Thursday, October 29, 2020

Bowie by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Ana Albero - HIGH

 Bowie by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, illustrated by Ana Albero. BOARD BOOK. Quarto, 2020. $10. 9781711246119 

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K, ADULTS – OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

In 12 board book spreads, the story of David Bowie’s life comes alive. 

 I haven’t read any of the Little People Big Dreams from Quarto before – Now I need to prowl the list and buy my favorites! I was very pleasantly surprised at what a great overview of Bowie’s life this is. Vegara really knows her Bowie and Albero’s illustrations are a highlight. The book is only OPTIONAL because it is for the children of Bowie fans. But dive into the whole series and you will find plenty that you will want for yourself! 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hood by Jenny Elder Moke - OPTIONAL

Hood by Jenny Elder Moke
, 310 pages. Hyperion (Disney), 2020. $18. 

Content: G (mild violence) 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Isobelle is on the run. After her rash actions at the Kirklees convent where her mother, Marien, is the prioress, she is a wanted fugitive – wanted by King John’s Wolf. AS she follows her mother’s directions, she is taken in by the Merry Men. But in order to stay, she must prove her worth. 
 
This take on Robin Hood’s story is through the eyes of Robin and Marien’s daughter. I will say that I was very angry at the end of the book – I don’t think the author needed to do what she did in order to further Isobelle’s story. Plus, there is not a very wide audience for a Robin Hood retelling. My favorite of the recent retellings is Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell.

 Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Map of Stories by Anna James - ADVISABLE

 The Map of Stories (Pages and Co #3) by Anna James, 325 pages. Philomel (Penguin), 2020. $17. 

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Tilly and Oskar are determined to stop Melville, the Underlibrarian of the Britsh Underlibrary, and his sister Decima, from completely sealing the Source Books and destroying stories and imagination forever. They hope they can find the help they need with the Archivists – though not even Tilly’s family believe that the Archivists exist. The pair will need a lot of help, a lot of imagination, and a lot of fast thinking to save their beloved stories and all the stories to come. 

You will have to read all the way to the end in order to exult in the brilliant twists of imagination needed to finally solve this thorny problem. I love reading these books that explore the concept of story at its roots. I have started a list on Pinterest 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia - ADVISABLE

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia
, 350 pages. Disney, 2020. $17 

Content: G (mild danger) 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Paola, 12yo, ekes an existent out with her mother and the extended family of their run down apartment building in Arizona, leaning especially on her best friends: Dante, who is also in the building, and Emma, who lives in a much richer part of town. The trio spend many hours along of the banks of the Gila River looking at the stars. Paola’s mind is set firmly on mathematics and knowledge – eschewing the Mexican folklore that her mother has fed her. When Emma disappears, however, Paola is desperate and when Dante’s Abuela offers them a bit of hope – tied to the mystical as it is – the pair find themselves deep in the desert, on a desperate fight against supernatural forces – La Llorana herself. 

Mejia paints an exciting portrait with Latinx mythology ala Rick Riordan. Unfortunately it takes Mejia 80 pages to get to something that will catch your attention – I can only hope that students who pick it up will hold on that long. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS  #ownvoices

Saturday, October 24, 2020

A Crash of Fate by Zoraida Cordova - OPTIONAL

A Crash of Fate (Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge) by Zoraida Cordova
, 347 pages. Disney, 2020. $18 

Content: PG (some sci-fi fighting) 

 BUYING ADVISORY: MS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Izzy and Jules were inseparable – exploring the desert of Batuu together. Then Izzy and her family disappeared. Until after thirteen years Izzy is back. She’s been betrayed by her boyfriend and desperate to rebuild her life and her latest mysterious job brings her back to Batuu, where immediately runs into Jules. As they reluctantly reconnect, who should arrive but that back-stabbing boyfriend and his crew and they are sure that Izzy is there to ruin their nefarious job. Jule and Izzy are now on the run, trying to salvage her job and stay out of the hands of the others. 

Set in the world of Disney’s new Galaxy Edge theme park, Cordova does an excellent job of evoking the Star Wars tone and atmosphere. Star Wars fans who also read the books will certainly enjoy. However – there are not as many of those fans that I wish there were. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Damned by Renee Ahdieh - HIGH


The Damned (Beautiful, #2) by Renee Ahdieh,  401 pages. Putnam  (Penguin), 2020. $19.  

