What's Going On Here?

There are SO MANY wonderful book review blogs out there and I can't compete with them, that is for sure. So this is not a book review blog. This is just a way for me to organize what I have read so that I can be better at matching the right book to the right person. The blog title comes from the brilliant mind of the most talented woman who ever lived, Ms. Judy Garland. The full quote is, "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else." That is what I hope to do here and in ever aspect of my life.

Monday, June 19, 2017


Searing is defined, by that online dictionary thing as "marked by extreme intensity, harshness, or emotional power."
And BOY does that fit You Don't Have to Say You Love Me:  A Memoir by Sherman Alexie.  Wow.  What a book.  My most-all-time-favorite-book and the one that changed so much in my life is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, so I was just so wanting to read this.  The audio is read by the author.  What a book.  What a man.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

It Can't Last

Hindsight is 20-20, so we know that while Lucía's family has hope (at least in the beginning) that "their" Cuba will be "their" Cuba again  very soon, we know that is not in the cards.  Even with Castro's death, Communist Cuba will probably be Communist Cuba for a long time to come.  Those were some of the saddest parts for me.  It reminded me of the mom in A Night Divided, who believed that East Germany would be united with West Germany in a short time, too.
It might seem like I had a theme going on here, with AND in my recent reading past, but I had no idea what to expect with The Red Umbrella.  It was another of the wonderful free audio downloads from Overdrive this summer. When I saw it this week I had it confused with some other book about a bicycle that won a YA award once, but I couldn't get into it and it wasn't on audio.  And now I can't find any trace of it at all!
But that is neither here nor there, except to say that I am glad I had it confused and so glad I downloaded it and really enjoyed this book.  I mean, it was sad and hard and also really hopeful and beautiful.

Friday, June 16, 2017


There is this part in Gem and Dixie that I can't remember exactly, but it is so true.  Gem is talking about her parents, who weren't ready to be parents and who weren't shown how to be parents from the way in which they were treated by their parents and, well that's how it ended up that Gem and Dixie didn't have capable parents.  And I was thinking about this young gal who came into the one place where I work and was a very young mom-to-be, not yet 16 and her mom was obviously drunk or under the influence of some kind of drug and also pretty young and I was thinking, this is one of those situations where it would be easy to assign blame and say that that 16 year old is troubled (she was very troubled, I don't mean the pregnant part, I mean there was just A LOT going on there) because of her own mother.  But then, I mean, who is to say what her mother was like?  Or her mother before her?  And back and back and so on.
I know one has to take responsibility but it is also hard to take responsibility when one doesn't know the first thing about what "usual" or what is "needed" or "expected."  Does that make sense?

Here is the thing about Sara Zarr, on goodreads I gave this book a 4, but I would have given it a 4.5, but if it were written by anyone else it would have been a 5+ because Sara Zarr is just. that. awesome. I have been wow'd by all of her books and I was wow'd by this one, just only a wee bit less than previous wows.  Still.  This is wow.

I guess I just really didn't like Dixie at all.  But then I kept trying to remember that she was just 14.  I still highly recommend this book.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Bang is an incredibly excellent book.
It is just a wow book.
I think Barry Lyga is one of my most favorite authors.
I think this is Printz worthy.
I just really, really thought the whole thing was realistic and hopeful and sad and horrible and really, really real.  This and The Hate U Give are my picks so far for Printz, but I think this one edges out HUG.  Of course, that could be because I just finished this one, so I will have to see how I feel about both a little further on down the road.  But this one?  Wow.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

I have probably mentioned here before that while my politics lean to the left, I am an admirer of President Reagan.  Maybe it is just because he was president when I was a kid and I didn't know about all of the negative.  I just saw the good-looking, Hollywood man who was proud to be an American and his pretty, classy wife.  One of his most famous speeches contained the phrase I put in the post title.  Of course, he was referring to the Berlin Wall.  Today we have a president who claims to admire Reagan but our president is no Ronald Reagan.  Indeed, our current president is no James Buchanan even and will probably dethrone poor Buchanan as the worst president ever.  Our best president ever was President Obama and as I have admitted, I was a late-comer to the party, really pulling for and supporting Secretary Clinton when she was Senator Clinton and wanted to be the second President Clinton.  I am also a big LBJ fan and of course, a Kennedy Girl, so you can see that my politics are left-leaning.  A Night Divided is historical fiction, about a family physically split by the construction of the Berlin Wall.  Not knowing much of this part of history, I found this book to be excellent in all ways.  Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Until There Was You

I never would have read Soppy until I fell in love.  Had a been forced to read it, I would have hated it and mocked it.  I loved this book.  If you are in love, you will love it, too.  If you love "ordinary time" with the one you love, you will especially love this book.  What a love story.  Only thing is, David Levithan would hate this book.  The female character is drawn so that she looks a bit overweight!  He would have a field day saying how lazy she is!

Again, not a review

Just because I gave Plus One a 3 of 5 stars on goodreads doesn't mean that it isn't a 5 for someone else.  It was just a little too out there for me.  I loved the message here, that love is love and classism is horrible and people should be free to love whom they love!  I mean that is important!  This was one of those Alternate History kind of deals, which I didn't figure out until a bit later. The United States was divided into people who were allowed to work and live in the day time and people who were allowed to work and live in the nighttime. And it was President Wilson who decided this, so yeah, that didn't happen, but I liked that.  That whole "alternate history" thing was new to me, so that was cool.  As an aside, but important to get the word out in case others have been under the same rock I have been under apparently, Wilson was a nasty racist.  So he has fallen off of my list of decent human beings!

Author I Very Much Enjoy!

Rachel Hawkins is an author I have really, really enjoyed.  I loved Hex Hall so much and was disappointed when there weren't more, but then came Rebel Belle and I didn't love, love, love it like Hex Hall.  And now I feel like I need to go back and try again with it!
Journey's End is a middle grade, tween deal whereas the others were YA.  I really liked this a lot, even though it was set far away, in Scotland.  I do think that this might be a series!  There is a lot of magic in here, but also a lot of realism, so it's that Magical Realism thing!  Friendship and loss of friends and fitting in and all of that.  But a lot of magic, too.