Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sixteen-year-old Aza has suffered the sudden loss of her father and is battling inner demons of mental illness—unkind thoughts and words that threaten to consume and possibly kill her. Trapped in the darkness of her own mind, Aza must navigate the unforgiving halls of high school with her fan fiction writing best friend, Daisy. When the town billionaire disappears days before being arrested for corruption, Aza and Daisy decide to investigate. The case is important to Aza as she has a crush on and connection with the fugitive’s son, Davis Pickett—a link of souls dating back from a summer camp fling. Gaining momentum on the details of Mr. Pickett’s disappearance, Aza begins to see fault lines within her mental health. Overly concerned with her micro-biome, even kissing becomes a death-defying hazard, causing Aza to dig her nail deeper into her never-ending fingerprint callous. From a car accident and a breakdown to a best friend who carries multiple burdens as well as a potential boyfriend whose dirty wealth is destroying a family and town, Aza must pull herself forward or drown in her head and a pool of hand sanitizer. It’s turtles all the way down anyway; who is to say what we are, what narrative we are living, and how we control the story of our lives.

Once again, Green mindfully taps into the inner workings of the teenage psyche just as Lamb had successfully done in She’s Come Undone. Designed for YA with a faithful adult following, Turtles All The Way Down is reminiscent of Rowell’s Fangirl with characters and friends who struggle with love and emotions, the world’s almost no-win nonchalance, and of course, a fan fictional element. The narrative possesses a melancholy trance of everyday life that lures readers in through a connection to sincere and darkly real characters. The conclusion for Turtles All The Way Down invokes tears over Aza’s acceptance of her inner confinement and willingness to move backward and forward for the rest of her life.  It is a vicious cycle.  Rest assured Aza will be OK but OK in an Aza-kind-of-way. Genuine and heart wrenching, the title explores family relationships, excessive wealth, and mental illness with the backdrop of questioning how humans exist, sometimes by choice and sometimes at the pen of another.

 Turtles All The Way Down by John Green [Dutton Penguin 2017]

Review by Christine F.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Review - No Good Deed

Image result for no good deed goldy

Book Review: No GookDeed
Author: Goldy Moldavsky
Reviewer: Caterina Recine, 12th grade, Oviedo, FL

No Good Deed is a book filled with satire, interesting plot twists, and eccentric characters. Goldy Moldavsky creates a great story that highlights how today's youth will unwaveringly fight for any cause they deem important, no matter how ridiculous it is. An example from the novel is one character's "Eat Dirt" campaign because dirt is "nutritious." I found humor in the fact that she found a way to dramatize how some people will do anything in order to prove that they are right. I liked the relationship between the characters, the main characters Gregor and Ashley being sweet and awkward, like any teen relationship. This wasn't my most favorite book to read, but I feel that it would be better suited for a different age group than young adults. 

The Knowing Book Review

Image result for the knowing sharon cameron 

Book Review: The Knowing
Student Reviewer: Beeta 11th  grade student
Oviedo, FL
Author:  Sharon Cameron
Publisher:  Scholastic Press               

The Knowing are a select group who do not forget. From the first time they open their eyes they will always remember and never forget and that’s exactly what Samara lives with. All is well until Samara finds out something so terrible that she can't live with it.   She runs away in search of an ancient city where her ancestors lived. She tries to go to the ancient city to be both healed  and to forget the terrible memory. Then along comes Beckett who is also looking for the ancient city of Canaan. They find each other looking for the ancient city but they uncover more than they want to. Can Samara and Beckett find the ancient city? Can Samara forget? Can Beckett overcome his obstacles?

A Tradition of Giving Books!

Image result for iceland reading books 

Read Like Iceland!!  

The article, Iceland Celebrates Christmas Unlike Any Other Country in the World by Glen Leibowitz, is about Iceland's tradition of giving books at Christmas.  I want to wrap all Icelanders in a huge hug.  Their tradition, that began as the result of import shortages during WWII, is still practiced today.  In fact, Iceland resident, Christopher Norris, wants to spread their tradition to the world, "We believe that reading books is a life-enhancing activity, made even more special by the memories associated with receiving gifts of books from loved ones. We further believe that well-read communities are closer-knit groups, so the buying and reading of books helps to improve social cohesion and celebrate cultural diversity through the sharing of stories and information...Essentially, we want to inspire people to discover--and rediscover--a love of reading for pleasure."

I love it!  As someone who also believes and practices the giving of books, I applaud their efforts and traditions!  And, although the article is about Christmas, I suggest this book giving idea can be a year round gift giving idea.  
Image result for child opening book present

Check out the entire article here:

Iceland Celebrates Christmas Unlike Any Other Country

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Review: Yak and Dove

Yak and Dove Yak and Dove by Kyo Maclear
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A picture book with three different stories, Maclear’s Yak and Dove represents his traditional simplistic and moralistic style of storytelling paired with sweet water-colored and colored-penciled illustrations. Similarly to Shireen’s Neti and the Bird, Yak and Dove are unlikely friends and the theme of embracing indifferences stays consistent throughout the plot. Hilariously, Yak and Dove begin their story by contemplating what it would be like if they were twins, concluding in an obvious fight that is soon resolved in the second story. Yak wants a new friend who above all values fine music and furriness but learns to appreciate the friend he already has. The plot changes directions, ending with a contemplative, quiet garden chapter--another modern and relevant theme of turning off technology and all of life’s static. Maclear always intuitively incorporates subtle commentary on humanity, and in another pre-school to 3rd grade read, maintains his authenticity and heart-felt interconnectivity.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada/Tundra Books for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Yak and Dove by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Esme Shapiro (Penguin Random House Canada/Tundra Books, 2017)

Review by Christine F.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: Pashmina

Pashmina Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Priyanka or “Pri” lives in a world where she does not fully understand who she is or where she came from. Her mom mysteriously left India and hasn’t spoken to their family in over a decade. Whenever Pri inquires about her Indian father, her mother changes the subject. Both mother and daughter fail to understand each other’s motivations, creating an angsty relationship. While struggling with her identity, the sphere of Pri’s family also starts to see cracks. Her Uncle Jatin, a father-like figure that picks her up from school and takes her on special Indian foodie adventures, and his wife are having their first baby. With her world falling apart, Pri prays to the goddess Shakti, a silent wish that changes her outlook on life and current and almost self-destructive course. With such serious tones, add in a magical pashmina made from Indian golden thread, and Pri finds herself on a more whimsical journey of self-discovery. Pri visits the fantastical, idealist, and tourist version of India as well as the realistic homeland, ultimately returning to America with a new sense of culture and self.

A tale of South Asian diaspora and non-traditional families, Pashmina is a perceptive graphic novel for middle grade students and mature elementary school aged readers. With First Second Books, reviewers and readers can count on a well-written and researched as well as sensitive and intuitive story. The black and white comic strip graphics juxtaposed with the Bollywood colors beautifully portray this “otherness” and sense of a globalizing falsehood about imagined tourist India, similar to Kincaid’s experiences in Antigua in A Small Place. As Pri’s classmates call her “Thrift Store,” readers witness racism and classism. Chanani has created a unique multicultural story that works for reluctant readers and those struggling with heritage and family. Most notably, Priyanka is a fearless female protagonist who has faults of jealousy and immaturity but also thrives artistically and in her convictions. The pairing of fantasy and realistic fiction via graphic novel format brings this story home, literally and figuratively.

I would like to thank NetGalley and First Second Books for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. Pashmina is set to publish October 3, 2017.

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (First Second Books, 2017)

Review by Christine F.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Review: Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Based on the popular graphic novel series, Lumberjanes has decided to take these hardcore ladies into novel format for another round of friendship to the max. The Roanoke Cabin is working on their plant badges. Having stumbled across a magical field of unicorns and a mysterious mountain, the girls are determined to climb and explore this new territory since April has decided that like Rosie, the fearless camp director, she wants to earn the Extraordinary Explorer medal. Of course, if you know these talented and intelligent ladies at all, you understand that they will find themselves trapped in one crazy and heartfelt adventure with cloud people, smelly unicorns, clingy vine, and disappearing mountains. With the dangers that come with being bold and their friendships and interests tested to the max, these ultra-femme scouts must figure out who they want to be while also escaping a cloudy future.

The Lumberjanes series usually resides in YA shelving but this title is more for the middle grades, especially with the sporadic illustrations. Like the artwork, Tamaki successfully maintains the cute, quirky plot of the graphic novels, and I would have sworn Ellis and Stevenson wrote this book—the voice is on point. The feminist appeal with Rosie the Riveter and famous women shouted out in expressions is inspiring. These girls represent a mix of fortes and weaknesses without the stereotypes. Their friendship is supportive and realistic. As with the graphic novels, there is appropriate diversity representing the LGBTQA+ community, with a gender binary character and scouts with two fathers. Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power is a fun and spunky fantastical read for any feminist-minded tween.

I would like to thank NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids/Amulet Books for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power is set to publish October 10, 2017

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power (Lumberjanes #1) by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Brooke Allen (ABRAMS Kids, 2017)

Review by Christine F.

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