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The Powell's Playlist | June 18, 2014

Daniel H. Wilson: IMG The Powell’s Playlist: Daniel H. Wilson

Like many writers, I'm constantly haunting coffee shops with a laptop out and my headphones on. I listen to a lot of music while I write, and songs... Continue »


Customer Comments

Beverly B has commented on (187) products.

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

Beverly B, July 14, 2014

Even readers who are not particularly interested in chimps or endangered species will love Threatened. Eliot Schrefer's extensive research into the geography, chimp behavior, and poaching problems of the West African jungles make Threatened a compelling read. As they follow Luc's adventures with the chimps, reader's will not see chimps as cute little human-like creatures, but they will share Luc's respect for the chimps' ferocious way of life. They will also share Luc's determination to protect them no matter what. Threatened is also a story of surviving loss. Something Luc shares with some of the chimps. "I was finally making a choice of my own, and it made me feel a contentment that lived right next to terror." Luc is an AIDS orphan in Gabon who has known way too much loss and exploitation in his young life. When an Egyptian researcher offers him a job as his assistant, and the chance to escape the man who has enslaved him since his mother's death, Luc jumps at the chance even though he has only heard horror stories about the chimps who live in the dense Gabonese jungle. Luc has no idea how extraordinary his adventure will be or how much his life will change. Threatened is an insightful, touching story.
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The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
The Running Dream

Beverly B, July 14, 2014

It is rare for a YA novel to deal with teen tragedies in a realistic way, but The Running Dream portrays the loss and recovery from a horrific car accident in way that feels authentic. Jessica, an athlete, loses her leg and her dream of being a track superstar when the school bus is slammed by a speeding drunk driver. The Running Dream takes the reader through Jessica's emotional and physical damage, her slow painful recovery, and her new plan for the future, without being schmaltzy or trite. The Running Dream is also a coming-of-age story. Teen girls will relate to Jessica's search for passion and purpose.
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Mexican Whiteboy by Matt De La Pena
Mexican Whiteboy

Beverly B, June 24, 2014

Mexican WhiteBoy is a touching and realistic story about the struggles of being a cultural misfit. Danny doesn't fit in to his mother's white community, or the exclusive private school he attends, because he looks "too Mexican." He does't fit in with his father's very close extended Mexican American family because he is unfamiliar with the Hispanic culture of their neighborhood, and he doesn't speak Spanish. He socially withdraws and self-harms to deal with the stress of not having anyone who understands how he feels. Matt de la Pena creates likable characters who are earnest in their attempts to be supportive of Danny, but inept in their efforts to reach out. Luckily, Danny recognizes that his Mexican family and new Mexican friends are trying. His first ever best friend, Uno, sees Danny's pain and shows him how to rise above it. Uno's recovering addict father helps Danny understand the struggles of his absentee father and helps him realize he can create his own destiny. For Danny that destiny is baseball. Danny is a pitching phenomenon with no confidence in his talents. Uno is determined to make Danny's dream come true whether Danny is ready or not. Everyone should have a friend as great as Uno.
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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
We Were Liars

Beverly B, June 24, 2014

We Were Liars is a haunting story. It reminded me of the British novels of early last century where the entitled classes are desperately trying to stay relevant in a quickly changing world. In We Were Liars, Cady's extended family is desperately trying to hang on to their entitled insignificant lives and destroying the family in the process. Just like in the British novels, it is an outsider who is treated kindly, but not truly accepted, who foresees what will happen. We Were Liars is a difficult book to review because there is little that can be said without giving away the twists. It is a great book for mystery and/or romance fans. Thoughtful readers who have some experience with mysteries will probably figure out most of the mystery, but only if they are focused on looking for the huge, but subtle, clues author E.Lockhart brilliantly weaves in to the story. We Were Liars is a little soap opera-ish, but Cady and her cousins are intriguing enough to make the melodrama tolerable. Most YA readers will be engrossed from page 1 and shocked when all is revealed.
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Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden
Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

Beverly B, June 13, 2014

"I had to learn how to be human." This is what Shin Dong-Hyuk said when author Blaine Harden asked him what his most difficult adjustment was after escaping from one of North Korea's most notorious political prisoner labor camps. Shin's detailed descriptions of the horrors of the camp are shocking, but it is the emotional persecution that is most heartbreaking. Shin was not a political prisoner. His grandfather was. But in North Korea, if a family member is sentenced to a camp, the whole family is imprisoned for many generations. Shin, born in the camp, had no knowledge of an outside world. He only knew the brutality of the camp. From the time he could walk, he was starved, beaten, worked to exhaustion, and forced to spy on, and betray, other camp residents in an effort to avoid torture. When he realizes he is going to be executed, out of desperation, he makes what he thinks will be a futile attempt to escape. He has no idea what is outside the prison and is completely dumfounded and amazed by what he encounters. He has no idea how to fit in to a normal society. He has no idea how normal people move through the day or interact with others. He has never seen technology or modern conveniences. He has never had a friend or close family member. He does have an admirable determination to survive, to thrive, and to educate the world about human rights abuses in North Korea.
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