Monday, October 16, 2017
I listened to the audio version of this book because the narrator is Lin-Manuel Miranda and I figure that I will most likely never get to see Hamilton, and this is the closest I will get. He did a fabulous job reading the book and the book is totally excellent. The book begins when Aristotle, who goes by Ari, is fifteen years old. He has no friends because he is socially awkward. Ari is obsessed with the fact that his older brother is in prison, but his parents never talk about him at all. Ari is befriended by Dante, who teaches him how to swim and who is like no one that Ari has ever met before. Throughout the span of the book, over more than a year, Ari learns quite a bit about himself, about friendship and about his family. Several touchy issues are covered, including bullying, LGBTQ issues, PTSD and more. I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
Friday, October 13, 2017
I love this excellent little picture book that combines a story about how animals and people use a stick along with lots of interesting factual information! I think this book is just fantastic and is great for preschool through middle school children! It encourages the use of imagination and shares many intriguing facts!
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Monday, October 9, 2017
In this fun middle grade novel, twelve year old Jack and his "siblings", Ava and Matt are emancipated ex-foster children who live together and are guided by a guardian. After Jack talks his sister Ava into flying her homemade drone over a mysterious building, they become partners with an eccentric inventor, Dr. Hank Witherspoon, who takes them with him on a trip to Antarctica for a science competition. This book has mystery, science and cool kids! I think that middle grade readers will enjoy it very much.
Friday, October 6, 2017
Beatrice is spunky and does everything her own way, which is usually a bit different. She does her best thinking upside down, and is excited about going to school on the first day of third grade in a ninja outfit. Her best friend, Lenny is also supposed to be wearing her ninja outfit, but instead Lenny has changed. She is taller and wearing a skirt and has a new friend who just moved to the neighborhood. Beatrice has to learn how to include the new girl, Chloe and embrace Lenny's changes while still being her own, adventurous self. This early chapter book has cute illustrations and I think that children in grades 1-4 will enjoy this book.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Monday, October 2, 2017
Eleven year old Brittany lives in a very broken family. Her cruel stepfather is physically and emotionally abusive, her grandmother who lives with them is very ill, she often goes hungry and she lives in inner city Chicago where most families have many similarly stressful circumstances. She is helped by her optimistic 5th grade teacher, her best friend and her neighbors. Brittany decides to come up with a plan to get away from her stepfather and when she finds a birthday card to her grandmother in the mail from her grandmother's brother, she sets out to investigate a way to contact him. This story is very sad and full of very unfortunate circumstances. It is touching and well written and I think that middle grade and above students and adults will benefit from reading this book.
Twelve year old Tessa has moved to Chicago with her family, leaving her best friend and her beloved state of Florida. The first thing that she finds out is that her new house is haunted! Flickering lights, mysterious drawings, the sound of a child crying and her brother's creepy puppet talking to her have Tessa totally freaked out, but her new friends not only believe her, but are willing to help her solve the mystery and find out which ghost is haunting her house and why. This is a great Halloween month read for middle grade kids!
Saturday, September 30, 2017
This is a short, fun to read book about April, a 5th grader, who is a witch. In this, the third book in the series, she has to stop a bad witch from causing her school to overheat and birds to attack the students. She has help from the ghost of a good witch and two of her friends. I think that elementary school children will enjoy this book!
Monday, September 25, 2017
What if you knew that you would die today? Would you live your life differently? What would you do? In this book, a mysterious company called Death-Cast calls people between midnight and three a.m. on their last day to give them a heads up. There are businesses that cater to the Deckers - those people who will die that day, including some with virtual reality experiences, and the Last Friend app where you can find someone to spend your final day with. It is Mateo and Rufus's last day and they find one another through the Last Friend app. We follow them and others through the day and see how various people react to their last day or to the last day of others. Can your last day be different than the rest of your life? Can you find a true friend through the Last Friend app? I read this whole book in one day and I highly recommend it.
This is a fun YA paranormal mystery with a bit of romance. Seventeen year old Kat, who has been able to see ghosts all of her life, but has been ignoring them for years, is drawn into a family curse mystery that she and her friends and others have to solve. Can they break the curse before another family member dies? In order to do so, she must travel through time, but is that enough? With time travel, ghosts, secret passages, and more, this is a fun book to read and I look forward to the next one in the series!
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
So, this novel is a psychological thriller in which a teen girl appears to be possessed very much like the girl in the exorcist movie and so her family, because the father has been out of work for over a year, and for other reasons, decides to be on a reality tv show based on the girl's possession/psychological problems, which is to culminate in the exorcism of her "demons". The story is told by Merry, the younger sister of the possessed teen, Marjorie, in a series of interviews and blog entries given 15 years later. Merry had been 8 years old at the time of the incident and we see the whole thing through both her 8 year old point of view and her older self's point of view. The story is captivating and contains plot twists and surprises.
Monday, September 18, 2017
This is a captivating new YA book. Just when fifteen year old Nikka's mom is struggling financially, Nikka is accepted into a prestigious boarding school that she has never heard of. She is an artist, but the school also includes musicians, math whizzes and other talented teens. Nikka makes friends with several students and they realize that there are things about the boarding school that are not right. Can they solve the mystery and survive? This is the first book in a series and I look forward to the next book.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
When Katie's drug addict father is put into a mental institute after ranting about 9/11 conspiracies, threatening Vice President Dick Cheney and beating up a co-worker, Katie begins to research the 9/11 conspiracies in order to help get her father out of the mental institute. She is aided by a 17 year old boy genius who she meets at the law library where she is doing research. The more she learns about the Truthers, the conspiracy theorists, the more plausible some of their theories sound. Katie, however, is in danger and is not sure who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. I found it interesting that the book ties the belief in conspiracy theories in with PTSD. The story is captivating and intriguing.
Friday, September 15, 2017
This lovely book retells 7 classic fairy tales in a slightly quirkier way than before. The stories included are: Snow White, The Frog Prince, Three Wishes, Toads and Pearls, Red Riding Hood, The Three Great Noodles, and Hansel And Gretel. I think that children in 2nd through 6th grade will enjoy reading the stories!
This summer beach read book is told mainly by three of the characters: Bonny, an ER doctor who made a tragic error at work and who has decided to divorce her husband; Piper, her 19 year old daughter who has been getting into trouble in college; and Lainey, Bonny's best friend since they spent childhood summers together at in a beach town. They go to stay at a house that was left to Bonny and work through problems from their past and present.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
This is a fascinating memoir told by Michelle, who taught middle school English in a school for kids who had been kicked out of the regular schools for various reasons. Michelle learned how to connect with her students through literature though not the way she had originally thought she would. She went on to law school in order to better make a difference in the world and learned that one of her former students, Patrick, was in jail for murder. She visited him in jail and taught him there as well. The story highlights the poverty that still exists in the deep south and the way that black people are treated there and what their lives are like. She sees how just a little bit of care and effort on her part brought out Patrick's intelligence and helped him to grow and see the world differently. I think the book is eye opening and I highly recommend it.
This book reads like a memoir told by Rick, the son of a white doctor growing up in the 1950s during the civil rights era. Georgey, the family's black housekeeper, takes Rick to her neighborhood where he makes friends with the children there. As a result, Rick lives in two worlds, the white, racist world of his high school and the black neighborhood where his best friend lives. We see through his eyes the difference in the two cultures and the behind the scenes fight to bring them together in equality. The story is well told and intriguing.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
This is a cute, silly book about Clarissa, who could not sleep, so she counted sheep by ones, alpacas by twos, llamas by fives and yaks by tens. The yaks had coats of many colors including argyle and fair isle. At that point, her bedroom was too full of animals so she added, then subtracted the number of animals, wound all of their yarn into a colorful ball and knit an afghan. I like that there is a lot of math in this book. I think that moms who knit will enjoy sharing it with their children!
Sunday, August 20, 2017
When tv crime reporter Eve Singer gets inside information about a murder, it is good for her career, but she and her family also become a target of the murderer. The story is gripping and hard to put down as we follow Eve and the police in their attempt to find and stop the killer. In order to stop a killer, you may need to think like the killer. Can Eve do that?
Friday, August 11, 2017
To be honest, I have not seen the movie Precious or the show Empire. I had heard about Precious when the movie came out, but that is all. I actually knew nothing about Gabourey when I chose to read her book. I am impressed though. She wrote a very interesting story about her life before she became famous and what it was like to be famous, but still poor when her movie first came out. She wrote about her struggle with her weight and depression and her recent weight loss surgery. The story is intriguing and well written and I highly recommend it.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
In this second book in the series, Danielle, as Dreadnaought, has learned that there is a lot of politics and paperwork and dealing with authority when you are a superhero who is not yet an adult. A new supervillain who calls himself Sovereign has appeared and it is up to Danny to stop him. She fights evil and her own demons as well.
Thursday, August 3, 2017
On Gabrielle's thirteenth birthday, she walks into town into an antique store that she feels mysteriously drawn to. When she goes inside, she doesn't see anyone until after she finds a silver bracelet inside of a drawer in a piece of furniture. She then meets the store's mysterious owner, who gives her the bracelet as a gift. She soon finds out that the bracelet allows her to experience the lives of it's various owners as if she, herself were those people. The story is rather dark, and intriguing.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
In this young adult paranormal romance, Marielle runs a plant nursery with her grandfather. When her grandfather passes away, she is left with his will and a stone that he has told her houses a Jinn who will grant her three wishes. Faris, the Jinn is a handsome 19 year old, but they learn that his evil twin brother Zet is out to get him - through Marielle. Her grandfather had told her not to trust the Jinn, but she finds herself falling in love with him. I think that people who are fans of the Twilight series may enjoy this book.
Monday, July 31, 2017
In this apocalyptic novel, Emily's father works on a "machine" that controls the weather. When the machine messes up spewing out poisonous gasses, the world in plunged into an acopalypse.
The poisonous fog eats away at metal and masonry dissolving buildings as well as people. Emily is one of the few survivors. She and her younger brother get to the shopping mall where they join a group of survivors that includes Peter, who had been a few grades above her in high school. Can they survive in the world the way it has become? Is it ok for Emily to feel the way she does about Peter as the world collapses around them?
eleven year old
who is deaf,
befriends her elderly neighbor,
Saturday, July 29, 2017
In this fun to read first book in a new adventure series, eleven year olds Sebastian and Evie have their worlds drawn together when he takes a job at The Explorers Society and she has to escape from the home where she is eating dinner when it is attacked. Sebastian is a very intelligent, logical boy and Evie is an orphan who is living at a state school since her parents passed away two years before. Together, they search for clues to find Evie's grandfather, who she had never met and though was dead, but who had been a past member of the Explorers Society. The book is totally fun and silly and magical and adventurous as the kids escape from the bad guys repeatedly in their search. I highly recommend this fun new book and I look forward to the next ones!
Friday, July 28, 2017
This is a cute, fun sequel to the first book. It is two years later and the teens who had developed the power to read minds after taking the flu shot are now seniors in high school. Two of them star in a reality TV show, and Pi is planning to use her psychic powers to be a spy. What will happen as they begin to lose their power to read minds? How will that affect their lives and their plans? Can their experiment to save their powers work? There is romance, mystery and lots of gossip in this fun to read book.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
After the death of his father, Daniel chose not to finish high school, but rather to travel around trying to find a department store that he once visited with his mother. When he takes a job as the night security guard at Willard's department store, he is asked if he believes in ghosts. It seems that most night guards don't last long there. Daniel, however is different and he makes friends with the other people who also work nights at Willard's. He soon learns that things are not as they seem and there is quite a mystery afoot.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
The story in this book, about a young man named Arturo is just a backdrop for the author to explain the political situation on the Texas/Mexico border. He uses his main character, who lives in abject poverty and has an old friend who becomes involved in the drug trade to explain the drug trade. The main character's mother worked for a maquiladora, a Mexican sweatshop owned by Americans,which is explained in the book as well. The story of Arturo is the story of many poor people in Mexico whose lives are ruled by those who have money and power. The book is quite political.
This book attempts to explain what the alt-right is and what it is not. It is a white nationalist movement that is an online phenomenon. Just as the KKK members hide their heads under their white hoods, many of the alt-right members hide their identities while online. The movement is diverse and does not have a leader or cohesive ideology that all of its followers would agree upon. It is a reactionary movement against the staid conservatives that uses humor to attract young people and to hide their hatred. They are antifeminist as well as being white supremacists and while many of them are anti-Semetic, there are some who are not. The book looks at several individuals who are involved in the movement and its impact on the last election and what its future may be.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
If you like the latter Xanth novels, which have more of the adult conspiracy included, you will enjoy these punny stories as well. Some of the characters in these books overlap beginning with Kandy who is enchanted to become a board by day accompanying Ease and several others on a quest to save the puns of Xanth in the story Board Stiff. Then, in Five Portraits, Astrid basilisk and the Demon Fornax lead the questors as they try to get children from the future adopted. In Isis Orb, Hapless attracts women, as the Good Magician has foretold that he will have two or three good girlfriends and one bad one. They are all trying to find the Isis Orb in order to grant their wishes. The books are full of puns and fun to read.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Wow. This book is just amazing. When legendary actress Evelyn Hugo asks unknown magazine writer Monique to write her life story, Monique knows something is up. Why her? Why now? However, it is an opportunity that Monique can't pass up and learning Evelyn's story changes Monique's life. Hollywood, romance, intrigue, and mystery abound in this well-told fascinating story! I highly recommend it!
