Let me just say that this next month I have a different plan, because this post is just way too long! I read too much (is that such a thing?). I read a lot of different books this month, from children’s lit, to YA, to adult fiction and non-fiction.
Goodbye Stranger//Rebecca Stead
Long ago, best friends Bridge, Emily, and Tab made a pact: no fighting. But it’s the start of seventh grade, and everything is changing. Emily’s new curves are attracting attention, and Tab is suddenly a member of the Human Rights Club. And then there’s Bridge. She’s started wearing cat ears and is the only one who’s still tempted to draw funny cartoons on her homework.
It’s also the beginning of seventh grade for Sherm Russo. He wonders: what does it mean to fall for a girl—as a friend?
By the time Valentine’s Day approaches, the girls have begun to question the bonds—and the limits—of friendship. Can they grow up without growing apart?
What I Loved: I loved that this was a realistic view of friendships in middle school and the struggles that students go through today in school. This was a very quick read for me (about 90 minutes total) and it was satisfying throughout. Working with youth, this would be one I would recommend to parents.
What I Didn’t: There was a second narrator who came in every few chapters with a separate timeline. This was somewhat confusing and you don’t figure out who the second narrator is until the last chapter. The second narrator has a separate plot entirely.
I would recommend this book to anyone: who is going through friendship struggles or helping their child go through friendship struggles. This is a great read for middle schoolers and high schoolers as well as adults.
Friday Barnes, Girl Detective (Friday Barnes #1) // R.A. Spratt
Imagine if Sherlock Holmes was an eleven-year-old girl!
When Friday Barnes, girl genius, solves a bank robbery, she uses the reward money to send herself to Highcrest Academy, the most exclusive boarding school in the country―and discovers it’s a hotbed of crime!
Soon she’s investigating everything from disappearing homework to the terrifying Yeti haunting the school swamp. But the biggest mystery yet is Ian Wainscott, the handsomest (and most arrogant) boy in school who inexplicably hates her. Will the homework be found? Can they ever track down the Yeti? And why is Ian out to ruin her?
Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3)// Robert Galbraith
Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott.
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible–and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on one of the suspects, Strike and Robin delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…
What I Loved: This is the third book in this series by J.K. Rowling under her pen name. This is a complete 180 from Harry Potter, so don’t go in expecting that. The writing is thoughtful and well put-together. The characters are great, and I was hooked from the beginning of the series. I’m hoping that Galbraith continues this series as I love following along with Strike. I loved all the twists and turns included in this book.
What I Didn’t: The books do get a bit gruesome, but that’s not something that bothers me too much.
I would recommend this to anyone: who loves murder mysteries and J.K. Rowling. This is not a children’s book! It is very dark throughout.
Re-Entry: Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home//Peter Jordan
Peter Jordan’s vital, insightful teaching on the challenges and opportunities that await returning missionaries makes this essential reading for every short- and long-term out-reach participant and every local church and mission agency that sends out workers.
The Man in the High Castle//Philip K. Dick
It’s America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.
This harrowing, Hugo Award–winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.
Number the Stars//Lois Lowry
As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.
Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.
Escape From Warsaw//Ian Serraillier
On a cold, dark night in Warsaw in 1942, the Balicki children watch in horror as Nazi Storm Troopers arrest their mother. Now they are alone. With the war raging around them, food and shelter are hard to come by. They live in constant fear.
Finally, they get word that their father is alive. He has made it to Switzerland. Edek and Ruth are determined to find him, though they know how dangerous the long trip from Warsaw will be. But they also know that if they don’t make it, they may never see their parents again.
Their gripping story is taken from actual accounts.
Lumberjanes #1//Noelle Stevenson
Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!
Love & Gelato//Jenna Evans Welch
“I made the wrong choice.”
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.
Yes Please//Amy Poehler
In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.
The Face on the Milk Carton Series//Caroline B. Cooney
The face on the milk carton looks like an ordinary little girl: hair in tight pigtails, a dress with a narrow white collar, a three-year-old who was kidnapped more than twelve years ago from a shopping mall in New Jersey.
As fifteen-year-old Janie Johnson stares at the milk carton, she feels overcome with shock. She knows that little girl is she. But how could it be true?
Janie can’t believe that her loving parents kidnapped her, until she begins to piece together clues that don’t make sense. Why are there no pictures of Janie before she was four? Her parents have always said they didn’t have a camera. Now that explanation sounds feeble. Something is terribly wrong, and Janie is afraid to find out what happened more than twelve years ago.
In this gripping page-turner, the reader will unravel — as Janie does — the twisted events that changed the lives of two families forever.
Still Alice//Lisa Genova
Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life–and her relationship with her family and the world–forever.
At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as unforgettable as Judith Guest’s Ordinary People.
What I Loved: So great. This book follows Alice as she discovers what it’s like to live with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
What I didn’t: I wish the husband’s voice had been able to come through a little more.
Holding Up the Universe//Jennifer Niven
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.
If you’re only going to pick one or two books from this list, I would highly recommend the Strike series by Robert Galbraith, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, and Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. All three are so different, but so well written! What did you read this month? Happy reading!