Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Nazi Saboteurs : Hitler's Secret Attack on America Samantha Seiple - ADVISABLE

Nazi Saboteurs : Hitler's Secret Attack on America Samantha Seiple 224 pages. NON FICTION Scholastic, 2019, $18.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS -, HS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

In 1942, a group of German agents landed on the east coast of America, intent on spreading trouble - by disabling transportation and manufacturing and other organizations important in the US war effort. However, one thing after another went wrong and the mission was a failure. 

 I had no idea! What an exciting read! I did a lot of shaking my head at the stupidity, by both Americans and Germans. I loved the details of their meals, the shopping trips, the fancy clothes and hotel stays. Includes an epilogue showing how this story influenced decisions after the 9-11 attack, sources including declassified government documents, books and websites.

Lisa Librarian

Sanity and Tallulah Field Trip by Molly Brooks - ADVISABLE

Sanity and Tallulah Field Trip by Molly Brooks, 227 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Disney Hyperion, 2019. $22.

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

BUYING ADVISORY:, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

12 yo Sanity and Tallulah are back and all the kids are going to a planet on a field trip. After a 15 hour spaceship ride, they arrive at their destination to discover that the field trip has been cancelled - their sponsor had been reassigned and no one had let the field trip know. Sanity's sister, Prudence, manages to talk an acquaintance into letting them land at the docking station, but when an asteroid hits and the children barely escape with their lives, it's up to Sanity and Tallulah to rescue the planet's inhabitants and figure out a plan to get everyone safely back home.

I really loved the adventure in book #2 - but no worries, it stands on its own, so read them in any order. There's a space pirate, a collapsing planet, broken spacecraft, alien life forms and a bunch of really smart kids, plus, Sanity and Tallulah are doing their own thing, again, which gets them in more trouble than everyone else - but also sets them up to save the day so it's all good. I love this series, I hope Molly Brooks writes more!

Lisa Librarian

Truckus Maximus by Scott Peterson and José García - ADVISABLE

Truckus Maximus by Scott Peterson and José García 282 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL First Second 2019 $17.

Language: PG (7 swears, 0 'f') Mature Content: G; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

The Truckus Maximus is an extreme race, where "where only two things matter: Honor and the Game." The best racer is Axl, and when one of his team members is disabled, he picks a racer from another team - Piston - a young, inexperienced racer who has some smart ideas, but she is a novice and makes a lot of mistakes, however, Axl sees potential so the team embraces her training. 

A futuristic, dystopian world where the slightest mistakes can get you sent to your death, exciting races (also to the death), and a bunch of teenagers using their skills to make a family - what more could a reader want? Excellent art, well detailed with as much or more of the story told in pictures as in the text. My manga fans are going to love this one! Can't wait to get it on the shelves.

Lisa Librarian

Nat Enough by Maria Scrivan - ADVISABLE

Nat Enough by Maria Scrivan, 240 pages, GRAPHIC NOVEL Graphix (Scholastic), 2020. $25.

Content: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Natalie is just starting middle school, but she's having some self-confidence problems and feels like she's not enough - not talented enough, not popular enough, not pretty enough. Also her best friend since 2nd grade, Lily, has found another friend and has turned mean, calling Natalie a nerd and ignoring her. Nat is obsessed with winning Lily back, and barely notices the good new friends she's made. But when her Language Arts teacher announces a story contest, Natalie has a great idea. 

Maria Scrivan's artwork is great - expressive characters and well designed panels. The storyline is easy to relate to, and the message is important. Similar in style to Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Jameson, I'm sure this will be popular in my library.

Lisa Librarian

Iron Magicians: The Search for the Magic Crystals by Cetrix –ADVISABLE

Iron Magicians: The Search for the Magic Crystals by Cetrix, 415 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Quirk, 2019 $10  Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (Demonic ritual).  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL:  AVERAGE

Steampunk setting meets a choose your own story meets a dungeons and dragons type game play. Players/Readers choose a character and record its attributes on a game sheet, such as level or magic, technology, and more. Then start reading and making choices by looking for panel numbers, I chose a male character with a lot of magic. I spent time exploring and collection spells in one of the eight locations in Paris to choose from, the cemetery. There is a lot to this entire adventure as objects and spells are needed in certain areas that you might not quite yet have, so you can revisit multiple times.

Could take hours and hours to go through the various locations with a ton of potential for a variety of endings and experiences. I think middle school students would love this adventure, especially fans of Dungeons and Dragons. It reminds me of a great video game. A lot of the game is written down, so if you add this to your school library plan on printing off many copies of the forms from the website listed on the book so that the students don’t write in the book. The only thing I could see as a possible pitfall (parent complaint) is a devil worshiping scene with a pentagram and a demon.  

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Kit and Elizabeth by Karen Tuft - OPTIONAL

Kit and Elizabeth by Karen Tuft, 296 pages. Covenant Communications, 2019. $17.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: NEW ADULT - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Still unwed at 21yo, Lady Elizabeth is practically a spinster according to society and a failure according to her father. Doing everything she can to be the ideal daughter of a duke and duchess, Elizabeth is surprised by the animosity of her parents in regard to her single status. The reason is finally revealed, shattering the life Elizabeth has known and putting her future into question.

I enjoyed reading Tuft’s book because she wrote in such a way to make me fall in love with the characters. With such characters, I wanted to see them succeed and overcome their challenges. Tuft makes Elizabeth’s problems feel relevant and relatable, and I loved watching Elizabeth’s evolution over the course of her character arc. I also recognize that this book was very cheesy -- so much so that I might have actually rolled my eyes at it a couple of times. Nevertheless, it was an overall-good read with a pronounced lesson on individual worth.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

To Die To Sleep by Stephanie Black - ADVISABLE

To Die To Sleep by Stephanie Black, 272 pages. Covenant Communications, 2019. $18.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: NEW ADULT - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Something is not right at the Keep, a resort in America’s mountains. Before she even checks in with her reservation, Natalie gets hurt -- becoming the first victim the week -- and shortly thereafter meets the delusional owner himself. If Natalie really wanted a relaxing vacation, going to the Keep was the wrong choice.

The intrigue of To Die To Sleep is nearly palpable. Black gives her readers no respite from the suspense, sucking you right into the action from page one. I love that all of the evidence is available to the characters and the reader the whole time, so it’s possible to suspect the correct perpetrator. While I did not know that this book is not the first to detail Natalie’s experience with murder cases, the others are not necessary to read beforehand -- but you can bet that I am now going to read the other two stories because of my wonderful experience reading this one. The violence rating is for persistent murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Great Expectations (Manga Classics) art by Nokman Poon - OPTIONAL

Udon Entertainment, 2015. $14.

Language: PG (4 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

An orphan living with his older sister and brother-in-law, Pip can’t seem to do anything right. He’s summoned to the home of the richest lady around to entertain her and her adopted daughter, which plants Pip’s desire to be more than a poor boy -- Pip wants to be a gentleman. When an anonymous sponsorship suddenly becomes available to him, Pip has to take the opportunity and leave the only home he’s ever known.

This classic adaptation was difficult for me to follow, which might have been because so many details were left out. The time skips felt choppy and disorienting as I was yanked from one big conflict to the next without enough explanation to help connect the dots between events and purposes. I am disappointed that I was not able to improve my understanding of the characters in this story as much as I have been able to with the other classics in this series. While I enjoyed the illustrations in this manga classic as much as the others I’ve read, the story was not as enlightening to read.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Purple Heart: Savior by Eric Warnauts - NO

Purple Heart: Savior by Eric Warnauts, 58 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL
Europe Comics, 2019. $9.

Language: PG13 (24 swears, 1 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - NO

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Joshua fought in WWII, earning a purple heart that does nothing to ease his guilt or heal his invisible wounds. Now working as a private eye in New York, Joshua is still stuck in a war-fighting mode -- when he isn’t having sex to make up for the lost time spent in military service. Fighting both inner demons and bad men around the city, Joshua can’t seem to remove complications from his life.

I did not enjoy reading this graphic novel, mostly because the sexual content was too graphic with nudity and sex that is practically pornography. On top of that, there were some panels that appeared to have no purpose, even after scouring them for anything related to the plot, and Joshua’s case was solved too quickly with little engagement from the reader in figuring out what happened. The short length of this graphic novel was nice since I wasn’t enjoying what I was reading, but I also feel like it was a hindrance to the story because several details were thrown in that felt significant but were ultimately left unexplained. In the end, I’m confused, but I also don’t care.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Monday, December 30, 2019

Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis - ESSENTIAL

Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis, 393 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Walker Books (Candlewick), 2019. $25. 

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


BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Ever since Margaret was a baby, she has lived on the island with the nuns. They are part of an Elysian order and they care for sailors and their families, and pray for safety of the ships at sea. But when Queen Eleanor, whose half sister has taken over the throne, is brought to the island as a prisoner, Margaret soon finds out that there are a lot of secrets the nuns never told her, and some are about Margaret's past. Secrets that could cost everyone their lives. 

Ah! A nice long graphic novel with plenty of plot, great characters, adventure, danger, and romance. I loved the illuminated feel, the setting and the humor. The illustrations are great, clean, expressive and drive the story along with the text. I loved the religious life of the nuns - so simply explained by Margaret. I was particularly intrigued by the embroidery lesson. I hope my middle school students appreciate this as much as I did - the middle ages are sometimes a hard sell.

Lisa Librarian

Marie Curie A Life of Discovery by Alice Milani - OPTIONAL

Marie Curie A Life of Discovery by Alice Milani translated from Italian by Kerstin Schwandt 208 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Graphic Universe Lerner Imprints, 2019 $15.

Language: PG (5 swears, 0 'f') Mature Content: PG (mention of scandals) Violence: PG.

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW 

The adult life of Marie Curie is recounted by her daughter in flashback. We see glimpses of her education, personal life and scientific career as well as social and cultural feelings of the times including the roles of women in the home and in professional life. 

Milani's graphic novel is difficult to follow. Quite a bit of background knowledge is necessary as much of the plot is told in conversations - so many different characters it was hard to keep track of everyone. Lots of scientific discussions as well - even the description of Radium that was directed to a child was confusing.  The illustrations seem messy, the text is disjointed - like overhearing snatches of conversation. I think an average middle schooler would quickly lose interest.

Lisa Librarian

The Boy His Stories and How they came to be by Oliver Jeffers - GIFT

The Boy His Stories and How they came to be by Oliver Jeffers, PICTURE BOOK Philomel (Penguin Random House), 2018. $40. 9780593114742

BUYING ADVISORY: ADULT - GIFT 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Oliver Jeffers has compiled all 4 "Boy" stories into 1 collection - but wait, there's more! Each story comes with a look inside the creators notes - so the reader can see his process, sketches and ideas about each one. "How to Catch a Star" is just that - Boy plans and tries to grab a star from the sky so it can be his friend; In "Lost and Found" Boy finds a sad penguin and decides to take it home to the Antarctic; In "The Way Back Home" the Boy discovers a small airplane and takes it for a fly, but when he runs out of fuel while in flight, he is forced to land on the moon where he meets an alien who is experiencing similar spacecraft troubles; and finally, in "Up and Down" Penguin wishes he could fly. 

An interesting idea including pages of the author's draft, and although it's cool to get inside his head, this edition seems to be more of a coffee table book - to be read by adults - than it would be appropriate for children. The special pages are out of a different kind of paper, not great for little hands to manage. So, all in all, this would make a great gift for the adult who loved the books when they were young.

Lisa Librarian

White Bird by R.J. Palacio - ESSENTIAL

White Bird by R.J. Palacio, 220 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL RH Graphic (Alfred A Knopf), 2019. $25. 

Language: PG (2 swears 0 'f') Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG. 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL, HS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Julian's Grandmère recounts her experience hiding from the Nazis in France. Taken into hiding after being separated from the other Jewish students in school, Sara hides in a family's barn cared for by a classmate and his parents. 

R.J. Palacio is both author and illustrator, telling a poignant and heartbreaking story. The illustrations are in color, the panels well designed to tell as much story as the text.   Loved the connection to events this generation is experiencing, making it relevant, with the hope that what happened in Europe during the war never happens again. Includes Author's Note, Glossary, suggested reading, bibliography and sources for more information about the Holocaust.

Lisa Librarian

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson - OPTIONAL

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson, 336 pages. Thomas Nelson, 2019. $16.

