Review: 10 Things I Can See From Here


10 Things I Can See From Here

by Carrie Mac

Publication Date:  February 2017

I found this to be an exceptional book in many, many ways.  Readers will find multiple things to connect with in this book: Art, Music, Sexuality, Family Dynamics, Addiction, Death and Birth .  Carrie Mac does a wonderful job of fitting all of the pieces together – it might seem like too much for one text but it words beautifully.  This book is not just Maeve’s story, it’s the story of Maeve and all those that she she loves.

When Maeve must move to Vancouver to live with her recovering alcoholic dad, his pregnant wife and their young twins she is forced to leave behind the safety net she relies on.  Without her mother, her neighbor and her therapist she must face all of her fears alone.  But not really.  And there lies one of the greatest strengths of this book.  No one-dimensional supporting characters here.    Her dad loves her, her stepmother is a delight, her new neighbor adds depth to her life and she meets an intriguing love interest.  And the little brothers! Are! So! Funny! (I feel like the boys talk in! all the time)

Maeve’s inner voice tells the story of anxiety so very well.  First there’s an idea, then there are terrifying statistics about the idea, and finally a hilarious obituary resulting from the idea.  The reader can really understand how Maeve goes from observing a conversation between a traveler and a border patrol agent to mass murder on a bus via household tools.

I highly recommend this book, but must add one concern.

Anxiety Disorder is a crushing condition that many people do not understand.  It goes far beyond worrying and requires specialized care and intervention for the individual to be able to reach their daily living goals.    I was disappointed in only once part of the book:  Maeve’s parent do not allow her to take any medication, and I find their reasoning insufficient.  My concern is that teens reading this book will question their own medical choices 

“But my parents actually agreed on a lot of things, and one of them was that they wouldn’t let me take prescription drugs for my anxiety until I was an adult.  Your brain is still developing, Maeve.  You might grow out of it.  It’s too soon, they said.  I disagreed.  My brain was hard-wired differently.  What was the point of trying to put out a wildfire by pissing on it?”

Maybe I’m making too much of this.  It certainly did not keep me from devouring this book.

Source:  ARC from publisher

Audience:  high school




Book Review: One by Sarah Crossan

7bac9e4573-a7a0-4110-95fb-72b3a21fa0c17dimg150I’m not even sure how I came across this book, but I am sure glad that I did.  Novels in verse always appeal to me, but they often disappoint.  Not this time.  Not.At.All.

On the surface, this is a book about the challenges faced by conjoined twins; but at it’s heart it is a book about the challenges of being yourself.  I think teens will pick up the book because they’ll be fascinated with the unique nature of Grace and Tippis’ lives.  They’ll finish it because Grace and Tippi are just like them.


Grace tells the story in beautifully flowing verse.  The style suits Grace’s thoughts and introspection.  It make the story more intimate and, ultimately,  genuine.


Source:  epub book from the public library

Audience: high school and up (drinking, drug use)


The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose



This is one of those great history books that reads like an adventure story.  Like the Port Chicago 50, it’s a piece of the past I had no idea about.  The author does a great job of blending reflections of Knud Peterson (one of the actual Boys) with details of the war.  It’s like a mix of newspaper articles and live interviews.  Kids who watch the History Channel will feel right at home with this book.


Source:  public library  ebook

Audience:  Middle school and up


Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley


I read this book for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016.  Read more about the challenge here

If this book was cuisine,  we’d have to call it fusion.  It’s a memoir.  It’s a graphic novel.  It’s a cookbook.  It’s a coming-of-age story centered around food, family, and art.   See what I mean? There’s a lot going on here!

I found the loosely sequenced stories enganging and thought provoking. As I read Chapter 1, “The Kid in the Kitchen” I thought about how my own kids were present in the kitchen  and how I encouraged them to try new tastes.  I assumed that they would like things, not that they would be too spicy, too intense, too whatever.   I see parents at the market saying to their kids I don’t think you will like that.  How sad, to assume that new is not good.  That familiar is safe.  I also felt a bit jealous, as food in my own house growing up was not really a big deal.

Chapter 3, “Getting Ours” was a great story of growing uo, but also a bit of a concern.   The publisher labels the book for grades 6 and up, but some mature interests are sketched out here and I am not sure it is for every young person.  That’s a decision best left to familes, not to me.  It’s a genuine chapter, nothing over the top or even inappropriate.   Just a bit grown up.

I’m looking forward to trying some of the recipes in the book, particularly the chai tea, leg of lamb and Huevos Rancheros.  If Knisley writes a graphic cookbook, I’ll be buying it. Her Website lists a number of books that I will be adding to my TBR list.

I’m listing this in the book challenge as food memoir, graphic, and middle grade.

Source:  public library

Audience:  grades 6 and up, but definitely engaging for adult readers


My Year In Books 2015

Some nice stats, courtesy of Goodreads

110 books

32,006 pages

Shortest book:  The Julian Chapter by RJ Palacio (84 pages)

Longest book:  Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz (560 pages)

The most popular book I read was Girl on the Train by  Paula Hawkins (733K people on Goodreads read it too.)

My least popular book seems unfair – it was just published on 12/27 and I flew through it.  And it was so good!  Get out there and download it so the stats go up!    Unhappy Families by Oliver Tidy.

My own conclusions:

Favorite YA:  I’ll Give You the Sun  by Jandy Nelson

Favorite Audio: Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Favorite Graphic Novel:  Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Favorite Non Fiction:  The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

Favorite Memoir:   Raising Ryland by Hillary Whittington

Favorite Mystery:  Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Favorite Literary Fiction:  The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Favorite Supernatural Thriller-ish:  Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

And special mentions to:

Elly GriffithsThe Zig Zag Girl  looks like a great new series.

Jennifer Latham:  Scarlett Undercover was so fun and dark all at once.

Gary D. Schmidt:  Orbiting Jupiter had some of the loveliest language I read all year.

Oliver Tidy:   You had three great books on my list and kept me well-entertained with your blog.  (He Made Me, Particular Stupidities and Unhappy Families)

Sophie Kinsella:  Finding Audrey was funny and informative. Anxious people everywhere thank you.  And maybe you should be friends with Jenny Lawson.  Just saying.


commentWhat were your best books in 2015?  Any plans to read one that I’ve listed?  Please leave a comment.


Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2016!

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

Everyone knows the major names of the US Civil Rights Movement:  Martin Luther King, Jr, Rosa Parks, and so on.  I doubt many know the names of the Port Chicago 50 – pioneers for change in 1944.  Following a massive explosion at the Port Chicago Navy Base 50 soldiers refused to return to work loading ammunition in unsafe conditions.  They are charged with mutiny and threatened with the death penalty.

This book is exactly what narrative non-fiction should be:  lots of great facts wrapped in an engaging story. The writing is concise and well organized.  Despite the fact that there were many people involved in the story it was easy to keep them all straight.  The courtroom scenes were handled in such a way as to keep the reader thinking and interested.

Lots of great extras at the publisher’s site for the book.

Source:  Public Library

Audience:  Middle and High School

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

There was so much to like about this book. Each teen’s story was unique and thoughtful. For some kids, reading these stories will be an opportunity to build understanding and empathy. For other kids reading these stories may help them find their own voices. I read this as an e-book so I don’t think I got the most out of the photojournalism aspect

Date read:  sometime in August 2015

Source:  ARC from publisher

Audience:  High school

Who Was Maurice Sendak? by Janet B. Pascal

This is a great series – I’m going to encourage my students to read them. The biography reads like a story, a kind of narrative nonfiction.
Cool fact: Rosie, from the Sign on Rosie’s Door, was based on a real person. Sendak watched her through his window and built a story around her and her sassy attitude.

If you want more facts about Maurice Sendak, check out this great post from Mental Floss

Source:  Classroom Library

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle’s lyrical writing transports the reader to the days of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Seen through the eyes of her memory w can see how deeply Cuban-American were, and still are affected by this standoff.

Source:  ARC

Publication date: August, 2014

Read Harder Challenge Tasks:

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for the Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen


I want to buy this book for all the teenage girls in my family.  It is sweet, funny and nerdy all at once.  No perfect ending, just a memoir of growing up and being the best person you can be.  Maya decides to live her entire 8th grade year according to the rules of a book written for teens in the 1950’s.  Her wonderfully imperfect family supports her as best they can as Maya sets out to be Popular.

Visit the Author’s very fun website and get some tips!

Date finished: 12/10/2014

Lexile : 730

Interest:  grades 7 and up

Source:  public library

Publication date: 4/15/2014