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Category: Written reviews

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl

“Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

A written review by Adrienne

Cather and her twin sister Wren (get it?) move to college leaving their dad behind. Mom left the family when the girls were eight. Since then the three of them had to fend for themselves. Cath (as she prefers to be called) cocoons her life with a passive boyfriend, her sister’s friends and the books of Simon Snow (our world’s Harry Potter.) In high school, Cath and Wren write slash fan fiction with the two main adversaries of Simon Snow.

When college starts Wren decides she wants be more independent and not room with Cath. As Cath tries to reconstruct her routine she withdraws more and more into continuing writing the fan fiction and school. It is her exasperated roommate that finally forces Cath to start interacting with others.

A character development story, Rowell Cath is reluctant who likes her life the way it was, despite its own problems. Cath is a likeable character in that her shyness is one other quiet people who hide away into books can relate. Each chapter opens with quotes from both the fictional fantasy book “Simon Snow” and from Cath’s fan fiction. I found the fan fiction story compelling and more interesting than the “cannon” version which seemed safe and ordinary by comparison. I was sad to finish “Fangirl.” I really liked that world. Recommended for Upper Middle School and up.

Lucky Ducklings: A True Rescue Story by Eva Moore and Nancy Carpenter

Lucky Ducklings

“Lucky Ducklings: A True Rescue Story” by Eva Moore and Nancy Carpenter

A written review by Adrienne

On a small island, in a small town, in a small park on a small pond lives Mama Duck, and her ducklings: Pippin, Bippin, Tippin, Dippin and Little Joe. One day Mama Duck decides to go for a walk but not in the park but into the town. As she leads the way her baby ducklings follow behind.

As Mama Duck walks she crosses a storm drain. As the ducklings follow her one-by-one they fall down the drain into the water below. It is the families quack cries that alert the town. The fireman try to open the grate but to no avail. Can Perry, a man with a truck and a cable line help?

There is brief tension built on whether the ducks will make it out of the storm drain and be reunited with Mama. For parents this is wonderful opportunity to talk about the ducks and how help can be found. Recommended for Kindergarten and up.

Farmer’s Market Day by Shanda Trent and Jane Dippold

Farmer's Market Day

“Farmer’s Market Day” by Shanda Trent and Jane Dippold

A written review by Adrienne

Early on a sleepy Saturday morning a little girl is dressed and ready to go to the farmer’s market. She waits patiently with her piggy bank in hand for mom, dad and the family dog to wake up and get moving.

Once she arrives at the market it is a myriad of choices on what she should buy for herself. She goes from food to plants and pets. Along her way she inadvertently knocks over and spills items in her wake.

This book is delightful in exploring all that local farmer’s markets have to offer. I liked that it came from the viewpoint of a child. Farmer’s markets and food shopping is not just a adult chore but an exploration and discovery for children to learn about new foods. Recommended for Kindergarten and up.

Snack Time for Confetti by Kali Stileman

Snack Time for Confetti

“Snack Time for Confetti” by Kali Stileman

A written review by Adrienne

In the jungle little Confetti is hungry. With Mama not nearby, Confetti wonders what other animals like to eat.  She visits with each animal who in turn, from Jemima Giraffe (leaves), Zoey Zebra (grass) and Madison Monkey (nuts), tells Confetti what their favorite food is. These suggestions do not sit well with Confetti who is hungry but not hungry enough to try something that doesn’t sound good.

This picture book in an exploration into favorite foods that not only animals but people have. Readers to young children can share their own favorite foods and why they like them. Recommended for Pre-K and up.

Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

“Burning Sky” by Sherry Thomas

A written review by Adrienne

In Atlantis, a kingdom that exists parallel to our own world, in 1883, Iolanthe discovers quite by accident that she is able to command the very powerful elements. This discovery, however, completely changes her life in a matter of minutes. She is quickly taken by Prince Titus to hide for her own safety in a school for boys. Iolanthe reluctantly becomes Archer Fairfax and with the help of the Prince learns about her powers.

Prince Titus with a prophecy of his own to find the one mage powerful enough to overthrow Bane whose oppressive rule has made anyone who opposes him disappear. Titus is haunted by his mother and the fate she foresaw as he shepherds Archer (Iolanthe).

