Weezie’s momma says she is a bad kid. Nothing she does ever seems to come out right whether it is making her momma tea or cooking dinner or picking flowers. Momma dotes on Ruth Ann and Jackson, but has nothing good to say to Weezie. Momma also doesn’t talk about Weezie’s daddy. She won’t even say his name or tell Weezie anything about him other than that he was a bad guy. Weezie wonders if finding her daddy would make any difference in her life. She has very little to go on: just a photo with a first name. She enlists the help of her friends Calvin and Louella to help her figure it out.
Weezie’s story seems to be one of heartbreak and loss, but on closer inspection it is one of hope and determination. Weezie is beaten down at every turn, by her momma and by some of her classmates. She doesn’t let that drag her down though. She is positive in spite of everything. She is an artist with true talent and is recognized by her teacher if not by her momma. She is a good friend to Luella and Calvin even when her momma tries to stop her from being their friend. She is a good big sister to Ruth Ann and Jackson even though her momma never recognizes her efforts. And she is a good daughter despite her momma’s indifference. I appreciate the fact that while the ending is hopefully it is not necessarily a happy ending. It is realistic in that momma has not made a big change in her attitude and Weezie’s homelife is still very much the same as it was. Sure she knows who her daddy is, but that has not really changed her circumstances. The Missing Pieces of Me is a wonderful story that I highly recommend.
Lulu’s parents are going on vacation without Lulu. She is NOT happy about it and is even more unhappy when she learns they are leaving her with a babysitter. She tries everything she can think of to get rid of Sonia Sofia Solinsky, including introducing cats to the highly allergic babysitter, sneaking out the window and blockading herself in her room. It doesn’t matter what she does, Solinsky is always one step ahead of her. After the blockade is destroyed Solinsky lets it slip that she is actually a spy. Of course, Lulu wants to be a spy as well and begs Solinsky to train her. Solinsky demands obedience and once Lulu is on board she has a much better time with her babysitter. The only problem is that her parents missed her so much they are determined to never leave her again. That will not do! Lulu then has to convince them to keep taking vacations so she can have Sonia Sofia Solinsky keep training her. I really enjoyed Lulu’s third outing. This series is very tongue-in-cheek funny. I really enjoy the interjections of the author, which didn’t seem quite as plentiful as they were in other books. However, I liked this story and how Solinsky tames Lulu. I think Lulu fans will enjoy this one as much as the others.
Take two sisters making it on their own: brainy twelve-year-old GiGi (short for Galileo Galilei, a name she never says out loud) and junior-high-dropout-turned-hairstylist DiDi (short for Delta Dawn). Add a million dollars in prize money from a national cooking contest and a move from the trailer parks of South Carolina to the Gold Coast of New York. Mix in a fancy new school, new friends and enemies, a first crush, and a generous sprinkling of family secrets.
That’s the recipe for The Truth About Twinkie Pie, a voice-driven middle grade debut about the true meaning of family and friendship.
At first I didn’t like this because there was too much telling, not enough showing, but about halfway through it finally hooked me and held me to the end. It had some pretty good recipes in it too.
Cady wakes up on the floor of a cabin with no memory of who she is or why she is there. She hears someone talking about “taking care” of her and knows she needs to find a way to escape. What follows is Cady’s race to find out who she is and why these guys want to kill her. She faces danger along the way, but she also finds help from unexpected sources. She meets Ty at a McDonalds and he immediately sets out to help her find out what is going on even though the men chasing her seem to be closing in on her. They do eventually find out who Cady is, but the bad guys seem to have created a smear campaign where she is either crazy or a murderer or a crazy murderer.
I enjoy April Henry’s books and had the pleasure of meeting her last year at a conference. She writes fast-paced mysteries that suck the reader in to the very end. Cady’s story was certainly intriguing. You had no idea what was going on. Was she an escaped mental patient? Was she a murderer? Or was she just an innocent girl caught up in something beyond her control? I liked the relationship between Ty and Cady and was glad that it didn’t get all romantic right from the start which would have ruined the believability of the story. I did find the revelations at the end maybe just a bit too out there, but it made for great storytelling and an enjoyable read.
2015-16 Truman Award Nominee.
Bladud is a Druid king forced out into the wilderness because of an illness. After wondering in the wilderness he finds a healing spring that cures his illness. He builds a temple to the goddess Sulis in appreciation for her healing. He erects a circle of stones and his people return to him.
Zac is apprenticed to architect Jonathan Forrest who is going to build the King’s Circus in Bath. Forrest is obsessed with druids and designs the Circus to mimic ancient druid structures. Zac is down on his luck after his father gambled away their fortune. He resents his lack of means and being the assistant to a mad man like Forrest. He has to decide if he is loyal to his master or to his idea of who he should be.
Sulis has just moved to Bath and into one of the houses on the Circus. There was a tragedy in her past that has put her in witness protection for the last ten years. Bath offers a fresh start with new foster parents in a new city and a new name. However, she believes she is being stalked by the man from her past. She has to come to terms with the truth of her past in order to create a new future.
These three stories all revolve around the same place but are very different. I thought some of the stories worked better than others. I loved Sulis’s tale and thought the reveal about the tragedy in her past was really well done. I like how her story tied in the story of the Circus and the other two characters. I wasn’t that interested in Zac’s story mainly because I really didn’t like him as a character. I wanted more information about Forrest and less whining from Zac. Bladud’s story was the briefest with the least amount of details. The three characters each had their own style of chapters with different fonts and styles of writing. I was also occasionally thrown by the probably historically accurate spelling, punctuation and writing of the Zac chapters. I thought this was an interesting, different type of novel and quite enjoyed the uniqueness of it even if I didn’t enjoy every part as much as the whole.
Glory O’Brien has just graduated from high school and doesn’t really see a future for herself. She and her dad have been stuck ever since her mom DArla committed suicide when Glory was 4 years old. The only thing Glory has is her photography, which Darla also had. She starts learning more about her mom after taking over the dark room in the basement. She finds her mom’s album entitled “Why People Take Pictures” filled with disturbing images and starts answering her mom in her own album.
Glory lives across the road from her best friend Ellie. Only she is not sure she wants Ellie to be her best friend anymore. Ellie lives on a commune run by her mother Jasmine Blue and totally takes advantage of Glory. The girls find a petrified bat and decide to drink it when it turns to dust. The bat gives the girls the ability to see the past and future when they look in someone’s eyes. They see people’s ancestors doing all kinds of things and they see people’s descendants in the future. Glory’s visions of the future all revolve around war. There is going to be a second civil war in America. This time it will not be slavery that divides the country but women’s rights. The passage of an equal pay bill will splinter the country and some states will end up taking away the rights of women completely. This will divide the country and cause a war as women basically become fugitives or breeding machines.
I am torn about this book. I really enjoyed the contemporary story of Glory trying to figure out her life. In the beginning, she only sees herself through Darla and doesn’t believe there is a future for her. Through the visions and the people she meets she starts to see herself as a different person, as someone with a future to look forward to even if it involves war. She also helps draw her dad back into the land of the living. Finally, she comes to terms with her relationship with Ellie and the commune. It was a compelling story and one I really wanted to read. However, the visions of the future just threw me off. I found it so unbelievable that I couldn’t buy into the visions or the future they represented. It was an interesting future and made for good storytelling, but it was just too far-fetched for me.
Umm… this book is SILLY It’s Honey I Shrunk the Kids meets Lord of the Flies meets nanotechnology. It wasn’t particularly well written and the narrator must have had a previous stint as a sports announcer. That being said, my hubby and I had fun to listening to this on a car trip and it kept us awake while driving. Hurray for safe driving! It also ignited a lot of imaginative conversations on our trip. Also, I have a fondness for beetles and I think Michael Crichton did as well.
Three men are found dead in the locked second-floor office of a Honolulu building, with no sign of struggle except for the ultrafine, razor-sharp cuts covering their bodies. The only clue left behind is a tiny bladed robot, nearly invisible to the human eye. In the lush forests of Oahu, groundbreaking technology has ushered in a revolutionary era of biological prospecting. Trillions of microorganisms, tens of thousands of bacteria species, are being discovered; they are feeding a search for priceless drugs and applications on a scale beyond anything previously imagined. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, seven graduate students at the forefront of their fields are recruited by a pioneering microbiology start-up. Nanigen MicroTechnologies dispatches the group to a mysterious lab in Hawaii, where they are promised access to tools that will open a whole new scientific frontier. But once in the Oahu rain forest, the scientists are thrust into a hostile wilderness that reveals profound and surprising dangers at every turn. Armed only with their knowledge of the natural world, they find themselves prey to a technology of radical and unbridled power. To survive, they must harness the inherent forces of nature itself.
Scandal, love, family, and murder combine in this gripping mystery by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault, in which a young woman’s life is turned upside down when her brother is arrested for murder and she must prove his innocence.
The Battle siblings are used to disappointment. Seven years after starting her PhD program–one marriage, one divorce, three cats and a dog later–Theresa Battle still hasn’t finished her dissertation. Instead of a degree, she’s got a houseful of adoring pets and a dead-end copywriting job for a local candle company.
Jeff, her so-called genius older brother, doesn’t have it together, either. Creative and loyal, he’s also aimless, in both work and love. But his new girlfriend, Kim, a pretty waitress in her twenties, appears smitten. When Theresa agrees to dog-sit Kim’s puggle for a weekend, she has no idea it will be the beginning of a terrifying nightmare that will shatter her quiet academic world.
Soon Kim’s body is found in the woods, and Jeff becomes the prime suspect.
Though the evidence is overwhelming, Theresa knows that her brother is not a murderer. As she investigates Kim’s past, she uncovers a treacherous secret involving politics, murder, and scandal–and becomes entangled in a potentially dangerous romance. But the deeper she falls into this troubling case, the more it becomes clear that, in trying to save her brother’s life, she may be sacrificing her own
An intriguing novel-in-verse about two girls with Crohn’s Disease sharing a hospital room. Chess is new to the disease and ended up in the hospital after a party/date with her crush turned disastrous. She is not happy to have something called irritable bowel syndrome and doesn’t want to see friends or family and definitely not the crush. Shannon, on the other hand, has been living with disease for years. She is past the hiding stage and well into the angry stage. The two girls don’t seem to have anything in common, but they bond over their common enemy…Crohn’s. The girls are in beds separated by a curtain and the novel represents this with a line down the middle of the page separating their words. It is an unusual topic for a teen book but one that seems timely. I think the novel-in-verse style works really well as it gives the reader just enough information and allows the reader to be more immersed in the characters.
GiGi (Galileo Galilei) and her big sister DiDi (Delta Dawn) have moved from South Carolina to Long Island after DiDi won a million dollars. Their mom died when GiGi was a baby and DiDi has been taking care of her. She doesn’t want GiGi to be like her, never finishing school and a hairdresser, so she pushes GiGi to do well in school and has enrolled her in a prestigious prep school. GiGi decides this is the perfect time to reinvent herself so she changes her name to Leia and decides to make friends. She starts out by tripping over cute boy Trip and immediately becomes part of the popular crowd. She also becomes enemies with mean girl Mace. The only thing GiGi and DiDi have from their momma is a recipe book full of very unhealthy recipes. They know she was also Delta Dawn and a hairdresser and that she loved Revlon’s Cherries in the Snow lipstick. This is the story of GiGi’s new life in Long Island, how she discovered who she really is, and how she came to find out what really happened in her past.
This book is full of recipes which might interest some young readers; however, I found I just skipped them whenever they popped up. I would never make any of them so I wasn’t really interested in finding out what was in a twinkie pie. I did like GiGi’s story even if she wasn’t always the most likeable character. Mace is portrayed as the mean girl, but she actually turns out to be fairly nice. GiGi however is horrible to both her sister and Mace throughout the story. The revelations about GiGi’s past aren’t that surprising, but I think kids will find them interesting. This is a book that is going to appeal more to girls than to boys.
I received this book from Netgalley.
A group of social misfits join together to form a book club at their small town library. Set in the south in a small town in Florida during the sixties the group is made up of a divorcee, an old maid, a gay man, a Northerner, a young black woman, an ex-con and the librarian with secrets of her own. The way these quite different individuals become friends and end up affecting each other’s lives is a lovely tale.
This is the fifth and final book in the Joey Pigza series and the first I have read. Joey’s mother is suffering from postpartum depression and decides to check herself into the hospital. She pulls Joey out of school to take care of his baby brother. The dad had plastic surgery that ruined his face, ran off and is now stalking the family and wants to kidnap the baby. Joey’s blind girlfriend Olivia arrives after being suspended from blind school and moves in with Joey and baby Carter. Joey cleans up the roach-infested house, takes care of Carter, does the grocery shopping and is basically the man of the house.
This is a fairly dark book for one aimed at the middle grade reader. Joey has to deal with a lot of things he shouldn’t have to and there is no parental or adult support. I had a hard time believing that he would be able to leave school like he did or that there would be no social services involvement with the family. Both the parents seem like horrible people and truly bad parents. The mom hides Joey’s medication and undercuts his self-esteem at every chance. The dad has basically abandoned the family but wants to start over with the perfect baby. He too is not very nice to Joey. I am not sure how many kids would be able to relate to this story and I am not sure how many fans it will find outside of the Joey Pigza ones. However, I did find there were lots of funny parts to the story and Olivia in particular was a hoot.
Nell and Layla have always been close. They were born scarcely over 9 months apart and were so intertwined as kids that Nell called herself “Nellalya”. Now they’re in high school, Layla a junior and Nell a freshman. Their relationship is starting to strain as Layla becomes more secretive and begins pulling away from Nell. Nell still looks up to her sister and eventually discovers that reason for Layla’s recent behavior. Layla is involved in a romantic relationship with her art teacher. Rumors have been circulating about the relationship, but since the teacher is young and handsome, it’s not the first time such rumors have gone around. This may, however, be the first time the rumors were actually true. Nell is torn between wanting to tell someone about this relationship and keeping her sister’s secret. What’s a good sister to do?
While the plot mostly centers on Nell’s obsession with her sister, We Are the Goldens is really more about Nell coming of age. Nell is learning some very serious lessons while she’s trying to figure out what’s going on with her sister. Prior to high school, Nell’s identity is tied to her sisters and it is only when she realizes her sister’s judgement is skewed that Nell begins to learn who she is as a person. Nell makes some terrible choices too, but she at least learns from them and uses them to inform her decision-making process when Layla’s secrets appear to be getting out of control. Overall, a good read for fans of realistic fiction and family drama. The short length and brisk pacing means this can be read in a single afternoon.
Billie Breslin has traveled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is summarily shut down, the colorful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine’s deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the “Delicious Guarantee”-a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries-until further notice. What she doesn’t know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.
Delicious! carries the reader to the colorful world of downtown New York restaurateurs and artisanal purveyors, and from the lively food shop in Little Italy where Billie works on weekends to a hidden room in the magazine’s library where she discovers the letters of Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, who wrote to the legendary chef James Beard during World War II. Lulu’s letters lead Billie to a deeper understanding of history (and the history of food), but most important, Lulu’s courage in the face of loss inspires Billie to come to terms with her own issues-the panic attacks that occur every time she even thinks about cooking, the truth about the big sister she adored, and her ability to open her heart to love.
Description from Goodreads.com.
Rose and her family spend every summer at the beach. There she has her summer beach friend Windy. This summer the girls are somewhere between being kids and turning into teenagers. Rose’s family is also having a difficult time this summer. Her parents are fighting and her mom is not acting like she usually does. Rose gets irritated with her mom throughout the summer. There is a also a teen boy that Rose has a crush on. He works at the store where the girls go to get candy and horror movies. Unfortunately the teen boy has gotten his girlfriend pregnant and this is causing all kinds of drama with the kids at the beach and jealousy from Rose.
