Everyone knows that Theodore Roosevelt lead a group known as the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War in Cuba. However, historians have debated for years the role that the group actually had in the Spanish-American War. Using diary entries, letters, and first-hand accounts, Mark Lee Gardner explores how Roosevelt pulled the group together from a mix of upper class young men from the east and rough and tumble cowboys from the west, fought for the men to be on the front line (sometimes bullying his way past obstacles), and charged up the San Juan Hill.
Even though the book concentrates on Roosevelt and his role during this time, I liked the fact that the book also talked about many of the other men in the Rough Riders and their experiences. Gardner gathered a great variety of sources, and combined them to create a really interesting read. If you are a fan of historical books, such as Unbroken or The Boys in the Boat, this is one that you must read.
When a little boy attempts to win a goldfish at the carnival, he and his parents are shocked when he wins the grand prize, a whale! Taking care of the whale causes some challenges, and the parents are ready to get rid of him. But the little boy and the whale are determined to show that there are benefits to having a whale around.
I Won a What? is an adorable and fun story that children and parents will enjoy.
Homegoing follows the lineage of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, who are born in eighteenth century Africa. Effia marries a white man who is part of the powerful group of British civilians and soldiers who run the slave trade in the Cape Cod area. Esi is captured by that group and is shipped off to America as part of the slave trade. Spanning several generations, Gyasi explores how the Europeans impacted the people of Africa and how the slave trade impacted America.
I really enjoyed how Gyasi connected many of the events that have occurred in history by following the family members of these two women. She takes an honest look at many tough issues, but has created a beautiful and inspirational story about the twists and turns of life.
Drew Barrymore's autobiography, Wildflower, is a collection of stories rather than a chronological tale of her life. Each story captures Barrymore's voice, as they are short, sweet, and uplifting stories of the events and people that have made her into the person she is today. From stories about her family, to skydiving, to becoming an adult at the age of fourteen, each story is infused with the humor and optimism that Barrymore is known for.
When sixteen-year-old Percy goes looking for her mother at a notorious drug house, she doesn't find her mother, but instead finds a crying baby girl. The baby's mother and the owner of the home, Shelton, are passed out from drugs, and Percy knows she can't leave the baby, Jenna, there alone. She takes the girl with the intention of getting her safely to a hospital. However, when Shelton wakes up and finds Jenna missing, he becomes intent on bringing her back at any cost.
Sweetgirl is an exciting book set in a fictional northern Michigan town. I really enjoyed this novel for a number of reasons, including the fact that I was never certain about what would happen next. If you are a fan of thrillers set in Michigan, this is a must-read.
Every ten years a wizard known as the Dragon chooses a girl from the villages around his castle to serve him. The villagers have never refused him because they depend on his magic to keep back the Woods, a dark, corrupted place that destroys everything and everyone in its path.
Agnieszka knows that her best friend, Kasia, is going to be chosen and that there is nothing she can do about it. However, she is shocked when the Dragon chooses her. Agnieszka doesn't understand why she was chosen, until she finds out that she has a gift that the Woods would love to corrupt and take advantage of.
Uprooted is an amazing, heartbreaking story. I loved the fact that it isn't the typical, predicable folk tale and had plenty of unexpected twists and turns. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year.
It seems like the news is always reporting on a new type of disease that people fear could become an epidemic, but what would happen if one of those diseases did turn out to be fatal to the world as we know it? Author Emily St. John Mandel explores this in her novel, Station Eleven.
The story follows several characters, all of whom are connected through their relationships with actor Arthur Leander. Clark and Arthur have been friends since meeting at college, Jeevan is a paparazzi turned paramedic who used to follow Arthur around to get pictures of him for magazines, and is present the night that Arthur has a heart attack in the middle of a performance of King Lear, and Kirsten was a child actress in King Lear and witnessed Arthur's death.
After the flu strain kills 99% of the world's population, the remaining humans mostly settle in small towns where they try to survive in the new world. Jeevan, Clark, and Kirsten work to create new lives for themselves in this world.
Station Eleven switches between the past and present, and is set mostly in Michigan. I thought the book was intriguing, and an interesting look at modern society and the things we care about.
Lilliana Young starts her spring break thinking that her most difficult challenge is going to be choosing where she is going to go to college in the fall. Heading to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to consider her future, Lilliana is shocked that instead of peace and quiet, she finds a reawakened Egyptian prince, Amon, with the power of the Egyptian gods. Amon needs Lilliana to survive, and bonds himself to her.
This bond means that Lilliana must accompany Amon to Egypt, where he needs to raise his two brothers and perform a sacred ceremony to prevent the evil god, Seth, from taking over the world.
Reawakened is the start of a new series by author Colleen Houck. It has a good mix of romance and adventure, so I would recommend this book to teenage girls.
Ana of California is a interesting, modern retelling of Anne of Green Gables. Ana Cortez has been in the foster system since her family was killed by a gang. Her smart mouth often gets her into trouble, and she's never at one place too long. After getting kicked out of her latest home she's given a choice, she can go to a group home or intern at a farm and work there until she is old enough to file for emancipation. Ana chooses to travel to the small town of Hadley to work for the Garber siblings.
Emmett and Abbie Garber have worked their parent's farm for years, but times have been tough for them. Abbie thinks that Ana is just what they need to breathe some fresh air into their lives, but Emmett is counting down the days until she leaves.
Even though there's a sharper edge to the story, Ana of California still captures the heartwarming aspects that fans of Anne of Green Gables love. It's a nice nod to the classic tale with a contemporary feel for a modern audience .
Ollie has epileptic seizures when exposed to electricity, so he and his mother live in the middle of the woods in Northern Michigan. Moritz lives in Germany, and has a weak heart and was born with no eyes. The two boys have never met, but they begin a unexpected friendship when they become pen pals.
The connection that Ollie and Moritz form gives them the hope and encouragement that both desperately need, and with that encouragement they each start to really live their lives.
Told all in letters, Because You'll Never Meet Me is a captivating book by new Michigan author Leah Thomas.
When this book came into Saturn, I had to look at it just because of the title. Before reading the story, I already had lots of ideas about why it would be a bad idea to bring an alligator to school, but the girl in the story, Magnolia, had several examples that I wouldn't have thought of such as the alligator will throw paper airplanes and twirl gum. All of this causes Magnolia to get into trouble with her teacher, and she regrets bringing in the alligator for show-and-tell.
Magnolia's narration really makes this story because her reactions to the alligator's antics are perfect. The illustrations are wonderful too, making this a fun and hilarious book that children and adults alike will love.