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Why We March

14 Feb

whywemarchWhy We March: Signs of Protest and Hope – Voices from the Women’s March

By Artisan
Publication Date: 07 March 2017

Special note: All royalties from the book will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

One of the biggest movements of our time is an unprecedented world-wide coordinated Women’s March held on January 17, 2017.  This is compilation of 500 signs from around the world of men, women and children marching.  The signs cover women’s rights, but they also show their view of other issues like the election, the Affordable Health Care Act, LBGTQ rights and a number of other items.  The photographs are beautifully displayed.  A few quotes, maybe 10 total, are interspersed  throughout.  You have to pay special attention to the little pink words under the pictures that show where in the world it was taken.  The page with four countries showing the same message was moving.


Photo by Rachel Alemany

I did not see my personal favorite sign in the book. (“So bad, even introverts are here.”)  But, I may have missed it.  In any case, like any protest, some of the signs are rude or inappropriate, but it is as much of history as the actual election was.  Still, I cannot recommend the book for elementary schools.

Recommended: Grades 7 & up

When – Murder, Mystery, Thriller

4 Feb


When by Victoria Laurie

Publisher: Hyperion
Copyright: 2015

Before Maddie knew what numbers were, she saw the little squiggles on everyone’s forehead.  At the age of 6, when Maddie’s father (9-23-2004) is killed, she learns that the numbers are the death date of each person.  She doesn’t even have to see the person; just see a close-up photo and she knows the day they will (or did) die.

At 16, Maddie is an “A” student living with her alcoholic mother and trying to survive high school.  She keeps her head down and hangs with her best friend, Stubs.  To make a little extra money, she “reads” peoples’ death date.  She sees a photo of a child about to die and tries to warn his mother.  That’s when the story really takes off.

This is a murder mystery with accusations and arrests of people close to Maddie.  How can she possibly help?  All she can see is a number.  And all the FBI can see is a girl who seems to know all the victims. Can Maddie make a difference or will she be swept along by events?  The possibilities are unraveled and all that’s left is a thriller ending.  After the race to the finish, my favorite scene is the one in the next to last chapter with Mario.  After all, we can all make a difference in each other’s lives.

This book is a nominee of the 2016-2017 Georgia Peach Book awards.  This lists also serves as the high school Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl books.

Highly Recommended: Grades 7 & up

Flying Lessons

29 Jan

24561496Flying Lessons and Other Stories

Edited by: Ellen Oh
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Compilation Copyright 2017 by We Need Diverse Books

How often do you actually stop and read the book’s Forward first?  Sometimes I do but often I may or may not come back to it.  How much does it really add, when I just want to dive into the book?!  But for some reason, maybe because it was short or maybe because it started with “Dear Reader,” I started with the Forward that editor Ellen Oh wrote.  In two short pages, I saw her with a mangy kitten and, … well, you read it.  Suffice it to say that this short little story set the tone for me.

Flying Lessons and Other Stories visits little pockets of society or groups and shares a piece of the American pie.  Matt de la Pena, Newberry award winning author, tells the story of a young man wanting to play basketball at the highest levels. And learning to listen to advice that a quiet man gives.  I know Tim Federle’s Secret Samantha personally. And, I certainly know the feeling of sneaking into the library to get away from life.

At the ALA Midwinter Convention in Atlanta, I heard several of the authors talk about this book.  I chanted a Choctaw phrase with the rest of the audience.  I knew that the organization We Need Diverse Books was behind this anthology, but I didn’t really know what that meant.  Apparently it means that there are many, many stories out there to tell and listen to and to share.  After all, we all need something to look forward to.

Recommended: Grades 4 & up


Relic by Heather Terrell

22 Oct

Series: The Books of Eva

Author: Heather Terrell
Publisher: SoHo Teen
Publication Date:  October, 2013

Audiobook: Blackstone Audio
Narrator: Angela Brazil

Eva lives in the Aerie in New North, a frozen tundra, after a world-wide catastrophe happened with major flood killing the majority of the world 200 years before.  Eva is a maiden following the ways of the Lex.

Eva loses her twin brother and decides with only months to go to take on the Testing.  The Testing sends young people (males and Eva) to the frozen tundra to survive in the ice and find relics of the past to prove that the New North ways are best.  Fiction is not allowed and the name of the pre-disaster false god is Apple.

This book is packaged as a Hunger Games-type dystopia, but its really not.  There is a hidden conspiracy.  But Eva was not forced or encouraged to do the Testing.  And I throughout the book, I wondered at Eva’s physical abilities capable of making this journey in just a few short months.  Clearly she’s smart, if misguided.  And clearly she has rebelled in small, insignificant ways in the past.  I got tired of hearing about the god Apple.  I would have preferred any other name rather than make it out like all of society has this one singular tech device.  Coke and Tylenol make the bad list too.

Even with those complaints, the book does move.  There is an element of romance, though its subsumed in the frantic concerns for what she finds.  And there is the question of who to trust and why.  I’m curious about the second book, but I haven’t sought it out yet either.

I borrowed this book from our library in an MP3 version to listen to on the way to work.  I thought Angela Brazil had a great voice and really brought the characters to life.

Recommended: Grades 6 – 8.


Whippoorwill by Joseph Monninger

26 Aug

By Joseph Monninger

Publisher Houghton Mifflin, New York
Publication Date: 2015

A whipporwill is a small brown bird that calls all night but is very hard to see.  According to the book, a whipporwill is also a person who loads their yards with rusting cars and broken equipment.

16 year old Claire sees the dog Wally chained up in the neighbor’s yard like another piece of rusting junk.  Like any real teenager, it’s hard to get involved.  Ignoring the dog is more than she stand and chooses not to look the other way.  She checks out a book and studies about how to train the dog.  And all Wally wants is someone to notice him.

Danny lives with father in the house owning Wally.  At first, he seems to torment Wally.  Still he can’t stand that look on Claire’s face.  Slowly Danny and Claire get to know each other and to know Wally.  But life is hard for Danny.  And Wally may be just another way to hurt someone.  Something has to give.

Recommended: Grades 7 & up


Siren by Kiera Cass

17 Jun

thesirenbykieracassThe Siren

By Kiera Cass

Publication: iUniverse (July 2009), re-released by HarperTeen January, 2016

Having just genre-fied my library, I can say that this story is unequivocally a “Romance”. (sigh)  And as all Romance stories goes, there’s a problem.

Kahlen was supposed to have drowned with her family.  Instead, the Ocean offered her a choice.  Sing ships to their deaths as a Siren for 100 years and then she could live again.  The Sirens don’t live on the ocean but as part of society.  They can meet people but must be utterly silent.  Their voices kill.

Then Kahlen met Akinli.  They shouldn’t have connected but they did.  They can never be together, but they may die staying apart.

I listened to the audiobook read by Arielle DeLisle and enjoyed it immensely.  I cried with the characters.  This is evocative of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid (not the Disney version).  However, the reality is that I was a little annoyed with someone who had lived for over 80 years to be focused only on being a wife.  I had hoped that she would develop other interests.  Still, Kahlen brings a child-like innocence to the story and only really begins to mature as a woman when she meets Akinli.  Some wonder why meeting someone so briefly would hold her heart, but that’s the magic of folktales and fairy tales.  “And they lived happily ever after” is the goal.

Recommended: Grades 7 & up


Demon Princess by Kassandra Lynn

28 Feb

demonprincessDemon Princess
By Kassandra Lynn

Series: Demon Kingdom Fairy Tales
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: December 21, 2015

Dad’s missing. Adriana is about to be crowned.  She’s the Demon Princess, raised in royalty, expecting to be obeyed. Then a man of Savior Blood calls her as his Summon Beast.  Adriana, a princess and a demon, bound to young lout to serve him.

Even though her body obeys his commands, Adriana is still the princess, now in hiding.  Aldric’s commands to help someone force her to help but Adriana can still think and twist the commands to cause a little havoc herself. She wisely decides she does not want to share who or what she is to a person that treats her worse than a servant.  But Aldric’s cousin and roommate, Keldrin, sees her as a person.  He is perhaps the only one to do so but he is one of the strongest of the Savior Blood.  And Savior Blood is the mortal enemy of demons.

Adriana is pushed to hide who she is while searching for a way to break the bond that holds her to Aldric.  At the same time, she and Keldrin become closer but, like Romeo and Juliet, it is not meant to be.  Will Keldrin find out what she is?  Will it matter?

The book was fun, face-paced but the key is the voice of Adriana who is always herself.  She doesn’t bend and she doesn’t break but she’s not evil throughout.  So what is she really?

Recommended: Grades 6 & up

(Received free from NetGalley in return for an honest review.)