Sunday, October 13, 2019

YA Review: Grenade by Alan Gratz

Title: Grenade
AuthorAlan Gratz
Year Published: 2018

Genre: YA fiction (historical)
Pages: 255
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map): Okinawa

FTC Disclosure: I bought this with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): It's 1945, and the world is in the grip of war.

Hideki lives with his family on the island fo Okinawa, near Japan. When World War II crashes onto his shores, Hideki is yanked out of school into the Blood and Iron Student Corps to fight for the Japanese army. He is handed a grenade and a set of instructions: Don't come back until you've killed an American soldier.

Ray, a young American Marine, has just landed on Okinawa with his squad. This is Ray's first-ever battle, and he doesn't know what to expect--or if he'll make it out alive. He just knows the enemy is everywhere.

Hideki and Ray each fight their way across the island, surviving heart-pounding clashes and dangerous attacks. But when the two of them collide in the middle of the fighting, the choices they make in that single instant will change everything.

Review: Alan Gratz really is a master storyteller and this novel is no exception. I knew nothing about the battle of Okinawa during World War II and now feel I have a sense of what it was like for soldiers and civilians alike.

Gratz' use of characters on both sides of the fight allows the reader to understand how Okinawans and Americans felt as they faced each other with rifles and grenades. Both sides committed atrocities and acts of kindness. This story shows that neither side was better or more right than the other. 

I also like Gratz' author note at the end that explains to the readers that the terms he has used in the book are not to be used now because they are offensive. He also gives the historical facts of the battle that were not included in his story along with a glossary.

Challenges for which this counts: 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

YA Review: Michigan vs the Boys by Carrie S. Allen

Title: Michigan vs the Boys
AuthorCarrie S. Allen
Year Published: 2019

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 299
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)USA (MI)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls' hockey team off the ice this year. If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play.

Luckily there's still one team left in town...

The boys' team isn't exactly welcoming, but Michigan's prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and "harmless" pranks that always seem to target her.

But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weight the consequences of staying silent--even if it means putting her future on the line.

Review: As soon as I read the summary of this book, I knew I had to read it. It combines sports, girl power, conflict, and, I hoped, resolution and justice.

Well, good choice. This book is really good and tells an important story. Michigan Manning is such a strong sixteen-year-old. She is smart and athletic and devastated when the school cancels her hockey team. The only solution seems to be to try out for the boys' team and she makes it. Not only does she make it, but she does really well. Too well for the liking of the certain boys on the team.

The other side of this story, which we don't hear about first hand, is how the boys feel. All we see is the anger of a few senior members of the team, the hazing, and the escalating abuse. Should Michigan say something or keep it to herself? Who can she tell? Her parents, her boyfriend, her coach? What will happen if she doesn't tell? What will happen if she does. You'll have to read it to find out; it's a book that should be in every high school library.

Challenges for which this counts: none

Thursday, October 10, 2019

TLC Review: Lost Child by Torey Hayden

Title: Lost Child
Author: Torey Hayden
Year Published: 2019

Genre: Adult non-fiction
Pages: 352
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)UK (Wales)

FTC Disclosure: I was given this book for TLC Book Review

Summary (from the back of the book): The first new book from beloved therapist and writer Torey Hayden in almost fifteen years—an inspiring, uplifting tale of a troubled child and the remarkable woman who made a difference.

In a forgotten corner of Wales, a young girl languishes in a home for troubled children. Abandoned by her parents because of her violent streak, Jessie—at the age of ten—is at risk of becoming just another lost soul in the foster system.

Precocious and bold, Jessie is convinced she is possessed by the devil and utterly unprepared for the arrival of therapist Torey Hayden. Armed with patience, compassion, and unconditional love, Hayden begins working with Jessie once a week. But when Jessie makes a stunning accusation against one of Hayden’s colleagues – a man Hayden implicitly trusts – Hayden’s work doubles: now she must not only get to the root of Jessie’s troubles, but also find out if what the girl alleges is true.

A moving, compelling, and inspiring account, Lost Child is a powerful testament once again of Torey Hayden’s extraordinary ability to reach children who many have given up on—and a reminder of how patience and love can ultimately prevail.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Review: I think I have read books by Tory Hayden many years ago. They are quite heavy and fascinating in a morbid way. Reading about the lives of others who have struggled is difficult as I cannot imagine people treating children so badly.

Jessie is a troubled child who lies, has wild mood swings, and doesn't seem to be able to control herself. And she is quite sexualized. What is therapist Torey Hayden supposed to do with and for her? Through Hayden's conversations with Jessie over a year or so we get to know Jessie, her troubled family, and how she comes to leave her group home. I am so glad there is an epilogue where Hayden lets us know what happens to Jessie.

It's strange to be on the outside listening in to the conversations between therapist and patient, wishing Jessie wouldn't lie, and wanting her to be okay. I kept thinking that if someone could make Jessie feel loved it would all be okay, but Hayden did that. It took over a year of really listening to Jessie to even get some movement. The human mind is an amazing thing and children are resilient, in the end.

Challenges for which this counts: 
Review Tour:
Tuesday, September 24th: Instagram: @crystals_library
Wednesday, September 25th: Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader
Thursday, September 26th: Openly Bookish
Friday, September 27th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, September 30th: Read Till Dawn
Tuesday, October 1st: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, October 2nd: Instagram: @simplykelina
Thursday, October 3rd: The Book Diva's Reads
Monday, October 7th: Girl Who Reads
Wednesday, October 9th: Literary Quicksand
Thursday, October 10th: Helen's Book Blog
Monday, October 14th: Patricia's Wisdom

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Sunday Salon: October 6, 2019

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz has taken over running The Sunday Salon.

My life in books over the past week: 
  • The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis
  • Pretty Revenge by Emily Liebert
  • EduProtocol Field Guide: Book 2 by Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo (for work)
Challenge progress:
  • A to Z Reading--I have read books with titles for 21 letters so far: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, and W.
  • Diversity Reading Challenge--I have read 54 books.
  • Literary Escapes--I have read books set in 33 states so far, adding no new states in the past 2 weeks. I have read in 50 countries so far, adding none in the past 2 weeks.
  • Motif Reading Challenge--The October motif is "Tricks and Trades" (books set in a theater, an amusement park, a circus, or a book involving magic, illusions, or characters with special powers.)
  • Non-fiction--I have read 22 books so far.
Completed challenges:
  • My Own Books--I read 21 books off my shelves from March 15 to May 15, 2019.
  • Big Book Challenge--I read 8 books over 400 pages during the summer.
  • YA Award Winners--I have read all 11 winners
My life outside books:
Work is fine. Nothing to report except that I have a buy week coming up.

Yesterday was so much fun! I am Vice President of the Alumni Association Board for my high school ("The" high school in town, we like to say). The school is beautiful and almost 150 years old. Anyway, we had our first "All Dons Reunion" (our mascot is the Dons) and had about 2,000 people attend.
We had food trucks, bands and DJs playing music from all the decades, each decade had a tent for classmates to meet up, and I worked the Alumni room for a couple hours. We had people contribute to an oral history project and just check out all the school memorabilia we house (it's like a mini museum).

There were alumni from the class of 1939 through the early 2000s, all wearing versions of Olive and Gold, reminiscing, and having a good time on a beautiful Santa Barbara day. I even got to visit with my swim coach; it was great to hear our stories from her point of view. It was fun to see classmates and a bunch of us went out Saturday night to continue the festivities. All in all, a happy day.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

YA Review: Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee

Title: Maybe He Just Likes You
AuthorBarbara Dee
Year Published: 2019

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 283
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)USA

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): For seventh grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug during a surprise birthday celebration.

The next day it's another hug. A smirk. Comments. It all feels...weird. According to her friend Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn't she know what flirting looks like?

But it keeps happening, despite Mila's protests. On the bus, in the halls. Even during band practice--the one time Mila can always escape to her happy "blue sky" place. It seems like the boys are EVERYWHERE. And their behavior doesn't feel like flirting--so what is it?

Mila starts to gain confidence when she enrolls in karate class. But her friends still don't understand why Mila is making such a big deal about the boys' attention. When Mila is finally pushed too far, she realizes she can't battle this on her own, and she finds help in some unexpected places.

Review: When I read the summary for this book it made me really want to read it. On the surface, hugs and comments seem so innocent and 7th grade is a confusing time as some students mature and other don't. But, when you get that little feeling that something isn't right, go with it!

This book is really well done and I am sure it will be a hit with middle grade students. Mila is likable and many will identify with her. As she says, she isn't the prettiest, the smartest, or the most popular, but she is smart, a good musician, and she has good friends. Mostly. Things are confusing. She is everyone and a group of boys are making her feel uncomfortable.

She has friends and other students who try to help her, convince her to turn the boys in, but her confidence just isn't there. The boys are popular, adults don't seem to see the problem, and she isn't sure herself. But there's always that nagging feeling that something isn't right. We should all listen to that little feeling. When an adult finally listens and does something about it I wanted to cheer! For Mila to realize she isn't alone is huge. For her to learn that she is in control of how she feels and what she says is such a valuable lesson.

Challenges for which this counts: