Category Archives: Summer Reads

Middle Grade Summer Reads

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Two more wonderful books to add the this summer’s read:

Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan by Sheila Agnew:

Evie Brooks has just lost her mom. With no father to account for, she must choose between living with her uncle Scott, in New York, or staying with her godmother Janet, in Dublin. “That’s kind of the whole point of having a godparent; that’s the person who brings you up, you know, if something happens and your parents are not on the scene.” As much as Evie would prefer to have things not change, her mother’s dying wish was for Scott to become Evie’s guardian, and “a guardian is basically the chief godparent,” – so she must at least give that a try.

Thus, Evie’s journey half way around the world begins. She has a lot to learn when she gets to New York—like how to help Scott in his veterinary office and how to tell the difference between heading Uptown or Downtown. She also learns that she’s not too smooth when talking to older boys, and that Scott’s girlfriend, Leela, is pure unadulterated evil.

Sheila Agnew’s Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan provides a humorous outsider’s perspective about life in New York, filled with touching moments about loss, family, and true friendship; but not without adventure and mischief in the Big Apple.

A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder:

Luna and Willow are sisters who live in a small village by a toxic swamp, which once used to be a beautiful, life-giving, free-flowing, river. Because of the dangers of the swamp, the wicked creature that lives deep within it, and the incurable wasting illness that succumbs to those who drink from the water, Mama has three never-to-be-broken rules:

“Don’t go past the bend in the river.

Don’t go below the dam.

Steer away from the slick.”

Luna’s rational nature and thirst for adventure prevent her from believing too deeply in these silly tales about such nonsense as “sprite magic.” But when Willow accidentally drinks from the black swamp water, Luna must break every single one of Mama’s rules to save her baby sister… or to at least be able to say, “I did everything I could.”

Through alternating perspectives between Luna and the water sprite, Perdita, Melanie Crowder weaves a magical story about sisterly love and devotion. A Nearer Moon is a mesmerizing fairytale told in poetic prose and rhythmic descriptions that transport the reader to a magical place with playful sprites, supernatural powers, and evil curses. It is a captivating tale of self-sacrifice, perseverance, and the true meaning of love.

Both reviews will be on the San Francisco Book Review… so much to read, so little time!

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Filed under Book Review, fantasy, Middle Grade Fiction, San Francisco Book Review, Summer Reads

Other Beach and Poolside Reads…because it’s summer!

Mindy & Lemoncello

As soon as summer vacation rolls around, my reading list drastically increases — and it’s awesome! One of my favorite pastimes involves reading by any body of water… basically, if my toes are in the sand, there’s sure to be a book in my hand. (Did I mean to rhyme? Maybe… maybe not… but it’s true!)

And so that brings me to my beach and poolside reads while vacationing with family and friends on a lovely cruise to Bermuda:

* Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Let me start by saying that Mindy is hilarious! She is a funny, accomplished woman who is also quite different from the typical Hollywood gal — and I love that she embraces it and celebrates it and that she felt her musings and struggles and selfies were the makings of a book… because I found it all very entertaining! There are funny anecdotes (and pictures) of her childhood, explanations of her struggles to make it into the comedy industry, and a whole lot about how much she loves her friends. I giggled, laughed, and connected with many ways. It’s a great summer read. (I am looking forward to her upcoming book this fall!)

* Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. Now, I’ve been seeing this title on the New York Times best seller list for a while, and so I figure, let’s see what all the fuss is about… but I didn’t actually know what the book was about. (I like to just pick up a book and start reading). So, I thought this was a book about some crazed Mr. Lemoncello who trapped children in his evil library and they had to escape to save their lives! … That is NOT what this book about. It is actually about an eccentric billionaire game-maker, Mr. Lemoncello (who just so happens to be very “Willy Wonka-like”). He is from a small (and imaginary… it’s not a real place, kids!) town in Ohio, called Alexandriaville. When Mr. Lemoncello was young, he found the town’s library to be a safe haven for his thoughts and learning. Thus, when the library was closed down, the decided to rebuild it in style! This takes a very long time — and so the children of the town (12 year-olds, to be exact) have never known a library. For a grand opening, Mr. Lemoncello chooses 12 twelve year-olds to partake in a sleepover game at the new and improved library. It’s full of puzzles, riddles, and games! It’s a whole lot of fun… for those who are really into working with others and enjoying the discovery of knowledge… for those who a selfish, egotistical jerks, not so much! The objective: be the first to escape from the library… without using the entrance through which you came in. It’s a really fun read!

And now… off to find some new books! (Unfortunately, I don’t think many more will be read with my toes in the sand). Thus, I will also be looking for some great spots to do my reading. Stay tuned!

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Filed under Book Review, Memoir, Middle Grade Fiction, New York Times Best Seller, Summer Reads