Sunday, July 31, 2016

Far From Fair

For Odette life is far from fair.  Her father was willingly laid off to protect the jobs of three other workers and then he and her mother decided to sell the house and everything in it and buy a camper.  Now her family will be on a grand adventure - homeschool, travel.  Her dad even bought her a dog - but no one asked what she wanted.  One of the main reasons to travel is to see her Grandma who has been sick.  But no one told Odette just how sick Grandma really is.  Can Odette learn that life is not always fair but she should cherish it anyway?

This was a quick read, short chapters but kind of a downer - Grandma has terminal cancer and decides that she will decide when to end her life, her parents are struggling (even though Odette is pretty sure she hears them doing something in the camper), and her brother sounds like he is on the spectrum.  There were some light points but overall it was a sad book.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee

It all started when a strange woman appeared at her dad's antique shop and sold him a small antique box.  That night a strange ghostly woman appeared in Thelma's mirror saying "Return" and later Thelma's dad disappeared into the box.  Soon after that Thelma and her friends find a key for the box and Thelma herself goes into the box.  There she meets Annabelle who was cursed 200 years ago by a man she refused.  Now she wants out but she needs Thelma's help.

So, it was pretty good.  Some interesting bits, good friendship with the main characters, some action.  I am wondering if there will be more books about Thelma and the powers she has discovered that she has...

Friday, July 29, 2016

All We Have Left

I have read a lot of books - I receive books from publishers, I get books from NetGalley and Edelweiss - some books are good and some are not.  I had foot surgery 3 weeks ago and am pretty much homebound - lots of reading but a bit stir crazy.  My foot still hurts and sometimes it is hard to block it out and read for an extended period of time.  Not with this book - I started it last night and probably would have stayed up to finish it except my tylenol pm kicked in :)

There have been other 9/11 books but this was fantastic.  It follows the lives of 2 girls.  One who was there on 9/11 and another who lives in the present dealing with the aftermath.

Alia is a Muslim just coming into her own.  She is struggling with her parents - trying to get them to understand her ambition to be a graphic artist but failing miserably.  On 9/11 she goes to the Twin Towers to try and talk her dad into letting her go to a special class.

Jesse is angry and frustrated.  Her brother died on 9/11 but no one knows why he was even there - he wasn't supposed to be there.  Her father won't talk about it, her mom keeps busy to avoid the issue and Jesse starts to hang around with the wrong people.

Told in alternating chapters this book tells about Alia's experiences and how Jesse finds out what happened to her brother on that fateful day.  

I found it beautiful, haunting, and thought provoking.  At first I wondered how appropriate it might be for my age level because of some language and the anger but I highly recommend this book.  So good!

Playground Millionaire

Cleo loves business.  One day she wants to be the CEO of a company and follow in the footsteps of her idol Fortune A. Davies.  Problem is, she's only in 5th grade.  This book focuses on some of her ideas including Cleo's Quick and Painless (nearly) Tooth Removal Service.  Unfortunately, her business runs into some snags and so do some of her friendships.

Cleo was a fun, spunky character and there were some subplots going on about adoption and friendship in general.  A solid middle grade book.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Courage Test

Will's father is obsessed with the William and Clark expedition and all of a sudden Will has to drop everything (including being on the All-State baseball team) to go with his dad on a vacation that traces Lewis and Clark's path.  But why?  It seems to come out of nowhere - especially since he hasn't seen his dad much since the divorce. 

During the journey Will discovers the secret, develops a better relationship with his dad, and has some surprising encounters.

This was a pretty good book with a lot of good information about the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Secret Keepers

Rueben is an adventurous boy - sneaking around, hiding, and climbing.  On one particularly rough climb he finds a mysterious watch.  Thinking he can sell it to help his mom out he takes it around to all sorts of shops where he meets with suspicion and downright thievery.  One owner though tells him that the watch is valuable and wanted.  Soon Rueben finds himself hiding from the mysterious Smoke who wants the watch.  Rueben also figures out what the watch does.  When he attempts to return the watch to the place engraved on it he finds a mystery that spans over a hundred years.  With the help of the lighthouse "secret" keepers Rueben sets out to discover the mystery of the watch and why the Smoke wants it so bad.

