“Finding Hope” Colleen Nelson

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. To be published April 12, 2016. Dundurn.

FindingHopeFifteen-year-old Hope can’t express herself except through poems she scrawls on her body, the wall, scraps of paper or any handy surface.

Something awful happened to Eric so, from anger, sadness and frustration, he turned to the sweet release of meth. Now an addict, cast out from his family and adrift on the sea of despair, he nurses revenge along with his broken dreams.

By transferring to a boarding school, Hope is sure she can transform herself and forget about Eric and his problems. Instead she gets involved with The Ravens, a popular group of girls who have their own plans for her. Their constant belittling and bullying soon leaves Hope drowning in her own sea of regret and loneliness, ready to throw away everything good in her life.

In alternate voices brother and sister tell their individual stories of loss, loneliness, despair and fear. Nelson’s short, cliffhanger chapters will keep teens reading until its very satisfying conclusion.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

“Shattered Blue” Lauren Bird Horowitz

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. The Light Trilogy, #1. Skyscape. To be published September 15, 2015.

ShatteredBlueI received this ARC from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Noa has been struggling to hold herself together after the death of her sister Isla; her only joy her little sister Sasha and writing poetry. Her dark days take on a little cheer when transfer student Callum shows up at Harlow Academy, and they seem to have an instant connection. Though Callum is a fae who has been banished from his world, and can only live through Light emitted by mortals that drains them of happiness, they fall madly in love.

This love is tested when Judah, Callum’s brother, comes into their world. Judah is brash and fierce, contrasted with Callum’s calmness and quietness of strength, yet Noa finds herself drawn to both of them. When a Hunter from their world captures Callum he sets into motion a chain of events, which will change all of their lives forever.

“Shattered Blue” continues the worn out storyline of love triangles between one girl and two guys, making me want to cry out “ANOTHER triangle?!” I also had some questions and concerns for the author, but don’t want to give spoilers in this section of the review. However, if you don’t mind spoilers, keep scrolling down to read my questions.

Despite the love triangle and a few issues mentioned in the spoiler section, the book was rather interesting and caused me to become invested in the characters. Their search to right the wrongs brought on by lies and deception ended in a huge cliffhanger ending, which sets the stage for part two of the trilogy.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I am confused, and have many questions for the author. How did Judah’s missing ring get into Miles’ pocket when he wasn’t even in the same room as Fabian and Judah when they were fighting over it? What took Olivia and Miles so long to catch up to Judah and Noa when it seemed as if they would be hot on their trail when they saw them disappearing into the woods?

Lastly I want to go on record that I thought Callum’s explanation of what happened to Lily was too complicated to be believable, and was rather strange. Sasha wasn’t adopted, so I don’t know how his explanation fit into a pregnancy, as it didn’t make any sense from a practical point of view. I know it’s a fantasy and readers have to suspend disbelief, but this was rather hard to swallow.

“1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion” Morgan Llywelyn

Rated 5 stars ***** 1998. Irish Century Novels #1. Tom Doherty Associates. 447 pp. (Includes alphabetical list of Historical Characters, Maps, Notes and a Select Bibliography.)

1916When Ned Halloran was 15 years old, he and his parents left their small town in County Clare Ireland for his sister’s wedding in New York. Her fiancé had purchased second-class tickets for them to sail on the Titanic, and he was excited to be on board such a magnificent ship.

Though his parents were among those who perished that fateful night, Ned survived and returned to Ireland where he was sent to Scoil Eanna (Saint Enda’s School) for boys. Padraig Pearse, Headmaster, was a kind, gentle poet and lover of all things Irish and, under his years of tutelage, Ned grew into a man who learned to love his country and countrymen.

In Ned’s coming of age story readers are introduced to real Irish men and women who chafed and suffered under the yoke of British tyranny and dominance in the years leading up to 1916. Other uprisings over the many years of dominance over their country had failed, but the poets and revolutionaries who took part in The Easter Rising of 1916 were sure their fight would succeed and would create a free Republic for their beloved country. In great detail Llywelyn intermingles Ned’s story with those brave Irish men and women who, against all odds, fought against a more powerful army for the right to rule themselves in the country they loved.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

“Confessions of a Book Burner: Personal Essays and Stories” Lucha Corpi

Rated 3 stars *** 2014. Arte Publico Press. 242 pp.

ConfessionsOfABookBurnerLucha Corpi, formally known as Luz del Carmen Corpi de Hernandez, is a 72-year-old Chicana poet, mother, wrestler of life and dreams, author of Chicana crime fiction, and a civil rights advocate. Through “Confessions of a Book Burner,” Lucha crafts an impelling look at the hopes, fears and dreams that led to her becoming an established Chicana poet.