Content: Language: R (20 swears, 2 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Sebastian has now been turned into a vampire, and in an attempt to distract himself from his deplorable situation he engages in all the vampire activities. His most recurring thought is about Celine, the girl that sacrificed her memories of their relationship so that he could live.  Celine is trying to live life but knows that she is missing memories.  When Celine runs into Sebastian, she feels that he has the answers to her questions and keeps drawing closer to him, even as he tries to push her away.  Regardless of both of their attempts, the other evils in play around them force them to work together.  

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a vampire story, and this series is good.  I love the chemistry between the characters and the conflict is well paced.  The minor characters are as interesting as the main characters.  I totally enjoyed this read, but the content includes descriptive sexual content (close to on-page sex) and bloody battles. The ending is open, so there will be more in the series.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson      

Mask by Kate Hannigan - OPTIONAL

 Mask (League of Superheroes #2) by Kate Hannigan, 255 pages. Simon, 2020. $18 Content: G (mild danger) 

 BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Akiko, Mae, and Josie are learning about their superpowers and also trying to discover what happened to the other supers. During a run to San Francisco, the girls see Akiko’s mom acting strangely – is she a spy? Akiko and the others need to find the truth and to do something to help the other Japanese who have been sent to internment camps. They have a lot on their plates – are the girls up to the task? 

Hannigan dives deep into to trying to teach WWII history while invoking the feel of the classic superhero origin stories. There are too many issues within the book – more focus would have been welcome. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Ultimate Micro-RPG Book edited by James D’Amato - HIGH

The Ultimate Micro-RPG Book edited by James D’Amato
. 102 pages. NON-FICTION. Simon and Schuster, 2020. $17 (paperback). 9781507212868 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Whether as a great longer activity for an afterschool group. Or just a handy resource for library checkout, I would invest in this interesting book. The only flaw for libraries is that it does include some characters sheets and blank graph paper in the back, which should probably be removed before circulation. I would contact the publisher about getting permission to separate the pages and laminate them for individual use! If you already have a group at your school who are big fans of table-top role playing games, they should be very excited to see this. I, on the other hand, would need those same kids to teach me how to play any of the games. Most of few take at least an hour, though a couple can possibly be finished in about 30 minutes. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Were I Not a Girl by Lisa Robinson and Lauren Simkin Berke - OPTIONAL

Were I Not a Girl: The Inspiring and True Story of Dr. James Barry by Lisa Robinson, illustrated by Lauren Simkin Berke
. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Schwartz & Wade (Random House), 2020. $18. 9781984849052 


BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Until she was about 16, Margaret lived a fairly typical life of a middle class Irish girl in the 1700’s. At some point she decides she will take control of her life and is reborn as James Barry. James obtains a medical degree and joins the army. James kept his secret for about 50 years – living as a man until she died. 

 There have been books before about women who disguised themselves as men to fight in wars and such. This is the first book that frames that disguise as an expression of a transgender person. It done very well, most of the discussion of transgender coming in the back matter. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Harvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson and Tara Anderson - ADVISABLE

 Harvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson, illustrated by Tara Anderson, 219 pages. Pajama Press, 2020. $18. 

Content: G

 BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

 AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

 Harvey is a little West Highland Terrier, a Westie. He has a white coat and shiny, black eyes. He is healthy, happy and curious. He loves Maggie, his owner. Maggie and her family go on a vacation and arrange for someone to watch Harvey. When the door was left open and Harvey takes off and becomes hopelessly lost. Harvey is found by Austin, a young boy who volunteers at a retirement home. He brings Harvey there and one resident, Mr. Pickering, opens up to Austin and Harvey. Austin knows he should track down Harvey's real owner. He knows the real owner must miss Harvey a lot. 

 This was a wonderful and heartwarming story. I loved the story of Austin and Harvey and Mr. Pickering. I loved how Mr. Pickering looked forward to the afternoons when Austin and Harvery would come. I highly recommend this heartwarming book. I loved it.

 Ellen-Anita, LMS 

Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Perez - OPTIONAL

 


Wild Savage Stars (Sweet Black Waves, #2) by Kristina Perez, 433 pages.  Imprint (Macmillan), 2019. $19. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Branwen is struggling as she has to watch Tristan (whom Branwen loves) and her best friend, Princess Essy, try to deny their magical love bond. Tristan is loyal to his King Marc, but the magical pull to love Essy keeps making Tristan feel guilty.  Essy doesn’t even try to deny the pull, all the while Branwen also carries guilt because it’s her fault there was even a magical love potion in the first place. Branwen loves her country above everything and realizes that if Essy can’t play a good queen to King Marc, then her country will continue to suffer from raiders.  What neither King Marc or Branwen expect is outside forces allying against both of their countries.  