Lots of adventure and for a 512 page book it read rather quickly.  Enjoyed it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Oh yes, I liked this.  Back to a Dystopian novel without all the killing.  This one is reminiscent of The Giver.  

In this society, after the Warming, survivors live in the city.  There they do their assigned jobs and everyone gets along.  There are no machines, no music, no art...  It's actually quite boring - at least to Callie, a computer who does math tasks all day long but wishes for more excitement and more meaning.

Jeremy lives in a different area and his job is a dreambender.  He can look into people's dreams and alter them to fit the "Plan".  If someone dreams of inventing something he can shut it down.  But, when he is told to change Callie's dream of singing - he can't.

This begins an adventure where the people in the city and the dreambenders collide.  

I liked the book and some of the ethical considerations.  My only complaint was that it tied up rather neatly and quickly at the end - not quite enough conflict.  

Mighty Jack

This is a take on Jack and the Beanstalk - kind of.  Jack and his sister Maddy go with their mom and meet a stranger who offers them some packs of seeds in exchange for their mom's car keys.  Jack tries to say no, but his sister who usually never talks insists.  When they get home they plant all but one packet of seeds.  What comes up?  Some crazy plants and another plant that attracts a dragon.  Soon Jack, Maddy, and a neighbor are fighting off the plants and trying to figure out what to do.

So I liked the book.  It was fun, good action...  but then it ended.  Serious cliffhanger.  So I am sure there is more to come because Maddy seemed to be in danger and there just needs to be more.  Most likely if I purchase this I will wait until the next one comes out.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Mighty Odds

When I saw who the author of this book was I immediately requested it.  The first book in the Popularity Papers series was on the Maine Student Book Award list and the series is popular in my school.  I was hoping for the same with this.

This book focuses on several kids and a substitute teacher who develop some weird abilities after a bus accident.  Normally the students would have had nothing to do with each other but the accident and the weird after effects have drawn them together.  What really caused the accident?  Why can one of them teleport and another start fires?  Why can one see an invisible man and why is that man invisible?  And what about super thumbs and hearing people's thoughts.

This was very quirky and I had a hard time figuring out what was going on.  Then it ended abruptly and I still don't know what's going on.  I read it as an eBook and I would really like to see the print copy because I think some things were missing.  Overall, I liked it and will probably buy the series for my school but I may wait until at least the second one is out.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Plot to Kill Hitler

I have of course heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the plots to kill Hitler during WWII but I did not really know that much about him.  This book was a good introduction into his life and the events leading to his involvement in conspiracies against Hitler.  Makes me want to read more of his writing.

The Turn of the Tide

This is the story of 2 cousins - Kai and Jet.  Kai is half Japanese and lives in Japan with his parents - both nuclear engineers and near his grandparents.  Jet lives on the Pacific coast in Oregon.  Her father is a bar pilot.  When an earthquake and then tsunami hit Kai's town his life is changed forever.  To keep him safe in the aftermath Kai is sent to stay with his American relatives.  Jet meanwhile is struggling with friendships and with her own desire to someday be a bar pilot.

Together Kai and Jet overcome hesitations and misunderstandings and train for the Treasure Island Race.  But winning isn't everything as Kai and Jet discover during the race.

I really enjoyed this book.  Good action between the characters.  Some middle school drama but it wasn't overboard.  A nice story of determination, forgiveness, and friendship.

These Dark Wings

I wish I had noticed that this was the first in a new trilogy before I started reading it.  Then I might not have been so bummed by the cliff hanging, big reveal ending.  Grrr...

World War II is on and Anne Cooper is living the best she can while London is bombed.  She doesn't remember her father who died in the North Sea and then at the beginning of the book she is told that her mother died while riding a bus during one of the air raids.  Now Anne is living at the Tower of London with an uncle she never met who takes care of ravens.  The legend is that as long as there are ravens at the Tower, the country will be okay.

Ann takes it upon herself to help with the ravens but as the war rages on the ravens start to die or disappear.  Meanwhile, there are constant bombings, friend issues, and a mysterious man that she sees at the Traitor's Gate.

There was a lot of action and I enjoyed the aspects about the war itself and also Anne's friendship with one of the boys living at the tower.  There was a lot of sadness due to the bombings.  What got me the most was the surprise reveal at the end leading to the sequel.  I didn't see that coming and it frustrated me more than anything to leave the book like that. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Soar - Yes Another One

There is a lot going on with this book.  We start with Jeremiah, a boy who was abandoned as a baby and has been raised by his adopted father Walt.  Add in that Jeremiah had heart issues and received a heart transplant.  Jeremiah loves baseball and although he can't play at the moment because of his heart he studies the game.  Walt and Jeremiah move temporarily to an Ohio town for Walt's work.  There Jeremiah decides to help a nonexistent middle school baseball team.  Meanwhile, the town is embroiled in a scandal involving steroid use, the death of a player, and the high school coach.  

Yep there is a lot going on in this book and it works.  Jeremiah is a great character.  Although a lot of the topics are heavy the book as a whole has a positive message.  Well done.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Forever and Forever

I enjoyed this fictionalized account of the relationship of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Fanny Appleton.  This was based on research, letters, and other writings and the author did a good job at the end of distinguishing the fact and fiction.  With the Portland, ME tie to Longfellow I appreciated the book and learning more about him.  I have found recently that I am reading books that are above the age of my primary readers (up to 5th grade).  So, while I enjoyed the book and would recommend it for the junior high or high school I won't get it for my library.  I do like the idea of historical, factual romances - aw... 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stealing Indians

Taken from real life accounts, this fictionalized story follows 4 American Indians who were taken from their homes and sent to a boarding school.  There they suffered abuse and discrimination and were forced to abandon their heritage.  

This was such a sad story and yet it is important for students to know about what happened.  My school only goes through 5th grade and due to the abuse, murder, and suicide attempts I would be leery of having it in my collection but it would be good for a junior high or high school collection.

Rebel of the Sands

Amani just wants to get out.  She is an orphan after her mother killed her father and then was hung.  Now she lives with relatives who don't like her and just want to marry her off.  Her town is in distress and rebellion is in the air.  Her dream is to run away to the town where her aunt lives.  In order to make this happen she enters a shooting contest.  There she meets a stranger and her life takes an unexpected turn.  

Full of adventure, mystery, and unexpected turns this was a fun book for those who like fantasy.  While I enjoyed the book there were aspects that will cause me to pass it on to the junior high or high school rather than my elementary school.  A good read though.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Sharon Creech - oh the love.  I really didn't know anything about this when I requested it.  All I needed was the author.  When I started reading it I was so excited because the family is moving to Maine.  I love Maine!!!  

In the book, Reena, her brother Luke, and their family move from the city to Maine.  Soon after the move the parents volunteer Luke and Reena to help an elderly neighbor with her pets.  Mrs. Falala is a bit odd and it takes the kids awhile to get to know her.  

Of course, the title is Moo so the book primarily revolves around Mrs. Falala's cow, Zora. Reena takes care of Zora and eventually shows her at the fair.

I did like the book but I wish there had been more...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Charlie Reese's family is a mess.  Her father is in a correctional facility and her mom can't take care of her.  Because of the situation Charlie is sent to live with an aunt and uncle she has never met.  Her older sister gets to stay in Raleigh because she will soon graduate.  Charlie is so angry at first and lashes out at classmates and her aunt and uncle.  But as time goes on she starts to adjust and make friends.  She even finds a dog which she calls Wishbone.  She makes the same wish at least once a day using various wish making methods but she is still waiting...  Will her wish ever come true?

This was a nice book.  Nothing overly earth shattering but sweet.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wrong Side of Magic

Hudson Brown does not believe in magic and to prove it he will test out the "magic compass" a girl named Charlotte gave his sister.  But, oops, the magic compass worked and transported him to another world.  While there the first time he received a magical mirror that would make him better looking than those around him.  Yeah, that worked - by making everyone else get boils.  To remedy the situation Hudson and Charlotte go back to Logos to try and rescue the princess and set things right.

