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Hot British Boyfriend: A Book Review

Title: Hot British Boyfriend

Author: Kristy Boyce

Publisher: HarperTeen

Copyright Date: 2021

photo credit: Amazon

After the most embarrassing event of her life becomes a viral video and the death of her reputation, Ellie Nichols puts an ocean between herself and her school in DC by enrolling in a prestigious study abroad program in ENGLAND. Throwing herself into her studies at Emberton Manor helps Ellie to forget about the humiliating party where she threw herself at her crush only to find out that he was into her friend. Instead of parties and dating, the students of Emberton are focused on scholarships and early admissions to Ivy League colleges. It’s the perfect place for Ellie to spend half of her senior year–far from the American boy who broke her heart and the classmates who shattered her self esteem.

Academics were never Ellie’s passion though. She would rather be crafting her fairy gardens, watching British sitcoms with her mom, or wearing unicorn tees, but those are parts of herself that she knows can never be shared with anyone else.

One weekend, Ellie and some of her new friends from the program venture off the campus to visit an English market. While there, Ellie meets an older local boy and the two click immediately. His charm and sophistication make Ellie forget all about the boys back home and she finds herself forgetting about her academic studies and instead worried about becoming the perfect girl for her hot British boyfriend, Will.

Together, Ellie and Will take in the sights of England and they begin to fall in love. The problem is that Ellie hasn’t been honest with Will about many facets of herself. Guarded by her experience in America, Ellie decides to reinvent herself with Will. She enlists the help of one of her newest friends, Dev, to teach her about things like cricket to help win over Will.

Throughout her semester in England, Ellie dates Will, makes new friends, travels to Italy, improves her GPA, escapes the viral video, and secretly helps a groundskeeper implement some of her fairy gardening skills. She learns about herself in ways she never would have back home and the time away begins to heal the wounds inflicted by the classmates who hurt her most. Everything seems to be going well, until Ellie is caught up in Will so much that she forgets who she truly is.

This teen romance book is a special one to me. Not only is it about a young British romance, but it is also written by a woman that I have met and follow on social media. Kristy Boyce is a member of the same SCBWI as I am in Columbus, Ohio. I remember going to a meeting where she shared that she was going to get published. I remember hearing her “elevator pitch” and the story of how this book began as a contest entry. This book to me symbolized the fact that anything is possible for those who pursue their dreams. I followed Kristy’s journey and her social media has chronicled the process of her debut novel. Hot British Boyfriend was also well-written and engaging. Being married to an Englishman there are parts that I could really envision and that were even true to early parts of my relationship with my husband (sans all the lies and deceit.) This is a quick, light read and one that I enjoyed while on trains and planes traveling in England this summer. I highly recommend Hot British Boyfriend to any lovers of YA or YA Romance. It was so nice to take a rest from all the literature assigned through my masters program to enjoy a light-hearted, fun, nostalgic read like this one.

Check out my Goodreads account if you want to see what’s up next in my reading. 

The Ameri Brit Mom

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The Cousins: A Book Review

Title: The Cousins

Author: Karen M. McManus

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Copyright Date: 2020

photo credit: Amazon

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah, young cousins and heirs to the infamous Story estate, are surprised at their estranged Grandmother’s invitation to spend the summer on her private island together. For their entire lives they have accepted the fact that something happened between their parents that caused them to be iced out by their wealthy mother, Mildred. But after the push from their parents to go, these reluctant cousins are reunited on Gull Cove Island ready to figure out the family secret.

From the moment they get to the island it becomes obvious that Mildred was not behind the invitation. She has evaded them at any opportunity leaving them many opportunities to explore the island and get to know each other.

Over the course of the summer Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah uncover many buried family secrets–even the one that explains the longtime estrangement of their parents from their mother. Deceit, regret, and danger meet them along the way.

I really enjoyed this newest work by McManus. She is a YA thriller genius and has authored some of my favorite books within the genre. Like her other stories, she packed this tale with red herrings and twists that often left me astounded.

Check out my Goodreads account if you want to see what’s up next in my reading. 

The Ameri Brit Mom

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I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter: A Book Review

Title: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Author: Erika L. Sanchez

Publisher: Ember

Copyright Date: 2017

Julia is growing up as the daughter of Mexican immigrants in Chicago. Until recently, she flew under the radar of her overprotective parents, because her older sister, Olga, held a monopoly on their attention. Olga never lied. Olga worked hard to bring money home. Olga went to community college. And most of all, Olga never dreamed of leaving home.

Until Olga is killed in a tragic accident involving a semi truck.

Julia’s story begins just a few weeks after the death of her older sister. She finds herself grappling with the trauma of losing Olga, and also the constant attention that is now shifted Julia’s direction. Olga had always been the perfect one, but now the traditional Mexican role of “Perfectly Obedient” child falls on Julia’s unwilling shoulders.

When Olga was around, Julia was able to fade into the background. Her parents had no idea that she and her friends had taken up smoking weed and promiscuous behavior and she would never dream of sharing that after high school she planned to go to college in NYC. Perfect Mexican daughters just didn’t do those things.

Working through her own grief led Julia to her beloved sister’s bedroom where she found a few items that led to the realization that Olga wasn’t the perfect daughter that Ama and Apa had believed her to be. She had a secret life–and Julia was determined to break into Olga’s laptop to prove it.

This is a story of a daring Mexican daughter going to great lengths to uncover her family’s secrets. This quest takes Julia to some dark corners and along the way she must deal with her own demons.

A tale of breaking stereotypes, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a coming of age tale that puts readers into the shoes of a troubled teen trying to come-of-age by her own terms. With themes of grief, mental health, and strength Julia exemplifies growing up according to Mexican culture and she embodies the feminist values that so many young girls need to hear.

I really enjoyed this book. It moved a bit slow in the beginning, but that served to create a bond between readers and Julia. In the end, I felt that Julia’s character arc was beautifully articulated. She went from a bitter, troubled teen to an understanding daughter with a redemptive heart. I also enjoyed learning more about Mexican and immigrant culture through this book. Ama and Apa both immigrated to America shortly before Olga was born and so much of their journey shaped their lives as parents.

Check out my Goodreads account if you want to see what’s up next in my reading. And until I write again–curl up with a good book and find joy in the moments that you can escape into someone else’s story for a little while.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Books, Uncategorized

We Were the Lucky Ones: A Book Review

Title: We Were the Lucky Ones

Author: Georgia Hunter

Publisher: Penguin Books

Copyright Date: 2017

*Setting for book challenge: Eastern Europe (Poland)

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World War II begins with the German invasion of Poland.

The Kurcs were a wealthy, Jewish family rooted in Radom, Poland, when the news breaks about the war. One-by-one the war takes members of their family and all the Kurcs can do is hope for the best–that one day the war will end and they will be reunited as a family.

Ganek and his wife end up in Siberia in a concentration camp.

Mila’s husband is taken without a “good-bye” and she is left to raise their baby on her own in the ghetto.

Addy tries to make it home from France, but is prevented from entering his homeland.

Jakob must protect the woman he loves from meeting the same fate as her family.

Halina uses her wit and strong personality to survive under the new regime.

Based on true events in the author’s family history this novel is one of resilience and impossibility. So often, we read stories about the casualties of war, but We Were the Lucky Ones gives away in its title that this family may have been broken for a time, but hope is restored in many ways.

As I read about events that this family endured I was shocked. I am a history teacher and I consider myself fairly educated on the war era, but I really had no idea what it was like to actually be under the persecution of the Nazis. I felt anger as I learned about the way the Kurcs were disregarded and forced in to ghettos. I was anxious as I read about Jews being coerced to dig their own graves knowing that when their shovel emptied the last of the mound their final breath was soon to follow. And don’t even get me started on the cruel acts against children.

But as heartbreaking as these events were I do believe it is necessary to educate ourselves on these things.

Hitler didn’t start with death camps.

It was a long process that began by planting seeds of hate and isolating groups of people.

Thank God that the Kurc family was one of the lucky families. That every member was spared from the fate that over 6 million others endured is a miracle.

I listened to a podcast while reading this book where the author admits that she took some creative license when it came to the thoughts, feelings, and words of her ancestors. But it is evident that an immense amount of research went into this story. It teeters on the verge of non-fiction, but she states in the podcast she didn’t feel comfortable calling it anything other than a novel because of the way she had to fill the gaps with what cannot be found in the act of research.

This was an emotional read, but so worth it. We all need to be reminded of the past and oftentimes that makes us uncomfortable.

Over the course of 2019 my goal is to Read the World. Check it out!

Reading Challenge 2019 (2)

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Books, Uncategorized

The Great Alone: A Book Review

Title: The Great Alone

Author: Kristin Hannah

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Copyright Date: 2018

*Setting for book challenge: Isolated Location (Kaneq, Alaska)

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The Vietnam War stole Leni Allbright’s father.

He returned in 1974 a former POW and a new man with a violent streak. His love for her mother ran deep, but flipped a switch in him. And that switch hurt her mother. Every episode ended with an apology and every time Cora took him back. Meanwhile, teaching her teenage daughter that to wake up to broken glass, overturned furniture, empty whiskey bottles and a mother speckled black and blue is normal.

News that they inherited a cabin in Alaska brings Leni hopes that the move will help him. They pack their Volkswagen bus and settle on a homestead in the beautiful Alaskan wilderness. Leni’s small family from Seattle learns to live off the land and adjust to life without electricity where their nearest neighbor is miles away.

They quickly become part of their new community in Kaneq. Leni befriends Matthew, the only other teenager in town, and he teaches her how to prepare for her first winter in Alaska. He strengthens Leni’s spirit and shows her that love doesn’t have to mean being a punching bag and letting men walk all over you.

“Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now.”

During their first winter in Kaneq, the citizens face a horrific tragedy that soon brings division. When they need to lean into one another for support the town scatters themselves and builds walls of hatred.

“They were trapped, by environment and finances, but mostly by the sick, twisted love that bound her parents together.”

This was a beautifully written novel about a young girl learning to survive harsh circumstances and weather. Life dealt Leni an unfortunate hand, but throughout the course of her story she learns how to live unbroken.

I haven’t read a book I loved this much in a long time. There were at least five twists in this plot that I NEVER SAW COMING. I love a good, unpredictable read. I found myself constantly wanting to know what would happen next. I cheered for Leni, screamed at her mother, and all but spit at her abusive father.

This year, my goal is read books set all over the world. This is my first book of 2019. As I complete books this year I plan to share some details I learn about different corners of the world.

reading challenge 2019 (1)

I felt like I was in the last frontier as I read this novel. Glacier filled white mountains, cloudless cornflower blue skies, fjords, and northern lights all drew me into the landscape of this beautiful state. Orcas, seals, otters, bears, moose, bald eagles, ptarmigans, and cormorants were all wildlife that appeared in the secluded woods of Kaneq.

“The natural world spoke loudest here.”

I experienced both of the Alaskan seasons. The days where the sun barely set were unusual to me. I found myself wondering how one could fall asleep at midnight with the light of day still bright. Other days, the sun surfaced for only a couple of hours. How depressing that must be to endure! I learned that in many parts of Alaska one must travel over the ice by small planes and that during the winter months casualty numbers were high due to stupid mistakes and poor planning.

I’m off on another travel. Stay tuned to see my latest reading destination.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

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Every Day: A Book Review

Title: Every Day

Author: David Levithan

Publisher: Ember

Copyright Date: 2012

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For as long as A can remember he’s woken up every morning in a different body. He’s almost always in Maryland, but that’s his only constant. When he opens his eyes in the morning he must examine the body that will be his host until midnight. Some days that body is male and other days it’s female. A must learn about the life he is taking on as quickly as possible. Whose body is this? What are they like? Who do they care about? He must access his host to answer these questions, but the host must never know he was there.

Over time A has learned to set his own rules. When he borrows a body he tries to return it without having left a trace. He leaves clues to the day for the person when they return, so he can float to another body as if nothing ever happened.

But he’s made two mistakes: Nathan remembers being A’s host and A has fallen in love with Rhiannon.

Nathan has gone public with descriptions of “being possessed by the devil.” While much of the world thinks he has lost his mind, A is curious why Nathan can remember when no one else can.

After meeting Rhiannon A struggles with telling her the truth. For weeks he visits her in many different bodies, but will she be able to accept him? Can she love someone who changes like he does?

Longing for attachment causes A to break some of the rules that have guided his existence. And without those rules–who is A?

This is what love does: It makes you want to rewrite the world. It makes you want to choose the characters, build the scenery, guide the plot. The person you love sits across from you, and you want to do everything in your power to make it possible, endlessly possible. And when it’s just the two of you, alone in a room, you can pretend that this is how it is, this is how it will be.” (Page 175)

This novel is a touching, thought provoking tale that paints a portrait of one of humanity’s basic desires: to belong. The protagonist abandons everything and risks the safety of his rule book to find his true identity.

As the first book in a series there are some loose ends left at the end of the book, but overall the author did a great job raising questions that hook the reader for the next two installments Another Day and Some Day. The plot is very unique and I was intrigued to find that it was developed based on a conversation that the author had with John Green.

Follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading next!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Books, Uncategorized

The First Phone Call From Heaven: A Book Review

Title: The First Phone Call From Heaven

Author: Mitch Albom

Publisher: Harper

Copyright Date: 2013

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The city of Coldwater became host to a phenomenon.

For weeks, members of their community received phone calls from their deceased relatives. Katharine was the first to admit at church that she spoke regularly to her sister who had died a couple of years ago. As more phone calls came in, the town became the scene of a media frenzy complete with hundreds of people hoping to connect with their own lost loved ones.

While locals and visitors waited for their phones to ring, Sully Harding, a former pilot, was released from prison. He returned to town full of cynicism and the motivation to prove these miracles false.

As he researches the phone calls and those who have received them he learns more about the tragic day that landed him in prison and his wife’s ashes in an urn. He fights the spirit of faith that has overtaken the town and seeks to uncover the truth behind these unorthodox events in Coldwater.

“Fear is how you lose your life…a little bit at a time…What we give to fear, we take away from…faith.” (Page 117)

Full of poetic language and critical lessons this novel is one of the best I’ve read in a while. I have not read anything by Mitch Albom in ten years and now I feel as though I’ve been missing out. This emotional tale of the extent of the relationships we form gripped my heart at just the right time in my life. I finished this book with a renewed faith in humanity and strengthened faith in the Lord. This is a feel-good read that begs the reader to examine their beliefs about heaven and life after death.

Follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading next!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Books, Faith, Uncategorized

The Way of Abundance: A Book Review

Title: The Way of Abundance

Author: Ann Voskamp

Publisher: Zondervan

Copyright Date: 2018

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For the past sixty days I have journeyed through the pages of this devotional study on what it means to live a deeply meaningful life. Each of those days I opened the pages of encouragement and allowed the scriptures and wisdom of the author break my already broken heart a little more.

I’ve learned so much truth in this study. Things like:

-abundance is only achieved through the breaking and giving away of the heart

-giving away the heart helps the heart to heal

-a field must be broken before a farmer plants the seeds–likewise, we must be broken before we can experience growth

-helping others helps our own wounds

-the scars in our lives and on our hearts are just proof of the fact we have loved

I started reading this book while in a desperate state. The scars on my heart were fresh and bleeding, but the words of Ann Voskamp helped to bring me to a place of abundance. Living broken is counter-cultural. We live in a day where the world tells us to seek comfort, but a life of abundance is about risks. It’s about giving up pieces of yourself so you can experience what is to be put back together by God.

Of all the books I’ve read recently this one has made the most profound difference in my life. It has changed the way I look at turmoil and increased my desire to love everyone at all times.

Ann Voskamp has a way with words. And as the wife of a farmer she draws unique parallels between our hearts and the fields that she helps cultivate every day. Abundance takes work. A farmer can’t just sit back and expect that his seeds will yield crops. But, if he is willing to give himself to the promise of the field he will see the fruits of his labor realized.

Follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading next!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Book Review

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Copyright Date: 2008

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London is recovering after the war and Juliet Ashton is looking to change direction in her writing career. She found success writing inspirational pieces during one of the darkest times of British history. Fate would have it that just as she began her search for a book idea that she received a letter from a man who found her address written in a secondhand book. Dawsey Adams lived on the English Channel island of Guernsey which suffered under German occupation in World War II.

