The Sweetness of Salt

The Sweetness of Salt by Cecilia Galante

From the outside peeking in one may easily assume that Julia leads the perfect life. She’s just graduated at the top of her high school class where she was elected valedictorian, she’s a soon-to-be intern in the district Attorney’s office where she trail some of Ohio’s big wig lawyers, and she’s gearing up for her first year of college where she plans on following in the pre-law footsteps of her father.
 
 Julia’s life is far from perfect. Not only is she in love with a boy who barely speaks to her, but her whirlwind, fly by the seat of her pants older sister Sophie is in town for a visit. It’s not that Julia isn’t happy to see her sister, it’s just that life is so much simpler when she’s not around, when she’s not picking fights and storming out of the family picture. But when Sophie hands over the keys to her VW Bug and offers Julia her own key to her Vermont house, she thinks maybe things are changing. Maybe Sophie’s comes peacefully. Or maybe not.    
 
When Sophie brings up a life long past, a life before Julia was born she knows round one of the fight is just beginning. But what Julia doesn’t know is that this one argument will, not only set in motion a chain of events that will change her life forever, but also reveals a devastating family secret, a secret that Julia just can’t handle, a secret that ultimately forces her to throw caution to the wind, to reevaluate her life, and find comfort and understanding in the confines of a small Vermont town.
 
Cecilia Galante, author of The Sweetness of Salt, has crafted a well written and well-balanced young adult novel. It’s an emotionally charged novel that examines what happens when familial bonds are broken. It’s heartwrenchingly real and heartwarming authentic. Readers will immediately identify with both Julia and whirlwind Sophie, and will be able to see a little bit of themselves within these characters. Galante’s characters are what really drives this book. They are thought-provoking, complex, and most of all honest. Each one plays a key role within the story, shaping not only Julia’s life, but the reader’s experience.
 
 The Sweetness of Salt’s chapters are short, sweet, and move straight to the heart of that matter. Each chapter is fluent and sails smoothly from one into the next. It’s like reading a puzzle – each chapter is a different piece that seamlessly into another. This is a definite quality of the book, and one that makes this a hard book to put down.
 
But what Galante really excels at is creating a book that is full of various genres. There really is something for everyone; from the realistic aspects of the book, to the budding romance that blooms, and still the mystery, suspense, and intrigue of the family secret.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Follower Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Follower Love Hope was a success! Thank You to all who participated by leaving comments, all who came and checked out this blog, to all the fellow bloggers out there who took part in the hop, and most of all to the organizers!

Now … onto the winners.

Congratulations to Lisa (The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodle winner) and Glenda (The Library Card winner). Both winners have already been contacted via e-mail. Can’t wait to hear back, and send out your books!

Book of the Week: The Cold Water Witch

The Cold Water Witch by Yannick Murphy Illustrated by Tom Lintern

Published: 2010 Tricycle Press

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I love any book that has features witches – the good and the bad ones.

The little girl featured in the story – she’s brave and exudes  self-confidence.

Overall, it’s a story about friendship that shows if you give someone a chance you may learn that they are not all that different from you.

The witch is simply beautiful. There’s no warts or green skin, you know none of the typical attributes one gives to a witch. In fact she’s reminiscent of a certain white witch from a famed children’s book (cough cough The Chronicles of Narnia cough cough)

This book illustrates acceptances and tolerance of people who are different. It’s shown though the little girl’s acceptance of the Witch for who she is: not a witch but a cold, lonely person. And it’s after that acceptance that the witch transforms.

The little girl isn’t only brave, she’s quick thinking, strong-willed, and determined. All the features that make for a great heroine. I feel this sets a good example to young readers the importance of not giving up. If you keep trying you’re bound to succeed.

I love the innocence this book shows. The little girl is innocent, a feature that seems lost  in most young children today. When a witch suddenly appears in her room she takes it at face value, not questioning it as if fairy tale characters are a part of every day life.

This book fills readers with a magical feeling. I love how much creativity and how much imagination went into creating this book.

The illustrations are lush, making every reader feel that they’ve walked into a winter wonderland with each turn of the page.

The writing is precise.

In books where characters are often transported to another time or world, it’s rare to see a freezer as a teleportation device. In this book, in order to get to the frozen land one has to make his/her way through the freezer.

The word icebox is used in place of freezer, which lends an old-time quality to the book.

Even though it’s a story about a witch trying to lure a little girl into a very faraway, ice-covered land this book isn’t a scary book.

Before I Die

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Tessa Scott is a mere sixteen years old, and in those sixteen years of life the one thing she anticipates most is her death. Death has been looming over her head for the past four years – it’s heavy and inescapable. Desperate to live what little life she has left, Tessa enlists reckless best friend Zoey to help her carry out the list. It’s a bucket list of sorts stating the ten things she wants to do before she dies.
 
From wanting to feel a boy’s weight on top of her to becoming famous her list isn’t only a list of wishes – it’s a list that’s going to keep her alive. For every one item crossed off another is added, for every one item crossed off it means another day alive, but also another day closer to her death. Through this ever important list, Tessa finally feels what it’s like to live, to laugh, to be loved by the most important people in her fading life: her family dad and mum, and little brother Cal, and best friend Zoey. But above all, Tessa learns what it’s like to love.
 
When she meets next door neighbor Adam, she begins to realize that the one thing on her list, the one thing she thought would be impossible is suddenly a bright possibility in the midst of her dark life: falling in love. Because of Adam and his love Tessa’s list grows fat and full, but it’s not enough. Not even Adam’s love isn’t enough to keep Tessa alive. When her illness eats its way through her body, making its way from the inside out, it takes the combined strength of every person Tessa has touched to release her from cancer’s grip.                              
 
Before I Die, Jenny Downham’s first novel, is a painful, breath-takeningly beautiful story of love and life. Full of raw and unbridled emotion, readers will find themselves tearing up before the first chapter ends. Downham has crafted such a realistic tone that it’s hard to believe Before I Die is a work of fiction. Downham’s writing is exquisitely poetic, flowing from one moving moment to the next. As would normally be expected, Before I Die isn’t a ‘feel bad for me’ kind of story.* In fact, it’s quite the opposite: it celebrates life and urges everyone to live it to the fullest.
 

 

At it’s core, this book is an examination of the human connections we all long to make before our time in this world is up. It’s an examination of relationships. Downham excels at creating realistically honest characters who cling to one another for strength. Tessa is brutally honest portrait of life coming to its end. Zoey, Tessa’s best friend, is reckless on the surface but is just as terrified of living as Tessa is of dying. And there’s Adam, the human embodiment of strength, trust, and love – all the things Tessa needs to hang on all the more.
 
* Be warned, this is a very upsetting, and sad story at moments…you’ll probably cry.
 

 

 

 

 

Follower Love Hop Giveaway

Readers:

Since the past two hop giveaway contests were such a success I’ve decided that once again to participate in another hop. Not only do my readers and/or followers benefit, but so do I. I participate in these hopes to not only pass along loved books, but to also bring in new readers/followers. It’s a win/win situation for all parties involved.

This time I will be participating in the Follower Love Hop Giveaway organized by Kathy over at I am a Reader, Not a Writer blog, so a BIG THANK YOU goes out to her! The hop will be open from February 8th, 2011 until February 13th, 2011.  By random selection (using Random.org) two winners will be selected, contacted via e-mail, and announced on February 14th, 2011.  If the two winners selected have not responded with shipping information by February 16th at midnight, another winner will be selected. This hop giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only.

So what’s in it for you?  Two books that I love are up for grabs: The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie (Andrews) Edwards and The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli. Please note that these books are both used, however they are in very good condition.

Back blurb from The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles : “They’re off to see the Whangdoodle … To Ben, Tom, and Lindy Potter, the moonlit house looks haunted. But inside there is a surprise. A famous scientist lives there, and now, because of him, the three Potter children are on their way to meet a marvelous creature, the last of the really great Whangdoodles. Only believers may attempt the journey, for the Whangdoodle lives beyond our world in a kingdom safe from doubting people. And the only way to get there is through the magic of your own mind.”

Back blurb from The Library Card: “When Mongoose finds a blue library card hidden among the candy he’s shoplifted, his friend Weasel tosses the card away. But the card comes back. Brenda, a television addict, must endure the Great TV Turn-off. No more “Teen Toons”. No more “Dude Feud”. Then the blue card appears … On a hop summer day, Sonseray wanders into a library knowing he’ll find air-conditioning – and finds much more. And April Mendez takes a ride in a bookmobile unlike any other.”

So what do you have to do to win either of these books. First, you must subscribe to this blog. Second, comment on this post stating which book you would want to win, and why? That is all you have to do.  It’s as simple as that.

There is over 255 blogs participating in this hop giveaway, so make sure to check them out and enter!

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Book of the Week: That Book Woman

That Book Woman by Heather Henson Illustrated by David Small

Published: 2008 by Atheneum Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

 Uses words like a-twixt. That’s kind of awesome, don’t you think?!

It’s a country story – smooth and slow with a nice even tone.

It’s told in verse.

Liked the notion of comparing books to treasure. It feels like it brings attention to just how important books are, how they should be treated and valued. I feel it also shows, in a round about way how to appreciate books. If no one appreciated them, then they many not be any more, that what would that be like? (Scary, if you ask me)

For a picture book it has a very mature and sophisticated feel to it. I like how the author does not underestimate children in their abilities to read and to understand what is written.

It’s historical fiction – in a picture book format! I love it – it’s never to early to start a kid on the road of historical fiction. And it is based on true events – which I think offers children a glimpse into  the past, a past they may not have known about otherwise. (I had no clue about the events the book describes myself, and I’m in my 20’s)

The illustrations are done in what appears to be water-color – they lend a soothing effect to the book.  They are eloquent and really drive the story.

The illustrations bring the words on the page to life. As great as this book is as is, without the illustrations I think the book may get classified as a children’s poetry book, and may go unnoticed because of that. And it would be a shame for such a book to go unnoticed.

Even though the overall story is about a woman who rides horseback through the mountains of Kentucky just to deliver books, it’s told for a young boy, Cal’s perspective. A boy who doesn’t read and doesn’t understand the point of reading or why this woman would waste time coming back and forth every two weeks.

At the core, the book woman is like a “mobile” library. I think this could show readers that there getting books wasn’t always as easy as it is today. Not every place had a library, not every person used or was allowed to use the library. I think it’s a valuable part of history that the text books don’t teach.

This book is an example of the lengths people will go to pass a book into other’s hands. It also shows how dedicated people could be, and that we all should be as giving as some.

Through the book woman Cal learned what the definition of bravery is.

It shows the power of a great book. Cal a non-reader decides after seeing the book woman travel by horse in cold, winter snow. He started to read soon after, and actually found out he really did enjoy it.

This book is based on a true story about the Pack Horse Librarians *, and I like how the author’s note goes into full detail about what it is based on and the inspiration of it.

The author’s note states that at that time (in the 1930s) a woman’s place was thought to be in the home, not in the working world. I really appreciate the courage it took for these women to go against the grain and work in a “man’s” world. And that way of thinking didn’t hold them back from doing what they wanted to do.

The author’s note also features a brief (two or three titles) further reading list that I think the parents will really appreciate because it seems like such an interesting subject.

This book really fueled me to do some more research on the topic of Pack Horse Librarians. I think they are truly innovative inspirations that all librarians could learn from.

* I found a blog hosting a few pictures of these Pack Horse Librarians that I thought were interesting and thought it would be nice to share. Head over to 10Engine Blog to check them out.