Billboard Express by Sigmund Brouwer and Cindy Morgen

March 1, 2018

billboard-express

Billboard Express by Sigmund Brouwer &Cindy Morgan

Published by Orca Book Publishers; c2016 ; 118p.                    ISBN: 9781459811089  Series: Orca Limelights

Billboard Express, debuts Cindy Morgan, award-winning singer-songwriter/wife to Sigmund Brouwer, as co-author, in this new title in the Orca Limelight series
This tale follows a character that surfaced briefly in ‘Rock the Boat’ by Brouwer.

Charlene Adams, now known as ‘Elle McWilliam’, singer/songwriter has all the ingredients to fulfill her dream of being a big country music star. She is smart, strong voiced character, yet is plagued by underling insecurities that intrude on her as she struggles with the hustle and idiosyncrasies’ that make up the Nashville music industry.

Elle must find the courage and heart within herself in order to follow the words her mother told her “be true to yourself“!

The strength of this narrative lies in the fact that Morgan’s familiarity with the whole concept of what a singer/songerwriter has to endure in this industry shines through and is reflective in what the central character, Elle must discover.

This is a highly engaging and empowering read for any young person who has a dream!
Highly Recommended for Intermediate and Senior readers! Five stars!

five-stars

[ARC supplied By Orca Book Publishers in exchange for an honest review]

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Avalanche! by Terry Lynn Johnson

March 1, 2018

AvalancheAvalanche! by Terry Lynn Johnson [Series: Survivor Diaries: Book 2]

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: c2018: 104p.

Avalanche!! The word alone conjures up a combination of unspeakable beauty, power and terror.

Avalanche! is the second book in the acclaimed action-adventure series, Survivor Diaries by Terry Lynn Johnson.

Readers will be riveted by this narrative at the start from the opening tantalizing sentence “Tell me how you survived the avalanche?“.  The descriptive action and suspense continues  until the last page is reached!

The protagonist of this survivor diary is twelve year-old twin Ashley Hilder and her interview sets the stage for an engaging first-person narrative. Being told from this perspective heightens the reader’s anxiety levels as they become a silent witness to a family ski holiday where a rash ‘competitive’ decision has unforeseen consequences  for [both]  brother and sister.

The strength of Ashley’s character is a reflection of her intense training as a skier to always ‘be prepared’.  As the nightmare of the avalanche unfolds, this instinctive  reflex allows her to think logically and not panic.

Throughout the story, the author has interwoven all sorts of survival skills needed to survive such an event. All of the techniques that Ashley displays, are the reactions needed to get through an catastrophic event, such as being caught in an avalanche. Readers will be riveted to the narrative from beginning to end, holding their breathe until the very last chapter!

This high-octane story of survival and adventure, will have reader’s adding Ms. Johnson’s Avalanche and all the books in her Survivor Diaries, with Lauren Tarshis’  “I survived” and Gary Paulsen’s “Hatchet” books.

Series Titles: Overboard

Highly Recommended  for any reader from grade 3-6 and every school library!!!
five-stars


Counting on Katherine : how Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13

February 16, 2018

290FEC1F-5694-43D6-BB3E-8FCFEE1D2760Counting on Katherine : how Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13  by Helaine Becker / illustrated by:                   Dow Phumiruk  [ARC]

Published by: Christy Ottaviano Books [Henry Holt & Co.] : c2018

Junior Library Guild Selection

As the information from the back of this book states, “Katherine Johnson is the extraordinary mathematician who calculated the flight path for NASA’s first Apollo moon landing”, but this exciting new story is so much more than a book just full of information! Author, Becker and illustrator Phumiruk are a wonderful team! Beautiful artwork  provides the perfect accompaniment  to the succinct sentences and together they paint a picture of an inquisitive, insatiable person whose boundless curiousity about the world her  was never quenched.

Counting on Katherine” is a brilliant read. Ms. Becker has skillfully woven a biographical narrative that is totally approachable to the reader. It is an empowering story for all girls, underlining that dreams can come true….to dream big and to keep chasing your dream. Persistence, courage and determination such as shown by Katherine Johnson allowed her to attain a goal that opened the door not only for women of colour, but for all women.

Thank you for gifting young readers with empowerment!

Highly recommended for all elementary school and public libraries as a ‘sophisticated picture book!
five-stars

Also a movie tie-in: “Hidden Figures”


A World Below

February 15, 2018

below

A World Below : by Wesley T. King

Published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books  c.2018;  274p.  [Ebook generously supplied by NetGalley] : to be released March2018

[A 2018 Junior Library Guild selection]

From celebrated, multi-nominated award winning author, Wesley King, comes his latest middle grade adventure, “A World Below“. The ethereal-like cover only hints at what is the story could be like between the pages!

Readers will be shocked, riveted and intrigued from the first page : “consider everyone on this list missing or deceased.  Notify parents immediately. Pictures for identification of bodies may be required.” 

As the title implies, the majority of this fast paced adventure story dives deep below ‘terra ferma’ and takes the world of caving, caverns, and tunnels to a whole new level! The author`s effective use of vivid description, intense action and suspense continually builds with each alternating ‘time’ stamped chapter.

For myself, A World Below is a cool mix of  Arthur Conon Doyle’s The Lost World and Jules Verne’s “Journey to the centre of the earth” and Edgar Rice Burrough’s ‘The Lost Continent’ — a true science fiction fantasy adventure tale.

This is a story of challenges and discovery that will captivate even the most reluctant of readers!

Highly Recommended for all Middle Grade readers who wish to go ‘spelunking’!!

five-stars

Booktrailer: A World Below


Connecting Dots by Sharon Jennings

February 18, 2015

Connecting Dots Publisher: Second Story Press; Series: ‘Gutsy Girl’ ; 183p.:c2015

Sharon Jennings’ long anticipated companion to the multi-nominated book Home Free has finally been launched!

Connecting Dots is the heart wrenching story of feisty Cassandra Jovanovich, Leanne Mets’ ‘bosom’ friend, first introduced in ‘Home Free’.

We are given a small hint that our central character  has a very direct and forthright attitude, as she remarks on her friend’s constant inquisitiveness about her life. The italicized word “my” in the sentence “so I am sitting at my desk in my room” is a subtle indicator for the reader that this tiny word will become important in the narrative of Cassie’s life.

Society in the late ’50’s and early 60’s often dictated the social norms of the day. It is for this reason that every aspect of family life comes under close scrutiny when the circumstances of Cassie’s birth are established. At age 5 with the untimely passing of her Grandmother, we see how Cassie’s sliver of childhood innocence rapidly diminishes as she is passed through the ranks of various relatives.

Over time she is looked upon as a liability. Facing ongoing criticism, her confusion and mistrust merge into a mask of stubborn defiance. Cassie’s constant ‘tough -act’ demeanor translates further when participating in a school play her ‘acting skills’ win her positive praise. Amazed at how she feels on stage, she vows to explore this revelation and strives to hone it into a new found career.  Cassie faces the ultimate test and when she freezes it is Lee’s genuine open-minded belief in her that comes to the rescue. It is at this awkward moment that the reader is given a glimpse of the real Cassie beneath the cultivated tenacious exterior.

I found this tale of a harrowing childhood to be a sensitive coming of age portrayal. Ms Jennings’ has written Cassie’s story with great perceptiveness and understanding, which is communicated to the reader who in turn cannot help but become an unshakable champion of Cassandra Jovanovich!

Spirited, inquisitive and quirky, “almost twelve-year old” Cassandra Jovanovich, exhibits such a fearlessness that despite all odds, the reader cannot help but admire, applaud and ….be…..amazed!

Highly Recommended!!!     Be prepared “to be amazed at what will emerge!”

Reading Ability: Junior : Intermediate (Grade 6,7,8)

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Themes: Abuse; Acceptance; Grief; Courage; Coming of Age; Acting, Actors; Friendship; Social bias;

Second Story Press: http://secondstorypress.ca/books/175-home-free

Author Interviews : http://www.openbooktoronto.com/atsintziras/blog/interview_with_sharon_Jennings

 

Thank you to SECOND STORY Press for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 


Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

April 8, 2014

Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

ARC: compliments of Pajama Press

: 273 pages; c2014 

From the publisher:

“A riveting novel set in Iran, where sexual orientation can have deadly consequences.

Based on a true story”.

 

Genre: Realistic fiction

Grades : 8, 9 (intermediate)

 

 

It is the stark dramatic cover of Deborah Ellis’ latest book, that captured my attention.

Reading those three simple words, ‘Moon at nine’….seeing the hazel-coloured eyes staring through two strands of barbwire … for me, is a very powerful image. Resisting the urge to flip the book over, I tried to figure out what this story would be about. My musings were not even near to what Ellis had written.

This story is far from being atypical….it is about a fifteen year old Iranian teen named Farrin, who is the daughter of a wealthy family in 1980’s Tehran, set during the Iran and Iraq war known as the ‘Gulf War’.

We see the story of Farrin’s privileged life, unfold through her eyes. Farrin is dissatisfied — almost bored, with her life, attending an all girls school, while evading daily bombings, and becomes less tolerant with her relationship with her mother.

Her facade of discontent comes to a screeching halt with the arrival of a new student Sadira. Sadira’s outgoing, gentle nature (personality) touches something within Farrin. The two girls connect on a level that has Farrin questioning just who she is.   The pull of Sadira’s steadfastness and compassionate caring personality is something that Farrin cannot resist and they are drawn to each other — like moths to a flame. Though they try to suppress this feeling, but to no avail, Farrin and Sadira find that their friendship evolves into a relationship that can only lead to an outcome that neither girl would anticipate.

 

Freedom … a word that is often taken for granted … and the author has given us a glimpse into a world that reads like a part of history, yet it is still a part of the present … for many young women throughout the world.

This is a story, that I am glad, author, Deborah Ellis had the courage to tell, as it was, for the woman who had the courage to tell it.

Great classroom discussions and highly recommended!!


Awakenings by Canadian author Hally Willmott

October 26, 2013

This debut novel by Canadian author, Hally Willmott., took me by surprise! A teen fantasy with a mix of the supernatural quickly builds momentuem with the sudden and unexpected death of sixteen year old Jacey’s parents.

The story accelerates as Jacey and her older brother, Hudson, race to the hometown of their Aunt and their birth ‘ Nevaeh’ racing toward sanctuary. It is during this period of grief and flight, that Jacey experiences visitations from malevolent entities and visions in a mirror – an image of herself!
Jacey is plagued with more questions then answers….thus begins her journey of self discovery. Will she have the courage and determination to forge ahead and do what must be done or will the outside forces bend her to their will?

This exciting debut novel will certainly captivate teen readers!

Awakenings -- by Hally Willmott

Awakenings — by Hally Willmott