Thursday, December 14, 2017

reviews by Saleena 12/14/17

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is by the same author as Witch's Boy; which is a book I adored.  I had high hopes for this title and Barnhill more than met them.  I love her mix of voices and the way it reads like a familiar fairy tale yet it truly is an original story.  This story is about a witch who collects the babies a village abandons in the woods every year.  She has no idea why, but she takes them to neighboring villages and makes sure they are taken care of; and they become "star children" and the day is widely celebrated as a day of joy.  Meanwhile, within the village, they leave their children because they are told that a horrible witch will punish them if they don't--and those in power don't really care if there is a witch or not, it is a useful thing to keep the populace under control and afraid of those in power--and the village is a sad place and the day is called the Day of Sacrifice.  Then things begin to change; one woman fights to keep her child and is locked in a tower; her child has inherent magical abilities and when the witch finds her she accidentally feeds her moonlight instead of starlight (meaning she will be a powerful witch) and so is adopted by the witch to be her apprentice; and one of the powerful Elders has a reluctant apprentice, who is so appalled by the practice of sacrifice that he dedicates his life to figuring out a way to end it.  These three differing stories are incorporated into a tale that takes place over 13 years....and yet it is a fast and enjoyable read.  This was such a good book!

This historical fiction book takes place during the Iran hostage crisis and the main character is Iranian and is anxious to fit in.  She renames herself Cindy and approaches middle school with trepidation but hopeful that she will find her place.  The author intentionally begins the book well before the crisis to show the issues in the neighborhood and the relationships between characters and families both before and after all the negative news stories and resulting racism.  This is a hopeful story partially based on the author's life; and it is really nicely done.  This is not a story trying to be the next bestseller, just a quiet book looking back on the story of one family and how the revolutions and environment of the times affected them.  Very nicely done

I love nonfiction comics...sometimes they aren't as fun as you hope they will be; but nonetheless, I try.  This book is, in spite of the subject matter, a bit on the dry side (though it might be because I don't know all of the game systems discussed).  It is a quick way to peruse the history of video games and technology and it provided lots of information.

Binti is the story of a woman from a remote village who goes away to University....but this story takes place far in the future; and University requires travelling through the stars.  Binti's people prefer to be remote but she is determined to see the universe.  Once en route, the ship encounters the Meduse, an alien race that is at war with the humans.....can Binti survive the encounter?  Might she make a difference, being the first of the Himba tribe to venture out this far?  This story was amazing, and I listened to the audio version which just added in accents & emotions even more.  I truly felt like I was listening to her diary.  Okorafor is one of my favorite authors, if you don't know her, read this book or any of her will see why, and fall in love also.

In an unspecified future where thinking robots are everywhere; one gets lost on an island in a storm; and begins to learn about the animals around....and develops more than just facts but heart and a family.  Roz adopts a baby goose and through that, becomes a part of the animal community and a mother.  This was a very cool story that I found quite fun (though the ending was open-ended a bit sad....)  I shall have to read the next one to see what happens.  I didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I did; it's very young (probably for young middle school/upper elementary aged students)....but Brown created a story that caught me in his net.   Nice.

BOOK REVIEW : Words in A Deep Blue By Cath Crowley BY SULPHIA IQBAL

BOOK REVIEW : Words in A Deep Blue
By Cath Crowley
I broke my promise. I read another contemporary. Fortunately, Words In a Deep Blue is one of the bearable ones.
When you go to goodreads and read the synopsis, you might be surprised that I somewhat enjoy this book. I will say, however, the synopsis makes the book sound sappier than it really is. Besides, if you don’t focus on the drama and relationship between characters, you might see where I am coming from.
Rachel and Henry have been best friends and inseparable, or so they thought. When Rachel realizes she is going to be moving away, she decides to come clean with Henry, and she is further motivated by this new girl who is becoming closer to Henry. The night before she leaves, she puts a letter expressing all her real feelings for Henry ( guys bear with me ) in his favorite book from Henry’s family bookstore, certain that he would see it. But Henry doesn’t see it, texts her he overslept ( this is the morning that Rachel is leaving ), and Rachel is understandably devastated, angry, and determined to keep Henry out of her life. In the three years she is away, she ignores all of Henry’s attempts to call her and oblivious Henry is left to wonder why his former best friend is so mad.
The book introduces us to a three-year later Rachel who  is finally forced to go back to her first home after her brother drowns. She is struggling to cope with her loss and seeing Henry again just adds onto the stress. Rachel still refuses to talk to Henry, until she is forced to accept a job at his family’s bookstore. Henry is dealing with his own set of problems, including divorced parents constantly fighting, the possibility of having to close the family bookstore, and trying to get Amy ( that stupid new girl from before ) to get back with him so they can happily go on a trip through Europe he spent almost all of his money on.
Before I become the all captious reviewer I am, I need to address the amazingness of Henry’s family bookstore. This place has this thing called the Letter Library, a collection of books where people leave personal letters or little notes within the pages or margins. Can I just say - that is the best idea ever. This is ( to any bookworm ) the best form of communication discovered. I really wish a library like this actually exists.
(UPDATE : I have just searched this up and sadly, I cannot find anything like this in real life  *sadness* )
I do not feel too much for the characters. Word in Deep Blue has diversity and it really does highlights issues that are real, like coping with a death in the family. While these elements are smoothly incorporated in the novel, they do not make up for the  slowness of the plot. Rachel’s character is probably the one done best. Her dealing with Cal’s death is perfectly written. To the author’s credit, when Rachel comes home after three years, she does not automatically like Henry again - exactly the opposite, actually. This is refreshing because Rachel does not change because of her previous feelings for Henry; she warms up to Henry slowly and deliberately as a result of the time they spend together.
The side characters all have some awesome things going on while Rachel and Henry’s story unfolds. Henry’s sister George has her own situation and exchanges in the Letter Library, along with Henry’s parents’. But let me just address Amy. Amy is Henry’s ex-girlfriend, and the latter is frustratingly obsessed with her. As stupid as this may sound, I do not feel like it is Henry’s fault, but more Cath Crowley’s. Yes, the author is pretty much responsible for everything in their book, so I feel like Crowley deciding to make Amy this annoying obsession in Henry’s life is not really meant for Henry. It contrasts with his character at other moments in the novel, which make it seem forced. At the same time, Henry is constantly oblivious to various things throughoutWords In A Deep Blue, so maybe it is necessarily not forced. I also understand that not all characters are perfect, and that Henry’s constant need to impress and please Amy might just be proof of his imperfection. I guess it just depends on how you look it at. For some, it may be a nuisance. Other might see it as a practical flaw.
“We are the books we read and the things we love.”
“Sometimes science isn't enough. Sometimes you need the poets.”
“A dry, bookless world. It's too bleak to even imagine.”
“It’s like he’s picking up parts of the world and showing them to me, saying, See? It’s beautiful.”
Feeling in the mood for a book about an old, yet new,  friendship?
Check out Words in a Deep Blue  at the library and goodreads :

RATINGS: 3.5/5

Saturday, December 02, 2017

12/2/17--Reviews from Saleena

Accidentally read part 2 before part 1 (they didn't identify differences that I noticed on the catalog, but then when I went back....was right there....)
However, I enjoyed it and am now on hold for the first's a story with characters from Jack and the Beanstalk, but told in a totally new way.  Really fun.

The Boy on the Bridge is a companion to The Girl With All the Gifts (so you could read them in any order); and because it's a companion, it's different...but definitely in the same universe.  I like the angle of the genius boy on a science expedition and M.R. Carey really does a good job of telling a story you can see visually...must be all those years of writing comics.  Really well done and an enjoyable zombie apocalypse tale with a totally different ending than the one you were expecting (unless you read the other, and even then...not predictable).

Was in the mood for a Christmas story and this one is perfect as it continues the story of Dash and Lily from Dash & Lily's Book of Dares.  This picks up a year later where both of them are experiencing life and it's changes....and also how much more work it is to stay in love than to fall in love.  Really fun and romantic story set in NYC. 

Garvey's Choice is a story in verse, which I love...and also is a story about a young man trying to find his own way even if it doesn't match what his father or the world thinks is the right choice.  I really love how Grimes brings Garvey's life so quickly into view and pulls at your heartstrings as he finds himself through the arts instead of through sports.  Great story aimed at middle school aged students but able to be enjoyed by anyone.

I like to read educational works sometimes, so grabbed this on a whim. 
Meltzer does a good job of bringing Hawthorne's life into focus; but unfortunately the edition I read had so many editing mistakes it really detracted from the book.  Hopefully subsequent editions have fixed the errors because it was really rife with obvious mistake made throughout the book.

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, review by Nina Soukhanovskii

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.  A Quote to Consider: “With a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of...