This one didn't have me at hello, but it definitely grew on me. Alex is obsessed with rockets. He's designed a rocket that he thinks will make it intoThis one didn't have me at hello, but it definitely grew on me. Alex is obsessed with rockets. He's designed a rocket that he thinks will make it into space and, modeling himself on his hero Carl Sagan, Alex starts recording messages for extraterrestrials on a golden iPod to send in his rocket. He makes his way to a rocket convention in New Mexico, but that's only the beginning of his crazy journey.
This book has a lot to say about family - both the family you're born with and the family you get to choose. Alex has an interesting narrative voice; it's never specified but I believe he may be on the autism spectrum. He's endearing, for sure, both to the reader and to the characters in the book who end up throwing their lot in with him. The plot stretched my sense of disbelief at points, but overall it's a memorable journey.
I would hand this to fans of the narrative voices in Rain Reign or Counting by 7s or of the road trip story arc like Walk Two Moons, etc. ...more
Two of my favorite kidlit superstars team up for this heartfelt graphic novel that's perfect for fans of Smile or Sunny Side Up. Shannon Hale's memoirTwo of my favorite kidlit superstars team up for this heartfelt graphic novel that's perfect for fans of Smile or Sunny Side Up. Shannon Hale's memoir of struggling to make and keep Real Friends during her elementary school years is accessible and poignant. This is a book that will strike a chord with many young readers. LeUyen Pham's expressive artwork is a perfect match for the story and text. I have long been a fan of her work and I'm thrilled to see more longform art from her. In the acknowledgements, Pham says that Hale's story could very well be her own (another testament to how universal and needed this story is) and it shows in the care she takes with the artwork. This is a must-purchase for library and classroom collections!...more
This book is a real treat for lovers of character-driven works. This story of a Jamaican family is told from different perspectives, allowing readersThis book is a real treat for lovers of character-driven works. This story of a Jamaican family is told from different perspectives, allowing readers to get the full benefits of the reveals and twists of the plot as we go along. Margot would do anything to help her teenage sister Thandi succeed, including debasing herself at the hotel she works at in order to help pay for Thandi's school fees and to try to get ahead. Thandi faces life with the full pressure of her entire family heaped on her back. Although Margot assumes that Thandi will go on to become a doctor and pull the family out of their current poverty, that career path is the furthest thing from Thandi's wishes.
Bahni Turpin narrates the audiobook, which was stellar. Lots of the dialog is written in patois, which was difficult for me to decipher while reading the print but much easier to understand in audio format. ...more
A collection of translated poetry on a theme other than love for Read Harder 2017 Task #23 (okay, some of the poems are about love, but there are alsoA collection of translated poetry on a theme other than love for Read Harder 2017 Task #23 (okay, some of the poems are about love, but there are also themes of separation and war/homeland). Landays are traditional folk poems that are especially shared by women; because they are often traditional and have long-forgotten authors, women can't be blamed for their content and don't get in trouble for reciting them.
The poems included in this book are translated by American journalist Eliza Griswold, who worked with many native speakers to translate the poetry while keeping the spirit of the words intact. The poems are sometimes funny and surprising, sometimes haunting. Many of the poems collected here are old poems that have been given modern twists - where a traditional poem might have mentioned British officers, it may now mention American soldiers, for example.
Eliza Griswold provides explanatory notes for many of the poems, helping American readers understand the cultural context and references. Accompanying the poems are black and white photos from Afghanistan, taken by Seamus Murphy.
I appreciate this glimpse into the world of Afghani women, although having a white American translator between us gives me pause. But the task was to read poetry in translation, so maybe that's part of the point. Griswold explains her process of translating in the introduction to the book and her decision to put many of them into rhyming words to mimic the lilt of the original language.
I do not read much poetry (especially adult poetry!), so this was something very different for me!...more
Thank goodness for the interwebs because I never would have found or picked up this book on my own, but I really loved it. It was a book I didn't wantThank goodness for the interwebs because I never would have found or picked up this book on my own, but I really loved it. It was a book I didn't want to put down and that I relished coming back to because I loved the protagonist Juliet so much and I wanted to know more of her story. Juliet, a gay, newly feminist, college student from the Bronx, takes a summer internship in Portland, Oregon with her idol, author Harlowe Brisbane and her life begins to change. Juliet isn't sure what she wants out of this internship except to spend more time with her favorite author, but she ends up learning a ton about feminism, gender identity, race, and more.
