Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Have you Read: The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson, a 2018 #Cybils Middle Grade winner?

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

There is SO MUCH to love about this title! The Parker Inheritance has something for everyone:

  • Black History
  • Friendship
  • Bullying
  • Divorce
  • LGBTQ
  • A Mystery to solve

Take all of those ingredients and what comes out is an award winning book. Readers will love how Johnson took his time drawing our main characters into the story making sure to draw fully fleshed out personalities. Brandon and Candice try to solve a puzzle to clear Candice’s late grandmother’s name. And oh what a mystery it is. From learning about Jim Crow laws in the South to modern day experiences of bullying by adults and children, these two form a true friendship built on trust. And they might win a bunch of money too. What’s not to love about that?

The Parker Inheritance is having a great year: A Cybils award, my blog, a Diversity Reading Challenge feature, and Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Honor Award! Way to go Parker Inheritance!

If you’re keeping track, The Parker Inheritance ticks off the box for an African American young woman as the main character.

Bam.

 

 

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson, a #Cybils Middle Grade winner!

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

There is SO MUCH to love about this title! The Parker Inheritance has something for everyone:

  • Black History
  • Friendship
  • Bullying
  • Divorce
  • LGBTQ
  • A Mystery to solve

Take all of those ingredients and what comes out is an award winning book. Readers will love how Johnson took his time drawing our main characters into the story making sure to draw fully fleshed out personalities. Brandon and Candice try to solve a puzzle to clear Candice’s late grandmother’s name. And oh what a mystery it is. From learning about Jim Crow laws in the South to modern day experiences of bullying by adults and children, these two form a true friendship built on trust. And they might win a bunch of money too. What’s not to love about that?

The Parker Inheritance is having a great year: A Cybils award, my blog, a Diversity Reading Challenge feature, and Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Honor Award! Way to go Parker Inheritance!

If you’re keeping track, The Parker Inheritance ticks off the box for an African American young woman as the main character.

 

 

 

Categories
Children Young Adult

Big Issues in YA from #KidLitCon in Hershey, PA

Big Issues in YA

Last week I had the thrill of  a lifetime to chair the committee and bring KidLitCon to Hershey PA! Hershey was a great venue and I’ll talk more about that later but right now I want to share with you a session I co-hosted with Donna Gaffney. Donna is a therapist and very knowledgeable about kids books and uses them in therapy with her clients. She’s also a very cool person.

We talked about issues that kids and teens face today and books that represent these issues in literature. Turning to books in a time of crisis is very common and helps the reader process their situation.  We listed the issues on poster paper and then encouraged the audience to list book titles under the appropriate issues.  This link should is a pdf of the results: BIG ISSUES in YA LITKidlitcon17

I think you’ll find the lists very interesting. Many thanks to Donna for quickly compiling the list. I hope this resource helps you.

More to come about KidLitCon in another post!

 

 

 

 

Categories
Books

Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie

I love reading kids mystery books for several reasons:

  • the tragedy isn’t usually too gruesome
  • I’m a scaredy cat so they aren’t usually psychological thrillers (Gone Girl, anyone?), and
  • I feel smart when I figure the plot out before the main characters

That’s why I was so stoked to read Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie. The first thing I hafta tell you about this book is that the main character’s name is Cleopatra Brown. I”m sure you can figure out who she’s named after, right?  Well, C.Lee is a friend of mine and I have a cat named Cleo (Cleopatra Jones) so maybe MY Cleo was the inspiration for this heroine?

Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie

So Cleo moves into  a new house in a new neighborhood after a mysterious family accident.  Cleo’s family is estranged and there’s something spooky going on in the abandoned house across the cul de sac from her house.  I love the premise for this story, it reminds me of Nightmares by Jason Segal, which is written for tweens.  Sudden Secrets is for teens, however, due to a few underage drinking situations. I’d say, 13 is a good starting age for this book.

Anyway, Cleo the girl, not Cleo my cat, decides to uncover the mystery surrounding the old Victorian across the street.  Meanwhile, there’s typical teen drama, love triangles and homework and a mysterious pizza guy who figure into the equation.  Cleo’s parents are estranged.  The father is on an archeological dig in Afghanistan and mom hides away at the museum curating Egyptian artifacts.  The parental jobs feel alot like Rick Riordan’s The Kane Chronicles, because those heroes are descendants of  Egyptian gods.

Another bit I love about Sudden Secrets is that there is a mention of Boo Radley.  You gotta love it when a book is mentioned in a book! Just the right length of book for a lazy summer afternoon read.  While this title doesn’t qualify for the Diversity Challenge families dealing with grief certainly get my attention.  I’m not loving the cover but it does evoke a dark mood but the book isn’t really as dark as the cover would have you think.

Anyway, you be the judge and let me know!

I’ll be interviewing her soon so check back often, mkay?

Categories
Books

Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

Categories
Adult Fiction Clever Friends

Clever Heather reviews: The Divorce Girl by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

I’d like to preface this fabulous review by introducing Clever Reviewer Heather. She’s one of my local besties and a really awesome reviewer.  Check it out!

Stark, poignant, tumultuous – all words that describe The Divorce Girl by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. When I first glanced at the title I thought it represented a complete lack of creativity. But wait, before you cringe, I decided to give it a shot. After all, it is just a book. I can always shut it. I didn’t. I took it to the gym almost every morning, my only real downtime. The name is perfect. It sets the mood of this real to life story.

Many times throughout the pages I wondered if it was a real life story. We start in the young teenage life of a budding photographer, Deborah Shapiro, growing up in the unrest of a time when life wasn’t roses but everyone was searching for them. Her family in disarray, and ending in divorce, she resorts to seeing life through her camera lens. As a heartbreaking tale is spun, I find myself relating more with her mother than Deborah, the main character.

Deborah makes the choice to live with her father, choosing a life that leads to more heartache and pain than any kid should have to grow up in. She becomes a pawn in her father’s twisted game of life. Working a flea market, being along for the ride while immigration chases them, helping juvenile delinquents escape, she lives an excitingly dull life. Caught in lies of her father’s making, and feeling invisible to those around her, she sees no value in her life. This child woman is forced to run a house for her father, self-alienated from her mother. Her only outlet is photography class, and temple youth meetings, complete with a radical rabbi.

Finally, as we near the end of the book, she sees hope. She has a boyfriend who loves her. She has a plan to fast track her way to college – the chance to get out, to live her dreams, and take care of herself if her father signs his permission.

Will she ever see her mother loved her all along? Will she break free of the life her father has kept her prisoner to? Is her boyfriend really going to love her forever? Will she go to college or stay, stuck in her small town, an invisible person?

The last paragraph of the acknowledgements leaves you wondering just how much of this heart wrenching story is real.

I give this book 3 paws.

Unconventional Librarian 3 paws

 

So…whaddya think? Clever Heather is awesome, huh??? Here’s a little bit about Clever Heather:

In a normal week you can find Heather blogging about life at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond.

Growing up as the oldest of 7, and now being a wife and mother, homeschooling mama with a part time job and writing for two blogs, reading is her escape.

Her absolute favorite series of all time is Adventures in Narnia. About the only books she doesn’t devour are paranormal, sci fi, and self help books, although she has made exceptions in even those categories.

 

I love how Heather will make exceptions to her reading categories; isn’t that what the joy of reading is all about, finding something new??

So…go show Clever Heather some love on her food blog.  But DON’T lick the screen.  I’m just sayin…

Don’t forget to follow Heather on Twitter @heatherlm4 Tell her PammyPam sent ya!

Did I mention the author is the POET LAUREATE of Kansas?? How cool is that???

 

way.

 

Categories
Adult Fiction Books Reviews

Those we Love Most by Lee Woodruff

Can I preface this book review with: I love Lee Woodruff.  I love her! I do.  I want Leesies to be my bestie. I want her to come over to my house and sit at my kitchen bistro table and drink coffee with me.

Or maybe we’ll go shopping, just us girls: go to King of Prussia Mall and stop and have a cuppa tea and then lunch at Legal Seafoods, all the while chatting about women stuff and husbands and telling each other how fab we look in the outfits we try on.  It would be great, really.

She’d love it. And me.

Prolly.

The thing about Lee Woodruff is, she’s FAMOUS.  Like, on TV famous.  She’s on CBS This Morning and her husband is the famous Bob Woodruff, the journalist embedded in the Middle East who suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Like I said, she’s famous so when I met her at BEA this June, I was impressed by how NORMAL she was.  Seriously.

During BEA I attended an author speed dating session and Lee was one of the speed daters.  The authors went table to table greeting us book bloggers and telling us about their latest books.  There was very little time for interaction as they had to visit 17 tables of 8 people each.  It was INSANE!  But guess what? In that 3-5 minutes of lightning speed interaction, I picked up something abut Lee.  We even had a very brief conversation.  I’m sure she’ll never remember me, but you know what? She stuck with me.  So, I collected her book and vowed to read it.

To be sure, I thought Those We Love Most was going to be a vanity project by yet ANOTHER famous person.  But it wasn’t. Lee is a writer by trade and in some ways, her stories remind me of Jennifer Weiner’s stories: tales of normal people and how they respond to life.  The characters are flawed, but not desperately so, but they are relatable.  You might know Maura or Margaret or have seen them in the grocery store.

Woodruff knows about loss, having dealt with the issue with her husband’s TBI.  And in a very neat way, she works the story of loss into the book. The loss is totally believable and they way the characters deal with the losses could also happen in real life.  So much so, that you’d think the book was a work of non-fiction. It’s that believable.

I’m not a sucker for romance nor a happy ending.  I like endings that make sense and I squirm at too much “i love you we can work this out no matter what” ideologies.  Those We Love Most isn’t like that.

It’s better.

Put it on your TBR  list when you need a break from hot, steamy sex or vampires in dystopian settings.

So here’s a message to my new BFF Lee: If you’re ever in the Philadelphia region, I’ve got a cuppa coffee with your name on it.  I’ll even let ya drink outta my Frida Kahlo mug, it’s my fave.

You are too.

 

 

I give this book 3 paws!

Unconventional Librarian 3 paws