The Brave by James Bird

I absolutely loved this kids’ story about a boy with OCD tendencies who connects with his Native American heritage and befriends the unique girl next door.

Here’s the overview:


Perfect for fans of Rain Reign, this middle-grade novel The Brave is about a boy with an OCD issue and his move to a reservation to live with his biological mother.

Collin can’t help himself—he has a unique condition that finds him counting every letter spoken to him. It’s a quirk that makes him a prime target for bullies, and a continual frustration to the adults around him, including his father.

When Collin asked to leave yet another school, his dad decides to send him to live in Minnesota with the mother he’s never met. She is Ojibwe, and lives on a reservation. Collin arrives in Duluth with his loyal dog, Seven, and quickly finds his mom and his new home to be warm, welcoming, and accepting of his condition.

Collin’s quirk is matched by that of his neighbor, Orenda, a girl who lives mostly in her treehouse and believes she is turning into a butterfly. With Orenda’s help, Collin works hard to overcome his challenges. His real test comes when he must step up for his new friend and trust his new family.

This novel is marketed as a “middle grade” book, which to me means grades 4-8. I’d aim this book for Middle School as it has some serious themes in it: parental rejection, divorce, death, mental health, etc. In a way it reminded me of one of my favorite books for kids: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.

This was such a touching and honest read, and I couldn’t help but love Collin and Orenda. The ending made me cry. This is one that is definitely going on our MS Summer Choices for next year!

Thank you for my e-copy via Net Galley!

Here’s a bit on James Bird – an author who is new to me:


James bird is a Native American author from the Ojibwe tribe. He was born and raised in Southern California and began his writing career penning screenplays and directing films (Eat Spirit Eat, From Above, Honeyglue, We Are Boats). He met his wife, New York Times Bestselling Author Adriana Mather at a nightclub in Hollywood and together they moved to the east coast, where they both write books, rescue animals, and raise their son, Wolf. His favorite food is rice crispy treats and his favorite color is green. His goals in life are to be a great dad, one day open a vegan diner, and write enough books to fill up a bookshelf.

Teen Reading: GOLDFISH by Nat Luurtsema


I have come across the perfect summer read for the middle schooler in your life (high schooler, too)!

I started GOLDFISH two days ago, not knowing what to expect.The description on Net Galley was fun but a tad vague:


Audiobooks — Nightfall and The Japanese Lover

Oh my ears!

I love listening to audiobooks in my car on the way to work. I got two last month: NIGHTFALL by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski (which I paid for) and THE JAPANESE LOVER by Isabel Allende (which I used Audible credits for).

These were two very different books!


I first heard about NIGHTFALL at BEA last spring. It is a YA novel with a twist – about a group of preteens left behind on their community’s island when everyone else leaves as part of the tradition of moving when night comes, once every 14 years. Marin is left behind with her twin brother Kana and their friend Line. They need to survive the beasts that accompany the night and they each are changing as they understand the true meanings of the rituals and traditions that shape their community.

Wowza! This was a tough one to read while driving because I had zero interest in the traffic and full interest in the story. I can’t say too much without giving it away, but it is compelling and unique and well-written. It’s a very creative take on the old fear of being afraid of the dark and the power of friendship and the ties that bind. I’m so glad that I got it for myself since I wasn’t able to get it any other way!  Ably read by Nicholas Guy Smith, NIGHTFALL runs just over 10 hours.


On a totally different note is THE JAPANESE LOVER by Isabel Allende. If you know me, you know I love all her books! I’ve been a tad disappointed in the last few but this one marked a return for me to her best genre: historical fiction with a touch of magical realism. In this novel, young Alma Belasco is sent from Europe to live with relatives in the United States to escape the horrors of WWII. She falls in love with the son of the Japanese gardener and so begins a lifelong love affair between them.This story was beautiful yet heart-breaking. It moved through time a bit – which can be disorienting if you are in the car listening – but overall was easy to follow and written in the hallmark prose that marks Allende as a true genius of the craft. Joanna Gleason narrates this nine hour tale.

These days I’m working through CUTTING FOR STONE on my commute. This is an intriguing story, though I do get a little squeamish over the medical details! More to come on this one when I finish it!

Find these books online at Amazon, at your library, or at an indie near you!!

YA Review: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten


I first heard about this novel while I was at BEA this past spring. It sounded intriguing, but, due to schedules and long lines, I didn’t get a chance to meet Ms. Weingarten or get a copy, so I purchased one for my kindle when it released in July.

SUICIDE NOTES FROM BEAUTIFUL GIRLS is one of those haunting, compelling reads that picks you up and then drops you, leaving you panting and somewhat bewildered. I LOVED this type of book when I was a teen (actually I still love it!).

June and Delia used to be the very best of friends, from the time they were in grade school until recently in high school, when they’ve grown apart. Then it is announced that Delia has died — apparently from suicide, killing herself by burning to death in her father’s shed. June is troubled by this. She doesn’t believe that Delia did this, and she’s haunted by the fact that Delia had reached out to her shortly before her death, but June had ignored her, choosing to be with her boyfriend instead.

What did happen to Delia? Who is involved? And why does it seem like a lot of people know much more than they are telling? June is determined to find out.

I have to admit — when I picked up this book and began to read it, I didn’t stop for a break until I was halfway through. It pulled me in and I just couldn’t stop reading. This was also the type of story that stays with you long after the last page.

Due to language and sexual content, I’d say it’s for older YA readers.