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Girl Taking Over: A Lois Lane Story | Sarah Kuhn | Book Review

Girl Taking Over is a newly released comic by DC Comics and the focus is all about a young Lois Lane. Lois knows exactly what her future is going to hold. First thing, she is going to rock her summer internship which will help her land her ultimate goal: being a writer for the Daily Planet. This becomes alot harder when she arrives in the big city and finds out that her dream internship is not exactly what she pictured it to be. Here are some bullet points regarding what I loved:

  • I really liked the way that the character of Lois was written. There was a great balance of both character and narrative development.
  • I loved the more modern approach and the fact that this was fully Lois’ story. She is not a side character for the hero. She is the heroine.
  • Diversity has such an important role in this story and I loved it. It will allow younger and older readers to see themselves in these characters.
  • The illustrations are stunning! They are such a good representation of what is going on each page. They are also so full of energy.
  • There is a hint of romance between Lois and her co-worker Clark which I loved because I’ve always enjoyed their story.

From what I have seen Girl Taking Over is supposed to be a one story book. I can’t help but be hopeful that this will be changed. I really feel there is still so much that could be done with the characters. This was Lois’ first big adventure. There has to be more adventure out there for her somewhere!

Rating: 4 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Paradise Falls: The True Story Of An Environmental Catastrophe | Keith O’Brien | Book Review

The first time I attended graduated school, I had to take an environmental studies course. Over thirteen years later, I still think about that course and the things we discussed. It was both educational and heartbreaking. This is why when I saw Paradise Falls: The True Story Of An Environmental Catastrophe on Netgalley, I knew I had to read it.

Paradise Falls is centered around a group of mothers who discovered that the company Hooker Chemicals had been dumping toxic waste in to the local Love Canal. The Love Canal was within an neighbor hood on the east side of Niagara Falls. It had an elementary school, a playground, and rows and rows of affordable houses. Everything was a normal as it could be for the area until the spring of 1977 when vile odors began to seep in. It didn’t take long for Lois Gibbs, Luella Kenny, and several other mothers to identify the sickly sweet scent: chemicals.

In a world where big companies were often believed over anyone else, these women stood their ground and demanded answers regarding the chemicals that were destroying their lives. The chemicals weren’t destroying their lives in just one way but impacted their health, economical status, and family/community relationships. Children were becoming very sick from these toxins and their mothers were demanding that someone take responsibility and help their children.

The way author Keith O’Brien wrote about this tragedy had me on the edge of my seat. It is a powerful nonfiction book that is narrated by the stories of the women and other residents of the Love Canal. He also produced the reactions from Hooker Chemicals and politicians, and detailed their action and inaction regarding this issue. Most of the time sadly, it was more about their lack of action. No one was taking this situation seriously.

The sad thing is that this is still something that is happening today. Companies are still dumping their chemicals inappropriately even with the regulations in place. Their end goal is deemed as more important than the lives of the people who they are impacting. More people have tried to fight against it but ultimately they have hit a dead end or a wall in many ways. When politicians choose to support the companies over the people sadly things like this will continue to occur.

Books like Paradise Falls are so important because they give a voice to the situation. I live in Upstate New York, know where Niagara Falls is, and honestly had never really heard about the chemical dumping in to the Love Canal until I read this. That just goes to show you how hard companies work to cover things like this up and move past them like they had never happened. We need women like these mothers who refused to be silenced and researchers like Keith O’Brien who are able to provide a full account of what is going on. It just breaks my heart to think that this is still occurring in places like Flint Michigan. Our society could be doing so much better.

Rating: 4 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Good Girls Don’t | Mara Wilson | Book Review

I grew up watching Mara Wilson. From Mrs. Doubtfire, to Miracle On 34th Street, to Matilda, I enjoyed all the films she was in a child. More recently as an adult I have enjoyed following her career as a writer. This is why when I saw Good Girls Don’t on Netgalley, I immediately wanted to read it.

These days Mara Wilson has more of a focus on writer and reflecting than on acting. Inside of this short memoir, she reflected on what it was like to grow up as a child actor in Hollywood while also wanting to have a normal life. She discussed her desire to be perfect and feeling like she would never reach those expectations. It is really sad to think how constantly being in the public eye can exacerbate these feelings.

Overall, I found Good Girl’s Don’t to be witty and engaging but also very short. I was surprised how quickly it ended and felt like there could have been more to it. I wanted to read more of Mara Wilson’s experiences and how they impacted her interpretation of a “good girl”. Yet, I can understand why she may have wanted to keep it short. This is just a snapshot of her life but it is enough to remind people that there is someone behind the child actress we all claim to know and love. The bottom line is that we will only ever know as much as she wants us to know and honestly that is the way it should be. She doesn’t owe us anything.

Rating: 3 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

RMS Titanic: The True Story | Magazine Review

If you’ve been following for a while, you should know that the Titanic is one of my favorite topics. Every year around the anniversary of the sinking I try to find a new book to read and the do a post honoring this tragic event. Unfortunately, this year has been one of the busier ones so I was unable to read an actual book. However, I did find a magazine titled RMS Titanic: The True Story and I couldn’t resist picking it up.

This magazine is presented by RMS Titanic Inc. which is the organization who is responsible for helping preserve the memory of the Titanic. Since 1987 this organization had led eight research expeditions to the wreckage of the Titanic. It is also responsible for the exhibitions in Orlando and Las Vegas. You can also tour the exhibitions virtually on the organizations website for a small fee.

There are five sections within the magazine. These are the Titanic Era, the voyage, the tragedy, the discovery, and Titanic’s legacy. Each section is filled with beautiful photos of the ship which ironically was believed to be unsinkable. I think my favorite section was the Titanic Era because it brought focus to what caused the Titanic to be built in the first place. It painted a picture of what was going on socially, economically, and politically around the time The White Star line was commissioned to build this one of a kind ocean liner.

Overall I enjoyed reading RMS Titanic: The True Story. It was a nice overview of the tragedy that has captivated the world for 111 years. Some of the information I already knew while other information was presented to me in a new way. There are also pictures of recovered artifacts from the wreckage which I always enjoy seeing. It’s amazing how some of these items have remained intact while sitting on the ocean floor. Especially something like a leather suitcase which cannot be affected by the marine life which now inhabit the ships wreckage. Sadly, there are pieces of the wreckage which are disappearing due to time and location but, the legacy of the Titanic will continue to live on.

Rating: 4 Stars

Come Home Safe | Brian Buckmire | Book Review

Come Home Safe is a book that is much needed within our current society. It is real and heartbreaking but sadly right on track with what is going on in our country. As a white female in our society, I have never had to experience the “come home safe” talk with my parents. At least not in the way that those of a different race have and I recognize my privilege in this.

Since they were little Olive and Reed have both had to understand the guidelines that would get them home without incident especially when involving the police. Reed even has a small index card that he carries with him at all times that was given to him by his father, a Black district attorney in NYC. That is the reality for them to be able to come home and not become another statistic. Or as is repeatedly brought up, another hash tag.

Both scenarios which Reed and Olive fight themselves in had me on the edge of my seat and my blood boiling. The author Brian Buckmire is a legal analyst and he does a fantastic job of bringing you into their world and the fights which they experience on a daily basis. This really is a “stop and make you think” type of book that is packed with important conversation pieces. The characters feel real as do the scenarios which they find themselves in.

There are no real apologies by the police when it is discovered that there was a mistake made by these accusations. They just go about their day not realizing the full impact which they have had on these children. Meanwhile Olive and Reed are the ones who have to process what happened to them and figure how to either put their anger into a more productive manner or simply move forward. Neither solution is as easy as it seems. I really enjoyed how the reader was brought into their thought processes and could feel their emotions.

