After being kept away from technology for 10 years, Hedda finds herself suddenly having to confront the devices of the modern world when her mother must travel to Australia. The only choice Hedda has is to go live with her father, his new wife and her half-brother. Almost immediately she encounters a bizarre situation in which a young girl supposedly commits suicide. Something seems off about the death. and Hedda tries to figure out what really happened. Other inexplicable violent deaths occur, and they seem to have some connection to an online- game. If the player dies thirteen times on level thirteen, they die in real life. Oddly enough the game is tied to Hedda. Her discovery of the truth ultimately tears her life apart. This is a thought-provoking novel. Can computer programs actually infiltrate the mind of the users and cause actions that they would not otherwise take? That is one of the questions the reader must confront. I found the story interesting, but I did have a big question about one scene. The story line moves through Hedda’s eyes – for the most part. There are some scenes which show action from another person’s viewpoint. These situations are indicated by a different font in the book. One situation which involved Hedda and her viewpoint I found implausible. Hedda goes to her father’s office and meets Kai, the receptionist. In this scene and only in this scene, Hedda refers to Kai as “they” not “she” or “he.” This is a very new transgender usage of pronouns. If Hedda had been socially isolated for ten years, she would NOT have had any knowledge of that particular pronoun usage. It appears to be a gratuituous reference to transgendered people. It does not fit into the story in any way. I found that disturbing. Also, when Hedda goes to live with her father she and her mother leave their farm. I could not find any reference to a caretaker or another farmer who helped them. When Hedda and her mother return to the farm, the animals and chickens are there, but the question remains: Who took care of them? If you can overlook these little problems, you might want to add it to your collection of modern fiction.
This set takes a very in-depth look at the lives of teens in many countries around the world. I was initially impressed by the clear introduction to the set. There is not an emphasis of one continent over another. The set is in alphabetical order by country starting with Australia (Some countries I thought might have been included were Afghanistan and Argentina.)
The lives of the teens living in each country is the main focus, but each section starts with a Country Overview. The discussion then moves to Schooling and Education, Extracurricular Activities: Art, Music and Sport, Family and Social Life, Religious and Cultural Rites of Passage, Rights and Legal Status, and finally, Inequalities. In each section the statistics contain in-text bibliographic referencing. A thorough bibliographical list concludes each section. It is definitely an encyclopedia designed for grades 12 and up since the readability of the text is grade 12 on the Fry chart.
The biographic information at the end of vol.2 tells the reader that the editor and the contributors are all very well-educated; and, thus, one would tend to believe that the factual material being presented would be true and accurate. However, that is not the case in this instance. As I began to read the text, I ran across this sentence: “Egypt also shares borders with Turkey and Jordan.” (The co-contributor is the editor.) That statement I knew to be totally false. Next, I ran across what I believed to be either a poorly formed sentence or an outright lack of knowledge of geography on the part of the contributor – which, by the way was the editor, herself. I submitted that particular sentence for scrutiny to a group of English teachers on a Facebook page, who – much to my surprise – pointed out, not only needed changes in the syntax, but also a flagrant error in geography. This is that sentence: “France is a Western European country bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea to the West and the South and the Alps and the Pyrenees to the East.” My teacher friends quickly pointed out that the Pyrenees were to the west of France, not to the east.
In the face of not one, but two, glaring errors in the text, I began to question whether or not to recommend the purchase of the set. At $204.00 it represents a big chunk of a school’s library budget. My main problem lies in the fact that if there are any factual errors in any non-fiction work, the entire piece becomes suspect.
I cannot, in good conscience recommend the purchase of this set. Although there most likely are many things that are true, it is not possible to trust all of them to the editor’s veracity. The reader should be receiving positive truth – not possible truth. Do not spend your limited resources on this set.
Many people know about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Few know about Nannerl Mozart, his older sister. She performed with Wolfgang, and possibly even had written some of the music attributed to him. The two of them traveled together and performed all over Europe until Nannerl was no longer looked upon by the audiences they performed for as a child prodigy. Nannerl lived at a time when any child prodigy – either male or female was praised and noticed; but when she became a woman, she had to begin the role of a woman – subservient to the men in her life. Nannerl’s performing ceased, and she had to take a back seat to Wolfgang.
