young, Alexa Young, Jay Asher, and Molly Ringwald (yes, THE Molly Ringwald), just to name a few.

Over the last 7 years I never stopped reading, though my tastes grew up with me. I spend way more time in adult fiction, with only an occasional young adult break. I’ve discovered my love for thrillers, a genre I always assumed I would hate. I’ve run an online book club where I have read books that I would have never picked myself.

What else have I been up to? Well, you may remember when I left, I was going to start nursing school and we were thinking about starting our family. I did not end up going back to school. Instead we moved across the country and my husband got a job that allows me to stay home with our girls. Yes, we had girls! 6 years ago, we welcomed identical twin girls. 19 months later their little sister joined the party. Raising these girls has been an absolute blast. We don’t think we are done but we had wanted to wait awhile before having more. During this interlude I have had the pleasure of being entrusted with carrying 2 sweet babies for other families.

Gestational surrogacy is something that has always been on my heart. After delivering the 1st surrogate baby I was offered a position as a case manager at a surrogacy agency. I couldn’t say no to the opportunity to support other women on this beautiful path, so I do that part-time, from my home office.

Recently my husband has been encouraging me to write again. He was there with me when I gave up this blog, so he remembers how hard that was. He also remembers how much fun I had doing this. So, with his encouragement, I am back to give this another try. Maybe nobody will read this anymore. Maybe I’ll be writing just for myself. But even so, that’s okay.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Scaredycrow


ScaredycrowScaredycrow
Christopher Hernandez
Scholastic
7/1/2013
From: publisher

For: kids
Grade: A





Synopsis:
Meet one scarecrow who's scared of everything in this uplifting picture book about fear and friendship that also includes a punch-out Scaredycrow paper doll!

Scaredycrow is a scarecrow with a big problem. He's scared of EVERYTHING! He's scared of the crows that fly by in the day. He's scared of the bats that swoop down in the night. He's scared of the barnyard animals, too. And the feeling is mutual! The crows, the bats, and other barnyard friends are all terribly afraid of the lonely, little scarecrow out in the field.

But one day, when a little mouse named Tiny decides to bring everyone together, everyone learns that there is nothing scary about making new friends.
My thoughts:
This book was full of all kinds of cuteness. I have had baby on the brain recently so I was more than excited to review this. The pictures were adorable and went perfectly with the story. The story had an easy flow and would be very engaging for children as old as 6 or 7.

I recommend this as a fun bedtime story for parents with kids under 7 and to all elementary school librarians.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf



The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad WolfThe Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf
Mark Teague
Scholastic
5/1/2013
From: publisher

Grade: A
For: kids




Synopsis:
Three pigs spend their money on different things: potato chips, sody-pop, and building supplies. It comes as no surprise that a wolf is able to blow down the first two pigs' houses. When the wolf can't blow down the third pig's brick house, everyone comes together and the fun begins. The first two pigs give him potato chips and sody-pop, and the third pig makes everyone a healthy meal. Since only one pig has a house left, the other two pigs and the wolf move in with her. The somewhat bad wolf is no longer hungry.

My thoughts:
When this first came in the mail I was ecstatic. Mark Teague is one of my favorites when it comes to children's books. He always creates an incredibly engaging book. This did not disappoint.

The pictures have something new to show you every time you look. They are beautiful and fun to look at. This is so important in a children's book. This gives them something to look at as we read and makes for fun stories created by the picture "readers".

The story was somewhat typical 3 Little Pigs but there was a fun twist. There was also originality added, like when the pigs really want sody-pop.

I recommend this to all parents of young children and elementary school librarians.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dino Destruction

Scooby-Doo Comic Storybook #4: Dino DestructionScooby-Doo: Dino Destruction
Lee Howard
Scholastic
5/1/2013
From: Publisher

For: Kids
Grade: A





Synopsis:
Zoinks! It's monster mania at the museum when a 3-D dinosaur projection comes to life. Scooby-Doo, we need you!

The Scooby gang is taking a vacation from mystery in sunny Costa Rica. Until they visit the Natural History Museum . . . and a dinosaur projection springs to life! Now it's up to Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy, and Scooby-Doo to dig for clues. Can they discover who's behind all the dino destruction?

