Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

The Ninja Librarians: Sword in the Stacks by Jen Swann Downey is full of Diversity Fun!

The Ninja Librarians: Sword in the Stacks

 

I’m pretty sure that all the best librarians studied at Petrarch’s Library and became ninja lybrarians. You’ve probably never asked a librarian but if you did, you might discover that they have secret lives which involve time traveling. How do I know? Because I read The Ninja Librarians, that’s why! They are a group of librarians who fight crime and help protect writers whose words have gotten them into trouble. And so, our protagonists, Dorrie and her brother Marcus, enter into the library and discover this cool subversive world. And eventually they get asked to become apprentices.

As apprentices, they move into the library, bunk with their friends, a rag tag group of kids from across the globe and time. It’s a diverse group of other apprentices which will sneakily teach kids about Torquemada and chitons and sword fighting. I love when books sneak teaching in, don’t you?

I love the idea of a secret library that lets you travel back in time. I wish they did exist. Or DO they????? I think this romp would be good for kids who like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, pirates and ninjas; cuz who doesn’t love pirates?

No one, that’s who.

Categories
Books

The Expatriates by Corinne O’Flynn

The Expatriates by Corinne O’Flynn

The Expatriates by Cornne O'Flynn This book was fun. It took me a while to get into it, especially after the scene at the carnival. I thought it was just going to be about a boy who spoke to animals and I thought "traveling circus and talking animals"? I'm here for that. So after THE SCENE I figured out it was a different book entirely.

 

They told him his world was destroyed.
And they were the last to escape.
They thought he was safe.
They were wrong.

Seventeen-year-old Jim Wales can communicate with animals, but that’s not why he lives with a traveling carnival. Turns out his family’s been hiding him there since he was little, since someone started hunting all the scholars. Jim is a scholar–someone who can manipulate energy using magic–and he has no idea.

When a message arrives from Jim’s father–who supposedly died twelve years ago–Jim’s whereabouts are discovered, their carnival is attacked, and his mother is kidnapped. On the run with a strange glass map and a single coin, Jim finds himself racing to reclaim the father he thought he’d lost, plotting to save his mother, and discovering the truth about who he is.

But going home isn’t the same as being safe, and trust is everything.

This book was fun. It took me a while to get into it, especially after the scene at the carnival. I thought it was just going to be about a boy who spoke to animals and I thought “traveling circus and talking animals”? I’m here for that. So after THE SCENE I figured out it was a different book entirely. For fans of The Maze Runner and maybe Percy Jackson, who like boy adventures with reluctant heroes.

Did I mention talking animals? Yeah throw in a bit of Dr Doolittle. I need a talking tiger. “Jim ok?” “Bak hungry.”

There is language so if you’re concerned about that, I’d say ages 13/14+.

Categories
Books Reviews

The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry is a book I love to think about over and over.

When I think about coming of age books, I love to think about The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry (or as I call her, MPL) because the girl in the book is so kickass and you know how I feel about PowerGirls!

Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15 she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.

Earthquake Machine

The Earthquake Machine is the kind of coming of age book I wanted to read when I was a teenager:   Adventure.  Love. Hate. Desire.  Travel. Knives. Crime.  Did I mention Knives? Our protagonist Rhonda has a difficult life and decides to go on an adventure deep within Mexico to find an old family friend.  This story is girl power to the max.  You won’t believe the strength that Rhonda discovers within herself during her adventure.

You are transported to Mexico within the pages of this book:  to the land of Indians and Spaniards and Mexicans and mole and Spanish.  Lowry gets it right:  the bright colors of the sunset and the paint; the smell of the food cooking; the depth of the passion that the Mexicans feel for each other and for their religion.  You forget you are reading a book in English and you become a friend walking along the streets of a small Mexican town next to Rhonda turned Angel, speaking in Spanish and following her story.

Rhonda/Angel’s search leads her to experiences that will shock, horrify, and make you laugh.  To be sure, there are sexual situations within the story that are not for everyone but reflect a teenager’s interests and curiosities.  Lowry’s coming of age story will make you yearn to be go on an adventure and force you to question your beliefs.

This is the best coming of age story I’ve read in a very long time and a perfect blend of multicultural richness.

 

Did I mention that both Mary and I lived in Austin for a time?

Y’all.

Categories
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Books Young Adult

The Adventures of Isabelle by Nicole Cutts @SuccessDoc

I have a friend, who kicks BUTT.  She has a PhD in awesomeness and she is a success coach. She’s coached me for years, which isn’t easy, I tell ya, but she perseveres nonetheless. DOCTOR NICOLE CUTTS. Besides running small countries, Dr. Cutts runs a success coaching business called Vision Quest Retreats.   At VQR Doc helps us women open up a can of whoop ass on our lives to become Even More Awesome (EMA).

One of the ways women can become EMA is to go on a heroine’s quest. It’s kinda like a hero’s quest except that, hey, we’re chicks and we don’t need heroes to rescue us.

Did you hear that?

We don’t need heroes to rescue us from our dilemmas.

And that’s the premise of Doc’s book: The Adventures of Isabelle: The Embryo Goddess and the Morpho

AdventuresofIsabelle

 

Now don’t let the spacey title fool you. There may be a few cosmic references, but it’s not too trip hoppy. Princess Isabelle is born and through a series of events learns that she must go on a quest, a heroine’s quest. So she packs her horsie and her trusty pooch to seek her future.

Now where have you heard that premise before? Lots of places, right? Young women go on quests all the time but they’re usually in search of true love, or some kind of romantic gobbledy gook like that. Heck, even Katniss kicked ass but was all goofy eyed over Gale and Peeta Bread. Like many of us, Doc wanted to see a different kind of heroine.

Doc shows us that girls don’t hafta compromise. I can’t wait to follow Princess Isabelle’s adventures.

Wanna be EMA (even more awesome)? Grab this book and tweet her.

Now get out there and be EMA!!

 

Categories
Books Children

The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

 

The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

You know I’m all about books with pirates, right? Good or bad, ugly or princess, if there’s a pirate in it, I want to read it!

You also know that I love a good opening line in a book. It sets the tone and if done accurately opens up a world of wonder.  Here’s the first line of The Map to Everywhere:

Fin crouched behind a rack of bootleg flavors, trying hard to ignore the taste of rat fu and broccoli juice seeping from the grungy bottles.

Love it! Makes me want to barf and run away at the same time.  But it also lets you know that the author(s) have some good stuff in store for you.

map to everywhere

To Master Thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it’s her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway that connects every world in creation. With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere–but they aren’t the only ones looking. A sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if they can’t beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear!

I have a sneaky suspicion this will be a series and we’re going to find out what other trouble Fin and friends can get into.  Think Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean meet something; Oliver Twist maybe?

I dunno but I can’t wait for the next book. Sign me up, matey!

Arrrrrrgh!!

IMG_5679

Categories
Books Children

Why Christopher Holt wrote The Last Dogs Series for Me. An Interview!

HEY HEY HEY Welcome Back! If you missed something, check out my review of The Last Dogs series.
baileylastdogs2
As promised, Bailey and I bring you our exclusive interview with Christopher Holt, author of The Last Dogs series, which Bailey and I enjoyed immensely.
UNCONVENTIONAL LIBRARIAN:  Welcome to our interview! Let’s get started. Do you drink coffee?
CHRISTOPHER HOLT: Most definitely! On those late nights, a writer needs a little something to keep his brain buzzing with new ideas! But, of course, it needs a little cream and sugar.
UL: Right. If as in cream you mean soy or almond milk, I understand.  Do you like donuts or cookies? Do you dunk?
CH: Personally, I find it appalling that someone could dislike donuts OR cookies.   I’m a fan of anything sweet. I previously worked as a gumball salesman, and even had a dog named Cupcake! As for dunking, I reserve that privilege for Oreos only (it’s not right to eat them any other way).
UL: We’ll agree to disagree about the Oreas, but you had me at Cupcake. But down to business.  How did the series get started?
CH: Growing up, I was always surrounded by pets. My house was filled with dogs…Salt, Pepper, Cupcake, Ariel, Shadow, Brandy, Sir Edmund Spunk, Showtime Double Feature—I loved them all, and use my memories of them when I write about the four-footed heroes of The Last Dogs. I’ve also always been a lover of a good adventure! As a kid I read series such as C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and anything written by Bruce Coville. It was the collision of my love of animals, adventures, and writing that created The Last Dogs series.
UL: Ah yes, who doesn’t love adventures or dogs?  What else have you written?
CH: I am immersed in the world of The Last Dogs! The second novel, Dark Waters, is out in stores, and the third book—The Long Road—comes out in November!
UL: Thank you for writing the series just for me. If you could have any superpower what would it be?
CH: Great question! Just like the Praxis procedure gave Madame Curie and other characters in The Last Dogs the ability to understand human language, I’d love the ability to understand animal speech…even if only for a little while. I think it would be a blast to be able to talk with animals for an entire day. I’m sure they’d have a lot to say, just like Max, Rocky, Gizmo, and the rest of The Last Dogs.
UL: I would LOVE that too!  What makes you happy?
CH: I am truly happiest when I get to spend time with the people in my life who matter most. Family and the power of friendship are very important and should never be taken for granted. If anything, I’d like my readers to take that away from each of The Last Dogs books. Max will do whatever he needs to do to find his missing family, but he is only able to succeed with the help of his friends, Rocky and Gizmo. Love and friendship can get you through even the toughest of situations.
UL: Gizmo is so full of spitfire for a little dog. I LOVE her! Wrapping up now, anything else you want to tell us?
CH: It’s always great to hear stories about families and the adventures they have with their pets! Not only does it inspire me (just as my own family and pets do), but it also puts a smile on my face. If readers have any stories or photos they’d like to share, they can contact me through tumblr at thelastdogs.tumblr.com! You can also find me on Facebook (Christopher Holt), on Twitter (@TheLastDogs), at christopherholtbooks [at] gmail.com, and online at www.thelastdogs.com.
Hey friends you’ve GOT to check out the tumblr.  The pics of people and their dogs, esp the kiddies are adorbs!
Categories
Books Children

Tween Book Club We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C Alexander London

We Are Not Eaten by YaksThis month at my tween book club we discussed We Are Not Eaten by Yaks which is a fun middle grade tale of twins Oliver and Celia Navel written by C Alexander London.  Their parents are famous explorers but all the twins want to do is sit at home and watch hours and hours of mindless TV.  The best part about the book is the witty dialogue that any kid with a sense of humor will get! Here’s an example of my fave:

Maybe Dr. Navel was tired from all the travel? Another suggested. What’s that called? Jet Lag?

It’s not jet lag, the leader said.

It could be jet lag. You don’t know.

Did you poison his stew?

Maybe.

You weren’t supposed to poison his stew.

I couldn’t remember whose stew to poison so I poisoned all the stews.

That wasn’t the plan at all! The witch walked over to Dr. Navel and lifted his hand up, then dropped it again.  You put enough poison in his stew to bring down a bear, she said.

Why would I want to poison a bear?

You wouldn’t want to poison a bear.

Then why did you say that?

Just to make my point.

I’ve already forgotten your point.

You get everything wrong.  You cant even cook properly!

My cooking is delicious!

Isn’t that back and forth hysterical? I love that the author appreciates that kids want to laugh but yet don’t need to be hit in the head with overly corny jokes.  I laughed out loud at that part.

At our book club, I try to plan some fun things so the club seems more like fun and less like school.  I try to have an activity for them to do while we’re waiting for everyone to show up.  Then the smoothies arrive! Yay! I forgot to mention the best part: the very generous and lovely author sent us book marks AND signed book plates, woot!!

Yesterday we had a Twitter party.  I was surprised at how many of them knew what Twitter was!  I printed a quyaksoldote onto poster board. In fact, it was the quote above.  Then I wrote a comment about what I liked about the book.  Their job was to write down something they liked about the book: a quote, a character, WHATEVER. AND they could comment on someone else’s comment while they were there.  Armed with colored sharpies, they copied text from the book, commented, and were eager to discuss the book, just like at a Twitter party!

To be sure, Yaks is a long book.  It’s quite longer than Lemonade War and I was concerned that the kids might lose interest because it was too long or too difficult.  They handled the book BRILLIANTLY!

To wrap up I gave the kids a scavenger hunt.  They had to find a book title (preferably in the kids’ section) of a biography, a picture book, a book made into a movie, etc.  It was great fun to see them run around the bookstore so excitedly!

I can’t wait for next month’s book, The Lightning Thief!

Have you read We Are Not Eaten by Yaks? What did you think of it? Have you read anything by C Alexander London?  p.s.  I’ll be reading his YA book soon. stay tuned!

KEEP CALM AND ADVENTURE ON!

Categories
Books Reviews

The Ford 99 Test of The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry

Let’s take a brief look into what’s happening on page 99 of The Earthquake Machine. As told to us by the author herself!  Open up your copy of the book and turn to page 99 which starts like this:

“…crazy moonlight and howl their crazy howls.”

Did you find it?  Let’s see what’s going on inside Mary’s head.

The Earthquake MachineBy p. 99 of my novel THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE, the protagonist Rhonda has run away while on a river rafting trip in Big Bend National Park in the desert of West Texas. She swims across the Rio Grande to Mexico, steals a burro and rides him up the hill to the town of Milagros. There she finds a bartender named Juan Diego to help her. Juan Diego is kind, but whacked out on peyote. He helps cut and die her hair black so she can “pass” as a Mexican boy and travel south across Mexico to the state of Oaxaca to search for her family’s gardener.

Juan Diego dubs Rhonda with the moniker Angel (which is a boy’s name in Spanish) and sends her off to ride across the desert on the burro Pablo. Juan Diego tells Angel that if she rides for long enough in a certain direction she will hit a highway and be able to catch a bus to the city of Oaxaca.

On p. 99, Angel is alone in the desert with only the burro Pablo to keep her company. She has water and food that Juan Diego has packed for her, but she’s scorching in the desert and worried about making it all the way to the highway. She’s left her family, friends, country and everything she knows behind. Even her watch has already broken, so she doesn’t even have the familiar comfort of knowing what time it is. She’s on a big adventure with no one to protect her. But being so vulnerable and so alone opens her up to the possibility of miracles, for amazing things to happen to her, for a great transformation to occur.

I’ve read so many books and seen so many movies that depict a guy going on a big adventure while his female love interest waits at home for him to return. I’ve never wanted to wait around for a guy to come back from doing something spectacular. I’ve always wanted to have the adventures myself, and encourage other girls to do the same. I hope girls and women will read THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE and be inspired to take risks and live life fully.

I couldn’t agree more with Mary and one way to go on adventures is through books!

 

Book synopsis:

The Earthquake Machine

The book every girl should read,
and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read.

The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14-year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda’s world, but at home, Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda’s life is her family’s Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.

Determined to find her friend Jésus, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends to Big Bend National Park. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Milagros, Mexico. There a peyote- addled bartender convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the bartender’s help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús. Thus begins a wild adventure that fulfills the longing of readers eager for a brave and brazen female protagonist.

Author Bio:

Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15 she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.

Categories
Books Reviews

Book Review: The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry

Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15 she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.

Lowry is the author of The Earthquake Machine

Title: THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE

Author: MARY PAULINE LOWRY

ISBN: 978-1-4567-9585-6

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2012

313 pages, trade paperback

Fiction, paperback $11.55, ebook $0.99

http://www.marypaulinelowry.com/

 Here’s what others are saying:

“REMARKABLE. Wild, maddening, preposterous, beautiful. It’s just crazy good. A marvel.”

–Joy Williams, Pulitzer Prize Finalist

The Earthquake Machine, a fun, fantastical and exhilarating tale, explodes the distinction between Young Adult and adult coming-of-age novels, even as it explores the borders between the United States and Mexico, adolescence and adulthood, male and female, English and Spanish.

My thoughts:

The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry is the kind of coming of age book I wanted to read when I was a teenager:   Adventure.  Love. Hate. Desire.  Travel. Knives. Crime.  Our protagonist Rhonda has a difficult life and decides to go on an adventure deep within Mexico to find an old family friend.  This story is girl power to the max.  You won’t believe the strength that Rhonda discovers within herself during her adventure.

You are transported to Mexico within the pages of this book:  to the land of Indians and Spaniards and Mexicans and mole and Spanish.  Lowry gets it right:  the bright colors of the sunset and the paint; the smell of the food cooking; the depth of the passion that the Mexicans feel for each other and for their religion.  You forget you are reading a book in English and you become a friend walking along the streets of a small Mexican town next to Rhonda turned Angel, speaking in Spanish and following her story.

Rhonda/Angel’s search leads her to experiences that will shock, horrify, and make you laugh.  To be sure, there are sexual situations within the story that are not for everyone but reflect a teenager’s interests and curiosities.  Lowry’s coming of age story will make you yearn to be go on an adventure and force you to question your beliefs.

This is the best coming of age story I’ve read in a very long time and a perfect blend of multicultural richness.

 

I give it 4 paws!