Monday, July 24, 2017

A Boy Named Queen

On our website (here), my friend and co-worker Lauryssa left a short review of A Boy Named Queen:
"Short and sweet, this is an excellent story to help kids to deal with bullies and to accept others (and themselves) just as they are."
    She recommended this read to me the other day - whether she expected me to actually follow through is besides the point, and I did that very day, to my great delight and pleasure. A Boy Named Queen is an excellent, short chapter book starring a ten or twelve year old girl who is just going back to school, and on her first day, a new student is transferred into her class.


   His name is Queen.

   It's incredible how one small detail - one small quirk - that causes a person to stand out from the crowd can pave the way for all kinds of bullying and harmful teasing. But we've all seen it happen. From where the narrator sits, the only thing really different about Queen is his name: Queen. He is just as interesting or uninteresting as the rest of the children in his class - just as quirky or conventional as our main character, Evelyn, and simply because of his name he is treated differently.

   The story is written for children around the ages of 8-12; short chapters with a voice for description and dialogue that a child would come up with. The story is a gentle but effective way to promote the welcoming of differences and the acceptance of the unexpected. The author, Sara Cassidy, has a gift for making the children's mocking reaction of Queen seem unfair and completely unfounded, rather than blatantly pounding out an opinion or rule. By following this narrative, the mind is guided toward the conclusion of the story, lacking any kind of force but holding a hugely significant amount of conviction.

   I'm definitely older than 12, but I found A Boy Named Queen to be unparalleled, refreshing, and an absolute joy to read. Hats off to Sara.

--Elise T--

   For more information about A Boy Named Queen by Sara Cassidy, visit our website here.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Unblemished

   Unblemished is what I would call a "coming of age" story. The lead character, Eliyana, is nearing her eighteenth birthday when her life is suddenly upended and forever changed. Her mother - the only family she's ever known - dies tragically, and a series of strange, seemingly random events draw Eliyana into another world where nothing is as it seems, and nothing is as it should be.


   Sara Ella writes Unblemished with a mind for twists and turns on every page. Every character seems to interact in such a way that trust is questionable, the truth is never the whole truth, and there's always something else going that hasn't been figured out yet. As young adult fiction, this story could be aimed at teen girls anywhere from the ages of 13-19, but greatly enjoyable for those above that age-range who still look for cheesy teen-romance, love triangles, and all of that coming-of-age awkwardness that makes a world-hopping, battle-raging, hormone dancing story all the more worth reading.

   The most powerful part of Sara Ella's Unblemished, however, is the message she is trying to communicate - a message of worth, beauty, and trust. Eliyana is on a journey that seeks to teach girls and young women that yes, they are absolutely beautiful, but that their worth extends so far beyond their beauty and the way that they look. This is such a crucial message for today, in a world where appearance sometimes seems to be the only thing that matters or makes anything or anyone of any worth at all. There is so much more to a woman than her beauty or her appearance. Why should her appearance even be a measure of her worthy? When did something so surface-level, fluctuate, and subjective become a measure of any kind of worthiness or value?

   --Elise T--

For more information on Unblemished by Sara Ella, visit our website here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Firstborn

   I came to you once before, sleep deprived and overwhelmed, with a story that demanded to be told. When I read The Progeny by Tosca Lee last year, I did it all in one sitting and sang its praises for months. Now I'm back with the second installment - the conclusion to this thrilling ride - Firstborn, a progeny novel.

   Following Audra Ellison (known in the first book as Emily Porter) Firstborn picks up right where The Progeny left off. Audra now knows the secret she was protecting when she gave up her memories for the bliss and protection of ignorance, and now the stakes are higher than ever. The more she learns, the more dangerous everything becomes.

   Tosca Lee's adventures following Audra are riddled with car chases, crossfires, hostages, blackmail, and a cast of characters who never fail to sweep the reader into their plight of wild turmoil, and even wilder emotions. Rarely do I find an author who can entertain as thoroughly as Ted Dekker, but so far Tosca Lee has been the closest - dare I say, close enough even to rival him. Tosca Lee's writing is high energy, always moving, and I'm hoping that she can keep up the pace for many more years to come.


   --Elise T--


For more information on Firstborn by Tosca Lee, visit our website here.