Sunday, March 1, 2020

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✰

Oak Knoll is a good neighborhood. Everyone has always gotten along fairly peaceably, but when the Whitmans move into a giant new home they constructed in Oak Knoll, trouble begins to brew. 

This novel raises interesting questions about race, family and how easy it can be to jump to conclusions. Fast paced and cleverly written with the collective "we" of the neighborhood narrating.

Thank you to Reading with Robin and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read an advance copy of this novel. All opinions are my own.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✰

Everyone who lives in the Protectorate has always lived in fear of the witch. Each year they leave an infant in the woods as an offering so she will leave them in peace. The witch, however, is kind and gentle and every year goes and rescues the baby that the Protectorate has abandoned. This is the story of one of those children.

My 9 and 12 year old and I simply adored this book. We fell in love with Luna, Xan, Glerk and Fyrian. Great for grades 4-8.

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✰✰

Beautiful descriptions of details and perfect for writers! Alas, I am not a writer so I struggled a bit with the first half of this book but I do feel like writers would connect more with the main character during this portion and would better understand her struggles. The second half picked up pace and I was able to relate to the main character, Casey, much better. I struggled with my rating on this one. The first half got a 2 and the second half got a 4 so I went with a 3 overall. Read this if you are a writer or if you have ever felt anxious because your life wasn't going the way you wanted it to and you want to feel understood and hopeful.

Thank you to NetGalley & Grove Atlantic for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✰✰

Three young sisters Delphine, Vonetta and Fern go to California to spend a month getting acquainted with the mother that abandoned them just after Fern was born. Their mother, Camille, is a poet and a member of the Black Panthers and the girls have one crazy summer indeed while largely fending for themselves. 

I listened to this book on audio with my 9 and 12 year old and, while I expected a little bit more from it, we enjoyed this little slice of life from another time.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

You won't want to put this funny, yet heart-wrenching story down! Lydia Bird is thrilled to be marrying the love of her life, Freddie Hunter, in just a few short months when he dies in a car accident. The story line follows two paths, one where Lydia struggles to figure out who she is without Freddie and one where she is able to continue on her path as if nothing ever happened and Freddie Hunter is still alive and well.

I absolutely fell in love with Lydia and was cheering for her successes and crying through her struggles. This book reminded me of "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" with the loveable, yet broken main character and "What Alice Forgot" where the main character is struggling between two "realities".

Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

This Won't End Well by Camille Pagán

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✰✰

Annie Mercer's fiance has decided that he needs some space and has flown off to Paris and asked her not to contact him. Meanwhile Annie is home alone and has sworn off meeting new people but life doesn't alway go the way we plan!

I loved Annie's quirkiness, unpredictability and strength. The first part of the novel, while entertaining was a little slow for me but it picked up and had me flipping the pages with a smile on my face.

Thank you to Camille Pagan, the Tall Poppy Writers and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Shine! by JJ & Chris Grabenstein

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✰

I read this with my 9 and 12 year old and hosted the Kids Reading Club discussion of it for our local bookstore. Piper doesn't think she was born to "shine". When she switches to a new school she struggles to find her place and to learn how she can truly shine. Loads of astronomy facts and good talking points about the importance of being kind to others. Perfect for grades 3-7.

Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

My 9 year old son and I both adored this sweet story about a boy who tries to help a dog that is being mistreated by a local man.Great lessons about hard choices, how lies beget lies and how sometimes there can be more than one "right" thing to do.

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I can't say enough about this book. I love a book that allows me to see life from a different perspective and that makes me think. "This Is How It Always Is" accomplished that and so much more. Claude is not yet in Kindergarten but he knows what he wants to be when he grows up: a girl. This novel is about the struggles of parenting, impossible choices, overcoming obstacles, the bonds of friendship, the pros and cons of secrets, the love of family, and just LIFE. It's funny, heart-wrenching, devastating and so very hopeful, all at the same time. I didn't want to finish it and now that it's over I want to go back and read it again.