I’m working towards my goal of 100 books, but not sure if I will make it without a significant portion of the second half of the year being middle grade and young adult. Which really isn’t a problem considering I’m always on the lookout for books to recommend to my girls, and fishing in the pond of Newberry award winners and National Book Award winners is an excellent place to begin. Especially for my oldest, as she gets assigned “her choice” novel studies now. It makes it easier to study a novel that’s a little deeper than Dork Diaries…
I’ve kept meaning to write a reading post when June ended, then July, so my apologies that the list is so long. Here’s May to August!
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (audio)
Not that I’ve ever done anything quite dangerous enough to land me in prison, but I connected with Piper and reading her experience made me wonder exactly how I would react. Prison through Piper’s eyes was both more and less frightening than I imagined.
Far from the Tree by Robin Benway
Oh, this story of 3 adopted teens truly touched my heart. Family can take so many forms and following these teens on their journey to find their own meaning of family is just excellent. Best book I’ve read all year.
One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus (audio)
A notorious cyberbully gets mysteriously poisoned in study hall, and the story develops around the people that shared the room just before his death. Are they co-conspirators/victims/murderers? I loved this one, and truly could not guess the ending.
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
This was creepy and great… once you get past the idea that none of these women wanted to go or were prepared to go on this hike through the Australian bush that left one member missing, but they all went anyway. So a little unbelieveable, but fun regardless.
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
Hilarious from start to finish. Every family has their quirks but hers is truly original and she writes with such hilarity that you will laugh out loud. I promise.
House Among the Trees by Julia Glass (audio)
Oh, I’m not sure if it was just me and I was really distracted, but this was sooooooo boring. I tried both the audio and the library copy and never could finish this one. It developed so slowly for me, and I wondered it if was going to go in the direction of child abuse, so I just stopped reading. Life is too short for boring books (and books that make you mad-sad).
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
This story of a friendship between two teen girls Halley and Scarlett showcases complicated parent/child relationships perfectly. I would have loved to have read this in high school, but can appreciate the perspective I have far from it as well.
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
Creepy to the max, even after the ending. I can’t spoil it because I can’t explain it. I talked to this book- Don’t go out there!! Don’t talk to XXX!! Why did you do that!! Just read it!
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
This one has two wartime storylines- 1914 and 1947, and the former is more compelling than the latter. It follows Charley in 1947 on a search for more information about a family member, and I just felt Charley was a bit one dimensional. It wasn’t my favorite war story, I would recommend The Nightingale or Sarah’s Key or Code Name Verity before picking this one.
We are Okay by Nina LaCour (audio)
This was also slow and just okay. The grief that centers the storyline is so amplified that I wanted out of this girl’s brain. Maybe that’s the point? I certainly felt trapped.
Our Little Secret by Roz Nay
This was very quick and tricky and exceedingly dark. This little story of a first love gone wrong surprised me. I didn’t guess the ending on this one either.
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
So, I couldn’t finish this library copy before I had to return it, but I really wanted to. I had to return because there were others waiting on it. But I’m back on the holds list and promise to finish before the year is out.
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (audio)
I like Bruce’s voice (and music) but didn’t really fall in love with this. I don’t understand enough about making music to follow it or be interested in the intricacies, and wanted to hear more “behind the music” relationship/inspiration details than what was offered. I didn’t finish it. I probably just should have forwarded on to a point in the book where I had a little personal context, but didn’t make the effort.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
I loved this and would recommend to anyone. On the surface, this community is certainly strange, but as she dives into each character you swirl around into a web that is so fascinating and wonderful. The only thing I did not fully understand is why it was relevant to mention it was the 90’s?
One Second After by William Forstchen
This was recommended by a friend when we were talking about post-apocalyptic-type books that we’ve read (I mentioned Station Eleven, one of my favorite books ever). I am familiar with Black Mountain, and the Montreat College area, so this felt especially fun and interesting to explore. I can see why the author chose that area, and I’d like to be there as well if this type of attack happened. I didn’t fully understand the mechanics behind the attack, but it was very interesting nonetheless.
Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (audio)
This is the next book I’m buying for my oldest. I loved this little story of Abilene, digging into the mystery of connecting the town’s past with why she was abandoned with an old friend of her father’s, in a town called Manifest. Historical detail is amazing and once you are in the story, it’s hard to put down. Mystery, history, redemption, diversity, all excellent themes to explore in this one.
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Another fast paced, thriller from Lisa Jewell. It’s official, I’m a big fan. This had its share of creepy characters and unsolvable mysteries. And I kinda loved the ending, even if it wasn’t what I expected (or turns out, what the author originally decided it would be).
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
I found this on the Newberry list and although this was a lovely book, it felt more like a book that would be assigned to read versus one that I would be interested in reading.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
I felt this was so predictable until the twist at the end. I have liked Ruth Ware’s books, Woman in Cabin 10 especially, and this was a fun and quick read. I didn’t feel like Hal’s childhood and more recent past was developed enough, but I’m not sure if it could be without giving away the ending.
A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
Again, good but not exciting or worthy to pass on as a recommendation for middle grade.
That’s it for now. September stack pictured above (all non-library, most borrowed from my mom and sister). Anything you’d recommend?