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In Black Lightning, by K.S. Jones, readers meet Samuel, whose mother was recently killed in a car accident. Because Samuel’s father disappeared some time ago, the boy is deemed an orphan. Although his mother intends for him to live with his grandfather, Samuel’s uncle’s wife has different plans for the boy. All this leads to Samuel’s running away and eventually ending up in another world where surprises and challenges await him. When Samuel experiences a test of faith in himself, he learns not to give up on his dreams—even when others have told him that something is impossible.
Few things make me happier than to find a great read for a middle-grader. The reason should be obvious: there are so few of them. Yes, at times one stumbles upon a good story. But rarely does one stumble across a great story that is also well told, and therefore, appropriate for recommending to middle-grade readers. I was delighted to find just such a thing with Black Lighting. In it, K.S. Jones provides her readers with a suggested and intriguing connection to the Native-American culture. Best of all, the story, which is told as a fantasy of sorts, includes elements with an almost sci-fi bent. If you’re looking for something for your middle-grade reader, check out this Literary Classics award winner, Black Lightning.
Thank you, NetGalley, for this opportunity to read and to review, Code Girls.
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It should come as no surprise to learn that woman played extraordinary roles in assisting the U.S. armed forces during WWII, but having an actual account of some of the roles they played is quite unusual. Liza Mundy offers, in Code Girls, an interesting history of the (primarily young) women who helped to break the communications codes of the axis powers. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about these women and especially appreciated the account of how they set up entirely false units and communications to assist with keeping the plans for the Normandy landing on D-Day a secret from the enemies of the U.S. and its allies. For anyone interested in code-breaking in general, and in learning more about these times, I highly recommend Code Girls.
In the past, when I noticed time flying quickly by, I’d comment with things like, “It must be due to the holidays,” or “It must be the season.” I’ve long since learned, however, that it is always the season for being busy. And so, as the calendar moves to September and autumn approaches, we Quills return once again with our thoughts on “books we love.” (How it is that we actually find time to read them remains one of the greatest mysteries of all time.)
First up this time, is Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies.
I really love chatting with my readers, and in a recent email exchange someone recommended a book for my Flinch-Free Fantasy list: The Dragon and the George, by Gordon R. Dickson.
Hey! I’ve read that!
About a million years ago…
I recall liking it, and the foggy memory tickled my brain until I had to go pick up a copy and read it again. It didn’t disappoint. True, the style is dated and it took a little too long for the real action to start, but what a fun read.
A modern couple is transported into another version of our world. The kicker? Our hero ends up in the body of…
Now let's turn our attention to P.S. Broaddus, author of A Hero's Curse. Take it away, Parker!
The Hardy Boys series is formulaic and simple, and often plods into the cliche. I couldn't help thinking however, how well they build their mysteries through the story. While bland, they get the formula right. I just finished a second one in as many weeks, and it was a good study in the structure of the genre. While I may not want to copy The Hardy Boys series when writing my own mystery, there's value in internalizing the genre, the beats, and the structure on display. You've got to know the rules before you break them and I love that the series feels like a set of training wheels for writers. Fun, whimsical, dated training wheels.
But I didn't come here to talk about The Hardy Boys. I've actually been ruminating on a story I just finished that involved an old man and a big fish...
Finally, here are my thoughts.
Recently, I read Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders Trilogy, consisting of Ship of Magic, Mad Ship, and Ship of Destiny.
While I wouldn’t say I “love” these books, exactly, there are parts of this series that I very much enjoyed—so much so that I quickly read them one right after the next.
I liked the set-up of the Bingtown’s oldest families and I loved the concept of the liveships. As for the characters, I appreciated their diversity. That said, I found that while Althea was often in the spotlight, she wasn’t one of my favorites. Neither were any of the others in her family—with the possible exception of her nephew, Wintrow. In fact, I found that some of the worst characters in terms of their morality or lack thereof, were some of my favorites. I thought the pirate, Kennit, was well drawn, and Hobb offered a believable story as to how he came to be the man he was. I also rather liked his woman, Etta. She was ruthless and cruel, but there was something vulnerable about her at the same time. I did find a fair amount of repetition, although I appreciate that such can happen in a series. Finally, I discovered as I have with various Hobb’s characters in the past, that some are frustrating “whiners,” including Althea’s niece, Malta, by way of example.
All that said, I appreciated the concept of the dragons and how they played into the story (although I didn’t care much for the time spent with the "serpents"). I also found that I couldn’t buy into the concept of the “dead dragons” who clearly lived on. So . . . there’s that . . .
In the end though, I recommend this series.
So, what great reads would you like to share with us?