Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch by Serena Valentino

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Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch by Serena Valentino

Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch is the third in Valentino’s Villians series. This edition retells the story of the Little Mermaid but, from Ursula, the jaded sea witch’s perspective.

Ursula once lived on land in a seaside village with a loving human fisherman father that adopted her as his own. However, due to Ursula’s brother Tritan’s thirst for power, something tragic happens that changes her from the humble girl of a seaside town, to the malicious, vengeful sea witch we are familiar with through Disney’s adaptations.

Valentino skillfully combines the original Grimm’s fairy tale, the Disney adaptation, as well as borrows from other avenues of folklore and mythology. Creating a spellbinding tale that speaks for itself.

There are always multiple sides to a story, and Valentino explores that through her Villians series. Readers will enjoy identifying the different myths, Shakespearian references (the Odd Sisters), and will recognize the different characters they’ve run across in other fairy tales and Disney adaptations. Though the third in the series, it is not necessary to read the previous two in order to follow the narrative, though it does help. This fresh spin on Ursula’s story will appeal to reluctant readers, fans of fairy retellings, fans of the original Disney adaptations, and even adults that have nostalgia for Disney’s Little Mermaid, but crave more of the backstory. Poor Unfortunate Soul will make a great addition to middle grade library collections, school and public.

(Originally Published in VOYA 10/2016)

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Auracle by Gina Rosati

Today’s Tuesday blog review is from teen Hailey Bellamy! If you are a teen interested in contributing to the blog please follow the directions to the right and we would love to post your review!

AuracleAuracle by Gina Rosati

Auracle is about a girl named Anna who can astral project out of her own body! She’s always done it for fun, and has never really had to worry about it. Until, a classmate dies while Anna is out of her body, which causes Anna’s body to be taken over.

With the risk of her never being seen and never aging, Anna and her lifelong friend team up to fix a big misunderstanding, and to get Anna back to normal.

I had a wonderful time reading this book as I learned about different beliefs, the strength of friendship and understanding, and how little things can effect people deeply. I was on the edge of my seat, I loved it!

-Hailey Bellamy, Wylie Teen

 

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And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

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And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

  • Synopsis: Sisters Silla, seventeen, and Nori, four, are trapped in their aunt’s cursed manor and can only escape with the help of a mysterious boy. (taken from SPL catalog)

Lauren’s Thoughts: What an eerily odd and fascinating story! I loved seeing Silla’s descent into madness as she navigated through her mind and came to terms with….the event. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I loved this book. It’s so different from anything I’ve read lately and I honestly needed a reprieve from realistic fiction. Such a great read for anyone looking for a quick thrill.

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In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke

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In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke

Polish-Catholic Irene Gut is 17 years old in 1939 when the German Panzers roll into Poland crushing everything in their path. A nursing student, unaware of the fate of her mother, father and 5 sisters, Irene flees west towards Russia with other nurses, doctors and wounded Polish soldiers. Captured by Russian soldiers she is beaten, raped and left for dead. Rescued by Polish resistance fighters she is again captured by the Russians and forced to work at a Russian hospital.

Throughout WWII Irene is a prisoner of both the Russians and the Germans. Because she is tall and blond the Germans allow her to work as the housekeeper of a German Colonel and in this capacity she begins to secretly help Polish Jews marked for death by the Nazis. Beginning with hiding boxes of food for Radom Ghetto prisoners she expands her rescue efforts to hiding 12 Jews in the basement of the German Colonel’s villa; eventually helping them escape to freedom. Irene ends the war as a full-fledged Polish resistance fighter.

Irene Gut was 17 when WW II began and 23 when it ended. In that time she rescued countless Jews from the Nazis. After the war she immigrated to the United States to escape the Russians who wanted to execute her as a spy. She was silent for many years concerning her heroism but agreed to speak about her experiences after hearing neo-Nazi claims that the Holocaust was a hoax. She was honored with a papal blessing from Pope John Paul II and recognized and honored by Yad Vashem as one of the Polish Righteous Among the Nations. A tree was planted in Israel in her honor.

Reviewed by Debbie Nowling

 

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A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

 

mangoA Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

About: Mia Winchell has synesthesia, the mingling of perceptions whereby a person can see sounds, smell colors, and taste shapes. Afraid that she is crazy, thirteen-year-old Mia, who sees a special color with every letter, number, and sound, keeps this a secret. Until she becomes overwhelmed by school, changing relationships, and the loss of something important to her. Forced to reveal her condition, she must look to herself to develop an understanding and appreciation of her gift in this coming-of-age novel.

Anna Says: I flew through this book! I had never heard of synesthesia before a colleague told me about this story. It is so intriguing. I love factors that make us all unique and Mia definitely is different…in a very cool way! The way Wendy Mass describes what Mia sees and feels is perfect; I could almost see the colors myself. The relationships between Mia and her best friend, siblings, parents, and boy friends are very realistic. The combination of family, friendship, growing up, and this gift that makes Mia so exceptional come together to create a truly memorable story.

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YVAIN, THE KNIGHT OF THE LION by M. T. Anderson; Illustrated by Andrea Offermann

yvainYVAIN, THE KNIGHT OF THE LION by M. T. Anderson; Illustrated by Andrea Offermann

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Questing!  Knights and their fair ladies!  Battles! Dragons! Yvain is a young knight in King Arthur’s court.  After a cousin is nearly killed by a mysterious Red Knight, Yvain sets out to avenge him. He has visions of glory and could care less about those he might hurt along the way.  He slays the Red Knight, then falls in love with the bereaved widow. Time to settle down and rule his kingdom, right?  Wrong.  Knights seem to have a hard time settling down.  Yvain ventures off on more quests, angers his fair lady, and generally messes up his life – for a while, anyway.  While trying to make amends, he earns the devotion of a lion and manages to save a  lot of people’s lives along the way, too.

ROBEN SAYS: First thing you should know – this is a graphic novel! Second thing you should know – it’s awesome! I read it the first time fairly fast but then went back and reread sections and pored over the illustrations. As you might guess, I really enjoyed this story – especially Andrea Offermann’s drawings. She has a keen use of color. While I know a bit about Arthur, Camelot, and the famed Knights of the Round Table, I had never heard of Yvain. The notes at the end of the story helped fill in a few gaps here and there and were greatly appreciated. Be sure to read them.

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And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

treeAnd the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

About:
Sisters Silla, seventeen, and Nori, four, are trapped in their aunt’s cursed manor and can only escape with the help of a mysterious boy. (TLC summary)

Lauren’s Thoughts:
What an eerily odd and fascinating story! I loved seeing Silla’s descent into madness as she navigated through her mind and came to terms with….the event. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I loved this book. It’s so different from anything I’ve read lately and I honestly needed a reprieve from realistic fiction. Such a great read for anyone looking for a quick thrill.

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