Book Review #72: “Columbine” *Re-Read*

I try my hardest to post Book Reviews within 24-48 hours after finishing the book. However, life has been pretty hectic recently. I finished Columbine in mid-April, just after the acknowledgment of it being 20 years since the tragedy. I’m just now posting my review.

I have a special connection with this book. The author, Dave Cullen, came to Longwood in the spring of 2010 as a guest lecturer. I was able to interview him for an article I wrote for the student newspaper, The Rotunda. He graciously signed my copy when I bought it at his lecture. It was strange, reading his message from March 17, 2010. That feels like a lifetime ago!

I’m glad I re-read this book. I remember how I felt after I read it the first time. Part of me wishes I’d re-read it before now, before nine years had passed. However, I still felt similar emotions as I did the first time.

I have to give major props to Cullen on his research and dedication to this book. This is one of the best accounts I’ve read of the events that occurred on April 20, 1999. And Cullen goes deeper than that. He covers the massacre, but also delves into the lives of the shooters, their families, and survivors.

It’s not perfect, but as someone who originally read memoir-style books such as The Journals of Rachel Scott: A Journey of Faith at Columbine High and She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie BernallĀ years ago, when the tragedy was still relatively fresh (I was almost 10 when it occurred), I appreciate the time and effort Cullen devoted to this book.

If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. Cullen makes it clear that he is a journalist first, and it’s evident throughout. His amount of sources is simply incredible. It’s very dense, and tough to read, but it’s an important work. I’m glad Cullen devoted many years to writing this book.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth šŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #236: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter Z)

The ABC Book Challenge - L

This is it! The last letter of the alphabet for The ABC Book Challenge!

Memorable Books Starting with the Letter ā€œZā€:

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Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Wartime Sarajevo

  • I first read this book in high school. It inspired me to write my Extended Essay for the IB Program in Peace and Conflict Studies, to study the effects of the Bosnian and Kosovo conflicts on children.

Books Iā€™d Love to Read Starting with the Letter ā€œZā€:

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Zeitoun

  • A true story springing from Hurricane Katrina.

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Zelda

  • I’ve been fascinated with F. Scott Fitzgerald since high school. With that fascination comes wanting to learn more about his family.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter Z? Let me know!


Thank you so much for following along with me on this incredible journey! I started it in July 2018, and here we are, roughly nine months later. I’ve really enjoyed writing and researching new books, and remembering the good ones I have read.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth šŸ™‚

Book Review #71: “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America” *Re-Read*

Nickel and Dimed

Image Credit: Goodreads

When I initially read this book, it was assigned reading for one of my very first college classes. I can’t remember which one, but this book left a profound impact on me. Slowly, I started reading more from Barbara Ehrenreich. However, this is the book that started it all.

I started college in the fall of 2007, about a year before the financial crisis that began in 2008. I believe I was assigned to read this book at a poignant time. I also believe I’m re-reading this book at another poignant time, at the beginning of 2019.

Going into re-reading this, I realized my copy of the book was updated with a new afterword, published in 2008. However, the overall concept – Studying low-wage jobs and attempting to understand their socioeconomic impacts – is nothing new. That’s part of the reason I was drawn to Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

Ehrenreich embarked on an experiment in 1998 – Trying to see if she, as a single, middle-aged woman, could survive as a waitress, a cleaner (hotel maid and house cleaner), a nursing home aide, and a seller / retail associate for a month, in three different cities. Each chapter explores a different type of job and a different city. She quickly realized the challenges with each one, and each city presented its own obstacles with housing, food, and assistance. Along the way, she met a variety of people working these jobs. A few were fortunate, but many were barely making ends meet. Several were working 2-3 jobs full-time, and still struggling with their incomes and their partner’s / spouse’s income(s) as well.

I won’t spoil anything, but she learns many lessons along the way. She discovers multiple issues with affordable housing, child care costs, fast food, health care, education, and the way these companies treat their employees.

I got a bit lost with the footnotes, statistics, and percentages, and glossed over a few of them toward the end. However, reading the updated afterword was important, and appreciated. This country has a lot to learn, still, in 2019. We need to treat employees, especially those earning the absolute minimum, better.

Overall, I’m glad I took the time to re-read this book. It’s a bit “dated” now, since Ehrenreich’s experiment started and concluded 21 years ago. However, it’s still relevant in many aspects today. And, like her, I’m grateful for everything I’ve had and worked for. This is a valuable book that will stay on my bookshelf forever.

4 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth šŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #235: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter Y)

ABC Book Challenge - J 2

Memorable Books Starting with the Letter ā€œYā€:

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Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories

  • Dr. Seuss should make the list every time!

Books Iā€™d Love to Read Starting with the Letter ā€œYā€:

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The Year of Magical Thinking

  • I’ve heard great things about Joan Didion and her writing for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by her.

