The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt - nonfiction - 5 stars - This book had me hooked right from the beginning. It's kind of a fascinating look at how outside influences shape a person. It follows the life of Theo Decker whose mother is killed in an act of terrorism. He survives, but makes a decision that affects his life to come. He's taken in by a friend's family, then his estranged father, then a benefactor, his choice in friends radically shapes his life. He struggles with good and bad, right and wrong. Sometimes I sympathized with him, often I didn't, but I was really drawn into this book. It's very long, but I think worth it.
The Land of Silver Apples - Nancy Farmer - juvenile fiction- 5 stars - The sequel to one of Ellie's Battle Books from last semester (Sea of Trolls), this follows Jack on another adventure as he goes to rescue his sister Lucy from the Lady in the Lake. I really love how Farmer blends Nordic and British mythology in this series.
Mattimeo - Brian Jacques - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - Another of the Redwall books. I especially enjoyed this one since it has many of the same characters as the original Redwall book, but the focus is on Matthias' son Mattimeo. It was lovely to revisit some much loved characters.
The Islands of the Blessed - Nancy Farmer - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - The final book in the Sea of Trolls trilogy, and just as good as the other two. It's a great conclusion to the series, although somewhat bittersweet. Jack and Thorgill are still young, I would love to learn more about what happens to them later in life, I feel like there is so much more that could be written about these characters.
Salamandastron - Brian Jacques - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - Another Redwall book, this one more focused on the badgers at Salamandastron, although certainly Redwall figures in as well. This is another series I'd recommend for boys in the 5-6th grade range.
Lowji Discovers America - Candace Fleming - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - One of Ellie's Battle Books. It's the story of an Indian boy whose parents emigrate to the U.S. and how he adjusts and makes friends. I loved what a positive attitude he had, if you have a kid who is often more glass half empty than half full, this is a really great perspective.
All the Answers - Kate Messner - juvenile fiction - 4 stars - Another of Ellie's Battle Books. It was a cute story about a girl who finds a pencil that answers her questions. She uses it to help with some school work, but also ends up finding out the answers to some more difficult questions. There are good lessons here about self-control, how much knowledge is too much, friendship, etc.
Dark Matter - Blake Crouch - science fiction - 5 stars - This was a recommendation from Stephanie Howell, whose blog I follow. I don't read a ton of science fiction, but this was a really cool story. Totally engrossing, and it really makes your mind think differently. I read it in a day. So good.
The Magnolia Story - Chip and Joanna Gaines - biography - 5 stars - My MIL gave this to me as an early birthday present when she and my FIL came up to watch the kids while I was on travel. We love their show and their personalities, so it was fun to read about how they met and grew their business. It was funny because when I unwrapped the book, Carina immediately shouted "Chip and Jo!" and Ellie has since co-opted the book and is reading through it herself.
Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty - fiction - 4 stars - I always enjoy Liane Moriarty's books. They come together so expertly. The story here centers around an accident at a barbecue where a little girl almost drowns and how it affects each of the individuals at the barbecue. I gave it four stars because it really took me a while to get into it, but by about halfway through the book I was hooked. I really love how she ties up all the loose ends and brings the story to a satisfying conclusion.
Once We Were Sisters: A Memoir - Sheila Kohler - biography - 3 stars - I've decided that maybe I don't like memoirs. Written by a woman who lost her sister to a car accident she believes was a calculated homicide by her abusive husband. The life of this woman is quite fascinating, but the format of the book, hopping back and forth in time, little snippets here, and there, to me is not as effective as a chronological version of events.
The Rent Collector - Camron Wright - fiction - 5 stars - About a woman, Sang Ly, who lives in a dump in Cambodia. She learns that the rent collector, Sopeap Sin, who is not a nice person, can read and convinces her to teach her to read. As Sang Ly learns to read and her mind grows from the study of literature, she and Sopeap develop a friendship and Sang Ly learns how it is that Sopeap came to live in the dump in the first place. Last month I read Wright's book, The Orphan Keeper, and this one was just as good. It was an amazing story of loss, sacrifice, redemption, and hope.
What's next? Well I'm currently reading We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter, and on my bedside table are The Nazi Officer's Wife, Swiimming Across, and the next Redwall book. What are you reading?