I highly recommend Come Home Safe to all readers. It is a fast paced quick read but it really does hold a punch. So many thought provoking conversations can come from this book and honestly I hope that they do. It is important for all of us to gain an understanding of what others may be going through on a daily basis and perhaps work together to find a way to make it better. This book does not hold all the answers per say but, it does hold several lessons.

Rating: 5 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

A Country You Can Leave | Asale Angel-Ajani | Book Review

A Country You Can Leave caught my eye at my local library. I didn’t really know very much about it outside of what I read for the synopsis. This story seemed like it would be mainly about a teenage girls attempt to navigate her life while also trying to navigate relationship with her mother. I was intrigued because of the fact that the main character Lara is the daughter of a first generation Russian immigrant whose mother seemed to have quite an attachment to her homeland.

Lara and her mother Yevgenia are constantly on the move due to her mother’s inability to save money or maintain a job. More recently they stumbled upon a trailer park known as the Oasis Mobile Estates and become its newest occupants. The residents of this community are all down on their luck in one form or another but have big dreams of escaping their hardships. For the most part Lara quickly found her place using humor to deflect but, her mother hasn’t exactly created a strong fan base.

Yevgenia did not know how to be a mother to Lara. This became very evident from the very beginning. It was also evident that she was stuck in her own little world of what she perceived of being the correct way to live. This included the type of books to read and the kind of relationships to have without ever becoming too fully committed. All in all, she was a very frustrating character for me as she kept entering and exiting her daughters life in the most inconvenient of times.

The first half of this story felt very repetitive. It was honestly “just another day at the trailer park” type of vibe. The characters that Lara interacted with were each of a different nature and each impacted her view on her life. These characters gave her the opportunity to picture things differently for herself outside of her mother. Imaging a different life for herself help move the story forward in a way that created new moments and a tension that needed to be resolved by the end.

With a main character who was mixed (Russian and Black) allowed A Country You Can Leave touch on some more sensitive topics such a the feeling of belonging and the conflict which one may experience by being mixed. The fact that Lara never actually knew her father also played a role in her view of life and how she interacted with others. These were the pieces that I enjoyed and that kept me reading this story. Unfortunately, it was not enough for me to proclaim that I loved this story. The writing was strong but, overall I was left with alot of mixed emotions that were never fully resolved as the story ended.

Rating: 3 Stars

Daughters of Oduma | Moses Ose Utomi | Book Review

Daughters of Oduma is a new coming of age young adult story. It is filled with well depicted characters and unique world building that kept me turning pages. The premise involves a found family of girls known as the Mud Family as they prepare for the South God Bow tournament. When their top girl gets hurt during the preliminary rounds of the competition, it is up to one of the older girls to win it all.

This oldest girl is Dirt, and she is almost seventeen years old. This means she is nearly too old to be competition in the first place. When her birthday arrives, it will be her responsibility to leave her sisters, and find her destiny from the Gods. Until then, it becomes her responsibility to defend her family unit, and train as hard as she can to become the winner of the South God Bow tournament.

Dirt was never meant to be the leader but now she has no choice. I enjoyed watching her figure out her new role within the community. Each of her sisters have their own personalities and desires and she tries to be supportive of all of them. She is a little judgmental though as she is used to things being a certain way in her community. The bonds that the sisters have play an important role in the foundation of the community and where things will go moving forward.

The world building in this story is just so good. I loved how the cultures were introduced and mixed together. It was such an interesting world with strong Black women being at the forefront. The idea of being “fat” means to be strong within the community and is a valued trait within the society. I enjoyed seeing the various points of view of each of the sisters, not just Dirt. Each of them were on their own journey which would ultimately make the community stronger.

Daughters of Oduma really felt like an introduction to the world of the South God Bow tournament and the communities who compete within it. There is a continuous thread of individuality and believing in yourself regardless of what you come up against. This is such a good theme especially in present day society where there is still a need for such a representation. I feel like there is so much potential for more stories where the sisters of Mud are able to grow and find their own pathways in society. Hopefully, this becomes a reality!

