Pretend you love me by Julie Anne Peters

emptyPretend you love me by Julie Anne Peters

Mike is a small town girl who is the star softball player, works at the hardware store, and is reviving her deceased dad’s plumbing business. Her best friend is the only boy on the cheerleading squad who is also out and proud. Mike very quietly has the hots for the big city girl, Xanadu, who just moved to town. Xanadu has her own secrets and, while she doesn’t seem to like Mike in “that” way, they become close friends fast. It’s also senior year and time for Mike to decide what happens next in her life. She seems to think that staying right where she is will be just fine. But her family, community, and friends would like to see her go farther. Her coaches and neighbors all recognize how hard she works, but Mike’s not willing to be a charity case or anybody’s poster child.

Sounds a bit cheesy but it’s not.

Review by Ms. Rosenkrantz

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

Image result for lost in a good book by jasper ffordeLost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

Thursday Next, a literary detective in the Special Operations division, has become famous for her work trapping a villain in the pages of Jane Eyre. Set in an alternate universe centered in England, Thursday and he husband Landon start noticing bizarre coincidences that put their lives in danger. Thursday’s father, a renegade time traveler being hunted by the ChronoGuard, keeps finding her in the past and future to warn her about a mysterious substance that will destroy the world if she doesn’t stop it. At the same time Thursday keeps meeting Miss Havisham from Great Expectations to be trained as a book jumper. As the plot threads begin to merge and the characters keep meeting, the book becomes even more engaging. The second in the Thursday Next series, Lost in a Good Book continues Jasper Fforde’s wildly inventive and humorous universe created in The Eyre Affair. While having read the works of literature mentioned is not necessary, familiarity with their plots gives the reader a deeper understanding of this book. Fforde even brings in a character from his Nursery Crime series. This book is great fun and well worth the reader’s time.

Lost in a Good Book sub index

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

Girl at War by Sara Novic

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Girl at War by Sara Novic

Traversing time periods to tell the story, Girl At War, explores the reality of war for a young girl in Yugoslavia and how it changed the course of her life. Ana was ten years old when civil war broke out and her life slowly descended from carefree and happy into the depths of despair. Even though she survives the horrific situation she loses much and does her best to bury her experiences deep inside. Now living in the US, participating in a project to tell her story sends her back home, and back to the friends and family she left behind. Anyone who has lived through a war may recognize themselves in the characters and events of this story. The youthfulness of Ana makes it bearable to read such a devastating story with a sense of hope.823879.jpg

Follow up by reading Safe Area Gorazde, an historical graphic novel by Joe Sacco

Review by Sarah Rosenrkantz

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

the_front_cover_of_the_book_raising_steam_by_terry_pratchettRaising steam by Terry Pratchett

After his father dies in an accident working with steam and metal, 10 year old Dick Simnel vows to make steam his servant. Ten years later, Dick tells his mother he has educated himself in mathematics at the library, knows what went wrong with his father’s work and shows his mother the prototype of a steam engine he calls Iron Girder. After Iron Girder takes a few turns on tracks he’s laid in a field at home, Dick announces he’s taking Iron Girder to the city of Ankh Morpork. Lord Vetinari, tyrant of Ankh Morpork, sends Moist von Lipwig to see this novel machine. Both Moist and Dick realize the potential it has to carry people and goods. Even as Lord Vetinari, Moist and businessman Sir Harry King begin planning what they call the railway, a group of renegade dwarfs called grags begin fomenting a rebellion. As the grags and railway are heading toward open warfare, Moist keeps extending the railway throughout the area.

Since this is a Terry Pratchett book, plot twists and Image result for terry pratchettturns, colorful characters and humor come without pause. Just when the reader suspects what’s coming next, Pratchett springs another surprise. This title also features Moist von Lipwign one of my favorite DiscWorld characters. Published near the end of Pratchett’s much-too-short life, this title is one to treasure.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

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