My last day of work for the school year was June 5, and I have had the pleasure to read a wide and varied assortment of books this first week off.
The first book I read was Countdown, the first of a planned trilogy on the 1960s. For those that are interested in paired texts, this novel has non-fiction throughout, which give the readers the context they need to understand the time period. The novel itself is a coming – of – age story, told by misunderstood middle child Fanny Chapman. It is set during the Cuban missile crisis, and sets up the Civil Rights Movement as well. In order for middle school students to understand the historical context, there are frequent breaks where historical nonfiction is included. An interesting novel in a mixed medium format. I did enjoy it, although I admit that sometimes the story felt contrived in order to explain the history of the time.
The second novel I read was also the first book in a series. Some of this comes from the fact that I have been pulling series books in the junior/senior high school library, and putting external labels on them so the order is clear. As a result, several interesting books have come to my attention. This one caught my attention because of the cover text that said, “Chocolate is contraband. Caffeine is illegal.” It is set in the near future, about 2 -3 generations away from our present time. There are shortages in several ways, and Anya, the protagonist of the novel, is the daughter of an infamous crime boss, the leader of the Balanchine family. This was a fascinating story, full of intrigue, star – crossed lovers, and difficult choices. I really enjoyed this one, and it was set in a slightly dystopian future, but the focus was really on the characters and their lives.
Novel number three was the fascinating start to the Iron Trial Series. I am a fan of both Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, and this did not disappoint. I am really excited to see where the rest of the series goes. While the premise of a magical test and magical school might appear to have similarities to other series, and I was reminded of A Wizard of Earthsea and Harry Potter, I did not see the end reveals coming – and I will leave it at that.
Counting by 7s was the fourth book of the week, and I found it to be rather interesting, although I found some of this to be a re-tread of common ground, in that the gifted child in the book, Willow Chance, seemed almost to have magical powers. The characters she encounters after a terrible tragedy are interesting, and interconnect in great ways, but I did find myself wondering about Roberta and Jimmy Chance on more than one occasion.
This was the book I was able to take from my local public library after I signed up for the adult reading program. It was a very interesting tale that alternated between the current time with the quest of Tristan to find out about his ancestors, and the story of Ashley Walsingham and Imogen Soames – Andersson, star crossed lovers from the past. I really enjoyed the sections from WWI and an early Everest expedition, but I did feel that some parts of Tristan’s story could have been a bit clearer, and I am glad to have the novel, because I think I need to re-read the ending a couple of times.
Finally, I ended the week with a personal indulgence. I love Agatha Christie novels, and I have a small collection of them. This was my newest addition, and it is an early Hercule Poirot story. They mystery was great, as usual, and I even figured out part of it! That is always a triumph for me with a Christie novel. My favorite part of this was Poirot’s delicious rivalry with a French detective.
What is everyone reading this summer? I had some extra time on my hands this week, as my car was in the shop on some rainy days, but we shall see how the rest of the summer goes.