Monday, May 22, 2017


Author: Alan Brennert
Pages: 384
Rating: PG-13 (There is no foul language, but there is some sex. The descriptions, however, are very short and sweet, usually only lasting a few sentences.)

This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai'i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place---and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.
Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i. Here her life is supposed to end---but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.

My Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A good historical fiction novel is written in such a way that you forget the characters aren't actually real people, and this book certainly fit the bill.I just love that you can imagine that someone just like Rachel really did exist and a lot of those same things probably happened to someone. The book basically covers Rachel's entire life. I feel like I can't accurately describe it without giving too much away. All I guess I can say is that there really was a leprosy colony on the island of Moloka'i during the late 19th century and into the 20th. I was fascinated to learn about it and also a little of the history of Hawaii and their relationship with the US as well. I found Rachel's life to be an amazing reflection of the thought "Bloom where you're planted" and after I read the book I did a bit of research about Kalaupapa and found that the people there truly had a spirit of kindness and family. In their exile, they made a paradise. This book is definitely worth reading at least once in your life.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World

Author: Shannon and Dean Hale
Pages:  324
Rating: PG - there's no language but there is some violence, mostly against robots, and two baby kidnappings.

WHO RUNS THE WORLD? SQUIRRELS! Fourteen-year-old Doreen Green moved from sunny California to the suburbs of New Jersey. She must start at a new school, make new friends, and continue to hide her tail. Yep, Doreen has the powers of . . . a squirrel! After failing at several attempts to find her new BFF, Doreen feels lonely and trapped, liked a caged animal. Then one day Doreen uses her extraordinary powers to stop a group of troublemakers from causing mischief in the neighborhood, and her whole life changes. Everyone at school is talking about it! Doreen contemplates becoming a full-fledged Super Hero. And thus, Squirrel Girl is born! She saves cats from trees, keeps the sidewalks clean, and dissuades vandalism. All is well until a real-life Super Villain steps out of the shadows and declares Squirrel Girl his archenemy. Can Doreen balance being a teenager and a Super Hero? Or will she go . . . NUTS?

My Thoughts: This book is geared toward late elementary/early middle schoolers, but it was sure a fun little read. Doreen is hilarious - she not only has squirrel powers, but she's hyperactive and thinks/speaks a mile a minute, like I imagine squirrels do. If you like squirrels, you'll enjoy this book immensely, that's all I'm saying! It's so random - you wouldn't think squirrel powers would be the base of a super hero, but here ya go! One of my favorite parts is when someone says "squirrel-proof bird feeder" and all the squirrels just bust up laughing cuz that's one of their favorite jokes. Ha!

The one thing I had an issue with in this book is when squirrel girl saves a baby from a car that's been stolen. The way that whole scene is written, Squirrel Girl is playing peek-a-boo with the baby (about 6 months old) through the front windshield which makes no sense because everyone knows a baby that little shouldn't be facing forward. But that's just me being annoyed about a technicality.