The title of the first chapter sets the pace for the action adventure story. It is also a great sell for teens: "I accidentally vaporize my pre-algebr...moreThe title of the first chapter sets the pace for the action adventure story. It is also a great sell for teens: "I accidentally vaporize my pre-algebra teacher." What a wonderful way to start a book.(less)
Dewey is a book that is about more than a library that has a cat. It is about a community that has a library. It shows us the effect a library can hav...moreDewey is a book that is about more than a library that has a cat. It is about a community that has a library. It shows us the effect a library can have on a community, and how they can help a community through tough times. It demonstrates that helping one person at a time, touching one life can touch a whole community. This book shows us how a library can be appreciated and valued and be a center for the community. Dewey's greatest accomplishment is demonstrating how a library can change and strengthen a community. For the first HCR book, we looked for something that would relate to life in Kokomo, a farming community. Here you have that, a farming community, changing, facing tough times as businesses come and go, making the best of its situation, and its library. At the core it is a book about relationships; relationships between a cat and a community, a library and a community, a staff and a library, a parent and a child, and any other kind of family. Too bad this wasn't around when we chose our first HCR book.(less)
**spoiler alert** I absolutely loved this book. It is the story of a young girl, Lily, living with the guilt of her mother's death and ultimately lear...more**spoiler alert** I absolutely loved this book. It is the story of a young girl, Lily, living with the guilt of her mother's death and ultimately learning to forgive herself. This is ome of my favorite books.
Concerns for some readers might include: black Madonna, religion practiced in this book, Lily dealing with her body (she looks at herself naked in the mirror)
Here is an extended review I gave for some of our library patrons:
The Secret Life of Bees is a novel about a fourteen year old girl’s search for a mother during the summer of 1964. During her search she finds her mother inside herself, a mother figure in the women who take care of her and teach her, and a mother in the Virgin Mary.
Lily Melissa Owens: Rosaleen Daise: August Boatwright: June Boatwright: May Boatwright: Zachary Lincoln Taylor: T. Ray Owens The Black Madonna
Lily’s search for a mother and forgiveness. May’s pain and death. Grief and forgivness (blame—after May’s death Zach and August: “I was afraid, though, the blame would find a way to stick to them. That’s how blame was” (204).) The black Madonna Racism
Queen bee—hive of females and relationship to these women and the Mary. Bees and Mary. Parallel’s between the queen bee being the mother of the hive (mother of thousands) and Mary being the mother of thousands.
In an interview printed in the November 2003 issue of U.S. Catholic, Kidd explains the significance of the black Madonna. Kidd states;
"Her darkness has great power in it. She becomes a flashpoint for independent spirit, for women conjuring up their own strength and their own power, being their own authority. Which is why in the novel the masthead Black Madonna has her fist balled up. I didn’t mean that as an image or symbol of aggression; I meant it as an image that could reflect this great sense of dignity and empowerment and authority that the Black Madonna has….The Black Madonna is not submissive. You rarely will see her with the dipped chin, the lowered eyes , that kind of handmaiden look. In most of her images she looks directly at you with a stare that rattles your bones. She has that powerful, fierce look about her. In many cases she was the Madonna of oppressed people. I think we have a loarge frontier here, ways to begin to develop and understand powerful divine feminine images that come right out of our Christian tradition and see how they can begin to reflect what is missing to us." (28-29) (less)
Graceling is a stunning debut novel by author Kristin Cashore. According to the book flap, the story grew out of the authors daydreams about a powerfu...moreGraceling is a stunning debut novel by author Kristin Cashore. According to the book flap, the story grew out of the authors daydreams about a powerful girl. Let me just say I hope she keeps daydreaming because this book was a wonderful adventure. Katsa was born Graced. In her land many people are born with many different types of graces. Some are graced with the ability to cook, to fight, to dance, or even to read minds. Katsa’s grace has set her on a lonely path, her grace is the ability to kill. Feeling more cursed than graced, Katsa is the unwilling arm of King Randa, who uses her as a threat to any who would oppose his will. Katsa feels like a hired thug. . In secret, Katsa created the Council to help the kingdoms from the rule of unfair kings. It is her work with the Council that leads her to cross paths with the Leinid Graceling Prince Po. When Po’s grandfather is captured, Katsa rescues him, but they struggle to find the reasons behind the kidnapping. What they find leads them on an adventure that will threaten both their lives. Can Katsa become more than a thug, can she see her grace as a gift rather than a curse? This was well written and very entertaining. In fact, it was very difficult to put the book down. Fans of authors like Tamora Pierce and other fantasy authors with strong female characters, will find themselves drawn to this novel. (less)
Amazing! I love Morgan Matson's books and this has to be one of my favorites. Matson's writing is amazing and I can't wait to read what she writes nex...moreAmazing! I love Morgan Matson's books and this has to be one of my favorites. Matson's writing is amazing and I can't wait to read what she writes next. In many ways her books remind me of Sarah Dessen. You have a teen struggling with a problem and trying to figure it out with the help of friends and sometimes family. This was a fantastic summer read. (less)
I read this 2 years ago, but really enjoyed it. I am not usually a nonfiction reader, but this was gripping. While the details about the World Fair co...moreI read this 2 years ago, but really enjoyed it. I am not usually a nonfiction reader, but this was gripping. While the details about the World Fair could get tedious at times, they were also extremely interesting and facinating. I did like how the author alternated the chapters between the story of the serial killer and the stories of the fair. A very good read.(less)
For a long time I did everything I could to avoid any book with a sad or even depressing story. As a rule I still turn to books that I know will end h...moreFor a long time I did everything I could to avoid any book with a sad or even depressing story. As a rule I still turn to books that I know will end happily or at least not leave me in tears. I have never been a Lurlene McDaniel fan and in fact have always wondered at the devotion of her readers—the ones who can’t get enough of her sad romance stories. I’m not really sure why I picked up this book. It really didn’t fall into the categories I usually choose, but for some reason I have wanted to read this book for a long while.
If I Stay is an emotional roller coaster. One minute you are smiling and laughing, loving the main character, Mia and her family, and the next you are crying because of all she has lost. On a snowy day in Oregon, Mia and her family go on a drive that ends in heartache. She finds herself thrown out of her body as a result of an horrific car accident and left with the choice to live with a loss that will change her life forever or to die.
Mia’s family and friends are touchingly and memorably portrayed. The story smoothly transitions between where Mia is now, and her touching memories of her family and friends. The characters are well rounded and real and love between them and the difficulty of the decisions they make are palpable.
This book made me both laugh and cry. It gave be a better appreciation for a good tearjerker. As I read the book it made me think about my family and what is important to me, and how I would feel if I were in Mia’s position. While I won’t go out of my way to find tearjerkers from now on, I must say I was really impressed with this book.
A must read for those who like tearjerkers!
Cautions for sensitive readers: The main character does have a sexual relationship with her boyfriend although one situation has a rather steamy moment, it cuts off before anything explicit happens. There is also some foul language used in the book although it is very rare. There are some graphic depictions of the car accident that may disturb some readers, but once past that part, the book is pretty tame. (less)
In the final book in this wonderful series Percy Jackson must finally lead the other demi-gods against Kronos to save Olympus from the evil influence...moreIn the final book in this wonderful series Percy Jackson must finally lead the other demi-gods against Kronos to save Olympus from the evil influence of the Titans. I loved this series from start to finish. Riordan is a wonderful author and knows how to keep a series interesting. Each book was filled with wonderful friendships, surprising twists and turns, and a healthy dose of humor. Highly recommended! (Especially for fans of Harry Potter who don’t know what to read next.) Cautions for sensitive readers: Only cautions for this book would be the violence, but since it is intended for a middle school audience it doesn’t have any other cautions. (less)
Summary: The year is 1962 and college graduate Skeeter Phelan wants nothing more than to be an author. She gets a job writing a cleaning column for the...moreSummary: The year is 1962 and college graduate Skeeter Phelan wants nothing more than to be an author. She gets a job writing a cleaning column for the local paper and it is there where she first begins to get the idea of telling the story of the black maids in Jackson who wait on white families. With the help of two courageous maids, Aibileen and Minny, the stories of the maids begin to come together in a book that will change all of their lives.
Review: I know it has been a while since this book came out, and so many of my friends have recommended this one to me. Everyone I know who has read this novel has loved it, and I can now say I truly understand.
