Books

I like books. Here is some record of what I've been reading recently and chosen (or remembered) to note down. If you care to, you can also see the complete list of what I've ever entered into this system.

April

  • Kirsten Hubbard. Race the Night. 2016 - [j] Kids living in a desert compound after "the end of the world", along with a Teacher who enforces strict obedience as she tries to teach them to read minds. Naturally they wonder about things. An interesting story, if a little unsettling, and well-characterized; I want to hear more about the kids.
  • Lisa Thompson. Goldfish Boy. 2017 - [j] A 12-year-old boy with terrible OCD, watching the world through his window, is the last to see a toddler before he disappears. Trying to solve the mystery, he gets drawn into interacting with the people around him and starts to recover. The ending is a little pat, but the book gives an idea of what it's like to suffer from compulsions—and also points out how weird and broken everyone really is.
  • Amy Sarig King. Me and Marvin Gardins. 2017 - [j] A boy discovers an animal that eats plastic—which is the only unrealistic part of this lovely book that explores identity and strength of character, environmental issues, and the unreliability of adults.
  • Kelly Barnhill. The Witch's Boy. 2014 - [j] In a medieval fantasy land, a boy everyone thinks is retarded and a the only daughter of the bandit king need to control the magic in the world and stop a war. Told in a matter-of-fact fairy tale tone like Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant, with a few breaks into more typical fantasy. Reasonably good.
  • Clare Vanderpool. Moon Over Manifest. 2010 - [j] A strangely forgettable book—I swear I read it before, but I couldn't recall a single detail. Maybe it's because it's a "page-turner", driven by plot: a dense plot about two generations in a small Kansas town, and how they cope with diversity. It's an award-winner, but the characterization and description didn't do it for me.

March

  • Mary E. Lambert. Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes. 2017 - [j] A story about a middle-school girl whose Mom is a hoarder. Good characterization and a hopeful—but totally believable—story.
  • J. Anderson Coats. The Many Reflections of Miss Jame Deming. 2017 - [j] A 12-year-old girl travels with her stepmother to frontier Seattle, and finds that she is much more capable than she thought—capable of doing things for herself, and changing things around her. Very enjoyable historical fiction with good characterization.
  • Deborah Ellis. No Ordinary Day. 2011 - [j] I talk about how modern YA novels are hampered by the difficulty of getting the characters into meaningful adventures. That's actually only true for rich American characters. The young girl this book is about has plenty of adventures living on her own on the streets of Kolkata. A great story.

February

  • Kevin Henkes. The Year of Billy Miller. 2013 - [j] The rare skillfully-executed chapter book for younger grade readers; there needs to be more of them, with all the kiddies reading so early. A boy learns about himself over the course of his second-grade year. No big changes, just growing into himself in this quiet, comfortable story.
  • Kate Messner. The Seventh Wish. 2016 - [j] A girl finds a wish-granting talking fish while ice fishing and goes through a series of wishes, each of which full of unintended side effects. Despite the wishing fish premise—which isn't even so believable in the story: how can anyone catch the same fish seven times?!—this is mostly a realistic fiction book dealing with some serious themes like drug abuse, second-language learning, and Irish step dancing. Surprisingly passable despite a little bit of after-school special feel.

January

  • Sara Cassidy. A Boy Named Queen. 2016 - [j] A 5th-grade girl from a very conventional family becomes friends with a very unconventional boy, new to town. A good story about two strong, confident characters.
  • Mike Grosso. I Am Drums. 2016 - [j] A girl can't think about anything but playing the drums, despite social and familial pressure to the contrary, and despite not being really good. To start with, anyway. I wish there were more books about instrumental music—it turns out to be a terrific concept!

December

  • Delia Sherman. The Evil Wizard Smallbone. 2016 - [j] A boy runs away from an abusive home and ends up an apprentice to an evil wizard who might actually not be that bad. A fantastic book; the best story about learning magic since the first Earthsea book... oh, and something something learning to see the good in yourself too.

November

  • Esta Spaulding. Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts. 2016 - [j] Four half-siblings live in a small car on an island paradise—lovely, until they start outgrowing the space and need to find some support from their useless, distant parents. Has the feel of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but somewhat less unfortunate: in no way believable, but sometimes fun.
  • Kelly Jones. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poutry Farmer. 2015 - [j] An epistolary novel about a 12-year-old city girl moved out to the old family farm. When she finds out just how unusual her great-uncle's hens really are, she has to learn enough about chickens to protect them, while also adapting to country life.