Book Review #84: “Paper Girls Volume 1”

I first heard about this book from Sara’s review on her blog, The Bibliophagist!

I found my copy at 2nd and Charles in Newport News this summer.

One of the beautiful things about graphic novels is you get a great story, plus beautiful illustrations. The writing of Brian Vaughan and illustrating by Cliff Chiang did not disappoint!

This was a quicker read than I expected. The first night, I got through about a quarter of the book. The next time I picked it up, I got through another 10-15 pages. Last night, when I finished it at the chiropractor’s office, I’d flown through the rest of it in less than 30 minutes. All told, I think it was roughly an hour to 90 minutes for me. The illustrations in particular were incredible, and I wanted to keep turning the pages!

I was left with wanting to find Volume 2 immediately. However, I’m going be a responsible adult here, and wait a bit before purchasing the next one.

I loved the characters, and the adventure they are thrust into within minutes of the book’s opening. I also appreciated the setting – 1988 – and the “vintage” vibes and multiple references. I felt like I was watching everything unfold in the background.

Have you read any graphic novels?


5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #194: My Favorite Things of 2019

Image Credit: Quote Master

So, before starting the lists of favorites, here’s my tally for books and Book Reviews for 2019:

Ratings Tally

  • 5 stars: 4
  • 4 1/2 stars: 5
  • 4 stars: 5
  • 3 1/2 stars: 2
  • 3 stars: 0
  • 2 1/2 stars: 0
  • 2 stars: 0
  • 1 1/2 stars: 0
  • 1 star: 0

ARC Reviews – Zero this year. Here’s to more in 2020.


Now, on to my favorites!

Favorite Books

Favorite Movies

  • Avengers: Endgame
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • A Girl Like Her
  • Blinded by the Light
  • Captain Marvel
  • Dolemite Is My Name
  • Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
  • Frozen II
  • Long Shot
  • Midway
  • Shazam!
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home
  • The Devil We Know
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Favorite TV Shows

  • The Act (Hulu)
  • Cold Case (Netflix)
  • Emergence (Hulu)
  • Flint Town (Netflix)
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – Seasons 2 – 6 (Hulu)
  • Mindhunter (Netflix)
  • Stranger Things – Seasons 1, 2, and 3 (Netflix)
  • Sesame Street 50th Anniversary Special (PBS)
  • The Orville – Seasons 1 and 2 (Hulu)
  • The Passage – Season 1 (Hulu)

Favorite Podcasts

  • Aftermath
  • American Girls
  • Bag Man
  • Cold
  • Dateline NBC
  • Forensic Files
  • Not Guilty
  • The City
  • The Dream
  • The Thing About Pam
  • Today in True Crime
  • Visitations

Well, that wraps up my favorite things for 2019!

What about you? What were some of your favorite things of the year?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #193: NaNoWriMo 2019 Recap

Image Credit: The NaNoWriMo Blog

It’s high time for me to announce my NaNoWriMo 2019 results!


This was a brand-new novel. I came up with the idea while listening to the StoryCorps podcast from NPR this summer.

The tentative title is “The Transformation House.”


Day 1: 30 = 30 total

Day 2: 0 = 30 total

Day 3: 2,044 = 2,074 total

Day 4: 0 = 2,074 total

Day 5: 505 + 810 + 320 = 3,709 total

Day 6: 8 + 569 = 4,286 total

Day 7: 944 = 5,230 total

Day 8: 282 = 5,512 total

Day 9: 541 + 333 = 6,386 total

Day 10: 645 = 7,031 total

Day 11: 1,054 = 8,805 total

Day 12: 186 + 406 = 8,677 total

Day 13: 672 = 9,349 total

Day 14: 698 = 10,047 total

Day 15: 274 + 988 = 11,309 total

Day 16: 226 + 703 + 773 = 13,011 total

Day 17: 0 = 13,011 total

Day 18: 107 + 669 + 375 = 14,162 total

Day 19: 1,063 = 15,225 total

Day 20: 166 + 1,056 = 16,447 total

Day 21: 566 = 17,013 total

Day 22: 0 – 17,013 total

Day 23: 409 = 17,422 total

Day 24: 723 = 17,485 total

Day 25: 0 = 17,485 total

Day 26: 398 = 18,543 total

Day 27: 0 = 18,543 total

Day 28: 667 + 923 = 20,133 total

Day 29: 563 + 776 = 21,472 total

Day 30: 675 + 657 + 212 + 596 + 1,489 = 25,101 total


Final Thoughts

I was so happy with what I accomplished in roughly 30 days. This was, by far, my best NaNoWriMo ever.

I went back and looked. My first NaNo was in 2012, and I wrote a little over 10,000 words that November. I’m pleased as punch that I surpassed 25,000 words!

For now, I’ve set this one aside. I’ve started to review the first draft of “Camp,” the novel I started in 2012.

I’m hoping to pick this one back up in either April or July during one of the Camp NaNo sessions!


Have you done NaNoWriMo in November before?

Have you done Camp NaNoWriMo before?

Let me know what you think!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #83: “The Stolen Sapphire: A Samantha Mystery”

I received this book through a fun gift exchange on Facebook. I’m part of several American Girl groups, and one of them started an Elfster gift exchange last year for Christmas. The group has done it three times since then. It’s been very popular!

I don’t remember ever reading this particular mystery, so I was thrilled to get it!

The book is a solid 171 pages, which is great for American Girl’s target audience of 8 years old and up. Being a mystery, it does have some frightening moments, but it’s also an easy ready, with shorter chapters and a good story.

Set two years after Samantha’s original books, she and Nellie set sail on the RMS Queen Caroline, headed for Europe. Now eleven years old, they want to have fun on the voyage, but are accompanied by a French tutor to help them keep up with their schoolwork while they miss school for two weeks. Along the way, they meet quite a cast of characters. When the legendary blue sapphire disappears, everyone on the ship is a suspect! And Nellie appears to be hiding something as well.

For years, Samantha’s character has been criticized as snobby, stuck-up, and privileged. Her original books are set in 1904, and it’s no secret that her family is wealthy and of high society. However, Samantha is kind, and reaches out to Nellie and her sisters, especially when they realize they have all been orphans due to their parents’ early demises.

This mystery was exciting. The first night reading it, I only made it through the first two chapters before going to sleep. However, the next night, the story was so engaging, I couldn’t put it down. Before I knew it, I had finished the book. I wanted to figure out who the thief was! For a book aimed at young girls, I loved how it was really hard to guess the real culprit. It was like I was playing detective with Samantha and Nellie, navigating the ins and outs of the ship, which was more modest than other ocean liners of the early 1900s.

I was pleased with this book. It has the right amount of character development, conflict, suspense, and mystery. I want to read the other Samantha mysteries now, and go back to re-read her original books, too.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #91: “Cause I Love(r) Talking About Books – Taylor Swift’s Lover Book Tag”

Image Credit: Red Gal Musings

Here’s the link to Elizabeth’s post: Cause I Love(r) Talking About Books / Taylor Swift’s Lover Book Tag


alrighty, now to post the official rules for the tag. 

1. Link back to the original creator of the book tag

2. Thank the person that tagged you and link to their post. (who tagged me??? IDK! but i do know i saw Marie did this tag and that’s probably where i tagged myself)

3. TAG AS MANY SWIFTIES AS YOU WANT! (Or non-Swifties, maybe inspire them to listen to our Queen)


1. I FORGOT THAT YOU EXISTED: A BOOK THAT YOU WANT TO FORGET YOU EVER READ

Allegiant, Veronica Roth.

2. CRUEL SUMMER: A BOOK YOU TURN TO WHEN THINGS GETS ROUGH

Any of Nicholas Sparks’ earlier works.

3. LOVER : YOUR BOOK OTP

Katniss and Peeta.

4. THE MAN: YOUR FAVE KICK-ASS FEMALE PROTAGONIST

Tie between Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen.

5. THE ARCHER: A BOOK WITH GOOD MENTAL HEALTH REPRESENTATION

Mosquitoland, David Arnold. This is easily one of my favorite books of 2019.

6. I THINK HE KNOWS: YOUR FAVE FICTIONAL CRUSH

Michael Moscovitz.

7. MISS AMERICANA & THE HEARTBREAK PRINCE – FAVE ANGSTY ROMANCE

The Fault in Our Stars.

8. PAPER RINGS – BOOK WITH AN UGLY COVER THAT YOU ABSOLUTELY ADORED

Their Eyes Were Watching God. I was assigned to read it during my senior year of high school.

9. CORNELIA STREET – A BOOK OR SERIES YOU NEVER WANT(ED) TO END

Tie between Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

10. DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS – A BOOK OR SERIES THAT DESERVED A BETTER ENDING

The Divergent trilogy.

11. LONDON BOY – YOUR FAVE BRITISH MALE PROTAGONIST

Karrion from Fallible Justice. I reviewed the book as an ARC, so I need to get my hands on a real copy at some point.

12. SOON YOU’LL GET BETTER – A BOOK THAT YOUR HEART WILL NEVER RECOVER FROM

The War That Saved My Life.

13. FALSE GOD – A CHARACTER YOU WOULD LEAP INTO THE BURNING PITS OF HELL TO SAVE

Alaska Young.

14. YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN – A BOOK WITH A POWERFUL MESSAGE

The Battle of Jericho.

15. AFTERGLOW – A BOOK YOU WANT TO GIVE A SECOND CHANCE

I eventually want to re-read Go Set A Watchman again.

16. ME! – BEST CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

Margo Roth Spiegelman.

17. IT’S NICE TO HAVE A FRIEND – FAVE FRIENDS-TO-LOVERS STORY

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

18. DAYLIGHT – IF YOU COULD ONLY READ ONE BOOK OR SERIES AGAIN AND AGAIN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Harry Potter.


Tag – You’re It!

I’m tagging Kristian from Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #101: Sesame Street 50th Anniversary Special

The minute the 50th Anniversary Special was announced, I marked my calendar for November.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the full special posted on the PBS website for a whole week, from November 17th through the 24th. I watched it twice! And I experienced so many emotions!

I really enjoyed the story. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a great host! And so many former cast members were a part of it. The songs were my favorite part, especially the performance of “Sing” at the end.

I’m planning to get it on DVD when it is released.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #82: “Janesville: An American Story”

This was one of the books I picked up through a generous Barnes and Noble gift card from my parents. I’ve always been interested in and fascinated by non-fiction and human-interest stories. Amy Goldstein was one writer I had not heard of that afternoon in August, but something called to me.

As I started reading, I felt an instant connection because of the setting – Wisconsin. Just the cover alone made me think of the snow-covered hills and woods at my cousin Ryan’s house in Hortonville when we visited in the late 1990s.

But this story is more than that. It’s about multiple families and their take on one thing, one monumental event – The GM plant closing in 2008. What follows is the next five years of how this town of industry claws its way back from the brink, and how so many people were affected by what is now known as the Great Recession.

I liked how Goldstein divided the book by year. It doesn’t always work out well this way, but the way she structured it was solid. Keeping up with the cast of characters was a bit challenging, but it was nice to have a list of them at the beginning, before you even start reading.

One of the biggest takeaways of this book is how large the ripple effect is. It not only affects the workers, it affects the unions, their marriages, their relationships, their families, their political focuses, and more. And still, by the end of the book, Janesville has reached 2013. Have things gotten better? It’s hard to say. Goldstein’s on-the-ground reporting, going deep into Janesville and its people, is amazing research. I could tell she really got to know the people in the book, as well as a sense of the whole community.

Goldstein also attempts to balance the light and dark, so to speak. She looks at the GM workers and those struggling with layoffs and disappearing industry. A few pages later, she ties in Mary, the well-to-do head of the local bank, who is fundraising and trying her best to help others, while she is at the top of the heap in terms of wealth. Goldstein also shines a light on Paul Ryan, other political candidates, and Governor Scott Walker.

As complex as this book is, I enjoyed it. I’m glad I read it. I felt a sense of understanding, but not empathy. In 2008, as the Great Recession was beginning, I was starting my sophomore year of college. I know I come from a family of privilege. My parents only had to worry a handful of times when the government shut down and my dad was furloughed.

That was certainly stressful, but not nearly as stressful, heartbreaking, and frustrating as watching your livelihood simply vanish. And trying to keep your house. Keeping your marriage and family together. Watching your teenage kids work one, two, three jobs to help out. Sometimes losing loved ones entirely, whether it was health issues brought on by stress, or not finding a way out other than wanting to end your life.

Website: amygoldsteinwriter.com

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