Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry, Feiwel & Friends (March 2017).
Written mostly in verse, FORGET ME NOT will appeal to readers not only for its poetic language, but also because of the story told in alternating voices of Calli, a girl with Tourette Syndrome, and one of her classmates, Jinsong. Calli is constantly on the move because of her mother’s unfortunate choice in men. She decides that this time, she will not to tell anyone that she has TS and hopes for a fresh start, but it doesn’t take long before her tics are causing the kids in her class start to call her a freak. Jinsong is drawn to Calli from the start, but finds it difficult to stand up for her when she is bullied. As Calli’s mom gets drawn into another relationship that Calli fears will be her undoing, is there any hope she and Jinsong will be able to develop their friendship before her mom decides its time to move on?
Although I’m not usually a huge fan of novels in verse, the alternating voices and my sympathy for Calli’s lack of control over her life sucked me in. The author has Tourette Syndrome, and the characters were believable and reflected her personal experiences. The verse makes this book a quick read, and expands it audience reach.
I’ll be keeping my eye open for more from Ellie Terry!
Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone, Disney-Hyperion (September 2017), Advanced Reader’s Copy courtesy of NetGalley (all opinions are my own)
This is the first book I’ve read with coding as a main theme, and I was so impressed for several reasons. First, this book felt so fresh, as coding is timely topic, but there hasn’t been a lot written about it in middle grade fiction with female protagonists. Second, the characters in this book are real, using language and acting the way young teen girls do, and it felt very much at its audience’s level. Third, I could not stop reading…I was totally invested in the story and loved that this book did not take me where I feared it might in the beginning.
In CLICK’D, Allie has spent the summer at a coding camp for girls, where she’s created a new friendship app that turns meeting people into a game. When her teacher recommends her for a coding contest, the stakes are raised when Allie learns her arch nemesis is also competing. Allie decides to let the app into the world to get some live data, and its a HUGE hit. As followers surpass all of her expectations, she thinks she’s a shoo-in to win the contest…until a glitch causes everything to crash around her. As Allie races to fix the issues before the contest, she learns that friendship apps can be just as complicated as friendships in the real world.
I’ll definitely be ordering a copy of this book for our library and promoting it!
Walking With Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy, Nancy Paulsen Books (July 2017).
NOW I understand why so many people are talking about this book!
WALKING WITH MISS MILLIE is one of the latest additions to the list of middle grade fiction that tugs at your heartstrings from start to finish. Alice thinks she has temporarily moved to the small town of Rainbow, along with her mother and brother, to help her grandma whose memory is failing. The relationship she develops with Miss Millie, the elderly black neighbor next door, is a beautiful example of an intergenerational bond that provides friendship for two individuals who need what the other has to offer. In addition, Alice’s budding friendship with a neighborhood girl, her complicated feelings for her absent father, and her incorporation into the fabric of the small town result in a story that is character-centered and full of warmth. Though there are moments when you’ll need to have a Kleenex handy, this moving book is generally uplifting and recommended for readers who want to feel a strong connection to the characters in their books.
A Rambler Steals Home by Carter Higgins, HMH Books for Young Readers (February 2017), Advanced Reader’s Copy courtesy of NetGalley (all opinions are my own)
So beautifully written, A Rambler Steals Home is a joy to read with its poetic language. Derby and her family are ramblers, but each summer they settle down beside the James Edward Allen Gibbs stadium in Ridge Creek and call it home for the summer. But this year, not everything has stayed the same in their absence, and Derby needs to find a way to tweak her image of home while helping others do the same.
This was such a touching, poignant and heartwarming story that captures summer in a small town. I loved the rich characters and quote worthy descriptions, and was disappointed the story was done so soon. I would definitely recommend this book, especially for a summer read.
I love using NetGalley, but the summer is a busy time for me, and I’m still working to balance it, the blog, and my bookstagram account. It was an accomplishment for me, though, to reach this milestone, and I hope keep boosting this number.
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly, Hodder & Stoughton (April 20, 2017), Advanced Reader’s Copy courtesy of NetGalley.
Thank you to @NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review; all opinions are my own.
There’s been so much buzz surrounding this book that I had to give it a try, even though it’s not my usual genre.
An excellent example of “griplit”, He Said/She Said tells the story of Kit and Laura, a couple who become enmeshed in the life of Beth, the victim of a vicious incident. From the prospective of the two characters over several years, we see how an unexpected discovery, and the choices that follow, change the trajectory of everyone’s lives. This unpredictable story makes the reader question how far some people will go to be heard them, while others protect their secrets.
Although I found this book slow to start as the story set itself up, its twists kept me invested in the outcome. I think it will definitely appeal to those who like an intriguing, psychological story, with a bit of a twist.
One of my reading goal for 2017 is to read more nonfiction about women’s lives. So when I saw that NetGalley had this book, I decided to request it.
I knew nothing about Manal al-Sharif before I picked up this book. I knew nothing about the lives of women in Saudi Arabia. Honestly, I even had to look on a map to find Saudi Arabia. But this is a book that will stick with me because of the extent to which it opened my eyes.
