Friday, April 22, 2022

Painter of the Dunes

Prior to reading this book I had never heard of Frank Virgil Dudley and I did not know about the conservation efforts behind the dunes either. Painter of the Dunes is both a biography and a quick history of the Indiana Dunes for young readers. It is filled with gorgeous paintings and photos that bring both Dudley's paintings and views of the Dunes. The writing style of the book was great, I just would have enjoyed it a lot more if it had been a little more comprehensive of his life. So much was left out, glossed over, or only mentioned in passing. If you want to learn more about his family life or children, look elsewhere - the biography aspect only discusses his life as an artist and enthusiast of the Dunes. I would have also liked a little more about the Dunes - I grew up in the region and have always been fascinated by them. MY final "beef" with the book is that it could have used some more editing (quite a few spelling errors or incomplete sentences) and it was missing over 30 pages. An entire section was repeated twice and then the book just picks up 30 pages later, very unfortunate. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Rise to the Sun

Not as strong as Leah Johnson's debut young adult novel, but a nice follow up. Olivia and her best friend Imani go to a three day music festival and are determined to have a great best friend weekend. Olivia needs to escape a situation in Indianapolis with a boy and this is the perfect getaway. Imani makes her promise that this weekend is just for the two of them and not for falling in love (something Olivia likes to do on a frequent basis), but those plans quickly get de-railed. Toni and her best friend, Peter, have attended this festival yearly and are excited to hang out and enjoy the sunshine and music. For Toni, it's a last hurrah before she starts college at IU. When she rescues Olivia from a camping mishap and subsequent asthma attack, the two find themselves linked for the whole weekend. Together they are going to enter the talent show, find all the golden apples, and maybe fall in love. I loved the setting, and I loved their backstories - I just didn't appreciate how quickly they both threw off their best friends. Not cool. Other than that - good story!

Where the Crawdad's Sing

This may have gotten a 5 star review if it wasn't for all the hype surrounding this book. For months, all I've heard is rave reviews about this book, it's THE hot book of 2019. Obviously, I had to find out what the hype was about. Honestly, it was a pretty decent book... it just wasn't AMAZING. It was very atmospheric with lush prose and beautiful setting. The quick and dirty summary of this book is the sad story of the marsh girl (Kya). A five year old girl is abandoned by her mother and siblings and left to "live" in heir dingy swamp cabin with her abusive father. She learns to avoid his tempers and keep her distance - but soon even that relationship will end. Having only attended school one day in her life and only having known her family, she is a shy recluse and hides from strangers. She is content to hide out in her corner of the marsh and study the shells, grasses, birds, and fish. That is until, she meets a boy. Flash forward a few years later when a boy is found murdered. How does it tie into the marsh girl? Or does it all? Beautifully written and heart-wrenching - this story of an abandoned child is haunting. Good book, but it falls just short of greatness and the expectations that everyone set.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Ranger's Odyssey

A middle grade fantasy about living up to family legacies and discovering inner strength and ambition. Mara was your average nerdy teenager, she loved playing Dungeons and Dragons with her dad and younger sister so imagine her surprise when she wakes up the day after her birthday to a strange and fantastical land. She discovers that her father had grown up here and was a ranger (leader) so she has big shoes to fill if she would like to fulfill the prophecy. Initially Mara was overwhelmed and daunted, but she decides that she is up the challenge and decides to follow her father's footsteps. In order to do that she must go on a quest and complete certain challenges to prove that she is worthy. With new friends and family on her side she forges out to create her own destiny. Full of fantastical creatures, lands, and customs; this immersive fantasy adventure is simple yet engaging and will leave readers wanting more! The first book in a trilogy. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Behind Her Smile

A novella about one young girl's sexual trauma and the steps she took to reclaim her life in the aftermath. Donna is a stand out track star, but running isn't enough for her. She has been running away from the past long enough and now she wants a fresh start - to purse piano lessons and study music in college. Her parents are perplexed by her sudden change - why would she want to quit track? Donna finally works up the courage to tell her best friend Larry, that she was raped last summer and she is tired of pretending that everything is ok. Her parents confront her about her changes and she ultimately tells them both as well that she has been violated. The only question is, is that monster(s) still in her life? Despite my low rating, the story is powerful, it's just written in a very mediocre way. Ver conversational and not at all how a young girl would talk - hence the low score. I did appreciate the appendix which contained warning signs and true stories of sexual trauma written by the victims. A good story to raise awareness of what sexual trauma can look like it just could have been told better. 

Things We Couldn't Say

A young adult book coming of age novel that focuses on being true to yourself and finding your real family. Gio has always had a big hole in his life, the void left when his birth mother abandoned him and his little brother. His father is a pastor and has remarried a wonderful woman, but it just isn't the same. What did he ever do that was so bad to be abandoned? Gio has two best friends whom he can lean on but the dynamic changes when a new white kid moves in across the street and joins the basketball team. He slowly starts to join Gio and his friends and when he announces he's bisexual, Gio has some feelings. To make matters more complicated, his birth mother has shown up, announced, and wants to be involved in her sons life again. Will Gio let her in his heart again? Will Gio let in romance? A good coming of age novel that deals with a myriad of issues that teens will relate to. One of the reasons I really enjoyed this book was that it was set in Indianapolis, specifically at Ben Davis High School, a school that I've been to in real life. It was neat to read about a place I had actually been.

Monday, April 11, 2022

A Curse of Gold


A fun sequel that I enjoyed even more than the first installment. King Midas' daughter, Kora, must find a way to defeat Dionysus (the god who cursed her father and as a result forever changed her) before he comes to their kingdom and attacks them again. Her father is weak and a myriad of beasts have started attacking the kingdom trying to attack Kora. She sets out with her lover, Royce the admiral of her father's fleet, in order to find Triton, a god who can lead them to Dionysus' hidden island. Along the way they encounter gods, monsters, and other horrible creatures and must stay alive using their wits and a half formed plan. Lovers of mythology will delight in this young adult adventure novel. Readers will want to know, are there more books in this series forthcoming?!

Saturday, April 9, 2022

The Cartographers

 Shepherd, Peng. The Cartographers. digital. 2022. 

A fast paced thriller about the secrets maps can hold. When Nell's father is found murdered in his New York Public Library Office, there is no initial cause of alarm; it must have just been a heart attack. When Nell is going through her father's belongings she discovers an odd gas station map, the very one that caused their estrangement, hidden in her father's portfolio. What is the meaning of it and why has he saved it after all this time? After a string of connected murders in the New York Public Library, Nell is convinced that someone is after this seemingly worthless map, but why? She seeks the help of a mentor and an old flame and discovers that the map she discovered may be worth millions and may be the very last copy in existence. According to online records someone has stolen or destroyed every single copy of the map. What is it hiding and what dark family secrets will it lead her on? Narrated by a full cast, this wild adventure will keep listeners engaged and invested. From one rabbit hole to another, this mysterious map will lead Nell to a place she never knew she needed to discover. This action packed thriller is too unique to forget anytime soon! - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Yerba Buena

Two women find themselves falling for each other despite the heavy baggage they each carry. Sara fled her hometown at sixteen when her girlfriend was found dead in the river. She needed a fresh start away from her hometown that sucked the life out of people. Emilie is unsure with what she wants to do with her life - she desperately wants to be closer to her addict sister, but doesn't know how to bridge the gap. In the meantime she becomes a super senior changing her major over and over. When the two star-crossed lovers meet at the hip restaurant, Yerba Buena, it isn't quite love at first sight - but the two find themselves being pulled together. If they ever set their baggage down - they might just find that they are exactly what they've been looking for.