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The Book Goddess has commented on (36) products.

Hope at Dawn (Of Love and War) by Stacy Henrie
Hope at Dawn (Of Love and War)

The Book Goddess, July 9, 2014

What an interesting spin on the World War 1 historical-romance genre. This story takes place in Iowa during World War I, where we meet Livy and Friedrick. Livy meets Friedrick at a dance hall but doesn't catch his name...with a name like Friedrick Wagner...people tend to judge. This was a rough time in American history for German-Americans...which many probably never think about. I descend from German-Americans who emigrated to North Dakota in the late 1800's...and it never dawned on me to think about how they were treated as a people when the US went to war against Germany. My family lived in a primarily German area, where everyone spoke German. In this story, our town in Iowa has instilled language laws which forbids the speaking of German in public and on telephones, even, or one could face jail time. There was a paranoia and fear of the German-Americans that they may be spies or sympathizers. Our Livy comes to Friedrick's town to be the new school teacher, to primarily German children, and learns that judgement and bigotry goes both ways. The Germans were equally suspicious of her. Watching the friendship and romance blossom between Livy and Friedrick was wonderful and to watch how others reacted to their friendship was heart-breaking. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I learned that the next book in this series takes place in France between a soldier and a nurse. I can't wait.

I received an advanced copy of this tile from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley
The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way

The Book Goddess, May 31, 2014

I am always interested in learning more about education and the theories regarding why US students don't seem to perform as well as international students on standard exams, so when I saw a write up on this book, I was super excited to read it. Every one knows that we spend a ridiculous amount on our schools and the schools are always begging for more, even though I see no correlation between my property tax increase and the performance of the individual students. But if you say you don't want to throw more good money after bad, the perception is that you don't care about education. It's quite the opposite, I care quite deeply, which is why I don't want to keep throwing my money away. I grew up in Minnesota, which is well respected for it's public school education. I received such an excellent high school education, that I was bored and actually shocked at how easy college was and how unprepared my peers were. My experience over 10 years ago in college and now in the workplace, mirrors the research in this book. I was required to take intro English as a graduation requirement for my BS degree (even though I took AP writing and AP literature in high school), and there were students in my class who had never been required to write a proper research paper...they didn't even know how. I blew my professors away but I didn't learn anything new. Attending college was supposed to be challenging, yet there were still professors who chased you down to turn in assignments. Since when is that ok...your boss won't do that in the real world. What I got from the book, is that our students aren't invested in their education. Why would they be? If you get a B or C from a teacher who is trying to teach you, your parents will argue until you get an A. We grade on effort, rather than product. That goes hand in hand with the self-esteem movement...US children have the highest self-esteem of kids anywhere in the world. We aren't helping them by lying to them. But that's an argument for another book [book:Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y|6101013] We are constantly provided excuses for these kids, rather than challenging them. I truly believe most kids will reach the bar you set for them. Though not every kid is educationally inclined...we should bring back more vocational education. Teach them how to use critical thinking and math skills in a way that will apply to a trade...because kids aren't even able to do that. My husband used to hire entry-level warehouse workers and they were required to take a written test as part of the interview test. One of the questions asks the applicant to translate 5/8 into a decimal (and they are given a calculator)...1 in 10 would get it right. That's just sad! I have worked in corporate offices where we have employees coming out of school that can't draft a client e-mail without having it proofed. That's unacceptable. So anyone who says that the problem will be fixed with more pay for teachers and more technology in the classrooms...that's ridiculous. I volunteer in a local elementary school in an affluent neighborhood and in my classroom, each kid has an iPad and they have an electronic whiteboard in their classroom. These kids still can't answer my basic questions about math and science. Electronics don't teach kids material. The key to this book, is that there is a consistent presence of rigor and drive and a belief that education is important in the countries that are performing well on these tests. Right now, US kids are told that going to College is important...but just because you go to college, doesn't mean you are a critical thinker. The work environment is changing drastically...learning doesn't end when you get your degree. To stay competitive, you need to be constantly learning and developing, using your critical thinking skills, and be willing to take the initiative to grow and drive your career. Kids who have been told how smart and wonderful they are, aren't willing to do that and don't understand why they should. They have a degree...shouldn't the corner office be handed to them. It's a common attitude being encountered in offices across the US. I don't know what the solution is, but I do think we need a fundamental attitude change about what is important. We need highly trained teachers. There is nothing more irritating than communicating with a teacher via email and seeing grammatical errors. We need to actually train our students to think and not just pass tests. We need them to understand that the key to success is developing the ability to learn and grow...not just to get a piece of paper because you could pay for it. And we need to stop throwing money at schools...that doesn't make it better. I enjoyed this book very much and plan to share it with anyone who will listen. As for the negative reviews I read...I wonder if they were written by teachers?
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(2 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)

