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2021 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (4)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (4)
- Indiana
- Iowa
- Kansas
- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine
- Maryland (1)
- Massachusetts (1)
- Michigan (1)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada (1)
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico
- New York (4)
- North Carolina (1)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (6)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee
- Texas (1)
- Utah (1)
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia (3)
- Washington (3)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin
- Wyoming (1)
- *Washington, D.C.

International:
Australia (2)
Canada (3)
England (6)
France (1)
Ireland (1)
Switzerland (1)
The Philippines (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:


28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2021 Fall Into Reading Challenge

My Progress:


0 / 24 books. 0% done!

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
(Hosted by Yours Truly!)

My Progress:


6 / 25 books. 24% done!

2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge

My Progress:


33 / 50 books. 66% done!

Booklist Queen's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


35 / 52 books. 67% done!

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


39 / 52 books. 75% done!
Monday, December 21, 2020

MG Survival Story Riveting and Real

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After witnessing the shooting that killed her mom and left her dad with a hole in his leg, Nora's life has changed irrevocably.  Suffering from acute PTSD, her dad has become obsessed with safety, barely letting his only child out of his sight.  On the first anniversary of the shooting, Nora and her dad decide to spend the difficult day doing what they love best—hiking and rock climbing in their beloved Sonoran Desert.  When a flash flood sweeps in out of nowhere, however, what started out as a typical excursion soon turns into a desperate fight for survival.  Separated from her dad in the chaos, Nora is on her own to battle the desert's unrelenting heat, deadly wildlife, and barren landscape.  With little food and water, she has to find her dad and get them both to safety before it's too late.  They survived one tragedy, will either of them make it through this one?

As a Sonoran Desert dweller myself, I'm very well aware of the dangers posed by our unique climate and landscape.  Our local news is always full of warnings about excessive heat, staying hydrated, hiking alone, flash flooding, etc.  Many people have been hurt, even killed, by these dangers.  In fact, Dusti Bowling—who lives here in Arizona—wrote The Canyon's Edge partially in response to the tragic 2017 deaths of nine family members who were caught in a flash flood outside of nearby Payson.  These very real stories make Bowling's fictional one feel all the more harrowing and real.  The Canyon's Edge is a tense, exciting page-turner that's so compelling it's impossible to put down.  It's written in verse, using text art to create a story that is as visually interesting as it is engrossing.  I raced through the book in one sitting because it truly is that immersive and unputdownable.  The book teaches some invaluable lessons about outdoor survival while also examining intriguing themes like grief, resilience, the struggle to move on after tragedy, and rebirth.  It's an impactful novel that should appeal to even reluctant readers.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other survival novels like Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis, When We Were Lost by Kevin Wignall, etc.)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Delightful Romp Features a Fun Amelia Earhart-Themed Mystery

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Amelia "Millie" Ashford is stoked when she wins a fabulous prize—along with five other girls, she gets to spend the night in the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum in Atchison, Kansas.  The 11-year-old Rubik's Cube champion has no friends, an absent mother (who's a pilot, like Earhart), and a fascination with the famous aviatrix.  She needs this diverting opportunity to socialize, immerse herself in history, and maybe learn enough about Earhart—her mom's idol—to bring her own missing pilot home.  

When a scavenger hunt is announced, giving Millie and the other girls a chance to take a close-up look at artifacts throughout the museum, Millie's excited.  She's even more thrilled when she comes upon a roped-off room where Earhart's flight goggles are being stored before being transferred to a Washington, D.C., museum.  When the priceless goggles go missing, however, Millie's as shocked as everyone else.  Fingers start pointing in her direction, reminding Millie that she's surrounded by strangers—one of whom is a thief!  It's up to her and the other girls to find out who's hiding the precious artifact.  As a winter storm rages outside and tension mounts inside, the stakes get higher and higher.  How far will the robber go to smuggle the goggles out of the museum?  Can six middle-schoolers (one of whom is the likely kleptomaniac) find the culprit in time?  Or will an irreplaceable piece of history be smuggled out right under their noses?  With no way to call for outside help, it's up to the Amelia Six to solve the mystery.

I love me a good, old-fashioned locked-room mystery.  The Amelia Six by Kristin L. Gray is just that, complete with the requisite stormy weather, mysterious house, and quirky characters.  Filled with Amelia Earhart trivia, a girl-power vibe, and plenty of surprises, it's a fun, entertaining read.  Realistic?  Not so much.  And yes, the girls talk like senior citizens (no 11-year-old says "May I ..." let alone "Oh,crumb") and indeed, some of them are fairly indistinguishable from the others.  Overall, though, the book stars an engaging detective team and features an engrossing tale.  Not only did I learn a lot about Earhart from this enjoyable romp, but I also found it to be a delightful read that kept me turning pages with a smile on my face.  

(Readalikes:  I can't think of anything.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for scary situations and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Woodson's Newest a Poignant, Impactful Tale From a Mastery of Poetry and Prose

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As the son of a beloved pro football star, Zachariah Johnson, Jr., is used to having a famous parent.  Not only is ZJ's dad charming with his fans, but at home he's the fun-loving guy who will chill with ZJ's friends and spend hours writing and strumming the guitar with ZJ.  Then, he changes.  It starts with headaches and confusion, then progresses to mood swings and memory loss.  The doctors diagnose Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a brain injury caused by all the concussions Zachariah senior has experienced on the football field over the years.  According to his medical team, nothing can be done to reverse the condition.  The loving, easy-going man ZJ has known all his life is gone forever, replaced by an angry stranger who doesn't always remember ZJ's name.  How will ZJ cope with his disheartening new normal?  Will his family ever again be the tight, anchoring unit it once was?  

I've been a big Jacqueline Woodson fan for years.  Her luminous prose and lyrical poetry create books that are beautiful, moving, and memorable.  Woodson's newest middle-grade offering, Before the Ever After, is no exception.  Written in verse, it's a slim volume but one that packs a definite punch.  Although it brings the dark side of fame to light, the story is really about a family and how they're all affected by a member's illness.  The tale also concerns life's unexpected, irreversible changes.  How do you move on when all you want to do is reverse time?  Before the Ever After is a poignant, touching tale featuring sympathetic characters, impactful writing, and a compelling conflict.  Like everything Woodson pens, it's a stick-with-you story, beautifully told.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, nothing's coming to mind.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for difficult subject matter and scary situations

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof

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Glass Houses by Louise Penny



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