Manal’s story begins with her arrest for driving a car, an activity that, although not illegal, is something that women are not allowed to do. It then jumps back to her life growing up in Saudi Arabia, her family, her education, her job, her marriage and motherhood. Throughout her story, the necessary dependence of a woman on her husband or male relatives is clearly demonstrated, and the details are astonishing to many of us who know the freedoms of life in Canada. A woman is not allowed to be alone with a man, to the extreme that a male paramedic is unable to enter the home of a woman who is alone to administer medical care, and a woman in labor is not allowed to go to a hospital by herself. At times, it was hard to absorb the limitations placed on women in 2017, and I found it eye-opening and sobering.
Manal went to jail for her disobedience, and though she was eventually released, her life was drastically changed by her activism. Her campaign for Women2Drive, and to push for the right for women to drive, made international headlines, but ultimately resulted in her choosing to leave the country. She paid a high price for actions, but paved the way for women to follow and continue the fight.
I appreciate Manal’s candor and honesty, and feel better educated about the lives of women in Saudi Arabia after reading her story.
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis, Bloomsbury US (May 30, 2017), Advanced Reader’s Copy courtesy of NetGalley.
This was a very fun chapter book with an interesting premise.
Aventurine is a young dragon tired of waiting to be old enough to go out on her own. She sneaks out of her cave, and while she is exploring, she runs into a young boy. He is making the most wonderful smelling drink, which she learns is hot chocolate, and he offers some to Aventurine. Unfortunately, it’s enchanted with magic, Aventurine is turned from a dragon into a human girl, and the boy disappears.
Aventurine bumps into a couple who take her to a nearby town, and it is here she wants to pursue her new passion for chocolate. But first she must escape a woman who wants to make her an unpaid maid, convince someone she’s worthy of a chocolate apprenticeship, figure out how to trust humans that she’s always been told are the enemy, and find a way to come to terms with no longer being a dragon.
The concept of a dragon becoming a human (instead of a human turning into some mythical creature) was original, and Aventurine was brave and spirited. I did have some issues with the fact that she never went looking for the boy who changed her into the human, and it felt like she too easily accepted that she was now a human. Despite this, the book was entertaining and flowed well. It will appeal to readers who enjoy dragons (and chocolate!), and works well for a younger audience.
June has arrived,
and it’s starting to feel like summer. This week, I’ve been busy trying to figure out a priority list for all the library holds and NetGalley approvals that came in at once. My top 10 TBR list for June is more like a top 20 this month, but here are a few of the titles that have made it on my list (I finished Carve the Mark yesterday, and really enjoyed it!)
I’m excited to tackle Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide. This week, I finished The Dry by Jane Harper (5/5 stars, this one was SO good) and Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro (3/5 stars). And I also added to Anne’s beautiful sign with some of my scrapbook supplies to make a poster for my wall so I chart my progress (notice the little yellow dots in some of the top right hand corners of books).
I am also participating in two June photo challenges, #raisingreadersjune (you can followBecky and her and the challenge on Instagram at @beckys_bookshelf) and #AlltheBooksJune (co-hosted by Christy from http://www.thereaderbee.com and Lori from http://www.pureimaginationblog.com). You can follow me on Instagram to see how I make out.
This week I plan to finish The Fall of Lisa Bellows, and also read Beartown for the MMD bookclub next week. We’ll see how the week goes and if I might be able to squeeze The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball, an upcoming release I got through NetGalley by which I’m really intrigued.
- The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore, Sourcebooks (April 2017), Advanced Reader’s Copy courtesy of NetGalley.
Wow. I’m not sure where to begin. I’d heard rumblings about this book, then I saw it on NetGalley and decided to request it. I was a little put off by how long it was, and although I still think there was more detail than was necessary, I read right to the end because of the story.
In the early part of the 20th century, radium was believed to be a wonder drug, and was used for all kinds of health ailments. It was also discovered that a radium-based paint could be used to paint the dials of watches so that they would glow in the dark. At the start of World War I, these watches were in high demand, and the women who were employed as dial painters were sought after, and well paid, for their work. The work required a very fine-tipped brush to do the precision work, and the women were taught put the tip of the brushes into their mouths to make the tips even finer. Not only were they ingesting radium each time they did this, they were covered in the dust, and often glowed from the material that settled on their clothing and bodies.
Soon, many dial painters started experiencing mysterious illnesses, particularly issues with their teeth, jaws, and bones. The companies learned early on that perhaps radium wasn’t as safe as they had originally thought, but did nothing, and denied that these women were sick with any workplace-related ailment. The cover-up continued as more women because sick, and started dying, and were unable to take on the powerful corporations who continued to lie about the medical test results.
This book is quite graphic in its descriptions; the effects of radium poisoning were horrific, and the suffering these women experienced was terrible. Still, although it was a sad and infuriating read, it’s important to shed light on this piece of history. In many ways I was reminded of how I felt when I read Hidden Figures or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Laks; these were women whose stories have had a significant impact on our history, but of whom we’ve never heard. For that reason alone, I encourage readers to give this one a try.