The book is written in a conversational tone; I could believe that Juliet was sitting down and telling me the story of her summer. Emotions are raw and real.
The book could have used better editing - aside from typos and small inconsistencies some parts came across as a little expository or didactic, like Juliet needs gender identities explained to her so that Rivera can educate the reader about them. And I think this is a story that could easily be set in modern day, so the 2002 setting is a little odd (authors setting teen novels in the era of their own teenhood is a pet peeve of mine, tho...).
BUT ALL THAT ASIDE, I did just truly enjoy this book and hope to read much more from Gabby Rivera. Would hand to older teen or new adult readers who want a great lesbian character to love or who want a little education about feminism, gender identity, etc. As I was reading, I realized that this book fit Read Harder 2017 task #19 - Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey. Huzzah!...more
I picked up this book because it seems like everyone is reading it or has read it and I wanted to join in the conversation. Living fairly close to wheI picked up this book because it seems like everyone is reading it or has read it and I wanted to join in the conversation. Living fairly close to where this memoir is set, I do feel like I got some insights from it. There were parts of this book that I couldn't put down and I enjoyed reading about J.D.'s struggle and success in lifting himself out of the poverty he grew up in. I'm not sure how I feel about the sociological aspects of this book. The author is quick to compare his culture to everyone and speculate that his people are the worst off, which isn't a very wide view of things. However, I do think he manages to explain why hillbillies are the way they are without blaming them OR excusing their behavior.
I would suggest this book for folks who like reading memoirs about people growing up with childhood trauma. ...more
The illustrations in this book are amazing - I had to convince myself that they weren't photographs at some points because of the brilliant blending oThe illustrations in this book are amazing - I had to convince myself that they weren't photographs at some points because of the brilliant blending of colors and the use of light and shadow. They aren't even really photorealistic images, but something about them just really grabbed me.
The Great Auk is extinct, which is sad. But what makes it tragic is that auks flourished until modern humans arrived on the scene and quickly decimated their populations for food, fuel, etc. And even after it was obvious that the Great Auk was in trouble, humans made them collectors' items, striving to kill the very last two in existence.
Jan Thornhill portrays this drama with gravitas but without edging into being maudlin. This is an important story for young conservationists to know and should find a place in classroom units about ecology, the environment, or food chains. ...more
I read this for the Read Harder Challenge's micropress category. It was an intriguing premise - a woman who I guess felt sexually repressed moves to aI read this for the Read Harder Challenge's micropress category. It was an intriguing premise - a woman who I guess felt sexually repressed moves to a new city and gets a job as a sex hotline operator. I think I would have rather read the book that Emma dreamed she might write in this novel. ...more
A rich science-fiction/fantasy (maybe just sci-fi? not sure) story set in a world where people with powers are feared and outcast but necessary to maiA rich science-fiction/fantasy (maybe just sci-fi? not sure) story set in a world where people with powers are feared and outcast but necessary to maintain human life. When a natural disaster could thrust the world into a season of hunger and despair, the orogenes can control the earth, shifting it to protect people from shakes or volcanoes.
Robin Miles narrates the audiobook and although her voices aren't always consistent I just love listening to her voice. She has a really smooth, pleasing reading voice and I will probably listen to her read anything.
Interweaving stories come together masterfully in this fully-imagined world. I would hand this to adult readers of rich high fantasy stories. The third book in the trilogy comes out this year. ...more
This collection of stories, while sometimes difficult to read, showcases Roxane Gay's mastery of characters. Many of the women in these stories are deThis collection of stories, while sometimes difficult to read, showcases Roxane Gay's mastery of characters. Many of the women in these stories are dealing with tragedy - loneliness, loss of a child, physical violence - and they cope in a variety of ways. These stories tackle some tough subjects, which can make them tough to read. This wasn't a collection that I breezed through. In such short bursts, Gay is able to create characters and evoke settings and situations that will not soon leave my mind.
I would suggest this book for lovers of feminist writing, especially fans of short stories. ...more
I've never read her blog and if I was a fan of her blog I bet I would have enjoyed this more. I was hoping to get ideas about rituals and traditions II've never read her blog and if I was a fan of her blog I bet I would have enjoyed this more. I was hoping to get ideas about rituals and traditions I could start with my niece but I didn't pick out a whole bunch that I thought would work for us. The book did inspire me to think about where we could make our own rituals, which I'm sure we'll do in time.
One GREAT thing that I'm going to start is making notes about Thanksgiving dinners and keeping them in a notebook to look back in....more