Carry On: the Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

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Carry On: the Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

Rowell’s fans will be thrilled with her latest novel detailing the crazy life of Simon Snow as he tries to finish theWatford School of Magicks, fall in love, and save the world.  Simon and his roommate and arch enemy Baz started off as fictional characters in the writer’s 2013 Fangirl.  Simon, his best friend Penny, his sort-of-ex-girlfriend Agatha and Baz join forces to combat the powerful Humdrum which is trying to steal all the world’s magic.  The story may remind readers of the Harry Potter stories, but Rowell’s twists on the genre and strong characters and setting make this title hard to set aside.  I recommend to fans of fantasy, Harry Potter, romances and Rainbow Rowell.

If you’re an an author geek, here’s an interview with her from Book Expo last June.

fangirl               eleanor and park

Click on the book covers for our reviews of her other books.

Spies of Mississippi: The true story of the spy network that tried to destroy the civil rights movement by Rick Bowers

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Spies of Mississippi: The true story of the spy network that tried to destroy the civil rights movement  by Rick Bowers

With the inauguration of J.P. Coleman as governor of Mississippi in 1956, a bill was passed and signed creating the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission. Ostensibly set up to protect the state from interference by the federal government, its real mission was to preserve segregation. Funded by the state with taxpayer money, code named agents reported on individuals, groups, meetings and plans for integration. Devoted to maintaining segregation, the commission also ran a public relation campaign, extolling the positives and benefits of segregation. Seventeen chapters each cover one event from 1956-1964, including Freedom Riders, Medgar Evers’ murder, James Meredith’s integration of Ole Miss, Freedom Summer murder of 3 civil rights workers and other lesser known people and events.

This absorbing read brings fascinating people and events to life covering pivotal occurrences during the fight against segregation and for civil rights from 1956-1964. Any reader who does not fully understand and appreciate the freedom to ride public transportation across state lines, attend public schools and universities and register to vote regardless of race and background must read this account of people who risked their lives to make these changes a reality.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Crooked Kingdom  by  Leigh Bardugo

Kaz Brekker, leader of the Dregs gang in the fictional city of Ketterdam, plots revenge against those who cheated him of payment for a dangerous and scary robbery job and kidnapped a valuable member of his gang in the first book, Six of Crows. Using the unique talents and abilities of each member of his crew, Kaz makes meticulous plans against both the criminal leader and the outwardly respected merchant who double-crossed him.  Each person in the gang knows only his or her job and even then is not aware of the ultimate purpose. Almost like assembling a jigsaw puzzle with thousands of pieces, Kaz moves ahead, even when it seems his enemies have thwarted him. Without giving away any of the details and ruining the mystery, I can say Crooked Kingdom lives up to the suspense and excitement Bardugo generated in Six of Crows. Readers will find themselves rooting for Kaz and each person in his gang, worried when they seem to be in danger and hopeful that their audacious scheme will destroy their enemies and make their future lives more secure.

 

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Click book for our review of the first book.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

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The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

This book takes place entirely in a hospital. A teen who lost his entire family in a car crash has made the hospital his home. He has a job, friends, and regular visiting hours with patients.  All he has to do is keep running from Death and he’ll be fine. His piecemeal life is interrupted by the arrival of another teen who has been bullied and burned over half of his body.

This book has intense relationships and an upbeat tempo, while the entire tale takes place under the cloud of looming Death – literally and metaphorically. It is in a hospital after all. Although the story is unique and well written I actually didn’t like this book, not enough changes in scenery for my taste – but you might!

 

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

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The Chosen One  by Carol Lynch Williams

Thirteen year old Kyra lives with her family, including her father; her true mother, Mother Sarah; Mother Claire, her father’s first wife; Mother Victoria, his second wife; and her 20 siblings in the four corners area of the western United States. Her community, the Chosen Ones, lives isolated from the rest of the area and relies on themselves for support. Kyra has always been content with her life, even thought she secretly borrows books from the county library bookmobile she discovered on one of her walks in the desert.  When the Prophet, leader of the Chosen Ones, announces that Kyra is to be the seventh wife to her Uncle Hyrum, her father’s sixty year old brother, even her father and the family object. Unable to change the Prophet’s mind, the family resigns itself to his directive, but Kyra resolves to get away.

I found this book so riveting that I read it again as soon as I finished it the first time. The writing is absolutely true to Kyra’s character and the plot completely engrossed me. I can’t wait to read more books by this author!

Review by Mrs. Goldstein-Erickson

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

 

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The Color of Magic  by Terry Pratchett

Fantasy, science fiction, humor and magic mix together in this wildly inventive tale of Rincewind, who has failed his wizard’s training at Unseen University. Through complete coincidence Rincewind finds himself traveling around Discworld w/Twoflower, who has come as a tourist to the city of Ankh-Morpork from the Counterweight Continent. They escape from Ankh-Morpork as the city begins to burn from a fire they were involved in, only to continue encountering threatening characters and situations. Rincewind keep panicking at the danger they’re in, while Twoflower treats each episode as a grand adventure. In addition Twoflower brought with him Luggage that has legs, follows him through all his travels and attacks anyone who tries to steal any of its contents.

As the first title in Pratchett’s celebrated Discworld series, The Color of Magic provides hints of the zaniness to come in more than two dozen titles. Even readers who have read other books in the series will enjoy this introduction to the physical characteristics of Discworld and those who live on it.

 

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

 

 

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

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Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Tenth grader Piddy Sanchez doesn’t think is can get much worse.  She’s been moved out of her childhood house in Queens New York to a “better” apartment, losing her best friend Mitzi, her familiar surroundings, and the high school she had settled into with friends and activities.  Until today.  “Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass,” she’s told by a girl she hardly knows. Huh?  When she investigates with the office student aide she does sort of know, she’s told that Yaqui was suspended twice last year for fighting, and thinks Piddy acts stuck up and shakes her booty too much when she walks.  “Interesting,” she thinks to herself.  “I’ve only had an ass for about six months, and now it seems to have a mind of it’s own.”  Told in the first person perspective, this story of escalating bullying feels urgent and realistic.  Piddy finds out that she’s not safe anywhere when Yaqui and her friends jump her on her walk home and post the fight on the internet.  Her grades start going down and Piddy has to figure out how to survive–become tough just like Yaqui or run away from her problems.

This book is a fast and compelling read that deals with lots of universal teenage issues: having a single parent and wondering about one’s real dad, starting a new school, being harassed by a bully, and knowing how to reach out for help without being a “snitch.”  I think readers will be caught up in Piddy’s life immediately, and will identify with the problems the teen faces.  I recommend this title to all teen readers, especially fans of Sharon Draper.