March and April were a lot better as far as reading--12 books total!
Also, I am writing and publishing this SUPER late. But I really want to have a record of what I read this year and what I thought about it. So better late than never!
This book is one of my favorites for this year. It tells the story of two half sisters from Ghana. One stays in Ghana and one is sold as a slave and goes to the States. The story takes the form of parallel stories of the descendants of the sisters.
One of the most amazing things about this book is how effectively Gyasi shows the effects of slavery, even 100 years after it was outlawed in America. There is one scene in this book that was really hard for me to read, and so, I don't know that I would feel okay having middle school students read this book. But I think high schoolers could (and should!) read this book. Everyone should read it!
I heard this book recommended on What Should I Read Next, and I was intrigued. But, I thought it was recommended because it was a book with an unreliable narrator. Nope.
Still a good read. Perhaps not my favorite, but still interesting. It tells the story of how one man helps out in a crisis situation, and a weird, creepy relationship that forms because of that action.
This book has been compared to Jeffery Eugenides' Virgin Suicides, which is one of my favorites. I can see the comparison, but it isn't as good.
The book tells the story of four Guineveres who, for different reasons, all live at a convent during the War. They are desperate to leave the convent, so they create an elaborate plan that involves comatose war victims. I did really enjoy this book. One interesting aspect is that you never really know what war. All of the references to it are super vague, so much that it could have been WWI, WWII, or even Vietnam.
Also, the cover art is beautiful!
The Secret to Hummingbird Cake
I found this book on my kindle (thanks, family kindle account!). It is a sweet read, about three southern girls who have grown up together and are now facing some really tough situations. Nothing especially deep or mind blowing, but, still, I enjoyed it.
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
Another random find on the shared kindle account. I would classify Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes as a middle grade book, although I haven't confirmed that. It definitely could be read and enjoyed by a middle school age reader. But, it was also a really fun book to read as an adult.
Peter is a blind orphan who is forced to steal in order to earn his keep. One day, he sets forth on an adventure...because that's just what books like this do. But it's witty and the storyline is different enough that you want to keep reading.
I read this book because I had a sweet 8th grade student who suggested it, and I think it's important to read student suggestions!
It was a creepy book about high school students and an exorcism--not my usual cup of tea. But, hey, if you're into that sort of thing, go for it!
Summer of My German Soldier
Goodness, I didn't like this book! I led a literature group on it and almost every student disliked this book too. It's about a Jewish girl in Arkansas who helps a German POW (held in a camp near her town) escape. It's much more about her abusive father and how she rebels against him. But the writing is rough and the subject matter gets a little weird. So yeah, don't read it.
This Is How It Always Is
Modern Mrs. Darcy has been recommending this book since last fall, and I finally was able to snag it from the library. It's the story of a family who is hiding a secret, not necessarily a bad one but a secret all the same. You see how this secret affects every part of their family and how they deal with the truth when the secret is outed.
I really loved this book. The writing is well done, and I enjoyed reading about the relationships within and without the family.
A Clatter of Jars
I stumbled across this is my school's library. It's another middle grades book. In it, some people have talents, a special gift. But when a camp director starts stealing all of her campers talents, things get a little crazy. I enjoyed the plot a lot, but I also liked how the book didn't drag on.
In Farleigh Field
Ohhh, I loved this book! It randomly appeared on the kindle (seriously y'all, share a kindle account with your family. It's the way to go.). I think Anne Bogel might have recommended it as well. There was something that was reminiscent of both Agatha Christie and Downton Abbey, a wonderful mix!
In Farleigh Field is a mystery, taking place during WWII in the British countryside. There's romance and intrigue and, of course, murder, but it is a pretty clean novel. I want to read more by this author!
This is a really strange book to try to explain. First, let me say, I really enjoyed it. Carry On was my first Rainbow Rowell book to read, and I plan on reading many more from her! In a previous book (which I have since read), Fangirl, the main character writes Simon Snow fan fiction. Simon Snow is basically the Harry Potter series, but with a few differences. This novel is that fictional fan fiction actually written out. Did that make sense?
Guess what? It doesn't matter if it does! I read this book before Fangirl, so I read it just like it was a novel. And it is wonderful that way. If you know the backstory, I am sure that is fun too.
I am trying to read more YA, and this book was one of my first YA's for the year. I ended up really liking it!
I'll Be Seeing You
Ahhh, there's nothing like some Mary Higgins Clark rereads. Clark was the first mystery writer I ever really got into, back in 7th grade. Since then, I still keep up with all of her books, no matter how formulaic they may seem at time.
I have inherited all of my grandmother's Clark books (as well as her Agatha Christie books), so I pulled out this old favorite for a comfort read this month.
Listen, if you are looking for mysteries that are deep (e.g. Louise Penny) or witty (e.g. Alan Bradley) or even a little magical (e.g. Tana French), Mary Higgins Clark is not your girl. But if you want a mystery that usually ends well, lacks gore, language, and sex, and really is fun to read, Clark is a good go to.