What I’m Reading 2017

Welcome to the page all about books!

These are all the books I’ve read this year with a little snippet about them to entice you to read them. Feel free to make comments or leave suggestions. I am always searching for new authors to read.

CURRENTLY READING:

(Sometimes I’m reading more than one book at the same time)

 

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THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH by Martha Brockenbrough

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA. HELEN OF TROY AND PARIS. ROMEO AND JULIET. AND NOW . . . HENRY AND FLORA.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured — a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

Learn more about Martha Brockenbrough here.

Follow Martha on Twitter here.

Follow Martha on Facebook here.

Follow Martha on Tumblr here.

 

THE MIDNIGHT STAR by Marie Lu

There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all she’s gained.

When a new danger appears, Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds, putting not only herself at risk, but every Elite. In order to preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu concludes Adelina’s story with this haunting and hypnotizing final installment to the Young Elites series. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

Learn more about Marie Lu here.

Follow Marie on Twitter here.

Follow Marie on Facebook here.

Follow Marie on Instagram here.

 

— Books I’ve Read in 2017 —

SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys

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I won an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book on Goodreads. I love Sepetys’s storytelling so much I would have bought it even if I hadn’t. This well-crafted tale creates vivid scenes that immerse you right into the bitter cold of Eastern Prussia in 1945, following the lives of four fascinating and complex characters. We not only get caught up in their struggles, but in the mystery that slowly draws them all together. Read full discussion here.

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety. Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

A tribute to the people of Lithuania, Poland, and East Prussia, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

Learn more about Ruta Sepetys here.

Follow Ruta on Twitter here.

Follow Ruta on Facebook here.

 

 

I’M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL by Gretchen McNeil

Another fun pick from Colleen Houck’s Book Club on Goodreads. I’d been intrigued by the title and I really enjoyed the story, although it did kill an idea for story I had in development – well, I’ll just have to restructure the plot/completely gut it from the beginning, so no big deal. I never would have included the mathematics element – totally brilliant. Although some parts of the story may have been a bit predictable, I didn’t care. I enjoyed the characters enough to keep reading.

Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically-guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win her boyfriend back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity, and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine? (Plot summary from author’s website.)

Learn more about Gretchen McNeil here.

Follow Gretchen on Twitter here.

Follow Gretchen on Facebook here.

Follow Gretchen on Instagram here.

 

 

GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE by Sherri Dusky Rinker

Who would’ve thought poetry and bulldozers would go together so beautifully? Well-crafted tale that kept my son engaged time and again.

As the sun sets behind the big construction site, all the hardworking trucks get ready to say goodnight. One by one, Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator finish their work and lie down to rest — so they’ll be ready for another day of rough and tough construction play! With irresistible artwork by best-selling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld and sweet, rhyming text, this book will have truck lovers of all ages begging for more. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

Learn more about Sherri Dusky Rinker here.

Follow Sherri on Twitter here.

Follow Sherri on Facebook here.

Follow Sherri on Instagram here.

 

 

LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET by Matt de la Peña (illustrated by Christian Robinson)

So many medals couldn’t happen to a nicer book! Beautiful story. I’m so glad my son finally allowed me to purchase it and read it with him. He doesn’t always go along with my recommendations! Loved loved LOVED this book!

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Pena’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

Learn more about Matt de la Peña here.

Follow Matt on Twitter here.

Follow Matt on Facebook here.

Follow Matt on Instagram here.

Learn more about Christian Robinson here.

Follow Christian on Instagram here.

Follow Christian on Tumblr here.

 

 

KING’S CAGE by Victoria Aveyard

Truly enjoyable read. Very satisfying conclusion to this series.

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down. Plot summary from Goodreads.)

Learn more about Victoria Aveyard here.

Follow Victoria on Twitter here.

Follow Victoria on Facebook here.

 

 

LOVER’S DICTIONARY by David Levithan

loversdictionary-200x300-200x300Who else would attempt and accomplish this seemingly impossible task?

This was initially a story given out to friends for Valentine’s Day – how apropos? I found it both quite charming and insightful. Both funny and biting in equal measure. So very Levithan.

If you enjoy this, you’ll love following his Twitter account, which is actually made up of entries from this book.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves?

Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

Learn more about David Levithan here.

Follow David on Twitter here.

Follow David on Facebook here.

 

 

I WILL SAVE YOU by Matt de la Peña

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saveyou_bgLoved this book just as much the second time around.

Kidd is running from his past and his future. No mom, no dad, and there’s nothing for him at the group home but therapy. He doesn’t belong at the beach where he works either, unless he finds a reason to stay.

Olivia is blond hair, blue eyes, rich dad. The prettiest girl in Cardiff. She’s hiding something from Kidd—but could they ever be together anyway?

Devon is mean, mysterious, and driven by a death wish. A best friend and worst enemy. He followed Kidd all the way to the beach and he’s not leaving until he teaches him a few lessons about life. And Olivia. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

Learn more about Matt de la Peña here.

Follow Matt on Twitter here.

Follow Matt on Facebook here.

 

 

PARABLE OF THE SOWER (Earthseed #1) PARABLE OF THE TALENTS (Earthseed #2) by Octavia Butler

parable-of-the-sowerparable-of-the-talents

 

 

 

 

I can’t remember what led me to Octavia Butler – maybe a list of outstanding science fiction, with a slant on diversity? I don’t know. Whatever brought me to her, I am glad. So amazing! And honestly, reading them now, they seem a little haunting and prophetic.

