Monday, January 16, 2017

Bleed, Blister, Puke and Purge

Bleed, Blister, Puke and Purge: The Dirty Secrets Behind Early American Medicine
J. Marin Younker
Zest Books, 2016
Source: E-Galley
Audience: Older Teens

From Goodreads:
Riots over the medical use of cadavers. Public access to institutions for the insane. And full-blown surgeries without the aid of anesthetics or painkillers. Welcome to the middle ages of American medicine. Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge exposes the extraordinary practices and major players of American medical history, from the colonial era to the late 1800s. It’s hard to believe that today’s cutting-edge medicine originated from such crude beginnings, but this book reminds us to be grateful for today’s medical care, while also raising the question: what current medical practices will be the horrors of tomorrow?

Ooo, gross! Believe the title! While the cover of the book looks basic and scientific, don’t be fooled. Disgusting stories and graphic descriptions of pus, historical medical procedures and malpractice await you! This is one nonfiction book that ISN’T boring.

Teenage boys, future medical professionals and reluctant readers will adore Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge. I’m not a big gross-out person, but I found Younker’s book delightfully disgusting. I had a great time retelling my favorite stories to my friends. It’ll definitely make you thankful for modern medicine!


Monday, January 9, 2017

The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil
Soman Chainani
HarperCollins, 2013
Source: Library
Audience: Older Children

From Goodreads:
This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.


Well The School for Good and Evil sounded like it would be perfect for me.

I was so excited to read it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like it.

What really turned me off was the mentioning of suicide. It came up twice, and it really bothered me. One character suggested to another that s/he (I don’t remember which) commit suicide and it was never addressed as being potentially harmful to someone. As a matter of fact, the whole story revolved around bullying, but lessons weren’t explained in the writing. No one corrected evil behavior or explained potential consequences in any way. Nothing in thoughts or dialogues, or even “what ifs” from the narrator. Even the shallow “good” characters never truly addressed evil behavior alternatives. Overall, character development was slow and thinly written, adding to my dislike of the book. Adventure and bathroom humor were well-done, but it wasn’t enough to keep this adult’s attention and it made me worried that if children read this book, they would think it was ok to tell someone to go kill themselves because they were ugly.

All of these problems may have been fixed by the end of the book, but it completely lost me after the second suicide comment, and I will never know.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Princess Diarist

The Princess Diarist
Carrie Fisher
Blue Rider Press, 2016
Source: E-Galley, Library
Audience: Adults, Older Teens

From Goodreads:
The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Warsmovie. 

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager. 

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.


Well, I mean to read this book a long time ago. I’m kind of glad I didn’t get around to it until after Carrie Fishers untimely passing. I’m terribly sad that she died so suddenly, but reading it afterwards shone her last book in a different light. Everything seemed so final; it was like she was wrapping up her story. Honestly, I was hoping for more information about her affair with Harrison Ford because I’m nosy, but I appreciated what she did tell us. While I liked the new parts that she wrote for this book, I was incredibly bored by the journal entries from when she was younger. I definitely skimmed those. I’m sure the past entries meant a lot to her, and I’m guessing they’ll mean more to die-hard fans than me. However, I enjoyed her wiser, seasoned, more humorous perspective on things that happened to her in the past as opposed to reading about how she felt when they were happening to her.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Mighty Jack

Mighty Jack
Ben Hatke
First Second, 2016
Source: E-Galley, Library
Audience: Older Children, Younger Teens

From Goodreads:
Jack might be the only kid in the world who's dreading summer. But he's got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It's a lot of responsibility, and it's boring, too, because Maddy doesn't talk. Ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk—to tell Jack to trade their mom's car for a box of mysterious seeds. It's the best mistake Jack has ever made.

What starts as a normal little garden out back behind the house quickly grows up into a wild, magical jungle with tiny onion babies running amok, huge, pink pumpkins that bite, and, on one moonlit night that changes everything…a dragon.


Mighty Jack was not what I was expecting and so much fun. Normally, with retold fairy tales, I can see exactly where the story is going, but with Mighty Jack, I was pleasantly surprised. The storyline was imaginative and the artwork bright. Also, it had a good balance of responsibility and adventure. I was disappointed that it wasn’t a standalone, because now I have to wait to see what happens!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Compass South

Compass South
Hope Larson, Rebecca Mock
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016
Source: Library
Audience: Younger Teens, Children

From Goodreads:
It’s 1860 in New York City. When 12-year-old twins Alexander and Cleopatra’s father disappears, they join the Black Hook Gang and are caught by the police pulling off a heist. They agree to reveal the identity of the gang in exchange for tickets to New Orleans. But once there, Alex is shanghaied to work on a ship that is heading for San Francisco via Cape Horn. Cleo stows away on a steamer to New Granada where she hopes to catch a train to San Francisco to find her brother. Neither Alexander nor Cleo realizes the real danger they are in — they are being followed by pirates who think they hold the key to treasure. How they outwit the pirates and find each other makes for a fast-paced, breathtaking adventure.

What a swashbuckling adventure! I had so much fun reading Compass South! I stumbled across it while shelving at the library, and I’m so glad I did.

TWO SETS of red-headed twins!

Pirates!

Gangs!

Ships!

A girl pretending to be a boy!

Robbery!

Identity theft!

Travel!

Treasure!

Ciphers!

What more could you ask for? Really.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Furthermore

Furthermore
Tahereh Mafi
Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2016
Source: E-Galley
Audience: Children, Younger Teens

From Goodreads:
Inspired by her childhood love of books like The Secret Gardenand The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice's wits (and every limb she's got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.


In spite of it’s length, Furthermore was a quick read. It was magical and creative. Even though the worlds in the story were completely different from ours, I felt like I could see everything as it was described. Fans of Alice in Wonderland or The Chronicles of Narnia will love it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Lady Cop Makes Trouble

Lady Cop Makes Trouble
Amy Stewart
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
Source: E-Galley
Audience: Adults, Older Teens

From Goodreads:
After besting (and arresting) a ruthless silk factory owner and his gang of thugs in Girl Waits with Gun, Constance Kopp became one of the nation’s first deputy sheriffs. She's proven that she can’t be deterred, evaded, or outrun. But when the wiles of a German-speaking con man threaten her position and her hopes for this new life, and endanger the honorable Sheriff Heath, Constance may not be able to make things right.

Lady Cop Makes Trouble sets Constance loose on the streets of New York City and New Jersey--tracking down victims, trailing leads, and making friends with girl reporters and lawyers at a hotel for women. Cheering her on, and goading her, are her sisters Norma and Fleurette--that is, when they aren't training pigeons for the war effort or fanning dreams of a life on the stage.

Based on a true story, Girl Waits with Gun introduced Constance Kopp and her charming and steadfast sisters to an army of enthusiastic readers. Those readers will be thrilled by this second installment--also ripped from the headlines--in the romping, wildly readable life of a woman forging her own path, tackling crime and nefarious criminals along the way.
 


This book series is delightful. I was so frustrated for Constance when she was so much better at her job than most men, but still wasn’t allowed to do it. Yes, she made a major mistake, but she fixed it. Also, the result of the mistake made for an entertaining, action-packed adventure. The mystery was enjoyable and I can’t wait for the next Kopp sister book!