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September 2021 Book Review Roundup


The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow 

By Kim Vogel Sawyer 
Reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema

In 1936, Addie Cowherd’s life changes dramatically when she’s forced to leave her postsecondary education and become employed in one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration programs, serving as a packhorse librarian delivering books to poor coal-mining families in the Kentucky hill country. Author Kim Vogel Sawyer presents an absorbing window into the hardships of the Great Depression, the courage and resilience of packhorse librarians, the social ills of alcohol abuse and domestic violence, and the unwelcoming-to-outsiders culture of the Kentucky hill country. A Christian fictional romance geared to female readers, the novel contains many biblical truths and realistic insights into the characters’ faith struggles. However, when characters occasionally quote passages of Scripture verbatim, the dialogue seems unrealistic and improbable. (WaterBrook)

Stella Díaz Dreams Big

By Angela Dominguez 
Reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema

Stella is passionate about her role as the president of the Sea Musketeers, a conservation club she started to raise awareness of the importance of taking care of the world’s oceans. Stella can’t resist taking swimming lessons, too, even though she is busy. Her hero, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, overcame his physical weakness by learning to swim and eventually explored the world. In this chapter book for children ages 6 to 10, author Angela Dominguez portrays a delightful, zesty protagonist immersed in her family’s vibrant Hispanic culture and life. Stella’s story of joy and passion as she encounters the world and the life lessons she learns on the way make this book a gratifying and worthy experience for young readers. (Roaring Brook Press) 

Say It

By Jordan Feliz
Reviewed by Paul Delger

Jordan Feliz offers personal and transparent lyrics in his third full-length CD, Say It. The music provides a heavy dose of electropop with some dance elements, plus a few ballads. “Wounds” is heart-gripping, based on Feliz’s wife’s miscarriage and the universal feeling of loss. “I’ve seen the light come in / to my darkest rooms / I can tell you, friend / that his love heals wounds / Look into my heart / Let it be the proof / I’m only standing here / ’cause his love heals wounds / Yeah, his love heals wounds.” Another strong cut, the No. 1 radio hit “Glorify,” comes in three versions and features guest artists such as TobyMac and Lecrae. Listeners will find hope and encouragement in this record. (Centricity Music)

The Boy Who Loved Everyone

By Jane Porter, illustrated by Maisie Paradise Shearring 
Reviewed by Li Ma

Preschooler Dimitri says “I love you” to his friends, the class guinea pig, and the tree with heart-shaped leaves. Some friends giggle and then run away. The tree and the class pet have no voice. But this does not stop Dimitri from saying “I love you” to more friends, his teacher, and an old man sitting on a bench. None of them reciprocate, and Dimitri is disappointed. Soon he learns about different ways of saying “I love you” without uttering the words. The boy begins to observe many signs of love around him. When friends ask him to join them in feeding the birds, a warm feeling grows inside. And at storytime that morning, everyone wants to sit by Dimitri, the boy who loves everyone without hesitation, fear, or shame. (Candlewick Press).

The Lowdown

Voices from the Margins: Abuelita Faith tells the story of unnamed and overlooked theologians in society and in the Bible—mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters—whose survival, strength, resistance, and persistence teach us the true power of faith and love. (Brazos Press)

Marvel’s First Asian-led Superhero Movie: In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi (Simu Lui of Kim’s Convenience) must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. (Marvel Studios)

Only Murders in the Building: Three strangers, played by Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez, share an obsession with true crimes and suddenly find themselves wrapped up in one. (Netflix)

A YA Romance Set in the COVID-19 Lockdown: In Hello (From Here), Maxine and Jonah bump into each other in the canned goods aisle of the grocery store just as the state of California is going into lockdown, when everything changes completely. Could there be a worse time to meet? (Dial)

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