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Book Review: We All Stir The Pot To End Hunger! by Misty Lee Coolidge with Bobbie Bensur

We All Stir The Pot To End Hunger! by Misty Lee Coolidge with Bobbie Bensur is a children's picture book set in a food pantry.  It's located in an unknown city and talks about how people contribute to food pantry . . . anything and everything from donating food to volunteering time. I was thrilled when I was approved by NetGalley and Paw Prints Publishing to receive this book for free in exchange for my honest review.  Originally expected to be published on November 15 of this year, We All Stir The Pot To End Hunger! by Misty Lee Coolidge with Bobbie Bensur came out November 29, 2022. There were some great life lessons in We All Stir The Pot To End Hunger! told in a way that children could understand.  Don't worry, it's not sanctimonious in the least bit.  The illustrations were amazing as well.  This is the perfect book to help children realize that there are families that don't have enough to eat. I love the fact that some of the proceeds from the book will go t

Book Review: Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a coming of age novel taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. During the 1970's, fourteen year old Mary Jane is caught in the middle of her family's conservative ideals and the progressive ideals of the Cone family where she is a summer nanny. Mary Jane is a sheltered teen who enjoys cooking with her mother, listening to Broadway Show Tunes, and singing in the church choir. On the first day of work, she is shocked at the mess in the Cone's home and introduces them to home cooked meals and keeping the house clean. In return, Mary Jane gets a front row seat to sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

This novel was the selected for the book club I belong to. Again, this is a novel that I likely wouldn't have chosen to read on my own, but I was glad I did. Mary Jane is the first novel I've read by Jessica Anya Blau, and I was impressed with her storytelling. 

Touching on race, class, and stereotypes, along with drugs and infidelity, it reminded me that there are people who still hold the conservative beliefs that many held in the 1970's. I loved the fact that Mary Jane was exposed to different viewpoints that she normally didn't hear and began to question the world around her, eventually leading to her developing her own opinions. Jessica Anya Blau got the tone and perspective of a teenager perfect in my opinion. Although the story is told from a child's perspective, it is not suitable for young children to read.

Some might find the beginning of the story a bit slow like I did, but as the story developed, I found it to be more interesting and couldn't wait to find out how the tale would unfold. The majority of the characters were likable and most were well developed. I found myself caring what would happen to them, even the ones I didn't particularly like. I wasn't sure if Mary Jane would have an ending I would enjoy, but surprisingly, I was satisfied with how the author wrapped it up.

All in all, I gave Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau four out of five stars. I will likely read other novels written by this author, and I would love to see her write a sequel to this book.


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