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broodings from the burrow

September 19, 2016

into the stacks: april 2016
posted by soe 12:30 am

Okay, we’re three months in to this year’s reading list. Sure, we’re still five months behind, but we’re moving forward. Today, we’re covering April. In April I completed three books, two middle grade novels and one classic novella:

To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson

In this sequel to The Great Greene Heist, middle-schoolers Jackson Greene and his crew are framed for vandalism to their school. Up until this moment, life for Jackson has been pretty good since he and Gaby started going out, and many of his thoughts have been focused on how to create the perfect moment for their first kiss. Jackson’s BFF (and Gaby’s brother) Charlie, with whom things have definitely been weird recently, has declared himself head honcho after Jackson declared himself done with the life of crime at the conclusion of book 1. But when a doctored video surfaces showing their crew vandalizing the school and when blackmailers demand Jackson and his friends steal an exam in order to buy their silence, Jackson may find it’s not so easy to walk away, particularly when you’re worried your friends might not be able to pull off the job without complications.

This is a fun series. If you like heist shows or movies, like Leverage or Ocean’s Eleven, or a fan of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, I recommend you check it out.

256 pages. Personal copy.

The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

The unnamed narrator, an author, falls in love with a coastal Maine town while on a trip and books herself a summer there, staying with the popular village herbalist. The town, populated by the sort of colorful characters one expects from watching Murder, She Wrote, Doc Martin, or Northern Exposure, is quiet. The villagers’ stories also are quiet, yet filled with the tough-it-out nature a New Englander would tell you is a regional characteristic. Published in 1896, this is a novella and won’t take you long to read (although it took me a while because I kept putting it down in favor of more action-filled reads). It will linger in your head for far longer. Give it a shot if you like more recent novels comprised of connected short stories or books where nature or odd characters play a stronger role than plot. (If you enjoy the sort of books Nan reviews at Letters from a Hill Farm, I think you’ll like this one.)

158 pages. Library copy.

The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd

I loved Natalie Lloyd’s A Snicker of Magic, so when I saw her next book had been bought by the library, I quickly reserved it. Between the two books, I can say with some confidence both that Lloyd is a fan of quirky Tennessee mountain towns, dessert, and music and that I’m willing to give anything she writes a shot.

Emma is growing up with her older brother and Grandma Blue, the proprietor of the Boneyard Cafe, and adjacent to a cemetery where Emma leads tours. Emma is waiting impatiently for Destiny Dream to manifest itself: all the women of her family have talents or magics that are foretold in a dream that comes toward puberty, and they are tracked in a family journal, which Emma’s been poring over since her mother, a gifted singer, died a few years before. In centuries of women, only three women have ripped out their tales: two sisters in the mid-1800s and her grandmother.

Emma’s dream, though, is not clear-cut. It suggests she revisit the graveyard in order to find a treasure long lost, but she’s been hearing singing in the cemetery in the middle of the night, something her great-uncle suggests might be the ghost called The Conductor. Will Emma, her BFF Cody Belle, and the new, silent boy be able to figure out Emma’s destiny before her grandmother decides it’s time for a fresh start?

240 pages. Library copy.

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