This book has about three different sections, the longest being exactly what the title says; real women (a number of them now authors) giving detailsThis book has about three different sections, the longest being exactly what the title says; real women (a number of them now authors) giving details of their first times, be they straight, lesbian, or something else. There's a great variety of experience, and many were disappointing or downright bad, or otherwise regrettable. Others were more rewarding, but none were much like a scene in a romance novel--which is the point. All were instructive in some way, and led the woman to realizations about herself, her life, her body, her voice, and what she wants out of life in the future. Another section of the book is a YA librarian recommending titles that address various specific circumstances/ sexualities/ gender identities, etc., which I thought was a great idea. Yet another section was a Q and A with a therapist about some of the issues and questions that arise for girls as they enter this part of their lives. This information was more traditional and can be found in other books, but is no less useful. The overall focus of the book is to emphasize to young women that they have a voice in what happens to them, "no" is always an option and always their choice, and they have a right to enjoy the physical part of their lives without guilt--though always staying safe. A pretty good message.
I picked this up to see if it would be appropriate for our library, because I could see this information being incredibly helpful to someone considering taking that step but who lacks real details about what might be involved. I'm sort of torn about putting it in our library because we are a multi-grade library and it's something I wouldn't want the younger kids encountering, but I hate denying it to the older girls who would be thankful for it. So, no decision on that. Those also considering it should know that it's very explicit and honest. It did make me fairly uncomfortable from time to time! That's the reason for the three stars--it was well-done, but I can't say I "really liked it." I think many YA girls would, though. And probably boys, too--a good window into the minds of the opposite sex!...more
The author strolls through some interesting byways of the English language, with one diversion leading to another. There's lots of fascinating info heThe author strolls through some interesting byways of the English language, with one diversion leading to another. There's lots of fascinating info here, and the idea is clever, but the audiobook didn't do the original any favors in not having someone like Hugh Fraser or Simon Prebble read it--i.e., someone with a British accent! The book was obviously written by a British author (judging from many references in the text), so why not choose a British reader? That way, the humor might actually have worked instead of just sounding smugly arrogant and smackably coy, the way it did. You can get away with a lot, in a British accent, and just sound charming. As it was, it made me think of that one irritating relative at family gatherings who thinks he's a lot wittier than he actually is. Which is a shame, because it really was interesting......more
Scarlet lives on a farm in France, and her grandmother has been missing for two weeks. The police don't think foul play is involved, but Scarlet knowsScarlet lives on a farm in France, and her grandmother has been missing for two weeks. The police don't think foul play is involved, but Scarlet knows they are wrong, and soon encounters a street fighter named Wolf who seems to be involved somehow. At least, he agrees to help her, and they head off for Paris where he says his people--from whom he has escaped--are holding her grandmother because they believe she knows something about the missing Lunar princess. Meanwhile, Cinder is escaping her New Bejing prison before she can be handed over to the evil Lunar Queen Levana. It's not easy, but she picks up a cheerfully feckless co-prisoner who luckily has a stolen ship available, and they manage to get away. Cinder is still trying to come to terms with all she's learned about her cyborg self, and what she ought to do. All Queen Levana wants is Cinder, and she's willing to wage war--a war she will certainly win--against the entire earth to get her. What will happen when the two young women meet up?
I enjoyed this, though not as much as Cinder; the Wolves are pretty damned scary, and I found Scarlet and Wolf's relationship uncomfortable. I know that was the point, but there it is. I also got tired of the constant action in the second half of the book--I began skipping ahead to find out where the action left the characters, so they could actually talk to each other. I was glad for more enlightenment about where Cinder came from, but another cliffhanger ending, argh! I can see why kids really like this series, though....more
I just couldn't finish this. I adored the Percy Jackson series and its offshoots for their expert combination of humor and heart--and it was the heartI just couldn't finish this. I adored the Percy Jackson series and its offshoots for their expert combination of humor and heart--and it was the heart that was totally missing from this book. None of the characters are very sympathetic, even the best of them. Most are bloodthirsty, arrogant, brainless, or a combination of all three. There's a lot of funny stuff and the course of the myths is traditional, but I just couldn't spend any more time with any of these characters. I'd rather spend time with Percy and his friends....more
**spoiler alert** Fish Girl is a mermaid who lives in a boardwalk attraction--a multi-story aquarium built by the man she knows as Neptune, god of the**spoiler alert** Fish Girl is a mermaid who lives in a boardwalk attraction--a multi-story aquarium built by the man she knows as Neptune, god of the sea, who rescued her as a baby from the depredations of humans on the ocean. She has grown up knowing only this world and the creatures in it, helping Neptune keep it going by teasing customers with glimpses of her, and befriending the octopus and other sea life. As she gets older, though, she feels lonely, and when a human girl really sees her, they secretly become friends. Fish Girl begins to question her existence, and who Neptune really is, and where her future might lie.
I love David Wiesner's art and was thrilled to see a graphic novel from him with such gorgeous illustrations (I do wish the pages had been glossy rather than matte, but that's a small thing). The story moves along well for the most part (I did get a little bored in spots when nothing seemed to be happening), and has enough suspense and strong character to keep readers going. My main quibble with the book is the same quibble I have with many books--the message is that if you want friends/family/love/etc., you must give up what makes you unique or different and become like those you want to befriend, etc. To get a new life, you must completely give up your old life and all those in it. Now, there is some truth in that you have to make choices and give things up to get other things, yes, but for a huge number of people that doesn't mean you give up your entire life and all your friends--I went to college across the country, but I still came home and kept old friends and certainly kept my family. Granted, I wasn't a mermaid. But still, why can't characters have both? Just doesn't seem like a great message--conform or be unloved and alone. But that's just me....more
300 years after she was first launched, the icebreaker ship Oyster is still sailing the southern seas, but her purpose has been completely forgotten,300 years after she was first launched, the icebreaker ship Oyster is still sailing the southern seas, but her purpose has been completely forgotten, and her people have split into three tribes based on their duties on the ship. Fighting is endemic. Petrel, age 12, is a Nothing Girl, having no tribe for no reason that she knows. Regularly tormented by bullies, her only friends are two talking rats, who have most unusual skills. She is the one who sees the stranger stranded on an iceberg, but little does she suspect what he will bring onto the ship with him. The nameless boy comes from the world of the anti-machinists; those who were responsible for the destruction of the old world order 300 years in the past. They have learned that a mechanical ship still exists, and have pursued it into the icy southern waters to destroy it—and the demon it carries. The boy has been sent like a Trojan horse to start the destruction. He has no understanding of why this strange girl keeps helping him, or why he continues to have trouble keeping his thoughts on his mission.
I am not a fan of dystopias, but I was looking for some more science fiction books for my sixth graders, and this got great reviews. The reviews are well earned. This is a great action adventure complete with character development and lots of world building. The icy world of the Oyster is beautifully and thoroughly described, but not too excessively for middle school readers. The plot is well set up, and well structured throughout. The characters are sympathetic, or at least Petrel is—Fin becomes more so as he evolves in his thinking. This happens believably, which is impressive. There are a lot of mysteries aboard the ship and in the world, which will keep a reader's attention—and while some are answered, more are clearly going to affect the action in the sequel. Highly recommended....more
Georgie is 37, and has been a comedy writer with her best friend Seth for 20 years. They are right now on the cusp of achieving their ultimate goal ofGeorgie is 37, and has been a comedy writer with her best friend Seth for 20 years. They are right now on the cusp of achieving their ultimate goal of having a show of their own, but it means spending the entire Christmas break writing. Problem is, Georgie is married and has two young girls, and they have plane tickets to Omaha to spend Christmas with her husband's mother. Throughout their marriage, Georgie has tended to prioritize work over family, and Neal has stayed home with the children. Georgie knows that Neal has not been happy for a long time, and when she backs out of Christmas, she begins to fear that her marriage is over. Unwilling to go back to an empty house, she starts staying at her mother's house, and when she can't reach her husband on his cell phone, she digs out her old landline phone and calls his parents' house directly. She reaches Neal, but it's not "her" Neal—it's Neal from 15 years ago, in 1998. That was the first time he had left her, before they were even married. Interspersed with Georgie's ever more nervous breakdown-y present, as she talks to her 1998 Neal, we hear the story of their meeting, courtship, and marriage up until that point. Will she be able to save their marriage? Or just erase the present?
