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Into the Water

In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool.  goodreads.com

First Test

Protector of the Small: First Test by Tamora Pierce

I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed Tamora Pierce’s writing (or maybe the series Circle of Magic got old).  I couldn’t find anything to download and found this title.  Keladry of Mindelan wants to become a knight.  It has been ten years since women were officially allowed to join, but no girl has ventured it until now.  However, Lord Wyldon, the training master is dead set against having girls as knights.  He puts her on probation (which no boy was ever under), and he forbids, Lady Allana to have contact with Keladry, so that people won’t suspect Kel has been magicked in some way.  Kel is determined and even though she gets beat up by the older bullies, she stands up for other first-year students, when they get bullied.  Lots of good ideas, looking at rape culture and classicism.  Enjoyable!

Out of the Dust

Out of the Dust

Out of the Dust tells the story of Billy Jo Kerby during the dust bowl in Oklahoma in the 1930s. Billy Jo’s family struggles on a farm overrun by dust. The wheat barely survives and the family doesn’t have much. What Billy Jo does have is music. She loves to play the piano and is asked to play at events in the area which brings in a little money. Tragedy strikes one day and changes everything for the Kerby family. A bucket of kerosene left by the stove catches fire and Billy Jo throws the burning liquid out the back door right on her pregnant mother. Both mother and baby brother die and Billy Jo is left with scarred hands that do not allow her to play the piano. Billy Jo and her father do not do so well on their own and must learn to live with and forgive each other.

This is a pretty dark and depressing book. There are not good times for the Kerbys. Not that the dust bowl and depression were good times for many people. I think the novel in verse set up works here to hide a bit of the horribleness that touches the characters. I think prose would have just added more darkness to the story and made it almost unbearably sad. The verse lightens the tone just a bit.

Ahimsa

Ahimsa

Anjali is a typical young girl in 1942 India. She is concerned about her place in the world and what beautiful dresses she will get for the next holiday. Then her mother loses her position working for a British Captain and decides to join the resistance. The resistance are followers of Gandhi who believe in a nonviolent opposition to British rule. This means the family burns their beautiful clothes that were made overseas and start wearing homespun cloth. They also start working with the local Untouchables or Dalits. At first Anjali is hesitant, but she quickly embraces the resistance movement especially teaching the Dalit children. When her mother is sent to jail and she has a falling out with her Muslim friend Irfaan, Anjali has to do some soul searching and figure out what she really believes.

I find this period of Indian history really fascinating. What interests me is that not only were the people of India fighting the British for their own country they were fighting each other. The Hindu and Muslim populations who had lived together for so many years no longer could and Pakistan and India were separated. This book doesn’t talk about that part of it, but does touch on the riots the precipitated it. However, I found Anjali to be a bit of a weak character and one I didn’t care all that much for. I liked how her family worked for the resistance and tried to educate the Dalits, but I just didn’t care for her.

Wonder

Wonder

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

–from goodreads.com

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Homemade Magick: The Musings & Mischief of a Do-It-Yourself Magus

Sharing the lessons he’s learned from over forty years as a magician and family man, Lon Milo DuQuette reveals his unique point of view about magick–its ups and downs, ins and outs, and how his family and home are the foundation of his practice. Written in Lon’s humorous style that makes learning and discovery a joy, Homemade Magick will show you that everyday life events are, in fact, true magical adventures.

As you navigate your journey, you’ll learn how to:

Choose your magical motto Perform a self-initiation ritual Make your own tools Raise children in a magical home Perform the Rite of Earth Learn how to make your whole life magick With this insightful book as your guide, you can see how the magical world is already an integral part of your life. Between easy-to-follow instructions and Lon’s colorful stories about his years as a domesticated magician, you’ll be inspired to wake up to your own magical identity–and have a whole lot of fun along the way.  goodreads.com

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Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book

The Poky Little Puppy, the Gingerbread Man, and many other classic Golden Books characters help illustrate this wise and witty guide to the holidays! Delightfully retro yet utterly of the moment, this companion to the bestselling EVERYTHING NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK will delight fans of those gold foil-spined treasures. Featuring iconic art from Golden Books luminaries including Eloise Wilkin, Richard Scarry, J.P. Miller, Garth Williams, and more — this collection is a must for maintaining ever-important holiday cheer.  goodreads.com

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Emperor’s Soul

Also available in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection.

