One Day in December by Josie Silver

Book Cover of One Day In December

Laurie and Sarah, best friends since college, are beginning their adult lives as roommates in London. A dilapidated flat is their home sweet home. Parties, work, and living on a shoe string budget is the faze of life, and they live it with vigor. One day, Laurie is riding the bus home, it stops, the doors open, and she locks eyes with a handsome stranger. The attraction is instant, not just physical, but an unspoken connection. The bus doors close, the handsome stranger is gone. Laurie is left haunted, wondering and longing to know who he was. Laurie and Sarah go through many fazes together, but Laurie’s flame for this mysterious man remains.

This book was a welcome respite from holiday hustling. It is simple, charming, but not cheesy or forced. There were plot turns that I didn’t always see coming. It is a love story, reminiscent of the greats, Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones Diary, or You’ve Got Mail. I deeply appreciated the sweet unfolding of the romance, the painful upsets, and unexpected joys.  One Day In December is a light and lovely read for December coziness, or to beat the January blues.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: One Day in December: A Novel

 

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick 

the curious charms of arthur pepperThis is the summer book I have been longing for. Charming, heartwarming, but nuanced with emotions. Arthur, our main character, lost his wife and has bridled his pain with routine. Eating the same breakfast, watering his fern, and dressing the same way each day. Arthur wakes up on the first anniversary of his wife’s death, ready for the same routine. However, he stumbles upon an unfamiliar piece of jewelry in his wife’s things. A fully decorated charm bracelet. After discovering there is meaning behind one charm, he is off on a journey to find the meaning behind these tiny symbols.  Arthur finally breaks out of his routine and finds out much more than he ever wanted to know. However, in the process, he finds himself. It may sound trite or cliché, but it was a lovely little story. Light, but not fluff, true to the human experience, but not too sad. I am thankful I found this little treasure.

 

 

 

3 Read Alouds for Home or School

Friends are always asking me what they should read next with their children . I loved these three middle grade novels for their unique worlds and dynamic characters. Appropriate grade levels and independent reading levels are included.

The Heartwood Hotel: A True Home by Kallie George 

The Heartwood HotelMona the mouse gets separated from her family in a terrible storm. She wanders through the woods and stumbles upon The Heartwood Hotel. On a stormy night she finds shelter, and the most magnificent home. There are perches for the birds, burrows for the badgers, and a home for little Mona.  The kind owner gives her a job and a place to stay. Life at the Heartwood is not always easy. Her co worker Tilly is nothing but a pest, and Mona misses her family terribly. However, she finds community and belonging. This book is enchanting, and delightful. The world building is charming, and any animal loving child will eat these books up.

Read Aloud to K-4th Grades. 3rd Grade Independent Reading Level.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Heartwood Hotel, Book 1 A True Home

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

the wild robotRoz the robot washes up on an isolated Island.  When her button is pushed, and she is turned on, she explores and meets all the wild inhabitants of the Island. She soon discovers a little gosling in need of care. Roz begins a journey of learning to mother the gosling and trying to fit in with all the other animals.  Not every animal is trusting of outsiders, and Roz faces many challenges. This book is engaging and sweet. The themes of acceptance and friendship are a wonderful springboard to conversation with children. Read Aloud to 2-5th graders.  5th Grade Independent Reading Level.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Wild Robot

Winter House by Ben Guterson 

Winter HouseElizabeth comes home from school to find her mean aunt and uncle have left for the holidays. She is being sent to the mysterious Winter House hotel. This is the best twist of fate Elisabeth has had in years. Winterhouse is an unusual and enchanting old hotel at the foot of a mountain. Elisabeth meets the all the quirky guests and the peculiar owner, Norbridge Falls. Soon she has met a friend her age, and life has never been better. With fluffy treats baked fresh each day, skiing, ice skating, and the most extensive library anyone has ever seen, Winter house is truly paradise. Until some strange events begin to unfold, and Elisabeth finds herself in the middle of an old family mystery. This book was fantastic, you will wish you could book a room in Winter house, it is reminiscent of the world of Harry Potter. I loved it, and I know children will too. Perfect for 3rd-6th grades. 6th grade independent reading level.

To purchase this book on Amazon, click here:  Winterhouse

 

 

Book Club Choice -Read with us!

84 Charing cross roadAll the British Authors I follow on Twitter have been singing the praises of this short novel, told in letters.  It was published back 1970, it is a book of correspondence between a free lance writer in New York, and a book seller in London. I love epistolary books, and so far this is charming.  What are your book clubs reading lately?

To Purchase this book from Amazon, click here:

84, Charing Cross Road

 

Spy Stories for Smart Kids

I love the smart girl movement, but I couldn’t leave boys out of this post.  These brilliant books appeal to middle grade readers of either gender. Strong, incredible women write strong books, and I am luck enough to have met both of these authors.

Amanda Hosch is a Seattle writer, and her book just launched here at the University Bookstore yesterday.

Amanda's Launch Party 39

Amanda surrounded by her cheerleaders, and women I feel lucky enough to call friends.

