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Beverly B has commented on (212) products.

The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove
The Glass Sentence

Beverly B, December 8, 2014

Middle grade readers will love The Glass Sentence even if they are new to the genre. S.E. Grove, has a delightfully quirky imagination and great descriptive style that makes events come alive and characters seem like friends. The premise is unique and clever. The planet is divided into factions that revolve around different time plains. Some countries travel back in time and some travel forward in time. the settings are filled with intrigue and classic elements like bazaars filled with scam artists and gangsters, pirates and kidnappers. Maps can be made out of anything, even onions, and anything can be mapped - - - memories, weather, people. But, like many "first in a series" books, The Glass Sentence, introduces too many characters that are not fully developed, and too many conflicts that never go anywhere. Several questions that seem to be a big plot element through most of the story go unanswered. What makes The Glass Sentence better than most books in this genre for middle grade readers is the wonderful characters. All of them are smart, sassy, determined and loyal. From the runaway juvenile delinquent to the pirates, the cartographer and the protagonist, Sophia, each one could easily be a memorable protagonist in one of the sequels.
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Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Brown Girl Dreaming

Beverly B, December 8, 2014

Brown Girl Dreaming is on every best books of 2014 list, and has won multiple awards, but even all of that is not enough accolades for this wonderful autobiography in verse. Jacqueline Woodson's love for her family, her life in South Carolina and Brooklyn, her friends, and her writing pour out of every carefully chosen word. Her perseverance with reading and writing when learning was so challenging for her is inspiring. The deceptively simple, beautifully vivid verses allow the reader feel everything Jacqueline is feeling, and to grow up and grow aware along with Jacqueline. I found my self wishing I could sit on her grandmother's porch in South Carolina and walk down Herzl Street in Brooklyn. Some of the most significant events in her life were small events, but Jacqueline Woodson's strong unique voice makes them powerful and memorable. I sang along with Jacqueline to The Jackson 5 and sat with her as she watched Angela Davis speak to the media. I want to thank Ms. Vivo, the teacher who told a young Jacqueline, "You are a writer."
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The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin
The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery

Beverly B, December 8, 2014

Three cheers for author, Steve Sheinkin, for making history so irresistible. The Notorious Benedict Arnold is a great read for entertainment as well as history. Who knew there was so much more to the story of Benedict Arnold than the snippet of information included in textbooks? Sheinkin details Arnold's life in a thrilling fast-paced adventure that will captivate readers of all ages. Benedict Arnold was a visionary, socially inept, a good military strategist, reckless, very patriotic, totally narcissistic, a crook, and emotionally immature. He could have been a hero of the Revolution. He could have been one of the country's greatest leaders. With extensive detailed research, Sheinkin shows how complex and flawed Arnold was. He derailed his life several times before the Revolution and never showed any remorse or interest in changing his ways. He took a group of farmers and turned them into warriors. They saved the floundering revolution in their first battle. Why would Arnold turn his back on such an important achievement? Sheinkin reveals Arnold's feelings and decisions through letters Arnold wrote and records from meetings Arnold attended. Arnold's strong, often angry, opinions, and his unreasonable demands, were well known among all of the military and political leaders up and down the East Coast. Arnold burned a lot of bridges with his self-centered rants. His life could have been so different.
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Dogtag Summer by Elizabeth Partridge
Dogtag Summer

Beverly B, November 15, 2014

Set in the years following the end of the Vietnam war, Dogtag Summer is a sweet coming of age story. Author, Elizabeth Partridge, does a good job of showing the impact of the war through the eyes of a child who doesn't understand the war, but lives with the suffering it causes. Partridge also does a good job of showing the strong feelings Americans had about the war. War orphan, Tracy, sees the hostility some people have towards vets. She also sees how vets are honored and respected. These conflicting points of view add to her confusion and feelings of isolation. Her father was an American soldier. She doesn't know what happened to her extended Vietnamese family. Her adopted American parents are loving and supportive, but Tracy feels like she can't talk to them about her feelings of loneliness and doubt. She also knows her parents are keeping secrets, and she fears the secrets are about her. As Tracy's memories of her life during the war begin to surface, she pulls away from her parents and best friend. She begins to have nightmares and feelings of doom. I appreciated that Partridge does not neatly wrap up all of the conflicts for an unrealistic happily ever after ending. But Tracy, and her parents, do learn that keeping secrets does not heal emotional wounds. And Tracy learns that a true friend will forgive you if you ask.
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Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Marina

Beverly B, November 13, 2014

Carlos Ruiz Zafon writes lyrical, chilling, memorable ghost stories and gothic mysteries. Marina, too, is beautifully written, has terrifying antagonists and a complex plot. Marina would make a fabulous graphic novel or movie. Zafon's descriptions in the crisis and climax could give some reader's nightmares, but the suspense will keep even the most easily spooked readers glued to the book. Genre blending is the new "it" style in YA novels and Marina is blended to the hilt. It is mostly a story of friendship and first love, but it also has elements of folklore, sic-fi and historical fiction. It also has two big related mysteries and one small mystery unrelated to the big ones. Sometimes the story seems bogged down by all of the different events swirling around protagonist, Oscar. Oscar, and the reader, spend much of the novel feeling overwhelmed by all that is going on. But that said, Oscar and his new friends Marina and German, are interesting and likable. Oscar initially pretends to be interested in the spooky woman and creepy ritual at the cemetery just so he can be with Marina, but soon is intrigued by the mystery and is determined to find out what is going on and who the woman is. This plot line is dark and scary. When the story switches to flashback, the tone and mood also switch. The flashback story is gripping, but until the very end seems unrelated to the mystery in the cemetery. Having two different mysteries surrounding the woman in the cemetery seems unnecessary. The mystery involving Marina and her father, German is sweet and predictable. Oscar is so happy to be invited into their family, he refuses to see what is happening right in front of him. Readers will probably see it coming and reach for the tissues.
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