Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Pact, by Mitchell S. Karnes

Paul is a boy in middle school who constantly gets picked on my his classmates.  When a new boy named Scott comes to the school, he begins to stick up for Paul.  The boys learn that they have a common interest in a role playing game, so Paul introduces Scott to some other boys who play.  Scott is trying to adjust to a new school, as well as coping with the loss of his father, and his decision to take a stand against the school bullies makes it difficult for him to simply blend in.

Bullying is such an important topic.  We see countless people speaking out on the need to change bullying culture; we hear of the horrible impact of bullying behavior; we see more and more schools adopting a zero tolerance policy on bullying.  So it makes sense that we address it in the books our kids are reading as well.  This book is aimed at middle grades readers, and it does a good job of showing what it is like to be involved in a bullying situation, whether you are the bully, the bullied, or a spectator.

I really like that this book painted a pretty accurate picture of what kids in the middle grades age group can possibly deal with.  The book was able to stay appropriate for the intended age group, while avoiding too much sugar coating of the issue.  I think the format of this book could be used to help kids in this age range deal with other issues as well.  I am interested to see where the author goes from here, but based on this book alone I think he had written something that the kids will really relate to.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Mother's Funeral, by Adriana Paramo

After spending her childhood and young adulthood living in Colombia with her mother and siblings, Adriana moved to the United States.  While she may have been thousands of miles away from her mother, she still kept her close to her heart; when her mother died, it was a devastating blow.  Adriana recounts snippets of her life with her mother, and the experience of dealing with her loss.

If I had to choose just one word to describe this memoir, I would say it is pristine.  The language and storytelling is wholly unspoiled, like a fine crystal goblet.  Clear, sparkling, beautiful, but if submitted to pressure it will smash and cut you to your core.  The writing in the book is so lyrical and beautiful, I felt it to my very depths.  

I loved the innocence in the author's voice; there is absolutely no guile to her writing.  She recounts stories from her youth that, if told by someone else would scream of naivety, but from her simply convey purity.  There is so much strength in this story, such feeling.  I challenge you to read it without being touched.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

 tlc logo resized

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Supreme Macaroni Company, by Adriana Trigiani

Valentine is determined to have everything she wants from life.  A member of a strong Italian American family, she is highly involved in the family shoemaking business; she is also engaged to an Italian man.  The couple must learn to juggle family with career, and make compromises.  Valentine also has to adjust to her husband's first family, and fact that each has a history that the other does not share.

If ever there were the perfect book to start off a new year, this is it.  I completely adored this book.  Trigiani's writing is a sensory delight; she spends a lot of time discussing smells, tastes, sights, sounds, and feelings to the extent that you, as a reader, feel as if you are part of the story.  In fact, I took a nap after reading the scene revolving around the family's Christmas dinner, and I dreamed about cannoli.  

I really fell in love with Valentine as a character.  She was a strong woman, but she was also flawed.  I found myself really relating to her.  Apparently, this book is the end of a trilogy, yet despite the fact that I never read the two previous books, I found myself completely absorbed in the story, and did not feel like I had missed anything.

I loved the strong emphasis on family in this book.  It made me wish I was from a big Italian family myself.  All in all, I thought this was a solid story, and it made me want to read more of Trigiani's writing.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

   tlc logo resized