Beautifully woven together, The Map of Salt and Stars is a haunting story about what family and home really mean. Nour isn't sure where she belongs after her father dies and her mother moves their family from New York to Syria. After a bomb destroys their home in Syria, Nour and her sister Zahra are separated from their mother and older sister. Armed only with a map that her mother made and the folktales her father told her, Nour has to follow both to find her family. While this is a chilling reminder of what is currently happening in Syria, it also offers hope to all who are searching for home.
Along the lines of novels like Gone Girl and Girl on a Train, Let Me Lie is a psychological thriller where it isn't clear exactly which characters you can trust, if any.
Anna lost both of her parents to suicide, but on the one year anniversary of her mother's death, she receives an anniversary card with a note that reads, "Suicide? Think again." Anna has always thought there was something suspicious about her parents' deaths, and this note just confirms it for her. When she takes the card to the police, retired officer Murray, who works the front desk, agrees with her and starts to dig into the case. But, the further the two dig, the more someone tries to stop them from discovering the truth.
Mackintosh has a talent for weaving her plot together so well, that you're not really sure what's happening until after it's happened. This is a must-read for anyone looking for a great thriller.
At Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, there is a typewriter that is open to the public, so anyone is welcome to type and leave a message. Notes from a Public Typewriter is a collection of some of the staff's favorites. The notes range from funny comments and jokes, to advice, to whatever popped into the writer's head. Some of the comments are clever, others are heartbreaking, and some are just ridiculous.
My favorites included:
"Watching my son try to type a single sentence is like watching a crocodile trying to do ballet."
"Everyone has a superpower. The trick is to find it."
"Sometimes I get lost just to assure myself someone cares enough to find me."
This is just one of those fun books to have on your coffee table for anyone to skim through.
In the world of The Coincidence Makers, nothing happens by chance. Every small event that takes place, a spilled drink, bumping into a stranger, even a certain song that you hear, is part of a bigger plan. There is a group of people who cause these "coincidences," and their purpose is to help people achieve or gain things that they might not have on their own. They help people discover hidden talents, invent items to help mankind, and even fall in love. Guy has been a coincidence maker for several years, but when he's asked to help with a bigger coincidence than he ever has before, it's a wonderful opportunity for him. However, there's a catch, something that Guy isn't comfortable with, but if he doesn't help with the coincidence, it could have consequences that affect hundreds of lives, including his own.
The Coincidence Makers is definitely different from anything I've read, and I enjoyed the unique ideas that Blum introduces. It's a story that will make you think about life and the decisions that you make.
Trapped in a Jewish ghetto, twins Gittel and Chaim have lived in a small apartment with their parents for several years, until they attempt a daring escape. The children end up with partisans, traveling through the forest towards the Soviet border and safety. But, their journey comes to a tragic end when a surprise attack leaves the partisans dead. Their attackers take the twins to a Nazi work camp, where they are forced to make munitions for the war.
Yolen's stories about the horrors of the Holocaust are powerful and compelling. She does an amazing job of exploring the impact that the Holocaust had, and fans of her novels will not be disappointed.
In a group of highly-evolved humans, seventeen-year-old Julia has always felt like the odd person out. She has abilities she doesn't understand, and that her dad has forbidden her to talk about or use. But when Julia accidentally uses them in public and puts her community at risk, her father banishes her to a public high school, where she is expected to completely blend in to prove herself.
But Julia falls for one of her classmates. With Julia's family leaving soon for a safe haven, she learns more about her community and her father, and she has to choose between her new life or her family.
Select is the first book in this new young adult series, The Select. It's an interesting coming of age story and a good one for fans of the Divergent series.
For those of you who are fans of historical fiction, White Chrysanthemum is a great one to start off with in 2018. Told from the perspective of two sisters living in Korea, half of the story takes place in 1943 and half in 2011.
It starts with sixteen-year-old Hana being kidnapped by Japanese soldiers to be a "comfort woman" in a Japanese military brothel. Hana sacrificed herself to protect her younger sister Emi, who is consumed with guilt, even decades later.
Years later, in 2011 the surviving "comfort women" have banded together to seek justice from the Japanese government. Having spent years not knowing what happened to her sister, Emi goes to the women's protests searching for any clue that will bring her some closure.
White Chrysanthemum is a fascinating and captivating look at a little known piece of WWII history.
Gunslinger Girl is a fascinating mix between a post-apocalyptic novel and a western, set in the United States as the world is rebuilding after being devastated by war. About two decades before the start of the novel, the United States went through a second civil war, and the losing side, the Patriots, are still being punished.
Serendipity "Pity" Jones' mother was one of the Patriots, but talked her way out out of being executed for her actions during the war. Only a small percentage of women are still fertile, and Pity's mother was one. She agreed to marry and have children to help rebuild the new United States in return for her life being spared. But she was stuck in a loveless and abusive marriage, and Pity's father doesn't treat Pity any better. When her father tries to marry her off, Pity runs away from home, and ends up in the lawless city of Cessation, where she is given the chance to make a new life for herself. Pity finds living in Cessation comes with its own challenges, and it isn't long before she is stuck in the middle of a political battle where she has to decide what is worth fighting for.
Gunslinger Girl is a phenomenal story that I didn't want to put down. Part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was because it wasn't predictable, and the plot and characters were so well-written. This is definitely one of the best young adult novels I have read in a long time.
Before We Were Yours is based on the true story of Georgia Tann, a woman from Memphis, Tennessee, who ran the Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage in the 1920s-1940s. Tann's organization kidnapped children or tricked parents into signing their children away. She would then sell them to prominent families who couldn't have children of their own.
The story switches between the past and the present. In 1939, Rill Foss' mother and father head to the hospital because her mother is in labor with twins, leaving their five children alone on their riverboat house. The five siblings are kidnapped, and thrown into one of Tann's homes. There, they face malnourishment, abuse, and the realities of being separated as each is adopted.
In the present, Avery Stafford is the daughter of a U.S. senator, and is being groomed to take her father's seat. During a visit to a nursing home, she has an odd encounter with a resident named May that leads Avery to start asking some questions about her family's past.
I loved this story; it's a very powerful look at a little known piece of American history.
10 Things You Might Not Know About Nearly Everything is a collection of newspaper columns of the same name from the Chicago Tribune. The book's fourteen chapters cover a wide range of subjects, from language to politics to sports - just to name a few. Each chapter consists of lists of ten things about topics related to the overall subject. The book is very informative and a fun read.
Some of my favorite facts from the book are:
1. Ice Cream - When actor Clint Eastwood ran for mayor of Carmel, California, in 1986, a major issue was ice cream. Town leaders had banned the sale of ice cream cones, incensing Eastwood and his supporters. They won and overturned the ordinance.
2. Toys - Play-Doh was invented as a wallpaper cleaner.
3. Football Coaches - At every game, Louisiana State University coach Les Miles performs a ritual "that lets me know that I'm a part of the field and part of the game." What is it? He eats the grass. But Miles downplays his routine: "I chew one blade of grass. It's not a casserole. One blade. Not a meal."