Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs - ADVISABLE

 


Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #3) by Ransom Riggs, 463 pages.  Quirks Books, 2015.  $19.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Jacob and his friends are searching for other Peculiar Children that they have been separated from.  Heading to London and through a scary loop filled with Whites and Hollows, sixteen-year old Jacob and his girlfriend Emma encounter many creepy beings and they don’t know who they can trust.  Determined to free their Peculiar friends and the Ymbryne, Miss Peregrine, Jacob has to learn to hone his peculiar talent of controlling the Whites.  

I enjoyed this book as much as the first book.  I like Jacob and the creepy, dark world he encounters.  There are fun, quirky photographs throughout the book that add to the story.  This story had a satisfying end to their adventure but introduced a new problem/idea at the end that I’m looking forward to reading in the next book in the series.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson    

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs - ADVISABLE

 


Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #2) by Ransom Riggs, 428 pages. Quirk Books, 2014.  $11.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (24 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Jacob and his new found friends from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children are on a mission to recapture Miss Peregrine.  Peregrine is in the form of a bird and has been taken by the Whites, and even if Jacob and his friends can find Miss Peregrine, they would still have to figure out how to transform her back into her human form.  The odd group starts a quest to look for their beloved headmistress and hopefully preserve their anonymity from the normal world and the evil White monsters.  

I loved the first book in the series because it is creative and unlike anything I’ve ever read, and this book has a similar feel.  Jacob is a great protagonist and I enjoyed all the peculiar children and their stories.  It would be super complicated to try and read these out of order, so realize it’s a bit of an investment and you would need to have the whole series.  The content includes violent threats of torture and dead horses.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson  

Saturday, September 19, 2020

1919: The Year that Changed America by Martin W. Sandler - ADVISABLE

 


1919: The Year that Changed America by Martin W. Sandler, 190 pages. NON-FICTION  $25.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Six major events happened in the year 1919 including the Molasses flood, women’s right to vote, race riots, communism raids, labor strikes and prohibition.  Each event is covered in its own chapter with photographs and a detailed explanation of the historical event.  At the end of the chapter, the author relates how the event from 1919 still influences us today. 

This is a content heavy history book about a shocking time in American history.  I totally enjoyed all the information and think history teachers will benefit from the content.  There are not many students who will read this book from cover to cover, but the information is helpful and can be used as a great resource. 

Reviewer, C. Peterson      

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Forget Me Not by Sarah M. Eden - ADVISABLE


Forget Me Not
by Sarah M. Eden
, 256 pages. Covenant Communications, 2020. $17.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Lucas is inspired to live after the deaths of siblings and friends throughout his growing up years, which, for him, means seeing the world and experiencing life. All these deaths had the opposite effect on Julia, Lucas’s neighbor, as she becomes withdrawn, especially when Lucas chooses to leave her behind. When these two are thrown together again after years apart, the reunion is not as joyous as everyone had hoped.

Eden skillfully uses words on the page to reach out to the hearts of readers. As I read from Julia’s point of view, my eyes filled with tears because I felt her pain of rejection, abandonment, and betrayal. I love this book for how it engaged me and drew me in so completely, though I am not as impressed with the lack of change in Lucas through the book; there is hope that he becomes a better fit for Julia, but I’m not a big fan of him.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden - OPTIONAL


The Gentleman and the Thief
by Sarah M. Eden
, 368 pages. Shadow Mountain, 2020. $16.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Hollis keeps up high-class appearances for the sake of his family’s reputation, but his passions lie in pursuits unaccepted by those of his social standing. Ana has fallen from high society due to the loss of her family’s fortune, and she strives to bring restitution to her family, even if society won’t easily overlook their tarnished reputation. Despite all their trials and secrets, Hollis and Ana are determined to right some of the ignored wrongs around them, but can they continue to do so without being caught?

Something about the beginning was slow to get rolling and didn’t capture me as much as I wanted it to, resulting in a loss of motivation to continue reading the rest of the story. Hollis’s and Ana’s stories are well-written -- as well as the interspersed chapters of short stories mentioned in the book -- I just didn’t love reading it. The mature content rating is for illegal activity and mentions of prostitution.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka - OPTIONAL

Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, 384 pages. Viking Books for Young Readers(Penguin), 2020. $19

Language: PG-13 (2 swears, 7“f”); Mature Content: PG (Sex off the page); Violence: G


BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL


AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE


Fitz Holton vows to stay close to home for college while Juniper Ramirez can't wait to get as far away as possible.  Fitz will not leave his single mother who is battling early onset Alzheimer's.  Juniper is practically running away from her crowded family of five younger siblings. They both set off on their own week long adventure touring colleges, when their paths unexpectedly cross. Each will learn many lessons and make decisions they least expected.  


The struggles these two characters are faced with will help readers connect to this book immediately.  Decisions are hard to make when you are 18 years old which makes this book even more essential.  The love story that slowly develops between Fitz and Juniper is very endearing and the connection they both share with their family is very sincere and familiar to most.  I loved the lessons taught and learned throughout this novel.  Students will really enjoy it.        


Jessica Nelson Librarian                                                                  


Saturday, September 12, 2020

Jed and the Junkyard Rebellion by Steven Bohls - ADVISABLE

Jed and the Junkyard Rebellion by Steven Bohls, 282 pages. Disney-Hyperion, 2019. $17.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL; HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

In his debut novel, Jed and the Junkyard War, Steven Bohls created a unique steampunk world of junkyards, battling barges, and memorable half human-half gear characters. This follow-up is even better than the original with Jed coming to realize his true potential after only just learning of his true half-gear self in the first book. The young protagonist battles the evil Lyle while also coming to understand how to control his own power, and eventually save the world where he now truly belongs.

 I enjoyed this sequel even more than I did the original book. I think Bohls had to spend too much time in the first novel building up this crazy world, but the sequel gave him a full book to explore an interesting story of a young man coming into his own power and standing up for himself and those he loves. Once I started it, I did not want to put it down! The book is 100% clean and is really suitable for readers of all ages--I think this could even be a fun read aloud for younger elementary audiences. 

 T.C.
 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Ever After by Olivia Vieweg - OPTIONAL


Ever After
by Olivia Vieweg
, 288 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Graphic Universe, 2020. $17.

Language: PG (11 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

After surviving the zombie apocalypse, Vivi and Eva should be able to survive anything, including crossing the distance to the next town. While fighting zombies, each other, and their own guilt, will the girls make it to safety again?

While choppy and sometimes confusing, the story of these girls is compelling because readers get to see their different moral ethics in dealing with the zombies they find themselves surrounded with. The tenuous friendship between Vivi and Eva is tested along the journey, and readers wonder which is more important: their physical survival or the survival of the girls’ friendship. A zombie apocalypse really puts everything in perspective. The mature content rating is for nudity and illegal activity. The violence rating is for attempted suicide, gore, guns, and killing.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen


Taylor Before and After by Jennie Englund - ESSENTIAL

Taylor Before and After by Jennie Englund, 311 pages. Macmillan, 2020. $17             


Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG (Drug and alcohol use and bad car accident where kids are killed); Violence: G.


BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ESSENTIAL


AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH


8th grader Taylor and her family re-located from Oregon to Oahu. Two years ago. Taylor loves her school, and is always trying to get into the "cool" girls and does not really appreciate her good friends as much as she maybe should. At New Year’s there is always a big party and Taylor has never been invited. She wants to be invited so bad this year. Taylor loves to go with her brother Eli and his friends and watch them surf at Sunset Beach. They want to surf the infamous and dangerous "Pipeline". When tragedy strikes, it hits them all hard. Her mother is debilitated by her depression after the accident and has to be admitted for treatment. Her dad is angry and spends his time working and working and yelling when he is home. Is Taylor strong enough to work through all the hardships and her own depression? She will find out who her real friends are in all of this.


Taylor is a deep thinking, deep feeling girl. As the year goes on, I could see how she was changing and maturing through her writing. I highly recommend this book.


Ellen-Anita, LMS                                                                   


Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Monster Hypothesis by Romily Bernard - ADVISABLE

The Monster Hypothesis by Romily Bernard, 300 pages. Disney Hyperion, 2019. $17.

Content: G


BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE


AUDIENCE APPEAL:  AVERAGE


6th grader Kick Winter is staying with her grandmother in Bohring, Georgia - home to 453 people, 2053 alligators, and one monster curse - while Kick’s parents are away with their jobs.  Kick just wants to fit in at school, but it’s hard to blend in when your grandmother is the town psychic and your cousin is dressed in weirdly frilly dresses for school.  In order to survive the school year, Kick announces she is psychic, and soon has to start using her science obsession/psychic abilities, to figure out why students are disappearing as the curse seems to be coming true. 


Kick is a charming character and her struggles to fit in while also discovering truths about others is relatable.  Each chapter title is an applicable if appropriately vague, prediction from Grandma Missouri.  The Swamp, the Hollows, and Bohring make for a great setting, and there are even science experiments to try in the back of the book.  With this fun read, may the curse be with you.  


