Saturday, January 23, 2016

Books I've Read in 2016

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.

Ginger Pye, Eleanor Estes
Published in 1950, this novel centers around Jerry and his dog, Ginger.  Part mystery, part family novel, sweet brother/sister relationship.  Aimed at kids and pre-teens.  

The Wednesday Wars, Gary D. Schmidt 
This novel is set in 1967 and touches on themes such as Vietnam, fitting in and Shakespeare.  Best suited for teenagers who have read some Shakespeare themselves.

Five Children and It, E. Nesbit
This is a classic from 1902 that I read when I was younger, but didn't remember much of.  Five siblings get a wish that lasts each day from a sandfairy, but life gets complicated when they make wishes without thinking of the consequences.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Absolutely Almost, Lisa Graff 
Albie is a boy who feels middle of the road.  He struggles academically, his parents are not very involved and he has a hard time fitting in.  Calista, his nanny, helps Albie see his strengths.  Aimed at pre-teens. 

Be Frank with Me, Julia Claiborne Johnson
Alice is sent to be the nanny for an eccentric boy (who may have Aspergers) while his mother writes her novel.  Themes include: being misunderstood, absentee fathers, public school.

Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline
This novel intertwines the lives of present day Molly (troubled foster child) and Vivian (wealthy elderly woman).  As part of her community service, Molly helps Vivian clean her attic and Vivian's childhood during the Depression is told.  Themes include: wanting to belong, shame, prejudice, friendship.  Some swearing.

The Search for Delicious, Natalie Babbitt
This fantasy adventure novel has a simple premise, but the mermaid storyline and the tree dweller make it that much more interesting.  Aimed at pre-teens

The Diamond of Darkhold, Jeanne Du Prau
This novel is the fourth "Book of Ember" although it continues where book 2 left off.  There are a lot of references to events and people from books 1 and 2 that readers may not even remember unless they are all read back to back.  Aimed at pre-teens.  

The Hangman in the Mirror, Kate Cayley
In 18th century New France, 15 year old Francoise leaves behind her life of poverty by taking a job as a maid, but then things take a turn...  Based on a true story.  Aimed at teens.

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms, Lissa Evans
This novel is part mystery, part adventure and part magic.  Stuart embarks on a journey to find his great-uncle's secret workshop.  Aimed at pre-teens.  

Stranded Series: Books 4-6, Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts
The four siblings find themselves in trouble again...  I really enjoyed the first 3 books.  These 3, not as much because the storyline seems less probable.  Aimed at pre-teens.  May be too intense for younger or sensitive readers.

X-- Paperboy, Vince Vawter
Pre-teen boy who stutters has a paper route.  Along the way he encounters foul language, alcohol, domestic abuse and violence.  He also develops a fixation on a flirtatious woman that he likes to ogle.  There are a lot of unfinished storylines...  Aimed at pre-teens.

Banished from Our Home, Sharon Stewart
This Dear Canada book was hard to get into at first.  This novel tells the story of an Acadian girl living in Canada in 1755 through her diary entries.  Aimed at pre-teens.

X -- The Prophet of Yonwood, Jeanne DuPrau 
This novel is the third "Book of Ember".  Please don't bother reading...  It was half boring and the other half wasn't that great.  It teaches that truth is relative and has obscure references to dust mites and conjoined twins.  Aimed at pre-teens.

The People of Sparks, Jeanne DuPrau 
This novel is the second "Book of Ember".  Themes include war, discrimination, and refugees as well as the fine line between revenge and justice.  Aimed at pre-teens.

***The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer***
I tried reading this years ago and couldn't get into, but it was highly recommended so I gave it another go.  The style is letters that are written back and forth.  Themes include: loyalty, love, courage, WWII.  Some language.

Atonement, Ian McEwan
I thought the movie (which I saw years ago) was interesting, but the novel glossed over some crucial issues that it could have dealt with more fully.  Themes include: perceptions, choices and guilt.  R rated language and themes.

Still Life, Louise Penny
This murder mystery is book 1 of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series.  I don't think murder mysteries are my genre, but there were also some things about the book that annoyed me ie: the end.

*Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Chris Cleave*
This novel tells stories of Mary, Tom and Alistair as their lives intertwine during World War II.  Themes include: love, tragedy and courage.  Some language.

Lola's Secret, Monica McInerney
Lola is a woman with close relationships to her grand daughters.  She plans to host various people over Christmas at the hotel where she lives.  Apparently this is a sequel, but frustratingly, you can't tell by looking.

Song of the Prairie, Vickie McDonough 
Janie and her cousin's newborn are on the run from the baby's abusive father.  Themes include: secrets, love, parent/child relationships.  

Ida B, Katherine Hannigan
This novel is written about a spunky young girl who makes the transition from homeschooling to public school.  Aimed at pre-teens, but a good read for homeschoolers of an out-of-the-box thinker.

Choosing, Rachelle Dekker
Carrington has been raised to believe that being 'chosen' by a man at the Choosing Ceremony is the ultimate goal in life and the only way to determine whether or not she has worth.  This is a murder mystery with a weird Biblical slant.    

The Curiosity Keeper, Sarah E. Ladd
This novel tells the story of Camille, a curiosity shop keeper and the start of a new life for her.  Themes include: greed, love, paternal relationships and mystery. 

X -- Story Thieves, James Riley
I can't recommend it -- it has too many spells for my liking and was a bit confusing.  Themes include free will and friendship.  Aimed at pre-teens. 

A Murder is Announced, Agatha Christie
This mystery novel is the first Agatha Christie I have ever read.  It was hard to keep the characters straight and was a bit slow moving at the beginning, but the reveal was good.

City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau 
Darkness is the main theme in this dystopian novel.  Other themes include: faith, selfishness and fear.  Read the book -- SKIP the 2008 movie (you'll thank me)!  Aimed at pre-teens.

Invitation to the Game, Monica Hughes -- also known as The Game
This dystopian novel brings up some interesting topics: government, population control, being unsatisfied without a purpose, teamwork.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Before We Visit the Goddess, Chitra Benerjee Divakaruni
This novel tells the story of three generations of women and their complicated relationships.  Set in India and America.  Themes include: the importance of an education, belonging and misunderstandings.  Some R rated themes. 

Trixie Belden and the Mysterious Visitor, Julie Campbell Tatham
I was an avid reader of Trixie Belden books back in the day and wanted to introduce my daughter to them.  I love the mystery solving club full of bffs and siblings.  Aimed at pre-teens.

***The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton***
Cassandra seeks to uncover family secrets about her grandmother, Nell, a young girl who was found abandoned on a ship to Australia as a child.  Themes include grief, belonging and secrets.

 The House at Riverton, Kate Morton
This novel focuses on Grace and her life in service as well as the story of the aristocratic family she works for.  Themes include loyalty, love, a mysterious death and secrets.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith
Mma Precious Ramotswe decides to open a detective agency in Botswana with her inheritance.  This novel tells of her life prior to becoming a detective and various mysteries she solves.  Some R rated themes.

***Snow Treasure, Marie McSwigan***
Set in Norway during World War II, this novel tells the story of a group of children who use sleds to smuggle their country's gold past Nazi soldiers -- ultimately saving lives by keeping this resource out of the hands of the enemy.  Based on a true story.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Old Town in the Green Groves, Cynthia Rylant
This novel tells of the Ingalls' family lost years from 1875 to 1877.  Aimed at children, but a good read for any "Little House on the Prairie" fans.

X -- Winter Sky, Patricia Reilly Giff
Sentences too stilted.  Not a fun read.  Themes include: fires, family and worry.  Aimed at pre-teens.

The Lake House, Kate Morton
This novel spans three timelines and has multiple characters which makes it a bit of a challenge to read.  Themes include: guilt, secrets, consequences and love.

Travels with my Family, Marie-Louise Gay
This book tells the travelling tales of his family from BC, Canada to Florida to Mexico.  It was written from the point of view of the child, but felt very adult-like in tone.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Finding Grace, Becky Citra 
Hope has been writing letters to her imaginary friend, Grace, for as long as she can remember.  But, what if Grace isn't imaginary?  Set in BC, Canada.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Red River Raging, Penny Draper
This novel tells a fictional story set during the real life flood in Manitoba, Canada in 1997.  Written by a Canadian author.  Interesting and unexpected fantasy element (although now I've spoiled that for you).  Aimed at pre-teens.

Nory Ryan's Song, Patricia Reilly Giff
Nory lives in Ireland in 1845 under English rule.  When a blight attacks the potatoes the threat of starvation is very real.  Aimed at pre-teens, but some talk of evil spirits.

R My Name is Rachel, Patricia Reilly Giff
Set during the Depression, this novel tells the story of Rachel and her family's struggle to survive.  When her father goes to look for work, Rachel and her siblings are left to fend for themselves.  Aimed at pre-teens.

*Echo, Pam Munoz Ryan*
This large novel weaves the stories of three children together through the journey of a special harmonica.  Themes include: the judgement of others, Nazi Germany, Japanese internment, wanting to belong.  Aimed at pre-teens, but a good read for anyone.  

The War that Saved my Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
10 year old Ada is neglected and forced to remain inside because she has a clubfoot.  The evacuation of children from London during WWII gives Ada the chance to escape with her younger brother and find a new life for herself.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Secrets of the Cicada Summer, Andrea Beaty
Lily has faced a tragedy that has left her "brain damaged", but Lily may be the only person who can help Tinny.  Themes include: grief, guilt, friendship and forgiveness.  Subject matter may be too much for sensitive readers.  Aimed at pre-teens.

The Sky is Falling, Kit Pearson
10 year old Norah and her brother are war guests sent from England to Toronto, Canada during World War II.  Norah is disappointed about being evacuated and resents having to care for her younger brother.  Will she find a way to fit in?  Aimed at pre-teens.

Pictures of Hollis Woods, Patricia Reilly Giff
Hollis is a foster child who has finally found a family.  That is, until one day.  Now Hollis is left to the system again and still searching for a place to belong.  Aimed at pre-teens.

X - The Marvels, Brian Selznick
This novel did not meet my expectations.  I really enjoyed "Hugo" and "Wonderstruck", but this book dragged on with numerous generations of people that I couldn't keep straight.  Then came the very mature subject matter that was subtly introduced.  Aimed at pre-teens, but not recommended.

***The Golden Boy, Tara Sullivan***
Habo is a 13 year old albino boy living in Tanzania with his mom and siblings.  Themes include: discrimination, superstition, unconditional love and belonging.  Some graphic themes.  Aimed at pre-teens, but recommended for pre-teens and up who aren't squeamish.

***The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah***
Set during WWII in France, this novel highlights the lives of two sisters -- one a mother and one a young visionary -- and how the war affects each of them in different ways. Some language.

Fly Away, Kristin Hannah
This novel tells the story of the death of a loved mom, bff, daughter, and wife and how her loss affects everyone around her.  Some language.  Super frustrated that this is book 2 without any mention being made on the book itself.

*Revenge on the Fly, Sylvia McNicoll* 
Set in 1912, this novel tells the story of Will and his father -- new Canadian immigrants who have just arrived from Ireland.  Based on a true event where a newspaper hosted a fly killing contest.  Aimed at pre-teens, but a worthwhile read for anyone interested.

Kidnapped Book1,2 and 3, Gordon Korman
Apparently this book series is a set of three that is the continuation of another set of three books called "On the Run". Who knew?  I sensed it as I read, but when you call a book "Book 1" it seems like it should be the first book.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Sky Jumpers, Peggy Eddleman
This novel is first in a post-apocalyptic series aimed at pre-teens.  It's an interesting storyline, but Hope does something she is not supposed to do -- over and over again. Aimed at pre-teens, but not recommended for rebellious or scientifically minded people.

Jessica Darling's It List, Megan McCafferty 
Jessica's older sister gives Jessica a 'to do' list describing how to become popular in grade 7. Jessica follows it, but nothing turns out as she expects.  Some bathroom style humour. Aimed at pre-teens.

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~


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