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The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman • Magan Reviews

The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman [twitter • website] Publication Date: April 24, 2014 Publisher: Createspace Pages: 386 Target Audience: Contemporary Adult Fiction Keywords: weight and obesity, stigmas, friendship Format Read: Digital copy received from Publisher (Thank you!) Summary: Katie, Pixie, Ellie, and Jane are fed up with not seeing results at their weekly slimming meeting. They gossip and ignore the leader […]

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March 11, 2015 - 11:06 am

Magan - Alexa, definitely do! I enjoyed it so much. It was such a nice change of pace from my typical reading and offered a different perspective I gladly welcomed! 🙂

March 3, 2015 - 3:00 pm

Alexa S. - The Curvy Girls Club sounds so interesting! I’d never heard of it prior to your post, but I think I’m going to have to add it onto my list of books to check out 🙂

February 27, 2015 - 11:46 am

Magan - You’re welcome, Brianna! I really hope you pick it up and enjoy! 🙂

February 27, 2015 - 10:36 am

Brianna - This sounds great. Thanks for sharing your review.

Of Spies and Stars | #SoRatherBeYoung

In mid-December, Hannah and I rolled out a laidback, sporadic reading project called “You Make Me Feel So Young” — where we joint read a book from our childhood and pick a title for the other to check out. This post includes the very scientific results to our first challenge. Biggest realization: I thought I […]

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March 3, 2015 - 2:56 pm

Alexa S. - I seriously think this feature is so great! Love that ya’ll are highlighting titles from my childhood! While I remember being amused by Harriet the Spy as a child, I’m not quite sure how I’d feel about her now. I do recall the film really well though 🙂 And I haven’t read Number the Stars, but now I kind of want to!

February 28, 2015 - 9:01 am

It's a Wrap • Sayanara February (Best of February 2015) - […] #SoRatherBeYoung: Harriet the Spy and Number the Stars (and Hannah’s post too!) Little Kids: books to show/tell your children how much you love them Dive Into Diversity Discussion: Religion in YA Pub Date: Sorta Like a Love Story […]

February 26, 2015 - 1:09 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - This is great project you two are doing. I’ve read both these books (I’m a children’s librarian – I’ve read tons of kids books) as an adult, and I actually really loved them both.

I know what you mean about Harriet being kind of a creepy. I think I remember my Children’s Lit Professor talking about how Harriet the Spy was kind of groundbreaking in children’s literature because it was one of the first times when the little kid wasn’t an angel. But I actually like that about Harriet. She felt very much like a kid. And I do think she learned her lesson from the whole experience. I hope, anyway!

And Number the Stars. Definitely a favorite book of mine!!! I recommend it a lot to kids.

February 26, 2015 - 10:52 am

Brianna - Two childhood favorites of mine. My copy of Number the Stars is well-worn. And you’re totally right about Harriet the Spy – she did have a lot of freedom for an 11 year old in NYC.

Religion in YA Books • Dive Into Diversity

Each Sunday, I found myself driving down the back roads of our small town with my grandparents, headed to our tiny Catholic church. I was baptized there and participated as a reader, attended Sunday school, and in high school was confirmed, too. I didn’t really know anything other than Catholicism until my sophomore year in […]

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March 11, 2015 - 11:12 am

Magan - Crystal, that’s awesome! Thank you so much for sharing those book recommendations! I really appreciate it! 🙂

March 6, 2015 - 6:34 pm

Crystal - I found A Time to Dance to be a wonderful exploration of religion and spirituality. I reviewed it here http://richincolor.com/2014/07/review-a-time-to-dance/. Also, the new book Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein has more about religion than I expected. There is a contrast between the Ethiopian church (orthodox) and the Friends (Quakers) that the main characters have been part of in the past.

February 23, 2015 - 11:32 am

Magan - Jamie, thanks SO much for sharing your story and the great recommendations. I haven’t read either of the books you’ve mentioned so I’ll be adding them to my TBR right now. I’m so glad you shared! xoxox

February 23, 2015 - 11:31 am

Magan - Elizabeth, you know what — you’re so right. I definitely haven’t read a lot of books with Jehovah’s Witness. THANK YOU for letting us know about Brown Girl Dreaming! I enjoy how trilogies can explore religion by really making up their own as well. I think it’s a good way to get people thinking about things without being so explicit.

February 23, 2015 - 11:23 am

Magan - Katie, I SO hope you check out the books! And I’m so thankful for your recommendation too. Going to head to Goodreads to check it out! I just don’t understand why there aren’t a ton of religious exploration books out there. I know a lot of teens are questioning this. It felt like SUCH a big deal to me in high school.

February 16, 2015 - 10:03 pm

Katie @ Bookish Illuminations - Magan,

I love this post! This is exactly the kind of discussion I love–religion and spirituality in literature, especially children’s and YA. I agree with you–there isn’t as much religion in YA as I think there should be, and I hope that publishing trend changes in the near future.

I haven’t read any of these books you mentioned, but knowing that they focus on characters struggling with questions of faith and religion makes me me want to check them out. I think being curious about these issues is healthy and reflects a more authentic spirituality.

I would so welcome more YA novels that reflected characters expressing their spirituality/religion or struggling with those big questions in life that we often associate with religion and spirituality.

I always try to tease out any spiritual dimensions I find in the books I review–in a very broad sense–but it’s rare that I find books engaging with religion and spirituality in a more specific way. One book that comes to mind with a clear spiritual dimension and that does engage with religion in a refreshing way is The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis. It’s not YA, but I think YA readers who are mature could read it.

February 15, 2015 - 12:20 am

Alexa S. - Honestly, I love reading about characters who have strong ideals or struggles with religion. It’s a quest that every individual goes through on their own at some point, trying to make sense of things and decide what to believe in. The books you’ve included, particularly Kenneally’s novels, are great examples of books that tackle religion in a way that feels organic, thoughtful and interesting. Would be awesome to read more books featuring all sorts of religion!

February 10, 2015 - 3:46 pm

Elizabeth - This is only fresh on my mind because I just finished Brown Girl Dreaming last night, but she talks a bit about growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, which is something that I have not ever read about anywhere. It was an experience I appreciated reading about, even though I’m not particularly religious myself. I also enjoyed the role of religion in a couple of fantasy trilogies I’ve read– The Girl of Fire and Thorns series and His Fair Assassin series both features fairly pious main characters, though those religions were fictional ones. But on the whole, religion or spirituality are not very prominent in the books I read.

February 10, 2015 - 3:38 pm

Jamie - I grew up only going to church on Christmas and Easter and sometimes to sunday school with my neighbors and VBS in the summer. Then in 8th grade I started going to youth group at a baptist church with a friend (because of a boy and all the boys certainly made me keep going haha). I stayed and got really involved and then made the decision to go to a Christian college. Between my mom passing away and just my experience AT that college I walked away more confused than ever. So I love seeing religion explored in a way that isn’t like Christian fiction or trying to convert someone. Like truly I feel like wrestling with what you believe in or don’t believe in is a huge part of one’s life experience. Especially in the face of death when you really look at like “hey what do I believe in…will I see them again? Is there nothing after death??” I mean, I get panicky at night STILL wrestling with these things.

So yeah I really love seeing it! And not just Christianity. I love seeing all faiths though obviously Christianity is what I’m most familiar with and can relate to.

I recently read No Parking In The End Times and I thought it dealt with wrestling with your faith really well. The girl believes in God and grew up in the church and then her dad gets involved with this cult-like end time group and through this experience she really reevaluates her beliefs and struggles with if she believes in God at all. It was really thought-provoking though I think if people don’t like reading about people who have faith and are wrestling with it probably won’t enjoy it.

I also read Like No Other by Una LaMarche and that was SUCH a good book and the main character was a Hasidic Jew and I loved how it looked at her religion and her culture and how an event really made her question things!

February 10, 2015 - 1:35 pm

Magan - Valeria, every question you posed in your comment is EXAXTLY what I was thinking here. You are spot on. I really feel like I’m missing out on culturizing myself by not seeing this in my reading. It makes the books less unique, I think, and all of the characters a greater melting pot. I want to learn and grow and be pushed to encounter differences. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

February 10, 2015 - 1:30 pm

Magan - Thank you, Andi! I haven’t read that one by Terra, but fully intend to ass it to my TBR list! Thanks so much for contributing!

February 10, 2015 - 1:29 pm

Magan - Thanks for your comment, Jen! I agree – in mainstream YA I’m not seeing a lot of exploration of other faiths. I don’t temd to read actual targeted Christian fiction from a store like Lifeway. I guess I’m pretty surprised that religion is really skipped over in our young adult books. Even if it’s not the primary focus, couldn’t it play a minor role? I haven’t read those books you listed but I am so intrigued! Thanks for sharing!

February 10, 2015 - 1:25 pm

Magan - Bruna, that’s my point – I’m not seeing a lot of those other cultures and religions well-represented at all. I do understand your point of this not being in every book because some people just really don’t want to read about it. Out of curiosity, have you read any books with any religion aspects you’ve found did a good job incorporating it as part of the discussion without it being the sole focus?

February 10, 2015 - 1:20 pm

Magan - Rachel, you’re so right about HOW TO LOVE. I has forgotten that. Subtle, yes, but still a part of the story. Coming from a catholic background, I fully understood how she would have felt being pregnant and her parents reactions. The story would have felt less complete without that i think. Also, thanks for the sweet comment. I’m really glad you found this interesting!

February 10, 2015 - 1:18 pm

Magan - It really seems to be lacking, Brianna. You bring up a great point about the Holocaust. I haven’t read a book focusing on that time with a religious aspect either.

February 10, 2015 - 11:56 am

Brianna - I can’t think of a single book off the top of my head, YA or otherwise, where religion plays a prominent role (other than memoir). Even Holocaust literature doesn’t really talk about the religious aspects of those peoples’ lives.

February 10, 2015 - 11:55 am

Rachel @ Hello, Chelly - Magan, I love that you wrote about this! I was at a similar crossroads during college (I was brought up Catholic but some of my relatives belonged to a Baptist church). I agree this topic isn’t explored enough in books but I would like to see more of it. One book that did come to mind is HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno. Religion/Catholicism plays a role but a subtle one. But I always find myself thinking of it when I look back on that book (which happens to be one of my all-time favorites). Great post!

February 10, 2015 - 11:30 am

Bruna - Interesting discussion. Religion is not something I see a lot in the books I read, and to be honest, I don’t think is something I would normally seek out. I have struggles with what I actually do believe in and I am already so surrounded by people in real life wanting to push their religions on me that I feel that books are a way to scape that. If is something completely different from my culture, like Islam or other non-Western religions I might be interested; or discussions on atheism or agnosticism. But as far catholicism goes, I just rather do without it.

February 10, 2015 - 10:28 am

Jen Ellision - I wish I had some from other faiths to add, but the only books I can think of that explore faith are of a Christian slant.

I read it a while ago and I believe it’s Christian fiction YA, but if I recall the Lisa Tawn Bergren’s River of Time series had some good exploration on faith… not heavy-handed at all, which has been my problem with some Christian fiction. Plus the series is adorable time travel historical romance YA.

Jackson Pearce’s Purity may have had a little exploration too, but I seem to recall it being more about the character’s relationship with her dad than church…

February 10, 2015 - 9:54 am

Andi - I loved reading Small Town Sinner. I was so intrigued by that kind of subject. One that I read that I really enjoyed was Pure by Terra Élan McVoy. Really interesting look at teens with purity rings, waiting until marriage to have sex and what happens when someone goes against that or you yourself thinks about going against it.

Great post Magan.

February 10, 2015 - 9:20 am

Valeria @ A Touch of Book Madness - I love that you raised these questions. I have to agree with you. Other than Christian fiction which, as the genre suggests, deals with a lot of religious issues, I don’t see it anywhere in YA. I would love to see it reflected, and much like you be able to learn about other beliefs and cultures. People tend to focus on other diversity issues, but religion always seems to be pushed aside. Why is that?

Sorta Like a Love Story | Pub Date

I’m glad I’m not alone. Like Brittany, I am a happily married person who also thinks Valentine’s Day is the worst. I always felt like many of the boys I knew (not my husband) thought of it as some obligation and never much thought into it. Why did they have to? They could easily pick […]

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February 15, 2015 - 12:16 am

Alexa S. - Totally agree that love should be expressed at any and all times possible, and not just Valentine’s Day! (Also, not a big roses fan here either. I love sunflowers best!) Hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day anyway!

February 7, 2015 - 12:10 am

Jaime Lester - I am a 30 something, who is incredibly happily married, and my husband and myself don’t usually even remember its Valentine’s Day until the day is long gone. We can enjoy our beer (he’s a budweiser man, I am a flitter- gotta try them all!), have a romantic night at home, have a great time, any time of any day! This book sounds awesome. Going to check it out right now!

February 6, 2015 - 1:57 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - AMBER ;D I get it!!!
I bought this book because of you! I saw it at the thrift store and remembered your lovely words about it so I grabbed it for myself! Love hearing more about it. Looking forward to it even more!!

February 6, 2015 - 12:00 pm

Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm - Yeah, we don’t really do V-day either – it may have started out as something sweet, but it’s morphed into an agent of the consumer world we live in. It’s all about spending money now, not about love!

Real Life Friendship & Real Life Diversity | Dive Into Diversity

I’ve had two of my best friends in my life since we were in Mrs. Grader’s kindergarten class — 25 years ago this year. Over the years, we were never consistantly inseparable (it’s difficult when you all go to different colleges and move to new cities) but for whatever cosmic reason, we take on the […]

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May 29, 2015 - 8:00 am

Phone a (Meant to Be) Friend | Pub Date: Beer & Book - […] known since kindergarten. (In fact, she’s no stranger to the blog. She helped out for this Dive Into Diversity Q&A from earlier in the […]

February 7, 2015 - 1:58 pm

Crystal - I am excited that there are so many people interested in diversifying their reading and encouraging more diversity in the publishing world. Thanks for hosting this great reading challenge!

January 26, 2015 - 9:09 am

Ann - I’ve been reading books that reflect diversity in spirituality for the past three weeks. Many of the ideas resonated with me, and I hope to be able to live a life as full and diverse as reflected in what I’ve read.

Having two daughters who were adopted from China makes me acutely aware of cultural diversity; and the importance of introducing and accepting a variety of beliefs and practices into our lives.

January 23, 2015 - 4:13 pm

Alexa S. - I loved reading this post, E! And your friends are totally good sports. It’s great to see that, for all of you, you easily embrace PEOPLE (as opposed to limiting yourselves because they’re “different”). Even though when I was in high school, I was mostly surrounded by fellow Filipinos, I’d like to think we were encouraged to be open-minded with all the different cultural projects (nationwide and worldwide) that we were givn to do. YAY FOR DIVERSITY!

January 21, 2015 - 12:00 am

Real Life Diversity (Or a Lack Thereof) | The Reading Shelf - […] This post was written for the first month of the Dive Into Diversity challenge – check out Estelle’s own post and other links! […]

January 13, 2015 - 8:11 pm

Brianna - I’m Jewish, but I don’t think my friendships are so diverse now that I’m an adult. My two closest friends are also Jewish and we have similar backgrounds. I tend to gravitate toward other Jewish people and I’m very strong in my faith. I do think we need more books with diverse characters, though, because the generation of kids growing up now probably don’t have friendships like you have. I know my former camp kids certainly don’t. They go to private Jewish schools and Jewish summer camp. That’s their bubble.

January 13, 2015 - 7:50 pm

Cassie (Happy Book Lovers) - You are wonderful 🙂 I loved this post so much, and I love the focus on friendship. I grew up in the Midwest, and there was not a ton of diversity in my schools (any of them) at all. In fact, it was a big deal when a few black students showed up in our high school. But everyone was so friendly and embracing. It was like all the kids finally were so excited to accept the diversity, and our area just hadn’t seen it yet. My brother became good friends with one of the kids his age, and to this day still goes to visit him even though they go to different colleges. I think that’s the cool thing about young people and kids, too. They’re genuine, and they don’t care about backgrounds or social status or anything like that. They just have friendships. I’m so excited to be in a city with so many different people now! I’m loving it!

January 13, 2015 - 11:23 am

Nisha - I love it! You did such a great job! 🙂

January 13, 2015 - 8:29 am

Rebecca @ Reading Wishes - Also, I forget to mention in my tiredness: I love that you interviewed your friends and we got the hear from them! So great.

January 13, 2015 - 8:28 am

Rebecca @ Reading Wishes - I LOVE this post. I’m half Portuguese and my childhood friend is half Russian/half Italian and looking back at all the books I’ve read, I can’t remember seeing a friendship like ours represented. Until you mentioned it though, I didn’t notice the hole there was. It’s like, you become accustomed to it? I hope your list grows, too!

Sha La La Life | Pub Date

Happy new year, beer-y bookworms! My plan was to talk about new year’s resolutions so new beer? Well, not exactly. Maybe my 2015 life lesson should be about going with the flow more because that’s just what I did. My husband surprised me with a beer we had never had one day this week, even […]

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January 23, 2015 - 4:19 pm

Alexa S. - I love the last line of your post, E. So poignant + brilliantly put! Also, yes to wanting to hang out at Tea Cozy! It would make a brilliant space to spend some time if it were a real place. 😉

January 17, 2015 - 4:37 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - I am REALLY excited to read Life By Committee! I’ve heard very good things (and mostly from you haha) and that beer sounds very, very yummy! I like your resolution too 🙂

January 13, 2015 - 11:04 pm

Melanie - “Bravery comes in many forms.”

So true. Being brave is something I want to pursue this year, though I’m still not sure what it will look like practically. I have many options. 🙂

January 12, 2015 - 9:49 pm

L.C. Spoering - Resolutions? I’m trying for the cliche gig of getting in shape, but working with my husband to finally make it to a 5k. I’m also planning (and currently succeeding!) at writing a certain amount a day, and meeting deadlines scheduled by myself and my publishing partner. It’s actually pretty exciting to have so many aims!

January 9, 2015 - 11:03 am

Brianna - I don’t drink and I’m not a beer lover anyway, but this one does sound good.