The Star and the Shamrock by Jean Grainger | Book Review

Title: The Star and the Shamrock

Series: The Star and the Shamrock #1

Author: Jean Grainger

Published Date: May 28th, 2019

Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII, Adult, Mystery

Source: Kindle Unlimited

Rating: ★ ★ ★ .5

Goodreads Summary:

Ariella Bannon has no choice: she must put her precious children, Liesl and Erich, on that train or allow them to become prey for the Nazis.

Berlin 1939.
When her husband doesn’t come home one day, Ariella realises that the only way she can ensure her Jewish children’s safety is to avail of the Kindertransport, but can she bear to let them go?

A thousand miles away, Elizabeth Klein has closed herself off from the world. Losing her husband on the last day of the Great War, and her child months later, she cannot, will not, love again. It hurts too much.

But she is all Liesl and Erich Bannon have.
Thrown together in the wild countryside of Northern Ireland, Elizabeth and the Bannon children discover that life in the country is anything but tranquil. Danger and intrigue lurk everywhere, and some people are not what they seem.


My Review:

The star and the shamrock follow several different characters but Elizabeth Klein is the main one and we get to see her go through some very big changes in her life. She thinks she has lost everything, but then suddenly she gets the chance to help out a cousin she has never met by taking in their children for the rest of the war and possibly forever. It is a big change for her as she’s been living alone, but she accepts this change fairly easily and gets right into being a mother figure and making sure they are loved and taken care of.
We also get to see some things through a male perspective but not very often sadly. But his perspective is important when it comes to the mystery portion of this book and how certain things are happening that put everyone in danger once again.
Overall I enjoyed this book a lot. It was a different take on the children being transported to a different place to be kept safe during WWII. Liesel and Erich adjusted to living with their aunt Elizabeth fairly easily along with the other children who were sent to Ireland on the children’s transport. I loved seeing them interact with the other children and the other Jewish adults who were trying to keep things as normal as possible for them because of how they were sent away from their parents to stay alive and safe. The amount of pressure on all the adults I can’t even imagine and I enjoyed seeing that and how they were having to make something out of literally almost nothing at times.
I did enjoy the mystery portion of this story, and how it was woven into the story smoothly and made it really hard to tell who it was that was doing things until the very end. I was slightly surprised by it, but it also did make sense once I went back and started to look at things closer to what other side characters had been saying about that person.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and to see what happens next for the children in the transport and the adults taking care of them.

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White Fragility by Robin Diangelo | Mini Book Review

White Fragility by Robin Diangelo | Mini Book Review

Title: White Fragility

Author: Robin Diangelo

Publisher: Beacon Press

Published Date: June 26th, 2018

Genre: Non – Fiction, Race Relations

Source: Owned

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.

Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.


White Fragility by Robin Diangelo | Mini Book Review

My Review:

This book is obviously by a white woman and she mentions that right at the beginning of the book. This is good because it shows how she has learned what she has and why she does what she does.  We see the mistakes she has made over the years and we can learn from them because of how she has asked questions and had meaningful conversations with Blacks and other people of color. 

I learned a lot from this book when it comes to recognizing how white people see race and deal with race. White fragility helped me recognize more microaggressions that happen and how we can stop them or even prevent them from happening. 

There were so many other little things from this book that were good reminders for me especially when it came to having certain conversations and how to go about having those conversations. 

I’m glad I read this one and I am going to encourage those around me to read it as well.

The Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. Smith | Book Review

The Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. Smith | Book Review

Title: The Blossom and the Firefly

Author: Sherri L. Smith

Publisher: G.P. Putnam and Sons Books for Young Readers

Published Date: February 18th, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction, YA, WWII, Japan

Source: Library

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

A WWII romance between two Japanese teens caught in the cogs of an unwinnable war.

Japan 1945. Taro is a talented violinist and a kamikaze pilot in the days before his first and only mission. He believes he is ready to die for his country . . . until he meets Hana. Hana hasn’t been the same since the day she was buried alive in a collapsed trench during a bomb raid. She wonders if it would have been better to have died that day . . . until she meets Taro.

A song will bring them together. The war will tear them apart. Is it possible to live an entire lifetime in eight short days?


The Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. Smith | Book Review

My Review:

“Life becomes very simple when you know you will die. It didn’t seem appropriate to say so before now. That is what it means to be tokkō, too.”

