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In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks
In a World Just Right

Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com, May 8, 2015

Life has not been easy for Jonathan Aubrey after he survived the plane crash that killed his family 10 years ago. Now a senior in high school, he’s adrift without plans for after he graduates. There’s only one place where he feels happy��"the alternate world he created where Kylie Simms is his girlfriend.

Jonathan doesn’t know how he is able to create worlds, it’s something that started after the accident, but he knows it’s the only thing that’s kept him going over the years. But when reality and the Kylie world start to collide, he realizes he’ll have to choose how he wants to live in the future.

In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks takes readers into the possibility that worlds can exist alongside the one we know. The physical and emotional distance escaping into them brings can have powerful appeal to anyone going through problems in the real world. Jonathan’s dilemma comes from deciding whether it’s best to take chances on rejection and pain in the real world or live in a place where people behave a certain way only because he created them that way. Neither world will be perfect.

With several plot twists and moral and ethical issues to discuss, In a World Just Right is a good choice for book clubs whose members are 14 or older.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
Our Endless Numbered Days

Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com, April 16, 2015

Eight-year-old Peggy’s father is obsessed with being able to survive in a disaster. She has to practice packing a rucksack and being ready to flee in minutes in case the need arises. Peggy’s mother is a renowned pianist from Germany who tolerates her husband and her friends. But when Peggy’s father tells her to pack her bags one day and they set off from their home in London, she doesn’t know that home will become a remote cottage in the German wilderness and that she won’t see her mother or civilization again for another nine years.

Together, Peggy and her father survive by trapping forest animals, growing vegetables and making do with the few things they found in the cabin and they brought with them. Peggy believes the world outside has ended, and they are the only two people left alive. Her father’s deteriorating mental condition forces a series of events that eventually conclude with her return from the woods.

Told from Peggy’s point of view as a 17 year old recovering from her ordeal and an eight year old experiencing it, Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller is lyrical and heartbreaking and complicated. Peggy’s point of view as a child is superbly captured. Believing her mother and everyone else in the world dead, she trusts her father completely and depends upon him for survival. Yet readers know Peggy leaves the woods for some reason, and the mystery compels the story forward.

Fuller’s descriptions of the forest are vivid and she lets her characters show themselves through small and big actions that bring them fully to life. Despite my skepticism that anywhere in Germany is remote enough (or was in the 1970s and 80s when the story takes place) for there to be no evidence of life outside the clearing (not even an airplane overhead?), I found the story compelling. And while I would have liked to know more about how Peggy reacted to and dealt with her growing body and the changes that puberty brought, I found it a poignant and thought-provoking tale exposing the vulnerability and trust children must place in their parents for their own survival and what happens when that trust is breached.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)



Debunk It!: How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation by John Grant
Debunk It!: How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation

Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com, April 16, 2015

Say you’re at a party and someone is talking to you and a few others about their beliefs on vaccinations. Or maybe climate change is their topic, or evolution, or alternative medicine. What they have to say sounds like it could be wrong, but how do you know? If you’re not an expert on a subject yourself, how can you spot the signs that the speaker is no expert either?

John Grant, the author of more than 70 books and an expert on conspiracy theories, has a few ideas for you. In Debunk It: How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation, Grant starts off by talking about critical thinking, and how learning to analyze a few key points can help you recognize when someone is trying to pass off information as accurate when they’re either just repeating something they’ve heard or purposefully trying to mislead. There’s a lot of conflicting information coming our way these days, so learning to think critically is an important skill to have.

Grant is an equal opportunity debunker, taking on issues dear to those who lean politically left and right. He also delves into issues from the past, to show how conspiracy theories and misinformation have been around about as long as people have been keeping records of what others have said. All the more reason to realize that someone with an agenda will always work to confuse issues of the day. Debunk It! offers tips on how to recognize when we are being misled and ways to find information that is considered accurate. Grant backs up his words with footnotes and an extensive bibliography for readers who want to check his sources. I recommend it for teens and others who want to be more informed consumers of information.
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The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales by Franz Xaver Von Schonwerth
The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales

Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com, April 16, 2015

The Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault��"all were well known collectors of fairy tales, those magical, lesson-infused stories spread centuries ago in the oral tradition. A lesser known collector, Franz Xaver Von Schönwerth, was also at work recording old stories he heard in northern Bavaria during the same time as the Grimms. Until recently, his work remained lost. But with the discovery of manuscripts resting in a German archive, Schönwerth’s tales have now been published for all to read.

The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales is a collection of more than 70 of Schönwerth’s stories, selected from a cache of 500 by the woman who discovered them, Erika Eichenseer. Many of the tales sound similar to ones already known, such as Cinderella and Seven at One Blow, but many are less familiar.

Most of the tales are dark and cautionary, often with one wise brother or sister who outsmarts siblings, or a magical being who brings aid to those who are destitute. Sometimes animals play the role of enchanted humans waiting to be set free. All provide a glimpse into the lives of the people who told these stories and passed them along to others. The Turnip Princess should appeal to anyone who enjoys reading fairy tales, both as a comparison to what has come before them and as something to be appreciated on its own.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin
Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me

Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com, April 16, 2015

Most 15 year olds might be happy to discover they were going to spend six months living in Greece. But Zona is not one of them. When she finds out her dad plans to uproot her normal life so he can conduct research for a book on the Greek economy, she is determined to stay in Manhattan while he goes to Athens. But Zona’s dad has an ulterior motive: Greece is where Zona’s mom was born and where her large family still lives.

Zona’s mom died the day she was born, and there has been no contact with the family since then. She would prefer to leave it that way. Her trip to Greece will show her that family ties may stretch, but they are hard to break forever.

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin looks at how family betrayals and misunderstandings can lead to unnecessary pain through the years. Zona and her dad have led a quiet life together, and she has close friends that she relies on to help her navigate life. But as she gets to know her distant family, she learns about the power of family bonds, to both hurt and comfort.

Athens and the island of Crete both play supporting roles in the book as life in the big city and on a small, quiet island also come to life. I recommend Sophomore Year is Greek to Me for readers aged 12 and up.
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