Saturday, December 31, 2016

December in Books

Happy New Year's Eve!  I'm finishing off this year with my list of December books.  It's a good way to finish off the year since this is one of the goals that I've actually achieved this year - to do more reading.  Without further ado, here are my December reads:

Water for Elephants - by Sarah Gruen - fiction - 5 stars - The story of a boy whose parents die just as he is about to finish Vet school.  He runs off and joins the circus working with animals, and falls in love with one of the performers who is unfortunately married to another performer, who is not a nice man.  It's told as a series of flashbacks.  I love the depiction of circus life as well as the ending, a really good read.

Shelter - by Jung Yun - fiction - 4 stars - A really difficult book/story about a first generation Korean with a difficult relationship with his very well-to-do parents.  When a violent crime drives them together he struggles to let go of the past.  There are several twists, that I really was not expecting.  This was a compelling story, but definitely not a feel-good one.

Three Wishes - by Liane Moriarty - fiction - 4 stars - Normally Liane Moriarty is a 5 star shoe-in for me.  This book was a little harder to get into.  It was just choppier, and a little more fragmented, I found I really had to concentrate in the beginning to figure out what was happening.  I also liked the characters less than in other books by her.  Still a good read, but not the best.

They Dared Returned:  The True Stories of Jewish Spies Behind the Lines in Nazi Germany - by Patrick K. O'Donnell - 4 stars - A bit dry, but an interesting look at a group of Jewish men who escaped Europe and became U.S. citizens, and were recruited by the OSS to go back and conduct espionage during WWII (Operation Greenup).  This also discussed how they increased their numbers by identifying sympathetic German prisoners of war in Europe, and recruiting them to assist their efforts.  They are credited with helping to end the war early, and negotiating the surrender of Innsbruck.

Sunwing - by Kenneth Oppel - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - This is the sequel to Silverwing, which was one of Ellie's Battle Books.  It tells the continuing story of Shade and his search for his father.  Another really great story.  I really enjoy how he weaves together several narratives/threads and I'm looking forward to reading the third book in the series soon (Ellie got the box set for Christmas from my sister).

The Secret Box - by Whitaker Ringwald - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - The first book for Ellie's second Battle of the Books!  We had a great time sharing these books together.  Ellie's class did really well in the first battle coming in second, and she's determined that they'll win the next battle, so we've been furiously reading away.  This was a great book to start with.  Jax gets a mysterious present from an aunt that she has enver met.  It sends her on an adventure with her cousins to determine how to open the box.  As a result she saves her aunt and learns about her mysterious father as well.  I'm excited as this is the first of a series and I'm sure we'll be reading them all.

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief - by Wendelin Van Draanen - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - Another Battle Book.  If you like detectives/mysteries this will be a good find.  It was a fun read, and it's a series of books.  Sammy and her friends are funny and clever, we'll definitely be reading more of these.

First Light - by Rebecca Steed - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - Another Battle Book.  This was such a good story, about a boy named Peter who is going to Greenland with his scientist parents to study global warming and group of people who fled England many years ago because they were considered witches.  The way these two groups/stories intersect is really wonderful and I loved how it all came together.

Mossflower - by Brian Jacques - juvenile fiction - 4 stars - This is the second book in the Redwall series (which was one of the books from the first Battle of the Books).  The first book referred to Martin the Warrior, whose sword Matthias had to locate in order to save the Abbey.  This book tells the story of Martin.  It was a little slower than Redwall, but still very enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to reading more from this series.

Spring Fever - by Mary Kay Andrews - fiction - 5 stars - Another great read from Mary Kay Andrews.  She has such great characters, they really make you love them.  This is the story of Annajane Hudgens who is ready to move away from her hometown to start a new life, but is drawn back into the affairs of her best friend's family, which is incidentally also her ex-husband's family.  Fun, funny, and very satisfying.

Crossing to Safety - by Wallace Earle Stegnar - fiction - 5 stars - The book traces the friendship of two couples, the struggles in their marriages, and how they help one another through time and really become family to one another.  It's uplifting, and sad all at the same time, and definitely worth reading.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne - fiction - 5 stars - I'll say that the format of this book (a play) is not my favorite.  It took a while to get used to it, and I feel like it breaks up the story/flow as you're reading, but what a great story.  I love the lesson about changing the past as well as the fact that there is good in everyone, that the person you think must be very bad can actually be very good.  I'd love to see this on stage someday.

What Was Mine - by Helen Klein Ross - fiction - 5 stars - Such a thought provoking book.  About decisions and consequences and right and wrong.  It's about how Lucy abducts a baby and raises her as her own and the repercussions once this is discovered 20 years later.  The difficulty is that you like each of the individuals involved, in a black and white situation, you feel a whole lot of gray.

Iron Thunder - by Avi - historical juvenile fiction - 5 stars - The story of Sam Carroll, who is part of the crew of the Union ship the Monitor during the Civil War.  Sam is first part of the group building the vessel and then serves on the crew.  Sam's back story is compelling and this is a great way to introduce some history to kids.

That's it for this month.  I went to the library the other day and was all kinds of out of control....I've got a stack of eight books already for next month.....

Read something good this month?  Please share!

1 comment:

  1. Still boggles my mind how you have time to read books amidst everything else . . . where do you go to for your book recommendations?