Dead End in Norvelt
Book Review / July 22, 2017

Title: Dead End in Norvelt Series: Norvelt, #1 Author: Jack Gantos Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Release Date: September 13th, 2011 Format: Audiobook Pages: 341 Source: Library Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year’s best contribution to children’s literature and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction! Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets.  But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his Utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his…

The Bad Beginning
Book Review / January 23, 2017

Title: The Bad Beginning Series: The Series of Unfortunate Events, #1 Author: Lemony Snicket (aka David Handler) Genre: Fiction Publisher: Listening Library Release Date: September 9th, 2003 Format: Audiobook Source: Library Illustrator: Brett Helquist First Published: September 30th, 1999 Dear Reader, I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune. In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast. It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket  (via Back Cover) GoodreadsAmazon   A Series…

In the Hand of the Goddess
Book Review / September 18, 2016

Title: In the Hand of the Goddess Series: Song of the Lioness, #2 Author: Tamora Pierce Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers Release Date: April 19th, 2011 Format: eBook Pages: 252 Source: Owned First Published: 1984 From Tamora Pierce, the second book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award. Alanna, disguised as a boy, becomes a squire to none other than the heir to the throne. Prince Jonathan is not only Alanna’s liege lord, he is also her best friend – and one of the few who knows the secret of her true identity. But when a vicious sorcerer threatens the prince’s life, it will take all of Alanna’s skill, strength, and magical power to protect him, even at the risk of surrendering her dreams.  (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   Right from the start, we know that In the Hand of the Goddess will be a more intense book that its predecessor, Alanna: The First Adventure. Opening with Alanna meeting the Goddess herself, Alanna is told she must address her three greatest fears if she is to succeed. That’s right, unlike most fantasy novels, being the Chosen of a goddess doesn’t make…

What is the difference between Young Adult and Middle Grade literature?
Between the Lines / September 12, 2016

      is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these.   Lately, I’ve been having dialogues with my friends around the labels for books. Books are labeled by genre and they are also labeled by reading level. Often, when people identify genres for books, they say, “Oh, that’s YA.” But Young Adult and Middle Grade are not genres– they are reading levels. This is confusing when classifying literature because the lines between these reading levels are easily blurred. So, what really is the difference? Officially, middle grade novels are intended for ages 8-12 and young adult novels are intended for ages 12-18. And from a reading level perspective, that’s easy enough. But is that all it is? Of course not. It’s not remotely that clean up. Let’s start with the title “middle grade” This is not synonymous with middle schoolers. Between these two reading levels a lot of change is happening with our readership. Authors are concerned with their readership’s life experiences, their interests, and their mind-set. Our readers care about length, content, subjects, and themes. Let’s break this down:   Other things to consider: • MG/YA readers…

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) GoodreadsAmazon   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…

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