Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Book Review: Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda

This terrific YA novel is about Simon, who is falling in love over emails while he comes out as gay to his friends and family. It reads like a diary sharing the innermost thoughts of a teenage boy.

This book is being made into a movie called "Love, Simon." I'm not sure why they changed the title, because the title was the reason I picked up this book, and it didn't disappoint. The main character is as snarky as the title suggests.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Book Review: The Hate U Give

"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas is perfect and timely and should be read by everyone. It is written from the perspective of a black teenage girl who witnessed not one, but two murders of close friends. Her best friend is shot in a drive by at age 10. Her friend Kahil is gunned down by police with Starr as the only witness.

And now Starr is faced with testifying to the grand jury. She is fearful of being labeled as the witness with gang members, yet wants to speak out and get justice for her friend.

It is a big, important subject.

Read it.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Book Review: Every Falling Star

This is not a fiction story, and it is not an easy read. This is an autobiographical tale about a young boy forced to beg, borrow and steal in deplorable conditions one could not imagine in North Korea. Sungju is not ashamed to show how naive he was at the start, and things get worse for him rather quickly.  The writing is honest and raw. At times, I felt hopeless reading it. The days Sungju describes seem as if the despair would never end. It is worth sticking through, and you will be left with knowing a little something about a corner of the world kept hidden from outsider's eyes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Book Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

It wasn't hard to find the appeal of "The Girl Who Drank the Moon," by Kelly Barnhill, the book that earned the 2017 Newbery Medal. It has a tiny dragon that will fit in a little girl's pocket, a loving swamp monster, and magic in the moonlight.

As an infant, Luna was left in the forest as a sacrifice, and saved by the magical and kind Xan, who saved all the babies abandoned in the forest. She fed them starlight as she delivered them to a loving family who raised them. But with Luna, the trip was longer than usual, and Xan fed her from the moon. This gave Luna magic, which can be a dangerous thing for a child to have.

Her magic is hidden away. In fact, Luna doesn't even know what magic is until her 13th birthday approaches. At the same time, the severely scarred Antain is determined to stop the sacrifices of the youngest child in the village and kill the witch he believes is demanding them.

A colorful collection of characters make the reader believe in magic, if only for a little while, and may inspire some origami.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New Release: A Spooky Story for Halloween

When my publisher suggested I try to write a spooky story for an anthology, it wasn't difficult to convince me. My love of literature started with now classic horror from Stephen King and John Saul. Halloween is my second favorite holiday (behind Valentine's day).

My short story, "You're Not Welcome Here" is written from an unusual perspective, because sometimes the dead have tales to tell. It appears in Volume 5 of the anthology "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep," released today in honor of Halloween.

Nine other spooky tales, along with a standalone novella also appear as part of this anthology, giving you over 300 pages that will give you the creeps.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Book Review: El Deafo

The graphic novel, "El Deafo" is an autobiographical story about author Cece Bell's experience with going deaf at age 4. Written from the perspective of Cece, we get an inside peek at how it felt for this young girl to confront her loss of hearing, the strategies presented to her, and friendships. She adopts a secret identity as El Deafo when she decides the contraption she must use to hear her teacher is a super power. She often calls on her inner superhero to navigate difficult social situations.

The story is sweet, and relatable for anyone who is or has been a kid dealing with embarrassment, fitting in, and a first crush. The hearing loss details are a bonus.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Review: Every Soul A Star

I read "Every Soul a Star," by Wendy Mass, on a road trip to see the Great American Eclipse with my family. It was a last blast for my oldest, who was leaving for college in a handful of days. He wasn't too happy about this trip, and not seeing his friends to say goodbye. His emotions were perfectly matched in this book, which is about three children somewhere between ages 12 and 14 and their younger siblings. All of them have life changing things going on and meet at the Moon Shadow campground during a total solar eclipse.

I normally do not like books with multiple point of views, but this one was handled well. I felt equally invested in each of them. I only wish their stories went deeper and longer, but since it is MG fiction, I can't expect too much.

The descriptions of the total solar eclipse were pretty great, coming from a person who witnessed one of these while reading this book. Mass is great with description, and character development, and making interesting stories. I really like her work.