A decent enough adventure with nods to The Phantom Tollbooth.  I did like the ending but I wasn't totally enamored by the whole thing.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

All Better Now

This was a well done memoir about Emily Wing Smith.  It talks about her difficult childhood - constant headaches, abuse, a terrible accident, and a brain tumor.  Throughout her life she just wanted to be normal and better.  Gradually Emily adjusts, makes friends, and finds her path in life.  I thought it was a good book.  It is definitely for older students with the abuse and the fact that this goes in Emily's adulthood.  I will recommend this to my junior high and high school colleagues.

Click Here to Start

Okay, I loved this so much.  Possibly because I am totally fascinated by and the idea of Escape Rooms (haven't gone yet, want to).  I love mysteries, puzzles, challenges.

Ted is an escape room master.  He can solve games quickly.   When Ted goes to visit his dying great uncle he is a bit baffled by the conversation about his gaming and how he is told that the box is just the beginning and to go for broke.  Weird.  Then when his uncle dies and leaves his apartment and its treasure to Ted... well, then it starts getting interesting.  With the help of his best friend and a new girl in town, Ted scrambles to solve the puzzles and uncover the mystery.  But, it's not all fun and games because there are others looking for this treasure as well.

Yep...loved it.  A bit of history tied in, puzzles, friendship...  Thinking there will be more to it since a few things were left unsolved but it wasn't a bad ending...

Friday, July 15, 2016

Wolf Hollow

The time is 1943 and Annabelle's family lives in a small town.  They are well to do for their town but still work hard.  Annabelle's goes to school, does her chores, and has a pretty normal life.  But when Betty comes to town things change.  Betty is a bully and goes after Annabelle and others in her anger.  Annabelle tries to stay out of her way and fortunately Toby is around to help her a few times.  Toby is a WWI vet.  He's a little odd.  He lives in a shed by himself, wanders around the surrounding hills, and doesn't really talk to anyone.  Annabelle's family often leaves him food and let him use their camera.  

But not everyone like Toby's odd ways and when a girl gets seriously hurt and then Annabelle's brother also gets hurt accusations start flying.  Then Betty goes missing and everyone fears the worst.  Can Annabelle prove that Toby is harmless and that Betty is the one causing problems?

So good - Annabelle's inner turmoil,the honest and painful plot.  Loved this book.

She Stood for Freedom

This book tells the story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland who participated in the Civil Rights Movement - sit ins, protests, Freedom Riders, and even attended a college for black students.  What was remarkable about this was that she was a white woman who grew up in the south.  In participating she alienated many friends and family members and yet she stood for what she believed in.

While I enjoyed the book and hearing about this remarkable woman I am reminded about a book from last year that I liked that told about the Civil Rights movement.  One of the complaints I heard about the book was that it was told from a white girl's perspective and not through the lens of an african american.  Is that a problem with this book as well?  Do we need more books that focus on their experiences?

The Rise of the Lioness

For my second insomnia book we have this conservation story of how an area in Africa became unbalanced and the efforts that have been made to restore it.  The book focused on the one lioness who was left in the area.  I was really enjoying the book and then unfortunately the eBook arc that I was reading was all jumbled up somehow and it was difficult to read.  I would love to see a physical copy of the book to give a better reaction.  

Books of this type are very popular right now and I love how they focus on a specific animal to tell the story.

The Poet's Dog

I usually don't have any trouble sleeping but the last few nights have been awful - so I read 3 short books last night.

When you see Patricia MacLachlan you instantly think it could be good.  And this was but...

The book starts with the dog Teddy finding Nickel and Flora in a bad snowstorm by their broken down car.  Their mom went to try and get help but the kids are freezing.  Teddy rescues them by taking them to his home.  As the story progresses we find that Teddy is not an ordinary dog.  He is the poet Sylvan's dog - and he can talk to poets and children.  During the storm that last for days the children and Teddy survive by finding food and keeping each other warm.  The reader learns more about Sylvan and Teddy and how recently Sylvan died.  When the storm ends a former student of Sylvan's, Eliza, comes to check on Teddy and helps to reunite the children with their parents.  

