Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Review: Hoosier Hysteria: A Fateful Year in the Crosshairs of Race in America

Hoosier Hysteria: A Fateful Year in the Crosshairs of Race in America Hoosier Hysteria: A Fateful Year in the Crosshairs of Race in America by Meri Henriques Vahl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

1963 was a tumultuous year no matter where you resided in America. Hoosier Hysteria (a name commonly known to refer to enthusiasm for college sports, but the phrase is aptly turned on its head in this book) gives readers a glimpse into what that year looked like on the campus of a major university located in the heart of the Midwest. Meri is an incoming freshman at Indiana University in the fall of 1963. She's a Jewish woman from New York entering a place where white Christians are the majority, which becomes just one of many culture shocks she gets, even in that first day.

Meri ends up being a part of the school's slow move toward integration, because IU at this moment in time is staunchly against integration, civil rights, political activism, women's rights, the Kennedy Administration as a whole, and a host of things that were deemed too radical at the time. What readers get is a personal account of a young woman that for the most part is a complete outsider to all of this chaos, being able to reflect on how this made an impact on her as a person, on the campus, and on the rest of the region.

Reading this book revealed to me, a lifelong Indiana resident, some of the more shameful parts of this state and how, even forty years later when I attended college in Indiana (though not IU), some of the same issues still arose. They don't teach you in your Indiana history class that IU itself, as well as large populated areas such as Indianapolis, were so bigoted at this point in American history. If you learned anything at all about racism in the state, the examples given always pre-dated WWII, which tells me that this late-stage institutional bigotry is not something the state wants to remember.

And there were parts of Meri's college experience that reflected my own. While racism wasn't front and center during my college years, classism was prevalent, as well as a religious fervor that could turn a relatively pleasant person into someone you no longer recognized. I even experienced a similar incident like Meri did with the deck of cards frightening her neighbor that the devil might be coming to get her, only my experience pertained to a Ouija board and a neighbor so terrified she acquired a bottle of holy oil to counteract anything that might have been conjured into the dorm. These were the same students that were afraid to be influenced by taking a religious studies class, but then once they did, they didn't see the class as promoting commonality in religious beliefs, but as a way to learn more about someone's beliefs in order to convince them to join their side—similar to the change that Meri saw in her friend Shennandoah after attending church with her family.

It was fascinating to see that much about attending a Midwestern college hasn't changed. While college administrations are no longer looking into the personal politics of their students and making sure they are completely above board on the school's definition of morality, the local students still seem to bring plenty of culture shock to those who are of a different city, country, or mindset.

*Book provided by NetGalley

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Monday, July 9, 2018

Review: Queen of Kenosha

Queen of Kenosha Queen of Kenosha by Howard Shapiro
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nina is a musician who wants to have a career, not just playing guitar in her free time. When she moves to New York, she finds the music scene hard to break into, but an unexpected opportunity arises. She's recruited into an organization that is fighting against post-war Nazi organization in the U.S. Can she manage to be a crime fighter and a musician at the same time?

This graphic novel has some high points to it: the artwork is great and I loved that each chapter started with a short playlist to set the mood of what was coming next. However, when the story veered to far away from Nina as a musician, I became bored reading it. I didn't like all of the infighting with the organization, but since this is just part one of a three-part story, I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt that it gets more exciting as you read on.

*Book provided by NetGalley

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Book Spotlight: My Dear Ones... Underground




A break from time to time is necessary, to admire the landscape, or to recharge the piles of positive emotions. You have to know how to listen to silence and allow yourself a time of recreation (like children in the old days).

My recreation is this book that will talk about all those people and even animals that I knew during my thirty years on this Earth who have left early. In some cases these are people I have never seen but they are still in my thoughts because I miss them so much.

My Dear Ones... Underground is available for purchase from Lulu.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Book Spotlight: Love Poems




A collection of romantic Love Poems intermingled with passages of spiritual enlightenment, LOVE POEMS promises to take the reader on a sublime journey of both written imagery and visual artwork by the author, guiding them to the truth behind what LOVE is and how it connects us all.

This book is available from Amazon

About the Author:

Tony B. Beizaee, D.M.D., is a passionate innovator who has held multiple roles through his life, from dentist and entrepreneur, all the way to abstract artist and author. His unwavering dedication to philanthropy has earned him the reputation as an ambassador of positive change and compassionate community leader. Ultimately, Tony is driven by five key principles: integrity, spirituality, growth, love, and compassion. Combining these cornerstones, he serves as a devout advocate for the Jewish Voice, with Mission to awaken people to their God-given greatness. His ultimate aspiration is to create a legacy that will continue positively impacting people for generations to come.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Review: Glimmerglass Girl

Glimmerglass Girl Glimmerglass Girl by Holly Walrath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Glimmerglass Girl is a poetry collection that speaks to the modern woman and deals with many issues of the self. The collection is relatively short, so you have to sit with each poem to gain some insight into the meaning and emotion in conveys. Many of the poems are simple without much flowery language, so it is something that can be easily accessible for any type of poetry reader.

*Book provided by NetGalley

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Review: Gate 76

Gate 76 Gate 76 by Andrew Diamond
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When there's something that needs to be investigated beyond official channels, Freddy Ferguson is the one to do it. An ex-boxer with a heavy past happens to be in the San Francisco airport when a flight blows up in midair. The airline hires the team Freddy works with to do a little deep digging. What the team discovers goes far beyond a simple case of terrorism.

This was a decent thriller, with much of it moving at a fast pace, though it didn't wow me. I didn't want to sit there and keep turning the pages, mostly because some of the back story for Freddy was a bit boring to me. Also, when more than four or five characters got involved, you really had to pay attention to who was who, otherwise you weren't sure who the good guys and bad guys were. But still, it is something that those who love a good detective/action story will enjoy.

*Book provided by Bookish First

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Book Spotlight: Kace Learns to Fly



Children's Fiction


Kace is the smallest of all his brothers and sisters and has a hard time growing or learning as quickly as they do.

Through hard work and keeping your head up, all things are possible!

This colorful, optimistically-written and insightful children’s book contains an uplifting story with a message for children to stay positive, no matter what they’ve been through.

All your goals — even if they’re high — are always within reach.

You can get your copy of Kace Learns to Fly from http://www.kacelearnstofly.com/

About the Author:

Laymon A Hicks isn’t a stranger when it comes to building resilience in young people. His message mission in life is to empower students to overcome obstacles and get back up! He has taken this message to 40+ states in front of nearly 500,000 students. When he is not traveling the nation to empower students, Laymon enjoys being home with his wife, Keisha, and daughter, Karsyn. They reside in Florida.

For more information, please visit www.LaymonHicks.com