Michelle Isenhoff

Social Issues

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia, by Candace Fleming

You all know I love history. Usually, I prefer it as historical fiction, but this factual narrative of the last ruling dynasty of Russia is utterly compelling. Written for a fifth- to sixth-grade reader, it often uses “quotes right in the middle of its sentences” to tell the story. I found it mildly annoying at […]

Tears of a Tiger, by Sharon Draper, 1994, Book Review

“In Memorium Robbie Washington, captain of our basketball team, was killed after the November 7 game in a terrible automobile accident…” …and Andy was the one driving the car. Drunk. He didn’t mean for it to happen. He didn’t want anyone to get hurt, especially not his best friend. They were just having a bit […]

Summer of the Gypsy Moths, by Sara Pennypacker, 2012

If you’re looking for a sweet story, you probably wouldn’t consider one in which two twelve-year-old girls bury an old lady in the garden and lie about her death so they don’t have to be shipped off into foster care. But that’s just what Stella and Angel do, and sweet is just the word I’d […]

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher, 2007, Book Review

I read this book last year, just before hearing Jay speak at a writer’s conference. I’ll admit, Mr. Asher has talent, his book is a page turner. It’s unique, shocking and well-put-together, but I have some serious issues with passing it along. Thirteen Reasons Why is the story of a high school girl who commits […]

Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary, Book Review

Dear Mr. Henshaw is Beverly Cleary’s highest award-winner, capturing the Newbery and Christopher Awards in the early 80’s, yet it is one of my least favorites. Written as a series of letters and journal entries, with absolutely no narration, Mrs. Cleary somehow, miraculously, weaves together a plot, a central-California setting and a well-rounded character. This accomplishment […]

The Farewell Season, by Ann Herrick, 2011, eBook Review

Eric has always loved football. It’s his senior year, scouts are making phone calls, a college scholarship seems secure. So why can’t he work up any enthusiasm? Because his dad has always been so closely entwined with his game, and three months ago a drunk driver unraveled everything. His dad is gone. Ann Herrick does […]

The Outside of a Horse, by Ginny Rorby, 2010, Book Review

“There’s nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.” The Outside of a Horse is an emotional, eye-opening novel that has pushed me into some new areas of thinking. I’m afraid my review may grow rather controversial before I’m done. Hannah’s mother died of cancer five years ago, and […]

Hate List, by Jennifer Brown, Book Review

I met Jennifer Brown at a conference a few weeks ago. She was the sweetest girl. She chatted with me all through lunch, and I so wanted to like her book. Unfortunately, I found little I admire in Hate List. Valerie Leftman survives a school shooting with only a bullet wound in her leg. But […]

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