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Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
We first met Louisiana Elefante in Kate DiCaimillo’s book Raymie Nightingale. Louisiana lived with her granny, wore hand-me-down cloths and didn’t always have enough food to eat. Louisiana was one of Raymie’s best friends, along with Beverly Tapinsky. Now, we learn more about Louisiana in this wonderful new book. When the story opens, Louisiana is in the car with her granny, heading north, away from her friends and her life in Florida. Louisiana was given no notice of the move: Granny wakes her up in the middle of the night, and off they go. To top it all off, Granny becomes ill on the road, and now it’s up to Louisiana to figure out how to save them both. Alone with Granny in an unfamiliar town, Louisiana tries to decide what to do. Can she go home again, or must she come up with a new way to survive? This is a lovely book, and Louisiana is a brave, wonderful character. You can’t always depend the people you’re with, so Louisiana must come to depend on herself. I won’t spoil the story, but Louisiana’s journey is one not to be missed. You should read Raymie Nightingale first, if possible, before reading Louisiana’s Way Home. Both books are recommended, but I thought that Louisiana’s Way Home was the better of the two.
Charlie Hernandez & the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo
This is for Riordan fans who want to learn Latino and Hispanic mythology. Charlie has lost his parents and his house has burnt down. So he has it rough and then he sprouts horns, followed by feathers, and, well, read on for more. Charlie then finds himself walking into the myths his abuela told him as he was growing up. Charlie with his longtime crush, Violet Rey, sets out to discover what has really happened to his parents and the possibility that he is the Morphiling, a shape shifter, who will help protect the world from La Mano Peluda. Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows is a fun, adventurous read and a great way to learn a new mythology.
Out of the Woods by Chris Offutt
Here’s an oldie but goodie: Out of the Woods by Chris Offutt. I was reading Grit Lit: A Rough South Reader from the wonderful service we offer called SRCS (statewide remote circulation service – we can get items for you from other Indiana libraries if TCPL does not have them) and Offutt’s work was mentioned as a good example of grit lit. TCPL has his Out of the Woods and it is pretty good. Short book, short stories. I really liked Two – Eleven All Around about a guy who has a girlfriend addicted to listening to the police scanner. If you ask her a question, she answers with a question. Loved it when he asked her how many other guys she had been with and she answered “what year?” I also enjoyed Moscow, Idaho about two ex-convicts digging up graves for the state so a highway can go through the cemetery. One of the convicts never shuts up which as we all know can be great as a time passer or annoying if you want some peace and quiet. If you liked Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill, you will like this book.
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Cassidy Blake’s parents are ghost hunters on TV, but Cassidy can actually see ghosts. Cassidy almost drowned when she was younger, but she was saved by Jacob, who turns out, is a ghost himself. The ordeal left Cassidy the ability to see ghosts, and left her with a new friend in Jacob. When Cassidy’s parents travel to Edinburgh, Scotland for their TV show, they take Cassidy and her sidekick Jacob along. There, in Scotland, the pair discover more ghosts than they know what to do with, including a scary ghost called the Red Raven. The Red Raven is trouble, and soon Cassidy and Jacob, with the help of their new friend Lara, must find a way to put an end to the evil ghost’s reign of terror.
City of Ghosts is a middle-grade novel that is shivery in all the right ways. Victoria Schwab has already established herself in the adult and young adult collections with titles like A Darker Shade of Magic (writing as V.E. Schwab), and This Savage Song. City of Ghosts looks to be the start of a promising series for younger readers.
Byron’s Women by Alexander Larman
Despite being one of the greatest of English Romantic poets, George Gordon, Lord Byron’s (1788-1824) relationships with most of the women in his life: mother, half-sister, wife, daughter, mistresses — were at best volatile and at worst abusive and deplorable. Byron’s Women by Alexander Larman chronicles Byron’s dramatic and colorful life with focus on these relationships, allotting specific sections of the book to each. Byron, handsome and profligate, was a popular figure surrounded by an intense mystique, and in an era when neglect, illicit affairs and domestic abuse were viewed and managed quite differently from the way they are now, the account is thought – provoking. Larman’s book devotes to nine of Byron’s remarkable female satellites the attention and detail they deserve.
Accidental Pirates series by Claire Fayers
Who is Brine Seaborne? Found 3 years earlier in a small boat at sea, she doesn’t know either or what her real name is. Assigned to be a maid in the house of a local mage, she spends her days cleaning and reading. In a strange set of circumstances, she finds herself on the run with Peter, apprentice to the mage. They end up as part of the crew of Cassie O’Pia and her pirates on the good ship Onion. This is a world of magic and hijinks. In book one, The Voyage to Magical North the crew heads north towards the source of magic. While there they fight the evil wizard Marfak West and find a dragon. In book 2, The Journey to Dragon Island the crew heads west to find the home of dragons and possibly Brine as well.Both of these books are good swashbuckling fun.
The Long Haul by Finn Murphy
What an entertaining read The Long Haul: a Trucker’s Tales of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy is. Finn is supposed to do the whole college, then white collar job, then house with a picket fence thing but like a lot of guys what he wants to do is very different. Smart but essentially bored he fondly remembers his high school jobs where he did manual labor at a gas station and then at a moving company and how great it was to be physically exhausted at the end of the day, with money in pocket and satisfied at a job well done. Much to his parents’ horror, he quits college and goes to work doing long distance moving. First he just works for one of the big moving companies moving “regular folk” but then he moves up in the world and starts moving executives, top military brass and other rich people. These are the type of moves where he and his workers come in and lay down floor and wall protectors and pack everything up themselves, load the semi trailer, drive to the destination and then unpack everything and set it up where it goes. The customer does nothing but sign paperwork and pay the bill. These are multi-million dollar loads going from this mansion to that castle. The author makes around $250,000 a year doing this work. I could go on and on about this book but in short, my eyes were opened to various things […]
City of Islands by Kali Wallace
Mara lives in a city made up of islands, appropriately called the City of Islands. This is a mysterious land where music has power and magic is real. Twelve-year-old Mara works for the Lady of Tides. Her work is to dive in the waters around the islands to find magical treasures left over from the city founders. The city founders, strange beings who vanished long ago, were capable of great feats of magic, able to create buildings and other wonderful creations through their songs. One day, Mara finds a number of strange skeletons on the sea floor, skeletons of creatures that she had never seen before. Had she discovered something left behind by the founders? Mara hopes so, but when she takes her discoveries to the Lady of Tides, she finds herself given a new challenge: break into the fortress known as the Winter Blade and report on what she finds there. What Mara finds there is danger, and that danger soon threatens Mara and all of her friends.
City of Islands is a charming fantasy book for elementary and middle school readers. Mara is daring, loyal to her friends, and has just the right amount of curiosity to make
her a fun character. The world in which she lives is wonderfully imagined. The only thing that could have improved the story was if the magic system could have been a little more developed. Still, overall, an enjoyable read.
The Legend of Greg by Chris Rylander
Why is Chicago a blue collar city with amazing architecture? Dwarves! Yes, indeed. Dwarves live within and below the great city of Chicago and have strongly influenced its development. And if you would like to know how the Great Chicago Fire happened, well, it’s lucky it wasn’t on a Thursday or it would have been worst. In The Legend of Greg, Greg Belmont says Thursdays are the worst. This adventure of Greg’s begins on a Thursday, and it is a doozy. From this one experience, Greg’s life spirals into a world he never could have imagined. Greg discovers that he is a Dwarf and has been attending a private school primarily consisting of Elves. His father is kidnapped by a Rock Troll and Greg finds friends among the people he never knew. Then there is the great battle axe Bloodletter, although it prefers to go by the name of Carl, who will help him find and if necessary, revenge his father but Greg will have to be careful because, well . . . let’s hope it isn’t Thursday.
400 Things Cops Know by Adam Plantinga
I am a big fan of police officers and 400 Things Cops Know only made my admiration for them grow. Written by police officer Adam Plantinga, it’s like a little advice book for those who are new to law enforcement. Divided into chapters like “12 things Cops Know About Domestic Violence” or “16 things Cops Know About Hookers and Johns,” the book is by turns funny and also very sad. Some of Plantinga’s advice can apply to anyone who works with the public (“if the public screams at you, don’t scream back. Because if they piss you off, they own you.”) but some of it is only applicable to their job. Plantinga reminds his fellow officers that the media decides which story they want to report, not you. So yes, you and your colleagues might be doing very good work and might have a thousand feel good stories that could be told but the media will most likely choose to report the story that puts law enforcement in a bad light. Teachers probably feel the same way. He also says it’s best to take steps in your personal life so that you don’t feel like the world is just evil. Hang around normal people who aren’t in law enforcement sometimes. Keep your home clean and organized. That way when all you see is horrible situations and constant bad decisions and filthy houses, you will be able to stay sane by having something different going on in your life (Plantinga […]