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review 2017-05-04 18:42
Art brings hope, even in war...
Amina: Through My Eyes - Lyn White,J.L. Powers


The debris was her canvas, the detritus of war her personal collection of art materials. And the itch in her fingertips drove her to keep creating, no matter how dangerous it was to do it.

- Chapter 1


She wanted both freedom and safety but she knew that was impossible.

- Chapter 1


Sometimes she forgot the fear, but when she remembered, it was worse than if she'd never forgotten. Because what kind of person could forget that you were living in the middle of a warzone?

- Chapter 8


Amina is 14-years old and she lives in Mogadishu. Her home has been damaged in the war. When her father is arrested and her brother is kidnapped by rebel forces, she is left to provide for her pregnant mother and ailing grandmother.


Amina is a brave girl who feels vulnerable and abandoned. She creates street art to help deal with her feelings and also to encourage people to feel hopeful. I liked Amina's character a lot. She tries her best to be strong, but she is also vulnerable. The story ends on a note of hope even though there is also sadness.


This book is part of the Through My Eyes series that chronicles the lives of children caught up in contemporary conflicts. The themes of courage, determination, and perseverance appear throughout the series. I think young people will enjoy this series and it could help promote empathy and cross-cultural understanding.


Amina isn't preachy, and it gave me an understanding of the conflict in Somalia that I never had before. 

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review 2017-04-22 05:12
Two teenage boys figuring out their identity and their friendship...
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz



This is an amazing book that seems to truly understand the minds of teenage boys trying to navigate life. It appeals to both boys and girls who are trying to figure out their identity and their lives. Dante seems to know who he is from the beginning, but Aristotle (Ari) is constantly worrying about the fact that he doesn't know who he is or what he wants.


Some of the students in my class found Ari's angst to be more than a bit annoying, but I really enjoyed this book. I felt for Ari, even though, at times, I didn't really understand why he was so angry. Dante didn't always understand it either. However, I am certain I was just as confused and confusing as a teenager (especially to my mom). And now, I have my own teenage daughter. Her moods are more than a bit unpredictable and confusing; so now I know what my mother felt like.


I think teens, especially those questioning their sexuality, will enjoy this book.


Recommended to:

Grades 9-12, both boys and girls. 

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review 2016-09-01 02:45
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Mildred D. Taylor

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

 Mildred D. Taylor

Paperback, 304 pages
Published November 27th 2001 by Puffin Books (first published October 1976)
ISBN:  0140384510 (ISBN13: 9780140384512)
Great story to share with kids nowadays. Set in the rural south in the US, the stories follow 1 family, from the children's point of view, as they deal with racial segregation in the educational system, in the small town as share croppers and landowners. I enjoyed the main character, Cassie Logan, as she learns about family loyalty, holding your head up high, while dealing with some  very real racism. 
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review 2016-03-09 03:32
Imagine living in a museum...
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - E.L. Konigsburg

Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away. That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her back. She didn't like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes. Therefore, she decided that her leaving home would not be just running from somewhere but would be running to somewhere. To a large place, a comfortable place, an indoor place, and preferably a beautiful place. And that's why she decided upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

-Chapter 1


I loved this book as a kid. I remember thinking how amazing it would be to live in a museum or even a department store. This book actually holds up over time. It was fun to read and I was rooting for Claudia and Jamie.

Claudia is a strong character and she fits in my grad school paper perfectly. She knows what she wants and she is determined to get it.


Recommended to:

Grades 3-5, girls and boys who like a realistic adventure.

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review 2016-02-14 20:06
Give Me A Reason by Lyn Gardner
Give Me A Reason - Lyn Gardner


Give Me A Reason by Lyn Gardner

Pages: 662

Date: October 25 2013

Publisher: Self

Series: N/A



**Winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Awards in LGBT Fiction**

**Finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards for Fiction: Gay & Lesbian**

**Winner of the Silver Medal in the 2014 Global Ebook Awards in Gay / Lesbian / LGBT Fiction**

**Winner of the Silver Medal in the 2014 eLit Book Awards – Illuminating Digital Publishing Excellence in Gay / Lesbian Fiction**



Rating: 5.50 out of 5.50

Read: February 12 to 14 2016


By the time I got to this book, there were a large-ish number of reviews, and all but 24 people 'liked' the book (or 4% of the readers; I'm going with how GoodReads takes everyone that rates a book 3,4,5 and calls them 'like' for % purposes). And so, I'll just tackle a few things here and there.


