Audrey Heil

Mar 082019

Another weekend….another bout of nasty weather.  There is nothing special on tv but you can choose the world you wish to visit by selecting the book of your dreams!


Harry and Amanda haven’t been the same since the deaths of their spouses.  Now they are on a collision course with Amanda’s fairy-tale loving daughter, Oriana, in the driver’s seat.  The first part of the novel is quite a slow examination of grief and loss; however, the last half is worthy of a fairy-tale. “Harry’s Trees” by Jon Cohen.

Rose’s mother and stepfather went out for supper one night five years ago and never came home. The police think they were killed by a professional and the case has gone stagnant.  Joshua, Rose’s stepbrother, has devoted his time to publicizing the case on social media in the hopes of learning something new. Rose doesn’t have the time for that because kids in her school, kids around her, have started to be murdered. The story is action-packed and the murder of the kids is tied up in the end. “Dead Time” by Anne Cassidy.

     Divorced parents, tense custody arrangements, new boyfriend, girlfriend, and brother….these are all stressful things but when racial hatred seeps into the school she always thought was safe, Isabella feels even more unsure. This author does a fabulous job of making all of these topics relatable. It was especially enjoyable to see the adults in the book acknowledge their mistakes and take responsibility for making better choices in the future. The teens took positive and supportive action to protect their friends. Timely topics, to be sure.  “Blended” by Sharon Draper

Brock is Phillip’s best friend. Brock’s parents call Phillip imaginary, but they just don’t know any better. They have a grand time together until Brock gets left behind at the fair.  Now, they just need to find their way back to each other. An imaginative story of friendship.  “We Forgot Brock” by Carter Goodrich.

Mar 012019

 by Marjorie Blain Parker. Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

I am flipping the order of books this week because, truly, what could be more adorable than this cover? The story inside of course! A great message and great illustrations to keep your youngest reader interested.

by Angela Dominquez

     This is a wonderful little book! Stella deals with living between two different worlds. She feels she doesn’t fit in with either her family in Mexico or her friends in the United States. In spite of the difficulties she faces, she has a loving relationship with her brother and mother and a great best friend. Her character grows in strength throughout the novel until she is able to face down her own fears and the class bully. A great book to make lives of immigrants/new citizens seem more relatable to those who haven’t had the experience.

by Kasie West

     This thoughtful, young romance looks at a teen boy being shuffled through the foster care system after losing touch with his mother and a young girl attempting to hide her anxiety disorder from her friends. Shifting expectations and building self-confidence are examined throughout the book. Quite a good read.

by Leo Tolstoy.5

If you are ever going to attempt Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”, now is the time. After all, we are in never-ending winter, so it shouldn’t be hard to imagine we are freezing along with the French and Russian soldiers.There are many things that Tolstoy does exceptionally well: write war scenes where you can feel yourself sinking into the mud while your inept commander dithers away, describe social gatherings of the glittering stars of the Russian elite, and yet describe a scene of sweet family intimacy so well you feel you are right there.
There are a couple of things he doesn’t do as well: write female characters who aren’t saints or devils and put exasperating philosophy treatises at the end of a 1200 page book. Cruel and unusual.
I would love to get Tolstoy’s take on the current political climates of the U.S. and Russia.

by Stacy McAnulty

Check out this audiobook at:

A heartfelt story which addresses many issues any middle-grader might be facing: being different, having different family structures, bullying, making and maintaining friendships, and how to be confident in one’s own skin. At times the main character bordered on being a little too precious; however, I think the author pulled off the story with great characters and solid writing. This is one of my favorites. I can see kids coming for the interesting lightning story and staying because the rest of the story is relatable.



Feb 212019

A thoughtful romance between two misfits. Light, sassy banter regarding deeper, darker subjects.  Go ahead!  Give it a chance!

Key writes this survival tale with an intensity that puts you in the shark-infested waters with the protagonists, just where you don’t want to be. It was a highly uncomfortable but very entertaining read. The only issue I had with the story was the young boy’s reaction to his father’s accident. It seemed unrealistic.

Joseph has a hard time in school. He can’t pay attention in class and the bullies love to torment him. Heather is the new girl in school, but when the bullies decide to make her a target, they may just get more than they bargained for. A wonderful story of friendship, respecting differences, and putting in the effort to achieve your dreams. Amazing adult characters and lots of humor elevate this book a notch above the rest.  **If you have kids who loved “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds, this might make a good comp!

This little book tells the tale of a sheep who just can’t get any sleep due to the other occupants of the barn.  Great pictures and lots of fun.

Feb 082019


     In Locke’s complex mystery, the reader takes a hard look at the secrets and racism endemic to an East Texas town and the repercussions on the small town population living with them. A complex weaving of past and present and the politics that keep them melded. This is so much more than the standard who “done it”. Beautiful writing and an engaging read. None of the characters are of the “too sweet” variety.

     Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel Jose Older is an urban fantasy with tight friendships and teens using their creative talents to battle heinous, power hungry demons. I rarely read sequels in this genre; however, this was well worth it.

Patina is the second book in Jason Reynold’s “track” series.  It is a small book dealing with large issues such as: the chronic illness of a mother, the death of a father, and the tumultuous period of life when fitting in sometimes means being willing to stand out. Patina is an “old soul” trying to fit in to a school where everyone seems wealthy, white, and uninterested in the things that rock Patina’s world.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson is a gorgeous picture book explaining the importance of kindness and the regrets a student has upon losing her chance to be kind to a classmate.



Jan 312019

This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm by Ted Genoways.  

All politics aside, this One Book One Nebraska selection is just what it says on the tin.  Genoways spent time planting, harvesting, and working cattle alongside one Nebraska family and details the challenges they have faced and overcome and the obstacles which remain. Additionally, the author describes the history of farming in Nebraska, the industrialization of farming, the introduction of agribusiness corporations, and the changes made in farming following the Great Depression. Anyone interested in farming or Nebraska history would enjoy this book and it would be a great book club selection.


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is a book written in verse with an almost mythical intensity. Xiomara is a teenage girl dealing with a changing body and the reactions of boys and men to those changes. Toss in family strife and disagreements regarding religion and you have a great teen book racking up awards right and left. This book has won the 2019 Michael L. Printz Award and the Odyssey Award. As evidenced by the Odyssey Award, it is great on Audio.

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech.

The author didn’t stint on the beautiful writing in this little book about a young boy caring for a sickly, newborn donkey. Louie learns how to provide the emotional and physical care the young donkey needs. There are themes of responsibility, making friends, and missing a sibling; however, they are offset by humorous writing and a sweet little donkey who will steal your heart.


Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts. 

A young boy desires a pair of shoes just like all of the cool kids in school wear; however, his family can’t afford to buy them.  He finds a pair at the local thrift shop but they are too small.  A wonderful tale of generosity, friendship, and the difficulties of fitting in when you don’t have the funds to buy the “latest thing”.


I’m Still Here. Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown.

This digital audiobook was an informative and honest look at what it means to wake up and walk out into America as a Black Woman, Mother, and Coworker.