Monday, January 25, 2016

537 (2016 #3). One Big Family

written by Marc Harshman,
illustrated by Sara Palacios

A family reunion of various shades of redheads!  The text in this book has a repetitive format that will be easy for beginning readers to follow, and each line ends with a different verb, to increase vocabulary.  The illustrations are rendered digitally and with pen and ink, and are very realistic.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.  It will be added to my university library's collection.]

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

536 (2016 #2). The Abbess of Whitby

by Jill Dalladay

This historical fiction work is based on the real Saint Hilda (or Hild) of Whitby, who lived c. 614–680 in what is now present-day England.  Much of her life is covered in The Ecclesiastical History of the English written by the Venerable Bede in 731 AD.

According to author Jill Dalladay, who is a classicist, historian, and Latin teacher who lives in Whitby, Bede does not speak of Hild's life between the ages of 13 and 33.  Dalladay invents a husband and child for her, surmising that a woman of royal blood would have been married off to seal an alliance, but by 33 Dalladay has her widowed.

This section of the book, as well as Hild's early years, was the most interesting to me.  Dalladay does a good job of painting a picture of what life was like in early Medieval England.

Not being very knowledgeable about this period of England's history, I had a harder time following all the names and locations in the book, even with a family tree, maps, and list of characters in the front of the book.  The last third of the novel, after Hild becomes a nun at age 33 and later an abbess, was least interesting to me.  It was far too long and could have been trimmed considerably, in my opinion. This section dragged for me and took forever to finish reading.

Nevertheless, if this is your favorite era in history, you should enjoy this novel and learning more about this saint.  The author provides additional sources for research in her note at the end of the book.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.  It will be added to my university library's collection.]

Monday, January 18, 2016

535 (2016 #1). Dream Things True

by Marie Marquardt,
narrated by Almarie Guerra

If only one COULD dream things true....

This is beautifully-written young adult contemporary realistic fiction.  The title comes from a line in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (Act 1, Scene 4).  Alma is an undocumented Mexican immigrant about to start her junior year at a smaller city high school in Georgia.  Evan is the nephew of the state's U.S. Senator, a country-club boy about to start his senior year and a star on the school's soccer team.  They meet and fall in love.  (And while sexual assault is another theme in the book, Alma's and Evan's relationship remains chaste.)  Complications ensue as Alma and her extended family are threatened by increasing enforcement of immigration laws.

I can't even begin to describe how much I liked this book.  The characters felt so real, especially Evan's troubled cousin Whit, the senator's son.  I cared about what was happening to all of them.  The romance felt honest, and the issues this book tackles are thought-provoking.  Definitely a book to recommend, to both young and older adults.

This is the debut for author Marie Marquardt.  She is a college professor who earned a doctorate in the sociology of religion while visiting the churches of Georgia’s Mexican immigrants (and such observations come to play in this book).  She is co-author of the nonfiction Living Illegal: the Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration, and co-founder of El Refugio, a hospitality house for families of immigrants held at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia - both of which appear in this book.

Audiobook narrator Almarie Guerra adds a lot to this book.  Her voice for Alma sounds just as I would imagine the "real" Alma would sound, and she is perfect with accents for other Latino and Southern characters as well.

No matter what side of the immigration issue you are on (and for what it's worth, living where I do, I am not particularly on the side of undocumented immigrants), this is a book worth reading and discussing.  I will be purchasing a print copy for my library's collection.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[I received this audiobook through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.  It will be added to my university library's collection.]