Sunday, January 21, 2018

The War I Finally Won

Truly wonderful.  It is hard for me to compare the 2 books since I listened to the fist on audio which was magical and read this one.  I almost wish I had gotten the audio for this as well.  Ada is a treasure.

Snow Lane

Annie is the youngest of 9 kids.  The family is poor but there is a darker secret going on.  On the outside they look like a decent family - good Catholics, mom plays the organ at church but they are falling apart.  Mom tries to keep up appearances but she is overwhelmed and when she snaps it isn't pretty.  Annie's sisters and brother cope in different ways - lashing out, running away, fighting.  Eventually things come to a head and Annie has to decide if her family is worth fighting for.

This was a tough read and yet had some funny moments like every time Annie swore she had a bunch of Hail Marys in parenthesis.  

Friday, January 19, 2018

Outside In

Ram is a homeless boy who lives off food left at shrines and from the profits he makes playing gilli.  But one day he bets the wrong boy and gets chased through the village.  He loses a bag of precious coins and ends up following a man who found it.  He ends up in the forest and there he discovers that the man, Nek, has been building statues out of junk.  Soon the two become friends and Ram helps Nek with his statues and Nek tells Ram some of the stories behind the Indian holidays.  But when outsiders threaten Nek's garden Ram has to figure out a way to either keep it a secret or help Nek's statues get the recognition they deserve.

This book is based somewhat on Nek Chand, a real artist from India.  In addition, the tales that Nek tells are simplified versions of the original tales.  The book as a whole is woven together well and will help children learn about another culture.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Project Terra: Crash Course

My last 2017 book that has been previously unreviewed by MSBA members.

Elara grew up on a planet of farmers but she has been accepted on scholarship to a school for terra forming.  When she gets to the planet she soon makes friends.  But something is off.  There is a weird warning from one of her friends, professors keep disappearing, and honestly it seems like someone is out to get her.  Can Elara figure out what is going on and save the world?

This was a pretty fun read and is the first in a series.  I did not find it as funny as it was advertised to be but it was good.

Betty Before X

So, confession.  Sometimes when I choose (hoard) books from NetGalley and Edelweiss I don't read the descriptions very thoroughly.  Often I (gasp) choose a book by it's cover or author or whatever.  Sometimes it comes back to bite me - I don't realize it's a sequel or it is too mature for my audience.  Sometimes by the time I actually read it (because I hoard some of them for months before I get to them) I forget what they were going to be about.  Case in point - Betty Before X.  I read the whole book and really enjoyed it and it wasn't until I read the afterward that I realized that the X was Malcolm X and this was the story of his wife Betty when she was a child - before X.  Oh.....

This book is a fictionalized account of Betty's young life.  Her birth in the south, her upbringing away from a young, abusive mother, and early exposure to racial tension.  Then it follows her to Detroit where she lived with her mother's new family for awhile and then moves in with another couple.  It tells of her growing awareness of social justice and the fight for equality and freedom.  

I thought the book was well done.  It shows a girl's struggle to understand her surrounding, to find love and purpose, to count her blessings in the midst of struggle, and to keep on.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dragonfly Song

This is one of those books that I can't believe we almost missed.  Fortunately a former MSBA member reviewed this and I decided to request it and read it.  Wow - this is really something.

Aissa was born to an important lady on her island.  She was born with a deformity - extra thumbs - which were removed by her dad right after her birth.  But then her dad died the next day seemingly as punishment.  So Aissa was sent with a healer to be left to die.  

But the healer took Aissa instead to a family who had just lost a child.  There she stayed until she was 4 and raiders killed her foster father and kidnapped her foster mother and siblings.  The last thing her mother told her was not to make a sound until they were reunited.

And she didn't.  Not when she was found, not when she was taken to live with a relative, not when she was abandoned and taken in as a lowly servant.  She never said a word.  But she listened, learned and dreamed.  

Every year her island had to give a boy and girl as tribute to the Bull King.  When Aissa was 12 she ended up going (due to another accident orchestrated by the goddess).  In her new life she learned not only about bull dancing but also was a priestess for awhile.

Without spoilers I will say that eventually Aissa found her voice and found her rightful place at long last.

The book was part prose and part poetic narrative and was beautifully done.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Flower Moon

This is the time of year when I am still reading books from last year for MSBA but because of my hoarding tendencies on Edelweiss and NetGalley I am also reading newly published books (eBooks while on elliptical).  I must say, so far the 2018s I have read have been good.

Tally Jo and Tempest are twins - just like their mother and aunt, and their grandmother and her sister.  They have always been close but lately Tempest has developed new interests and hasn't needed Tally Jo to stand up for her and help her out.  Tally Jo is upset, confused, and worried that she is losing her sister.  What is worse is that it feels like there is an actual barrier between them.

Turns out... there is.  There is some kind of curse that has run in their family.  It is why their mom and aunt never see each other, why their grandmother and her sister lived on opposite sides of the country.  Together the girls try to figure out what is happening, how it is related to the Flower Moon, and how to keep it from forcing them apart.

I really enjoyed this.  A bit of magic, lots of heart, even a budding little romance to please the middle school readers.