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The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life

  • A book about books, and how these 52 books changed someone’s life? Yes, please.

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The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir

  • I feel like I’ve seen some of our TV special or documentary about Cylin and John Busby. Regardless, I want to read their book.

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Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape

  • The title alone makes want to go out and find this book ASAP.

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Yes Please

  • Amy Poehler is hilarious. ‘Nuff said.

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The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

  • I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this book cover before, but I don’t remember reading the book itself.

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You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

  • I first heard about this book a few months ago when I was listening to author Kristen Martin sing its praises on her podcast, That Smart Hustle.

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Your Movie Sucks

  • I love Roger Ebert, may he Rest in Peace. I really want to read this soon.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter Y? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth šŸ™‚

Book Review #70: “Bonfire”

Bonfire

Image Credit: Goodreads

I bought this book from Barnes & Noble for two reasons: (1) The cover, and (2) The author! Known recently as Marvel’s Jessica Jones, I admire Krysten Ritter in many respects. I wanted to see how she wrote a book!

To be completely honest, I nearly DNFed this book around the 50-page mark. It was a good story, but I felt it was moving really slowly. The world-building was good, the characters were good, but it felt like it was moving at a snail’s pace.

One of the things that kept me going was Ritter’s use and creation of fantastic, realistic imagery and scenery. Wow! I felt like I had been dropped straight into Barrens, Indiana, and walking beside Abby Williams, the MC.

I’m glad I stuck with the book, though. It got better. I can’t exactly pinpoint when it got better, but the pace did pick up, and it felt like a rush after that. This book is part mystery, part legal thriller, part psychological thriller. I wasn’t expecting all of that when I started the book!

In terms of characters, Abby reminded me so much of Erin Brockovich, but where she is returning home to investigate the seemingly-stellar company that’s put her hometown on the map and revitalized everything. Seeing her attempt to navigate past relationships with her father, and former classmates, was really interesting.

There wasn’t a huge twist, per se, but I know I didn’t see it coming. I audibly gasped when it struck me between the eyes, as I was reading it on the page. Ritter weaved several story lines together so well, and entangled multiple characters.

I felt Abby was slightly gaslighted, in a way, because she started to believe she was truly crazy, and couldn’t tell fact from fiction. It was tough for me to keep up with and navigate the stories of 10 years prior and her present, but I feel like Ritter did a good job, overall. I was hooked, and couldn’t put the book down at the very end. She also divided the chapters really well, and the flow was great.

It’s not my favorite book in the whole world, but I’m glad I read it. It’s going on my bookshelf. I look forward to see what she writes next.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth šŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #234: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter X)

ABC Book Challenge - E

Memorable Books Starting with the Letter ā€œXā€:

I haven’t read any!


Books Iā€™d Love to Read Starting with the Letter ā€œXā€:

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X in Flight (XYZ #1)

  • I’m not a huge fantasy fan, but since this book has a Young Adult focus, I’m definitely intrigued by it.

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X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking

  • I’m technically a “millenial,” but I’ve always been interested in pop culture and the different generations. I’ll be adding this book to my next TBR. Hopefully my library will have a copy.

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Xanadu

  • I haven’t read an anthology series in years, but this one caught my eye. I’ll have to explore this one deeper.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter X? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth šŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #212: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter W)

ABC Book Challenge - C

Memorable Books Starting with the Letter “W”:

A Walk to Remember (Hardcover).jpg

A Walk to Remember

  • This is one of my favorite Nicholas Sparks books. The movie adaptation (2002) was also really well-done.

the-war-that-saved-my-life

The War That Saved My Life

  • This was one of my favorite books I read in 2017. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, The War I Finally Won, soon!

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Where Have All The Flowers Gone?: The Diary of Molly MacKenzie Flaherty

  • This is one of my all-time favorite Dear America books.

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Where The Sidewalk Ends

  • Shel Silverstein was so gifted. I’m not a huge poetry fan, but I love his writings and illustrations.

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Where The Wild Things Are

  • This is one of the best children’s books.

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The Whistler

  • I love John Grisham! This particular book was a bit disappointing, but I still enjoy his work.

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Winnie-the-Pooh

  • The books are delightful. I remember doing a school project on A.A. Milne, and how he created these characters!

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Amazon

The Woman in Cabin 10

  • Al bought this book for me for Christmas 2017. I quickly devoured it, and want to read more from Ruth Ware.

Books I’d Love to Read Starting with the Letter “W”:

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Water for Elephants

  • I’ve wanted to read this book since finding out, years ago, that Sara Gruen wrote this during NaNoWriMo!

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When You Reach Me

  • This one looks intriguing.

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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

  • I’ve been curious about this book since I first saw in on the local library shelf when I was in high school.

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson

  • I don’t remember reading this, although John Green is one of my favorite authors.

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Wonder

  • This book has been on my radar for the last year or so.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter W? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth šŸ™‚