Death Of An Assassin by Ann Marie Ackermann

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The year is 1835. In the Kingdom of Württemberg, in the small town of Bönnigheim, a murder has just been committed. The town’s beloved mayor has been gunned down in cold blood- a senseless crime with no apparent motive- and the elusive murderer manages to slip away, seemingly without trace. Despite the best efforts of a remarkably ingenious investigator, the case would remain unsolved for decades.

On the other side of the Atlantic, a storm is brewing between the Mexican government and American settlers, eventually erupting into the Texas Revolution. As America is drawn into war with Mexico, troops are amassed to besiege Veracruz in what would become the first large-scale amphibious assault conducted by United States military forces, and the largest in history until D-Day. In writing of the battle, Robert E Lee makes a curiously poignant entry in his journal regarding the heroic death of a German-American soldier, remarking “I doubt whether all Mexico is worth to us the life of that man”. Little could he have known that the man to whom he ascribed such praise was actually an assassin.
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¡Hola! Let’s Learn Spanish by Judy Martialay

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In this fun and imaginative book by foreign language teacher Judy Martialay, Pete the Pilot takes readers to Mexico, where they meet Panchito the Mexican jumping bean. Adventures abound as Panchito explores the Mexican culture, learning lots of Spanish words and phrases along the way.

Panchito’s adventure begins in a bean field, when he hops into a basket of beans and is whisked away to the market- el mercado. After exploring the many sights and sounds of the village, he finds himself at a birthday party –fiesta de cumpleañoswhere he makes lots of new friends and learns even more words to say in Spanish.
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The Dogs…Barking by Jan Notzon

 

Growing up on the Mexican border, Jason struggles from his earliest years with a hard, and often painful existence. His whole life he suffers from an incurable longing -some intangible pain and empty loneliness that keeps him on the outside looking in at a world of happiness that he can see, but never seem to achieve. The one thing he wants most out of life- acceptance and approval from his siblings- he knows he will never receive, as he suffers abuse from their hands, as well as the hands of Brother Demian, an instructor at the Catholic school Jason attends.

As the years go by, Jason struggles to make sense of his life. He travels to New York to pursue his dreams of becoming an actor, leaving behind the girl of his dreams in the hopes that one day he will return successful and worthy of her love. But he soon realizes the world is a hostile place, and the dogs of his past have returned to haunt him yet again- and Jason wonders if he will ever find the sense of belonging that he so desperately craves.

This book was very uncomfortable for me to read, as it picked a lot of emotional scabs. Apparently Jason and I carry a lot of the same baggage. If only there had been some sort of resolution to the story- I think this would have been one of the better books I’ve read in quite a while. Typically I have a hard time with books that explore the darker side of life, and the pain and abuse that people often receive. However, sometimes these types of stories can be cleansing, offering up a redeeming ending that reassures us that all is not lost, that we can still trust in the world and believe that life can be beautiful. Honestly, those are the types of books that stay with me the longest (Tiny Sun Birds, Far Away is an excellent example), and have the most meaning- because they are so real and relevant. Unfortunately this is not such a book. Continue reading “The Dogs…Barking by Jan Notzon”