The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos

lovecurseThe Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos

Ivy loves her mother. Ivy and her mother live an idyllic life in a hotel in small town Pennsylvania. Ivy doesn’t know who her father is and she doesn’t care. She has her mother and that is enough for Ivy. Easter Sunday when she is 7, while having their customary after church refreshments at the home/pharmacy of eccentric but seemingly harmless identical twins Abner and Adolf (AB and Dolph) Rumbaugh, Ivy uncovers a secret. Initially terrified by her discovery Ivy tells her mother and the twins what she has seen. They, being adults, lie to her and tell her she is mistaken but Ivy knows what she saw and the desire to keep her mother with her always is awakened.

Will the twins help her to achieve her desire? They obviously know how she feels and although their mother is dead they have found a way to keep her with them always.

Reviewed by Debbie

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Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

stalkingjacktheripper_9780316273497_hc2Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

About: Stalking Jack the Ripper is a cross between A Taste for Monsters, Frankenstein, and Sherlock Holmes. Audrey Rose will not be held back by silly social ideals that women are meant to be prim and proper in the time of Victorian London. She wants to know everything about science, especially when it comes to finding a cadaver’s cause of death, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. With the help of her uncle, she learns how to tell when and how a person has died, so when more and more murders happen across the town she delights in finding their source. The town suspects Leather Apron, or Jack the Ripper, but there may be someone more sinister behind the handiwork. It is up to Audrey Rose to find out who is behind the slayings, no matter how close to home it may get.

Lauren’s Thoughts: Lately I’ve been on a serial killer kick and this book fits right in with the others. Much like A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby, this book takes place in Victorian London around the time of Leather Apron’s murders. Unlike the other women in her social circle, she has no qualms with the macabre, and gives a wicked slap in the face to societal expectations of her gender. Audrey is a fierce and fearless character to be admired by any reader, especially in a time like today when women are so empowered.


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I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

meet you thereI’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

About: Skylar Evans, seventeen, yearns to escape Creek View by attending art school, but after her mother’s job loss puts her dream at risk, a rekindled friendship with Josh, who joined the Marines to get away then lost a leg in Afghanistan, and her job at the Paradise motel lead her to appreciate her home town.

What Yentl Liked: The town in this book is the definition of small town USA. It is a town in the middle of California where nothing very exciting ever happens. Some people there like it and others can’t wait to leave. In the case of Skylar, she wants to go to school after just graduating. Josh, who used to be in the Marines, is back and has no idea what to do anymore. These two become friends and start to realize that Creek View is not so bad and that most people who live there are great.

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Heartstone by Elle Katherine White

heartHeartstone by Ella Katherine White – SFF WHIT

About: As our story opens, Aliza Bentaine is conversing with one of the many hobgoblins that live in the Merybourne Manor gardens. Without warning, a dragon alights nearby and the rider, Alistair Daired, rather rudely interrupts her conversation. (He kicks her friend across the garden!)  The presence of the Rider is no mystery. As the saying goes – “A Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay”  and Aliza’s neighborhood has more than its fair share of monsters.  Aliza and her family are still mourning the death of her young sister, Rina, who was brutally slain by a gryphon just six months ago.  The gryphon horde is still terrorizing the Manor and five Riders have been hired to come slay the monsters.  In the meantime, Aliza’s mother is intent on finding suitable husbands for her daughters. Who better than dragon-riding warriors? But there is evil lurking in both human and monster form, threatening all that Aliza holds dear.

Roben Says: A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – but with dragons!  I LOVE dragons.  And this story does not disappoint.  It follows the original P&P rather faithfully so if you have read (or watched) that story, you will be familiar with the cast of characters.  A few personalities have been tweaked a bit and, of course, all of the names.  I think you will love learning what heartstones are. That and a land filled with magical creatures some fun twists to the plot.  The author has done a great job of worldbuilding – if you enjoy fantastical romances with a familiar setting, give this a try.  It’s a really quick read – perfect for spring break or summer vacation!

Even though this book is found in the Adult section of the library, it is totally appropriate for 7th grade and up.

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American Street by Ibi Zoboi

American StreetAmerican Street by Ibi Zoboi

About: On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie — a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s West Side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream. -Taken from Smith Catalog

Audrey’s Thoughts: American Street is one of the most original and inspiring works I’ve read in young adult, especially this year. The story and storytelling are both captivating and beautifully rendered.

Fabiola is a Haitian Immigrant moving to Detroit to join her aunt and cousins when her mother is detained at customs. Suddenly, Fabiola is in a completely new ecosystem. She must somehow get her mother to Detroit like originally planned, as well as navigate and adjust to her new urban environment.

The use of magic realism is perfect! I love how it propelled the narrative as well as helped to illustrate Haiti and Haitian Culture. This is a visceral read where you can smell and imagine the Haitian food. At the same time you can also feel the characters struggles, the violence, and love.

Zoboi has a gift for writing. I can’t wait to put this book in the hands of “real girls” wanting something more in their literature. So much is packed in this debut novel. This book also examines the Intersectionalism found in race, sex, class, etc.

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The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: pastor, spy, unlikely hero by Patricia McCormick

ttrThe Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: pastor, spy, unlikely hero by Patricia McCormick

About: It was April 5, 1943, and the Gestapo would arrive any minute. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had been expecting this day for a long time. He had put his papers in order–and left a few notes specifically for Hitlers men to see. Two SS agents climbed the stairs and told the boyish-looking Bonhoeffer to come with them. He calmly said good-bye to his parents, put his Bible under his arm, and left. Upstairs there was proof, in his own handwriting, that this quiet young minister was part of a conspiracy to kill Adolf Hitler.–

Debbie’s Thoughts: Born into a wealthy, academic German family in 1906 shy, sweet Dietrich Bonhoeffer grows up during the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich. One of 8 children who all choose science and math careers Dietrich opts for the clergy and his belief in the “Universal Church”; a church for all mankind. He comes, with great difficulty, to the decision that the highest moral action is to kill Adolph Hitler.

How far are good people willing to go to combat evil? I hope as far as Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And I would like to think I could be just as brave and self-sacrificing.


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Bruiser by Neal Shusterman


Bruiser by Neal Shusterman 

About:  Shusterman says that he wanted to write about an empath and thus Bruiser was born.  The blurb in Smith’s on-line catalog states “Inexplicable events start to occur when sixteen-year-old twins Tennyson and Brontë befriend a troubled and misunderstood outcast, aptly nicknamed Bruiser, and his little brother, Cody.”

Roben says:  First of all, you should know that this book is told from four different perspectives – Tennyson, Brontë, Brewster, and Cody. The story starts out like a typical realistic fiction.  Brontë likes stray dog type boys and her latest project – and love interest – is Brewster.  Tennyson objects since Brewster a.k.a. Bruiser has been voted Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty. Tennyson and Brontë squabble.  Their parents’ marriage teeters on the brink of divorce.  Tennyson threatens Brewster.  Tennyson stalks Brewster, follows him home, and ends up being his friend. But what neither Tennyson nor Brontë realize is that Brewster is – different.  REALLY different.  Or maybe special is a better way to describe Brewster’s gifts.  But you’ll have to read the book in order to figure out exactly what they are.

Never read a book with four different narrators?  Give it a try – each character’s “voice” is written in a different style.  Tennyson writes in first person past tense, Brontë in first person, present.  Brewster’s chapters are in free verse and Cody’s are stream of consciousness. This book is definitely thought provoking in a Twilight Zone/Stephen King kind of way (and I’m thinking more along the lines of “Green Mile” for the King comparison… ) If that’s your thing, then check out Bruiser. Even though it addresses sensitive topics like child abuse and complicated divorce, this is a book that I would recommend for 8th grade and up.

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