First of all this is a beautifully drawn book. I love the fact that it is not in your traditional black and white but colored in shades of blue and purple. I love that there are a variety of panels to tell the story depending on what is needed at the time. The story itself was a bit boring to tell the truth. There is drama and some interesting bits, but it is mostly Rose and Windy hanging out and talking about things like boys and boobs and babies and parents and such. It is exactly what two preteen girls would probably talk about, but it doesn’t make for exciting reading. There are a couple of bigger issues going on with the teen pregnancy and the mom’s miscarriage but they weren’t the focus of the story. I really wanted more growth from Rose and Windy. They seemed like the same immature girls at the end of the summer that they were at the beginning.
Everyone has one.
Some are bigger than others.
And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.
Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). Kate is strong-willed, funny, smart, and musically gifted. She’s also never believed in love. So when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with Keller Banks.
They both feel it.
But they each have a reason to fight it.
They each have a secret.
And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.
One day in the middle of taking a math test Ava discovers that if she writes out a question her pencil will give her the answer. This is super helpful with the math test so Ava and her friend Sophie experiment to see what else the magic pencil can help them with. This results in some amusing things like who likes who and when boots are going on sale. It also reveals deeper information like the fact that Ava’s mom is sick and her grandpa is going to die. Ava is a really anxious kid who has anxiety about all kinds of things ranging from tests to jazz band tryouts to school field trips to her parents getting divorced. This anxiety keeps her withdrawn and stops her from participating fully in life. With the help of the pencil Ava conquers some of her anxiety and starts coming out of her shell.
I didn’t like this book nearly as much as I have enjoyed Messner’s other books. I’m not sure I really buy the explanation of how the pencil came to be magical in the first place. It seemed a little too convenient. I did really like the interactions with Ava and her grandparents however. I thought all the scenes at the nursing home where her grandpa lived were very touching and sweet. While it doesn’t quite reach the excellence of Capture the Flag, I am sure this book will be a hit with fans of Kate Messner.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.
Shelby Cooper tells us from the beginning what is going to happen to her. We know she will get hit by a car. What we don’t know is why or what will happen as a result. She gets hit by a car because she is deaf and did not hear it coming. What happens is that she and her mom go on the run and are chased by the FBI across Arizona. There is also a whole thing where Shelby has waking dreams where she is in “The Dreaming”, a Native American type spirit walk where she has to kill the crone and save the child. She has a spirit guide in Coyote, who also happens to be the cute boy Mark she meets at the library. The dreaming helps her come to terms with her life in the real world.
I am not sure what I think about this book. Part of me was really frustrated with the whole dreaming bits and how they kept pulling me out of the story. The other part of me really kind of enjoyed the real bits of the story. While I might not have liked Shelby as a character, she is sarcastic and rude and has definite body image problems. I did like the path her story took. I never knew what was coming next in this crazy ride Nick Lake created. I know his big thing is dual storylines (In Darkness), but I don’t think it was really necessary in this case. I didn’t believe the dreaming like I thought I was intended to and I just wanted those parts to end so we could get back to the real story. It was a compelling read however and I really couldn’t put it down.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.
Kiernan wants to fit in with the cool kids at school and he does just barely. That could all change when his strange cousin Bon comes to town. Bon has long, girly hair, wears old, raggedy clothes and likes to draw. He and his mom Renee have moved around a lot and the family has barely seen them. Bon gets bullied at school by Kiernan and his friends. Bon’s only friend is the other new kid Julia who seems to be attending school for the first time and has a secret past. As Bon becomes more a permanent part of Kiernan’s family he has to come to terms with his feelings and decide if he is going to do right by Bon.
This story has a lot going on. Bon is bullied, Kiernan is a bully. Renee seems to have some kind of mental health issue and there is the issue of child neglect regarding Bon. Julie has been kidnapped by her mother from her father who has custody. It is pretty heavy stuff and sometimes handled a bit heavy-handed in the book. I thought the message of the book was great. It is all about being who you are and accepting people for who they are. The only problem was that it came across very messagey and seemed to read like an after school special.