Tag Archives: book review

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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Featured by A to Z Challenge

Well, much to my surprise, I’m being featured this month by the A to Z Challenge crew!

AtoZ2019BookTour

On February 10, you can find my guest post here. I wrote an A to Z list about how to turn your blog posts into books, which of course, I have experience doing. I like the list so much that I think I’ll expand on it on my new blog Content Creative for the April A to Z Challenge.

atozcover

My book A to Z Reasons Why La Yacata is the Place to Be in Any Disaster: A Prepper’s Guide to Mexico is also being featured by the A to Z Team in my first ever book hop! You can find the features by:

So if you get the chance, hop on by and share some love with these wonderful bloggers!

Because I have been so honored this month, I thought I’d offer A to Z Reasons Why La Yacata is the Place to Be in Any Disaster: A Prepper’s Guide to Mexico FREE on Amazon for the next few days. If you haven’t already picked up your copy, now would be the time!atozcover

I’d also like to mention that I’m currently working on the next book in A Woman’s Survival Guide to Mexico series. I hope to have it ready by early March. So stay tuned!

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Failing at your own business–book reviewer

me readingSo as I was gearing up for my transition away from elementary school teaching, I began looking for other ways to supplement my income.  The net loss from not working at the school was $250 USD per month. Therefore, I needed something that would fill that hole with moolah.

Reading books and getting paid for it seemed like the perfect job for me! I started searching about a bit for companies that were hiring in that field.  I applied and was accepted for 2 different reviewer jobs.

The first website was BookLookBloggers.  The catch is you are required to have your own blog with a minimum number of followers.  There is no cash payout.  You will receive a book to review free of charge.  You must post the review of at least 200 words on your blog with links back to the site, plus post a review on a consumer website like Amazon.  AND it’s a Christian publishing company, so not everyone’s cup of tea.  I figured it would be a good experience, so went ahead and requested my first book.

I was not disappointed in the reading selection. It took more time than I anticipated to write the review.  I wanted to get it just right.  You can read my review of The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron here.  

The second book reviewer position was with Online Book Club.  This setup was a bit more complicated. However, there is the promise of a cash payout at the end.  You can choose a book to review. However, the options available to you are limited by your reviewer score.  For example, as a newbie, I could only download certain books in certain formats.  There are specific deadlines as well.  Within 4 days of acceptance, you must confirm you have a readable version of the book.  Then within 30 days of the download, you must confirm you finished it.  Finally, within 7 days of finishing, you must submit the review.

The review is subject to approval.  It must be at least 5 paragraphs with at least 400 words.  You must rate the book on a 4-star system.  You can NOT publish the review on your blog, but you MUST share the link to the review once it’s been reviewed on your social media networks.  Payments vary according to the books and are sent via Paypal.  As I was still a reviewer in training, I did not get paid for either of these reviews.

I reviewed Health Tips, Myths, and Tricks by Morton E Tavel, MD. You can see my review here.

I also reviewed My Trip to Adele by A.I.Alyaseer, R.I.Alyaseer.  You can see my review here.

There is a second option for income with the Online Book Club. With the Twitter Retweet Rewards, if you like, reply and tweet the Book of the Day post  @TwBookClub, you can earn $5 plus $1 per 100 followers, rounded up to the nearest dollar.  I don’t have a lot of followers on Twitter, so I only qualify for the minimum payout, but it’s something.  You must retweet, like, and reply to each BOTD announcement tweet for all 30 days within 24 hours of the original tweet in order to get your reward.  

Then there is always the chance for a $10 Amazon gift card. There are 2 given away daily, one to the person with the highest number of points and one randomly.  You receive more entries by sharing, liking or pinning the BOTD on a variety of social media sites.

So, while I have yet to make any money at this venture, I’m going to stick with it a bit longer and see what happens.  After all, I enjoy reading, and the potential to get paid for this hobby is a nice additional incentive.

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