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QUICK NOTE...Update: 2/19/19

Still working through things. We were right in the path of Hurricane Michael (like so many others), and while the family is safe (pups, and parents), the house didn't fair as well. Baby steps back into the blogging world and started to grow, so you know, a post here, a post there, and away we go! Hope you stay along for the ride!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Have a PITCHIN' summer with AL CAPONE THROWS ME A CURVE by Gennifer Choldenko!

HI guys and gals!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.

Today is being renamed.
It is no longer Thursday.
Today is now BLOGAPALOOZA...
...or maybe REVIEW-APALOOZA...
...oh heck, pick which one you like, but it boils down to me being overworked, and having WAY TO LITTLE time to do the things I love like reading and reviewing, and the desire to clean out the GIANT tote I'm carrying around with books that need to be reviewed.  So...

First post up on the deck, comes to us via Random House Children's Books and is the FOURTH book in the Tales from Alcatraz trilogy.  Yes, you read that right...the fourth book in a series that was suppose to only be three.  You see, according to the 'Dear Reader' section, when the author started writing another story from a different character's perspective, Moose simply wouldn't keep a lid on it because he still had more to say/share.  What can an author due when their lead character will not "go away"?  Indulge them and let the inspiration flow free...and wind up with a story that was certainly meant to be.  Ready or not, here comes today's title in the spotlight...

A Tale from Alcatraz, Book 4
Gennifer Choldenko
Wendy Lamb Books

About the book...
Return to Al Capone’s Alcatraz with Newbery Honor-winning author Gennifer Choldenko in this charming addition to the beloved series about the son of a prison guard.

Moose Flanagan lives on a famous island in California: Alcatraz, home to some of the most dangerous prisoners in the United States in the 1930s. It’s the summer before he starts high school, and Moose is going to play a lot of baseball and win a spot on the high school team. But he still needs to watch his special older sister, Natalie–and then the warden asks Moose to look after his two-faced, danger-loving daughter, Piper. 

In the cell house there are rumors that the cons will a strike, and that Moose’s father might step up to a new job. Moose is worried: What will this mean for their family, especially for Natalie, who’s had some scary run-ins with prisoners? Then the unthinkable happens: Natalie winds up someplace she should never, ever go. And Moose has to rescue her.

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This was my first exposure to Moose and all his friends, including those more infamous than others (seriously?  The big AC?  Not that I'm a fan, but gheesh...who doesn't know THAT name?), and despite that fact, I rather enjoyed my stay on the island "no one escapes".

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I knew of the Al Capone series from my bookstore would come in all the time asking for them, not to mention the visual appeal when straightening shelves (how can you NOT stop at a book with a title like Al Capone Does My Homework?)...and so when the opportunity to read and share this new one came along, I was definitely all in.  I know, I's a series and it's better to start at the beginning and while I fully intend to go back and visit the other installments one day, I'm here to say if you currently share the same boat as I, you'll wade through these waters just fine...bookmarks up to the author for making it so, too!

Moose Flanagan...what is there to say about Moose Flanagan.  He's not your typical hero, heck he's only a kid for crying out loud, and yet I gotta say, I can't help but see him that way.  Despite how he could have been...self serving, greedy, uncaring, mean, and the list goes on...he was none of those things.  True, he had his moments where he wished life was different, be it the locale in which they live, the acquaintances they keep, or even his very family, but those are simply human one is perfect, nor is anyone's life perfect, and the fact that he figures that out while still taking on the weight of the world and never giving up the good fight is hero worthy in my eyes.  But I digress...he is not the only one of note here to mention.  We've got Natalie, his sister, who sees life differently and has her own challenges to face, including that of a mother who simply can't let go...yes, it's harder in her case for apparent reasons, but life still moves forward, people change, people grow, and while protection may be needed, that need changes shape.  Then there's Piper, who I has a seriously had time trusting, you'll find out why, but is yet another case of people changing and growing, even if they still misstep along the way.  Let us not forget Moose's parents (well meaning, but stretched thin), the warden (*grr*), the other kiddos in their group, and...the prisoners.  Yes, that's right...I mean, they ARE on Alcatraz, so yeah, they are "residents" too...and some get a bit TOO close for comfort.

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Turning our eyes back to the story on the whole, there were many moments that make up this tale that'll stop you in your tracks.  I about died when Natalie tried to help get Moose on the baseball team...and was seriously worried someone else would! The preoccupation she develops with Passerini was daunting but sweet, even if not exactly meant to be, and I loved how the author dealt with it showing that not all kids/teens are heartless or lack understanding/compassion.  When Moose does interact with Al Capone (SHOCKING!), I admit...I was prepared for so much more and yet the pearls of wisdom gleaned fit perfectly.  Of course there's also the jailhouse sequence, which I shan't ruin by exposing here, but suffice it to say that it's a harrowing experience from start to finish . Seriously, hair-raising, breath holding stuff here.... *gulp*

All in all, I had a great time in Alcatraz, and I'm pretty sure not many can actually say that.  (LOL!)  While entertaining, it also reminds us to stand up for ourselves, those we love, and what we believe in, and that growing up happens whether we want it to or not.  All we can do is hold on for the ride and take it one day at a time.  The story will draw you in, but you'll definitely be staying for the characters because they are truly a memorable lot.  Oh and keep an eye out for Bug...she's a bit of an escape artist.  *wink*

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About the author...

Photo of Gennifer Choldenko
Photo: © Patricia Leeds

Gennifer Choldenko was the youngest in a family of four kids, where her nickname was “Snot-Nose.” Her quirky sense of humor made its debut at the dinner table when Gennifer was a very little kid. She is the author of seven children’s books, including Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year; If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period; and Al Capone Shines My Shoes.


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Special thanks to Josh at Random House Children's Books for the ARC for review.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title, the author, the series, or the publisher, feel free to click through the links provided above.  This title celebrated its BOOK BIRTHDAY earlier this month, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.

Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!

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