Monday, November 22, 2021

All I Want for Christmas

I think this is only my second Nora Roberts book, but I sense a theme of beautiful people falling in love with each other. Zeke and Zack Taylor decide that for Christmas they want a mom. They write Santa early in the fall so that he has time to find them a perfect woman for their dad to fall in love wit. When Nell Davis moves to their small community as the new high school music teacher the twin boys are smitten. She's beautiful and nice and they are certain that she's the one Santa sent. Their dad, Mac does notice Nell and the attraction is mutual, but he's so worried about hurting his boys or having a woman walk out on his boys that he's not sure if he even wants to purse things with Nell. Will the boys get their Christmas wish or not. Predictable and cheesy, but okay for a holiday novella.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

I'm positive I read this in second or third grade and it was a delight to revisit it again. This is a book that could never be written now with kids smoking cigars add bullying run rampant in these pages. That being said it was a blast from the past and a look into a book and a childhood that is vastly different from modern times. The Herman kids are everyone's worst nightmares. They are bullies, they lie, steal, hit, and even smoke cigars. Kids and adults try to keep a wide berth. The weekends are the only time that kids get away from the Herdmans, they at least have Sunday school without those demons - that is until they eventually crash that party too. And what happens when they bully their way into the Christmas pageant. Will Christmas ever be the same again? Lots of fun. 

Quiet Until the Thaw

I didn't realize until after I read this that it wasn't even written by an indigenous author, which really explains a lot. The story seemed mostly inauthentic and jumped around so much as to make it distracting. Two Native American cousins, Rick Overlooking Horse and You Choose Watson grow up in similar circumstances yet turn out to have vastly different futures. One becomes a drunk looking for trouble and the other finds himself in Vietnam and then later raising two orphan boys. Far more than just their two lives intersecting there are short vignettes about their friends and others struggling on the reservation. Too jumpy and sporadic. There are good parts, they are just buried. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Emma in the Night

A thriller that sucks you in with it's leisurely pace and constant revelations. It may start slow, but it picks up steam all the way to the shocking conclusion. Cass and her sister Emma disappeared three years ago when they were both teenagers and Cass has come out of the woodwork and back to her mother's house. Everyone is shocked. Where has she been and where is her sister? Cass recounts to her family and the police about her time spent captive on an island and her sister being pregnant. They couldn't leave because of the baby. But how much of her story is true? Or is it all true and they've been barking up the wrong tree all along. Twisty and compelling although a little far fetched at times. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

Honestly one of the most engaging and eye opening middle grade books I've ever read. Perfect for getting young minds to either think about those who have to struggle to make ends meet or it's a mirror for others to see that they aren't alone. Seventh grader Zoey doesn't have time for homework or crushes or other fun middle school things - she's barely making ends meet. She has to take care of her three younger siblings every day after school while her mom works and it doesn't leave her much time to be a kid. Changing diapers, soothing tears, giving baths - it's exhausting - but when you're stuck in a cycle of poverty you have to do anything and everything to stay afloat. She wished she could be an octopus so she had eight arms to do eight things at once, plus they have great protective defenses. But she's at least grateful that they live in a clean trailer with her mom's boyfriend - but even though they live somewhere "nice" they have to put up with a lot of mean things from the owner. A story of finding your voice, gaining confidence, overpowering the odds, and not judging those who are trying their best. A great book about empathy.  

Monday, November 15, 2021

Birdie's Bargain

Emotional and heartfelt - this novel is perfect for middle grade readers who are dealing with a parent in the military, confusion about Christianity, and struggling with friends. Birdie is upset that their parents have to move their family into Gram's house while her father is deployed for a third time because money is too tight. She has to go to a new school, lose her friends, and sleep in the world's tiniest bedroom. But the worst part is her dad leaving, Birdie is convinced he will die in Iraq. The third time is the charm. She makes a bargain with God that she will pray and honor him if he just keeps her dad safe. But not all promises can be kept. A good fictional account on struggling with religion and trying to process grief and anger. She's also a far from perfect heroine so she is a relatable character for kids to read about. 

If Fried Chicken Could Fly

Intriguing - a cute cozy mystery that is the first in a series. Centered around Gram's Country Cooking School, Betts assists her grandma with teaching classes and catering food. When the body of a man grams was seeing is found in the maintenance room, all hell breaks loose. Grams is considered a suspect and briefly jailed. It's up to Betts to try and solve the crime - and hopefully before the big cookoff that brings all the tourists to town. She might be in more danger than she knows - but thankfully a cowboy comes to her aid as does her ex-boyfriend who has recently returned and become a cop. It was cute and quirky - but I could have done without the supernatural element.