The Blossom and the Firefly two character Taro and Hanna. Taro is a violinist who has become a pilot (Kamikaze) in the Japanese military during WWII, and Hana is one of the young women who helps clean the pilots rooms, and provide them food, etc. 

As a Kamikaze pilot Taro knows that most likely he will die before the war is over while he is doing his duty. While he is trying to accept this we also get to see him be very human and emotional in what he was feeling. He was never going to get to live his dream of being a famous violinist, and make his parents proud in that way. 

Hana on the other hand has had an almost near death experience and since than has been contemplating if she should have died than or not. She struggles with seeing what the purpose of all it is and we see her as time goes on start changing and seeing why life is worth it. The war is hard on the young woman as they know that most of the young men that they see will never come back alive. 

Taro and Hana end up becoming friends and because of this they get attached, which makes it harder when Taro has to go out on his mission. 

Overall I liked this book. It was interesting to learn a different side of WWII and to see how potentially the young people felt during that time. War is hard and this book shows that. We see how both women and men dealt with the challenges of it and how it changed the thinking of the country for some as time went on. It was also interesting to see the Japanese fighting spirit in a different way and that the young men were scared about what they were doing and didn’t want to die. I am linking a video about the Kamikaze’s that i watched that I found interesting to watch.. 

If you want a different fictional perspective based off of real life during WWII this could be the book for you. 

Surrender All by Jen Norton | Workbook Review

Surrender All by Jen Norton | Workbook Review

Title: Surrender All

Author: Jen Norton

Publisher: Ave Maria Press

Genre: Religious

Source: Publisher

Goodreads Summary:

Contemporary Catholic artist Jen Norton offers a unique opportunity to ponder the extravagant love of Christ through the Stations of the Cross. Combining Norton’s powerful, full-color illustrations with scripture, her original reflections and prayers, and journaling space, Surrender All will help you encounter Christ’s Passion in a new light.

Full of passion, energy, and faith, Jen Norton’s paintings have inspired believers from every walk of life. In this beautiful book, Norton takes you on a personal retreat, inviting you to walk with Jesus from the joy of Palm Sunday through the Stations of the Cross and to the glory of the Resurrection.

In each chapter you will find:

  • stirring interpretations of scenes from Jesus’ final days leading up to his death and resurrection, with complementary scripture art  to deepen your devotion;
  • brief scripture readings accompanied by a reflection from the author;
  • journal prompts to help you experience the stations more deeply;
  • a creative exercise based on the Gospel passage; and
  • prayers to draw your heart to Jesus.

As you ponder each image and meditate through the day’s readings and journaling prompts, you will find yourself surrendering to the Son of Man who offered himself up for us all.

Surrender All is a perfect prayer companion for adoration or holy hour, Lenten devotions, or personal prayer any time of the year.


Surrender All by Jen Norton | Workbook Review

My Review:

Surrender All features the stations of the cross, 2-3 Journal prompts for each station, turn up the light reminders, and ways to bring yourself peace at the end of each station. Each station also includes scripture reading and reflections to help keep you focused on what was happening in that station. 

Overall I enjoyed this book and I think it will be a great book to do during Lent. I had never done a lent book like this before, and I’m glad one has been made finally. The questions the book asked were relevant while also being easy to do before bed (I’m sure you could also do it in the morning I just choose bedtime). I liked how you could get as creative or as simple as you wanted to and it was easy to make personalized. 

I’ll definitely be looking for more books like this in the future.

Places to buy the book*

Amazon

Ave Maria Press

Not affiliate links just wanted to make it easy if you were interested in the book.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury | Book review

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury | Book review

Title: Fahrenheit 451

Author: Ray Bradbury

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published Date: October 1953

Genre: Classic, Dystopian

Source: Library

Rating: ★ ★.5

Goodreads Summary:

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television ‘family’. But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people did not live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.


Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury | Book review

My Review:

For me, this book just didn’t work. I personally don’t think books will ever go away nor will education. In the past year when most people started to be more ‘plugged’ into technology due to the pandemic we saw physical books being read more, we saw learning becoming more of a priority in order to get away from screen time. Yes, people learn through technology but what that has provided is more people the ability to learn and see different parts of life that they wouldn’t have any other way. Yes, there are bad parts of technology just like anything else in the world. 

