The first Wednesday of each month, Carolyn Astfalk hosts #OpenBook, where bloggers link posts about books they’ve read recently. Here’s a taste of what I’ve been reading:
The Perfect Blindside by Leslea Wahl. Told from dual points of view, this novel follows Jake, a self-described “snowboarding phenom” and teenage Olympian with a chip on his shoulder and his classmate Sophie, a small-town girl who’s proud of it–and who tends to geek out over local history. With true-to-life characters, an intriguing mystery and a setting so real you’ll imagine yourself walking down Main Street, this novel had me saying “Just one more chapter” over and over again. Read my full review.
Silver Threads by Bette Lee Crosby. Fate takes a starring role in this novel as the Keeper of the Scales tries to equalize the balance of happiness and unhappiness in people’s lives. Unable to prevent the tragic from occurring, all the compassionate Keeper can do is try to equalize balance after it is tipped too far in an unhappy direction. He’s a peripheral character but a very important one, and the reader sympathizes with his difficult task even as they mourn tragedies that tear apart families. 5th in Bette Lee Crosby’s “Memory House” series, this book can stand alone (but why would you want it to? The characters that populate this series are wonderful! This review is based on a Netgalley copy of the book.
Rosa, Sola by Carmela Martino. Rosa wants nothing more than a baby brother of her own. But this is more than simple envy over her best friend’s new baby brother. Rosa is an only child, and in 1960s Chicago, that’s a rarity–and she feels like an outsider among all her friends with their large families. Rosa’s wish comes true, but she blames herself for the tragic events that follow. Recommended for readers 10 and up. As this is a sensitive topic, parents will appreciate the classroom discussion guide at the end of the book (it’s great for family discussion as well!)
The Promise Kitchen by Peggy Lampman. The story of two women from completely different walks of life: Shelby is an undereducated teen mom who wants her daughter to have better opportunities; Mallory is a high-powered food blogger with old money behind her. They’re linked by a love of good food, though Mallory looks down on Shelby, who works in the supermarket deli. I couldn’t like Mallory no matter how hard I tried; I just could not muster sympathy for this character. (Netgalley review)
The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen. This is a story of a neighborhood that’s full of secrets. Every time you think you’ve gotten to the last one, there’s another secret waiting that’s worse than the one before. The town looks perfect on the outside but everyone is hiding something–but the worst secret of all is right under everyone’s nose, and it takes a middle-schooler to discover it. Multiple points of view make the story difficult to follow at times. (Netgalley review)
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Excellent book for middle-school readers about a 5th-grader with a craniofacial deformity who learns to make his way in school after years of homeschooling. Told from multiple points of view, the story follows Auggie as he and his family navigate middle-school social pressures on top of very visible medical issues.
Ciao, Bella: A Novel about Searching for Beauty and Finding Love by Ryan M. Phillips. There was so much I wanted to like about this book. Mack owns a bookstore. She’s committed to her faith. She’s the poster child for reality shows like “What Not to Wear.” But she lets her newfound glamour go to her head and tear her away from what (and who) really matters. For well over half the book, you watch her make one bad decision after another as she lets herself be pursued and pushed around by a handsome movie star who’s looking for arm candy. Resolution in the story comes in the last 3 pages, at which point the tale slams to a screeching halt.
Feeding Your Family’s Soul by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle. As you cook, chat and pray your way through this book, you and your family will learn about virtues, Church tradition, sacraments, works of mercy, prayers, forming consciences and more. My favorite part of each chapter is the “Extra Credit” where family members are invited to go beyond the lesson and carry out what is learned in some aspect of daily life. These activities can be done by anyone old enough to be in school. Read my full review.
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Follow my Goodreads reviews for the full list of what I’ve read recently (even the duds!)
This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.