Ghosts

by Raina Telgemeier

 

 

Ghosts is my first graphic novel that I can think of that I’ve read in its entirety without putting it aside. I didn’t want the story to end and was so bummed when I finished it. The kids at the school I work at have been begging me to read this one and I’m so glad I did! I loved the story line how it really dives into the day to day life with cystic fibrosis as a kid and how it affects not only the child that has it but the siblings and parents. I won’t go to in-depth on the description of the book since I’m sure I’m one of the last people to read it. ūüôā Catrina and her family move to upper California for her dad’s new job and they are hoping the change in climate helps her sister Maya have more good days with her cystic fibrosis. The town the move to Bahia De La Luna is rich is culture and tradition and has a huge festival every year for Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)! I have always loved all the culture – traditions – and decorations for Dia De Los Muertos. I would take that over Halloween any day. So I think between finding one of the rare few elementary and middle grade books that tackles cystic fibrosis and then includes Dia De Los Muertos I was sold one page one. The illustrations with bold and set the mood with each frame. They story line was well developed and hooked me instantly. I will be checking out her other books and might even dive into more graphic novels.¬†Ghosts is a perfect book to read anytime of the year but would be great for a Spooktober book to read, it’s not scary but it is set in Spooktober season.

About the Book:¬†Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bah√≠a de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bah√≠a de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own.

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When Elephants Fly

by Nancy Richardson Fischer

Publication Date: September 4 2018

Buy the Book (or put on hold at your local library! I don’t get any $$ if you click and buy from links) AmazonBarnes and Noble

Add to your GoodReads shelf

 

This book – oh my stars this book not only got me out of a reading slump but I feel for this book hard. I finished it in less than 24 hours. I couldn’t stop reading it and when I got to tired to read I got up way before the sun so I could read some more. Now I’m sad because I’m done reading it. This book tackles so much from mental illness and suicide ( Lily’s), a wonderful best friend of Lily that is tired of not living his true self and comes out to his parents (who btw are total butt heads. I’d call them worse but don’t want to be flagged with all the cuss words) the plight of elephants in the wild, it also touches base on the abuse some captive elephants experience at the hands of less than ethical in my opinion handlers in the zoo and circus setting. I know the author worked for the biggest circus in the USA but I’m very against circus¬†maybe Ringling didn’t use these tactics but I just don’t agree with circus acts in general. Okay now on to this amazing book!

Lily’s life hasn’t been a normal kid upbringing. Her mom had paranoid schizophrenia and when Lily was 7 her mom tried to kill her. Her mom was obsessed with¬†Peter Pan and thought they could fly to Neverland. Lucky for Lily the police officer that was on the roof with her dad grabbed her as her mom threw her off the roof. What had stayed in the back of Lily’s mind was her dad saved the mom and not her. He also saved the mom many times by ignoring all the abuse Lily experienced leading up to that fateful night on the roof. Lily is terrified that she will become her mom since it is genetic and pretty much all the women in her mom’s family have schizophrenic to some degree. So she leans on her best friend Sawyer to administer quizzes to make sure she isn’t starting to develop it as well as make sure she sticks to her 12 year plan to avoid all triggers leading up to age 30. Sawyer is always there for her but really needs Lily to be there for him as well. He is living a lie and wants to just be the true Sawyer he is. He finally comes out to his parents and is kicked out of the house. One thing I wish the author had done with Sawyer was not make him so rich. When his parents kicked him out he was able to look at all these uber expensive apartments and moved out fine. Most teens that come out to there parents and are kicked out end up homeless or live in shelters unless they have family that will take them in. This I think would have made the book a 5 star for me if she had explored what really happens with most LGBTQPIA teens.

Swifty the baby elephant that is the center of the book and Lily’s story gives a lot of data on both African and Asian elephants in the wild and in captivity. Many zoo’s and refuges try to breed elephants to keep the numbers rising instead of decreasing like they are in the wild. Many times with any zoo breeding the baby isn’t accepted and even killed. This is what happens to Swifty Swift Jones (Sawyer donated 100,000 to the name the baby elephant contest and named the elephant after his favorite pop star. See what I mean about him from a very rich family). Because of a deal the zoo keeper made with the circus for the male¬† elephant specimen if Swifty mom doesn’t accept her Swifty because property of the circus. Property is all Swifty and the other animals are they are worked, kept in unsafe and unsanitary environments and abused to get them to perform. The rest of the book is Lily realizing that volunteering at the local town paper as a means to an end to get int USC journalism department is more¬† than that. She loves Swifty and she might not be able to save herself from her fate but she can save Swifty from her’s!

This is where I’ll end because if I talk anymore I’m going to give away the whole book. ūüôā¬†When Elephants Fly¬†was an amazing book that really tugged at my heartstrings. I loved Sawyer and Lily and really wanted them to be okay with the hand they have been dealt. I loved that these 2 lost souls had each other because everyone needs someone who will back them up no matter what. They have their ups and downs but in the end they have each other. While they didn’t get to pick their families they did find each other and became their own little family.

I gave this book 4 stars because I think it would have been more realistic if Sawyer wasn’t able to have all the money in the world to find a place to stay when his butt head dad kicked him out of the house for coming out as been gay.

Also this is a YA book but I did give this to my 7th grader. There was a few small not in detail adult scenes but nothing she hasn’t seen on Pretty Little Liars.

About the book:¬†T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she’s not developing schizophrenia.¬†Genetics are not on Lily’s side. When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily’s odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there’s a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests. But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can’t abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf’s life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.

Thank you so very much Harlequin Teen for sending me this amazing book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Where the Watermelons Grow

by Cindy Baldwin

 

Where the Watermelons Grow deals with a tough subject that isn’t really out there much for middle grade and upper elementary grade readers mental illness. This book is heavy and can be too much for some readers, so you might want to read it before you hand it to your reader if you think it might a trigger. I really think readers ages middle grade through adult will enjoy this heart breaking book that really touched and has stayed with me. I just wanted to go into the book and give Della a huge hug. She is such a sweet strong girl who is facing so much in her life. I think this is one of those books that could help kids that are dealing with tough situations at home. They could see that they are not the only one’s that are dealing with these issues or similar ones. I know some are saying it could be for as young at 3rd grade but I really think for me at least this is an upper elementary and above. The story is well written, the characters are fully developed and the story is one that will touch every reader. I couldn’t believe this was a debut novel from the author. I can’t wait to see what Cindy Baldwin writes next.¬† Grab this book from your local library or book store and read a wonderful book this summer!

About the book: When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren’t there, Della worries that it’s happening again‚ÄĒthat the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time.

With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations.

But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is.

Thank you HarperCollins and Cindy Baldwin for allowing me to read Where the Watermelons Grow. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Evangeline of the Bayou

by Jan Eldredge

illustrations by Joseph Kuefler

 

 

I know it says illustrations by, but don’t let that stop you this is a middle grade chapter book with some wonderful illustrations sprinkled throughout. I really gives the book a great feel. I was told that¬†Evangeline of the Bayou was¬†a supernatural hunter book for middle grade with a southern gothic feel. I was sold but was a bit skeptical, I hadn’t really read a book like that for middle grade, YA sure lots but middle grade not so much. Evangeline is a spunky, sassy, girl who also strong, brave and smart. She must have gotten those qualities from her grandma who even is her aging years is still all those things. They are a family of supernatural hunters. You read that right they fight the supernatural from ghost to monsters. She needs to find her animal familiar and fast to prove she has a heart to the council and¬† can be a haunt huntress aka: swamp witch just like her grandma. Evangeline is learning to hunt, she sometimes even goes out on her own while grandma sleeps. That never goes well and the reader gets to experience some pretty humorous mistakes being made. Just when Evangeline thinks she can’t take the swamp anymore her grandma informs her they are packing their bags and heading to New Orleans to take care of a possession. Evangeline couldn’t be happier since the canine omen of death that has her worried that grandma’s days are coming to an end. Once the reader travels to New Orleans with the crew the story takes on a new twist. This book is such a fun, charming, book that I seriously could reread it again and again. I loved all the New Orleans and Louisiana references. From the swampy cypress trees to the¬† beignets at Cafe Du Monde she really transported me back to this rich vibrant city. If your kid is reluctant to read a book this summer grab a copy of¬†Evangeline of the Bayou¬†from your library or bookstore and hand it to them. They will fall for this rich vibrant story about monsters, banshees (which I have to say I’m a bit intrigued by them), southern folklore, and gothic charm. Might want to grab 2 copies so you can read this amazing story that my middle grader reader and I really hope becomes a series!

About the book: Twelve-year-old haunt huntress apprentice Evangeline Clement spends her days and nights studying the ways of folk magic, honing her monster-hunting skills while pursuing local bayou banshees and Johnny revenants.

With her animal familiar sure to make itself known any day now, the only thing left to do is prove to the council she has heart. Then she will finally be declared a true haunt huntress, worthy of following in the footsteps of her long line of female ancestors.

But when Evangeline and her grandmother are called to New Orleans to resolve an unusual case, she uncovers a secret that will shake her to the soles of her silver-tipped alligator-skin boots.

Set in the evocative Louisiana bayou and the vibrant streets of New Orleans, Evangeline’s is a tale of loyalty and determination, the powerful bonds of friendship and family, and the courage to trust your gut no matter how terrifying that might be.

Thank you so much Balzer+Bray for sending me a copy of Evangeline of the Bayou. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Annie’s Life in List

by Kristen Mahoney

 

 

I have never read a middle grade book or any book really done up in this format. As the title says it is all about Annie’s Life in Lists. The whole book is done up as individual list, instead of chapters. Maybe it’s because the idea is such a new one of a kind concept or maybe it’s because I’m a daily list maker but I really enjoyed this book so much. I really felt like I got to know Annie even though I was reading everything in all these different list and some paragraphs thrown in for good measure and further detail. I saw a little bit of myself in Annie as a kid and even now. I¬† was extremely shy (not¬† so much anymore ) , I have a photographic memory (which drives people batty sometimes at the things I remember). She is starting a new school in a new town and she is nervous. I remember that feeling all to well. I think this is one we all feel even if we are still in same town. You have to start new schools eventually when you go to middle and high school. This book is a great book for any 6th grader that is getting ready to start a new chapter in their life and are a bit nervous. Annie, her family and friends will become new friends. The characters and story line are fun, engaging¬† and fully developed.¬†¬†Annie’s Life in List¬†is a must read this summer, I know my soon to be 7th grader really liked it and gifted the copy to her 6th grade center librarian. If you are looking for a book to get your middle grade reader¬† and they loved Judy Moody and Ramona than Kristen Mahoney’s book is perfect for them. Grab¬†Annie’s Life in List¬†and make it a reading day!

About the book:¬†Annie’s a shy fifth grader with an incredible memory and a love of making lists. It helps her keep track of things when they can seem a little out of control, like her family, her friends, and her life in a new place.

Annie has:
1. An incredible memory (really, it’s almost photographic) that can get her in trouble
2. A desire to overcome her shyness
3. A brother who is mad at her because he thinks she is the reason they had to move to Clover Gap, population 8,432.
4. A best friend who she is (almost) certain will always be her best friend.
5. New classmates, some of whom are nicer than others.
6. A rocky start finding her place in her new home.

Annie’s Life in Lists introduces a sweet new voice that finds that even amid the chaos of everyday life, it’s important to put things in order.

Thank you Alfred A Knopf and Penguin Random House for sending us a copy of¬†Annie’s Life in List.¬†All thoughts and opinions are mine and not influenced by the free book.

Amal Unbound

by Aisha Saeed

 

 

First things first I have to say it the cover is so beautiful! I mean look at it. It is display worthy and I know if reader’s are like my middle grader and I they will grab this for the cover alone. Then the reader will be in for a treat because Amal’s story is one that will grab the reader and keep them reading till the very end. Amal’s character is a strong girl who has seen much in her life. She has a best friend that is a boy that she is forbidden to see, but does anyway. He is a her best friend has been since they were little and plus he is a boy so he get’s the best books at school. Her being a girl doesn’t have as many options as boys do. She is getting to where she has had enough and that might get her into trouble and it does. Things go terribly wrong and she is now a servant for the wealthy family lives in the village as well as frightens many of the villagers.

Amal Unbound is good it exposes the reader to the way of life in another part of the world. I had a very strong middle grade girl as the lead character. Middle grade girls will really like Amal and her story I know mine did. This book reminds me alot of one of my favorite children’s classics¬†A Little Princess. I’d maybe display them together in a library in an: if you like this you might like this setting. Maybe that would get kids to pick up the classic if they haven’t already. Overall it was a solid 4 star rating. The only complaint my middle grade reader and I had been one that I can’t really say without spoiling the book but you’ll know it when you read it. It didn’t take away from the book or star rating just didn’t really seem possible in our minds.

About the book:¬†Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal–especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.¬†

Thank you Nancy Paulson books for sending us a copy of Amal Unbound for review. All thoughts and opinions are our own and not influenced by the free book.

Strange Star

by Emma Carroll

 

 

Strange Star¬†is such an enchanting tale. It is like you’re getting 2 stories in one book. The book is divided into 3 parts. Part 1 sets the ground work for part 2. In part one you meet most of the cast of characters included in¬†Strange Star. What really intrigued me is the inclusion of the Mary Shelley. She is the writer of¬†Frankenstein, one of the all time horror classics. The author even includes some history of the author and book and why it inspired her to write this book. In the first section of the book (Part 1) the characters are all together for a dinner and ghost story session. The only requirement for the storytelling is to tell a story that will freeze your blood. They are all telling stories, interesting enough Mary Shelley has a problem coming up with one and passes. Then something very strange and mysterious happens and in walks Lizzie. Now you begin the middle section (Part 2), in this you learn all about Peg, Lizzie and the mysterious scientist. This story is very mysterious and fast paced. This section is full of adventure and testing one’s will to not only do what’s right but reunite family. It is also full of all kinds of mad science as they would call it. That scientist lady was mad crazy and definitely the idea behind Mary Shelley’s¬†Frankenstein I think. The last section is thinner and from here the reader will be¬† back at Villa Diodati and the dinner party that Lizzie was able to locate and crash. She is a very strong-willed girl to travel from England to Switzerland not only by herself but also she was blinded by the lightning strike that happened in part 1. Her bond and love for her sister Peg is what gave her the will to never give up. The last little section and the epilogue wraps everything up quick and fast, maybe a little to fast but it was still a great book and ending. This book was really enjoyable and one I’d recommend to upper elementary and middle school readers looking for a good book with a tiny bit of creepy but a great story of sister bonds that can’t be broken, as well as a semi introduction into a classic: Frankenstein.¬†My middle grader (6th grade) read¬†Frankenstein recently and really enjoyed it. Maybe gift your middle grader with¬†Strange Star¬†and¬†Frankenstein¬†this summer for something different for their summer reading.

About the book: 

They were coming tonight to tell ghost stories. ‘A tale to freeze the blood,’ was the only rule.

Switzerland, 1816. On a stormy summer night, Lord Byron and his guests are gathered round the fire. Felix, their serving boy, can’t wait to hear their creepy tales. Yet real life is about to take a chilling turn- more chilling than any tale. Frantic pounding at the front door reveals a stranger, a girl covered in the most unusual scars. She claims to be looking for her sister, supposedly snatched from England by a woman called Mary Shelley. Someone else has followed her here too, she says. And the girl is terrified.

 

Thank you so very much Delacorte Books for Young Readers and Emma Carroll for allowing my middle grade reader and I read this wonderful book. All thoughts and opinions are our own and not influenced by the free book.