Monday, October 20, 2014

Who R U Really by Margo Kelly

Who R U Really by Margo Kelly

The internet is a dangerous place full of untrustworthy people. Unfortunately, many young adults do not realize the dangers they put themselves into when they engage in online video games, chatting, and social media. Who R U Really by Margo Kelly outlines the consequences of putting your trust into strangers online through a touching story centered around a teenage girl named Thea.
Thea is a young teenager with overprotective parents who has always been a model daughter and student. Her life changes drastically after she discovers an online game in which she creates a new life and begins conversing with another player she believes to be a young man named Kit. She begins to feel a deep connection with Kit and lets this relationship take over her life. She gives out personal information and gets herself into a dangerous and vulnerable situation. When another gamer with a connection to Kit is murdered, Thea begins to question who Kit really is and realizes she may not be able to handle this relationship alone. Who is Kit and is he capable of hurting Thea and destroying her life?

Who R U Really is a fantastic read and based on real life events. I really enjoyed seeing how a young girl can get herself into a dangerous situation through the internet and know what warning signs to look for. The internet is not a safe haven and you can get yourself into a bad situation quickly if you are not cautious. This is a great book for teenagers and parents of teenagers to read.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Investigative journalist, Jenny Nordberg, shares what she uncovers (for us) in Afghanistan - that girls sometimes dress as boys, live as boys til puberty, and some even past puberty will still live as men. Afghanistan, we well know, is a culture ruled by men; here men are honored, women (and girls) definitely are not! In Afghanistan it is an advantage to have sons and a disgrace to not have a son. So what to do? Be creative of course and save face! Ask a daughter if she would be a boy!  Or just announce a just-born daughter is a son! It works. The deception is even acceptable to others who know the secret! Does this not surprise you?

As Nordberg investigates this phenomena (or is it a phenomena really?) she asks the very questions you and I would ask: How does this affect these girls psychologically? How do they make the transition back to "girl" from "boy"? How is it they are not caught and punished? What is it like for these "boys" to later be forced to become wives and eventually mothers? How often does this occur?

In The Underground Girls of Kabul, you will be introduced to Azita, Zahra and Mehran and others. You will read how some were born as the unwanted girl but lived as the favored son with freedom to go outside, to talk to anyone, to have an opinion, and even work, helping out the family financially. You will know the secrets of the girls and women of Kabul yourself!

A very interesting read!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Author of the best-selling novel “Room,” Emma Donoghue, establishes a successful return to period fiction in her new novel Frog Music, proving once again that she is as adept at creating historical worlds for her readers as she is at weaving contemporary tales.  Frog Music, set in 1876 San Francisco, paints a colorful and disturbing portrait of this then-burgeoning young city.  Narrated by the brassy burlesque dancer and “lady of the night” Blanche Beunon, a recent immigrant to The City from France, the novel chronicles the events surrounding the murder of Blanche’s new-found friend, the larger-than-life, cross-dressing frog catcher Jenny Bonnet. Interestingly, the tale is based on actual persons and events meticulously researched by Donoghue in preparation for the novel. 

Seldom am I able to continue enjoying a novel after it has killed off my favorite character (Jenny the Frog Catcher) no matter how deftly written the prose.  Fortunately, however, Blanche turns out to be a bit of a phoenix and The City proves to be something of a character itself.  Reading this book, I found myself alternately amused, fascinated, and horrified by 1876 San Francisco and its denizens, learning about such various things as early small pox vaccinations, baby “farms,” and back alley “cribs.”  Far from being pigeon-holed as a strictly historical-fiction genre piece, this novel would appeal to any lover of juicy murder mystery.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future by Michael J. Fox

   Michael J. Fox's new book ,"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future," is a perfect gift for graduates.  In his new book he inspires and motivates graduates to recognize opportunities, maximize their abilities, and roll with the punches.
   Michael J. Fox abandoned high school to pursue an acting career.  He writes of coming to Los Angeles from Canada at age eighteen and attempting to make his way as an actor. Fox offers up a comically skewed take on how, in his own way, he fulfilled the requirements of a college syllabus. Michael learned Economics as a starving artist; an unexpected turn as a neophyte activist schooled him in Political Science; and his approach to Comparative Literature involved stacking books up against their movie versions.
  Michael J. Fox's acting career has been a non-stop success story. At thirty years old Michael was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease: twitching, mild tremors, pain in his left shoulder, some rigidity.
This sent his life skidding horribly sideways.  At first there was denial, he refused to disclose his medical situation to anyone but family, and covering up the symptoms with medication. Wary of placing a burden on his family, he pulled in and started to isolate himself.  Michael self medicated with alcohol until he was forced to resort to acceptance.  By choosing to learn more about the disease, he made better choices about how to treat it.  Because Parkinson's demanded of Michael that he be a better man, a better husband, father, and citizen, Michael, often refers to it as a gift.
  A story of a young man with a great future along with twists and turns and lessons learned.  A must read for recent graduates.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A gem by Lisa Jewell

The House We Grew Up In

by Lisa Jewell

Easter Sunday was always a special day for the Bird family. Lorelei, eccentric mother of four, not only planned extravagant egg hunts but insisted on saving every foil egg wrapper for future craft projects . . . as well as every single piece of her children’s art created with the foils . . . and every scrap of material evidence of what she considered an idyllic and even charmed life.  As Lorelei collects mementos, the Bird house soon becomes a hoarder’s haven; a place of storage for obsessive buying binges, material evidence of past pleasures and a place to bury family secrets and hurts.

But one unforgettable Easter, the Birds suffer such a devastating blow that it begins to unravel the family. The tragedy and their home becomes a tomb that the adult Bird children must either escape or, if they stay, risk becoming another ‘item’ for Lorelei to hoard. As the years pass, Lorelei becomes a recluse. Colin, her husband and the children’s father seals himself away in another part of the house and life in general.  The adult Bird children grow into a life where they wrestle with failed relationships, flawed selves, and the torments of that Easter tragedy.
Jewell’s novel weaves a reckless path through a story that is full of both material and emotional clutter. She is a wonderful storyteller who paints compelling characters who struggle desperately to be a family and, despite the wayward paths they take, never give up the effort. At first the story made me feel claustrophobic and a bit hopeless. But, the compelling characters kept me pushing on and by the end, I felt that I had met a family who had really overcome their differences and passed hurts and discovered what it is to be family.