☕ Book Break ☕ |~Protected by Claire Zorn~

~Protected by Claire Zorn~

“Books are especially useful if you have no one to talk to; they give the illusion that you choose not to talk to anyone, as opposed to the fact you simply have no friends.”

Protected is a novel about grief, bullying, and coming to terms with tragedy. Hannah has lost her older sister Katie in a car crash. The same crash has left her father with injuries that cause him daily pain and make it difficult for him to walk.

The story is told in scenes out of sequence, hopping back-and-forth in time. I honestly don’t know how she managed to write the story this way and keep the clarity of the storyline. I never got confused. I listened to this on my Kindle with no line breaks or anything to tell when the time shifted and had no problem keeping oriented.

There’s a mystery surrounding what exactly happened. Hannah knows, but she’s not telling. Her dad doesn’t remember. Listening to this book made me anxious to find out.

The death of Hannah’s sister has caused a complete reversal in many areas of Hannah’s life. Previously, she was bullied horribly at school.

Much in this book is disturbing. The bullying was extreme. The complicated family dynamic made my heart ache for Hannah. Her sister, Katie, isn’t a very likable character and I wanted to quit this book more than once because of it, and yet I kept reading.There’s quite a bit of language and it does deal with serious topics. It does end with a satisfying resolution.

If my teen read this book I would want to read it along with them and talk about the issues that come up.

 

2015

Children’s Book Council of Australia Award Nominee for Older Readers

Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Young Adult Fiction

Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction

The Inky Awards Nominee for Gold Inky

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum~

 

~What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum~

 

“There’s a famous expression that if you’ve met one person with autism, then… you’ve met one person with autism.

So you met me.

Just me.

Not a diagnosis.”

 

 

David Drucker has what used to be known as Asperger’s although he does not claim the label.

 

David is at the bottom rung of the social ladder . Kit, on the other hand, is one of the popular crowd. When her father dies, she can’t bear to hang out in the lunchroom with her chatty  regular crew and decides to sit with David, who eats his lunch all by his lonesome at a table devoid of company. A friendship ensues which eventually leads to a romance.

 

David is sweet, socially naive, and blunt. He carries a notebook around with him that his older sister helped him start when he first began high school. It lists things to remind him of proper social behavior, and clues to help him identify people. David, like many on the spectrum, does not easily recognize people, not to mention being totally lost socially.

 

The idea of David’s notebook reminded me a bit of the nonfiction book “The Journal of Best Practices” compiled by a man on the spectrum as an assistive tool to help him be a good husband. I can so see this kind of notebook being a necessary part of an aspies life to help navigate all the intricacies of day to day interaction.

 

Kit has her own set of issues to deal with.

 

I liked this book. I felt the portrayal of David was realistic, and I liked his character. There is a little bit of stereotyping by David himself when he denies his autism, even though it’s obvious he’s on the spectrum. I LOVED the positive relationship David had with his big sister, and the fact that he had supportive parents.

 

Adding to the story was a bit of a mystery about the car accident, which Kit asks David to help her solve. The answer is surprising.

 

Characters

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Plot

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Realistic

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Heart Tugging

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

David does have to deal with some serious bullying, but I felt it was realistic, considering some of the stories I’ve heard.

 

 

 

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Kindred by Octavia E. Butler~

~Kindred by Octavia E. Butler~

 

“Repressive societies always seemed to understand the danger of “wrong” ideas.”

 

Twenty-six year  old Dana lives in California. The year is 1976. She has recently moved into a new home and is suddenly caught up in a mysterious time portal that transports her to 19th century Maryland. In this alternate time, she saves a boy from drowning. He turns out to be her white, slave-holding  ancestor.

 

The plot  has depth to it, exploring the complexities of Dana’s relationship with her white husband and her own feelings about her family history. This is a complicated story, one to read and think about. The writing is so good the story pulls you along, but be warned, parts in the narrative are disturbing. Dana is thrust repeatedly into a world where she is a slave and repeatedly has to save her ancestor, regardless of her feelings.

 

This novel is incredibly well written, the storytelling superb. The writing feels fresh. I did not realize it was written in the seventies until after I finished the book.

 

Kindred is a unique book. Even if you never read fantasy or sci-fi, you should get this book. I’m not sure who recommended it but I’m glad they did. Part historical fiction and part sci-fi, this novel written by Octavia E. Butler is one I think everyone should read.

 

This novel is firmly in my notable books pile. If this had been on my radar when I was homeschooling the kids I would have used it in a unit study for my older students.

 

This book convinced me it is okay to write prologues! Read it and you will see what I mean.

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Favorite Reads and New Authors of 2018

My absolute favorite book I read in 2018 was Wonder. I have a goal to finally review it this year! I can’t believe I missed this one.

Of the books I actually did manage to review, here is a short list of favorites in no particular order. Click on the title to read my review.

 

Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Across the Universe

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

How to Stop Time

Dystopian

When the English Fall

Contemporary YA

Turtles All the Way Down

All the Bright Places

The Hate U Give

Contemporary MG

So. B. It.

Stargirl

Contemporary Adult

Elenaor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Beartown

When We Were Worthy

Historical

As Bright as Heaven

The Pecan Man

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Inspirational

Stones for Bread

Contemporary Romance

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky

Fairytale Retellings

Entwined

Nonfiction

In A Different Key

Educated

Favorite New (to me) Authors

Donna Everhart

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

I read a ton more, but these are the ones that come to mind. So many wonderful books? Have you read any of these? Did you discover any new authors? What were your favorite reads of 2018?

 

 

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy~

 ~A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy~

“She was still vaguely hopeful that there was love out there somewhere—just a little less sure that she might actually find it.”

“Her life was like her house—a colorful fantasy where anything was possible if you wanted it badly enough.”

Chicky Starr revamps an old mansion, turning it into a holiday resort for those wanting to spend time in an out-of-the-way place. Stone House is in a remote area on the cliffs of Ireland, part of a small village. The novel follows a varied cast of characters. A warm read. Humorous. Relatable.

Maeve Binchy was one of a kind. I’m not sure how she did it. The stories she wrote are rich with characters in situations that we often find ourselves. I find myself becoming attached to her characters, and remembering them long after the last page has been read. This was her last novel.

While this is not my favorite novel of hers, it was a joy to revisit for this fan.

This one may be a bit slow in parts, and does seem to meander a bit, but I think it’s well worth the time. It leaves me with a warm, cozy feeling.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli~

~Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli~

⭐️
I adored this book.

⭐️
A new girl shows up at school. She different. For one thing, she dresses funny, and has a penchant for approaching her schoolmates in the lunchroom to sing to them on their birthday.. To add to the strangeness she does this while playing the ukulele she carries on her back. She’s starting 11th grade, but this is her first school. She was homeschooled.
⭐️
Leo is drawn to her, and an innocent romance develops between the two.
⭐️
Our heroine goes by a name she choose for herself, Stargirl. At first her classmates shun her, but then come to accept her when she becomes a cheerleader. Then the tide turns. Now they despise her.
⭐️
Leo asks her to change, so she does, attempting to fit in. It doesn’t work.
⭐️
This short book is chock full of loveliness and lessons. It unfolds beautifully, examining human nature. It’s a story that might cause a bit of reflection.
⭐️
This is one to put on your must read list. Marked as MG or YA, I think adults would enjoy it as well. If you liked Wonder, you might like this novel.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Characters
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Story Line
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Emotion Tugging
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
General All Around Good Read

I will reread this one.

“She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a cork board like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.” 

“She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day.” 

“The trouble with miracles is, they don’t last long.”

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows~

~My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows~
❤️
This book had me snorting into my teacup. It’s a retelling of Jane Eyre, with the authors taking flexible liberties. It’s kind of a cross between the classic tale and Ghostbusters with a little extra thrown in for good measure.
❤️
For purists who like their classics, the irreverence may be a bit much. I found it hilarious. The cultural references to LOTR and the Princess Bride had me laughing out loud. I’ve always had a soft spot for literature that breaks the story by speaking directly to the reader. There’s something special about seeing “Dear Reader”. ❤️
I adore this book. I did not read the first one, but it certainly on my list now.
❤️
If you’re looking for a lighthearted read I love Jane Eyre adaptations you should check this one out.
❤️
There is mild language in one section of the book when are heroines are in dire straits and frustrated beyond their limits. Other than that, there should be nothing in here to shock the sensibilities. Unless ghosts disturb you. These ghosts are funny, for the most part.
❤️
Loved it.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Summerlost by Ally Condie~

~Summerlost by Ally Condie~
“Why does the end always have to be what people talk about?”

“I have been in the presence of a lot of greatness. And people I love who loved me back. It might be the same thing.”

After a tragic accident takes the lives of Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben, Cedar comes to spend the summer in Iron Creek and gets her first job at the Summerlost Theater. She and her new found friend, Leo, are determined to unravel the mystery of the festival’s most famous actress who died years ago. Items appear on Cedar’s window sill, items like the things her brother, Ben, would collect and Cedar tries to puzzle out who left them there.

Sweet, coming-of-age novel. I absolutely adore the main character, Cedar, and her vulnerability and honesty about her feelings for her brother.

This is a novel about Cedar’s coming to terms with losing her father and brother. Her grief, her experience.

It has a lovely summery feel to it, that fleeting warmth and sweetness of twelve-year-old summer, the time in between childhood and adolescence where things are bright and raw. Cedar’s summer is tinged with grief and memories.

This is a story of friendship between a boy and a girl. I like that it wasn’t necessary to have the friendship cluttered by romance. I love the message that it is perfectly acceptable to have a friend of the opposite sex, especially at this age. I remember the looks and raised eyebrows from the adults in my life when I was twelve and my best friend was a boy. Sometimes it’s about friendship, not kisses.

Sensitively done. Beautiful work. Moving.

In the author’s notes she mentions the neurodiverse community. I like that.

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☕ Book Break ☕ | ~Educated by Tara Westover~

~Educated by Tara Westover~

Tara Westover grew up never going to school, working in her dad’s junkyard, and assisting her mother as she prepared herbal remedies and served as a community midwife. The family practiced Mormonism and Tara’s father had strict beliefs that went beyond the mainstream. The book is about her experiences. I feel like it was it sensitively done. Often as I was reading this I had to put the book aside. It was difficult to read at times.

Is it possible to disentangle oneself from the influences of their childhood? How much do the things we experience growing up affect the rest of our lives? Familial bonds are far reaching, probably influencing us more than we realize.

Educated is a well written account, if at times stretching the limits of believability, but that is the nature of memory and Tara Westover makes note of that. I’m glad I stuck with this book because there’s something deeper here.

It made me reexamine my own childhood. While reading the narrative, I was deeply touched at times. I teared up when she was recounting a specific incident with her mother that appeared to be a restoration, giving hope for that relationship.

This is one complicated family. Her father doesn’t believe in doctors and, according to a now grown up Tara, displays signs of bipolar disorder. Paranoid, he stockpiles food and guns, ranting about the government and the Illuminati. He seems unaware of the danger he constantly puts himself and his family in, causing many injuries by refusing to take basic safety measures.

This is an important story to tell, showing how living with a parent who suffers from a mental illness can affect the entire family. By reading this account I have garnered a greater understanding of why adult children have a difficult time breaking free from their dysfunctional family.

As I read this memoir I pondered gender roles and the tragedies that can occur in a structure that allows only one member of the family to have authority.

It’s exactly the kind of book I like, one that makes you think. Educated is an excellent book for discussion and book clubs.

On a personal side note, we unschooled our children. In my opinion, what Tara is describing is not unschooling or homeschooling but is neglect. She does mention that other family members homeschool their children and those children appear to be receiving an adequate and genuine education. This memoir is not a criticism of homeschooling or religion but an account of her own experience told from her perspective.

 

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