11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Joyce, Mystery · Tags:

Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer by John Grisham, 263 pages, read by Joyce, on 01/30/2013

 In the small city of Strattenburg there are many lawyers, and thirteen-year-old Theo Boone thinks he is one of them, but his inside knowledge of the justice system means trouble when a cold-blooded killer is about to go free and only Theo can stop him.
11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Joyce · Tags:

In Front of God and Everybody by K. D. McCrite, 298 pages, read by Joyce, on 01/30/2013

In the summer of 1986, eleven-year-old April Grace, who lives on a rural Arkansas farm with her family, across a field from her grandmother, has her sense of Christian charity tested when a snooty couple from San Francisco moves into a dilapidated house down the road and her grandmother takes up with a loud, obnoxious, and suspicious-acting Texan.
07. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Children's Books, History, Joyce, NonFiction

The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World by Mary Losure, 184 pages, read by Joyce, on 09/12/2013

The enchanting true story of a girl who saw fairies, and another with a gift for art, who concocted a story to stay out of trouble and ended up fooling the world.

Frances was nine when she first saw the fairies. They were tiny men, dressed all in green. Nobody but Frances saw them, so her cousin Elsie painted paper fairies and took photographs of them “dancing” around Frances to make the grown-ups stop teasing. The girls promised each other they would never, ever tell that the photos weren’t real. But how were Frances and Elsie supposed to know that their photographs would fall into the hands of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? And who would have dreamed that the man who created the famous detective Sherlock Holmes believed ardently in fairies — and wanted very much to see one? Mary Losure presents this enthralling true story as a fanciful narrative featuring the original Cottingley fairy photos and previously unpublished drawings and images from the family’s archives. A delight for everyone with a fondness for fairies, and for anyone who has ever started something that spun out of control.

30. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Historical Fiction, Joyce

A Difficult Boy by M P Barker, 294 pages, read by Joyce, on 05/17/2013

In this historical fiction story set in the 1839, nine year old Ethan is an indentured servant for a wealthy Massachusetts shopkeeper.  He endures hardship and humiliation that might shock juvenile readers of today.  The difficult boy, Daniel, becomes his friend.  They stick together through common misery of beatings and uncomfortable living.  Ethan learns skills that help their situation, but not without taking some wild chances.

30. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Joyce, Multicultural Fiction · Tags:

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, 170 pages, read by Joyce, on 05/08/2013

It’s a survivor book.  The 13 year old main character, Miyax orJulie (name given by her pen pal Amy from San Francisco), is lost on the frozen Alaskan tundra.  She cunningly wins the friendship of wolves.  Becoming an accepted member of the pack is the only way she can make the journey without a compass or setting sun to guide her.  The personal tragedies that she has faced in her life and the relationships she forms with the animals compel one to keep reading.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Joyce

Alchemy by Margaret Mahy, 207 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/30/2013

When Roland’s teacher gives him an unusual assignment instead of punishment for shoplifting, he thinks he is home free. All he has to do is find out what he can about a classmate, Jess Ferret, and report back to his teacher. But there is something less than straightforward about this request, especially because the more Roland learns about Jess, the more confused he becomes. Her house is sinisterly tidy, her parents are never home, mysterious books line the bookshelves, and, most intriguing of all, Jess is apparently a student of alchemy. Why is Roland’s teacher so interested in Jess? Why has a shady magician from Roland’s past suddenly come back into his life? What exactly are the voices in Roland’s head cautioning him against? And what is the reason for Jess Ferret’s knowledge about alchemy? In searching for answers Roland finds himself trapped in a mysterious web of magic, power, and greed. This is the story of a terrifying war of magic versus willpower, told only as award-winning author Margaret Mahy can.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Joyce, Poetry, Teen Books

Learning to Swim: A Memoir by Ann Turner, 115 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/25/2013

Six-year-old Annie’s world is shattered when she is forced to carry a horrible secret: Under the pretense of reading to her, an older boy molests her, threatening her if she ever tells. Only when her mother pries out the secret is Annie released from her horror and isolation. Slowly she begins to heal, and before the summer is over, she even learns to swim.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Joyce

Lily's Crossing by Patricia Giff, 180 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/18/2013

This year, as in other years, Lily has planned a spectacular summer in Rockaway, in her family’s cozy house on stilts over the Atlantic Ocean. But by the summer of 1944, World War II has changed almost everyone’s life. Lily’s best friend, Margaret, and her family have moved to a wartime factory town, and worse, much worse, Lily’s father is on his way overseas to the war.