These characters are so finely developed they feel like real people. You can believe that you can reach out and touch them, but more than anything you want to hug them. Aibileen is so brave and honest. She shares her hopes, dreams, and heartbreak with the reader, and there is an eloquence to her you just love. In many ways Aibileen comes across as the noble maid. Minny was probably one of my favorite characters. She says what she means, and while her mouth sometimes gets her in trouble, I found her honesty refreshing and sometimes hilarious. Skeeter was interesting too. There was so much I wanted for Skeeter, I cheered for her successes and I really wished the best for her.
At its heart this is a novel about courage. What these women did would have consequences and they all knew it. They had the courage to continue on with the project despite what the consequences may be. I loved the characters, I loved how brave they were, and I love that they hoped for real change in their lives.
Audiobook: This has to be one of the best audiobooks I have listened to in a long while. The narration is spot on, and you can believe that the narrators are the characters. The audiobook was produced by Penguin Audio and is read by Jenna Lamia (Skeeter), Bahni Turpin (Aibileen), Octavia Spencer (Minnie), and Cassandra Campbell. Audio is the perfect way to experience this novel. With the three narrators, and the three distinct voices, you can clearly hear these characters speaking, and the readers performances make these characters leap off the page. This audio is beautifully done, and one of the best listening experiences I have had this year. If you have never listened to an audiobook before, this would be a wonderful place to start.
Overall: This is a wonderful book with well-drawn characters and a lot of charm. My only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner.
Just a note, I haven’t seen the movie yet, but everyone tells me I need to see it. I didn’t realize that Octavia Spencer did both the audiobook and the movie—it will be a blast to see her on film. Now…I just need to check out a copy from my library. I hope it is in! (less)
“It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a teen girl on a class trip to England should be having the time of her life” (pg. 1)
Callie is a self described clumsy, loser who can’t get any of her classmates to give her the time of day. It is the summer before her sophomore year and she is supposed to learning about London’s historic sites for European History next year, but she can’t seem to catch a break since her best friend Katie moved away last year. After a particularly embarrassing incident, Callie engages in some retail therapy and purchases a pair of red Prada pumps, hoping to redeem herself in the eyes of her classmates. Shortly after leaving the Prada store, Callie trips and wakes up in 1815. How is a loser from the 21st century supposed to get along in the year 1815? By pretending to be someone else of course!
Fifteen year-old Callie is a loveable and endearing character. I felt I knew Callie instantly. She is clumsy, awkward, and flawed, yet a character you just want to know and be friends with. Her antics are hilarious and the situations she gets into are a riot. Hubbard has done an excellent job with all of her characterizations, but Callie’s character is the true Gem. You find yourself cheering as she transforms from a self-conscious, uncertain teen to a confident young woman.
While I found this novel totally engrossing, there were a couple of things that bothered me a little. I found Callie’s ignorance of history and etiquette a bit of a stretch. I knew in middle school that a Duke was referred to as “Your Grace” and what a peer was, including the difference between a Lady and a Miss. Then again I was quite a reader even at that age, and could easily have picked that up from the many books I had read. Callie seems to have more of an interest in science and mathematics than an interest in history and literature, so it is possible that she came by her ignorance of the subject quite honestly. I also felt that it took her too long to accept that she has traveled back in time. Yes I know it is an impossibility, and that probably slowed her down some, I just wish she had accepted her circumstances and moved on a bit sooner than she did.
Those minor criticisms aside, I found this book to be one of my favorite reads this year. I didn’t want it to end and longed to spend more time in 1815 with both Callie and Alex. This is a fantastic debut novel and one that is highly recommended.
This is book three in the Dead is series which starts with the book Dead is the New Black. Once more, Daisy and her sisters are back using their psych...moreThis is book three in the Dead is series which starts with the book Dead is the New Black. Once more, Daisy and her sisters are back using their psychic skills to solve the paranormal mysteries in the creepy little town of Nightshade. It's summer in Nightshade and Daisy and her sisters have gotten summer jobs. But strange things, stranger than usual that is, are happening. Doppelgangers of local residents are appearing all over town and the football team seems to be bulking up overnight. Trust Daisy and her sisters to get to the bottom of the town's mysteries.
