Staff Book Reviews

Image result for three little words by ashley rhodes

Title: Three Little Words

Author: Ashley Rhodes-Courter

PUB: 2008

GENRE: Non-Fiction Autobiography

How do you cope when the only feeling you have had in your life was that you were special to no one? Ashley was born to her 17 year-old mother and at age three the police came to arrest her mother and she and her brother were placed in the foster care system.

Ashley had 14 placements, most with foster parents in homes that were overcrowded, being exposed to pornography, was abused and beaten, forced to stay outside in the hot Florida sun, the abuse goes on and on.

But at age 9, Mary Miller became her court-appointed advocate, and promised to find her a “Forever Family”, who turned out to be Gail and Phil Courter. Ashley still feared that the Courter’s would send her back, leaving only with all her personal belongings in a black garbage sack as she had done so many times before. She would test the Courter’s in many ways, but they understood her rebelliousness. They spend their time and commitment to making Ashley finally realize that she was “home”. She finally heard the three little words that she had longed for her whole life to be told, “I Love You”. Words that for so long had been missing from her life.

By writing her story, Ashley wants to make sure that the voices of these children in foster care are finally heard. The need for support for the advocates who truly care and work for these children. Everything that is needed so no child will grow up and never be told, “I Love You.”

Sheri Konschak

Image result for all you could ask for by mike greenberg

TITLE: All You Could Ask For

AUTHOR: Mike Greenberg

PUB.: 2013

GENRE: Fiction

This is a story about three different women who somehow all come together to form a close knit triangle. It could be classified as a chick-lit story, but whoever heard of a chick-lit story being written by a man? This book is one. It was written by an ESPN sports talk show co-host, Mike Greenberg.

Brooke is a happily married women to her husband of 15 years and wants to give him a unique gift for his 40th birthday. She has a photographer friend who will take the nude photos of her. Her pictures never did get viewed on that special night.

Samantha is a 28 year old rich girl newly married. After a whirlwind courtship they honeymoon in Hawaii. By accident on the second day of her honeymoon, she accidentally clicks open an attachment on her husband’s emails and up pops a nude picture of his sexy coworker. The newlywed husband gets dumped and Samantha extends her stay in Hawaii to do some serious physical and mental soul searching.

At the third corner of the triangle is Katherine. She’s a high-powered career woman, and she works for the man whom she once loved, the same man who dumped her 16 years ago.

These three women have not meet each other at this point in the story. But then everything changes. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, they meet through an online breast cancer support group.

Each chooses a different, and in one case, a surprising path for her treatment. As their individual stories are told, they seem to become intertwined, almost into one voice, as they deal with the diagnosis’ that brought them together.

Sheri Konschak

Image result for unfortunate sons by l.d. james

TITLE: Unfortunate Sons-A True Story of Young Men and War

AUTHOR: L. D. James

PUB.: 2005

GENRE: Non-Fiction

On March 2, 1968, 92 US soldiers set out on a search-and-destroy mission on the outskirts of Saigon. As they attempted to cross a bridge, they were ambushed by enemy soldiers. In just 8 minutes, 49 men were dead or dying and 28 were wounded.

Members of the Fourth Battalion of the Ninth Infantry Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division were nicknamed the Manchus. They got their nickname from the long mustaches members began wearing while serving in China decades before.

This is their story told by L. D. James, an Infantry Platoon leader who had joined the Regiment 2 months after the ambush.

Not much had been reported about the ambush. L. D. James believed he had a duty to the people he served with to tell their stories. He tried to show “What it’s like to die for your country, what it really means to fight and what it really feels like.” And at this he succeeds. He tells about the soldiers of the Manchus during the ambush in vivid detail. Their wounds, their thoughts and feelings as the bullets and grenades fly around them. He tells of the comradeship of the platoon, looking out for the wounded and the dead, encouraging their fellow soldiers to hang on, help will be arriving soon.

Some mistakes had been made that fateful day, but none of those mistakes are responsible for what actually happened. The ambush was planned and carried out by very disciplined Viet Cong soldiers. The Manchus were outnumbered 2 to 1.

Unfortunate Sons puts into words memories that the Manchu soldiers rarely discussed. Mr. James tells many of the soldiers stories while recalling the events of that day. He believes that while it’s important to not dwell on the war, it’s also important to not forget it. Although the ambush was 38 years ago, American soldiers are still fighting in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

The experience will always remain the same.

Sheri Konschak

Image result for blue water by a. manette ansay

TITLE: Blue Water

AUTHOR: A. Manette Ansay

PUB: 2006

GENRE: Fiction (LP)

In this thought-provoking read, Evan Van Dorn was killed by a drunk driver, Cindy Ann Kreisler, who was once Meg Van Dorn’s best friend.

Everyday Meg and Rex wake up with the ache in their hearts, the sour taste in the pit of their stomach’s and knowledge that Evan is gone and will always only be their dead six-year-old son. He is getting harder and harder to remember, harder to picture in their minds.

They are paralyzed by their anger and despair, especially after Cindy Ann returns, with a mere slap on the wrist, her sentence, probation and community service. Cindy Ann returns to the life she lived before the accident; living in a beautiful house, enjoying her three children, all of whom walked away from the accident unharmed, and to her wine. Meg vows that someday Cindy Ann would pay.

Meg and Rex had always wanted to buy a boat to sail around the world. To escape their grief and their rage, they take to the “Blue Water.”

Their life on board is extremely fascinating and is a fun diversion for a while. They dock in the Catalina Cove, with other “Live-board Cruisers”. They sail to new and exotic paradise islands, partying most of the time.

But after a tornado force storm wrecks havoc with their boat, Meg decides to return to Fox Harbor to attend her older brother’s wedding. The problem, her brother is marrying Cindy Ann’s sister. Meg is forced to face the ties that will bind her to Cindy Ann. Meg knows better than anyone that Cindy Ann has secrets and sorrows of her own, dating back to the summer of their friendship.

“Blue Water” is the story of people learning to face the unthinkable-our human ability for forgiveness and how it is able to occur for something that it seems is impossible to forgive.

Sheri Konschak

Image result for the book jewel by bret lott

TITLE: Jewel

AUTHOR: Bret Lott

PUB: 1999

GENRE: Fiction

Oprah used to have a book club where she would announce a book that she thought would be good for her audience to read. I’ve kind of followed her selections from time to time. “Jewel” was one the books she had selected for her book club to read.

Jewel and Leston Hilburn were your normal family living in the slow-paced Mississippi way. They have five normal and healthy children. Brenda Kay is the Hilburn’s fifth child and born when Jewel thought she was past the child-bearing age. The Hilburn’s were happy and excited with the news.

After a normal pregnancy and delivery, Jewel notices some differences in Brenda Kay as she grows. She doesn’t make eye contact, she never cries only when hungry and spends most of her day sleeping.

After a trip to a New Orleans doctor, Jewel and Leston’s Brenda Kay is classified as a “Mongolian Idiot.”

Jewel immediately makes a vow that daughter will never be put in an institution, something the doctor told would be best for Brenda Kay and the rest of her family. They take Brenda Kay home and Jewel begins forging an incredible mother-daughter relationship bond that strengthens the whole family, making a life rich in blessings as it is in strife.

Brenda Kay first walks at age 5. One afternoon Brenda Kay was being watched by Cathedral, a close secolored servant (nigger-as Jewel calls them in this point in the countries post-war transformation) family friend. Brenda Kay finds a cigarette lighter of Leston’s and starts a fire accidentally. She suffers severe burns to her body. Jewel blames Cathedral. Where was she and why was Brenda Kay left alone? The rift in their friendship lasts long after Brenda Kay is grown.

The older Brenda Kay gets, the more Jewel feels there are more opportunities for Brenda Kay than what is available for her in Mississippi. She feels that those opportunities can happen in California. Work for Leston has been slow, so the Hilburn’s pack up and relocate to California.

I was raised in California and as Jewel, Leston, and Brenda Kay begin their life there, it brought back memories of the places where they lived and worked. Memories came flooding back as Long Beach, Crenshaw, Los Angeles, and Torrance Boulevard were a part of their story as well.

Once in California, Brenda Kay at age twelve is tested in at age five. The Exceptional Children’s Foundation is run by Nathan White, a philanthropist who had started the school for exceptional children because he had a younger brother who had been placed in an institution at a month old.

He believed that there is a spark in every child, pretending they don’t exist and locking them away in an institution was not their way of thinking for his foundation. And since he is a philanthropist, the parents only pay what they can afford.

Brenda Kay grows and learns. She makes new “best” friends, falls in love with movie stars, and has her first boyfriend. All things that Jewel feels would not have been available to Brenda Kay in Mississippi.

It’s 1984. Leston has died. They did move back to Mississippi, but it wasn’t the same as before. Leston dies a broken man, wondering if the love he had for his wife and child should have been enough for his happiness.

Some critics describe Jewel as a heroine. To me, she was just a mother like any other of the millions of mothers in the world who loves her child and will do anything to nurture and help that child be as ordinary and happy as anyone else. It doesn’t take courage to do this, it just takes love.

Sheri Konschak

Image result for the end of manners book

TITLE: The End of Manners

AUTHOR: Francesca Marciano

PUB: 2008

GENRE: Fiction

Maria Galante is a food photographer. There is no hassle with food, food is easy to shoot, food doesn’t move, food doesn’t talk back and food brings no danger. Imo Glass is a high-profile and larger-than-life journalist. They are on an assignment in Afghanistan. Their story-to interview girls who have attempted suicide rather than be married off to a much older man in an arranged marriage.

The problem-in the Afghanistan culture, women shroud their faces, to photograph these women is to dishonor and endanger their lives. Suicide is taboo.

This is their story showing the dangers of going through the checkpoints, the problems their guide, Hanif, encountered as they have to find their way through spies, arms dealers and mercenaries.

In the end, Maria and Imo have to make the moral decision of getting the story or protecting the women. Maria also makes a career changing decision concerning the path her career will take leading towards a more fulfilling life.

The book is a fast and easy read. The book gives you an insider view to the backwards beliefs of the Afghanistan culture which are occurring towards the women to this very day.

Sheri Konschak

Image result for the trap by melanie raabe

TITLE: The Trap

AUTHOR: Melanie Raabe

GENRE: Suspense Adult Fiction

Linda Conrad has not left her home for the past ten years. She’s a recluse, suffering from crippling anxiety.

Twelve years ago Linda’s sister Anna was murdered and Linda swears she got a glimpse of the murderers face before he fled the scene as she discovered her sister’s body. He was never identified or caught.

Fast forward ten years, and as Linda is scrolling through a myriad of television channels one night, she can’t believe her eyes as she sees him, the murderer, on the television screen. He’s now a well-known journalist.

So Linda, being a bestselling author, formulates a plot: Her next book will be a crime novel, “Blood Sisters”, describing her sister’s murder down to the smallest detail. She will set a “Trap” for the murderer.

She has never given an interview, but once the book is done, she grants one interview with the conditions that it will take place in her home and the man whose face is burned in her memory must be the interviewer.

“The Trap” is a crime novel, narrated by Linda. As the plot twists and turns, Raabe makes a maze of the human mind. You begin to wonder, did the journalist kill her sister, or did Linda, in fact, kill her own sister, blocking out the fact and inventing the fantasy of a mysterious killer to cover her tracks?

Right up to the last few pages, I was still not sure who had murdered Anna. A question I think the author wanted to leave us with.

Sheri Konschak

Image result for vietnam book one pledge allegiance

TITLE: Vietnam Book 1-I Pledge Allegiance

AUTHOR: Chris Lynch

PUB: 2011

GENRE: Junior Fiction

We’ve all had them, a special group of friends, starting from fourth grade and on. That’s how long Ivan, Beck, and Morris have been friends. Rudi became one of the group after Morris found him being attacked by some of the fifth graders who would have been Rudi’s classmates if Rudi wouldn’t have been held back. Ivan and Beck were pretty intimidating by themselves, and adding two more friends, the two fifth graders slithered away, checking over their shoulders three times making sure they weren’t being followed by the fourth graders. So, Rudi became the fourth member of the foursome. From than on they hung together, fought together, thought together, fought each other, forever. Something clicked there, it made them more than before, more than four. It made them better.

When the Vietnam War started Morris started having nightmares. And they always ended the same way, with all four of the boys being killed. Morris was the sensitive one, and thoughts like that would enter his mind and he couldn’t erase them. The other boys told him to not talk about his dreams, they were the four invincible.

They pledged that none of them were going to go to Vietnam voluntarily. That is until Rudi is drafted. You have to remember he was a year older than the other guys, being he had been held back in the fourth grade, so he was eligible for the draft.

“You are hereby directed to present yourself for Armed Forces Physical Examination…….”

They agreed that if one of them got drafted, then they were all got drafted, that’s how strong their friendship bond bound them together.

“We…Are…Goin’…To…Nam, Boys!” roared Ivan.

Then for the first time, and for the last time, the four of them stepped into a four-man hug.

Ivan joined the Army, Beck joins the Air Force, Morris joins the Navy and Rudi is drafted into the Marines.

This is Morris’ story. Morris makes it his personal mission to watch over his friends, and he figures the best place to do that is in the US Navy. He is stationed off the coast of Vietnam, on a heavily guided missile cruiser, patrolling the coast, providing support to the troops on the ground, He is an Aviation Electrician’s Mate Third Class (AE3) during Operation Sea Dragon.

He receives letters from Rudi periodically in the Marines. He looses a friend, Vera, who is unstable and feels he is unworthy and won’t ever be able to live up to his father’s expectations since his father had been a big man, a colonel, in the Marine Corps. Vera jumps over the ship’s rail, one night as he and Morris were talking. He is never found.

The USS Boston is heavily damaged in a “friendly fire attack.” Morris gets a brief leave while his ship is repaired. When his leave is over, he learns he has been reassigned. The USS Boston has been deemed “surplus to requirements”. The soldiers from the USS Boston are reassigned in groups of two. He leaves the USS Boston, part of the Blue Water Navy, whom some call the “easy war.” Now they will be in the “Brown Water Navy.

Morris and Moses are transferred to the Riverine Assault Force River Monitor vessel. They deliver Army soldiers up river, go back and forth with supplies for the Army and then collect whatever is left of the camp and Army soldiers, all the while “blasting away at anything that moves on shore.” There are eleven men on board.

On a trip down the Mekong River they are attacked. For the first time Mo gets to use his .50-caliber

machine gun.

Typhoon Elaine hits. For three days she rages on. The US troops think of it as a three-day break, unbeknownst to them that all the while the Typhoon was raging on, the Vietcong swimmers had been tying off mines along the riverbed and attaching limpet mines to boat hulls. A Patrol River Boat goes

up with a four-man crew. All that’s left to do is collect the men, or bits and pieces of them. All the fire power and vulnerable as babies.

As Morris puts it, “The thing about Charlie is that you can shoot him, stomp him, and blow up his tunnel, shoot him and stab him, and wipe out his whole blood line. Then he seems to get right back up again…….”

But Morris has made a pledge, he must not let his friends die.

Sheri Konschak

TITLE: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

AUTHOR: JK Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

PUB: 2016

GENRE: Fiction

Oh my gosh! A new Harry Potter book! I was so excited! I had ordered my copy months in advance! Then I receive my book. Talk about disappointment! The 8th book in the Harry Potter series is written as a play! Act 1 Scene 1 sort of style.

But, once I started reading my book, I was hooked! It didn’t matter what form it was written in, it was still a Harry Potter book! It reads just like all of the other Harry Potter books. My disappointment quickly turned into excitement as I was once again transported to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

I will not be spoiler for those of you who have not yet read “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child.” The 8th book starts where the 7th book, “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows” leaves off 7 years earlier. Harry Potter is now 19 years older. Harry’s youngest son, Albus Severus Potter is struggling with some inside demons. Darkness is coming. Magic spells abound.

So jump on the Hogwarts Express and enjoy the ride that this 8th book of “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child” takes you on.

(One Hint-It helps if you are familiar with the happenings in the first 7 Harry Potter books, since there are some references to certain events that took place in those first books.)

Haaarry Pottttter….

Sheri Konschak

TITLE: Every Crooked Pot

AUTHOR: Renee Rosen

PUB: 2007

GENRE: Junior Fiction

“Every Crooked Pot Has A Crooked Lid That Fits” is Nina Goldman’s fathers way of explaining things that are not normal. Nina thinks the only reason she isn’t popular and doesn’t have a boyfriend is because she was born with a strawberry birthmark over her eye. She tries every kind of makeup and every kind of hairstyle to hide it from the unkind eyes of her fellow classmates.

To just be normal was her and her parents mantra. Nina had many, many kinds of treatments to diminish her birthmark so it would be unnoticeable by her, her parents, and her peers, who could be so cruel.

First there were the saltwater treatments. On a business trip to Florida, which her father dubbed as their winter vacation, and after playing in the waves of the Atlantic ocean her mother commented to her father, “Artie, look, her eye doesn’t seem as red to me. Does it to you?” “Well, it certainly doesn’t seem any worse. All that saltwater, like Epsom salts, or something.” That’s all Nina had to hear, she filled every container, shampoo, and pill bottle with ocean water, thinking that once she got home she could continue the saltwater treatments. But, as it turned out, that saltwater was dumped down the drain by Nina before she left Florida.

On that trip to Florida her father was stopped for speeding . He used Nina’s birthmark as an excuse to get out of the speeding ticket. He told the police officer, “Thank goodnesss you stopped us officer! I’ve got a very sick child in the car!” He showed him Nina’s birthmark and explained, “The orbital mass in her eye has ruptured. The retinal revascularization is swelling up and her festorial glands are coagulating!” Instead of a speeding ticket they got a police escort to the hospital where they quietly left after the police officer drove away.

Her next attempt to erase her birthmark were monthly injections in her eyelid of an experimental drug for treating hemangiomas, given by a Dr. Waxler. She endured these shots from the time she was ten to age thirteen. Her and her mother made the trip to Chicago once a month, usually on a Friday so she would have the weekend to recover. The worst part of the treatment was going back to school on Monday. Her eye looked like it had been hit by a line drive. The kids would make fun of her when she would bandage it with a tea bag, the tea seemed to take the sting away. Instead of being sympathetic towards her like they were when a classmate broke her jaw and was all wired up, instead the boys would circle her in the hallway, chanting, “Nina’s a little teapot, arf, arf, arf.” She didn’t want to be stared at, she didn’t want anyone barking at her, she just wanted to be normal.

Nina thought her bad luck had changed when the McFadden family moved in across the street from the Goldman’s. Nina and Patty McFadden became best friends. Nina thought Patty’s popularity would rub off on her but she soon realized that the only reason Patty became so popular and always had all the girls over to her house was because Patty had what every girl their age wanted, four cute brothers and a house full of their friends.

The McFadden boys turned their unfinished basement into what they called “The Ballroom.” You wouldn’t tell your parents about it. Patty’s brothers all had a hand in creating the room, Keith was the mastermind, Matthew, the oldest, always made sure they had a reliable source for beer and pot, Greg was in charge of the music and used his good looks to get the prettiest girls down there, and Patty organized all the parties by getting the word out to everyone.

On Nina’s thirteenth birthday she held a slumber party with Patty, Emily, Kara and Anna. She just wanted them to stay overnight, play backgammon, make popcorn and watch the crystal ball drop in Times Square. The girls only wanted to sit outside on the front steps and smoke cigarettes and watch the McFadden house for signs of boys. But, like almost everything else in Nina’s life, her sleepover was a complete disaster due to a phone call from Alex Korbington, a boy who had given her an extra

special smile that day at school, and was at the Ballroom.

To make matters worse, on her last visit to Dr. Waxler’s he told them that he saw no reason to keep on with the sclerosing agent injections. They had come as far as they could, maybe they’ll come up with something in a year or so that would help. Nina finally came the realization that no boy would ever want Big-Eye, Little-Eye for a girlfriend, no one would ever see her and love her a first sight or ever. As she burst into tears she thought, “I’m going to be alone for ever.”

But then Cousin Ricky moved in. Not really a cousin, Nina’s father had grown up with him. Cousin Ricky brought meditation the Goldman household along with Hope Certificates. He told Nina to meditate ten minutes twice a day. Nina did thirty minutes three times a day, thinking more is better. Christmas Eve turned into a fiasco. An argument between Cousin Ricky, Artie and Nina’s grandfather brought out long suppressed feelings and the next morning Cousin Ricky was gone.

When Nina turned fifteen, Mr. McFadden had a heart attack on the back nine at the Fairlawn Country

Club and died. Things changed for Patty. What puzzled Nina was how Patty got so many boys now, being as big as she was. She went from boy to boy. Nina just figured after losing your father, losing boyfriends just didn’t matter that much.

Nina’s first so-called “sexual encounter” happened when she was sixteen. It began and ended all in one afternoon with a boy as immature as she.

As a senior in high school Nina once again became a guinea pig for laser treatments being performed by a Dr. Preston. They didn’t know what they were doing, nor did they know what to expect. She didn’t know what she would look like once the treatments were complete.

Nina’s life goes on with a few twists and turns until the end of the book.

We might think, at times, that all we want to be is normal, we just need to remember, “Every Crooked Pot Has A Crooked Lid That Fits.”

Sheri Konschak

TITLE: The Might Have Been

AUTHOR: Joseph M Schuster

PUB: 2012

GENRE: Fiction

I love baseball, my whole family loves baseball. My sons played baseball. My husband played baseball. As my boys grew up, at any given time of day, any season, there was a baseball game being played in our front yard.

I often wondered what it would have been like if my husband or one of my sons would have made it to the Pro’s. This could have been their story.

The “Might Have Been “ is about a baseball player, Edward Everett Yates and his journey from hero to zero.

He spends a decade playing in the minor leagues, when most of his peers have usually given up and forfeited their dream of playing Pro ball. But not Edward. What he has patiently been waiting for happens. He gets called up to play for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Then it happens, EE is playing in what turns out to be his one and only game. He’s having a remarkable game, he bats the “pure cycle”, a single, a double, a triple, than a home run in that order.

In the outfield a ball is hit to the fence, he jumps, and ends up hanging by his cleats. All he remembers is the pain pulsing through his body from his shredded knee, and the rain pelting his face until mercilessly, he blacks out.

To add insult to injury, the game gets rained out before it had gone 5 full innings, so statistically, his rare achievement at the plate never happened.

Not being able to walk away from the game, Edward Everett spends the next thirty years as a coach and manager in the lowest levels of the minor and independent leagues.

His dream never leaves him. He becomes semi-prosperous working for his uncle as a flour salesman. He gets engaged to his former high-school classmate. His clients love his baseball stories and he could have easily become as wealthy as his uncle when he takes over his territory.

An opportunity arises where he can trade in his old baseball tales and make new ones. He slips away to a tryout camp that is taking place in his area. He winds up back in the minor league circuit, where a final release pushes him from the locker room into the coaching ranks.

His fiance, who, unknowing to him, is pregnant, leaves him and raises the son he has only ever seen in photographs, which she sends randomly every so often.

But, Edward Everett becomes a coach and this is his team. He has a gifted shortstop whose headstrong nature jeopardizes his career, he has a young pitcher whose stuff goes from unhittable pitches to batting practice throws as his focus wavers, and the willing but unable outfielder who clings to the game more desperately than life itself. Tragically his life comes to an end much to soon.

This book is for the fanatic baseball fans as well as those non-baseball fans. It’s for those who have had, or still have a lifelong obsession, or for those who have been chasing a dream and imagining how things might have turned out differently, if only…………

Sheri Konschak

TITLE: Heat Wave

AUTHOR: Jill Marie Landis

PUBLISHED: 2004

GENRE: Fiction

Kat Vargas is a private investigator, who is focused only on her career and who’s current philosophy in life is to keep emotional attachments at bay, to the exclusion of her family and any serious love interests. She keeps her past, which includes an accident on a slippery highway in Hawaii, hidden.

After accidentally getting shot in the hand during one of her PI investigations, Kat relocates temporarily from Long Beach, CA to a small beach town in Twilight Cove, CA, house sitting for another PI and good friend, Jake.

While settling in, one of the local residents knocks at her door. Ty Chandler is standing there and has just found out that he has a missing daughter born 19 years ago to his high school sweetheart. Because of a life of drugs that destroyed Amy in the end, he and Amy had parted before he ever knew about the baby, a fact hidden from him by his mother.

Their search leads them back to southern California where Ty’s daughter Sunny is living in a commune where she and the other young people living there survive by street racing and stealing cars.

Ty offers to take her home to Twilight Cove, but she refuses, and then surprises him and Kat by showing up at his front door, with her own baby, Alice, nicknamed French Fry. Ty becomes an instant father and grandfather all at once!

Kat and Ty slowly build their relationship while Ty and Sunny develop their own. Sunny senses that Kat isn’t comfortable around French Fry and feels she is hiding a secret. A secret of a dream life with a first love and fiance-which ended in betrayal followed by a shattering tragedy that ended it all.

This book is a good summer read book, making me wish I was reading it on one of the beaches in Hawaii or southern California! Lot’s of twists and turns and full-out suspense. It starts out great and draws you right in. One of the things I liked was the significance of “beach glass.” Although the ending is kind of predictable, Landis writes another good contemporary mystery for her readers to enjoy.

“Heat Wave” is the second in a trilogy of books by Jill Marie Landis.

Sheri Konschak

TITLE:  Room

AUTHOR:  Emma Donoghue

PUBLISHED:  2010

GENRE:  Adult Fiction

You’re 5 years old and all you’ve ever known is life in a room eleven-by-eleven feet.  Ma has been locked up in this room since she was 19 years old.

This is Jack’s story.  He calls things just as they are. Ma sleeps in Bed.  She switches on Lamp.  His toy is a Snake, made from egg shells.  He has 5 colors, orange, red, green, blue, and brown.  His only sun is from the skylight in the ceiling of Room.  There is the imaginary world he sees through TV.  Ma makes Bed on the floor of Wardrobe, under Ma’s clothes.  Ma puts him to sleep there, she doesn’t want Old Nick to see him.

Old Nick supplies them with everything.  He knows what they need because they leave him a note outside Door, asking for Sunday treat.  Ma has to thank him the only way she can.  Jack, in Wardrobe counts the creaks of Bed, 225, 226, 227…..  He hopes Old Nick doesn’t take what is his, his that he takes when he raises Ma’s shirt…..

Jack has no idea what is real in Outside.  He only see’s things through the TV, with Rabbit on top. Is it a real thing or just flat, like the Dora he sees on TV?

Some days Ma is Gone all day.  In bed under Duvet.  She takes Killers for the pain.   Jack sees the Killers advertised on TV and he starts to realize and question the world he is trapped in.  He notices marks on Ma’s neck and knows they were put there by Old Nick.  They look like his fingerprints.

And Ma starts to realize that Room cannot contain her and Jack much longer.

She plans “The Great Escape.”  Ma and Jack plan and plan and rehearse and rehearse.  When Plan A doesn’t work, they go to Plan B.  Ma and Jack practice and practice. Now they just have to wait for Old Nick to come so they can put Plan B into action.

It worked!  Jack did exactly as he practiced with Ma.  They are free!  But are they really?  Here is where the story should have a happy ending. Could a normal person adjust to the Outside, the different, advanced, changed Outside that was all new to Ma, and something that Jack has never seen, felt, smelled, or tasted in his five years of life?

We want to breathe a sigh of relief and think all is good and things will get back to normal.  But what is normal to Jack was the Room, not this Outside he is now living in.

Then comes the day when Ma has a Gone day and Jack has his first experience at a mall.  Jack is confused and terrified, then sad as he wonders what “Stable” means when they talk about Ma.  He just wants to have some and fall asleep spooned next to Ma.

The last chapter of the book is called “Living.”  But “Living” can be defined in so many different ways and actual “Living” can be done by the hundreds of people in hundreds of ways, too much and too many ways to explain……

We are shocked at the insufferable circumstances that was Jack’s life.  His story is deeply moving and Room is place you will never forget.

 

Sheri Konschak

TITLE– “If I Am Missing Or Dead- A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder and Liberation

AUTHOR– Janine Latus

PUBLISHED– 2007

GENRE: Adult Non-Fiction

The Latus family was close, keeping tabs on each other through letters, phone calls and visits. Janine was especially close to her baby sister, Amy. Their father was disturbed, he would show his love to them with inappropriate gestures and words, such as kissing his girls o the lips in greeting and hugging them too long while his hands roamed to forbidden places on their bodies. He was fond of telling them that “women were put on this earth for one purpose only” and the sooner they realize that the better. Not soon enough the Latus girls, their mother divorces their father and he is finally out of their lives.

Even though Janine and Amy had not grown up in a normal household, had not seen what love between a husband and wife should be, they went searching for love. Amy had always been overweight, not comfortable with herself and her body. Janine was the opposite in stature, small and petite, not an extra ounce of fat on her body. She would constantly exercise, trying to be the perfect size 0.

Amy meets Jim and they get married. Jim can’t hold down a job and loves bourbon more than Amy. He hits her, but only once in a while, and only out of frustration and failure. The next day he apologizes and sends her flowers. The only thing is that the flowers are charged to their joint credit card, the one she will have to pay.

Janine meets Kent while working as a pharmacy technician in a hospital. They have lunch, then another lunch together, then a beer after work, then diner, then sex, and they are officially dating.

This book is about domestic abuse against women where the women believe the fault is all theirs, that’s why their husbands abuse them as they do.

The Latus sisters do get out of their abusive relationships but not before experiencing horrific beatings, verbal abuse, and the sordid “make-up sex” as Janine’s husband liked to call it. One sister walks away and the other goes missing, never to get the chance to walk away.

While reading the book, you are always wondering who wrote the note on the back of the cover of the book. What sister is telling her story?

This book is a very fast read, it keeps you reading afraid you’ll miss something if you close the book too soon.

You want to grab the sister’s by the shoulders and yell, “What were you thinking?” And on the other hand to want to get a hold of the men and….well, you know..

This book has made a lasting impression on me as the author wished. She hopes that if this book sounds too familiar and could be your story, please try to get help before it does become too late for you or for that friend who won’t tell, but should.

Sheri Konschak

TITLE– “Go Set A Watchman”

AUTHOR– Harper Lee

PUBLISHED– 2015

GENRE: Adult Fiction

Set two decades after Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning book “To Kill A Mockingbird”, “Go Set A Watchman” opens with “Scout”, who is now 26 years old returning to Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father, Atticus, who is now an old man riddled with arthritis. This is hard for Scout to see. He was always so strong, her “hero”, a god, and now she sees him as just a flesh-and-blood man, with shortcomings and failings. While home, memories from her childhood come rushing back. Disturbing truths about her family, the town, and the people closest to her are revealed. But most important is the question, “Is my father really a racist?” Written in the mid 1950’s, racial tensions are high. Desegregation of schools is taking place. As one critic so wisely stated, “Go Set A Watchman” is the most important novel on race to come out of the white South in decades.” I’d say that sums it up.

Sheri Konschak

TITLE: Impulse

AUTHOR: Ellen Hopkins

GENRE: Young Adult/ Adult

This book is another unique example of Ellen Hopkins mature verse format. For those of you who are not familiar with verse format writing, Ellen Hopkins writes in poetic verse, masterpieces of word, shape, and pacing. As you read the pages, you feel as if you are carrying on a person to person conversation with the character. Three teens meet in Reno, at Nevada’s Aspen Spring Mental Hospital after each has attempted suicide in one form or another. They connect with each other in a way they couldn’t with their parents or anyone else in their lives.

Connor is the all-star athlete, pride of his family’s perfect life. The bullet he shot hit bone, and left his heart in one piece. His mother found him too soon, careful of all the blood, heaven forbid she should stain her Armani blouse. She never shed a tear.

Tony, a heroine addict, took one too many rides on the H Train, a hot-shot to hell. The cop who found him with his head stuck to the sidewalk, didn’t know what to do first, clean him up haul him in, or puke himself. After doing all three, he was sent to the ER first, the loony bin later.

Vanessa, Tony, Conner, Lori, Dahlia, and Justin are deemed “well” and get to go climb rocks, swing from ropes, and are allowed just enough water to drink, while they dine on meals called MRE’s- Meals Ready To Eat, military style. Survival? On the Road to Recovery? One had survived too long already. Just one step off the cliff while he wonders, “Will she cry now?”

Sheri Konschak

TITLE: A Mother’s Reckoning-Living In The Aftermath Of Tragedy

AUTHOR: Sue Klebold

PUBLISHED: 2016

GENRE: Adult Non-Fiction

It’s been about 17 years since the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Twelve students were killed and 24 others were wounded. The shooters took their own lives as well.

Dylan Klebold was one of the shooters. This book is written by his mother, Sue.

Her book asks a lot of questions that have no ready answers. How do you live with this grief and shame? Sue tries to come to grips with what happened and why in her book.

Who do you blame? Why does she feel so guilty? Whose fault was it that her son chose to do this? How does a mother not know that something is disturbing her own son?   What signs did she miss? What could she have done differently to avoid this tragedy?

Sue tells her story with heartbreaking honesty, using her personal journals, the “Basement” videos Eric and Dylan made together, and writings Dylan left behind.

Mental health experts are asked for their input, as well as Andrew Solomon, who writes an introduction to the book, in which he describes Dylan as a suicidal depressive and Eric as a homicidal psychopath.

What caused Dylan to take part in the massacre? He had never been in any major trouble until his junior year of high school. He didn’t have a girlfriend, really didn’t even date. Unbeknownst to his parents, he did drink, had a nickname on the Web of “VoDKa”, the capitalized D and K a play on his initials. He seemed to be short of money as well. Why? As it turned out, the money went to help buy the guns used in the slaughter.

While writing this book, Sue battled breast cancer and went through a divorce. Those two things she survived.

It’s been close to 17 years since the shootings occurred and Sue still has no clear answer as to how the son she bore and raised could have done such a horrific thing. In my opinion, the only person who could answer her questions is Dylan, and that won’t be happening any time soon.

Sheri Konschak

TITLE: How To Train with a T-Rex and Win Eight Gold Medals

AUTHOR: Michael Phelps/Alan Abrahamson

PUBLISHED: 2009

GENRE: Childrens Non-Fiction

Hey! All you winners out there! Or are you really a winner? How dedicated are you to be a REAL winner?

It takes a lot of hard work! Would you train for 6 years with hardly a day off? That’s a kindergartener’s whole life! Would you run 183,040 trips around the bases? Could you nap for 3 hours everyday?

That’s 273 days of napping! Like napping away three summer vacations in a row!

You need energy to train-could you eat a half ton of pizza? Could you get so strong that you could leg-press a Tyrannosaurus Rex AND 10 velociraptors?

Michael Phelps was the first person to win 8 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. All in swimming. He was a dedicated winner. Would you or could you be a winner as well?

This book shows what dedication and hard work can do. You might not have set as high a goal as Michael had, but in the end, YOU WILL BE A WINNER TOO!

Sheri Konschak

TITLE: Si-Cology 101 (Tales and Wisdom From Duck Dynasty’s Favorite Uncle)

AUTHOR: Si Robertson/Mark Schlabach

PUBLISHED: 2013

GENRE: Autobiography

Hey! It’s Uncle Si! Duck Dynasty’s favorite uncle. Phil’s youngest brother. Vietnam veteran.

When you read his book, you have to understand that 95% of Si’s stories are truthful. The Robertson family has the God-given gift of storytelling. When you sit in a duck blind for half of your life, you have to figure out some way to pass the time!

I have read all of the Duck Dynasty books written by various members of the Robertson family and I enjoyed Uncle Si’s the most. He is a very funny man and the stories he recalls in his book are humorous and will leave you with a smile.

From running around the farm “buck nekkid” as a child, to shooting anything that moved with his Daisy BB gun, Si and his brother Phil were always hunting or fishing. Some of their fishing stories became legendary among their friends and teachers at school.

Si has achluophobia-the fear of darkness. But his mama told him he doesn’t need to fear the dark because “Jesus is out there, he’ll watch over you and protect you. He’s always with you.” This is another thing I liked about Si’s book. He is a devout Christian. He’ll tell you how it is and that’s that Jack!

In 1968 Si was drafted into the Army and sent to South Vietnam. One of the most difficult times of his life was that year he spent there. He’d never been away from his family and he wasn’t quite sure why we were fighting in a land so far away. He turned to alcohol to forget where he was. As he said, ”In a place like Vietnam, you get to a point where you don’t care anymore. You’re in a place that’s foreign to you and you know for a fact that many people there hate you and will kill you if they get the chance. It does something to your mind knowing that many of the people living around you don’t like you and want you to die.” He saw what alcohol was doing to him in Vietnam and decided he needed to stop for good once he returned home. But he had to make it home alive for that to happen.

And his famous iced tea-cup? His momma sent him a Tupperware iced tea-cup in a care package she sent to him in Vietnam. It stayed with him all through Vietnam and he’s carried it in his back pocket ever since. Everywhere he goes he carries a gallon of iced tea and his light blue Tupperware cup.

Silas married the woman of his dreams, Christine in 1971 after his tour of duty in Vietnam. They have been married for 45 years. He stayed in the army for another 24 years. They have 2 children and 8 grandchildren. They have lived in Germany and Alabama before settling down in Louisiana just a few miles from Phil and Miss Kay. In 1999 Si went to work for Phil and Hey! Life is good Jack!

Sheri Konschak

Over The Top And Back
Tom Jones-The Autobiography
Author-Tom Jones
92 JONE

I love autobiographies, especially ones about famous people, actors, actresses, and singers, you name it. But I have never read such a clean, wholesome and entertaining autobiography, (you’ll have to excuse the few cuss words every now and then), until I read “Over The Top And Back” by Tom Jones.
Tom Jones started in the business in 1955 to the tunes of Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and the Comets, and Jerry Lee Lewis, but not before he was quarantined at the age of 10, with tuberculosis for two years in his home, under the care of his mother. At 16, he married his high school sweetheart, Linda, who was 15 and pregnant. He is still married to her, 58 years later. They were only able to have their one son, Mark, who is now his father’s business manager.
Sir Tom Jones, yes, he was knighted by the Queen, has lived a clean and almost virginal life compared to many others in the business. He knew and associated with them all, the Beatles, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, Elton john, Neal Diamond, you name them and he knows them. He has never cheated on his wife. He has never used any kind of street drug. His vices growing up were beer and cigarettes, which he promptly quit once they started affecting his throat and his singing. Once he had “made” it, he switched to cigars and champagne. He couldn’t handle anything harder than that. He also only preferred to drink out of a glass, never the bottle. It wasn’t that he didn’t come into contact with the cheating, the drugs and other bad influences during his career. He did live shows in Vegas and had his own TV show, “This Is Tom Jones”.
After reading Tom Jones’ autobiography I have nothing but pure respect and admiration for him. And it doesn’t hurt that he is still so darn sexy, even after all these years!

Sheri Konschak

 

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THE IMMORTAL NICHOLAS
Glen Beck
FIC BECK

“To the children of the world, no matter their age, who still believe in the real
meaning of Christmas.”
Thus The Immortal Nicholas begins.

The story begins in Yemen, in the mountains of western Asia, and the frankincense
bearing libanos trees were ripe for harvest. Agios had his son Philos with him on this dangerous harvesting trip out of necessity. His wife, Weala, had died in childbirth, as well as his stillborn son.
Making their way to the remote ravine they could hear the hiss of the snakes that twine themselves around the branches of the libanos trees. Throwing rocks at the snakes, Agios and Philos drove the snakes to lower branches, to trees farther from the tree they wanted to harvest the resin from.
Winding the rope around his waist, Agios stood firm as Philos lowered himself over the cliff wall to the tree. As he watched Philos gather the bubbled resin from the tree he heard him scream. He saw him jerk his arm wide with a snake clinging to it. Agios began to pull his son up, but the rope becomes unwound and Philos watches as his son falls straight down to his death, smashing into the lowest tree.
It took Agios a day and the better part of a night to retrieve Philo’s body. He buried the body next to his wife and stillborn son. Knowing that his cabin would never again be his “home”, he set it on fire and left.
He had no destination, but he knew what he wanted: oblivion.
Needing a place to rest for the night, he came upon a remote village. Asking at the inn, the woman said “No room.” She gave him food and drink. Drinking too much of the wine he had received from the woman, he passed out under a tree.
Agios traveled on, not knowing or caring where he went. He dulled the pain of remembering all he had lost with drink.
The only thing keeping him from being killed by the members of a caravan he had come upon was the fact they had found the frankincense he had sewn into the hem of his cloak. They wanted to know where he had gotten it. They keep him alive to show them where the place was. Agios asked the guard, Gamos, why the frankincense was so precious to them. He replied, “It’s to be a gift for a King.” Agios asked why the king could not buy his own frankincense. “Not this King, he is newly born, or will soon be.”
Half a year has passed, and Agios meets Caspar, a well-known scholar, working on deciphering scrolls and maps. He asks Agios to help him read the star charts. “We are looking for a star that will be a sign of His birth,” Caspar answers when Agios asks him what he is looking for in the sky.
Soon the party is joined by two additional wisemen, Melchior and Balthasar. The star is found and it leads them to Jerusalem where they speak to King Herod about their quest to find the newborn King. The star directs them to Bethlehem. They speak to a shepherd boy named Matthais who tells them of the wondrous sight of the angels who had come upon them and told them about the “King of Kings.” At the inn with the stable where the baby had been born, he finds Mary and Joseph and the new baby boy named Jesus.
The author tells the Nativity story and beyond in such a unique way that the true meaning of Christmas is once again brought forth. And as Agios carves his wooden animals during his travels, and passes them onto the children he encounters along the way, we come to learn the epic tale that gives the legend of Santa a long over-due Christ-centered mission.

Sheri Konschak

 Title: Exquisite Captive

Author: Heather Demetrios

Publisher/Imprint:

ISBN: 978-0-06-231856-5

Year published: 2014

Brief description (genre/target audience, etc.): Sci-Fi /Adult Fiction

Review:                               

There are five types of jinn, people that draw their power from the different elements around them. The Ifrit draw power from fire, the Shaitan from air, the Madrid from water, the Djan from Earth, and lastly the Djan Asari draw power from all four elements. Each different type of jinn has different colored eyes and smoke that surrounds them.

The jinn have come to Earth from another realm and many of them have been put on Earth as slaves. All but one of the Ghan Asari has been killed in their home realm. The surviving Ghan Asari’s name is Nalia. The Ghan Asari used to be the rulers of their realm but the Ifrit are in now control. The Ifrit like to cause pain and suffering to all the other types of jinn. The Ifrit found out that one Ghan Asari had escaped their realm and was now residing on Earth, so the Ifrit sent their strongest warrior to find Nalia. She was hard to find because she hid her true identity and disguised herself as a Shaitan.  

On Earth, Nalia is a slave to Malek. She has to do anything he commands or she would be put in a small bottle. Malek had a crush on Nalia but just couldn’t get her to feel the same way about him. Throughout the book you find that Malek tries to pursue Nalia and for a split second she falls for her owner. Then, snapping to her senses she has to tell herself that he doesn’t treat her like a companion but rather a slave.  

Throughout the novel the Ifrit warrior continues to hunt for Nalia who is determined to be a free Ghan Asari and not one that has to be at her owner’s beck and call. Nalia finds that love if welcomed can be a great thing in one’s life.

I found this book to be interesting. Beginning the novel, one has to remain focused for there are complex characters to keep straight. The ending of this book begs for you to find out what is going to happen next. I found this to be a bit sexual for teen readers and the cannibalism scenes are gruesome.

Hannah Nyberg

Harvey Public Library

 

TITLE:  THE LONG HAUL

DIARY OF A  WIMPY KID #9

AUTHOR:  Jeff Kinney

CATEGORY:  Junior

“If there is one thing Greg Heffley has learned is that being a kid, you have ZERO control of your own life.”

Thus begins the 9th book in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series.

“Road Trip” is Mom’s plan for their summer vacation, the idea coming from her favorite magazine “Family Frolic”.  After convincing everyone in the family that this trip would be the perfect “bonding” experience, plus the whole point of the trip would be to do things they have never done before, that they would have “authentic” experiences, the Heffleys were off.

Using the boat that Greg’s dad bought years ago because it had always been his dream to own a boat and spend every weekend on the water as a family and not being used all summer, plus not being winterized correctly, a big crack had appeared in the hull, they had wanted to use it as a sort of “trailer” to haul all the luggage that wouldn’t fit in their van for their trip.  But, it was nothing a little duck tape couldn’t fix, and the “trailer” was loaded and ready to go.

Since Greg’s mom was in charge of the trip, she wanted to make sure every experience would be an education.  From bringing “Flat Stanley” along, to listening to Spanish tapes to learn a foreign language, to playing Alphabet Groceries, and eating the “Mommy Meals” she had made because fast-food places lured kids in with cheap plastic toys to trick them into eating sugar and fat, their road trip went along.

As the road trip progresses, they stay in cheap hotels, eat junk food, get pushed out of a hot tub experience because a family is hogging the whole thing, whose father Greg dubs

“Mr. Beardo.”  In fact, this same family, in the purple van, continues to plague the Heffley’s their whole road trip.

It’s onto a county fair where Greg’s older brother, Rodrick, takes first place in the “Fowlest Footwear” contest and Greg’s youngest brother, Manny, has the closest guess to the weight of a hog in the “Guess the Weight” contest and wins a baby pig.

The adventures of the Heffley’s and the family in the purple van escalate to an ending no one sees coming.  There is a choice Greg has to make, and, as he concludes, “Whichever way I go, it’s hard to see this story having a happy ending.”

Look forward to Book #10!

Sheri Konschak

TITLE:  THE CROSSOVER

AUTHOR:   Kwame Alexander

Young Adult Fiction

John Newberry Medal Award Winner

Coretta Scott King Award Winner

“A Bolt Of Lightening On My Kicks…

The Court Is Sizzling.

My Sweat Is Drizzling.

Stop All That Quivering.

‘Cuz Tonight I’m Delivering.”

Josh Bell and his twin brother, Jordon are basketball phenoms at their junior high school.  Their dad, Chuck Bell, also known as “Da Man”, is a championship ring holder, and had a multi-million dollar multiyear contract with an Italian League basketball team.  “Bellissimo.”

Chuck “Da Man” Bell has always had reservations about going to doctors.  “Patella Tendonitis”, a condition that arises when the muscle that connects the knee to the shin bone becomes irritated due to overuse, especially from jumping activities, which could have been repaired with a simple surgery, kept him from a career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Going from Basketball Rule #1 to Basketball Rule #10-one twin gets a girlfriend, their father is diagnosed with hyper-tension, then has a minor medical false alarm, with a final dramatic ending, all happening during the final game of the junior high state championship basketball season.

This book is written in a very easy to read, dynamic prose.

“Dad once made 50 free-throws in a row in our driveway,  I’m on #49.  JB comes along-

“I bet the dishes you miss #50-”

“Hey, We “Da Man”

I Toss Him The Ball He Dribbles

Back To The Top Of The Key,

Fixes His Eyes

On The Goal.  I Watch

The Ball

Leave His Hands

Like A Bird

Up High,

Crossing Over Us.”

CROSS.OVER

A simple basketball move

in which a player dribbles

the ball quickly

from one hand

to the other.

As In:  When done right,

a CROSS OVER can break

an opponent’s ankles.

 

Dad taught me

how to give a soft CROSS OVER

to see if your opponent falls

for it,

then hit ’em

with the hard CROSSOVER.

 

Lesson taught, learned and scored-”Life Doesn’t Come With A Playbook, And, Sometimes, It’s Not All About Winning.”

Sheri Konschak

Rating-***** 5 Stars

 

Title: Marilyn and Me (A Photographer’s Memories)

Author: Lawrence Schiller 

Lawrence Schiller was a photographer for “Look” magazine in 1960 and he was assigned to take pictures of another “Pretty Girl.” Only it wasn’t just “another Pretty Girl”, it was Marilyn Monroe, America’s sweetheart and sex symbol.

There are 18 of Schiller’s own photographs in the book, some never before published. The intimate memoir covers a 2 year period where Schiller and Marilyn develop a lasting friendship, with a man that she could connect with and trust.

Schiller is granted permission to photograph and publish photos of Marilyn nude for the first time in 10 years. Photos that were used to her advantage and disadvantage.

Reading this book you feel as if you are Marilyn’s best friend as well. You can relate to her, her ups and downs, her sad times and happy times. She comes alive in the pages and the photos.

I have always been enamored of Marilyn Monroe and her life and this book is one of the many I have read and enjoyed about her.

This is beautiful, but a short book and can easily be read in one sitting.

Sheri Konschak

Title: A Night to Remember

Author: Walter Lord

This is the account of the legendary disaster of the Titanic’s maiden voyage relived by the few who survived it.

Going hour by hour, from the moment the iceberg is spotted, to the impact and then the crucial minutes once the vessel starts to take on water. The book relates the mistakes that were made and the errors that occurred that could have saved most of the 851 passengers that didn’t survive. The other ocean liners nearby that didn’t respond to the SOS messages. Most of us have seen the movie, (one of my all-time favorites), but the book gives an up close and personal account of that fateful night. We meet the passengers and their actions taken that night. We cheer as the lifeboats are filled and lowered with women and children and we cry when the women look up and see their husbands and son’s still on the sinking Titanic. We relive the eerie stillness as the lifeboats roam the Black Sea for survivors.

At the conclusion of the books is the list of the 2207 passengers on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, those who were saved and those who were lost.

Never again has a vessel been labeled “Unsinkable.”

This is a short and very readable paperback that can be completed in one sitting.

Sheri Konschak

Title: Galaxy’s Most Wanted     

Author: John Kloepfer

Publisher/Imprint: HarperCollinsPublishers

ISBN: 978-0-06-223101-7

Year published: 2014

Brief description (genre/target audience, etc.): Paranormal Teen Adventure

Every year Kevin and his close friends Warner, Tara, and TJ attend a camp for gifted children who can invent about anything. At the end of the summer the kids would compete against one another to come up with the best invention. One of their fellow competitors would always win but they were hoping that this year they would knock it out of the park with their invention. Working together they came up with a galactascope, an invention that they had seen in a comic book. The galactascope was used to communicate with other beings on various other planets.

The result of their invention was astonishing. They ended with an alien named Mim. Mim was in trouble and needed some assistance. Mim’s spacecraft ended up crashing in the lake. It didn’t take long before the close companions considered Mim to be their friend. Mim had a huge appetite and was constantly looking for something to eat. Their alien companion stated that poachers wanted to hunt him down. Outer space was supposedly cold and they would use the fur of Mim’s species to keep warm.

Towards the end of the book it had an interesting turn of events happen. The children found themselves in danger and trying to rescue Earth from outer space invaders.

This book was very interesting. I found myself smiling throughout most of this book due to the creative storyline. A favorite treat of many campers was used to save Earth from destruction.

Hannah Nyberg

Harvey Public Library

TITLE:  A Bed For Bear

AUTHOR:  Clive McFarland

PUBLISHER:  Harper Collins Publishers

ISBN:  978-0-06-223705-7

YEAR PUBLISHED:  2014

BRIEF DESCRIPTION:  Children’s Book Ages 4-8

 

This is a colorfully illustrated book for children about a very sleepy bear who thinks there has to be a better place to hibernate than where he always has. Thinking that cave is too noisy, that cave is too big and that cave is too crowded, he goes in search of a new bed. Bear comes upon a frog and asks to try his lily pad.  Going further Bear comes upon a bird and asks to try his nest.Soon Bear sees a rabbit and asks to try his burrow.  Getting sleepier and sleepier he finds a badger and as a last resort, asks to try his sleeping place, a sett, which is not what he is searching for at all. So sleepy by now, a little mouse leads Bear to the only perfect place for all bears to hibernate.

The lesson young readers should take away from Bear’s story is that usually the best place to be often turns out to be right under our noses.

 

Sheri Konschak

Harvey Public Library

 

TITLE:  Tiny Pretty Things

AUTHOR:  Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

PUBLISHER:  Harper Teen (HarperCollins Publishers)

ISBN:  978-0-06-234239-3

YEAR PUBLISHED:  2015

BRIEF DESCRIPTION:  Mature Middle School, Drama, Ballet,

Dating, Jealousy, Bulimia, Anorexia, Self

Esteem, Parent-Child Relationships

 

Tiny Pretty Things is for middle school readers what The Black Swan was for adult readers.  This is a novel about three very different multi-talented ballerinas who are trying to be the Prima ballerina at a prestigious ballet academy, the American Ballet Conservatory, (ABC).  The novel explores the competitive and cutthroat tactics used by the three girls to be selected for the major soloist parts, such as the Sugar Plum Queen and Giselle.

The novel also addresses a variety of issues faced by teen-age girls, and teen-age boys as well, back-stabbing, jealousy, hatred, girlfriend-boyfriend relationships, being in a single-parent household, searching for a father, as well as being of a different ethnic race, and not being accepted by either race.  Also living in a famous sister’s shadow which leads to destructive behaviors such as pill-popping, bulimia and anorexia. There are slight references mentioned throughout the novel pertaining to sex, drugs, and alcohol. Because of these things, I would recommend the novel be read by mature junior high students.

The ending is leaves us hanging, with the reader asking, “What happens now? “

In the sequel to Tiny Pretty Things, there will be more of the same jealousy, stalking, and suspense involving major ballerinas as well as a new/old ballerina who once again is attending ABC. Will all the Prima roles be given to Cassie as before?  Is she really healed from being accidentally dropped during her last performance?

 

Sheri Konschak

Harvey Public Library

 

TITLE:  Blown Away

AUTHOR:  Rob Biddulph

PUBLISHER:  Harper Collins Publishers

ISBN:  978-0-06-236724-2

YEAR PUBLISHED:  2014

BRIEF DESCRIPTION:  Children’s Book Ages 4-8

 

Blown Away is an easy to read rhyming book about Penguin Blue and the adventures he has flying his kite for the very first time on a very windy day.  Also caught up in the penguin train are his friends from across the Arctic, two penguin pals, Jeff and Flo, Wilbur the seal, and Clive the polar bear.  Out to sea they go.  Swooping and soaring through clouds one to nine.  They land on a desert island. Something they have never seen before, it is very beautiful and lush, but much too hot for the arctic friends.

Colorfully illustrated, the book demonstrates what we sometimes think is a good idea, can bring about some good and some bad unexpected results.  Coming up with a solution for their new predicament, Penguin Blue and his friends whoosh on home, with the help of an elephant (who is good at blowing,) in the raft they built, landing on solid ice once again.

Lesson learned? Penguins weren’t built for flying!

 

Harvey Public Library

Sheri Konschak

 

Title:      Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret

Author:   D.D. Everest

Publisher/Imprint:  Harper

ISBN:  978-0-06-231211-2

Year Published: 2015

Brief Description:  Middle Grade, Fantasy, Mystery, Adventure

 

There are many different types of courage in this world. But they all have one thing in common. You cannot be truly courageous if you are not truly frightened. Real courage is doing what we know to be right even though we are afraid for our own safety.”

These are words written to Archie Greene from his Gran after he receives a mysterious package (a 400 year old book)on his twelfth birthday. He has special instructions to take the book to a small bookstore in Oxford. There he finds some “unusual” relatives and begins to unravel the mystery behind his book. He becomes an apprentice to the Flame-Keepers”  , a secret group devoted to finding and preserving magical books. Archie stumbles upon his special gift-he’s a book whisperer! He and his cousins help to unravel the mystery of who is releasing the dangerous magic from all the books.

I enjoyed this simplified Harry Potter-type story.  I know others will too!  The chapters are short and the storyline easy to follow.

Susan Waldoch

Harvey Public Library

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