BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PEDRA LUNA by Alda P. Dobbs: A Review

The true story of the author’s great grandmother’s journey to a new country and a new life during the Mexican Revolution

Up front, let me say that the copy I read was provided by the author with absolutely no strings attached. The opinions voiced here are strictly my own.

Twelve-year-old Petra Luna was happy living with her abuela in a small town in Mexico. Although her mother had died, things were going right in her life–until her father was conscripted by Los Federales to fight in the Mexican Revolution. Petra had to grow up fast, becoming the sole provider for her grandmother, sister, and baby brother. Eventually the Federales came to her town, burning it to the ground, causing Petra and her little family to become refugees, walking through the burning desert and all the horrors that awaited them there.

When they reached a resting place, the met up with Pancho Villa’s soldiers, including a tough, dedicated female general who encouraged Petra to join the army of guerrillas and fight the Federales.

Petra is torn between family and freedom to be herself and become a strong, independent woman. The decision she makes, and the event that happens afterwards brings tragedy and suffering into her life. Dobbs’ action-packed, fast-paced ending had me breathing hard and my heart pumping rapidly as I read. It is a real page-turner with many twists and turns, which actually happened to Dobbs’ great-grandmother.

I highly recommend it for fans of historical adventure who want a darned good read. It will be published in September.

SATURDAY MORNING FOR KIDS ON SUNDAY NIGHT

Ok, so I’m behind; waaayy behind: on schoolwork on reading blogs, on writing posts on my blogs, on housework–I’m behind. Usually on Saturday mornings I recommend a book especially for kids, often about kids. An eleven-year-old narrator tells the story of WWII U boats and war efforts near Carucao, “the largest of the Dutch islands just off the coast of Venezuela in Theodore Taylor’s The Cay.

Shown here are Timothy and Stew, the cook’s car with Phillip in the background

When I saw the cover of the book, I assumed “The Cay” referred to the huge Negro, giving him an ethnicity or tribal identity or something. Actually, the Cay is an island, surrounded by a volcano-created atoll and reef, hiding the little island on which Phillip and Timothy are washed ashore after a German submarine torpedoed the ship Phillip and his mother were on. Timothy was a worker on the big ship and has the strength of many men, despite his advancing age.

This is a story of survival, of friendship, and of changing attitudes and prejudices. It is an adventure story, but so much more. Taylor’s imagination for catastrophe will have you holding your breath only to help you release it in moments of warmth and life lessons learned .

This book is appropriate for all children eleven and up, but especially life-changing for middle school students. I highly recommend it.

ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT BOOKS: A Review

Recently I read another “book about books,” Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, book two of “The Great Library Series.” Originally written for young adults and in the “steampunk” tradition, the book appeals to young and older readers alike. It is an Alternate History, where the great library of Alexandria survived, instead of burning, and by the time of this novel, it is all-powerful and in complete control of all knowledge. Personal ownership of books is forbidden although people have access through tablet-like devices to the words and world of books. This situation makes black-market books, especially old ones, very big business.

The story opens as Jess, a young bookrunner, is being chased by Library Gardas and automatons across the busy marketplace. With the help of his twin brother, Brendan, who is described as “a schemer,” Jess escapes. Shortly afterward, the boys’ father sends Jess into “Library Service” to spy on its activities and to determine the location of ancient books, so Brendan can steal them to further the family’s illegal business. Jess’s training is rigorous, and he ends up making friends with other candidates who compete against him. Exciting book-related and library-related adventures ensue, and one turns the pages with anxiety and even dread at times. Action-fueled scenes bring the fatal “Greek Fire” of the alchemists, an encounter with an inklicker, and many encounters with bookburners The Library is seeking to prosecute.

Jess and his friends are well-drawn, and the author makes the reader care about what happens to each of them, even the ones who at the beginning are arrogant or worse. Characterization, a skill I seek in every book I read, is second only to the fast-paced, breath-holding pace of the action and plot. This is a fun read and promises much in the next book of “The Great Library Series.”

DYING FOR SPACE: A REVIEW

As soon as I finished the first book in the “Sunblind Series,” Running Out Of Space, by S.H. Higbee (of Brainfluff blog), I ordered the sequel, Dying for Space. I was so enamored of the main character, “Lizzie”, now matured through loss, revelation and responsibility into “Liz”, illegitimate  daughter of the overbearing General Norman that I couldn’t wait for more of her adventures and misadventures .

Dealing with lingering loss, duplicity, and betrayal, Liz gains a following and popularity that her love/hate-relationship father covets. Many twists and turns fascinate the reader who reads way beyond bedtime. As in the first book, lots of action and crisis moments occur. The book is a fast-paced, attention-keeping read that can be summed up as a “darned good read.” I believe the series is intended to be a trilogy, and am eagerly awaiting the third book centered on a character I have grown to admire and want to read more about.