Book Review: A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord

A Handful of StarsA Handful of Stars
Cynthia Lord
Scholastic Press, May 2015
ISBN 978-0-545-70027-6
Hardcover

Simply stated lessons about friendships, both fleeting and forming, blend beautifully with little lessons about tiny blue bees and Wabanaki blueberry legends.

A mature little girl, Lily (because “Tigerlily” is a weed, not a name) spends her summers helping in her grandparents’ general store….which is to say the only store in a blueberry-harvesting Maine town busy with migrant workers, locals and tourists from America and Canada. Painting bee houses at her very own table, Lily earns money for an operation that may help her cherished Lucky see again.

“People want us to come and work, but they want us to be invisible.”

The beloved bond built on the unconditional love between girl and dog is artfully illustrated in this book. It is a vibrant thread throughout pulling Lily to Salma, the young migrant worker who shares the affinity for dogs and the sorrow of loss. The girls aren’t exactly alike. Lily’s bee houses are carefully stenciled where Salma’s are impulsive and colorful.

“That’s what I like about art. It lets me become more like myself, not more like everyone else.”

Lily is engagingly open-minded and inclusive with a bit of a stubborn streak. Her growth, while not monumentally exponential, is enlightening and reassuring. Realizations are sluggish; but sweet and hopeful, like a slowly waking rose bud bursting open to brilliancy.

While this is clearly a compelling, captivating story for young readers, it should not be pigeon-holed as a “children’s” book. I honestly and truly believe that every single person deserves to experience the magic of an unapologetically honest, delightful friendship and the benefit of shifting perceptions.

“(Tigerlilies are weeds) only because somebody said so. Lilies are proud and sassy. They don’t know they’re weeds.”

Reviewed by jv poore, September 2015.

Book Reviews: The Homecoming by Carsten Stroud and Lowcountry Bribe by C. Hope Clark

The HomecomingThe Homecoming
Carsten Stroud
Alfred A. Knopf, July 2013
ISBN 978-0-307-70096-4
Hardcover

This was a very interesting book.  I hadn’t read Stroud’s first novel, Niceville, but the book blurb seemed unique.  So, I cracked it open and was sure glad I did.

The characters were strong and believable, the plot was quick, and the dialogue was witty.  I wasn’t sure I was in to the “other” world plot of the book, but I have to say, it didn’t take away from the superb writing.  I don’t think it was needed, but it was interesting and began to grow on me.

The two main characters, Nick and Kate, work well together and there was a hint of romance and love.  I thought the police procedural throughout the plot was sound and made complete sense.  So many people today write about how law enforcement does things and are completely wrong.  Stroud was spot on.  The book isn’t too gory and the concept was terrific.

The Homecoming was an excellent read.  I liked it so much I purchased Stroud’s first book.  I would recommend this book to readers interested in great suspense.

Reviewed by Chris Swinney, August 2013.
Author of Gray Ghost.

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????????????????????????????????????????Lowcountry Bribe
The Carolina Slade Mystery Series
C. Hope Clark
Bell Bridge Books, January 2012
ISBN 978-1-61194-090-9
Trade Paperback

I thought Lowcountry Bribe was a great read.  The book started out quickly and never quit.

The main character, Carolina, is a neat woman with a sense of humor and common sense.  Unfortunately, she finds herself in precarious positions.  I’m into suspense novels with a police procedural plot.  Lowcountry Bribe fits this bill perfectly.

The dialogue was entertaining and made sense.  The supporting characters were blended nicely into the story.  I think C. Hope Clark has something going with this Carolina Slade series. I would highly recommend this book.

Reviewed by Chris Swinney, August 2013.
Author of  Gray Ghost.