Monday, October 05, 2015

Somewhere There Is Still A Sun

Somewhere There Is Still A Sun. Michael Gruenbaum and Todd Hasak-Lowy. 2015. 384 pages. [Source: Library]

Looking to read a memoir of the holocaust? Michael Gruenbaum has teamed up with Todd Hasak-Lowry to write Somewhere There Is Still A Sun. This memoir is not reflective. In fact, it is actually written in present tense, first person present. I must admit that took a bit of getting used to on my part. In a way, it almost seems unnatural. But. It wasn't a distraction either. I did not stay focused on the mechanics of how it was written for long. I did get swept up in the narrative. And with good reason, it is compelling and intense.

There is an innocence to the narrator, to Misha, for he is as sheltered as he possibly can be as a Jew living in a Nazi-occupied country. That is, Misha hasn't really grasped how life-and-death the situation is. Misha is still focused on life, on things like playing soccer and going to the movies. His mother and older sister seem to be keeping some things from him, for better or worse. And these things don't come to the reader's attention until the author's note. (Do all readers read authors' notes? I do. But I'm not sure everyone does.) Because of Misha's innocence, many readers may know more than he does. (Though maybe not all readers. I don't want to presume that every single reader will have read five or six holocaust books by the time they come across Somewhere There Is Still A Sun.) It is an interesting position to be put in as a reader, to know more than a character.

Misha's memoir focuses on his time in a Jewish ghetto in Prague, and, in Terezin. Terezin is still relatively new to me to read about, so I found this one fascinating. For example, Misha takes part in one or two of the plays held in Terezin.

What I appreciated the most about Somewhere There Is Still A Sun is the focus on relationships--the bonds between characters. Misha is separated from his mother and sister for many years. He is one of many assigned to a room. (I want to say that forty young boys shared a room?) Relationships matter in books, and it really gives one a complete story.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Library Loot: First Week in October

New Loot:
  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  • Where Trust Lies by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  • Katie's London Christmas by James Mayhew
  • Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings, A Memoir by Margarita Engle
  • 81 Days Below Zero by Brian Murphy
  • One Thousand Wells by Jena Lee Nardella
  • Please Try to Remember the First of Octember! Theo LeSieg
  • The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
  • I Can Read With My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss
  • Oh Say Can You Say by Dr. Seuss
  • Dark Emperor and Other Poems by Joyce Sidman
  • Duck in the Fridge by Jeff Mack
  • Dory and the Real True Friend by Abby Hanlon
  • Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini
  • The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader 
Leftover Loot:
  • The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
  • Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
  • Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Ella MacNeal
  • The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers
  • An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey
  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  • The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  • Would You Rather Be A Bullfrog by Theo LeSieg
  • Where Does Kitty Go In the Rain by Harriet Ziefert
  • The Year of Fear by Joe Urschel
  • Click, Clack, Ho Ho Ho! by Doreen Cronin
  • Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? by Jean Fritz
  • Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
  • The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr
  • Paperboy by Vince Vawter
  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

         Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Meet Eliza and Henry

Wouldn't It Be Deadly. D.E. Ireland. 2014. Minotaur. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

Did I enjoy D.E. Ireland's Wouldn't It Be Deadly? Yes and no, honestly. I loved the premise; I did. Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins are characters that I loved, loved, loved from My Fair Lady. And the idea of reading MORE about them definitely appealed to me. The fact that their further adventures would be a mystery--again added to the appeal. I love reading in the mystery genre. So what did I like and what did I not like?

Well, I liked plenty. I found Eliza Doolittle's character to be completely believable. I loved her just as much as ever, for the most part. I liked spending more time with her. I also liked the mystery elements well enough. It's a murder mystery, the victim is Emil Nepommuck, and the prime suspect is Professor Henry Higgins. He is a convenient suspect certainly since his alibi is practically nonexistent. For better or worse, the Inspector Detective working the case is a cousin of Eliza's, his name is Jack, and I liked him very much. Eliza and Henry team up to solve the murder BEFORE Henry himself is arrested for a crime he didn't commit. If the mystery has a flaw, it is that it starts off stronger than it finishes. The resolution to me seemed weak and a bit convenient. One more thing that I really liked was Henry Higgin's mother. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED her presence in the novel. So, there were plenty of things that I did enjoy.

I didn't like a few things about the book, however. One being, as I mentioned earlier, the resolution of the mystery. The person who did it just seemed to come completely out of the blue. I don't remember there being any--or many--clues that would lead one to guess who did it before the big reveal. I would say that overall the reader is not asked--or encouraged--to participate in solving the crime by making guesses. That isn't an absolute must for me, but, I do like seeing clues throughout, and knowing that it is possible to piece everything together yourself. But perhaps the most disappointing for me was the characterization of Henry Higgins. Towards the end of the novel, a BIG revelation is made about Henry Higgins personal life, and, I just DON'T SEE IT AT ALL as being in character. It concerns his alibi, so I won't mention specifics at all. But that SOURED the book for me.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Saturday, October 03, 2015

Week in Review: September 27 - October 3

From September:
Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Poetry of Laurence Dunbar. Sally Derby. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Candlewick Press. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Heidi. Johanna Spyri. 1880/2009. Puffin Classics/Penguin.  320 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Island of Dr. Libris. Chris Grabenstein. 2015. Random House. 242 pages. [Source: Review copy]
26 Fairmount Avenue. Tomie dePaola. 1999. Penguin. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
Not by Sight. Kate Breslin. 2015. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Meet Me At The Manger…And I'll Lead You to the Cross. Leighann McCoy. 2010. 341 pages. [Source: Bought]

From October:
Chasing Secrets. Gennifer Choldenko. 2015. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Two for Joy. Gigi Amateau. Illustrated by Abigail Marble. 2015. Candlewick. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Hooper Humperdink...? Not Him! Theo LeSieg (Dr. Seuss). Illustrated by Charles E. Martin. 1976. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
The Full Moon at the Napping House. Audrey Wood. 2015. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Message 100: The Story of God in Sequence. Eugene H. Peterson. 2015. NavPress. 1600 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's recommendation(s):

I loved, loved, LOVED Jump Back, Paul!!!!! I also recommend Chasing Secrets.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


The Full Moon at the Napping House

The Full Moon at the Napping House. Audrey Wood. 2015. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: There is a house, a full-moon house, where everyone is restless.

Premise/plot: Remember The Napping House by Audrey Wood? This classic picture book at last has a companion book. The premise is simple enough. Every person in the Napping House is RESTLESS and can't sleep. Readers are introduced to the granny, a grandchild, a dog, a cat, a mouse, and finally a cricket. At first, it seems like sleep will never come...but then the cricket begins to sing his song....

My thoughts: I liked this one. I'm not sure I loved, loved, LOVED it. But it was quite pleasant and enjoyable. Both books--the Napping House and Full Moon at the Napping House--are easy to recommend to families looking for satisfying read alouds.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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