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Cerrito’s first novel is excellent. Ryan is incarcerated for murder. His story is revealed gradually, alternating flashbacks to his life before the murder with present day scenes from his time in Great Oaks School. The tension throughout the book is just perfect, and “what really happened” is revealed at just the right time. This book would be excellent for middle schoolers, and lends itself to many meaningful writing assignments.

After committing an unspeakable crime one rainy night, Allison is sent to prison. Her sister Brynn is left to deal with their parents, their high school friends, and her guilt at being the only one who knows what really happened that evening. I’d categorize Gudenkauf’s books as “chick lit suspense.” Fans of Jodi Piccoult and Kristin Hannah will appreciate it. I also very much enjoyed her first novel, The Weight of Silence.

Book Overload

08th October 2009

The stack of books on my desk, waiting to be reviewed, is insurmountable.  I will never get to them all.  So for the sake of time, I need to do a combo post.  Here are the books I’ve been reading the past few weeks.  Most of them have been fantastic:

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf–Two young girls are missing in the woods.  Told through multiple perspectives, the families work to find their girls, and one of the girls, Callie, works to regain her voice.  I had a hard time putting this one down.

Day After Night by Anita Diamant–A fictional account of the October 1945 rescue of Jewish detainees from the Atlit internment camp in Israel.  A grim reminder that the plight of the Jews didn’t end with the surrender of Germany.

The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam–The autobiographical account of Somaly Mam, who was sold into prostitution in Cambodia as a young girl, was able to escape, and returned to help other girls.  An amazing and heartbreaking story that continues today.

While I’m Falling by Laura Moriarty–A college student and her mom try to figure life out.  I love the way Moriarty writes about mother-daughter relationships.

Blood on the River: James Town 1607 by Elisa Carbone–A fictional account of Samuel Collier, page to Captain John Smith and his journey to Jamestown.  I read this after having visited Jamestown Settlement.  The book brings the familiar story to life.

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick–I can’t believe I didn’t discover this book earlier!  A love of reading and writing saves a dystopic civilization.  Great book.

Lost and Found by Andrew Clements–Twin brothers take turns going to school, and in the process, discover who they are as individuals.  Not my favorite by Clements, but well done nonetheless.

Shackleton’s Stowaway by Victoria McKernan–One of the most amazing adventure stories I’ve ever read, based on the real journey made by Ernest Shackleton and his crew as they attempted to cross the Antarctic continent in 1914.  Highly recommended.

Foreign Body by Robin Cook

08th February 2009

Your typical Robin Cook novel with evil corporate villains, sleuthing doctors and unsuspecting patients.  Told in Cook’s subdued, understated tone that downplays the seriousness of the subject matter.  For example, upon discovering that her friend has been kidnapped, Laurie’s reaction is to say, “This is a major disaster.”  You think?  Cook’s books help pass the time in a waiting room, but are usually a last resort for me.

Widows & Orphans (Rachael Flynn Mystery Series #1)Attorney Rachael Flynn must find out the truth behind a murder that her brother says he committed.  I enjoyed this Christian mystery for several reasons:

  • Christian fiction that doesn’t “preach” at you is hard to come by.  Meissner doesn’t preach.
  • Christian romance without nauseatingly handsome and perfect men is hard to come by.  Meissner’s men are nice and normal.
  • Christian fiction usually has the same tired cast of characters.  Meissner’s characters are more unique.

And an aside, the main character had a 2 month old baby, which is the age of my daughter.  So I enjoyed the mother-baby sub story, although Meissner should have spent a little more time with a real 2 month old before writing the book.  Rachael’s fictional baby sleeps til 7 every morning, sleeps all night long, takes 3 hour afternoon naps, and can be bathed, nursed and sleeping in 40 minutes.  I’d love to meet that baby!

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