Book Review #60: “A Girl Named Hillary: The True Story of Hillary Clinton”

A Girl Named Hillary

Image Credit: Amazon

Like A Girl Named Rosa, this book was a fast read.

I appreciated that Hillary was considered for this series, given her recent presidential campaign.

Like Rosa’s book, I learned several new things about Hillary. Since her childhood, she’s always stood up for herself and tried to help others.

I literally grew up watching Hillary as First Lady from 1993-2001. So, in a way, she has always been inspiring to me. I think this book can be just as inspiring to other girls, now, and in future generations.

4 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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Book Review #59: “A Girl Named Rosa: The True Story of Rosa Parks”

A Girl Named Rosa

Image Credit: Amazon

American Girl just started releasing their “A Girl Named” series, and I definitely wanted to get my hands on them!

When A Girl Named Rosa arrived, I was a little dismayed. It was a very short book! I then realized that this series is clearly designed for much younger readers. However, I still wanted to read it!

The book is beautifully illustrated, and is packed with facts and a good story. It’s like a mini-biography. I even learned a few new things!

While initially disappointed, I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, and I imagined parents reading these books to their children at night before bed. Also, it’s a great history resource.

It’s designed to be inspiring to young girls, which I can certainly appreciate.

4 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #58: “Prez: A Story of Love”

Prez: A Story of Love

Image Credit: Amazon

I learned about this book through my P.E.O. sisterhood. The author, Margaret Garrison, is the sister-in-law of one of my chapter sisters, Cathy W.

Since our chapter typically plans our programs about a year in advance, I knew I definitely wanted to be there when Margaret was discussing her book. I had my money ready, because I was pretty sure I was going to buy the book on the spot. She even signed all books that were sold!

During her talk, she enveloped us in the often-mysterious world of college and university administration, having worked in the higher education arena for much of her adult life. She’s also a professor.

Her book, although a work of fiction, combines several of her real-life experiences and passions.


Although this book is Garrison’s first novel, you wouldn’t know it. It’s a hefty book, but a lovely and solid read!

I love all the characters she created for the book, but Katherine Embright shines as the protagonist. She’s breaking new ground in the small university town of Hurley, North Carolina – She’s the chancellor of Wickfield University during the 1989-1990 academic year. You could say she’s breaking the proverbial glass ceiling.

She’s tested multiple times throughout this watershed year – In her chancellor duties, her love life, and reacting to both current and world events.

Reading Prez gave me impressive insight into the challenges that higher education officials and administrators go through. I laughed a lot, and definitely shed my share of tears, I found myself thinking back to my days at Longwood University, where I covered the Board of Visitors (BOV) for The Rotunda student newspaper for several years. Longwood had an impressive female president, Dr. Patricia Cormier, for nearly 15 years. She proudly served from 1996 through 2010.

I thought of her life as I was reading about Katherine’s.

Although it took me more than a month to finish the book, I can only think positive thoughts about this book. It’s a wonderful story, especially for it being the author’s first novel.

The story certainly has its share of controversy – No spoilers. But, in spite of several characters’ transgressions, the book gives an incredible message of hope and faith, among other positive qualities.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a feel-good love story. One that, at the time that I bought it, I didn’t know that I needed.

The book came into my life at a time where, when I was more than halfway through it, my family was experiencing several losses – Three uncles passed away in a matter of two weeks.

This book helped me renew my faith, and helped me recognize the true importance of family.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

 

Book Review #56: “Chances and Changes: My Journey with Molly”

Chances and Changes

Image Credit: Amazon

If you haven’t already, I recommend reading the Book Reviews on the first two volumes of Molly’s BeForever collection:


I really like the Journey Books that American Girl is producing. They offer readers the chance to connect with the historical characters via a modern girl character, and everyone learns something valuable along the way.

I mentioned my love of Camp Gowonagin in my previous Book Review, so I was thrilled when I first learned Molly’s Journey Book would be primarily set at camp. It had me dreaming of my own summer camp experiences, but those were in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This was 1945 – Very different!

I won’t give away a lot of detail, but I appreciated the lessons about friendship, teamwork, cooperation, courage, bravery, and helping others. I also learned a different series of facts about World War II – Something I never knew existed in the United States during this time. I really liked that American Girl took this and worked hard to educate readers about it. Kudos!

Reading this book made me wish there was a time portal in the book. Although summer camp back then was very much structured like the military, I think I would have loved it!