Michelle in the Middle


The Racers by Neal Bascomb - HIGH

The Racers: How an Outcast Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Challenged Hitler’s Best by Neal Bascomb, 323 pages, 2020, $19.

Content: G


BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE


AUDIENCE APPEAL:  HIGH


In the years leading up to World War II, Hitler wanted to prove the Third Reich’s greatness in all aspects of life , including motor sports.  Rene Dreyfus, a top racecar driver finds himself barred from driving on any German or Italian race teams because he is a Frenchman of Jewish heritage.  So when Lucy Schell, an American heiress, forms her own racing team and hires Dreyfus, it becomes a showdown between France and Germany and two legendary drivers.


If you love cars and history, this book is for you.  This is an informative window into the dangers and glamor of early European racing.  Well written and researched, with plenty of photos, it will make you wish you could journey back in time to the exotic locales and witness these races firsthand.  Bascomb provides that time machine for you.  Start your engines, the race is on!


Michelle in the Middle


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Three Keys by Kelly Yang - OPTIONAL

Three Keys (Front Desk #2) by Kelly Yang, 288 pages. Scholastic Press, 2020. $17.    


Content: G     


BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL   


AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE       


Mia Tang and her parents have worked really hard since arriving in the U. S. from China. They are now proud owners of the Calivista Hotel together with other immigrants. Mia, 11yo, is in charge of the front desk. She works hard at the hotel and at school, even working separately with her teacher to get better at writing. Mia want to be an author. At the Calivista they welcome all kinds of immigrants that need a place to stay. Room cleaning, laundry and repairs are never-ending. They endure bullying and racial injustice. Mia is perpetual optimist and sees the good in people. She thinks she can fix anything and everything.           

Mia is very mature for just being 11yo. I loved the story of Mia, but realistically, having worked with 11-year old children for years and years, I have never met a child at that age with Mia's very mature thinking processes and actions. The book is fast moving, and a page turner. I wanted to see how Mia reacted to all the problems that came way. Mia, her parents and their fellow hotel owners do a lot of good and they are all like one big, happy family that stick together and help each other out.          


Ellen-Anita, LMS                                                                   


Not Your All-American Girl by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang - ADVISABLE

Not Your All-American Girl by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang, 256 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Scholastic Press, 2020. $18                       

Content: G


BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS  - ADVISABLE


AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE


Lauren and Tara are best friends and they do everything together. Tara has it all; she has designer jeans (Lauren wants some), she even has blue eyes and freckles! Lauren is Chinese American and Jewish. When they both try out for the school musical, even though Lauren has the best voice, Tara is picked for the lead because she looks like the All-American girl - blond and blue-eyed. The teacher even tells Lauren to her face that that was the reason she did not get the part. Lauren finds comfort and support in an unlikely place -- the radio show hosted by Nash. She calls him and talks about music and songs. Lauren loves the sound of Patsy Cline songs. Can Lauren and Tara manage to remain best friends through the upcoming trials they are facing? Will the strain on their relationships have an effect on the school musical?        


Lauren is a great protagonist. She is strong and hard working. Even with a blow like the one delivered by her teacher, she works through the challenges both with Tara, her other friends and the kids in the play, and with her teacher. I just hope that some teachers do not say those kinds of things to students. Lauren has a button machine and she makes buttons to show her moods and her goals. She even starts a little button business to save up for designer jeans. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is well written with a sense of humor. Lauren realizes what it really means to be All-American. I loved it!        


Ellen-Anita, LMS                                                                   

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Love, Love by Victoria Chang - ADVISABLE


Love, Love
by Victoria Chang
, 224 pages. Sterling Children's Books, 2020. $17           

Content: G


BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS  - ADVISABLE


AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE


11yo Francis lives with her older sister, Clara, and their parents. They are Chinese-American. Francis deals with bullying and watches her sister get bullied because they look different. She feels pressure from her parents to always get A's in school and be more like Clara, who is in the gifted program. Francis feels that everything revolves around Clara. Clara is losing her hair and has a big bald spot on her head. Doctors do not seem to be able to help. Mom buys a lot of Chinese herbal medicines, but nothing helps. Francis is lonely both at school and at home. She has a friend, Annie, and they like to go to the library and they like to play tennis together. Francis finally feels like she fits in when she is invited to join the school tennis team. She is a great tennis player. Francis loves to read, and the Nancy Drew books are her favorite.


I loved how strong and resourceful Francis is, and how she goes from not fitting in, to having friends and feeling a sense of belonging. I also loved how Francis went about solving the mystery of her sister's illness. The book is written in verse and is a fast read. I could not put it down. I even brought it in the car just to finish the last few pages! This is definitely a "feel good" story and I highly recommend reading it.           


