June Book Group Read: Lea Dives In

Hello everybody! I hope you all are enjoying your summer so far. I realize that summer doesn’t officially start until next week, but tell that to Mother Nature. It’s been very hot here for the past few days and supposed to stay that way for a few more. Much more like July weather instead of June. But rather appropriate since we are talking about a book set in Brazil!

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book, but truthfully, I enjoyed it way more than I ever thought I would. First off, Lea is into photography, an area that is very close to my heart! And she was heading to somewhere in South America, and I’ve had a fascination with Mexico, Latin and South America ever since my 6th grade history course where we studied it in depth. So right off the bat, things were heading in the right direction.

First, we’ll start off with the things I didn’t like. I’m still not fond of the fact that we have these kids trekking off to foreign destinations all the time when there is so much within the United States that they could see and do, plus it would be a good way to learn some more history of our country. I was also very annoyed with American Girl initially promoting her as being a girl from Brazil, but when the book came out, we learn she is only 1/8 Brazilian. I’m a larger percentage of Irish than that, yet I don’t go around identifying as such! I’m hoping if American Girl has learned nothing else over this past year, they will quit trying to sweep ethnicity under the rug. I don’t understand why, especially with the GOTY line, they are so afraid of trying to show some diversity. This was a poor excuse of trying to be ethnically aware if you ask me.

The other thing that bugged me was the professions of her parents. Her mom is an architect and her dad is a college professor. Ring any bells???? I immediately thought of Lanie, same scenario exactly! Why they had to recycle this when it really had no bearing on the outcome of the story is beyond me. Can’t anyone come up with anything original anymore?

The good parts–right off the bat I was thrilled that we didn’t have to start off with an antagonistic character in the book. In fact, there wasn’t one period, other than the issues with her brother. And I loved how that was all handled, very realistic. As a youngest sibling, I can relate to how it feels when an older one leaves home and you feel left behind. I also loved how the story tied present time events with the things she read in her grandmother’s journal. I thought it was a great way to bring everything full circle with the compass and the camera. I also loved her description of the ocean as it was spot on. I remember being completely in awe of the turquoise color of the Caribbean last year when we went to Mexico.

My favorite part was her blossoming friendship with Camila and how they ended the book with the two of them with the dress and then later at the festival. I haven’t read the other books yet, so I don’t yet know how much more we see of Camila in this series, but I much preferred their interaction over some of the other Girl Of The Year books.

Overall, I really liked the book, and was pleasantly surprised with how it all turned out. We had conflict, but not so much nastiness and hatred like Isabella. We had an exciting event and Lea discovering all sorts of challenges that she needed to overcome. I won’t give anything away just in case you haven’t read it yet, but I would definitely recommend this book over some of the other GOTY ones I’ve read. This book is slightly longer than other American Girl books which gave more opportunity to expand the story which was a big plus. And to think I wasn’t a huge Lea fan initially!

Did you like Lea Dives In? Can’t wait to hear everyone’s opinions.

A Big Ebay Find!

In my last post I hinted at a bit of a surprise coming up.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I spend way too much time on Ebay though.

All of you know Abby:

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Say hello Abby!

She’s a renamed Saige doll that I bought 2 years ago.  When I bought her, I knew her hair was a bit of a mess and I worked on getting it straightened out, but it just hasn’t gone very well.  It was in worse shape than I realized, ugh.  I fully intended on sending her in to the doll hospital to get a new head, but then pantygate happened and not only have I vowed not to purchase anything from AG until they get their heads on straight again, I’d also heard some not so good rumblings about recent hospital experiences.  I was in a bit of a pickle.

After a bit of debate, I decided my best course of action was to buy a new doll.  Not a fun task.  And I know it sounds kind of silly, but let me explain.  Saige is the only GOTY that I ever really wanted.  I have others, but there was always something about that darned doll.  Unfortunately she came out when the finances in our household weren’t exactly flush and I couldn’t justify spending that money on a doll.  So naturally when I got into all of this, she was the first GOTY on my list.  The rest were ones I liked, and just happened to work out, but if I could have only had one, it would have been Saige.  I had decided to look at a NRFB (Never Removed From Box).  I found a couple from reliable sellers that weren’t an arm and a leg, but they were still pricey.  I knew I didn’t want to wait too long to make up my mind though as I have a suspicion once the permapanty dolls hit the market full force, prices of non-permapanty dolls on Ebay are going to jump a bit.  So I was watching in earnest.

Then it happened.  I popped on Ebay one day and decided to check out the new Saige listings.  And there she was, a beautiful Saige doll, from someone’s collection.  The woman was an adult collector that was having to reduce the size of her collection and was selling off various dolls and accessories from several different lines.  When I clicked on the auction, I couldn’t believe my luck.  Not only was she in gorgeous, like new condition, but she also came with her parade outfit, which I had been eyeing up for ages!  I quickly hit the “buy it now” button and in a few days she was here!

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Isn’t she lovely?!?!?! When I got her out of the box, I was so excited, I finally had my perfect Saige!
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Let me just tell you, Abby is not upset in the least.  In fact, they are already friends!

