Sunday, June 17, 2018

Clem Hetherington and the Ironwood Race

Clem and her robot brother have run away from the orphanage where they have lived since their parents died.  Clem really wants to work as an archeologist but because she is only 14 no one takes her seriously.  That is until Kilburn, a former colleague of their parents shows up and gives them an assignment.  They can run in the Ironwood Race - a race designed to find long lost relics.  If they win they can do what they want with the relics - donate them to a museum which is what Clem wants or sell them on the black market which is what Kilburn wants.

Easier said than done though - the race is dangerous and not everyone is as they seem.  I liked this - action, adventure.  I am not sure I liked the choice Clem made at the end - questionable morals.  There will be more installments of this I am sure.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Amal Unbound

Amal loves her family and their simple life.  She enjoys school and dreams of being a teacher some day.  But, after an unfortunate incident where she talked back to one of the members of the most important family in the village, Amal finds herself indentured to the same family as punishment.  Is Amal destined to live a life of servitude?  Can she find the courage to speak out about something that happened?

This was a wonderful book.  It provides a glimpse into life in another culture without being too heavy.

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Whale in Paris

It is WWII in Paris.  Chantal and her father are struggling to make ends meet as are the rest of the Parisians.  One night, while fishing, Chantal sees a whale in the Seine.  Unbelievable.  Over the next fews days she confirms her sighting and makes friends with the creature.  She soon even begins offering rides to people - the result is a hopeful, joyous spirit so needed in wartime.  But, the whale also captures the attention of the Germans who want to capture it for a future aquarium in the city after the war.  Then, when Chantal's father and aunt are captured by the Germans Chantal must make a choice.  Save her family and save the whale...

This was a nice historical fiction - light enough to be a good introduction to WWII for younger readers with enough heart for slightly older readers as well.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Book of Boy

Oh the controversy.  I heard a booktalk about this book in early May and had placed it near the top of my pile to read.  Then 2 other people on my committee read it and both raised "concerns" about the religious aspects.  So, of course I needed to read it.

If you don't already know.  I am a Christian.  My father is a pastor in upstate NY but I am a Christian because it is what I believe.  It is pretty uncommon really in my dual profession - teacher and librarian to be conservative.  I often feel like I am a long voice.

So why the religious concerns?  This book is set in the middle ages - a time of pilgrimages and superstitions.  Boy, a hunchback, is hired (loosely speaking) to accompany a pilgrim in search of religious relics.  Secundus, the pilgrim, has his reasons for wanting the relics and is not always honest in the way he acquires them.  At first Boy is hoping to get home in a few days but as he learns of the quest and the ultimate destination in Rome he decides to stay with Secundus and try to get his only wish.  I won't spoil what Boy wishes for or some of the surprises along the way.

So, Middle Ages and religious relics.  So there is a lot of talk of heaven, hell, St. Peter, St. Paul, superstition, etc.  Pretty typical for a book set in the Middle Ages if you ask me.  Is the concern that "religious" parents will find it offensive because it in some way mocks that era and the obsessive search for relics.  Or is the concern that it is too religious for those who want nothing to do with religion at all.  Honestly I found it funny and could appreciate the humor in it - so I wasn't offended.  But I guess I can't really speak for those who might find too much talk of heaven, hell, etc offensive.

In all, it was a pretty fun book.  It is not perfect and I think it would be a hard sell but as a historical fantasy it had some charm.

Crimson Ash

I liked the premise of the book and the beginning.  It is a Dystopian world ravaged by a virus.  Now there is city where people live predictable lives and there are soldiers who have been brainwashed.  As the soldiers find resistance or people outside the city they give them a choice - live in the city or die.  The book begins with Ember giving that choice to someone she knew from her old life and who is her sister's fiancee (Quill) - but she doesn't remember any of that and she kills him.  She is "rescued" soonafter and her memories are restored but now she has to live with what she has done - not only to Quill but to many others.  Then there is Solanine - she wants her sister back but the damage is extensive.

I liked the fist half of the book but then things started going back and forth - captured, escape, under mind control, not under mind control and there were so many issues - cutting, suicide, death, regret.  It was pretty heavy.  In addition, the pov changed from 1st to 3rd depending on whether it was Emmy or Solanine and it was jarring.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

We Own the Sky

As anyone knows who reads or follows this blog (anyone?) I read primarily for the Maine Student Book Award - meaning recent titles intended for grades 4 - 8.  Yes, I sometimes delve into young adult or adult fiction especially between March and May but rarely at other times.  That said, I really have no idea how this one got on my list.  It was on NetGalley and I must have requested it probably back in November or December which is a tricky time.  At that point I am furiously reading the last of that year's MSBA contenders but am already seeing the next year's titles on NetGalley and Edelweiss so I start requesting and downloading and then can't really read them til March after the list is done.  So I requested this, then never got to it and it actually was archived and wasn't available on my Kindle, so I got it from the library (I am kind of obsessed with reading/reviewing all books I get approved for).  But, when I started reading it I realized it is not a children's book or a middle grade book or even YA.  So why did I request it in the first place???  No clue...

The book is about Rob, Anna, and their son Jack who is diagnosed with brain cancer.  Rob is desperate to find a cure and turns to a questionable clinic against his wife's wishes.  In the end the clinic is a fraud, Jack dies, and Anna leaves him.  The book tells of his struggles through the cancer, treatment, Jack's death, and Rob's eventual healing.  It was really good and I am glad I took the time to read it.

Voices From the Underground Railroad

Told in alternating voices of poetry this is the story of Jeb and Mattie as they escape from slavery from Maryland to Connecticut.  The characters are young and it is pretty simplistic but it is a good introduction.