Showing posts with label Young Adult Historical Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Young Adult Historical Fiction. Show all posts

Monday, April 15, 2024

Eddie's War by carol Fisher Saller


Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Lately it seems I am reading a lot of books about World War II.  Maybe it is because I teach literature that deals with it.  The first thing I like was that this book was written in verse. This story covers ten years. Eddie is a young boy who befriends Jozef Mirga, a Polish Gypsy. He reads the newspaper at the local library looking for information about the Nazis and Poland. This is where Jozef’s wife and son are. When Eddie’s brother goes off to war he is very proud of him. The story is full of life lessons Eddie learns as he grows up.  I highly recommend this book. It has quickly become one of my favorites of the year.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

"Playing With Matches"and "A Piece of Blue String" by Lee Strauss


Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I purchased a copy

This is one of those World World II books that looks at what it was like for young boys trained to believe everything they were doing was for the Fatherland.  They were trained in school to believe that they were superior to the Jews and that the Jews were the cause of the loss of World War I and anything else they wanted to blame them for.   When young Emil is made aware of an illegal radio, he and his friend question what they are being taught. They decided to let people know. How far are they willing to go? What happens when they are sent to fight in a war they no longer believe in?  Who will survive? What will they lose?  This is one of those books I had to read non-stop. I can't wait to recommend it to my students and the history teachers at my school. I will also check out what else this author has written.

Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Short Story
I purchased a copy

This is a follow up companion short story to "Playing With Matches". In the first story Emil the main character falls in love with Johann's sister. Before being shipped off to war he asks her to marry him and she accepts. He has nothing to give her as a promise so she tears a loose thread from her coat and he ties it around her finger as an engagement ring. This book is the diary she keeps during the time they were together. There is nothing new in this book about her feelings toward Emil. However, we do get clarification on questions that may be brought up in the first book. 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Shadow of the West by Sarah Brotherhood Chapman


Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Books about the Cold War have been my favorite for years. Very little is written about it for teens. They know almost nothing. I jumped at the chance to read this book so I could get it into the hands of my students. We have Kate who is. and American. As the daughter of a diplomat she moves a lot. This time they are in West Berlin. She meets Amy, whose father is a diplomat stationed on the east side of Berlin. Amy spends a lot of time at Kate’s house.  Kate goes to visit Amy and meets Michael. Michael and his sister are barely surviving on the east side. Of course Kate and Michael meet. This is dangerous for Michael and his sister as the Stasi watch everything.

I enjoyed this book because the author is the daughter of a diplomat who had similar experiences to that of Kate.  I enjoyed this also because I worked with two teachers and taught their daughter. They would tell me stories of living in embassies around the world, especially Russia.  Their daughter at times was clueless as to how things actually worked in those countries because they were sheltered from a lot of the things people in those country went through, all because they were a diplomat’s child.  I highly recommend this book. I believe it should be on every high school shelf.   I won a copy from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Giveaway.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby


Genre:  Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source:  I purchased a copy

I love reading books set in the time period of WWII.  Then you add in a young girl named Frankie and a ghost named Pearl, whose stories alternate and you have the setup for a great book. The thing that really sets this book apart from so many other of this time period is the difference between the treatment of males and females.  There are so many things a female is expected to do just because of her gender. Yet we have a story here to show how strong the female can be and how they rise above the expectations for the time period. We also look at the difference in treatment between those who have money and those who do not.

Frankie is living in an orphanage. The story takes place in America. This surprised me because I figured as a World War 2 book it would have taken place in Europe. However, this was a refreshing detail. Frankie, her sister and brother all live in an orphanage because their mother is dead and their father can’t afford to take care of them.  I got angry at the fact that their father meets another woman, whose children are also in the orphanage, and they get married. The marriage wasn’t the issue. It was the fact their father was moving out west and taking his new wife and her children and their brother with them. The only reason the brother went was because he had aged out of the orphanage. Another unique aspect of this orphanage was the way they separated the boys and girls. Girls were required to take care of the dinner dishes from the boy’s side, but not allowed to talk or acknowledge them without repercussions.  Some of the nuns came across as just looney or sadistic.  The storyline is engaging and kept me reading.  A bonus for me was learning that this is based on the true life story of the author’s Mother-in law.  A strange book, yet engaging. I will say it was difficult in the very beginning to keep the two perspectives straight. If you stick with it, which I say you should, you will soon find yourself so invested you can’t stop reading it.  So glad to have read and recommend this book.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Always by Morris Gleitzman


