Friday, April 28, 2017

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham

Katie is always the one that her family can count on, especially since her parent's divorce. But lately all that pressure, paired with unending rumors about her at school, have made her feel like she's sinking fast. When her mother gets a call out of the blue that the grandma Katie's never met is in the hospital and needs someone to pick her up, Katie assumes that the introduction of this elderly woman into their lives will be just another thing dragging her down.

Instead, she finds that she relates more to Mary (her mother's mom) more than she could have ever expected. Her own mother can't seem to stand the sight of her, but Katie is intrigued by all the stories that are locked inside this woman whose brain is being ravaged by Alzheimer's.

Unbecoming tells the story of three generations of women and the way family history looks different to every person living it.

Downham digs in to what each woman is hiding and why, which turns this character driven story into a bit of a mystery. It will leave you thinking about what stories your own family has left behind.

More to read:

Beach Week: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

I Second That: I'll Give You The Sun

Up and Coming: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Small Damages by Beth Kephart

Friday, April 21, 2017

Middle School All Stars Week: The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

This week, we're highlighting some great picks for middle schoolers, today Maria highlights one of her favorite nonfiction choices:

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

They say truth is more amazing than fiction and the story of the Chicago 50 is one of those cases.  I had never heard of these men before reading Steve Sheinkin’s book.

African American sailors at Port Chicago, a California naval base were assigned the dangerous task of loading explosive weapons onto cargo ships without the proper training and under overloaded work schedules.  When an explosion occurred that killed nearly 300 soldiers in 1944, those left who were assigned to keep loading the ships demanded better training and reduced work hours.  When these demands were not accepted, the men refused to work.  Subsequently they were charged with mutiny, brought to trial and found guilty.  The case became a national news story and eventually the NACCP hired lawyer Thurgood Marshall to defend the sailors.

If you like history and reading about incredible everyday people who stood up and made a difference when faced with injustice, you will like these men’s story and the book will stay with you.

More Like This:

Courage Has No Color: the True Story of the Triple Nickles : America's first Black Paratroopers

by Tanys Lee Stone

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin

March (series) by John Lewis

Two Great Nonfiction Books

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Middle School All Stars Week: The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman

This week, we're highlighting some great picks for middle schoolers, Katie shares her new fave:

The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman
Madge has recently been sent to live with an aunt after the death of her mother. Walt’s parents sent him away from Germany as the Nazis came to power. Joe ran away from the reservation school, leaving behind his sister. And Kiku is Japanese American (with a mother still in Japan)… on the day the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.

As their paths collide at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, these four thirteen years olds are about to find something of what they’ve lost in each other. The 1941 New York setting leaps off the page, intermingling with the century old tales of the men and women of the legendary King Arthur’s Court. And Madge, Walt, Joe, and Kiku each have such interesting stories themselves, you’ll find there is never a dull moment as they race to save New York from crippling attack that could change the course of the war.

The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman is a rollicking adventure story filled with unexpected plots twists and unrelenting suspense as the four teens learn to trust each other and the magic growing in them even in the face of betrayal. If you loved The Apothecary or the rich blending of history, magic, and friendship in  Fantastic Beasts, this book is for you.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Middle School All Stars Week: Heist Society by Ally Carter

This week, we're highlighting some great picks for middle schoolers,  teen reviewer Neeka shares today's title:

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Big houses, expensive jewelry, and even more expensive paintings--all of it stolen. Welcome to the Heist Society. This series by Ally Carter centers on Kat Bishop, a girl who's fed up with her family business--stealing--but is drawn back into it by a friend so they can save her father. She quickly sheds the role of a dirty thief and takes on an unexpected one: Robin Hood. This time, she's stealing paintings to undo horrible wrongs and to free her father.

This series is fast-paced and fun, featuring dynamic personalities and many unexpected twists. Read the whole series and you'll be surprised at how quickly you fly through it!

More to read:

 All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Teen Review: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

E-Only Spotlight: Double Crossed by Ally Carter

Monday, April 17, 2017

Middle School All Stars Week: York by Laura Ruby

This week, we're highlighting some great picks for middle schoolers, Librarian M gets us started with a new book from Printz Award winner Laura Ruby.

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a building built by the Morningstarr twins in present-day New York City. A real estate developer wants to tear down their home and build shiny new condos, but they are convinced that if they can follow a set of clues from the twins that lead to a purported treasure, they will be able to save their building.

This is an alternate history of New York City. It is still recognizable as New York, but the Morningstarr twins, who were super-inventors in the 19th century, have left a legacy of all sorts of interesting technology such as beetle-like machines that pick up trash in the street and an innovative rail system for getting around the city. The technological touches fit in seamlessly in this alternate New York. The treasure hunt is fun, thrilling, and even gets dangerous towards the end of the book.

Friday, April 14, 2017

I Second That: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Lina's life has turned upside down since her mother passed away. In life, Lina's mother had never said much about her father, but when she got sick, she started telling Lina how much she wanted her to visit Florence, Italy and her old friend Howard. She wants to follow her mother's wishes, but Lina also would like to finish high school in her hometown with all her friends that she's had forever.

Instead, Lina finds herself in Florence with Howard, a man her grandmother has revealed to be her dad. But, when she's given a journal from her mom's summer there, sixteen years ago, she finds out that there are even more mysteries that she left behind.

With the help of Ren (short for Lorenzo), her handsome new neighbor, Lina is determined to unravel the drama filled summer that's detailed in her mom's journal. And if she happens to have the chance to enjoy both Love & Gelato along the way? That's just as her mother intended.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy

Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy

Yuri has arrived in California from Moscow, but it's not for a class trip or sight seeing. Instead, the seventeen year old is here to help save the world. He's a physics prodigy with a doctorate and an expertise in antimatter. This is helpful because there happens to be an asteroid hurtling towards Earth at an alarming speed.

But, once he's working at the Jet Propulsion Lab, he has two problems. A) No one wants to listen to his work because he's seventeen and every one of his colleagues is at least a decade older and B) the government isn't so keen on sending him back to Russia if he does in fact find a way to stop the asteroid (to be fair, if he doesn't find a way, problem B is not really a concern anymore).

When he befriends Dovie and Lennon, the kids of a janitor at the JPL, they are pretty sure that they can assist him with both of these issues. Their methods are very far from Yuri's previous experiences and include adventures that Yuri is pretty sure he doesn't have time to partake in (what with the saving the world with math and everything). But his time with his new friends does motivate him with glimpses of life outside of NASA. But with a clock ticking down will it be enough to help Yuri find a way to be heard?

Yuri is a steadfast narrator who is open to trying anything once, even though he looks like the farthest outside of his comfort zone he gets is wearing loafers instead of dress shoes. This is a fish out of water story that will have you laughing out loud even as you get closer and closer to possible impact.

More to read:

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Read This/Watch That: Friends Against The World Edition