The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals by Joel Sartore (National Geographic)

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is a book that should be on everyone’s coffee tables and book shelves!  I found it on the ‘new’ release shelf at my local library, being an animal lover I had to check it out.  National Geographic the Photo ark is a lifelong project, already spanning 25 years, of photographer Joel Sartore.  It is his goal to take portraits of the world’s animals, especially those that are endangered and put them at our fingertips.  Joel has a powerful message sprawling through this fantastic book conveyed with humor, compassion and art.  Joel hopes we will look into the eyes of these animals, to know these animals, in order to save them.

Sartore’s intends to photograph every animal in captivity around the world.  He is visiting zoos and wildlife rescue centers to create studio portraits of 12,000 species, with an emphasis on those facing extinction.  He has photographed more than 6,000 already and now, thanks to a multi-year partnership with National Geographic, he may reach his goal.

As I was going through the book, I happened upon an Albino North American Porcupine with the caption “This albino porcupine is named Halsey for the spot in Nebraska near where she was rescued after being hit on the highway.  Today Halsey is thriving, despite a dental condition that prevents her from ever being returned to the wild.”  This caught me off guard because I happen to live in Nebraska!  Not only that, but as I kept reading I read more captions and descriptions of animals that were photographed at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (Nebraska),  Nebraska Wildlife Rehab in Louisville (Nebraska) and the Lincoln’s Children Zoo (Nebraska).

Then, after finishing the book, I read about the photographer and author Joel Sartore.  He is a photographer, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic Fellow and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine.  He is the founder of this project, the Photo Ark, has contributed to Audubon magazine, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, Smithsonian magazine and numerous book projects.  Are you ready for the icing on the cake????  Joel is always happy to return from his travels around the world to his home in Lincoln, Nebraska, where his lives with is wife and their three children.

I cannot stress enough how amazing this book was, especially from the fact that this project is being conducted by a fellow Nebraskan.  I look forward to seeing more of Joel Sartore’s work in the future!

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Man by Richard Peck

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Richard Peck, a Newbery Medalist, has written us readers a novel about gay marriage from a kid’s point of view!

Archer is a 6th grader who has a great life full of friends, family and wonderful teachers.  He soon finds out that his uncle Paul is about to marry another man.  The man he is going to marrying just happens to be Archer’s favorite student teacher.  Not only that, but Archer is to be the ring bearer!

The big talking point of the book will be that Archer realizes that his favorite uncle is gay, but this really wasn’t main point of the story. Yes, the uncle gets married to a man, but this was addressed in such a supportive and accepting way that it was never an “issue”. It’s just a part of life, no big deal to him.

This is a great book that emphasize the importance of family, no matter what the circumstance thrown their way.  A controversial topic handled with honesty, humor, and insight.   Richard Peck is an excellent story teller, the mundane and everyday ordinary lives of his characters are so real and well written!

The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

First the birds disappeared.
Then the insects took over.
Then the madness began . . .

There is a new plague threatening to wipe out the human race…they call it “Wanderer’s Folly”.  It’s a disease of hallucinations, day dreams and nightmares.

Father and daughter, David and Ellie Arlen are on the run right from the start of the book.  Which is followed  by flashbacks revealing the events that lead to David running. The story continues like this, back and forth. David thinks he is protecting Ellie but she is a special girl, deep, insightful and she knows that he is lying to her.  She knows that her father is lying to her about her mother and exactly what they are running from.  Ellie is special….Ellie may be able to save the human race.

This book had me hooked from the beginning, it was eerie and full of surprises.  I have previously read his book “Little Girls”, which was fantastic as well!  The Night Parade could be a thriller or a horror novel, it was both and more!  I cannot wait to dig into some more books by Ronald Malfi, his writing is easy to follow as well as the story lines.  Check him out and all the books including this one that he has written!

The Outliers (The Outliers #1) by Kimberly McCreight

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I didn’t realize until I got this book that I had previously read Kimberly McCreight’s, Reconstructing Amelia!  This book also didn’t disappoint!

Wylie is dealing with the death of her mother in a car accident while also dealing with mental issues. The high school junior has been seeing a therapist since she was in elementary school. Wylie has a tendency to throw up or pass out when the situation gets stressful. Since the death of her mother, she has also developed agoraphobia and has not left the house for weeks.

After getting a strange text from her ex-best friend Cassie begging for help, this ex- best friend sends her boyfriend Jasper to help.   The two get to know each other better as they travel from Boston up into Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine following Cassie’s cryptic clues. Along the way they meet people who help them and people who hinder them. When they find Cassie, they learn that all of their problems are just beginning.

This was an entertaining story about the length someone will go for their friends. It also take sort of a science fiction twist before its cliffhanging conclusion.  This is the first in a trilogy and it did seem like there was a lot of setting up happening for future plots but overall, it made me excited to see where the series goes from here!

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

With not only an interesting book cover, this was an entirely interesting book!

Mr. Splitfoot alternates between two different story-lines. The first tells the story of Ruth and Nat who live at the Love of Christ foster home. Two teenagers stuck in a religious group home in upstate New York. Unsure what they’ll do when they turn 18 and ‘age out’ of the Love of Christ! facility, Ruth is ready to consider desperate measures to find some kind of future for herself and her best friend. An option turns up when the two meet a traveling con man, Mr. Bell, who suggests that they start profiting off Nat’s reputed ability to speak to the dead – one he’s so far only used to scare and entertain the fellow foster kids at the home. Mr. Bell also comes from an unusual religious background, we learn – his father was the leader of an apocalyptic cult. Is this commonality of experience the reason he’s drawn to Ruth and Nat, or is there a different agenda behind his seeking them out?

The second story-line is told simultaneously with the first, but it takes place years after the first. This story follows Cora, Ruth’s niece. Cora is impregnated by a sleazy acquaintance she keeps named Lord. Shortly after Cora gets pregnant, Ruth shows up wanting Cora to follow her. Something’s different this time though, Ruth just shows up with no car or anything, and she is completely mute, but it’s clear that Ruth wants Cora to come with her. Cora and Ruth set off, on foot, across New York State.

Mr. Splitfoot is a great original story that’s well worth the read if you’re in the mood for something a little bizarre, and that will keep you guessing till the end!

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

PAX by Sara Pennypacker is a powerful animal fantasy exploring the journeys of a boy and his fox.

With his mother dead and his father going off to war, twelve-year-old Peter is forced to abandon his pet fox Pax and go live with his grandfather hundreds of miles away.

This gripping story is told in alternating chapters through the eyes of Peter and Pax as they try to survive in their new worlds and reunite with each other. Whether caring for his new companions or treasuring his toy soldier, the author is most successful when speaking through the eyes of Pax.

A beautiful story about a boy, his fox, and the meaning of friendship, loyalty, growing up, and the cost of war. Truly feels like a modern-day Charlotte’s Web. Have Kleenex ready!

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Before I ever knew what this book was about, I was drawn to the book cover.  The author was inspired to write “The Gates of Evangeline” after a family tragedy and a mysterious dream.  This is also her first novel.  The book is first of three Charlie Cates books. She is currently wrapping up work on the second novel in the series!

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was pretty spooky at times. There was  couple of moments that I actually got chills!  Charlotte is still trying to deal with her grief over the death of her young son Keegan from a brain aneurysm while he was at pre-school.  Trying to move along in her life, Charlie sets out for Evangeline Louisiana with the prospect of writing a book.  Things aren’t going as planned when Charlie starts to dream unusual and horrible dreams that seem to be coming true……

Charlie’s assignment takes her to meet the wealthy, not to mention eccentric, Deveau family. It’s the Deveau’s youngest son who went missing all those years ago and his twin sisters want answers (not to mention publicity).

Along the way, Charlie meets the Deveau’s landscaper. She tries to keep her distance from the mystery man, but she can’t fight her attraction to the handsome man. However, it’s not long before she realizes this is a man with deep secrets.

Charlie’s investigation leads her to the Deveau family secrets, betrayals, lies and murder. As her premonitions get stronger, so does the danger and more questions arise. Charlie is no longer sure who she can trust. One thing is for sure, nothing is as it seems and danger lurks the grounds of Evangeline.