Plot summary for PARABLE OF THE SOWER:

In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future 

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others. When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author’s estate. (Plot summary from Goodreads.)

Plot summary for PARABLE OF THE TALENTS:

As America rebuilds itself, bigotry threatens a peaceful haven

Lauren Olamina was only eighteen when her family was killed, and anarchy encroached on her Southern California home. She fled the war zone for the hope of quiet and safety in the north. There she founded Acorn, a peaceful community based on a religion of her creation, called Earthseed, whose central tenet is that God is change. Five years later, Lauren has married a doctor and given birth to a daughter. Acorn is beginning to thrive. But outside the tranquil group’s walls, America is changing for the worse. Presidential candidate Andrew Steele Jarret wins national fame by preaching a return to the values of the American golden age. To his marauding followers, who are identified by their crosses and black robes, this is a call to arms to end religious tolerance and racial equality—a brutal doctrine they enforce by machine gun. And as this band of violent extremists sets its deadly sights on Earthseed, Acorn is plunged into a harrowing fight for its very survival. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author’s estate. (Plot summary from Goodreads.)

Learn more about Octavia Butler here.

 

 

THIS IS OUR STORY by Ashley Elston

This book was a selection for Colleen Houck’s Book Club on Goodreads in January. I find more interesting, new authors to follow from this book club. This book in particular was right up my alley. I love mysteries and this one was so great. There are alternating chapters told from the killers point of view without letting you know who it is. So clever! I loved reading this book! The pace was intense. I read it in a couple of days and was still trying to figure out the killer right up till the end.

No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.

Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.

Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she and Stone investigate—the ageing prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot—she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

Learn more about Ashley Elston here.

Follow Ashley on Twitter here.

Follow Ashley on Facebook here.

 

 

BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson

browngirldreaming-4medals-3001I don’t think any more awards could fit on the cover of this book. Still, I was struck by the title. I was transported by the imagery and moved by the emotions they evoked. Beautiful book.

Raised in South Carolina and New York, I always felt halfway home in each place. In these poems, I share what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and my growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.

It also reflects the joy of finding my voice through writing stories, despite the fact that I struggled with reading as a child. My love of stories inspired and stayed with me, creating the first sparks of the writer I was to become.

WHERE IT TAKES PLACE:

Columbus, Ohio, Greenville, South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York

WHERE I WROTE IT:

In all of those places but mostly in Brooklyn.

WHY I WROTE IT:

I wanted to understand who my mom was before she was my mother and I wanted to understand exactly how I became a writer. So I started researching my life, asking relatives and talking to friends – and mostly, just letting myself remember. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

Learn more about Jacqueline Woodson here.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter here.

Follow Jacqueline on Facebook here.

 

 

EVERYTHING EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon

everything-everything-coverI had so many writer friends recommending this book to me, I knew I had to read it. As usual, they were right. This book was fantastic. I was so wrapped up in the characters and the story, I didn’t even see the big twist coming, which is pretty unusual for a writer – still didn’t care. Actual made me enjoy it even more.

There’s now a movie version coming out. And I’m looking forward to reading more by this talented author!

Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. She is content enough—until a boy with eyes the color of the Atlantic Ocean moves in next door. Their complicated romance begins over IM and grows through a wunderkammer of vignettes, illustrations, charts, and more.

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

Learn more about Nicola Yoon here.

Follow Nicola on Twitter here.

Follow Nicola on Instagram here.

 

 

TWO YEARS EIGHT MONTHS AND TWENTY EIGHT NIGHTS by Salman Rushdie

two-years-eight-months

I received this book as part an event Mr. Rushdie participated in for Booksmart Tulsa during Banned Book Week in 2015. I also was able to hear him speak and to meet him (very) briefly as he signed my copy. Fantastic experience. He was a wonderful and inspiring speaker.

I really enjoyed this book – even though it sent me to the dictionary more than a few times. (I now know what words like solipsistic and susurration mean.) He has a great sense of humor and an amazing imagination. I’m always awed by his storytelling.

From one of the greatest writers of our time: the most spellbinding, entertaining, wildly imaginative novel of his great career, which blends history and myth with tremendous philosophical depth. A masterful, mesmerizing modern tale about worlds dangerously colliding, the monsters that are unleashed when reason recedes, and a beautiful testament to the power of love and humanity in chaotic times.

Inspired by 2,000 years of storytelling yet rooted in the concerns of our present moment, this is a spectacular achievement–enchanting, both very funny and terrifying. It is narrated by our descendants 1000 years hence, looking back on “The War of the Worlds” that began with “the time of the strangenesses”: a simple gardener begins to levitate; a baby is born with the unnerving ability to detect corruption in people; the ghosts of two long-dead philosophers begin arguing once more; and storms pummel New York so hard that a crack appears in the universe, letting in the destructive djinns of myth (as well as some graphic superheroes). Nothing less than the survival of our world is at stake. Only one, a djinn princess who centuries before had learned to love humankind, resolves to help us: in the face of dynastic intrigue, she raises an army composed of her semi-magical great-great–etc.–grandchildren–a motley crew of endearing characters who come together to save the world in a battle waged for 1,001 nights–or, to be precise, two years, eight months and twenty-eight nights. (Plot summary from Goodreads.)

Learn more about Salman Rushdie here.

Follow Salman on Twitter here.