Amanda's Launch Party 14

Amanda looking incredibly intelligent as she reads an excerpt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mabel Opel Pear and the Rules for Spying by Amanda Hosch 

MOP and the rules for spyingMabel Pear lives in a small town under Mt. Ranier, where cell service is spotty, the locals are quirky, and things get very complicated. Mabel’s parents are spies. Her aunt runs the local diner, a spoon museum, and cares for Mabel while they are on missions. Mabel is training to be a spy of her own. When her parents cannot be reached, and a new local detective is acting suspicious, Mabel’s spy skills get tested.
This book is fantastic. It appeals to boys and girls, has a rich setting, a smart and lovable main character, everything you want in a perfect middle grade novel. Purchase it for your child or classroom, or read it as an adult. I loved it.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying

The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan

Detectives-Assistant-Cover-largeCornelia is 11 years old, feisty, without a soul in the world to care for her. Her only living relative is a long lost Aunt Kate in Chicago. Cornelia finds herself dropped on the doorstep of a suspicious, bristly woman.  She does not want a child, especially an unkempt, wild, willful girl like Cornelia.  Her aunt is Kate Warne, a secret detective. Cornelia is full of spunk, but she is also fearless and street smart. She proves to be somewhat useful in solving Kate’s detective cases. Aunt Kate keeps her around, yet the threat of dropping her off with an orphanage is always present. Kate Warne was actually the first woman detective in Chicago. This story combines the factual history with a sweet, adventurous, and wild tale.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Detective’s Assistant

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Kate won the Golden Kite Award, a big deal. However, when I met her at the Writer’s conference in LA, she was hilarious and down to earth, she’s’ showing off my little business cards while she holds her award. We laughed hard, and she was inspiring to everyone who listened to her tale of publication perseverance.

 

2 Memoirs of Change Makers

Memoir is a hard genre for me to embrace, but these books were powerful eye openers. Both of these men stopped the cycle of poverty and abuse, through their choices and owning their stories. Never victimizing their misfortune, but simply stating the truth of tough circumstances. Their lives are somewhat parallel, despite cultural differences, I recommend reading both, they are fascinating to compare and contrast.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

you dont have to say you love meSherman Alexie’s book helped me recognize and rectify the stereotypes I had formed about Indians and life on a reservation. Sherman grew up in Spokane on a reservation.  I had never understood all layers of pain, loss, and abuse that built the foundation for many Indians in America. I cried reading his childhood memories of white teachers abusing him and his classmates daily during school. The atrocities are horrific, the potential for evil against our fellow human beings is overwhelming.  As I read I kept rejoicing in knowing this story so I can choose the light, instead of the dark.  Sherman grew up in a half-finished barely insulated home. He endured winter months without light or heat, waiting for Sherman’s mother to sew a quilt, sell it, and pay the utility bills.

Sherman Alexie endured such immense pain in his youth, some inflicted by his mother, some by the reservation community. Sherman retells  his mother’s history as best he can, she was a consistent liar, so he has pieced her years together through siblings and relatives stories mixed with his mothers.  He chronicles the abuse she survived, his memories of her, and his journey to forgive her. He captures the essence of loving and being loved by deeply flawed people. Pain mixed with tender adoration, mixed with rage, mixed with mourning. If you read only a few books this year, put this on your list. It is necessary to understand the evils others have endured to fight for the good in this world. Read it with your book club, it is moving, hard, tender, and wonderful, and gut wrenching. Worth every moment spent reading.

To Purchase this book, click here:You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir

The Hillbilly Elegy 

hillbilly elegyI can see why Hillbilly Elegy struck such a chord with readers. As a West Coast resident for twenty years, it helped explain the hopelessness of towns left with no economy. J.D’s story could be told from any poor part of the United States. At the heart, it is the story of growing up with violence and trauma in your home and those residual effects. I have met children in Seattle who have stories like J.D.’s. However, his story is intensified by the culture of drugs and joblessness in his rural residence. This book reads like a story, at times you cannot believe his experiences, but also cannot stop reading. I thought a lot about the recovery process, the healing an abused brain and heart has go through. Reading J.D.’s story, it is inspiring to see his tenacity for creating healthy habits, and breaking away from patterns of destruction. His story ended with an impressive degree from Yale Law. However, after living through J.D’s story,  going to college, staying off drugs, and contributing to society is simply impressive. This book led to very thoughtful discussion, a thoughtful book for book clubs.

To Order on Amazon, click here: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

 

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

the alice networkCharlie boards a ship to Europe with her mother, pregnant, unwed, and a little angry. The Second World War has just ended, and nothing is right in Charlie’s life, or the world. Fed up with her mother, she sets out on her own as soon as she reaches England. Charlie’s cousin Rose, is missing in France.  She has one lead, a woman named Eve, and all the determination in the world.

Eve worked in a ring of women spies in World War One. Her job left her broken, bitter, and alone. Along comes Charlie, with questions Eve does not want to hear, much less answer. However, Eve must face the past eventually. Charlie and Eve form a very unlikely relationship and set out to find Rose.

The Alice Network flips back and forth between Eve and Charlie, and the First and Second World Wars. It is thrilling, distressing, and intriguing. There are many World War Two novels, however the timelines from each war weave together to deliver a fresh twist. The work of female spies is impressive, the author’s research at the end of the book is fascinating. An entertaining story from beginning to end.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Alice Network: A Novel