Book Review #103: Nicki’s Journal

Nicki is the more “tomboy” or skater chick of the twins from 1999.

I love that she skateboards at age 9! I didn’t own a skateboard as a kid in the 1990s, but I loved my bike and roller skates. Once I got roller blades, I barely took them off until I outgrew them.

Nicki and Isabel are creative in their own ways!

4 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #102: Isabel’s Journal

American Girl just released two new characters – Isabel and Nicki. Twins from 1999!

It’s interesting how they are approaching books with new characters now. You get their journal first, and then their full story comes out later. Fascinating!

Isabel is the girly-girl twin. It’s funny, I feel like I was a mix of Isabel and Nicki when I was 9. I was older than them in 1999, but holy moly did this journal (and Nicki’s) throw me back!

I love how Isabel makes her countdown list and works to check off everything!

4 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #101: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”

My across-the-street neighbor let me borrow her copy! I’ve wanted to read this book for years. I’d heard the news reports and articles about Henrietta and her family’s fight over her cells. But this book went so in depth. I’m glad I read it.

I learned that Henrietta and her family had roots in Clover, Virginia, which is very close to where my in-laws currently live! What a small world!

If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend you do so. It’s a “typical” non-fiction book, where it can be dry and a bit boring, but author Rebecca Skloot successfully mixes science and Henrietta’s life. I learned so much about Henrietta, her family, and how the scientific community betrayed them all. And her story is not an isolated one, either. It’s an impressive book about the debate on medical ethics, along with our rights regarding our bodies, tissues, cells, and body parts.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #119: Abortion

Image Credit: South OC Beaches

I’ve been through every single emotion since yesterday. On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court made a decision that has plunged the nation into darkness, fear, and uncertainty.

I’m rethinking everything about my own life, even though I do want to have children. I’ve always wanted to have children. But now, I’m not sure I want to bring a child or children into this world.


Many of you know that I was raised in the United Methodist Church. Overall, I had a good church experience. I was never abused or traumatized, nothing drastic like that.

At the same time, I was taught to not have sex before marriage. Abortion was frowned upon, but not even really mentioned or discussed.

However, I had to educate myself today on the stance of the church on abortion.

What is the UM position on abortion?


I am staunchly pro-choice. And one singular event made me that way.

I was a freshman in college at Longwood. I don’t remember which class it was, or which semester, but it was either the fall of 2007 or the spring of 2008.

An anti-abortion protest took place on campus, between the Student Union and Stubbs Hall. Our professor asked us to attend, to witness it. We could leave at any time, but we had to check in with our professor before we left. I think I lasted maybe 10-15 minutes tops. I felt like I was going to throw up on the grass.

The protestors had graphic photos on signs, poster board and foam board, with Bible verses. There was a man with one of those portable loudspeakers with a megaphone that made think of the protests of the Vietnam War. They quoted Scripture constantly. Most of these people were adults, older than us. I don’t remember how many there were.

I could barely walk after leaving the Student Union. I don’t remember much of that day after that. I was horrified.

I knew, from that day forward, that I was not going to support any of that.

This was when I was 19 years old, I turned 20 in the summer of 2008. I was very naïve. I was always the good girl, the goody-two-shoes. I wanted to be the perfect child for my parents, the good Christian girl who studied hard and got good grades.

I’m trying to unlearn so many things now. I’m grateful for various counselors and therapists.

That protest altered me forever. I continued to attend church, because that’s what I had always done, but that protest was burned into my memory.


Also in college, I was in a relationship that I thought was love. I was with John from July 2006 through July 2010. July 17th, just a few weeks from now, marks 12 years since I was able to escape from him. Alive.

Now, years later, I’m fully convinced that he wanted to get me pregnant, so that we needed to get married and he could control me forever. Coercive control is real.

I remember looking up Planned Parenthood for the first time in my life, incredibly afraid, sometime in 2009. It was one of the few times that John wasn’t watching me.

I’m fortunate that I didn’t get pregnant then. I refused to have sex with him for the first two years, because I wanted to save it for marriage. I thought we were going to get married. I still remember my mom’s face when I told her that we were thinking about getting married after graduation.

He controlled me sexually. He sexually assaulted me more than once. In early, 2009, he nearly raped me. Thankfully, I was able to get him to listen to the word “No,” finally, after screaming it over and over. Once wasn’t enough.

I’m so glad I was able to get out.

I’m so glad that I have a wonderful man in my life, Al, who supports me (and women) 200 percent.


Moving Forward

I’m ready to fight like hell.

I’m donating to Planned Parenthood.

I’m ready to vote, like tomorrow.

If you’re not registered to vote in the U.S., I beg you to do so!

I’m screaming. It might be from a keyboard right now, but I have a voice. And I’m not afraid anymore.

And to those in Washington, D.C., you just pissed off so many people.

I’m still a Christian. But I will always be pro-choice.


Resources

Bans Off Our Bodies

How to Register to Vote

Planned Parenthood

safe2choose

We Won’t Go Back

Women’s March


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #100: “Maritza: Lead with Your Heart” (World By Us)

The third book in the World By Us from American Girl was as equally compelling and thought-provoking as the other two.

As an American Girl collector, I wish I had the space for all of the community center items and accessories. It’s so colorful and fun!

I appreciated the fact that American Girl tackled immigration and deportation in this book. Like Evette’s and Makena’s books, it’s clear that this was well-researched and carefully crafted.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #99: “Makena: See Me, Hear Me, Know Me” (World By Us)

After reading Evette’s book, I quickly moved to Makena’s book in the World By Us collection from American Girl.

Makena loves fashion, and posts her #OOTD (outfit of the day). I love how expressive she is!

Similar to Evette’s story, racism is a major theme in Makena’s story. Despite Makena’s struggles to come to terms with not one, but two incidents in her young life, I applaud American Girl for addressing both incidents in a thoughtful way. It definitely educated me.

It also encourages open communication between family members, and how talking about your feelings with someone that you can trust is so important.

Reading Makena’s story was another eye-opener for me, as a white woman, to how one phone call or one remark could very easily put someone else’s life at risk in an instant.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #98: “Evette: The River and Me” (World By Us)

I’m always up for new books from American Girl. When they announced the new World By Us line with three books, I was excited. I was able to get the books practically brand-new from a seller in the big American Girl Obsessed BST group that I’m a member of on Facebook.

The first book that I read is Evette’s book. She’s passionate about the environment. The book also addresses the pandemic, social media, and other real-life issues. Racism is one big topic that’s incorporated. I also love the community center that’s featured!

I read through the whole book in one night several months ago. Most American Girl books don’t take me long to read at all, but this one was also beautifully illustrated!

The interesting part about these books, and this line/collection, is that the characters are 13 years old, which is older than the typical target demographic for the company. I personally think this is a great thing, and it shows that American Girl is dedicated to diversity, inclusion, education, and other things.

Given that the target audience is quite a bit younger than myself, I had to put myself in the shoes of a 13-year-old while reading it.

I really appreciated how the author and the diversity team that is recognized in the book did their homework and tried to respectfully and carefully craft a story that was relevant and would potentially resonate with readers, families, and others.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #271: Twentieth TBR Recap

Image Credit: Mommy and the Books

Welcome back!

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

  1. Elliott, T.E., Service and Slumber: A Historical Tale Inspired by Sleeping Beauty (The Beast’s Legacy Book 2) — Review coming soon!
  2. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch — Review coming soon!
  3. Skloot, Rebecca, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  4. Yee, Lisa, Lea Dives In

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

  1. Mlynowski, Sarah, I See London, I See France
  2. Owens, Delia, Where The Crawdads Sing

Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Bethell, CM, Forged in Fire Book Two – Ayden (The Guardians Series 2)
  2. Cervantes, Angela, Lead With Your Heart (World By Us series)
  3. Cullen, Dave, Parkland: Birth of a Movement
  4. Davis, Michael, Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street
  5. Land, Stephanie, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive
  6. Macy, Beth, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America
  7. Patrick, Denise Lewis, See Me, Hear Me, Know Me (World By Us series)
  8. Rosen, L.C., Jack of Hearts (and other parts)
  9. Wyeth, Sharon Dennis, The River and Me (World By Us series)

So, my current TBR is nine (9) books.

Do you have a TBR?

What are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #33: Not Guilty Verdict for Rittenhouse

Joseph Rosenbaum (left), and Anthony Huber (right) were shot and killed on August 25, 2020 in the wake of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the shooting of Jacob Blake. Image Credit: NBC News

I cursed out loud earlier today when I caught wind of the Not Guilty verdict for now-18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse. He was acquitted of all charges today in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Am I surprised? No.

Am I angry, disappointed, and frustrated? YES.


I’m not going to rehash the case here since it’s been such a high-profile case with tons of media coverage.

However, I’m thinking of the families of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, along with Gaige Grosskreutz today.


As I mulled over my own thoughts and feelings today, I sincerely hope that something good will come out of this. According to NPR (article linked below), even though he was acquitted of criminal charges, it’s likely that he faces one or more civil lawsuits in the very near future.

I also think that Judge Bruce Schroeder should be investigated. His courtroom conduct during this trial has been beyond bizarre to say the least. I’m really curious to see what happens with Judge Schroeder now that a verdict has been reached.


Resources

Kyle Rittenhouse is acquitted of all charges in the trial over killing 2 in Kenosha | NPR

Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted on all charges | ABC News

EXPLAINER: Which charges did Kyle Rittenhouse face? | AP News


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #118: “Mom Opens Store and Uses Proceeds to Pay for People’s Adoptions”

Brittany Berrie opened The Adopted Closet in Davenport, Iowa to help cover the cost of adoption for families. Image Credit: Amanda Williams

This is such a cool story that Good Morning America covered!

Mom opens store and uses proceeds to pay for people’s adoptions (November 11, 2021)


Brittany Berrie finalized the adoption of her 11-year-old daughter, Gracie Lou Susan Johnson, earlier this summer. It was finalized after several years thanks to the generosity of Berrie’s cousin, who insisted on paying for the remaining costs. The average cost of adoption in the Unites States, through a private agency, ranges between $60,000 and $70,000. Costs can vary wildly as well.

Trying to find a way to thank her cousin, Berrie decided to help pay for another family’s adoption. She knew first-hand how expensive the process was. While organizing a garage sale with her mom, she had the idea to use the proceeds to help fund another adoption. Once people knew where the proceeds were going, donations poured in and never stopped.

Overwhelmed with clothes and other items, Berrie knew that they needed a store.

She converted her family’s garage into The Adopted Closet. Family members, including Gracie, keep the store running three days a week.

The proceeds from the garage sale and the store, in a matter of months, have already helped fund one family’s adoption, of two boys, which was finalized on November 6, 2021.

Berrie’s efforts coincide with National Adoption Awareness Month, observed every November. The lawyer for the family whose adoption was just finalized stated that the high costs is very prohibitive for a lot of families, making Berrie’s commitment and efforts even more remarkable.

Berrie is committed to continuing The Adopted Closet, and hopes to expand into a storefront to keep the store open year-round.


I’m super impressed with Berrie and her family. Being foster parents and/or adopting children is a huge act of love. And there are so many in need right here in the U.S. I’ve listed several resources below!


Resources

Fact Sheets | Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI)

National Council for Adoption

National Foster Parent Association (NFPA)

AdoptUSKids

Average Adoption Costs in the United States | Family Equality

Comparing the Cost of Domestic, International and Foster Care Adoption | American Adoptions


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