Book Review #96: “Lea Dives In”

American Girl books are great pick-me-ups! Whenever I’m in a reading slump or struggling to pick the next book, an American Girl book usually sets me right. I found Lea Dives In at my local library.

Lea was the Girl of the Year for 2016. I remember falling in love with the doll and her collection. And the books sounded magical – Traveling and seeing a new country? Yes, please!

Lea’s brother, Zac, is studying abroad in Brazil. Lea and her parents are going to spend a week there! Lea is excited, but also nervous and a bit sad. She’s grieving the recent loss of a dear family member, and she knows she’s changed since Zac left for college a few years earlier. It’s great how this book addresses multiple real-world challenges in less than 100 pages.

I loved Lea as a character, she reminded me of me around her age. I love the richness of the culture, too, and how the author paid attention to detail with mixing English and Portuguese, one of the languages spoken in Brazil. I’ve always appreciated that about American Girl in general – Both the historical and modern stories try really hard to educate readers on different cultures and time periods. There’s even a glossary in the back of the book with pronunciations!

I’m excited to read book 2 – Lea Leads The Way. There’s also a third book, Lea and Camila.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #258: Nineteenth TBR Recap

Image Credit: hippoquotes.com

Welcome back!

Here’s what I’ve read since my last TBR post:

  1. Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice (DNF)
  2. Gladwell, Malcolm, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference — Review coming soon!
  3. Hakesley, Faith, Glimmers of Grace: Moments of Peace and Healing Following Sexual Abuse — Review coming soon!
  4. King, Stephen, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
  5. Rosen, L.C., Camp

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

  1. Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give

Keep & Re-Classify – Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Cullen, Dave, Parkland: Birth of a Movement
  2. Elliott, T.E., Service and Slumber: A Historical Tale Inspired by Sleeping Beauty (The Beast’s Legacy Book 2)
  3. Mlynowski, Sarah, I See London, I See France
  4. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch
  5. Owens, Delia, Where The Crawdads Sing
  6. Yee, Lisa, Lea Dives In

Getting Personal #257: Reflections on September 11th, 20 Years Later

When I started writing this post, I could have sworn the last time I wrote about September 11th was in 2016 for the 15th anniversary. Turns out, my only post about it so far on this blog was in 2019, for the 18th anniversary.

What I wrote in 2019 captures a lot of what I was preparing to write today, so I’ll let you read those words on that post, if you choose. A warning: I do have several images in that post that are disturbing from 2001. Proceed with caution.


I will say today that I remember, 20 years ago, that I felt true fear and anxiety. A few days ago, I thought those feelings on that brilliant Tuesday were the first time I felt them, at 13 years old. Now, I’m fairly certain it was the second time that I felt fear, anxiety, and despair. The first time was on April 20, 1999, the day of the Columbine High School massacre.

I think of the 2,977 innocent lives that were lost on the four planes, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon. I think of the firefighters and other first responders. All of them were heroes and heroines. I think of the unborn children. I think of the children who lost their parents or their other family members. The entire nation – The entire word – was changed on September 11, 2001.

I was watching the sun rise this morning as I drove to get breakfast for Al and I this morning. I stopped the podcast I was listening to mid-sentence, and I found myself praying as I drove back home. I was expressing gratitude for still being on this Earth, watching another sunrise.

As I finish this post today, in the middle of the afternoon, the sun is shining, it’s 78 degrees and so pleasant. Fall is on the way. And I think of all the families – Families of the victims, families of the rescuers, families who were directly affected by the debris and destruction in New York, Arlington, and Shanksville. I’ve consumed more news media this week than normal, because so many stations and channels have been covering the 20th anniversary. At the end of this post, I’ll share a few links of ones that captured my heart. All of them made me cry.

Today has been about reflection, gratitude, and prayer. I’m definitely a different person at 33 years old than I was at 13. And I’m grateful to be writing about it, hopefully as respectfully as I can be.

God Bless America. God bless us all.


20th Anniversary Coverage

They Lost Loves Ones In 9/11. We Invited Them To Leave A Voicemail In Their Memory | NPR

America After 9/11 | FRONTLINE

The children of 9/11 sit down 20 years later | Good Morning America


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #256: September Goals

Image Credit: Entrepreneur Delights

Welcome back!

I cannot believe it’s already September 2021! Every year gets faster, I swear. The only exception was 2020, and I think a lot of us know why that is.


Here are my goals for the month of September:

  1. Go through all of my American Girl items, and set aside those marked for future sale.
  2. Schedule donation pick-up for the large bags of clothing and household items that need to leave my office pronto.
  3. Schedule more time off from work.
  4. Successfully coordinate my work department move.
  5. Set additional screen time limits, both at work and at home.
  6. Make at least one significant editing pass through the printed version of book 2.
  7. Continue meal planning.
  8. Look into getting re-certified in adult and/or pediatric CPR.
  9. Begin planning for NaNoWriMo 2021.
  10. Start reviewing the current version of book 3.
  11. Look into a business course or something similar to prepare for my launch as an author.
  12. Keep up my library patronage.
  13. Prepare to donate blood again in October.
  14. Restart my regular TBR Recap posts.

What about you? Do you have any goals for the month of September?

Tell me about it in the comments – I’d love to cheer you on!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #255: August Goals Recap

Image Credit: pinterest.com

Welcome back!

Here were my goals for the month of August:

  1. Donate blood. — Accomplished!
  2. Celebrate my birthday! — Accomplished!
  3. Write and publish my annual Reflections on My Birthday post. — Accomplished!
  4. Make a dent in the mess in my office. — Did not accomplish yet.
  5. Continue meal planning. — Accomplished!
  6. Publish one Book Review. — Did not accomplish yet.
  7. Continue my reduced social media weekends. — Semi-Achieved.
  8. Make progress with editing book 2. — Semi-Achieved.
  9. Donate books to the library. — Accomplished!

August was really good. But, it also went by really quickly!

I had a wonderful birthday weekend! My birthday was on a Saturday this year, so I took off the day before from work. It was amazing. I’ve been hooked on Cold Case on HBO Max, so I blissfully lounged on the couch with Phineas and Ferb most of the day! The blood drive was on my birthday, so I was thrilled to give blood and celebrate with about 90 people throughout the day, My parents bought a variety of fun size Reese’s candies to hand out to everyone, and my mom decorated Fellowship Hall with birthday banners! Al treated me to sushi on Saturday night, yum! And then my mom had us over for an amazing dinner on Sunday!

I enjoyed writing my annual Reflections on My Birthday post. It’s a great tradition for me.

I discovered that the myLidl app has amazing recipes! I made amazing chicken shawarma for Al’s lunches one week, and he wants me to make it again soon! Al’s mom also sent us a great casserole recipe that we both loved: Chicken BBQ Ranch Casserole | Julia Pacheco

I’ve definitely been reading more recently, but Book Reviews are another story. I’m close to finishing up two books now, so I’m hoping to have more Book Reviews published soon!

I didn’t make as much progress with editing book 2 as I would have liked, but I chalk that up to things being really hectic at work for nearly a month, and things are just now calming down and settling back to normal.

I gathered up four big shopping bags full of books to donate, and I carted those to the Friends of the Library on August 21st. I also re-established my library patronage, and checked out three books! I may scale back to one book per checkout when I return those three tomorrow, but I’m happy that I’ve gotten back into borrowing from the library. Going to the library is an incredible, consistent memory of mine, and I’m excited to keep it going as an adult. Plus, it will save me money, too!


What about you? Did you have any goals for the month of August?

Come back soon to see my goals for September!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