The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black

Darkest Part of the ForestHazel and her brother, Ben, live in the odd town of Fairfold where the adjoining woods are filled with fae.  Hazel has grown up acting the part of knight, fighting the evil in the forest.  In the heart of the woods, a beautiful horned boy is on display, encased in a glass coffin seemingly asleep.  For generations, the town youth have been drawn to the mysterious horned boy, whispering secrets or openly dancing on the glass during wild parties late at night.  Living in a town this close to the fae, can’t be good.  Blessings are intertwined with curses.  The dark prince of the fae held his subjects in check only harming the tourists to Fairfold but something has changed when attacks on townspeople grow more intense and deadly.  And now the horned boy has broken out of his glass coffin.

Holly Black wrote a brilliant vampire novel, perhaps the definitive teen vampire novel, The Coldest Girl in Cold Town.  Now she has written a delicious story on the evils of the faery folk.  There is really nothing good about the fae.  Even blessings come with curses.  And bargaining with the fae rarely turns out to be a good thing for the foolish human who dares to deal with the devious fae that have very few morals.  But the fae do seem to honor their bargains, it’s just that it is near impossible to come out the victor in a bargain with the fae.  The characters are cleverly written and engaging, especially changeling Jack.  Ahhh Jack, I would enjoy reading how his story ends.  Hazel, Ben and Jack are equal stars in the story, each adding another element and storyline.  With just a dripping of blood, gore and gruesomeness, author restraint was used and because of that, this book could be suitable for middle school but older teens will gobble this up as well.  Highly recommend.

eGalley review                         Publication date 1.13.15

Posted in fantasy, folklore, highly recommend, suspense | Tagged ,

The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II – Jan Jarboe Russell

Train to Crystal CityCrystal City, Texas, is a small town in a sandy, dry prairie near the Mexican border.  Its only claim to fame is spinach.  The sandy soil turned out to be fine for growing spinach and a statue of Popeye stands across from the city hall.  It also turned out to be a fine place for an internment camp for Japanese, German and Italian immigrants and their American born children.  After December 7, 1941, new words entered America’s vocabulary . . . spies, saboteurs, krauts, yellow devils.

Sumi Utsushigawa was nisi, born in America. Her parents were isseis, born in Japan.  Although friends and neighbors were being arrested every day, Sumi’s father wasn’t worried.  “This is America,” he said.  “They don’t put innocent people in jail here.”   In March the knock on the door came.

Ingrid Eiserloh was born in New York.  Mathias Eiserloh, her father, was born in Germany.  He was a structural engineer and worked for Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co.  The family lived in Strongsville, Ohio.    The FBI took Mathias with no explanation in January of 1942, confiscating letters, photographs, paintings, and books.  Ingrid didn’t see him again until they were reunited in the camp in Crystal City two years later.

Based in part on interviews with survivors of the camp, this is a well-researched book that reveals a little known event in the history of World War II.  It reads like fiction, but is uncomfortably true.  It is a book I couldn’t put down, and a book I highly recommend, especially for teens who may not know what happened in America during that war.

eGalley review        Publication date 1.20.15

Posted in adult, historical fiction | Tagged ,

When – Victoria Laurie

WhenMaddie sees each person’s death date hovering above their head, either in person or in a photograph.  The numbers have been there for as long as she can remember, back to when she was a few years old, learning her numbers and including them in her earliest family drawings.  When her police officer father is killed on the job, on the date on the drawing, her mother and uncle understand the numbers.  Many years later, her mother has sunk into despair and alcohol.   Maddie’s uncle offers support and they make ends meet by Maddie giving readings of death dates.  Then the murders begin.  She tries to warn a lady that her son’s death date is soon so be careful.  When the boy is found murdered, the police suspect Maddie.  She and her best friend, Stubby, just get deeper and deeper into the mess when another grisly murder occurs.  Murder, suspense, and teen angst all wrapped up a fast-paced mystery make for a fabulous suspense for teens.  Highly recommend.

eGalley review         Publication date 1.13.15

Posted in mystery, suspense

There Will Be Lies – Nick Lake

there will be liesShelby and her mom have a solid routine in Arizona, complete with weekly ice cream dinners, trips to the batting cages for talented Shelby, and home schooling.  Her life is quite sheltered, and her mom is constantly concerned with her privacy and safety.  Their world changes drastically when Shelby is hit by a car outside the library one day, injuring her foot.  As she lies on the pavement, she has the first if many visions.  A coyote comes to her and speaks very sparsely, but tells her there will be two lies and a truth. She realizes what this means over the next few weeks when her mom throws their belongings in a rental car and drives them hurriedly away on a strange, secretive, and shocking adventure.  Shelby learns that she and her mom are not who she thought they were.

Nick Lake creates a tale full of love and self-discovery with wit, captivating language, and intrigue that are now author trademarks. The story has twists and turns that keep the reader entangled and hungry for more. The mystical, symbolic elements of the coyote folk talks in the Dreaming are woven expertly into the story but there are times they bog the story down just a bit.  Perhaps it was just my impatience to read what was going to happen next to Shelby in her real life.  Highly recommend.

eGalley review           Publication date 1.6.15

Posted in realistic fiction | Tagged

The Boy in the Black Suit – Jason Reynolds

Boy in Black SuitMatt’s mother died of cancer.  His father deals with her death by sinking into depression and alcohol.  Matt deals with her death by shouldering the responsibilities of the sad reality.  He needs a job and it is either at the local fast food chain or at the funeral home, thus the black suit of the funeral home job.  His new boss is kind and full of wisdom, the type of steady adult all children should have in their life.  Then amidst the gloom, he meets Lovey who has dealt with her own hardships, not by dwelling in despair but by being responsible.  Together they can understand each other’s loneliness and begin to see the positives in the next stage of their lives.

It is not a sad, depressing book because the author focuses on the characters rather than the sad events.  The author’s voice is so natural and never forced.  The reader gets a pretty good understanding of Matt, but tough, level-headed Lovey has an air of mystery.  Another excellent book from this talented author should find plenty of tween/teen readers.  Highly recommend.

eGalley review    Publication date   1/6/15

Posted in realistic fiction | Tagged

Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat – John McQuaid

TastyFrom a 480 million-year-old fossil digging for a meal to today’s experimental chefs, the author takes us on a journey of taste and smell.   Why do we taste?  What is deliciousness?  Do we taste with our brains or our tongues?  Do genes shape our flavor preferences?  Why do we prefer cooked meat? And what about our obsession with sweets?   Many questions I’d not thought to ask were answered in this interesting and informative book.  It’s a well written, fun read that I recommend for all ages.


eGalley review            Publication date 1.13.15

Posted in adult, nonfiction | Tagged

Motherland – Maria Hummel

MotherlandThere was so much that needed to be done. Liesl felt overwhelmed.  This was a household used to servants, and she was alone with three little boys.  Alone and hungry and cold.  Hans resented her, wouldn’t do as he was told, but Ani was younger and needed a mother, needed her love.  And the baby, of course, needed her very much.  But this was such a struggle.  Did she do the right thing?   When his wife died in childbirth and he was drafted to go to a hospital at the front, Frank asked her to marry him, to care for his children.  She worked at the spa where he was a doctor and she had known him for years.  But this was far harder than she had imagined.  This was too hard.  This was Germany’s starving winter of 1945.

The struggle to feed and care for her step-sons while not knowing the fate of her new husband was grinding.  And the air raids were terrifying. I was completely drawn in and shared Liesl’s despair, felt her helplessness.  The book is loosely based on Maria Hummel’s grandparents’ experiences in Germany during the last year of World War II.  It is a book not easily forgotten.  I highly recommend it.

Publication date 01.14.14

Posted in adult, historical fiction | Tagged