Dresden Files Group Read

I know this is late notice, but I have decided to read all the Dresden Files books in a little over a year. There are currently 15 of them. I will start with Storm Front in November. If anyone wants to join this project, let me know in the comments. This can be an informal event where I post a linky for people’s reviews, and you can read at your own pace – or pick up in the middle of the series if you wish.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

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Summary: In this heart-wrenching book, Starr Carter witnesses the shooting of an life-long friend during a traffic stop. At first, she doesn’t want to talk about it with anyone, as the pain is too deep. But eventually she begins to learn that speaking out is the only way stop such things from happening again. Stuck between two worlds – that of her family and neighbors and that of her mostly white private school – Starr must learn to navigate a life that is all her own.

My Thoughts: Wow. I’m not sure what I can say about this book. I cried pretty much every time I opened the it because it is so tragic and realistic. This is the most powerful book I’ve read in years, and it was aimed at teens. There are some complaints among parents about the violence and the language in this book, but you know what? Teens need to learn what the world is like right now, or nothing is going to change. I think EVERYONE needs to read this book. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars.

For those who are afraid that this book is anti-police, Starr’s uncle is an officer, and he’s one of the good guys.

5 snowflakes

Nonfiction November 2018: My Year in Nonfiction

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Nonfiction November is an annual celebration of Nonfiction. This year it is hosted by Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), Rennie (What’s Nonfiction), and Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness). The first prompt is today, and is hosted by Kim.

Week 1: (Oct. 29 to Nov. 2) – Your Year in Nonfiction (Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness):Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Nonfiction november books

Here’s an overview of the Nonfiction books I’ve read thus far this year. I usually get more read, but I’m a little behind this year!

My Favorite Nonfiction This Year – I’d say the best nonfiction book I read this year was Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann. It was an account of the Osage murders in Oklahoma in the 1920s. Tragic and fascinating. I would suggest it to anyone who reads general nonfiction or recent history.

Particular Topic that I Read More Of – Well, I read two each of these three subjects: Mental Health (American Psychosis and No One Cares About Crazy People), Incarceration (Incarceration Nations and Beyond These Walls – not pictured), and Scientology (Beyond Belief and Going Clear).

Nonfiction Book Recommended the Most – Lol. Sorry, I have no idea whether there’s any one book I suggest more often. I tend to suggest books based on people’s interest subjects.

What Do I Hope to Accomplish by Participating in Nonfiction November – I hope to find more bloggers to interact with

The Cresswell Plot, by Eliza Wass

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Summary: Castella Cresswell lives in a world that is different from those she goes to school with – her father is abusive to her and her 5 siblings, and they are encouraged to believe that he is a prophet of God. When she meets a boy that talks to her as if she’s a “normal” person, Castella becomes confused about what she should believe about herself, God, and her family.

My Thoughts: I’ve seen plenty of mediocre reviews for this book, and I’m not sure why. The writing was engaging, and I cared (and worried) for the characters. There was enough suspense to keep me interested all the way through. And the plot was, on the whole, believable. I believe that families like this are rare, but they exist. And what’s more believable is the way the rest of the town ignored the obvious abuse that was going on in the Cresswell household. Overall, I thought this was a good book, and I would suggest it to people who like teen realism.

four snowflakes

Them, by Ben Sasse

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Summary: Senator Sasse’s book describes how the breakdown of community due to advancing technology, changes in the way we consume news, and general changes in how we interact with each other has led to heated tribalism.

My Thoughts: I totally agree with Sasse about several subjects – especially how we consume news. Instead of reading accurate, important, and informative news, our media outlets and social media feeds are focusing on stupid, distracting tribalism. For instance, why are we focusing on whether Melania Trump slapped Donald’s hand away (or what she’s wearing) instead of focusing on major issues like healthcare and border security? Focusing on things like this is hateful, useless, and silly. Because we are inundated with this information, it is more difficult to find the important news. I also agree with Sasse about addiction to screens, and how it is causing a breakdown in family and friend communication. However, despite agreeing with his main points about technology, I found his chapter on technology too long for the point he was trying to make. He’s not an expert on technology, he doesn’t need to write pages and pages of descriptions of upcoming technologies.

I did not relate to Sasse’s argument on a number of points. For instance, he grew up in a small town and describes the breakdown of that small town culture over his lifetime. Despite growing up in the same decade as Sasse, I can’t relate to this loss at all. I’m sure it’s great that everyone was able to sit around every Friday night at a small town football game and chat about politics amicably. But that’s not the life I grew up in. How does Sasse’s argument about the breakdown of culture apply to great number of people who, like myself, did not grow up in that situation? Or am I not his target audience? I can see Sasse’s point that loneliness and lack of occupation leads to depression-like symptoms, which can then lead to hateful speech and focusing on the negatives of life. However, I have not been lonely or lacked occupation. Though I mainly avoid hateful speech (I like to think), I do lean heavily to the left politically. (In other words, I have my tribe.) So there’s more to tribalism than the loss of small town dynamics, loneliness, and lack of occupation.

I thought Sasse did an excellent job of remaining as unpartisaned as he could, considering his strong right leanings. Of course, he had to include some partisan points because he needed to talk about subjects he was familiar with (which is why he focused so much on the breakdown of small-town life when many of his readers will not be able to relate to that subject). But he did a good job of keeping it down to a minimum and not saying anything strongly controversial for the sake of his more liberal-leaning readers. I really admired his restraint on staying as unpartisaned as he could.

In fact, the only objection I had to what was in the book was one comment in which he used the word “schizophrenic” in an inappropriate sense, using it as an adjective to describe people who move from job to job in an erratic way. Misuse of words like “bipolar” and “schizophrenic” is one of my pet peeves. Mental illness is real, Mr. Sasse, and it’s painful. Misusing these words minimizes the pain people with mental illnesses (like myself) go through. I would say that this is not a partisan thing, but I guess sensitivity to others’ feelings (a.k.a. political correctness) IS actually a partisan thing sometimes.

Anyway, enough of my rant. I want to give the book 3.5 stars because I felt that it made some very good points, but had some rather boring sections (like the overly-long chapter on technology). I’d like to give him an extra half of a star for remaining as unpartisaned as possible, however, so I’m settling on 4 stars.

four snowflakes

Dewey’s Readathon October 2018

And it’s that time of year again! I’m participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon starting 7am Minneapolis time. My goal is 12 hours of reading, though I usually pull off closer to 8.

Hour 0: I’m sitting here in front of my happy lamp, ready to start.

Overall Progress

Them, by Ben Sasse: 54% – complete

The Passage, by Justin Cronin: 29.5hr – 32.5hr

The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox: 42% – 52%

The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks: 60% – 80%