Their correspondence piques Juliet’s interest. Dawsey tells of the restrictions placed on the residents of the island and the small literary society formed as a result. Desperate for companionship a group of islanders gathered weekly to share food, drinks, and books. And it was at these meetings that his dear friend, Elizabeth McKenna shone brightly.

The war took so many things from the islanders: wealth, dignity, safety, food, jobs, and worst of all Elizabeth McKenna. Their brave friend was shipped off to the continent leaving behind her daughter whom the society members took upon themselves to raise. Desperate to reunite with their missing member the rest of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society enlist the help of their newfound friend, Miss Ashton.

The letters begin to flood in to Juliet Ashton and before long she commits to visiting her pen pals to witness the devastation herself. She left behind her agent, boyfriend, and apartment to pursue her inspiration on Guernsey.

I first heard of this book over the summer while in England. A movie based on this novel was released recently and every bookstore shelved this title with their best sellers. Once I returned to the states I started to see the book everywhere. Online people were talking about it as well. And then Netflix released the movie in America.

I must say that after watching the movie this was one of those rare cases where I preferred the movie to the book. I did enjoy the book, but I found the format in which it was written to be a little less exciting than the cinematic interpretation. It is written in letter form. The pro–it’s a quick read. The con–because most of the story is a retelling of events from different character perspectives it lacks some suspense and is relatively limited in dialogue. I highly recommend this novel for many reasons, but I do think the movie warrants a viewing after the fact. Major differences do occur between the two, but I found the film enjoyable and I was able to understand the logic behind most of the changes to the plot and characters.

Follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading next!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: A Book Review

Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Author: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic Inc)

Copyright Date: 2016

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I finally ticked a book off of my to-read list in Goodreads that I’ve put off for two years!

Being a fan of the Harry Potter series and also being married to a man who grew up during the series’ prime I was keen to get a hold of this screenplay. For this book legendary author, J.K. Rowling, teamed up with writers from London’s West End theater to create a new installment in the Harry Potter story, this time nineteen years after the conclusion of the Hogwarts War.

Harry and Ginny Potter are parents to James, Albus, and Lily who are all pupils or soon to be at Hogwarts. Albus, the middle child, has always felt like a misfit in his own family. Growing up in the shadow of his father has Albus feeling like a constant failure. After being sorted into the house of Slytherin, Harry makes it even more clear that he has little in common with Albus. Luckily, Albus makes friends with another troubled child at school, Scorpius Malfoy. Together, the two boys set out to write their own destinies as opposed to accepting the one’s determined by their birthrights.

At the Ministry of Magic, Harry and Hermione uncover a time-turner which threatens all that they know to be truth. In the wrong hands, a time-turner can rewrite history. They go to great lengths to protect their world from the effects of time travel, but forces in their midst threaten that security. Albus and Scorpius learn of this magic and decide to use it to fulfill their own purposes. Caught in a web of the past, Albus and Scorpius must combat dark magic not unlike the quests of their fathers.

At first, I struggled with Harry Potter’s parenting techniques. His harsh demeanor toward the son he struggled to relate to seemed as though he had learned nothing from his own estranged upbringing. I hoped to find Harry fostering a relationship with his own children that opposed the treatment he received from his uncle. Nonetheless, I can imagine it to be a true struggle for parents when they don’t connect with their children easily. While reading I needed to reference earlier books (since it had been such a long time) when it came to some of the spells and magic used in this book. I also didn’t love the fact that this book is actually just a copy of the script for a stage performance. I found that stage directions and speaker switches threw off my immersion in the story. I know that much of that is necessary to perform a play, but I wanted to lose myself in this book the way I did the novels of my childhood.

All of us who love Harry Potter have waited a long time to return to the wizarding world. To be back in the halls of Hogwarts made me feel like a kid again. I have missed the moving staircases, enchanted portraits, and lively Quidditch matches. Being able to catch up on the lives of the characters I grew up alongside really made this tale nostalgic.

I would love to see J.K. Rowling write more about Albus Potter in the future!

The Ameri Brit Mom