Friday, August 31, 2012

The Last Dragonslayer

By Jasper Fforde
3 / 5 Gnomes

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

~Amazon Description~

Jasper Fforde's storytelling is unique, special, wordy, sarcastic, witty, and brilliant.  If you can't tell, I'm a fan.  A big fan.  The Eyre Affair is by far one of the most original tales I have ever read.  So when I heard that Fforde had written a children's story, I was excited and maybe a bit hesitant.  Could his sharp, smart writing translate to a younger crowd?

The Awesome
 
Yes.  Yes it absolutely can.  Jennifer Strange is a spitfire fifteen year old who hasn't let the circumstances of her orphaned life get her down.  She's running Kazam Mystical Arts Management, trying to keep a number of has-been wizards in line, and mentoring a new indentured servant from the Sisterhood.  Things are awful as usual, until, of course, she finds out she's the Last Dragonslayer.  Dragonslayer...which implies dragons...which I kind of love. I especially like nice dragons, sorry to spoil, but when you can breathe fire, fly, and are deeply philosophical, that's pretty darn awesome.  There's also wizards, and a Volkswagen, and indestructible slayer mobiles, and some weird, frightful, gentle creature known as a quarkbeast.  So, yeah, lots of awesome.

The Not So Awesome

It wasn't filled with all awesome though.  While I love Fforde's writing style, sometimes he can be very wordy...or maybe it's the fact that he's British and I don't always understand the words he's using.  I'm not sure if a young reader would be able to keep up.  It might make a fun read aloud though.  There were several characters that I would have liked to have gotten to know a little better, but hey, guess what!  another series, so that might explain why there were several mentions but little context.  And things started to feel a little rushed.  There was a nice build up, and then we were running nonstop with Jennifer, and then it was just over.

Despite the moments of not so awesome, the books is still filled with destiny, loyalty, courage, morality, and of course, commercialism (a common theme in J.F.'s works).  Fforde writes with his usually punch and creates a world where the courage of one secures the fate of many.  Sometimes it's hard doing the right thing, especially when the world is standing in your way.  Strange is a powerful female protagonist, and the world is just real enough that it really brings this fantasy to life.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Boyfriend Is A Monster #2 : Made For Each Other

By Paul D. Storrie, Illustrated by Eldon Cowgur
3/5 Gnomes

Tom Stone stepped into Seward High and into Maria McBride's life like a bolt of lightning. He's the perfect guy for Maria--nice, smart, and well-built. There's just one problem: his family. Tom's father is the town's new funeral director, and business is booming. The bodies are piling up thick and fast in Persephone Falls, Alaska, so Dr. Stone keeps Tom up late at night working in the funeral home. And it's clear that Dr. Stone and his creepy assistant, Graves, don't want Maria around. Maria knows Tom was made for her. She's determined to find out what Dr. Stone has against her. When Tom refuses to stand up to his father, Maria begins to stitch together the clues...and finds out that the Stones are into recycling in ways she never could have imagined. 
~Amazon Description~
 The cleverness continues in My Boyfriend Is A Monster #2: Made for Each Other.  I wasn't anticipating an entirely different story.  I was kind of hoping to find out of Dicey and Jack from part one survived the zombie apocalypse.  But I was pleasantly surprised by this continuation of the Frankenstein story.

What happens when Frankenstein's monster starts making his own creations.  Apparently he makes a thoughtful, compassionate, handsome  young man named Tom.  He also makes some other crazy, psycho creatures that weren't given a moral compass, so you know what that means.  Lots of bloodshed and intrigue.  
I never really got into the Frankenstein monster, besides the wonderful "Frank" in 1987s Monster Squad..."bogus".  But this was a fun take on the story.  The artwork is fantastic, and the stories are fun.  What more can you ask for in monsters and comics?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Junk Drawer: Marshmallow Madness

Did you know that peeps blow up to giant sizes after 10 seconds in the microwave? I didn't. And did you know that marshmallows could be a fabulous library program, and not necessairly a food program.  Again, I didn't.  

Now I know both of these things thanks to a fantastic librarian doing amazing things at the Dunkirk Public Library.  Director Ailesia Franklin is creative, compassionate, and truly committed to providing quality services to teens.  She presented on teen program at a conference this past weekend, and I was lucky enough to hear her speak.

Back to peeps.  So in her fun program entitled "Peep Wars", teens choose an opponent, take chicken peeps (a great program for after the Easter holiday when the delicious marshmallow chicks go on sale) and insert a toothpick in the spot of their choosing, and place the candy item in a microwave for no more than 10 seconds.  When heated, the peeps expand and possibly shoot out the toothpick.  If the toothpick sticks into the opponents peep, you win the war!  Simple, easy, and tons of fun.  

If you need something for teens to do while they wait for their match, have them make marshmallow sculptures.  Just grab some marshmallows of all sizes and some extra toothpicks.  The name of the game is to create, have fun, and enjoy a memorable program at the library.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Top 10 Bookish Confessions

Top 10 Tuesdays
Top Ten Bookish Confessions
(Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Oh, confession time; there's nothing like an opportunity to hang out your reading dirty reading laundry for all to see.  I definitely have my list, and I've shared a few before, but here's my list all the same.

5 I've shared before (link to previous post):
1) Talking Animals - Not my favorite plot point
2) Midlife Crisis - I know it's not a teen problem, but still...
3) Symbolism and Metaphors - I like to feel sorta smart at the end of a book
4) Books over 400 pages - Not lazy, just, okay, a little lazy
5) It was just a dream - The easiest way to make me angry

6) Epic fail:  I can't finish a series to save my life.  There are exceptions of course...Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings.  But in general, I'm a lazy series reader.  Which is really unfortunate, because I have genuinely enjoyed some series starters.  I just get so terribly distracted that I end up moving on and forgetting to go back.  It's even worse if I have to wait for the next book.  So yeah. I've started avoiding series like the plague.  Reading goal for 2013: read all of the series I've started but haven't finished.

7) I'm a cheater: I read the first chapter, then the last page, and then I continue on in the story.  I don't like surprises.  If I have a general idea where the story is headed I'm a much happier reader.  I still get to enjoy the journey, but at least I'm prepared for any unexpected turn of events.  I'm a cheater, and I totally own up to it, so judge if you will.

8) Not so much: I didn't like The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  I read it later in life and after perusing several reviews which led me to believe that in some way the story would change my life.  It didn't.  And as much as I wanted to, I didn't get attached to any of the characters.  Charlie was a sympathetic character but I just couldn't connect to him.  I know it's supposed to be one of the penultimate teen books of the last decade.  It just couldn't find an attachment.

9) I'm a hoarder: A book hoarder.  I can't resist a book store, and if there is a clearance shelf, then I'm a goner.  The problem:  I don't read half of what I buy.  I just must have them, and I want to read them, then I go and check out a handful of books from the library.  Reading goal #2 for 2013: read every book I haven't read in my personal collection.

10)  People say I'm a dreamer: I like to read to escape, and I like to travel to imaginary worlds or far off galaxies.  When I want to relax science fiction and fantasy are my go-to genres.  I do thoroughly enjoy realistic fiction, but I have to be in the right mood.

Monday, August 27, 2012

When You Were Mine

By Rebecca Serle
3 / 5 Gnomes

In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale.
What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.

     Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.
     Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends….

~Amazon Description~

Romeo and Juliet was never my favorite Shakespeare play.  I loved the lyrical language and, somewhere hidden in there, the idea of destined love.  But those two pre-adolescent, crazy kids drove me bonkers.  You're babies!  And you're filled with lusty, hormonal feelings!  Take a step back, a deep breath, and get some perspective already.

But I'd never really thought about Rosaline beyond the fact that I loved the name.  Poor Rosaline who gets tossed to the side without, literally, a second thought.  So I thought the premise of Serle's When You Were Mine was an interesting choice.

The Awesome
I really enjoy books where teenage girls have healthy friendships.  Charlie and Olivia are awesome.  The fact that they are completely different personalities makes them even more awesome.  They recognize their differences and love that about one another.  They forgive each other, and they are fiercely loyal.  So uber props to the supporting cast.

I also really enjoy books with awesome parental units.  It doesn't happen often.  That's usual the cause of teen angst, and I suppose we see both sides in the book, but Rosaline's parents are supportive.  And they are also in love which is just refreshing to see.  Sometimes people come from good families.  Let's celebrate that every once in awhile!  

Len is also awesome.  While I saw the budding relationship coming a mile away, his cool demeanor and steady patience won me over.

The Not So Awesome
There were some pretty predictable moments, and this was bound to happen since everyone knows that Romeo and Juliet meet an untimely end.  But the boy in the wings and the quick rebound love was easy to see coming.  That might have been okay if there were more context.  I never really understood why she so despised Len at the beginning or how the shift came so quickly.  And Rosaline...dear Rosaline.  SPEAK UP!  I know it was her personality to forgive, and I'm not suggesting you go all postal, but my dear wonderful girl, stand up for yourself.

Overall, I did really enjoy the book.  It was a fresh take on an old story and it's filled with some heavy things to think about, choices, destiny, friendship, love.  If you're looking for a contemporary tale to whisk you away, consider When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Junk Drawer : Beam Me Up, Scotty


http://www.atomic-arts.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Screen-Shot-2012-06-27-at-12.39.56-PM.pngContrary to popular culture, librarians are pretty cool people.  We don't just sit around and read all day.  Our pointer fingers are not permanently attached to our lips in a shushing motion.  And yes, you do have to go to school to be a librarian.  We are a passionate, ambitious crew that recognizes and covets our inner-geekdom whether in technology, reference books, vampire fiction, or the now wildly accepted nerdy pop culture realm.

So when I saw this on last week's CBS Sunday Morning Show, I knew there were possibilities.  And I knew that I had an amazing coworker when she approached me, having seen the same feature, beaming with excitement, and offered to email the group to pick their brains.

Somehow, someway, I'm going to bring Star Trek in the Park to my community!  (Outdoor Theater: Star Trek's Final Frontier) Can't you just imagine a public library summer reading program that brings together like minded individuals to share in the awesomeness that is the U.S.S. Enterprise in fun, hilarious ways?  I can!  Now in my junk drawer for future use...how to start a library theater group that celebrates classic TV?

www.atomic-arts.org

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Boyfriend Is A Monster #1 : I Love Him to Pieces

By Evonne Tsang, Illustrated by Janina Gorrissen
3 / 5 Gnomes

Can love survive the zombie apocalypse? Maybe Dicey's first chance at a real relationship was dead from the start. She's the star of her high school baseball team, and Jack's the star of the science program. Her idea of a study session includes sleeping in the sun, and his idea of a good game involves dungeons and dice. But opposites start attracting when they're assigned to be partners in a class project. Now an outbreak of a weird infection--it eats your brains and leaves you hungry for more--might not mean just the end of their first date. It might mean the end of everything. Will their relationship fall apart faster than zombies in the Florida sun, or can Dicey and Jack beat the odds and find a happy ending? 
~Amazon Description~

I love zombies.  Which is totally weird, isn't it?  How can someone love zombies?  They are the undead.  They like to eat brains.  I'm sure they smell really, really badly.  I blame Shaun of the Dead.  There is just something about the endlessly moaning, one-tracked minded monsters that excites me.
Do you know what else excites me?  My Boyfriend Is A Monster graphic novels.  Genius.  Romantic tales featuring some great classic monsters.  In  I Love Him to Piece tomboy Dicey falls for super nerd Jack Chen and all is progressing wonderfully until a killer fungus spore virus thing ravishes St. Petersburg, Florida and turns its citizens into flesh eating zombies.

Monsters and mayhem galore!  Genius.  And just pure fun.  If you love zombie genre or just enjoy a good monster graphic novel, check out My Monster Is A Boyfriend: I Love Him to Pieces!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Junk Drawer: Friends & Blogs

Have I mentioned that I get to work with some amazing people?  Broken record, right?  It's just hard not to shout from the rafters when you love what you do and are surrounded by people who share a similar passion.  One such person includes one of my favorite bloggers at Sunbeam Yellow.  Mrs. Sunbeam is a school librarian just down the street from my library, so I get the privilege of working with her often.  We are always scheming and searching for new ways to keep the love of reading alive while attempting to bring teenagers into the fold.  And we might possible be planning our very own YouTube channel, cross-blog, video making bit of awesome  which fills me with giddy excitement.

Mrs. Sunbeam is truly an inspiring high school librarian.  Be sure to follow her blog for tips on anything and everything including do-it-yourself home decor, crafty awesomeness, tasty recipes, fantastic fashion, insightful book reviews, and tips on bringing all things wonderful into your life.  Whether you are a programming librarian or just inspired by cool people doing really cool things, file the Sunbeam Yellow blog into your junk drawer, that catch all place filled with possibilities, because it has it all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top 10 Books You've Read During the Life of Your Blog

Top 10 Tuesday
Top 10 Books You've Read During
the Life of Your Blog
(Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)
So...two things came out of this particular planned feature day.  One:  I've realized that I've read some great books since I started the blog.  And the run the gambit between romance and adventure, mystery and comedy.  Two:  When did I become such a slow reader?  Priorities my reading enthusiasts.  Somewhere along the line I let TV take over my life.  I am held captive by my flat screen during peak TV watching season, and it must stop.

But there's hope, because there are some super awesome books out there just waiting to be read.  Here are my favorites since I started The Gnoming Librarian.


1) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Still spread the word to everyone I think I might just be able to convince to give it a read!
2) Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake 
Uber-powerful super ghost...can't wait for the sequel!

3) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
A beautiful, moral, deadly assassin?  So much fun!

4) The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Because I will forever be waiting for a plane ride where I sit next to a funny, attractive stranger.
5) Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Cyborg Cinderella's are just to cool to pass up.

6) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Mr. Jase Garrett...you are swoonworthy.

7) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Classics and Christie rock!

A kick-butt female character with attitude to spare.

9) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Who doesn't want to go on a near-death adventure with Gandalf?

10) The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
Scary ancient societies and creepy medieval cities = a recipe for fun.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Book of Blood and Shadow

By Robin Wasserman

It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up.  When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love.  When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark.

But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead.  His girlfriend Adriane, Nora's best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

~Amazon Description~ 

This was a thinking book.  That's not a bad thing.  I just hadn't picked up too many thinking books this summer, books that challenge you and force you to engage.  I can't say I was really ready for it though.  Dude, it took me two weeks to finish.  It was well over 300 pages, and it's dense.  There is a lot going on with the past, in the present, and potentially for the future.  And there are some really heavy questions floating around.  What's the price of faith and knowledge?  How much is truth worth?  Why are men in cloaked robes always wielding wicked scary weapons? It's complicated.


The Awesome:  Wasserman create a scenario with intrigue, mystery, destruction, love, hate, worship, fear...she packs a whole lot into the book in amazing ways.  The story reminds me a lot of The Da Vinci Code.  Love it or hate it, the book was a pure thrill ride.  An ancient text sparks a centuries long feud and an unsuspecting teenage girl (with amazingly strange talents) is smack dab in the middle of it.  And I got to visit Prague.  Not actually visit, but Wasserman's descriptions and details make you feel like you're walking the terrifyingly beautiful older than dirt city.

The Not So Awesome: She kills off the one character I really liked at the very beginning.  Not cool.  Nora is strong-willed, but so naive.  Adriane is obnoxious.  Max is stuffy and detached.  And Eli...well, Eli should probably be in the Awesome section, but despite all of the twists and turns, you end knowing relatively little about anyone.  Some relationships felt terribly forced toward the end, and the only person you really trusted was a woman who lived in the late 1500s.  She had everything to hide, yet revealed everything which was refreshing.

The final analysis:  I'm really glad I picked the book up.  It's smart, and it assumes the reader is smart, which I always appreciate in teen fiction.  It's complicated without being confusing, and it takes you on a ride from page 1 to page 432.  Wasserman has created an adventure story that intricately weaves the past, present, and future together in some seriously creative ways.  If you're a fan of ancient societies, creepy old cities, and the possibility of death lingering around every corner, definitely give The Book of Blood and Shadow a read.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Hobbit

By J.R.R. Tolkien
4 / 5 Gnomes

THE GREATEST FANTASY EPIC OF OUR TIME

Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo–alone and unaided–who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside . . .

~Barnes and Noble Description~

Luckily I grew up in a household that appreciated the creative genius that is Tolkien.  My introduction to The Hobbit came at a young age, followed by no less than one hundred viewings of the animated 1977 TV movie of Bilbo and his great adventure. (I was more than a little excited when I found a DVD of the cartoon at Half Price Books just a few months ago!)  It felt only right to revisit the classic again before the Decemeber release of Peter Jackson's new movie.

Apparently, there were quite a few things I had forgotten about the story.  Let's start with the dwarves.   At first glance you would think they would be a pretty awesome security detail on a long adventure, but au contraire, dwarves are not as stealthy or formidable as one would believe.  Dude!  They get captured every five minutes, and then they complain and blame poor little Bilbo.  Not to mention that they're greedy little buggers.

And Mr. Tolkien, you amaze me, but enough already with the songs.  I know they fill in context and set moods, but nobody sings that much, and without a tune, I'm just reading poetry, and I don't like poetry.

All that being said, The Hobbit is an amazing adventure, especially when you see the subtle ways that it sets up for the massive Lord of the Rings trilogy.  For adventure lovers, fantasy enthusiasts, and world builders, Tolkien's entire saga really is the penultimate tale.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Real Live Boyfriends

E. Lockhart
3.5 / 5 Gnomes

In this fourth hilarious episode of Ruby Oliver's high school career, the neurotic, hyperverbal heroine of The Boyfriend List and its companions The Boy Book and The Treasure Map of Boys interviews her friends for a documentary on love and popularity. While doing so, she turns up some uncomfortable truths—and searches for a way to get back what she had with Noel.

Roo has lost most of her friends. She's lost her true love more than once. She's lost her grandmother, her job, her reputation, and possibly her mind. But she's never lost her sense of humor. The Ruby Oliver books are the record of her survival.

~Amazon Description~

Can you believe it?  Emily, the Gnoming Librarian, has actually finished a series.  Real Live Boyfriends wraps up the Ruby Oliver quartet by E. Lockhart...and is another tick off my summer must read list.

Ruby Oliver is a basket case.  She's terribly self-loathing, fiercely outspoken, and miserably ridiculous when it comes to relationships.  But she's your average teenage girl trying to figure out what she's doing in the ways of love.  Despite the extremely embarrassing situations she finds herself in on a consistent basis, she's learning and growing.  Ruby is not the same Ruby from book one.  She's finally figuring out who she is and that she's worth more than she gives herself credit.

The series ends with hope.  Hope that everyone will eventually find their way, and there is life after high school.

I highly recommend this hilarious, heartwarming, heart breaking series by E.Lockhart.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Soulless

By Gail Carriger
4 / 5 Gnomes

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

~Amazon Description~

Ahhhh!!  This has been on my to-read list FOR*EV*ER!  And it was AWESOME!  (In case it's not immediately noticeable, I am using ALL CAPS to express my enthusiasm for this particular book.)  Alexia is a tough broad in a man's world.  She's stubborn, independent, extremely intelligent, and carries a mean parasol.  So somehow she consistently ends up at the wrong place at the wrong time, at least it puts her into contact with Lord Maccon, head of the bureau that investigates supernatural related crimes.

Another book with several of my favorite elements.  The book is set in Victorian London with dirigibles, automatons, and steam run carriages.  That's right...Steampunk!  Then there's the supernatural element, mixed with a strong-willed female protagonist, and equally strong-willed leading man.  And tea.  I don't even like tea, but everything seems more refined when the hot British beverage is served.  Luckily it's a series, and I can continue reading about the vivacious Alexia Tarabotti.  Hopefully the next chapter will have more flying airships.

P.S. One more book down on my list of summer must-reads!

Friday, August 3, 2012

TGIF: Unexpected Books

TGIF: Unexpected Books
(Hosted by GReadsbooks.com)

Friday Feature:
Unexpected Books: Which books did you have reservations about reading,
but ended up loving once you did?

My undergraduate degree was in history.  One professor used to say (and it has been awhile so it's not exact, but...) history is people in context.  Meaning, history is a great story.  Take all the stories together and you get an amazing picture of a time and a place.

I love history.  I do not love historical fiction.  I tend to take some issues with changing history to fit a story.  I know.  It doesn't make since.  It's not real and sometimes changing history is necessary for creating an interesting plot.  Instead of getting frustrated, I tend to stay away from historical fiction.  But sometimes I just can't help it.  And sometimes this reluctant reads become unexpected favorites.

So here's my list of books that I initially had reservations about reading but ended up loving once I did:

Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle

It is spring 1929, and Prohibition is in full swing. So when Ruben and Jeddy find a dead body washed up on the shore of their small coastal Rhode Island town, they are sure it has something to do with smuggling liquor. Soon the boys, along with Jeddy’s strongwilled sister, Marina, are drawn in, suspected by rival bootlegging gangs of taking something crucial off the dead man. Then Ruben meets the daring captain of the Black Duck, the most elusive smuggling craft of them all, and it isn’t long before he’s caught in a war between two of the most dangerous prohibition gangs.
 
~Amazon Description~
 
 Adventure, thrills, mystery, liquor smuggling...this book was pretty awesome.  The cover initially turned me off.  Kind of bland, dark, and "boyish", which shouldn't really be an issue because I like "boy" books, but it just didn't scream "READ ME!"  So glad I did!

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. Her daddy was a pilot, and years after his death she feels closest to him when she's in the air. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASPs Women Airforce Service Pilots. Ida has a chance to fulfill her dream if she's willing to use her light skin to pass as a white girl. She wants to fly more than anything, but Ida soon learns that denying one's self and family is a heavy burden, and ultimately it's not what you do but who you are that's most important.

~Amazon Description~

This book intrigued me so much, I checked out ever book about Women Airforce Service  Pilots in our library system, watched a PBS special, and vowed to go to the National WASP WWII Museum.  These women were amazing courageous, fiercely independent, and sincere patriots.  A fantastic read.
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