Category Archives: Book Reviews

Gifts For Reading Addicts

Recently I signed up to become an affiliate for the UK company For Reading Addicts. With Amazon’s drop in the “goodness” ranking (at least in my book for unscrupulous employee policies, price gouging, and paying no taxes on a business that generates trillions of dollars for its owner), I thought I’d look for alternatives when it comes to shopping online this holiday season.

I’m bringing this delightful bookaholic site to your attention so far in advance of the typical gift giving season because many of the products (get this!) are made to order and as such take longer than mass produced items.

Just look at this hooded blanket, for example. It’s hand cut and sewn when you order which adds a processing time of up to 10 days. It comes in adult and youth sizes. The edges are embroidered. The interior is ultra-soft polyester. Don’t tell me you can’t imagine yourself curled up in this beautiful blanket!

Do you have a Harry Potter fan in your life? No matter the age or size (twin to California king), cover your bed with the house of your choice, the Marauder’s Map or a collage of book covers.   

That’s just a little sample of all the drool-worthy items sure to please any book lover at For Reading Addicts. There are book lights, bedding, home accessories, clothing, totes, coloring books, face masks, shoes, coffee mugs, and more! There are Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day themed products plus items featuring 13 book or book series. I’ve recently become obsessed with Outlander and was thrilled to find a whole section devoted to this time-traveling romance series. There’s even a section in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Other thematic items include:

So there you have it! An amazing place to order the perfect gift for any book lover this holiday season. With worldwide shipping, a money back guarantee, and guaranteed quality, and secure online shopping, what more could you ask for?

 What alternatives have you found to Amazon?

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American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

I’ve read both negative and positive reviews of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. The controversy piqued my curiosity and I read the book. After finishing, I have to say that some of the outrage by the Latino community was warranted, but that didn’t make it a horrible read. 

The action begins right from the first page. A shoot-out at a quinceanera barbeque—ok, stop right there. Anyone who knows anything about Mexican culture will tell you that relegating the formal pageantry and coming-of-age ceremony of a quinceanera to a backyard barbeque, with potato salad no less, is sacrilege. 

The cartel, naturally, is the aggressor, the target, a journalist’s family. Since Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, the scenario seems plausible. However, describing the shooters as “the modern bogeymen of urban Mexico”, well, the boogeyman isn’t a Mexican creature, but maybe the author meant El Cucuy. 

Mexican currency at the time American Dirt was written.

Lydia and her 8-year old son Luca are the only survivors of the massacre. Knowing she can’t rely on the police, Lydia flees with just a few things she takes from her mother’s house. She pays the hotel’s 4,000 pesos deposit with four pink bills—hold up. The pink bills are each worth 50 pesos each, so she actually pays 200 pesos. The color of money is mentioned again when Lydia needs to pay 10,000 pesos. She lays down 7 pink, 2 orange, and one blue bill, so that would be well, I don’t know. Are we playing Monopoly here because there aren’t any orange bills in Mexican currency?  Maybe the orange ones are the 100 peso bill? 

The head of the cartel that Lydia and her son must hide from is known as La Lechuza, who according to Lydia’s husband could have been the next Bill Gates–really, what’s wrong with a reference to Carlos Slim here? Yes, the criminal leader of the big bad cartel organization is called La Lechuza, just like the popular children’s song, although there is no reference to this song in the story at all. Since the song is about putting people to sleep, it would have certainly added a creep factor if nothing else. 

Lydia comments that La Lechuza is a terrible name since owls aren’t scary. However, it’s common knowledge in Mexico that la lechuza is often a precursor of death, a bad omen, certainly no laughing matter. But again, none of this was mentioned in the book. 

There were more references that just took away from the authenticity, an Italian meal in San Miguel de Allende (not carnitas), ginger ale (not Coca) stored in the Abuela’s basement (who has a basement?), police officers dreaming about pot roast (not tacos), a girl from Honduras looking like an Aztec (not Maya) warrior, the journey measured in miles (not kilometers), using the word vertedero (not basurero), drinking water from the tap (just not done) and so on. 

However, despite it all, I have to admit it was an engaging read. From the get-go I was invested in the outcome, as implausible as some of it seemed. But then again, it was a work of fiction, a fantasy of sorts, so it was ok. Anyway, if you are looking for something that not only provides an exciting adventure but also tests your knowledge of Mexican culture in an alternate universe since it depicts neither an authentic Mexico nor a typical migrant experience, well then American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is just the ticket. 

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Failing at Your Own Business — Book Reviewer

Since my last online book reviewer failure, I’ve been trying to find another agency where I can combine my two favorite activities, reading and writing. For a while, I was reviewing books that were absolutely amazing for an Irish company called International Review of Books, but at the beginning of this year, I no longer received options for books to review, and so I guess they were done with my services.

Then I signed up to be a reviewer for Reedsy Discovery which launched in March. Not only do I get hundreds of books to choose from, but I can repost my review on my blog. I’ve been posting them to Content Creative rather than here at Surviving Mexico unless the book is something that I think expats in Mexico would enjoy reading. 

find out how to become a book reviewer

The books on Reedsy are mostly self-published authors, so I have been enjoying making a difference with my reviews. I’ve even been contacted via email by several authors about my reviews. 

Many thanks for your insightful review of my book. I believe you caught the spirit of the adventure. Much gratitude!”

“Thank you for the amazing review of my book. I am so glad that it resonated with you and that you found it helpful. I had the chills as I read your review and was near tears because you got it!”

“Thank you for pointing out those few things in your review, it was definitely helpful, especially the part about a missing section. I had two different documents and somehow that section wasn’t transferred over. So thank you for pointing that out. I’m surprised no one else mentioned it. Good eye!”

Since I am a self-published author myself, I’ve been reading these books with perhaps an overly critical eye. And as an author, I can also submit my books for review, but I haven’t done it yet. Maybe I’m afraid I’ll get a reviewer as tough as I am. Who knows? It is on my to-do list, however. 

Anyway, it seems that Reedsy Discovery is in need of more book reviewers and has put out the word that they are accepting applications. You can find out more information here if this is something that appeals to you.

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