Saturday, August 31, 2019

On A Scale of One to Ten by Ceylan Scott - OPTIONAL

On A Scale of One to Ten, by Ceylan Scott, 288 pages.  Scholastic Book Services, 2019. $15. 

Language: R; Mature Content: R (Referenced - Suicide, Self Harm, Sex, Drinking), Violence: R (Suicide Attempt, Self Harm, Fighting)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Tamar is a 16 year old girl who is living at Lime Grove, a psychiatric hospital for teenagers due to her recent suicide attempt. But Tamar doesn’t want to kill herself, she is trying to punish herself. She believes she is the reason her best friend died of an alcohol overdose/drowning a year ago and so she keeps increasing the self harm. Lime Grove is filled with teenagers with issues from eating disorders to bipolar disorder and Tamar learns how to navigate their issues and her guilt in the hospital. 

A lot of teen mental health books glorify self harm or escaping life, this book is written to show the darker side of psychiatric hospitals and that some teens really need to be there and it shouldn’t be used as a travel destination. Tamar makes poor choices in self pity and gets her friends hurt and she has to deal with the consequences. This is a well written book that reads very true to life, dark, and gritty. If a teen struggling with mental stability is reading it, a trusted adult should process the book with them. 

Dina W. - ELA teacher

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas - PUBLIC


A Court of Frost and Starlight (Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.5) by Sarah J. Maas, 229 pages.  Bloomsbury, 2018.  $18.  

Content:  Language: R (53 swears; 4 ‘f’); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: ADULTS – PUBLIC ONLY  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Feyre and Rhys are preparing for the Winter Solstice in the Night Court.  After the war, there is a lot of loss and destruction that they must address as the high lords of the court.  Also, Feyre and Rhys’s closest friends and allies deserve to celebrate and regroup after all that they have survived.  

This book isn’t crucial to understanding the rest of the series and is a short story about a holiday event.  If you like the characters in the Court of Thorns and Roses series, then it’s fun to read their banter and exchanges.  The content is very adult and the characters are new adults (in their twenties) as is the whole series.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.  

A Court of WIngs and Ruin by Sarah Maas - PUBLIC


A Court of Wings and Ruin (Court of Thorns and Roses, #3) by Sarah J. Maas, 699 pages.  Bloomsbury, 2017.  $19.  

Content: Language: R (111 swears; 13 ‘f’); Mature Content: R; Violence: R.  

BUYING ADVISORY: ADULT-PUBLIC ONLY  

AUDIENCE APPEAL:  AVERAGE  

Feyre has given her heart to Rhys, but she has to return to the Spring Court and pretend that she resented her time with Rhys, so that Tamilin will confide in her.  Her goal while in the Spring Court is to gather intel on Tamlin and figure out who she and Rhys can trust to go against the horrible king who is gathering forces against all of Prythian.  As Feyre begins to take control of her life and fight for those she loves, her power becomes a moving force for the good of Prythian.  

I enjoy this fantasy world.  I like the characters and the world building and am always able to fall back into the story regardless of the time it’s been since I’ve read the book before in the series.  The content is very adult including on page sex and other descriptive sexual encounters.  The violence is gruesome, gory and sometimes disturbing.  It’s upsetting that this is marketed towards young adults.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.   

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean - ESSENTIAL

The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean, 304 pages. Algonquin Books (Workman Publishing), 2019. $16. 

Language: PG; Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Tikka and her older sister, Laura, lost their best friends and neighbors when they were children and have never really recovered. Tikka moved away from their home in Australia to Baltimore, but even the distance didn’t fix the searching for the Van Apfel girls everywhere she went. When she returns because Laura is very ill, all of the memories of the summer their friends went missing return. Tikka flashes back and forth from the past to the present trying to figure out as an adult what really happened. 

Tikka is a limited view narrator as an adult and as a child and her descriptions of their life in wilds of Australia are compelling and reminiscent of how it feels to be a tween and only get told half of everything you want to know and needing to fill in the blanks. Even though Tikka tells the story as an adult, in so many ways, she is still a lost child and that narrator voice is tragic and endearing. The story of childhood friendships, sisters, and loss that girls all over the world will understand. 

