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Karma Khullar’s Mustache

Title: Karma Khullar’s Mustache
Author: Kristi Wientge
Series: N/A
Recommended for: grades 5 – 7
Pages: 272
Call Number/Link:  J Fiction Wientge (we don’t have this yet/it comes out in Aug, but I’ll ask Janet to order it!)

Synopsis: Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.

With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.

Review: I absolutely adored this book. It’s perfect for those kids who are just starting middle school. It deals nicely with friendships, mean girls/bullying, & the ever dreaded “I don’t look like everyone else”/body scenario. There is also some home life issues with dad losing his job and mom picking up more hours/not being around as much. While Karma does deal some some issue appearing/revolving around her Sikh religion, the themes/issues/problems are very universal. The fears are pretty universal, where it would be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t even deal with some of the issue when they were in middle school. Super fast read and easily one of my favorite middle grades of the year.

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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Juv, Realistic, Uncategorized

 

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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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Labyrinth Lost

27969081Title: Labyrinth Lost
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Series: Brooklyn Brujas
Recommended for: Grade 7th and up
Pages: 336
Call Number/Link: Teen Fiction Cordova, Z. 

Synopsis: Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Review: I love, love, love this book. First of all, this Latinx world is so rich and full of depth. From the underworld that mimic Dante’s Infernal to her family (including her ancestors) to the magic, it’s all done so well. For most of the book, Alex’s family isn’t even present, but they were well rounded and you felt like you really knew then even though the focus wasn’t really on there. Even her grandma, who really is only present for one scene–you just get a deep understanding of how important family really is. I also loved that they were latinx for all over the world and not just one spot–because most family ancestries are nice and messy like that.

Alex is a great heroine. However, she’s deeply flawed, which I actually loved. She doesn’t have it all figured out. She struggles almost every step of the way. Yes, she never wanted magic, but she never meant to banish her family as a way to do it! The journey is about righting that mistake and coming to terms with her magic/things about herself along the way. I also really loved that Alex was bisexual and it was no big deal. Not to her family, her friends, or anyone else. She struggled if she really felt about Rishi that way, but it was more of “do I really have a crush on a friend” than “do I really have a crush on a girl.” It was simply no big deal and it was portrayed in a healthy way as well. All around, I give this book two thumbs up.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2016 in Fantasy, Teen

 

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Ghost

28954126Title: Ghost
Author: Jason Reynolds
Series: Track
Recommended for: Grades 5-8
Pages: 192
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION REYNOLDS, J.

Synopsis: Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel of a brand-new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

Ghost has a crazy natural talent, but no formal training. If he can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all starting with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who blew his own shot at success by using drugs, and who is determined to keep other kids from blowing their shots at life

Review: I liked, but didn’t love this book. I’ve enjoyed Reynolds’ other books a bit more. However, I do think the kids will eat this one up. Ghost is a character you can relate to and he is far, far from perfect. You can’t help but root for him even when he does something stupid like steal something. There are some heavy topics of abuse, but nothing that late elementary/middle school can’t handle. I do adore the relationships between Ghost and his coach & teammates expands over the book. Bonus points for the book being about track, which there hardly ever seem to be books about. I’m highly interested to see where the series goes and look forward to reading future installments.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2016 in Juv, Realistic

 

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Diary of a Haunting: Possession

28954050Title: Diary of a Haunting: Possession
Author: M. Verano
Series: Diary of a Haunting
Recommended for: 7th grade and up
Pages: 352
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction Verano

Synopsis: All her life, Laetitia Jones has only wanted to be a star. It’s more than an ambition—somewhere deep inside, she knows that she was born for greatness.

But her path to stardom now seems to be halted by a mysterious, undiagnosed illness that’s taken over her body. Doctors don’t have a clue and most days, she’s stuck at home documenting her strange symptoms—symptoms that start with fevers and chills, but soon escalate to bizarre bodily reactions.

Laetitia’s only escape from her illness is following the news—and the race riots that are moving closer and closer to her neighborhood. But when horrific visions begin to invade her mind, even the media can’t distract her and she begins to wonder—is her illness something biological…or is it something more? Are the voices she hears and the notes she finds in her own handwriting signs of insanity…or signs of something much more sinister and demonic? Or, perhaps, signs of something benevolent…something holy even.

Laetitia has always known she’d be famous…she just didn’t know it would happen this way.

Review: This is the 2nd book in the Diary of Haunting series, although, the two books are unrelated. While I did enjoy the first one a bit more/find it more creepy, this is a fast read that I’m teens looking for light horror will like. The majority of the book is in diary (online) format, but there are some police and social worker reports thrown in as well. Much like the first one, the whole point of the book is to make you question if something paranormal is actually occurring or if it’s much more to do with circumstances/psychology.

The only thing I’m not sure I really liked was there was a police brutality story-line thrown in. I understand why it was there/how it connected to the story, but it felt completely out of place other than it’s a current event. I feel like a those story deserve a little more meat to them then what was given in this book. Other than that, while not my favorite, it was still a good read.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2016 in Horror, Teen, Uncategorized

 

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Plum Fantastic

2761560Title: Plum Fantastic
Author: Whoopie Goldberg
Series: Sugar Plum Ballerinas
Recommended for: Grade 2-4
Pages: 160
Call Number/Link:  J Gol 

Synopsis: Alexandrea Petrakova Johnson does not want to be a beautiful ballerina, and she does not want to leave her friends in Apple Creek. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop her ballet-crazy mother from moving them to Harlem, or from enrolling Al at the Nutcracker School of Ballet.

Life is hard when you’re the new ballerina on the block, and it’s even harder when you’re chosen to be the Sugar Plum Fairy in the school recital! Not only is Al a terrible dancer, but she’s also got a rotten case of stage fright! Al’s ballet classmates are going to have to use all the plum power they’ve got to coach this scary fairy!

Review: I actually really liked this book. While the ballet stuff is the foundation of the story, it’s really about making new friends, helping each other, and overcoming fears. I really liked the friendships and how they all bonded together to help Alexandrea learn her steps and perfect the routine. This would be a great book for those interested in dance or just a realistic book

The wording is still a bit on the large size with shorter chapters and illustrations here and there. Great transition books for those who need something a little harder that say rainbow fairies, but not ready for full chapter books.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2016 in Juv, Realistic, Uncategorized

 

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