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I own a copy

I enjoyed this entire series. This is a fitting end to it.  We find Felix's past and present reconnecting through a young boy named Wassim.  Felix, in helping Wassim, realizes that even though he has always held out hope for mankind to be better than they were when he was a child, witnessing the atrocities of the Holocaust, there is still so much hatred and prejudice in the world. But maybe he can help change Wassim's life a bit.  This is a series I have not only recommended to my students, daughter and granddaughter, but one I will read from beginning to end this coming school year. Why?  Since I have all of them I want to read straight through. This is one roller coaster of a ride series. I definitely recommend it to everyone.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Student Saturday: Bitter Melon by Cara Chow


Student Reviewer: Nadya Perez
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Salt by Helen Frost


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I own a copy

I have loved all of Helen Frost's books. This one was a little more special to me. I grew up in Indiana.  I lived on a farm until we moved to Florida when I was fourteen. One of my favorite past-times along with my sisters was looking for arrowheads on our property. Helen's book about a friendship between a Native American Family and a white family was hopeful and hard at the same time. What do you do when you hear rumblings of war? For James and his family who have a trading post outside the fort, they continue on the way they have always gone. They trade with the Indians, who are their friend. James best friend is Anikwa, a young boy of the Kekionga, a part of the Miami tribe.  He too has heard rumblings of war.  Many of his people have decided they will side with the British if it comes to war. 
I felt so terrible for James and his family. James had to witness his friend Isaac's hatred for the Native Americans. He really has no basis to his hatred, which makes it all the more tragic.  As I read and saw what each side did I wondered if Anikwa and James could remain friends.  You will need to read the book to find out what happened.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Source:  I purchased


This is a book I am excited to put on my school shelves.   Hanneke is a young girl in Amsterdam in the middle of Nazi occupation. She smuggles goods to help out. One request will set her on a dangerous journey. Hanneke has been asked to locate a young Jewish girl named Mirjam. For this assignment she will need to get help from a resistance group. The book is true to WWII and the horrors of the Nazis. One reason I find this such an important book for my school shelves is that we have a holocaust unit. I try to provide great books that accurately tell of the holocaust events. So many people sided with the Nazis, not because they hated the Jews but because they wanted to improve their own position in life. Some were just bystanders who didn’t agree but didn’t want to get involved. This book shows so many sides to this war. As a word of caution it is full of the violence that so many experienced. This type of history should never be watered down. I applaud this author for telling a story that is authentic and exactly what kids and adults should learn. We need more books like this that show the importance of resistance groups and people like Hanneke.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz


Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Young Adult, 9/11

Source: I purchased a copy

I loved this book. It was raw and emotional. Brandon finds himself going to work with his dad in the Twin Towers because he has been suspended from school. Trying to fix the damage done due to standing up to a bully, Brandon sneaks away from his father, who is a chef at Windows on the World. It is during this time the first plane is flown into the twin towers. Reading the raw account of events from that day brought back so many memories and emotions. The story is told in alternation chapters. The other person in this story is Reshmina, a young Afghan girl whose family is caught between the fighting between the Americans and Afghan soldiers and the Taliban. Reshmina saves the life of an American Soldier and puts her whole village in danger.  The only issue I had with this book was the set up. I didn't learn until the book was almost finished what the connection was between the two main characters. It went beyond 9/11. For this book alone I did something I've never done before. I used small sticky notes to separate the two stories. I read all of Brandon's story, then went back and read all of Reshmina's story. That was how I learned that Brandon's story takes place the year 9/11 happened and Reshmina's story takes place on 9/11 only 20 years later.

I loved the message in this story about bullies. It gave me a lot to think about and hopefully the students who read this story from my bookshelves will understand the underlying message as well.  I have read several of this author's books and loved each and every one. It is hard to read them when in school as I choose to let my students read them first.  This is a must read especially as we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Maybe by Morris Gleitzman

Maybe by Morris Gleitzman
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased

            In the previous book in this series, Felix once again helps a young girl. Anya was a girl he met after saving a baby. He meets Anya, who promises him a way to get powdered milk. Felix learned that the reason Anya was always sick was that she was pregnant. They went back to Gabriek’s farm to learn someone else had taken possession. In town, a mob attacks them, an Aussie is injured when he saves him, then needs Felix’s help to save his life with his medical knowledge. It is decided that Felix will become the face of all that Australia fought for in World War II. He is loaded on a plane leaving Gabriek behind. Unbeknownst to the pilot, Anya has hidden away on board as well. Up to this point, the tension has been a rollercoaster ride. Then the plane is going down. Felix and Anya must jump for their lives. This is their welcome to Australia. I still love this series because I can see how we are coming full circle in Felix’s life. There were so many unanswered questions for me that made me want to dive into the next and last book in this series. Unfortunately, it won't be available until July of this year. If by chance I can get my hands on it before then, just know that I will.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Soon by Morris Gleitzman

Soon by Morris Gleitzman
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased
            Soon is the fifth book in this series. The war has ended. Hatred and prejudice seem to have no end. There are those who are still Nazi sympathizers. Those who think the Jews are still filthy beasts. Felix rescues a baby when the mother thrusts it at him before she is killed.  He decides he a Gabriek will raise it. They give it a Ukranian name to hopefully protect it. Gabriek has been so traumatized that he drinks himself to sleep each night. This leaves Felix to go out and find food and work. He meets several young people that will change his life in many ways. This is one of the darker books in the series. I felt this because you would think things would start to change and have a brighter outcome after the defeat of the Nazis. However, as an American who was born well after this war, I never had to face a time when a country had to rebuild itself. It is hard enough to rebuild after a war. Bring into it the same old prejudices by just a handful of people and the outcome is the same for a while.  Change takes time. Unfortunately for some, time runs out.

Monday, January 6, 2020

After by Morris Gleitzman

After by Morris Gleitzman
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased

            This is the fourth book in the series. We go back in time to catch up with what had happened to Felix. Gabriek, whose wife was hiding young Felix and Zelda are dead. Gabriek if part of a resistance movement and has continued to hide Felix in a hole in his barn. On his thirteenth birthday Felix can hear people above him talking. He follows them into the woods. He assumes they are Nazis and are going to kill Gabriek and he yells to give Gabriek a chance to escape. He soon learns that Gabriek is not in danger. When they return to the farm it is on fire. Gabriek is injured and so Felix takes him back into the woods to get help. They are allowed to stay. They do make Felix prove himself. Once again he is an assistant to the doctor. It is his experiences throughout his childhood of helping assist doctors that made him a well known doctor in his adult life. In this book Felix is once again put into the position of helping save three sisters.  He has matured considerably. Now that he knows who Hitler is he no longer prays to him, but to Richmal Crompton who was a well known author at the time. I still found this a funny occurrence. The tension has gone up a notch in this book and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Now by Morris Gleitzman

      This was a unique turn in the book series. In this book, Felix is an old man with a granddaughter named Zelda. She is named after the young girl Felix tried to save and who was brutally murdered by the Nazis. In this book, Felix lives in Australia. His granddaughter loves her grandfather but questions some of the things he does. She doesn’t understand that a part of him is still living in and dealing with a traumatic past. Like her grandfather’s past, Zelda has a bully problem. His pasts experiences and memories help them both. When a brush fire breaks out a lot is lost, while a lot is gained. I found two interesting things about this fire. One was that it was based on an actual fire that occurred in 2009 and the second was that at the time of this post, Australia is going through another traumatic brush fire.  This is the third book in this series. At one point the author had planned to make this the end of a trilogy. As we all know, when our characters are not finished telling their story they must be heard. Because of that, there are three more books in this series. Once again I will say that this is a must-read series.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Then by Morris Gleitzman

Then by Morris Gleitzman
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased a copy

In the second book in this series Felix has taken Zelda under his wings. He has decided  to help them find a new home and find his parents who he still thinks is alive. He holds on to this hope throughout. Zelda claims she is Jewish even though she isn’t. Her parents were actual Nazi supporters. As Felix and Zelda travel across Poland they witness the horrors of the Nazis. Felix does his best to shield her from a lot of this violence. He tells her stories to take her mind off of any troubles they may run into. As a ten-year-old he seems at times so much older. Zelda is only six and can definitely be annoying. Felix takes it all in stride.  This is the second book in the series and the tension is just beginning to get really taught. I highly recommend this series.

