Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins. I had been saving the ARC I received of Secret Keeper for a treat and because I thought that a review closer to the time of publication would be more helpful to readers. In December I succumbed, and read it. (I’m counting it for January because I reviewed it in January, and it was published in January.) Such a powerful story! I so wanted everything to turn out just like the fairy tales, and yet I felt as I read that it couldn’t have beenwritten it any other way. It’s a story that bridges cultures and creates understanding and makes even WASPs like me feel a twinge of identification with the characters and their very human situations.
I Choose To Be Happy: A School Shooting Survivor’s Triumph Over Tragedy by Missy Jenkins with WIlliam Croyle. I received an ARC of this autobiography/memoir of a survivor of the 1997 Paducah, KY school shootings. It was readable, but not classic literature. There’s lots of psycho-babble, a deep and believable faith, and some good ideas on forgiveness.
Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner. The first president, and the first biography in my American Presidents Project. Next up is David McCullough’s John Adams. Semicolon review of The Indispensable Man.
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale. Semicolon review here.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. What fun! 2008 National Book Award FInalist. Cybils Young Adult Fiction FInalist. Frankie Landau-Banks is an intriguing and complicated character, and I enjoyed getting to know her. Semicolon review here.
A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth Bunce. Rumplestiltskin for grown-ups. Pagan witchiness and magical realism. Cybils Fantasy and Science FIction Finalist. Recommended by Miss Erin. Semicolon review here.
The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson. Odd alternative history/science fiction/ghost story/espionage novel. Yeah, all that plus politics, seances, terrorism and murder, with a bit of schoolgirl romance. Cybils Fantasy and Science FIction Finalist. Semicolon review here.
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. Another Cybils finalist, Brown Bear Daughter and I both thought it was just so-so. Not bad, but a little obsessive in its treatment of childhood friends who experience a traumatic event and then can’t forget one another or move on to other relationships. But the two, a teenage boy and a girl, insist that they are not in love with each other.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Wow! Fascinating, thrilling, and thought-provoking YA dystopian fiction. Semicolon review here.
Prodigals and Those Who Love Them by Ruth Bell Graham. Rather than a book by Mrs. Graham about prodigals, this is a compilation of poems, devotional thoughts, Biblical passages, stories, etc. about prodigals and those who love them. I sort of skimmed through and prayed for my own prodigal.
Home by Marilynne Robinson. Reading this sort-of-sequel to Gilead made me want to go back and re-read that book.
Heaven: Your Real Home by Joni Eareckson Tada. January selection for Semicolon Book Club.
Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher. Good historical fiction set in the Great Depression, with some language and disturbing elements. For older teens and adults. Semicolon review here.
Wake by Lisa McMann. Seventeen year old Janie gets sucked into other people’s dreams. I didn’t like it as much as Jen did.
Schuyler’s Monster by Robert Rummel-Hudson. Semicolon review here.
Paper Towns by John Green. Not my favorite of the three books I’ve read by Mr. Green. I’d suggest An Abundance of Katherines if you want to check out this writer. All three books (Looking for Alaska, Abundance, and this one) are funny, but only in Abundance did I find that I really liked the characters and believed in them.
The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper. Fluff, teen romance with touches of Shakespeare.
Have You Found Her by Janice Erlbaum. Memoir of a difficult experience in counseling and mentoring a troubled teen. Semicolon review here
Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris. Mystery set in Saudi Arabia with Muslim detectives, a man and a woman, and lots of religious and sexual tension. Not explicit, but definitely culturally enlightening. Semicolon review here.
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson. Fascinating stuff. I just finished this one, and the review will be forthcoming.
Holes by Louis Sachar. I just finished this 1999 Newbery Award winner last night. Quirky, weird, and fun are the best adjectives I can think of to describe it. However, be warned that there is some rather nasty violence for such an imaginative and seemingly fantastical story.
Twenty-one books read in January.
Favorite young adult books of the month: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or The Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins.
Favorite adult fiction book: Home by Marilynne Robinson.
Favorite nonfiction: Have You Found Her by Janice Erlbaum.
Emerging theme for the month: Prodigals, finding lost people, and what to do with them once they’re found. Can anyone really turn another person’s life and path back to God? What can be done to help someone who’s lost other than pray?
It was good month for reading.