In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
With the same incomparable style and warm, inviting voice that have made her beloved by millions of readers far and wide, “New York Times” bestselling author Fannie Flagg has written an enchanting Christmas story of faith and hope for all ages that is sure to become a classic.
Deep in the southernmost part of Alabama, along the banks of a lazy winding river, lies the sleepy little community known as Lost River, a place that time itself seems to have forgotten. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten it. Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget “A Redbird Christmas.”
More than two decades after moving to Saudi Arabia and marrying powerful Abdullah Baylani, American-born Rosalie learns that her husband has taken a second wife. That discovery plunges their family into chaos as Rosalie grapples with leaving Saudi Arabia, her life, and her family behind. Meanwhile, Abdullah and Rosalie’s consuming personal entanglements blind them to the crisis approaching their sixteen-year-old son, Faisal, whose deepening resentment toward their lifestyle has led to his involvement with a controversial sheikh. When Faisal makes a choice that could destroy everything his embattled family holds dear, all must confront difficult truths as they fight to preserve what remains of their world.
“The Ruins of Us” is a timely story about intolerance, family, and the injustices we endure for love that heralds the arrival of an extraordinary new voice in contemporary fiction.
Nate and Charlie have known each other for a long time, but they don’t really have all that much in common other than the fact that they’re neighbors. Nate is the super-neurotic geek who is the head of the school robotics club. Charlie is the captain of the basketball team and a generally nice, down-to-earth guy. When extra money for extracurricular activities becomes unexpectedly available, the school decides that it will let the Student Council determine whether it goes to the robotics club (which needs the funds to go to national competition) or the cheerleaders (who need new uniforms). Nate really, really wants to take his robotics team to nationals and decides that he will personally run for Student Council president so that he will have a say over how the money is spent. The cheerleaders catch wind of this and decide that they will run Charlie in opposition to Nate, sparking a war between Nate and the cheerleaders.
This graphic novel is an amusing variation on the nerds vs. jocks genre. Instead of jocks being meat-head guys, we have scary-smart and ambitious cheerleaders to reckon with. Instead of stereotypical nerds, we have a diverse group of smart kids (including one very awesome girl and a pair of slightly odd twins). Charlie is neutral territory, in spite of being used by the cheerleaders who decide they are going to run his campaign. Charlie has no intention of being on Student Council and would really prefer not to get in the middle of the funding issue. When things get out of hand, however, it is Charlie that brings the voice of reason to the table. “Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong” is a genuinely fun read.
Adam Strand has killed himself 39 times. Most of them involve bridges or cliffs; Adam hates to leave a traumatizing mess for others. It’s not that he was simply unsuccessful in attempts at killing himself, he literally died each time, only to come back to life shortly after. It’s gotten to the point that the rest of the town treats these incidents with surprising nonchalance. If someone finds Adam, they simply pick him up and take him home; no reason to bother with the hospital. No one, least of all Adam, has any idea why Adam keeps coming back and only Adam knows why he keeps trying.
Adam is about as normal as it gets. He lives in an unnamed Southeastern Iowa town, right across the river from Illinois. There’s not a whole lot to do in town, so most of Adam’s free time is spent hanging out with the kids he’s known his whole life, drinking and hanging out under the bridge. Adam’s home life is decent; his grades are fine. His problem is mostly existential. Adam always seems to be fighting the urge to throw himself off of something. In his mind, it’s preferable to the grind of daily existence.
It’s not a cheerful premise, but it is darkly funny. Adam is sardonic and articulate. The characterizations of his friends and small town feel authentic. In spite of the fact that the main character of this book has committed suicide not once, but dozens of times, it is treated more as magical realism rather than a magical ability. Adam is not immortal; he has no other supernatural abilities; he is not a “chosen one”. He’s just a normal guy who desperately wishes he could end his own life, but for reasons beyond his comprehension, cannot. Don’t go into this one expecting blood and gore. It’s more of a coming-of-age story than anything else, but it’s definitely a story I haven’t heard before. For that, I am grateful. There was a lot of potential for this to be completely over-the-top, but it never crosses that line. It also leaves plenty of unanswered questions that will leave the reader pondering the ontological ramifications of growing up in the modern world.
This is Rafe’s camp story. Rafe and Georgia are sent to Camp Wannamorra for the summer. Georgia is part of the advanced academic side and Rafe is part of the trying to catch up side. Rafe is put into a cabin with the camp losers who are constantly picked on and bullied. Rafe and his camp mates have to take on Duelin and his gang. Most of the time they don’t come out on top and the counselors don’t seem to see a problem with the bullying. There is a lot of humor that will appeal to middle school boys. Rafe has a huge imagination which adds even more humor to the book. This isn’t really my type of book, but I do see why this series is popular. Rafe is a fun kid who will definitely appeal to reluctant readers and your average boy.
