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Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Fifteen-year-old Simon is not the brightest bulb in town, or even maybe the entire state of Missouri, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to let a potential opportunity slide by, especially after graduating from school, from the third grade, which he attended for four years. It’s time for him to spread his wings, his teacher says. And he does. His means to fame and fortune lie in one thousand turkeys, and the task of getting them to Denver.

The impetus for this seemingly far-fetched story are actual turkey walks that took place in the 1800’s. The number of birds may have been smaller; Ms. Karr mentions an 1865 walk of 500 birds. These journeys were no less daunting than the cattle drives we know from western movies and books.

This is a lively tale of adventure with scoundrels, Indians, and circuses. It made me want to know more about turkeys. They seemed hardier than I ever dreamed. This book offers a new perspective on the west. Simon is a delight to get to know.

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Moving to a new town isn’t easy. Catrina doesn’t want to move, but knows it’s for the best, it’s for the health of her sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis. After settling in the town of Bahia de la Luna, Catrina finds she hates it even more than she thought she would. It’s a horrible place, and the whole ‘ghost’ stuff makes it worse.
People really believe in ghosts? Catrina sure doesn’t. And why does Maya? Not only that, Maya wants to see the ghosts, and ask them a question.

This is a fun graphic novel. Included are discussions points for moving and cystic fibrosis. From Ms. Telgemeier’s colorful and eye-catching illustrations, I got a firmer grasp on the disease. I’ve read novels with characters with cystic fibrosis, but the pictures in her book cemented it more in my head how it can affect someone and their family.
But ‘Ghosts’ is more than cystic fibrosis. It’s about fears and letting go and embracing life, and death. I especially liked the ghosts especially José, Carlos’ uncle.

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A fifteen-year-old girl walks into a bank.
She meets someone who’s nice to her.
Then the bank gets robbed and he dies. Everyone is going to die.
But Zoe, the fifteen-year-old girl, can go back in time, twenty-three minutes back in time. The problem is that things don’t always get better. She has ten tries. Ten tries to save people’s lives.

This is like the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ with a twist. For one, Zoe, who’s in foster care, knows what’s happening, and two, it’s only a twenty-three minute reset. With each you learn more about her and the man she’s trying to save. I thought it was going to be solved fast and easy, but things happen and you begin to wonder if Zoe is going to be able to save everyone.

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There are bad things in the woods. Grabbers. Lose one of your things? It might have been taken by a grabber. Once it has something of yours, you know it’s coming back. For you.

Kestrel is twelve. She hunts and kills grabbers, usually after they’ve taken their prey. She’s been trained well by her grandmother, someone from outside the woods. Her father is a wolf trapper. Hunting is in her blood.

She might be a hunter of grabbers, but that hasn’t endeared her to the villagers who dislike her as much as they fear her mother. They want to get rid of her as bad as Kestrel wants to leave the woods, especially now that a grabber is after her.

 

Monster story. Fantasy. Adventure. I was rooting through the whole book for Kestrel as she faces grabbers and other nightmarish creatures (face painters, the briny witch, bonebirds, and her own really creepy mother). I rooted for her as she fought to get out of the woods.

The monsters in the book are well fleshed out (figuratively) . Her mother is tied to the house with strands of twisted wool that’s knotted around furniture, the floor and even through holes in soup bowls. The Briny Witch is made of floating rags and small fish dart around and through his head. What a wonderful image.

There are twists and turns in the story and surprises. All make it a good read.

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Holly is dead. Her death weighs heavy on her sister, Emily, and her parents. With Holly’s death, Bluey is gone too, and so is the world Emily made up, the land of Smockeroon. Only writing memories about the teddy bear, Bluey, helps Emily cope.

Then, one night, Emily dreams of Bluey and it’s like he’s trying to send her a message. But that’s crazy, except weird things start to happen and soon she’s not the only one seeing soft toys come to life.

 

Talking teddies are right down my alley so I had to read this book and am glad I did. Not only did I like the talking toy aspects, but I enjoyed how Ms. Saunders treated the death of the older sister, Holley, who was disabled. One could really feel the love Emily had for her sister and the heartache of children losing siblings and parents losing children. It was gently done.

I felt a kinship in Ruth, an adult, who sometimes takes care of Emily after school. She has a love for old toys too. I am not ashamed to say that I have my teddy bear family prominently displayed and, of course, there is Pawnee Kitty and Angus who live smack dab in the living area.

At times the book was laugh aloud funny. Two Barbies are nuns. Sister Pretty has a bad word written on her forehead and Sister Troop became a nun to keep Pretty company. Another humorous moment is when Ruth first sees the toys comes alive and thinks she’s gone crazy.

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Florida. 1949.
Just off lazy Highway 1, between the road and the swamp, lives ten-year-old Bones. The house floods during storms, but it’s still home for her and her parents, Nolay, who’s part Miccosukee Indian, and Honey Girl. It’s home too for her pets: the dogs, the pig, and the raccoon. Life is pretty good for Bones.
That is, until two Yankees arrive and nose around. Bone’s father chases them off, but one is found dead. And then another man is found dead and her dad looks good for both their murders.

This is a slice of Florida history I’ve not read about it; in the time before the state became a retirement destination and people flocked to vacation here in huge numbers. Ms. Ashley-Holliknger grew up in the same town in which she set the story. She even includes the same lone store, the Last Chance General Store and Gas Station. She’s written this as a tribute to the life that was, and it’s a fitting one. This book makes the community of Micco and the nearby swamp come alive.

The story is sprinkled with memorial characters from Ikibob Rooster who shepherds his harem of chickens, Mr. Speed, the young man horribly wounded in World War II, and slow Sheriff LeRoy who investigates the murders.

I really liked how the community comes together and are always helping one another out. No one might have much, but together they have a lot and make do. It makes one wish it was that way again.

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There are days in which everything goes wrong. Such is the case for Ophelia Delphinimu Fidgets. She’s a fairy. Her job title is Granter. As in granter of wishes. Except there are more granters than wishes granted due to a low supply of magic, so her chance of doing her job is pretty low. On this fateful day, there are only twelve wishes to be granted. And Ophelia is going to be able to grant a wish. She only has to find the coin used, sprinkle the magic dust on it, say the words and it’s done.
Easy.
That is, before her day goes spiraling down the drain into the worse day ever.

I love this book. I loved the whole modern take on fairies and how they granted wishes. And I’m not much of a fairy fan. The book sucked me right in and gave me a ride through poor Ophelia’s ordeal. With everything she goes through, it makes one wonder – will she ever grant the wish.

Mr. Anderson really got it right with the animals, capturing their essence in the way they talk. The geese are snappy. Sam, the dog, is wonderful. I pictured him in my head, mouth open, tongue, out, tail a’wagging, eyes bright. I am Sam. I am a hero. He’s good at everything he says, all eager, even when he hasn’t a clue what it is he’s supposed to be good at. The cat is great even if he only has a small part.

Whether you like fairies, animals, or want to read a good adventure book. This is a good one.

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