November Book Group–“Aloha Kanani”

Hello everyone!  I can’t believe we are to the last Book Group get together for the year already, where did the time go?  I don’t know about you, but I really enjoyed “Aloha Kanani”!

I can say that so far, this is probably my favorite of all of the Girl Of The Year Books we’ve talked about.  I thought that it was a very well written book without some of the issues that bothered me with some of the previous ones we’ve discussed.

The set up for the story is very well done, and you can get a real feel for Kanani’s surroundings.  From the description of her room to the Akina’s store, I found it very easy to visualize in my mind.  The additional characters really rounded out the story, I especially enjoyed her aunties who came to the store with their daily goodies for Kanani to try!  As someone who grew up with a number of older relatives and family friends constantly around, I thought it was terrific that these characters were included and how they were presented.  The combination of the generations along with the tidbits of Hawaiian tradition were so well done and I found myself smiling the whole time I was reading the book.

There is a bit of conflict, but it’s more a case of misunderstanding instead of outright meanness.  There isn’t a villain or nasty person in this book, just two girls who come from completely different worlds not quite seeing things from the same way.  I also loved the part about the baby seal, it not only added a lot to the story, but also was a great lesson in how we shouldn’t interfere with wild animals if we don’t know what we are doing.  Especially timely given some stories that have recently hit the news with people thinking they are helping wildlife but in fact are doing more damage than good.

I’m not going to say much more because I don’t want to give too much away.  Just that I liked this book way more than I expected to and I’m going to look for the second one now!  That said, another thing I liked about it is the book is quite capable of standing alone without leaving the reader wondering what happens in the future books.  It’s a good story that does a very good job of telling the story with all of the necessary elements and having a true resolution at the end.

Did you like it?

Book group will resume in January once the holidays are over with.  January book will be “Meet Cecile” and February will be “Grace”.  The entire series of Grace Thomas books are still available on American Girl, so you have plenty of time to pick it up and read it between now and then!

 

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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!