Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Book Review Club (May 2018)



Welcome to the May 2018 edition of The Book Review Club. Apparently, the first weekend in May is World Naked Gardening Day. Who knew!! If you're so inclined, here's a link to WNGD: right here. In the meantime, please scroll down after my review where you'll find links to terrific reviews of terrific books.



I LOVE YOU, MICHAEL COLLINS
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted 
(middle grade, historical, fiction)

A little from the flap: It's 1969 and the country is gearing up for what looks to be the most exciting moment in U.S. history: men landing on the moon. Ten-year-old Mamie and her classmates are given an assignment to write letters to the astronauts. All the girls write to Neil Armstrong ("so dreamy") and all the boys write to Buzz Aldrin ("he's got the great name!"). Only Mamie writes to Michael Collins, the astronaut who will come so close but never walk on the moon, because he is the one who must stay with the ship.

I'll be honest. I was hooked from the flap copy.  Who doesn't love a story about space travel? With a feisty, independent protagonist? Especially one who's only ten years old! Listen to this: When asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, all the girls in the class wanted to marry an astronaut. All the boys wanted to be an astronaut. What did our independent, free-thinking protagonist respond to the teacher? "How should I know?...I'm ten!"

Yes, there's humor in this book. There's natural opportunity for humor with Mamie's self-absorbed teen sister, her gifted best friend and, of course, Mamie's own forthrightness.

Sprinkled throughout the story are interesting tidbits of history. Take Tang, for example. Because the astronauts drink Tang during their travels, Mamie and her best friend, Buster, drink Tang while watching the Apollo 11 on (color!) TV. There's a a suggested reading list at the back of the book.

I do love a book told in letters. I love the way it lets you get inside a character's head. Personally, I've never been able to write an epistolary novel, but that Lauren Baratz-Logsted is some kind of brilliant! Mamie begins writing to Michael Collins as part of a school assignment. She continues writing to him as her family life becomes more and more complicated. In fact, Mamie ends up home alone. You can see the parallel: Michael Collins alone in the spaceship and Mamie alone in her house. Both do what it takes to keep things running smoothly for those they're waiting for.

I Love You, Michael Collins is an entertaining, heartwarming, informative read. It'd make a great addition to your school library. It'd be a terrific summer read for your 4th through 7th grader (roughly speaking). Oh, and I'm not the only person who loves this book. I Love You, Michael Collins was recently nominated for the Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award.

(Dear FCC: One magical word: library. Although I wish I knew the author. I have a feeling we'd get on great and have lots to gab about over a coffee. All that to say, this is an independent book review of a book I loved. Next I plan to read Zombie Abbey, also by Lauren Baratz-Logsted.)

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!

MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT FICTION BOOK REVIEWS

Jody Feldman: THE MISCALCULATIONS OF LIGHTNING GIRL by Stacy McAnulty
                                                                                                                       (contemp, MG)
                                                                                                               
Phyllis Wheeler: LITTLE BIGFOOT, BIG CITY by Jennifer Weiner (fantasy, MG)

Sarah Laurence: SOMEDAY, SOMEWHERE by Lindsay Champion (contemporary, YA)


ADULT FICTION BOOK REVIEWS

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: SWEET TEA TUESDAYS by Ashley Farley (women's)

Linda McLaughlin: A BACHELOR ESTABLISHMENT by Jodi Taylor (historical romance)

Patti Abbott:  THE CHIMNEY SWEEPER'S BOY by Barbara Vine (mystery)

Ray Potthoff: VARINA by Charles Frazier (historical)


NONFICTION REVIEW

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: GRANDMOTHERING by Linda Eyre

Margy Lutz: DRAWN TO SEA by Yvonne Maximchuk


Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!

6 comments:

Sarah Laurence said...

What a great premise! It's so original and independent, funny MCs are the best. The only thing I don't love is the title, which makes it sound like a tween romance. Thanks for reviewing and hosting!

Jody Feldman said...

I'll be looking for this one. Seems like a great airplane read!

Phyllis Wheeler said...

Loved your review of the Michael Collins book! I'm all ready to read that, now!

Powell River Books said...

Oh, I remember Tang. We used to take a straw and fill it with powdered Tang to simulate the sour straws you could buy at the store. That was just a side benefit of having it in the house to drink. I saw the moon landing on an old console black and white TV with an oval screen at my aunt's small apartment in downtown Los Angeles. We had a colour one at home, but were on our way home from a family reunion party. I was in college by then and thought it was quite appropriate. The TV made me think about the past and seeing human beings walk on the moon represented the future. It was quite a turning point in my life. - Margy

Linda McLaughlin said...

That sounds like a really fun read! I remember Tang.

Lucy said...

I remember Tang. :)

Sounds like a fun book. Thanks for the review and recommendation. And I think I wanted to be a lawyer when I was 10. I ended up being their secretary instead. Oh well, kind of close. ;)