This book to me just seems like a dystopian and not something like everyone has been trying to make it into recently with how kids are too plugged into technology and not doing enough of everything else. But something that’s true is time change and people change somewhat as technology, etc. changes but if the pandemic has taught us anything is that people crave face-to-face interaction, and holding a book, doing puzzles, and going to events in person, etc. That won’t be changing anytime soon because we crave that and need that interaction. So many of us this year have gotten burnout on technology and have started hobbies that are away from it to get away and unplug. 

For some this book is great, but for me, it just didn’t work and maybe it’s because it had been so hyped up for me in the past year.  

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas | Book Review

Title: On The Come Up

Author: Angie Thomas

Publisher: Balzar & Bray

Published Date: February 5th, 2019

Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, YA

Source: Owned

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.


My Review:

Content Warning: Racism, profiling, drugs, gangs, gun violence, and incarceration of a family member. 

Thank you to Misty for buddy reading this book with me. 

Bri wants to be a rap legend like her father was and she sees it as a way to help her family out as well. In order to do this though she must get the attention of those in her neighbor hood by competing in rap battles. Bri’s aunt is her manager and is trying to help her reach this goal even though her mom doesn’t want her to as she feels she should be focusing on school instead. 

Bri lives with her mom and older brother but goes to school far away in order to have better opportunities. Going to school there though means that she faces more racism when it comes to how some people look at her and always say she has an attitude when she tries to point out things to her teachers. This is one of the conflicts we see Bri go through along with some family struggles at home that happen that make life a little bit more difficult. 

Overall I enjoyed this book. It doesn’t have as much of an emotional impact as the authors debut book did, but it is still important and shows a different side to where they live. Bri is an interesting character and I loved getting to see more about her life and how things were in the neighborhood. The rap portions of the book were also really interesting to me especially when it came to the battles and how those happened. I do like rap music so it was fun to see how some of the lyrics come together and how the lyrics can get misconstrued by the public easily. Bri is a character that was loveable though and yes she made some questionable choices at times, but I also understand why she made those choices. After having read this book I am now looking forward to reading Angie Thomass newest book because I think it connects with this one a little bit more than THUG.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow | Book Review

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow | Book Review

Title: Alexander Hamilton

Author: Ron Chernow

Publisher: Penguin

Published Date: 2016

Genre: Non-Fiction, History

Source: Owned

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, National Book Award winner Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”

Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.

Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.

Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.


Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow | Book Review

My Review:

6 months after starting this book I’m finally done. Please note that that long time period is because of taking several history classes at university and not having a lot of time to read non-fiction books that weren’t assigned.

I did enjoy this book but I was not expecting it to have all of the in-depth financial and building of the government that it did. I found this interesting, but it was also just a lot of info at once at times.
I enjoyed seeing the parts of the story that Lin-Manuel Miranda put into the musical and the parts he left out. I found it fun to learn about all the little disagreements that Hamilton, Jefferson, and Adams had with each other. It shows a bit at times with the choices they all made with things, but we also see them working together to a certain extent at times to further the goals they had and to keep the country strong.

I found the end of the book very interesting when it came to the duel between Hamilton and Burr and how Hamilton was feeling in the months leading up to it. I do think it explains more why he made the shot he did and why he agreed to the duel in the first place.

Overall I’m glad I read this book finally and got to learn a little bit more about Hamilton and the founding of America.

Just one of the Boys by Leah and Kate Rooper | Book Review

Just one of the Boys by Leah and Kate Rooper | Book Review

Title: Just one of the Boys

Series: Chicago Falcons #1

Author: Leah and Kate Rooper

Publisher: October 2nd, 2017

Published Date: Entangled: Crush

Genre: Contemporary, Sports: Hockey, YA

Source: Library

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

Alice Bell has one goal: to play for the elite junior hockey team the Chicago Falcons.But when she’s passed over at tryouts for being a girl, she’ll do anything to make her dream a reality…even disguising herself as her twin brother. With her amazing skills on the ice, Alice is sure she’ll fit in easily. That is, until she starts falling for one of her teammates…

Hayden Tremblay, star of the Falcons, can’t keep himself out of the penalty box. Constantly living in the shadow of his older brother, Hayden’s losing his passion for hockey. But when he gets shown up on the ice by the Falcons’ new rookie, Hayden’s determined to teach the kid a thing or two. Little does he guess that “Al’s” surprises on the ice are just the beginning…


Just one of the Boys by Leah and Kate Rooper | Book Review

My Review:

I’ve recently really started to love sports books and I don’t even mind the romance in them as long as that’s not the main focus. They’ve just become the nice books that I read in between the serious books I read. 

Just one of the boys was a bit different than some of the others that I’ve read as the main character is taking her brother’s place on the team. It should have been her place but because of sexism, her twin brother was chosen over her despite Alice having better hockey skills. 

This ends up slightly changing though and Alice ends up getting to play, but in a very complicated way that has a lot of risks attached to it. 

We also get to see Hayden whose brother is already in the NHL and he is expected to follow in his shoes. Hayden however seems to have an anger problem on the ice which has caused him dearly in the past and this is the year he has to change that. 

The two of them end up helping each other out and become friends, but of course, things are complicated. 

Overall I enjoyed this book. It was a fun quick read and it was nice to read it right around the start of the new shortened NHL season. I am interested in continuing on with this series as they all seem to be companion novels and thats always fun when it comes to sports books.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones | Book Review

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones | Book Review

Title: The Only Good Indians

Author: Stephen Graham Jones

Publisher: Saga Press

Published Date: July 14th, 2020

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary

Source: Library

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ .5

Goodreads Summary:

The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.


The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones | Book Review

My Review:

“It’s over, enough, it can stop here if you really want it to stop.”

I am going to recommend you watch an own voices review of this book because she explains things so much better than I ever will.

The Only Good Indians is unlike any book I’ve ever read so far. We follow four men who knew each other when they were younger but as time has gone on they’ve mostly grown apart or left the reservation. The men are being tracked down by something that they hurt when they were teenagers and now this something wants them to pay for it. The way they have to pay for it is a little bit different for each of them depending on what will hurt them the most. 

Overall I really liked this book. I didn’t want to put it down because I had to know what was going to happen next. I will say it took me till around the first 100 pages to understand fully what was happening and to start piecing together why it was happening. It was a little confusing to me because I don’t know a lot about old Indian stories or anything like that sadly ( I am working on changing this). One thing that I really liked about this book is how it did shy away from the harder things that Indians face. It talked about the police, drinking, food shortages, etc that they face. All of this was told alongside the story of what was happening to the men and how it all played a part in their lives and made them make some of the choices they did, it was very realistic in that part. 

I’m sure I’m forgetting something in this review, but all that I’m going to say now is read it! And after you’ve read it go and watch the review that I mentioned above. 

Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery | Book Review

Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery | Book Review

Title:Anne of Ingleside

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Published Date: 1939

Genre: Classic, Historical Fiction

Source: Library

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

A favorite of everyone from Mark Twain to Duchess Kate

There’s never a dull moment in the life of wonderful, whimsical Anne. The adoring mother of five lively children—with a baby on the way!—Anne’s life is full to bursting. And that’s before the overbearing Aunt Mary Maria arrives for a lengthy visit…

Still, there’s nowhere Annie would rather be than her own beloved Ingleside in the adoring arms of her husband, Gilbert. Life with her imaginative, adventurous children seems close to perfect until Anne begins to worry that her very busy doctor doesn’t love her anymore. She may be a little older, but she’s still the same irrepressible, irreplaceable Anne of Green Gables—and she’s ready to make her darling husband fall in love with her all over again!

Anne Shirley once said, “Dear old world, you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” That sentiment is echoed by readers around the world who’ve fallen in love with this remarkable heroine.

This new edition lovingly restores the original, unabridged text and includes an all-new, exclusive introduction with special memories from L.M. Montgomery’s granddaughter.


Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery | Book Review

My Review:

Contains Spoilers if you haven’t read the other books.

I’m going to be completely honest here if I wasn’t buddy reading this series with Misty I probably would have stopped by now. That’s not saying that this book isn’t good, I just find myself getting more annoyed with certain parts of the storyline as time goes on. 

Anne herself is fine it’s more of how the story goes and the little things that happen around her. 

Despite how good it seems that Anne and Gilbert work as a team in the first few books, we now have them barely interacting at all. Now, this has been going on for several books now at this point but it’s getting worse as time goes on. In this one we see Anne being mad at Gilbert for having seemed to forget their anniversary and looking forward to seeing an old girlfriend. This whole situation was a lack of communication between the two which is something that seemed to be out of character for the two of them.  For me, it just seemed like it was added in to make drama that wasn’t needed. 

Along with that you also have just a lack of interaction with characters from the previous books that just seems a little strange considering how close Anne was to them. These little inconsistencies just bug me for some reason with this series. 

Having said all of that I do enjoy Anne and her kids and how involved she is with them (wish we got to see more of it).