Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Complication by Suzanne Young - OPTIONAL


The Complication (The Program, #6) by Suzanne Young, 456 pages.  Simon Pulse, 2018. $18.  

Content: Language: R (109 swears; 80 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Tatum was heartbroken when her boyfriend, Wes, returned from the Program with his memories erased.  Eventually they fell back into their previous relationship, and Tatum and Wes helped Wes get the Adjustment, which was supposed to return Wes’ memories that were erased in the Program.  But it becomes clear that Tatum’s memories may have been implanted and those who are running the Program are keeping an eye on them, which scares both Tatum and Wes.  

This is the sixth and I believe final book in the Program series.  This book would be super confusing unless you have followed the whole series because a lot of the characters come back from all the books.  I enjoyed this series and was satisfied with the ending but felt like the first 3-4 books in the series were more interesting.  Also it has to be said: the swear count is distracting and obnoxious.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira - OPTIONAL


In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira, 403 pages.  Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language: R (39 swears; 26 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Angie is going to Los Angeles to get answers about who her father is/was because whenever Angie asks her mother, Marilyn, about him, Marilyn cries and doesn’t share a whole lot.  The story flashes back and forth between seventeen-year-old Marilyn’s life and the relationship she had with a boy named James, and seventeen-year-old Angie who is trying to figure out what really happened to her father James.  Mixed throughout both stories is young love, mother/daughter relationships and heartache and hope.  

I enjoyed this story and felt drawn into both Marilyn and Angie’s stories.  The back and forth between the two girl’s stories helped to build up the climax and built empathy for each character.  The content includes on page sex, underage drinking, smoking marijuana and a physical fight which isn’t graphic but is upsetting.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson     

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake - ADVISABLE

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake, 307 pages. Little, Brown and Company, 2018. $17.

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Ivy Aberdeen is an artist, she draws a lot, but mostly in her notebook. It's the one thing she grabs when the tornado sirens blare, and when her family emerges from the safety of the underground shelter to find their whole house has been destroyed, Ivy's notebook is all she has. So, when it is missing at the shelter Ivy is beyond concerned - her most private thoughts - well, pictures - were in there! It's all full of her personal secrets and now someone has it, someone who is returning the pictures one at a time, to Ivy's locker with a note. Someone knows Ivy's secret. 

 Ivy is struggling with many things, the birth of baby twin brothers, the loss of her home, a recent conflict with her older sister, and wondering if her attraction to her new friend June is just a weird friendship or a crush. At one point, Ivy is told "If a person was questioning all this stuff, that person doesn't have to know all the answers. They don't have to be sure about anything. They don't have to label themselves as anything but a human being if they don't want to." A great middle school read, full of empathy, a loving family and a caring community. 

Lisa Librarian

Never Caught: The Story of Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar - ESSENTIAL

Never Caught: The Story of Ona Judge (Young Readers Edition) by Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Kathleen Van Cleve, 252 pages. NON-FICTION. Aladdin (Simon and Schuster), 2019. $19.  9781534416178

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Ona Judge was a slave of the Washington’s and was highly regarded by Martha and George. The Washingtons felt like they treated Ona well and for this reason they were devastated and angry when Ona ran away. Ona, despite being relatively well treated, was a slave and for that reason alone found the courage to run.

I find it so exciting that this next generation of readers will grow up with books that challenge them and offer complexities and dualities that they must examine critically. These young readers learn about George Washington in the context of being the president, but a book like this offers a competing image of the Washingtons as slave owners.  

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Rewind by Carolyn O’Doherty - ADVISABLE

Rewind by Carolyn O’Doherty, 247 pages. Boyds Mills Press (Highlights), 2018. $17.95

Language: PG (7 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Alex enjoys the work that she does—which is good because she doesn’t get a choice in the matter. All spiners, or those who can freeze and rewind time, are required to be raised in a group facility and help police at crime scenes until they die, often around the age of 20. But when Alex, only age 16, starts to show symptoms of an early death, she grows desperate to do something important before she dies—something to change the world.

O’Doherty captured me in the first page. Alex, her powers, and her world offer a unique perspective on the world in the imagined circumstances. I did not want to set the book down for a minute as Alex worked hard to leave a positive impact on the world under the pressure of limited time and the strain of unpredictable changes to her reality.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen




Mirror, Mirror by Jen Calonita - ESSENTIAL

Mirror, Mirror (Twisted Tale) by Jen Calonita, 344 pages.  Disney, 2019.  $18.

Content: G (some tension)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Snow has been living in a kind of fog for years since her mother died, her father disappeared, and her evil stepmother (her mother’s sister) has taken an iron grip over the kingdom, supposedly as Snow’s regent.  When the huntsman takes her out into the haunted woods to kill her, Snow escapes and ends up with the dwarves.  Now that she knows how awful the Evil Queen is, does Snow White have the courage to grasp her own destiny and gather forces to take down Evil for good?

The tag line on the cover of the book is the least of what goes on in this retelling.  Actually, for most of the book it is pretty faithful to the classic story, with a great added unapologetic back story of the Evil Queen’s rise to supreme evilness.  Her ultimate downfall is all that much sweeter for knowing how selfish and controlling the Evil Queen had always been and how may chances she had to make different choices.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

The Lovely War by Julie Berry - OPTIONAL

The Lovely War by Julie Berry, 480 pages.  Viking (Penguin), 2019.  $19.

Language: PG-13(swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: R (WWI violence, sniper)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

When the god Hephaestus catches his wife Aphrodite in a compromising position with Ares, he captures the couple and demands a trial on Mount Olympus.  Aphrodite offers a comprise – she will tell her husband a story about true love – some of her finest work she says – and then Hephaestus can judge her.  She offers him the story of Hazel and James who meet just before James ships off for the killing fields of World War I.  They thought they’d have a week, but James is called up without even getting to say goodbye.  Then reliable Hazel decides to do her own thing for the war and joins the YMCA to help entertain the soldiers on base in France – at least she’s on the same side of the Channel as James.  The horrors of war – more than you can imagine -  will be visited upon them in full before their story finds some measure of peace.

Sometimes the interjections of the gods interfere with the flow Hazel and James’s story, but the long game between Aphrodite and Hephaestus will become just as important for sophisticated readers.  I know adults will love this and so will some of your students.  

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

You Go First by Erin Estrada Kelly - ADVISABLE

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly, 288 pages. Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins), 2018. $17.

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (bullying).

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Charlotte and Ben play online scrabble with each other - they live in different parts of the country - Charlotte in Philadelphia and Ben in Louisiana; although their lives are different, they have more in common than they think. Parent problems - Ben's are getting a divorce and Charlotte's dad is in the hospital; and friend troubles - Charlotte's best friend Bridget had found a new friend group, Ben is tormented by bullies. But when their online game evolves into the occasional phone call, the realize they now have someone they can confide in - but will they? 

Alternating chapters with Charlotte and Ben telling their own stories, Erin Entrada Kelly has spun a story of desperation as well as resilience. Middle school students can certainly relate to these 2 gifted and talented children keeping their problems to themselves rather than confiding in a parent, dealing with their problems alone because they have no friends and working through their problems the best way they know how. An engaging read.

Lisa Librarian

Monday, April 29, 2019

Kid Gloves : Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley - PUBLIC ONLY

Kid Gloves : Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley, 247 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. First Second (Macmillan), 2019. $20.

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: HS, ADULT - PUBLIC ONLY 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Lucy Knisley's latest memoir is about her very difficult pregnancy. For her whole life she's wanted to be a mother, but when Lucy and her husband finally decide it's time, her pregnancy is fraught with difficulties, stress and problems. She is very sick most of the pregnancy and the delivery is not easy either, with many complications.

From exploring the side effects of birth control, through more than 1 miscarriage, morning sickness and the dangers of pre-eclampsia, Lucy Knisley covers it all in this frank and honest testament to motherhood and women's reproductive health. Not just her personal story, Lucy also addresses the history of pregnancy, myths and superstitions, misinformation, cultural situations etc. It's all there. A very interesting read, but I feel the audience is older than high school. Fans of Knisley's other books will love this one, too.

 Lisa Librarian

We are Here to Stay by Susan Kuklin - OPTIONAL

We are Here to Stay by Susan Kuklin, 157 pages. Candlewick Press, 2019. $19.99

Language: PG-13 (14 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The American dream gives hope to more than those born in America. This collection of anonymous personal accounts explains the hope and desperation of those who take the chance to come to America any way they can. Individuals and families sacrifice and advocate for a better future—an opportunity to live the American dream.

These stories are shared to gain awareness and empathy for undocumented immigrants, and the conspicuous removal of names and pictures are a constant reminder of their cause. Kuklin and the interviewed young adults clearly explain their struggles with political policies that make living the American dream difficult. I enjoyed reading this book because of my new expanded knowledge of the world around me and how immigration policies are impacting real people.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen


Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer by Emily Arnold McCully - OPTIONAL

Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer by Emily Arnold McCully, 164 pages. NON FICTION. Candlewick, 2019. $20

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG (19th century moral references); Violence: G. 


BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW 

Ada Byron Lovelace was the daughter of Lord Byron, the English poet. Unfortunately, her mother left Lord Byron - taking Ada with her, so she never met her famous father. Ada had a very mathematical mind, and as she grew, tutors fed her education with French, deportment, music, math and culture. As an adult, her social circle included the educated and the elite, including Lady Mary Summerville - a mathematician and astronomer and Charles Babbage, inventor of the Difference Engine, a mechanical calculator of sorts. He also made automatons. She worked extensively with Babbage, refining and collaborating and is now known as one of the pioneers of the computer. 

A fascinating read, well written and well researched with photographs of paintings and pictures of places and things. Lots of quotes from journals and letters gave this biography and authentic feel. The narrative, however contained a lot of old-fashioned words, making it a bit difficult even for an adult to read. I'm not sure today's high school students will be encouraged to finish, unless they have a particular interest in the subject.

 Lisa Librarian

The Clockwork Ghost (York #2) by Laura Ruby - ADVISABLE

The Clockwork Ghost (York #2) by Laura Ruby, 464 pages. Walden Pond (Harper), 2019.  $18

Language: (swears, ‘f’); Mature Content: ; Violence:

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL:  HIGH

Even after their former apartment building collapsed, twins Theo and Tess, along with their cat Nine and their best friend Jaime, are still dedicated to solving the Old York Cipher left behind by the Morningstarrs. They are not above lying a little bit to their parents and putting themselves in danger.  But when other’s lives are in danger because of the ruthless others who are also racing to solve the puzzles, the friends will have hard decisions to make.

Ruby has added some creepy villains and fantastic twists to her narrative this time.  And thankfully she has abandoned the deus exmachina that so irked me at the end of the first book! I was hard pressed to believe I’d read almost 500 pages by the time I was done – it flew by so quickly.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd - ADVISABLE


Grim Lovelies (Grim, #1) by Megan Shepherd, 376 pages.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language:  PG-13 (9 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13. 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Anouk has only been human for one year, but her curiosity in the world around her, her friendship with three other “beasties” in her house and her devotion to the witch, Mada Vittora, who created her make for a busy life.  When Mada Vittora is murdered, Anouk and her beastie friend, Beau, look guilty so they run away in the hopes of finding someone who can be their new master.  Beau and Anouk have three days to find a new master or they and their two other beastie friends will return to the animals they were before Mada Vittora changed them, so a journey of magic and trust begins.  

This book is super creative, and I loved the supernatural setting.  In the beginning, I felt like I was dropped into the world, so it took a few pages to get oriented, but once I did, I loved Anouk and her friends.  The goblins in this story can be a bit disgusting so there is blood and death and there is a slight reference to being forced to do sexual acts.  I also think the cover is fantastic.

Reviewer, C. Peterson   

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Tell Me Everything by Sarah Enni - OPTIONAL

Tell Me Everything by Sarah Enni, 276 pages. Scholastic Press (Scholastic), 2019. $17.99

Language: PG13 (16 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Ivy is an artist—something most people know—but what Ivy keeps secret are the pieces she makes. Surrounded by so much good art, how can hers compare? Instead of putting out her own photographs to be criticized, Ivy decides to thank others for their art—but there is a line between doing something kind for the artist and doing what Ivy believes is best for the artist. Can kindness be unkind?

Several messages and morals pierced my heart as I read Tell Me Everything (rights to speech and art and kindness; everyone is going through something; put yourself out there), so many that I wonder what you will get out of the book if you read it. I connected so well with Ivy because I feel and understand some of her fears; the validation in knowing that I am not alone in my thinking helps me feel that it is okay to be who I am. However, finishing this book was difficult for me because I felt that Enni let me down in the last 70 pages of Ivy’s story. There is what feels like an unnatural shift in events, and I nearly stopped reading because I didn’t want to watch what was going to happen. And then the ending felt different, less real, less plausible than the rest of the book.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen



American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott - OPTIONAL

American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott, 323 pages. Henry Holt and Co., 2018. $18. 

Language: R (92 swears, 0 Fs); Mature Content: PG-13 (kissing, mild drug use and references, talk of suicide, descriptions of war, some peril); Violence: PG-13;

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Life has not been easy for high school junior Teodoro Avila since his big brother, and hero, Manny was deployed to Iraq. His parents barely speak anymore, his dad's unemployment forced a move to a rundown rental house, and T’s grades are anything but college-worthy. All that changes one day when T runs into an old family friend, Wendy Martinez, who just happens to be gorgeous. T decides then to make a life plan: turn his life around so he can get to college and get the girl. The plan starts out great and T’s grades improve as his connection to Wendy grows. Life seems even better when the news comes that Manny is just a few months away from coming home. T can’t wait for Manny to see what he’s making of himself and he secretly hopes the family will finally go back to the way they were before Manny left. Unfortunately, Manny’s return is not everything that the family dreamed of because Manny is suffering from PTSD and struggles to adjust to life at home. As the situation becomes more desperate, T and his sister, Xochitl, decide to take desperate measures to save Manny, even if it means a major change of plans for Teodoro. 

I wasn’t sure about this book at first, but it really grew on me and by the end, I was in tears. The characters were well developed and even though I couldn’t specifically relate to them or their situation, I was invested in their story and cared about what happened to them.  At its heart, this book is a love story, but not just the mushy, teenage-angst-ridden-first-kiss kind of love. Teodoro, does fall in love for the first time and it’s a powerful motivator, but more important is his love for his family, particularly Manny. It’s this familial love that drives the narrative and drives T’s decisions and in the end it’s what makes all the difference. The themes of love and family are universal and so even though I don’t have first-hand experience with what Teodoro is going through, I still felt like I could relate to his love for his family. I also liked that the main character is male, Hispanic, has a Polynesian best friend, and his parents are still together. This book is kind of niche-y, but it could really be helpful for kids who tend to be under-represented. I think it’s an important book to have on hand, particularly for certain areas and populations, so I’ve given it an advisable. Even though there are a lot of swear words, they were mild and mostly used as an exclamation rather than in anger. As the majority of the story revolves around Manny’s struggle to overcome the symptoms of PTSD, there are some stressful and anxious moments, including an episode where Teodoro prevents Manny’s suicide, leading to the PG-13s in mature content and violence. 

Reviewer: Andrea R

Rated by Melissa Grey - ADVISABLE

Rated by Melissa Grey, 336 pages.  Scholastic Press, SEPTEMBER 2019.  $28.

Language: PG (15 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG; Violence:

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Without a good rating you are nothing in life and less than nothing at Maplethorne Academy. On the first day back after summer break, though, someone has sprayed “THE RATINGS ARE NOT REAL in bright red across the Academy’s doors.  Six very different students are about to get tied up in the mystery of the tagger and of the ratings. While they hit all the stereotypes – loner, jock, gay, athlete, etc. – each of them is so much more than even they suspect.  Not in a magical way, but in strength of character.  

Think about the damage and the good that the Breakfast Club could have done in a sequel involving righting wrongs and you are on the way to understanding this clever little beginning of a new series. At least I hope it’s a series, because their journey just seems to be beginning.  Grey manages to play into the stereotypes while using them to carve new paths. You’d think that would be difficult with six main characters, but she manages to give each of them the right amount of time in the front and time as supporting characters.  Very skillfully crafted.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

The Window by Amelia Brunskill - ADVISABLE


The Window by Amelia Brunskill, 336 pages.  Delacorte Press, 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (37 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Anna and Jess are identical twins, but have very different personalities.  Anna is the nice one who is always smiling and helping everyone, and Jess is the more abrasive and questioning of the two.  When Anna is found dead underneath her two-story window, Jess’ parents and the authorities attribute her death to the fact that she was sneaking out to see friends and fell.  Jess, however, thinks she knows Anna better than that and starts to investigate the events leading up to Jess’s death.  Jess quickly learns that Anna had a lot of secrets.  

I read this book in one day because I couldn’t put it down and had to find out what happened.  I liked Jess’s character and I enjoyed the unfolding of the mystery as well as the idea that we don’t always know what everyone around us is going through.  The content includes blackmail over a nude photo, talk of sex, girls drugged without their consent, a boy physically assaulting a girl and an explanation of graphic violent drawings.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson      

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais - ADVISABLE

The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais, 240 pages. Blink, 2019. $17.99

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

After moving halfway across the country, Maya found herself wary about going to a new school for senior year. Maya is not as worried about having to transfer to a new school as she is that the new school is a hearing school—which she hasn’t attended since becoming deaf a few years prior. Fighting discrimination, family issues, and her own self-doubt, Maya has a long year ahead of her.

While I found it difficult and somewhat frustrating to miss out on a lot of the dialogue, this also seemed to be part of the point being made to help readers understand Maya. Gervais also did a brilliant job on incorporating conversation and dialogue into the book with the challenge of having a deaf main character. I enjoyed learning more about the deaf community and being aware of those around me as well as about determination and self-worth from Maya.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen



My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life Rachel Cohn - OPTIONAL


Language: R (63 swears, 38 Fs); Mature Content: PG-13 kids drinking and smoking, attempted sexual assault; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

When Elle arrives home on her 16th birthday after another pretty horrible day at school, she’s met by an unexpected sight: her caseworker and Uncle Masa, a friend of her mom’s that Elle hadn’t seen since her mom’s descent into drug addiction. The news Uncle Masa delivers is even more unexpected, however. Elle’s father has sent for her to come live with him in Tokyo instead of remaining in foster care. Elle doesn’t even know her dad’s name, let alone anything about him, but the offer of a stable, comfortable place to live convinces Elle to take a chance. She’s whisked away and after her first ever flight, she meets her dad, Kenji Takahara, a famous and fabulously wealthy hotel and real estate developer. His job means that Elle will be living in a penthouse on the 49th floor of the flagship hotel property. Their first meeting is awkward, but Elle is willing to give it a shot because anything is better than foster care. After a couple of days, Elle goes to her new school, an international school full of kids from around the world. She meets Imogen, the queen bee of the school and a hafu (half-Japanese) like Elle who introduces her to all the “right” people at school. Elle immediately likes her school and understands that this could be her ticket to a successful life. Over the next few months, Elle settles in at school and learns about life in Japan. She feels like a fish out of water, but Imogen is there to help her navigate her new life. Getting to know Kenji and his family proves to be quite a bit more difficult and Elle wonders if her haughty grandma will ever accept her. After a few months, just as Elle feels like she’s getting the hang of life in Japan, things start to fall apart and Elle’s new life looks in jeopardy, but Elle is determined to make this new life a success. 

In the end, this book kind of annoyed me. It ended up being formulaic, predictable, and felt like it didn’t really know what it wanted to be. Did it want to be a fun little story about learning to live a new life in a new place or did it want to be a serious book that dealt with serious issues like addiction, sexual assault, and racism? I enjoyed the first 2/3s of the book when it was a fairly light story about the adventure of moving to a new country and discovering a new culture. It was nothing special, but it was kind of fun to discover what life is like in Japan along with Elle. I was encouraged by the possibilities introduced in the early parts of the story and waited the whole book for them to be developed, only to be disappointed.  But then the last 1/3rd of the book introduced a whole load of serious issues and obstacles for Elle to overcome in her new life. Any one of these could have made for a really interesting and thoughtful book, but they just felt chucked in for effect. For example, one of the boys at Elle’s school tries to force himself on her, but when Elle tells her friends, they don’t believe it and nothing is ever done about it. This could have opened up a good opportunity to examine sexual assault and consent, but it never gets developed. All of these storylines get neatly tied up in the end, a little too conveniently for my taste. If the story was supposed to deal with important issues, I think they should have been introduced earlier and examined in depth in order for it to actually matter. 

Reviewer: Andrea R

A Long Line of Cakes by Deborah Wiles - ADVISABLE

A Long Line of Cakes by Deborah Wiles, 257 pages. Scholastic Press, 2018. $18.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS  - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The Cakes are itinerant bakers, they travel where they are needed and serve where they land, they never go anywhere more than once. When they feel they are no longer needed they move on. Leo,  Arlouin and their six children, along with a bunch of dogs, land in Halleluia, Missouri and start a new bakery. The Cakes bake wonderful cakes and their oldest daughter, Emma, makes delicious soup. But Emma is tired of moving and leaving friends behind. This is the story of how the Cakes learn that just because you have always done something doesn't mean you need to always continue doing it.      

I am going to miss the Cake family, the story is full of adventures and interesting characters. Well written, an excellent example of descriptive writing. Oh and there is a delicious sounding cake recipe and frosting recipe included!        

Lisa Moeller, Language Arts Teacher and Librarian

Google It: A History of Google by Anna Crowley Redding - ESSENTIAL


Google It: A History of Google by Anna Crowley Redding, 230 pages.  NON-FICTION  Feiwel and Friends, 2018.  $20.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Larry Page and Sergey Brin were Stanford students together who didn’t always get along but challenged the way each other thought.  They decided to work together on their thesis project and came up with a way to organize the world's internet information, and called it Backrub.  Their hard work, focus and dedication eventually turned into Google and over time their company has grown, expanded and furthered their contribution to the organization of the world’s information.  

I found this book fascinating and randomly spouted off facts and stories about Google to anyone who would listen.  It’s amazing how much we take for granted our ability now-a-days to access information quickly and efficiently and all of that can be attributed to Google.  This is a great read that I recommend for anyone.  The only mature content is a picture of Jennifer Lopez in a very revealing dress.   

Reviewer, C. Peterson  

Friday, April 26, 2019

Seashells: More Than a Home by Melissa Stewart - ESSENTIAL

Seashells: More Than a Home by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen.  NON-FICTION/PICTURE BOOK.  Charlesbridge, 2019.  $16. 9781580898102

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Such a  lovely variety of seashells populate our world.  Stewart compares several different kinds of shells (and the creatures that populate them) to things that we as humans also do.  

The information on the page will be the spark for a great science lesson both in elementary schools and middle schools. The back matter contains a great short piece about the importance of research and how long it can last!  I like having Brannen’s illustrations instead of photographs.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS


The Secrets of Winterhouse by Ben Guterson - ADVISABLE

The Secrets of Winterhouse (Winterhouse #2) by Ben Guterson, 371 pages. Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2019. $17.

Content: G (mild danger)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Not only is Elizabeth back at Winterhouse again for Christmas, but this time her grandfather tells her that she is remaining for good – he has finally become her official guardian.  All of her friends from last Christmas are also back, but there are also some new creepy people.  Not just Rodney and his parents, the aggravating trio from the bus, but also Elana Vesper, who seems to be interested in Freddy, and her grandmother. There’s a new puzzle to be solved – the old Winterhouse seal has been exposed after years of being hidden under a carpet.  As she and Freddy try to unravel the puzzle, Elizabeth also worries whether her old nemesis, Gracella, is actually dead, and about the ulterior motives of the new guests.

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While the mystery is slightly different and there are a couple of new characters, the ultimate villain is still the same in book #2, which makes this a bit boring.  The puzzle is interesting enough to not even need a villain.  It looks like there will probably be another book in the series – let’s hope for a totally different type of adventure/antagonist. And now that Elizabeth is living there full time are we still going to have to wait until Christmas again so that the same characters can return?

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury - ADVISABLE

Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury, 385 pages. Scholastic Press (Scholastic), 2019. $18.

Language: PG (1 swear); Mature Content: PG-13 (intense kiss); Violence: PG-13 (warlike fighting)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Stacia is working in her father’s vineyard with her two friends, Clio and Pol.  It’s been a long day and they are getting ready to head home when they notice a large black ship approaching.  It appears to be from the Galactic Union. The Red Knights round up everyone and the Direktor informs them he knows the last heir to the throne has been hiding among them and if they tell him where she is, they won’t be harmed. What is he talking about? Everyone knows the entire royal family was killed, they’ve seen the footage many times. Under the threat of harm and much to Stacia’s surprise, a member of her community gives her up to save his family.  As Pol grabs her to escape, the Red Knights take Clio and her family. As they are leaving orbit, Stacia isn’t sure where they are going and is worried about her family. Most importantly, is what the Direktor said true?

This is a solid science fiction fantasy and I really enjoyed it.  The author describes her universe, but doesn’t get bogged down explaining every detail.  She gives her characters personality, background and depth. There are a few things I didn’t see coming, and a very satisfying ending.    

Reviewer: RB

Tarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor - ESSENTIAL

Tarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor, 384 pages. Scholastic Press, OCT 2019.  $19.

Language: PG (11 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG (minor fighting)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE, HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Anna has been risking her life and all of those in her hidden village for the last three years by sneaking into the market at the Settlement of Earth Adjacent to offer hope to those who need the forbidden, life-saving Tech that Anna could supply. This time however, something goes wrong and she unwittingly gives a clue to Nathaniel, the son of the Commissioner, who made the anti-Tech rules in the first place.  Nathaniel is desperate to prove himself to his authoritarian father and bringing him the Technician, the Settlement’s biggest outlaw.  Eliza, an Orbital living in space high above Earth Adjacent is one of the Queen’s Eyes and her biggest challenge of all is coming. Now she must head to Earth Adjacent to take up her public role as Nathaniel’s fiancée and her secret role to find evidence of the Commissioner’s betrayal. Earth Adjacent was supposed to ready for the Orbitals to finally come down from space to finish their flight from Earth, but the Commissioner keeps delaying the final descent.  While the three may at first think that they are each other’s enemy, it is only together that they will be able to untangle the lies, thwart the danger, and forge new futures for everyone.

So many great layers of misunderstandings, betrayals and action. While not everything makes total sense (I’m not going to go into details), it will still attract an audience. And I think this is one of those rare books in current YA fantasy – a stand alone!  At least that’s how it reads – a complete whole, with no mention of or reference to circumstances involving a sequel!  Love that!  The mature content is the mention of LGBT attraction and discussion of aromantic or asexual feelings – all very tastefully done.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Confessions of a Teenage Leper by Ashley Little - OPTIONAL

Confessions of a Teenage Leper by Ashley Little, 291 pages.  Penguin Teen (Penguin), 2018.  $18

Language: R (25+ swears, 12 F); Mature Content: R (Sex, Drugs, Drinking), Violence: R (Suicide, Fighting)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Abby is the teenage girl every girl wants to be: blonde, beautiful, a cheerleader; until she mysteriously contracts Hansen’s Disease! That’s right, she has Leprosy! Her whole world is turned upside down as this rare and horrible disease ravages her body and she has to discover who she wants to be, now that she isn’t pretty.

Confessions of a Teenage Leper takes on nearly all of the standard teenage hardships including drinking, drugs, homosexuality, virginity, self esteem, and family issues. Unfortunately, most of these are dealt with in a superficial way and are handled in an off the cuff short conversation or scene. Even Abby’s fight to be more than just a pretty cheerleader (a main plot point) is mostly speech without actions to back it up. I was really excited at the start of this book and became less and less so as it neared completion. I think it has merit to teens looking outside of themselves though and seeing that others have similar struggles and make poor choices too. 

Dina W. - ELA teacher

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Where the Heart Is by Jo Knowles - ADVISABLE

Where the Heart Is by Jo Knowles, 292 pages.  Candlewick, 2019. $17

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Rachel, 13, and her family don’t have a lot of money, but they do have each other and their cute home, and Rachel’s pony.  Rachel even has a summer job caring for the animals at the farm across the street for the new, rich couple who just moved in and hours to spend every day with her best friend Micah at the beach, even if she has to take her little sister along with her most days.  But her parents are arguing more and more about money and Micah seems to think that Rachel means some different to him  - that maybe now that they’ve been friends for so long it’s time for their relationship to head in a different direction. But Rachel’s not ready for that kind of relationship. At least not with Micah. 

Knowles writes a sweet book that is a slice of life as a girl goes through life’s many ups and downs. I like that there is nothing life and death about; there’s much to be said for a book that shows kids that other kids lives have ups and downs and questions.  

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Ruin of Stars by Linsey Miller - OPTIONAL

Ruin of Stars (Mask of Shadows #2) by Linsey Miller, 416 pages.  Sourcebooks Fire, 2018.  $18

Language: PG-13 (16 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG; Violence: R (blood and torture)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

As the Queen’s Opal, an assassin, Sallot Leon has to do many distasteful things.  Sal is focused on identifying and permanently removing the Erland nobles who are responsible for the deaths of every inhabitant of Nacea, Sal’s homeland. But when Sal’s old friend Rath comes to them for help, Sal must choose who commands the most of their loyalty – family or Queen.  Sal thinks the choice is made, but new details of further betrayal and deeper plots bring Sal’s promise into alignment and give them a chance to strike a final blow against all their enemies.

Magic takes a bigger stage in the second book of this duology.  The beginning is a bit confusing if it’s been a couple of years since you read Mask of Shadows (like me).  But once you settle in, the adventure is definitely worth it.  It is quite bloody, though.  Sal’s character is gender fluid –this is almost a non-issue within the scope of the book, except that others keep trying to identify them as female, but they refuse to be pigeon-holed.  

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS