Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review: Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics

Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics by Jason Porath
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book rocks. Seriously. So many infamous women who caused trouble and kicked ass. Love the informal writing style, and I think it's hilarious that the author/blogger used a rating scale of 1-5 for maturity and even included trigger warnings so readers could skip over some if warranted. I, of course, immediately read the ones labeled like a R-rated movie!

This is published adult, but could easily be purchased for a high school library. I wish I had found this last year because I would have written about it for SLJ Adult Books 4 Teens.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: Another Brooklyn

Another Brooklyn Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautiful! But there was almost nothing on the third disk of the audiobook. At first I thought that Harper Audio messed up--where was the rest of the book? How can it end that way? I want to know MORE about Syvia, Angela, Gigi, and August! So I was disappointed that the book was so short. I wanted to spend more time in this Brooklyn, even if there were creepy child molesters and heroin addicts lurking in every stairwell.

Woodson developed the setting perfectly--I felt like I knew what Brooklyn was like during the summer the lights went out, and what it felt like to walk down the streets, and to peer out of painted-closed windows.

Selfish me--I'm hoping for a return to this world by Woodson. Probably not going to happen, but I can hope. I want to know more about the close friendships and the events that made them drift apart. That's seriously the only thing that kept me from five-star loving this audiobook--I wanted more than a novella.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review: The Crossing Places

The Crossing Places The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Other readers freaked about this author's use of the present tense in this first of a mystery series, but I didn't mind it all! Yes, Ruth is a tad stereotypical--40ish, single, overweight English forensic anthropologist, but I enjoyed her off-the-cuff remarks and confusing situations. She's not the best at common sense decisions, even if she's a bone expert. I'll add Book #2 to my To Read list for the next time I need a quick British mystery with a female-lead.

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Review: The Crossing Places

The Crossing Places The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Other readers freaked about this author's use of the present tense in this first of a mystery series, but I didn't mind it all! Yes, Ruth is a tad stereotypical--40ish, single, overweight English forensic anthropologist, but I enjoyed her off-the-cuff remarks and confusing situations. She's not the best at common sense decisions, even if she's a bone expert. I'll add Book #2 to my To Read list for the next time I need a quick British mystery with a female-lead.

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Review: Anna and the Swallow Man

Anna and the Swallow Man Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I know this won the Odyssey, but I was bored silly after an hour of listening. Yes, the narration was good, but he was also making me sleepy on this sunny afternoon! My mind kept wandering and I kept having to rewind, and that's never a good sign for me when I'm listening to an audiobook. Literary, yes, but my 6th grade self would have hated this book.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Review: Scythe

Scythe Scythe by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this might be Shusterman's best yet, and he's written some good ones like Unwind and The Schwa Was Here. I'm looking forward to the sequel since this is the first of a trilogy. I'm impressed that it won a Printz honor for literary-goodness, but this futuristic perfect world had some unexpected twists and turns that surprised me. There are some sophisticated comments and ideas for teens who get those, and yet it has enough action for kids who don't understand the higher level thinking portions. In this perfect world, population control has to be performed by scythes, since there is no disease or natural death. Two teens become apprenticed to Scythe Faraday, and their training and education is a whirlwind of surprises, heartache, scheming, and, of course, saving the world. Give to teens who like adventure, scifi, dystopia, horror, action, and, well, just about anything.

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Review: Killing Floor

Killing Floor Killing Floor by Lee Child
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Eh, I'll pass on this series. It's very commercial, and I understand why it's made tons of money for Lee Child and Tom Cruise, but the narrator said "cocked and locked" about Reacher's handgun one too many times for me. Lots of action, cheesy dialogue, and unreal events--perfect for a Hollywood blockbuster! (And for my dad)

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: This Land Is Our Land: A History of American Immigration

This Land Is Our Land: A History of American Immigration This Land Is Our Land: A History of American Immigration by Linda Barrett Osborne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Why did I read this? So I can sound half-way intelligent when I'm arguing with someone who wants to build a stupid wall or keep people from coming into my country because of their religion or skin color. This book is so freaking relevant.

From Chapter 1: "But if immigrants continue to live in their own communities and speak their own language, they make some Americans uncomfortable." and "Germans (many settled on farms in the Midwest) also drew criticism for being un-American because they wanted to keep speaking German, send their children to German-language schools, and develop German-language newspapers--in other words, to keep their own culture."

Substitute Muslim for Catholic and Arab for German in Chapter 1 and you have what many people who live around me believe right now. People now don't understand how the Irish or Germans were bullied and discriminated against, because they only see that their entire communities have been built on the backs of those immigrants.

I had a wtf moment in Chapter 3: "It wasn't until the 1940s that Asians from some countries were allowed to become citizens. Finally, in 1952, an immigration and naturalization law removed the barriers to all Asians gaining American citizenship." Seriously? Why did I never learn about THIS in high school or as I studied for my history minor in college????

From Chapter 6: "In 2011, more suspected terrorists were caught trying to enter the United States through Canada than through Mexico, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency."

I feel like I'm a better person because I read this book--I hadn't heard of many of these previous acts by our presidents and governments, and, wow, did we make a lot of mistakes. Sad to think that we haven't learned much from them. These are the conversations we should be having in our classrooms. Civics. Bring it back, please.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Review: The Silent Songbird

The Silent Songbird The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoyed The Golden Braid so I wanted to give another one of these historical Christian novels a try. But, whoa, this one didn't suit me. I believe the 12-year-old me would have loved it, but the 41-year-old me rolled my eyes a lot at the cheesy dialogue and predictable plot.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a lovely read! So glad this won the Newbery--it's one of the best fantasies I've read in a long time! And I think teens and adults will love it, too. Like all fantasies, parts of the book are familiar--quests, witches, dragons, bad authority figures--but Barnhill combines it all with grace and humor and tons of magic.

I did think that Gherland was going to be redeemed at the end--didn't the book hint at it? I was hoping for forgiveness.....

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Review: The Sins of the Father

The Sins of the Father The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really felt like I listened to the second half of Book #1 of this series--it even ended with a cliffhanger! I feel like I know Harry Clifton pretty well by the end of this Book #2, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with him in the next few books! He fights for America during World War II in this volume, while the mother of his child is stuck in America during the war away from their child in England. But will or won't Harry Clifton renounce the title and legacy due him as the illegitimate son of Lord Barrington? Evidently I have to read the next book in the series to find out....

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II

Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II by Martin W. Sandler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been on a children's and YA nonfiction kick lately, thanks to the the newest awarding of the latest Sibert and YALSA Nonfiction award books. This one is a few years old, but my community college owns it so it was an easy checkout. And, oh, so good. And so relevant with the recent "America First" rhetoric prevalent in my parts of America lately. The whole book read like it was screaming, "Warning! Warning!" to me.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Review: Du Iz Tak?

Du Iz Tak? Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Proof that I'm too old for a new language, but I still like looking at cool pictures of bugs.

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Review: Freedom in Congo Square

Freedom in Congo Square Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Easy read aloud about slavery that celebrates the one afternoon off New Orleans slaves received to congregate with friends in Congo Square. Real history (as noted in the foreword and author's note at the end) for children, a few new vocabulary words for little ones, and bright, bold pictures.

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Review: Leave Me Alone!

Leave Me Alone! Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved the plot here--hints of classic fairy tales with modern-day green aliens with walkie-talkies. Every kid and parent will understand the "Leave me alone!" parts, even if they don't get why the old lady wants to knit until the end!

And very cool that this author also wrote Anya's Ghost!

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Review: Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Stelson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating true story of Sachiko Yasui, who was 6-years-old when the atomic bomb dropped on her family's home in Nagasaki. In stark words, she tells how her family members died--cancers, radiation sickness and severe burns, all while letting readers know how those things weren't to be discussed. Horrific.

My only fault was that there were too many interrupting side stories during Sachiko's tale at the beginning of the book. I wanted to read about her and wanted the background info to be available in smaller columns on the side so I could skip when needed.

I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of Helen Keller, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.--who knew?

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Review: We Are Growing!

We Are Growing! We Are Growing! by Laurie Keller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book WON the Geisel award for learning-to-read books, and I understand why! Part of the Elephant & Piggie series, those two fav characters are the ones reading this EXCITING book about grass growing. Snicker. Kids would love adding the -est to all the words they are learning as they learn to read, and the grasses are so DRAMATIC! My 14-year-old daughter and I both loved this one.

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Review: Good Night Owl

Good Night Owl Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book won an honor for the Geisel award, and so I had to read it with my 14-year-old daughter. She didn't get it, which is why I had to explain to her that her 4-year-old self would have found it hilarious that the poor owl destroyed its house because of a noise.

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Review: Second Shot

Second Shot Second Shot by Zoƫ Sharp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poor Charlie just keeps getting shot! She still hadn't fully recovered from her last trip to America (in the previous book) and now she's back to working as security for a mother and child. Supposed to be an easy protection gig--how hard is it to keep away the press and an ex-boyfriend? But Charlie ends up shot and severely wounded, and her security team is threatened. The mystery is big--people aren't telling the truth, and, of course, Charlie ends up saving the day. While being a complete badass.

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