Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

Hey Everyone!

So I have a little background story to tell, before I go into this review.

I am currently taking a Chicanos class for my upper division classes, that will get me my B.A. in Early Childhood Studies next Spring (2017).  This is a class that is supposed to be focusing on the adolescence sides of the Chicano culture.  Instead of a textbook to buy this semester, we were told to buy three literature novels that we would be reading this semester.

Two weeks ago we were given our first novel, which was a book called The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales.  This was a fairly small book, written for a middle school audience, so it wasn't too bad finishing it in two weeks.  Keep in mind, we have three other classes, equaling a full load of units for the semester, and I am in a program went for working adults who can't go to school during the day time, so we meet up twice a week in the evenings for class time.

Anyway, the Thursday before this last Thursday, our teacher told us that we would need to "START" reading the second book The Distance Between Us.  Sure no problem.

But then this past Monday, as I was composing my list of things to do for school this week, I saw where we turned in our assignments online that we are supposed to have read Part 1 of the book by this past Thursday.

Uhhhh...okaayyy.  Part 1 is 159 pages, half of the book.  To be honest, I start panicking a little, because my list was already ridiculous for this week, and I pride myself on never turning in anything late.

During my classes on Monday, my fellow students and I (we all are in the same classes), started discussing how much work was needed for this class.  On top of the reading, we were also supposed to complete the next section of the class, which consisted of various activities such as visiting a local health clinic, and a local Latino Health store (which we do not have in my town), and then writing up three pages of reflections to recount our experiences.  These are all assignments that take time and travel.  We were given a week to do those as well.

Well ANYWAY, on Tuesday we get an email from our teacher with an updated Syllabus calendar, and guess what was added for this week????


I was about half way done with part 1 at this point, and then I find out I had less than two days to complete the ENTIRE book!  All 322 pages!

Which, I know, for you serious readers out there, who have the time, this isn't a big deal...and trust me, I used to be there with you!  But I have busy weeks!  I work a job that keeps me busy Monday through Friday all morning and early afternoon, I have errands to run and appointments, I have OTHER homework!

Here is what my schedule looked like for this week...(this is just homework):

(Note: the amount due for the Chicanos class, versus the other classes!)

While to some of you, I know I may sound like a total complainer right now, I will tell you that yes, I was extremely pissed this week.  For one reason...the lack of notice we were given for this assignment.  THREE Days!  We were never told how much to read of the book until Monday of this week, we had been told to "Start it", and then just when we thought we were done with the assignment...just kidding add the WHOLE thing!

But anyway, I have MADE IT!  She luckily extended the turn-in date to today for both Part 1 and Part 2, but I was able to complete Part 1 by Thursday, and turned in Part 2 last night!

So now I figured because I actually got to read a novel for one of my class, why not write a review about it??

Here goes...

From Goodreads:

"A brutally honest book...akin to being the Angela's Ashes of the modern Mexican immigrant experience" (Los Angeles Times).

Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in the this "compelling...unvarnished, resonate" (BookPage) story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries.  As her parents make the dangerous trek across the Mexican border to "El Otro Lado" (The Other Side) in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced into the already overburdened household of their stern grandmother.  When their moth at last returns, Reyna prepares for her own journey to "El Otro Lado" to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father.

Funny, heartbreaking, and lyrical, The Distance Between Us poignantly captures the confusion and contradictions of childhood, reminding us that the joys and sorrows we experience are imprinted on the heart forever, calling out to us of those places we first called home.

My Thoughts:

I actually got very hooked on this book!  It is so not my normal read.  It's a very serious memoir, and while I was promised some funny moments through the back cover description, there weren't really any that I can think of.

Overall, though this is a great novel!  It talks about a subject that is kind of taboo here in America...Immigration.  This subject hits very close to home, because my family immigrated to the US from Germany almost 18 years ago, and it was very interesting listening to a similar story but with much more heartbreak, and hard times than my family and I had to endure.

It was GOOD!

It was one of those books that I think will stick with me for quite some time.  It was sad hearing Reyna's story, because growing up in Southern California this has become a rather stereotypical negative view that a lot of white, upper-class Californians have of the Mexican population.  The view of that ALL Mexicans cross the border using a Coyote (a paid individual who helps people cross the border illegally), the father of the family abandons his family to go off and make money in America to send back.  ALL Mexicans abuse the welfare system.  ALL adult Mexicans don't want to learn English.  And the children are punished for what their parents have decided, but no one sees it that way.

I cannot even tell you how many times I have heard that that is what "ALL Mexicans are like".  Which pisses me off to no end!!!  You may have heard certain republicans right now on the news, that sure like pointing out these narrow-sided views.

Reyna really enlightens readers with her side of the story, because it shows how often families are torn apart, and how much it affects the children.  Reyna was abandoned multiple times by both of her parents, and each time my heart broke with hers.  I think this is a great story that a lot of people should read, to get possibly a new view.

Overall rating:

Really do read this book, if this is something that interests you!  It was truly an enlightening story, that I will think about for many years to come!

Thanks everyone! :)

The Romance Bookie :)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Proposal (#6.5 in the Mediator Series) by Meg Cabot (Novella)

I have had this week off for President's Week from my work, so I thought it would be a good time to at least get a little reading done, when I'm not having to do homework or go to the Dentist!  So after finally being able to download it onto my Kindle (no internet!), I have been able to read Meg Cabot's novella that is the predecessor to Meg's latest edition to the Mediator Series, Remembrance.  This one is called The Proposal and it is a short, fun story giving us readers (adult readers!) the proposal that we didn't get to hear the story about in Remembrance!

When I met Meg last week, she mentioned to us listeners that what is great about this two new editions to the Mediator series, is that they can stand along from the original young adult series, that accompanies these two new books.  However, I do recommend you read the original series, either before or after, preferably before, because let's not spoil the story!

Now to the review of The Proposal!

From Goodreads:

The last place Suze Simon expects to find herself during Valentine's Day is a cemetery.  But that's what happens when you're a mediator -- cursed with the "gift" of communicating with the dead.

That's how Suze has ended up at the graves of a pair of NCDPs -- Non-Compliant Deceased Persons-- whose drama didn't end with death.  It's Suze's job to make sure they move on -- for good.
But the NCDPs aren't the only ones with problems.  The reasons Suze is spending her Valentine's Day with the undead instead of her boyfriend, Jesse, is because he's having so much trouble adjusting to life after death...not surprising, considering the fact that the used to be an NCDP himself, and now his girlfriend busts his former kind for a living, while he tries to cure his kind of what used to ail him.

Can Suze use her mediating skills to propose a mutual resolution, and bring all these young lovers together -- including Jesse and herself -- especially on the night Saint Valentine declared sacred to romance?

Or will she end up along -- and possibly undead-- herself?

My Thoughts:

This was a cute edition to the Mediator series.  It wasn't as detailed as Remembrance, of course, because it is only a novella, and contained about 120 pages of content, but it was nice hearing the side story of Jesse finally asking the big question!

I actually have always liked that authors sometimes write little side stories, to give you more insight on their characters, because it is nice to sometimes just sit down and relax to a nice easy short, and not so intimidating story during your free time.  Meg has written quite a few shorts, including a few for the Princess Diaries series, which were always great editions!

The Proposal has it all!  Action, romance, thrills, and of course Jesse!

The mediator storyline of this one was good too.  It contained just the right amount of drama, and suspense!

Overall rating:

I am, now, of course looking forward to Meg's next release, which will be out in May I believe.  But until then, I'll find some other greats to read...or just be stuck doing homework...which is what I'm supposed to be doing right now, and cleaning the house...but you know, priorities! :)

But I hope everyone is having a great week! I hope to be back soon!  I don't know if I'll have time to read again this week, let alone finish a book, but you never know!  I'm trying to get all my homework and cleaning done today, so I may have some free time still this week, before work starts again next week!

Talk to all soon!

The Romance Bookie

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Meg Cabot Signing February 11th, 2016!

Hey Everyone!

Hope everyone is having a great start to their 2016!  For me, it's been busy, but very good! It started with a little time off, which was much needed!  I experienced my first ever Spa day!  Got my first ever professional massage! Which felt amazing!  And then afterwards a facial!  I felt so spoiled that day!
Then work started up again, and by the end of January I was back for my second semester at University.  And let me just say, the work load is in full swing!  The Introduction week of having our syllabuses passed out was more of a "here is three papers and a full-blown project" week!  But it's all good, the beginning of a semester means one step closer to graduation!  Spring 2017 can't get here soon enough!

2015 ended with some very exciting news...I have been looking and looking since 2012, and FINALLY it was announced!!  Meg Cabot was coming back to Southern California!!!!!  So I saved the date, luckily didn't have to miss any class, and took the, what was supposed to be 2 hour drive, but turned into 4, down to Cerritos, California to the Cerritos Public Library to meet my absolute favorite author of all time...Meg Cabot!

My boyfriend and mom came along, which was nice, because let me just say...that drive was a pain in my you-know-what!  We had to drive through some not-so-safe areas and transfer to about a dozen highways, before we finally made it, but in the end it was of course totally worth it!

I had packed up my car before the drive, with ALL of Meg's books, that I didn't already have signed, because...Why Not?

I knew I wasn't going to be able to get ALL of them signed, but I couldn't make up my mind, so I brought all so I could there!

The library was gorgeous!

It was HUGE too!

We made it just in time, around 6:40 pm, (the event started at 7pm), and went up to the room.

There weren't a ton of people there, which are my favorite type of events, because it means there is plenty of seating to sit near the front!  We got a spot in the second row, which was nice!

At 7pm, Meg came in!

She was dressed totally kick-ass! I've said this before, but when you meet Meg it is literally like having her characters come alive right in front of you!  In this case, it was seriously as if Suze Simon (from Meg's Mediator series) was speaking in front of us!  Meg was dressed in all-black, leather jacket, and kick-ass platform boots, just like I imagine Suze Simon to dress like!

Meg gave us a "boring" (which totally wasn't) powerpoint presentation, about how her writing career got started.  She was funny as always, and even got Vincent to laugh, which is a hard feat, let me tell you! :)
My mom was super excited to finally meet her, because I have been handing her Meg Cabot books to read since high school, and so she has become a fan as well over the years.

After the powerpoint it was time for the signing!

We were allowed to get six books each signed, and if we had more could go back into line.  So I handed my mom and Vincent six each, and I took six, and went through the line for the first time.  Then after the second time I got all the pictures taken.

Meg and me, Meg is holding her first published novel Where Roses Grow Wild under her original author name, Patricia Cabot.

From Top Left to Bottom:  My mom, me, Vincent, and Meg
My mom, of course being a mom, said some pretty embarrassing things about me to Meg (LOVE YOU MOM! ;)), telling her that she sees Meg as a sort of second mom to me, because of how her books helped me get through high school.  

Vincent asked Meg how many more books will she be writing, so he knows how many shelves he will need to build in our new house.  She said at least FOUR more!  

It was a lot of fun, but as all good things do, it came to an end.

But all-in-all it was an absolutely fun night (besides maybe the drive lol), and I came home with a TON of new books signed!  

I just want to apologize to not only Meg for probably causing some carpal-tunnel, but also to everyone in line for being THAT person, at a signing, with a crap ton of books!  I tried each time to always be at the end of the line, so I wasn't too much of a nuisance!  

Here's my overall haul from the evening!

I ended up going with the rest of my Princess Diaries collection (I already had Princess in Love (#3) the hardcover, and Forever Princess signed at home), except I forgot to grab The Princess Present.  So I got the rest, including Royal Wedding signed.  I also got the complete Mediator Set signed, including the latest release, Remembrance.  Then my German copies, and the rest of the Heather Wells signed (I already have Size 12 is Not Fat and Size 12 and Ready to Rock signed at home), as well as Ransom My Heart, and the first book in Meg's latest series, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess. And two of Meg's original historical romances, under her pen name, Patricia Cabot.

I even got Princess Mia to sign my copy of Ransom My Heart! ;)

And last, but not least, I got Meg to be the last signature on my Kindle Cover!  That thing is FULL now!  I mean, it was already full before Meg, but now it is FULL!  It's time to get a new one, I guess! :)

It was a great night, of amazing editions to my signed collection!

The Romance Bookie :)