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Here is a shot of the top of their heads so you can see the difference.  Abby’s hair feels so dry and it’s breaking off so she has these sharp pieces sticking up.  I’ve tried conditioning it, and since I can’t dip her head completely, that is out.

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So, what now??
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 Well, after a bit of debate, Abby is still going to be Abby.  BUT she is going to get a new wig.   I haven’t settled on what she is going to get 100% just yet, but I’ve got a couple of things in mind.  I thought about selling her, and making the new Saige into Abby 2.0, but when I looked on Ebay and saw all the more a Saige in her condition would sell for, I decided I would just keep her and customize her.

Saige isn’t going to remain Saige either.  I never liked her name.  Since she arrived, she’s been hanging out in my living room.  One day I just happened to look at her and her lovely hair and realized she looked an awful lot like a character on my favorite British Soap, Coronation Street.  So I’ve decided her name is going to be Jenny Bradley.  (If you watch the show, I can assure you she won’t be a trouble maker like her namesake!)  I’m still working on Jenny’s backstory but she has another surprise in store for our readers!

The other awesome part of the auction was this:

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I’ve always liked this set and missed out on it as well. To get it in this auction and still not pay even close to what a NRFB doll was the icing on the cake! I love these boots too, I think they are gorgeous!
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Now you’ve seen the surprise. Stay tuned for the next installments of what happens to Jenny and Abby!

February Book Group Read–Lanie!

Hello everyone, welcome to our bookgroup discussion! Everyone is welcome to participate in the discussion via the comments section. I do want to set a few rules first though. No personal attacks, we can all have differing opinions without nastiness. And please, keep on topic. If I find that a comment is not on topic, it will be deleted. The only exception to this is if the conversation goes in that direction, but this is not the place to discuss other posts and other goings on in doll land. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get started!

The book for this group “meeting” was Lanie, written by Jane Kurtz. Lanie was the 2010 Girl Of The Year, and what attracted me to her story was the ecology/nature aspect of it. I’ve been a long time supporter of recycling, even working as the recycling coordinator at my last job for a small municipality. I also liked the outdoorsy theme running throughout the book, when I was that age, I practically lived outdoors.  I was even known to drag all of my Barbie stuff outside during the summer months.
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Since we’ve all read the book, I’m not going to go into depth about the story. This isn’t intended to be a review, nor do I want to recap it completely, less ruining it for someone who maybe hasn’t read it. The main purpose of this group is to discuss various points in the book that we liked or didn’t like, themes, etc.

Let’s see…as I mentioned before, the nature part of it was a big attraction for me, and my favorite part of that was the story about the hatching of the butterflies. I’ve always been fascinated by that whole process, particularly with Monarch butterflies, and it took me back to a book I had when I was a kid that explained the process with fantastic photos. I’ll be honest, after I got done reading Lanie, I was tempted to go order one of those monarch butterfly hatching kits, it stirred up that interest all over again. I also liked her journaling like she was doing scientific studies and her vast interest in science.  Her interest in birds was also appealing to me as I used to be very into that when we lived at our other house.  It wasn’t something I got into until I was an adult, but it’s a fascinating subject!

Parts I didn’t like: the nasty neighbor with the cat. I felt that the whole part of the story with Lulu and the cat having a confrontation was kind of unnecessary. Plus the whole situation with the neighbor went rather unresolved at the end of the book. So that really served no purpose and I think that section of the book could have been left out and replaced with more about her older sister, her aunt and the science she was studying. I also didn’t like how her older sister was depicted at the beginning, she comes off as being a bit of a prissy pain in the neck, but then later in the story she seems to be the one person who genuinely feels bad for Lanie. I’m just not sure about how she was portrayed.

The rest of the characters were fine, although I would have liked to have seen more of her Aunt Hannah. I haven’t read the second book yet, so perhaps that is covered more there. I got a kick out of her descriptions of her parents, her dad sounds like the typical absent minded college professor! And Emily is your typical 1st grader, picky eater with an unreasonable fear of bugs. I thought they got the dynamic between the two girls right, it reminded me of a friend of mine who had not one, but two younger sisters, and the issues they would have.

There were quite a few things that she had to deal with that were handled in an appropriate manner–her envy at her friend Dakota, taking on the job of the garden in her Aunt Hannah’s absence, and her frustration with her family and their “indoor genes” when she suggests going camping.  My only complaint was in how her mother handled the situation with Emily when she damaged Lanie’s journal for science class.  This would have been a good opportunity for the author to go into respect for other people’s belongings a bit more.  I thought it was kind of lost and something that could have been a learning moment was ignored.  Oh well.

Did anyone else love the little illustrations throughout the book?  They reminded me a bit of Susan Branch or Marjolein Bastin drawings.

Overall, I thought this was one of the better GOTY books, and I especially liked that her interests were science related.  I wish they had done more stories like this, showing that girls can have interests beyond dance and music.

Talk amongst yourselves now!!!

Book for March 15 is Meet Kit (pre BeForever version), book for April 15 is Isabelle, book for May 15 is Meet Marie-Grace.

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My own Lanie and Emily!