Despite radio silence on this blog, I have been reading a fair bit.

Here’s the books I have enjoyed recently.

The Year I Flew Away

I loved this middle grade book from Marie Arnold. In it, we meet 10-year-old Gabrielle, whose family has sent her from her small village in Haiti to Brooklyn, New York, to live with her aunt and uncle so she  can go to school and reach her dreams. But Gabrielle doesn’t fit in – she is bullied by her classmates, she is having trouble learning English and she can’t get rid of her accent. So, despite knowing better, she accepts the help from a powerful witch. She can have three wishes, but each wish comes with a price.

What a wonderful book. Arnold does a great job of making the book magical, but rooting it in the present. The cost of Garbrielle’s wishes is indeed high, but what an amazing way to show children the cost of fitting in. I can’t wait to read this one to my son and it’s definitely a highly recommended book.

The Year I Flew Away costs $24.99 and is from Raincoast Books and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Call Across the Sea

Based on a true story, Call Across the Sea is another book by Kathy Kacer talking about some of the heroes during the Second World War.

This time we meet Henny, a young lady who has grown up sailing her father’s boat, the Gerda III, on the waters between Denmark and Sweden. But as the Nazi “rule tightens in Copenhagen, Henny joins the resistance. And when Hitler orders the Gestapo to round up all Jewish citizens, Henny realizes that the Gerda III isn’t just a boat, it’s a means of escape for her Jewish neighbours.”

My 12-year-old son has studied the Holocaust much yet, but I talk about it in general terms with him. I have read a lot of books set during the Holocaust, many by Kacer herself, but this is the first one that I plan to read to him. I think it will be a great starting point to discuss this horrific period in time.

Call Across the Sea is from Annick Press and retails for $12.95.

Jacob’s Landing

I received this book by Daphne Greer years ago from Nimbus Publishing. At the time I remember thinking it would be the perfect book for my son when he was older. He is older. And it was the perfect book.

My 12 year old really liked this book about Jacob Mosher, who is also 12 and who is coping from the death of his father and spending time with his estranged grandparents in rural Newport Landing, Nova Scotia.

“Jacob trades the security of his foster mum
in Upper Canada for a blind grandfather, Frank,
who dresses like a sea captain and conducts flag-raising ceremonies, and a quirky grandmother, Pearl, who sometimes forget her dentures and has Jacob running in circles.”

Sometimes, as my son noted, a book is just a book without something major needing to happen. This is that book, a book about a boy who has suffered so much lost but is finding his way and his place in a family he didn’t know he had in a location he comes to love.

Jacob’s Landing was a nice story with great characters. Much like Jacob, you come to love these quirky family members he didn’t know he had and the great friends he meets.

What I also liked about the book is that it gave us a chance to talk about belonging. Something happens in the book, which to me, as an adult, seems awful, but my son didn’t notice. I thought a situation was handled badly considering who we know Jacob is. My son didn’t understand Jacob’s thought process and it made for a great discussion.

Jacob’s Landing is $12.95 and is from Nimbus Publishing Ltd.

The Masked Truth

The Masked Truth is the first book I have read by Kelley Armstrong and I really enjoyed it. In this book for young adults, we meet Riley Vasquez who is haunted by the murders of a family she was babysitting for and Max Cross, who is suffering from a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t want to share. The pair are joined by five other teens with “issues” at a weekend therapy camp when armed, masked men burst into their windowless building and go on a killing spree.

“Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next – but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.”

So, despite the awful premise of this book (and the equally terrible beginning, middle and end), I really enjoyed this story. There was lots of action, the characters were amazing and their back stories were fantastic. This book kept me reading. I did pause a moment with a true bookworm problem: I had a guess as to what was happening. I was so afraid of being right that I paused reading for a bit. Thankfully, I was wrong, and I never guessed what happened.

The unfortunate thing is I am sure this happens. And I can’t even imagine.

The Masked Truth is $14.84 and is from Doubleday Canada.

A copy of these books are from Annick Press, Doubleday Canada, Nimbus Publishing
and Raincoast Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.