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review 2018-03-20 23:48
Dear Martin -- my best YA read in recent memory
Dear Martin - Nic Stone





This is what I imagine Justyce, the MC, would do if asked to hold a sign about race early on.


There has been a stream of books about race and police brutality in the last few years. One could read nothing but books on the topic and still not keep up with the books available. What a great problem to have: too many books on important topics. Now if only these books were useless because the problem had been solved.


If one can "enjoy" a book like this, then I enjoyed Nic Stone's telling of tragedy story more than I've enjoyed almost any other. There are obvious comparisons both in other recent books but also to real cases in real America. Nic Stone writes for the young reader in a simple way that never is dumbed down or too basic. She has all the nuances and difficulties of her subject matter under command as she writes the story of Justyce and his friend Manny, two black kids at a liberal, elite school and the ways they handle casual, subtle, daily racialization, microaggressions, as well as the more obvious and deadly type.


The POV shifts between third person storytelling to Justyce's interior life to second-person letters/journaling to "Dear Martin" (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) Nic Stone makes excellent use of the "safe place" classroom, where the white students do all the talking on race while the black students sit uncomfortably or angrily by, but certainly don't feel "safe" on the topic of race, despite having a black teacher. There is confusion by the bundle for our protagonist, in the way his friends behave, the racial issues involved in dating, the always-difficult world of being a teenager. He takes refuge in writing honest letters to MLK, and it's here that he feels safe enough to say what he thinks. But can even Dr. King help Justyce when the world caves in?


This is, ultimately, an uplifting story with characters who grow in the face of extreme circumstances and stereotypes that threaten to keep them stuck. Well worth anyone's time.


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review 2018-03-19 18:54
What's Izzy up to?
Hilo Book 4: Waking the Monsters - Judd Winick

Judd Winick's series continues with book 4 titled Waking the Monsters and we find ourselves back with HiLo and his friends as they continue to fight off the monsters that are being unleashed on earth by Razorwark. Two heroes are born: Comet and Star Burst. This is the book where we finally discover just exactly why Razorwark wants to destroy humanity and where all of the robots are coming from. If you've been following the series from the beginning, you'll be happy to learn that Gina finally expresses her true feelings about being a cheerleader to her mom. Eagle-eyed readers should pay special attention to the background of the illustrations for an especially funny jab at the U.S. government (unless you're a Trump supporter in which case you probably won't think it's that funny). It continues to be an action packed, humorous book about friendship and doing the right thing. Winick knows how to capture his audience's attention and keep it even when books are spread out (the next is sadly not due out until 2019). You're not even ready for the ending of this one, guys! I think the best part about reading the HiLo series is that I have quite a few kids here at the branch that are reading it right along with me. Since I'm always here I have the benefit of reading it first so when they come and check out the shelves and see it I can gush about how much they're going to like it. (Maybe I crow over reading it before them a bit but that's neither here nor there.) 10/10 for readability and 'inside' jokes + making a connection with my kids.


An example of the humor. [Source: Bam Smack Pow]


What's Up Next: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman


What I'm Currently Reading: The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2018-03-13 17:43
Today I am thankful for friendship and the love of a true friend.
There is so much I could say, but I don't want to get too personal on this one. I could get pretty mushy. We don't talk that often, and that is okay. I have my reasons. You have yours. We understand that. We've come a long way and have had our ups and downs, we are 100% truly best friends. I am thankful and I love you.
A true friend can go years without talking and start back up as if no time has passed.
Meow... >^.^<
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review 2018-03-08 01:39
The Chalk Man -- Yay, a good 2018 mystery!
The Chalk Man: A Novel - C.J. Tudor

This is pretty dazzling debut, especially given all the clunky "just OK" mysteries that litter my house, library history, recommendations and my Read piles. I'll take a mystery no matter what, but it's very nice to get a good one.


As I read this, I was reminded repeatedly of less successful (in my eyes) books I've read recently. It does the back and forth from A Time Before to Present Day and back again, which is what apparently must be done in every book written since 2016, but it didn't irk me the way many others have. Even when we jumped time, the storyline continued through. The past had a lot to do with the present. It wasn't just some device. Or if it was, it was well handled.


I also noted that All the Missing Girls has a fair number of surface similarities - both set in small insular towns, involving a circle of friends who have known each other since childhood, cue the lifelong crush, and then there's the biggie -- two murders decades apart. The similarities end there though. First of all, the characters are all original in this book. People we would be led to feel sorry for in other books are strong in this one. People we would like in other books are unlikable in this one. Everyone is very human. Nobody is a cardboard cutout. And there are some nice twisty bits that require actual attention because you haven't read them a thousand times before.


Every time I thought I was onto a clue, I was dead wrong. Twist after twist, we're kept slightly off balance by a narrator who drinks too much and is a bit of a curmudgeon in everyman clothes. Maybe because I woke up early and read in the dark, but the whole book feels spooky and yet on the surface it all seems so normal. It's never good when things seem normal. I know this, so maybe I added to the spooky factor.


I can't tell you the plot. If I tell it, I'll give something away. Again, this is not a book anyone MUST read. But if you're looking for a good mystery that was released recently, this is the best "everyone's talking about it" book I've read in a while.


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review 2018-03-06 12:48
Ready Player One = Nostalgic Fun
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
She had raven hair, styled Joan-of-Arc short...Overall, she seemed to be going for a sort of mid-’80s post apocalyptic cyberpunk girl-next-door look. And it was working for me, in a big way. In a word: hot.

This is light, easy, full of '80s nostalgia and fun. An eighteen year old kid living in rough conditions IRL has essentially retreated completely into an MMG in the US in year 2045. He finds himself in a deathmatch with a huge evil multinational, falling in love, and fighting battles we can only dream of. He's conveniently brilliant, and we feel for him because he's charming despite himself. I once spent an inordinate amount of time playing an online text adventure game called "Kingdom of Loathing" - which is not at all like OASIS, but also very much like OASIS in that it lives on pop-culture nostalgia. That's where I first learned about this book.

Nevermind that. There's nothing amazing about this one beyond pure pleasure. I do wonder, if you're too young to have seen Monty Python or played on your Atari (I played Pong for hours on end b/c my father said we couldn't afford more games) or booted up a Commodore 64, would the book be as interesting or funny? I dunno. I really enjoyed this. It was like taking a bath in my younger life.

If you want to read this, treat yourself to Will Wheaton's performance. It's worth it alone to hear him say the following lines when it's time for the elections:

It was also time to elect the president and VP of the OASIS User Council, but that was a no-brainer. Like most gunters, I voted to reelect Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton (again). There were no term limits, and those two geezers had been doing a kick-ass job of protecting user rights for over a decade.

That made me giggle so hard - at work, while running statistics. Normally not a funny task.

While this book tries to broach some larger topics, it's probably best to leave those aside. It won't change your life, it won't make you think super hard. It may, however, delight you.

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