Then and Always by Dani Atkins
Then and Always

The Book Goddess, May 31, 2014

This story was reminiscent of the movie Sliding Doors and the movie Thirteen Going on Thirty...yet with its own special twist on the genre. Though, I initially had this book pegged as a romance, it turned out to be so much more. The characters were well written and the story really draws you in from the very first page, though the true heart of this story is the connection between Rachel and Jimmy. In both trajectories of Rachel's "life", Jimmy was the magnet for me. I thought this book was beautifully written, full of emotion and had me in tears once I started to guess at what was going to happen to bring a conclusion to Rachel's story...though whether they were sad or happy tears, is up to you to read the book and find out. I would highly recommend adding this to your reading list this will be unable to put it down, so set aside some time and dive in to this amazing and moving story.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
Lost Lake

The Book Goddess, January 26, 2014

I want to start this review by saying I have loved Sarah Addison Allen as an author since I read Garden Spells . It was so beautiful and different, that I knew I had to get my hands on every book she has written and I have. While waiting for this book to come out, I learned that the delay was due to the fact that the author was battling a very serious health problem and my heart absolutely ached for her. I was so happy to read in the acknowledgements section of this book that she has just reached two years with clear scans. My thoughts and prayers will continue to go out to this author.

Now, for my review of this was just as magical and all-consuming as her prior books. There is just something about Allen's writing that makes you want to climb into the book to spend time with her characters. I was so excited when I got this book, I had to read it in a single sitting. The book begins in the 1960's, which briefly introduces us to newlyweds, George and Eby, and their adventurous honeymoon in Paris. We then flash forward to the present day, where Eby's great-niece, Kate, is "waking up" after a year of being asleep. No, she wasn't in a coma, this is where the magic of Allen's writing comes into play. We learn about this very strange family, relative by relative, to learn about a certain family curse. Now is it a real curse, I don't get that feeling. But the author writes in a way that makes you realize it is always your choice to be happy and move forward after great loss. There is a wonderful line in the book that says something to the effect of "if you are too busy mourning what your empty cup, you will miss the opportunity to fill it again". I am paraphrasing, but I found that line extremely striking. The magic in this book is more subtle than in prior books, but I felt that it fit the story well. This is ultimately a book about finding your strength and moving forward with the support of friends and family and taking care of each other. I wish Lost Lake was a real place to sounds like a magical place full of peace and healing. Sarah Addison Allen knocked it out of the park again for me and I cannot wait to see what she does next. If you have never read this author before, do yourself a favor and read all of her books.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
Under the Wide and Starry Sky

The Book Goddess, January 22, 2014

The concept of reading a fictionalized tale of actual people and their lives always fascinates me. I requested a copy of this novel to review from Net Galley based on the description on the book jacket. This story covers the turbulent lives of the acclaimed author of Treasure Island and Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde and his eccentric, american wife, Fanny. I casually began this story one afternoon, thinking I would read for a bit, and found myself having difficulty putting the book down hours later. The author did an amazing job bringing these people to life and painting their extremely chaotic life. Fanny had a difficult life prior to meeting Louis...she went from Indiana to Nevada with a horrible husband, bore children early in life, ended up in California and then some how, picked up and took her children to Europe to try to be an artist. The story is so fantastic that it's hard to believe these were real events. Fanny and Louis meet as she is trying to survive a tragic event in her life and their connection is so feels almost wrong to spy on their intimate encounters. Their lives are not easy...they struggle with her her husband, money, where to live and most importantly, Louis' health. Their relationship was an absolute roller coaster of ups and downs that eventually leads them to Samoa. Throughout their time together, Louis publishes the two works he is famously known for, though unfortunately, it seems true fame only came after he had passed away. I am not sure if Fanny was bipolar or simply suffered from the stress of her life events, but I immensely liked her depiction and truly admire her strength and spirit. This was a story dominated by a great love between husband and wife. This was truly an engaging and enjoyable read and now I need to get my hands on Horan's first book, Loving Frank. If I enjoy that half as much as I enjoyed this story, then I am in for a real treat.

I received a copy of this title from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review
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