Meg’s list of some of her latest reads along with a few on her Summer To-Be-Read list. Includes both adult selections and some especially for kids.
Meg’s Recent Reads:
The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart – The beginning of a fun series for kids – involving puzzles, mysteries, and lots of funny moments. Several of my school library kids have enjoyed this series and I also had several recommendations from friends. Now I’m glad to strongly recommend it for the rest of the kids. Strengths: themes of friendship, problem solving, thinking outside the box, and finding value in each person (even if they seem annoying or unhelpful on the surface). Weaknesses: possibly length for some kids persevering to the end — but I think the story is compelling enough for kids to want to push through.
Framed! (A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery #1), by James Ponti – Another great, exciting, fun adventure-mystery series for kids – this one features a 12-year-old boy named Florian Bates who has developed the Theory Of All Small Things (aka. noticing lots of tiny details in life in a very Sherlock-esque way). He’s been hired by the FBI as a covert operative. And while his adventures are dangerously thrilling, he also experiences lots of normal “kid stuff.” I really appreciated the perspective and balance of friendship (between a boy and girl, both 12 years old) and family (the parents are the smart ones – and there are consequences for disobedient choices, even done with good intentions). So lots of good stuff making this the perfect first choice for your kids’ summer reading. The second book is out now too and I’m prodding our library to get it in stock.
Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, by Sally Bedell Smith – A fascinating read overall. Of course, I’ve always been mildly enamored with the lives of the royals. But this book is more than an expanded, PEOPLE Magazine tell-all. It shows how all of these people we “know” through the media are humans with unique personalities and various sets of upbringings – and how all of those things have interplayed to shape them into who they are. The focus is obviously on Charles, but you also learn significant pieces of information about Diana, what it was like with her from the start, the role of Camilla in all of this (including her friendship and how, over the years she has been one of the few people to understand Charles and have any sway over this stubborn, doesn’t-want-anyone-contradicting-him prince). The author also traces William’s and Harry’s stories alongside – almost as a foil for Charles – yet showing how his treatment of his boys, which was so much more affectionate than the way his own father treated him, helped shape them into who they are.
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee – I reread this recently for a book club meeting, and was struck anew how truly amazing it is. I’m sure others will disagree – but after this last read, it’s definitely my top pick for “The Great American Novel.” If you haven’t read it since you were forced to in high school, PLEASE do yourself the greatest service and read it again. I had so much fun annotating my own copy and marking Lee’s incredible wit, humor, irony, and fantastic metaphors. She’s truly a master.
Meg’s TBR List … so far:
The 49th Mystic, by Ted Dekker – I’ve only read one Dekker novel – and it both thrilled and horrified me. So far all of the marketing for this novel is that it’s his “greatest one ever,” and “if you never read another of his books, at least read this one,” etc. So since our library had it, I’m going to see if the marketing campaign rings true.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard – My friend Sandy picked this out in our book club for our next read. It’s a Pulitzer-prize-winning nature journal/essays of sorts. From what I’ve read so far, she reminds me of Archibald Rutledge and Wendell Berry, both of whom I love. So I’m looking forward to browsing this one during some road trip time this next week.
The 39 Clues: The Dead of Night (#3), by Peter Lerangis – Apparently these books are all the rage with middle-grade students (esp. 4th-7th). So I picked up a few for our school library and am going to check them out. I’m almost done with this one, and so far, it’s been a quick read (and I haven’t wanted to put it down) and there’s been nothing objectionable (although for parents of younger readers: a few moments are a bit “threatening” involving potential torture and murder, and characters also share some of their teenage “angst” (e.g. “He was so gorgeous, but he also drove her crazy” etc. That’s about the worst of it.). Fairly harmless – esp. if it gets the kids reading.
All the Ever Afters, by Danielle Teller – Another one I saw on a book list somewhere (I have no idea where). So I know nothing about this other than it’s the “untold story of Cinderella’s Stepmother.”) It has the potential to be really intriguing (probably in the vein of the movie Maleficent) or just horribly shoddy and contrived. Hoping for a good report!