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“Everything Belongs To Us” by Yoojin Grace Wuertz

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I can remember reading, some handful of years ago as a new parent, books on the philosophy of raising a family. One of the interesting points I came across in a book written by someone from France is that our stress here in America was one of worry. With so few doing exceedingly well in top positions, parenting (if you weren’t born into wealth or fame) becomes a race to get your child the most accolades, the most help, the most trophies, the best schools in order to secure their spot in society. You must do everything right, or else.

Imagine that x10. And you have the premise for the struggles of “Everything Belongs To Us”.

A portrait of three (technically four, but we know so little about the fourth that I’m calling it three) South Korean students during 1978-shortly after the Korean war. With a backdrop of economic and political uncertainty, securing your spot in the world becomes even more important, and each main character is a student at the top university.

Namin is from a very poor family, her sister was unable to attend any schooling in order to sacrifice so Namin could succeed. And, it’s heartbreaking.  She aims to pull her family out of the clutches of poverty, and it makes her more driven to the track of academic success than any of the others. Failure is not an option for Namin.

Jisun was born a wealthy daughter to an overbearing businessman who intends to groom her, the stronger of his two children, to run his family business. She’s far more interested in social movements for equality. Hardly attending classes, Jisun is involved in helping underground groups fighting for workers’ rights. She’s playful, it often feels like Jisun can afford to be and Namin can not. Jisun has to constantly battle the idea that she is not serious about what she cares about because of her station in life, even when she renounces it.

Jisun and Namin are friends from childhood, but to say Namin considers Jisun a friend in any respect is stretching it. While it’s understandable, to have all that resentment for someone born into the power you need but doesn’t desire it, it makes Namin hard to like.

Sunam is one of the male characters who enters into a relationship with Namin (though this seems stretched too, as if Namin has no room in her life for people, and consequently he begins to connect with Jisun). Most of his desire seems to revolve around advancing his station in life. He was born into middle-class comfort: nothing as dramatic as the story of the two girls.

Our other male character is Juno, who really I feel we know far less about, is a “bigger brother” from a university social club that hazed Sunam. Juno’s focus is on getting an easier life-specifically by attempting to get Jisun’s affection and marry into money. He’s slimy, he’s cruel, Juno just kind of sucks. I’d say it was a flat character, but we all kind of know someone who’s dipped in that much suck in real life.

The story of how each of these people navigates life choices doesn’t sound like some epic tale, and it’s not. It isn’t that sort of book. It’s a character-based plot.

But it’s still nice and interesting, with very vivid details. If you like contemporary fiction in which there is a lot at stake, you will enjoy this. I found it really fascinating to look into a different culture and find how similar to any university this feels. “Everything Belongs To Us” is a laid back read, but one that will make you think, really think, about how people’s backgrounds have shaped their choices.

And it makes you realize that in the grand scheme of happiness, much of this stuff does not matter.

 

Erika

http://writeathomemothering.blogspot.com 

“The Walking Dead: Invasion” by Jay Bonansinga, created by Robert Kirkman

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*Kind of spoilers**just for people who want to read TWD comics and have not, this may reveal a plot moment not shown in the televised series. But, if you don’t care, or have read the early originals-you’re gold*

I’m a TWD fan. I read the comics on my Kindle when I can, the television series is a ritual for myself and my husband. We take some much-needed downtime to sit and enjoy a show we both love. It was the first thing we were able to watch when we moved all our things into our new home, and you wouldn’t think a zombie-ridden horror fest would evoke warm and fuzzy feelings, but it does for us.

So, when I was finally able to grab one of these books, I was not happy when I didn’t like it.

But, I don’t like it.

The zombie-details are okay, but just okay. Writing the undead is a challenge, but one of my first set of horror novels that handled it well was S. D. Perry’s “Resident Evil” series, and I really feel like she wrote it so well that I’m hard to impress now. This felt like I was getting a description from a teenager.

I didn’t like the characters. Lilly Caul, one of our mains, sucks as a human being. I’m not sure I could find anything likable about the lady who shot a new mother and her baby. I just can’t. And she makes bad decisions one after the other in this book that puts other people in danger. The people in TWD aren’t supposed to be angelic, well most of them aren’t. But you’re not supposed to want to punch the good guys in the head all the time.

The big bad here is insane. It makes Negan look like a girl scout. Maybe a mean girl scout, but still…It’s almost hard to process how broken this person is.

So, maybe I’m a bad fan, but I didn’t care for the taste of the novel. I have heard that I probably picked up the worst one, this being number six, and that the earlier installations give more information into the forming of Woodbury and its people-so I’ll look for those. And we’ll keep buying the comics and watching the series.

Erika

http://www.writeathomemothering.blogspot.com

 

“Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours” by Christine Schmidt

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This book covers a wide range of artforms, but it includes a lot of things seen in printmaking. I feel like I should mention that I was NEVER even allowed inside the printmaking studios at my colleges while getting my art degrees.

Actually, they barely trusted me to work the paper cutter.

But, seriously, printmaking was so involved and sometimes so dangerous that you couldn’t walk through the studio unannounced (acid washes, craft knives, and wood carving tools-you get it…) But, it’s beautiful, and the techniques here in this book are not hazardous to your health and safety provided you can carve things with an x-acto knife carefully and not drown in a paint bucket.

However, things like carving stamps and dye buckets are not particularly forgiving. I don’t feel this book is extremely useful for people like me who have multiple kids running around who are young enough to get into art supplies: I don’t know at what age they stop doing that, but none of mine have hit it yet…

But, if you have the time and the motivation, this is a great crafting book. It’s like having an instructor with you, it’s that detailed and I never had a question about how to carry something out. The author shows you how to make everything from a painted silk scarf to patterns on your blinds. She even covers Shibori techniques, which by the way, if I had enough time to myself to do that, that project is first on my list. So. Beautiful.

It also comes with lots of patterns for stencils or inspiration. For anyone really interested in getting into this,”Make it Yours” rocks. Just know that most of it is not a light hobby, and you need time, space, and special trips to your local art store to make the pretty stuff listed in this book happen.

I wanted to show a picture of my twist on prints which, in season-appropriate fashion, is on plastic cheap eggs. I used some of the elements of this book including a few of the design template ideas to put together something I could do with my time and could do safely with my children around (we used markers). The older ones even helped. A lot of the projects listed in the text are not things I’m able to complete, but I was still able to find a way to incorporate what I learned from reading it into everyday art.

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There is a specific joy to making the things in your life, and other people’s lives,  beautiful in a way that only you can. I love books like this from masters eager to share that with people, and there is no mistaking Schmidt loves what she does.  The only other thing I’d say is that this is a very folk-styled art book. But it doesn’t force you to follow that style at all, so no points lost/gained for that, especially for my already artsy brethren who have their own styles developed.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.*

Erika

http://www.writeathomemothering.blogspot.com

Book Buzz Spring 2017

So, I went to this Book Buzz for Penguin/Random house that they had going on at the local library. There was talk about some of the books releasing in Spring of 2017. The first book the guy talked about was The Roanoke Girls. This was the only book I had read already, and I have previously put up a review for that book which was all kinds of hard times.

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Gorgeous cover, though….

Now, the main book that sounded pretty awesome is called Eggshells by: Caitriona Lally

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Goodreads Summary:

Vivian doesn’t feel like she fits in – never has. She lives alone in a house in north Dublin that her great-aunt left to her. She has no friends, no job and few social skills. She knows she is different. Before they died, her parents used to tell her she was a ‘changeling’ who belonged to another world. Each day, she walks the streets of Dublin, looking for a way to get there. ‘I need a big wind that could turn into a cyclone because today I’m going to visit Yellow Road and Emerald Street. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the cyclone carried Dorothy to Oz, and she followed the Yellowbrick Road to the Emerald Palace to find her way home.’ It doesn’t work. After all, Dublin has a certain charm, but no actual magic.

And so Vivian sets off on a new quest: to find a friend. A very specific kind of friend. ‘WANTED: Friend Called Penelope. Must Enjoy Talking Because I Don’t Have Much to Say. Good Sense of Humour Not Required Because My Laugh Is A Work in Progress. Must Answer to Penelope: Pennies Need Not Apply.’ A Penelope replies, but will the two women become friends? Will she make a connection with another person in this world so she can stop searching for a portal to another one? She sets off for their first meeting. ‘I huddle and tighten myself against the wind and think up ways to describe it to Penelope. Is a “rape” of a wind too strong for the first sentence of a first meeting?’ Rooted in Dublin’s Northside, Eggshells is a whimsical, touching story about loneliness and friendship and hope.

 

Has anyone read this? All I saw was that it was compared to Amelie, and I was like I am in!

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Review: The Castaways

Title: The Castaways

Author: Jessika Fleck

Date of Publication: April 3rd, 2017

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Goodreads Summary:

Mean Girls meets Lord of the Flies in this YA contemporary fantasy.

The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.

Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.

Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.

My Review:

The Castaways was a very interesting ride. I have never read Lord of the Flies sadly, so not sure about that, but I definitely got the Mean Girls vibe in the beginning. This trio of girls puts the ladies from Mean Girls to shame!

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First off, I am not sure why everyone acted like the name Olive is a pun? I like the name! So, basically, Olive goes to this carnival to meet her friend and runs into the trio where they hunt her down through a corn maze. Somehow Olive gets transported to a mysterious island, where she runs into a group of other kids that have been trapped there for a while.

The whole island situation was pretty cool, and I loved the cast of side characters. Especially Tilly, Bug, and Charlie! Will becomes more than just a friend, and he is pretty awesome!

There were a couple of clichéd lines that I was slightly annoyed with, like how the main guy always has some kind of crooked nose that looks like it has been broken or a look that the main character can not decipher. I can push those things aside because the plot was interesting! There was also a twist that I actually did not see coming! Overall, a pretty good read!

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Release Launch: The Hard Truth About Sunshine

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The Hard Truth About Sunshine AMAZON

New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett has written her most gripping and poignant tale yet. Provocatively heart-breaking, audaciously irreverent and romantically fulfilling, The Hard Truth About Sunshine exposes just how very thin the line is between a full life and an empty existence.

Despite having narrowly escaped death’s clutches, Christopher Barlow is grateful for nothing. His capacity to love has been crushed. He hates everyone and everything, completely unable to see past the gray stain of misery that coats his perception of the world. It’s only after he involuntarily joins a band of depressed misfits who are struggling to overcome their own problems, does Christopher start to re-evaluate his lot in life.

What could they possibly learn from one another? How could they possibly help each other to heal? And the question that Christopher asks himself over and over again… can he learn to love again?

He’s about to find out as he embarks upon a cross country trip with a beautiful woman who is going blind, a boy with terminal cancer, and an abuse victim who can’t decide whether she wants to live or die.

Four people with nothing in common but their destination. They will encounter adventure, thrills, loss and love. And within their travels they will learn the greatest lesson of all.

The hard truth about sunshine…
Warning: This book deals with some tough issues including suicide and sexual abuse.

Amazon | Paperback | B&N | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

 

 

 

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THTAS Teaser #7

 

 

AuthorPhotoSince the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions.

A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone.

Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | BOOKBUB | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE | INSTAGRAM

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March Library Finds

Happy Spring. It already feels like Summer here in Texas. So, we’ve spent a good portion of it at the air-conditioned book field we call the local library.

First, I wanted to share a couple of cute adult level books, because really I think I grab one book for us for every ten I grab my kids (most of that is they have more time to read, with it being a daily requirement at their school…That almost makes me want to go back to school). But I did manage to get two good ones this time.

The first I reserved, it’s comedian Jim Gaffigan’s “Dad is Fat”.

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My husband and I love Jim. He’s relatable and centered in a large family. Few people understand the love and the flipping chaos of that these days: and trust me, those of us living it need some laughs. It was Gaffigan who said large families are like waterbed stores, they used to be everywhere, and now they’re just weird…Anyway, if you love his stand-up, you need this in your life.

The second book I happened upon by accident as I was leaving the library and went back around in line to check it out. “Murder in the House of Rooster Happiness” by David Casarett has a striking cover and it’s about a Thai nurse named Ladarat who has to act like a detective. It’s exotic, it’s thoughtful, it’s a wonderful little escape I recommend for people who love things in the vein of Agatha Christie, and it has such a wonderful viewpoint.

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For my older children, we found “Arthur and the Golden Rope” by Joe Todd-Stanton, and “Futhermore” by Tahereh Mafi. Both high magical and adventurous, and dealing with the bravery it takes a young person to prove themselves. My son was very happy with Nordic based tale and lovely illustrations of “Arthur and the Golden Rope”, and for any child interested in that mythology this is a great pick.

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“Furthermore” was more the speed of my eldest daughter, who was instantly in love with the cover art and opening pages. It’s a nice story for upper-elementary students, that is for sure.

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And, finally, for our littlest reader, we chose a traditionally illustrated Easter board book. It’s longer than most, but the pictures kept my toddler still. Other than Beatrix Potter, we don’t have a lot of stories and art like this. The style is still around, but not as popular as in the past, so we liked the idea of introducing it to babies and toddlers. Jan Brett’s “The Easter Egg” is so lovely and intricate to look at that I could see an adult getting lost in the illustrations of this board book. Great find for the holiday that will be upon us soon.

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Happy book hunting!

Erika

http://www.writeathomemothering.blogspot.com