I was on vacation a week or so ago and while I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted, I did read a fair bit.

Check out what I have been reading.

The Rest of the Story

I thought when I got toward the end of The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen, it was going to be predictable and I was disappointed because up until that point, it was a great book, and I loved all the characters I met along the way. I am happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed, and the book didn’t go the path of predictability: the rest of the story was as enjoyable as the beginning.

Emma Saylor’s mom died when she was 10, but she grew up with stories from her mom about the big lake that went on forever. Emma stays with her mom’s family for a few weeks in the summer while dad and stepmom go on their honeymoon.

“When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

“For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?”

Emma was a great character, but so were all the secondary characters – aunts, cousins, etc. – we met and learned about throughout this book. The dad made me mad on several occasions and I loved the stepmom. It is nice to read positive things about stepmoms. The Rest of the Story was a great read.

This book is from HarperCollins and retails for $15.99.

AfterImage

I went on a blind date with a book. My son picked this book out for me, wrapped in white paper with just a review on the front cover. He and I were both surprised at what was underneath the wrappings – a young adult book by Naomi Hughes.

I quite enjoyed this book, reading it in a couple of days. My niece asked me if I would read it again and I said I would. So much happened and there was a fair bit of science/sci-fi that a second read might help make my mind less blown: it must have been a difficult book to write and commend Hughes for keeping it easy to follow along, but with enough time travel stuff to keep it interesting.

“A horrific explosion levels part of the city and Camryn Kingfisher is the sole survivor. Amidst controversy, conspiracy theories, and threats from government officials, Camryn longs for the truth. But the only person who she can turn to is a transparent boy in a lab coat named Quint. Unsure whether he’s a hallucination or a ghost, Camryn has no choice but to trust him as they become embroiled in a plot that is bigger than either of them realize.”

Quint was a great character as was Camryn. There is a part in there about her brother and her mom that has stuck with me. I shared it with my son in hopes that if he chooses reckless hobbies, he will keep it in mind. I loved the ending.

Orphan Train

I have had Orphan Train for quite some time and finally read it on my vacation. I really liked both the main characters – 91-year-od Vivian Daly who has a hidden past and almost 18-year-old Molly Ayer who is months out from “aging out” of the foster care system.

Molly goes to work for Vivian, cleaning out her attic as part of a community services position and to avoid going to juvie after stealing a battered old copy of her favourite book from the library.  

“Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As (Molly) helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.”

“The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.”

Author Christina Baker Kline did an amazing job of explaining this time in American history (Canada has a similar history. A great book is The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham).

It’s mindboggling how these children had to live and how they were treated. But, when you read about Molly, set in today’s world, you see the similarities. I am sure Molly’s experiences are not unusual and you wonder how someone like her foster mother would be able do what she is doing. If you dislike kids, why try to “help” them?

I loved the ending in this book as well, although I was a bit sad as I didn’t want it to end. I hope Molly and Vivian continue to have a happy life.

Ocean at the End of the Lane

I confess I received Ocean at the End of the Lane almost seven years ago and I finally had a chance to read it. It was a bit slow, but I loved it so much I am now reading it to my 12 year old. I think he will love it as well.

The book is magical and interesting and the women in it so wise.

I am excited to read it again so I can see what I missed – and I am sure I missed lots – around.

“A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.”

I loved the characters and I loved how at the end it all came together, albeit briefly.

Sunny Days

Sunny Days, a board book by author Deborah Kerbel and illustrations by Miko Sato, makes me wish we had some sunny warm days where there was “prickly sun, burning heat” followed by “cool shade and an icy treat.” I am not enjoying this long weekend, fall-like weather.

This book for three to five year olds shows all that is wonderful about summer and embracing the weather (wearing sunscreen and a hat of course.) I love the ideas at the back of the book that shows some science experiments kids can do including leaving objects on dark-coloured construction paper in the sun and seeing the prints it makes and looking at the rainbows created in the bubbles.

I absolutely love the paper collage illustrations by Sato – the sun shines, the water sparkles, the days grow long and the sun sets. So beautiful and so much detail. People have talent.

Sunny Days is from Pajama Press and retails for $19.95.

A copy of The Rest of the Story and Sunny Days is from HarperCollins
and Pajama Press for an honest review. The opinions are my own.