Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Books I've Read in 2011

I love reading books meant for all ages.  Any book with stars by it is one I'd consider reading again in the future (or would consider having my kids read in the future) so presumably you (or your kids) might like it too. If you've read (or wondered about) any of these books feel free to comment! I'd love to chat with you...  Oh and if you love a book I don't (or vice versa), we can still be friends.

Still Alice, Lisa Genova
Alice is a brilliant, successful woman in her 50's who starts experiencing memory loss.  The diagnosis -- early onset Alzheimers.  Alice is forced to re-evaluate her relationships with her colleagues, her children and her husband as well as wrestle with her own identity, but through it all she is 'still Alice'.  R rated for some language.

Millie -- Books 1-4,Troon Harrison
These books are from the "Our Canadian Girl" series and are set in the early 1900's.  Millie's father goes off to war and Millie learns first hand about poverty, child labour, cultural differences and the power of friendship. (aimed at pre-teens)

Mandie and the Forbidden Attic, 
Mandie and the Secret Tunnel, Lois Gladys Leppard 
The Mandie books take place in the 1900s and tell the adventures of a pre-teen girl and her friends.  The series deals with topics such as racism, loyalty, feelings of belonging.  Christian (aimed at pre-teens)

Starry, Starry Night, Lurlene McDaniel
These three short stories deal with subject matter such as cancer, birth defects and premarital relations.  This book would be a good springboard for tough discussions with a teen. (aimed at teens)

Margit Book 4 -- A Friend in Need, Kathy Kacer
In 1947 Canada, Margit's family takes in a Polish orphan.  Margit tries to welcome Lilly to the family, but finds that it is a challenge since Lilly speaks no English and is tormented by memories of her past.  (aimed at pre-teens)

The Star Houses, Stewart Ross
Based on the memoirs of a Holocaust survivor.  This novel tells the story of a 14 year old Jewish boy and his family's experiences at the hands of the Nazi in Budapest, Hungary. (aimed at teens)

Those Who Save Us, Jenna Blum
This is a moving, yet haunting look at the Holocaust through the eyes of a mother (mistress of a Nazi officer) and her daughter.  Subjects include survival, secrets and shame.  Very R rated with disturbing scenes.

***Room, Emma Donoghue***
This is a compelling novel about a mother and child who are held hostage.  It started off a bit slowly, but turned into a real 'page turner'.  Told from the point of view of the child so it isn't too graphic.  

The Edible Woman, Margaret Atwood
In this novel, Marian searches for her identity as a newly engaged woman.  The writing style is metaphorical.  R rated.

Clara's War, Kathy Kacer
This novel tells the story of a young Jewish girl, Clara, and her family who are sent to live in a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.  While there, Clara experiences both joy and pain. (aimed at teens).

***The Secret of Gabi's Dresser, Kathy Kacer***
Inspired by the true story of a Jewish girl in 1942 Czechoslovakia.  This novel depicts the fear and confusion of the time without going into great detail about the horror.  (aimed at pre-teens)  

The Mercy, Beverly Lewis
This is the third book in the Rose trilogy.  I found this novel dragged on a bit and I kept waiting for the resolution to the conflict from the previous books.  Themes include forgiveness and not compromising your beliefs. 

A Secret Kept, Tatiana De Rosnay
This is a novel about the relationship between an adult brother and sister and a family secret that has been kept for decades.  I don't recommend it -- in part because it was R rated.

Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
Griet is a 16 year old maid who comes to work in the home of the painter Vermeer.  This is a fictional account of the story behind Vermeer's painting "Girl with a Pearl Earring".   

***A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini***
This novel is set in Afghanistan and chronicles the lives of two women, Mariam and Laila, over the course of thirty years.  Themes include war, survival and learning to love. 

Mudbound, Hillary Jordan
"Death may be inevitable, but love is not.  Love, you have to choose."  This is a post-WWII novel that tells the story of farmers in Mississippi from various points of view.  Themes include racism, war and marriage.  A bit discouraging.  R rated.

Hiding Edith -- a true story -- Kathy Kacer
This is the story of Edith, a young Jewish girl, who is hiding from Nazis during the WWII invasion.  Edith was separated from her family and had to travel from place to place in search of safety. 

***A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller***
In an unconventional writing style, Donald tells how he learned the elements of living a good life "story".  The book is an inspirational challenge to accept conflict, take risks and make a difference.  "Every life is a story."

The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn
This is a small book that talks about joyful giving.  It explains "Where your treasure is there your heart will be also" by referring to the stock exchange and how closely people watch it to see what their money is doing.  If we give to God's work the same would be true.  

Sarah's Key, Tatiana De Rosnay
This novel tells the story of Sarah who was taken along with her parents by the French police during the Vel' d'Hiv "roundup"in Occupied France, 1942.  I found the chapters on Sarah to be gripping, but the present day storyline less so.

The Distant Hours, Kate Morton 
This was a dark story -- compelling at first, but then slow moving.  Three sisters in a castle are harboring long kept secrets from World War II.  I much preferred The Forgotten Garden.

The Stone Angel, Margaret Laurence
Hagar is an elderly woman who develops self-understanding in her old age.  This novel tells of her childhood, her marriage and the lives of her children as well as the present day where her son and daughter-in-law are caring for her.  

A Pocketful of Seeds, Marilyn Sachs
This is the story of a young Jewish girl and her family in Nazi-occupied France.  I really liked the perspective of this book, but felt like the novel was incomplete.  (aimed at pre-teens)

Still Life with Elephants, Judy Reene Singer
A horse trainer's marriage falls apart.  She rediscovers herself through a trip to Africa and through a new challenge -- training elephants.  R rated and a little too cynical for me.

***The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill***
"Do not trust large bodies of water, and do not cross them."  Aminata tells the story of her capture as a child from her village in Africa and of her subsequent life as a slave.  This is an amazing and moving novel inspired by a historical document called "The Book of Negroes".  (R rated.)

The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton
A young girl is found abandoned on a ship to Australia.  This novel chronicles the lives of three different women from three different eras as Nell and her granddaughter journey to uncover family secrets and discover Nell's true identity.

***Half-Broke Horses, Jeanette Walls***
This is the "prequel" to Glass Castle where the author tells the story of her grandmother's life during the Depression.  Lily shows resilience and courage as she survives natural disasters, poverty and heartbreaks.  "Easier" thematically to read than Glass Castle.   

Learning to Swim, Sara J Henry
A young woman on a ferry sees a boy fall into the water and makes a quick decision to rescue him.  What follows is a journey full of suspense and self discovery.   

Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls
A memoir of a young girl who grows up with poverty.  Her father is an alcoholic who has grandiose plans and schemes and her mother is often unavailable to her and her siblings.  I recommend it with reservation because of mature subject matter (R rated)

***Angel Sister, Ann H Gabhart***
This novel is set in the 1930's and tells the story of a family trying to cope despite post war stress, alcoholism and secrets from the past.  An abandoned girl helps pull the family together.  Themes include perseverance, forgiveness and unconditional love. 

The Reading Promise, Alice Ozma
A fourth grader and her dad make a commitment to read aloud together every night.  This book chronicles their relationship and Alice's journey from childhood to adulthood.  I love that this book encourages reading aloud to children when they themselves can read. 

The Christmas Candle, Max Lucado
This novella tells the story of a community who believes in miracles and a skeptical reverend who comes to town.  Themes include faith, forgiveness and hope.

The Judgement, Beverly Lewis
This novel is the second in a series that depicts two Amish sisters and their difficult journeys to find love.  Themes include faith and forgiveness.

Sundays at Tiffany's, James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet
This is a story of Jane, a lonely, young girl, and her imaginary friend who can only stay till her 9th birthday.  The book then catches up with Jane as an adult and finds that life hasn't changed much for her. 

Little Bee, Chris Cleave
This novel tells the story of two women -- one from Nigeria and one from the United States and how their lives are intertwined forever.  Themes include regret and the treatment of refugees.  "Nkiruka loved music and now I saw that she was right because life is extremely short and you cannot dance to current affairs."  (R rated) 

A Heart for Home, Lauraine Snelling
This book had so many characters in it that I felt I didn't know any of them very well and it was hard to keep the secondary characters straight.  In its defence, it was the third in a series and I didn't realize that till part way through the book.  The novel is about a female Dr in the 1900s.

Letters for Emily, Camron Wright
A Grandpa with Alzheimer's leaves a legacy of wisdom through poems and letters he has written his granddaughter in lucid moments.  Hidden clues and riddles in his writings lead the family on a treasure hunt.

Unlocked, Karen Kingsbury
This novel is loosely based on a real life story where a boy's symptoms of autism began lessening thanks to the power of music.  Themes include bullying, forgiveness and accepting others despite their differences.

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, James Patterson
Katie's boyfriend leaves her without explanation -- leaving her a diary written from a mother to a son.  Katie learns about the man she loves while reading the diary and in the process learns about herself.  

The Thorn, Beverly Lewis
This Amish-themed novel tells the story of Rose -- focusing on her friendship with the bishop's rebellious foster son and her relationship with her sister.  The themes of the novel are regret and consequences for choices.

You Invited Me In, Cheryl Moss Tyler
This novel tells the story of Alex and Annie: a homosexual who is fighting AIDS and his conservative, Christian sister.  Themes include self-righteousness, forgiveness and showing God's unconditional love to others.

Let Them Eat Cake, Sandra Byrd
This novel tells the story of Lexi who is trying to find a job, an apartment and a boyfriend.  Written in first person present tense -- I found it hard to get into it.

***Out Live Your Life, Max Lucado***
"You were made to make a difference". Stories and verses highlight our need for compassion, prayer and perseverance as we strive to make a difference in the world.  The end of the book has a section with questions and "Ideas for Action" based on each chapter. 

***The Littles and the Trash Tinies, John Peterson***
This is such a memorable book for me from my childhood.  The Littles are tiny people with tails who live in the walls of house.  In this book they go on an adventure to the local dump to bring back their ailing uncle's friends.  (grade 3 reading level)

Plain Promise, Beth Wiseman
Sadie is a widowed Amish woman who rents out her guest cottage to an Englisch man and his autistic son.  She quickly grows to love the young boy and finds herself torn between feelings for the Englisch man and feelings for her Amish penpal who she intends to marry.

Plain Pursuit, Beth Wiseman
Carley visits her friend, Lillian, who was recently baptised into the Amish faith as an adult.  While there she meets Dr. Noah who is willing to do whatever he can to help Lillian's stepson who has suddenly become sick.

Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
This novel tells the story of a 5th grade boy and girl who become best friends and create an imaginary world for themselves.  Themes include bullying, fitting in, crushes and grief.  Made into a movie in 2007.  (aimed at pre-teens)

Plain Perfect,  Beth Wiseman
Lillian decides to move in with her grandparents and search for peace within by adopting the Amish lifestyle.  Themes include past choices affecting the present, faith in God, strained mother/daughter relationships and finding love.

An Amish Love, Wiseman, Fuller and Long
Three short stories tell of unusual courtships between a bitter young man and a young lady who is blind; a set of empty nesters; and a newlywed couple who didn't have the opportunity to court prior to marriage. 

Airman, Eoin Colfer
Set in the 1890's, this novel tells the story of a young boy and his fascination with flight.  Wrongly imprisoned and branded a traitor, Conor must fight for his life and fight to keep his dreams alive.  Supposedly a Disney movie in the making which I look forward to seeing. (aimed at teens)  

***Trapped in Hitler's Hell, Anita Dittman with Jan Markell***
Anita retells her experience as a child of a Jewish mother and a German father living in Nazi controlled Germany.  Abandoned by her father and separated from her mother, Anita must fight for survival.  Through it all she finds hope in God and the promise that He will never leave her.  

Thumb and the Bad Guys, Ken Roberts
This book is a mystery of sorts where Thumb and Susan are looking for bad guys and come across a secret.  As the mystery unravels, it turns out there are more secrets than they realized in their small town.  (aimed at grade 3/4) 

Savvy, Ingrid Law
Mibs comes from a unique family where she finds out her special power or 'know-how' on her 13th birthday.  Mibs goes on a journey of self-discovery as she takes an impromptu road trip with two of her brothers and some new found friends.  Not a 'magical spell' type of book, but with a sense of magic in it.  (aimed at pre-teens)

Plain Paradise, Beth Wiseman
Linda is an Amish girl in her rumschpringe (the "running around" period when a teenager decides between the Amish faith and the non-Amish world).  She discovers she was adopted when her birth mother comes to the Amish community looking for her.  The novel deals with romantic love; the love between mother and child; hope and faith.

Life As We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer
An asteroid hits the moon and knocks it closer to the earth causing worldwide tidal waves, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.  Miranda is a 16 year old who documents her family's experience as they struggle to survive in this new world.  This book shows what really matters in life -- relationships.  (aimed at teens)

***A Faraway Island, Annika Thor***
This novel tells the story of two Austrian Jewish sisters whose parents send them to live in Sweden during the war.  This would be a good first book to read about the Nazis because the girls describe only a few mild instances that they recall.  Deals with fitting in, prejudism and the threat of war.  "Idiot" is said a number of times.  (aimed at pre-teens)

Touch Blue, Cynthia Lord
11 year old Tess and her family take in a 13 year old foster child and try to help him feel at home.  Set in Maine, this novel talks about lobster fishing and island living.  It's full of superstition, but aside from that it's a good story about picturing things from another person's point of view and belonging.  (aimed at pre-teens)

What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell
This is a coming of age story that deals with truth and lies, loyalty and betrayal, love and adultery.  Set after World War II.  (aimed at teens, but I felt it was too X-rated for me)

***The Other Wes Moore, Wes Moore***
Two boys -- each named Wes Moore -- grew up in similar neighbourhoods with similar childhoods, but their lives turn out very differently.  This autobiography shows that "it's hard sometimes to distinguish between second chances and last chances." and reminds us that our everyday choices play a part in determining the outcome of our lives.  Set in Baltimore and the Broncs.  

Out of My Mind, Sharon M. Draper
Melody has never spoken a single word and she is almost 11 years old.  She has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk or even feed herself.  The first part of this book was thought provoking -- a super smart girl who is perceived as "retarded" (as stated in the book) finally gets the opportunity to show the real her.  The second part of the book was too cynical for me. (aimed at pre-teens)

The London Eye Mystery, Siobhan Dowd
Ted, is a young boy with asperger syndrome.  Along with his sister, Kat, he investigates the mystery of his missing cousin.  Themes include: finding each person's strength, overcoming limitations, sibling relationships and making friends (aimed at pre-teens)

Revolution is Not a Dinner Party, Ying Chang Compestine
This is a semi-autobiographical book set during the 1970's.  It tells the story of a young girl and her experience growing up in Communist China under the rule of Chairman Mao.  This book was an easy read, but had difficult subject matter.  (aimed at pre-teens/teens)

***The Lemonade War, Jacqueline Davies***
This novel tells the story of a brother and sister who get along well until one summer.  The siblings enter into a competition to see who can earn the most money selling lemonade and along the way learn about: business strategies, math, bullying, making friends and keeping your word.  (aimed at pre-teens)

My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie, David Lubar
I read this book because it was a Book of the Year nominee for my city.  Lessons include: fitting in, making friends and making difficult choices.  I can't recommend it though because it's about a zombie and that's just not my genre.  (aimed at pre-teens) 

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~


  1. Wow! I'm definitely bookmarking this to read again when I need a new book to read!!

  2. Let me know what you think of any you read Lyndsay! Hope you find some you like...


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