Book Review: Soupy Leaves Home

 

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 Soupy Leaves Home by Cecil Castellucci

 

A perfectly executed graphic historical fiction. This text seamlessly weaves color, layout and text to tell the story of Pearl/Soupy as she hits the rails and meets her hobo mentor Ramshackle. As she runs from her troubles she learns the ways of the hobo community and finds her place in the world.
The hobo signs sprinkled throughout the book are guaranteed to make readers attentive and curious. The story itself is a bit of history that often goes unnoticed. Grades 6-8 should find great appeal.

Click here for a book trailer created by the author.

Source:  paperback from the public library

Audience:  grade 6 and up

 

 

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Review: Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

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When you read 100+ books a year, it stands to reason that you’re not terribly picky.  And while it is true that I will read almost anything there are a few things that I despise.  One of them is talking animals.

Lily and the Octopus was on every must-read list I saw for Summer 2016.  Without even reading beyond the first few sentences of the book book jacket I requested it from the library and  jumped into page 1.  I was captivated by the author’s narrative style – it feels familiar and friendly.  And then I loved Lily’s voice.  Doesn’t this seem perfect for a dachshund?

THIS! EYE! RAIN! YOU! MAKE! IS! FANTASTIC! I! LOVE! THE! SALTY! TASTE! YOU! SHOULD! MAKE ! THIS! EVERY! DAY! (p22)

 

The author uses the technique sparingly. It’s just enough to make Lily more real to me.  And enough to break my dislike of talking animals.

Source:  Public Library

Audience:  Adults.  Maybe teens.

 

 

Review: Curious Minds (Knight and Moon#1)

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1)

By Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

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YES!  A new series from JE and it is great!  OK, I will stop with the exclamation points.  But it really is that good.  I flew through it in just 2 days and I can’t wait for the next one.

While I enjoy the madcap antics of Stephanie Plum, sometimes I wish she would stop making her own life so challenging.  Riley Moon is adventurous and funny like Stephanie, but also really clever and insightful.  Her partner in all of the adventures is Emerson Knight, a reclusive billionaire with all sorts of handy skills.

if this first book is anything to go by, it’s going to be a fun ride with these two!

 

Source:  ARC from publisher

Audience:  adults

 

Book Review: Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

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Another wonderful find for my Read Harder 2016 Challenge.  I read this book for the task:  Read a book set in the Middle East.  And while much of this book takes place in Ireland, the action has it’s roots in Iran.  Persian culture is an integral part of the book, so I am counting it.

Three sisters arrive in a tiny Irish town and set up a a cafe.  The cafe serves Persian delicacies and soon most of the town is enjoying the exotic flavors of Persia.  I love how the author introduces us to all of the townspeople as they are introduced to the Marjan’s excellent cooking.  The chapters are interspersed  with recipes that hint at plot points to come.

I learned a good deal about 1970’s era Iran and how the revolution impacted individuals and families.  The food descriptions are lush and inviting.  I don’t know that I will be making any of the recipes, but I’ll be sure to seek out this cuisine when I travel.

I was saddened to learn that the author passed away before she could write the 7 novels she envisioned for the series.  I’ve already stared the second book and it is just as good as this one.  You can read abut her and a see her other books at her webpage.

 

Source:  Public Library ebook

Audience:  adult

Review: Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

 

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What a dark and lyrical book.  I didn’t think those two went together until I read this book.  Parts of the prose seem like poems and the descriptions of the raw lifestyle of the Dolly clan and absolutely visceral.

Keening blue wind was bringing weather back into the sky, dark clouds gathering at the far edge of sight, carrying frosty wet for later.

 

I read this book for the Read Harder 2016 challenge task:  Read a book that was made into a move.  Compare.  I don’t think I am going to watch the movie.  This was a tough story and I don’t really need the visual.  Instead I read this great article by Tina Estlin Page on Lit Review.  It’s got spoilers, so don’t go there if you haven’t read the book!

 

I have a feeling that this is an excellent audiobook.

 

 

Source:  Well-worn paperback from the public library

Audience:  Adults

Devil In A Blue Dress by Walter Mosely

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I picked this book up to satisfy a task on my Read Harder Challenge.  The task:  Read the first book in a series by a person of color.  I have to say, I am likely to pick up the next one!  I really enjoy series reading.  I like the idea of meeting a character and then learning more about them and seeing them become more real in book after book.  Characters like Spenser and Kinsey Milhone are familiar friends I enjoy spending time with.  Time to add Easy Rawlins to the list.

Things to like about reading this series:

  1.  There are at least 12 books already published and the wait at the library is sure to be short.
  2. The Post WWII setting is a bit out of my comfort zone – always a good idea I think.
  3. Easy has lots of neat side characters to interact with.  This creates  a realistic feel to a series.  They supporting cast helps the reader to understand the main character so much more.
  4. The story was complicated and hard to follow which is good for me as I can be a lazy reader.

What series do you enjoy?  Please comment so I can add to my massive TBR list!

Source:  A very old and decrepit public library book

Audience:  adults

Yard War by Taylor Kitchings

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I enjoyed this book so much that I was telling people about it even before I finished it. I think one of the strengths of the book is that it really seems to get the adolescent narrator’s voice. I think it will be very popular because it combines two things a lot of kids are interested in: sports and the Civil Rights Movement. My only complaint is that I thought the football play descriptions were a little bit much. Of course, that’s what a lot of readers will like best!

Here is a quote that I really liked: “It clanked and rolled, thunder boomed, and the rain came in buckets, like a bat in the street was the signal it had been waiting for.”

 

Source:  Public Library

Audience:  Ages 10 and up

YA Book Review: Friends for Life by Andrew Norriss

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I really loved this book. It deals with bullying and depression in a really careful, thoughtful way. My concern is with audience. The kids seem to be in HS, but the target audience for the book is ages 10-12. The writing seems young middle school to me, but with older characters it felt a little off.
And I loved the cover.  It’s perfect

Source:  Public Library

Audience: Middle school

A Night Divided by Jennifer Neilson

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If there is such a genre as young adult – historical – thriller, this book is it.  I liked the East German perspective,  one I haven’t seen often.  I also really like the quotes that start each chapter.  It might feel a little young due to the main character’s age, but the political concepts are suited to more sophisticated readers.

 

Scholastic has produced a book trailer, I hope it helps lead kids to this excellent book.

 

Source:  Public Library

Audience: Middle school

Book Review: The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

 

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Another excellent outing with Ruth and her quirky supporting cast.  I love the way Elly Griffiths works religion and mysticism into her stories without disrespecting any point of view.  This particular mystery is set in the season of Lent and the ideas of Lent and Easter are touched on by each character in some way.  I found the increased focus on Michelle and Harry to be a good game changer, keeping the series fresh and interesting.

 

Source:  A hardcover from the public library (and I was the first reader to check it out!  I love that.)

Audience:  Intended for adults, but no reason why teens could not enjoy it too.