Review: Saints and Misfits- A Novel by S.K. Ali

During a heated political time, Ali has created a story for all cultures meant to explain the values and customs of what it means for one Muslim community and Muslim woman in America. Growing up with a more traditional Muslim family, Janna has to reconcile crushing on a non-Muslim boy, high school bullies, unsupportive friends, and conflicting emotions about being sexually assaulted by a monster—a covert monster who receives high praise in the Muslim community. Those who seem pious are anything but, and while Janna battles contradictions in her faith, she must also struggle with everyday life of being a teenage girl, including a nosy mother and annoying older brother. An honorable multicultural high school read, I have to admit that this story lost its momentum. I found myself skimming through dialogue. This slow pace fails with the quickened and perfect ending—unrealistic in its perfection. Blink and all of the…

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Fiction Books Set In Paris: A Book Review Of One Paris Summer

I love reading books set in places that I am about to visit.  That is why before heading to France, I had to peruse One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank.  One of the many great YA fiction books set in Paris, Swank pulled me into teen drama and heartbreak while giving me a personal tour of Paris. A Book Review Of One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank Sophie and her brother, Eric, are forced to spend the summer in Paris with their father and his soon-to-be new bride. Off to a rough start filled with lies, deceits, and hurt feelings, why not add in an evil stepsister with a revenge seeking agenda? Camille is hell-bent on torturing Sophie; she and her friends are straight out of Mean Girls. Even worse, Eric’s friend and Sophie’s crush is coming to stay for the summer, and Camille goes straight for him. Wanting only to play…

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Review: The Little Prince

The narrator is a pilot who finds himself lost in the desert with a broken plane. The little prince approaches looking for a friend as he travels across planets. Oddly at first, the little prince asks the pilot to draw him a sheep. Throughout their time together, the little prince explains how he leaves his planet behind because of a vain rose that he did not understand but most likely has grown to love. In his travels, the little prince visits a vain man who only hears compliments about himself, a king who takes pride on giving falsely reasonable orders, a businessman who claims that he owns the stars, an ashamed alcoholic, a tired lamplighter, and a geographer who never leaves his desk to explore. The little prince learns what it is like to create friendships with others, including a fox, and begins to mourn the loss of his little…

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Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

During the ALA Conference in Orlando, our library branches won grants to bring around 15 teens to present their opinions on YALSA’s BFYA nominees. The teens loved raiding the schwag from the Exhibits Hall, and even though we tried, we couldn’t get them to stop hoarding. Not that we would purposely discourage anyone from getting free books, but these guys had 10 overflowing bags each with handles snapping.  This load had to be carried back to the car and smooshed in the trunk. I swear my car’s rear end sunk, dragging us along, weighed down by signed books, sunglasses, posters, and comics. In one last raid, a few teens caught up with Meredith Russo, who they instantly fell in love with. She signed their books, chatted them up, and a year later, she even Skyped in for their book club. One of my girls brought me back a signed copy…

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Review: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Suzy and Franny are growing apart as Franny starts hanging out with the popular crowd and caring more about cute boys. Suzy, the more bookish of the two, decides to retaliate against Franny’s cruel actions. Unfortunately, Suzy is never able to explain her disgusting actions and finds herself not only grief stricken but also feeling sickeningly guilty because Franny drowns while on vacation. Suzy refuses to talk to anyone: her parents, brother, therapist, and lab partner. Written with science report-like overtones, Suzy becomes obsessed with finding out the cause of Franny’s death and ultimately decides that a deadly Australian jellyfish has stung and killed her friend. Determined to prove this theory to herself as well as everyone else, Suzy seeks out the advice of experts, one in particular named Jamie. The Thing About Jellyfish is a National Book Award finalist. With themes of grief, growing up, and mental illness, fourth…

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Review: A Boy Named Queen by Sara Cassidy

As Evelyn enters 5th grade, cue the arrival of a boy in a pink shirt with eccentric, bohemian, tattooed parents. Queen is my hero as he wears what he wants, builds a force field against bullies, starts his own school clubs, and makes personalized, collage birthday invitations. Evelyn instantly accepts Queen into her world and is rewarded with self-awareness and courage. Reading much like a younger version of Stargirl, A Boy Named Queen addresses what it is like to grow-up and more importantly, grow into one’s skin. This heartwarming realistic fiction novel is suitable for third to sixth graders and left my heart feeling fuzzy. However, as I scrolled through the last page on my iPad, I questioned if half of this eBook failed to download. To say that the story ends abruptly is an understatement, and while this quick read felt more like a short story, I would recommend A Boy Named Queen to any child who…

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