Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: The Lost Husband

The Lost Husband: A NovelThe Lost Husband: A Novel by Katherine Center
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoy Katherine Center's novels...they are like "grown-up" chick lit about women with husbands or children. This one is about Libby, a widow who decides to escape her "piece-of-work" mother and move in with an aunt she doesn't know, who owns a goat farm in the "wilds" of Texas. There's the adjustment to farm life, parenting dilemmas, new friends, and, of course, a love interest. It's the execution that is so fun, as well as Libby's very honest voice. I found it to be a completely engaging and quick read -- in fact, I wished it were longer!

* I received a free e-galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

More of a Complaint than a Book Review, But There You Go

The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, #2)The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, Maureen Johnson, I love you and your quirky heroines but you have fallen prey to that all-too-common and maddening middle book syndrome that YA seems particularly susceptible to: the second book is just a placeholder in (what I assume will be) a trilogy, and the ending isn't a cliffhanger so much as it isn't an ending at all. I feel like I got dropped off in the middle of the story and now I can't get back in until the next book is published, which I'm guessing is in 2015. Sigh.

*Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC through NetGally.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Books That Inspire Compassion

One of the most wonderful things about good fiction, in my opinion, is its power to trasnport the reader not only to a different time or place, but to a different mindset.  One of the best ways to teach compassion to our children is to let them see through someone else's eyes by immersing themselves in a good story.

To that end, three of my favorite stories that inspire compassion for those who are "different":

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lovely and deeply moving book about a 5th-grader with a facial deformity going to school for the first time.  Palacio uses different viewpoints to tell Auggie's story, the most compelling being Auggie's own perspective on what it's like to be him.  The only con to this story is that you might have Natalie Merchant's song stuck in your head the whole time you read it.

RulesRules by Cynthia Lord
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Twelve-year-old Catherine's little brother has autism, and the "Rules" she comes up with to help him be more "normal" (including "keep your pants on in public")might make readers laugh, but her friendship with a paraplegic boy and her growing awareness of the kind of person she wants to be will also inspire.

Out of My MindOut of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fifth-grader Melody has cerebral palsy and is trapped inside her own body and head.  Unable to speak, she still learns to find her voice.

In case you are thinking that these are only books for grade-schoolers, think again.  Even grown-ups need the reminder to be a little more compassionate!

Friday, January 11, 2013

In the mood for some historical fiction?

A great article from the Atlantic Wire: "A Literary Tour of Historical Y.A."  It not only includes some old favorites, like the Betsy-Tacy series, but some new ones I added to my ever-growing "To Read" list.  You're welcome!