That is when the book just ended too weirdly or neatly for me - Sylvan's last message to Teddy had been something about jewels and the reader finds out an interesting connection between the kids, Sylvan, and jewels.  It just seemed too weird at that point. 

A nice little book but not a favorite of mine.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Quiet Power

As an introvert myself, who often feels overshadowed and misunderstood, I appreciate this book and the message it has.  I think overall the text is too dense for an elementary school library like mine but will definitely be sending my copy to the junior high or high school library.

A Boy Named Queen

I am not sure what to do with this book.  The description on NetGalley interested me but as I read the book - quickly - I realized the description was the whole book.  There needed to be a lot more.

Evelyn's mom controls her and she is a good girl.  When Queen, the new boy, moves in she is horrified by the bullying her receives and becomes his friend.  She is the only one invited to his birthday party where she mets his parents - one of whom was in a famous rock band.  Then she brings something special to their share and hype at school and... that's it.  

I was confused by the time period - at first it felt 70s - the shoes, the chalk but then there were cell phones.  Was that intentional?  Just too short...

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

What a cool book!!  One of the first in a long time that I had a hard time putting down.  But, up front let me say I will not be putting it in my library or recommending for MSBA due to swearing, underage drinking, and sex (I will probably see if the junior high or high school library want it).

Aspen Quick's family has a special power that keeps the cliff outside of town intact.  If they did not use their power of "reaching" the cliff would crumble and take out the whole town.  At least that is what Aspen has always been told.  Aspen is a great "reacher".  He can touch an item belonging to someone and then reach out and take something from them - an emotion, talent, physical attribute.  Aspen has grown up with this and using his talent comes without any second thoughts because it is helping to save the town and what's the harm in using it to for some personal benefit.  

But there is some mystery surrounding his cousin Heather's death and a boy who suddenly can't see and his grandmother who isn't really his grandmother.  

Lots to love here - ethics, some mystery, friendship, with a healthy dose of fantastical elements.  Funny when I read it I was imagining the Man of the Mountain in New Hampshire.  Maybe a family there was keeping it from crumbling - until they, like the Quick family in the book, decided not to anymore ;0

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Maxine (Max) is really excited when a robot student is integrated into her school and she is chosen to help guide him around.  This robot has been programmed to use fuzzy logic and to solve problems and reprogram itself.  At first Fuzzy experiences some glitches but as time goes on he becomes more self aware.  Fuzzy's biggest mission is to help Max who keeps getting discipline tags from the Assistant Principal Barbara (who is a computer).  She is also failing tests that she thought she did well on.  In Barbara's attempt to make the school a better place is she singling out students who are troublemakers?  Meanwhile, Fuzzy's mission is more than it seems and there are those who would like to steal either Fuzzy or his programming.

This was a fun, light sci fi book that had enough of the robots becoming self aware to give it some meat but also humor and lighthearted action as well.  Loved it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Little Dee and the Penguin

For anyone who actually ever reads my blog you probably know I am not a big graphic novel fan.  I think it is because I read so quickly that I have a hard time slowing down enough to "read" the graphics as well.  So while I did not really like this book myself, my students will probably enjoy it.

The book is about a menagerie of characters - an orphaned girl, a bear, a dog, a vulture, and a lost penguin.  The girl, ends up with the animals after her dad's funeral and she joins them on a madcap journey to return the penguin to his family - barely keeping ahead of two polar bears.  The bickering between characters was fun and the message was good.  Because Dee doesn't talk it was hard for me to "relate" to her or feel like she was a main character, but in the end she brought them all together.  

So, while I didn't particularly like...this book will be in the library and my students will enjoy it.

Crossing the Line

Jocelyn was kidnapped 10 years ago by a North Korean spy agency and forced to become a spy for them.  But ever since she learned that her parents were part of a US spy agency she has tried to figure out a way to escape.  When KATO decides to send her in as a double agent she finds her opening.  But with old grudges from past encounters and some secrets that she doesn't want anyone to know, it is hard for Jocelyn to not only gain the trust of the US agents but also to trust herself.  Can she convince KATO she is still working for them and prevent a war from breaking out.

I really enjoyed this a lot.  Nonstop action and Jocelyn's character and her struggles were very real.  It was painful though - to see how the agency controlled her and what she had to overcome.  With several fbombs early in the book I knew it wouldn't be a book I could recommend for MSBA or even have in my library but I will be sending it to the junior high or high school.  I may even have to take time out to read the next installment when it comes out.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Some Writer

I love Melissa Sweet's work and who better to do a biography of beloved Maine author, E.B White, than another beloved Maine author Melissa Sweet.  Told through clips of E.B Whites letters, essays, sections of his children's books and narrative this biography is very thorough and gives a great glimpse into the life of E.B White.  Loved this book and can't wait to add it to my collection.

Swan Boy

Johnny's father has recently died and he, his mother, and his younger brother Mojo have moved to a smaller apartment.  Johnny struggles with fitting in and gets off on the wrong foot immediately with the school bully.  Instead of a normal punishment, a teacher asks the boys to be a part of Swan Lake.  But how can dancing and acting like a swan help Johnny with his popularity?  

This book is filled with Johnny struggling with his identity, with loss, and with bullying.  I often struggle with books about bullying.  I work in a school and I hope the bullying is not as bad as is portrayed in this book.  There is fighting, skipping school, etc.  In the end I liked the book and its message but I still am unsure about whether I would have this in the library - not only for the bullying aspect but due to the highly British nature of the book.  Hmmm.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Lonely Ones

Fain is lonely.  Her family is struggling to make ends meet, her older brother and sister leave her out, and her best friend moved a way.  To combat the loneliness Fain writes and escapes with the monsters at night.  This book is written in free verse and follows Fain as she navigates new friendships, issues of trust, and the decision to stay with the monsters or try to get her family back.

I enjoyed the book.  The poetry was heartfelt and engaging.  Because of the drinking scene at the party I would recommend this book more for junior high as opposed to the 5th graders at my school.

Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge

This was a very short introduction to Nikola Tesla.  While the information in the book was good, it was very simple and short.  It might be enough to give students a taste of who Nikola Tesla was and his relationship with Edison but readers who were curious would need to find a longer book.

Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters

I have seen a lot of books based on folklore - Asian folklore in particular this year.  I think that is pretty cool that tales from other cultures are being recognized.  This book is about Xander who in all honesty is nothing special - not athletic, not a great student.  He likes to draw and that's about it.  He is lucky to have Peyton as a friend because Peyton is popular and athletic and helps keep Xander from being teased.  Life is going along pretty normally except that there are weird climate change events and natural disasters.  Then, a huge tsunami strikes their home on a mountain and takes his father.  It is then that Xander learns he is actually a Momotaro and it is up to him to save his dad - oh, and the world.  With the help of Peyton, his dog, and a mysterious girl, Xander learns how to conquer the evil in the world with faith and imagination.

This book was okay but I had some trouble getting really hooked by it.  I think students who enjoy Percy Jackson and other books based on myths, legends, and folktales and especially Japanese culture will enjoy this.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Monster Science

This book takes a scientific look at our favorite monsters.  Each famous monster is introduced first by discussing the history of the legends or tales.  Then there are several pages for each monster describing the science behind whether they could or could not exist.  While I found some sections better than others, overall the book was a fun look at these monsters.  I think this will be a popular book at my school.

Jazz Day

I thoroughly enjoyed this book for a variety of reasons.  First, I had never heard of this photograph and learned a lot.  The introduction to the book really set the stage.  The poems were well done and followed the event and highlighted both the famous and the bystanders.  The author's note gave more information and how the book was created.  Then there were biographies of the people mentioned in the poems.  Well done!!

Crossing Niagara

This was a nice look at Blondin's crossing of Niagara Falls.  I had no idea that Blondin did this more than once so I learned something ;0  As usual for a Matt Tavares book the illustrations were wonderful.  I wish there had been more about some of the feats - especially on the double page spread.  I have heard a story that Blondin asked if anyone would ride in the wheelbarrow with him.  It appears no one did but I was impressed that he carried his manager on his back ;0

Waiting for Augusta

Ben has had a lump in his throat the size of a golf ball ever since his father died 2 months ago.  No one believes him and of course no one would believe him if he told them his dad is talking to him from his urn.  His dad wants Ben to take him to the Masters Tournament in Augusta and scatter his ashes on the 18th green.  As Ben is debating whether to go he meets a mysterious girl named Nona who is a wanderer and offers to go with him.  Together they set off for Augusta - stealing food, a car, clothes, and hitching a ride on a coal car.  Ben continues to talk to his father and they both come to terms with his failures as a father and his death.  

So...  I enjoyed the story well enough but not so much that I was compelled to finish it quickly.  Nona was a mystery and I liked what happened with her although I found it a bit confusing.  The subplot of segregation was interesting.  Overall good but not mind blowing.  Not a big fan of the cover... too young looking.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Great Leopard Rescue

The Great Leopard Rescue is about the efforts to save the Amur Leopard in Russia.  When the author started the book there were only 30 left.  The book tells about the leopards, hows they became endangered, and the efforts being made to save them.  I found the breeding and spare population efforts especially interesting.  This is a solid choice for collections that have books on endangered animals.

Soar - Wymer

Eddie is a birder just like his father.  But his father is gone and all Eddie wants to do is prove once and for all that his father really did see a golden eagle.  For his seventh grade science project he sets out to do just that but unfortunately he is paired with his worst enemy who stole his bike, calls him names, and isn’t doing his share.  Can Eddie navigate new friendships, the grief of losing his father, and find the golden eagle?

This was a solid enough story.  Not overly groundbreaking but decent middle grade fiction.

Patrick Griffin's Last Breakfast on Earth

Nothing exciting ever happens to Patrick Griffin - the middle of seven children.  That is until the day he is accidentally left home alone.  Patrick figures it is the perfect time to try a chemistry experiment.  Unfortunately the experiment doesn’t work and it coincidentally leads to a bizarre adventure.  At the exact time of his failed experiment a jackalope for another world is sent to Earth.  As a result, he is sent to Ith - a balance is needed after all.

On Ith, Patrick encounters an advanced society with many marvels but which has also given up some of its freedoms and privacy.  Most of the time Patrick actually thinks he is dreaming.  But, when it all becomes clear to him he has to make a decision - help prevent what happened on Ith from happening on Earth or just pretend not to care.

The book was interesting.  There were parts I enjoyed and then there were parts that really annoyed me.  It became apparent, when there were less than 100 pages left, that it was not going to end well.  I am sure there is a sequel in the works.  Patrick is back on Ith but the fight has just started in the quest to save Earth…

Monday, July 4, 2016

Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle

I was interested in this book because of the time travel aspect which I love but...

Sam Miracle's arms are useless and he goes in and out of dreams and episodes where he passes out.  What he doesn't know is that has actually lived and died hundreds of times in an attempt to stop a Vulture from devastating the world.  With the help of Father Tiempo and his new friend Gloria, Sam tries again to defeat the Vulture and save his sister.

Initially I liked the book.  I was intrigued and curious.  But...there were too many unanswered questions.  The biggest being - why Sam?  What's the deal with him?  Then when his arms were replaced with snakes - well, it just got too weird.

Sorry...this didn't work for me.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Maypop Kidnapping

Quinnie lives on a small Maine town with her father who runs the local diner and her mom who is the postal worker, real estate agent, and sheriff.  She doesn't go to school and is taught by a neighbor.  When her teacher doesn't show up on the first day of school, Quinnie fears that she has been kidnapped.  Her mother and other townspeople are not initially concerned until a few days go by and a mysterious letter arrives.  Quinnie and her best friend Ben and a new girl Ella try to investigate even though Quinnie's mom has told her to stay out of trouble.

This was a decent enough mystery.  I had figured out who was probably responsible early on but there were some surprises and students would probably not figure it out as easily as I did.  There was good interaction between the characters and some decent action and suspense.