Forbidden by Eve Bunting, 217 pages, read by Donna, on 02/08/2016
I really enjoyed this book. I have not read any of Eve Bunting’s books in years, but I may have to check them out again. This quick read was intriguing enough to keep my interest and not totally apparent where it was leading. Having just finished an adult novel with a similar plot line, I found myself forgetting that this was actually a children’s book. I can’t put my finger on exactly what I liked best, but I would recommend it without hesitation.
On a cold, stormy night in northern Scotland, 16-year-old Josie arrives at her aunt and uncle’s home, where she is to live for the next two years. It looks none too inviting. Having just lost her parents to influenza (not uncommon in 1807), her relatives’ curt manner and the hostile looks from the townsfolk do nothing to assuage her grief. It is immediately apparent that something is off in Brindle. Though she is forbidden from asking questions, Josie’s curious nature leads her into danger as she seeks to discover what dark, mysterious business her aunt and uncle are a part of. Then there is the handsome and enigmatic Eli, who repeatedly assists Josie, only to leave her with more questions and discomfited emotions. The only thing she knows for certain is that he is forbidden. Bunting has written a taut page-turner full of an eeriness that would be at home in any piece of gothic literature. The result is an atmospheric, otherworldly mystery best absorbed in one sitting.
Julia Smith Copyright 2015 Booklist American Library Association
After Alice by Gregory Maguire, 273 pages, read by Donna, on 02/07/2016
While I truly enjoyed Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, I was disappointed with his take on Alice in Wonderland. Not sure if I expected something different or if I just didn’t like the multiple story-lines. Ada’s search for Alice was fine as it went and Lydia’s journey was interesting, but together I just seemed to get bogged down in details and never seemed to become totally invested in either story.
When Alice first visited Wonderland over a century ago, Lewis Carroll introduced young readers to a world of imaginative characters and places such as had never been seen before. Now Maguire takes us on the journey again, this time in the company of Ada, who had fallen down the legendary rabbit hole after her friend. while Ada goes in search of Alice, always a few steps behind in the same vibrantly colorful land, Alice’s sister, Lydia, remains in the ordinary world of Victorian England, searching the streets of Oxford for the missing girls, while her father visits with Charles Darwin to discuss the future of faith. Ada’s adventure underground gives readers a new perspective on the oddities to be found there, but it’s the search through Oxford that really turns this story on its head. Through Lydia and other new characters, Maguire firmly setts Wonderland in time and place and weaves an intricate web of symbolism and allegory, asking readers to consider issues of humanity that are as timeless as the original tale itself. The novel is full of the magic, wonder, and fresh twists that his fans have come to expect, and Maguire-and wonderland-lovers alike will enjoy this fantastic return.
Ophoff, Cortney — Copyright 2015 Booklist, American Library Association.
Angels Burning by O'Dell, Tawni, 279 pages, read by Paula, on 02/09/2016
“On the surface, Chief Dove Carnahan is a true trailblazer who would do anything to protect the rural Pennsylvanian countryside where she has lived all fifty of her years. Traditional and proud of her blue-collar sensibilities, Dove is loved by her community. But beneath her badge lies a dark and self-destructive streak, fed by a secret she has kept since she was sixteen. When a girl is beaten to death, her body tossed down a fiery sinkhole in an abandoned coal town, Dove is faced with solving the worst crime of her law enforcement career. She identifies the girl as a daughter of the Truly family, a notoriously irascible dynasty of rednecks and petty criminals. During her investigation, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother years earlier is released from prison. Still proclaiming his innocence, he approaches Dove with a startling accusation and a chilling threat that forces her to face the parallels between her own family’s trauma and that of the Trulys” — provided by publisher.
Mary Poppins by Travers, Pamela Lyndon, 224 pages, read by Kira, on 01/21/2016
The Banks family has a new governess (or nanny) by the name of Mary Poppins. Though she seems quite proper and restrained, there is a fun-loving deeper-hearted person underneath the brisk exterior. This is a collection of stories about the adventures (mini-adventures) the 2 children experience with Mary Poppins, from floating up to the ceiling from laughing too much to learning about what the neighbors dog says.
As Angie noted, Mary Poppins is much harsher than the movie depicted. I like the fact that there are occasional illustrations throughout the text that give you a picture of Mary Poppins rather different from the movie. She is not quite as attractive nor as polished as the Julie Andrews model.
Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 3 by Brian Michael Bendis, 160 pages, read by Brian, on 02/11/2016
In this volume, Jessica is still plagued by low self-esteem and loathing over the fact she is no longer a super hero. What is different, Jessica finds a girl in her apartment dressed as Spider-Woman, the girl is out of sorts and leaves in a hurried manner. Jessica must find her before something horrible happens to this woman.
Dark Sparkler: Poems by Amber Tamblyn, 114 pages, read by Kim B, on 02/07/2016
From Dana Plato of the tv series Different Strokes, to Anissa Jones of Family Affair, from the actress Sharon Tate, to Rebecca Schaeffer,this series of poems in Dark Sparkler by Amber Tamblyn takes a look at Hollywood actresses who met unexpected death at a young age, through drug overdose, suicide, and murder. The poems are accompanied by illustrations that add a unique blend of thought-provoking eeriness to Tamblyn’s poetry.
Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady, 236 pages, read by Kim B, on 02/05/2016
Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady is an indepth look at the woman behind the man, the general, and America’s first President, George Washington. Brady goes into detail about Martha’s childhood and the intricate family relationships of the Dandridge and Custis families. She also gives us a peek into what it was like to be female in colonial America and the difficulties women faced in losing children and husbands early in life. She discusses the intimate relationship between George Washington and Martha, how they supported one another, the uncommon friendship between husband and wife and their deep attraction to each other. Their marriage was not perfect. They had their disagreements and Martha could be sharp-tongued and quite opinionated when she wanted or need to be, but her admiration and deep love of George Washington was undeniable. The soldiers serving under Washington came to admire her as well. She was a hard-working woman who knew what to be done and although she was our very first, First Lady, she was first and foremost a family woman. The author gives us an insightful and delightful look at Martha Washington.
The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman, 416 pages, read by Donna, on 02/09/2016
While I am generally a fan of Jonathan Kellerman, I am not a huge fan of this book. It started off with an interesting premise, but I found it got bogged down in the details and Grace’s current actions just didn’t ring true. It seemed forced to make her more like pair who gave birth to her and less like the couple who tried to give her a loving home and a future. I can understand her desire for risk and being anonymous, but not the cold blooded actions towards the end. I found myself wanting to get to the end so I was finished, not to enjoy the ending.
“Grace blades is a master psychologist, respected by her peers and adored by her patients. She is hardworking and highly competent, a model of self-control. But in private, Grace indulges a secret thrill-seeking darkness, pursuing danger as an escape from the regimented life she’s established. closing her eyes as she flies down the Los Angeles freeway or targeting a stranger in a hotel bar for an anonymous moment of passion, Grace craves the rush. Order by day, danger by night – the double life helps her cope with memories of a traumatic childhood, in which Grace saw her mother stab her abusive father before turning the knife on herself. But her two worlds collide when a new patient turns out to be her random conquest from the night before. He pleads for her to take him on anyway, claiming a unique connection with the foster father who raised her. She refuses. The next day, his body is found by police with only her business card to identify him. Suddenly, Grace is plunged into a web of danger and deceit that will draw her back into the dark past she fought so hard to leave behind” — Provided by publisher.
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead, 304 pages, read by Angie, on 02/09/2016
Bridge, Tab and Em have been friends forever. They swore on a Twinkie to never fight and they have kept that pledge even into middle school. But middle school changes everything, including friends. Em has blossomed into a pretty girl who has caught the attention of eighth grader Patrick. She is also hanging out with older girls from the soccer team. Tab has caught the feminism bug from her favorite teacher the Berperson. Bridge is the one who seems not to have changed as much. Her big middle school rebellion is to wear a cat-ear headband everyday. She wonders what her purpose is. Bridge almost died when she skated in front of a car when she was eight. One of the nurses told her she survived for a reason; Bridge just doesn’t know what that reason is. She has also started hanging out with Sherm, a boy dealing with the fact that his grandpa has left his grandma after 50 years of marriage. He writes letters to his grandpa he never sends.
The drama of the story centers around Em and Patrick. They start a one-up game of sending pictures. It starts with a photo of feet and moves to the knee then the belly button. Then Patrick sends a photo of himself in his underwear. Em struggles with whether she should send a photo back and eventually makes the choice to send one of her in a black, lacy bra and jeans. When the photo gets posted for everyone to see Em is labeled a skank and a slut. Tension erupts between the friends over the photo and who posted it.
The story of Em, Tab and Bridge is interspersed by anonymous chapters about a high school girl who is skipping school because she did something horrible to her friend. She reminisces about her best friends and how they have changed since high school. We don’t know who this person is until the end of the book, only that she is somehow connected to the main story. Frankly, this whole plot could have been left out. It slowed the story down and was a frustrating interruption to the main story. I understand its purpose I guess. It showed the counterpoint to the middle school best friends and how their interactions differed from this groups. It was another story of betrayal that wasn’t really need though. We all know high school girls can be really mean and petty. That is portrayed in hundreds of books. It wasn’t needed here.
I really did enjoy the story of Bridge, Tab and Em. I thought there were really important messages in there about growing up and being true to yourself. Also about not falling victim to sexting. I thought it was really appropriate that both Em and Patrick had photos leaked and what the impact on them was. It was an interesting contrast to see how they were treated. I also liked the message about slowly becoming friends with a member of the opposite sex and not having to immediately fall in love with them. Bridge and Sherm’s relationship was a wonderful one to see develop.
I think the concern for this book is what age is it appropriate for. Is it kids or teen? It is a very clean read and brings up topics kids probably need to be exposed to long before teen years, but it may be too mature for some elementary readers. On the other hand, it may be too tame for teen readers. I think it is a wonderful book that has to find just the right group of readers.