Rating: 4 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

All Roads Lead To You | Jackie Ashenden | Book Review

All Roads Lead To You is the second book in the Small Town Dreams series by Jackie Ashenden. This one brings us back to Brightwater Valley, New Zealand where the community is still working on the towns revitalization. Bethany Grant is a jewelry designer who has moved to the area hoping for a fresh start. In the short time she has been there, she and her best friends have created a plan to open their own gallery. Everyone she encounters has been so welcoming to her. Well everyone except for Finn Kelly.

For some reason Beth and Finn get under each others skin with each interaction they have. There is an obvious attraction between them but, neither one seems willing to act on it. Beth is ready to love again but doesn’t want to rush into anything. Meanwhile, Finn has sworn he would never get involved with anyone else since his wife passed five years ago from cancer. The problem is that two of their friends are now engaged and they have to be in each others pathway even more.

These two characters have such a slow burn together. It starts out like a powder keg once they finally act on their feelings but, there are consequences for their actions. These consequences bring them closer together and allow them to see each other in a different light. Both of these characters have been hurt in the past and they both have walls that need to come down in order for them to connect. I loved the small town romance feel of this story and the banter that flows between them. Especially when Finn tries to make decisions for Beth and she puts him back in his place.

All Roads Lead To You brings you back to beautiful small town where everyone knows something about everyone else. You don’t necessarily have to read the first book in the series (Find Your Way Home) but, it will help you understand the dynamics between the characters. For me it was so nice to return to a familiar location with familiar characters who were growing and changing. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series (Right Where We Belong) which will feature two characters who have been getting under each others skin from their first meeting.

Rating: 4 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance | Francesca T Royster | Book Review

Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance is a beautiful reflection of one women’s journey as a Black queer mother in modern society. In many ways author Francesca Royster is writing a love letter to her past, her present, and her future. It is a moving tribute of the concept of choosing family, and how the choices you make for your chosen family impact all other aspects of your life. Choosing family is not a one time act but something that occurs over and over again as an individual experiences any physical, emotional, or spiritual change in their life.

This memoir reflects on the past and how it can help form your future. The author describes the lessons which she has learned from the strong Black women in her life as well as those who have intellectually influenced her. She explains how she uses these lessons from her past to shape her perception of her present and future. Specifically in regards to how she is trying to create a life different than the one she grew up with.

The main focus of her story is about her interracial marriage and adopted daughter. There are alot of intricacies involved with both of these topics. Everything is very intertwined and it was interesting to read about. Through the choices that she has made Francesca T. Royster has experienced multiple levels of joy and sadness. Many of her more joyful moments come from her chosen family but, there is also sadness as this family also has to grow and change.

By having a same sex marriage and making the decision to adopt, her personal and professional life have forever become connected. Each comes with its own struggles but being bond together illuminates them so that they are no longer hidden. It forces people to come to terms with it. It forced the author to choose her path of resistance and who would be in her chosen family. Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance is an insightful and reflective piece of work. It seamlessly provides the audience a new perspective on the value of choosing family.

Rating: 4 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Top Ten Tuesday: 2023 Debut Books I’m Excited About

Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Todays topic is all about the 2023 debut books I’m excited about!

  1. The Deep Sky – Yume Kitasei
  2. I’d Rather Burn Than Bloom – Shannon C.F. Rogers
  3. Something More – Jackie Khalilieh
  4. The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher – E.M. Anderson
  5. Always the Almost – Edward Underhill
  6. There Goes the Neighborhood – Jade Adia
  7. Text Appeal – Amber Roberts
  8. Unexpecting – Jen Bailey
  9. Beneath The Wild Silk Sky – Emily Inouye Huey
  10. Playing For Keeps – Tristen Crone

What 2023 debut books are you looking forward to?

Chasing the Four Winds

Reading, Writing, Nerding, and Honoring the Oxford Comma Since 1987.

A. A. MacConnell

When you write drabbles, you relieve the pressure of the epic novel expanding in your head.

the calico books

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