One of my favorite things about Summer is all of the reading I get done…one of my least favorite things is not getting on the blog to talk about it, well because, Summer.
I figured I would divide the summer months in two and do a roundup of all of the lovely words I read. So here are my books from adult down to middle grade and my three sentence review of each of them.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When Marie-Laure is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
This book wasn’t an easy summer read, it took me as long to read this as it did three of the others on this list combined. But the depth of the characters, the clarity and beauty in the scenes, and all the beautiful, beautiful words made it all worth it. If you’re tired of reading WWII novels and want to pass this one up, think again. It’s lovely.
Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie’s Tea Shop.
Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours.
They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white – the slim seam of a letter.
A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.
‘Perfectly strange, and absolutely comical and heartfelt … Jaclyn Moriarty is one of the most original writers we have.’ – Markus Zusak
This book was both old world and new, in the most confusing way at first, but in the most charming way once you got into it. The creativity that went into creating this world is weirdly wonderful and I fell in love with the characters, the lands and the mystery. Will definitely be picking up the sequel.
Rachel Watts is an unwilling new arrival to Melbourne from the country. James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old genius with a passion for forensics. Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. And when Watts and Mycroft follow a trail to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den – literally.
A night at the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again…
I’m a huge Sherlock fan and this YA book has all of the quirkiness of the character we love but with a fresh new spin. This is a smart mystery that will keep you on your toes until the end, and wanting to pick up the next installment. Loved it.
LILLY HASWELL REMEMBERS EVERYTHING — WHETHER SHE WANTS TO, OR NOT …
As Lilly toils in her father’s apothecary shop, preparing herbs and remedies by rote, she is haunted by memories of her mother’s disappearance. Villagers whisper the tale, but her father refuses to discuss it. All the while, she dreams of the world beyond — of travel and adventure and romance.
When a relative offers to host her in London, Lilly discovers the pleasures and pitfalls of fashionable society and suitors, as well as clues about her mother. But will Lilly find what she is searching for — the truth of the past and a love for the future?
I love a charming, Austen-like novel as much as the next girl, but I have been let down by so many that I am cautious at picking them up at a high frequency. This story won over my heart in the first pages, a huge feat, and held onto it until the end. I am now a huge Julie Klassen fan and am going to read everything she has ever written. You will love Lilly, you will stand by her choices, and your heart will burst with emotion.
Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.
Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.
Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.
Oh my goodness I couldn’t pass this one up. It’s on a bunch of lists, and that doesn’t always make it good, but man this one was such a good debut. I love the idea of unreliable narrators, it’s growing into an obsession, and Alex was loveable and unreliable until the end. I didn’t care if Miles was real or not, I just loved when he was around. There are some heartbreaking reveals, but you’ll get through it and love this book.
Kaitlin has always dreamed of being a champion figure skater, and she’s given up a lot to pursue her passion. But after having a totally uncharacteristic and decidedly NOT figure-skating-approved tantrum after getting her scores at a major competition she’s dropped by her coach and prestigious skating club.
When no other club in town will have her, she’s forced to join the ridiculed and rundown Fallton Club, jokingly referred to as the Fall Down Club. At first Kaitlin thinks this is a complete disaster, but after meeting some of the other skaters, including a boy (who happens to have the most perfect hair she’s ever seen) Kaitlin thinks it might actually not be so bad.
But when she’s tasked with learning a whole new program right before Regionals and figures out that almost all the other skaters target Fallton, she thinks joining the Fall Down Club may just be the second biggest mistake she’s ever made.
In this figure skating themed debut, Kaitlin learns that when you fall down, you have to pick yourself up – even if it’s in front of judges and a crowd.
So I’ve been following Gail Nall on Twitter for a while and this book just seemed too sweet to pass up. I don’t always read the really girly MG because, really, with four boys in the house, I usually pick the ones I can read to them, or the in between ones. But I splurged with this one and I’m so glad I did. I always wanted to learn how to figure skate so I lived vicariously through Kaitlin and I love the life lessons this book teaches. Seriously a winner.
A hidden book. A found cipher. A game begins . . . .
Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target.
Seriously, how could any bibliophile not want this book. Great books, a puzzle to solve, great prices, high risks. This is a book I will read again and again. My kids loved it. I loved it. Emily is who I thought I was (or hoped I was ha ha) when I was twelve. I would love if this book was real life. Must read.
When Ari’s mother died four years ago, she had two final wishes: that Ari and her older brother, Gage, would stay together always, and that Ari would go to Carter, the middle school for gifted students. So when nineteen-year-old Gage decides he can no longer live with their bossy guardian, Janna, Ari knows she has to go with him. But it’s been two months, and Gage still hasn’t found them an apartment. He and Ari have been “couch surfing,” staying with Gage’s friend in a tiny apartment, crashing with Gage’s girlfriend and two roommates, and if necessary, sneaking into a juvenile shelter to escape the cold Maine nights. But all of this jumping around makes it hard for Ari to keep up with her schoolwork, never mind her friendships, and getting into Carter starts to seem impossible. Will Ari be forced to break one of her promises to Mama? Told in an open, authentic voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight may have readers thinking about homelessness in a whole new way.
Truthfully, I picked up this book at the library just for the cover and title. It’s one of those examples I will use of YES, judge a book by it’s cover, because I liked it as much as I hoped I would. It was a darker read for MG, not a lot of happy, but the voice was amazing and the hope was tangible. It’s not a common theme for MG so it’s stands on its own. Totally recommend.
Well, that wraps it up for Summer Reading Part 1. See you in a bit for Summer Reading Part 2…and if you have any recommendations, send them my way, there’s always room for another book 🙂