Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review: The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands by Margaret Regan

Title: The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands
Author: Margaret Regan
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publish Date: February 1, 2010
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "For the last decade, Margaret Regan has reported on the escalating chaos along the Arizona-Mexico border, ground zero for immigration since 2000. Undocumented migrants cross into Arizona in overwhelming numbers, a state whose anti-immigrant laws are the most stringent in the nation. And Arizona has the highest number of migrant deaths. Fourteen-year-old Josseline, a young girl from El Salvador who was left to die alone on the migrant trail, was just one of thousands to perish in its deserts and mountains.

With a sweeping perspective and vivid on-the-ground reportage, Regan tells the stories of the people caught up in this international tragedy. Traveling back and forth across the border, she visits migrants stranded in Mexican shelters and rides shotgun with Border Patrol agents in Arizona, hiking with them for hours in the scorching desert; she camps out in the thorny wilderness with No More Deaths activists and meets with angry ranchers and vigilantes. Using Arizona as a microcosm, Regan explores a host of urgent issues: the border militarization that threatens the rights of U.S. citizens, the environmental damage wrought by the border wall, the desperation that compels migrants to come north, and the human tragedy of the unidentified dead in Arizona’s morgues."

My Two Cents:

"The Death of Josseline" was written several years ago but in our current political climate, this remains an incredibly important read. Immigration, both legal and illegal, has become an increasingly popular topic to rail over. There are many different sides and thoughts to consider. This book tries to capture many of these sides.

This heart-wrenching books opens with the death of a young teenager who is traveling through the harsh deserts of Northern Mexico with her little brother in order to reunite with their mother who lives in California. The author explores how she got to where she was and where she was going. The author also shows things from a different angle. Not only does she seek to show the migrants' point of view but also from the Border Patrol angle.

I know that immigration is one of the topics that I have been mulling over and I feel like this book helped me to understand things a little bit better. This is a hugely complicated issue. I know how I would handle it but as this book shows: there are a ton of different opinions and points of view that are incredibly difficult to reconcile!

This book is relatively short but it packs a punch!


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Giveaway Winner: The City Baker's Guide to Country Living

Congrats to the winner of "The City Baker's Guide to Country Living:"
Danielle H.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Giveaway at Novel Expressions!

Novel Expressions is a brand new online book promotion and blog tour company that will be opening in January. It's run by two book bloggers with tons of experience so you know that your book is going to be treated right!

To get people excited for this new venture, they are giving away a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Just head to their Facebook page for instructions!

Friday, November 17, 2017

zulily and Penguin Random House Help Hurricane Victims!

zulily and Penguin Random House Host Interactive Book Fair to Benefit Communities Impacted by Recent Hurricanes 

It's easy to get wrapped up in the season. You've got a thousand gifts to buy and a tight timeline to do it in. zulily and Penguin Random House are making it easy to buy all the kids books you need while doing good for the victims of the recent hurricanes. Check out more information here!

I know I've already picked out several books for my daughters. While we try really hard not to spoil them, I always love getting them gifts that help support causes we care about!

Shop the sale here! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review: The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind

Title: The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
Authors: Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Portfolio Trade
Publish Date: 2004
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "Meticulously researched and character driven, Smartest Guys in the Room takes the reader deep into Enron's past—and behind the closed doors of private meetings. Drawing on a wide range of unique sources, the book follows Enron's rise from obscurity to the top of the business world to its disastrous demise. It reveals as never before major characters such as Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, and Andy Fastow, as well as lesser known players like Cliff Baxter and Rebecca Mark. Smartest Guys in the Room is a story of greed, arrogance, and deceit—a microcosm of all that is wrong with American business today. Above all, it's a fascinating human drama that will prove to be the authoritative account of the Enron scandal."

My Two Cents:

"The Smartest Guys in the Room" is the story of Enron, which was a dynamo company in the late 80s and early 90s known for blowing expectations out of the water at every turn. Alas, what seems too good to be true often is as was the case with Enron. Enron is now known as a cautionary tale for many businesses. This book almost feels Shakespeare-like with a huge cast of characters that would be at home in any soap opera.

I was pretty young when the Enron ordeal actually happened so I didn't really understand the implications at the time. I went for my Master's in business and time after time, Enron seemed to come up as a case study of exactly what not to do. I was drawn to this book by getting a full picture of how shady business and finance practices were able to infect a company that once had so much promise. What I had kind of lost by only being old enough to sort of remember the scandal is that at one time, Enron was a top, well-respected business. The hindsight always does seem to overshadow that but appreciating just how far Enron fell makes the story all that much more stunning.