Review:
I loved Scooby-Doo when I was a kid so when I found this in a package from one of my contacts I was more excited than most adult women would be. It was incredibly cute, just how I remembered it. The story was fast paced so children will be able to sit through this one. It is also written at a level that new readers could handle.

I recommend this to fans of scooby-doo, mothers of young boys and all elementary school teachers and librarians.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Goodbye.... Forever?

5 years ago, this month, I started blogging. 9 months before that I started reviewing (for a company at that time). Today is a very sad day... The day when I must tell you guys that I will no longer be reviewing. I have debated about quitting for the past year. There are many reasons why and since you have all been so loyal to me I will tell you...

Reason number one: It is no longer fun. I am too busy to do something that feels like a chore. When I have to force myself to write reviews, it's time to take a breather. I still love reading though, just not on a schedule.

Reason number two: My husband and I are trying to start a family. Though it could be months or years before I get pregnant (if ever) preparing for that is going to take up some of my time. I am working tons of hours saving for baby H.

Reason number 3: My job. As stated above, I work a lot of hours as a hemodialysis tech. I work 12/13/14 hour shifts 4 or sometimes 5 days a week. That takes away a big chunk of my time.

Reason number 4: Nursing school. I am planning on starting nursing school in a couple months (and yes I am aware that I am crazy). There goes any time I had left.....

Thank you guys for a wonderful 5 years. This has brought me so many great things and I am appreciative of everything. I have a wonderful new friend, Lexi, that I made because of reviewing. I was able to meet some incredible authors. I was the YA interviewer at the West Hollywood Book Fair. I was offered an internship with a well known publisher. All I can say is thank you, over and over again.

   When I get pregnant I may start a pregnancy blog. If I do I will post the information here. Also, who knows... Maybe I will miss reviewing in a few months and come back. For now, Goodbye.


Love you all.
Ashley

Ps. There are a few more reviews that I set months ago that will appear here. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Jewel Thieves: Catch Us If You Can

Jewel Thieves #1: Catch Us If You CanCatch Us If You Can
Hope McLean
Scholastic
6/1/2013
From: publisher

For: older kids
grade: B





Synopsis:
For Jasmine, Erin, Willow, and Lili, the first year of middle school is shaping up to be pretty awesome. They've been selected for an A-list academic team because of their expertise in art, math, science, and history. The Jewels, as they call themselves, are already winning tournaments. But things heat up when another local team, the Atkinson Prep Rivals, threatens to steal their spotlight.

To further complicate matters, a beloved ruby necklace is stolen from their school, and the Jewels must go undercover with their skills to track down the culprit. Nothing seems to be adding up--until they look to the most unlikely of suspects . . .

My thoughts:
I have recently got a bunch of children's and mid-grade books to review. It has been a nice break from the crazy, drama of adult and young adult books, though I am ready to go back to those now. This was a pretty cute mid-grade novel.

This one was not my favorite of all the ones I have read recently but it was adorable. The girls are fun and their friendship is really inspiring for middle school girls. The drama is at a minimum, which is incredibly hard to find in a lot of books these days.

The story was pretty predictable but it was clean-cut fun. I recommend this to girls 7-13.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday Wishlist

Wednesday Wishlist is a feature I started years ago when I began reviewing. I spotlight a book that has been out for awhile that I am dying to read and review. If you have had the privilege of reviewing the book I spotlight please leave a link to your review. I would love to see what you thought...


You Are Not HereYou Are Not Here
Samantha Schutz
Scholastic
10/1/2010









Synopsis:
Annaleah and Brian shared something special - Annaleah is sure of it. When they were together, they didn't need anyone else. It didn't matter that their relationship was secret. All that mattered was what they had with each other.

And then, out of nowhere, Brian dies. And while everyone else has their role in the grieving process, Annaleah finds herself living outside of it, unacknowledged and lonely.

How can you recover from a loss that no one will let you have?

Why I want to review it:
This book sounds heartbreaking and honest. Just reading the synopsis makes me want to shed a few tears.