Sunday, July 31, 2016

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Towers Falling
This short story was written to explain to children who were not alive on 9/11 the significance of that day.  Deja is in 5th grade and is now living in a homeless shelter because her father, who she later learns was in one of the towers on 9/11 is suffering from a persistent cough and chronic depression and cannot keep a job.  Her school looks out on the area where the towers were and on 9/11 the students who had been at school there had watched the towers fall.  Now, on the year of the 15th anniversary of the towers falling, the school is covering a curriculum to explain what happened then so that the students will understand.  The story is well told and interesting and I think that teachers will want to use it in their classes.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

A Vegan Ethic: Embracing a Life of Compassion Toward All by Mark Hawthorne

A Vegan Ethic: Embracing a Life of Compassion Toward All by [Hawthorne, Mark]
This is a short, concise book about veganism and the reasons and ethics behind it.  From animal rights and how animals are cruelly mistreated to human rights and how the ways we treat animals and the ways we treat one another are related to the environment and more, this book covers the topic well.  I think that people who are vegans will enjoy this book and find it useful in helping them to be able to more fully explain to others why they are vegan.  I think that for those of us who are not vegan, it helps us to see why veganism is a very good and possibly necessary choice.  The book includes questions and answers, and helpful lists.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee

A Most Magical Girl
Set in Victorian England, young Annabel Grey is sent by her mother to live with aunts she did not know existed.  The aunts are witches and they tell Annabel that she is a most magical girl and because an evil man named Mr. Angel is building a magical machine to spread darkness and evil, it is up to Annabel to find a hidden magic wand to stop him.  Another magical girl named Kitty is sent with Annabel on their quest underneath London through tunnels and trolls and past a dragon in order to save the good magic from the bad.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock

The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock
Interesting story and beautiful illustrations!  This book is great for art teachers to use to explain to young children about abstract art. It also implies that the artist, Kadinsky, may have had synesthesia in the author's note at the end of the book.

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily and Dunkin by [Gephart, Donna]
This book combines and tackles and interesting combination of issues.  Dunkin is bipolar, like one of the author's sons, and his story also includes another issue.  Lily, born as Tim, is transgender and wishes to start hormone therapy, but her dad is not on board with that.  The book follows the two of them along with Lily's best friend, Dare and her new friend, Amy.  This book addresses a lot of timely issues in the story.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Smashing the Stereotypes: What Does It Mean to Be Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender? by Jaime A. Seba

Smashing the Stereotypes: What Does It Mean to Be Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender?
I think this book is an excellent guide for middle school and high school students about the various stereotypes that surround the LGBT community.  It is a short book and could also be shared with elementary school aged children who are interested in the topic.  I do think that elementary and middle school aged children will need a bit of guidance and explanations from an adult because many of the stereotypes refer to people and TV shows etc... that are way before their time.  For example, most children won't know who Cher is or be familiar with the TV show "Will and Grace".  This is, however, a nice, simple book to share with kids of all ages.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

I listened to the audio version of this book because I could not find the print copy at any of my local libraries.  The woman who read the book did an excellent job with all of the voices and definitely added character and depth to the book.  The story is set in New York City beginning in the late 1940s where the family lives in a two-family house - one family on the top floor and the other family on the bottom floor.  Abe and Mort are brothers and their wives, Helen and Rose both give birth on the same snowy evening with the help of a midwife who had been nearby when a blizzard did not allow them to go to the hospital.  The story is told alternately by the women, their husbands, and some of the children and is well-written, compelling, and fascinating.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?: Explaining (sudden) death in words very young children can understand by Elke Barber, Alex Barber

Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?: Explaining (sudden) death in words very young children can understand by [Barber, Elke, Barber, Alex]
I think this sad, lovely little book is the best picture book that I have seen that explains death to a young child.  It is based on a true story and Alex, who was 3 years old when his father passed away, contributed to the story.  His mother explains that his father can't come back because his body has stopped working and that it is ok to be sad.  The book continues and shows that a year later, Alex is mostly happy, but it is still ok when he is sad sometimes.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Happy Families by Tanita S. Davis

Happy Families

Justin and his twin sister Ysabel alternate telling the story of their family after they discover that their father is transgender.  He has moved out of their house and they go to stay with him for a week and go to therapy with him.  They meet with other families that include transgender individuals and try to work through some of the issues that they are facing now.

Risuko A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler

Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale (Teen Historical Adventure) (Seasons of the Sword Book 1) by [Kudler, David]
Set in Japan during the middle ages, Risuko, who is around 12 years old, has been sold to Lady Chiyome and is taken to a school in Mount Fuji where young girls are trained to be Kunoichi, although Risuko has no idea what a Kunoichi is nor why she is training to be one.  She and the two other initiate girls who were brought in with her begin by cleaning and cooking, and learning music, but are also given tasks that seem to have no purpose, like moving rocks from one pile to another and butchering chickens.  There is a mystery and Risuko must be brave to help to solve it.  Her skills at climbing and calligraphy come into play in a few areas of the book.  I have not seen any other middle grade historical fiction books set in Japan during this time period, so that makes this book a bit unique and the historical information is interesting.  It is the first in a series.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Changeling Appalachian Magic Series by Debbie Herbert

This is a paranormal romance in the New Adult category.  Skye is in her first year of college and works at a New Agey psychic store where they sell charms and do psychic and tarot readings.  She is a witch, and when she meets a handsome young man named Kheelan, who she later learns is a changeling - a child stolen by the fae and replaced by one of their own, who is enslaved to the fairies, her life gets more interesting.  Faeries, witches, magic, mystery and romance abound in this novel.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

I think that middle grade readers will enjoy this story!  Denizen is 13 years old and has lived in an orphanage since he was 2 years old.  He can't remember his parents and knows nothing about them.  When an aunt who he did not know he had sends someone to take him to her for a visit, his whole life changes.  He thought his birthday had already passed, but, he was wrong.  On his thirteenth birthday, spent with his aunt, he learns that he has the power to be part of a group of knights who protect the world from monsters that they don't know about.  Does he wish to join the knights?  Why doesn't his aunt ever spend time with him?  And what is happening to the orphanage while he is away?  This is a fun to read fantasy that I am sure kids will enjoy.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Silver In The Blood by Jessica Day George

Such a great book! It is the 1890's and Lou and her cousin Dacia leave the debutante life in New York City to visit their family in Romania where a dark family secret awaits them.  Shape shifting, romance, mystery and intrigue await in this story.  Draculas, bats, wolves and mist.  High society, scandal, love and loss.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.  Totally fun read!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Left Behinds: Abe Lincoln and the Selfie that Saved the Union by David Potter

The Left Behinds: Abe Lincoln and the Selfie that Saved the Union
This is the second book in a cute series in which 3 students who had to stay at their boarding school over the holidays (thus being left behind), somehow received a time travel app on their phones (that part is probably explained in the first book), and travel through time trying to keep the bad guy (who invented the app but now wants to change history) from changing history.  In this story they go to DC and try to stop the bad guy from changing the outcome of the battle of Gettysburg.  Twelve year old Brandon tells the story of his adventures with his two classmates, Bev and Brandon.  The story is meant to be funny and to share historical facts.  I think it would appeal to children in grades 3 through 5.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Wow.   This is an excellent book.  Seventeen year old Rachel has been raised in a family that is part of a very fundamental Christian church that follows the quiverfull philosophy - one of patriarchalism and separation from most of society.  She and her 9 brothers and sisters have always been home schooled and she has been taught that she must dress modestly in order to protect men from lust.  She has never been allowed to go anywhere on her own, has never watched TV and has never been alone with a boy.  When her mother miscarries and falls into depression, which her parents don't believe in going to a doctor for, Rachel must take the lead in caring for her younger siblings.  She also helps her father with his home business by doing some of his paperwork for him on their old computer.  After hearing that Lauren, a girl who had left their community had been seen back in town, Rachel decides to look her up on the computer.  Lauren's website refers to Rachel's church as a cult and Rachel contacts Lauren.  She realizes that she does not want to marry and have lots of children right away like her older sister did and Lauren lets Rachel know that there is much more to life than that and helps Rachel to escape when her parents threaten to send her to a religious boot camp.  The book is well-written and the characters and situations are realistic.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler

This book made me cry.  It is a romance, but that is not the part that made me cry.  Everyone has something.  Their life may look fabulous from the outside, but you have no idea what is really going on.  I really can't say much more about the book without telling the whole story, so you just have to read it for yourself.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

United as One by Pittacus Lore

So this is the seventh and last book in this series.  Will John, also known as Number Four, and his Loric Garde pals and human friends and the governments of the earth be able to save the earth from the creepy and evil Setrakus Ra, leader of the Mogadorians?  If so, how many of the good guys will survive?  Action, fighting and bloodshed abound in this excellent final book to an excellent and fun to read science fiction series.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Day of The Donald: Trump Trumps America by Andrew Shaffer

This book is a silly spoof, mystery/thriller about what might happen if Donald Trump were to be elected president.  It presents Donald and the rest of the politicians as inept buffoons.  With lines like "So when people see me saying the stuff out loud that they can only scream at their TVs? I'm their hero...being an asshole and getting away with it. And if I can do it, maybe they can do it too.", it captures how many people feel about Trump and his supporters.  The story follows a reporter named Jimmie, who has been hired to ghost write for Trump after having released a scandalous Ted Cruz sex tape, losing his job, and following refugees from the US crawling under the wall into Mexico.  Jimmie soon learns about his predecessor's mysterious disappearance and uncovers all kinds of ineptitude and scandal in the White House, that Trump has painted gold.  Can Jimmie survive to tell the tale though?  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.  While the book is a silly spoof, it is not at all funny that Trump is the republican nominee for president.  That he is, is just evidence of how broken and corrupt the US political system is, and that is not a joke.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

The idea behind the book is intriguing.  Maddie's grandmother takes the family on what is essentially a death cruise - they call it "death with dignity".  It is a cruise ship for terminally ill patients and their families to have their last hurrah and last time together.  The cruise ship is called the Wishwell and several of the characters get to know one another and deal with illness and death. There is a lot of interesting travel.  Maddie and her family all seem rather superficial and spoiled and rich, but there are funny parts of the book along with sad parts, and an insta-love romance for Maddie. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.