Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Books I've Read in 2015

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.

The Dogs of Winter, Bobbie Pyron
Inspired by a true story.  Ivan finds himself abandoned on the streets of Moscow where he joins up with a pack of wild dogs who become his family.  Aimed at pre-teens, but very mature and graphic in parts.

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Written in 1953, this novel tells of a dystopian world where all books are banned and people rely on their tvs for constant companionship.  It was hard to get into at first, but overall was an interesting read.

***End of the Line, Sharon McKay***
This book is a beautiful look at the kindness of strangers.  Set during World War II, 5 year old Beatrix finds herself all alone in the world.  Two elderly brothers step forward to help.  Themes include: the Nazi occupation in Holland, the treatment of Jews and love.  Aimed at pre-teens.

The Gift of the Girl Who Couldn't Hear, Susan R. Shreve
Eliza, a talented singer, is overcome by her new found insecurities and afraid to try out for the school musical.  Her friend, Lucy, is deaf, but decides to try out. Themes include: courage, friendship and surviving junior high.  Aimed at pre-teens.

The Five Times I Met Myself,  James L. Rubart
Check out my review here

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
This novel tells the stories of two people:Marie Laure, a French girl who is blind and Werner, a German boy who is orphaned.  Set during World War II, themes include: war, doing the right thing, father/daughter relationships, friendship.  The back and forth between time periods made it tedious.  R rated.

The Precious One, Marisa de los Santos
Taisy gets an unexpected invitation to visit her estranged father.  Willow, his new daughter, is struggling to find her way after having been sheltered all her life.  Themes include: father/daughter relationships, lost love, looking for acceptance.  

Saving Lucas Biggs, Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
This novel is a time travelling novel that spans generations.  Margaret wants to save her dad, but knows that "History doesn't want to change."  Aimed at teens, but violent.

*At the Water's Edge, Sara Gruen*
Madeline reluctantly accompanies her husband, Ellis, and their friend, Hank, to Scotland to prove the existence of the Loch Ness monster.  Themes include WWII, family secrets, love.  R rated.

Brooklyn, Colm Toibin
Set in both Ireland and Brooklyn, this novel tells the story of Eilis as she becomes an adult and falls in love post World War II.  I really liked some parts of this book and found some parts not to my liking.  R rated.    

Imagination Station: Attack at the Arena, Paul McCusker and Marianne Hering
Cousins Beth and Patrick are sent back in time to the days of the Roman gladiator fights.  The story highlights Telemachus' courage.  Elijah (9) says this is the best book he has ever read.  Aimed at 7+, but excellent for older struggling readers who crave a good story line.     

Counting on a Cowboy, Debra Clopton
Check out my review here

*Star of Light, Patricia St. John*
This is a classic novel about a young Muslim boy and his desire to save his blind sister from being sold to a beggar.  Beautifully written, with themes that include Jesus' unconditional love and doing the right thing.  Aimed at pre-teens.  

*The Daring Game, Kit Pearson*
Eliza is 11 years old and new to boarding school.  Eliza and her dorm mates wrestle with right and wrong as they begin 'the daring game'.  Themes include: friendships, influencing others and being influenced by others and growing up.  Aimed at pre-teens.

The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Steward
This novel tells the tale of four gifted children with a secret mission.  Will they be able to save all mankind by pulling together and using their individual strengths?  Aimed at pre-teens.  I found it hard to get through...

Diary of a Jackwagon, Tim Hawkins with John Drive
Check out my review here

X - We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas
This novel was unnecessarily long and pessimistic.  I nearly stopped reading halfway through.  Themes include: family relationships, needs vs wants, Alzheimer's.  It was interesting to read a book about caregiving, but not worth recommending.  R for language and themes.

The Surprise Party, Sue Welfare 
This novel tells the story of two sisters who throw a party for their parents' 40th wedding anniversary.  Themes include: past and present secrets and family relationships.  Significant use of alcohol throughout the book and some language. 

X - The Lost Husband, Katherine Center
This novel tells the story of a young widower and her two children.  Themes include: bullying, secrets and mother/daughter relationships.  Mention is made of contacting the dead and there are swear words.  Because of that and how bullying was handled, I cannot recommend this book.

"Shadow Island" series Book 1 and Book 2, Jeff Probst and Chris Tebetts
These books tell the continuing story of four siblings from a blended marriage who work together to survive -- this time on Shadow Island.  They work together to overcome some new and unexpected obstacles.  If you don't like cliff hangers -- you might want to wait until next spring to read these two since that is when book 3 comes out.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Happiness for Beginners, Katherine Center
Helen, recently divorced, decides to go on a three week wilderness survival course.  Jake, her little brother's best friend (who just happens to have a crush on her), winds up on this journey of self discovery too.  Themes include: choosing gratitude, dealing with the past and love.  R rated for language.

Surviving the Applewhites, Stephanie S. Tolan
Jake is one step away from juvenile hall, but thankfully the Applewhites are willing to homeschool him at their Creative Academy.  The moral of the story is that everyone has a talent/strength.  Aimed at pre-teens.  Has mention of meditating, yoga and cursing (though no specific words are stated).

Wishworks Inc, Stephanie S. Tolan
'Be careful what you wish for' is the lesson Max learns in this novel.  Max is full of imagination as he goes on adventures with his imaginary dog: defeating bullies and dragons.  Aimed at pre-teens, but would be too graphic for some (ie: my kids).

The Duck Commander Family, Willie & Korie Robertson with Mark Schlabach
This book focuses on the path Duck Commander took to become the booming business that it is today with behind the scenes details about Willie and Korie's lives growing up in the south.  Themes include faith, family and food.

X - The House I Loved, Tatiana De Rosnay
I found this novel to be long and tedious.  It was very hard for me to identify with the protagonist and I found her to be extremely selfish.  My advice is skip this book.  

Samantha Sanderson: At the Movies, Robin Caroll
Sam is a journalist for her middle school newspaper/blog.  When a bomb is found in the local theater Sam helps solve the mystery.  I found that there were too many awkward metaphors and similes.  Aimed at pre-teens.

The Good, the Bad, & the Grace of God, Jep & Jessica Robertson
Check out my review here

*** Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, Pearce & Stiefvater ***
Pip has a remarkable gift -- the ability to talk to magical creatures (like unicorns and griffins)!  Unfortunately, a huge unicorn fiasco has given Pip quite a reputation...  Can she prove she isn't a trouble maker?  This novel is fun and creative with great illustrations randomly throughout the novel.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Second Chance Summer, Morgan Matson
This novel tells the story of Taylor and the time she spends with her family at their summer house.  Taylor tries to right the wrongs from her past and work on her relationship with her dad.  Themes include: regret, father/daughter relationships and grief.  A few swear words.  Aimed at teens.  

X - The Mighty Miss Malone, Christopher Paul Curtis
Deza is an intelligent girl living in a family struggling financially through the Great Depression.  Themes include: handling hardships, racism, brother/sister relationships and pulling together as a family.  Aimed at pre-teens, but too dark and intense for me to recommend it to my kids.

*** The Life Intended, Kristin Harmel ***
This is the touching story of Kate who is 12 years a widow and finally in a serious relationship.  Kate begins having very vivid dreams about the life she could be having with her husband if he were still alive and is left wondering which life is the life she was supposed to live?

A Stranger's Secret, Lauri Alice Eakes
Check out my review here

X - Labor Day, Joyce Maynard
After watching the movie, I thought I would check out the book.  Unfortunately, the book is way more graphic about what goes on in the mind of a 13 year old boy than I would like to read about.  If I were you, I would consider seeing the movie, but skip the novel.  R rated.

And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini
This novel was a bit challenging to follow because you didn't always know which character's perspective the chapter was being told from.  That being said it was still a worthwhile read.  Themes include: sibling relationships, being haunted by the past and moral dilemmas.  

When Calls the Heart, When Comes the Spring, When Breaks the Dawn, When Hope Springs New, Janette Oke
These books are the first four in the Canadian West series.  I've read them in the past, but I was inspired to read them again because of the "When Calls the Heart" Hallmark movie.  The first part of "When Comes the Spring" was a bit of a slow read for me, but I enjoyed them overall. 

The Dandelion Field, Kathryn Springer
This Christian novel tells the story of Raine and Cody, a couple in high school who become pregnant.  The novel also follows a storyline with the older generation and how their lives are intertwined.  Themes include: following your heart, dealing with gossip and trusting God.

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
This mystery novel brings together a group of strangers to solve the murder of a millionaire and win a fortune.  Clues, assumptions and mishaps add to the mystery.  Aimed at teens.

The Listening Tree, Celia Lottridge
Ellen and her mother leave Saskatchewan to board with an aunt in Toronto because of drought.  Ellen is shy to make friends at first, but ultimately comes to the rescue of the family next door.  This is a heartwarming novel full of ingenuity and kindness for others.  Aimed at pre-teens.

*Half a Chance, Cynthia Lord*
Lucy wants to win her father's approval when it comes to photography and wants to help her new neighbours protect the loons on the lake.  Themes include: making difficult choices, helping others, dementia, friendships.  Aimed at pre-teens. 

The Map Trap, Andrew Clement 
Alton is a map enthusiast whose maps, some which are about people at his school, go missing one day.  Can he recover his maps before any feelings are hurt?  This novel wasn't offensive, but was a bit disturbing overall.  Aimed at pre-teens. 

A Matter of Character, Robin Lee Hatcher
This is the third novel in the Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series.  Daphne is a writer with a secret, Joshua is looking for answers about his grandfather's past.  Journal entries from the past were interspersed through the novel in a way that felt stilted, but aside from that I liked the story line.

The Sweetness of Forgetting, Kristin Harmel
This novel tells the story of Hope and her grandmother who has Alzheimer's.  The novel goes from the present day to the grandmother's past during World War II.  An easy read.  Themes include: doing what's right, finding out who you are, helping others achieve their dreams.  

X - Mr. Terupt Falls Again, Rob Buyea
I do NOT recommend this book.  In my opinion, this is an inappropriate and unnecessary sequel to Because of Mr. Terupt.  This novel talks of private parts and slang for private parts repeatedly, stuffing bras with toilet paper, smoking, drinking vodka in water bottles during school and on and on...  This book was very perverted.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Rebound, Eric Walters
Sean is determined to turn over a new leaf for grade 8, but a chance encounter with David, a new student in a wheelchair, has the potential to change everything.  Minor references to alcohol and cigarettes.  Main characters participate in dances, informal dating and some fighting.  Aimed at teens.

Ungifted, Gordon Korman
Donovan, an average student and known trouble-maker, finds himself unexpectedly in the gifted school.  This book has some stereotypical characterizations of gifted people and some poor morals with very little consequences.  References to sex education and dances.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Wonder, R. J. Palacio
This novel tells the story of Auggie, a grade 5 boy with facial anomalies, and his entrance into the public school system.  Themes include: fitting in, bullying, discovering who you are.  Mention is made of reincarnation, "The Universe", and girls walking through the woods to meet boys.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Chris Grabenstein
This novel is reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but a select group of pre-teens win the chance to have a sleepover at the new library.  They are then given the challenge of escaping from the library by using clues.  Aimed at pre-teens. 

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~


  1. I love to read books for all ages too! Young adult and children's books are so fun...a relaxing read sometimes!

    1. You'll have to tell me some of your favourites, Christina!


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