All The Light We Cannot See
Book Review / May 31, 2016

Title: All The Light We Cannot See Author: Anthony Doerr Genre: Fiction Publisher: Scribner Release Date: May 6th, 2014 Format: Audiobook Pages: 530 Source: Library From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments,…

Out of the Dust
Book Review / May 27, 2016

Title: Out of the Dust Author: Karen Hesse Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Release Date: January 1st, 1997 Format: Paperback Pages: 256 Source: Owned When Billie Jo is just fourteen she must endure heart-wrenching ordeals that no child should have to face. The quiet strength she displays while dealing with unspeakable loss is as surprising as it is inspiring. Written in free verse, this award-winning story is set in the heart of the Great Depression. It chronicles Oklahoma’s staggering dust storms, and the environmental–and emotional–turmoil they leave in their path. An unforgettable tribute to hope and inner strength. (via Goodreads) Amazon     As to be expected for a story set during the dust bowl in Oklahoma during the Great Depression this story is dark and dreary. Even bordering on a gruesome quality that, thankfully, the verse distracts us from. However, this is also a story of hope and human connection, making it also beautiful and heart wrenching. Out of the Dust is a 1998 Newbery Medal-winning book written as a journal. Billie Jo is our narrator and she begins her entries in 1934. However, unlike most epistolary novels, narrative poetry is used to tell the story instead of…

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
Book Review / April 23, 2016

Title: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant Series: Delilah Dirk, #1 Author: Tony Cliff Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: First Second Release Date: August 27th, 2013 Format: Paperback Pages: 169 Source: Library Illustrator: Tony Cliff Lovable ne’er-do-well Delilah Dirk has travelled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she’s picked up on the way, Delilah’s adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople. With the aid of her flying boat and her newfound friend, Selim, she evades the Sultan’s guards, leaves angry pirates in the dust, and fights her way through the countryside. For Delilah, one adventure leads to the next in this thrilling and funny installment in her exciting life. A little bit Tintin, a little bit Indiana Jones, Delilah Dirk is a great pick for any reader looking for a smart and foolhardy heroine…and globetrotting adventures. (via Goodreads) Amazon   Thanks to a friend’s recommendation that I read Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes, a collection of comic book art interpretations of common nursery rhymes, I was introduced to the publishing company First Second. As this collection featured some beautiful art, I knew I had to learn more about this…

Lone Wolf and Cub, Vol. 5: Black Wind
Book Review / April 21, 2016

Title: Lone Wolf and Cub, Vol. 5: Black Wind Series: Lone Wolf and Cub, #5 Author: Kazuo Koike Genre: Graphic Novel Publisher: Dark Horse Manga Release Date: February 13th, 2001 Format: Paperback Pages: 228 Source: Library Illustrator: Goeski Kojima First Published: January 30th, 1997 This volume contains five powerful, classic tales of the assassin Itto Ogami, the Lone Wolf, as he continues his journey to hell. The Yagyu clan, fearful of the growing legend surrounding Lone Wolf, has decided to protect itself by sending its own assassin after him, and later pit the greatest swordsman of a rival clan against him. Also, Lone Wolf must face the leader of a bounty-hunting gang who seeks revenge against Ogami for slaying his young lord years ago, and a master gunsmith who values the art of warfare above all else and will change his life forever. Don’t miss a single volume of the acclaimed epic series that belongs on every bookshelf: Lone Wolf and Cub. (via Goodreads) Amazon Volume 5: In which we begin to really see that Ogami Itto is a flesh and blood man. I’m not trying to be sarcastic or condescending here. I’m serious. For 4 volumes we have watched Itto…

Sarah, Plain and Tall
Book Review / April 7, 2016

Title: Sarah, Plain and Tall Series: Sarah, Plain and Tall, #1 Author: Patricia MacLachlan Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Harper & Row Release Date: April 1st, 1985 Format: Paperback Pages: 64 Source: Library “I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall.” A heartwarming story about two children, Anna and Caleb, whose lives are changed forever when their widowed papa advertises for a mail-order bride. Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton from Maine answers the ad and agrees to come for a month. Sarah brings gifts from the sea, a cat named Seal, and singing and laughter to the quiet house. But will she like it enough to stay? Anna and Caleb wait and wonder — and hope. (via Goodreads) Amazon     As part of a quest to read all the Newbery Medal and Honor winners, I knew I’d have to re-read some books I read as a child. Darn. That sounds terrible. Just kidding. In conjunction with a re-read challenge, my first Newbery for this year is Sarah, Plain and Tall. The first time I read it, I remember being mesmerized by the “exotic” lifestyle of living in Wyoming on a farm. I grew up…

