MG Book Review – Cold War on Maplewood Street

Cold War on Maplewood StreetBook Title:
 Cold War on Maplewood Street

Author: Gayle Rosengren

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Publication Date: August 4th 2015

Source: ARC received in exchange for my honest review.

From Goodreads: Cold War anxieties play out in a sensitively told story set during the Cuban missile crisis in the 1960s, perfect for fans of Gary Schmidt and Kristin Levine.

Joanna can’t get over how her brother broke his promise to never leave like their dad did. Sam is thousands of miles away on a navy ship, and no matter how often he sends letters, Joanna refuses to write back. When she makes a promise, she keeps it.

But then President Kennedy comes on TV with frightening news about Soviet missiles in Cuba—and that’s where Sam’s heading. Suddenly Joanna’s worries about being home alone, building up the courage to talk to a cute boy, and not being allowed to go to the first boy-girl party in her grade don’t seem so important. Maybe sometimes there are good reasons to break a promise.

The tense timeline of the Cuban missile crisis unfolds alongside a powerful, and ultimately hopeful, story about what it means to grow up in a world full of uncertainty.

My take: This is a story about family, emotional ties and broken promises.

Twelve-year-old Joanna Maxwell is very upset at her older brother enrolling in the navy at a time she no longer had a Dad in her life and (unknown to her) on the eve of the Cuban missile crisis.

I loved the raw and poignant emotions described in the book. I felt angry, shameful, and loving right along with Joanna. It was sometimes heart tugging and a little funny to watch Joanna deal with coming of age emotions and attitudes toward her mom.

Although I wasn’t around at the time of the crisis, the fear and panic the characters in the book experienced felt real, so I can’t imagine how someone who knows more about it will feel.

As usual Gayle Rosengren’s writing is on point. She writes historical fiction that’s relatable to her audience even if you are from a different generation. She was already a favorite author and this book sealed it.

Posted in middle grade fiction | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Marvelous Multicultural Middle Grade Monday – BAYOU MAGIC

bayou magicTitle: BAYOU MAGIC
Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads: If only Maddy sees the mermaid, can it be real?
It’s Maddy’s turn to have a bayou summer. At first she misses life back home in the city, but soon she grows to love everything about her new surroundings — the glimmering fireflies, the glorious landscape, and something else, deep within the water, that only Maddy sees. Could it be a mermaid? As her grandmother shares wisdom about sayings and signs, Maddy realizes she may be only the sibling to carry on her family’s magical legacy. And when a disastrous oil leak threatens the bayou, she knows she may also be the only one who can help. Does she have what it takes to be a hero?
A coming-of-age tale rich with folk magic, set in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, Bayou Magic celebrates hope, friendship, and family, and captures the wonder of life in the Deep South.

Why I recommend this book: Maddy is the youngest of five sisters. Every Summer one sister is sent to spend time with their grandma in Bon Temps. This Summer, it’s Maddy’s turn. Having heard supposedly horror stories from her sisters, she is more than apprehensive. What she discovers however, once she gets there changes her life forever and for the best.

This is a story of love, family, community and culture. Maddy’s summer in Bon Temps is marked with good food, magic, but also a tragedy known as the Deep-water Horizon Oil Spill.

The story is beautifully told. The writing is seamless and the characters have so much personality. I also appreciated the author’s take on the water deity known as Mamy Water to my people in West Africa.
This book is definitely a keeper.

You can find more awesome MG features on Shannon Messenger’s blog.
Posted in ColorinYAMG, middle grade fiction, MMGM | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

MG Book Review – THE FOG DIVER

the fog diverBook Title: The Fog Diver

Author: Joel Ross

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: May 26th 2015

Source: Hard copy of book received in exchange for my honest review.

From Goodreads: A deadly white mist has cloaked the earth for hundreds of years. Humanity clings to the highest mountain peaks, where the wealthy Five Families rule over the teeming lower slopes and rambling junkyards. As the ruthless Lord Kodoc patrols the skies to enforce order, thirteen-year-old Chess and his crew scavenge in the Fog-shrouded ruins for anything they can sell to survive.