Friday, January 3, 2020

First Post of the New Year: Once by Morris Gleitzman

Last year I didn't come close to hitting my reading goal of 100. I had lowered it a lot. A lot happened last year. We had multiple deaths in our family. We had a lot of changes at school. I have raised my goal to 150 books for 2020. I just need to work harder at my reading. 

This series is one that I am glad I have read. I will give you one review per day. However, it only took me two days to read the entire series. They are short, but powerful. I definitely recommend these books to young and old alike.

Once by Morris Gleitzman

Genre: Middle Grade, YA, Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased

As a teacher I am always trying to find wonderful books for my shelves. This is a whole series based around the Holocaust and its aftermath on people. I definitely recommended it to my students.  Felix is a young Jewish  boy living a hidden life in an orphanage. He believes his parents will be coming for him any day. He has been at the orphanage for three years.  One day the Nazis’s visit the orphanage and find Jewish books which they take to the courtyard to burn. Felix is horrified that they would burn these books. His parents owned a book store. He decides he is going to have to find and save his parents and their books. He prays for help to God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Pope and Hitler. This gives us an indication that he has no idea what is going on in the world.  Later he adds in the name of his favorite author and removes Hitler’s name. He gets himself and others out of trouble by telling stories. I think it was Felix’s love of books that helped me connect to him. He runs away from the orphanage and rescues a young girl whose parents are killed. It seems to be his mission to help others as he tries to find his parents. This is a wonderful book highly recommended. Be advised that the author does not water down what the Nazis were like or the atrocities they inflicted on others.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The One Who Sees Me by Kandi J. Wyatt

Genre: Young Adult, Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review.

Kandi Wyatt has taken historical fiction and elevated it to a higher level. Her world building pulls you in and puts you right in the middle of the adventure.  This is why I love her books.  I immediately recogized the story line in her newest book.  It is the story of Hagar and her son Ishmael.  However, she has taken the information from the Bible and told Hagars story from her perspective. She also removed it from the Biblical time period and set it in medieval times. For me this works so well. We find Faru (Hagar) traded from her mistress to a young Lord. When his wife is finally returned to him, they keep her.  Things go along well for years with Faru attending to Lady Cwen's needs. She even finds herself falling in love with a young man named Cailean. But all of this is to change because The Existing One has told him he will have a son.

I will say nothing further because to do so will spoil such a wonderful story. However, if you are familiar with the story you know what will happen. The story is full of hope, love, betrayal and the hardship of living the life of a servant in medieval times. It is also full of hope and trust in "The Existing One".  As a Christian it is a reminder to all who follow him that we must always place our trust in God and understand that even through hardships he knows what is best for us.  I will definitely recommend this book to others and because it is such a clean read and one that will appeal to teens and adult, will proudly put a copy on my shelves at school.  I can't wait to see what this author comes up with next.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Three Different Genre's, Three Great Reads

Since I've been going through physical therapy I find I have plenty of time to read. I read while waiting my turn for the therapist. I read while they are icing my knees down and using a tens unit on me.  When I get home and the effects (pain) from the therapy sets in, and I can't move very well, I read.  If I have early morning therapy, like today, then I get several books read.  I hope you enjoy my eclectic reads for the day.

A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn
Genre:  Adult, Mystery
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This was an interesting story because it is told from Chet the dog’s point of view. Chet is a police dog. Bernie is his handler or should I say side kick. The two are tasked with watching over movie star Thad Perry during filming in their town. Thad  seems to have a not so glamorous reputation. In addition to this Bernie’s son has scored a role in the movie.  Bernie’s ex-wife can see a future in this, something Bernie is not real happy about, especially when he realizes how talented his son is.

When a dead reporter turns up Bernie and Chet are on the case.  They realize that this murder is connected to a murder in the past.  They also realize that someone is willing to go to a lot of trouble to keep anyone from delving into the past. While you have this great mystery going on; you have Chet’s ability or lack of ability to always understand humans.  This in itself adds the humor that makes this book so wonderful to read.  So if you are looking for something kind of on the light side then I recommend this book to you.  It is a stand-alone novel even though it is part of a series.  

Adobe Gold by Robert C. Mowry
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I am one of those people who love historical fiction. Adobe Gold is the first book in the Stone Justice Series. Colonel Tyrone Rafter was sent on an important mission by his friend Abraham Lincoln. While in Mexico looking for an important man. He is captured and imprisoned.  Due to a leg injury and a inept doctor his leg is removed.  He spends seven years in prison until he escapes.  He returns home and learns things have really changed.  He's lost his wife to another man because she believes he is dead. This was enough to change everything. He becomes a very bitter person.  When Lincoln learns he's alive he needs him for another mission.  He is sent back to Mexico to find out if there really is gold in Santa Fe.   I found it ironic that as a professing atheist he is sent back as a minister. While performing the duties of a minister he reads his Bible.  Will this change him from the hardened man he has become?  You really need to read this book to find out.

Chimera by Vaun Murphrey
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
*Parental Warning* There is some sexual content at the beginning of this book.

I have to say right off that I absolutely loved the cover of this book.  It says so much. Once you read the book you will understand what I mean.  At age five Cassandra watched her parents murdered. At age thirteen she is rescued by an uncle she has never known.  While she was held captive she had no one to talk to.  She kept within herself.  That is why I said the cover was so appropriate.  Her uncle takes her to live with them.  The counsel doesn't want her living there because they think she will endanger all of them. She is trained in martial arts and like her family, as a Weaver.  A Weaver is not what you think it is.  Think of a Weaver as someone who is able to use the Internet of the mind. Cassandra has more abilities than the others in the colony.  She also has someone hunting her so she must go into hiding.  This is the first book in the series.  I know there are three others that I've not yet had a chance to read.  Hopefully my schedule will allow it soon.  I believe teens and adults who like science fiction will enjoy this.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hearts Restored – Prue Phillipson

Publisher:  Knox Publishing
Pages: 428 pages
Source:  Review copy from publisher
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

From Goodreads:
What can a young man of fifteen do when he is told by his mother that the three cousins he is about to meet all want to marry him?

Daniel Wilson Horden has arrived in London with his parents from their home in Northumberland on the very day of King Charles II’s triumphant return to his capital. Receiving his own personal wave from the king, Daniel longs only to serve him, but first he must keep at bay the threat of marriage.

His two French cousins are adamant in their pursuit of him, but Daniel is intrigued by his English cousin, Eunice, whose Puritan father snatches her away from the reunion celebrations. Unaware that his gallant attempt to save her has endeared him to her, Daniel only just escapes the marriage trap which his younger French cousin lays for him and is sent off to study at Cambridge University.

Once she returns to her father’s home, Eunice is condemned to a life of austerity. Heart-sick, she is assured by her grandmother that Daniel will come for her when he graduates from university.

But, unaware of his cousin’s feelings for him, Daniel goes off to join the navy only to find that fighting in the king’s service is not as glorious as he had imagined.

While the navy suffers at sea, London passes through plague and fire.

Will Eunice survive the hardship? And will Daniel return to fulfil the promise in his eyes on that fateful day in London?

My Thoughts:
Every so often a book comes along that just stays with you.  This was one of those books.  I was up and down all through this book.  I felt for both Daniel and Eunice.  I detested the French sisters.  They wanted Daniel for his title.  They thought that they would be able to change him.  He hated everything they stood for.    I found it funny that he seemed to take great pleasure in letting them know he had a title but no money to go with it.  His family was not all about the money like the aunt and grandmother were.  I did enjoy seeing the transformation, however small, of the grandmother near the end of the book.  I understood Eunice’s father to a certain extent.  I think he was too harsh on Eunice when it came to men.  He wanted to protect her from heartache. However, all of the moral values he taught her prepared her for later on.  It made her stronger. All of Daniel’s relatives that kept trying to arrange a marriage for him irritated me to no end.  I wanted to slap them all.  I loved Daniel’s parents.  It was obvious that their love was genuine.  They wanted what was best for their son and they didn’t feel an arranged marriage was best for him.  I could identify with Daniel’s mother as he joined the Navy.  I read this book knowing that in just a few days my son will be deployed. The fear and heartache stay with you. There were so many obstacles thrown in Daniel and Eunice’s way.  I loved Eunice’s integrity.  I dare say if she had not had the upbringing her father gave her then she would not have been able to endure the hardships she had to go through.  The thread of faith that flowed through the story was refreshing.  I didn’t feel like I was being preached at.  This has been a wonderful book to read and review and will make a great gift for several of my friends.  I look forward to reading more books by this author.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Eight Reviews to Finish Out 2011

This will be my last post for 2011.  I have been working hard for the last two weeks to catch up on books I had to read and review, and reviews I needed to post having already read the book.  If you are an author and I didn't get to your book in 2011, please be assured I will be getting to it in 2012.  I read an outstanding number of books this year from several different genre's.  I am a full time middle school teacher and I managed to publish my first novel.  I think I can say that I've had an extremely busy, yet fulfilling year.  I hope you enjoy these last reviews of 2011.  See you in 2012.

The Jinx  - D.F. Lamont
Publisher:  Lulu
Pages: 128
Source:  Review copy from author
Genre:  YA, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Adventure

About the Author:
D.F. Lamont has been writing for 20 years as a journalist and PR professional.  “The Jinx” is is first book for young Adults.

About the book:
Stephen Grayson, is a 13-year old whose run of bad luck gets so bad he worries he is endangering his family. Fearing he is cursed - or is turning into a super villain - he flees home to protect his loved ones, only to find that he is in the middle of a tug-of war between a cult obsessed with order and misshapen monsters known as “Chaons” who seem bent on hunting him down. It's a fun story for kids aged 8-13, and anyone who loves YA books and suspense

My thoughts:
I enjoyed this book very much.  I like science fiction, but it takes me longer to read it than any other genre because my nerdy brain is always trying to figure out the science and if it is real, could it really happen, etc.  I loved the characters in the book.  I think any kid who has ever had a bad day could identify with Stephen and his first day of school.
I would have liked to have learned more about  Daedalus.  Maybe we will see more of him and Stephen in another book.  I’d gladly read another adventure about them.  This is a book I will definitely recommend to my students and to anyone who loves Science Fiction/Fantasy

Readers can read the first chapter free - and get links to purchase ebooks (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iPad) as well as softcover versions at:
My Facebook Page for The Jinx is:

Dead End in Norvelt – Jack Gantos

Publisher:  Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Pages:  352
Source:  Review copy from NetGalley
Genre:  Middle Grade, Mystery

Jack is caught between his arguing parents.  His mother has grounded him for firing a Japanese gun his father owned.  She has also volunteered him to help Mrs. Volker, a neighbor who writes obituaries.
Mrs. Volker has arthritis in her hands and can no longer write or type up the obituaries for the Norvelt News.  Through the obituaries she tells the history of the deceased.   The deceased have recently become the original women of the town of Norvelt. Jack loves this new job since he loves history.  He has one problem, if he gets overly excited his nose will begin to bleed.  As the elderly women of Norvelt begin to drop like flies, people are beginning to wonder if it is murder.  Mrs. Volker examines the bodies and pronounces each death that of natural causes.  Not everyone is convinced.  Could she be hiding something?  This was a wonderful book full of history and lessons that the reader won’t mind learning.  The mystery was enough to keep you reading, yet not so difficult you couldn’t figure it out.  Highly recommended reading.

Grandma Hazel's Funny, Funny Kidz Jokebook  - Rob Loughran
Publisher:  Bubba Caxton Books
Pages: 84
Source:  Received a review copy
Genre:  Jokes

Here, within these pages you will find all the jokes you, and your parents, and your grandparents ever told.    These are simple and most importantly clean jokes.  I sat in our yard swing reading these and chuckling.   My husband kept looking over at me and of course he had to ask and I obligingly told him the joke.  After all, I believe in sharing the laughs.  I look forward to sharing this book with my

Echoes of Distant Thunder – Frank P. Slaughter
Publisher:  Arbutus Press
Pages:   279
Source:  Received a review copy from author
Genre: Historical Fiction

From Goodreads:
Twenty-year-old Michigan farm boy Will Castor finds his life changed forever as he is thrust into the harsh realities of nineteenth-century combat on the last day of the battle of Chickamauga. Wounded physically and mentally, Will escapes the battlefield aided by a war weary Confederate deserter, but can t escape the echoes of death and horror that will remain with him for the rest of his life. Returning to Michigan after the war, Will deals with guilt and recurring nightmares from his war experience, finding relief in the numbing effects of a bottle of whiskey and the bawdy houses of East Saginaw. He joins the rough and tumble world of Michigan s lumber boom as a land looker seeking the majestic white pine. Alone in the vast northern Michigan wilderness, he comes face to face with his demons and must make a decision life or death. Echoes of Distant Thunder is a compelling historical drama vividly portraying Michigan s rich history, landscape and participation in the Civil War. Author Frank P. Slaughter, a reenactor with Battery D First Michigan Light Artillery, brings stark realism to the battle scenes with his knowledge of Civil War tactics and munitions. On this the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, Will Castor s story could be the story of veterans from all wars as they continue to fight the battles that can t be left on the battlefield.

My thoughts:
This is a definite must read for anyone who loves the Civil War time period.  This is not just  a story of the Civil War.  This is Will Castor’s story of survival.  Survival can’t always be measured in the physical sense.  Anyone who has gone to battle must survive mentally as well.  Will must learn to put the demons that haunt him to rest if he is to have any kind of decent life.
This book was very authentic in its portrayal of the battle field.  This has to do with the fact that Mr. Slaughter is himself a re-enactor.  I felt as if I was on the battle fields at times.  This is not a comfortable feeling.  There again this book is not a feel good book.  Most books that are historically accurate take us out of our comfort zone and force us to face many unpleasant things.  This book is like that.  We as readers are forced to face the devastation of battle both upon the land, humans both body and mind.

I have a couple of friends who are not only history teachers, but find the Civil War to be their favorite topic.  I will definitely recommend this book to them.  I would also read any other book by this author.  It is not often I read a book so full of history that does not at some point bore me.  This book kept me drawn in until the end.

The Meaning of  Life and Other Stuff – Jimmy Gownley
Publisher:  Atheneum
Pages:  160
Source:  Received a copy for review
Genre:  Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Product Description
Amelia McBride may be growing up, but she’s feeling down. If there’s one theme to her life, it’s that nothing lasts: not her parents’ marriage, not Aunt Tanner’s support, not the clubhouse for the Gathering of Awesome Super Pals (G.A.S.P.), not even her new spot on the stupid cheerleading squad. And while she’s learning all kinds of things about foot fungus, cheerwitches, and Reggie—who thinks Rhonda is CUTE?!—there’s still one thing Amelia can’t figure out, and that’s the meaning of life. It takes a grownup sort of tragedy for Amelia and her friends to realize that even when the world is scary, and life is as mystifying as ever, some things—like friendship—do last.
In Jimmy Gownley’s touching seventh installment of Amelia Rules!, Amelia may not find all the answers—but she does know how to ask the right questions. Who needs answers, anyway?

My Thoughts:
This is the seventh graphic novel in the Amelia Rules series.  This is a graphic series I would definitely recommend to my students.  They will definitely be able to identify with her.
Amelia is a typical middle schools student with the same typical problems as middle school students today.  Her parents are divorced, she has earned a reputation as a “bad kid”, and she faces how to help a friend whose father is serving in combat.  These are all realistic things that my middle school students face.  I’ve read these in e-book format and will definitely purchase these in physical form for my shelves.  Really nice graphic novel.  This is coming from someone who really doesn’t care for a lot of graphic novels.  This one I recommend.

Everneath – Brodi Ashton
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Pages:  384
Source:  Received an ARC from publisher for review
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy

Description from Amazon:
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.
As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

My Thoughts:
I immediately thought of school as I read this book.  We are currently teaching a unit on Greek mythology.  I have a student, who loves all things to do with Greek mythology.  This book will be passed on to her.  I know she will love this as much as I did.    This is a modern version of Persephone.  Nikki Beckett has just returned to her home town after being gone for half a year.  Rumors go around that she was involved in drugs.  That could not have been farther from the truth.
Nikki has actually been in the Everneath.  She is back among her people for only six months.  She is pursued by Cole from the Everneath and yet she is still in love with Jack.  Cole is an Everling and Nikki is what they called a Forfeit.  They capture a human and feed off of their energy for one hundred years.  Nikki survived the one hundred years.  She is  given six months to put her human life in order and then she must return to the Everneath.  If she doesn’t go back with Cole, where he wants to make her his queen, then she will be sent to the Tunnels.  She must decide which is worse, to be with Cole and feed off of other human’s energy while she has immortality, or to be stuck in the Tunnels where she will become part of what keeps everything running.  This was a refreshing take on mythology.  You expect one thing to happen and then you have that nice little twist.  I am looking forward to reading the second book when it comes out.  One last thought.  The cover of this book has probably been my favorite of all the books I have read this year.  It just truly popped out there in that red dress.  It was gorgeous.

Journey to Christmas Creek - Melinda Elmore
Publisher:  DWB Publishing
Pages:  50
Source:  Purchased
Genre:  Young Adult, Native American

On 10/04/2011 DWB Publishing author, Melinda Elmore lost her husband, Tommy, unexpectedly. She has a 13 yo daughter at home, and they had no insurance. Her book, Journey To Christmas Creek is a story Tommy told their children, and is being released by Dancing With Bear Publishing on 11/01/11. 100% of the royalties will go to the Elmore family to help them in this time of need. Please help promote this book and buy a copy. You will get a wonderful holiday, Native American, YA read and be helping out the family too.

My Thoughts:
This was such a wonderful story.  However it was another one that I had written up in a notebook and just came upon.   This is the story of bravery and stepping out on your own when you are not sure it is the right thing to do.  It is a story following your heart and being strong, and facing your fears.  The author's husband told this story to his children every year.  It is kind of a metaphor for Melinda's life now.  Follow Spotted Buffalo and his family as they must pack up in early 1800's and move to land where they can find buffalo and other things that wills sustain them.  They are not sure where they are to go.  When they make camp for the night Spotted Buffalo decides to go ahead so that he can impress his father by finding their new land.  His sister, Gentle Tears follows and he must take her with him.  Something happens and Gentle Tears must save her brother.  Read and find out what happens in this heart warming story.  


Shadows and Fire - Jennifer Fales
Publisher:  Outskirts Press, Inc.
Pages:  116
Source:  I received a review copy from the author

From Goodreads:
In the parallel world of the future, mankind has created its own worst enemy - a supernatural species of animal-human hybrids that exact a high toll in return for peace. Step into the dark, and occasionally funny, world of the domes where a brother and sister bridging the gap between these two species struggle to reunite with one another. Meet the menagerie of creatures that impact their lives and a man who would bring redemption, providing he doesn't get lost along the way. 

My Thoughts:
This was a unique book.  It was a little too short, leaving me wanting more.  I am glad that this is just the first book in this series.  The world building and character building are unique and wonderful.  A mixture of animal and humans have created a unique hybrid character.  The two twins were total opposites who obviously have a greater purpose once they are together.  The problem is we don't know yet what that purpose is.  I look forward to reading more from this author.

About the Author:
Jennifer Fales is an east coast girl transplanted to the west coast just shy of a decade ago  English is her native tongue, followed closely by sarcasm.  Her interests run the gamut from science to the supernatural, with a little kickboxing thrown in for good measure.  She currently lives in Corona California with her boyfriend.  This is her first novel.