The Color Purple
Book Review / March 23, 2016

Title: The Color Purple Author: Alice Walker Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Pocket Release Date: April 1st, 2004 Format: Paperback Pages: 295 Source: Library First Published: 1982 The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name. Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence. (via Goodreads) Amazon It’s amazing how coming into a situation blind can really improve your experience. I knew very little about The Color Purple when I picked it up. I knew it was a Pulitzer Prize Winning book, Alice Walker wrote it, it addresses many issues facing women and people of color in the 1930’s, and is…

The Island of the Blue Dolphins
Book Review / March 11, 2016

Title: The Island of the Blue Dolphins Series: The Island of the Blue Dolphins, #1 Author: Scott O'Dell Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers Release Date: October 29th, 1990 Format: Hardback Pages: 192 Source: Library Illustrator: Ted Levin First Published: 1960 Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Dolphins flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kep beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches. Here, in the early 1800s, according to history, an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure filled with drama and heartache, for not only was mere subsistence on so desolate a spot a near miracle, but Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that had killed her younger brother, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply. More than this, it is an adventure of the spirit that will haunt the reader long after the book has been put down. Karana’s quiet courage, her Indian self-reliance and acceptance of fate, transform what to…

Lone Wolf and Cub, Vol. 4: The Bell Warden
Book Review / February 25, 2016

Title: Lone Wolf and Cub, Vol. 4: The Bell Warden Series: Lone Wolf and Cub, #4 Author: Kazuo Koike Genre: Graphic Novel Publisher: Dark Horse Manga Release Date: January 9th, 2001 Format: Paperback Pages: 311 Source: Library Illustrator: Goseki Kojima First Published: 1995 Dark Horse continues its presentation of the entirety of Japan’s Lone Wolf and Cub, one of the unquestioned landmarks of graphic fiction, packaged in the digest format preferred by creator Goseki Kojima. The fourth volume of this ambitious monthly program collects four classic Lone Wolf tales, including one never before seen in America, where little Daigoro searches for his lost father while amazing a well-known samurai with his warrior’s eyes and cool demeanor. Also, the Lone Wolf takes on the sons of the war-bell warden, legions of organized crime bosses, and a mysterious tattooed lady with a dark story and impeccable killing skills. It’s bloody and romantic…and among the best the comics medium has to offer. (via Goodreads) Amazon   The fourth volume of Lone Wolf and Cub really started to catch my attention. Like the previous volumes, this contains 4 stories continuing the tale of ronin Ogami Itto and his son Diagoro as they wander Edo-period…

Mara Daughter of the Nile
Book Review / January 28, 2016

Title: Mara, Daughter of the Nile Author: Eloise Jarvis McGraw Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Puffin Books Release Date: Unknown day 1953 Format: Paperback Pages: 279 Source: Owned Mara is a proud and beautiful slave girl who yearns for freedom. In order to gain it, she finds herself playing the dangerous role of double spy for two arch enemies – each of whom supports a contender for the throne of Egypt. Against her will, Mara finds herself falling in love with one of her masters, the noble Sheftu, and she starts to believe in his plans of restoring Thutmose III to the throne. But just when Mara is ready to offer Sheftu her help and her heart, her duplicity is discovered, and a battle ensues in which both Mara’s life and the fate of Egypt are at stake. (via Goodreads) Amazon   Let’s hear it for strong female protagonists found in books published in 1953! Mara is a suspiciously well-educated, intelligent, crafty, and (obviously)painfully beautiful slave. She yearns for adventure and freedom.Her command of both the Egyptian and Babylonian languages lands her on an adventure away from traditional enslavement, and out into the royal city of Thebes where she acts as…

Lone Wolf and Cub, Volume 3: The Flute of the Fallen Tiger
Book Review / January 22, 2016

Title: Lone Wolf and Cub, Vol. 3: The Flute of the Fallen Tiger Series: Lone Wolf and Cub Author: Kazuo Koike Genre: Graphic Novel Publisher: Dark Horse Manga Release Date: November 28th, 2000 Format: Paperback Pages: 314 Source: Library Join renegade samurai Itto Ogami and his infant son, Daigoro, in five more adventures on the dark road to Hell. What do three mysterious Shogunate assassins, a street entertainer, and the crests of the dead have in common? “The Baby Cart Wolf” continues his dealing of death for gold and encounters one roninwho is bent on putting a stop to his journey. Will he succeed? Follow the monthly adventures of Lone Wolf and Cub, one of the true classics of comics literature, available in America for the first time in over a decade! This volume contains the following stories: The Flute of the Fallen Tiger Half Mat, One Mat, A Fistful of Rice The White Path Between the Rivers The Virgin and the Whore Close Quarters (via Goodreads)   After reading the first Omnibus, Volume 3 picks up two stories before the first omnibus ends. Unfortunately, my library didn’t have the second omnibus, so we’re resorting to individual volumes now. Picking…

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