Hazel is the captain of their salvage raft: bold and daring. Swedish is the pilot: suspicious and strong. Bea is the mechanic: cheerful and brilliant. And Chess is the tetherboy: quiet and quick…and tougher than he looks. But Chess has a secret, one he’s kept hidden his whole life. One that Lord Kodoc is desperate to exploit for his own evil plans. And even as Chess unearths the crew’s biggest treasure ever, they are running out of time.

My take: In a world where natural fog had been replaced with a deadly mist made of nanites (nanomachines), humans are fighting for survival and now live on mountains. A power crazy and evil lord, in a crazy attempt at a way to control the nanite fog, conducted human experiments that always lead to the subjects death. Until one of them survived.
The book follows a group of scavenger kids on the quest to find any item of value from the ruins that will help finance a cure for their sick and dying mother figure.
I can not believe how much I fell in love with the world in the book. The post-apocalyptic feel, the steam powered technology, the extremely hard life in the slums and how resilient and resourceful Chess and his friends were.

I love all the characters. Super-tetherboy Chess and his struggle with bravery or cowardice. Skilled mechanic Bea and her extremely candid nature. Smart and witty captain Hazel who sometimes takes on way too much responsibility, and strong Swedish whose loyalty never fails. Of course there is also Loretta but I’m still not sure how to feel about her past, so I don’t trust her much (just yet). Nisha and Vidious the mutineers captains felt a little cliché at times but it didn’t bother me too much.

I found the plot quite intriguing and definitely a page turner although at times certain details didn’t quite make sense or feel pertinent to the scene they were revealed in.
The book ended at a satisfying point but there are so many questions left unanswered, and Koboc menace was still strong. It left my heart pounding but not in a cliffhanger way.

How long until book 2? And I hope and pray they don’t change the cover design. I love this one so much.

Posted in middle grade fiction, review, Steampunk | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

MG Book Review – The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill

**This Summer I will be playing catch-up with some books I requested for review last year and never got around to reading and reviewing for many reasons. When I go out of my way to request a book, I make it a point to talk about it whether I enjoyed it or not.**

The Spy Catchers of Maple HillBook Title:
 The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill

Author: Megan Frazer Blakemore

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Publication Date: May 6th 2014

Source: E-ARC received on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. However I was unable to read it back then. The E-ARC expired so I bought my own copy.

From Goodreads: Hazel Kaplansky is a firm believer in the pursuit of knowledge and truth–and she also happens to love a good mystery. When suspicions swirl that a Russian spy has infiltrated her small town of Maple Hill, Vermont, amidst the fervor of Cold War era McCarthyism, Hazel knows it’s up to her to find a suspect… starting with Mr. Jones, the quietly suspicious grave digger. Plus she’s found a perfect sleuthing partner in Samuel Butler, the new boy in school with a few secrets of his own. But as Hazel and Samuel piece together clues from the past and present, the truth is suddenly not what they expected, and what they find reveals more about themselves and the people of their cozy little town than they could ever have imagined.

My take: This is a historical fiction set during the Cold War, during a period where McCarthy was a Senator. Communities were tormented by the idea that your neighbor could easily be a Communist, which brought a wave of distrust right along with the constant fear of an Atomic Bomb being dropped.

The main character Hazel was very smart but that didn’t keep her from getting wrapped up in that belief, so she often went around looking for suspicious behaviors in the people of her little town until the day she found something.

I must say I fell in love with smart-mouth characters since I read Three Times Lucky, but Hazel was too much. Like her friend Samuel said in the book she had a “one-track mind”. She was convinced of what she thought she saw or deducted that she often didn’t listen to what people were actually saying around her or to her. I didn’t like her much. Even at the end when she sort of learned her lesson. If that was the author’s intention, I think she did amazing. I suspected as much after reading the author’s notes in the back.

I also felt like the story could have been a bit shorter. Some chapters felt unnecessary which made the plot drag a little.

Overall I enjoyed reading the book and getting an insider view of what life was for the average people during the Cold War. All the suspicions and being fearful of even telling the truth because you have no clue how the person you’re telling it to will interpret it.

If you like mystery and historical you will enjoy it.

Posted in Books, review | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments