Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Book Review Club (February 2015)

And you thought I'd post a picture of a heart for Valentine's Day! Uh, no. Not when our February Book Review Club meeting actually lands on Rosa Park's birthday! Happy Birthday, Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913-2005). There's really no way to segue seamlessly from that, so I won't even try.  Under my post are terrific reviews for terrific books. For all that is good and right in the world of reading, please click through.  

ALL THE ANSWERS (middle grade)
 by Kate Messner

Twelve-year-old Ava Anderson is a big hot mess of anxiety. She worries about everything. And I mean everything. From failing a math test to a band audition to the state of her parents' marriage to goats ... and the list goes on. So, when she finds a pencil that gives her answers to factual questions, you'd think she has it made in the shade. Right? Wrong. When the pencil tells her of something serious in the future for a family member (trying not to spoil anything!), Ava "realizes that sometimes the bravest people are the ones who live without all the answers."

I was a really anxious kid who had loads of stomachaches that were no doubt stress related. In the diary I kept at age 10, I worried about millions of things, including my piano teacher's choice of pieces for me! For pages and pages and pages! Yeesh.  If I could just travel back and tell myself to go enjoy a bike ride or a game of Barbies or a a book.

So, yeah, I could definitely relate to Ava. Also, I thought it was clever how sharpening the pencil shortened the life of the magic. And I loved the whole you-only-think-you-want-the-answers theme.

But what really grabbed me about this book was how true the characters felt. Even the secondary and more minor ones. Here's one example: Ava's little sister, Emma, is in a class with several Emmas. So, she wears a different name tag to school every day in an effort to be individual. I don't know a girl like this, but I can easily imagine meeting one. The book is filled with these kinds of humanizing, believable idiosyncratic details about the various characters.

In a word: recommended!

Dear FCC: The Yellow Book Road, my local children's bookstore, gave me the ARC for this book. I'm sure they had no idea I'd review it. They're just kind, generous, book-loving folk. 

Other business: A huge welcome to our newest reviewer: Rob Costello! Congratulations to Scott Parker who has started his own publishing company, Quadrant Fiction Studio. And sending bone-healing, quick-recovery vibes to Ellen Booraem who had surgery on Monday for a broken femur.

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


Alyssa Goodnight: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor (YA)

Beth Bonini: I WAS HERE by Gayle Forman (YA)

Rob Costello: JACKABY by William Ritter (YA paranormal mystery)

Sarah Laurence: NO SURRENDER SOLIDER by Christine Kohler (YA historical)


Jenn Jilks: CROW LAKE by Mary Lawson

Linda McLaughlin: JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER by Jodi Taylor (time travel)

Patti Abbott:  CLOSE TO THE BROKEN-HEARTED by Michael Hiebert (mystery)

Sarah Laurence: THE REMEDY FOR LOVE by Bill Roorbach (romantic suspense)

Scott Parker: ICERIGGER by Alan Dean Foster (science fiction)

Stacy Nyikos: THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan 
                                                                                                                    (Man Booker winner)             
Stacy of the Cat's Meow: TELL THE WOLVES I'M HOME by Carol Rifka Brunt (literary)


Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: THE 20-30 SOMETHING GARDEN GUIDE by Dee Nash
                                                              HELLSTRIP GARDENING by Evelyn Hadden
                                                              TAMING WILDFLOWERS by Miriam Goldberger

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!


  1. I like the premise of this book. Kind of a "be careful what you wish for" thing. And I already like Emma. It sounds like she could have a story of her own.

    Thanks for the review and thanks for being the ever gracious host of the book review club. :)

  2. Oh yes, I could have used this book when I was a tween! My diary from those days was filled with some pretty inane worries, too, Barrie:) Thanks for hosting again!

  3. You know what, Lucy? Emma could have her own book. I hadn't thought of it till your comment!

  4. Rose, I suspect there are many of with angsty diaries. :) Looking forward to reading your reviews!

  5. This sounds like the perfect read for my younger daughter. She's a worrier too. The apple didn't fall far from the tree!

  6. This one had already caught my eye--I'm totally intrigued by the premise.

    Sounds like the book lives up! Glad you enjoyed it!

  7. It is strange how a diary is like one way time travel with no discussion allowed. I love the concept of a magic pencil that diminishes as you sharpen it. Thanks for hosting!

  8. It's hard to imagine you being an anxious kid, but some of us start out serious and discover our sense of humour (and silliness) as we go along. Your review is charming! I've missed your "voice".

    Btw, is it too late to join in for this month? I've just posted a book review of I Was Here, by Gayle Forman on

  9. Great review! And it sounds like such a fun book. I especially like that the magic is slowly sharpened away. One more on my TBR pile!

  10. That sounds like me at that age too. Actually, I never really have learned how to chill out . . .

  11. Looking forward to trying my hand here....:)

  12. And we are looking forward to having you join us!


Comments are always welcome!