Archive | April, 2014

The Tyrant’s Daughter

10 Apr

tyrants daughter

The Tyrant’s Daughter

J. C. Carleson


I never really thought about the children until I read this book.  I mean, the kids who survived their father’s death, assassination.  What happens to the wife and children left behind when a father, a dictator, is killed in a coup?


Laila is 15 years old when she and her mother and younger brother are relocated to the US.  Laila has many challenges as she adjusts to a new culture, a new language, new social norms, new school.   It fascinating to see our society through her eyes.  We touch.  We show skin.  We have cereal readily available.  But it is witnessing her understanding the truth of her father’s role in their country that we see Laila struggle and mature.  Her father comes crashing down off the pedestal she put him on.   Things she never thought about, like money, alcohol, and peer pressure, become front and foremost in her thoughts.  Through it all we hear Laila’s voice and we share her struggle.  Laila has to figure out dating norms when she falls for a boy.  She has to decipher prom – what’s OK to wear and what’s not.  She has to figure out when her friends are being sincere and when they are making fun of her.


In many ways, Laila reminded me of what it was like to be 15 years old.  She taught me what my grandparents must have gone through when they moved to America when they were young.  She taught me that there’s a lot I take for granted that I shouldn’t.  She taught me about family and loyalty and survival.


I recommend this book to students in middle school and up.  I enjoyed it. I hope you do too.


I received a copy of this e-book free from but that did not influence my opinion.

The Swap

10 Apr

the swap

The Swap

Megan Shull


Jack and Ellie are two typical tweens. In 8th and 7th grades, respectively, they are struggling with adolescence, school, friends.  They are typically typical.  And predictable.  Or that’s what I thought when I began to read this book.  Jack has lost his mom, Ellie’s parents are divorced.  And both kids think the other gender has it easy.  So they are swapped by an interesting school nurse.  Jack become Ellie and Ellie become Jack.  The Swap gives them insight and they see that the grass isn’t always greener.  We gain that insight too.


This book had my interested from the beginning.  Although it was predictable it has enough twists and turns that it kept my attention.   More than just keeping my attention, I found it difficult to put it down.  I began this book on a flight and although I arrived at my destination late in the evening (actually it was early in the morning) I continued to read long after I should have been asleep.  It’s a fun book with a lesson that all parents could benefit for hearing. Kids will like this book too. I’m sure they will be able to relate to it.


I recommend this book to kids age 12+.  There is one brief reference to an erection. The girls in the book are, understandably, concerned about menstruation.  Neither of these concern me.


I received a copy of this e-book free from but this did not influence my opinion.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

10 Apr


Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

Karen Foxlee



While I’m not a big fan of science fiction or fantasy, this book, which is a little of both, was delightful.  It’s a combination of A Night in the Museum, Rumpelstiltskin and all stories with evil queens.  This book is a quick read and is sure to entertain both young and young-at-heart.


Ophelia and her sister, Alice, move to a new home after the death of their mother.  Their father’s new job is to curate a sword exhibit at a famous museum.  It is while wandering through the museum that Ophelia finds the Marvelous Boy.  She has challenges that resemble quests, mysteries to solve and a sword to find.  She also needs to protect her older sister, and convince everyone that she can and will save the world from the Snow Queen.


I was moved by the flashbacks of Ophelia and her mother.  Her mother always told Ophelia to “be brave,” which is one of my mantras. I tell my children, grandchildren, students and pretty much anyone who will listen to me that they need to be brave.  “Be brave for 30 seconds, just 30 seconds, and you’ll see amazing things happen.”  I didn’t invent it, I heard it somewhere but I can’t remember where.  It’s the truth, Ophelia’s mom reminded me that bravery is important, and so is knowing there is someone who believes in you.


I wish there were more positive interactions between Ophelia and her father.  That’s the only thing I would change.


I recommend this book to all readers.


I received a free copy of this e-book from  This did not influence my opinion.

The Here and Now

10 Apr

here and  now

The Here and Now

Ann Brashares


A dystopian novel that set in the present time?  I have been addicted to dystopian voles, like most everyone else, but this one is different.  Prenna (what a cool name) is your typical 17 year old, except that she’s not.  She falls in love with Ethan, but she not permitted to do that.  It isn’t because her family won’t allow it, it’s because her society won’t allow it.  Prenna is from the future, a survivor of a pandemic who is chosen, in spite of her asthma, to time travel back to 2012.  The goal of the time travelers is to save the world, the future world, that is.


Prenna and Ethan are star-crossed lovers.  I found myself cheering for them, encouraging them and desperately wanting them to end up together.  I want them to find a way to make it work in spite of the obstacles and societal objections.  Because time travel is complicated, one wrong move can wipe out your own existence.  We’ve all seen Back to the Future.  We know how it works.  And yet, in spite of knowing this, I needed it to work out.  I wanted Prenna to fix the future and the present too.  That’s a pretty big order, but I knew that if any author had the skill and gift to make it happen, it was Anna Brashares.


I LOVED this book and was sorry when it ended.  This is one of the few books that gave me a book hangover. It’s been a couple of weeks since I read the book and I still think about Prenna and Ethan.


Give this book a read.  It’s not too long so it won’t take you forever to get through it.  If you’re like me and unable to put it down you won’t have to stay up half the night to finish.  One word of caution:  there is a minimal amount of sexuality but nothing graphic of blatant.  I would recommend this book to mature middle schoolers and all high school age + readers.


I received a free copy of this e-book from

Far Gone

10 Apr

far gone

Far Gone by Laura Griffin




A moment’s hesitation, a second of compassion mixed with doubt, causes Andrea’s career to derail.  While on leave pending an official investigation, Andrea gets a call from her kid brother who needs money.  While that’s nothing new, Andrea soon finds that her brother might be involved in terrorist activities.  Unable to believe that of him she struggles to uncover the truth while clearing her brother’s name.  Andrea’s love interest comes in the form of an FBI agent, Jon North.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was interesting and the main characters were well developed and realistic.  This was not a book I obsessed about, nor was it one that I was unable to put down.  Still it was entertaining and I am glad I read it.


There is some graphic profanity and some sexuality.  Because of this I would not recommend it to my middle school students.  Their high school siblings, however, will enjoy it.


I obtained a free copy of this e-book from

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

10 Apr

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