Thursday, April 5, 2018

Book chat time!

Bloggy friends, it's time for a book chat! Have some tea and cookies while I tell you about three recent reads that I recommend!

HOUR OF THE BEES by Lindsay Eager is middle-grade awesomeness. The writing is beautiful, and the story is incredibly moving. Something extra wow-worthy? This is Lindsay Eager's first novel!

HOUR OF THE BEES by Lindsay Eager
Candlewick Press
pub date: March 8, 2016

Here's the blurb:

Things are only impossible if you stop to think about them...

While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina--Carol--is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she's never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible--and what it means to be true to her roots. Readers who dream that there's something more out there will be enchanted by this captivating novel of family, renewal, and discovering the wonder of the world. 

The characters in HOUR OF THE BEES are wonderfully imperfect and three-dimensional, and they all come together the way family members can in real life: at times flowing together smoothly, and at other times bumping and poking as they move. The setting is written so well it's inspiring, and Grandpa Serge's storytelling is poetic. Carolina's concerns and thoughts about school and friends feel legitimate and well-captured.

I picked up this book while searching for comp titles for my middle-grade novel, PERFECT VISION. My novel has a protagonist whose grandmother has Alzheimer's, and it also has magic. (Most of my stories seem to have a bit of magic!) I wanted to see if HOUR OF THE BEES and PERFECT VISION have much in common.

HELLO, UNIVERSE (or "Hello, Newbery"--Hee-hee!) by Erin Entrada Kelly is another middle-grade novel I highly recommend.

HELLO, UNIVERSE by Erin Entrada Kelly
Greenwillow Books
pub date: March 14, 2017

Here's the blurb from the book's jacket:

Virgil Salinas is shy and misunderstood.

Valencia Somerset is clever and stubborn.

Kaori Tanaka tells fortunes and reads the stars.

Chet "the Bull" Bullens is the biggest bully in the neighborhood.

They aren't friends. They don't all go to the same school. But when Chet pulls an unthinkable prank on Virgil and Virgil's pet guinea pig, Gulliver, the lives of these four middle schoolers collide in surprising and unexpected ways. 

Just a coincidence?

Or are some things meant to be?

HELLO, UNIVERSE is a fun and truly lovely story that touches on differences, bravery, and friendship. It is told through multiple points of view, and I think the story is richer because of this. The characters are delightful. Virgil's grandmother--his Lola--is one of my favorite characters in the book. (And did you know I adore guinea pigs? My daughter used to show them in 4-H!) I loved reading this story as an adult, and I'm 100% certain I would have loved reading this as a kid, too.

I chose to read HELLO, UNIVERSE because it won the Newbery. The way I would describe what I write is "humor with heart"--and it's often what I like to read as well. HELLO, UNIVERSE is funny, and it has oodles of heart, so I thoroughly enjoyed it.

GENUINE FRAUD by E. Lockhart is a young-adult novel that's completely different from the other two titles I shared.

GENUINE FRAUD by E. Lockhart
Delacorte Press
pub date: September 5, 2017

The blurb:

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

I hate spoilers, so I don't want to say too much. This book is a page-turner--intriguing, expertly plotted, and so very unique. The characters are well-written, and you'll most likely want to discuss it with someone else who has read it as soon as you finish the book!

The reason I bought GENUINE FRAUD is the author. As many of you may remember, I am a huge E. Lockhart fan. I've heard Emily Jenkins/E. Lockhart (yes, same person) speak a couple of times, and she knows her stuff. She's a super-talented writer, a stylist and an amazing plotter. It will be interesting to see what she writes next!

Now it's your turn! What have you been reading that you'd like to recommend? Tell me, tell me, tell me while I sip my tea!


Liza said...

Broken Harbor by Tana French. Character driven mystery, with beautiful writing. Different genre then what you've read, but a page-turner non-the-less!

Margaret Nevinski said...

Dawn, thanks for your great recommendations. I have HOUR OF THE BEES on my stack to read, and also loved HELLO, UNIVERSE. Right now I'm reading WE ARE OKAY by Nina LaCour, the Printz winner this year. The YA voice is completely drawing me in--it's not just the main character's voice, but the whole tone of the novel. It starts in New York and then goes back a few months to San Francisco, a technique that's making me turn pages.

Jemi Fraser said...

These sound awesome! Thanks for the tips!!
I've just finished Animal Attraction by Jill Shalvis & Close Contact by Lori Foster - both contemporary romance authors who make me laugh and smile!

Dawn Simon said...

Liza, that sounds really good! You're right--I don't read lots of adult mysteries, though I usually like them when I do (unless they're too violent). I enjoyed Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL, which was also a total page-turner. I wonder if you liked that one. Thank you for your recommendation, Liza!

Margaret, I totally want to discuss HOUR OF THE BEES when you're done with it! I checked out WE ARE OKAY from the library. Now I'm looking forward to reading it even more than I already was! Thank you for the recommendation--and, of course, for being such an amazing critique partner!

Jemi, both of your recommendations sound fun! I love finding authors whose books make me laugh and smile!

Thank you all for stopping by and sharing! Cheers! *clink*

Kelly Steel said...

These ones sound wonderful. Thanks for the recommendations and the introduction to all these new books.

Dawn Simon said...

Kelly, you are so welcome! Thank you for visiting my blog!

Cherie Reich said...

Thanks for the recommendations! The books sound like great reads.

Dawn Simon said...

You're welcome, Cherie! Yes, each one is so well-written!