I love Rainbow Rowell's writing, and this is just as beautifully written as her others; the three stars are just because it was pretty depressing. Georgie is not always or even most of the time a very likable character, and neither is her husband. They are always completely believable, though. The book is full of wonderful details about their lives and their personalities, and makes me wonder why I even bother to try writing such rich characters! For me I guess the most depressing thing was that the message it seem to be you can either have your dream, or a stable marriage; not both. I'm not in a position to know whether that's really true, or if it's only true in this case, but it's still depressing. Georgie's career might be in ruins because she chooses her marriage. The career that she has spent 20 years building and was just on the edge of getting what she had wanted for all those 20 years, plus what her friend wanted as well. I guess that's really the whole point of the book; which is more valuable? I just wish it could be both. So, a really well written book—I'm always impressed by writers who handle flashbacks so ably—but not a happy one....more
I have not read the adult version of this, so all I knew about it was that it was about the 1936 Olympic gold winning crew team from UW. I didn't realI have not read the adult version of this, so all I knew about it was that it was about the 1936 Olympic gold winning crew team from UW. I didn't realize this followed one specific rower, Joe Rantz, who had a pretty tough life. This is as much a biography of Joe's young life as it is about the crew team. The text jumps back and forth in time between Joe's life as he grows up and is repeatedly abandoned by his family, and the evolution of the crew team from freshman to junior year. It is pretty impressive what Joe had to cope with, and that he survived and manage to get to the university at all is pretty amazing. I hadn't realized what an up and down few years the crew teams at U dub had before going to the Olympics. I will admit that I skipped over some of the sports details in favor of the human interest. I think this is perfectly understandable for middle school, and it is a story that will keep their attention. I especially appreciated all the little details about various characters' lives that will keep the kids' interest—like black widow spiders in some of the showers!...more
I always thought that I should read this, because I loved Betty McDonald's children's books, and I have several times driven by "Egg And I" lane on myI always thought that I should read this, because I loved Betty McDonald's children's books, and I have several times driven by "Egg And I" lane on my way to port Townsend. I went to a presentation about Betty Macdonald, and learned how popular this book had been, which made me think even more that I ought to read it. At the presentation, it was mentioned that the book had some issues with comments about native Americans that are considered offensive in our times, but I didn't realize just how extensive those comments would be. The racism was so rampant and omnipresent I just couldn't finish the book. In fact, I really didn't get very far because her comments made me so uncomfortable....more
When Reena is 12, she and her family move from New York City to a coastal Maine Town. She and her younger brother love the freedom they have to ride tWhen Reena is 12, she and her family move from New York City to a coastal Maine Town. She and her younger brother love the freedom they have to ride their bikes all over the countryside, and they especially enjoy a riding by a farm that breeds a kind of cow called a belted galloway—they like to stop and watch the cows, and the kids taking care of them. What they don't enjoy so much, is when their mother sends them on an errand to the house of a local elderly woman who turns out to be unfortunately prickly. In defending her younger brother, who is afraid of Mrs. Falala, Reena asserts herself and away the elderly woman finds disrespectful—and reports that to her parents. So her parents volunteer Reena and her brother to help out Mrs. Falala several mornings a week, taking care of her animals—especially her extraordinarily contrary cow, Zora. Although it's pretty much torture at first, gradually Reena and Luke grow accustomed to being with the animals and Mrs. Falala, who is learning to draw from Luke. Although working with Zora is really difficult for Reena, with help from the kids from the other farm, she persists, and even works towards showing Zora at the local fair. Of course, nothing goes as planned.
I listened to this as an audio book, but I understand that it is a combination of poetry and prose. It worked OK as an audio book; might be better in print. The characters are well described, as is the setting. I did find the first many pages with Mrs. Falala and Zora not too much fun to read, since both were so unpleasant, and Reena was really forced into taking on the job but she didn't want. I knew that of course, she would eventually come to love it, because that's the way stories such as this go, and sometimes I wish things were so predictable. I did think this was a better book than a book I think is called "Steering toward normal", also about preparing a cow for a fair; it is nice to get books about a rural rather than an urban or suburban experience, and this seems to be a pretty big deal for kids with access to livestock. I remember the few times I went to the state fair as a kid, I always envied the kids who got to be in the stalls with the cows and other animals, because I read a lot of book set on farms, and I wanted to be one of those kids! So overall, I enjoyed the book, but didn't love it....more
It is 1994, which is important because the lack of cell phones plays a significant role in this story. Christine Bennett, a former nun at Saint StepheIt is 1994, which is important because the lack of cell phones plays a significant role in this story. Christine Bennett, a former nun at Saint Stephen's convent, is at the convent with her policeman husband for a Christmas celebration. The nuns are expecting a visit from a former priest who had worked with the convent for several years, but he never shows up. Although the police find a few clues, in the end they are unable to find him and don't seem too inclined to try further. Christine, who has investigated murders before, starts digging into the priest's past. As clues come to light about a troubled young novice seven years previously who committed suicide, Christine thinks she has a good lead as to what might have happened--can she find out before it's too late?
I enjoyed this well enough. It was disconcerting before I realized it was set in the early 1990s, because of the complete lack of cell phones and Internet use. Because I personally have used computers and Internet since the 1980s, I thought maybe the book was set in the 1970s! In any case, I thought the setting was well described, and was glad that even though there were a lot of nuns, it wasn't an overly religious book. The main character was okay, though I agree with some other reviewers who found it a bit unbelievable that she felt so entitled to push her way into people's homes and ask questions. In other books with amateur detectives, the detectives usually come up with a cover story of some kind, or they have assistance from friends and relatives, or something. I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to talk to someone with no authority whatsoever. Oh well!...more
It's 1989, Noah knows something is up when both parents come to pick him up from school one day. Shock after shock follows as his parents give him a dIt's 1989, Noah knows something is up when both parents come to pick him up from school one day. Shock after shock follows as his parents give him a different name, a different history, a list of carved-in-stone rules to follow, and tell him they're moving--that very day--to East Berlin for six months for his mother to research her dissertation. Noah has no idea what to believe anymore, and finds East Germany depressing, frightening, and mystifying by turns--everyone else he meets just seems either frightened or furious. "They're always listening," his parents tell him. "Always, always." Because of his "astonishing stutter" and incomplete command of German, Noah--now Jonah--is refused schooling, so has little to do all day. Then one day he meets Claudia, a girl his own age who lives downstairs, and they manage to cobble together a friendship. But things are happening around them that neither can control or understand--how is either of them to know or trust anything or anyone? Interspersed with Noah and Claudia's story are long passages about what's really going on in Germany at the time.
I read this for my bookclub, and am not entirely sure what to make of it. I think it raises some great questions, and Noah and Claudia are great characters, but it's so depressing and the infodump sections are a bit dry, so it wasn't an overall win for me. I could see it more as a curriculum book than a free read choice. It certainly poses great questions--I loved that Noah is keenly aware that the "right thing" to do is not always easy to figure out, if it even exists, and means different things to different people. He can't avoid doubting even his own parents, and rightfully so, I should think--they certainly don't trust him. Which is another reason it's so depressing. So...an interesting read, but not a cheerful one....more