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2011 Reviews

See index of all past Customer Reviews

In Care of Cassie Tucker - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
In Care of Cassie Tucker
by Ivy Ruckman [j Ruckman]

I found myself wishing that Ivy Ruckman had simply plopped her characters into the middle of the action rather than hitting us with so much foreshadowing. The result is a lackluster start. In the first chapter of In Care of Cassie Tucker, Cassie's younger brother is screaming about their rooster. Cassie rescues her brother and then teaches him his numbers. Next, Cassie helps sets the table. Then her mother sends her outside to do chores. Just like in movies with the same flaws, all these precursory events to the real story are intended to develop the character, but just make me antsy for the action to start. I don't want to hear "What I didn't know that long-ago Thursday -- that everything was about to change." I want the out-of-town cousin to arrive already! Once he does, I was able to settle back and enjoy the story -- which fortunately turned out better than those aforementioned perfunctory movies. My favorite chapter is when Cousin Evan teaches Cassie to swim. I also like their many discussions about religion. Ruckman's strength in writing about storms also shows itself in the chapters about a blinding blizzard. Despite its initial slow pace, In Care of Cassie Tucker kept me glued to my chair.

Score - 7
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
a customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
December 30, 2011

Night of the Twisters - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Night of the Twisters
by Ivy Ruckman [j Ruckman]

The opening bothers me every time I reread it: "When I was a little kid, I thought a red-letter day was when you got a red-letter in the mailbox. Now that I'm older and more experienced, I know that there are black-letter days as well as red-letter ones. Those BIGGEES, the real blockbusters that mess up your life?." The observation feels forced, just as much as the slow pace of the first few chapters. Yet I have to hand it to Ivy Ruckman, every time I reach the point where the first tornado hits the Hatch house, I am unable to put down her one hundred-and-fifty page book. Better yet, for a while after reading it, every noise around me and every change in the weather puts me on alert. After living in Nebraska for over ten years, I understand how Midwesterners can become complacent about weather alerts. Whenever I read Night of the Twisters, I am reminded why that is not a good idea

Score - 7
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
a customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
December 30, 2011

I first read this book in fourth grade and have loved it ever since. Based on a true story in a small rural town in central Nebraska, what happens when Dan, his best friend Arthur, and Dan's baby brother Ryan are home alone...when the tornados come. Dan must save his baby brother no matter what it takes, and find his family before another twister hits. Filled with danger and intrigue, this book is fit for all ages.

Score - 9
reviewed by Elanor J.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
August 1, 2012

Also reviewed on the Staff Recommendations pages of BookGuide by Charlotte K. See her review in the archives!

Score - 8

House Without a Christmas Tree - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
The House Without a Christmas Tree
by Gail Rock [j Rock]

In many ways this story feels like what anyone in a small town might experience -- up to a point. Addie and Carla Mae are best friends who like to hang out at each other's homes. This particular December day, they're talking what to buy for the student exchange at school and Addie is stumped about what to buy snobby Tonya. As Addie and Carla Mae spell their names with soup noodles, the conversation shifts to what each girl wants for Christmas. Sound like typical small town life? Oh, and Addie and Billie have a crush on each other, but of course neither will admit it. Then Carla Mae asks, "How come you haven't got your Christmas tree up yet?" Addie parrots the argument that her dad uses: they cost too much. The reality is sadder, to the point that the topic is a forbidden topic. When telling my husband about this book, he easily guessed its big secret. Yet my biggest problem, instead, is how long the secret is withheld and then how quickly Addie's problems are resolved once we know the truth behind them. Even so, The House Without a Christmas Tree remains a charming seasonal classic.

[Editor's note: This was also adapted in 1972 into a TV special, starring Jason Robards, which remains a perennial holiday favorite for viewers, as well!]

Score - 6
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
a customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
December 30, 2011

I first saw the TV-movie version of this story and was incredibly moved by it as a kid. Having subsequently read the book, I still enjoyed it. I'd give the movie a "9", but the book an "8".

Score - 8
reviewed by Scott C.
staff member of the Bennett Martin Public Library
December 30, 2011

Holding Up the Earth - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 6
Holding Up the Earth
by Dianne Gray [j Gray]

Shifting the point of view as Dianne Gray does in Holding Up the Earth is not my favorite literary technique, yet she manages it pretty well. She actually switches between the voices of five different girls to bind together her story of fourteen-year-old Hope, a foster kid who has been shuffled from home to home since the death of her mom. Hope visits her new foster mom's Nebraska farm and through old letters, a diary, and stories, hears the voices of four girls her age who lived there in 1869, 1900, 1936, and 1960. Through their tales, readers are introduced to the life of pioneers and hired hands and of life during the dust bowl and later nuclear testing days. And through Hope's voice, readers learn about farming and small towns, but also something more. May we always have memories that shape us, but may we also always move forward to make new ones.

