Munich by Robert Harris

Like other fine historical novels Munich is part thriller and part examination of a seminal period of the twentieth century. Set in 1938 when the world was on the brink of war and desperate to avoid it. Adolf Hitler threatened to attack Czechoslovakia over what was sImage result for Munichubsequently called the Sudetenland that bordered Germany and contained a large proportion of German speakers. It also, coincidentally, included most Czech border defenses, banking and heavy industrial districts.

The book revolves around the efforts, championed by British prime minister Neville
Chamberlain, to appease Hitler and avoid war through the eyes of one German and one British mid level assistant who happened to attend Oxford together prior to the current tensions. Ultimately an agreement is reached in late September, 1938, signed by Germany, France, Britain and Italy known as the Munich agreement. Czechoslovakia wasn’t included. Chamberlain was seen as a hero and declared “peace in our time”. This is the point where the book ends and all in all is a sympathetic view of appeasement.

Even those that aren’t history buffs will enjoy this fast paced read.
By the way, Hitler attacked and occupied Czechoslovakia six months later. History hasn’t been quite so kind to Chamberlain. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Review by Bob


Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate Di Camillo illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Leroy Ninker has a hat, a lasso, and boots. What he doesn’t have is a horse – until he meets Maybelline, that is. It is love at first sight. There are three rules to follow  to keep Maybelline happy. Leroy manages the first two but not the third. Tragedy strikes. Can Leroy rescue the horse of his heart? The fast paced, action packed narrative will have you turning pages to find out.Image result for Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

Leroy Ninker Saddles up is cute little chapter book that is perfect for children 8 to 11 years old. The younger ones will be able to read it themselves and the older set will love the easy and entertaining word play that is scattered throughout the book.

This is a great book for children and the adults who read to them. The ending is a little quirky, but I loved it.

Review by Christine

Wolf: Legend, Enemy, Icon

Wolf: Legend, Enemy, Icon by Rebecca L. Grambo

Have you ever lain awake in your tent or cabin and heard the eerie call of wolves? The deep primeval longing and fear associated with that call sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.Image result for Wolf: Legend, Enemy, Icon

Wolves have always evoked both fear and admiration in humans – their only enemy.  Their image has changed dramatically through the centuries – from creator and helper to symbol of evil, from predator to prey, from legend to icon.

The many legends, myths and facts in Wolf  provide a compelling look not only at a remarkable animal, but also at a complex and ever-changing relationship.

This book is superbly written and illustrated. (Photographer Daniel J. Cox is internationally published, his specialty being natural history.)

It is a great resource for students researching wolves as well as an informative read for anyone interested in one of our close neighbours, here in Lanark Highlands.

Review by Christine


Slated by Teri Terry

Kyla’s memory has been erased, her personality wiped blank, her memories lost forever. She has been slated. The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance-as long as she plays by their rules. In spite of the advanced technology used to wipe Kyla’s past, she is able to remember snippets of her previous life and being curious by nature, stitches them back together creating even more problems for herself than could possibly be imagined.

The main characters are Kyla and Ben. The story is set in a present day, urban centre and told in first person narrative. The theme is mind control vs free will. Slated is the first in the Slated trilogy

Interest level: ages 15 – 22

Controversial points:

  • removal of free will

  • mind control

  • government interference

  • rebellion

  • teens as trouble makers

  1. Outstanding points:

  • the will to survive

  • the ability to overcome adversity

  • people helping one another in dire times

  • knowing the difference between good and evil and acting on that knowledge in a positive wayReview by Christine

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

“In their remote Chinese mountain village, Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. For the Akha people, ensconced in ritual and routine, life goes on as it has for generations – until a stranger appears at the village gate in a jeep, the first automobile any of the villagers has ever seen.Image result for the tea girl of hummingbird lane

The stranger’s arrival marks the entrance of the modern world in the lives of the Akha people. Slowly, Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, begins to reject the customs that shaped her early life. When she has a baby out of wedlock – conceived with a man her parents consider a bad match – she rejects the tradition that would compel her to give the child over to be killed, and instead leaves her, wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake in its folds, near an orphanage in a neighbouring city.

As Li-yan comes into herself, leaving her insular village for an education, a business,a and city life, her daughter, Haley wonders about her origins, and across the ocean, Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. Over the course of years, each searches for meaning in the study of Pu’er, the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for centuries.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is an unforgettable portrait of a little-known region and its people and a celebration of the bonds of family.”

This story, told by Li-yan in the first person, present tense, flows along smoothly taking the reader from page to page, stage to stage, of her life. She relays a lot of information about a culture in the mountains of China virtually untouched by modernization until about 1995.

Author See takes the reader on a journey in which the characters show tremendous growth, both in positive and negative directions. There was bit of a lull in the forward motion of the book about 3/4 of the way through, which I found difficult to continue through, but the intrigue created up to that point kept me reading. The book picked up again, and in the last 120 pages, I was reluctant to put it down.

Overall this was a very satisfying and edifying read.

Review by Christine

The King of Show-and-Tell

The King of Show-and-Tell by Abby Klein

Freddy Thresher is in grade one where show-and-tell is a big deal. It will be Freddy’s turn to share on Monday and he needs to find something super cool. On Friday afternoon he comes up with a great idea but he needs to keep it a secret all weekend.Image result for The King of Show-and-Tell

This junior chapter book is written for 6 to 8 year olds in first person past tense. The idea is great but I found the language a little harsh in some places. The characters seem older than typical grade one children. The story is action packed and young children will be keen to keep reading (or listening if you are reading to them).

There are several educational bits included in the story and at the end of the book there are activities for children to complete.

A good book for advanced grade one readers.

Review by Christine


Chouette par Carl Hiaasen

“Roy vient d’arriver en Floride et il ne s’y plaît pas. Cèst tout plat et les brutes de l’école, comme Dana Matherson, y sont aussi stupides qu’ailleurs. Mais si, dans le bus, Dana n’avait pas écrasé la tête de Roy contre la vitre, celui-ci n’aurait jamais aperçu cet étrange garçon qui courait pieds nus. Image result for chouette carl hiaasenIl n’aurait pas pris part à cette affaire bizarre et croisé d’autres habitants inattendus de Floride: alligators, serpents à sonnette et mignonnes petites chouettes menacées. La vie en Floride devient enfin excitante…”

L’histoire de Roy et sa nouvelle vie en Floride est racontée par le narrateur omniscient, au temps passé.

Ce livre abord les difficultés rencontrées par des étudiants qui se déplacent fréquemment . Il représente aussi la bataille entre le monde moderne, qui veut tout aspirer, et la nature, en particulier, les espèces menacées, d’une manière sage et réalistiques.

J’ai trouvé les personages crédibles. Leurs émotions étaient réalistiques et les dialogues naturels avec de nombreux anglicismes.  Le livre était plein d’action et l’histoire était très interessante. Je l’ai trouvé difficile à poser.

Chouette est un bon livre pour la jeunesse.

La revue par Christine