This series is insane.  I can’t put it down because the story is so twisted with romance and no-win situations. I keep reading but the drama never lets up.  I like Branwen but am frustrated because every time she tries to fix something she makes it a million times worse. The ending of this book is a cliff hanger.  The magical elements are quiet and not a main part of the storyline, until the ending and then they are over the top which seemed imbalanced.  There is on page sex and war violence.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson     

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Girl in the White Van by April Henry - HIGH

 


The Girl in the White Van by April Henry
, 213 pages. Christy Ottavino Books, 2020. $18.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (6 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Fifteen-year-old Savannah lives with her mom and her mom’s creepy boyfriend, Tim.  Savannah’s favorite place to escape to is kung fu, where she has a nice friend named Daniel, but Savannah doesn’t dare get too attached to anyone because her mom is always moving them around.  After Savannah finishes class for the night, she is walking home when she is abducted. When Savannah wakes up, she finds herself in an RV with seventeen-year-old Jenny, a girl who was reported missing seven months ago. Jenny and Savannah have to work together to try and get away from “Sir”.  

This is an intense read that I couldn’t put down.  I liked Savannah’s courage and fearlessness and the double story of Jenny and Savannah made for constant action.  Daniel’s character seemed a little flat but gave a different perspective to what was going on.  There is descriptive violence in this book that is upsetting, involving a dog attack which is why I suggest this book for high school and not middle school.  Also, the threat of Sir’s intentions seemed ominous and creepy.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Pretty Funny for a Girl by Rebecca Elliott - HIGH


Pretty Funny for a Girl by Rebecca Elliott
363 pages. Peachtree Publishing, 2020. $18 

Language: PG-13 (78 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: (boob references); Violence: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

14yo Haylah wants to be a stand up comic. She constantly watches comedy shows on the internet, keeps a journal of funny things, and is genuinely hilarious. But actually standing up in front of an audience is out of the question. Until, attending an "open-mic" evening at a local pub with friends, Haylah finds that someone signed her up to go on, which wasn't a total disaster (well almost, sort of, yes, it was a disaster). She has a crush on Leo, 2 years older, he's the guy she went to see at the pub. Leo, preparing his routine for the "London Young Comic of the Year" contest, asks Haylah's input. Well, one thing leads to another and Haylah's crush turns serious - but is Leo serious too, or are her friends right, and he's just using her? 

Haylah is a "big" girl, and while she seems totally comfortable in her own skin, she does some things that tells the reader she's not - like having everyone call her "Pig" and stress-eating chocolate. I loved the look inside a comic's perspective, taking the difficult and putting a funny spin on it. Totally laughed out loud! Haylah reminded me of Louise Rennison's Georgia in "Agnes Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging." It was really funny, but the look at relationships, friends, family, divorce, boyfriends, body image, being smart, and celebrating yourself made this an all around gem. Looking forward to recommending "Pretty Funny for a Girl".

Lisa Librarian

Monday, October 19, 2020

An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski - ADVISABLE

 


An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski, 200 pages. NON-FICTION Simon and Schuster, 2011. $18.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Maurice is an eleven-year-old who lives in an apartment with his mother, sisters, grandmother and sometimes his uncles. Although he knows he is loved, his basic needs are often unmet including food, clothing, and an education.  One day while Maurice is begging for money on the street, so he can buy food, he meets a businesswoman named Laura.  Laura originally passes by Maurice, but then backtracks and decides to take Maurice for a burger at McDonald’s.  That one-time lunch turns into many years of friendship for Laura and Maurice.  

This is a young adult adaptation of the original An Invisible Thread for adults.  I have read both versions and this one is written in a younger voice with the emphasis on Maurice’s side of the story.  Although Maurice’s mother is around, she suffers from mental illness or drug abuse which isn’t clarified, but Maurice emphasizes that he knows his mother loves him.  The beginning of Laura and Maurice’s story has more detail and then it felt rushed when Maurice was an older teen.  There are pictures included at the back.  I enjoyed the book and was compelled to read and I think this is a good book to talk about social issues like homelessness and living with adults that aren't functioning.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone - ESSENTIAL

Dress Coded
by Carrie Firestone
303 pages. G. P. Putnam (Penguin Random House), 2020. $18 

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG (middle school talk about breasts and periods, also teen vaping); Violence: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

When the end of year camping trip is cancelled when a student was dress coded, 8th grader Molly starts DressCoded:A Podcast giving girls at her school the opportunity to tell their stories.  This is an on going problem at Fisher Middle School, ever since the new principal Dr. Couchman came, it seems that what certain girls are wearing is more important than the students' education. Soon, high school girls are contacting Molly to tell their stories as well. Molly and her friends try to petition the interim superintendent as well as the school board to review/remove the dress code but nothing happens. Now, standing up for what's right at FMS has turned from a movement into a revolution! 

