I ran through books quite quickly this summer - or in the three weeks of it I had since I did not get a full summer vacation - I know- boohoo - no one feels sorry for me, and I do not either. The work I did with teachers in July was gratifying and renewing in a way that July usually is not.
After the books I covered in Summer Reading 2014 - Part I, I jumped into 6 more, without a dud in the whole stack:
1. Lexicon by Max Barry - At one point I owned two copies of this book. I waited quite a long time to read either one, though it was on the top of my TBR pile as soon as I bought it the first time. I am partly sorry I waited so long and partly so mind-blown by it that all regrets have faded. The premise is that words are powerful...what a concept. If any of my former English students are reading this, I am not crazy, words are powerful and this story illustrates that they can even be deadly. Set in the not too distant future, Emily escapes her life on the streets by attending a super-secret school that teaches its students how to be "persuasive." Barry explores the issues of persuasion and the power of language in a way that makes the read a bit wary of those who may seem a bit too glib or at ease with command. A powerful and provoking exploration of mind manipulation and psychology.
2. Heirs of Grace by Tim Pratt - Upon being called to the reading of a will for a man she does not know, Bekah finds herself with a house, siblings, and magical powers. I just never get tired of well-done stories about magic, mostly because ever since Harry Potter I have been sad not to have magic powers. Romance, adventure, and humor are mixed together in this story that was originally published as a Kindle serial. Not sure how I feel about the concept and am glad I did not have to wait to read this entertaining novel.
3. Champion by Marie Lu - This is another book I had on the shelves for quite a while but put off reading...for no good reason. This is the third in the Legend series. The Republic of America faces certain annihilation by the Colonies if doctors cannot find a cure for a virulent plague the Colonies believe the Republic has created and unleashed. Day, as hero of the people, and June as a Princeps-Elect, put their nation before their relationship. I love YA dystopia and have no probelm with the idea that 17-year-olds will save us all. Fantasy and dystopia are all mixed up anyway.
4. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - This is considered a classic of children's literature, winning the Newbery in 1979. The story is a bit dated, and reminded me of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein, a 2013 publication. I like the concept of each, that a group of people must use clues to solve puzzles that will lead to prizes and glory (not too far from the concepts of Willa Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but without the borderline creepiness). The most significant difference in The Westing Game is that the participants are a mix of children and adults. The story is clearly for children as the main character is a child and the novel is short, but it does not talk down to the reader in a way I think too many middle grade and YA books do today.
5. Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg - I have read two other books by Flagg and see them as very close to ideal for summer reading. They are not saccharine and overly cheerful, but there are moments of reading when a tall, cool, glass of iced tea (unsweetened for me - I am a Jersey girl after all) and a rocking chair on the porch would round out the experience perfectly. The two main characters here are Norma and her aunt Elner, both residents of Elmwood Springs, Missouri, a location for other stories, but I have not read any of those, only Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe andThe All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion. I think I'll save reading another by her for the dead of winter when I need to feel summery.
6. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes - This is the first novel I have read by Moyes, though I have been tempted to purchase others in the past. I will be reading more now. Tanzie is a maths genius. Her half-brother Nicky does not fit in at school. Jess works two jobs to keep the family afloat in a not-very-nice suburb of London. The bulk of the novel revolves around the three days they spend traveling with one of Jess's cleaning clients trying to get Tanzie to a math Olympiad competition where she could win enough money to cover the cost of a private school to which she has been admitted but they cannot afford. Throw in a smelly dog, a fair amount of vomiting, and some romance and you have a story worthy of a satisfying summer read.
Now I am going to get back to reading as I return to work soon and will miss having so much time to indulge in good books!