1) I loved how fully formed the characters were. I'm sure there were things here or there that could be pointed at, probably some of the side characters, but there's even more fully formed side characters going on in this book than is normal in a romance.


2) And we come to the main thing I wanted to mention - the . . .genre of romance novels, I guess I could label the 'thing'. Romance novels, with exceptions, seem to be relatively repetitive in at least one way - they might not all get there the same way, they might have a million and one variations, but they tend to follow a certain path. Two people (occasionally more, but I do not tend to read love triangle books, and rarely poly books) circle each other for most of the book, and even if they 'come together' as a couple fairly early on in the book, that doesn't remove the book from the repetitive cycle. It just means that the couple will probably either have outside forces pound on the relationship (a danger/damsel in distress type situation), or internal forces pound on the relationship (fear, miscommunication, cheating, etc.). And then, as long as the book is actually in the capital R Romance category, then the book ends with a HEA (Happily Ever After) or HFN (hmm, I have the second one wrong, but whatever the letters are, they mean 'Happy for now'). Some include a chapter or two in an epilogue section that follows the couple as a couple. As a fully formed entity. Some don't have that epilogue.


Romance novels tend to get around this relatively repetitive trap of having the majority of the book being about the formation of a couple-hood instead of being about a couple as a combined entity through two to three means - (A) create a series wherein the couple in book 1 can show up as a fully formed entity in book 2 but are not the main characters (see such series like Soho Loft, that Shifter Universe by Jae, the two series by Lynn Galli (Virginia Clan and Aspen Friends) etc.), (B) have a book that's really really long, like, say, this book here. (C) is something like a trick - have romance elements but put the book in a different genre - which the fanfiction by Fletcher DeLancey involving Star Trek Voyager mostly is - Science Fiction with very strong elements of Romance. Or be like two of Galli's books - follow the same couple, but add an element, the second book changes the normal emotional 'things' that wrap themselves around a couple and slam against them, and wrap themselves, instead, around family - so it's a two book series involving a Romance, and something else (Slice of Life?).


I thought, while reading, that the book could have had a great closing roughly around the 56% mark. And when I feared, as I occasionally fear, how this specific author was going to 'mess with' the couple, I kind of wanted it to end there. I'm really really glad that the book did not, in fact, end there, though. But if it had, then it would have been two things - longer than the average romance novel (being, as it is, that 56% of the book would be 371 pages, and most Romance books from 'official channels' in the lesbian genre tend to be closer to 240 to 300 something); and, the second thing, roughly in line with that repetitive thing I mentioned above that Romance books fall into. However they get there, the books are about the formation of a couple, not about a couple living their life after formation of their relationship. Well, this 'formation' didn't end at 56%, but there was enough there for it to close, then have some epilogue tacked on the end. Then spin the second book out as a sequel. I'm, roughly, 100% happy that that isn't the direction this author went.


As I think I mentioned somewhere along the way - this is a fully formed book. A mixture of a Slice of Life book, with a Romance, with a Family novel all rolled into one (with the addition of a 'Holiday' novel slipped inside as well). It even had the element of danger/damsel in distress/etc. mixed in. And no I'm not only talking about flashbacks for that/this point.


Hmms. I just realized that I finished this book in the early morning hours of the 14th. It's one of those books I figured I'd read a little then close it for sleep, glanced at the clock and saw it was 1 am, glanced again when I realized I'd finished the book and noticed it was 3:30 am. *shrug* Back to the 14th - it's a rather good book to read/finish up on/begin the day with on Valentine's Day.


ETA: Oh, right, forgot two elements that I reminded myself of when I glanced at my status updates. This book includes a love scene, and yes I call it love instead of sex, that is arguably the best I've read. And I forgot when I was mentioning things that this book contains - it also contains humor. Bits and pieces here and there.


From my status updates:

- Now that, friends and whatevers, is how you write a love scene. A+ and words like that.


- 'Smiling at her accomplishment, Toni looked over at Laura. “I recommend we don’t open this until Scotland or the bloody thing will projectile vomit all over the motorway.”' - re: filling trunk with luggage. Was funny. I laughed.


February 14 2016

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