Though school had a smidge more to go, I was already in vacation mode. And this June marked the beginning of an endless vacation as I shut the door to my 20 years of teaching and embarked on retirement.
Summer has always been my read, read, read season. No lesson plans, no assignments to grade, no researching to add sparkle and sizzle to standards and their expectations, and of course, there is the lounging in bed early and late with a good book. *
Summer is a great big “Aah!”
Starting out strong with nine books, I bogged down in the middle of June when I took on Lorna Doone, which took the rest of June and into July—but it was worth all 700+ pages.
Two ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ reads:
The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
Sharon Creech’s novels continually provide riveting portraits of family dynamics. The Wanderer is another exploration into a family mystery. Like Walk Two Moons, a young girl is a captive narrator with family members delving into her past while journeying towards her future.
In this story, Sophie is part of a crew sailing to England to visit with her grandfather “Bompie.” Although adopted, she sees herself immersed with the lives of her two cousins and three uncles, yet the closer they sail to England the more she realizes she has a past family that must be acknowledged.
Sophie’s lyrical journaling is intertwined with her cousin Cody’s off-the-cuff observations creating a unique journey story.
Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
The third book in the Maisie Dobbs series finds Maisie taking on three cases that push her to her limits of emotional, physical, and personal belief capabilities.
Two of the cases lead her back to her war years, causing her to revisit France, forcing her to face past “dragons.” She relies on Billy, her valued assistant, to sleuth the London case as her investigations take her deeper into her own past while searching the past of two former soldiers.
A layered plot, surprise twists, and full characterization create a more than satisfying read.
Four star ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ reads of note:
The Clearing by Heather Davis
For fans of Tuck Everlasting and The Time Traveler’s Wife. A book that flirts with the possibilities and impossibilities of time pockets.
Amy moves in with her great aunt Mae in order to restart her life. Moving from Seattle to a small town takes adjusting, especially when there is mist in the clearing beyond her aunt’s house that divides the time between the 21st century and 1944.
An interesting premise that works fairly well, although the ending is a bit muddled.
The Worst Night Ever by Dave Barry
If Dave Barry wrote a book for the juvie crowd it would be funny, right? It would be implausibly plotted, right? Hyperbolic humor, right? That is exactly what is found in The Worst Night Ever.
Although the second in his “Worst” series it reads as a standalone. It begins with Wyatt becoming a target for the menacing Blevin twins and moves toward an espionage recon rescue of a ferret to thwarting an evil plot involving killer critters.
At times darn right silly, often times snortfully funny, Barry writes a fun story for the middle school set.
The Fallen Architect by Charles Belfoure
This murder mystery comes from the angle of a architectural point of view. A prominent architect is blamed for the collapse of a theatre’s balcony which kills over a dozen people. After serving a prison term of five years he tries to rebuild his life after everything has been taken from him: status, family, home. Plus, he is reviled by the public causing him to change his name, appearance and occupation.
A unique and somewhat refreshing approach to the murder mystery genre. A bit heavy on the emphasis of the variety theatre history, which slowed the plot down at times; however, plenty of colorful characterization and plot twists make for a satisfying enough read to seek out the other titles.
The Eyes of the Amaryllis by Natalie Babbitt
With magical realism leaning towards a fairy tale, Babbitt creates a thoughtful story of everlasting love. When the Amaryllis disappears mysteriously during a storm, the young captain’s wife and son grieve differently. The son runs from his grief to live inland while his mother grows old in her seaside cottage watching for a sign from her beloved captain.
Enter in a visit from the granddaughter who is pulled into the grandmother’s need to know whether her true love, her lost-at-sea captain-husband still thinks of her.
The grandmother believes nothing is impossible, and once again Babbitt spins a story that makes readers willing to believe the unbelievable, just as she did in her classic children’s tale, Tuck Everlasting.
*This feeling usually lasts through July, until Staples, Target, Wal-Mart and the consumer world decides its time to get ready for school–while it’s still clearly summer vacation for most of America. Minor panic begins to set in as I align and adjust and realign and readjust my curriculum, class website, and start diving into district emails. August sees a big dip in reading.**
**Not this year. The <delete> button is a marvelous coping mechanism for retired school teachers. I look forward to bypassing back-to-school frenzy and continuing on in my Book Bingo adventure.