Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What I Read Wednesday

The Turner House
The Turners are a cornerstone on Yarrow St in Detroit, long after the city crumbles around them. Home to thirteen children, the Turner house sees a lot over the years. Errant children, strong relationships, broken relationships, a city on a downslide. The book bounces between present day with the Turner children grown up and the past, with their parents just beginning to build their marriage. At times, it was hard for me to follow which character was speaking and in which time frame, but overall, I enjoyed this book.

Before I Go
Not yet 30, Daisy is diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and given 4-6 months to live, maybe more if a clinical trial is successful. Having already beat breast cancer once, Daisy thought she was done with cancer. Daisy isn't really troubled with the thought of dying, as much as she is the thought of being gone. Who will clean her husband's dirty socks and keep the refrigerator organized in her absence? With these thoughts, she sets forth to do one thing before she dies: find her husband a new wife--but this only makes the thought of losing him that much more painful. What I loved about this book was that it didn't focus on Daisy dying, instead it focused on her living those last few days.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What I Read Wednesday

I didn't get much reading done this week… May is so busy!

The Walls Around Us
This is one of those books that gets inside of your head. Ori and Violet are prima ballerinas, the only difference between the two is Ori's natural talent. Violet is precise and perfect in her actions, but she cannot hold a candle next to Ori. Until Ori gets sent to a juvenile detention center for the brutal murder of two other ballerinas, while Violet takes her place as the ballet star. In the midst of this, you have Amber who is Ori's roommate at the juvenile detention center. She possibly killed her stepfather, or maybe she just thought about it--everything in this book has two sides. Then, all of the girls at the detention center die, but the ghosts of what they've left behind still haunt the ruined walls. The ending of the book went a place that I didn't envision. This is one that is hard to describe or review, but it was well crafted.

So You've Been Publicly Shamed
For a book about public shaming, parts of this book were pretty boring. That said, it definitely helped me look at things in a new light--like the public shaming of Justine Sacco, who made an ill-worded tweet about going to Africa and not having to worry about getting AIDs because she's white. Her defense was that she was mocking white privilege and foolishness and her less than 200 followers would have understood. Unfortunately, it was picked up and retweeted by someone with thousands of followers and blown way out of context. At the very least, it was good lesson in the staying power of your words and pictures. In that aspect, this book should be required reading for every teenager.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What I Read Wednesday

The Girl from Felony Bay (Felony Bay Mysteries)
Abbey Force's father is in a coma, accused of a crime she knows he didn't commit. In the midst of it, Abbey is forced to live with her aunt and uncle while watching her family's plantation handed over to new owners. The daughter of the new owner, Bee Force (no relation--except that Abbey's family may have kept Bee's as slaves a hundred years ago), forges a relationship with Abbey and together, they set out to prove that something strange is going on in Felony Bay and that Abbey's dad is not guilty of the crime he committed. This was an engaging read, perfect for younger middle level readers.

Denton Little's Deathdate
Sometimes I start reading books and don't realize they are part of a series. This was one of those times. Denton lives in a world that is not too dissimilar from our own, except that in Denton's world, everyone knows the day they will die. They don't know the exact time or the cause, but they know that is when they will die. In this case, your funeral is celebrated the day before your deathdate, while your family spends the next day with you, in what is called your sitting. The very concept of this stressed me out, just the thought of knowing when I'm going to die and that every day brings you one day closer. In Denton's case, his death date is the same day as prom, which is a little distressing for a high school student. As Denton enters his last few hours, he sets out to experience everything that he can in the few hours before his short life ends. I enjoyed the concept of this book and found it a pretty interesting story, though I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending. I'll need to read the next book to make that decision!

The Wonder Garden
I love books where it seems like a bunch of unrelated stories and events all tie together in the second half. This is what this book set out to do, but it fell short for me. The writing was strong, the stories compelling, but there were so many different people who the author was trying to tie together, that I would lose track and spend half of it trying to figure out who was who. The stories themselves were fascinating, like I said, and as a short story book, I would've loved it... but it seemed like she was trying to do more than that.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye
This was on the recommendation of Becky, and it was a good one. Lex's brother Tyler committed suicide, leaving Lex to try and pick up the pieces. Throughout this all, Lex is haunted because she is pretty sure she sees Tyler's ghosts and wonders if she's losing her mind. She distances herself from her friends and starts to slip in school, all over the thought of the last time she spoke to or saw Tyler. In the end, the story behind their last goodbye was heartbreaking. For a YA novel, I felt like this left out the drama and instead painted a realistic picture of what suicide does to those left behind.

What are you reading?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Golden Tote April

I've talked about Golden Tote in previous blog posts, but in case you're new or have forgotten, here is the run down.

It is not a monthly clothing subscription, although clothes are updated once a month. You may choose a $49 tote with one chosen item and one surprise, or a $149 tote with two chosen items and typically four surprises. If you buy a $149 tote, shipping is free. The value of the clothes total above the amount you've paid. It is all or nothing, you cannot just return individual pieces. However, there is an excellent Facebook group where you can offload unwanted items. I've had success with this!

Here is what I received in April:

My first and favorite--the easy sundress. Although it is has a loose fitting design, it's still completely flattering. Short enough to make a fun summer dress, but not too short to make me feel uncomfortable. I wore this out to dinner recently and got so many compliments!
easy sundress

Next up, yellow skinnies paired with a Hem and Thread top that was one of my surprise items. I love this combination! Very springy and feminine.
yellow skinnies

The yellow (and other color skinnies) are still in stock on the Golden Tote website, either in a tote or through the boutique. I have several colors and love them all!

Boyfriend shorts with the surprise gauzy Very J sleeveless top. I am not a huge shorts person, but these looked so cute on the website. I am glad I went for them. They are super soft and just the right length. The pockets can be tucked in or pulled out, depending on the style you like. The Very J top is super soft, too, and will be perfect for the beach this summer.

shorts yellow

And last, a Kika surprise dress with the drape front ties. This is obviously not work appropriate, but I love it. I was a little confused on how to tie it, so I looked it up online. I didn't like how it looked on me like that and will need to work on the tie, but the ties in the back looked cute, too.

kika me

kika model
Check out the price! I'm pretty excited about that because it shows was a good deal Golden Tote is. The cost of that dress alone is over half my tote cost, so I definitely feel like I got a good deal.

I did have one dress that didn't work because it was too boxy in the shoulders, but that's the beauty of the Facebook trading group.

The May tote releases Monday, May 11th and 9AMPST. However, there are still many items left from April and you can a tote at any time. Overall, I am definitely pleased with my April tote. I've bought and traded a few items off the Facebook page this month, too. I'm super excited to refresh my spring wardrobe!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What I Read Wednesday

The Young World
Hopefully I remember that this is part one of a trilogy when the other parts are released. In this dystopian world, teenagers are the only survivors of a disease that kills both the young and old with no discrimination. The remaining teens are seemingly immune until they turn 18, then the sickness hits fast and furious. The majority of this novel takes place in New York City, until five of the survivors set out on a road trip (fraught with disaster and danger, as dystopian worlds tend to be) to find what they think might be the cure--or at least an answer. The narration bounces mainly back and forth between Jefferson and Donna. I found Donna's character a little under-developed, but Jefferson was interesting. Overall, I enjoyed this one and look forward to the rest of the trilogy.

I am trying to find books for a novel study we're doing next year, which is not as easy as it sounds. Since most of our curriculum focuses on wars, I chose this one because VietNam is going on in the background of the story. I really enjoyed it. Holling Hoodhood is in 7th grade. He is neither a Catholic, nor Jewish, so when the rest of his classmates leave for religious study on Wednesday afternoon, Holling is stuck behind. With his English teacher, who he is pretty sure hates him, especially when she makes him read Shakespeare. I loved the storyline in this novel and the richness of characters, especially Holling as he navigates through 7th grade.

This was a book that made me feel insanely naive. I knew about the link between opiates and heroin use and that the majority of users are rich, white kids. I did not, however, know how widespread and rampant it is and what a complex system is behind the force of black tar heroin within this country. The true eye opener was the mention of the influx of college students from my university driving to Indianapolis to buy heroin, at the same time that I was in college. Obviously I was in a heroin-free bubble, but it just makes you realize what a huge epidemic this is. With recent news that a small Indiana town is facing an HIV epidemic, due to its already existing heroin epidemic, it felt like I needed to know more. This was written like a story and drew me in, the way big pharmacy refused to acknowledge how addictive opiates are and took decades to make it more difficult to inject them, the way doctors just threw pain pills at people like candy, how hard it is to break down a system that just keeps sending in new suppliers and how the silence of parents contributed. This was, honestly, a scary and brave book. He took a lot of brave risks in the names he named here, and it is a book that needs to be read by everyone.

What are you reading?