Score - 6
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
a customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
December 30, 2011

xxxxx - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Together Apart
by Dianne Gray [j Gray]

While the blizzard that affected the lives of the main characters was a real event known as The School Children's Blizzard, Together Apart is about much more. Many people who survive natural disasters say that the main thing is that their family lived. While that may be true, it is also just as true that the real story lies in what happens after the disaster. Together Apart is what happens to the fictional Hannah Barnett, whose two brothers died in the blizzard of 1888. As for Hannah, she huddled with a local boy to keep warm -- incurring rumors in the community about their relationship and causing estrangement with her farming family. Needing her own space to grieve, Hannah applies in town for work. Together Apart is also about Isaac, the boy with whom Hannah huddled to stay alive. When Isaac tires of abuse from his step-father, he runs away but only to the nearby town because he wishes to stay close to his mom. There are plenty of other things I could tell you about Together Apart, but I'd prefer for you to discover these delectable treasures for yourself by reading the book.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
December 27, 2011

Libby on Wednesday - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Libby on Wednesday
by Zilpha Keatley Snyder [j Snyder]

Libby McCall has been home schooled. Now, at eleven, Libby is in public school for the first time because her mother thinks she needs to be "socialized". Being precocious, Libby is placed in eighth grade, a grade where even so-called normal students are often subject to ridicule. When she wins the prize of a weekly writing workshop with four other students, rather than risk more ridicule, Libby announces to her family: "I've decided to quit school." Her family denies her request and so Libby attends her first workshop where she learns that participants will critique each other's stories. I loved reading a full-length novel about a serious aspiring writer in the school environment. Moreover, I appreciated how each of the participants brought their own baggage to the table and ultimately needed to work through it as part of the writing process.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
December 27, 2011

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining
by Anne Mazer [j Mazer]

Abbey Haye's family is super talented. In the introductory book of the series, Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining, Abbey wishes to be like anyone else in her family. Then Abbey's fifth-grade teacher announces that this year their grade will have a special creative writing workshop every week. As part of this special writing class, Abbey receives a notebook in which she can write whatever she wants. Soon after Abbey receives that notebook, she gets so caught up with writing in it that her teacher has to reprimand her: "Put the notebook away. We?re going to begin our math quiz." Yet Abbey continues to believe that she needs to become a sports star for her to be a "super member" of the Hayes family and so she diets, trains, and works out. I'm not sure why she latches specifically onto sports, but ultimately Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining is a light-hearted story about a girl who struggles to find her talent in all the wrong places.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
December 19, 2011

My Antonia - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
My Antonia
by Willa Cather [Cather]

The introduction of My Antonia is contrived. For another thing, because My Antonia is often about everyone but Jim, for awhile I wasn't sure who I should care about. Moreover, Cather's style initially felt like descriptive treatises. Eventually though, Cather reeled me in with her complex portrait of the folks of Black Hawk. Not only does each different culture have its share of drunks, partiers, rapists, murderers, and, oh, also good people, but they're expertly intertwined. These lines written by Jim, about the weather, accurately summarize the feel of My Antonia: "This is reality, whether you like it or not. All those frivolities of summer, the light and the shadow, the living mask of green that trembled over everything, they were lies. This is what was underneath. This is the truth."

Score - 7
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
December 14, 2011

xxxxx - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
A Lantern in Her Hand
by Bess Streeter Aldrich [Aldrich]

Abbie Deal through the course of the book matures from an eight-year-old whose family has recently migrated to Iowa into an "old lady who dies while the meat burned and the children played 'Run, Sheep, Run'." With that opening, who could resist turning the page? For the first few chapters, Aldrich recounts Midwest adventures akin to those in the Little House books. While this is interesting enough, I most enjoyed reading about Abbie's creative pursuits. I also related to how she used every opportunity to dream of being a singer, painter, or writer. At the age of eighteen, Abbie faces a decision not uncommon at that time about who to marry. Here's where Abbie's story really begins, for true to pioneer life the family meets very few people and face year after year of crop failure. Aldrich has written a beautiful fictional tribute to the memories of her mother and all the other settlers whom she interviewed about the forging of this state.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
December 7, 2011

xxxxx - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
The Pilgrim's Progress
by John Bunyan [Bunyan]

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan was once the most widely read and translated book in the English language apart from the Bible. If you are not already familiar with The Pilgrim's Progress, it is an allegory about the Christian journey. At its core is a thrilling story. The first part of The Pilgrim's Progress is about Christian, who undertakes a dangerous journey. Carrying a burden of sin, Christian leaves behind his family and friends to seek deliverance from an impending judgment on his city. Christian must overcome many dangers if he is to reach his final destination. The second part is about Christian's wife and sons who undertake a similar journey. John Bunyan doesn't simply recreate his original tale, but imagines new adventures that might happen to other pilgrims. By now, you might also be thinking that both parts are simply one danger after another, when that is simply not true. Christina's sons and Mercy find marriage. We also meet some new types of pilgrims, with whom many of us probably readily identify.

Besides being a thrilling tale, The Pilgrim's Progress is also an allegory about the Christian journey. Not everything on a pilgrim's journey is dark. There are places of excellent sights and rest such as Palace Beautiful, the Delectable Mountains, and Country of Beulah. Too often for my taste, there are the moral passages. Sometimes this Christian classic felt like being in at everlasting church service, which is the main fault I find in this otherwise epic tale. John Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim's Progress for Christians. It seems as it's a reflection of Bunyan's own realization that the Christian life is a journey that can be fraught with strife while also having moments of joy. It's is an important and encouraging book to read.

Score - 7
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
December 5, 2011

Slob - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
SLOB
by Ellen Potter [j Potter]

When I read the first lines of SLOB, I wondered what I was in for: "My name is Owen Birnbaum, and I'm probably fatter than you are." Was this going to be another "pity the fat kid" story? Or was it going to be another "here's how to lose weight" story? I should have known better than to wonder. This is Ellen Potter. SLOB starts out with a simple problem: The cookies which Owen eats for lunch everyday have disappeared. After you read about Owen's gym class, you'll probably also understand why Owen needs those cookies. On the heels of gym class is a third problem: Owen is trying to build something called Nemesis. What amazes me about SLOB is how organic it is. SLOB goes in one direction and then another. Yet no matter what surprises crop up, when you think about them in hindsight they all make sense. Something else I love about Potter's books is how easily she weaves in lessons, without ever preaching about them. Owen is all of us who have ever run away from a problem. He is also every person who has faced up to problems. For so many reasons, including this one, SLOB is my favorite Ellen Potter book.

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
November 28, 2011

The Kneebone Boy - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 5
The Kneebone Boy
by Ellen Potter

The Hardscrabble children live in a small England town where everyone has avoided them like the plague since their mother disappeared. One reason the villagers avoid them is because rumor has it that one day Otto strangled his mom in a fit of rage. I suspect another reason is because the children aren't all that friendly. Yes, Ellen Potter has given readers additional snobs. The difference here is that while eventually Clara of Pish Posh reveals herself as vulnerable as the rest of us, I never really feel this about the Hardscrabble children. In Potter tradition, mysteries are afoot within the first chapter. What exactly happened to their mother? There are other storylines, but none of them possesses the same heart of Potter's other books. Instead they seem weird for the sake of being odd, such as the unidentified narrator. The twists are also hard to follow and so in the end stopped caring whether they all made sense. [Note: Not currently owned by the Lincoln City Libraries -- consider ordering this title through InterLibrary Loan!]

Score - 5
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
November 28, 2011

Pish Posh - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
Pish Posh
by Ellen Potter

It took me awhile to warm up to the precocious pre-teen featured in Pish Posh. True, Clara Frankofile is different from the norm, but she is also a perfectionist snob. My favorite scene is the conversation that transpires between Clara and Dr. Piff after she calls him a "Nobody". While he admits that she has cunning eyes, he also informs her: "And yet, you have failed to notice a most particular and mysterious thing that is happening right under your nose." To her dismay, she eventually discovers that Dr. Piff is correct. I enjoyed seeing Clara frustrated. However, Clara also likes roller coasters, cotton candy, and beach sand. Moreover, in the quiet of her apartment, Clara likes to wears overalls and a straw hat. This elegant girl is not as proper and prim as she wants everyone to think. When a girl about her age gets caught stealing on her floor, Clara finds herself craving danger and even covers for the thief who is named Annabel. There is sweetness to the relationship that develops between these two girls, as they make choices about their future and who they really want to be. I also liked the mystery that unfolded, as Clara tries to figure out what secrets are happening under her nose. Last, I was impressed with how Ellen Potter could introduce a somewhat unlikeable character but then turn her into an endearing fun kid. [Note: Not currently owned by the Lincoln City Libraries -- consider ordering this title through InterLibrary Loan!]

Score - 7
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
November 28, 2011

Olivia Kidney - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Olivia Kidney
by Ellen Potter [jPB Potter]

Anyone with a bizarre name like Olivia Kidney is bound to have adventures. And so she does, partly because of her dad. Olivia's dad is an apartment building superintendent. He doesn't know how to fix things and so is always getting fired. Of course, this means lonely Olivia is always traveling new places and meeting new people. So much so that Potter has already written three books about Olivia. In the first, Olivia meets some unusual tenants: There is the boy who has no shoes and wears dirty socks with a hole in the big toe. He "gave off the faint odor of a barnyard". There is the batty old woman with bird-skinny legs and no pantyhose? She lives in an apartment that feels like it is floating in thin air, because everything is made of glass -- even the floor. From her apartment, you can see two women below playing cards. Olivia can also see an unsupervised toddler playing in the bathroom. When he picks up a blue bottle, full of liquid that Olivia's dad uses to unclog sinks, Olivia rushes downstairs to prevent him from swallowing poison. As you can tell, adventures also seem to find Olivia. She is a fun character. The apartment complex where they live is weird. And by the time I turn to the last page, pretty much every situation has surprised me in a good way.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
November 16, 2011

The Distant Hours - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
The Distant Hours
by Kate Morton [Morton]

A wonderful Gothic novel, very much in the style of Lincoln's OBOL a few years ago, The Thirteenth Tale. This tells the story of three sisters in an English mansion and their story, told both in flashback and in present time. The present-time narrator is the daughter of a young woman who stayed at the mansion as an evacuee from London and so we have a variety of viewpoints. Make a pot of cocoa, put a log in the fire and enjoy The Distant Hours.

Score - 9
reviewed by Barbara R.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
November 3, 2011

Speak - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Speak
by Laurie Halse Anderson [j Anderson]

Speak is well-crafted. Anderson undertook the challenge of introducing a disenfranchised teenager and convincing readers to like her. How much easier that challenge would have been if Anderson had revealed from the start what had happened to Melinda. Anderson also undertook the challenge of revealing details about the events of one August night, only as Melinda was ready to deal with them. How much easier Anderson's challenge would have been if she'd simply told a straightforward story about how Melinda came to terms with the fact that bad things can happen. That she instead took the higher road, readers are blessed with a complex and richly textured story that is still applauded over ten years after its publication. Anderson is still writing problem novels. Speak is an impressive introduction to her writings.

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
October 26, 2011

Girl vs. Ghost - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 5
Girl vs. Ghost
by Kate McMurry and Marie August

Isabel doesn't believe in magic, but her best friend Tripp does. Girl vs. Ghost is part comedy, part romance, and part paranormal. After Tripp inadvertently conjures up a ghost, we discover that Marc doesn't even know that he is one. Moreover, only Isabel can see Marc who is connected to her by a cable. Of course, given how much Isabel and Marc start out by hating one another, the real question isn't whether they will end up together but how they'll overcome their animosity to work together. And work together they must or Marc will forever remain an amnesiac ghost. The paranormal element unsettles me due to my religious beliefs. My main complaint otherwise is one I keep having about many first novels and that is: the writing quality is, not surprisingly, uneven. These concerns aside, the story was refreshingly cute for paranormal fiction, which is often dark. Also, I like that Marc is not a "bad boy," but just an innocent bystander. For those who are open to all aspects of the paranormal line of fiction, Girl vs. Ghost is worth checking out. [Note: Not currently owned by the Lincoln City Libraries -- consider ordering this title through InterLibrary Loan!]

Score - 5
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
October 24, 2011

Writing Magic - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly
by Gail Carson Levine [j808.02 Lev]

I didn't pick up Writing Magic by Gail Levine to discover how to write stories. I've read so many writing guides that now I learn most by the actual process of writing. Rather, I wanted to know how one of my favorite fantasy authors writes. For that reason, I loved the first section! Because Writing Magic isn't an autobiography, the emphasis of course is on how to write. Even though I didn't expect to learn anything new from yet another writing guide, I filled a page with the insights I gained from reading Writing Magic. For example, when Levine writes about beginnings, she talks about the types of beginnings but also gives examples along with reasons for why they do or not work. Besides writing several chapters on plot structure, Levine writes several on character and in one of them she includes a questionnaire. Within every chapter Levine tosses out activities for readers to try and I particularly liked the one for details. Levine had me itching to experiment with my stories. This guide is "magic".

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
October 12, 2011

What's Your Story? - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
What's Your Story
by Marion Bauer [j808.3 Bau]

I like that Bauer uses a light tone. I felt as if we were chatting, rather than her standing at a podium and giving me a lecture. How fun too that before she even got into the elements of writing, I'd grabbed a pencil and paper to write down all the ideas that were popping into my head from her serious and silly examples. I appreciated that while Bauer does talk about a formula for plot, she also elaborates to explain the reasons for each step and to offer ways to get unstuck at each step; she recognizes that writing is an art. When Bauer talks characters, she focuses on how to create interesting ones and even encouraged contradictions. This proved more useful information to me than being told all the types of characters that might appear in my story. Basically, I liked everything about this guide including the tips in the last few chapters on how to revise, accept criticism, and to polish for publication.

Score - 7
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Librar
September 30, 2011

Spilling Ink - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook
by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter [YA (nonfiction) Mazer]

If you aren't a fan of novels where the character viewpoints switch back and forth (and I'm generally not), you might think a guide where two authors wrote alternating sections or chapters might feel confusing. We are instead blessed with short and snappy sections that are entertaining to read, nestled within lengthy and detailed chapters that provide tons of insights into the entire writing process. No topic is ignored; even the story element of setting and the nature of a writing life are explained. They also include writing activities called "I Dare You".

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
September 30, 2011

Writing Mysteries... - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 4
Writing Mysteries, Movies, Monster Stories and More!
by Donna Guthrie and Nancy Bentley [j808.02 Ben]

This guide tries to cover the writing life, short and long fiction, genres, and even publication all in a mere eighty-five pages. The problem with a short guide is that explanations of stuff are stripped to definitions that one could find in an encyclopedia. The heart of this guide therefore is its chapters on genres. In them, I learned about subtypes of mysteries and fantasies. I also liked the overview of genre ingredients, although I wish more examples of the genre would have come from books for young people rather than adult books or even movies. Then too, in one breath the authors in tone and brevity seem to be aiming at a younger audience, but then in the next when giving length requirements for publishable fiction they seem to be aiming at adults. While the strength of this guide is its focus on genres, even here the adults fail because of their selection. Why leave out genres such as romance and westerns to write about movies? Just as bad, monster stories (horror) isn't even covered.

Score - 4
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
September 27, 2011

Write Your Own Story - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 4
Write Your Own Story
by Vivian Dubrovin [j808.02 Dub]

In grade school these days, students learn that voice is one of the traits of writing and they are graded on their ability to inject personality into their essays. This guide with its abundance of questions, admonitions, and charts sometimes feels as if written by a teacher; it never feels as if written by an author. This guide is also short at just over fifty pages, which is probably why the author glosses over certain topics. For example, Dubrovin advises young writers to follow this plot formula: Character + Problem + How Character Solves Problem = Story. Most standard writing guides acknowledge that even simple stories have a layer of problems. Not to be totally negative, I enjoyed the chapter on revision. In it, Dubrovin talks about how to expand old ideas and to add new story elements.

Score - 4
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
September 26, 2011

Rascal - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Rascal
by Sterling North [599.744 N81r or j599.744 Nor]

In the first chapter of his fictional memoir, Sterling heads out with his dog Wowser and his best friend Oscar to the woods and across a creek. In the process of digging at a rotten stump, Wowser frightens a mother raccoon. Sterling takes one of the young that she leaves behind. Oscar's mom shows the boys how to feed a raccoon. Thus begins the adventures of a boy and his raccoon. School is out, giving ample time for both to bond. Midway into their adventures, one of Sterling's older sisters comes to visit. She hires a housekeeper, makes home cooked meals, and orders Sterling to remove the canoe from the living room. By the way, raccoons were not the only animal Sterling had brought home. His sister was none too happy to also discover a crow that liked to shout in church and even some skunks. You might think her visit would have changed their life but, soon enough, Sterling's sister returned to her home. Then, Sterling resumes his fairly independent life, which is far from lonely or boring, because of the critters he brings home.

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
September 24, 2011

Emily of New Moon - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Emily of New Moon
by Lucy Maud Montgomery [j]

"Do you know that your pa has only a week or two more to live?" These words of Ellen greet Emily upon her return from her glorious walk. When he dies, Ellen still doesn't offer Emily comfort. She informs Emily that her relatives are coming to the house to decide who will raise her. Emily expresses the wish that her relatives will love her. Ellen denies her even this hope, advising Emily that people don't love strange children. The rest of the book is about her life with the relatives who drew the winning straw to take in Emily. Although I love Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon is my favorite creation of Lucy Maud Montgomery. Both girls are imaginative, outspoken, and passionate. Yet unlike Anne, Emily is more introverted with darker moods and less social grace. Perhaps for these reasons, Emily is often rejected for her differences, rather than embraced and loved like Anne. Therefore, I feel more akin to Emily.

Score - 10
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
September 13, 2011

Henrietta the Spy - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Harriet the Spy
by Louise Fitzhugh [j]

One of the more controversial characters in children's literature, Harriet isn't particularly nice. Harriet runs through the house, slams doors, and yells at adults. She is opinionated, recording blunt facts about her neighbors but also ridiculing even her friends in her journals. She's also rude. Once she interrupted a family dinner to scream. Harriet is no more of a role model than Greg Heffly of Diary of a Wimpy Kid fame, but remains as popular and as loved. In the light of mostly absent parents, the most stabilizing forces in Harriet's life are Ole Golly, her friends, and her notebook. In the second half of the book, Harriet's life is turned upside down when she loses those stabilizing forces. The dominant way I identify with Harriet is that she wants to be a writer. Harriet's practice of observing people and keeping notes has inspired many an author, including me.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
September 11, 2011

Room Made of Windows - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
A Room Made of Windows
by Eleanor Cameron [j]

Julia's father died at war and her mom is dating again. When her mother and "That One" (her despised boyfriend) leave without taking her to a play, Julia escapes to her room to vent. She pours out her feelings in her Book of Strangeness, where she also compiles lists. Then she turns to her story. Julia's so excited when she finishes that despite the late hour she heads out to mail it. Her best friend's drunken father steals her envelope, and refuses to return it until neighbor Rhiannon Moore appears. A Room Made of Windows contains lengthy chapters that are heavier on character development than action. Despite the book's slow pace, I grew up loving it because of how I much identified with Julia. We're both sensitive. Julia also wishes to become a writer. She loved words and kept lists of them, wrote stories and would think them out before going to bed, and tried turning dreams into stories. Like Julia I view writing as my special work. I intend to keep working on it and making grow. And like her I'm pretty sure that my feelings and pains will help me as a writer.

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
September 7, 2011

Little Women - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

Meet sixteen-year-old Meg, the plump and matronly oldest sister; Jo, the awkward and rambunctious tomboy; Amy, the spoiled and artistic blond; and Beth, the quiet and reserved youngest sister. With their father away at war, the girls grow up under the watchful eye of Marmee. Despite the absence of their father, the family is close knit. The Marches sing together. They help the needy, even to the point of giving up their Christmas breakfast to help a starving family. Not being rich themselves, they produce their own entertainment. Of course, the March family is not perfect, which is why we love them. Under the moral direction of their mother, they also learn many life lessons. Little Women continues to be one of my favorite books.

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
September 3, 2011

Dead in the Water - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
Dead in the Water
by Stuart Woods

I have enjoyed Stuart Woods' writing but have found that he spends entirely too much time on the relationships that Stone Barrington has in each book. I don't mind if he has a relationship or two and that it has an impact on the story but he goes into too much detail about their interactions. I would much rather prefer that the relationships not be such a big part of the books. Otherwise, I enjoyed this book and enjoy trying to figure out exactly how things happened before they are revealed at the end

Score - 7
reviewed by Michael E.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
July 25, 2011

Dirt - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 6
Dirt
by Stuart Woods

This is the second book in a seris by Stuart Woods that features Stone Barrington. I enjoy his style of writing but find that he tries to include too many characters. There are times that I have found myself having to go back and review who did what when he brings someone back later in the book. I also appreciate the fact that he doesn't try to mislead you about who may have committed the crime. There are too many authors that throw an oddball twist at the end of books. Stuart Woods keeps things straight and lets the story unwind the mystery.

Score - 6
reviewed by Michael E.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
July 25, 2011

The Appeal - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 3
The Appeal
by John Grisham

There was potential here about how politics/religion/the legal system all work together and against each other. However, it never quite worked out. Then he threw in a chapter or two about the judge's son being injured, which apparently made no difference to the character. It was just disappointing.

Score - 3
reviewed by Kelly B..
customer of the Eiseley Branch Library
July 18, 2011

Jumped - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 6
Jumped
by Rita Williams-Garcia [j]

Jumped introduced me to a world that I know exists but am often able to ignore: teen violence. The action occurs in one day through the stories of three different girls whose lives will become intertwined. Letica is your typical teenage girl who worries more about her nails than her education. She overhears Domininque's plans to beat up Trina. None of these teens are particularly likeable. Yet during the course of the book I grew to halfway like them, simply because Rita Williams-Garcia makes them so real. I felt as if they were walking my school hallways. None of these girls change. Jumped also lacks a pretty tied up in a nice neat bow ending. As such, while it engrossed me, I also felt unsettled.

Score - 6
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
July 10, 2011

No Laughter Here - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
No Laughter Here
by Rita Williams-Garcia [j]

Rita Williams-Garcia no doubt intended it more as an awareness book than a fun read. Yet I would happily read No Laughter Here again. I enjoyed the friendship between Akilah and Victoria. I also appreciated the changing dynamics of the relationship of Akihah with her parents and even her teachers. At its core, while about a taboo custom, No Laughter Here is about knowing when to stay quiet and deciding when to take action. It contains an underlying strength and optimism that kept me reading, even through the difficult passages. Of course, it also doesn't hurt to remind myself sometimes of the reasons why we all need to sometimes take a stand.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
July 10, 2011

Like Sisters on the Homefront - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Like Sisters on the Homefront
by Rita Williams-Garcia [j]

Fourteen-year-old Gayle is pregnant for the second time. Her preoccupation is with her friends and, obviously, boys. Her mother ships her South with no return ticket to live with religious relatives. What sets Gayle's story apart from other teen pregnancy stories is its realism and complexity. Unlike the typical story, Gayle actually misses her sex life. Then she meets Great, the fiesty matriarch of her family, and her life slowly begins to change. Real life can be messy with few tidy endings. There is a huge part of me that demands for my fiction to contain structure and to thereby give me hope for my own life. Like Sisters on the Homefront offers them.

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
July 10, 2011

Language of Goldfish - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
The Language of Goldfish
by Zibby Oneal [j]

An effective portrayal of a teenager's mental breakdown! Everything is changing for Carrie, from her relationships to her interests and even her body. Carrie resists these changes, wherein lies her story. When we meet Carrie, she is appreciating math. To her, math didn't shift and change as things often did in her head. I like how Oneal layers her book with characters and description. She overdoes the details devoted to minor characters and some of her descriptions are a little odd. Over all, The Language of Goldfish is a somewhat sad but hopeful story about surviving change. [Note: The only copies of this Nebraska author's title in the Lincoln City Libraries are in the non-circulating Heritage Room collection -- consider ordering this title through InterLibrary Loan!]

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
July 3, 2011

Rot and Ruin - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Rot and Ruin
by Jonathan Maberry [YA]

This book takes place in the land of the Rot and Ruin, what used to be California now is nothing but a few fenced in towns. Zombies or "zoms" are the norm and when kids turn fifteen they have to get a job or face having thier rations cut. Benny is just a normal kid until he is forced into a job with his zombie hunter brother. Together they must not only go out and face the threat of zoms but also the threat of the people who would wish them dead so as not to reveal their villainous secret.

Score - 10
reviewed by Wyatt P.
customer of Gere Branch
July 3, 2011

New York Dead - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
New York Dead
by Stuart Woods

This is the first book in a series that include Stone Barrington. The author does a good job of introducing Barrington. I was hoping that he would stay on the police force but that didn't last long. The book is an easy read and keeps you interested throughout. There are several twists and turns that keep you guessing the whole way. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Score - 7
reviewed by Michael E.
customer of the Walt Branch Library
June 20, 2011

Cross Fire - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 6
Cross Fire
by James Patterson

I have read all of the Alex Cross books that James Patterson has written. I have found that he uses a very similar patter for writing all of the books in this series. If you have read one of them they will all sound familiar. Alex always seems to work his way of jams and gets the bad guy in the end. All said, James Patterson writes books that are easy reads and you get through them fairly easily. Now that I have gotten through the series (for now) I will have to find a new series to take its place.

Score - 6
reviewed by Michael E.
customer of the Walt Branch Library
June 20, 2011

Beyond the Deepwoods - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Beyond the Deepwoods
by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell [j Stewart]

Beyond the Deepwoods is about 13 year old Twig, who dosen't seem to fit in woodtroll village. His adoptive woodtroll parents decide he should leave the village and travel to his great uncle's, but, lost in thought, Twig does the one thing a woodtroll never does -- he strays from the path. What ensues is a great adventure. The book is filled with incredible illustrations by Chris Riddell that make the story even better.

Score - 9
reviewed by Wyatt P.
customer of the Gere Branch Library
June 20, 2011

The Austere Academy - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
The Austere Academy
by Lemony Snicket [j Snicket]

At long last, and again in the best tradition of children's books, the three orphans will attend a boarding school. There they meet a rude, violent, filthy girl. They also meet Quagmire twins, who used to be triplets. They also used to have parents but lost them to a fire. Will wonders never cease? For two consecutive books, the Baudelaire children have made friends. This time, their friends are actually their own age. If you thought the suspense about when Count Olaf will appear was terrible enough, two mysteries will develop midway through this book that will have you biting your nails.

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
June 20, 2011

The Miserable Mill - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
The Miserable Mill
by Lemony Snicket [j Snicket]

In A Bad Beginning, Count Olaf subjected the Baudelaire children to the arduous chores of cleaning house and cooking meals. With him out of their lives, they are living with a relative known only as Sir. He is in charge of The Lucky Smells Lumbermill and assigns them the dangerous and daunting tasks of debarking logs, lifting them, and bundling them. They meet Phil, Foreman Flacutuno, Charles, Dr. Orwell, and Shirley. I am not giving anything away when I tell you that three of those people are enemies. If anything I'm spoiling the fun for you by saying that the Baudelaires actually make two friends. Oh, and one of those enemies is Count Olaf. Would you expect anything different?

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
June 20, 2011

The Bad Beginning - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
A Bad Beginning
by Lemony Snicket [j Snicket]

As is inevitable in the best of children?s books, the parents will die. With the adults gone, the three Baudelaire orphans will have all kinds of wonderful and fun adventures. Oh wait! I was thinking of another book. In this one, the orphans will move in with a very mean guardian. However, due to their lively and sweet ways, the orphans will melt the hearts of their strict guardian, make many friends, or somehow change the world. Sorry! Again, I was thinking of another book. In this one, the guardian will become even more despicable but none of the well-meaning adults will believe the children. Life for the orphans grows worse. I am not even sure all of them will be alive at the end.

