06 June 16

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

This was an unusual epistolary novel and the letters are to the dead owner of these unusual chickens as well as our main chararacter's dead abuelita. There are elements of biracial issues (mom and dad are hispanic and white) integrity, perseverence, responsibility, and chicken-raising. I liked this although there were no deeply moving moments. Good. 3rd+

A Drowned Maiden's Hairby Laura Amy Schlitz
A melodrama. Maud, our feisty orphan is plucked out of the Asylum to join Miss Hyacinth and her spinster sisters in the "family business". Not to give too much away, there are fakeries, and hiding and sad sad people. I listened to this as an audio book which is sooooo slow. Not fair to the book. I have just realized there are no male characters except a very fat carousel operator and a very fat widower. hmm. OK. 5th+

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
This is something like Harry Potter, but not. Callum Hunt is taken to the Magisterium to begin his training as a mage. But his dad warns him to fail and he seems to be doing just that but not. He is not what he seems to be. Obviously the first of a longer series, as Call learns of his true history and makes decisions about what's best. Black and Clare are waaaay darker than Rowling. Creepy and threatening. CCBA nominee 2017.

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
Ira Levinson comes to in his car that has just crashed over a mountainside road. Not much hope of rescue but Ira hangs on hour after hour with the help of his wife who appears and recalls their long love affair. Sophia, a senior at Wake Forest, is breaking up with Brian and cowboy Luke comes to the rescue and the start of a true love affair. This is an adult book but not objectionable for middle school. I was only disappointed that I had figured out the ending pretty much halfway through the book. There is sex involved but not explicit. I think this will only appeal to mature girls who are looking for a romance novel. It's long. YA for mature relationships

Lantern Sam and the Blue Streak Bandits by Michael D Bell
It's 1938 and Henry Shipley is boarding the Lake Erie Shoreliner. Also on board are two sneaky thieves, a rich heiress, an upstanding conductor and his cat Sam who speaks to a select few. Intertwined with Sam's life story is the story of a jewel robbery, kidnapping, and other mysteries. Who is the lady with the big hat? And why is Judge Ambrose so blustery? Good mystery (there is the talking cat of course). 4th+

as brave as you by Jason Reynolds
Ernie and Genie are going to live with their grandparents in Virginia for a month in the summer. They are Bronx boys and this is their worst dream. They have chores! Picking peas and cleaning up dog poop! Poopidity. Ernie is a bit girl crazy and Genie has questions about everything. Are there really black sheep? Where do crickets go when it rains? Google is his best friend. This is a bit humorous but mostly about family relationships, being brave and making decisions. Definitely one of the good ones. 4th+

Confessions: Murder of an Angel by James Paterson
The Conclusion of the Angel family trilogy. Tandori is finished recovering in a mental spa, but immediately is attacked in multiple ways. Who can you trust??? And maybe she really is crazy? This was pretty satisfying. I'm going to say you really need to read the first two though. I listened to this one as an audio book. It ends every chapter with a zinger. Great plot line. YA for sex and violence as usual. Very Good.

Dork Diaries: Not-so-perfect Pet Sitter by Rachel Renee Russell
This was hard to listen to even in Kansas when the other option is death by boredom. The interactions between Nikki and her nemesis MacKenzie are infantile and mean-spirited. The plot line of hiding a dog and 8 puppies is pretty amusing, except there is so much lying and deception. ick. Audio book. Squeeee. Not.
CCBA nominee. Certainly easily readable for younger readers. meh.

This Side of Home by Renee Watson
Twins Nikki and Maya are going into senior year together, but everything seems to be changing--their relationship, their best friends, Boys, school and their neighborhood. There's not much action in this, but there is a lot of thinking about whata it means to be black. I'd like to hear what someone else thinks about this. it was OK for me. YA for romance.

Raging Sea by Michael Buckley
I remember now why I don't like Buckley. The torture and gore in this one just about made me quit. I put it down several times over several weeks but finally finished. Of course it's not over. Book 2 of Undertow. The premise is great--underwater creatures rise up and attack humanity starting at Coney Island. a handful of mixed race kids are hunted by both sides. Lyric Walker plays a major role for everyone and not just because she has fallen in love with the heir apparent of the Alpha. I love the plot line, but the torture by the capitalists compares to Nazis in WWII and the creatures coming out of the sea have become increasingly icky. Classic Buckley. YA duh.

Spaced Out by Stuart Gibbs
Dashiell Gibson, our hero, once again is faced with a life-threatening mystery. The Moon Base Alpha chief is missing. How is that even possible? This is technically excellent with lots of space science. Also conversationally well done-Dash is a 12 year old with typical issues like bullies, little sisters, school and space toilets. The mystery is complex and challenging. I really liked this one. 5th+ Excellent.

The Runaway Jury by John Grisham
There's a huge liability suit against a tobacco company and lots of big firms are involved. But there is also a manipulative juror candidate who seems to be swaying people's minds, but how? This was excellent in making the selection of a jury and behind the scenes actions palpably exciting. It's also loaded with statistics about smoking. Loaded. I enjoyed it and it wasn't stressful like so many of our dystopian novels. Whew. Good read for me. Adult but fine for middle school.