Dina W. - ELA teacher

Guardians of the Wild Unicorns by Lindsay Littleson - ADVISABLE

Guardians of the Wild Unicorns by Lindsay Littleson, 208 pages. Kelpies (Floris Books), 2019         $10                 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS  - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Lewis is forced to go to summer camp in the Scottish Highlands with his best friend Rhona.  He would rather spend his summer indoors playing video games. While she excels at repelling or abseiling, he is terrified, and throws up on the popular girl.  Lewis runs away from the situation and into an amazing sight, a unicorn. Could it be real?  No, he is just seeing things.  Scotland is known for it's love of the mythical beasts, but can they still be alive somewhere deep in the Scottish woods?  When Rhona finally sees one, can she convince Lewis they are real and save them from a greedy gamekeeper who wants to destroy the herd altogether?           

Guardians is written by a Scottish author who understands how kids think and weaves an entertaining story with realistic dialog and interactions.  Lewis and Rhona are independent and Lewis changes immensely over the week of summer camp.  By the end, he steps outside himself to become a strong, capable camper.  I loved the witty banter between the tweens and the vocabulary.  Some words might be new to American readers, but that makes it all the more fun and I love unicorns!       

Michele Edgley, Library Technology Teacher in Salt Lake City School District  

The Chosen by Taran Matharu - ADVISABLE

The Chosen by Taran Matharu, 357 pages. Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2019.  $19

Language: R (55 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: R (violent battles and death)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

One moment Cade is enduring school, the next is precariously perched on the wall of a canyon trying to survive the attack of a vicious creature.  He has been deposited on a world with his tormentors, but they are small potatoes compared to the dangers awaiting Cade and the others.  Even if they manage to survive one danger, there is an unlimited series of other challenges lined up to take a literal stab at them. 

Matharu has ratcheted up the gore and body count in his newest series. For readers who grew up with Hunger Games and those who are looking for something to read after the Quarantine series.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

The Startup Squad by Brian Weisfeld and Nicole C. Kear - ADVISABLE

The Startup Squad by Brian Weisfeld and Nicole C. Kear, 160 pages. Macmillan Publishing, 2019. $17

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS  - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Mrs. Davis is taking her class to Adventure Central, an amusement park. The students are expected to pay their own way to the park. She assigns groups and lets students know they have to open a lemonade stand. The group that sells the most lemonade will win fast passes to the rides at the park. The winning team will win line skipping passes to the rides at the park. Resa is ready to be a leader and make sure her team wins the line-skipping tickets. The four girls, Resa. Didi, Harriet and Amelia have to learn to work together and not let their personalities stand in their way. They need to learn to cooperate.        

The four girls each have strong personalities and they are each sure that they are the one that should be team leader. It takes the girls some time, even losing profit to the competition before they learn to work together. I liked the book, it was a fast and fun read. I think this book offers some real advice and ideas for girls that want to start a business and be leaders. In the back of the book you will find helpful hints, and an interview with a girl that started her own business. The characters are believable and it was great to see how the group of girls in the book made a success out of their lemonade stand by working together.  You will have to read the book to learn whether the girls won the contest or not.      

Ellen-Anita, Librarian

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Wardens of Eternity by Courtney Moulton - ADVISABLE

Wardens of Eternity by Courtney Moulton, 368 pages.  Blink (Harper), Jan 2020. $17

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Ziva, only a small child, was abandoned by her parents on the streets of NYC.  Now, 15 years later, she has survived the orphanage and made a small, if poor, life for herself.  A chance encounter reveals Ziva’s true identity – the heir of Medjai powers and the only person alive who can complete the resurrection of an important Egyptian queen.  Pursued not only by Nazi’s but thwarted also by some actual gods, Ziva has a slim chance to survive.

If romantic magical books are still big sellers in your library, your students will also like this. The addition of actual gods being involved will pull in readers who still love Rick Riordan-like books.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Legends of the Sky by Liz Flanagan - ESSENTIAL

Legends of the Sky by Liz Flanagan, 357 pages. Scholastic, 2019. $19

Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (War battles)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Milla is orphaned and has been taken in by Nestan  on the island country of Arcosi as a servant and companion to his daughter Tarya. While hidden in a tree a stranger hangs a beautiful pannier up in the tree to hide it. All her life Milla has heard the old legends about dragons and dragon riders. The man that hides the pannier is killed and Milla is frightened. She takes the pannier and hides it before looking inside. When she checks, she finds four beautiful, large eggs. Could they be dragon eggs? Will the dragons return to the island? She protects the eggs and finally confides her secret to her best friends, twins Tarya and Isak. The eggs are stolen. A mysterious woman, Kara, gives Milla a riddle. Milla has be present when the dragons hatch. Will she make it in time? What will happen when the dragons hatch? All this takes place while three groups of people struggle for control of the island kingdom. There is a lot of political struggle and finally a big uprising. Can the dragons and their riders help the people see that they can all live in peace?          

This is a wonderful, fast paced, epic fantasy about dragons and dragon riders, the fight and struggle between Norlander, Arcosi and Sartolan people. I could not put this book down. It was great. The characters and their struggles, good times and bad times were told and explained so well. The characters were so well written, they seemed real. The story became like a movie in my mind while I was reading it. It was great! If you liked Eragon, you will also love this book. 

Ellen-Anita, Librarian

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez - OPTIONAL


Sweet Black Waves (Sweet Black Waves, #1) by Kristina Perez, 430 pages.  Imprint (Macmillan), 2018.  $19.  

Content: Language: PG (4 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: R  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Branwen is the cousin and lady’s maid to Essy, the princess of Iveriu and their long time mortal enemies have been the Kernyvman who pirate their lands and kill their people.  One day while on the beach, Branwen sees an injured man on a piece of shipwreck and helps him to a cave.  Branwen quickly realizes that Tantris is a Kernyvman, but as Branwen is a healer, she feels it is her duty to heal him.  As Tantris and Branwen become friends and possibly more, their kingdoms amp up their fighting.  Branwen also helps Essy as Essy’s parents are trying to arrange an advantageous marriage for their kingdom to prevent further fighting but will Tantris help or hurt their country.  

I couldn’t put this book down and although I know the story of Tristan and Iseult, I enjoyed this version of the story.  The characters were well developed, and the addition of magic enhanced the plot.  The violence is gory and gruesome which takes the book from advisable to optional.  Also, I would put it as high except the ending could disappoint those who don’t know the Tristan and Iseult story and the ending seemed rushed.  There is going to be more to the story, and I can’t wait to read it.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Trial by Winter by Anne Patton - OPTIONAL

Trial by Winter (Crisis in Barr Colony #3) by Anne Patton, 196 pages.  Coteau Books, 2019.  $11.

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Dorothy and her family have their sod house in the Canadian wilderness and winter is descending quickly. When her father leaves to find a paying job for the winter, the girls and their mother must keep themselves alive. It will take grit, heart, and ingenuity to stay alive.

The only reason this is rated OPTIONAL is because historical fiction is hard to get kids to read.  I love it – them not so much.  If you are looking for an alternative to or supplement for the Little House books, this series is an excellent option.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Bake Like a Pro! (Maker Comics) by Falynn Koch - OPTIONAL

Bake Like a Pro! by Falynn Koch. 123 pages, GRAPHIC NOVEL. First Second (Macmillan), 2019. $20. 

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS, MS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The young wizards are receiving their apprenticeship assignments. Sage is devastated when she finds out she’ll be working with a baking wizard. Under the tutelage of Wizard Korian, she learns that baking is more than just mixing ingredients. She learns the science of alchemy and the magic it takes to bake a recipe just right.

This is an interesting series. Each book is written and illustrated by a different author and contains factual information along with activities or projects the reader can do. It’s fiction because the characters and situations are made up. It’s non-fiction because it gives accurate, applicable information. And it’s a graphic novel, which are wildly popular with tweens and teens nowadays. I must admit I was a bit surprised at just how much scientific information this book contained. The book also has eight recipes and some baking tips and tricks. At first, I didn’t like the illustrations, but I got used to them by the time I reached the end of the book. Best suited for high school or middle school students.

LMA, elementary school teacher

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Someday by David Levithan - OPTIONAL

Someday (Every Day, #3) by David Levithan, 394 pages.  Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.  $19.  

Content: Language: R (37 swears; 13 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

As Rhiannon tries to have a new relationship and move on from A (who is body-less soul who has a different host every day), she realizes that she still loves A and worries about him, so she reaches out to connect with A online.  A also thinks about Rhiannon all of the time, so is relieved when they are able to reconnect, even though they still have the same problems as before.  X is someone with the same body-less condition as A, but he abuses the lives of those he is hosting, and he threatens Rhiannon and her friend so that he can find A.  X’s ill-intentions bother A and Rhiannon, so they try to work together to find a way to stop X.  

As confusing as that summary may sound, the books make sense and Levithan has built a creative world and premise for A and other characters like him in this book.  I guess I wanted a more satisfying ending, but I also felt like this ending was true to the series.  The content includes a manipulative character who is abusive and injures others and there are sexual references.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.    

Fix a Car! by Chris Schweizer - OPTIONAL

Fix a Car! (Maker Comics) by Chris Schweizer. 122 pages, GRAPHIC NOVEL. First Second (Macmillan), 2019. $20. 

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS, MS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Mason and the other kids in Car Club don’t have much in common but they do love cars. Each week they meet with Ms. Gritt who teaches them about car engines, repair, and maintenance. With their new found knowledge, they are ready to hit the road in their well-tuned rides.

This is an interesting series. Each book is written and illustrated by a different author and contains factual information along with activities or projects the reader can do. It’s fiction because the characters and situations are made up. It’s non-fiction because it gives accurate, applicable information. And it’s a graphic novel, which are wildly popular with tweens and teens nowadays. My only complaint is that the dialogue is a bit contrived, but the author uses it to move the story forward and give the reader information. I liked the illustrations in this book. Best suited for high school or middle school students.

LMA, elementary school teacher

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum - OPTIONAL

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum, 378 pages Imprint (Macmillan), 2019.           $19

Language: R (39 swears, 41 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13 (Under age drinking and use of drugs); Violence: PG (Fist fights)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW    

Ryann Bird loves the stars and learning about space. Ryann takes care of her brother James and her nephew Charlie because her parents were killed in an accident while working for NASA during a new SCOUT program. The SCOUT program sent 18 year old people into space for the rest of their lives. Years ago, one of the girls found out she was pregnant after being accepted to the SCOUT program. That baby, Alenanderia, was left behind.  Ryann befriends Alexanderia after an accident leaves Alexanderia with a broken arm. This story is one of believing in your dreams and second chances.             

Ryann’s story is set in the future, however you are never told how far in the future until the very end. I feel like the swearing was forced; it would drop the "F" bomb just to swear, but the word never really had a real purpose. I also wanted to learn more about what Ryann's parents did working for NASA; it is never really mentioned. The SCOUT program is all cloak and daggers until almost the end of the story. I don't feel like this book flowed and it jumped from moment to moment. I found this book hard to stay engaged in even though it was easy to read. 

Teresa, Librarian

All the Colors of Magic by Valija Zinck - ESSENTIAL

All the Colors of Magic by Valija Zinck. 277 pages. Scholastic, DECEMBER 2019. $18.

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH    

Penelope lives by the swamp forest with her mom and grandma. They house they live in is run down and the paint is peeling, making it look like speckled red and green. Penelope calls it the "dragon house." Penelope is unusual because she has gray hair and she smells like smoke. She misses her dad and once a month he sends a dark gray envelope with $5 or sometimes, just sand. One day Penelope mom was hit by a tractor and is in the hospital. Penelope wakes up with bright red hair, the road starts talking to her and she discovers that she can fly.          

I could not put this book down! It was a fun, fast paced story and Penelope is a delightful heroine, and her life is full of unexpected, twists and turns. She takes matters into her own hands and brings the story to an unexpected end. I can't wait for the next book from this talented author. I will definitely recommend this book to the students at my school.      

Ellen-Anita, Librarian

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Cape by Kate Hannigan - OPTIONAL

Cape (League of Superheroes #1) by Kate Hannigan, 307 pages. Aladdin (Simon), 2019.  $18.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Josie may not be able to fight in WWII, but she will do her part to keep her family together while her father is. After being brushed off for a job as a decoder.  She and the other girls who were rejected band together. And through odd circumstances the girls discover that together they have superpowers!  But all of the superheroes have disappeared!  What can three young girls do to even the odds again?  And who is the evil man who has the power to destroy them?

As popular superhero movies are, I have had a hard time getting my students interested in actually reading books about them.  And this one is set during WWII – making the time period less accessible for them. The action and adventure and swash-buckling fun, so this should be placed in the right reader’s hand.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Can You Crack the Code? by Schwartz and Williams - ESSENTIAL

Can You Crack the Code? A Fascinating History of Ciphers and Cryptology by Ella Schwartz, illustrated by Lily Williams, 118 pages.     NON FICTION. Bloomsbury, 2019. $22                

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS  - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE        

Look at how codes, ciphers and cryptograms have been used through history and even today. Codes have been and are used by historical figures, leaders in societies and even by professional football players! Cryptography is now a big field of study and there are great job opportunities available for people who are great coders.            

I loved this book! It has so much information and fun facts, codes and solutions that it was an enjoyable read. I loved the exercises for the reader to do. These helped me stay with the book as I learned about how codes have been and are used. I open my library an hour before school every day so students can come and work on coding. I will definitely make sure the students know how great this books is, and make is available for their enjoyment. I think this book will help students be excited about codes and coding.      

Ellen-Anita, Librarian

Another Day by David Levithan - OPTIONAL


Another Day (Every Day, #2) by David Levithan, 329 pages.  Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.  $18.  

Content: Language: R (73 swears; 24 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Rhiannon is in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship with her boyfriend Justin.  One day Justin is unusually nice, she feels a deep connection to him and loves the unique day.  Over the course of the next three days, she meets two new people and then receives an e-mail explaining that the day Justin was nice he was actually the host of a body-less person named “A”, and he was also the other two new people that Rhiannon met.  Rhiannon believes A’s story and starts to realize that her relationship with Justin is toxic, but is frustrated by A’s constantly changing appearance.  

This is the same story as Levithan’s book Every Day, but it is just from the perspective of Rhiannon.  I had a hard time liking Rhiannon because she spends the bulk of her day saying “sorry” and trying to make Justin happy, so it confuses me why she made such a big impact on A.  The content includes a lot of references to sex, an emotional/verbal abusive relationship, one character struggles with suicide and the topic of gender fluidity.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Saturday, August 24, 2019

A Box of Bones by Marina Cohen - OPTIONAL

A Box of Bones by Marina Cohen, 281 pages.  Roaring Brook (Macmillan), 2019.  $17

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Kallie, 12, is allergic to lies.  Since her mother died during a ferry crossing she has lived with her father and grandfather and never allowed to imagine. When the mysterious man at the local Festival of Fools hands her a puzzle box, Kallie is intrigued despite herself. She doesn’t realize that unlocking the box may also uncover answers she doesn’t want to hear. Meanwhile, Liah is the apprentice to a bone carver.  As they travel to see the queen, Liah makes a misstep and now has an epic task.

The back and forth between the two girls lives is a little confusing.  Now that I’ve finished I am a trifle curious to reread each story separately. It does work best as written, I just want to read it linearly – maybe.  

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

1968 by multiple authors - OPTIONAL


1968: Today’s authors explore a year of rebellion, revolution and change by multiple authors, 198 pages.  NON-FICTION  Candlewick Press, 2018.  $19.  

Content: Language: PG (2 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW   

This is a collection of fourteen stories that highlight different events that took place in 1968.  The stories are broken up into different months with stats from the war as well as different headlines from those months.  My favorite stories were “The Wrong Side of History”, “Running with Sharp Schticks” and “Running into History”.  The topics were diverse and covered places and events from throughout the world.  

As a whole, I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you are teaching this time period because a lot of the stories assume you have an understanding of the history taking place at the time.  The content includes police brutality, drug use, deaths and also mentions STDs.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson. 

Her Own Two Feet by Davis and Uwitonze - ESSENTIAL

Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl's Brave Fight to Walk by Meredith Davis and Rebeka Uwitonze. 193 pages. BIOGRAPHY. Scholastic, OCTOBER 2019   18                   

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS  - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH    

Rebeka was born in Rwanda with twisted feet and not looking right. Even though eighbors and friends wanted her parents to not keep the baby, her parents said they would love her no matter what. Rebeka was a happy child and by the time she was nine, she had taught herself to walk on the tops of her feet. She was offered a chance of a lifetime to come to America for treatment. She would have to leave her family and live with strangers, speaking a language she did not know, in a new land. Rebeka's father said "chance comes once."         

Rebeka has a heart warming story of bravery. I will book talk and recommend this book to students and teachers alike. I could not put this book down and read it in one sitting. I was deeply moved by Rebeka's story and I was touched by all the good people do to help others.     

Ellen-Anita, Librarian

Friday, August 23, 2019

Kiss Me in Paris by Catherine Rider - OPTIONAL


Kiss Me in Paris by Catherine Rider, 204 pages.  KCP Loft (Kids Can Press), 2018.  $11.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (32 swears); Mature Content: PG (kissing); Violence: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Serena is in Paris with a strict itinerary that takes her to the places her parents visited on their honeymoon.  Serena’s father passed away two years ago, and Serena is hoping to make a scrapbook with pictures of all her parents’ favorite spots to give to her mom for Christmas.  From the beginning of her trip, nothing goes as plan, especially her unexpected tour guide, a boy named Jean-Luc.  Where Serena is organized and has a singular focus, Jean-Luc tries to get Serena to enjoy the city and along the way they help each other.  

This is a simple love story between two eighteen-year-old kids.  The premise of the story isn’t very believable, but I enjoyed the sweet development of their relationship.  I also enjoyed the setting of Paris.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Girl Under a Red Moon by Da Chen - OPTIONAL

Girl Under a Red Moon : Growing Up During China's Cultural Revolution by Da Chen, 193 pages. NON FICTION. Scholastic, 2019. $17.            

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: R (rape) ; Violence: PG-13 (scenes of graphic torture)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE        

Da and his older sister, Sisi, grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution. Sisi was a model student, but because the grandfather was a landowner, she was not chosen for the Red Guard. Sisi and Da fled to a small village where Sisi worked in a school. For a while things seem better in Bridge Town, but the revolution caught up to them. Sisi watched people around her be falsely accused she must decide if she will take the easy route and to stand with the accusers or if she will stand up for the accused and tell the truth. The consequences for going against the regime is dire.            

This was an amazing book. I have read a lot about life during the Cultural Revolution in China and know that the awful things described in the book really happened. I think the book gives insight into what it was like to be a child in China during this time. The story was fascinating, spellbinding and heartbreaking all at the same time. I could not put the book down. The book is written in very simple language and I thought it was meant for elementary school students. However, the graphic violence in the book makes it more suitable for high school students studying China.             

Ellen-Anita, Librarian

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Epic Athletes: Stephen Curry by Dan Wetzel - ESSENTIAL


Epic Athletes: Stephen Curry by Dan Wetzel, illustrations by Zeke Pena, 160 pages. NON-FICTION  Henry Holt, 2019.  $17.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Stephen Curry was not a very big kid throughout his childhood and teen years, but he loved basketball.  Steph spent a lot of time playing the sport with his father who was a former NBA star and they learned to adjust his shots even though he was at a height-disadvantage.  Steph performed so well that he was picked up by Davidson for college and later signed on with the Golden State Warriors.  Steph is a humble team-player who also loves his family and God.  

I read this book with my nine-year old son who loves basketball.  He couldn’t wait for bedtime to read it, so sometimes we had reading time in the middle of the day.  Steph’s story is inspiring because he is a hard worker and overcomes hardship and injuries.  My son loved the descriptions of the games and the stats.  The illustrations are few and far between, so there is a lot of reading material, making it work for both elementary and middle school.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.     

Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan - ADVISABLE

Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan. 330 pgs. Blink. $17.99 

Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG13 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Kateri, a desert warrior princess, must win a series of fights against men chosen by her father in order to prove her fitness to rule Achra, a desert kingdom whose water supply has nearly run out.  If Kateri loses a fight, she will be forced to marry the man who beat her and he will rule in her stead. When her father chooses Rodric as her next opponent, she knows she cannot marry him and flees to the desert.  Here she meets Cion and the Desert Boys, a band of robbers who steal water from the rich and give it to the thirsty people of Achra. From them, she learns that there is actually a huge underground reservoir of water and that her father and Rodric are hiding it to control the people.  Kateri must find a way to beat Rodric and release the dam holding back the water in order to keep her kingdom from crumbling back into the desert. 

I had a hard time deciding if I like this book. Kateri, Cion, and the other protagonists have no faults and Rodric and the King are completely evil with no redeeming qualities. This makes all of the characters feel unreal and flat to me and I had a hard time relating to any of them.  However, the world-building and action scenes were well done and kept me reading to see how Kateri would eventually defeat Rodric. A romance develops between Kateri and Cion with a few mild kissing scenes. There is plenty of swordplay, as well as two tigers that kill people as punishment for disobeying the king. 

Dona Wilson--Teacher Librarian

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig by Don Zolidis - OPTIONAL


Language: R (3 F); Mature Content: PG-13 (referenced - Sex, Drinking), Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Craig is a nerdy 16 year old boy who accidentally finds himself with his first girlfriend, Amy. He is instantly head over heels and oblivious to Amy and her needs which leads her to break up with him six times. Each time, Craig manages to somehow win her back and each time, he seems more and more confused as to what is going on inside their relationship.

The great thing about The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig is that it is a love story of sorts, from a teen aged male perspective. Craig is a comic book reading, Dungeons and Dragons playing, social outcast, skinny, geeky boy that wears his heart on his sleeve and shares how it feels to be a teenaged boy in love. This isn’t a perspective that is always shown. I love the idea that boys can read about other male love experiences in a positive way the same way that girls can. 

Dina W. - ELA teacher

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser - ESSENTIAL


The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden (The Vanderbeekers,#2) by Karina Yan Glaser, 327 pages.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.  $17.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL – ESSENTIAL; MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Josie and Mr. Jeet are the Vanderbeekers beloved upstairs neighbors, so when Mr. Jeet has a stroke and is rushed to the hospital the Vanderbeeker kids are upset.  Josie and Mr. Jeet, who love plants, always encouraged the kids to make use of the garden next to the church, so the kids decide they want to surprise their neighbors when the return from the hospital.  The Vanderbeekers, with the help of some friends, secretly work on beautifying the garden.  

I love these sweet Vanderbeeker kids and their lovely neighbors and friends.  If you have readers who enjoy the Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, then they will adore the Vanderbeekers as well.  The Vanderbeekers kids range in age from 5-13, and this is a great read.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.    

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell - ESSENTIAL


Sky Without Stars (System Divine, #1) by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell, 582 pages.  Simon Pulse, 2019.  $20.  

Content: Language: PG (5 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Chatine is a thief, who tries to collect items so she can one day escape the bleak planet of Laterre.  Chatine dresses like a boy and once while stealing from the dead, she runs into a wealthy ruling-class boy named Marcellus.  Their chance meeting later turns into Chatine spying on Marcellus for his grandfather.  Marcellus is trying to be brave and carry out his government position in a manner pleasing to his grandfather who is the general, but he receives an encrypted message from the rebellion the night he visits his father’s dead body, and Marcellus begins to doubt the system of government he has been trained to guard.  One night, Marcellus is caught in the rebellion's crossfire and injured, so a sweet girl named Alouette, who Marcellus learns is a defector, tends to his wounds and helps him translate his encrypted message. These three characters’ lives become critical to each other’s salvation and the future of their planet.  

I could not put this book down.  I loved all the characters and the setting.  The plot is a reimagining of Les Miserables and moves quickly with lots of action.  The ending isn’t complete, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book.  If you liked the Cinder series by Marissa Meyer, then you will enjoy this.  The violence includes dead bodies and a beheading.

Reviewer, C. Peterson.      

Friday, August 16, 2019

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman - OPTIONAL


Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, 373 pages.  Simon Pulse, 2018.  $19.  

Content: Language: R (47 swears; 17 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Rumi loves to make music, especially with her best friend, her little sister, Lea.  Rumi has always felt like a second parent to Lea, so when Lea dies in a car accident Rumi is devastated.  What amplifies Rumi’s devastation is that their mother can’t cope with her grief and care for Rumi, so Rumi is sent to Hawaii to live with her aunt.  Rumi feels like she has been abandoned by the two people who she loved, so she wallows in her grief and confusion, until Rumi meets her two neighbors who help Rumi navigate her music and her grief.  

This book is depressing and heartbreaking, but I felt like the author helped me to understand what grief would look and feel like.  Rumi’s character is not kind and is judgmental about her mom’s grief, and her selfishness lasts a long time, but I loved the neighbor characters and their contribution to Rumi’s healing.

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas - HIGH

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, 447 pages. Balzer + Bray, 2019. $19.

Language: R (600+ swears 51 'f'); Mature Content: PG (kissing); Mature Content: PG13 (Gun Violence, Gangs, Rap lyrics about violence). 

BUYING ADVISORY:  HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

16-year-old Bri wants to be a rapper, and she's good! She wins her first Rap battle at "The Rink" and everyone says she's gonna be a famous rapper just like her dad - Lawless. Bri's father was a victim of gun violence, shot down by a rival gang and her family is struggling to get by. Her mom was a drug addict, but has been clean for a while now - but holding on to a job is difficult, and Bri and her older brother are more worried about their present than their future. If Bri can hit it big as a rapper, she'll be making a lot of money and can help her family - but at what expense? 

Angie Thomas tells a great story. We see Bri think through her rap, figuring out the rhymes and then delivering a great performance. I would have loved to hear more of her poetry. Her community was great, school friends fighting the system, adults who are both part of the problem and desperately trying to break the cycle of poverty, gang affiliation and drug abuse. At over 400 pages, it looks like a daunting read, but the action moves fast and the story is engaging. High school kids will love this!

Lisa Librarian

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Grand Escape by Neal Bascomb - ADVISABLE


The Grand Escape: The Greatest Prison Breakout of the 20th Century by Neal Bascomb, 288 pages.  NON-FICTION  Scholastic, 2018.  $19.  

Content: Language: (3 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

During World War I, captured allied forces were kept in POW camps throughout Germany.  Those who were captured felt it was their responsibility to escape and rejoin the effort, but the men’s attempts to escape were often foiled.  When prisoners were caught, they were sent to a camp called Holzminden which was run by a mean commandant named Neimeyer.  This book follows different prisoners and how they ended up at Holzminden and then details their combined effort to attempt their escape.  

What a great read.  The men who escaped Holzminden were easy to cheer for as they made brave attempts to escape.  I enjoyed the information at the beginning of the book that explains the “Rules of War” and how POW’s were supposed to be treated as well as the ending of the book that explained how this escape was used as an example to other soldiers, so during World War II, more prisoners were able to escape.  There pictures throughout that enhanced the story.  The violence is there are soldiers who were murdered or shot and the abuses in the POW camp, nothing too graphic, but still upsetting.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.       

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The End of the World and Beyond by Avi - ADVISABLE

The End of the World and Beyond (Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts, #2) by Avi, 328 pages.  Algonquin (Workman Publishing), 2018.  $17.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Oliver Pitts was convicted of being a thief and his punishment is to be sent to America.  After surviving a stormy crossing, with now chance of escape he arrives in Annapolis.  Oliver’s luck doesn’t improve when nobody wants to buy a scrawny indentured servant and he finds himself in jail.  When a man buys him from the jail, Oliver hopes his luck has changed, but he quickly realizes that his owner is abusive and his only saving grace might be a fellow slave who has an idea for escape.  

This book is action-packed and gives a good view into what life might be like for an indentured servant.  I enjoyed Oliver’s character and the fast-moving plot.  The cover isn't great, but if you can get your readers to pick it up they will enjoy it.  This book makes more sense after reading the Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell and gives a satisfying ending to Oliver’s two book story.  The content includes abuse, mention of deaths and a rotting body.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.