This story takes on 18th century social norms, but it does not remain an historical novel. There are elements of fantasy rolled into the tale. Nannerl once said that she had but one wish – to be remembered forever. That wish almost became true due to a influence of a mythical being from the Kingdom of Back – a kingdom of fairy princelings and queens of the night. But when Nannerl learned the true cost of having her wish come true, she was faced with the most important decision of her life. It was a decision that no one could make for her – not mother, father, or a famous brother.
I wondered whether or not the author could pull off a merger of history and fantasy, but Lu did a superb job of doing just that. By the time I was well into the story I was immersed into the concept of a fairy being responsible fo I recommend this historical/fantasy for middle school and high school readers.
In an election year, such as this is, a series of this type would most likely have a prominent place in any school library. Each begins with a definition of the political ideology being discussed. Next is a discussion of the position of its proponents in regard to politics and government. This is followed by the position of the adherents in regard to the economy and finally in regard to our culture and/or society. Each book has a chronology which the author feels best suits the discussion at hand. This is followed by a short glossary of important words, a section for further exploration of the topic and a bibliography of sources used by the author. There is a brief index and a short biographical sketch of the author of each text. Within the text are starred pages which give further information about some aspect of the topic at hand. I found those pages disrupted my reading of the text since they were not clearly tied into the flow of the material being presented. Pictures, maps and charts are included in each book. Those items are well-placed, well-labeled, and they give added information to the reader. While these books may be timely, I urge you to consider carefully whether or not to purchase them.
In evaluating any non-fiction book, the reader must first look at the credentials of the author. Who is this person? What authority are they using to give out this information? And, are they presenting factual material without bias? To that end I began to read the biographical sketches in the books. They did not give me any pertinent information about the qualifications of the writers. I found that most were professional writers of some sort. Some were also involved in their communities. In no case could I clearly discern the political position of the writer. I found that vaguely disturbing; by that I mean, if a person writes about one side of a political position, and yet the writer is really an adherent of the opposite side, the writing that person produces will be biased toward his/her own position.
The book on Libertarians has no discussion at all about their position on drugs, alcohol or sex. The author only points out that they do not believe in ANY limitations of the freedoms of man. I think the omission of the discussion of their position on those items is a deliberate omission for younger readers, but it is clearly deceptive because it does not give the entire picture of the party.
I was also struck by the political ideologies that were omitted in the series. One often sees the term “Capitalism” paired with “Liberalism.” Yet, the publisher totally omitted a book entitled, Who Are Liberals and What Do They Believe? Two other political ideologies not discussed in detail are Socialism and Communism. All three of these ideologies are prominent in our society; yet, they seem to be lumped together into the discussion of “Progressives.” Words have denotations and connotations. “Progressive” has a kinder, less threatening connotation than does “liberalism, socialism, or communism.” One wonders if that is why those ideologies were left out of the series.
It is also interesting that, if the reader were to take the position of the writers of these books, one would label Donald Trump as a Populist, because he believes that government is hurting the U.S., as a Nationalist because he actually said he was a nationalist, and as a Conservative because he wants to hold onto the traditional values of America. The respective authors said that: Populism may be more successful now since Trump’s election than at any other time (Anderson); Nationalism has undertones of racism (Potter) No proof of this was given, however; and that Conservatives want America to be all Christian again.(Small) This is just blatantly untrue. Conservatives hold the First Amendment as extremely important. Finally, the author of the book on progressives actually says that they “position themselves in opposition to a system that they see as heartless, cruel, and alienating.” Personally, I find those word offensive, but I’m probably not allowed to be offended. It appears that the series wants the reader to believe that only the Progressives are the “good guys.” Biased writing?
THINK before you spend your money on this series.
Series: Politics Today by Cavendish Square Press. New York, 2020
Who Are Populists: and What do They Believe In? by Zachary Anderson. 9781502645197 (lib. bdg.), $34.21.
Who Are Libertarians and What Do They Believe In? by Tempra Board. 9781502645258 (lib. bdg.) $34.21.
Who Are Nationalists and What Do They Believe In? by Josh Potter.. 978150265166 (lib. bdg.). $34.21.
Who Are Conservatives and What Do They Believe In? by Cathleen Small. 9781502645135 (lib. bdg.).
Who Are Progressives and What do They Believe In? by Matt Bougie, 9781502645227) (lib. bdg.).
Grade level 7-12
Zetta Elliott has given the reader a challenging, provocative, and beautiful collection of poems. While male readers could certainly enjoy and learn from them, the collection is aimed at the female reader. The poems are partially Elliott’s work and partially the collected work of various artists, both known and unknown. Two poems, “We Are Wise” and “We Can’t Breathe” were inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, “We Real Cool.”
It was from these two poems written by a group of high school writers that this collection sprang. Interspersed into the collection of poems are two very short essays, which, in themselves, are very nearly poetry. The reader will also want to be sure to read the introduction because it gives insight into how the collection came to be. Elliott has also provided a bibliographic credit page, but the notes she has provided are a treasure trove in themselves. These notes provide insight into why and how the poems were written.
I recommend this book for the high school reader. Probably young students could read it, but it does contain some raw feelings which might be too intense for younger readers.
Lane Disanti is from London and she wants to make friends, but not just with anyone. She wants to meet girls who have the same interests as she does. In order to do this she plans a secret rendezvous in the tree house that her brothers built on her grandmother’s property in Florida.
She makes up special invitations and leaves them where only a certain kind of girl would find them. She had already seen one of the girls, Ofelia Castillo because she often came to work with her mother who was the cook for Lane’s grandmother. She slipped an invitation into Ofelia’s backpack. Since she had to read fifteen books before school started in the fall, Lane thought that the library would be another good place for an invitation. There, she slipped two invitations into summer reading club book bags.
One of those was picked up by Cat Garcia, whose mother was determined that Cat become a member of the Floras, an elite club for the girls of Sabel Palms, Florida. The last invitation was discovered by Aster Douglas, a budding chef. And from these invitations came the Inaugural Meeting of the Ostentation of Others and Outsiders.
Each of the girls knew that they certainly fit the “Outsiders Category.” The girls spend a wild summer together sometimes doing good and sometimes getting into serious trouble. This is an entertaining story of preteen girls who all feel that they aren’t a part of society, but who learn that friendship is the most important part of life, and they learn that other girls often feel the same way that they do.
This is a nice little adventure book for girls. It is about growing up and about dealing with family issues. The characters are well-defined and engaging. Although the girls do things that they shouldn’t, they learn from their mistakes and grow from them. I recommend this for all upper elementary readers.
Patricia S Brown, Educational Reviewer, Auburndale Florida
Reyna is nearly finished with her training as a map maker and explorer. She needs to do a major project to finish her studies and become a master explorer, but in a world where women are not accepted in that position, she has to prove that she is capable of what she wants to do. She has been traveling around her world and making maps for a year when the ship she is traveling on is attacked by a pirate ship. She manages to escape from the clutches of the pirates by jumping into the sea and swimming to land. Once there, she encounters a young man who she finds out is the crown prince of that land. Of course he helps her – at least as much as she allows him to. Thus begins a fast-paced adventure involving foreign intrigue, traitorous friends and sirens.
This is a great story of a woman defending her rights and proving her capabilities. While the world that Reyna lives in is a fantasy, it becomes realistic for the reader. The author has provided the reader with a great deal of adventure, a mystery, some mythology, and a little bit of romance. I believe this book is a suitable selection for high school readers.
I recognize that I am reading a review copy, but I would like to point out an observation: Places mentioned in the story are not on the map provided in the front of the book (I like to get a feel of where the action goes, and I could not do that). This might be corrected in the final editing, but the reader should be aware.
Clementine has just turned sixteen and Mother Fleur, the housemistress, is preparing her for her Lucky Night, the night she will finally become a woman. She and her sister Aster have lived with Mother Fleur for 10 years since her parents had to sell the girls or let them starve to death. Since Aster was older than Clementine, she had already had her Lucky Night. Aster tells her nothing about the night except to NOT drink the Sweet Thistle (a type of narcotic) that Mother Fleur would give her and to think about a song while she entertained the brag that had paid a big price for her.
No one tells her what she is expected to do or what the brag will do, just that she is to make him happy. Nothing goes as it should and her brag lies dead on the floor. The only thing she can do is to get someone to help her and then to run as far as she can before the raveners, creatures that can get into ones mind and destroy it, get her. Aster comes to her aid, along with three other good luck girls, Tansy, Mallow and Violet. Their escape is frantic and often violent. A young tracker finds them and actually helps them instead of turning them in as he should.
This is a fast-paced story set in a fanciful, yet very realistic world that will keep the reader turning pages as fast as possible. Davis has taken on a very disturbing social situation, sex slave trafficking, in a thoughtful and discrete manner. There are some implied sexual scenes and some very violent scenes of beatings and murder. I definitely recommend this book for high school readers.
Once in a while, I run across a book that just makes me want to say, “WOW!” This is such a book.
It may be hard to believe, but it has been 20 years since, J.K. Rowling first introduced Harry Potter to the world. This anniversary edition is done by the British Library and The New York Historical Society. The book is actually subtitled; The Official Companion to the British Library Exhibition at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library. I understand that there is an exhibit in New York of the history of magic going on now.
As one might suppose, the history of magic through the ages is presented to the reader, but is it done in a rather unique format. The chapters are arranged to lead the reader through the history as if he or she were taking classes at Hogwarts. The titles of each chapter is the name of a class that Harry would have taken at Hogwarts; i.e Herbology, Divination, and Defense Against the Dark Arts.
Most things presented in the text are actual historical items, but interspersed with the historical are copies of drafts of Rowling’s drafts for the texts of the Harry Potter series and actual artwork for those books. Some illustrations are pen and ink drawings by Rowling herself, but the fantastic color illustrations were done by Jim Kay for Bloomsbury Books.
The book is well-bound. It is delighting to the eye, interesting to read, and engaging for all Harry Potter fans, ages 6-60. It also could be used as a source for research into the history of magic. There is an index of the exhibits shown in the text and brief biographical sketches of Rowling and of the curators of the British Library Exhibit. I highly recommend the purchase of this book for public,middle, and high school libraries.
Aden has a great relationship with mathematics, but the rest of her life is up-in-the air. The family is still reeling from the loss of her mother. Her best friend is boy-crazy and intent on starting an affair with one of her teachers. Aden has never dated and thought that part of her life was fine until Tate came into her life. Tate wears his yarmulke and a grin to school and is a friend to everyone. Aden is fascinated by him – especially that he is not afraid to openly display his religious convictions.
When Tate needs help with his calculus class, Aden steps in and helps him with his homework. Aden knows she is drawn to Tate, but he is dating another girl. I was feeling very impressed with Tate and Aden’s relationship at the start. He talks to her about his faith (She is also Jewish), and takes her to meet with a rabbi. But I lost that view of the relationship when he invites her to his house one night, gives her alcohol and proceeds to have sex with her. Worse yet is the fact that he gets up and leaves her in the bed with no explanation, does not even tell her ,”Goodbye.”
The redeeming part of the tale is that this did not destroy Aden, but she realizes that she cannot be around Tate. Girls who read this may understand that they don’t have to get “mushy brained” about love relationships.
I believe this must be an informed purchase for the high school library. The characters are very believable, and there is an over-all good resolution. However some schools may object to the sexual scenes. Also, the best friend does have sex with the teacher, but does not in trouble for it. The friend, Marissa, becomes pregnant, but she also had sex with another student about the same time so the fatherhood of the child is unknown. The teacher tells Marissa that his wife forgave him and that he is staying with her. That resolution bothers me. I don’t want to NOT recommend the book, but if it is purchased, it definitely needs to stay in the high school library.