Sunday, September 7, 2014

Before My Eyes Book Review

Title: Before My Eyes
Author: Caroline Bock
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: February 11, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1250045584

304 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

Caroline Bock has written a compelling YA contemporary that hits a lot of hot button issues -- gun violence, pill popping, mental illness -- as well as personal issues -- loneliness, loss, identity -- in a way that brings its well-rounded characters together in a believable climax.

She does this by alternating chapters between the three main characters: Claire, an aspiring poet who must take on more family responsibilities after her mom has a stroke; Max, a state senator's son who's forced to play a role he never asked for; Barkley, a loner who believes the voice in his head that tells him he needs to buy a gun if he wants to make the world a better place.

The chapters alternate the POV's, but they also countdown over a Labor Day weekend to the moment Barkley fires that gun. During these chapters we learn about the characters, their hopes and fears, their secrets and their desires. And we understand more what those shots fired mean to each of them.

Before My Eyes is an excellent discussion starter for all the issues raised in the book. The author doesn't talk down the audience by offering easy answers, but rather, asks questions about why people do the things they do.

I recommend Before My Eyes to readers who enjoyed Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick or Names Will Never Hurt Me by Jaime Adoff.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Yes, it's that time of the year where I take some time off from the blog.

ALA Amazing ARC Giveaway books have been mailed to the winners, so if you received an email from me that you were a winner, check your mailboxes soon!

I hope you enjoy the last days of summer.

Happy reading!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

ALA Amazing ARC Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to the ALA Amazing ARC Giveaway Winners:
  • Erin D.
  • Tracy B. 
  • Devera N.
Look for an email from me requesting your address so I can mail your prize to you!

Thanks to everyone else who entered! I hope you'll come by the blog often for book reviews and librarian writer musings.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Boys in the Boat Book Review

Title: The Boys in the Boat
Author: Daniel James Brown
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0670025817

416 pp.

Reading copy via local library

If you're looking for a historical nonfiction title that will appeal to teens as well as adults, then The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is the one.

Don't let the subtitle, "Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics" fool you too much. The Olympics is the climax, but certainly not the whole book. The heart and soul of the book is the story of Joe Rantz, a mechanic's son who was abandoned by his family during The Great Depression.

Joe is forced to survive in the rough-and-tumble backwoods of the Pacific Northwest, finally finding his way to the University of Washington. He tries out for crew only because it'll help him get a job on campus. But rowing ends up being so much more for him, and for the other boys in the boat.

The book has plenty of action-packed rowing scenes as the scrappy Washington crew proves their mettle again and again, but there's also the historical sweep of the Depression and the rise of Nazism. There's the drama of learning to trust one another and work as a team. There's the craft of boat building and the physics of rowing. There's even romance as Joe courts his high school sweetheart.

The Boys in the Boat is at times poignant, even heartbreaking, but it is, ultimately, an inspiration.

The Boys in the Boat Book Trailer:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Lost Planet Book Review

Title: The Lost Planet
Author: Rachel Searles
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
ISBN- 13: 978-1250038791

384 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles is a rollicking sci-fi adventure for middle grade readers.

A boy wakes up with a blaster wound to the back of his head and no memory except the phrase, "Guide the star." He's told that his name is Chase and he's on the planet Trucon. Chase begins a search for who he is and what "Guide the star" means. Helping him are an orphan named Parker and his caretaker, Mina, who have secrets of their own.

The action is virtually non-stop as the trio make their way across space, making friends and enemies along the way as an interstellar war looms. The stakes are high and the pacing keeps the reader turner pages.

However, there is a lack of character development, especially in Chase. A lack of memory also makes him without much of personality. In fact, his lack of memory seems to be his only distinguishable characteristic. This is a two book series, so hopefully, Chase will develop more as a character instead as a plot device in the second book.

I'd recommend The Lost Planet to readers who enjoyed Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke or Spacer and Rat by Margaret Bechard.

Full Disclosure: Rachel Searles and I were in the same writing critique group where I read an earlier version of the opening chapters, but my review is based on the ARC. Updated 7/27/14 2:47 pm


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