Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lusitania; Trimuph, Tragedy and the End of the Edwardian Age by  Greg King and Penny Wilson

Greg King and Penny Wilson put human faces on the tragedy of the Lusitania sinking.  He artly laces historical facts along with personality sketches of some of the people on the fateful journey. The authors were able to give a voice to people like actress Rita Jolivet, Alfred Vanderbilt, Dorothy Conner, Albert and Gladys Bilicke all high society personages. Also imparted were descriptions of the accomodations of First, Second and Third class passengers, what they paid for those accomodations and how those prices would compare with today's prices. Parts were difficult to read...the suffering was palatable along with the description of the chaos that occurred as travelers tried valiantly to save their 18 minutes. With the 100 anniversary of the sinking approaching on May 7, 2015 it is worth a look at a time gone by but with a lasting imprint on the soul of the USA, Germany, England and  many pulled into the tragedy of   WWI. Illustrations included.

Reviewed by Karen H

Monday, April 6, 2015

Front CoverBook Review:  Restoration by Rose Tremain

Restoration is a dazzling romp through 17th-century England. The main character Robert Merivel not only embodies the contradictions of his era, but ours as well. He is trapped between the longing for wealth and power and the realization that the pursuit of these trappings can leave one's life rather empty.
This is a heartfelt alternately joyful and devastating read about the growth of the main character Robert Merivel.   This book was initially published in 1989 and with this reprinting continues to fascinate new audiences.  Readers will experience a seesaw of emotions sometimes rooting for Merivel and then wanting to scold him!  The ending is realistic and satisfying.  There is also a sequel to look forward to!

For ever eager Historical fiction aficionados!    

Review by Karen 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Winner of the 2015 Newbery Award

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Teen Fiction

A book for middle grade readers (age 9 - 13) , written in verse, about basketball players?  Not much about that description would put this book on most adult’s “to read” list.  I picked it up after learning that it was the 2015 Newbery Award winner. It took about five minutes to realize why this book was chosen as the most distinguished of the year. It is a exceptional novel for young teens and adult readers.

"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering."  

This is not your fusty old classic written in iambic pentameter.  Twelve-year-old Josh Bell and his twin brother Jordan have the moves and the attitude to be big stars on the basketball court. Raised by their father, a former Olympian and pro turned stay-at-home dad, and their mother, an assistant principal, the boys have a stable and loving family watching their backs. They are inseparable until Jordan starts to show increasing interest in the lovely female friend Josh calls “Miss Sweet Tea.” Worried about his dad’s health, confused and frustrated with his brother, Josh starts to butt heads with those around him and ultimately lashes out and has to deal with the consequences.

The verse styles range all over from musical to blank verse to concrete poems and more. The poetry is an important part of the feel of the novel and the marvel is that it never seems forced or false and it lends Josh’s voice a real sense of authenticity and personality. The pitch and pace of the novel is just right, effectively transmitting the strong emotions of the characters and building the story. Told over the space of several months in their 7th grade year, this novel deals with issues that all people can relate to - growing up, family loyalty, independence, self respect, pride, anger, fear, regret. Forgiveness.

This book is recommended for all ages.  While it is a great choice for reluctant readers, don’t stop there.  Read it yourself and share it with any young teen in your life.

Review by Amy