Through the use of flashbacks and the present time, Lucha describes the childhood she spent with her family and extended family in her beloved Mexican village of Jáltipan de Morelos, Veracruz and in San Luis Potosí where she moved when she was 8 years old. Storytelling, instrumental to learning family history in many Mexican homes, is used by Lucha to craft her own story and bring it to life for her readers. Descriptions of village life, holiday and familial customs as well the beauty of nature play large roles in her recollections.

Lucha discusses the meaning of dreams, debates whether or not the color of one’s skin defines a person, how one discovers their own destiny, and the role clairvoyance played in her life. She also recounts events in Berkeley and Oakland California during the 1960’s and 1970’s in which she participated, which weave an historical narrative of the Chicano fight for equal rights in education and in their work lives.

“Confessions of a Book Burner” is a must-have for students of Chicano history, lovers of poetry, and those interested in seeing how an immigrant from Mexico changed her world.

Recommended for Adult readers.

 

 

“The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist” Margarita Engle

Rated 3 stars *** 2013. Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). 182 pp. (Includes Historical Background, Historical Note, The Writing of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, and References). Winner of the 2014 Pura Belpre Author Honor award.

TheLightningDreamerGertrudis, known as Tula, lived during a time in Cuba’s history when it was ruled by Spain, slaves abounded, women didn’t have any rights and those having thoughts of independence were severely punished. From an early age, Tula believed in emancipation for slaves and women, feeling the magic of books and words flowing from within while being denied their solace because she was a woman.

Undeterred by her mother’s anger and ridicule Tula found ways to release the words and injustice felt in her soul by writing poems she was forced to burn and telling tales to orphans which contained hidden meanings. At the age of 15, she refused an arranged marriage, thus finding a freedom of choice denied to other females.

Through her trademark style of writing in verse, Engle tells Tula’s story through her own voice and those who knew her. In the “Historical Note” section, readers learn more of Tula’s struggles in her personal life and how she influenced her world through her thoughts on women and slavery.

By bringing Tula’s story to light, Engle has enabled readers learn of this brave and outspoken woman at the forefront of equal rights who would otherwise have been relegated to historical footnotes.

Recommended for ages 12-16.

“Mountain Dog” Margarita Engle

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published August 13, 2013. Henry Holt and Company. 212 pp. Includes “A Note to Readers” by the author.

MountainDogEleven-year-old Tony has had a rough life with his abusive mother and her fighting pit bulls. When she is arrested, he winds up in foster care with great-uncle Leo, who he’d never met. Leo lives high on the Sierra Nevada mountains in a log cabin with his dog Gabe and, from the beginning, is kind and understanding of the rough life Tony has led.

For his part, Tony is confused by feelings of anger and helplessness from his former life, and by the unsettled thoughts he gets from visiting his mother in prison. He is sure Leo will give him up or that he’ll have to return to his mother and leave the peace he has finally begun to find with Gabe. He is also confused because Leo knows Spanish and came from the same Island as his mother, yet he doesn’t know anything about that side of his life. His curiosity about who he is, and what his future holds, knows no bounds.

Gabe, a Search and Rescue dog (SAR) trained by Leo to look for lost hikers in the woods, also takes turns with Tony in alternating chapters to tell the story of his love for Leo, Tony and all things round. Gabe’s patience and love gradually help Tony feel a sense of oneness and ownership with his surroundings, himself, and his new family.

Newbery Honor Winner and Pura Belpre Award winning author Margarita Engle, once again, pens a beautifully crafted story in poetic style. The love and commitment shown by Gabe and Tony to each other will endear their story to all readers aged 9-12, who will also learn much about the important work of Search and Rescue teams, inspired by the work done by Engle’s husband and his SAR team.

“Death, Dickinson, and the Demented life of Frenchie Garcia” Jenny Torres Sanchez

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published May 28, 2013. Roaring Press. 271 pp.

DeathDickinsonandtheDementedLifeofFrenchieGarciaSeventeen-year-old Frenchie is obsessed with death. She lives near a cemetery, so constantly sees funeral processions. Every time one goes by she wonders how they died, what they look like in their casket, what happens when they’re buried, and other morbid thoughts. She also spends her free time in the cemetery talking to the grave of Emily Dickinson. Not THE Emily Dickinson, but a great stand in for Frenchie’s love of Emily’s death poems.

One night, out of the blue, Andy Cooper (the love of her life) asks her to hang out with him. They have a Great Adventure leaving Frenchie aglow with thoughts of their future. Unfortunately Andy commits suicide, and a part of Frenchie (along with their future) dies with him.

Torres Sanchez does an excellent job probing Frenchie’s tortured thoughts about Andy, Emily, and death, helping readers make sense of their own tangled feelings for life and the problems it sometimes holds.

For Mature readers, aged 16 and older.