Friday, July 7, 2017
Castle, who likes to go by the name Ghost, has had a rough life and lives on the wrong side of town. When he sees a track team practicing, he knows that he can run faster than that. The coach recruits him to the team and we see how that makes a big difference in his life. I like how the coach, who comes from a similar background cares for Ghost in a tough, yet loving way. This is an excellent book!
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
This is a humorous memoir of how the author worked through her issues with clutter. As the book began, she had read Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I have also read, and quite frankly, a lot of that book is very weird. I did stop balling up my socks after reading her book, but not because they can't rest that way, I just think it helps the elastic last longer and I don't thank my inanimate objects for their service or empty my purse nightly so it can rest. Kondo's book is popular, but people are either ignoring that stuff or they are all weird and I am not. Anyway, as a result, Eve, the author of this book, decided to clean out her "hell room", a large room in her house filled with clutter. As the book goes on she visited the home of a deceased hoarder and wondered if she had hoarding tendencies. The book is funny and fun to read and it inspired me to get rid of more of my clutter - I will have a bag of stuff picked up tomorrow. Like Eve, I still have things I need to work on - I had a difficult time finding an important piece of paperwork this morning - so I will continue working on making things neater and keeping less unimportant items.
Friday, June 30, 2017
In this book, it is 1956 and Hitler won the war. Yael is a former death camp prisoner who had been experimented on by a doctor. The painful experiments left her different and allowed her to escape. Now she is 17 years old and part of the resistance that is trying to take down the Axis powers. Yael's job is to race in a motorcycle race called the Axis tour and win so that she can get close enough to Hitler to kill him. Throughout the book, she recalls the 5 most important people in her past as she races to win and achieve her goal. Yael is impersonating last year's winner, Adele Wolfe, a task made much more difficult by the unexpected presence of Adele's twin brother, Felix, and Adele's relationship with one of her rival racer's, Luka. This is the first book in an action-packed and intriguing new series.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
This is a very short middle grade book about acceptance. When Evelyn starts 5th grade, there is a new boy in class whose name is Queen. Although two boys make fun of him, Queen doesn't let that bother him. Evelyn and Queen become friends and she learns a bit about friendship, bullying, being different and accepting people who are different. I think that this book would be good for elementary and middle school students, especially those who are reluctant readers because this is a very short book.
Monday, June 26, 2017
The War on Women in Israel: How Religious Radicalism Is Smothering the Voice of a Nation by Elana Maryles Sztokman
This book is not only about Israel, although on the surface it may seem that way. It is about misogynistic religious radicalism. This religious extremism is found not only in Judaism, and Islam, but also in Christianity and it is threatening women in the USA. Sexism carried out in the name of God is wrong no matter which God one is carrying it out in. This book exposes some serious issues that Israel has faced from women being stoned and hit and yelled at and spit at by men for sitting in a seat in the front of a bus, walking on the "men's side" of the street, how they dress and where they pray. Women in Israel are discriminated against in a huge variety of ways that I was not aware of and it is sad. In some ways, these issues are beginning to change for the better, but it still has a long way to go, both in Israel and in the rest of the world. Far too many people are using the name of religion to persecute women. Sadly, this war on women is increasing in the USA and we need to speak out against it.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Dr. McCoy, a psychotherapist tells how two different pet cats that she owned were able to help her patients open up in therapy and resolve their issues. The two cats were friendly and aware of conflict and jumped in as peacemakers and when patients were upset, the cats comforted them. I love cats and I enjoyed reading about the various personalities of the author's cats and how they were able to help her patients. I think that cat lovers will enjoy this book!
Friday, June 23, 2017
This is such a relevant, realistic and necessary story right now. When 16 year old Starr leaves a party with her friend, Khalil, he is pulled over by a policeman and is shot. She is the only witness to the murder. Should she testify? If she does, will it make any difference? This is an incredible story and will be out as a movie in the future. I highly recommend it.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
This book is a compilation of short stories set mostly in Israel, with some in Canada and India. Most of the characters are Israelis of of Yemeni descent, which is the author's background. It gives a good picture of what it is like to live in Israel, be in the Israeli military and more.
This book is written for children ages 8 and up. It is illustrated and has little quizzes that have questions to help guide the reader through different scenarios. It is set in Canada and refers to Canadian laws in a few places. I think it is a good, clear explanatory book about gender for tweens and teens.
This story is told mostly by 12 year old Ethan, who is fascinated by science and is bullied at school because of that. His mother, Claire also tells parts of the story and his father, Mark, who Ethan had never met because Mark left when Ethan was 4 months old, also tells part of the story. I enjoyed the science in the book. When Ethan finds out that his parents have been in contact with one another he is determined to meet his father. The story was sadder than I thought it would be. It is well written and captivating and I highly recommend it.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
This book is part of a series. I have not read the other books. In this book, police detective Louise Rick is the new commander of the Missing Persons Department in a town in Denmark. On her first day on the job, a corpse is found in the woods. Louise and her new partner, Eik, learn that the deceased woman had been in a home for retarded people and that she and her twin sister had been declared dead many years ago. Since Lisemette just died, they realize that her twin sister may still be alive. As they investigate the case, they become romantically involved and we learn that there are links to Louise's deceased boyfriend from over 20 years ago. I think that readers of the series will enjoy this book.
Friday, June 16, 2017
I listened to the audio version of this book and it was very well done! The story is compelling and realistic. Kamran is a senior in high school and plans to go to West Point and then into the army like his older brother Darius did. After Darius is accused of being a terrorist and is seen on film with terrorists, Kamran and his parents are kidnapped by the US government and taken to a secret facility and interrogated - for months. Kamran is sure that Darius is not a terrorist and is being held captive against his will. He sees clues in the films that Darius shares that no one but Kamran would understand. Can he convince the government that his brother is not a terrorist and can he help stop the terrorist plot before it is too late? This book won the Texas Lone Star Book award and it is totally excellent!
Thursday, June 15, 2017
This second book in the trilogy follows Em, a friend of Phoebe who was the main character in the first book. Em is in theater and has entered a speech contest in order to win a college scholarship. Her parents want her to go to the college where her mother works, and since her father just got laid off from his job, that is her only current option. She, however wants to go to a college with a good theater department, and will only be able to do that with a scholarship. She wins the contest and gets to spend a week in Boston with the other winners practicing for the final round. Unfortunately, the male winner from her state is Kris, a stuck up boy from her school whom she despises. There is friendship, lots of drama and romance in this fun to read teen romance novel.
Monday, June 12, 2017
This is a cute, fun to read story about Liv, who begins 6th grade in a new school with a dress code that all girls must wear skirts. She doesn't want to wear a skirt because she doesn't feel like she is a girl, but she hasn't told her moms that or anyone at all. As she navigates the school year, she makes friends with a boy named Jacob and together they fight for the right for girls to wear pants to school and learn to accept themselves as they are. The book addresses bullying, having two moms, transgender and other issues in a well written way. I think that kids will enjoy this book.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
This is not the Disney Aladdin story. In this version, the jinni, Zhara, is a beautiful and dangerous woman jinni. There is action, romance and magic in this fun story! I listened to most of it in the audio version and the woman who reads the audio version has a lovely voice and I totally enjoyed listening to her. This book won the Texas Lone Star award for 2017 and is an excellent book.
Friday, June 9, 2017
In this creepy gothic ghost story/mystery, Eleanor has been drawn to Cliffside, an artist's retreat that used to be a TB sanatorium. She is given the job of director and on her first day there, the current director commits suicide. When the fellows come for the next session, she learns that they all have some sort of connection to the sanatorium, which Eleanor feels may be haunted. There is mystery, romance, and a lot of creepiness in this fun to read novel.
Monday, June 5, 2017
This is a totally fun book to read! When prankster senior citizen Rosie submits the names of her five best friends who live with her at a Catholic retirement home to a mail order bride ad as a joke, she has no idea what they are in for. The 6 women, along with a younger woman who worked for the retirement home, are abducted by aliens and three years later, three of the older women return, looking 30 years younger and very pregnant. The resulting story is just hilarious although it does give a rather sad, but true view of humanity. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it!