The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville is a standalone magical realism novel.
Ever since she was a little girl, Ev has been able to sense the emotions of objects around her–intense emotions left by behind by their owns. She believes she must distance herself from these emotions, protect herself from their influence. Ev destroys the harmful objects and sells the harmless ones at Vancouver’s Chinatown Night Market.
In another part of town, Harriet hoards these special objects but the number of heightened emotions mixed in one place is beginning to take its toll on her neighbors and eviction is on the horizon.
When Ev and Harriet cross paths, Harriet knows that Ev is the only one who can help her make something more of her collection but Ev only feels fear and wants nothing to do with such an immense collection of “stains.”
Together Ev and Harriet must learn to harness their powers and overcome their past. But, when emotions are involved anything can happen.
This was actually a really good book. I enjoyed this idea of object being infused with the emotions of their owners and those objects passing those feelings on. It’s a very ghost/haunting-like concept but without the “spooky” factor.
One of the things I liked about this book was how Ev’s growth paralleled Harriet’s decline. There was this role reversal that really worked for me. And the scene’s in Harriet’s house towards the end of the novel, were really well done.
The only thing that really bugged me about this book, is how annoying I found it that I could not place Owen’s age. I know it is a little think but it really bothered me.
Overall, this one gets 4 stars from me.
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The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten is an adult/YA fiction novel about teens who are dealing with obsessive-compulsive order.
Adam Spencer Ross is almost fifteen and dealing with your typical teen problems–friends, girls, school, divorced parents, a step mom and brother–add to that an obsessive-compulsive disorder that is ramping up and disaster seems inevitable.
But Adam is determined to turn everything around from the moment he meets Robyn Plummer. Adam is convinced that Robyn is his one true love and that he is going to save her. But to save Robyn, Adam will have to save him self first.
This was a recommendation from one of my book club members and I really enjoyed it. The audio is definitely worth a listen–the narrator does a fantastic job and I just couldn’t help laugh at his vocal interpretation of the humorous bits the author injects into the novel.
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B is a serious, emotional novel with some really unexpected humor thrown in. I couldn’t help but smile to myself as some of Adam’s internal and, often untimed, external dialogue.
The group itself is full of diverse and dynamic characters, each struggling in their own way. And the adoption of superhero alter egos/pseudonyms, was a really an inventive way bring another dynamic to the story.
Adam’s journey throughout this book is both emotional and encouraging. As a reader, you almost can feel the frustration in the escalation of Adam’s cleansing rituals. And, looking back now, I think the story begins to ramp up as his compulsions do–the pace feels quicker, like the story is coming to a head just as Adam’s problems begin to spill over.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Some will relate strongly, others will not. And some will find themselves empathizing, while others just won’t get it. This one gets a solid 4 stars from me.
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The Smartest Kid in the Universe by Chris Grabenstein is a juvenile fiction book for 4-6th graders.
Twelve-year-old, Jake McQuade, is perfectly content with living a mediocre life. He’s happy living an easy-breezy life, putting in minimal effort and his only goal is to be a likeable guy. That is, until he eats a handful of jelly beans and suddenly becomes the smartest kid in the universe!
Suddenly, Jake is in high demand. Even the government wants his help cracking codes and catching bad guys. But will Jake have enough smarts when his friends and his school need him?
This was a fun read. An easy and fairly light book, with a couple of laughs and lots of, mostly interesting, facts.
My favorite characters in this book were Kojo and Haazim Farooqi. Kojo is your typical good natured, jokester. But he is also smart and sincere in his own way. And Haazim, just had this kooky scientist vibe going on. I just loved his forgetfulness and almost cavalier approach to science.
One thing I did not like about this book, was that the topic of the morality of Jake’s new found ingestible knowledge. Only once, was it really mentioned that Jake’s smarts were akin to cheating and even then, it was only glossed over. This is something we will definitely discuss in my book club. Was it really right for Jake to be on the quiz bowl team?
Overall, I think kids will really enjoy this novel. It’s part trivia quest, part treasure hunt and part middle school fiction. This one gets 4 stars from me.
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Show Me a Sign is a juvenile fiction book by deaf author and librarian Ann Clare LeZotte. It is inspired by the true history of a deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 19th century.
Mary Lambert has grown up safe and sheltered on her little island Martha’s Vineyard. Her great-grandfather was one of the first English settlers on the island and the first deaf settler. Now, it is more than a hundred years later and the island is the home of many deaf and hearing people, all of whom sign to communicate.
Mary has never felt a loss or lesser for being deaf, that is, until a young scientist arrives from the mainland, determined to uncover the source of the “rampant” deafness on the island. Still struggling with the recent death of her brother, the rising unrest between the settlers and the Wampanoag people, Mary feels unmoored. And when the unthinkable happens, will Mary perceiver through trial and scorn?
The audio version of this book came up first on my holds and, usually, I am a hard core audio fan. There wasn’t anything wrong with this audio book, but I think this book was made for print. It still get’s 4 stars from me, but I wonder if it might have eked out 5 in print.
That being said, this was a fascinating history to read about and one I was totally unaware of. It was so neat to learn about the history of the island and see how the farmers communicated through sign via spy glass. The author naturally injects sign etiquette and culture into the story, which serves to inform as well as serve the story.
The way the island works together and sees no difference between the hearing and not hearing is really very beautiful. It also serves to highlight the prejudices against the Wampanoag people and makes Mary’s shock at the treatment of deaf people outside of Martha’s Vineyard, even more powerful.
This is a book I would highly recommend for 4-7th graders.
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Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo is the sequel to the King of Scars duology.
As war looms and Fjerda prepares to march, Ravka and it’s allies must find a way to endure. Nikolai Lantsov must make peace with his inner demon and use all the tools at his disposal to ensure the survival of Ravka, but a darker threat inches closer every day and even he may finally be out of ideas.
Meanwhile, Zoya Nazyalensky no longer knows what she is. Instead of embracing her new powers, Zoya fights against it, refusing to lose any more of herself and those she loves.
Deep undercover in the very heart of Fjerda, Nina Zenik stamps down her grief and will risk it all for her country. But her thirst for revenge may threaten her mission.
Three souls at war with themselves, with the future in the balance. Can they overcome and save Ravka before there is no Ravka to save.
All of the Grisha books are good reads. But I read Six of Crows before any of the other ones and I can’t help but compare them all to it. That being said, this one gets bumped up an entire half-star for me because Kaz, Jasper and Wyland make a mini appearance and, without giving anything away, the very last sentence of the book hints at a third Six of Crows books–squeal!
I feel like I felt this way with King of Scars but there were a few too many narrators for me in this book. I liked each of the stories but I just thought the same goals could have been achieved with fewer. And I didn’t really think we needed the Darkling’s narration at all. It didn’t really further the story for me much.
Zoya and Nikolai’s flirtatious banter was probably my favorite aspects of the story. Nina’s storyline didn’t quite grab me the way it did in Six of Crows.
Overall, this was a good read to pick up if you enjoy the Grisha universe, which I do. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.
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