March 2018 books

March 2018 books

Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin ExpeditionFrozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition by Owen Beattie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. I thought this book would combine an investigation (and perhaps evidence-based recreation) of the Franklin Expedition's last days with a thorough reckoning of the conclusions that could be drawn based on Beattie's 1980s research trips. Instead, it was mostly just a day-to-day account of those research trips, with an introduction and epilogue to pad things out.

That said, every page in this book is interesting. How can it not be, when it is all about locating and digging up (for science) 140-year-old corpses frozen in ice? Still, I think my childhood favorite Buried In Ice by the same author is the better book - less afraid to make assumptions and draw conclusions and tell the story of what might have happened to the Franklin Expedition, based on the evidence we have.

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The Breadwinner (The Breadwinner, #1)The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Miriam's sixth grade class is reading this book. Miriam got through it in about a day and kept pestering me to read it so I did. I can see why her teacher chose it for a class book: it's a very accessible and relatable story for kids, without wasting time gawking at the Otherness of Parvana's life in Afghanistan. Some scary things happen in this book but the way it's written allows the reader's imagination to fill in the gaps, so it can only be as scary as any individual child decides to make it. And her culture and country are treated with depth and nuance - I think even we adults could stand to put more of a face on the last few decades of Afghanistan's history, and this children's book does a good job of that.

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Parvana's Journey (The Breadwinner, #2)Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A heartbreaking but eye-opening look into the everyday lives of child refugees.

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Mud City (The Breadwinner, #3)Mud City by Deborah Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another good book about girls in Afghanistan, this time focusing on Shauzia. There were times where I felt like things were getting a bit unrealistic (thinking specifically of the expatriate family subplot), but even there I eventually felt like yeah, that seems like something that could happen.

One thing I have really appreciated about this series is the way the children in it wish for adults to take care of them. I think some books about children on their own or in difficult circumstances glorify the situation and show how strong and determined such kids are, without showing the flip side of how they really do wish the adults in their lives would step up and protect them (I'm side-eyeing you, The Boxcar Children). This series really shows how yes, it's exciting to read about kids succeeding and surviving on their own, but that's not the way the world should work and it's ok to want grownups to take care of you.

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My Name Is Parvana (The Breadwinner, #4)My Name Is Parvana by Deborah Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A pretty solid end to the series. Though I did find it strange that this book, which is longer and written in more complex language than the earlier ones, was somehow a simpler story told in black and white (where the earlier books had all these lovely, thought-provoking shades of gray). This book does, however, have a fantastically delicious Jacob Have I Loved slathering-lotion-on-hands moment between Parvana and her older sister Nooria.

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Picture Perfect: The Jodi Arias StoryPicture Perfect: The Jodi Arias Story by Shanna Hogan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars. I picked this up because I just read The Stranger She Loved by the same author and then while reading it, I remembered that I actually don't like true crime books. And this book certainly doesn't elevate the genre (in the author's defense, this was a really yucky crime). It reads like The Singles Ward remade as a horror movie.

(Horrible crime aside, the backdrop of this story was practically a time capsule of the early 2000s. It took us through ubiquitous MLMs (unfortunately not a thing of the past), MySpace, the housing crisis, Facebook, and then blogs.)

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Other Bridget 2018

All the Spanish I've learned from watching Spanish period dramas on Netflix

All the Spanish I've learned from watching Spanish period dramas on Netflix