What I liked was the world building. Atlantis co-exists with the non-magical world. There are several of our world historical events that have ramifications in the magical world. The story is told in third person from Iolanthe/Archer and Prince Titus’ point-of-views in alternating sub-chapters. Footnotes within the story correspond to citations in the back of the book where excerpts from magical historical texts further deepen the world building. This is the first book in a series. Recommended for fantasy lovers, middle school and up.

 

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

“Fifth Wave” by Rick Yancey

The Fifth Wave

Earth is invaded by aliens, but with silence and ingenuity. Humanity s attacked in different waves. EMP waves, coastal destruction, plague, and then sniper attacks. Cassie Sullivan has learned how survive and it hasn’t been easy. She learns to shoot an M-16 and if something shoots at you, you shoot back.

Told from multiple viewpoints with well-developed characters, and strong world building, “The Fifth Wave” is great storytelling. It leaves the reader thinking about their own perceptions of right and wrong, what makes you human and how far would you go to survive?

Shadow On the Sun by David Macinnis Gill

“Shadow On the Sun” by David Macinnis Gill

Shadow On the Sun

A written review by Jenny

Third in the Durango series that started with Black Hole Sun. Durango and Mimi have gone separate ways. Mimi to the monastery to heal from her injuries and to gain a little perspective. Durango is captured by Lyme, his deranged father, who continues to try and mold him into the great soldier and commander that he wants Jacob to be so that they can rule Mars.

Filled with likeable characters, a terra-formed Mars as a setting- what could get better than that –oh yeah a satisfying bust-em-up- gotcha ending.

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

“A Tangle of Knots” by Lisa Graff

A Tangle of Knots

A written review by Jenny

This book is a puzzle/story that is revealed as you read the book. Eleven year old Cadie is an orphan and lives in Poughkeepsie, NY in a world where everyone has a ‘talent’.  Cadie innately knows the perfect flavor of cake for a person.

Cadie’s adventures start when she is adopted and goes to live in a boarding house over a luggage emporium. She is unknowingly connected to every person that stays there: a family with three spirited kids, one whose talent is spitting exactly where he wants, a woman who has lost the ability to speak, a loner and a very grouchy owner.  A man in a gray suit makes several appearances and “knows more about the world than he’s letting on.”

Younger readers will need to read carefully to stay on top of the multiple viewpoints. I found this a thoroughly delightful read, crying and laughing along with the escapades of the well developed and loveable characters. The action moves along quickly as Graff knits the threads of the lives of each character into a satisfying whole.  Each chapter begins with a cake recipe relating to the character the chapter is about. The author has baked these cakes and recipes are also on her website, http://www.lisagraff.com/. (One is called Zane’s Garlic Cake?)  And, oh–a turquoise suitcase plays and important role in this book.

The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland

“The Menagerie” by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland

The Menagerie

A written review by Jenny

Zoe Khan’s family runs a zoo of mythological characters called the menagerie. When six griffin babies are released from their enclosure, a hilarious romp ensues in the small town of Xanadu, Wyoming. The griffins must be found before the ‘government’ comes to inspect the ‘zoo’.

Across town Logan Wilde wakes up to feathers in his room, his cat hiding in the closet on the top shelf behind his sweaters and growling, his Siamese fighting fish and mice are cowering in their respective homes and a griffin under his bed.  Logan has just moved across the country with his wildlife conservationist father because Logan’s mother has gone missing. Logan finds a connection with the animals in the zoo and becomes part of the Khan family as they all round up the missing griffins.

This book is full of colorful well rounded and believable characters, and an action driven plot.  This book is a real page turner, a fun read with several unanswered surprises that foretell a sequel.

You’ll Like It Here (Everybody Does) by Ruth White

“You’ll Like It Here (Everybody Does)” by Ruth White

You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does)

A written review by Jenny

Ruth Whites, dystopia, “You‘ll Like it Here (Everybody Does)”, tackles the themes of intolerance and repression. Meggie Blue seems like an average kid with a regular family, but when the neighbors come to terrorize them because she is different, Meggie’s family flees from them in an unusual way.

The Blue’s unusual mode of transportation deposits them in Fashion City, a community were being unique is a crime. The Blues are desperate to fit in until they can figure out where to go. In the meantime, they make friends and try to keep away from the tranquilizing “Lotus” given away at every trip to the grocery store that turns the populace into sheep. Lots of action keeps the reader turning the pages.