When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica



I love Mary Kubica’s writing. It’s always suspenseful and has a high “can’t put down” rating for me. This novel was no different. I really liked the character of Jessie, though I felt badly for her as she’d had a tough time with her mother’s death and then struggling to figure out her identity (truly her identity, as in, she had no SSN or legal birth certificate).
I don’t want to give away too much, so I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that I had figured out one part of the novel, but had another part — one the author pretty much leads you to (possibly as a red herring) incorrect. I liked this story and will look forward to Ms. Kubica’s next one!
Thank you for my e-copy from Net Galley!

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:


Kids’ Review: GEORGE by Alex Gino


Can we talk about this book?

When I was at BEA this spring, I received a copy of GEORGE by Alex Gino. Actually, the young man from Scholastic who was presenting the book to us gave an emotional appeal for people to read it and love it and support them as they felt the story would come under controversy.

GEORGE is about a 4th grade named George who, while a boy on the outside, is a girl on the inside. George wants to be Charlotte in the class’ upcoming production of Charlotte’s Web, but only girls can audition. George hides the fact that internally she is female, especially from her family, but ends up telling her best friend.

This is a very touching and sensitive story about a child struggling with their gender identification. I absolutely loved George. I felt the story was written from the heart and sensitively portrayed a young person in the midst of establishing their identity.

My challenge with GEORGE was when I think about what age to recommend it for. It is written for middle grades (3-6) but I’m not sure that age could appreciate and understand it (reading it on their own) unless it is something in their own experience. It’s more of a middle school read in my opinion. That said, I have several adults that I will recommend it to.

I’m sure some will take issue with this story. I’m sure some won’t like it. But I think it’s a lovely and sensitive portrayal that deserves to be read and shared.

Review: SWEET SONG by Terry Persun

I was recently contacted by a publisher to see if I would read and review a copy of “Sweet Song” by Terry Persun. I enjoy historical fiction of this time period (1870’s), so I said yes.

In “Sweet Song”, Leon, the mixed-race son of a landowner and his black servant, seeks to find (and create) his identity. A violent interaction causes him to run away from his home and he takes this opportunity to recreate himself. Leon, who looks and passes for white, decides to define himself as white, and this leads him to explore racism and views on society from a different perspective than he had before (when he had lived with his mother and black father in the tenant’s cabins on the property). Leon has many struggles and several things he is running from. His story is a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

To be honest, I really wanted to like this book, but I found it slow-moving; and Leon began to annoy me. I wanted to root for him, but instead I felt like he was passive and weak and things just happened to him (until the end – which I liked). I have to say there were some really disturbing things in this book (SPOILER ALERT!) which I’m still not sure why they were there. Leon is in a sexual relationship with his half-sister, which he is seduced into by her. Also Leon suffers for years as a child, being physically and sexually abused by his mother. I racked my brain and while I could say that the relationship with his sister would be the catalyst for him running away (but did it have to be his sister??), I found no literary reason for this horrible experience with his mother. I would have thought this could be a good YA book with good discussions on identity development and race, but I can’t recommend it for the younger set due to the (disturbing) sexual content.

Thank you, Emily from Booktrope, for the chance to review!

Here is some information sent to me about Mr. Persun:

Terry Persun writes in many genres, including historical fiction, mainstream, literary, and science fiction / fantasy. His novel, Cathedral of Dreams is a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year finalist in the Science Fiction category. His novel Sweet Song received a Silver IPPY Award last summer. His latest novel is, Doublesight, the first book in an epic fantasy series. Find Terry online at TerryPersun.com and @tpersun.

Quick YA Review: “It’s Not All Black and White – Multiracial Youth Speak Out” by St. Stephen’s Community House

I downloaded the electronic version of this book through Net Galley into my Adoble Digital reader.

This book is a compilation of short papers, poems, interviews, etc. of teenagers who are biracial or multiracial. They write of their experiences, their journeys to identity, their run-ins with ignorance and prejudice, and, basically, their innermost  feelings of who they are. This was a great read, in my opinion, and one which I think many young people (and adults for that matter) would find interesting and eye-opening.

FYI – St. Stephen’s Community House is located in Toronto.

Thanks, Net Galley and Annick Press, for my free copy!