Aug 012019
 

Hindley and Bates make for a winning partnership in “Do Like a Duck Does”!  This is one mama you don’t want to mess with…..

Another mama you don’t mess with is mine.  When she told me to read this book, she didn’t have to twist my arm too hard as I have read and loved other books by Kate DiCamillo including her Mercy Watson series and Raymie Nightingale.  It lived up to its billing!  Great characters, good plot and writing and a wonderful dog. Who could ask for more?

 (technically 3.5)

I had to read this book before school started again as it has been recommended to me by so many reluctant readers.  Simple and direct writing make this adventure story accessible and the character has grit, determination, and common sense to spare.  I did get a little tired of “the secret” which the author never developed but kept dropping into the middle of whatever life and death situation was occurring.

Marisa de los Santos is usually a sure bet but this book fell a little flat. The characters didn’t feel believable and the story faltered a bit…

Because no Summer is complete without a gigantic goal, this is my buddy read…..have mercy about covers it.

Jul 242019
 

 

Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell historical series is all good fun!  If you are looking for something frothy to read this Summer, look no further. It has mystery, romance, and sparkling wit. This is the fourth book in the series.  It is set on an island where superstitions abound about Mermaids and smugglers.

While Raybourn’s novel winks at the reader as she describes the islanders’ beliefs in Merfolk, this novel by Shea Ernshaw gives the “mermaids” a sinister turn. Many, many years ago, three sisters were hung as witches in this little village by the sea. Each year since that time, the three sisters come back, take over the bodies of three teenage girls, and lure young village boys to their deaths. The writing is good but the story was predictable and suffered a bit at the end.

There were no mermaids in this middle-grade novel. There were escaped prisoners. An imaginative use of letters, texts, and comic strips to illustrate the state of a small town before, during, and after a prison escape helped hold my attention. However, it felt as if the author decided to get a specific message across and built her story around that message instead of vice versa.  In this case, racism is prevalent and bad became a cudgel to drive home the point when it might have been better to “show” instead of “tell” all of the time.

Tara Lazar, Author, and Ross MacDonald, Illustrator, struck comic gold with this little book. What a fun way to present numbers! Private I looks into the disappearance of 9 after rumors abound that 7 ate 9. I will recommend this to several of our teachers.

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Ayaz Virji is a young doctor who moved his family to rural Minnesota to provide care to the community. However, after the election of 2016, he felt betrayed and concerned for the safety of his family.  Encouraged by a local Lutheran Minister to speak publically about what it is to be Muslim, Virji made several appearances to talk with concerned citizens; however, this often left him more discouraged. This was an enlightening audiobook.

 

Jul 152019
 

If you enjoyed Enger’s writing in “Peace Like a River”, you will enjoy “Virgil Wander”.  The characters and the writing are the point. The plot is vague and ebbs and flows without a complete resolution. Enger likes to add a touch of magical realism to his almost fairy-tale like stories.

 

High octane action and imagination to spare as the Author pulls from current day issues to set the stage for her apocalyptic mayhem. Great fun.

I am always leery of “funny” books because I rarely find them to be as hilarious as everyone else. However, this one lived up to the billing.  When a group of unteachable kids meet up with a burned out, ready for retirement teacher, sparks fly.  Sweet and just wonderful.

The illustrations are charming and the story is just fabulous. Pick it up…no matter your age.

Jun 212019
 

When a young woman moves into a new neighborhood, her kleptomaniac cat decides to “fix” the lonely people in the community while he simultaneously tortures the neighbor’s dog. This is a cute, light story that is perfect for a palate cleanser between heavier books. If you love cats, you should definitely check this one out.

Jessie’s mother died when she was fourteen-years-old. Now she is sixteen and starting a new school after her father eloped and drug her across the country to sunny L.A. where every girl seems to be blond, skinny, and rich.  All of the things that Jessie is not. Soon after her arrival, Jessie receives an e-mail from an anonymous source offering to give her all the info she needs to survive her junior year. I have been surprised at just how many teen books deal with grief in a very realistic, compassionate way. This book does a great job of describing the loneliness of grief and dislocation. There is also quite a bit about sexuality.

When Jilly’s sister is born deaf, she attempts to find out more about being deaf from an on-line friend. Her friend is not always nice or patient with her questions. I found this book to be realistic in the responses of frustration from the oft questioned acquaintance. There are a lot of serious issues discussed in this book. There is also a police shooting.  I think the issues were covered in a sensitive way.

If you haven’t hopped on the “Pete the Cat” train, you need to get your groove on!  This groovy cat thinks life is “all right”.  Kids love Pete.

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Albright was the first female Secretary of State under President Clinton. She was also a refuge as a child fleeing to the United States from the Nazis. This was a deep dive into various fascist regimes in the past and her concerns for the future. Check it out on audio on Libby!

 

Jun 062019
 

Summer is the perfect time for romance and nobody does romance quite like Lisa Kleypas. I’m giving this book from the Travis’ of Texas series a backlist bump. Horrid mothers, wounded sisters, an abandoned babe, and a smoking hot Texan make for a quick read.

When Amelia is mistakenly given her late sister Clara’s letter to open at the beginning of the school year, she is filled with turmoil.  She decides to reach the goals Clara had set for herself. But Amelia and Clara were always very different. This little book is a great insight into how grief ostracizes people from each other at the time they need each other the most.

Calpurnia Tate is a feisty young girl determined to take care of her father’s hunting dog in this quick little tale. Unfortunately, this particular dog can’t seem to get it through his head that porcupines are not his friend. Set in the early 1900s, this is a fun historical fiction.  The vocabulary is easy and the story is imaginative.

Life was good until the cat moved in next door. Isn’t that just the way it always works?  A beautifully illustrated book for young readers, “Plenty of Love to go Around” shows exactly how the cat manages to find his way into this cantankerous dog’s heart.

 

May 312019
 

Whether you like fantasy, mystery, or literary fiction, there is something on this list for you to enjoy!

Hank likes to be alone and is quite rude to anyone who steps into his yard. However, when someone tells him that “Nobody Hugs a Cactus” he begins to see how lonely his life is. This is an adorable story and a great read aloud!

An imaginative fantasy novel where the humans are the bad guys.  It is a well-written adventure/quest story.  Grief, danger, loyalty, and betrayal all make an appearance as well as a decent amount of humor to keep things from getting too dark. If you hate cliffhangers, you might want to wait for the rest of the series.  However, for kids who love Erin Hunter’s Warrior series, this is a good comp.

Karen McManus, author of “One of us is Lying”, returns with a second teen mystery.  In this one, teen homecoming queens go missing in this small town never to return. As they investigate the dysfunctional families around them looking for a killer, they aren’t aware of all of the secrets this small town harbors. While the writing and plot is good, it doesn’t have the same “soapy fun” feeling of the first book.

Our book club book this week was a backlist title and inspiration for one of my favorite movies. If you like Southern fiction or fiction about small town life, this is a good pick.  There were plenty of issues to discuss! The only downside to this novel was the daunting number of characters.

May 242019
 

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Doris Kearns Goodwin makes American history interesting and easily consumable in this book covering the turbulent events faced by Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Online life and reality collide in this teen romance.  It is quirky and humorous but don’t mistake it for a lightweight.  This book deals with some serious topics.

“The Art of Swap” is a fun revisit of the “Freaky Friday” trope. Two girls, one in 1905 and one in the present day, find themselves “swapped”.  There is a steep learning curve as Maggie (1905) is introduced to TV, pizza delivery, and cell phones and Hannah (present) is introduced to a more restrictive social order. This novel took on a lot as the girls attempt to solve an art heist and introduce women’s suffrage.

Life is hard when you get hungry and accidentally eat your best friend. This very simple children’s book is just what you need at the end of a hard day. Heck, you could even share it with the kids should you so decide.

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This translated novel is all the rage right now on book tube. If you like quirky, unusual characters with a dark, satire-like storyline.  This is the book for you. I consumed this as an audiobook on the free libby app and so can you!

