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review 2014-12-30 03:56
The Secret Sky
The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan - Atia Abawi

This YA novel isn't a true story per se, but it is inspired by actual accounts the author came across while living in Afghanistan. It's a story of forbidden young love in an unforgiving environment where the Taliban and their cruelty have become a part of everyday life. I found it emotionally engaging, and I can't wait to start sharing this with my students. If I could afford to buy a class set, this would be our next read.

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review 2014-11-27 23:09
King Dork Approximately
King Dork Approximately - Frank Portman

DNF, so no rating

Netgalley review copy


The unnecessary profanity makes this a novel I couldn't use in class and wouldn't want to read all the way through.  Not for me. 

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review 2014-07-31 22:50
Well worth the pain
Days of Blood & Starlight - Laini Taylor

If you are looking for a happy book, this is not it. There is little happy about this book.


It's about war, and aftermath, about guerrilla tactics and terrorism, about monsters leading the game, and families being slaughtered. And paying evil unto evil in a seemingly unending cycle. Plus some very scream worthy diabolus ex machina.


But there are little shining spots. And little acts of mercy that wish to get paid forward. And there is hope, as befits the theme. Heart wrenching, beautiful, terrible hope.


I'll be wanting to read the next, because even if you expect a good ending, you wish a good ending, not only there is no warranty, but also no seeming way without a miracle. And would I forgive a device in this desperate case! And, well, there is that little powder keg everyone seems to be sitting on.




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review 2014-07-18 22:59
Girl Soldier
Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda's Children - Faith J.H. McDonnell,Grace Akallo

from the Publisher's Description: "For several decades a brutal army of rebels has been raiding villages in northern Uganda, kidnapping children and turning them into soldiers or wives of commanders. More than 30,000 children have been abducted over the last twenty years and forced to commit unspeakable crimes. Grace Akallo was one of these. Her story, which is the story of many Ugandan children, recounts her terrifying experience."


The book has two authors/narrators, Faith and Grace, who alternate chapters. Faith provides straight-forward, historical background information on Uganda and the country's leading political, religious, and historical figures like Idi Amin and Joseph Kony. Faith's chapters are obviously meticulously researched and help the reader understand the roots of the civil war.


Grace, on the other hand, is a former child soldier who takes the reader on a disturbing, frightening journey from the time Grace was kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army in the middle of the night, to her harrowing experiences as a child soldier, to her final walk to freedom. Ultimately, it is Grace's faith that sees her through.


While I found the alternating chapters off-putting, other people might enjoy the emotional break between the chapters of Grace's harrowing tale. One thing's for certain: Grace Akallo has an important and heart breaking story to tell. 

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review 2014-07-17 19:34
The Cure for Dreaming
The Cure for Dreaming - Cat Winters

This fast-paced novel tells the story of Olivia, a motherless young woman and burgeoning suffragist. Olivia's father, controlling and dominant, considers suffrage to be the bane of American society and wants his daughter to gladly accept her role as a voiceless, powerless shadow of a person. In order to get his rebellious daughter back under his control and render her properly suitable for marriage, Olivia's father resorts to forced hypnosis, and the results are anything but controllable.


On the downside, a number of the characters are either staunchly good or bad and lack the emotional complexity that would have added depth to the story. On the upside, however, the plot is fast paced, engaging, and contains no fluff or filler. I read this in one sitting because there simply was no good stopping place, a lull in the action where I lost interest or didn't need to know what was going to happen next, which is what will keep my students engaged with the text. The novel provides ample food for thought and would be a great text to use as the basis for a Socratic seminar. My high school students would want to read and talk about this book, and it would work nicely as part of our unit on the changing role of women in society.


I appreciate the publisher's allowing me to examine a digital review copy for educational purposes.

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