While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty, 305 pages, read by Mary Jo, on 01/13/2016
Ever since her parents announced that they’re getting divorced, Veronica has been falling. Hard. A junior in college, she has fallen in love. She has fallen behind in her difficult coursework. She hates her job as counselor at the dorm, and she longs for the home that no longer exists. When an attempt to escape the pressure, combined with bad luck, lands her in a terrifying situation, a shaken Veronica calls her mother for help–only to find her former foundation too preoccupied to offer any assistance at all.
Darkly humorous, beautifully written, and filled with crystalline observations about how families fall apart, While I’m Falling takes a deep look at the relationship between a daughter and a mother when one is trying to grow up and the other is trying to stay afloat.
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, 367 pages, read by Mary Jo, on 01/26/2016
Only a few years before becoming a famous silent-film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone, who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle, a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip, has no idea what she’s in for. Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob with blunt bangs, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives forever.
F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher, 257 pages, read by Nikki, on 01/25/2016
Helena Conway has fallen in love.
But not unprovoked.
Kit Isley is everything she’s not—unstructured, untethered,
and not even a little bit careful.
It could all be so beautiful … if he wasn’t dating her best friend.
Helena must defy her heart, do the right thing, and think of others.
Until she doesn’t.
The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland's Good Fortune by P.J. Lynch, 64 pages, read by Angie, on 02/08/2016
John Howland is a boy at the time the Mayflower sails for America. He is the indentured servant to John Carver. This story details the preparations in England, the horrifying trip to America, and the terrible first year the Pilgrims spent trying to survive. It is a great introduction to one of the lesser known historical figures of that time. The illustrations capture the feeling of the journey and the hazards the Pilgrims faced.
Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson, David Shannon (Illustrations), 48 pages, read by Angie, on 02/08/2016
This was a beautifully told and illustrated story about Hiawatha. I remember reading the Longfellow poem about Hiawatha, but didn’t realize it wasn’t about the actual historical figure. This story is about how Hiawatha and the Peacemaker united the five tribes of the Iroquois people. It is a beautiful story about peace and understanding and one that seems very applicable today. The illustrations are amazing and capture the essence of the story.
Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 2 by Brian Michael Bendis, 128 pages, read by Brian, on 02/02/2016
In volume 2, Jessica Jones is hired for a disappearance case of a teenage girl who said to be a mutant.
Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis, 216 pages, read by Brian, on 02/01/2016
Jessica Jones is gritty, self-hating detective. She wasn’t always like this, once, she wore a costume and was part of the super hero universe. If you need help go to her Alias detective agency but expect a smart mouthed woman, however, her wit is worth every penny.
Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics, 105 pages, read by Kim B, on 02/08/2016
Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics is a series of poems discussing love and loss of a different kind. von Radics deals with being in a relationship, celebrating that relationship, and then having to live life outside of that relationship when it is over. Her poetry is quite different from any that I’ve read before in dealing with what all artists deal with: love and the loss of love, but she also conveys the ups and downs of being in a relationship, and the sadness and hurt when that relationship is over in a way that we can all relate to and understand.
Elegy For a Broken Machine by Patrick Phillips, 66 pages, read by Kim B, on 02/06/2016
Patrick Phillips’s Elegy For a Broken Machine is a series of poems on dealing with the death of his father. His poems are both searing and poignant at the same time and deal with all the emotions many of us feel at the loss of a loved one including anger, denial, sadness, acceptance.
Low by Mary Elizabeth, 242 pages, read by Jessica, on 02/05/2016
It’s hard living on the wrong side of the tracks.
Lowen Seely has a criminal record to prove it. Determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps, he fights instinct and tries honesty. But hunger becomes painful, and bills are due. Forced to choose between what is right and wrong, the boy from the hood learns abiding by the rules is nearly impossible when corruption is in your blood.
Falling for an outlaw has changed everything.
Poesy Ashby is the definition of ride or die, even when it means turning her back on freedom. The girl from the suburbs gives conformity the middle finger. Bonnie and Clyde have nothing on her love story.
On the run with consequences in the rearview mirror, Lowen and Poesy accept the truth: they are the bad guys.
But can they get away with their crimes?
George Washington and the Founding of a Nation by Albert Marrin, 257 pages, read by Kim B, on 02/04/2016
Marrin’s history of George Washington and the beginnings of what would become the United States of America was an excellent read. We are familiar with all of the myths of George Washington, but Marrin introduces us to the man and the human being with all his faults and frailties: from a mother he could hardly stand to be in the same room with, to his unshakeable belief in slavery. At the same time, Washington was a man for his times. Without him the American Revolution could not have been won. He loved war and the killing of enemy soldiers was seen as necessary from which he derived a certain amount of pleasure. He hated politics, yet accepted the fledgling American Congress’s appointment as the first President of the United States. It is to Washington’s credit that he refused to have himself declared “King of America” and he firmly refused to serve the office of President for life which set a precedent for all future presidents. He was also a farmer and family man.
I enjoyed Marrin’s book. It was a fast read, but gave the reader a good insight into the life of this great man and his times without getting bogged down in academic detail.