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 🙂

Getting Personal #192: December Goals

Image Credit: Love This Pic

Hello, December! It’s the last month of 2019. Wow!!

Here are my goals for the month of December:

  1. Donate blood.
  2. Publish all outstanding Tag posts where I’ve been tagged.
  3. Make at least one thrift store run.
  4. Write at least two Book Reviews.
  5. Clear more clutter.
  6. Work in my office for an hour each weekend.
  7. Clean out the cabinet above the oven.
  8. Sponsor Christmas gifts for two local children.
  9. Start my spreadsheet for cataloging all my American Girl items to sell.
  10. Celebrate Phineas and Ferb’s Gotcha Day!
  11. Enjoy Al’s company holiday party.
  12. Participate in my P.E.O. chapter’s gift wrapping fundraiser.
  13. Enjoy Christmas!
  14. Enjoy New Year’s!

What about you? Do you have any goals for the month of December?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #191: November Goals Recap

Image Credit: Twitter

November was quite a busy month!


Here’s the link to my November Goals post: Getting Personal #189: November Goals.

  1. Celebrate Lane’s milestone birthday. — Accomplished!
  2. Participate in the P.E.O. Reciprocity Rally in Richmond. — Accomplished!
  3. Celebrate four years of marriage with Al! — Accomplished!
  4. Participate in NaNoWriMo 2019. — Accomplished!
  5. Publish all outstanding Tag posts where I’ve been tagged. — Did not accomplish.
  6. Make at least one thrift store run. — Did not accomplish.
  7. Explore The Great Exchange. — Accomplished!
  8. Celebrate multiple birthdays! — Accomplished!
  9. Enjoy Thanksgiving! — Accomplished!
  10. See A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. — Accomplished!
  11. Write at least two Book Reviews. — Did not accomplish.
  12. Clear more clutter. — Did not accomplish.
  13. Work in my office for an hour each weekend. — Did not accomplish.
  14. Clean out the cabinet above the oven. — Did not accomplish.

November was a really busy month! Look for a blog post next week about my NaNoWriMo 2019 experience.

The first weekend of November was Lane’s epic 30th birthday celebration! On Friday night, we did an awesome escape room called “The Kidnapping” at Breakout Games in Virginia Beach.

Then, we went to the Airbnb she’d found, it was close to the Chesapeake Bay. It was an adorable house. We had a blast. Everyone brought food, and we all got to know each other better. There was also a small Spice Girls sing-along.

On Saturday morning, the fabulous make-up artist, Sydney, arrived. Several of us had our hair and makeup done. We left the Airbnb and headed to Windsor Castle Park in Smithfield. We couldn’t have asked for a prettier day!

Image Credit: Nick Boris
Image Credit: Nick Boris
Image Credit: Nick Boris

The following weekend was the Reciprocity Rally, held at the Henrico County Public Library – Varina, outside of Richmond. There were 75 women in the conference / meeting room, along with delicious fall goodies. After the rally, where we learned about leadership styles and ideas for membership, members of the 2022 Convention Committee gathered. It will be held at the Renaissance Hotel in Portsmouth! I’m so excited that it’s so close to my house! We had a great carpool group, too.

Our wedding anniversary was November 14th. We went to work, and then celebrated at Decoys Seafood. This is the “hat trick” of restaurants that are owned by the same people. We went to River Stone Chophouse in 2017, and Vintage Tavern in 2018. We had a wonderful meal. I also recognized our server, Alexander, who was in youth group with me years ago. He went out of his way to make our night special – He gave us a moscato toast, and vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. We had enough food left over to have dinner taken care of on Friday! We both blame the crab dip – Excellent, but it also filled us up.

There were multiple birthdays as well. Lane, Bruce, Kristian, Grandpa Stricker, and Nick!

I finished one book this month: Book Review #81: “More Than Enough: Claiming Space For Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)”

I took my mom to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood on Tuesday, November 26th. She had seen it once before, but knew she’d missed stuff. It’s definitely one of my favorite movies of the year. Tom Hanks did an excellent job. And the story was really good. I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

Bruce, Al, and I also went to see Midway the Friday before Thanksgiving. It was also well-done. Al’s grandpa served on the USS Yorktown during the battle.

Now that November is over, I plan to dedicate the month of December to de-cluttering and organizing. I’m tired of the state of my office, and I’m on a deadline to get it clean now. I have until February to get it ship-shape, since my P.E.O. chapter is coming to my house to learn about American Girl!


Did you have any goals for the month of November?

Come back tomorrow to see my December Goals!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #81: “More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)”

Image Credit: Amazon

I put this book on my Amazon wish list a few months ago, and then Al bought it for me for my birthday!

Little did I know how much I needed this book in my life when I started reading it.


I took my time with this book. Elaine is a good writer, but I found myself digesting one, maybe two chapters at a time.

This book is aimed at women of color, but it certainly applied to me. I’m glad I read it when I did. Having started my new job in September, I had a lot of anxiety and emotions, and more than one crisis of confidence. This book lifted me out of that negativity.


I hadn’t heard of Elaine when I started the book, but I felt like I knew her when I was done. She was so candid and honest about her early life, growing up as a biracial child, her dad’s struggles with alcohol, and wanting to work at Essence and Ebony.

Watching her navigate the painful eras of the recession and the move toward digital publishing was eye-opening, too. As someone who dreamed of living in New York and being a journalist for years, I felt like this book was put in my life for more than one reason. Elaine showed me how life in New York and working for some of the most famous magazines on this Earth really was – It’s certainly no picnic.

It’s not my favorite memoir, but I’m glad I took a chance on it. I appreciated the inspiring quotes at the end of every chapter as well. She’s a gifted writer, and there’s something in this book for everyone.

I’m grateful to Al for buying this for me!

4 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #28: Foster Care and Opioids

Research published in July 2019 indicates that the number of children entering the foster care system has more than doubled since 2000.

Other reasons for removal, including neglect and abuse, declined.

Coincidentally, Sesame Street introduced a new Muppet around the same time. Karli is staying with her “for-now” family while her mom is away getting better. The Sesame Street initiative focuses on addiction as a whole, but makes the connection to foster care. Karli’s mom is getting help for alcohol addiction.


Resources

More Kids Are Getting Placed in Foster Care Because of Parents’ Drug Use, NPR, July 15, 2019

At This Camp, Children of Opioid Addicts Learn to Cope and Laugh, NPR, October 9, 2019


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