Robbie Darko wants to be a great magician. Last year’s talent show didn’t go so well so he wants to make sure this year is amazing. He tests out tricks on his family and they mostly go well. But then Grandma Melvyn moves in and takes over his room. She is old and crabby and doesn’t seem to like anyone until she starts teaching him magic. Turns out Melvyn used to be a big time magician until her partner died. Robbie and Melvyn become really close and get the big act for the talent show ready to go. It is everything Robbie hoped it would be and more.
Robbie is obsessed with magic and he is really good at it. I thought he made a different character than what you see in a lot of middle grade novels. His family is pretty typical for this type of book though. Overworked or absentee parents (or both) and a strange sibling. I really wanted more of Grandma Melvyn’s story since I found her fascinating. Robbie spends a lot of the book talking to the reader, which I found a bit distracting, but I am sure kids will enjoy.
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.
Foster McFee dreams of having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Macon Dillard’s goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Foster’s mother Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous in the little town of Culpepper. Until some unexpected events shake the town and its inhabitants-and put their big ambitions to the test. Full of humor, unforgettable characters, surprises, and lots and lots of heart, this is Joan Bauer at her most engaging.
My Darling Cecilia
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died . . .
Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret – something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick achieved it all – she’s an incredibly successful business woman, a pillar of her small community and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia – or each other – but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s devastating secret.
Kit MacMahon, growing up in the lakeside village of Loughshee, seems to lead a charmed life. She is the loved daughter of Martin MacMahon, the kindly local pharmacist, and Helen, his beautiful wife. She has a little brother, Emmett; a best friend, Clio, and a host of other friends.
But Kit worries about her mother. Helen MacMahon does not fit in with the people and the ways of Loughshee. She wanders alone by the lake night after night—until the dark windy night when she disappears and only her overturned rowboat is found near Loughshee’s shore.
Kit grows up in the small village without the mother she has loved and so staunchly defended, determined to carry out her mother’s last wishes that she should make something of her life. Though she moves to the city, Kit is constantly drawn back to Loughshee and the people who live there—Clio Kelly and their love/hate relationship; Clio’s father, Dr. Kelly, whose sister-in-law Maura has her eyes on Kit’s father; Philip O’Brien, who has loved Kit since childhood; and roguish Stevie Sullivan, who runs the garage and rules the affections of every woman for miles around.
Alexandriaville has been without a public library for 12 years. Luigi Lemoncello is a famous inventor of games and puzzles who grew up in Alexandriaville. He has turned the old bank into the most amazing library ever and in order to celebrate its opening he holds a contest for 12-year-olds. The winning 12 12-year-olds get to attend a lock-in at the library. It turns out to be more than a lock-in though. The library is full of games and puzzles the kids have to solve in order to find the way out of the library. The winners get to be Lemoncello’s spokesperson.
This book is a librarian’s dream book full of puzzles that require library knowledge to solve. The kids learn about the dewey decimal system and how the library is set up. The games are tricky using books and rebuses and library cards. The library itself is more wondrous than any library could ever be. I love how the characters are constantly referencing book titles; you could create a pretty good reading list from the titles listed in these pages. My only complaint was the characters. They are all pretty stereotypical with little depth. I think this is a book kids will gravitate towards though…who doesn’t love puzzles!
Everyone you know is fighting a great battle.
Time to step up. Time to step in. Time to say yes.
Bo’s dad is the commander of the Air Force Base they live on. Bo is in sixth grade and has a new teacher this year. Ms. Loupe is an Air Force brat so she knows all about life on the base. Her entire family is in the military including her brother Marc who is stationed in Afghanistan. Ms. Loupe is unlike any teacher the class has had before. She comes from a theater background and starts teaching them improv from day one. She has a TAPED SPACE where anything can happen and she brings in a ugly green couch for a prop. Gari is Bo’s cousin. She is forced to leave her home in Seattle and move in with Bo’s family when her mom, an Army nurse, is deployed to Iraq.
Marc is reported missing from his squad and when he is found he is gravely injured. This puts Ms. Loupe off her game and makes her step back from her class. In order to get Ms. Loupe back and to show how much they care for her, Bo, Gari and the rest of Class 208 enact Operation Yes. The plan is to get 100,000 LGM (little green men) and deploy them throughout the school. Each LGM can be purchased for a $1 donation and all proceeds will go to help wounded soldiers. Soon the students have started a nation-wide campaign and written a play about the soldiers. But best of all they have brought Ms. Loupe back to herself.
I didn’t think I would like this book as much as I did. The second reading was just as good as the first. It seems like such a simple story about kids on a military base, but it ended up being more than that. It was about hope and learning to accept the life you are given and making something of that life. It is about learning to say yes and what happens when you do. It is about being present in the lives of others and how your presence can affect others lives. I thought the kids were fantastic and very realistic. Their reactions were exactly like I would expect kids to react. I would definitely recommend this one to kids.
Eleanor and Park is the story of two teenagers in 1986 Omaha. They are both different and don’t quite fit in. They bond over comic books and music. Each day on the bus they become closer and closer without even speaking. Then one day they realize they can’t get enough of each other. It is first love in all its intensity. They are everything to each other and don’t need anyone or anything else.
I couldn’t get enough of this book. Eleanor and Park are both so intense in their own ways. Their love for each other is so all consuming. It is that first love where you don’t think you can go on without the other, where nothing else matters but being with that person. It is the first love where you don’t think anything else will ever compare. Their feelings were palpable and actually made me cringe at times because they were so intense. Her relationship with Park is a very good contrast to her horrible home life with a mother who has emotionally abandoned her children and an abusive step-father. I think I held my breath during the last few chapters of the book when everything came to a head. The ending left me wanting more and just a little bit heartbroken, but hopeful for the future.
The Year of Billy Miller is the story of Billy’s second grade year; his interactions with his teacher, his sister and his parents. Even though this is a longer book, it is still geared towards those beginning readers in second and third grade. The language is simple and easy to read and the stories are relatable to younger readers. I liked Billy and his family and thought all the stories were nice, realistic tales.
Protagonist Sam works for as a programmer for an online dating company. As he is filling out an online application in the hopes of meeting the right one, he realizes that none of the questions really tap into really meaningful issues. Even if meaningful questions were included, most people would lie. So, proposes that he writes a new software algorithm that taps into people’s financial statements. The good news is that it works really successfully in matching up couples. The bad news is that it is too successful and long term monthly signups drop. He is fired, then the grandmother of his new girlfriend Meredith – the perfect match from his algorith – dies. Meredith spends HUGE amounts of time moping and mourning her grandmother’s death. In an effort to return his love Meredith to her usual self, Sam creates another algorithm based on digital conversations between Meredith and her grandmother to recreate a digital version of the grandmother.
The book seems more like a mouthpiece to explore these complicated issues. Unfortunately, there is a HUGE amount of whining by most of the characters (I’m usually pretty sympathetic, but the characters are so hopeless and pathetic). Might have been better reading the book instead of listening to it.
Owen and Russ have always been the only twins around. Even though they don’t look alike or act alike or like the same things, they are still the twins. Then the Matthews twins move to town. They are everything Owen and Russ are not. They are identical in every way: they dress alike, look alike, have the same interests and even finish each others sentences. They are completely ensink on the basketball court where they are dominating the team. Owen is very jealous that he is not the star player anymore and that his friends/teammates are idolizing the twins. Russ isn’t really happy about it either, but he is more willing to give them a chance.
I almost didn’t finish this one. Just seemed so clunky and hard to read. Maybe if I had read the first book in the series I would have been more invested, but I didn’t. So I thought Owen was a real jerk and completely unlikeable. I thought the storyline was totally improbable and the Matthews twins almost impossible. The conflict did seem real if overblown, but the reactions of the kids was just kind of crazy. I also thought the ending was too hurried and perfect. Not really a book I would recommend.
While Violet’s mother is on vacation for the summer, Violet is sent to live with her artist father. After an embarrassing entrance at his art show, it becomes abundantly clear that her father is not particularly cut out to be a father. A wealthy Japanese art collector commissions Violet’s father for a mural in their Tokyo office and Violet finds herself heading off to Japan with her father and his business associates. In the meantime, the same associates have had priceless Van Gogh drawings stolen from their vaults. Violet suspects her father’s new girlfriend, but tells herself she’ll investigate more in Japan. Violet’s father sets himself to work on his mural while his employers deal with the Yakuza, claim to be the owners of the stolen art and imply that they will stop at nothing to get it back.
There are a lot of things that bothered me about this book. Many of the details are exceptionally convenient (Violet’s absent-minded father who can’t seem to be bothered to notice his daughter, the presence of Violet’s BFF who happens to be summering in Japan with her family, etc.), others are strictly red herrings. Violet is not particularly well-developed as a character, in spite of lengthy descriptions of her manga work-in-progress and her love of Japan. She is extremely naive and is fully convinced that she and her teenaged friend can solve a mystery before the Yakuza do. She never seems to question whether or not she is out of her depth. The mystery itself is totally convoluted and borderline confusing. The rest of the story isn’t well developed either, in spite of the fact that it drags on for 360 pages. There’s a lot of “telling” and not much “showing”. Odds are good the reader will figure out most of the mystery long before the characters do, provided they’re willing to stick it out to the end.