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Looking for a fresh start, Travis and his father moved to a tiny town in Newfoundland.  Travis’ father immediately settles into his role as the town doctor, but Travis, still grieving over the loss of his mother, struggles to find his place.  When a bully marks Travis as his target on Travis’ first day of school, Travis knows that his new town will never be home.  But then Travis discovers a group of wild cats, who will certainly freeze to death during the fierce Canadian winter…unless Travis can figure out a way to help them.

Travis’ battles–to make friends, save the cats, defeat the bully, conquer his grief and find a home–drew me in immediately.  Readers of all ages will relate to this book, but middle school boys in particular will devour MacLean’s first book.  AND, I just discovered that MacLean wrote a follow-up book about one of the female characters, Prinny Murphy.  How cool would it be for the girls in a 6th grade class to read Prinny’s story and the boys to read Travis’ story?  Or better yet, the girls can read from the boys point-of-view, and the boys can read from the girls’.

Meg is a modern day woman who has no use for her great-grandmother’s diaries, as famous as they may be.  The diaries chronicle her great-grandmother Hannah’s arrival on the New Mexican frontier in the 1890’s, and Meg’s grandmother, Claudia, has spent her life researching the diaries and getting them published.  Meg has always lived in the shadow of the diaries, and has not even read them, until she is strong-armed into accompanying Claudia back to New Mexico to tie up a few loose ends.

Once Claudia and Meg arrive in New Mexico, new discoveries about Hannah’s life are made, and Meg begins to read the diaries.  She is instantly captivated by Hannah’s story, and becomes intent on solving the mystery swirling around Hannah’s death.

This is one of those books that takes awhile to get into, but once your are, you can’t put it down.  The strong female character, doing what needed to be done to survive on the frontier, reminded me somewhat of Turner’s These is My Words.

Lost by Jacqueline Davies

05th March 2010

I was at the library, juggling both of my kids, when I spotted this book.  Normally I don’t even bother looking for my own books when both kids are with me (most of my book browsing is done on-line these days.)  But the cover caught my eye, so I snatched it up as the 3 of us whirled by, and I’m so glad that I did.  The simple cover (hats and a scarf on a hook) and short, somewhat vague title — Lost–was the outer shell of an exciting book with a unique perspective on The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, an event about which I’ve read several books.

I’ve been trying to summarize the plot without giving anything away, and can’t.  So I’m not going to even try.  This is a fantastic book, hard to put down, and the suspense builds with each chapter.  Go read this book.

Slob by Ellen Potter

07th September 2009

It starts out as a simple story.  Owen is being bullied at school because of his weight, and can’t figure out how to make it stop.  Just when you think you’ve got the story all figured out, Potter gradually begins revealing little tidbits about Owen’s life, and her novel becomes something else altogether.  This was an excellent book.  It took me by surprise at every turn, and left me completely satisfied at the end.

Helen is an accomplished author, but when her husband dies suddenly, she finds herself unable to write.  Because she needs money, Helen agrees to teach a writing class.  Through teaching her class, Helen gains an independence she never thought she could obtain.

Although I wasn’t particularly drawn into this story, I always enjoy Berg’s books for one simple reason.  She can write about life’s little luxuries in a tangible way.  A simple pot of coffee or a Christmas cookie comes alive in Berg’s books, and every day life becomes something to celebrate.

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