This book came out relatively soon after the scandal and before all of the punishments had been handed out. Drawing on extensive interviews and reporting that was done both before, during, and after the scandal, this book gives a rich picture of exactly what went wrong and how everything fell apart. The writing is very thorough but still entertaining. The author does a great job of bringing everything to light.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review: Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan's Food Culture by Matt Goulding

Title: Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan's Food Culture
Author: Matt Goulding
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Harper Wave/ Anthony Bourdain
Publish Date: October 27, 2016
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "An innovative new take on the travel guide, Rice, Noodle, Fish decodes Japan's extraordinary food culture through a mix of in-depth narrative and insider advice, along with 195 color photographs. In this 5000-mile journey through the noodle shops, tempura temples, and teahouses of Japan, Matt Goulding, co-creator of the enormously popular Eat This, Not That! book series, navigates the intersection between food, history, and culture, creating one of the most ambitious and complete books ever written about Japanese culinary culture from the Western perspective.

Written in the same evocative voice that drives the award-winning magazine Roads & Kingdoms, Rice, Noodle, Fish explores Japan's most intriguing culinary disciplines in seven key regions, from the kaiseki tradition of Kyoto and the sushi masters of Tokyo to the street food of Osaka and the ramen culture of Fukuoka. You won't find hotel recommendations or bus schedules; you will find a brilliant narrative that interweaves immersive food journalism with intimate portraits of the cities and the people who shape Japan's food culture.

This is not your typical guidebook. Rice, Noodle, Fish is a rare blend of inspiration and information, perfect for the intrepid and armchair traveler alike. Combining literary storytelling, indispensable insider information, and world-class design and photography, the end result is the first ever guidebook for the new age of culinary tourism."

My Two Cents:

"Rice, Noodle, Fish" is a travelogue through the delicious and fascinating food culture of Japan. When I travel, one of my favorite things to do is to explore the new place through their food. This is a gorgeous book that takes us to many different parts of Japan to show us how the Japanese prepare and eat their food. One word of warning: do not read this book while you are hungry. If you do and you don't have quick access to authentic Japanese food, you're probably going to eat the book and that's really frowned upon! So count yourself warned...

This is not only a book about food but a book about the culture around the food. In many different cultures, food brings people together. It's no different in Japan. This book was published under Anthony Bourdain's publishing imprint and that's no surprise: this book feels like a readable version of "Parts Unknown," a show I absolutely love! The author talks not only about the food but about the people who make the food and the people that eat the food. This whole book is a treat for the senses and could only be made better if it actually came with the food that the book talks about.

I have never been to Japan before but it is definitely on my list of places to visit someday. I really, really want to visit now after reading this book!


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: Connor's Gambit by Z. Gottlieb

Title: Connor's Gambit
Author: Z. Gottlieb
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: January 22, 2017
Source: Author

What's the Story?:

From "Brad Johnson is the lone witness to a UFO sighting. The sighting, while odd in itself, is not the only incident that occurs that evening. The incident is followed up with the alien targeting him and his family. The firefight with the alien destroys everything Brad thought he knew about his family and pulls him into an intergalactic battle between two space faring aliens. Brad quickly finds himself leaving Earth struggling to understand his role with the aliens on both sides of the conflict. One group threatens Earth's security, the other group wants something from him. All Brad wants to do is to survive and return home to his family, but not until he embarks on the greatest adventure of his life."

My Two Cents:

"Connor's Gambit" is a sci fi story about a fairly ordinary man going on a very extraordinary adventure. Imagine this - you are a man married with a wife and a kid. You are close to your inlaws and although life is not particularly exciting, it is good. One day you find out that your wife, brother in law, and sister in law may be hiding a deep secret about where they came from and what they were put on earth to do. As Brad finds out, they're aliens on a top secret mission and they will take him on the best adventure of his life.

This book reminded me a lot of The Twilight Zone (still one of my very favorite series) where things at first seem very normal until everything gets turned on its head. Some of the best stories involve ordinary people put in interesting and unique situations. Everyman Brad finding himself suddenly on a super high tech spaceship with a bunch of aliens certainly counts as one of those scenes. Not only does Brad have to contend with his personal life (why would his beloved wife lie to him for so long? what does this mean for his young son? can he ever forgive his wife or his brother in law?)

The characters were great. I loved seeing how Brad confronts the difficulties that he is now facing as he tries to navigate his new lives with aliens. I really liked learning about what the aliens were doing on earth and why they felt that they needed to hide their true intentions from Brad. The story line unfolds nicely as the author puts everything together.

While the writing of the story line was good and will appeal to many, the way that the characters speak was slightly off. Even Brad, a native English speaker, spoke in a very stilted way. I could understand sort of why the aliens' speaking would be a little less natural although perhaps not with the way that the aliens essentially download information to include language in their heads (cool concept by the way!). The stilted language was a little distracting but overall, the story was quite good!

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