Looking back over the month of January, despite how it felt, I think I have a respectable list of books read! I’m going to share my personal reading and then in a separate post share our read alouds and picture books.
Children’s Fiction/Young Adult
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (Karina Yan Glaser) This was a delightful read! It truly was. If you enjoy books such as The Saturdays, The Moffats, Treasure Seekers, or The Penderwicks, you will likely feel right at home with The Vanderbeekers. A fun, loving, lively family that receives heartbreaking news. They are faced with having to move out of their beloved brownstone in New York! But the Vanderbeekers kids are determined to stay in the home that is full of so many memories.
A couple of my children finished this before me and they kept encouraging me to make time to finish it. I’m glad that I did. A really fun read was just what I needed at the beginning of January. It would make a great read aloud! Keep an eye out! There is a second Vanderbeeker book that may be out in late September, 2018!
The Boy on the Porch (Sharon Creech) This one made its way into my January stack based solely on the author. A young boy with a simple, vague note is left on a porch. A couple steps outside in the morning and discover a sleeping boy. They soon find that while the boy does not speak, he has a unique way of expressing himself especially through art. While the couple seek to find the boy’s family, their hearts long for him to stay. Then the boy’s father arrives and their lives are never the same.
Unfortunately, I found The Boy on the Porch awkward? The story never seemed settled in a place or time (and perhaps it wasn’t suppose to) and I struggled with knowing what audience this story was for. It clearly speaks of foster care and the beauty in that but is it for adults? Or older children? Maybe I should have put it down and saved it for a different time.
The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) With all honesty, I began this book totally prepared to dislike it. It made it to my January stacked based solely on a friend’s reading of the book. Hazel is dying. There is no way around the hard truth that she has terminal cancer and eventually the miracle drug that is keeping her alive will at some point fail. It appears that Hazel is waiting for that moment. Then she meets Augustus Waters, falls in love, and finds purpose in living what is left of her life.
Confession: Despite my bias going into The Fault of Our Stars, I found that I did enjoy the story of Hazel and Augustus. There were aspects that met my expectations for this book such as crude conversation and physical relationships. Those added nothing to the story but I suppose it is expected in young adult fiction? However, it was ultimately two young people facing death with no hope of anything beyond that final moment. That, for me, was the most heartbreaking. We are all dying. But do we realize that the story doesn’t end there? None of my teens have read this book. My fourteen year old daughter would be moved by this story but due to some of the content, she will not be reading it.
A Name Unknown and A Song Unheard (Roseanna M White) These are the first two books in the Shadows of England series. Christian, historical fiction that takes place during World War I; perfect!. There are times when I need the literature equivalent to a “chick flick”. That was initially the reason I had A Name Unknown. My desire was for a light, easy read before bed. However, these books were not fluff. Mrs. White has successfully taken us back into time to meet a wide cast of characters. I enjoyed A Name Unknown; I enjoyed A Song Unheard even more. I am eagerly awaiting An Hour Unspent (hopefully released this year).
The Lake House (Kate Morton) Last year I read Secret Keeper and wasn’t sure that The Lake House could match it. I was so wrong! A young boy goes missing and is never found. A mystery over the years…seemingly forgotten. Then a detective stumbles upon an abandoned house and the missing young boy is once again sought after.
After a couple of chapters I was completely hooked on this story and could not wait to finish it. Having to deal with the interruptions of life was quite bothersome! It was such a bittersweet story. I love how Morton flows from the past to the present and seamlessly shifting from various characters. I highly recommend if you enjoy family dynamics and suspense.
The Bookshop on the Corner (Jenny Colgan) Nina, a librarian who loves to match people and books, finds herself unemployed as the library shifts to a more technological focus and audience. This spurs shy, quiet Nina to make drastic changes in her life. She buys a truck and sets up a mobile bookshop in Scotland. Nina embraces the small, Scottish community and discovers who she really is.
I had high hopes for The Bookshop but was a bit disappointed. I was not particularly fond of Nina and that makes it challenging when you don’t care for the main character. When the last section of the book seemed to be highlighting her physical relationship with someone, I resorted to skimming the pages to get to the end.
Maisie Dobbs (Jaqueline Winspear) – My daughter actually selected this book for me to read. I need a few mysteries to check off our our reading challenge this year so I had my daughter pull one from the library shelf that looked interesting. She actually chose a Maisie Dobbs’ book that is later in the series. So we requested the first one and I’m glad that we did. In this first book, we meet Maisie Dobbs, learn about her past, and discover why she is a successful investigator. I’m sure you could read various books in the series without this knowledge but I think the enjoyment would be a bit out of balance.
I found this a great read and perfect for my evening reading. It was interesting and engaging with a nice bit of history to it. (I do love historical literature!) It takes place after World War I and that war directly affects some of the characters and plays a major role in the story line. There were no language concerns or inappropriate behavior so I will be passing this along to my daughter (14) who enjoys a good mystery. If you need a mystery or two, give Maisie a try.
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