Back again to share more of the books I've read recently. I'm pleased to say I read some excellent books these last couple of months, many of which will stick with me for quite some time.
Most were new releases, but there were a couple of older books in there (I couldn't resist reading The Remains of the Day after reading Klara and the Sun.) I tended to lean toward historical fiction, as I've been neck deep in revisions of my own middle grade manuscript these last few months, and didn't want to stray too far from that genre. As was the case in my last Reading Roundup post: while I love writing my own stories, I'm terrible at writing reviews. Know that I loved all of these books! The summaries below are provided by the authors/publishers.
Middle Grade Books:
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to Louisiana from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods and chastises Apple for becoming "too American." When Apple's friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show her how special she really is.
The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman
On a spring morning, neighbors Valentina Kaplan and Oksana Savchenko wake up to an angry red sky. A reactor at the nuclear power plant where their fathers work--Chernobyl--has exploded. Before they know it, the two girls, who've always been enemies, find themselves on a train bound for Leningrad to stay with Valentina's estranged grandmother, Rita Grigorievna. In their new lives in Leningrad, they begin to learn what it means to trust another person. Oksana must face the lies her parents told her all her life. Valentina must keep her grandmother's secret, one that could put all their lives in danger. And both of them discover something they've wished for: a best friend. But how far would you go to save your best friend's life? Would you risk your own?
Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar
Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro's Cuba to New York City. Just when she's finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English--and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood's hopscotch queen--a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie's world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger and she comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.
A Place To Hang The Moon by Kate Albus
It is 1940 and William, 12, Edmund, 11, and Anna, 9, aren't terribly upset by the death of the not-so-grandmotherly grandmother who has taken care of them since their parents died. But the children do need a guardian, and in the dark days of World War II London, those are in short supply, especially if they hope to stay together. Could the mass wartime evacuation of children from London to the countryside be the answer? It's a preposterous plan, but off they go-- keeping their predicament a secret, and hoping to be placed in a temporary home that ends up lasting forever. Moving from one billet to another, the children suffer the cruel trickery of foster brothers, the cold realities of outdoor toilets and the hollowness of empty stomachs. They find comfort in the village lending library, whose kind librarian, Nora Müller, seems an excellent choice of billet, except that her German husband's whereabouts are currently unknown, and some of the villagers consider her unsuitable.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thannhà Lai
Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope--toward America. Inspired by the author's childhood experience as a refugee--fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama--this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child's-eye view of family and immigration.
Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
The first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her ... offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?
Where the Stork Flies by Linda C. Wisniewski
Kat is at loose ends after her husband ditched her and their daughter followed suit. When a lost time traveler appears in her Pennsylvania kitchen, she grasps at the chance to give her life meaning by helping the woman find her way home. But a mysterious stranger insists they are together for a purpose. Slipping through a portal to an 1825 Polish village, Kat meets her own ancestors and discovers how her own mistakes derailed her life. Can she bring her new understanding of forgiveness and unconditional love back to the present and heal her family before it's too late?
The Remains of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
This is Kazuo Ishiguro's profoundly compelling portrait of Stevens, the perfect butler, and of his fading, insular world in post-World War II England. Stevens, at the end of three decades of service at Darlington Hall, spending a day on a country drive, embarks as well on a journey through the past in an effort to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving the great gentleman, Lord Darlington. But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington's greatness, and much graver doubts about the nature of his own life.
If you're interested in purchasing any of these books, please consider purchasing a copy from your local independent bookstores. Indiebound.Org and Bookshop.Org are two great places to find local bookstores and shop indie.
I'm currently reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson .. stay tuned for details and more books in Part 3! Drop me a line with your book recommendations.