Dear Martin by Nic Stone

dear martinDear Martin by Nic Stone

About: Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. (Goodreads)

Stephanie Says: This is one of the only books I read this year that truly gave me a physical reaction. The more I read the less I feel that I am surprised or moved by stories, even gripping ones or ones I really enjoy, but this book gave me goosebumps!  Dear Martin is a sensational debut for Nic Stone. She tells a remarkable story and couples it with a cast of characters who are sometimes infuriating and at other times will compel you to compassion.

Posted in Black History Matters, Black Lives Matter, civil rights, equality, Steph | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz


The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenzinexplicable

About: A story set on the American border with Mexico, about family and friendship, life and death, and one teen struggling to understand what his adoption does and doesn’t mean about who he is.

Ofilia’s Thoughts: This is definitely an “issues” book meaning so many things happen to these poor teens that it is a bit overwhelming. Saenz excels at creating interesting and genuine characters that go through true life situations. In this way, this novel is much like his previous book, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. But where that title was quiet almost stealthy in style, this book is more all-encompassing. The protagonist, Sal, is struggling to find answers to big questions. He is dealing with thoughts of his adoption, his ailing grandmother and his grieving best friend. He also befriends a teen who is essentially homeless thanks to his mother’s drug addiction. Oh and did I mention Sal’s adopted dad is gay? See what I mean about “issues.” Despite all of this, the pacing is slow, so while there are a lot of problems, there isn’t a lot of action. Still, it is a beautifully written book with lovely moments of connection and meaning. Sal is surrounded by loving adults, particularly his dad who reminds me a lot of Atticus Finch, which is refreshing. This book is all about the journey and trying to make sense of the world especially during hard times. I think people who like quieter more introspective fiction, would enjoy this one.

Posted in LGBTQIA, Ofilia, realistic fiction, self-discovery | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (#1) by Philip Pullman

book of dustThe Book of Dust #1 – La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman – YA FIC PUL (Fantasy)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. His parents run an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his daemon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue. He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust—and the spy it was intended for finds him. When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he sees suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a Gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a baby girl named Lyra. Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm. (taken from catalog)

ROBEN SAYS: Lyra is back!  (Even if she is only a baby.)  I loved this first installment in what Pullman has promised will be a trilogy.  La Belle Sauvage is a prequel set ten years before Golden Compass. Readers will recognize a few familiar names – Lord Asriel; Mrs. Coulter and the dreaded Magisterium; and the Gyptians – but they only make brief appearances.  The majority of the book is devoted to the magnificently brave Malcolm Polstead, (who does appear in Lyra’s Oxford), Alice Parslow (Lyra’s friend Roger was also a Parslow – Alice’s cousin, according to Pullman) and Dr. Hannah Relf, who befriends Malcolm and introduces him to alethiometers – and Oakley Street.  There are, of course, many truly evil, villainous characters – Gerard Bonneville being the main one.  The book begins a bit slowly, introducing characters and reintroducing us to Lyra’s version of Great Britain but it soon becomes a thrilling ride with lots of unexpected twists and turns, danger lurking around every corner. If you loved exploring Lyra’s world of Oxford and are fascinated by the idea of daemons, dust, and alethiometers, I highly recommend this book. Pullman has promised two more books in the series – though they will be set in a different time when Lyra is much older.

What age is it for? Well, Malcolm is twelve; Alice is fifteen – and while the book starts out as something that you might share with middle schoolers, it takes a dark turn fairly quickly. Because of language and violence (both sexual and physical) – I would recommend it for older teens.

Can you read the alethiometer?


Posted in Fantasy, prequel, world building | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Release by Patrick Ness

release Release by Patrick Ness

About: Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life. Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart. At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela. But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.

Ofilia’s Thoughts: This book is a bit strange, but I liked it. There are two stories told here and they alternate back and forth. The first is a very straight forward well written slice of life narrative about Adam Thorn, gay teen and son of a zealous evangelical preacher. The second takes place in this same world, but it morphs into fantasy territory having to do with a recently murdered classmate of Adam’s. This classmate’s soul attracts an all-powerful being, the Queen, that infiltrates this world in order comprehend why this girl was treated so brutally. The Queen gets stuck in this human’s soul and if she does not figure out a way to disentangle herself, the entire world will end. Adam’s story parallels the fantasy one as he is pretty sure his world is unraveling as he is dealing with a myriad of larger than life problems himself. The writing is compelling and even though I wasn’t sure what was going on with the fantasy element of the story, it is hard to resist. The Adam storyline is equally mesmerizing for its authenticity and likeable characters. Ultimately, both Adam and the Queen have to let go in order to move forward, hence the title. An odd combination, unusual and unique, but ultimately satisfying.

Posted in LGBTQIA, loss, love, magic realism, teen angst | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bad Machinery 6: The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor by John Allison

Bad 1Bad Machinery 6: The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor by John Allison

About- School is out for summer, and for the Tackleford mystery team, that means lazy days, balmy evenings, and… creeping existential dread that threatens the whole city. With half the team gallivanting off to exotic locales (like Aunty Kath’s in Margate), can Linton, Jack, and Lottie solve this season’s most dire case?
The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor, the sixth book in John Allison’s award-winning Bad Machinery series, pits our young heroes against the terrors of the unfamiliar and unknown. Lottie’s mum and sister have both fallen in love (thanks to the internet), Linton is determined to save his father from the soul-sucking responsibility of a promotion, and why is Jack working at the local paper with team nemesis (and hot-shot reporter) Erin Winters? Isn’t print meant to be dead?
Could the link between these tangled threads be The Night Creeper, who prowls Tackleford’s streets and leaves people in the hospital with a blank stare and a terrible smile on their face?

bad 3

Anna’s Thoughts– This was a fun and fast read. Lottie’s character is too cute and Jack’s lines are funny! It actually took me a few pages to get into and I even thought about putting the book down but I’m glad I stuck it out. The villain is super creepy but the gang manages to crack the case and get rid of him with a little supernatural help.

bad 2

Posted in graphic novel, humor, mystery | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Yentl’s Best of 2017!

Yentl 2017 .png

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Debbie’s Best of 2017!

Debbie's Best of 2017

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment