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Author Archives: rebekahw91

Con Academy

Title: Con Academy
Author: Joe Schreiber
Series: N/A
Recommended for: Well-Grounded Kids Who Like A Good Caper
Pages: 236
Call Number/Link: TEEN FICTION SCHREIBER

Synopsis: “Con man Will Shea may have met his match in scammer Andrea Dufresne as they make a high-stakes deal that will determine who gets to stay at Connaughton Academy, one of the most elite and privileged preparatory schools in the country, and who must leave.”

My Thoughts:

This was a lot of fun! There were some moral issues (it was so fast-paced I’m still debating some of the ends-justify-the-means-of-theft stuff) but, for a mature and well-grounded young adult, it’s a fun Ferris Bueler-meets-Mission-Impossible-esque adventure, if Ferris Bueler had been the son of a con man. There were also some really good points about personal growth and forgiveness.

For teens who might be concerned with sexual content, there’s a generic reference to “canoodling” and some kissing, and references to public humiliation via inappropriate pictures (in the primary case, clearly wrong,) but that’s it.

Marshall Islands, you’re always in my heart.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2017 in Adventure, Teen, Uncategorized

 

Becoming Bach–New

 

Title: Becoming Bach
Author: Tom Leonard
Series: N/A
Recommended for: Pre-schoolers and up, especially for homeschoolers looking for an arts supplement.
Pages: 40
Call Number/Link:  E B BACH, S.

Synopsis:

“Highlights the life and achievements of the eighteenth-century German composer and musician, and examines the development of his most important compositions.”

 

My thoughts:

This beautifully-illustrated biography of J.S. Bach does a good job of presenting a great composer to young children. I was nearly mesmerized by the lovely pictures, and just wanted to keep staring at them!

One note: the book describes the deaths of his parents as “after mother and father went to heaven…” Death is definitely a difficult subject for some families, and would be a great discussion point for this book.

The historical notes in the back of the book were also quite interesting; I’ve read some biographical material on Bach that seems to disagree with some of the author’s assertions (eg, my own research seems to indicate that Bach was asked to leave Arnstadt because he took a very long unapproved leave of absence from his position; insulted a student; and engaged in a physical fight with the man, rather than writing music that upset the Church authorities as the author asserts. However, verifying this would take more time than the desk really allows!) but the book itself is lovely and highly recommended! –Rebekah

 
 

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The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great

Title: The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great
Author: Gerald Morris
Series: The Knights’ Tales
Recommended for: Third Graders and Up; Boys Who Like Adventure and Swordfights; Fantasy Fans
Pages: 92
Call Number/Link:  J MOR (To add Link highlight and click the chain up top.)

Synopsis:

“Many years ago, the storytellers say, the great King Arthur brought justice to England with the help of his gallant Knights of the Round Table. Of these worthy knights, there was never one so fearless, so chivalrous, so honorable, so…shiny as the dashing Sir Lancelot, who was quite good at defending the helpless and protecting the weak, just as long as he’d had his afternoon nap. Behold the very exciting and very funny adventures of Lancelot the Great, as only acclaimed Arthurian author Gerald Morris can tell them.” –Amazon

 

My Thoughts:

This series is a hilarious and well-done introduction to the Arthurian legends. Morris has obviously read (and better yet, likes!) Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, yet he also understands how children’s minds work, as well as what appeals to them. The stories of Sir Lancelot presented here feel fresh, funny, and accessable for third-graders, but do not compromise the integrity of the original tales. For instance, when he meets the Lady Elaine of Shalott, Sir Lancelot gets shot in the–well, we’re not told exactly where he’s shot, but he has to sit on a pillow when he rides, and the accompanying illustrations provide more clues. After sustaining this injury, however, Sir Lancelot is able to return (anonymously) to a tournament at court, where he saves the day in more ways than one. Thus, the beauty of the original story is intact, but the readers are sure to howl with laughter once they “get it”.

 
 

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Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle

 

Title: Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle
Author: N.D. Wilson
Series: Outlaws of Time
Recommended for: Tweens and up, especially those who’ve read Percy Jackson/Harry Potter and want more, but any who love action/adventure/fantasy/sci-fi, or are at least willing to try it. Also Firefly Fankids.
Pages: 329
Call Number/Link: J FIC WILSON

Synopsis: “Misfit twelve-year-old Sam Miracle’s life is made up of dreams, dreams where he’s a courageous, legendary hero instead of a foster kid with two bad arms that can barely move. Sometimes these dreams feel so real, they seem like forgotten memories. And sometimes they make him believe that his arms might come alive again. But Sam is about to discover that the world he knows and the world he imagines are separated by only one thing: time. And that separation is only an illusion. The laws of time can be bent and shifted by people with special magic that allows them to travel through the past, present, and future. But not all of these “time walkers” can be trusted. One is out to protect Sam so that he can accept his greatest destiny, and another is out to kill him so that a prophecy will never be fulfilled. However, it’s an adventurous girl named Glory and two peculiar snakes who show Sam the way through the dark paths of yesterday to help him make sure there will be a tomorrow for every last person on earth.” — Amazon.com

My Review:

Hold onto your hats! This book picked me up and spun me around and dropped me into a world of Old West gunfights; time travel; mysterious magic; and more until I didn’t quite know which way was up (in a good way). The adventures are exciting and the story is excellent. While there is a fair bit of violence, it is at the service of the story–that is, it is NOT violence for violence’s sake, and its costs and effects are clearly shown–and the story would probably not be a problem for an average reader.
Time travel, although a very tricky thing to write, is handled well here, too; I have no idea if it jives at all with the laws of physics, but I was able to follow the line of logic without too much trouble, and don’t think it would confuse readers who are used to fantasy or science fiction. As for the characters, the heroes and villains are all very well and clearly drawn without veering into stereotypes (although I think the author let himself have quite a lot of fun with the villains.) The ending, while fairly satisfying, requires a sequel. No ifs, ands, or buts about it; we have to know what happens next!

Highly recommended.

 

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Teacup

Title: Teacup
Author: Rebecca Young
Series: N/A
Recommended for: Preschoolers on up, and anyone who likes beauty and adventure.
Pages: 40
Call Number/Link:  E YOUNG, R. 

Synopsis: 

Teacup is a beautiful book in more ways than one.

Firstly, the illustrations are the best I have seen in quite some time. I could pore over some of the spreads for ages, and the color palettes are stunning.

Second, the story is refreshing: a boy (almost a young man) sets out from home to make his way in the world, a theme that evokes classic fairy tales and great epics alike, and promises just the right amount of exciting adventure without being too much for more sensitive children.
Furthermore, the illustrations are lovely, and support the story very well: for instance, the passage “some days the sea was kind, gently rocking him to sleep” is accompanied by a bright-white illustration, with some dolphins and the interior of the boat being the only source of color besides the text. On the very next page, however, “Some days the sea was bold, and the boy held tightly to his teacup.” This sea is stormy, full of dark blues and greens, and the little white boat seems very small indeed.
I’ll finish here for fear of spoiling the ending, but let it suffice for me to say that it is a good one. I highly recommend this book.

 

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Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The History of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA

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Title: Blood, Bullets, and Bones: the Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA
Author: Bridget Heos
Recommended for: 12th Grade and Up
Pages: 264
Call Number/Link:  J 363.25 HEO

Synopsis: “Blood, Bullets, and Bones provides young readers with a fresh and fascinating look at the ever-evolving science of forensics. Since the introduction of DNA testing, forensic science has been in the forefront of the public’s imagination, thanks especially to popular television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. But forensic analysis has been practiced for thousands of years. Ancient Chinese detectives studied dead bodies for signs of foul play, and in Victorian England, officials used crime scene photography and criminal profiling to investigate the Jack the Ripper murders. In the intervening decades, forensic science has evolved to use the most cutting-edge, innovative techniques and technologies. In this book, acclaimed author Bridget Heos uses real-life cases to tell the history of modern forensic science, from the first test for arsenic poisoning to fingerprinting, firearm and blood spatter analysis, DNA evidence, and all the important milestones in between. By turns captivating and shocking, Blood, Bullets, and Bones demonstrates the essential role forensic science has played in our criminal justice system[.]”– Provided by publisher.

My Thoughts: Blood, Bullets, and Bones is a curious book. In terms of reading level, it would be accessible for middle schoolers, or even advanced elementary students. In terms of content, however, this book lands squarely in the advanced high school or post-secondary category. Blood, Bullets, and Bones details the history of forensic science, illustrating many of the important scientific advances with actual cases.
These crimes, including those of Jack the Ripper and other serial killers, are described in somewhat graphic detail and some include descriptions of rape cases; arson; adultery, and other inappropriate relationships, one of which involves a 34-year-old man’s inappropriate relationship with a (later murdered) teenaged girl. Some of the other murder cases involve young teenagers, either as rape and/or murder victims, perpetrators, or both.
Much of the scientific and historic information in this book may be useful for academic study. Moreover, footnotes are plentiful, and there is an extensive bibliography. That being said, I would have a difficult time recommending this to anyone but an advanced high school or even college student pursuing a career in forensic criminology, as the disturbing content will almost certainly be too much for younger readers.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2016 in Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized

 

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The Relic of Perilous Falls

Title: The Relic of Perilous Falls
Author: Raymond Arroyo
Series: Will Wilder
Recommended for: Adventure-loving children who want more Harry Potter, or who have read everything Rick Riordan’s ever written. Grades 4 and up.
Pages: 318
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION ARROYO, R.

Synopsis: 

Will Wilder seems to be a rather ordinary boy—albeit one clever enough to make his own catapult—until a series of odd events leads to the unleashing of an ancient evil, and the discovery that even the most ordinary of people can hide extraordinary powers.

Will is a believable hero: a typical boy, with common flaws and strengths. He is, to put it mildly, pig-headed and stubborn, and easily swayed by argument; he does, however, have a good heart, and is certainly not lazy or ill-intentioned.

I liked the pace of the adventures, and the cliff-hanger chapters kept my interest. However, the writing did feel a bit clunky at times, as though the author hadn’t yet grown comfortable with this genre. As sequels come, however, I’m sure the lumps and bumps will get smoothed out, and the children clamoring for “SOMETHING ELSE” after Percy Jackson or Harry Potter simply won’t notice or care in this case.

It is a bit dark at times, and might be a bit much for very sensitive readers (crocodile monsters and narrow escapes abound,) but in this battle of Good and Evil, the light always triumphs, and there is nothing a Harry Potter or Percy Jackson fan won’t be able to handle.

We’ll see where this goes; I’d like to see who’s running the show, and leading the good guys, for starters! By the end of the first book, we know who’s in charge of the bad guys, but we’ve only been introduced to individual members of the good, and not much has been revealed about the Brethren.

 
 

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