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Click to search this book in our catalog Burn Baby Burn.
by Medina, Meg

Book list *Starred Review* Publishers say that historical fiction is a hard sell, and books with religion at their core are few and far between. Kudos, then, to Berry (All the Truth That's in Me, 2013) for creating a sweeping saga that not only deeply entwines both but also dissects its characters' humanity as it looks at the often troubling beliefs that underlay their actions. The story-within-a-story begins in 1290. A friar is gathering papers and testimonies that will show how the inquisitions here on the border of France and Spain were God's holy work. But one tale troubles him, so much so that he begins to stitch the strands together, and that is where the main story begins. Botille is a sassy teenager who makes money in her seaside village of Bajas by matchmaking. A disruptive childhood and a drunken father has bound Botille and her sisters closely together, but their lives are good: Plazensa runs the tavern, Botille makes her matches, and Sazia tells fortunes with uncanny accuracy. To the north, in Tolosos, there is another girl, Dolssa. Aristocratic by birth and a mystic by the grace of God, she spends her days with her beloved, Jesus, who wraps her in his murmurs and consumes her with his love. That much love cannot be contained, and Dolssa begins telling others how much her beloved cherishes all people. The simplicity of her message is seen by the inquisitors as a threat to the church, a devil's deception, and there is only one place it can end: in a public burning. Miraculously, Dolssa escapes the pyre. She wanders until she meets Botille, who saves and shelters her. This beautifully crafted plot would be enough on its own, but Berry does so much more. First, she establishes a convincing setting, in part by peppering the dialogue with Old Provençal language. Using many voices, some of which, including Botille and Dolssa, relate their own stories, she picks beneath words and actions to expose the motives of the heart, revealing how lofty ideas can turn into terrorizing actions, and how fear and self-preservation can make friends and neighbors turn on one another. Yet despite the book's gravity, Berry also manages to infuse her story with laughter and light welcome surprises. The final surprise awaiting readers at the book's conclusion adds yet another layer to the storytelling. Also at the book's end, Berry has included a wealth of back matter, a glossary, a list of characters (possibly of more help if placed at the book's beginning), and an author's note explaining the roots of the religious discord, inquisitions, and wars, and touching on such female mystics as Hildegard of Bingen, who is referenced in the novel. The beauty of historical fiction is that it brings to life long-ago times and places even as it shows how hopes, fears, and dreams remain constant across the ages. The strength of religious-centric novels is their revelation of the myriad ways people grapple with their faith and spirituality. The Passion of Dolssa's rich brew will leave readers thinking about all of these things, even as it profoundly influences their own struggles and questions.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Horn Book A (fictional) Catholic mystic, Dolssa de Stigata, escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 France; mostly, this is the story of Botille, an enterprising young matchmaker from a tiny fishing village who rescues Dolssa. Botille's spirited character, the heart-rending suspense of events, and the terrifying context of the Inquisition in medieval Europe all render the novel irresistibly compelling. Historical note appended. Bib., glos. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-This magnificent tale is set in post-Crusades 13th-century France. A pious young noblewoman blessed with the gift of healing, Dolssa de Stigata is judged a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church and sentenced to burn at the stake. Forced to watch her beloved mother burn first, Dolssa is surprised when someone cuts the ropes binding her hands and feet and implores her to run. Driven into hiding from the churchmen dispatched to track her down, Dolssa is found nearly dead from starvation and exhaustion by a young tavern keeper and matchmaker, Botille, who vows to protect the young heretic despite the danger posed to herself and her family. Unlikely allies, the girls unwittingly put an entire village at risk in their effort to stand up for their beliefs. The account is told in alternating voices by Dolssa, Botille, and Arnaut d'Avinhonet, a Dominican friar. This lush and compelling book is enhanced by brilliant narration by Jayne Entwistle, Allen Corduner, and Fiona Hardingham. Lucky listeners will be haunted by their voices long after the book concludes. VERDICT Highly recommended for all junior high and high school audio collections. ["An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries": SLJ 3/16 starred review of the Viking book.]-Lisa E. Hubler, Charles F. Brush High School, Lyndhurst, OH © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Botille is a matchmaker in the small seaside town of Bajas in medieval France. She struggles to run the family's tavern and keep her sisters and herself afloat. Dolssa is a young woman with a secret that she can't help but share-her lover is God, and she speaks to him regularly. When the two young women cross paths, both deep friendship and mortal peril await them. A beautifully rendered portrait of a little-known portion of history, this work is a meticulously researched piece of fiction. Yet it is not just in the accurate details that the novel shines. The strength and humanity of the almost entirely female set of characters are inspiring and well drawn. The panic and suspicion of post-Inquisition France is omnipresent, giving the story of a supposed heretic a constant edge of danger. As the novel slips in and out of magical realism, readers will be transported into Dolssa and Botille's world. VERDICT An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus A girl matchmaker in 13th-century southern France meets a mystic on the run from the Inquisition. A generation after the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade, the elders are still broken by memories of entire towns put to the sword, but the younger folk, such as Botille and her sisters, focus on the present. After a childhood on the run, the sisters seek stability in poverty-stricken Bajas: brewing ale, telling fortunes, and helping their neighbors. Bajas is depicted through a scattering of third- and first-person viewpoints (but primarily Botille's) as a town where all look out for one other as a matter of course, where goodness is found in prostitutes, fishermen, hustlers, and drunks. Bajas' generosity is challenged when Botille discovers Dolssa, an injured, spirit-shattered girl on the run. Dolssa's a convicted heretic for speaking publicly of her intimate relationship with "her beloved...Senhor Jhesus." She trails miracles like bread crumbs, from a never-emptying ale jug to repeated uncanny cures. The villagers venerate her, but the arrival of the Inquisitionin a world where branding and burnings are mild punishments compared to recent historyputs their goodness to the test. The slow build reveals Botille as a compelling, admirable young woman in a gorgeously built world that accepts miracles without question. The medieval Languedoc countryside is so believably drawn there's no need for the too-frequent italicized interjections in Old Provenal that pepper the narrative. Immersive and mesmerizing. (character list, historical note, glossary, bibliography) (Historical fantasy. 14-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Two young women-Botille, a tavern wench, and Dolssa, a noblewoman possibly in communion with God-form a deep bond in a world that seeks to destroy them. Berry has reimagined 13th-century France with vigor, from the small intricacies of daily village life to the brutal ruthlessness of the Inquisition. Readers looking for a work steeped in female friendship, mysticism, and blood, with extensive back matter to boot, will be well rewarded. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly When Botille Flasucra finds Dolssa de Stigata lying on a riverside close to death, she takes the stranger to her family's tavern. Botille, a young matchmaker, and her sisters nurse Dolssa back to health in secret-a Dominican friar obsessively hunts Dolssa, whom he condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake. The year is 1241 in Provensa (now Provence), where the aftereffects of the Albigensian Crusade have led to an inquisition meant to rid the Christian world of heretics. Dolssa, however, feels called to heal the sick in the name of her beloved Jhesus, and her miracles eventually bring danger to the small town of Bajas. Berry (All the Truth That's in Me) again delivers an utterly original and instantly engrossing story. Drawing from meticulous historical research (highlighted in extensive back matter), she weaves a tense, moving portrait of these two teenage girls and their struggle to survive against insurmountable odds. Love, faith, violence, and power intertwine in Berry's lyrical writing, but Botille's and Dolssa's indomitable spirits are the heart of her story. Ages 12-up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Last Peach
by Gus Gordon

Book list Do you dare to eat a peach? Certainly the endpapers of this book, which illustrate a variety of mouthwatering peaches, inspire one to do so. Two small, long-nosed insects contemplate the beauty of a particular peach (the very last one of the whole summer), which hangs on a tree above them. They decide they must eat it at once! But when a third green insect with top hat and cane arrives, he cries, Stop! You can't eat that peach! It's the last peach of the season. Hmm. Another tubby, winged character arrives, suggesting that the peach may be stinky and rotten on the inside. Ugh. Well, they could share the peach with all their friends . . . or one could keep it from the other and devour it. Suspense builds, and the magnificent peach remains hanging uneaten, to be admired for its beauty. Contrasting font colors make this a perfect read-aloud for more than one speaker. Collages of fragments of printed words in French, combined with artwork done in watercolor, crayon, and pencil, are surrounded by generous white space, which offsets the round, juicy, delectable peach and the somewhat wacky sartorial dress of the bug-eyed insects with humor and delight. The final surprise ending gives a subtle nod to the ephemeral nature of desire.--Lolly Gepson Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly This existential meditation by Gordon (Herman and Rosie) deals with some big questions. Two wide-eyed insects contemplate a red-orange globe that hangs suspended amid green leaves. "Oh my," one exclaims. "Now THAT is a fine peach!" They begin the discussion agreeably enough ("Let's eat it. At once!"), but as others weigh in ("You can't eat that peach!"), attitudes shift to anxiety ("We would probably... get big tummy aches"), then to fantasy ("What if we ate it and could suddenly do magical things?") before spiraling into frank conflict: "''That is MY peach!' 'No, it's MY peach!''" Gordon composes leafy collage-style spreads in paper accented with snippets of vintage French type. The insects bear more than a passing resemblance to the clowns in Beckett's Waiting for Godot; one has a hat and a curling proboscis, while the other sports antennae and a red schnozz. In the wistful ending, the two friends decide that the object of their desire is too beautiful to eat, denying themselves the pleasure they've been anticipating all along. And after they leave, another surprise awaits readers. Some desires, this sly fable suggests, may be founded on illusion. Ages 4-8. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-In this picture book charmer, two insects spot a beautiful peach. They want to eat it, but a praying mantis announces that it is the last peach of the season. Another bug says it looks good, but it could be rotten inside. If they ate it, would they feel sick? The two main insects argue and debate, each one getting a different text font color to make the conversation parts clear. Is the peach magic? Should they share it with others? Perhaps write it an admiring poem? When they get into a physical fight over which one of them should claim it, they declare themselves unworthy, and then leave the peach alone. After they depart, the final image reveals a twist. The glowing orb they have been admiring is actually the sun, positioned so it appears to hang on a tree branch. The collage illustrations are made up of many different colors and types of paper that include words in French, while the end pages depict several varieties of peaches in a luscious photorealistic style. VERDICT Use with Du Iz Tak? and James and the Giant Peach to discuss conflict resolution or for a plant-themed storytime.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, -Richmond, VA © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Two motley insects contemplate eating the last peach of the season.Gordon presents children with a timeless, rather adult dilemma: how to act in the face of irresistible temptation. Here, two thumb-shaped flylike creaturesone dressed in a Homburg hat and blue-and-white-striped body suit, the other in a red print shirtencounter a sumptuous peach, rosy and golden as the setting sun, still on the branch, and begin to discuss its merits. "It's the most beautiful peach I've seen ALL summer," says the bug dressed in blue. "Wouldn't you agree?" "I do agree," responds the red-shirted friend: "In fact, it's the most beautiful peach I've seen in ALL the summers." The two quickly decide they "must eat that peach at once," but with one page turn, a venerable praying mantis, clad in top hat and cane, stops them, warning: "You can't eat that peach! It's the last peach of the season." In delightfully clever double-page spreads, the two friends then go back and forth, hilariously debating whether to devour the peach together or alone, to share it with others or to leave it entirely. Gordon's witty, collagelike mixed-media illustrations and spare, dialogue-only text not only get at the gnarly pit of indecisionserving up provocative behavioral binaries such as impulsivity versus reflection, indulgence versus sacrifice, hoarding versus sharingbut offer a surprise ending as well.Luscious, light, and thought-provoking: decidedly not to be missed! (Picture book. 3-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Better Off Dead
by Lee Child and Andrew Child

Publishers Weekly The Child brothers’ superb second collaboration (after 2020’s The Sentinel) opens one night at a remote spot on the U.S.-Mexico border, where “the stranger,” a large, tall man many will assume is Jack Reacher, has arrived for a meeting. A car drives up, and four men get out. When the driver asks the stranger if he has the money, he pats his back pocket. Then the driver orders the stranger into the car, to take him to someone named Michael. The stranger refuses, saying the deal was for him to be told where Michael is. The stranger gets the best of it in the ensuing fight, until a woman shows up and guns down the stranger. At the morgue, the victim, identified as Reacher, is confirmed dead by the coroner, to the satisfaction of Waad Dendoncker, “the second coming of Al Capone, only with added craziness.” Flashbacks explain what led up to the violent confrontation. Smart writing, vivid action scenes, and dramatic twists mark this seamless effort. Even those for whom this is their first Reacher novel will be clamoring for more. Agent: Darley Anderson, Darley Anderson Literary (U.K.). (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Jack Reacher is back, ready to fight the good fight against a bunch of criminals who only think they can best him, and Andrew Child is back in the franchise's handover from brother Lee. The brothers' first collaboration, Better Off Dead, was a No. 1 New York Times best seller.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Jack Reacher goes on an energy-packed tear in this latest adventure by Child & Child. Killing off your protagonist nearly from the get-go is a hell of an attention-getter, even if the reader knows it can’t be true. Ex–military cop Reacher watches Michaela Fenton kill two men as she searches for her twin brother, Michael, and of course Reacher can’t not get involved. Michaela feels responsible for Michael’s apparent death and says, “I’d be better off dead,” a sentiment Reacher discourages. The criminal she fears most “only breaks cover when someone who was a threat to him is dead,” so Reacher stages his own fake murder and is shipped to the morgue. But fans of his fists needn’t fret, as he has plenty of occasion to whale the bejesus out of the bad guys. Michael has been caught up in a scheme to build bombs of a curious nature. Maybe they’re harmless devices designed to release red, white, and blue smoke in a “swirling patriotic cloud” in homage to Old Glory. Or perhaps the agenda is to wreak havoc on Veterans Day, because said smoke could be laced with the deadly VX nerve gas. So the plot’s a bit wacky, but at least it’s not trite. Reacher dispenses plenty of knuckle justice and cranium cracking, and wounded vet Michaela gets in some well-placed kicks. The writing is unmemorable, with loads of short, declarative sentences. Incomplete ones, too. No reader is going to say omigod, I wish I could write a sentence like that. Maybe Reacher should repeat high school English to remember that it’s OK for tough guys to express complex thoughts now and then. He could use a love life, too. You’d think Michaela’s titanium boot would be a turn-on for him, but no. Yet all of this—plausible plot or not, Pulitzer-level prose or not—won't mean much to readers just looking for an exciting escape. A fun read for the right niche of thriller readers. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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