A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantris.

Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.

Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.

Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit  goodreads.com

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Far From The Tree

Grace was adopted when she was a baby. When she became pregnant and decided to give her own baby up for adoption she felt driven to search for her biological siblings, Maya and Joaquin. Both Grace and Maya had been adopted but Joaquin had been shuffled from foster to home to foster home making it difficult for him to forge relationships.
Told from the perspective of the three siblings, this book is about family relationships, the good, the bad and the very, very ugly. It is about unconditional love, adoption, teen pregnancy, fostering and much more. Deeply layered and masterfully told, this book is very deserving of its place as a National Book Award finalist and one I highly recommend to readers of all ages.

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The Women In The Castle

During the war, Marianne had been dubbed protector of the women and children. Her circle of society was involved in a failed attempt at the assassination of Hitler. After the Nazi defeat, Marianne took it upon herself to find as many of the widows and children of this resistance movement and take care of them. Thus begins the story of Marianne, Benita and Ania pushed together in an unlikely friendship by the circumstances of war.
This book was a moving tale about love, loss and the struggle to survive in a post-war Germany that still wasn’t safe for women and children. It is about the scars war leaves both seen and unseen.It is an excellent depiction of survival in post-war Europe.

going into town

Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York

A native Brooklynite-turned-suburban commuter deemed the quintessential New Yorker, Roz Chast has always been intensely alive to the glorious spectacle that is Manhattan–the daily clash of sidewalk racers and dawdlers; the fascinating range of dress codes; and the priceless, nutty outbursts of souls from all walks of life.

For Chast, adjusting to life outside the city was surreal–(you can own trees!? you have to drive!?)–but she recognized that the reverse was true for her kids. On trips into town, they would marvel at the strange visual world of Manhattan–its blackened sidewalk gum-wads, “those West Side Story-things” (fire escapes)–and its crazily honeycombed systems and grids.

Told through Chast’s singularly zany, laugh-out-loud, touching, and true cartoons, Going Into Town is part New York stories (the “overheard and overseen” of the island borough), part personal and practical guide to walking, talking, renting, and venting–an irresistible, one-of-a-kind love letter to the city.

-from Goodreads.com

Of Neptune

Of Neptune

Emma, who is half human and half Syrena, and her Syrena love, Galen, need time together. Alone. Away from the kingdoms of Poseidon and Triton. Emma’s grandfather, the Poseidon king, suggests the two visit a small town called Neptune.

Neptune is home to both Syrena and Half-Breeds alike. But Emma and Galen didn’t sign up to be peacemakers between the ocean-living Syrena and the land-dwelling, freshwater counterparts. They didn’t bargain for meeting a charming Half-Breed named Reed, who can barely disguise his feelings for Emma. And they especially didn’t expect to find themselves in the middle of a power struggle that threatens not only their love, but their ocean kingdoms.

—from Goodreads.com

Of Triton

Of Triton

Emma has just learned that her mother is a long-lost Poseidon princess, and now struggles with an identity crisis: As a Half-Breed, she’s a freak in the human world and an abomination in the Syrena realm below. Syrena law states that all Half-Breeds should be put to death.

As if that’s not bad enough, her mother’s reappearance among the Syrena turns the two kingdoms—Poseidon and Triton—against one another. Which leaves Emma with a decision to make: Should she comply with Galen’s request to keep herself safe and just hope for the best? Or should she risk it all and reveal herself—and her Gift—to save a people she’s never known?

—from Goodreads.com

Hamilton

Hamilton: The Revolution

I truly want to see Hamilton and wish with all my heart that I could have seen it on Broadway with the original cast. It is truly a cultural phenomenon and I am sure a one of a kind experience. This book is amazing as well. It tells the story of how Hamilton came to be. From Lin-Manuel Miranda reading a biography of Hamilton on vacation (seriously not beach reading!) to his years working on the concept to finally get it on Broadway. I loved all the inside information about the process of making the play and the people who brought it to life. My only quibble is about listening to it on audio. The footnotes do not work without seeing what they are referring to. You really need the text to follow along with that part. So I ended up taking a look at the pdf on my computer. Not the same experience as hearing Miranda read me the footnotes.

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A Secret History of Witches

Louisa Morgan’s novel A Secret History of Witches spans five generations of young women in a single family who inherit the “craft.” Each generation faces its own fears and challenges as the magic is given to them and slowly fades away as they grow older. Nanette, Ursule, Irene, Morwen, and Veronica each keep the secret in their turn so as not to draw unwanted attention to themselves. From eighteenth century France to twentieth century England, the  Orchiere witches struggle to  master the power that is gifted to them and to keep the old traditions and customs alive. They also struggle with the urge to use their power for selfish reasons and to create love where there is none, but more importantly is the difficulty in learning the hard lessons of life as a witch from the previous generations and to maintain the link they have with each other.

Murder of Crows

Murder of Crows: The Other’s Series

Murder of Crows is the second novel in the Other’s series of Anne Bishop. I have officially checked out all of the books in the series and I will be reading it to completion since I am so immersed into this fantasy world.  This novel follows directly after “Written in Blood” and continues to follow our main characters throughout their hardships. This particular book focused more upon the political standing points of the Others versus the Humans. The Humans were focused on rallying up a rebellion against the Others by killing many of their kind. But with these novels, history repeats itself, and the Others rebel against the Humans in return.

Now, if you pit a creature that can control one’s life force by looking at someone, against a human with a gun, who do you believe will win? The Other’s know they hold power over the Humans, but Humans in return still stand to be stubborn in their ways. Big greedy corporate business and high power authorities within this book try their hardest to reign supreme but end up just causing their own demise. There is something about revenge being served at a governmental level that is just plain satisfying. Murder of Crows delivers some very sweet revenge along with a lot of situations that put you on the edge of your seat. There was a particular darkness within this novel that pushed beyond the first book. It seemed as if Anne Bishop was not afraid in the slightest to serve up some pretty rotten beef when it came to moments of mystery.  (If you read the novel, that pun was completely intended).

I am very much looking forward to the third novel and I am starting it tonight!

Touch of Red

Touch of Red

When crime scene investigator Brooke Porter arrives at the home of a murdered woman, the only thing more shocking than the carnage is the evidence that someone escaped the scene. But where is this witness now? A thorough search of the area yields more questions than answers, and before Brooke even packs up her evidence kit, she’s made it her goal to find the witness and get them out of harm’s way.

Homicide detective Sean Byrne has seen his share of bloody crime scenes, but this one is particularly disturbing, especially because Brooke Porter is smack in the middle of it. Sean has had his eye on the sexy CSI for months, and he’s determined to help her with her current case—even if it means putting his attraction on hold so he and Brooke can track down a murderer. But as the investigation—and their relationship—heats up, Sean realizes that keeping his work and his personal life separate is more complicated than he ever imagined; especially when the killer sets his sights on Brooke.

–from Goodreads.com.

In Ruins

In Ruins

She wanted to start again. To be someone—anyone—different . . .

Freedom. When Carleigh Stanger thought of college, that was the word that came to mind. Freedom from her unhappy home life. Freedom from high school mistakes. Freedom from the memory of that terrible morning. Only instead of bringing a sweet escape, Carleigh’s first campus party traps her in the scornful gaze of the last person she wants to see, Tucker Green.

It wasn’t long ago that being close to Carleigh was everything Tucker wanted. But that was before he realized she was just another scheming girl who’d do whatever it took to get her way. Even lie to the guy she claimed to love. Unfortunately while Tucker’s brain remembers the pain Carleigh caused, his body only remembers the pleasure . . .

–from Goodreads.com

The Best We Could Do

The Best We Could Do

The Best We Could Do is a wonderfully illustrated graphic memoir of Thi Bui’s family. During the birth of her first child Thi Bui struggled with her relationship to her parents and her place in the world. She had to discover what circumstances brought them to where they were. So she looks back at her family history both in Vietnam and in America. She discovers how her parents grew up in Vietnam and how the war affected them, how they met and why they fled the country. She also looks at how this past affected their behavior once they were in America and how the relationship between her parents deteriorated. She explores her childhood and how that made her into who she is today. She also compares her experiences with motherhood with her mother’s. It is a moving look at her family tree in a gorgeous format. The illustrations speak volumes and tell the story just as much as her words do.