Firestone tells a great story about the problems of unevenly enforced dress code, targeting the more mature looking girls and ignoring the less developed who are wearing the same thing. The boys are getting away with vaping in the restrooms while girls get dress coded for showing a sliver of belly. I loved that Molly and her friends were leading a peaceful resistance; the supportive teachers and parents were great - letting the kids take the lead to try to change an unfair practice. The subplots about friendships, inclusion and growing up rounded out this well written middle grade novel. 

Lisa Librarian

Monday, October 12, 2020

Rogue Heart by Axie Oh - ADVISABLE

 


Rogue Heart (Rebel Seoul, #2) by Axie Oh
, 357 pages. Tu Books (Lee and Low), 2019. $22. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Ama is an eighteen-year-old who is hiding from the government that tormented her and tried to turn her into a war machine. She is a telepath and attracts the attention of a rebel group who want to get her to read the minds of the enemy.  The trouble is that one of Ama’s enemies used to be her boyfriend, Alex, and Ama is growing uncomfortable with the war in general-no matter the side. 

This is a spin-off from Rebel Seoul and although you could read it without having read the first book, it makes more sense to read them in order. Ama is a likable character and her struggle with Alex and her feelings make for a good romance story.  The setting is easy to follow because the world is well built.  My only issue was Ama’s betrayal of her friends as she was playing both sides of the war. The ending is satisfying, and I enjoyed the read.  The violence is robots fighting and killing people and the mature content is kissing.

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh - ADVISABLE

 


Rebel Seoul (Rebel Seoul, #1) by Axie Oh, 389 pages.  Tu Books (Lee and Low), 2017.  $20.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (68 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Lee Jaewon lives in a world divided between Old Seoul and New Seoul.  Lee is eighteen and gaining notoriety within his academy for his fighting skills during simulations.  When Lee is coerced into being on the team of the Director’s sons, he gains a position as a guard for a new weapon in Neo Seoul. The weapon is a girl named Tera, who has been modified with fighting mechanisms making her the most lethal God Machine on the planet.  Lee and Tera form a friendship and understanding among a world on the brink of war.  

Rebel Seoul is a Sci-Fi read that reminded me of a mix of Ender’s Game and Iron Man.  The world building is the main focus of the story, and the author does such a good job building the world that it was fun to get lost in it.  I wish there would have been more character development because I liked all the characters, including the minor characters.  The content has brutal beatings and there is fighting.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Hacker’s Key by Jon Skovron - ADVISABLE

The Hacker’s Key by Jon Skovron,
224 pages. Scholastic, 2020. $8. 

 Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G (tense, but not bloody) 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Ada would do anything to get out of the Springfield Military Reform School – in fact, she has tried to escape several times. Ada hasn’t even done anything in particular to be at a reform school, but her father is a notorious thief who is in a super max prison. When an extremely sensitive object goes missing from a secure UN facility, the clue left at the scene points toward Ada’s father knowing something – but he will only talk to Ada. And the CIA has a really sweet deal to get her to cooperate. With her BFF Jace and her bothersome roommate Cody, Ada is headed off on a treasure hunt – and if she doesn’t win, the whole world will have very big problems. 

Ada’s quest has all the hallmarks of a high-paced spy novel. Fans of Alex Rider, the Gallagher Girls, and such will enjoy it. However, there is nothing special to grab your heart. Already in paperback, so the price is right. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Don’t Judge Me! By Lisa Schroeder - ESSENTIAL

Don’t Judge Me! By Lisa Schroeder
, 256 pages. Scholastic, NOV 2020. $18 

Content: G 

 BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Hazel, 6th grader, and her BFF Tori and very excited to be entering middle school. Tori’s older brother Ben is an 8th grader there and Hazel has a bit of a crush on him. Then one day Hazel finds a notebook of Ben’s and it is full of the names of girls at their school and anonymous comments and ratings. Hazel decides to steal the book and gather the girls to counterattack the boys’ awful behavior. They may have a hard time getting an adult to listen to them, however. 

Schroeder skillfully addresses the hot, continual problem topic of sexual harassment in schools. And she does it in a way that is totally honest, but also totally accessible to the intended audience. Great pairing for with Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman - OPTIONAL

 


The Dark Days Deceit (Dark Days Club, #3) by Alison Goodman, 531 pages. Viking (Penguin), 2018. $20. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Lady Helen and Lord Carlston are bound in their powerful abilities and are now considered the Grand Reclaimer.  They are searching for the Grand Deceiver, an evil power that is trying to open an evil portal on earth. As Helen and Carlston try to work together, they are distracted by their attraction towards each other and Helen’s upcoming marriage to the Duke of Selbern. Also, the evil surrounding the Grand Deceiver is attacking Helen and Carlston’s closest friends and time is running out for them to identify the Grand Reclaimer.  

I loved this final book in the Dark Days trilogy.  There are great twists and turns and the chemistry between Helen and Carlston is fun. Like the other books in the series, the characters are adults, so it doesn’t seem like a young adult series.  The content includes descriptive sexual references and gruesome deaths.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson 

The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman - OPTIONAL

 


The Dark Days Pact (Dark Days Club, #2) by Alison Goodman, 490 pages. Viking (Penguin), 2017. $19. 

Content: Language: PG-13 (10 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: R.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

After being caught in what appeared to be a compromising position, Lady Helen’s uncle kicked her out of his home.  Helen is now staying with Lady Margaret and being coached on how to act like a man, so she can accomplish her tasks for the Dark Days Club. Helen is approached by Mr. Pike, the director of the Dark Days Club, and sent on a secret mission to acquire a journal with important information. Helen has to face a dark and disgusting figure and try to negotiate the terms for giving up the journal, all while keeping it a secret from Lord Carlston.  Lord Carlston starts to lose control of his senses and Helen is also hoping to find help for him in the journal.  

I enjoy this series, especially Helen’s strength and self-assurance. Parts of the storyline lag, and it is a long book, but there is action, romance and the supernatural.  Helen is eighteen and Lord Carlston is 26, so it feels more like an adult novel than a young adult.  The content includes crass sexual references, violent fighting and very detailed, gruesome death scenes.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson       

Friday, October 9, 2020

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman - OPTIONAL

 


The Dark Days Club (Dark Days Club, #1) by Alison Goodman
, 482 pages. Viking (Penguin), 2016. $19. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Lady Helen is eighteen years old living in London in 1812.  Her parents had a questionable demise, which makes Helen’s coming out to society a bit tricky, yet Helen gains the attention of two men: Lord Carlston and the Duke of Selburn. Lord Carlston himself has a shady past and some blame him for his dead wife, but as Helen starts to uncover her parent’s past and follow the lead on a strange experience her friend had, Helen sees that Carlston might hold answers for her.  Helen finds out that there is a dark world hidden among everyone else’s London and Helen has the abilities that the Dark Days Club needs to control the evil. 

This is a great premise with action and adventure.  Helen is gutsy and likable, and I enjoyed uncovering the mysteries with her.  At times the world building is slow and involves a lot of conversations. The content includes sexual references, violence including a slit throat and eludes to rape.  If not for the content, it would be advisable. 

Reviewer, C. Peterson    

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini - HIGH


To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
by Christopher Paolini
, 880 pages. Tor Books, 2020. $30.

Language: R (558 swears, 61 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: R

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

The morning that Kira and her fellow scientists are preparing to leave the station they’ve been at, Kira discovers an alien artifact! She has dreamed of finding further proof of sentient life other than humans, and now that dream is a reality but not in the way Kira imagined it. Very quickly, finding the alien artifact becomes the worst thing that has ever happened to her -- and the human race.

This futuristic story includes all the good things about sci-fi: fascinating alien creatures, mind-blowing technology used casually in everyday life, and extraordinary space battles. While the weight of whether the human race will survive or be completely wiped out burdens the characters and readers throughout the book, Paolini finds balance between being reserved and humorous -- I found myself laughing out loud several times. My least favorite thing about this book is how whiney and repetitive Kira is, which started to really get on my nerves by the end, but even that annoyance was deemed worth it as the vision that Paolini had for the stellar ending unfolded before me. The battle of good versus evil felt relatable and enlightening as Paolini gave the readers as much internal resolve with Kira’s inner demons as he gave external resolve. I could read it again. Note: The audiobook is long, but Jennifer Hale does a phenomenal job of bringing each character to life and makes it worth it. The mature content rating is for alcohol, nudity, innuendo, and sex. The violence rating is for blood, gore, and death.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen - OPTIONAL


Miracle Creek Christmas
by Krista Jensen
, 368 pages. Shadow Mountain, 2020. $16.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

After being burned and going through rehab, Mark avoids going out and subjecting himself to the stares and comments that follow him. Riley moved to Miracle Creek to escape the nosey gossipers of Hollywood and live her life without others’ judgement. As they get to know each other, Mark and Riley can either choose to ignore the rumors around them or let small-town gossip tear them apart.

Mark and Riley both have scars from their past experiences, and they learn to heal together. I love the juxtaposition of seen and unseen hurts that we all have and need to learn how to move forward with, even when they are still painful. Jensen crafted a story that both made me understand the pain her characters were going through and had me laughing out loud, but I felt a disconnect in the end when it seemed like the characters I had gotten to know acted contrary to who they were. The mature content rating is for innuendo.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

On the Run by Traci Hunter Abramson - ADVISABLE


On the Run
by Traci Hunter Abramson
, 296 pages. Covenant Communications, 2020. $17.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Going undercover and trying to expose wrongdoings is not always as rewarding as 27-year-old Elle hoped it would be, especially when the most recent secret kills her sister and sends Elle herself running for her life. Not knowing what else to do, Elle chooses to trust people who call themselves guardians to keep her safe. But as they gather more intel to find the antagonist, safety starts to seem like an impossible goal.

I am a long-time fan of Abramson, and this newest book is just as good as the others I’ve read. While some of the details might go over my head or be skimmed over, I’m impressed by Abramson’s attention to the little things in plans for both the antagonists and the protagonists, including the expected action scenes as well as the boring research that, realistically, has to be done. Of course, through the suspense of why Elle is on the run, Abramson also threads a romance that neatly ties up the end, giving readers the closure they need to finally breathe again. The violence rating is for gun use and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Swamp Thing by Maggie Stiefvater - OPTIONAL


Swamp Thing: Twin Branches
by Maggie Stiefvater
, 208 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. DC Comics, 2020. $17.

Language: R (22 swears, 2 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Alec and Walker are going to stay with their cousins for the last summer before college, thanks to drama at home. Walker wants to party like there’s no tomorrow, but Alec just wants to continue his plant research, even if he has to start all over. Not even Alec knew how that research would change the summer -- and him -- forever.

Having just finished the book, I’m still not really sure what happened. Stiefvater gives readers things to think about, and she planted in me a desire to go sit in a garden or in the woods for a bit, just to see if I can understand plants better. The shift in how I think about plants after reading the analogies and facts throughout this book is what I like most about it, even if I’m not sure I followed the story very well. The mature content rating is for innuendo.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

All the Ways Home by Elsie Chapman - OPTIONAL

 


All the Ways Home by Elsie Chapman, 216 pages. Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2019. $17.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

12yo Kaede is angry and confused.  He just lost his mom in a car accident because of a distracted driver and he acts out by throwing a flaming brick at the driver’s home and he lashes out at his best friend, causing serious harm. Kaede’s grandfather is trying to take care of him, but Kaede is excited to have the opportunity to go and live with his father and older brother in Japan.  He has questions for his brother, Shoma, and his dad. Kaede is especially wondering why they haven’t kept in contact with Kaede, so he is disappointed when he arrives in Japan and his father is out on a photography assignment.  Shoma is a great brother and tries to help Kaede, but Kaede is distracted by the fact that his father never shows up.  Kaede has to learn to accept what he does have in his life and Shoma is there to help him.  

I enjoyed the parts of the story that showed the power of familial bonds.  Kaede is hard to like and I felt like the author was taking me on a tour of Japan, with details and descriptions of Tokyo which got a bit boring after a while.  The ending wasn’t very realistic, and parts of the story portrayed Kaede doing things that a twelve-year-old wouldn’t be mature enough to do.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Ruby in the Sky by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo - HIGH

Ruby in the Sky by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo, 295 pages.  Farrar Straus Giroux  (Macmillan), 2019. $17.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

12yo Ruby and her mother move to a new town in Vermont, and Ruby thinks she can remain invisible until she is certain her mother will move them again.  But when Ruby goes to school, she meets Ahmad, a recent Syrian refugee, who befriends her. Ruby also meets a woman down the street named Abigail who teaches Ruby how to feed the birds.  When Ruby’s mother gets in trouble with the law, Ruby is certain they will move, but her mother decides to stand up and fight for herself, and Ruby has to learn to do the same.  

This synopsis doesn’t do the book justice.  Ruby is an endearing character and her coming of age story is heartbreaking and tender.  Abigail and Ahmad are inspiring and help Ruby to learn to stand up for herself while finding a place to belong.  I was engaged in the story from the beginning and cried in the end.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson  

Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates by K.R. Gaddy - OPTIONAL

 


Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis by K.R. Gaddy, 300 pages. Dutton Books (Penguin), 2020. $19.  

Content: Language: R (26 swears; 1 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

This is the story of three German teens and their efforts to thwart the Nazis during World War II.  Gertrude was raised by parents who had strong Communist political leanings and she watched her parents suffer because of Hitler’s ideologies.  She joined a group of local teens who rebelled by distributing flyers and graffiti.  Jean loved music and didn’t like conforming to the Hitler Youth programs, so he was attracted to the youth group who liked to go hiking and sing songs, but their non-conforming got them into trouble.  Fritz was angry about the way the Nazi’s were abusing the minorities and got braver and braver in his rebellious acts.  All three teens suffered for their rebellion but felt like they contributed to the downfall of the Germans.  

The beginning of this book was a bit slow, and the information is similar to other World War II books.  After the first 50 pages, I got hooked and wanted to find out what happened to these three kids.  The violence is hard to read and is upsetting including torture, fighting, beatings and a descriptive vomit eating moment. Because of the content I would put it in the high schools.  I wish that there was more at the ending about what happened to Gertrude, Jean and Fritz right after. The author does a great job with the facts, including footnotes with any discrepancies.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Bad Boy and the Tomboy by Nicole Nwosu - OPTIONAL


The Bad Boy and the Tomboy
by Nicole Nwosu
, 360 pages. Wattpad Books, 2020. $11. 

Language: R (71 swears, 22 “f” + Spanish swears); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Soccer and her friends are all that Macy needs in her life, but, with graduation on the horizon, everything is set to change. Arguments, boyfriends, reconnecting with family, and college applications are just the beginning for Macy.

Mostly, readers just follow the drama at Wellington Secondary School, which isn’t super compelling but definitely not boring -- it was laugh-out-loud funny. I appreciate how Nwosu addresses several issues, including racism, loss of loved ones, arguments with friends, sexism, and fear of change. Nwosu is saying to readers that we all have problems; we support one another through the bad days so that we can enjoy the good ones together. The mature content rating is for underage drinking, illegal activity, innuendo, and mention of sex. The violence rating is for death and attempted suicide.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

A Revolution of Hearts by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen - OPTIONAL


A Revolution of Hearts
by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
, 272 pages. Covenant Communications, 2020. $17.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

In the midst of a revolution of ideas in France, Dacia’s brother sides with the plebeians. While she may humor him, Dacia doesn’t see anything wrong with continuing their ways of monarchy and social hierarchy -- after all, there is a reason some are above others, is there not? Dacia is in for a shock when she finds herself among the plebeians, running for her life.

My favorite thing about this book, by far, is that it takes place concurrently with The Scarlet Pimpernel, an old classic; though there is only a little overlap of characters, Hinrichsen is able to use the context as a quick set up to her spin-off story. Dacia’s story is well-written and engaging as she learns to see people differently, to see those around her as equals regardless of social class. This aspect of the book was apparent to me as the true focus, making the romance seem underdeveloped, though still a cute part of the overall story.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker - ADVISABLE


Otherwise Engaged
by Joanna Barker
, 262 pages. Covenant Communications, 2020. $17.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Coming home secretly engaged is not ideal, but Rebecca has to figure out how to soften her family so they will accept her fiance. But that is not the only secret she keeps. When the new neighbor starts discovering those things Rebecca is hiding, he becomes a friend and confidant, only confusing further Rebecca’s heart.

Rebecca is a charming character, making enough relatable bad decisions that I wanted desperately for her to find peace and happiness. However, her intended was never far from my thoughts, and I worried constantly about how Barker would build his character in a satisfying way and, simultaneously, disentangle the mess Rebecca was getting herself into. I should not have been so concerned; Barker is a skillful writer, and I enjoyed everything about reading the story she tells of Rebecca.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney - ADVISABLE


Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney, 336 pages. Poisoned Pen Press, 2020. $27.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Sun City is full of retired folk with nothing to do but play cards and be in everyone else’s business. When a murder is discovered in one of the villas on Blue Lilac Lane, everyone wants a piece of the excitement to share, but Helen hopes it all just fades away. If the police are called, they’ll poke their nose into everything, and there are secrets Helen needs to keep.

I have been a fan of Cooney since I was in middle school, and Helen’s story is a great addition to Cooney’s resume. The constant flipping back and forth between both time and characters makes for a steep learning curve, but Cooney skillfully draws readers in to make conclusions about the big picture as she slowly provides her readers with each piece of the puzzle -- I couldn’t put it down. My favorite thing about this book is the unique nature of having a murder mystery in a retirement community, a setting that Cooney fully embraces and takes advantage of. The mature content rating is for rape; the violence rating is for blood, gun use, and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Anne of Green Gables art by Kuma Chan - ADVISABLE


Anne of Green Gables (Manga Classics)
art by Kuma Chan
, 308 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Udon Entertainment, 2020. $20.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

When Marilla and Matthew thought about adopting a child, they decided a boy would be best so that Matthew would have some help in the fields. Instead, they get 11-year-old Anne Shirley, a girl with a big heart and an even bigger imagination. Marilla tries to return Anne and get a boy, but Marilla can’t leave Anne back at the asylum. Maybe Green Gables needs a little girl after all.

Spanning several years, the story of Anne Shirley is hard to condense. The last few years fly by in this manga version, getting only a couple chapters each. Instead of focusing on the school work and classmates in the last few years of Anne’s story, this manga highlights the relationships Anne develops with her guardians and her first friend, primarily in her younger years. I love the emphasis on the relationships closest to Anne as her character develops through adolescence. The Udon team captures Anne’s vibrancy through this manga format, which is sure to please old and new fans of Anne.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

A Hopeful Christmas by Walker, Bessey, Kelly, and Jensen - OPTIONAL


A Hopeful Christmas
by Anneka Walker, Sian Ann Bessey, Carla Kelly, and Krista Lynn Jensen
, 372 pages. SHORT STORIES. Covenant Communications, 2020. $18.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Christmas is a time for joy -- even if everything else in life seems like it’s trying to trip you up. In these four short stories, these authors encourage readers to find kindness, hope, and forgiveness in the upcoming Christmas season.

At the end of each story, I found myself wishing for just another chapter or two because I wasn’t ready to let the characters and the hopeful feelings go. Each of the four authors did a splendid job of crafting stories to prepare readers’ hearts for the good feelings of Christmas, and I wonder if they had a secret bet on who could include the most adorable animal in their story. If you aren’t feeling particularly in the Christmas spirit, you will at the close of this book.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Friday, October 2, 2020

Disney Eats: More Than 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking and Inspired Fun by Joy Howard - ADVISABLE

Disney Eats: More Than 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking and Inspired Fun by Joy Howard,
301 pages. Disney, 2020. $30. 9781368049191 

BUYING ADVISORY: GIFT – ADVISABLE; MS, HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

While cookbooks are not a huge checkout at most schools, they do go out – and one that is Disney-inspired has potential. Some recipes are referential – but sound delicious, so I am excited to try them. Others are decorative, inspiration for a themed celebration. In fact, the author has included some sample menus. Whether you are a cook or not, though, any Disney fan will have a great time paging through relishing the creativity within. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Disney Bound: Dress Disney and Make it Fashion by Leslie Kay - ESSENTIAL

Disney Bound: Dress Disney and Make it Fashion by Leslie Kay
, 153 pages. Disney Editions, 2020. $18. 9781368050425 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE; GIFT - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Leslie Kay launched her DisneyBound blog and then with one outfit she launched a Disney-fan favorite of Disney-bounding – dressing as your favorite Disney characters as an homage, not as cosplay or costume. Her book includes many ideas, photos, and inspiration, drawing from a large cast of Disney-bounders from all over the world. 

Anyone who loves the DisneyBound concept (ME!! And my family), will want to get their hands on this. Perfect for gift giving. An anchor for any Disney-inspired display. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Connect the Dots by Keith Calabrese - ESSENTIAL

Connect the Dots
by Keith Calabrese
, 240 pages. Scholastic, 2020. $17. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Oliver Beane and Frankie Figge, 12yo, are best friends in Elk Grove Park, a suburb of Chicago. Then arrives new girl Miranda Sandoval and she has chosen Oliver and Frankie to be her friends – whether the boys want her or not. Their school is named after Preston Oglethorpe – an Elk Grove genius who made millions and then disappeared. Now strange things are starting to happen in Elk Grove – most of them seem to be happy coincidences. But there is also a group of dangerous men lurking in the shadows – and their attention seems to be on Oliver, Frankie, and Miranda! 

Calabrese has woven together an intricate plot about the weaving of an intricate plot. Plenty of danger, lots of laughs, a healthy dose of mango chutney! 

 Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Disney Maps: A Magical Atlas of the Movies We Know and Love - ESSENTIAL

Disney Maps: A Magical Atlas of the Movies We Know and Love
, 100 pages. Disney Press, 2020. $25. 9781368018678 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Walk your way through 24 magical Disney fantasy worlds. Each land gets a 2-page map spread with significant markers and another 2-page spread of information and characters. A lot of fun for any Disney movie enthusiast. I wouldn’t be surprised if any library copies get significantly battered with use. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS