Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Before, I didn’t know about perspective.  Now I know it can change how you see the whole world.

This was a beautifully written story!  I didn’t realize until the end that this was a rendition of the author’s life as a little girl.  I loved the main character, Ruthie Mizrahi.  It’s the 1960’s and Ruthie is a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl adjusting to her new life in New York City.  It’s been hard for her family to learn the customs of the big city and on one dark night, their lives are changed forever…a horrific car accident leaves Ruthie in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery.

This is the story of a young girl who learns to love in darkest of times and how her heart can go from being stone cold to growing larger.  She teaches us how fragile life can really be and no matter what your circumstances happen to be, there is always something to look forward to.  Ruthie’s hope was to recover and learn to walk again as well as forgiving the person who had caused the accident and her displacement being confined to her bed for almost a whole year.

This moment in their lives seems to have brought many people together and closer to Ruthie.  The story was moving and very well written.  I felt myself rooting for Ruthie and almost crying with her at times.  She is a tough gal, who although fell into the darkness, it didn’t take long for someone to show her the light again. She let their rays of sunshine warm her heart and from there, Ruthie spread the rays onto others.

 

 

The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Alys was the only witness to the night the soul eaters came into her village and only the children were spared, although put into a deep trance.  Little did she know then, Alys would be the key and lock from this moment on.

The soul eaters…happen to be twin sisters.  When they were young, the two girls and their mother were banished from their village and into the forest, villagers claiming they were witches.  Then, slowly the sisters did start to morph into something not quite human and hungry for things you cannot cook or grow….they were becoming hungry for human souls.

After Alys’s village was terrorized, her and the other children were sent to live in a neighboring village, although most of the villagers there were filled with fear hearing the story of how all of these children became orphans.  In this new village, the inhabitants are strict in their ways with their fundamentals of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.  Along with their fears of the soul eaters, they also believe that another entity is what leads these beings and they call it, the Beast.

Alys begins to feel different, almost as if she is somehow connected to these twin sister soul eaters and…..a connection to the Beast it’s self.  She has always been drawn to the forest since she was a child and has a gift that she doesn’t want to tell anyone about as she may also be deemed a witch and suffer the same fate as the twin sisters had, banishment.   She soon learns the truth of her abilities and along the journey, it becomes her mission to protect the ones she loves from the danger that is threatening them all.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is a riveting account of the westward trek of 19th century pioneers told from the perspective of 19 year old Mary Ann Graves, one of the Donner Party survivors.  Written in verse, this is a story of the young woman and her family as they make the treacherous journey west in 1846. Working together or not, decisions good and bad all influence the outcome of this fantastic adventure and the fates of many brave families.  By focusing on one member of the Donner party, the author makes one of the most mysterious episodes in American history come to life.

Mary’s family later joined up with a wagon train led by George Donner. Together they continued heading towards California, certain the trip would only take a few more months by taking a short cut. If they had known of the dangers and the cost to their families that lay on the road ahead after they became lost for 32 days, they would all have stayed in Illinois…

Mary’s account of the horrors of their trip, which included death, starvation, freezing cold and mountainous terrain, will transfix readers. One hundred and seventy years later, all that they faced are brought to life in poetic verse.

The writing was as beautiful as it was dark.  The research that went into this is was impressive, and the intimacy and intensity of the verse is absolutely captivating. As you near the inevitable pages that have become fabled in history, you will sense the desperation of the men and women on this journey. It’s an unflinching story of death and survival.

Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“SOME PIG,” Charlotte the spider’s praise for Wilbur, is just one fondly remembered snippet from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. In Some Writer!, the two-time Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. Budding young writers will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. This authorized tribute is the first fully illustrated biography of E. B. White and includes an afterword by Martha White, E. B. White’s granddaughter.

Some Writer! is one of the best biographies, for kids, that I have ever read!  Seriously! E. B. White is one of my most favorite authors.  If you don’t know the name, he is the author of the iconic Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, among many others.

The mixed media approach calls for the reader to slow down to observe all the details and sweet emphasizes, that E. B. White did himself. It’s filled with maps and collages that connect to the stories/chapters included of his life. There are thirteen chapters, among them, White’s beginnings and his work for The New Yorker magazine, his three books, and his collaboration on a new edition of The Elements of Style. His love of solitude and being in nature is evident in nearly every chapter. A beginning page, for children’s use especially, is a full-page picture of a manual typewriter, and an explanation of how it works. There are pages of actual pictures of White’s manuscripts, some hand-written, some typed; and a page about boat building, which is a surprising thread throughout the book. He was given a canoe by his father when he was young, and when the family spent summers in Maine. And, among others owned, late in life his son built him another one. (His son became a boat builder!) He spent much time canoeing and sailing on the water, observing, thinking about life.

The whole thing is a masterpiece. It’s so lovingly and expertly written and illustrated – capturing White’s essence perfectly.  For any literary lovers, this is a must for your personal library!  I cannot wait to read a few more books from E.B. White such as a book full of letters.  A beautiful, exceptionally written book that is a gift to us all!

Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion–and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.

Abigail Rook has just arrived in New Fiddleham, New England in 1892.  She ran away from home in search of an adventure, one that her father would never take her on but leave her at home to ponder what adventures he would be embarking on.

The day Abigail arrived, she meets R.F. Jackaby who is an investigator for the ‘unexplained’ and has a key eye for the extraordinary happenings….including the ability to see supernatural beings.  Although Abigail only has the gift for noticing ordinary but important details, Jackaby hires her as his assistant and she could not be more excited!

The first day on the job brings the duo amidst a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

This book has won the Newberry award for Young Adult.  The story was interesting enough to make me want to continue on with the series.  Although just having watched “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” I kept having the inkling that Jackaby might possibly be a relative to Newt!

 

 

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls (The League of Beastly Dreadfuls #1) by Holly Grant

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A creepy Victorian house, secretive aunties, and a great escape combine in this debut that is part Mysterious Benedict Society, part Roald Dahl. Join the League. . . 

We meet Anastasia a average almost 11 year old who’s parents die in a freak vacuum accident and her great aunties come to take her to their home in St Agonys insane asylum. between a creature in the woods, attacking poodles, a biting gardener and being locked in her room at night Anastasia`s life is turned upside down but all is what it seems and Anastasia is about to learn how horrible the world can be.

The pacing both in action and humor is perfect, and the narrator not too clever for its own good. Full of adventure and excitement, The League of Beastly Dreadfuls is a fast-paced and highly entertaining read. The story mixes the perfect amount of dark and quirky with comic relief and enjoyable characters. The writing flows wonderfully and pulls the reader in expertly, making this an excellent choice for reluctant readers.  something strange is going on at the asylum. Anastasia soon begins to suspect that her aunties are not who they say they are……