Janie Face to Face by Caroline B. Cooney | Do you remember The Face on the Milk Carton? It was published back in 1990 and was an important book in my childhood, about a girl who saw a picture of herself on a milk carton ad about an abducted child. This book is the last of the Janie books, and I think it was mostly nostalgia and the desire for a neat conclusion that drove me to read it. The sad truth is that I didn’t find it well-written, which confused me and made me wonder if maybe Milk Carton hadn’t been as good as I’d thought. So I went back to it, and no– it still held up. But Janie Face to Face just didn’t. It covered years much too quickly, and it made Janie and Reeve seem a bit ridiculous. It was a let-down, but at least now I know what happened to everyone!
Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith | This book was fascinating and visceral, exciting and sad and overwhelming. It’s the story of Kiri, a piano prodigy whose parents leave her at home for a month while they travel the world, and about what happens while they’re gone (hint: a lot). It was an eye-opening look at bipolar disorder, and I’ve already added Smith’s next book to be TBR list, though it doesn’t come out till May.
Undivided by Neal Shusterman | Wow, okay. So, you guys know that I have been dying for this final book in the Unwind Dystology, and it did not disappoint! In fact, I have a confession to make: at one point, I was so overwhelmed with the story that I had to peek at the ending. Isn’t that just awful? I try not to do that, but Shusterman is such an intense, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, nothing-is-too-sacred-to-keep writer that I just had to. Anyway, I was very, very pleased with the book, and I’m going to write up a whole blog post about this series, since I’m such a big fan. I highly recommend this series but have to warn you: it contains some of the most intense scenes I’ve ever read. Actually, the first book– Unwind— has a scene that might haunt me till the day I die. Worth. It.
Magnolia by Kristi Cook | This book was billed as a “backward Romeo and Juliet“– that is, the families want the kids together, but the kids are not interested. It wasn’t really my cup of tea (or sweet tea– it’s a Southern novel!) because I didn’t think the main characters had much chemistry. (Gosh, I hate bad-mouthing books because I know how much work goes into them! I’m sure lots of other people will like this book, but it wasn’t for me.)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater | I’ve basically been frothing at the mouth for this book, and– as one would expect from Maggie Stiefvater– it was fantastic. Her characters just kill me. They are so deep and complicated and broken and beautiful. I hope that someday I can write such intense, complex characters as Stiefvater does. To be honest, I’d not be particularly interested in the premises of her books (which tend to be about things like mythical water horses and sleeping Welsh kings), but the characters make everything more than worth it. This is the third book in a four-book series, so I’ll return to my frothing-at-the-mouth for now.
Shaking the Trees by Azra Tabassum | Another poet I found via Tumblr. I really liked this book, though I did think that the poems suffered a tiny bit from her young age. One thing that I really loved about this collection of poems was that there was a narrative arc to the poems. You actually follow a couple through the highs and lows of their relationship as you go through the pages, which was incredibly satisfying and something I’ll be looking for in future poetry books.
And for the little readers …
The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak | This book is so much fun! It doesn’t have pictures, but the words are so fun and goofy that kids will love it anyway. I love the way that Novak is able to display the power of words alone to young readers via this book. I bought several copies already.
This is a Poem that Heals Fish by Jean-Pierre Simeon | My friend Kathy Ellen Davis, a fantastic children’s writer herself (check out her website here!), sent me this book, and it was fun and lovely and a super adorable search for the answer to What exactly is a poem? I loved it so much and can’t wait to read it to my favorite kiddos!
What have you been reading lately?