by Leo Tolstoy
This story follows the life of the Countess Anna Karenina after she has an affair with the Count Vronsky. This book was written in a Literary Realism style.
Elenore and Park
by Rainbow Rowell
This is the story of a girl named Elenore as she deals with the struggles of a hard family life at home, and the young man Park and the friendship which grows between them. This is a tragic retelling of Romeo and Juliet, and is told in the Literary Realism style.
Five Feet Apart
by Rachael Lippincott
In this retelling of Romeo and Juliet there are two teen who are both diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, which means they can never get closer than 5 feet. This book to movie story is sure to pull at your heartstrings.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
by Winifred Watson
Set in the 1930's Miss Pettigrew is a strict nanny who gets sent to the wrong house. As soon as she arrives she realizes something is wrong. This is a delightful comedy which made the transition from book to movie really well.
Murder at the Vicarage
by Agatha Christie
Miss Marple is sent on a case when Colonel Protheroe is found murdered in the local vicarage. Set in the 1930's the investigation of this man's death will keep you on your toes
by Patricia Briggs
This is a story following Anna and her new friend Charles who are werewolves sent on a mission by the head of the werewolves to investigate a man's death which was too out of control to be allowed to be continued.
Karigan G'ladheon has been thinking about her future as she is traveling through the forest of Green Cloak. She is doing fine alone in the forest until she hears a horse approaching her at a fast pace. A man is slumped over on the horse as he approaches Karigan, he has two arrows in his back. Karigan finds out from the man before he dies that is the legendary Green Rider, one of the Kings messengers and he is carrying a message that must get to the king. Karigan accepts to take the message to the king after the rider begged her to take it and made her swear an oath on his sword to deliver the message for the sake of the country. He also gave her his gold winged horse brooch to show her new status as the Green Rider. On his dying breath he gives one more warning to her and it is to watch out for the shadow man. Karigan doesn’t realize how much her life will change until she is chased by assassins, deadly danger and magic, and is hounded by dark beings bent on not allowing her to deliver the message that she swore to deliver.
The 6th Extinction by James Rollins
This is the 10th book in the Sigma series but trust me when I tell you that I have not read the other 9 books. What you need to know is that Commander Gray Peirce is part of the Sigma which is a covert part of the U.S. Government part of the special forces and trained in various fields of science.
A distress call goes out from a remote military base in the Sierra Nevada Mountains stating that there had been a breach and that no matter what happens to kill them all. Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma arrive at the site they find out that every living thing humans, animals,plants, insects, the bacteria is dead within a fifty mile radius and the disease is spreading. Commander Gray and the Sigma are sent in to the lab and find out that the scientists were working on a deadly pathogen. The team then has to follow clues given through a book that includes the Nazis, ancient maps, alien life forms and deadly exoctic animals. It is discovered that a scientist named Cutter Elwes had built two living labs with this deadly bacteria one is a mountain in Brazil and another under Antarctica, Elwes’s plan is to cause the 6th extinction of the planet.
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Set in 1620s France that has a lot of different genres from espionage to vengeance. Dumas created characters that are iconic and strong in their own ways. d’Artagnan is young and just wants glory in his life but also finds himself in trouble when he leaves his home of Gascony and heads to Paris to become a musketeer. Along the way a man insults d’Artagnan’s horse, a fight ensues, and d, Artagnan meets the evil Comte De Rocherfort, Cardinal Richelieu’s agent. d’Artagnan continues on the Musketeer headquarters only to find out that they are not recruiting and he is told to go to a school for young men wanting to be a musketeer, but d’Artagnan sees De Rocherfort and runs to catch him but offends three musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis and has a duel scheduled with the three in the afternoon. Their duel is interrupted by De Rocherfort and he tries to arrest all four of the duelers but the three musketeers and d'Artagnan defeat De Rocherfort’s men, d’artagnan had wounded one of the best fighters.
The King hears of the duel and how d’Artagnan wounded the dueler and appoints him to the King’s Guards. d’Artagnan becomes friends with the three musketeers and finds love but with it comes a lot of problems. He must save his love and the queen, and the queens love to prevent France from going to war and thwart the Cardinals plans.
Long story with a few affairs going on but it’s packed full of adventure.
Raise the Titanic by Clive Cussler
Book #4 of the Dirk Pitt series. The President's secret task force led by Dr. Seagram created a weapon that runs off of a rare radioactive element called byzanium. Dirk rescues Sid Koplin from a soviet guard after he was looking for the byzanium and found that it had already been mined. Seagram follows clues left by Koplin and determined that the chunk of byzanium was worth a quarter of a billion dollars in 1912 ( over 3 billion today) was mined by a group of miners hired by the French government. The U.S. Government thought talked them into bringing the mineral back to the united states and the group was pursued by French assassins. One member of the mining group was able to make it to Southampton and boards the Titanic.
Dr. Seagram approaches Dirk Pitt and the option that they have is to raise the Titanic to get the byzanium. There is trouble ahead though when the process is started, and the CIA leaks information to the Russians in the hopes to capture the best KGB agent.
Find out how the book will end by checking the book out today!
Origin by Dan Brown
Book number five of the Robert Langdon series takes us to Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Edmond Kirsch, is a billionaire philanthropist and futurist who met with three members of the Parliament of the World's Religions. Kirsch informs the Roman Catholic Bishop, Antonio Valdespino, Jewish moragi Yehuda Köves, and Muslim Imam Syed al-Fadl that he has made a discovery that will change the world and he plans on making the discovery public in a month. Kirsch had lied to the three and instead was making the information public in three days. Valdespino leaves Kirsch a voicemail demanding that he stop or risk being discredited.
The presentation takes place at the Guggenheim Museum, with some of the attendees being Kirsch’s former teacher Robert Langdon, the museum curator and his fiancee and future king of Spain. During the presentation to the world Kirsch reveals his plans to rid the world of religion and usher in the age of science. Kirsch is killed by an assassin that has tanked web of murders and assassinations. Langon meets Ambra and with her must find the password to the presentation by following clues on Krisch’s phone and a line from his favorite poem as his password.
Robert and Ambra must race against time and the police to follow the clues before the presentation ends with an apocalyptic ending.
Okay I don’t know about the rest of you. But there are movies that I have to watch every year or it quite simply does not feel like Christmas. I have fond memories of VHS tapes with various recordings on them. There are so many flashbacks to the commercials which ran at the time, and the memories of those old couches and entertainment centers. I love the memories and jokes made with my siblings, thinking of and making my favorite Christmas treats, and especially sharing these experiences with my kids. I thought I would share my top 5 Christmas movies and I would love to hear about your favorite movies and memories so please share in the comments.
Home Alone (1990)
If you haven’t seen this yet I would request that you stop what you are doing and log on to your Disney+ or come to the library and put yourself on hold for this classic holiday comedy. Kevin McCallister has been left home alone while his family is off to Paris for Christmas. While his mother works so hard to get home Kevin has to work to defend his home from the Wet Bandits. This comedy will have you in stitches as the Wet Bandits try to burgle the McCallister’s home.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
There are so many versions of A Christmas Carol but I love this one. Michael Caine does such a beautiful job portraying the grumpy Mr Scrooge, and the other Muppets bring such a fun element as they portray the growth Scrooge goes through over the course of meeting with the various Spirits.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
After a really horrible Christmas George Bailey tries to kill himself but his guardian angel takes the time to help him see the difference he has made to the world around him and how many people love him in his life. This one is such a sweet reminder that it is all of our little acts in the lives of those around us that truly make a difference.
Dr Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Alright I have to see the classic animated version because Christmas just isn’t the same without Boris Karloff telling the story of the Grinch and all of his angst as he faces another Christmas season with all the Whos holiday craziness down below. The other two versions with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jim Carry are wonderful for their own reasons but I will always have to go back to the original.
The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
Santa has a cold and feels underappreciated this year and he has decided to cancel Christmas. Two elves take it upon themselves to go and find children to change Santa’s mind but first they have to figure out what to do with the Miser Brothers. This movies holds such beautiful memories for me and I absolutely love the music that goes with this one.
I am so excited to be doing a blog post about the library’s kit collection! The Portneuf Library maintains a collection of kits for checkout. These kits include one or more books on a subject and the necessary equipment to learn about that subject or skill. Each adult card can checkout 1 kit at a time for up to 4 weeks! Our kit collection is currently made up of more than 50 kits with more kits being curated all the time. They are located in the alcove in the main part of the library against the south wall. Let me tell you about some of my favorites!
The Cake Decorating Kit. This kit is for the budding cake decorator! Included are
The White Box Kit. Have you ever been playing a board game and had an idea? An awful idea? A wonderful, awful idea? Well, Mr. Grinch, tis the season to try out that board game idea with the White Box kit! Included in this kit are:
The Astronomy Kit. Checkout this kit and the constellations! This kit may not tell you the secrets of the universe outright, but it can sure help you find them a little faster with:
The Cookie Decorating Kit. Yes, I know we already talked about cake, but there is always room for cookies, especially with our cookie press! Whether you cut with the themed cookie cutters or prefer the fanciful swirls of the cookie press, it doesn’t matter as long as the dough gets in the oven. Well, most of the dough, anyway. This kit includes:
The Sewing Machine Kit. Ah, sewing. You would be surprised how many people don’t know how to use a sewing machine these days, myself included. That’s why I have this kit on hold. It includes:
Are you ready for another six degrees of reading from Maegan? These blog posts are not necessarily staff picks, but rather give you an idea of the basic plot of 6 different books while connecting them in fun and unexpected ways to each other. Think of it like a book puzzle!
By Karamo Brown
Is an inspiring memoir, written by Karamo Brown who has a degree in Social Work as well as psychology. This book explores Karamo’s growth as he overcame his personal struggles and defined culture for the television show "Queer Eye."
by Tara Westover
This inspiring memoir is the story of Tara Westover who was born into a family of survivalists in Idaho and was abused by her older brothers. Tara was seventeen the first time she went to school. Eventually when she got the chance she traveled the world.
by Frank E Peretti
Set in Idaho, Reed and Rebecca are on a camping trip in the beautiful Northwestern Mountains. Their first night a creature grabs Rebecca catapulting Reed on an adventure which leads him to find secrets involving genetically modified creatures.
by Kathy Reichs
Tory Brennen and her friends love to explore the marshlands of Loggerhead Island. One day as they were exploring they rescued a stray wolfdog pup which exposed them to a rare strain of canine parvovirus turning them into genetically modified creatures. Will they be able to solve the mystery of the island?
THE UNEXPECTED MRS. POLIFAX
by Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Polifax is a widow who’s children are all grown. After an attempted suicide she regains her footing in the midst of struggle and becomes a CIA agent. She goes off to Mexico City to solve the mystery which starts pretty mild and is quite dangerous by the end.
by Brene’ Brown
Brene’ Brown has a degree in Social work and has spent the last twenty years studying shame, vulnerability, and worthiness. She discovered that the key to people regaining their footing in the midst of struggle is their ability to lean into their emotions and lean in to that which makes them uncomfortable.
We are THRILLED to debut our newest blog addition! This fun new blog format is brought to us by our new (again) clerk Maegan. These blog posts are not necessarily staff picks, but rather give you an idea of the basic plot of 6 different books while connecting them in unexpected ways to each other. These posts will now be interspersed with our regular staff picks blogs! If you have any ideas for us, send them over!
THE BOOK THIEF
by Markus Zusak
This story begins with Liesel’s brother dying on the train from Russia to Germany. Death is a character in this book and shows up periodically during the story.
THE COLOR OF MAGIC
by Terry Pratchett
This is the first book in the Diskworld series. In this amazing adventure novel there is an inept wizard and Death is a character.
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS
by J.K. Rowling
Harry is an orphan boy in his second year of school at Hogwarts. This year the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor is an inept wizard, Gilderoy Lockhart.
by Charles Dickens
Oliver is an orphan boy, when he runs away from the workhouse he finds himself in a den of thieves. This classic by Charles Dickens was the first to discuss child labor laws and bring these issues to light.
THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
by Charles Darwin
The Origin of Species was written by Charles Darwin. This book is considered controversial because it talks about how animals have evolved over time, which many thought threatened Christian Ideals.
THE DAVINCI CODE
by Dan Brown
This story begins with the curator of the Louvre dying in a gruesome manner. The main character, Robert Langdon is then sent to discover what happened. This book was considered controversial by many Christian leaders due to its “blasphemous material”.
James the computer guy will now take a shot at blog post…
I seem to have an odd taste in reading, and don’t get very much reading done. I was told that perhaps my tastes could give some insight into some of our more eclectic readers. I'm only writing on books I have actually finished, because if it was good enough for me to spend my very limited time on, then it must have been good... maybe.
The first I would like to tell about is one that I have finished a while ago, but haven’t found anything quite like in a long time.
Mogworld by Yhatzee Croshaw
This is the book that got me back to reading. It is written by a comedy video game reviewer and I would say he has done quite well.
A young mage named Jim is disappointed by his lack of progress in Mage School, but when his college is destroyed by its neighbor, Jim comes back with a new lease on life. Or so he thought now Jim and his zombie compatriots are complaining to their necromancer about pension plans and dental insurance. Morale for zombies is something that was never considered until a certain undead lord had considered they might be sentient.
Follow Jim in his adventure to figure out what is wrong with this new world, and hopefully, he can die in peace.
Content warning: some profanity, used with class (mostly). Mention of rotting corpses but no descriptions of viscera. No sexual content
Having not read since Mogworld, I was beginning to give up hope until I found this little gem. It is independently published, so it has a few errors, but I thought it was worth the read still. A bit odd, and a foray into a new genre calling itself LITrpg (for literary role play game).
These are books where leveling up as a person and fighting monsters to do so is very much a thing. This book is self-published by the author and it shows. I forgive it because it is so full of humor, I haven’t laughed this hard since reading fool (Christopher Moore).
Dungeon born by Dakota Krout
Our protagonist is CAL, as in calcium. He is a crystal, but he is sentient and can manipulate the world around him. That makes him a dungeon core. When Cal almost dies, he decides to take matters into his own metaphorical hands and become the strongest dungeon there ever was. This means Cal kills adventurers for fun. Oh and he eats them, definitely eats them.
Content warning: very little if any profanity, no sexual content, geek humor
Exploring further into this newfound LITrpg genre, I found this neat little story about a goblin and revenge. If you like video games you may just like this next one. It is a trilogy but comes together really well in the end.
Life Reset (New Era Online Book 1) by Shemer Kuznits
Our protagonist starts out like any other high level character in a video game, bored and apathetic. That is until his entire guild turns on him and transforms him into a level 1 goblin. This is a story of revenge and leveling up. May not be for everyone but I enjoyed it so much I read through all three of them before picking up anything else.
Content Warning: low profanity throughout, anything sexual is ‘fade to black’, ritual sacrifice and dismemberment amongst various battles.
This is not available at the library currently, but can be read on Kindle Unlimited.
The next one started out very interesting with a d list super person that finally found a use for his dumb power, but then something happened. The same tale seemed to be told over and over through the trilogy. I would definitely suggest the first as just the premise alone is worth a look. However, the author seems to retell the rise of power and the sudden attack of Felix more times than there are books in this series. I felt compelled to finish after I had realized this in the second book. If you do make it to the end of the trilogy there is a bit of a lackluster conclusion.
Perhaps I'll just suggest reading the first one then.
Super sales on super heroes by William D. Argand
(The blurb does it best so I’ll just leave that here)
In a world full of super powers, Felix has a pretty crappy one.
He has the ability to modify any item he owns. To upgrade anything.
Sounds great on paper. Almost like a video game.
Except that the amount of power it takes to actually change, modify, or upgrade anything worthwhile is beyond his abilities.
With that in mind, Felix settled into a normal life. A normal job.
His entire world changes when the city he lives in is taken over by a Super Villain. Becoming a country of one city. A city state.
Surprisingly, not a whole lot changed. Politicians were still corrupt. Banks still held onto your money. And criminals still committed crime.
Though the black market has become more readily available.
And in that not so black market, Felix discovers he has a way to make his power useful after all, and grasps a hold of his chance with both hands.
Content warning: This novel contains graphic violence, undefined relationships/partial harem (fade to black), unconventional opinions/beliefs, and a hero who is as tactful as a dog at a cat show. Read at your own risk.
The last one for me is a book that I wasn’t sure of after seeing the movie. I was assured and was not disappointed the audiobook of ready player one. If you have seen the movie (or even if you haven't) this is quite a ride. Many artistic liberties were taken with the movie, but the real meat of the whole story seemed to be taken out. I highly suggest going back and listening or reading this book. Especially if you like dungeons and dragons, board games, video games, the 1980s or anything my parents aren’t particularly fond of.
Ready player one by Ernest Cline
Living in a fractured home in a dystopian future isn’t that tough, especially if you have a super awesome virtual reality to lose yourself in every day. Wade was one of the last holdouts of Gunters, one of the Easter egg hunters. Many promises were made to the person that could find all the eggs upon the creator’s death, but it has been five years and no person has even had an idea of how to find any of the eggs. Follow wade as he uses useless 1980s trivia knowledge and l33t nerd skills to find the eggs and leave his sorry life behind. Love and conflict will both be found. By the way, way more licensed properties were used in the book than the movie, making it by far the better media for obscure references.
Content warning: violence and language throughout. Twitterpated relationships only, nerd refrences for the most advanced geeks possible.
Bonus points, if you want to see any of the games mentioned in ready player one, come ask me on game day, I can pull most of them up for you to play :D
I have been trying to learn more of the genres in the adult reading section of the library and something that I did not realize was how many movies actually came from books. I knew of quite a few books to movies that had existed but there are many more like the Circle by Dave Eggers and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell which I will discuss in this post. I always love to read the book because there are always parts of the books that cannot be added to the movie. The following are books that you may want to read, and then check out the movie!
The Circle By David Eggers
David Eggers is very good at getting you hooked with a storyline which flows really well, considering that there are no chapters in this book. This book details a dystopian world where Mae Holland lands a job at the Circle, a major internet company. Mae thinks that she has landed her dream job but then quickly finds out that the Circle wants nothing to be secret and that everything about everyone should be known. With cameras virtually everywhere in the world and the Circle wanting to complete "the circle" Mae must decide whether or not she wants to be a part of their work.
This book does have sexual content in it and swearing.
The movie has none of the sexual content in it but it kept the swearing.
The Help By Kathryn Stockett
This hilarious yet serious telling of what life was like as an African American Maid in the 1960s also discusses maid life before the 1960s. Skeeter has just graduated from college with the dream of becoming a writer. She embarks on this journey by enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who just lost her son and is upset at the world for letting it happen, and Minny who is the best cook in all of Mississippi but has a knack for getting herself in trouble by speaking when she shouldn’t. With Aibileen and Minny’s help Skeeter is able to start writing her book about the help in Mississippi while also enlisting the help of other maids to tell their stories even though it could mean risking their lives. It is pretty funny to read about what happens after the book is published and the town of Jackson, Mississippi starts to talk about who might be who in the stories.
The movie moves right along with the storyline of the book. I saw the movie first and then read the book and they are pretty close to each other.
Ready Player One By Ernest Cline
Set in the year 2045 Wade Watts finds refuge in the virtual game world of the OASIS. Wade studies all of the puzzles within the game to try and find the creators hidden easter eggs within the game. These hidden clues will lead the player to a prize that will change someone’s life. When Wade finds the first clue he also finds himself in trouble with other players who try to kill him in real life so that they can beat him to the next clues and win the prize for themselves. If he wins the prize his life will change forever and he will have control over the OASIS.
This movie is just as action packed as the book as Wade and his friends try to beat the professionals to the keys of the OASIS.
World War Z: An Oral History By Max Brooks
If you like Zombies you need to read this book! The book of World War Z is so different from the movie and I am so glad that I read the book first. The book is about agent Max Brooks, from what I gathered, traveling throughout the world gathering as many accounts as he could of how people survived and what they are doing now to survive the Zombie Apocalypse and report it to the postwar commission. People went to the coldest of regions and to the southern regions to escape the zombie war. This book is listed under scary and gives details as to how the events happened.
The movie is completely different with a storyline being put into place that is easier to follow.
Cloud Atlas By David Mitchell
This book can get a little confusing while reading so it’s difficult trying to explain it. It’s multiple stories, within one story, that are all interconnected in someway. This story starts out in 1850 with Adam Ewing traveling the world, he befriends a doctor who treats him for a rare brain parasite. The story then flashes forward to 1931 Belgium where Robert Frobisher is a disinherited bisexual composer who creates a plan to get into the home of a maestro with a beautiful and wife and daughter. It then jumps to the West Coast in the 1970s to Lewisa Rey as she finds a corporate web of greed and murder and gets herself into so much trouble that her life is on the line. We finally end up in the present day in England. Korea is the super power with neocapitalism creating a mess. Things then flash forward to the future with a post apocalyptic Iron Age in Hawaii where history will end. Things then start flowing backward through history to the beginning of the story with Adam Ewing. It’s during this return back through history that we find out how all these characters are connected.
There is swearing and violence in this book as well as sexual content.
The movie is Rated R for the same content as the book.
For this blog I am focusing on books with more of a science fiction element.
First up is Remake by Ilima Todd
Remake is a quick and interesting read about futuristic society where children are raised in batches, ten boys and ten girls, until they reach 17. Then they are sent to the remake facility where they pick everything from their hair color and name, to their gender and occupation before they join society. The story follows nine (the ninth female to be born into the batch) while she struggles with indecision heading into her remake.
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Scythe is set in a world with no hunger, disease, or war. People don’t die anymore. The revival centers take care of that. The problem is, as everyone agrees, the population still needs to be kept under control. The solution are Scythes. Scythes are the only ones that can take human life. The story follows two scythe apprentices as they are taught how to take lives and fill quotas.
The One by John Marrs
The One is about what happens after a genetic connection is discovered and able to match a person with their soul mate. The story follows five different people as they received the news of their match and are about to meet their one true love. Unfortunately a guaranteed true love does not guarantee and happily ever after.
,The Year’s Best Science Fiction 29th annual Collection
Ok I know picking a year’s best is a bit on the nose for a science fiction pick but some of my all-time favorite reads have come from the short stories collections. There is nothing quite like it when ten pages worth of words stick with you for years after you read it. Whether reading a select few, or the whole book, the Science Fiction Collection is always a worthwhile check out.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Cinder is the first book in a series of science fiction fairytale retellings. Cinder follows the cyborg, mechanic, that the book was named after, as she runs a repair booth for her stepmother. She has built a name for herself with her repair skills and those skills are what bring Price Kai to her booth. After meeting Prince Kai, Cinder finds herself wrapped up in secrets and problems she didn’t know she had, as well as a whole host of new ones.
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai B.L. 4.8
Newbery Award and honor books are regarded as high quality writing for a reason. They often address issues that adults and, maybe especially children, face. This book discusses what it is like to be a refugee, however it is formatted differently than what would be considered normal. It is from the perspective of a 10-year-old girl whose family has to flee Vietnam during wartime. It is not only from her perspective, but is written in verse, which is different and attention getting. This does not have to be read at a certain pace or rhythm like other types of poetry. The format of the writing is mean to communicate a feeling and perhaps some underlying message, but this can be read exactly like any other book!
This novel discusses really difficult issues such as living in a war zone, escaping, and trying to make a new home in a place where not everyone is accepting. This is a great read for all ages, though the issues may be more difficult to grasp for younger readers. This can also be a good way to broach subjects such as empathy and acceptance.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage B.L. 3.9
Three Times Lucky is a really interesting novel from the perspective of 11-year-old Moses LoBeau. Mo (as everyone calls her) is a very intelligent little girl who washed up in a stream in North Carolina as a newborn after a hurricane upstream--no doubt prompting the name “Moses.” Mo is taken in by the Colonel and Miss Lana who raise and love her.
The summer before Mo goes to 6th grade a new man comes to the tiny town of Tupelo Landing-- detective Starr-- as well as a murderer. Mo and her friend Dale start on the journey of finding the killer, while Mo continues to search for her Upstream Mother. Mo and Dale are caught up in a murder and kidnapping with some great twists and reveals in the novel. There is also some internal growth for Mo as she learns what her family in Tupelo means to her.
While this book is a 3.9 level, I would recommend it to slightly older readers. It may be difficult to grasp some language and terminology that is colloquial in North Carolina, but relatively foreign in this part of the country. It may also be difficult for younger readers to grasp the relationship dynamics between Mo, Colonel, and Miss Lana, as well as the abusive relationships in the Johnson family. Having said all of that, it was a really enjoyable book and will keep young and old readers entertained!
Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm B.L. 4.8
There is a lack of punctuation such as parenthesis during conversation, as well as commas. There is also an increase in capitalization that should normally only exist at the beginning of sentences and with proper nouns. This lack of adherence to common English rules and punctuations exists in order to emphasize that the story is being told by a 12-year-old pioneer with limited education. In her storytelling, things such as parentheses and commas don’t matter as much, and she capitalizes for emphasis rather than in adherence to any rules. This is a great facet of this book! The storytelling is not just through the words, but through the appearance and organization of the book as well, making it feel more genuine.
As for content, this book is really about May Amelia finding her place as the only girl among so many men. She-- like most children-- feels restricted in what she can do, mainly because she is told that she is not allowed to do the same things as her brothers. She is constantly testing her boundaries in order to find out who she is and what is going to be best for her. These issues are similar to those faced by many children and therefore I feel the book level is mostly appropriate. I say “mostly” because the book also addresses the topic of loss very poignantly. There is a lot of grief that May Amelia comes to terms with-- even though she may not fully understand it. This topic may be sensitive for some readers, but it is also important that it be addressed. Overall, this was a wonderful book for fifth grade readers and older.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate B.L. 3.6
This is a novel about a silverback gorilla, Ivan, who for decades is kept in a small cage in a roadside mall. Ivan begins the novel as a calm and patient gorilla surrounded by other animals who are attractions in the roadside mall. Ivan is not at peace with his situation, but has blocked out memories about where he came from and his former life in the wild. However, as he talks with Stella-- an elephant in a nearby cage-- and connects with a new addition to the mall, Ivan uses his love for art to fulfill a promise and save his friends.
This novel is based on a real-life gorilla who was kept in isolation for decades, and while it is a 3.6 reading level, and can be understood at that level, it is an emotionally mature story. There is some violence and a lot of heartache and sadness. However, this book does bring up good points about not settling for what you have always known, but aspiring to something more. It can also teach about using your talents and work to benefit others and improve yourself. This novel has great content and is a quick read. It may be best for readers who are a little older and able to understand and deal with the emotional turmoil in the book.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham B.L. 4.1
Jean Lee Latham put an extensive amount of research into this historical fiction novel. It is about Nathaniel Bowditch, the man who wrote “The American Practical Navigator” which greatly improved the safety and accuracy of sailing. Mr. Bowditch is portrayed as an extremely intelligent man who has a passion for learning and sailing. There is some information that may be difficult for younger readers to fully grasp, but it is not overly technical. While there is mention of family members and spouses, these details fade into the background of the story. The main focus of the story is sailing and the study and learning of Nathaniel Bowditch which allow him to improve sailing for everyone. There is also a strong focus on Mr. Bowditch’s teaching efforts. He endeavors to teach those on the ship who are not well learned. Through this he learns how to explain sailing concepts and the mathematics involved in different and simpler ways in order to allow many people to learn and understand.
One overarching lesson that can be taken from this book is: Anyone can learn and improve themselves and their lives through hard work and dedication. This book might be a little difficult for younger readers to understand specifics, but it is a historical adventure that can be appreciated in some way or another by readers of any age.
Looking for some inspiration on what to read next? Who better to ask then the people who work around books for a living!? Each month we will post a "staff picks" blog post written by one of our staff members. These posts will vary in genre, theme, age appropriateness, etc. If you have any requests on a genre or age category you would like to see, submit a comment here and we will get it on the list!