I’ve heard of “adult summer camps” in different states – Maybe it’s time that I sign up for one.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #55: “Stars, Stripes, and Surprises: A Molly Classic 2”

Stars Stripes and Surprises

Image Credit: Amazon

If you haven’t already, I recommend first reading my Book Review of Molly’s Classic Volume 1:


Volume 2 covers the other three books in Molly’s original Classic Series:

  • Happy Birthday, Molly!
  • Molly Saves The Day
  • Changes for Molly

This volume starts in the spring of 1944. Molly is excited to celebrate her birthday. Her family also receives some exciting news – A girl, Emily, is coming all the way from London, England, to live with her aunt. When Emily’s aunt falls ill, Mrs. McIntire offers to help out. Molly is happy – A girl her own age! After a few stumbles and culture shock, Molly and Emily become friends and celebrate their birthdays together. There’s also a few birthday surprises!

As school lets out, Molly, Linda, and Susan head to Camp Gowonagin for two weeks! I remember loving this story in particular as a kid, and made up countless stories about summer camps!

Along the way, the girls learn many things, including the camp’s hallmark event of Color War. They end up on different teams, so who will win?

The final chapters breeze through the fall, winter, and find Molly in the spring of 1945. The war is coming to an end, and everyone in town is putting on the “Hurray for the U.S.A.!” show. Molly’s family receives an exciting telegram from Dad – He’s being reassigned to the local Veterans Hospital and coming home for good! Yay! Molly really wants to be Miss Victory, the tap dancer with the big solo in the show. But, she wants to transform her stick-straight hair into big, beautiful curls before the show. Her sister, Jill, is happy to help. Will everything work out the way Molly hopes it will? And, will Dad arrive in time to see the show?

Like Volume 1, I miss the original illustrations. But, the writing is so vivid, I feel like I’m beside Molly the whole time!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #54: “A Winning Spirit: A Molly Classic 1”

A Winning Spirit

Image Credit: Amazon

Finally! The new BeForever books for Molly were released last week!

Some of you may know that I fell in love with Molly’s character as a kid. I read and re-read her six-book Classic Series over and over. I loved everything that was featured in the catalogs. In 2013, I finally realized one of my biggest childhood dreams by buying the Molly doll from American Girl, shortly before she was archived.

Now, on to the review!


Like the other BeForever series, this first volume covers Molly’s original three books:

  • Meet Molly
  • Molly Learns A Lesson
  • Molly’s Surprise

We first meet Molly around Halloween, with her friends, Linda and Susan. They live in Jefferson, Illinois. They are planning their Halloween costumes in the fall of 1943, as World War II continues. Molly’s father, James McIntire, is an Army doctor, currently stationed in England helping sick and wounded soldiers. Molly misses him dearly, but has a full house at home, with her mom, the housekeeper, Mrs. Gilford, and her three siblings – Older sister, Jill; older brother, Ricky; and younger brother, Brad.

After multiple tricks and treats at Halloween, Molly learns several lessons about lending a hand, cooperation, jealousy, and speaking up when it counts the most.

Christmas is challenging with Dad still away and the war, but the Merry McIntires make the most of it. Molly works together with her sister to pull off one great surprise, and someone in the family has a surprise of their own to share!

I certainly miss the beautiful illustrations from the Classic Series, but Valerie Tripp’s writing, as always, carried me back in time, right alongside Molly, her family, and her friends.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

 

Book Review #51: “Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond”

Grace and Grit - Amazon

Image Credit: Amazon

I first heard about this book from my church bulletin, almost a year ago. One of the women’s circles were reading it and planning a discussion. I was intrigued, and remember purchasing it through Amazon shortly thereafter.

It took me a long while to start reading it, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. Lilly’s story pulled me in. I plowed through the first five chapters in one night!

This was the perfect book to pull me out of my reading slump. I’ve always enjoyed memoirs and true stories, but this one really spoke to me.

Lilly was born in Alabama, and quickly learned that the best-paying jobs was at the nearby Goodyear plant. She was one of the first women to be a manager at the plant. Nearly 20 years later, she was anonymously notified that her salary was thousands less than the male managers.

She decided to fight, and took her battle all the way to the Supreme Court. Eventually, her name was put on President Obama’s first official piece of legislation. Throughout the years, Lilly’s dedication to this cause inspired many.

Lilly’s story covers her upbringing, her marriage, raising children, working different jobs, and learning the complicated ins and outs of the American legal system. Her never-quit attitude, in spite of so much adversity, losses, and harassment, was incredibly inspiring, and motivating.

This is one of those books that I plan to share with my future children. The future generations need to know about the fight for equal pay. We still have a long way to go, but reading Lilly’s story was encouraging in so many ways.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth