☕ Book Break ☕ | The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

I can’t recommend this historical young adult novel enough.

A 17-year-old Chinese American girl who works as a lady’s maid, moonlights as a columnist, Miss Sweetie, speaking her mind about the issues of the day. I absolutely adored Jo Kuan. She’s a complicated girl living in complicated times. 

The writing is elegant, although the tense and point of view took me a little while to get into.

If you’re looking for historicals to enrich your impressions of American culture, this is one to check out.

All the stars.

☕ Book Break ☕ | Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally

Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally

“But this is who I am: the daughter of two people who could make a band work for a while, but couldn’t make the family work for more than a few years.”

The story alternates between Phoebe, in current day New York visiting her sister Luna, and Meg, Phoebe’s mother and former rock star.

First person present done right. I was halfway into the book before I noticed.

Beautiful, introspective moments do not slow the narrative. Skillfully written. I heard it showed the author was a poet, but to me it simply feels like good writing. The prose is easy to dive into and the story unfolds naturally. Not too literary. It hit the right balance for me.

Girls in The Moon was never boring. When I read this novel, I was sick and kept falling asleep while listening. Normally, when that happens, I try to find where I left off because I hate relistening. I can skip ahead and figure the story out. I am an extremely picky and impatient reader, giving a book a scant four pages at most to draw me in before I move on. With Girls in The Moon I was satisfied to back up, more concerned with missing something than I usually am and happy to go over the chapters again.

I will read anything this author writes and am interested to see what she comes up with next. 

Complicated Family Dynamics 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Dual Timeline

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Lyrical Prose

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Music Culture

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Coming of Age

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thoughtful

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

☕ Book Break ☕ | Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

“You’re a teenager. It’s all complicated.”

Where You’ll Find Me

by Jenny B. Jones

Finley is spending part of her school year as an exchange student to Ireland. There she meets teen movie idol Beckett. Formally, Finley had a few escapades, but she cleaned up her act. She does not want to be paired with a heart throb or revisit the party scene.

She has a goal. Her older brother, who passed away, once visited Ireland and she is retracing his steps. Finley has a music competition coming up and feels that she needs to reconnect with her brother’s past in order to finish writing her song.

When I started reading, I did not realize there was an element of an eating disorder. The unfolding of the story line was flawless. Sensitively done. Explores topics of faith, grief, and a slide into eating disorders, as well as forgiveness.

I loved all the layers in this book.

Faith is woven throughout as are the doubts and the complicated feelings of a teenager. There are no pat answers in this book. It doesn’t shy away from difficult to write about topics.

Christian fiction.

Recommend 

Carol Award Winner

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Relevant

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Compelling Characters

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais

The Silence Between Us

by Alison Gervais

This was a quick read for me. 

Be forewarned! This is a hard book to put down. 

Deaf teenager Maya is starting a new school. It’s the first time she’s gone to a hearing school. She must adjust to this new environment. 

I chose this one because I was looking for a clean, young adult romance. This novel has a romantic element, but it’s also a coming of age. Maya is challenged to consider her identity and her attitudes. 

I love this story. 

Go get it!

Good Storytelling 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Satisfying Ending

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Engaging 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Great Character

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

☕ Book Break ☕ |Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Hattie Big Sky

Sixteen-year-old Hattie Brooks get the news her uncle, who she’s never met, has died and left her his claim. She must go to Montana or lose the land. Hattie has never known a great deal of stability. An orphan shuttled among distant relatives, she’s never really had a permanent home. The idea of a permanant home of her own tempts Hattie. She decides to travel to Montana and work the land on her own.

Hattie faces numerous challenges in her attempt to hang onto the homestead. She never met her uncle, and he is a mystery to her. Her German neighbors help her navigate this new environment and she comes to build a strong friendship. The German immigrants face the prejudices of the day. A young man, Traft, is interested in Hattie, but doesn’t think she is wise to keep company with her German neighbors. He heads up an organization that would like nothing better than to expel those he considers outsiders.

Newbery Honor Book

Pioneer Spirit

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Coming of Age

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Beautifully Drawn Characters

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Engaging Voice

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

For Ages 12 to 102! Or older. 😉

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An all around great read.

☕ Book Break ☕ |The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This book stuck with me long after I turned the last page. Henrietta didn’t know she was contributing to science, but her cells made it possible for researchers to progress in the fight against cancer. Her cells were unusual and the first “immortal” cells discovered. She died in 1951, but her cells are still being used today in cancer research. It was common practice at the time to take cells for study without telling the patient. For years, her family members were unaware that her cells were being reproduced and used in vital research.

While her cells were well known, the identity and story of the donor wasn’t. This book is the product of ten years researching the family and the science behind HeLa, the identifying label given to Henrietta’s cells. 

The question of medical ethics was often in my mind as I read. It’s a complicated story. I came away with profound gratitude for Henrietta’s contribution to science, and sorrow at the way her family was treated. A sad but important story.

A true story written in a style as compelling as any novel. 

2011 Winner of the National Academies Communication Award 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko Furukura, a socially awkward 36 year old woman, has worked at her local convenience store for years. Keiko struggles with social interaction, but at the store, she thrives on the rules, procedures, and structure. She studies the interactions and becomes adept at being an exemplary employee. Here is a world she can understand and succeed in, but her family feels she is wasting her life and education. They pressure her to find a romantic partner and to do something better with her life. Keiko’s story is told with deadpan humor. Translated from Japanese. 

What a great read! It was weirdly engrossing and different in a good way.

Quirky and funny.

I LOVED the book, but was left slightly off balance by two instances of dark humor.

I didn’t see the end coming, but it makes perfect sense and is the perfect resolution for this story.

Easy to read. Recommended. 

 

 

☕ 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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️