Book Reviews · Recommendations

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land
By: Elizabeth Acevedo

Book Cover

Published: May 2020
Published by: HarperTeen
Format Read: eBook, Libby App.
Genre: YA Lit, Contemporary, Poetry

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Books written in verse isn’t a style I generally gravitate to, however I have heard rave reviews about this author and this novel, so I decided to borrow it from my library.

Clap When You Land is an emotional story of two sisters meeting for the first time after the tragic death of their father. Elizabeth Acevedo took inspiration for this book from a real life tragedy; the crash of flight AA587 in November 2001, which shook the Dominican community in New York. As the two young women wrestle with their grief and the aftermath of their discoveries, I too wrestled with how I felt about their father’s duplicitous life. This moral dilemma would make for a great discussion for book clubs.

I appreciate the diversity that Camino and Yahaira’s story presents, as well as the stark contrast between life in America and the slums of the Dominican Republic. Yet at the same time the author highlighted the traditions and beliefs that were brought to America by immigrants from their homeland. I also found the customs and traditions of the mourning in this culture to be interesting. The meaning behind passengers clapping when they land was profound and made for a great title for the novel.

I would highly recommend Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap When You Land to fans of the genre who enjoy reading about diverse characters. For those who may be leery to read a book in verse, I say give this one a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Note: Content warning for those who may be triggered by such things as; sexual assault and grief.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
By: Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

Book Cover

Published: September 2019
Published by: Inkyard Press
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 4/5

NOTE: I won a copy of Maika Moulite and Maritza Moutlie’s Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, from the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways. This is my honest review.

Synopsis

Co-written by sisters Maika and Maritza Moulite, and told in epistolary style through letters, articles, emails, and diary entries, this exceptional debut novel captures a sparkling new voice and irrepressible heroine in a celebration of storytelling sure to thrill fans of Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi and Jenna Evans Welch!

When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

My Thoughts

Sister writing duo Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite draw inspiration from their own Haitian-American upbringing in their debut novel. Readers follow high school senior Alaine as she is sent to her family’s homeland of Haiti after a political scandal and suspension from school.

I had never read a book set in Haiti before, nor did I know much about that culture. I also learned more about the separation (and lack thereof) between the wealthy and those living in poverty in this island country. The vibrant descriptions of the setting were fascinating.

Alaine was a strong female lead with a personality and sarcastic sense of humor, that I could relate to. The multi-media format this book was told in (included; emails, messages, articles and written assignments) made for a quick and enjoyable reading experience.

I was initially leery about the storyline involving the family curse and its historical significance, as this isn’t something that generally interests me. However my curiosity about the final outcome and how it all came together really drew me in.

I would highly recommend Dear Haiti, Love Alaine to those who enjoy reading about strong young women who are intelligent and ambitious. I look forward to reading more from these authors in the future.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

Lumberjanes
Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
By: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooklyn Allen, Maarta Laiho, Aubrey Aiese

Book Cover

Published: April 2015
Published by: BOOM! Box
Format Read: eBook, Libby App.
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comics, Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

Collects Lumberjanes No. 1-4.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

I picked up this graphic novel on a whim when I saw it was available at my local library via the Libby App. I had heard rave reviews about this first installment and the series as a whole, when it was released. However I didn’t pay much attention to it as I had never been interested in graphic novels before. Thankfully I decided to give it a shot as it was such a fun reading experience.

I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Although you don’t get as much written detail in this format, the cast of characters are vibrant and unique. If I had to compare it, I would say that Lumberjanes is a combination of Percy Jackson meets a sarcastic troop of Girl Guides. It was clever and humorous, with some great themes. Although I felt it ended abruptly, I am really looking forward to reading the second installment of this series soon.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The New Elizabeth (Sweet Valley High 63) by Francine Pascal

The New Elizabeth
(Sweet Valley High, 63)
Created by: Francine Pascal
Written by: Kate William

Book Cover

Published: January 1990
Published by: Bantam Books
Format Read: Paperback

Genre: Series, YA Lit, Middle Grade

Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis

If one more person calls Elizabeth Wakefield responsible or predictable, she’ll scream! In an effort to prove that she can be as adventurous as Jessica, her daring identical twin, Elizabeth secretly decides to take up surfing. That will show her friends she knows how to take risks.

But from the start, Elizabeth’s new hobby causes problems. She has a sneaking suspicion that her surfing instructor is falling in love with her. And even worse, she has to lie to her steady boyfriend, Todd, in order to keep her surfing a surprise. Todd’s becoming suspicious and angry — and Elizabeth is beginning to wonder if a daredevil reputation is worth the trouble after all.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

I uncovered The New Elizabeth in a box of old books from my childhood. I remember really enjoying the stories about identical twins and followed them from their adventures as kids, right up to university. Elizabeth was always my favorite sister, which is probably why I’ve held on to this copy after all these years. Even at a young age I related more to her introverted personality than to the more spontaneous and outgoing Jessica. However in this installment Elizabeth wants to prove that she can be adventurous too by learning how to surf.

Although this was originally released in the 1980s, I think that the plot will still interest its target audience today. I would say that The New Elizabeth would be appropriate for older middle grade readers or younger teens. 

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

The Cheerleaders
By: Kara Thomas

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Published: July 2018
Published by: Delacorte Press
Format Read: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe. 

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

I began this Young Adult Mystery with high expectations. Although I wasn’t immediately hooked by the story, I was able to appreciate that fact that Monica’s voice and actions felt authentic to that of a teenage girl. I preferred the chapters that were written from Jennifer’s perspective to that of her younger sister.

My interest in the plot did grow, the further into the book I got. In the end I didn’t find The Cheerleaders to be as thrilling or suspenseful as I anticipated, however I did enjoy the journey discovering what really happened to the five cheerleaders. I would recommend this novel to readers of Young Adult fiction.

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Hit and Run by Norah McClintock

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share children’s product and book reviews.

Hit and Run
(Mike and Riel, 1)
By: Norah McClintock

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Published: May 2003
Published by: Scholastic Canada
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Canadian Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old Mike McGill has lived with his Uncle Billy since his mother’s death. Only ten years older than Mike, Billy loves to party, and he doesn’t pay much attention when Mike starts getting in trouble. But nothing gets by Mike’s history teacher, an ex-cop named Riel especially not long-hidden information about Mike’s mother. Her death might not have been an accident after all! 

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Recently I came across a listing online for a large bag of books for sale. It included over 50 middle grade- early young adult books. Most of which were from the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Norah McClintock’s Hit and Run was the first book I pulled from that bag.

This first installment in the Mike and Riel series follows a young teenage boy as he navigates life in the years following his mother’s tragic death. This story instantly felt familiar but, I can’t recall if I’ve read it before or not.

I enjoyed the Toronto setting and the pop culture references from thee time period. As a winner of the Red Maple Award, Hit and Run felt very Canadian. Even the character names i.e,: Riel, McGill etc. were symbolic.

This series is a great introduction to thrillers for the middle grade audience. I would highly recommend it to fans of the genre and I hope to be able to track down book two.

Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: January 2021

Total Books Read in January: 4
Total Books Read in 2021: 4

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We Came Here to Shine
By: Susie Orman Schnall

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Note: I was sent a copy of Susie Orman Schnall’s We Came Here to Shine, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

30969755

The Cheerleaders
By: Kara Thomas

Genre: YA Lit, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Rating: 4/5

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Double-Dare O’Toole
By: Constance C. Greene

Genre: Middle Grade
Rating: 2/5

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64th Man
By: Bryan Tucker

Genre: Audiobook, Audible Original, Humor, Sports fiction
Rating: 3/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 4
Total Number of Fiction: 4
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 1
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 3
Total Library Books Read: 0

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: A Scandal in Bohemia (The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection 11)

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share baby/children’s product and book reviews.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of A Scandal in Bohemia by Stephanie Baudet, from the publisher via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

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A Scandal in Bohemia
(The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection, 11)

By: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Adapted by: Stephanie Baudet
Illustrated by: Adrianna Bellucci

Published: March 2020
Published by: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Format Read: eBook, ARC, Net Galley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adaptation, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Mystery, Series

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

About Sweet Cherry Easy Classics: From Shakespeare to Austen, Sweet Cherry Easy Classics adapts classic literature into stories for children, introducing these timeless tales to a new generation. All titles in the series are leveled for classroom use, including GRLs. The books target early readers ages 6-8, including early school-age children looking for exciting stories, as well as reluctant readers. Popular books in the series include Pride and Prejudice, A Christmas Carol and Othello.

At quarter to eight o’clock tonight a gentleman will call. He would like to ask you about a very important matter. Do not think it odd if your visitor wears a mask.

When Sherlock Holmes is asked for help by a powerful yet dim king, it seems that he cannot refuse. But the detective has no idea that this case will bring him up against a woman just as clever, cunning and quick as he is. Has Holmes finally met his match?

My Thoughts

A Scandal in Bohemia is a mystery where our favourite fictional detective may have met his match. This is the second book I have read and reviewed in this collection. I found this installment had less of the pictures and historical definitions geared toward the target audience than the first book did. However I did feel that the premise of a Scandal in Bohemia was more simple than that of a Study in Scarlet. Still I feel that the reveal was quite clever. I recommend the Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection to younger readers who are interested in a lighter introduction to classic literature. I look forward to going back to the previous 10 books in the series that I have yet to read.

Additional Notes:

  1. A Study in Scarlet (Book 1)
Personal Post · Wrap-ups

Reading Wrap-up: September 2020

Unfortunately over the past few months, I haven’t been up for blogging, or reading much for that matter. Over the summer, my life was turned upside down and I’ve been taking some time away to regroup and get back on my feet again. Now that I have been feeling better mentally, I’ve slowly gotten back into reading. My son and I are all settled into our new life and I feel ready to return back to doing things, I love and this blog is one of those things.

From July to August, I didn’t complete any books, however during the month of September, I began to make progress with my yearly reading challenge.

Total Books Read in September: 2
Total Books Read in 2020: 35

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A Study in Scarlet Women
(Lady Sherlock, 1)
By: Sherry Thomas

Genre: Historical Fiction, Series, Mystery
Rating: 3/5

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Hit and Run
(Mike & Riel, 1)
By: Norah McClintock

Genre: Middle Grade, YA Fiction, Mystery, Series
Rating: 3/5

I’m looking forward to getting caught up with my posts, emails and my fellow bloggers.

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Read-a-thons · Recommendations

Charlie's Corner: Book Review: A Study in Scarlet (The Sherlock Holmes Children's Collection 1)

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share baby/children’s product and book reviews.
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A Study in Scarlet
(The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection 1)
By: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Adapted by: Stephanie Baudet
Illustrated by: Arianna Bellucci

Published: November 2019
Published by: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Format Read: eBook, ARC, Kindle
Genre: Middle Grade, Adapted Classics, Mystery

Rating: 3/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of A Study in Scarlet, adapted by Stephanie Baudet, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Body thought to be that of E.J. Drebber discovered last night in empty London house. No obvious cause of death. Address given as Cleveland Ohio. Any information would be appreciated.

After a mysterious murder leaves the police baffled, the world’s best amateur detective is asked to investigate. Along with his fellow lodger, Dr Watson, Sherlock Holmes sets about uncovering a quest for revenge that runs far deeper than anybody suspected.

About The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection

Elementary-age reading, my dear Watson! This fun series adapts the classic mysteries of Holmes & Watson for young readers, and makes the perfect introduction to whodunit fun for ages 7 and up. All titles are also leveled for classroom use, including GRLs.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

It has been quite a while since I read any of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, so this was a great refresher. I was excited to see that these stories are being adapted for a younger audience. My hope is that it will encourage young readers to appreciate classic literature.

Although it follows the basic plot of the original A Study in Scarlet, this book has simplified sentences and side notes that describe terms used that might not be familiar to kids today. An example of these side notes include the description of words like; hansome cab. Illustrations are also included.

Sherlock Holmes himself, has even been adapted for the younger audience. He is portrayed as more chipper and whimsical than the well-known character Arthur Conan Doyle created.

This version of A Study in Scarlet is being promoted as Middle Grade, however the story does center around a murder. Therefore I would recommend it to slightly older ages or even those who fall under the ages of young adult. I look forward to reading more of the Sherlock Holmes adaptations in the future.