Ellen-Anita, LMS                                                                   


Blood Mountain by James Preller - OPTIONAL



Blood Mountain by James Preller, 230 pages. Fiewel and Friends (Macmillan), 2019. $17.

Language: PG (4 swears); Mature Content G; Violence: PG


BUYING ADVISORY: MS – OPTIONAL


AUDIENCE APPEAL:  AVERAGE


Grace, 13yo, and her little brother Carter, 11yo, are hiking up Blood Mountain with their father and dog.  As they race ahead of their father, the unthinkable happens and they become lost.  To make matters worse, Grace falls, leaving Carter to go for help alone, though alone may be safer than what else is out there.  The mountain holds many dangers including an erratic loner living in the wilderness as well as an escaped mountain lion. 


The premise, while not new, has been well researched.  The story was engaging, but the use of present tense was a little off-putting for me.  There’s no violence, but the section on gutting a squirrel was fairly graphic, so hold on to your lunch. 


Michelle in the Middle


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Absolutely Everything by Christopher Lloyd - ADVISABLE


Absolutely Everything
by Christopher Lloyd
, 352 pages. NON-FICTION. What On Earth Publishing, 2018. $22.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

What happened to the dinosaurs? Why is rice more common in Asia than in America? Who invented paper? How was the earth formed? All these answers and more are contained in this book as Lloyd takes readers through history -- from before the earth began until today when you are reading this summary.

Reading this book feels more like a conversation with someone who rambles about a bunch of interesting things rather than a textbook trying to teach you facts. Lloyd goes on relevant tangents as he tells the history of the world as we know it and answers more “why” questions than I would have thought possible in one book, though, unfortunately, he really can’t get to absolutely everything. I am disappointed that Lloyd focuses on the Western world, leaving out the answers for all my questions about the Eastern world, but I enjoyed what he was able to include. Note: I listened to the audiobook, and Lloyd’s British accent definitely makes the book more fun, though it means I missed out on looking at all the illustrations that add more context for readers.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Teen Titans: Beast Boy by Kami Garcia - ADVISABLE


Teen Titans: Beast Boy
by Kami Garcia
, 208 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. DC Comics, 2020. $17.

Language: PG (18 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Gar Logan is a senior in high school, still picked last in gym class and known for throwing out jokes, but no closer to the popular crowd than he was last year. When Gar makes some risky choices for his fifteen minutes of popularity, he knows it won’t last -- but he didn’t know the consequences.

Beast Boy has always been my favorite Teen Titan, and this modern version of his origin story was fun to read. Garcia keeps the ideas the same but puts Gar in a world with modern technology, giving it a twist for old fans and making him more relatable for new readers. One of my favorite parts is the side message Garcia tells about how to be a good friend -- Stella and Tank watch out for Gar, and he does his best to support them, too.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Friday, September 4, 2020

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust - HIGH


Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
, 336 pages. Flatiron Books, 2020. $16.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Locked away as the shame of the royal family, Soraya longs to be around people. But she’s poisonous to the touch, constantly endangering anyone who gets close. When an opportunity arises to remove the poison, Soraya will do whatever it takes, whatever the cost.

Every time I thought I knew what was going on, I was proved wrong. Soraya is a heroine like I have never read before, and I think the difference is that she makes more mistakes, things that I would never do but were real struggles for her character. Reading about someone so different from me was compelling, and I enjoyed the messages woven through about consequences, learning from your mistakes, and self-acceptance. The violence rating is for gore. Note: I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator, Nikki Massoud, does a phenomenal job, changing her voice for different characters and using her voice to surround listeners in the story.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud - OPTIONAL

 


Truly, Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud,
304 pages.  Point Paperpacks (Scholastic), 2019. $10.  

Content: Language: PG (11 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Zora is a driven, service-oriented girl, who during the summer before her senior year, is in a summer program at a prestigious college. While Zora is trying to learn how to raise money for her charity through her classes, she catches the eyes of Owen Whittelsey.  Zora and Owen mistakenly exchange phones, and their relationship is off to a rocky start because Owen is a prince of a small country and attracts a lot of attention wherever he goes. Owen and Zora’s relationship starts to affect both of their lives in different ways, but they still want to see where it will go.  

This is a cute romance with a strong main character, but the side stories about Zora’s family and charity make this book more than just a romance.  This is a clean read, except for the swears (ten of the swears are “God”).  Zora’s character is fully developed, but the romance felt unfinished and less fleshed out. 

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Super Sons: The Foxglove Mission by Ridley Pearson - OPTIONAL

 

Super Sons: The Foxglove Mission (Super Sons, #2) by Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Ile Gonzalez, 160 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL DC Comics, 2019.  $10.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Jon and Ian are the sons of the famous Batman and Superman, but their fathers are busy saving the world elsewhere.  Wyndemere, their city, and Jon’s mom, Lois Lane, are in danger from a virus that is spreading without a known cause.  Jon and Ian join with Tilly and Candace, two girls with their own strengths, to try and find the enemy and be the heroes.  

This is the second book in the series, and much like the first there is a lot of jumbled action.  The book jumps around a lot and there are a lot of story lines going on at the same time, which makes it hard to remember the main story conflict.  The illustrations are appealing and the idea of Batman and Superman’s sons taking on their own challenge is appealing, but I don’t think there is enough to keep readers invested in the series.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson 

Super Sons: The Polarshield Project by Ridley Pearson - OPTIONAL

 

Super Sons: The Polarshield Project (Super Sons, #1) by Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Ile Gonzalez 175 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL  DC Comics, 2019. $10. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Jon Kent, son of Superman, and his mother, Lois Lane, are forced to move to Wyndemere because of global warming and the rise of water on the coastline.  Superman is enlisted to go to Mars and collect dust in an attempt to build a polarshield in the atmosphere to cool the earth.  As Jon is getting used to living in Wyndemere, he quickly learns that not everyone is welcoming the refugees, and Jon joins up with Ian Wayne, Batman’s son, to fight off the unfriendly gangs.  Jon and Ian also meet Tilly and Candance, two girls who help them figure out who is leading the gangs. 

I was excited to read a superhero book with younger heroes and the graphics are well done.  The story line however is all over the place, with poor transitions and multiple characters with multiple stories it was hard to follow.  My eleven-year-old son also read it and said it wasn’t great with too much going on.  The violence is fighting.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Flying in Love by Chalon Linton - OPTIONAL


Flying in Love
by Chalon Linton
, 200 pages. Covenant Communications, 2020. $15.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

After surprising her boyfriend gives her the bigger shock, 25-year-old Paige is nearly run over in the grocery store parking lot. Life isn’t going very well. But then the driver who nearly killed her insists on buying her dinner -- maybe things will get better for Paige after all.

The story is cute, but I couldn’t decide whether or not I was enjoying it as I was reading. Sometimes the characters felt relatable and realistic, but then they would start to feel inauthentic and contrived, and the constant back and forth was distracting. In the end, I think Linton opted to write the characters idealistically instead of realistically, but I also decided it’s okay because sometimes that’s the point of a story.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen


Monday, August 31, 2020

Milly and the Tale from Across the Street by Martha Langager Klopp - ADVISABLE

Milly and the Tale from Across the Street by Martha LangagerKlopp, 253 pages.Odin Opus Publishing, 2019. $10             


Content: G


 BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS  - ADVISABLE


 AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE


 Milly has always wondered about the big house across the street. To her it seems mysterious, like secrets are hidden inside. If only she could get inside! During summer break from school a new family moves in the house and Milly quickly makes friends with the new girl, Cora. Milly and Cora spend a lot of time together and have great fun exploring the magnificent house. They find a secret room, filled with recipes for potions, and ingredients to make them. They have a great time trying the potions, and they actually work.! They are having the time of their lives, until they discover a menacing man, Lance, has made a potion that will take all the fun out of childhood forever. Will they be able to stop him before it is too late?        


 Wow! This was a fun tale of friendship, secrets and mystery. I loved the story of Milly and Cora, and how they rise to the occasion and make some pretty mature decisions. I liked how honest they were and how well they worked together with the potions. Potions like Canine Communications, Permanent Mood Enhancement, Human-Animal Conversation, and more. They worked liked real scientists in the secret room, with strange ingredients. They showed they knew how to follow directions, measuring, timing, mixing and stirring. I recommend this book. I read it in one sitting.       


 Ellen-Anita, LMS                                                                   


Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sisters of the War by Rania Abouzeid - OPTIONAL

Sisters of the War by Rania Abouzeid, 288 pages. NON-FICTION. Scholastic Focus, 2020. $19   


Language: G (0  swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG (Bombs, war); Violence: PG (Severe bombing and killing of people during the war in Syria)


BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL


AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW


Two small girls, unrelated, lived in Syria during the civil war that started in 2011. The girls, Ruha and Hanin, live in different parts of Syria. They love their families, shopping, paying with friends and going to school. At first when the war starts their parents do not tell them much about it. The war ends up being quite devastating for them, their families and their country as they knew it.           


I expected the book to be about two girls, but found that although we learn about the girls, the book is mostly about war in Syria.  It explains the war, and the causes of it really well. The book is well written, the language flows smoothly and I gained a greater insight and understanding of the people in Syria, the conflict and the war. It will be a great book to use when studying the life and conflicts of the Middle East.


Ellen-Anita - LMS                                                                 


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Which Way Is Home? by Maria Kiely - ADVISABLE

Which Way Is Home? by Maria Kiely, 179 pages.   Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), 2020. $18                      


Content: G


BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE        


AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE       


At the end of World War II the communists took over Czechoslovakia. They encouraged people to spy on each other and let the government know if they thought people had thoughts not in line with communist ideals. Anna lives with her family on a farm in Roven, Czechoslovakia. She has a happy childhood and loves to play with her cousins. Anna is 11. Her older sister is a concert pianist. Their dad has been missing for several months. One day they suddenly pack their bags and leave. Anna, her sister and mother had to flee their home because their father was wanted by the communist government. Anna is scared, but does what her mother says. Anna hopes and prays that they will get to safety and be reunited with her father. They have to try to escape Czechoslovakia and get out of the reach of the communists. They are no longer safe.


Anna's story is based on the real-life story of the author's mother and her family's flight from Czechoslovakia. It is an amazing story of staying strong through the most harrowing experiences and believing in the good in people.  Anna's father was a diplomat and a spy and he really was wanted by the government. It was a fantastic book and, again, I could not put it down. I will definitely recommend this book to students, teachers and friends. I remember the stories my own grandparents, and parents, always told of life in Europe after World War II. I really empathized with Anna and her family. This is the first published novel for this author, and I look forward to reading more of her books.


Ellen-Anita, LMS       

Friday, August 28, 2020

Running by Natalia Sylvester - OPTIONAL


Running
by Natalia Sylvester
336 pages. Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2020. $18 

Language: PG13 (18 swears 4 'f'); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

15yo Mariana Ruiz is the daughter of a Cuban-American Florida Senator who is running for President of the United States. As long as she can remember, he's been a politician, but there's something different about this election. Her parents are concerned about every little thing Mariana does, they even made her delete all her social media. When the kids at school start a protest about the contaminated water in Miami that is making lots of people sick, Mariana discovers that her father's political priorities might be different than her own. Now she has more to worry about than the tabloids and the news shows. 

I loved the perspective - daughter of a presidential candidate who wasn't a huge socialite. Watching this family navigate the primaries while also dealing with Mariana's concerns was great. A well-written coming of age story, but I may have to hand sell it - politics with no teen romance. 

Lisa Librarian

The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O'Shaughnessy - ADVISABLE

The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane
by Kate O'Shaughnessy,
288 pages. Knopf Books for Young Readers (Penguin Random House), 2020. $17 

Language: G (1 swear 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

11yo Maybelle Lane wishes she knew more about her father.  Her mother doesn't talk about him - all she has is an old voice mail message. But one day she hears him on the radio and her mom quickly changes the station - ah ha! So, she secretly listens to his talk show - one day he announces he will be the judge for a singing contest in Nashville!  Mom has a job singing on a cruise ship, so Maybelle jumps at the chance to convince Mrs. Boggs (the neighbor put in charge of Maybelle) that she needs to get her to this contest.  Maybelle isn't the only one searching for something. The drive from Louisiana to Tennessee becomes a real adventure - one of the bullies from the neighborhood stowed away in the RV, and it turns out that Mrs. Boggs isn't the strict/mean school teacher Maybelle thought she was. 

I loved this summer read!  Engaging, sweet and heartwarming.  A great story about getting to know people, and finding that they aren't who you expect. Perfect for upper elementary or middle school.


Lisa Librarian  

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Forever Glimmer Creek by Stacy Hackney - ADVISABLE

Forever Glimmer Creek by Stacy Hackney, 307 pages. Simon and Schuster, 2020. $18

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE       

Rosie lives with her mom in Glimmer Creek, Virginia. She has two best friends, Henry and Cam. They do everything together. Once a year a miracle occurs in Glimmer Creek. Rosie loves to make movies and she is making a documentary about the miracles. she doesn't just want to know about the miracles, she wants to discover what the miracles are and what causes them. A lot of things happen, and the friendship between the three best friends might not make it through all the stress. Henry disappears and how will they find him? She has never met her father and figures out a "sure" way that he will come to meet her.  

Hackney follows Rosie through hardships and frustrations. I like the book, I liked Rosie, and how I could see her growth and development through the book. I think middle school students would really like this book.

Ellen-Anita                                                                


Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo - HIGH

Clap When You Land
by Elizabeth Acevedo
432 page. Quill Tree Books (Harper Collins), 2020. $19

Language: R (17 swears 8 'f'); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG 13 (sexual assault) 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Camino's father works in New York City, but comes back to the Dominican Republic every year for the summer. This year, Camino waits at the airport only to find there has been an accident, the plane has gone down, her father is lost. In New York City, Yahaira learns that her father has been killed in a plane crash, the last time they spoke, there was an argument. Both girls are grieving their father, but they don't know that he was leading a double life, and that the girls are sisters. "I'm the child her father left her for in the summers. While she is the child my father left me for my entire life" 

Elizabeth Acevedo's novel in verse is told through two voices - the change in poetic voice between the American girl and the Dominican is brilliant, the story is poignant and sad. It's a multi-layered story, with grief, pain, tension, sexual assault, stalking, danger, love and crisis. I loved the universal emotions, reflected in the grief of the sisters, and the disconnect as cultural differences emerged. 

Lisa Librarian

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Flooded: Requiem for Johnstown by Ann E. Burg - ESSENTIAL

Flooded: Requiem for Johnstown by Ann E. Burg, 352 pages. Scholastic Press, 2020. $18                  


Content: G


BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL


AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE       


Johnstown was a working-class town with a steel mill.  Through the voices of six children we learn of the life in the city below an earth filled dam. People work long hours at the steel mill and children go to school. The dam has a lot of problems with leaking and people in Johnstown complain to the rich owners who have built a fancy resort club on the lake held back by the dam. On May 31, 1889 the dam broke and flooded the Johnstown. Over 2,200 people died that day.      


The story is told in beautiful verse by six children who lived through the disaster. I did not know of this flood, and was so captivated by the story I could not put the book down. The devastation of the flood was devastating to the people and to the town. Clara Barton came and set up Red Cross shelters for the survivors. She helped people carry on after the disaster. This is a remarkable story and a "must read." It would be a great read-a-loud to a class studying U.S. History. I highly recommend this great book. It is well written and easy to read. Read this book!      


Ellen-Anita, LMS       

The Upside of Falling by Alex Light - HIGH

The Upside of Falling
by Alex Light
288 pages Harperteen Harper Collins, 2020. $18.

Language: R (24 swears 3 'f'); Mature Content: PG13 (teen intimacy); Violence: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

17yo Becca loves romance novels. They have been her escape for a while now. Her parents divorced when she was 10 and she no longer believes in actual love. But when a former friend gives her attitude about not having a boyfriend, Becca lies and says she's been secretly dating someone. Brett Wells is popular, talented and has perfect parents, but he's so busy trying to live up to his dad's expectations (star of the football team) that he has little time for dating. So, when he overhears Becca's lie in the hallway, he steps in and quickly joins the charade as Becca's "mystery" boyfriend. A perfect arrangement for both, right? But, when acting like the perfect couple starts to turn into actual feelings for Becca, and then Brett's world starts to crash, he realizes that Becca may be more than just a ruse to keep his friends and dad happy, 

Oh! This was such a cute novel. Oh my, the romance was just right, the drama was realistic (not just school drama) and the issues were real - coping with divorce, parent troubles, best friend issues, grades, social status - a great high school read. 

Lisa Librarian

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yousef Salaam - HIGH

Punching the Air
by Ibi Zoboi and Yousef Salaam,
400 pages. Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins), 2020. $20. 

Language: R (53 swears 53 'f'); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG13 (prison violence)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

16yo Amal Shahid has been tried and convicted of assault and battery - a crime he didn't commit, and sent to juvenile prison. Amal is an artist and a poet, except for a fight in 5th grade he has never been in trouble, but a bias system that sees Amal as what he is rather than who he is works against him. Amal had been attending an arts high school, but even there he was seen as difficult and uncooperative, the only brown face in his classes. When a night out with friends turns into a terrible fight with a group of white boys, Amal finds all the cards stack against him. He's not safe in prison either - targeted by guards and other inmates, Amal is praying that the boy he hurt wakes up from the coma and tells the truth. 

Punching the Air is a novel in verse; heartbreaking, and impactful. Inspired by the story of Yusef Salaam, a young man of color wrongly convicted in the 1980s of attacking a jogger in Central Park, Amal's experience reflects the fear, confusion and pain of a young man of color caught up in a racist society. Zoboi's poetry is beautiful and the story is staying with me. A generous use of the "n" and "f" words makes this a consideration for older students, with a timely message and lots of points for conversation. I'm excited to recommend it. I listen to the audiobook (provided by Libro.fm) and loved Ethan Herrise's narration. 