 

 

May 172019
 

What started out as a beautiful sunny day has become a windy, cool, rainy mess. So glad I walked to work today!  The rest of you, I am sure, were much smarter. In honor of that, treat yourself to some wonderful reads!

A beautifully evocative novel of the marshlands and a young, isolated girl trying to find her way. There is an intriguing mystery but the beauty of the book lies in the atmospheric land and the wonderful characters.

Ms. Owens is a nonfiction writer and zoologist too, I believe. I look forward to checking out more of her writing.

    

A soapy, angsty, intense teen murder mystery. It was wonderful. Teens and adults alike will find something to love in this novel.

Boys will be boys. B.J. and Caleb are led into adventure and trouble by the new kid in the neighborhood. An interesting story about how charisma can lead even the most careful astray and the value of true friendship.

Always being the “good egg” can be stressful. Sometimes you just have to accept those around you as they are and move on!  This was an adorable picture book.

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An insightful look at the pitfalls in middle-grade friendship. While Grace is furious with Ellie, her ex-best friend, she also realizes when she herself is being mean. Hank, a new friend and someone outside the relationship, is kind about pointing out how some of the schemes could backfire without being a judgmental jerk. I really appreciated the thoughtful resolution. This was a great audio book!
May 032019
 

   

“The Lost For Words Bookshop” by Stephanie Butland is a bookstore lover’s dream of a book. The bookshop is a safe haven for Loveday Cardew who prefers to live in the pages of books. Hiding from a traumatic childhood event and a recent ugly relationship, Loveday allows only people who work in the bookshop with her to penetrate her shell. When her past and present troubles collide to jeopardize her very life, Loveday will find out who her true friends are.  A lovely book with some very serious topics. TW: Domestic Violence

Rebecca Roanhorse weaves Navajo legends and myths into her post-apocalytic novel.  The Navajo people built a wall around their lands to protect them after the chaos of the Big Waters flooded much of what was the United States. They didn’t realize the cataclysmic event had also loosed some monsters of legend and there are few who will be able to take down these monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a monster-hunter. One who doesn’t need a partner…until she does. An action-packed fantasy with some dark threads.

Stubby is a fellow soldier and mascot for his fellow doughboys in World War I. There is a lot of history packed into this easy read. Disguised as an “animal book”, Calkhoven does a great job explaining the conflict and the chemical warfare prevalent during this time without getting bogged down in the horrors of war.

I had another book and craft laid out for Storytime this week.  Then I saw this little treasure and what can I say?  Who can resist dragons? Especially stuffed-up dragons who refuse to cover their sneezes!  It was a hit with the Storytime group!

 

 

 

Apr 252019
 

Yes, I know. I am the last person on Earth to read a Jodi Picoult novel.  In my defense, they are so hyped and popular I don’t feel they need any help finding readers. Picoult is noted for choosing highly politicized topics to write about and “My Sister’s Keeper” is no different. She is a master at enabling her readers to see both sides of an issue. However, the ending seemed highly unlikely.

“The Lost Girl of Astor Street” by Stephanie Morrill is a wonderful historical fiction novel set in 1920s Chicago. Crime is rampant when Piper’s best friend goes missing. Piper’s father has defended criminals before but Piper’s awareness of these ties is minimal. Piper is a strong and relatable protagonist. This is an engaging mystery with some light romance.

Another true confession: I had never read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr. A very short novel perfect for the 3-4 grader in your life to explain the bombing of Japan during WWII and its aftermath. A very touching read.

Matt Pena and Christian Robinson team up to make a beautiful picture book in “Carmela: Full of Wishes”. A young girl accompanies her big brother to work and stumbles across a dandelion. Just as she is getting ready to blow the dandelion fluff away, her brother tells her she must make a wish. This is an enchanting look into Carmela’s life.

Christina Uss’s “The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle” is a great little audiobook. It is perfect for a diversion while you are washing dishes or weeding gardens. A humorous, coming-of-age story incorporated into a travelogue. Summer is the perfect time to try out the free Libby/Overdrive digital audiobook system. https://meet.libbyapp.com/