Book Treasures, Classics Challenge, and What I’m Reading

I am super excited to have come across this book today.

Janet McNally’s style shows her past as a poet. Music seems to play a large part in her writing, and I suspect she enjoys the play of words as much as the unfolding of the story.

I can’t wait to dig into this one. Interestingly, it’s about a ballet dancer, as is one of my (still unpublished because I’m looking for an agent) young adult books.

I’m a few pages in and hope I like it as much as I enjoyed her previous book, Girls in the Moon.

I just finished reading My Antonia by Willa Cather as part of the #2020classics reading challenge. I found it completely engrossing. If you are hesitant to read classics because you think they are boring or hard to understand, give this one a try. It was easy to read and rich with history and emotion.

I’m also rereading The Screwtape Letters, trying to stick to a chapter a day and think about the topics.

What book treasures, old or new, have you discovered (or rediscovered) lately?

 

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman

Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman

A must read for all teens and preteens. This one knocked my socks off. My emotions took ever, the strongest of which was anger. The story ends satisfactorily, although I wanted harsher revenge on one particular character. Rarely do I have a character I love to hate, but the mother of the bully is on my short list of fictional characters I despise. Told from multiple points of view, all aspects of the situations arising from an incident of cyberbullying are put under the microscope. My kindle did not read the headings, and yet I was easily able to tell which character’s POV the story was in. That’s good writing.

Relevant

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Must Read

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Complex

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Engrossing

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Year in Book Reviews 2019

I’m sharing a few of my favorite reads of 2019. I read up to four books a week sometimes and find it difficult to post about every single book. I selected these from the ones I managed to blog about. Click on the title to read more of what I think about them.

Have you read any of these?

Favorite MG

Mockingbird

A Monster Calls

Both of these left me in a puddle. Mockingbird had a few moments of humor and was realistic, while A Monster Calls was achingly beautiful and veered into fantasy.

Science Fiction

Kindred 

This one had me captured from the first page.

Contemporary with An Autistic Character

What to Say Next

An unusual serious contemporary with romantic elements. A great read.

The Girl He used to Know

A second chance romance with all the feels.

The State of Grace

Strong voice and likable character.

Notable Novels About Grief

I know grief seems to be a theme, but since that’s what I am writing, I ended up reading YA contemporary novels about it.

The Boy in the Black Suit

Loved this one. So touching.

A Monster Calls

Also listed above, because it is that good.

Contemporary YA About Social Issues

Moxie

Yes. Read this one.

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight

Dual voices. A great book. Two girls get caught in a riot. Deals with race issues.

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Heartbreaking and oh so relevant. How PTSD can wreak a family.

Historical YA

Beyond the Bright Sea

Beautifully written. Captivating.

Classic

Jane Eyre

If you haven’t read it, go get a copy!

RomCom

Blind Dates, Bridesmaids and Other Disasters

Funny and cute. A light, enjoyable read.

Fairy-tale Retelling

Cinder

Well done and interesting.

Detective/Mystery

The Child Finder

A little dark but grabbed me and didn’t let go.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Loved the voice. Great characters. Cozy.

Shakespeare Retelling

Vinegar Girl

The Taming of the Shrew in a modern setting. Had me laughing.

What were some of your favorite reads of 2019?

 

 

 

 

 

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Thing With Feathers by McCall Hoyle

The Thing With Feathers by McCall Hoyle

“Some people see the liquid and think half full. Others only see the air and think half empty. Sometimes I get the sense Chatham sees it all, which is kind of terrifying. I don’t know if I want him to see me–the real me.”

This book caught my eye because I love the Emily Dickinson quote and I loved the cover. It’s been on my list for quite some time.

Emilie is struggling with the loss of her father, who died from a terminal illness four years ago. She also has epilepsy.

I had loads of sympathy for the main character and liked her right away. It is an easy to read, sweet, heartwarming type story. Emilie must navigate a new environment and learns that she has been wrong about many of her assumptions. It has a bit of romance, a bit of mother/daughter relationship (y’all know I love a good mother/daughter story), and, of course, it is a hopeful book as the title indicates. I love a book that is about hope.

I will confess, I got a little teary sometimes. I found myself chuckling every now and then, as well.

Emily Dickinson is given quite a few nods, which I appreciate. I learned something about her that I did not know. 

The story ties everything together nicely.

I liked it.

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

“In fact, I was glad to know something not everyone did: that there are better bonds than blood.”

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

Gorgeous story. 

Twelve year old Crow lives in a small isolated community. She lives with Osh, who is raising her, although he is no blood relation. Crow washed up on shore one day. The other inhabitants of the small Massachusetts island have shunned her for the most part, except for Miss Maggie, a neighbor.

Mysteries abound in this coming of age that explores what the true meaning of family is. There was a certain type of sweet sadness infused in this story that made it achingly beautiful.

I was sad when the story was over because I wanted to stay a little bit longer with the characters. If you like historical coming of age stories with a dash of mystery and striking pose, get this one. 

Good for all ages.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Major Book Love

Characters 

Historical Fiction with Heart

Appropriate for all young readers and adults.

 

Big Library Read~I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by By Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight

By Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

Wow. This was a fast paced read that kept me turning pages. Well written. I was completely immersed in the story from the first page. Highly recommended. 

At a Friday night football game a fight breaks out. Lena and Campbell go to the same school, but aren’t friends. When a fight breaks out at a Friday night football game, it turns into more than just a fight. The situation escalates. Lena and Campbell try to get home, but the violence seems inescapable. 

Told from alternating viewpoints. This is a great book club selection. I read it as part of the Big Library Read. It’s one worth discussing. Good topic. 

Realistic

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Relevant

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Interesting

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thought-provoking

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

#biglibraryread

☕ Book Break ☕ | Blind Dates, Bridesmaids, and Other Disasters by Aspen Hadley

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Blind Dates Bridesmaids and Other Disasters. It’s funny and fun to read, but had a few tear-jerking type moments as well.The writing was great.

Our heroine is twenty-seven years old, is a second grade school teacher, and shares an apartment with two other women friends. One of her roommates is planning her wedding, and this catapults Rachel into a dating frenzy. She’s been gun shy after a breakup that happened seven years ago and it’s time to move on. 

The series of blind dates was hilarious and the predicaments Rachel got herself into echo the experiences I think we have all had. The difference being Rachel managed to get stuck on bad date repeat. 

The relationships between the women were well done, the second chance romance sweet. The cast was large but didn’t feel cluttered. 

All in all, and enjoyable, laugh out loud read. 

A solid, second chance romcom with lots of five star moments.

☕ Book Break ☕ | Switched On by John Elder Robison

Reposted from my older site.

51vY4PAEGIL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

 

Book Review of Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening by John Elder Robison

In a quest for emotional intelligence, John Elder Robison agreed to allow neuroscientists to experiment on his brain. In this memoir that reminds one of Flowers for Algernon, Robison tells us about his experience with TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and the resulting effects on his emotions and life.

Imagine your world being turned upside down by a sudden awareness that things are not at all the way you thought they were. Scales drop from your eyes. You connect with people in a way you never have before. Things are different, sharper. But there is a caveat. You  see that sometimes ‘friends’ are most definitely not friends at all. Childhood memories are now viewed with disturbing clarity. The gift you so sought after, to become more perceptive, is now yours but the beauty so desired and expected isn’t the only thing this new found ability to see emotion reveals.

I was moved by Switched On in a way no other memoir has touched me. This is truly a unique experience that Robison has shared.

After the reception his book, Look Me In the Eye, John Elder Robison was approached to participate in a research study. Scientists wanted to measure the plasticity of the brain, in other words, how the brain can adapt, change, and ‘rewire’ itself. They also sought results about cognitive therapies and how that might affect the brain. The idea was to see if TMS could be used to effect the difficulties autistic people have reading the emotions and nonverbal communication of others.

People on the autism spectrum are not unemotional or uncaring. They do have difficulty reading people, understanding, and responding in the expected way to situations. This is something that people are expected to come by naturally, but this skill seems particularly elusive to people on the spectrum.

Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change, chronicles the unexpected and far reaching results of this research study. Robison underwent moments of amazing emotional awakening and others of devastation as a result of the sudden onslaught of awareness.

This memoir leaves us with more questions than answers about the future of TMS for therapeutic uses. Delving into this area of research raises a multitude of ethical questions.

“The thing is, not all differences lead to disability. Some lead to exceptionality. And we don’t necessarily know enough to tell one from the other. Yet we are on the verge of acting on that incomplete knowledge right now in the area of autism.”

Switched On left me feeling conflicted. It offers hope for future understanding and therapies, but is, in part, a cautionary tale. We would do well to take heed. At the same time, there were tremendous gains for Robison. This book has given me a deeper understanding of why someone might be willing to try these kinds of treatments.

I like Robison’s writing style. I find his books to be easy to read and entertaining, while at the same time providing information. In this particular book he does tend to stray into areas that are a bit technical for me, but his down-to-earth style kept me engaged with the story throughout. This book was a fascinating read and I finished it quickly.

I recommend this book for anyone curious about TMS, autism, or for anyone interested in a good memoir.

I also suggest Robison’s first book, Look Me in The Eye, or another of his books, Be Different, both of which I found to be very encouraging and informative. This recent book is a bit different than the two I have previously read since it deals with medical research, but Robison’s engaging story telling style remains. In Switched On Robison has given readers the opportunity to gain further insights into his autistic journey.

Listen as John Elder Robison talks about his experience on NPR “Here and Now.”

Read my review of John Elder Robinson’s memoir Look Me in the Eye here.

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins #popsugarreadingchallenge2019

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

#popsugarreadingchallenge2019

A book told from multiple character POVs

Told from multiple points of view, this multi-generational tale takes the reader inside the walls of the home of Bengali immigrants, following the family through the years. Told through the eyes of five girls, each one with her own way of approaching her life and heritage. The women are all complex and flawed, which made it realistic and interesting. 

This is a positive book, a story with heart. 

My only quibble with it was I wanted more! I would have liked to know more as the story went along.

Recommended.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Interesting

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Relevant

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Family Saga

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Satisfying Ending

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Diverse

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of Memory 

by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is a book about a family in crisis. I was deeply affected by the difficulties Hayley faced. In this novel, we are given a clear picture of how the child or children will struggle and develop their own mental health issues when the parent is not healthy. Post traumatic stress disorder is such a devastating condition, and it is an issue that deserves more attention.

During many of the scenes in this book, the tension was so high that I had to stop reading. Because it mirrors situations that are all too real and many of our serviceman’s lives, The scenarios were too easy to imagine.

The book isn’t all serious or tragic. We have the usual cast of high school characters and the endearing love interest with humor to lighten the tone at times.

The relationships are complicated. The characters are well rounded and realistic. This is an emotion packed read about a timely topic. There are discussion questions at the end. Sensitively done and beautifully written. 

All the stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Due to subject matter, there is mild language, alcoholism, drug use, and violence. Read this one with your kids and talk about PTSD.