Lisa Librarian

Monday, August 24, 2020

Cursed Objects by J.W. Ocker - ADVISABLE

 

Cursed Objects
by J. W. Ocker
272 pages. NON-FICTION Quirk Books, 2020. $20. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS, ADULT - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

When an object is cursed, it seems to have powers to cause harm - or at least takes the blame for said trouble. Ocker recounts the stories of more than 30 different items including the Hope Diamond, the Tomb of Tutankhamen, Shakespeare’s Grave, Painting of “The Crying Boy,” even Rudolph Valentino’s Ring and the Annabelle doll. There’s a section about museums which house these strange items, creepy things that ought to be cursed like a book covered in human skin, and the story behind James Dean’s death car. and people who investigate and collect these items. 

If your patrons like the macabre, horror movies or just creepy stories, this was a great read. The illustrations were fun, and well detailed. Ocker writes in a funny conversational tone - like we were sitting around a campfire or Halloween dinner party. Each anecdote is short, making Cursed Objects a fun reference book. Includes a bibliography.

Lisa Librarian

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Three Keys by Kelly Yang - ADVISABLE

 

Three Keys (Front Desk #2) by Kelly Yang, 288 pages Scholastic Press, 2020 $17 

Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Mia Tang’s family (along with a bunch of investors) have bought the Calivista Hotel. Mia really enjoys working the front desk, with her best friend Lupe’s help, and is looking forward to a new year of school. Jason Yao isn’t in her class this year, but Lupe is. Their teacher, Mrs. Welsh, is a surprise. She doesn’t think Mia is as good a writer as last year's teacher and she supports Proposition 187 - which would prevent undocumented immigrants from coming to school if it passes in the election. This proposition is causing a lot of contention, at school, in the community and statewide. When Mia suggests Hank add “Immigrants Welcome” to the hotel’s sign, one of the investors is unhappy and threatens to pull his support, plus someone is leaving racist messages around the hotel. 

A great follow-up to Front Desk - Mia’s story continues on a larger scale, now it’s not just her immigration story but extends to her friends. Lupe struggles with her parent’s status, Mia’s mother makes friends, but although they are Chinese, they are prejudice, and of course, Mrs. Welch. I love the conversations Three Keys can generate, a great selection for book club or a class novel. 

Lisa Librarian

All These Monsters by Amy Tintera - HIGH

All These Monsters by Amy Tintera, 464 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2020. $18. 

Language: R (150 swears, 15 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Seventeen-year-old Clara might not be ready to fight scrabs, but she is ready to leave home - and never set foot in Texas again. Clara joins up with Grayson’s group to fight the scrab presence in Europe, discovering more about herself and the kind of life she can have than she knew was possible.

I love Tintera, and I have read all of her books; I was more than excited to get this book to review. My excitement might have been a little over the top, though, because I was disappointed by the slow beginning of this book. Thankfully, Tintera came through for me with relatable characters, skillful balancing of seriousness and humor, and a deeper plot than I at first suspected. I also appreciate that Tintera comments on difficult topics in her books, speaking on the subject of abuse -- and the hope of moving forward -- through several points of view in All These Monsters. The mature content rating is for alcohol use, including underage drinking, and mentions of sex; the violence rating is for domestic violence, child abuse, verbal and physical abuse, gore, battle, and death.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Body Talk by Kelly Jensen - OPTIONAL

Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy by Kelly Jensen, 256 pages. Algonquin Young Readers (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill), 2020. $17.

Language: R (44 swears, 5 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

While all of us have bodies, not all bodies are the same. Most of us have several similarities, but the media often focuses on our differences and what makes us imperfect. Each of the voices sharing their story here admits their imperfections as assigned by the media thrown into our faces, and each of them choose to dismiss that view and love themselves instead.

This book has two main purposes that I could see. First, the writers are fighting stereotypes of ableism, sexism, racism, and sizeism by informing readers of their realities. Secondly, the writers address fears and issues that not everyone experiences but use their differences to reach out to all readers, saying that, no matter how you fall short of the image of the media, you are amazing. The mature content rating is for mention of alcohol, sexual assault, oral sex, digital sex, and vaginal sex; discussion of masturbation and sexual organs; and drawn illustrations of nude men and women. The violence rating is for mention of child abuse, self harm, and eating disorders.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen