When I was a newly minted librarian, I saw Nancy Pearl speak at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library. (And now I work there as a storytime and substitute librarian — yay!) Nancy Pearl is best known for speaking up about the importance of and pleasure that can be found in reading. One piece of advice, in particular, has stuck with me all these years. She emphasized the fact that librarians need to read a wide variety of books instead of just sticking to our favorite genres and authors so that we can best serve our patrons. Though I don’t shy away from reading the books and authors that I prefer, I definitely do my best to push myself outside of my comfort zone on a somewhat regular basis so that I can be prepared to make recommendations to people across genres and formats. And although I don’t dislike them, for example, I don’t prefer graphic novels and might not choose to read any if I wasn’t making a conscious choice to expand my horizons. Every now and again, I am really glad I make this concerted effort because I find a book like this!
In a small town where magick is strong and witches live among non-magical folk, there is a very tentative balance. When the sheriff’s own daughter, Heidi, goes missing, he is caught in a difficult position. Yes, he wants to find his daughter and he is in a position that should grant him some power, but he also has to respect the vow he made to protect those with magick. His son, Bucky, and his wife don’t really understand how he doesn’t just change the law to keep looking for further evidence of who took Heidi, but the sheriff is worried about fanning the flames of suspicion and starting another round of witch trials. Especially since a witch named Emmeline is set to be released from prison in only a couple of days. But Bucky refuses to just let things go and takes it upon himself to go back over the evidence and timeline of Heidi’s disappearance to see if he might be able to figure out who took her. This was a good mystery with some seriously great art, and it will be released on July 23rd.
Kira’s earliest memories are of living alone in the woods. Young, scared, hungry, and alone… It took a long time for her to adjust to living around other people again. Fortunately, Kira was taken in and adopted by a very patient and understanding woman named Cady Bennett. In fact, Cady was the one to find Kira, along with one of her search-and-rescue dogs. Many years later, though, Kira still has days where she would rather sleep outside and avoid any unnecessary contact with people.
Now, along with Cady’s son, Jude, and their neighbor, a girl named Free, Kira is learning search-and-rescue protocol and helping to train a dog of her own. The problem is, though, that her first real-life test is causing some unexpected difficulties. Though she desperately wants (needs?) to help find the missing girl, spending time in the woods seems to be triggering some repressed memories and raising lots of questions about not only her past but that of her family.
I hadn’t before heard of The Ascendance Trilogy, but I stumbled upon it doing an advanced search for YA audiobooks that were “available now” on OverDrive. (Man, I love that search feature!) As it turns out, I so enjoyed this book — and had so much yard work to do in recent days — that I managed to listen to the *entire trilogy* in under two weeks! When an audiobook is filled with so much action and adventure, after all, it can be hard to shut off the story and return to real life. 😉
One of my favorite things about this series was that there were just so many mysteries to unravel. There were layers upon layers of secrets and lies. Just when I thought I finally had things figured out, there would be another twist and yet another secret revealed. Looking back through what had happened, these secrets always made sense… but they were just so darn well hidden that it sometimes floored me to think the author got me YET AGAIN! Aside from the action and mystery, I was also a big fan of Nielsen’s character development. Even the secondary characters were so well developed that it felt almost as if they were new friends with whom I was becoming acquainted. And whether it was a friendship, a romance, or a rivalry that was forming, the interactions between characters were very compelling. Even better? These tales of knights, kings, warring kingdoms, conspiracies, and deceit are perfectly suited for advanced middle grade and young YA readers.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am *dying* over here as I wait for the 3rd season of Stranger Things. So, when I saw a blurb that said this book was likely to become a “new obsession” for fans of The Raven Boys and Stranger Things… You better believe I immediately requested a review copy from NetGalley! (I’m so grateful I was approved!)
Having to move near the end of high school has got to be tough in and of itself. Violet had it even worse, though, because her dad was dead, her sister had just died, and her mom kept her from the extended family on her father’s side. The only family Violet had left were her mother and her aunt — who was struggling with mental illness and now required her sister’s care.
Almost immediately upon entering Four Paths, Violet realized something was not quite right. As it turns out, she was a member of one of the four “founding families” who had joined forces and used their special powers to trap an evil beast in an alternate dimension called the Gray. Violet’s ignorance caused her to release the monster from the Gray and set off a terrible chain of events.
I really liked how Herman used Violet’s coming of age story to explore the themes of friendship, family, and loyalty. And I especially loved how the Gray did, in fact, resonate with me as much as the Upside Down.
April May was working for a startup in New York City when she discovered something “absolutely remarkable”… It didn’t really have anything to do with her job, though, except for the fact that she was on her way home from work when she found it. She was trying to get home via the subway when her Metro card wouldn’t work. Since it was 3am, there was no one to help her and April decided to just try another station. It was on her way to a new subway station that she discovered Carl — a gigantic statue that resembled a Transformer wearing Samurai armor. April had no idea where the statue had come from, since there was nothing to identify the statue or its creator. But, surely someone had created it. Right?!?
I loved so many things about this story. First of all, I appreciated the fact that April came very close to brushing off and walking right by this amazing thing because she had already become so jaded and generally unimpressed by all the impressive things all around her. How often do people ignore the beauty of nature or the hard work of an artist simply because they are in a hurry to get somewhere? Far too often, in my humble opinion. Second, I loved the fact that Green explored the ways that fame and our world’s obsession with social media can fundamentally change a person. April went from a person who didn’t even really have a social media presence to a world-wide celebrity who was addicted to the fame this viral video spawned. Most of all, though, I loved the fact that April continued to assume the best about humanity (and The Carls) as she strove to both solve this mystery and fight the hatred that resulted from the fear of the unknown.
Imagine, if you will, that you have been taken away to another country and forced to live in an isolated cabin in a small beach town where you don’t know anyone. You’ve essentially been kidnapped, but the person who took you swears that they are isolating you to protect you. To make matters even worse, you can’t recall enough about what happened before you left the country to know for sure. All you truly know is that your ex-boyfriend was attacked, later died, and the person who whisked you away says that many people believe you are to blame. This is Evie’s life. Though Evie isn’t even her real name. Nor is her “Uncle Jim” really her uncle — or named Jim, for that matter. Her real name is Kate Bennett and she is doing her best to piece together her memories of what actually happened.
Perhaps other readers will figure things out more quickly than me, but I was shocked when I finally realized that my assumption of Jim’s identity and his motives had been so wrong for so long. Aside from the twists and turns of the story itself, this book also included some fascinating information about post traumatic stress, how memories are made, and how the mind can be manipulated.