Top Ten Tuesday: M’s Favorite Graphic Novels

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is Favorite Graphic Novels. We all love graphic novels in this family, but there is one person who consumes them more than anyone else at the moment: my 9-year-old M. So, this week, I bring you M’s favorite graphic novels! I’d say she has pretty good taste, wouldn’t you?

Sisters, Smile, Drama, Ghosts…Everything written by Raina Telgemeier! Her whole list would be dominated by Raina’s books, so we decided to group them into one category. I believe she has read all of them, including the reinvention of The Babysitter’s Club in graphic novel form (she reads the original Babysitter’s Club books, too).

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Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. M just read this for the first time last week, and it was a big hit. It is also quite relevant to her life at the moment. Sunny Lewin is packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer…in a 55+ retirement community. My parents just moved into one such community last year, The Villages in Florida, and we visited for the first time in December. M could relate quite well to Sunny’s feelings in the book – especially in regards to the pull-out couch!

Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi. I’ve talked briefly about the Amulet series on my blog before. Actually, a few of the books in this TTT were also featured on my Back-to-School TTT in August! The illustrations in Amulet are breathtaking, I love Kazu Kibuishi’s artwork. The story is great, too!

Thea Stilton Graphic Novels by “Thea Stilton”. M came to these late, and they fill the need for quick and easy fluff books. I’m not the biggest fan, but I get her need for comfort books that can be read quickly.

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El Deafo by Cece Bell. Another graphic novel enjoyed by both of us. You can find my review here.

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Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. During the Scholastic Book Fair, M’s 3rd grade teacher picked out this book for the classroom library specifically with M in mind. Isn’t that sweet? This was one of her favorites over the summer, and she is currently waiting patiently for a classmate to finish reading it so that she can borrow it from her teacher again.

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Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier. I have to admit I was a bit surprised, and pleased, to see this gentle but important graphic novel make her Top Ten list. Our family was directly affected by the Holocaust; my husband’s grandmother made it out of Germany in time, but most of her family did not. M knows about this, but she is a sensitive kid who relates very strongly to her Jewish identity, so we tread carefully with books about the Holocaust. She has been asking to read The Diary of Anne Frank lately, but we decided to start with this book first, and the I Survived book that also takes place during WWII.

Superman Family Adventures by Art Baltazar. A fun series that brings in the whole Super family (Superman, Supergirl, Jimmy, Lois, etc) for an all-ages audience.

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Another amazing series the whole family loves! We’re currently up to Volume 6. You can find my earlier review here.

Heavenly Nostrils by Dana Simpson. The covers and titles for these graphic novels are too cute! How can you not love a series featuring a unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils?

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Have you read any of these, or do you have a child/niece/nephew/relative who has? I look forward to reading your TTT posts, and feel free to leave a link in the comments!

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Reading as Resistance – How do you fight back? Reading Authors from the Seven Countries Banned By Trump, Part 1.

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Last week, I followed Trump’s Executive Orders closely. Each day, there seemed to be new trials and tribulations unleashed from his pen as he signed one executive order after another.

What I would like to focus on today is Friday’s executive order, and my response.

When a draft executive order was leaked to the media on Wednesday that placed a moratorium on the refugee admissions program, and an outright travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries, I knew we had even more trouble ahead. Prior to the birth of my daughter, I worked in refugee resettlement. I remember the repercussions of the two-month freeze on refugee admissions after 9/11, how it devastated resettlement agencies and made it incredibly difficult for them to have enough funds to keep case workers employed, so that they could continue to help people who were already here, and prepare for those who would arrive after the ban was lifted.

When an admissions ban goes into effect, almost all funding for resettlement agencies dries up quickly. And Friday’s executive order is like no other. A 120-day moratorium on ALL refugee admissions is twice as long as the post-9/11 freeze. A complete travel ban on all citizens of seven countries, irregardless of their visa status, or how long they have lived in the United States.

Such a ban has a catastrophic impact on people fleeing war and famine, on permanent residents who have made a home in America only to find themselves trapped outside of the country and unable to return home. Discrimination against a person based on their religion or national origin is a gross violation of a person’s human rights, and Friday’s EO is harmful to hundreds of thousands of people.

Much has already been written on the illegalities of this executive order, which breaks both domestic and international law. How can we respond, especially as a book community, to such discrimination and human rights violations?

As an individual, I have participated in quite a few actions over the past week. I have called my Senators and Congressional Representatives almost every day. On Friday evening, I participated in a protest at the Charlotte Douglas Airport. I donated, again, to the ACLU, the International Refugee Assistance Project, and my local refugee resettlement agencies. I will continue to volunteer in the refugee community on a regular basis.

For those who also engage in activism, you are likely already aware that self-care is needed to prevent burnout. One of my biggest forms of self-care is reading. Yet, even in this hobby, I see a way to Resist.

I have made a committment to reading at least one novel written by authors from each of the seven countries included in the immigration and travel ban: Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Somalia. I encourage you to do the same.

During the course of this week, I will feature authors from each of these seven countries. I am a firm believer in the ability to learn through literature. If you are participating in #DiversityBingo2017, most of these suggestions will work for a few of the categories in that challenge as well.

Today’s post will highlight authors from Sudan and Yemen.

Authors from the Seven Countries Affected by Trump’s Travel Ban: Sudan and Yemen

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Leila Aboulela. Leila grew up in Kartoum, graduating from Khartoum University in 1985. She was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2000 for her short story The Museum, and her novel The Translator was nominated for the Orange Prize in 2002, and was chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times in 2006.

  • Lyrics Alley – “The evocative story of an affluent Sudanese family shaken by the shifting powers in their country and the near-tragedy that threatens the legacy they’ve built for decades.”
  • The Translator – “Sammar is a Sudanese widow working as an Arabic translator at a Scottish university. Since the sudden death of her husband, her young son has gone to live with family in Khartoum, leaving Sammar alone in cold, gray Aberdeen, grieving and isolated. But when she begins to translate for Rae, a Scottish Islamic scholar, the two develop a deep friendship that awakens in Sammar all the longing for life she has repressed.”
  • Minaret – “Leila Aboulela’s American debut is a provocative, timely, and engaging novel about a young Muslim woman — once privileged and secular in her native land and now impoverished in London — gradually embracing her orthodox faith.”

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Tayeb Salih. Tayeb was born in Karmakol, near the village of Al Dabbah in the Northern Province of Sudan. He studied at Khartoum University before leaving for the University of London in England. Despite living abroad for most of his life, his fiction is firmly rooted in the village in which he spent his early years.

  • Season of Migration to the North – “After years of study in Europe, the young narrator of Season of Migration to the North returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan. It is the 1960s, and he is eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country.”

Yemen

Wajdi al-Ahdal is a Yemeni novelist, short story writer and playwright. Born in 1973 near Bajil in the province of Al Hudaydah, he received a degree in Literature from Sanaa University in Yemen. He won the Afif short story prize in 1997, and the youth prize of the President of the Republic of Yemen for a short story in 1999.

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  • A Land Without Jasmine – “A sexy, satirical detective story about the sudden disappearance of a young female student from Yemen ‘s Sanaa University.”

Zayd Mutee’ Dammaj was a Yemeni politician and writer. His short novel The Hostage was selected by the Arab Writers Union as one of the top 100 Arabic novels of the 20th century.

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  • The Hostage – “Set in the pre-revolution Yemen of the Imams, this novel depicts the experiences of a young boy who, having been taken hostage, in line with the Imam’s general practice, as a pledge for his father’s political obedience, is sent to serve as a young male attendant in the palace of the city governor.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Wednesday!

Book Review – Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

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Title: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Author: J.D. Vance
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Non-fiction, memoir

Hillbilly Elegy has certainly been making the rounds lately, with J.D. Vance appearing on numerous talk shows. His book has been marketed out the wazoo as something all liberal-minded individuals should read to provide insight into the mysterious “Trump voter”. This memoir has been talked up as one of the most informative books published in 2016 on the plight of working-class whites.

In reality, Hillbilly Elegy is just a memoir, and to be honest, not an incredibly remarkable one at that. And, in my case, one of those instances where a book definitely did not live up to the hype.

I will fully admit, about 1/3 of the way into the book, I started to realize I had completely misplaced expectations as to what I was reading. I was expecting something that was half memoir, and half social commentary and analysis. Hillbilly Elegy is not that. What it is, in my opinion, is 90% memoir, and 10% minor social commentary, that sometimes contradicts itself.

This book is about something else: what goes on in the lives of real people when the industrial economy goes south. It’s about reacting to bad circumstances in the worst way possible. It’s about a culture that increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it.

J.D. Vance was raised by an abusive, drug-addicted mother in Middletown, Ohio, a Rust Belt town not too far removed from the small Pennsylvania town where I grew up. Vance’s family spent summers visiting the rural Appalachian community in Kentucky where his grandparents were born and raised.

The subtitle claims that this is an elegy, and a memoir, for the Appalachian culture of his grandparents. Writing a family memoir is one thing, writing the “memoir” for an entire culture, based purely on your own experiences, I find highly presumptuous. J.D. Vance is doing a great disservice to the very people he is trying to help. His story is one of upward mobility, and to that end, it is a very enlightening read. But it is not an adequate “memoir” of an entire culture.

J.D. Vance escaped the life he was raised in, despite his addicted mother, a revolving door of fathers, and a community that was struggling with many of the same problems. It should therefore come as no surprise that there is a strong sense of ‘bootstrappery’ about his beliefs – pulling one’s self up by the bootstraps. That it is up to yourself, not the government, to make your life better.

While J.D. Vance may be making some mass generalizations (that seem to play to both the liberal and conservatives stereotypes of Appalachia), there is no denying that there is some truth to what he says. He brings up some interesting points, but I find that he is too quick to blame the poor for their own misfortunes.

Take this excerpt:

People talk about hard work all the time in places like Middletown. You can walk through a town where 30 percent of the young men work fewer than twenty hours a week and find not a single person aware of his own laziness.

In the next paragraph he does mention one barrier to full-time employment: the fact that in many areas, the only jobs available are part-time. But then he leaves that idea in the dust, and doesn’t come back to it again. He spends very little time on the disappearance of blue-collar jobs, and what it truly means to be isolated from the educated, American “mainstream”.

If Hillbilly Elegy was solely a story about upward mobility, a conversation about what it is like to be stuck in a community that can not seem to keep up with the present, this would have been a good book. When he starts to ruminate about poverty in all of Appalachia, and simplify it to a message that is predominantly – “do better, work harder” he lost me as a fan. He is definitely not mean-spirited, possibly more of the “tough love” approach (which may explain Amy Chua’s endorsement on the back of the cover, author of  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother!). Ultimately, I felt that he was pigeon-holing an entire community into categories of dysfunction and laziness. Something that should sound awfully familiar to African-Americans, who have been subjected to many of the same stereotypes.

Which brings me to one final point about something missing from this book. Vance seems to be writing for Appalachia as a whole, but at no time does he ever bring up the issue of race. Appalachia is often painted as poor, rural, and white. Once again, the Appalachian’s who are PoC are erased from existence. The fact is, Appalachia does not have one story, one voice, and it does a disservice to the region every time that it is painted in such a way.

While reading Hillbilly Elegy, I added White Trash: The 400-Year Untold Story of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg to my TBR list. I hope it will provide more of the in-depth analysis that I am looking for right now.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Latest Books to Make my Goodreads TBR List

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is a freebie, which is exactly what I needed! I have had to take an unplanned mini-break from blogging since this Tuesday, after I received some amazing, overwhelming, emotional, conflicting, and practically impossible news!  I’m not ready to go into details yet, but if you have ever watched This Is Us….let’s just say I have been a walking, talking episode, playing the part of Randall. Plus, the latest book to be added to my TBR queue will give you another big hint of what’s going on.

For this week’s freebie, I chose to focus on the last ten books added to my Goodreads TBR list.

The Ten Latest Books to Find Their Way On to My Ginormous Goodreads TBR List!

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This Is My Lemonade: An Adoption Story by Robert Mulkey. Added 22 January 2017. (Non-fiction memoir)

Why did it make it on to my list? Okay, I’ll give a tiny bit more info. On Thursday, a DNA test I took two years ago matched to someone who turned out to be a half-sister I didn’t know existed!!! In the hours that followed, I was connected with a large portion of my biological family, including two younger half-sisters who are also adopted. This is HUGE, and I am still processing everything that I have discovered in the past few days. Searching for someone who has gone through a somewhat similar experience, I stumbled upon this book.

This is My Lemonade,” a memoir by Robert Mulkey, follows an unusual 34 year adoption journey. It is an international story involving identity, acceptance, abuse and redemption and the uncomfortable intricacies of not one, but three families.

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Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well With Food Allergies by Sloane Miller. Added 19 January 2017. (Non-fiction memoir).

Why did it make it on to my list? In addition to the news mentioned above, I was also finally diagnosed with a coconut allergy last week. I’ve suspected for years, but never had any food allergy testing done. What have I realized? Coconut is in everything. I’m now on the FODMAP diet to look for other food insensitivities, intolerances, or possible allergies. Hence, the addition of this book to my TBR list.

Food allergies affect nearly 12 million people in the United States, including 1 in 17 children under the age of three. Allergic Girl offers the reader practical and helpful advice for identifying and coping with food allergies. Sloane Miller’s anecdotal commentary about her own food allergy trials and tribulations teaches and directs readers how to live well with food allergies.

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A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. Added 18 January 2017. Non-fiction memoir.

Why did it make it on to my list? I promise, not every book is going to be a non-fiction memoir! I want to read Saroo’s book before watching the movie based on it, Lion, which I have heard wonderful things about. Lion also stars Dev Patel, an amazing actor who confronts the issues of stereotyping and a lack of diversity in the entertainment industry head-on. I’m a big fan.

At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.

Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.

A Long Way Home is a moving, poignant, and inspirational true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds. It celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: hope.

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White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg. Added 17 January 2017. Non-fiction, Politics, History, Sociology.

Why did it make it on to my list? When I started reading Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, I quickly realized that I had the wrong impression of the book, and it was more memoir than sociological analysis. Many reviewers of Hillbilly Elegy mention this book in their review – also recently published in 2016 – as an alternative to Vance’s memoir.

In her groundbreaking history of the class system in America, extending from colonial times to the present, Nancy Isenberg takes on our comforting myths about equality, uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing––if occasionally entertaining––”poor white trash.

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. Added 17 January 2017. YA Contemporary.

Why did it make it on to my list? I have heard so many great things about this book on Book Twitter, and I am planning on reading it for #DiversityBingo2017.

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

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Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of The Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. Added 16 January 2017. Non-fiction, History, Science, Biography.

Why did it make it on to my list? The movie was absolutely fantastic, and made we want o go out and immediately buy the book!

Set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program—and whose contributions have been unheralded, until now.

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Added 12 January 2017. YA Fantasy, Dystopia.

Why did it make it on to my list? Because I should have read it last year!

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

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The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera. Added 12 January 2017. YA Contemporary.

Why did it make it on to my list? This is another book that I have been hearing a lot about on Book Twitter.

Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.

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This Is An Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the Twenty-First Century by Mark Engler and Paul Engler. Added 14 January 2017. Non-fiction, Social Justice, Activism.

Why did it make it on to my list? I have been a human rights activist and participant in non-violent protests for more than a decade, most recently attending one of the Sister Women’s Marches and a BLM protest. This book, published in 2016, really caught my eye when I happened upon it on a reading list recently.

There is a craft to uprising—and this craft can change the world

From protests around climate change and immigrant rights, to Occupy, the Arab Spring, and #BlackLivesMatter, a new generation is unleashing strategic nonviolent action to shape public debate and force political change. When mass movements erupt onto our television screens, the media consistently portrays them as being spontaneous and unpredictable. Yet, in this book, Mark and Paul Engler look at the hidden art behind such outbursts of protest, examining core principles that have been used to spark and guide moments of transformative unrest.

With incisive insights from contemporary activists, as well as fresh revelations about the work of groundbreaking figures such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Gene Sharp, and Frances Fox Piven, the Englers show how people with few resources and little conventional influence are engineering the upheavals that are reshaping contemporary politics.

Nonviolence is usually seen simply as a philosophy or moral code. This Is an Uprising shows how it can instead be deployed as a method of political conflict, disruption, and escalation. It argues that if we are always taken by surprise by dramatic outbreaks of revolt, we pass up the chance to truly understand how social transformation happens.

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Swing Time by Zadie Smith. Added 10 January 2017. Contemporary Literary Fiction.

Why did it make it on to my list? I loved White Teeth and hated On Beauty. So it has taken me a while to give Zadie Smith another chance. I think I’m ready again.

Two brown girls dream of being dancers–but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, about what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from northwest London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.

What was your theme for TTT this week? I look foward to seeing all of the different approaches for this week’s freebie!

TTT: Hidden Gems

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme was Top Ten Hidden Gems/Underrated books that I have read. I thought about narrowing it down to one genre, but I think I would have a hard time coming up with ten. So I am keeping it broad, choosing books that span a wide variety of genres, including both fiction and non-fiction.

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Most people have heard of The Namesake, and the Interpreter of Maladies is also fairly popular, but this lesser known work should definitely not be overlooked. I especially loved the second short story in the collection.

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I am a big fan of The Books of Bayern series: The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, and River Secrets. (I haven’t read the fourth book yet.) A retelling of a Grimm fairy tale, and an excellent book, despite the terrible cover art.

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I wish more people were talking about George! I just read it this month, and you can find my review here.

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You may be wondering how a book that was nominated for both the Booker Prize and Nebula Award, and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, made it on to my list. It’s more about the author. While Atwood is well-loved and well-known, she seems stuck in the “Great Canadian Women Authors” category, rather than just “great author”. And The Handmaid’s Tale is my all-time favorite book, which is being remade into a TV series…which will hopefully be much better than the horrendous 1980s movie. READ IT. Please.

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A fascinating, fictional depiction of life in a North Carolinian hospital for mental illness and addiction, during the 1940s and 50s. Based on Asheville’s Highland Hospital, the story takes place during the time period when Zelda Fitzgerald was in residence.

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An excellent biography that offers insight into the life of a young transgender girl, and her family.

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I had never heard of Jamaica Kincaid until I started searching for authors from the Lesser Antilles islands in the Caribbean. She is definitely an author worth exploring.

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Obviously, The Secret Garden is not a hidden gem. But this edition is! Beautifully illustrated by Inga Moore, I get lost in the pictures. I found this two years ago in our local indie book shop, and it puts all other editions of The Secret Garden to shame!

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This is one of the graphic novels that helped me fall in love with children’s comics! Kazu Kibuishi is a genius, and his art is out-of-this world.  There are seven books so far in the series, and we are anxiously waiting for the 8th one to be published!

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Labyrinth Lost seems to be getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere, but not so much outside of it. Definitely one of the best YA fantasy novels I read in 2016, and I’m thrilled that Zoraida Córdova is working on the second in the series! My review here.

What hidden gems have you read recently?

#DAReadaThon Wrap Up

This was such a fun readathon, and a great way to kick off a new year! Although I wasn’t able to read a book from each of the seven prompts – I never really thought I could read that much in two weeks, anyway – I am quite proud of the progress I made.

Thank you, Aentee @ReadatMidnight for hosting the Dumbledore’s Army Readathon!

 

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I choose a story by Elie Wiesel since our family is Jewish. Review here.

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This was the first time that I have read a fiction book featuring a transgender character. This was an excellent read. Review here.

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I did not read a book for this category. Although almost all of the books that I selected could be considered #OwnVoices, with the exception of Ms. Marvel. I’m not sure if/how superhero books could be classified as #OwnVoices, but the writer is Muslim.

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I hope this isn’t bending the rules, but since these comics were so short, I counted four of them towards one prompt. The Ms. Marvel series keeps getting better and better! Review here.

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Reading a book from a teen boy’s perspective is definitely outside of my usual book choices, and I’m really glad I stepped outside of my “comfort zone” to read this one! Review here.

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I don’t know about stunning the internet, but this Newbery Honor Book definitely lives up to the hype! Review here.

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I did not read a book for this category.

Final Points:

  • 1,251 pages = 125 house points
  • 5 books completed = 25 house points
  • 5 book reviews posted = 25 house points
  • 4 tweets = 4 house points
  • Total House Points: 179 house points for Ravenclaw!

Read Watch Play #8

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Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, and the Sunday Post. Read, Watch, Play is a round-up of bookish and non-bookish entertainment going on in my home this week. Feel free to join in and let me know what fun you have had recently!

It has been ages since I have done a Read, Watch, Play post! Life just gets in the way sometimes. Now that the holidays have passed, the snow days are gone (hopefully for a while), life is starting to get back to normal in our house, and I actually have a little more free time!

What I’m Reading

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Hillbilly Elegy is my book club’s pick for February. I have to admit I had misplaced expectations going into this book. I thought it was more of a research-based analysis than a memoir, but it is actually the opposite; a memoir with a tiny bit of research thrown in.

What I’m Watching

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I just read The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie’s very first novel. Of course, I then had to watch the corresponding episode from the Poirot TV series!

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We also watched Room last night. Usually I don’t like to watch the movie before reading the book, but I have been intrigued by this one ever since Brie Larson won an Oscar last year. Word of advice: don’t watch without a box of tissues nearby!

What I’m Playing

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Not quite a game, but I bought this Ultimate Dot-to-Dot book by Gareth Moore last week as a relaxing activity to do with M, once I saw that there was a good chance of snow days in the near future. This is a great dot-to-dot book! The dots are color coded, and I’m using the Staedtler 36 Colors, Triplus Fineliner Pen Set to complete the pages.

What I’m Cooking

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We’re doing the Whole 30 this month! In some ways, it hasn’t been as challenging as I thought it would be. In other ways, I am getting thoroughly tired of some of the food that we usually eat that has been cut out this month! And I miss cheese. And wine. And chocolate. And bread products.

If you haven’t heard of the Whole 30 by now (although I am sure most of you have!), it is 30 day “diet” meant to help reset your body on a path back towards healthy eating. We’ve been eating out a lot more than we usually do, and it seemed like a great time to give it a try, as a kick-start back to our normal, healthy way of life.

A month of Whole 30 is similar to Paleo, and means a whole lot of fruits, veggies, meats, eggs, and seafood. What it does not include: alcohol, dairy, grains, legumes, corn, soy, and sugar.

Here’s a sampling of some of the meals I have made over the past 9 days:

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Breakfast:

  • Breakfast tacos with homemade sausage, butterleaf lettuce, scrambled eggs and hot sauce (pictured)
  • Sausage patties with sautéed apples and cinnamon
  • Egg casserole with tomatoes, spinach, and Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausage
  • Scrambled eggs with lox and sautéed butternut squash, seasoned with Ras el Hanout (pictured)

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Lunch:

  • Israeli Salad, pistachios, melon with prosciutto (pictured)
  • “Nachos” – plantain chips, mango, rainbow carrots, leftover pulled pork, and guacamole (pictured)
  • Leftovers
  • An assortment of salads with smoked turkey, prosciutto, dates, slivered almonds, and vinaigrette dressing.
  • Trader Joe’s Lime Chili Chicken Burgers with guacamole, and a side of fruit or veggie.

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Dinners: 

  • Coconut Curry chicken with riced cauliflower and sautéed kale (pictured)
  • Pork Postole with Tostones and roasted potatoes (pictured)
  • Turkey curry meatballs with lemongrass coconut cream sauce and roasted veggies
  • Hamburger (all of the meat we buy is grassfed) with lettuce bun, guacamole, green beans, and Alexia Smart Classics french fries. And a pickle, once I realized that the dill pickles in our fridge had no sugar! (pictured)

As you can see, we have been busy cooking here! What are you up to this weekend?