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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.
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Book Review: The Best Looking One Always Wins by Ryil Adamson

In honor of the Fourth of July here in America, I’m bringing you an exploration of politics and political elections throughout history. It’s as much a “history of America” book as any I’ve read lately, with snark and goofiness thrown in for good measure (and couldn’t we all use more of THAT in American politics lately? – she said, tongue firmly planted in cheek). Enjoy – and then go outside, have a picnic, barbecue, go to a parade, or do something patriotic!

This is a cute look at American politics and elections with a humorous theoretical twist – that the best looking candidate is always the winner. It’s set up as a study that begins because of the author’s concerns about the 2016 presidential election, and from there runs throughout the history of American presidential elections. Continue reading Book Review: The Best Looking One Always Wins by Ryil Adamson

Book Review: Saving Sin City by Mary Cummings

I LOVE non-fiction that reads like fiction. Let’s be honest, truth often IS stranger than anything an author could come up with, largely because authors realize that there’s a limit to what people will believe. Unfortunately for life, and fortunately for readers, reality holds with no such constraints…

Saving Sin City is about the original “Trial of the Century” – the murder of society architect and man-about-town Stanford White by the husband of his previous (underage) mistress, Evelyn Nesbit, one of the most famous actress/models of her time. Continue reading Book Review: Saving Sin City by Mary Cummings

Book Review: Paris By the Book by Liam Callanan

Every book in a bookstore is a fresh beginning. Every book is the next iteration of a very old story. Every bookstore, therefore, is like a safe-deposit box for civilization.

I have been reading other First Readers’ reviews, and am surprised that my reaction to the book was so different than so many others… I found the pacing to work for this novel – it is slower to build than many family dramas, but I felt that contributed to the feeling that Leah’s life was floundering as she and her girls tried to come to terms with their disappeared father. I found Leah frustrating – Robert WAY more so (I have sympathy for him, particularly as his story unfolds, but cannot bring myself to see him as anything other than painfully selfish) – but in a way that felt genuine and believable. I cannot imagine finding myself in her situation (or her life, pre-disappearance, frankly) but felt like she was presented as someone desperately trying to hold everything together despite the world’s insistence that doing so was not, ultimately, a process that was entirely within her control.

Continue reading Book Review: Paris By the Book by Liam Callanan

Guest Post: Q&A with Author Terry John Malik

Today I’m pleased to bring you a Q&A session with author Terry John Malik, whose new novel The Bricklayer of Albany Park asks the age-old question: Does it take a monster to catch a monster?

Q&A with Terry John Malik
Thomas Aquinas Foster is one of the driving forces of the novel, and an incredibly complex character. What inspired you to begin writing about him?
Father-son relationships. While in college, Vincenti asks Foster, “Does it take a monster to catch a monster?” So, who’s the real monster in this story? My main focus had always been Detective Vincenti. Sons of alcoholic or abusive fathers often spend their entire lives searching for the “good father.” Seldom do they find one. Did Vincenti become a cop to catch murderers or to please his surrogate father, Foster?

You’ve also worked as a teacher previous to beginning writing. Did this experience help you at all in writing either Vincenti or Foster?
I’ve always been interested in storytelling. As an English Literature major at Notre Dame I came to appreciate a story well told. Teaching English to teenagers fueled my love of simple characters who moved lives and events in unanticipated directions. As a lawyer I was taught to grab the attention of judges in legal briefs by weaving a good story to open my argument. Continue reading Guest Post: Q&A with Author Terry John Malik

Book Review: 20 Degrees from Normal by Anissa Ferris and Antonio Ferris

What a darling and utterly original book this was! My daughter (5) enjoys the rhythm of poems and rhyming children’s books. I find they are a great way to get her interested in language, and after we read these, she wandered about creating her own silly-fun rhymes about everyday life for days!

I particularly liked the messages in The Experience Chair, Perfect Friend and Parent’s Point of View. My daughter liked the silliness of Fly Invader and Pet Rex. The illustrations are super cute, the poems are funny at a level appreciated by a preschooler AND her mom, and the whole book delivers very positive and important messages while remaining highly engaging, entertaining, and just plain fun. The book was a great addition to our reading routine. Here’s hoping we see more from this talented team!

About the Authors:
This brother and sister pair of teenage poets enthrall readers while presenting a meaningful message within a creative poetic package. They carefully crafted novel poems to entertain all ages, to include the toughest of all audiences: teenagers! Then world renowned artist, Fanny Liem, put on her headphones, turned on country music, and created topnotch illustrations. Fanny Liem lives in Jakarta, Indonesia. Antonio and Anissa Ferris were born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. At the time of first publication, Anissa Ferris is a freshman and Antonio Ferris is a senior in high school.

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