"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, May 30, 2016

Three short book reviews

There are not enough hours in one day to read all the books I want and to catch up on my past due reviews. Hence, the short reviews.

Minamoto Yoshitsune should not have been a samurai. But his story is legend in this real-life saga. This epic warrior tale reads like a novel, but this is the true story of the greatest samurai in Japanese history. ---Goodreads

I have been looking for a book like this my whole time as a librarian for those students interested in Asian history or more specifically about the history of the Samurai in Japan. Finally I have a book I can recommend on the topic, Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner. It is about a real-life Japanese hero Minamoto Yoshitsune who lived in the 12th century. He has been immortalized for his bravery and daring. The author became interested in the subject when she was casting about looking for an activity she could do with her son. They selected something related to Japanese swords. This reminded her of book she had read about the Samurai written in the 1300s. Thus began the research which led to this book. It was well researched as evidenced by the over 60 pages of end-notes. It reads like an exciting adventure story full of plenty of gore and dramatic fight scenes.

Tony Cliff's second installment in the Delilah Dirk graphic novel series, Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling is pure fun. Set in the 1800 Delilah Dirk has made a bit of a name for herself with her swordsmanship. But her fame doesn't keep her from being framed as a spy by an English officer and she barely escapes with her life. Her need for revenge takes her back to England but just about swamps her friendship with Selim. Once in England Selim learned that Delilah Dirk is her pseudonym and this female hero is leading a double life.

I would recommend that readers begin with the first graphic novel in the Delilah Dirk series, Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff, author and artist. I was a bit lost in the story not having followed my own advice. The book has earned four starred reviews for its action sequences, beautiful and color illustrations, and a nod to girl-power. Fans of this genre will find a lot to like in the series which I will be buying for my library.

The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos. Imogene Scott's mother left when Imogene was a baby. All she really knows about her mother is what her father has told her in his bedtime stories. Now Imogene's father has disappeared and she is sure he is looking for her mother. She is also sure that her father, a mystery writer, has left her the tools and the clues to find them both. In the process of searching for her parents Imogene learns a lot about herself, and about loyalty and friendship.

When Imogene begins the search for her parents she thinks she is a lone wolf and must find them herself so she does not share her thoughts and fears with the police or with her stepmother. But to do her investigations she needs to help of her neighbors, her best friend Jessa, and Jessa's brother and mother. But can she fulfill her investigation without telling them what she is doing?

Like many teen books this book, which was advertised as a mystery, doesn't live up to the hype. It is more about Imogene and a coming-of-age tale where she finally confronts her father's mental illness and her need for need for real friends, not just literary ones. Reviewers on Goodreads are pretty critical of this misclassification. They, like me, want a mystery to be mainly a mystery with the action and tension that goes along with that type of story.

That said, I think there is some really solid writing in The Mystery of Hollow Places and I found the strength of it in the blossoming friendship between Imogene and Jenna.

All three of these books would qualify as Printz contenders since they are written for young adults and published in 2016. I won't be recommending any of them for my Mock Printz team, however, though I think they all have literary value.

2017 Printz Award Contenders

12 / 35 books. 34% done!

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