‘Song for a Whale’ by Lynne Kelly is a beautiful story of a girl and a whale and the reason their lives touch

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“Song for a Whale” by Lynne Kelly follows her first book, the award-winning novel “Chained.” Kelly’s writing is as beautiful as ever, and the story just as touching — and perhaps more accessible to young readers as the setting is in the United States instead of India. It’s a story about Iris, who is deaf, and the connection she feels for a whale named Blue 55, who is unable to communicate with other whales.

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‘The Simple Art of Flying’ by Cory Leonardo is a sweet, poetry-filled middle grade story of two African parrots and love

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“The Simple Art of Flying” by Cory Leonardo isn’t a simple book at all. It’s filled with an erudite African grey parrot, a feisty octogenarian, an adolescent wanna-be medical doctor, and a pet store owner who shouldn’t be allowed to own even a goldfish. This middle grade tale is filled with quirky characters — both human and not — and a sweet message of acceptance and family. And family can certainly include our non-human family members.

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‘The Curiosities’ by Susan Gloss is a tale of coming to terms with life and loss and art

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In “The Curiosities,” author Susan Gloss creates a cast of characters who all come together in the home of Betsy Barrett, a deceased philanthropist, who left instructions to create a residency program, or artist colony, in her Madison, Wisconsin mansion. The main character, Nell Parker, has a PhD in art and the outstanding bills from many failed IVF attempts to have a baby, to compel her to take the job. The artists for the first session have already been chosen, and Nell will run and oversee the program.

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‘Hope’ by Matthew Cordell is a beautiful love letter from grandparents to their grandchild

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“Hope” by Matthew Cordell follows his beautiful picture book, “Dream,” which is “a poem of love and the book is a poetic ode in words and pictures to the power of parental care.” “Hope” features lions instead of gorillas, and the voice is one of the grandparents sharing their hopes and dreams and wishes for their grandchild.

“You will meet so many. Many who are like you. Many who are not. Continue looking. Continue seeking. And for the future, there will always be hope.”

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‘Watcher in the Wood: a Rockton Novel’ by Kelley Armstrong continues the mystery and excitement in the series

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“Watcher in the Woods” by Kelley Armstrong continues her “Rockton” series set in the fictional “town” of Rockton, in the Northern Yukon in the middle of thousands of miles of wilderness. Mixed in with the wild, the tundra, the vicious animals, and the cold is the primitive town of Rockton, where fugitives from society live. Some are victims seeking to flee their abuser(s) while others are criminals seeking to escape justice.

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‘Someday We Will Fly’ by Rachel DeWoskin is a complicated YA historical fiction about Jewish refugees in Shanghai

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“Someday We Will Fly” by Rachel DeWoskin is a fascinating account of Jewish refugees during WWII who escaped to Shanghai, one of the few places they could go without a visa. Not only is the setting unusual for a Holocaust story, main character Lillia and her family defy Jewish stereotypes — her parents are circus performers.

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‘Because’ by Mo Willems is a magical journey through the world of music and the arts

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“Because” is a perfectly lovely picture book by the prolific children’s author Mo Willems. Though Willems is also an illustrator of note, he turned over that particular duty to Amber Ren for this piece, and the result of their combined talents is a testament to the beauty and power of teamwork as well as a superb rendering of the beauty and power of music — the power to inspire, to change lives, and to add wonder to our universe through our universal language.

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‘The Oracle Year’ by Charles Soule: What If?

 

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Like any good mystery — suspense novel, Charles Soule’s “The Oracle Year” is filled with thrills and chills, twists and surprises. But Soule’s work here takes us far beyond those classic characteristics.  Its science-fiction elements raise, once again, the “big questions” that have fascinated and frustrated many of us virtually since the birth of our species. Is my destiny pre-decided or do I truly have free will? What would I do and how would I act if I could accurately predict the future? Are human beings fundamentally good or evil? How and why might we eventually cause our own extinction? Are there gods or is there a God or have beings from other worlds created and formed us?

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