The Ninth Life by Taylor B. Barton is a book about hope, family, grief, friendship, romance, and identity. But most of all, it is a book about fighting for love—that raw, untamed, and messy emotion—and a book about the monstrosity of being human, which is both horrible and beautiful. As Caesar’s feline life is coming to a close, a life bursting with endless amounts of love, he can’t imagine living without Ophelia Matherson and her dog Missy. His life as Ophelia’s cat was a full one; it had taught him kindness and brought him friendship. In that life, he loved a girl who loved himRead More →

Like a tower built from Jenga blocks, eleven-year-old Piper Trudeau’s former life in Cypress Point, Texas, all comes crashing down after a series of unfortunate events: her parents’ job hours cut, lost jobs, unexpected medical bills, car trouble, bills piling up, and eventually an eviction.  Now, she and her family are homeless and living in a shelter in Idaho—experiencing new places and new people and learning that a rough patch can seem like a “football field full of briars” (39). But this is only one plot thread in Stay by Bobbie Pyron, a novel targeted for middle grade readers that alternates between the story ofRead More →

A book written about WWII from a perspective rarely seen, that of a little boy who loaned his dog to the army because he wanted to make his daddy proud. That is exactly what Hobart “Hobie” Hanson did in Duke by Kirby Larson. Hobie’s dad is in Europe flying fighter jets for the American army in WWII. Hobie and his family, his mother and little sister June, have been doing everything they can from home to be good home front soldiers. They have planted a victory garden, Hobie makes model airplanes that are used to train soldiers, and each member of the family is workingRead More →

I’ve said before that I have a rule about reading books about dogs, and for the most part I stick to it – they just tear me up and it’s not worth the emotional upheaval to take a chance.  But every once in awhile I break my rule and, wouldn’t you know it, I am rewarded with a good story, characters I care about, and a dog (or two) that I wish I could bring home and call my own. When Randi Barrow‘s prequel to Saving Zasha, Finding Zasha, came across my desk, I knew it would be one that’d be a rule breaker.  Read More →