I actually think this series gets better with each book. Be sure you have read the first two before tackling the this third novel or you might have some difficulty following along. I love the summer job aspect of this novel, and absolutely adore the characters. There is humor, fun, mysteries, and a lot of quirky happenings in Nightshade. I will definitely be coming back for more.
The audio is produced by Brilliance Audio and is read by Suzy Jackson who read the other two books as well. The production is very enjoyable and a great way to enjoy this series.
Overall, I love this series. These books are light, fast, reads, that are perfect for summer and will appeal to readers looking for something fun this summer with a touch of the paranormal.
Cautions for sensitive readers: Werewolf violence--actually for a paranormal series these are very mild.(less)
Mastiff takes place a few years after the events of Bloodhound and a few things have changed for Beka. When she and her partner are secretly summoned to the Summer Palace to solve a kidnapping, they have no idea how deep this case is going to go, or who they will be able to trust in the end.
I have been a long time Tamora Pierce fan. I especially love her novels that take place in Tortall. When she first announced that she was writing a prequel to the previous novels featuring a guardswoman, I was a bit nervous. I usually don’t care for prequels. I want to know what happens in the future, not what happened in the past. Pierce surprised me though, providing me with a spunky, strong, yet slightly flawed heroine who came to life on the page. I love Beka Cooper.
Of all of Pierce’s wonderful heroines, I think Beka is one of my favorites. While I also love Alanna and Daine, I felt that Beka was much more real to me. She is strong, and smart, and determined beyond belief and these novels envelope you and pull you into this magical world. You don’t want to leave and you really want to meet these characters.
This was a perfect conclusion to a fantastic series. Since it is the third book in the series, I do recommend that readers read both Terrier and Bloodhound first—it will help you better understand events alluded to in this novel, and the interactions between the characters. Pierce is honest with her characters and creates story lines that feel true to the events of the book. I couldn’t put this one down.
This prequel to Cashore’s first novel Graceling was a worthy addition to the world she created in Graceling. This story takes us back in time to event...moreThis prequel to Cashore’s first novel Graceling was a worthy addition to the world she created in Graceling. This story takes us back in time to events that occur before those of the first book. It is a standalone novel, so don’t worry if you haven’t read Graceling first, you don’t need to. Although, you will recognize a character from Graceling in Fire it doesn’t give anything away to read this book first.
Fire is a monster. She was born to a monster father and a human palace servant. As a monster, Fire must contend with attacks from other monsters and the startling effect she has on unprepared and unshielded human minds. In the Dells, monsters are common and distinct from the normal counterparts, because of their terrible and often mind altering beauty. Fire is the last human monster and with her beauty also comes the ability to control unshielded minds.
In her home in the Dells, Fire discovers strangers in the wood seemingly interested in her. To find out more about these strangers, she and her friend Archer consult with the royal family that is currently battling for control of the kingdom since the death and misrule of the last king who suffered under the control of Fire’s father. Fire becomes embroiled in a battle for the kingdom, and is a tool for the royal family to weed out the traitors in their midst.
This book is just as interesting and entertaining as Graceling. As a rule, I normally don’t like prequels, but Cashore manages to present an interesting and relevant new story for her fantasy world. I would recommend this book to teens who like fantasy and are willing to put in the time to learn the rules and politics for this interesting world. Fire is thoroughly enjoyable, and the characters are well developed and well rounded. Even the most perfect characters have flaws, and it is nice see that she is so thorough in her character development. I hope there are more books to come!
Cautions for sensitive readers: There is violence in this book due to the battles and frequent monster attacks. Some sexuality is present, although you won’t find any explicit descriptions in this book. (less)
Collins has done it again. Just when I thought she wouldn't be able to top Hunger Games she demonstrates a wonderful ability to spin an action packed...moreCollins has done it again. Just when I thought she wouldn't be able to top Hunger Games she demonstrates a wonderful ability to spin an action packed tale. This book was just as good as the first if not better.
Katniss, winner of the last Hunger Games is back from the capital with her co-winner Peeta. In order to stay in good favor with the capital after Katniss's actions with the berries in the last book, she and Peeta must keep up the ruse of being madly in love with each other before the districts. But things are more complicated than they thought, and their deception may not be enough for the capital. How will Katniss survive when her entire world catches fire.
This was a wonderful sequel to the first book. I eagerly await number 3 in this series. One of my favorite books this year!(less)