Read Harder 2018: The Kids Are Alright

The challenge for this month was a one-sitting book and the first book in a new-to-me middle grade series. One-sitting books are both good and bad - good because you just can't stop reading them, and bad because if you have other things to do, like going to sleep so you're not exhausted for work the next morning, you are in trouble. Since these books tend to be shorter, I found myself reading a bunch of them, and they were mostly books from the children's section.

First, I revisited an old favorite, Ellen Raskin'sThe Westing Game. My granddaughter was reading the book this summer and asked me what I remembered about the book, which was nothing except that I loved it as a kid. So I decided to re-read it and I loved it just as much as an adult. Although I will say that as an adult, I don't think I really understood half of what was going on when I read it as a kid. I just remember thinking it was so clever with plot twists galore. 

Next were two books suggested by colleagues. Jeannie, who works in the children's room at Main loved A Monster Calls and wanted to see what I thought of it. I will admit being nervous about it since I saw the movie previews and frankly they seemed a bit scarier than I usually can handle. The back story behind this book (the original author had the characters and an outline but she died before she could write the book) is almost as intriguing as the story itself. A young boy and his mother need to deal with her illness, bullying happening at school, an absent father, a cold-hearted grandmother, and a magical, monstrous tree. Beautifully done and now I'm going to have to read more by both Patrick Ness (who wrote this title) and Siobhan Dowd who inspired this story.

Based on my colleague Tanisha's comments about the book Ghost Boys, I was driven to check it out. If you were moved by The Hate U Give, this book is for you. The characters are a few years younger, but the pain is just as fresh. Alternating points of view and time-frames lead up to twelve-year-old Jerome's shooting death by a police officer, and the aftermath for everyone, including Jerome as a ghostly presence. A very powerful, thoughtful, timely book to be shared and discussed with friends and family. Unfortunately, this is a topic that continues to haunt our country and does not seem to be abating any time soon.

My final one-sitting book was for adults, but was such a page turner that I stayed up way too late reading it.  Rene Denfeld's The Child Finder takes us into Naomi's world - a private investigator who spends her life searching for people who are lost, especially children. Families turn to her in desperation, years after their children have not been found. Naomi is not always successful, but her intuitiveness and ability to parse out what is relevant and what isn't, is uncanny. If that isn't enough, her own back story comes back in flashbacks as part of the overall story. A book you will not be able to put down, I promise.

And a book in a new-to-me middle grade series. I was not looking forward to this as I already have enough books to read without getting caught up in another series. But Jessica Townsend's The Trials of Morrigan Crow cover with people flying by umbrella and an evil-looking cat waiting to pounce on them was just too much to pass up. There's a strong female lead, there's magic, there's a quest/challenge - while not quite Harry Potter, it has a similar feel. Of course as soon as I finished it I was ready to reserve the next one in the series when I learned that it hadn't been written yet. ARRGGGHHH. That frustration aside, if these tropes are up your alley, I would definitely say check out this book, and perhaps send e-mails to the author suggesting she hurry up and finish writing book two.

I'm on the home stretch for this challenge - two-thirds of the way there. While I know my to-read list would certainly be shorter if I wasn't participating in this challenge, I have expanded my reading horizons so much it is well worth it. If you haven't taken this challenge yet, make 2019 the year to read harder!

Karen for Ravenous Readers