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
June 20, 2011

Behind Green Glass - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
Behind Green Glass
by Amanda von Hoffman

Entering a fantasy market already bloated with the paranormal is a book worth your time. One evening, Isolde finds a false drawer bottom with a hidden emerald colored glass. Through this glass, Isolde sees the mystical Lyric. You will need to read the book to discover his real identity, along with other secrets. In contrast to today's defiant female leads, painfully shy Isolde may portray a more realistic role model for teenagers. While beautiful description is one of the author's strengths, lengthy exposition sometimes threatened to ruin otherwise charming scenes. Behind Green Glass is a gentle book that wiggled its way into my heart. [Note: Not currently owned by the Lincoln City Libraries -- consider ordering this title through InterLibrary Loan!]

Score - 7
reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
June 8, 2011

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 3
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After
by Steve Hockensmith

This is a new tale about classic characters. It does not endear me to parallel novels. While it does open with our beloved couple being married, Darcy is bitten by a zombie and Elizabeth leaves to seek a cure. I enjoyed seeing some minor characters developed, but disappointed that our heroes are mostly apart. The zombies, favorites of mine in earlier books, could be cars in a demolition derby for how little I now care. Our heroes have suffered a similar fate, becoming superhuman warriors. This lackluster sequel has not diminished my delight in the mash-up genre. It has rather reinforced my antipathy for parallel novels.

Score - 3
reviewed by Allison H-F.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
June 4, 2011

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 9
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
by Steve Hockensmith

If Jane Austen were around today, she might have written this book. Minus the zombies! The Bennets emotions are thrown into chaos when they encounter zombified friends. They want them to live; yet salvation will mean the community's damnation. Future zombie attacks resemble epic CGI scenes and diminish some of the book's humanity. Through romantic entanglements, motifs in Austen's novel of societal norms and true love add to the book's appeal. We all face expectations, "monsters," and love. Hockensmith has kept the spirit of Austen. I can't wait to read the final installment!

Score - 9
reviewed by Allison H-F.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
May 28, 2011

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 8
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
by Seth Grahame-Smith

This original Austen novel is a love story. This mash-up keeps much of the original text but adds zombies. While the title and cover prepared me for gore, neither prepared me for the vomit, ninjas, or dark tone. Yet Seth Grahame-Smith cleverly integrates the zombie world. He does not simply replace random nouns with the word "zombie"; he describes their appearance and their battles. He also turns landed gentry into zombie hunters. I am hooked! The book both entertained me and renewed my appreciation of the original.

Score - 8
reviewed by Allison H-F.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
May 27, 2011

Civilisation - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Civilisation
by Kenneth Clark [DVD 909 Cla]

I really appreciate that the libraries still have this documentary production -- I remember seeing it in school classes when I was growing up, and then viewing it back when there was an AV department at the downtown library (I think it might have been on 3/4" videotapes!!). This is an incredible, and beautiful, examination of the history and development of Western European culture in the areas of the arts and architecture (and, to a certain degree, philosophy). The production is lavish, and provides an excellent introduction to cultural history for those not familiar with it (or those wanting a refresher course). One of the BBC's first color documentaries, this has help up well over time! [Note: In 2011 the BBC remastered this entire series and aired it for the first time in the UK in High Def.]

Score - 10
reviewed by Jeff M.
customer of Bennett Martin Public Library
April 19, 2011

Riding the Bus With My Sister - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 10
Riding the Bus With My Sister: A True-Life Journey
by Rachel Simon [362.3 Sim]

Best book I've read in a long time. Rachel's sister, Beth, is mildly developmentally disabled. Beth spends her days riding the buses in the Pennsylvania city where she lives. She asks Rachel to come ride with her for a year, as a way for them to better understand each other. In the process, Rachel learns a lot more about not only Beth's life -- and the choices she must make -- but her own. "The Philadelphia Inquirer" said it was "clever and unsentimental." I can agree with that.

Score - 7
reviewed by Barbara R.
customer of Gere Branch Library
March 8, 2011

Sugar House - Cover
Average Score:
Score - 7
Sugar House
by Laura Lippman

A young Jane Doe is killed, and then her killer is killed, while in prison. His sister suspects that if Jane Doe is identified, then she'll know why her brother was killed. Enter Tess Monaghan, detective. I thought you really needed a scorecard to keep track of who's who, doing what, to whom, but I found Sugar House both entertaining and suspenseful, with interesting characters.

Score - 7
reviewed by Barbara R.
customer of Gere Branch Library
January 12, 2011

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