Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline Ogburn - ADVISABLE

Ogburn, Jacqueline The Unicorn in the Barn, 290 pages.  Houghton, 2017.  $17.  Content: G.

Eric Harper is still sad that his family had to sell his grandparents’ farm after his grandmother became sick enough that she needs full time care.  A veterinarian has moved in with her daughter, who doesn’t seem to like Eric at all.  But he can’t stay away – especially when he sees a unicorn limping its way to the barn.  He talks his way into becoming a helper around the clinic and is introduced to a wider field of animals then he ever knew.

Ogburn does such a great job it integrating the care of magical creatures along side regular animals without becoming sparkly magic.  It remains grounded in a place that keeps the fantasy special.  Eric fumbles, making mistakes, but learns and grows and suffers just like he should.  Loved it.

EL –ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

The Football Girl by Thatcher Heldring - ADVISABLE

Heldring, Thatcher The Football Girl, 200 pgs. Delacorte Press (Random House Children’s Books), 2017. $16.99 Language – PG (3 swears, 0 “f”), Mature Content – G; Violence – PG; 

Tessa breaks from the stereotypical eighth grade girl, and everyone is happy to tell her how she should act. When Tessa announces her desire to play football and go to the summer football camp in preparation for high school, the expectations of her parents and peers stand in her way. The choice Tessa has to make is whether she’s going to live her life or let others dictate her choices.

While the story mostly focuses on the expectations and hard choices that surround Tessa, Caleb is in just as many hard spots. In their different circumstances, Tessa and Caleb learn about standing up for what they believe in, even if that means not pleasing the ones you love. In the end, it’s about having the courage to try despite the possibility of failure and standing up for what you believe in despite popular opinions. Those messages are the reasons I enjoyed my time reading this book. 

MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Friday, June 23, 2017

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude - OPTIONAL

Jude, Sarah The May Queen Murders, 288 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. $17.99. Language: R (53 swears, 4 ‘f’) Mature Content: PG-13 (intense kissing scenes, heavy petting, drinking and frank sexual discussions and encounters. Borderline rated R) Violence: R (for murder and dismemberment) 

Ivy Templeton lives and breathes Rowan’s Glen, the place she grew and her parents did before her. Despite its strange stories and tales of superstition, Ivy is full of love for her home, and for her two favorite people, vivacious cousin Heather and childhood friend Rook. But when Heather starts withdrawing from their relationship and then disappears altogether, Ivy realizes that she must now take her town’s strange stories as gospel, before murder wreaks havoc on all she holds dear.  

The best thing this tale has going for it is how very visceral and atmospheric it always manages to be. Scenes with little actually taking place and shrouded in mystery are tense and nail-biting. I also liked the sweetness of the main character and her love for her family. All her emotions and fears rang true for me and I could understand why she acted in such a haphazard, disjointed way, as her whole world was suddenly upended. However, it just got too graphically bloody for my taste by the end, and the villains were easy to discover before the big reveal. Add on the unnecessary on page sexual exploits of a character I never liked very much, and this book leaves me majorly conflicted on all fronts. Again though, A+ plus for atmosphere. 

HS- OPTIONAL Student Reviewer: Jewels


We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash - OPTIONAL


Thrash, Maggie We Know It Was You, 344 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2016. $17.99. Language: R (114 swears, 18 ‘f’) Mature Content: R (Graphic sexual content and discussions) Violence: R (Murder, rape and molestation)

Benny Flax lives goes to a school where there are no good mysteries, and he desperately wants to solve one. Virginia leads wants a new reputation but has no way to get one. Her chronic gossiping follows her back years. Until one day, there is a mystery involving the public suicide of cheerleader Brittany Montague. And Benny and Virginia are the only ones who know the truth about that tragic night, and the murder plot behind it all.  

This book is an odd mix of complex relationships, dark satire, and offensive content that is more suitable to a mature audience mystery thriller. The most compelling part of this novel, to be sure, is the not quite platonic, not quite in love push-pull relationship between Benny and Virginia. Their scenes are extremely dynamic and sort of in the vein of the beginning relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Watson. I also liked that the author didn’t feel the need to sugar coat any of her cast. Most of them, including at times the main leads, did vastly unlikable things and thought uncharitable thoughts. But where this novel goes wrong is that I assume it wants to be a satire on the hypocrisy of sexism and racism, but it is supremely unclear about this and I feel that most young adults would either be baffled or offended by the topics discussed and the way they are handled, as the author never drives home her points. One could even assume she is actually endorsing these terrible viewpoints instead of speaking against them, though I don’t think that was her intention. It was just poorly handled all around. This book is also very graphic, with numerous f- bombs and sexual content that’s almost ridiculously crude, even for New Adult. Overall, a jumbled mix of good and bad.

HS- OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: Jewels

Thursday, June 22, 2017

All the Feels by Danika Stone - OPTIONAL

Stone, Danika All the Feels, 295 pgs. Swoon Reads (Feiwel and Friends), 2016. $9.99 Language – R (95 swears, 7 “f”), Mature Content – PG13; Violence – PG; 

Life is built by where you invest your passion. But what happens when the object of that passion dies—or, at least, ends without warning? Liv breathes the Starveil movies and is deep in the fandom that orbits them; when the fifth movie surprises its viewers with the announcement that it is the last one, Liv’s world comes unhinged. Without Starveil, Liv doesn’t know who she is. To right herself from this gross interruption of the world as she knows it, Liv heeds the wise counsel of a fortune cookie: It’s up to you to make your happy ending.

The bittersweet taste of this book comes from how contemporary it is. Bitter because of the uncommon jargon that I had to search the urban dictionary to understand or else lose out on key details of the story; sweet because of the utter uniqueness of the circumstances. I loved reading about the influence we the people have on the media in a way that has never before been possible, and I loved how the unprecedented circumstances of our day helped Liv discover herself and her future. While the vulgar language caused me to flinch as it popped up, Liv’s modern adventure was one worth reading.

HS – OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen