Books were read this month, some good, some very good, and a couple that were just amazing. (And yes, there were a few that were not as good as I’d hoped, and a few I didn’t finish reading.) I’m also doing research for a new writing project (a book that has been impatiently waiting for its turn for months now.) The research books won’t appear in this list, nor will the relaxation mysteries that I read in between times.
The best of the books that weren’t research reading were:
Emma’s First Agate by Jim Magnuson — Thanks to a friend who knows of my interest in stones, rocks and geology (bet most of you didn’t know about that interest!) I received this lovely book this month. Emma’s grandfather — who loves nature the way my grandfather did, and teaches his granddaughter about it the way my grandfather did — teaches Emma to recognize different stones. She becomes particularly eager to find an agate like the one her grandfather has. Will she?
Middle Grade Novels
The Bell Family by Noel Streatfeild — (Yes, I spelled the author’s name correctly.) If you’ve seen the movie You’ve Got Mail, you may recall the scene in the huge children’s section of Fox Books in which Kathleen Kelly overhears someone asking for the Shoe books. The salesperson has no idea what the customer is talking about, so Kathleen comes out of hiding to tell about Ballet Shoes, Theatre Shoes and the others of the series by Noel Streatfeild. She ends by saying “But they’re out of print.” Thanks in large part to that mention in the movie, the Shoe books are back in print, as is this one, The Bell Family, which isn’t related to the Shoes, but also involves the arts and kids and difficulties growing up in the family of a poor English vicar with relatives who have money and not much tact in using it. Although it’s definitely dated in some ways, it was a nice read.
Walking Home by Eric Walters — It’s not often that I say “wow!” out loud after reading a book, but after reading this one and the author’s note at the end, “wow!” was the appropriate response. This is a stunning book. Although fiction, it is based on real experiences — experiences that are searing and moving and frightening and uplifting. It is the story of a young boy and his younger sister who are orphaned by tribal clashes in Kenya. When they learn that they are to be sent away from the refugee camp which has been their home since their village was burned, and that they are to be separated, they escape and start walking to their mother’s home village many miles away. I will be doing a longer post about this book very soon. Watch for it!
Young Adult Novels
girl coming in for a landing by April Halprin Wayland — This was another “wow!” of a book. It is written in poems of varying lengths and types, all poems “written” by the main character, a girl who is dealing with the angst of growing up. Rather than write at length here about this excellent book, I’ll refer you to the blog post I did about it earlier in the month.
Dramarama by E. Lockhart — This was supposed to be my weekend reading this weekend. I started and finished it Friday evening. Best friends Sarah/Sadye (a straight, white girl) and Demi (a gay, African-American boy) spend a summer of learning and growing and coming into their own at the theatre camp held by an arts school. Part of their learning is that sometimes dreams come true — and sometimes they don’t. I will be posting about this book in the near future as well.
Novels for Grownups
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey — After reading Emma and Otto and Russell and James last month, I wondered about reading another novel about a missing elderly person, but this was such an excellent novel that I soon stopped wondering and got involved in the story. Maud is convinced that her friend Elizabeth is missing, and tries to persuade someone — anyone — to believe her. Deep down, as well as her concern for her present-day friend, there is an old, nagging concern about her sister who disappeared during the war. Both mysteries play out in intriguing ways before the reader’s eyes. I highly recommend this book.
What have YOU read lately?