There’s no one else Lily’s age in Rockaway until Albert comes, a refugee from Hungary, a boy with a secret sewn into his coat. Albert has lost most of his family in the war; he’s been through things Lily can’t imagine. But when they join together to rescue and care for a kitten, they begin a special friendship. For Lily and Albert have their own secrets to share: they both have told lies, and Lily has told a lie that may cost Albert his life.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Joyce, Mystery · Tags:

Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn , 187 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/18/2013

Just before summer begins, 13-year-old Ali finds an odd photograph in the attic. She knows the two children in it are her mother, Claire, and her aunt Dulcie. But who’s the third person, the one who’s been torn out of the picture?

Ali figures she’ll find out while she’s vacationing in Maine with Dulcie and her four-year-old daughter, Emma, in the house where Ali’s mother’s family used to spend summers. All hopes for relaxation are quashed shortly after their arrival, though, when the girls meet Sissy, a kid who’s mean and spiteful and a bad influence on Emma.

Strangest of all, Sissy keeps talking about a girl named Teresa who drowned under mysterious circumstances back when Claire and Dulcie were kids, and whose body was never found. At first Ali thinks Sissy’s just trying to scare her with a ghost story, but soon she discovers the real reason why Sissy is so angry. . . . Mary Downing Hahn is at her chilling best in this new supernatural tale that’s certain to send shivers down her readers’ spines.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Joyce, Teen Books · Tags:

Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby, 255 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/11/2013

Lost in a River of Grass is in the tradition of survival stories like Hatchet or On My Side of the Mountain, where the young protagonist finds herself as she struggles to survive in an unforgiving wilderness. In this case, the setting is the Everglades, and Sarah, the 13-year-old narrator, sneaks away from an overnight school field trip for what was supposed to be a quick airboat ride with Andy, a boy who lives in the preserve. Naturally, disaster strikes and they’re forced to walk out of the Everglades (they’ve got a knife, a small amount of Gatorade and some suspicious Spam). The author also skillfully layers in a story about overcoming prejudice. Sarah is black and Andy is the son of a Confederate-flag waving self-described redneck.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Joyce, Mystery

Following the Mystery Man by Mary Downing Hahn, 180 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/04/2013

He was busy reading the drugstore bulletin board when Madigan first saw him. He sure was good looking! His hair was dark and he had a full beard with a mustache that curled up on the ends and hid his mouth, just as his silver sunglasses hid his eyes. Then he walked right up to the soda fountain where Madigan and her friend Angie were sipping cherry Cokes, and asked for directions to Madigan’s house! Now the handsome “mystery man” is renting a room in her very own home — and Madigan is about to take some dangerous risks to find who he is.

02. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Joyce, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, 344 pages, read by Joyce, on 03/22/2013

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously-and at great risk-documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

28. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Joyce, NonFiction · Tags:

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, 286 pages, read by Joyce, on 02/26/2013

This is an inspiring narrative about William Kamkwamba, an African teenager of Malawi, who used what limited resources were available to build a wind mill.  His efforts overcame crippling adversity of poverty and famine.  Many thought he was crazy, but his dream to bring his small village electricity and running water became reality. “And I try and I made it,”  applauded words William spoke at a conference, where his accomplishments were honored, became the motto for those attending.  This is an inspiring and heartwarming true story.

24. February 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Fiction, Joyce, Romance, Teen Books

Jane by April Lindner, 369 pages, read by Joyce, on 02/17/2013

As a high school student I read Jane Eyre.  Jane, a retelling of that story in a modern day situation intrigued me to its end, although I felt the conclusion of this Jane was more satisfying.  The growing romance between Jane and the rock star Nico kept me reading even though some elements of the plot did not seem believable.  It’s difficult to keep secrets in a present day mansion with intercom, the visiting media crew, journalists, and photographers at every corner.  Jane Eyre captured that secrecy and shame theme in jane longa more believable way.

23. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Joyce

Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman, 122 pages, read by Joyce, on 02/09/2013

This story of a homeless, nameless girl’s plight to be well fed, warm, and content with her place in life is set in the 14th century in England.  She becomes the apprentice of the local midwife, Jane.  As she toils to earn her keep, she learns the part-doctor, part-magic profession of midwifery.  The author’s descriptive telling of sometimes shocking adventures opens the reader’s mind to a culture far removed from present day.  I can definitely understand why this bravely written book that makes you rejoice with each success the child has and also feel sorry for her suffering is a Newberry Award winner.

19. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Joyce, Mystery · Tags:

Hidden by Helen Frost, 147 pages, read by Joyce, on 01/31/2013

 When fourteen-year-olds Wren and Darra meet at a Michigan summer camp, both are overwhelmed by memories from six years earlier when Darra’s father stole a car, unaware that Wren was hiding in the back.