Friday, January 31, 2020

Born to Fly by Steve Sheinkin - ESSENTIAL

Born to Fly by Steve Sheinkin, 262 pages.  NON-FICTION  Roaring Brook Press, 2019.  $20.  

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



A group of daring women in the late 1920’s challenge the largely held viewpoint that women couldn’t fly, by competing in an Air Derby.  Beginning when they were young girls, Sheinkin describes six of the girls and their love of taking to the air through jumping off roofs with umbrellas, to inventing their own rollercoasters.  As they grew older each had their own moment when they knew they wanted to fly planes and their journey to participating in the Air Derby in 1929.  The Air Derby is the bulk of the story but is interlaced with human interest stories about some of the pilots and the challenges they faced.  The women pilots’ goal was to show the world that women were qualified to take to the skies.  

I loved this book.  I got totally caught up in the Air Derby.  I thought I had picked who I wanted to win the race, until Sheinkin would explain the backstory of another pilot and their spunk and by the end, I found myself cheering for all of them.  This is an inspiring story that Sheinkin has masterfully plotted to draw in the reader and he made it impossible to put down.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.      

If You’re Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser - AVERAGE

If You’re Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser, 320 pages. Balzer + Bray, 2019.  $18.

Language: R (96 swears, 19 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G



Zan, a senior, misses her best friend Priya immensely.  But Priya, who has moved to beachy California, doesn’t seem to miss Zan at all.  Priya doesn’t answer Zan’s text, nor respond to her on social media.  Even Logan, the hot guy who has just moved in can’t fully distract her from her hurt – nor from her growing dread that something is wrong. It isn’t until Zan is finally ready to give up and move on with her life that Logan casually mentions something that starts Zan on the hunt again – and this time she won’t stop until she has answers.

I listened to the audiobook voiced by Kate Rudd and couldn’t stop listening until it was all over.  I knew there had to be a mystery in there and was just a bit exasperated with Zan when it took her so long to pick up on Priya’s clues.  The romance between Zan and Logan was a nice fillip, that added that bit of support that Zan needed, while remaining sweet.
(LGBT - Zan’s mom’s girlfriend has just moved in with them)

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Superlative A. Lincoln: Poems About Our 16th President by Eileen R. Meyer - ADVISABLE

The Superlative A. Lincoln: Poems About Our 16th President by Eileen R. Meyer, illustrated by Dave Szalay. NONFICTION POETRY/PICTURE BOOK. Charlesbridge, 2019. $18. 9781580899376.,204,203,200_.jpg


Abraham Lincoln is a towering figure in American history. In this illustrated book of poems, Meyer introduces various stories about Lincoln and highlights aspects of his character. Each poem comes with a small note, as well, offering more historical information. The key focus on superlatives is a nice touch to tie in with a language curriculum. There is a nice timeline, author's note and bibliography in the back.

This was a difficult book to characterize but a fun and quick book to read. Its not fully a biography, but you get a lot of good info in each poem and note. This would be a great book for teachers to utilize in combining history and language arts lessons (the best way to teach them both!). I think fans of American History will also enjoy it simply for what it is.

Reviewer: TC

Before I Disappear by Danielle Stinson - OPTIONAL

Before I Disappear by Danielle Stinson 367 pages. Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2019. $18. 

Language: R (51 swears, 5 “f”), Mature Content: G Violence: G



Ever since Rosie’s dad left, she has been the parent to her mom and brother. She’s always hoping for something better, which is how they ended up in a small Oregon town built over an underground particle accelerator track. While Rosie is gone to apply for a Habitat for Humanity type house in the next town over, a strange geophysical force causes unusual weather and seismic activities. She rushes to get back to her brother and finds the town has just vanished. She is caught in a limbo forest between the vanished town and the rest of the world with several other kids, trying to save her brother and get out.

There are a lot of abstract ideas to sort out in this book. The lead up to the disaster is quite interesting. You have a dysfunctional family living in a trailer and just trying to get by. Later, the town’s disappearance is explained by an alternate world concept I found confusing. The book might initially grab you, but getting to the end isn’t a guarantee.

Reviewer: Valerie McEnroe, MLIS   

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Conceal Don't Feel by Jen Calonita - ESSENTIAL

Conceal Don’t Feel (Twisted Tale, #7) by Jen Calonita, 312 pages.  Disney Hyperion, 2019.  $18.  

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



When Princess Elsa accidentally hit Princess Anna with a freezing blast, and Anna’s parents rushed her to Grand Pabbie, the troll king, Anna and Elsa were erased from each other’s memories and separated.  Now that Elsa’s parents have died, Elsa’s powers are starting to get stronger and she is having a hard time controlling them.  When Elsa is pushed too far, and her ability to freeze things gets out of control, the entire kingdom is frozen, and Anna feels the need to investigate.  Anna starts to remember Elsa, and vice versa, and if the two sisters can find each other and remember their past they can fix Arendelle before it is too late.  

I love Frozen and I love this reimagining of Anna and Elsa’s story.  It was fun to see how Kristoff and Hans fit into the story, and the heart of the characters and the setting stayed true.  The violence is PG because of the way Elsa was treated while locked up.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Becoming Beatriz by Tami Charles - ADVISABLE

Becoming Beatriz by Tami Charles, 257 pages. Charlesbridge, 2019. $18. 

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



Beatriz is an African Puerto Rican who immigrated to America with her brother and mother when she was a young girl. Like many Caribbean immigrants, she and her brother joined a drug gang for safety and money. Her brother has been gunned down by a rival gang member and she’s conflicted. Part of her wants to get out, but part of her needs the gang. Then handsome, intelligent Nasser notices her and encourages her to get back into dance. He convinces her to audition for a part on her favorite TV show Fame. The problem is that he is Haitian, the same nationality as the guy who killed her brother.

This is a companion novel to Like Vanessa. This novel explores the gang drug culture of the 80s. The author does an excellent job describing the appeal of gangs and life in poor immigrant neighborhoods. It’s easy to understand why Beatriz has no use for school other than a place to sell drugs. Despite the challenges, it has an uplifting undertone, as Beatriz moves toward making better choices.   

Reviewer: Valerie McEnroe, MLIS   

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Dizzy’s New Fortune by Jason Muell - OPTIONAL

Dizzy’s New Fortune (Descendants) by Jason Muell, 128 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Tokyopop, 2020. $16.

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



Dizzy is anxious about going to Auradon Prep in a couple weeks. She’s happy to get help from Celia, Harry, and Gil in preparation for her new school, but nothing seems to be working. Is Dizzy going to fit in at Auradon?

Muell writes a cute story focused on being yourself -- your best self -- no matter what others say. Dizzy faces lots of different voices trying to tell her what to do, but she finds the strength to stay true to what she thinks is right. While the solution felt abrupt to me, I think the message comes across well, and it’s an important message for the audience to internalize. The illustrations, though, are my favorite part.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Monday, January 27, 2020

Making a Play by Abbi Glines - NO

Making a Play (Field Party, #5) by Abbi Glines, 313 pages.  Simon Pulse, 2019. $19.  

Content: Language: R (105+ swears; 55 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG.  



Ryker is a player and has never settled down with any one girl, until he spots the new girl, Aurora.  Aurora is nervous about being the new girl, but her twin brother, Hunter, has been going to Lawton High so she knows he will help her.  Aurora is deaf, but she knows how to navigate in the hearing world, so when Hunter tries to help Aurora and keep Ryker away, Aurora is frustrated.  Against racism, disabilities and other’s criticism, Aurora and Ryker try to make a relationship work.  

The Field Party series is a group of guys who are all on the same football team, so in order to understand the other side stories going on in this book, you have to read the other books.  Ryker’s insta-love for Aurora is cheesy and he waxes poetic about her often which is boring.  There isn’t much of a story, it’s all about their deep love for each other which nobody can possibly understand-gag.  The make out sessions are descriptive and not romantic at all, mostly yuck.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.  

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim - OPTIONAL

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim, 336 pages. Disney Book Group (Hyperion), 2020. $19.

Language: R (39 swears, 2 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13



Amaya (17-years-old) and Cayo can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Their choices eventually bring them together on opposite sides of conflict, but both Amaya and Cayo are done losing. And, this time, they are both determined to win because they have nothing left to lose.

I was intrigued for a while about how Amaya’s and Cayo’s lives were going to cross paths. When their connection was revealed about a third of the way in, I was thrilled by the new development and couldn’t put down their story. Sim has brought to life characters that are unknowingly in conflict, making readers fall in love with both Amaya and Cayo; you feel pain for both of them as challenges pile up in front of them -- including their unwitting sabotage of each other! Unfortunately, I found the end to be a whirlwind that was unpleasant to ride. Several things were revealed in a manner that felt sudden and unplanned, as if Sim didn’t know how to get to the ending she wanted. With that bitter taste at the end of the book, I’m unsure if I want to read the sequel, even though I enjoyed reading most of the book. The mature content rating is for addictive behavior (with substance abuse and gambling), partial nudity, and implied prostitution; the violence rating is for child abuse and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen