I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel: A Review

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I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life
by Anne Bogel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The very definition of an absolute delight, Bogel’s short collection of essays on reading will call you to the big, comfy reading chair with a cup of tea in hand.
I have been a listener of her podcast for quite a while now. She is kind, welcoming, and completely relatable to me as a reader. This book is just an extension of that. She writes about her love of books, trips to the library and the bookstore, and confessions that kept me chuckling with a knowing “Amen.”
It was quite meta to read a book about reading. Still, I loved following her through her journey into reading. I now want to live right next door to a library (very envious of this fact!). And somehow have the inclination to, again, reorganize my bookshelves.
If you love to read, or even if you used to love to read and have lost that feeling somewhere along the way, I would highly recommend diving into this book. It will motivate you to read more and read often.

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Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman: A Review

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Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
by Pamela Druckerman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been curious about this book for a while, so since I’ve been reading parenting philosophy books lately, I thought this was the perfect time to read this one.
This book is parts memoir and French history with a bit of practicum added to it. Overall, it was quite interesting, however, there were parts of it (especially the first two chapters) that I found myself constantly rolling my eyes. I can definitely see where some readers would come to the conclusion that she is berating American mothers while putting French mothers on a pedestal.
But I do think there were also some good takeaways from the book as well. I really liked taking on the perspective of educating your child on social norms instead of trying to make them behave. Of course, encouraging individual play and allowing them to discover the world instead of obsessing about milestones was something I want to incorporate into my own parenting as well. I also enjoyed the recipes and play ideas, as well as some of the discipline perspectives.
It’s not a bad book that berates Americans. I read it as a woman’s journey having and raising kids in a foreign country, and how that affected her parenting and her children. Reading it as more of a memoir than a parenting book helps adjust to a more curious perspective. Good, interesting read!

The Unbound by Victoria Schwab: A Review

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The Unbound
by Victoria Schwab

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this sequel to The Archived by Victoria Schwab. I’m going to try to do this spoiler free, but it’s important to read the first book before this one. The two plots are very connected.
Speaking of plot, this book was really well paced for me. I enjoy a pretty fast-paced read. While the first book really explored the Narrows and the Archive, this one was more about how much being a Keeper affected Mckenzie’s life. The last book was over the summer, and this one was during the school year. So, we have a new cast of characters that she meets as she starts at her new school.
Like the last book, this one also has a mystery to solve, and Mac has to learn, again, to believe in herself and out-strategize the enemy. There are some triggers to self-harm to be noted. There is also an almost assault as well.
There isn’t any profanity in the book that I can recall. There is some sexual content with kissing and touching, like the face, hair or arms, nothing graphic. Also, there is violence in this book, lots of fighting and attacks. There is mention of blood, cuts, and the aforementioned cutting, but nothing completely graphic or detailed.
Overall, it’s a great series. I really like the world that was created and the characters. I would have liked to see more of the Archive characters play a role, but I understood that this was a focus more on the Outer world. Another recommend!

Raise Your Voice By Kathy Khang: A Review

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Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How to Speak Up
by Kathy Khang

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never heard of this author before. The book was another recommendation I got from Instagram, but I’m really glad I read it. It’s both timely and relatable.
There is so much going on in our country and the world, and there are so many voices who are sharing their opinions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and go silent. But Khang encourages every person in this book to speak up. And it’s not just in the traditional sense of speaking with words, but with our actions, our interpersonal conversations, and even what we wear or how we spend our money.
The writing is very conversational and, at times, sarcastically funny. She includes a few interviews with other women who have spoken up in their communities on both large and small scales. She also includes the story of Esther from the Bible. How this story relates to her personally and motivated her to speak up more often.
The advice is realistic and practical. She is open about times in her own life that she didn’t speak up, and that it’s okay to have those moments, completely understandable, but not let those moments define you. Instead to continue searching for your own voice and how you want to use it.
She gives several examples and suggestions on how people might be able to speak within their own communities. I didn’t feel like this book was trying to push an agenda, but she is honest about her point of view and perspective.
My favorite part was the social media do’s and don’ts. It’s good, basic advice for anyone who wants to engage on Twitter, Facebook, or other platforms. And I wish everyone would go by those guidelines. I think it would help us all grow as humans.
Overall, the book is great. One that I would recommend to anyone feeling overwhelmed and unheard. Great challenge and wonderful read!

The Shield of Honor: A Review

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The Shield of Honor
by Gilbert Morris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is book three of the Wakefield Dynasty by Gilbert Morris. The synopsis on the back only actually covers part one of the book (the first hundred pages). The historical fiction covers the voyage of the Pilgrims and the English Civil War between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists. It included historical figures like King Charles, Prince Rupert, John Pym, and Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell takes a lead in this story as his history intertwines with the fiction of the Wakefield family.
The writing continues to be flowery. There is a lot of passive verb usage and sometimes it comes off a little pretentious. The plot was interesting. I like learning about how religion and politics continue to affect and shape the history of England. The fictional part of the story was interesting as well. The story follows both Christopher Wakefield and his son Gavin. Each generation has a different journey to God, which I think is the primary point of these stories. The twists were somewhat predictable, especially if you have read the previous two, but it was still enjoyable.
There is, again, no profanity. There was a lot more sexual innuendo in this book compared to the previous ones, but nothing even remotely graphic. There were some almost-rape scenes or sexual assault scenes, and I wasn’t really that impressed with their outcomes. And I seemed to notice some sexist remarks more in this book. One of the major characters remarks that he was “blubbering like a woman” and that took me completely out of the book for a moment. After that, I started to notice just how much the author focused on how attractive everyone was or wasn’t and how that affected their station in life.
Since the focus for half of the book was on the Civil war, there was some violence, but again, nothing really graphic.
While this book series (since this has been a reread so far) has been slightly disappointing, I still recommend it for anyone who would appreciate a light historical fiction with heavy Christian leanings. I am still determined to finish the series and hope that it continues to become more complex and that I learn more about how England was shaped!

The Archived: A Review

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The Archived by Victoria Schwab

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my first V.E. Schwab book, and I really enjoyed her writing. This particular story is about a girl named Mackenzie who inherits this job from her grandfather as a Keeper. Apparently, when someone dies, a record of them is created in the Archive in the form of a body that looks like what they did before they died. Sometimes these records, or Histories, “wake up” and get lost in the space between the Archive and the Outer (the real world) called the Narrows. So, it’s up to the Keepers to get them back to the Archive. But something is going wrong and a lot of the Histories are mysteriously waking up. So, it’s up to Mackenzie to figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.
There are a few triggers. Of course, the story is about people dying, and it opens with Mac’s family moving into a renovated hotel to an apartment complex after her brother dies. It also addresses grief and loss.
The plot is fast moving, and the world is built pretty well. There were definite twists and reveals that I enjoyed. I wasn’t ever sure just where the author would take the story. The chapters are short and the writing enabled it to keep a fast pace.
I really enjoyed Mac’s transformation throughout the book. She goes from an isolated loner to learning how to trust herself and others. Also, her grief transformation is good as well.
There wasn’t any profanity, which was a nice change from the other recent YA novels that I’ve read. I’m not sure if this is normal for her, but it was nice to see.
There are violent components, mentions of blood and several fight scenes in the book since the Histories don’t always go back to the Archive willingly.
There is romance in the book, but it’s mostly kissing. There is a scene with touching, but touch is a theme in the book. Keepers can see the thoughts and memories of a person they touch unless it is a History which gives off nothing but silence.
I’ve already picked up the second book in this series, and I’m excited to get back into the world. I highly recommend this book.

Point Blank: A Review

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Point Blank: Poems by Alan King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was given this book by the poet author, Alan King, to review. I think these kinds of poems are timely and needed at this moment in our history. King invites his readers into his life in such a vulnerable and authentic way.
I loved a lot of the references and metaphors. Food is probably my favorite of his imagery. I can almost smell the food cooking in the kitchen – the coconut and okra. His parents are immigrants from Trinidad and Tobago which seems to play heavily in with the food. It made it feel welcoming and homey, nostalgic for family.
Some of my favorite poems were about his family. “The Hostess” about his mom welcoming his dad home with food. “The Listener” about his aunt and how her memories live on in the small reminders around him.
But they also described his perspective on racism and racial profiling. “Striptease” is not what it sounds like it would be like. It’s about his cousin being accused of shoplifting. But the vulnerable wordplay is raw and honest.
Also, he has some comic book references, which I can relate to, as I like the superhero comics. “Hulk” which is the first poem in the book was really good about stereotypes put on black men (and I love the twist at the end).
There are a few poems with profanity, and there is some sexual and violent content in some of the poems as well, but as a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I highly recommend it to those who want to broaden their perspective and understand what it is like for black males and immigrants and sons of immigrants. Very good work.