Language: PG (3 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: NEW ADULT - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Since an accident that left her with injuries ensuring that Cassie would never have children of her own, she tries to make the most of her job with supporting girls who come from difficult homes. Jett, on the other hand, is a firefighter who wants to date and skip the having-kids part of life. When both Cassie and Jett find themselves caring for three children a piece, they learn more about kids, fixing mistakes, and love than they ever imagined.

While advertised as a Christian romance, I didn’t feel like The Dating Charade stuck out in either of those categories. I appreciate that this book is clean like Christian books are, but there are no strong Christian themes exhibited beyond going to church once. As for the romance, the complications of a new relationship are only a piece of the problems that the main characters are dealing with. My perspective is that the story is about two people with similar struggles who happen to cross paths during those struggles; the focus is more on their individual growth than on any blossoming romance. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book as I laughed aloud several times and even groaned at the inevitable misunderstandings. The mature content rating is for mentions of drug use.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Romeo and Juliet (Manga Classics) art by Julien Choy - ADVISABLE

Romeo and Juliet (Manga Classics) art by Julien Choy, 395 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Udon Entertainment, 2018. $18.

Language: PG13 (22 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The Montagues and Capulets are not secretive about their contempt for each other, and the fighting continues against the express decree of the prince. But after Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet, they are determined to be together -- no matter what their families think. Friar Laurence finds himself in the middle of Romeo’s and Juliet’s desperate plans to wed, and he helps, hoping that love may end the hateful prejudices of their families.

Romeo and Juliet is a classic story that most know the plot of. In this era, though, we often miss Shakespeare’s humor and metaphors as we get lost in the old English used. With the graphic novel layout, the text is separated into more manageable, less intimidating chunks and assisted by illustrations. While I still used Google to help me understand some lines, I found humor and understanding in this adaptation beyond what I had of this classic before. The mature content ratings if for partial nudity and innuendo; the violence rating is for murder and suicide.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson - ESSENTIAL

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson, 194 pages. Bloomsbury, 2019.  $17. 

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Amara, 11yo, loves her family and her life in Oregon, but she also wants to meet her family in New York City – especially since she has not been getting along with her mother and is not wholly excited by her coming baby sister.  When she finally gets to NYC, though, everything is not fun and light.  Her older cousins feel like Amara is spoiled and they don’t want to babysit her around their town. And her mom has tasked her with getting her dad and his father to talk – but its been 12 years, what is Amara supposed to do in a few days?

I love that Renee wrote a heartfelt story that shows a family that has problems and tries to come together without being slave to a cultural situation or ahistorical time period. Its just a girl trying to fit in and bring her family together. Amara are her problems so relatable.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

The Last Wish of Sasha Cade by Cheyanne Young - HIGH

The Last Wish of Sasha Cade by Cheyanne Young, 311 pages.  Kids Can Press Loft, 2018.  $11.

Language: R (60 swears, 4 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13 (sexual reference); Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

While she has treasured every moment with her best friend, Sasha, when Sasha’s end from cancer finally does arrive, Raquel, a senior, realizes that even a full life time would have never been enough.  Then Raquel gets a letter from Sasha – what!? Sasha had used some of her remaining strength to send Raquel on a scavenger hunt and to introduce Raquel to someone else so precious to Sasha – her older brother, Elijah.  Turns out that when Sasha was adopted, Elijah ended up in the foster system instead.  Now that two of them follow Sasha’s directions – and find themselves falling in love.

I love how Raquel’s journey’s unfold through Sasha’s messages from the grave.  When you get to Sasha’s final message, you will have enjoyed it as much as I have.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Aster of Pan Volume 1 by Merwan - OPTIONAL

Aster of Pan Volume 1 by Merwan, 101 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Europe Comics, 2019. $9.

Language: PG (4 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

In 2068, the farm town of Pan is struggling to survive after the devastation of war and social collapse. While 17-year-old Aster was raised in Pan, she is rejected because she was not born there. When an unknown man comes looking to colonize Pan, Aster is needed to help defend the only home she’s known if it has any hope of surviving.

Merwan illustrates the story with dynamic graphics to assist the script in telling Aster’s story, and I enjoyed the pictures more than the story itself. I think the premise is intriguing, but this first volume of the series is more about setting up the story than telling it. The sequels could be interesting; I hope they pick up the pace now that the foundation has been laid.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

FYI: This item is only available via Amazon Kindle as an ebook.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Not Alone by Frederic Martin - OPTIONAL

Not Alone by Frederic Martin, 300 pages. NthSense Books, 2020. $11.

Language: R (152 swears, 9 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

On her way to yet another foster home, 14yo Blue doesn’t hold much hope that this one will be any better. She always finds some way to mess everything up -- but then she starts to make friends. Battling with herself, Blue fights against the hope growing inside her because she knows that her world will fall apart again. And she was right.

The first half of the book is set up, and it reads pretty slow and occasionally choppy. However, the second half of the book is a blur of flipping pages. I loved changing perspectives to see how everyone was putting pieces together to find the antagonist, and I found the character Martin wrote to make the villain to be oddly fascinating -- especially since the villain is smart and can’t be foiled by an unrealistic, accidentally forgotten clue that leads to an easy downfall. I look forward to the sequels promised as Blue, her friend Will, and the villain continue to cross paths. The mature content rating is for drug dealing, drug overdose, and mentions of rape; the violence rating is for domestic abuse, kidnapping, gun violence, and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Sense and Sensibility (Manga Classics) art by Po Tse - OPTIONAL

Sense and Sensibility (Manga Classics) art by Po Tse, 297 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Udon Entertainment, 2014. $14.

Language: PG (4 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The Dashwood sisters don’t have fortune or high social status, which makes them more excited about those gentlemen who do show interest. However, wealthy family members work to tear apart the unseemly matches and hidden secrets are revealed at inopportune moments. Can the Dashwood sisters continue to hope for love?

I enjoyed reading this adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, and the elegant illustrations enhanced the experience for me. Tse skillfully shows readers what is going on even during scenes that are easier to write than to illustrate, like when characters are pondering. My only complaint concerns the abrupt time skips that made for choppy transitions, but even that wasn’t a huge bother.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

The Uprooted by Fred Duval - ADVISABLE

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE ONLY AS AN EBOOK

The Uprooted (Renaissance #1) by Fred Duval, 58 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Europe Comics, 2019. $6.

Language: PG (11 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

By 2084, humanity has done such a poor job taking care of the earth and all lifeforms on the planet that others are stepping in to help. Swänn and Sätie are part of the force from another planet sent to stop the extinction of humans. As these intergalactic neighbors struggle to help, humans will have to decide what is more important: pride or life.

The concept of aliens saving humans from themselves is compelling, and the artwork is as engaging as the script. I loved reading about the people on the planet Näkän and seeing the similarities between our peoples. This volume is a lot of background to set up the story, which can often be a bit dull, but this story has been crafted in such a way that I found this introduction interesting enough that I can’t wait to see what happens to the characters in subsequent volumes. The violence rating is for weapon use (terrestrial and extraterrestrial) and battle gore.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

KINDLE ONLY

Becoming RBG : Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Journey to Justice by Debbie Levy - ESSENTIAL

Becoming RBG : Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Journey to Justice by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Whitney Gardner, 207 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Simon and Schuster, 2019. $20.

Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life is recounted in this inspiring biography. From her childhood, marriage, law school, important court cases through her appointment to the United States Supreme Court, perfectly concise, but plenty thorough for the intended audience. 

 Debbie Levy brings the biography of this Supreme Court Justice to a middle school audience. Wow - well told and organized, accessible and engaging. Gardner's red, white and blue paneled illustrations are clean and expressive. Necessary legal terms are defined on page, includes an epilogue (text, not graphic), timeline, bibliography and sources. An essential addition to your biography section.

Lisa Librarian

Spark of the Resistance by Justina Ireland - ADVISABLE


Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Rey, along with Poe, Rose and BB-8 are finishing a simple mission to gather supplies for the Resistance, but when they receive a call for help, they decide to answer.  When they arrive at Minfar, they find the Zixon, who have been oppressed by the First Order.  In direct conflict with an advancement-hungry officer, the Rebels are determined to save the Zixon and themselves.

Honestly, I’m not sure how popular the Star Wars books are.  Those in my library don’t circulate frequently, unfortunately.  I enjoy the backstories – I hope that kids will too.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

The Hidden Girl and Other Short Stories by Ken Liu - OPTIONAL

The Hidden Girl and Other Short Stories by Ken Liu, 432 pages. SHORT STORIES. Saga Press, 2020. $26. 9781982134037

Language: R (17 swears, 2 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The future is uncertain. Will we end up destroying our planet? Will we continue to progress and evolve until we no longer recognize where we came from? How involved will technology be? In these 19 short stories, Lui explores avenues of a future that might be and highlights problems that we will face if we aren’t careful with our present.

These scifi and fantasy stories filled my mind with food for thought, and the element of tragedy that permeates most of them only made them feel more realistic and relatable. I found that I could not sit down to read several of the stories in one sitting because of the thought I wanted to give them, and I enjoyed reading most of the stories. Stories later in the book became more exciting to read as I started to notice connecting threads and wanted to know what came first in these imagined futures. The mature content rating is for nudity, mentions of pornography and rape, and implied sex; the violence rating is for war, suicide, and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Deep by Rivers Solomon - OPTIONAL

The Deep by Rivers Solomon, 166 pages. Saga Press (Simon & Schuster), 2019. $20.

Language: PG (3 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: ADULT - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

At age fourteen, Yetu, now 34yo, was chosen to be Historian for the wajinru people, the underwater dwelling descendants of African slaves who were thrown overboard. She is the only one who has to bear the burden of remembering the atrocities of the past, allowing everyone else to simply enjoy the present, but the past is weighing Yetu down as it steals her future. If something doesn’t change soon, Yetu is sure the past will kill her.

I found this book to be more about providing food for thought than telling a story for enjoyment. As an exploration of the importance of history and of what makes a people, it’s a good book, but, as a story, it’s slow. I started losing interest at about chapter four, finding only a few more scenes between there and the end that caught my attention because they contributed to my pondering the ideas Solomon proposed. The mature content is for discussion of genitals and sex; the violence rating is for brutality, attempted suicide, and war.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Venezia by Lewis Trondheim - OPTIONAL

AVAILABLE AS EBOOK ONLY

Venezia by Lewis Trondheim, 98 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Europe Comics, 2019. $9.

Language: PG (5 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Giuseppe and Sophia hate each other by day, but their alter egos The Eagle and Black Scorpion are falling for each other. As these two spies compete to accomplish the same tasks for their employers, their feelings start to get in the way. Will Venice be able to survive those with harmful intents?

I liked the idea of this story, but I found the execution to be too corny and repetitive. I felt like the two heroes were doing and saying the same things every other panel, and my interest decreased with every page. Also, the content seems to be written for more of a high school audience except for the humor that feels more immature. The mature content rating is for innuendo, mention of pornography, and nudity.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Love To Everyone (also published as The Skylark’s War) by Hillary McKay - ADVISABLE

Love To Everyone (also published as The Skylark’s War) by Hillary McKay, 324 pages. Margaret K McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster), 2018. $18.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS- ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Clarissa grows up in a home with a loving brother, Peter, and an aloof father. Her best memories are spending the summers with her grandparents in Cornwall. Clarry’s favorite thing about the summers is spending time with her cousin, Rupert, who lived year-round with the same grandparents. Peter and Rupert support Clarry in all she desires, including attending school, which is not normal for a girl in the early 1900’s. When World War I breaks out, Rupert joins the army and is lost to Clarry for many years. Clarry matures as she endures the trails associated with the war and all its terrors.

This coming of age book is a sweet story of a young girl who faces loneliness and heartache with courage and kindness. Hilary McKay creates a tender backdrop to a horrifying war.  While the reader understands the seriousness of the war, there is little mention of gore and death. This book is a good introduction to this era in English history.

MOMMAC

Beach Battle Blowout by Chris Grabenstein - ADVISABLE

Beach Battle Blowout by Chris Grabenstein, 276 pages, Random House, 2019. $14.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

P.T. and his grandfather are involved in a magazine competition - a "secret shopper" is coming to the motel to determine which venue has Florida's best family friendly activities (the mega-attractions like Disney, Sea World and Universal Studios are not eligible)! So, P.T. and Gloria (whose Dad is vying for a job at ESPN) try to figure out who might be the Secret shopper, and, in the meantime, give everyone who stays at the motel a great time. Enlisting Dill, a new kid whose parents are staying at the motel, the 3 try out all the other local entertainments to check out their competition and better present their motel.

Oh so funny! P.T. is a terrifically funny M.C. - I want to go to one of his events. Full of crazy silly jokes and hilarious situations (ever tried a jet pack?) this is one of my favorites in the "Welcome to Wonderland" series. Book 4, I do recommend starting at the beginning, but if you pick up Beach Battle Blowout, Grabenstein brings the reader in well enough that it can stand on it's own, but why? Get the full series, it will be popular.

Lisa Librarian

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White - ESSENTIAL

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White, 337 pages. Delacorte (Random), 2019.  $19.

Content: G (some fighting) 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Guinevere has arrived in Camelot to become King Arthur’s wife.  But what only Arthur knows is that Guinevere is no pampered princess bride, in fact, she isn’t even Guinevere – the girl she is has given up her name in order to protect Arthur. As she tries to navigate court life, her personal champions seem to be her handmaiden Brangien and Arthur’s nephew Mordred.  

I don’t want to give anything away.  What I want to say is that White is a master at taking what you thought was the canon of a long-lived legend and adding twists that feel true to the original and new depths. It has been a long time since White has written a book created from new whole cloth –I would love to see what original works are in that clever brain of hers.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

The Rain Belongs Here by Julie Rogers - NEW ADULT

The Rain Belongs Here by Julie Rogers, 325 pages. Julie Rogers, 2019. $17.

Language: R (39 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: NEW ADULT - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

On the evening of Ana’s 22nd birthday, her older brother, Finn, never comes home. After three months of searching for him, Ana still doesn’t know what happened or where he might be, but she knows she’s not the only one looking for him. Ana is going after Finn. And, no matter what happens, she is going to find him.

I could hardly convince myself to turn each page at the beginning of this book because it was so slow -- sometimes it took me days to motivate myself to pick up the book again. I was disappointed by my apathy towards this story and its characters after my excitement in reading the summary. Finally, about a fourth of the way in, I started caring about the search for Finn and the mystery surrounding his activities leading to his disappearance. The last half of the book went quickly for me, and I liked how everything was coming together until the last five pages. I thought I understood how everything was settling until those few pages created a new world shift. Mature content rating for sexual assault and sex; violence rating for death and gun violence.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Friday, December 27, 2019

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer - ADVISABLE

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer, 304 pages. Tom Doherty Associates, 2019. $18.

Language: PG13 (22 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

16yo Steph doesn’t remember a time when she and her mom were not on the run from her dangerous dad. The constant moves makes finding friends difficult, which is why Steph is so grateful for CatNet and her group of online friends. No matter how careful she’s been, though, Steph’s dad is coming for her, and the only help she has is stuck online. What can they do?

While I was caught off guard by the unanticipated turns Steph’s story was making, they were positive pivots to the story I had imagined from the initial description. Each unexpected step that Steph and her friends made fed my desire to see what they would do next. I think the best part is the AI character and the food for thought given to what it means to “come out” -- and how we react to those around us who do so. The mature content rating is for the sex education topics discussed, like genitals and masturbation, beyond most sex education class curriculums and mentions of other sexual acts, like oral sex; the violence rating is for mentions of kidnapping and torture as well as gun violence.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Night of Dangers by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos - ESSENTIAL


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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Zed and the rest of the Adventuere’s Guild have saved the elves, but Zed is in serious trouble and no one else knows it.  In order to save the day he made a pact with the witch Malkiva and now she has complete control of his body.  And this isn’t the first time she’s done this.  Over the centuries she has possessed many other, causes havoc all over the worlds.  It may be through using Zed that she finally gets what she wants to Terryn forever.

Night of Dangers is a much stronger book than #2 was.  From the afterword it sounds like this may be the last of the series.  I’m glad it went out on a high note!

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

The Skywalker Saga by Delilah S. Dawson - ADVISABLE

The Skywalker Saga by Delilah S. Dawson, 398 pages. Disney, 2019.  $30. 

Content: G (some fighting) 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Ready to catch up on the Star Wars movies?  Dawson writes interesting and succinct summaries of the stories, accompanied by many full-color illustrations, to explain the arc of the series -  each story in about 50 pages. I have a few students who are always checking out the biggest books I have, so they will be very happy to see this one.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

American Royals by Katharine McGee - OPTIONAL

American Royals by Katharine McGee, 440 pages.  Random House, 2019.  $19.

Language: G (4 swears, 0“f”); Mature Content: PG (in bed); Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

As the heir apparent to the throne of America, Beatrice Washington, 20yo, will be the first female to ascend to the throne that originated with George Washington back in the 1770’s.  Just a generation earlier, her younger brother Jefferson would have be the heir.  But its Beatrice who must find a husband worthy to be her prince.  But what if her heart tells her she wants something all together different from her life?

The title’s promise of American royalty is thin, since there is nothing explicitly American about the characters since the actual concept of AMERICA is antithetical to the concept of a kingdom.  The only thing America-like is the names of places. But – my students LOVE Kiera Cass’s Selection series, so I think they will enjoy this for the same reasons.  Very romantic, beautiful gowns, love triangle etc. Looks to be first in a series.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Should I Say Yes… to Nick Nope? by Mauricio de Sousa - NO

Should I Say Yes… to Nick Nope? (Monica Adventures #4) by Mauricio de Sousa, 124 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Charmz (Papercutz), 2019. $9.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - NO

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Everyone is raving about the new superhero movie -- except for Nick Nope. The more he thinks about it, the more Nick is sure that a malicious plan is being executed. With nothing but his suspicions, Nick can’t convince many people to listen. In fact, Monica is the only one willing to help him -- but can the two of them make a difference?

My interest was lost only a few pages into the story when the fourth wall was suddenly broken. Nick and the narrator have a conversation about not starting at the end, and the novel continues in another disorienting false start. After all that hassle, Nick and Monica don’t even end up at the original starting point by the time this episode finishes. With all the confusion, I didn’t enjoy reading this book, but maybe it’s better for those who are invested in the series.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Perfect Star by Rob Buyea - ADVISABLE

The Perfect Star by Rob Buyea, 374 pages, Delacourt Press, (Penguin Random House), 2019. $17. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Gavin, Natalie, Trevor, Randi and Scott are back for their 8th grade year. With no coach for the football team, Gavin may not get to play again this year; Randi suffers an injury at gymnastics, but she's also worried about her mother's new boyfriend - what if things get serious? Natalie starts a school news show, and Scott - well, he's still making questionable choices. 

I'm always excited to see another book by Buyea, and the Perfect Star wraps up this trilogy nicely. While it's been over a year since "The Perfect Secret" Buyea gets the reader caught up efficiently and naturally. This is a series that does need to be read in order, so if you are buying, get all 3.

Lisa Librarian

These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling - OPTIONAL

These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling, 320 pages. Razorbill (Penguin Random House), 2019. $18.

Language: R (107 swears 11 'f'); Mature Content: PG13 (Talk of "sleeping with", characters in bed together); Violence: PG13 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

17yo Hannah has recently broken up with her girlfriend Veronica, and it's hard to avoid your ex when you are part of the same coven (in Salem). When the girls come upon a ritual in the woods, their powers are at risk of exposure, and although they've been told their whole lives not to let Regs - non-witches - know that they are witches, the strange things that are happening are too concerning and dangerous to ignore. When Hannah and Veronica can't convince the coven that they are under attack, the girls take matters into their own hands. So much for "moving on." 

Sterling has carefully woven witchcraft and teen drama together into a great story. The mystery is intriguing with lots of potential villains, there's plenty of supernatural action and some pretty good romance as well. The story wraps up nicely but leaves room for a sequel - I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Lisa Librarian

The Strange Ones by Jeremy Jusay - OPTIONAL

The Strange Ones by Jeremy Jusay, 190 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Gallery 13 (Simon & Schuster), JANUARY 2020. $20.

Language: R (3 swears, 2 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: NEW ADULT - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Anjeline, a freshman in college, keeps running into Franck. Finally, they decide to be friends and start hanging out on purpose. As Anjeline and Franck support each other through their sorrows, they learn how to move forward despite the roadblocks in their lives.
I enjoyed the message of Anjeline’s story in the end, but it felt aimless for over half the book. I didn’t understand why I was slogging through pages of Anjeline and Franck’s adventures around New York. 

If you stick with the story, everything concludes nicely, though I’m still deciding if it was worth it. The mature content rating is for mentions of sex, and the violence rating is for gun violence and blood.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen