Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Published: August 18, 2020
Reviewed By: Cristina
Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a magical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers?
An Ikenga is a symbolic cultural artifact from the Igbo people of Nigeria. What if it could grant special powers? That is where Nnedi Okorafor’s story begins. Set in modern day Nigeria, an eleven year old boy named Nnamdi is grieving the death of his father. Not just the death. The unsolved murder of his police chief father. On the one year anniversary of his father’s death, Nnamdi receives an Ikenga that gives his the ability to transform into a strong man, capable of stopping the criminals that have begun to take over his town under a new corrupt police chief. One problem. His powers are uncontrollable. And he feels like his one of his favorite super heroes–The Hulk. How will Nnamdi learn to control his powers? Will he solve his father’s murder? With the help of his best friend Chimoa, he just might.
I really enjoyed this story. It’s always fun to read a story that is set in a different place than one you are used to , and Okorafor does a fantastic job of describing the town in Nigeria and daily life. Nnamdi is a realistic young man dealing with the grief of loosing his father and trying to take care of his mother. The themes of justice vs. revenge are nicely woven throughout the story without feeling preachy. The bad guy is a great plot twist–I usually see them coming in a children’s book, and it caught me by surprise in this one. By the way, Nnedi Okorafor has won Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy awards for her writing. Ikenga follows in that great tradition.
Just Beyond the Very, Very Far North
Series: The Very, Very Far North #2
Author: Dan Bar-El
Published: October 6, 2020
Reviewed By: Cristina
The adventures of Duane the polar bear and his arctic friends continue in this charming sequel to the modern-day classic The Very, Very Far North, which Booklist compared to Winnie the Pooh in a starred review.
Past the place where icebergs shiver, you will find the Very, Very Far North, where Duane and his friends are sure to make you feel right at home. You might like to share a delicious Snow Delight with warmhearted Duane. While you’re slurping away, if C.C. suddenly asks you where you’ve come from, it’s not because she’s nosy; she is simply gathering scientific data. If Handsome, the musk ox, pays a visit, a quick hair combing is highly recommended. Should you notice a quiet caribou grazing nearby, well, that’s just Boo’s way of saying hello.
And if a less-than-friendly visitor arrives to sneak, shove, and shake things up, Duane and the others might discover that life isn’t always as peaceful as mid-late-afternoon nap. Fortunately, they know that change is as much a part of life as picnics and Tuesdays and cozy stories shared among friends.
Duane is a polar bear. A kind one. He has a friend named Handsome who is a musk ox, and a vain one at that, C.C. the snowy owl, who is extremely scientific and a bit socially awkward, Twitch the artic hare who loves to bake, Magic the artic fox who is a bit mischievous and Major Puff, a puffin who may just have a crush on Twitch. Oh, and Boo! She’s a super shy reindeer with a secret talent. Together, they are learning about what it means to be a good friend and enjoy life in the Far North. And when a sneaky little weasel shows up to cause friction, this group of friends figures out how to work things out just fine.
At times I like to read a book or two that is simply warm and fuzzy. No crazy heart pounding adventures, no major mysteries, no dystopian governments to overthrow. Just a feel good story. Just Beyond the Very, Very Far North fit that bill perfectly. If you have a reader who enjoyed The Wild Robot or Winnie the Pooh, this story is for them. It was refreshing to read a story where kindness is valued, feelings are acknowledged–good or not so good–and community is valued as important. There is gentle humor throughout the book as well, and the narrator occasionally addresses the reader directly, a delightful “fourth wall” break used well. So, when you need a little break, settle in with Duane and his friends. Your heart will feel lighter for visiting with them.[Top]
Author: Katy Hays
Published: November 1, 2022
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.
Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.
A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a gripping debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
My first book of 2023! And unfortunately it was kind of a dud. I went into it expecting a lot of supernatural mystery and spooky elements … what I got was adult drama and a murder mystery. The best thing about this book was the setting! Now I want to go to NYC and visit the Cloisters! The world of history and artifacts gets me all geeked out! There was a nice focus on some of those artifacts, but even then, it didn’t feel like enough. And there was some odd historical research that I really wasn’t able to follow; a lot of mental gymnastics that I don’t think would hold up very well in academia. Overall, I was just disappointed, I expected so much more![Top]