Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Year of the Book and The Year of the Baby by Andrea Cheng

My2 cents:

Andrea Cheng has been busy the past two years writing the first two books in a series for middle-age readers called The Year of the Book and The Year of the Baby. Anna Wang, a young ABC (American Born Chinese) girl, tells us the story of her life in the series.

In The Year of the Book, Anna is in fourth grade, living with her mother, father, younger brother, Ken, going to Chinese School on weekends to learn Chinese and accompanying her mother to her cleaning job on Saturdays. Oh, and reading lots of books. Anna celebrates Thanksgiving, sews beautiful drawstring bags, makes paper airplanes with her brother, and learns what it means to be a friend, when her neighbor Laura's parents divorce. It's a delightful book, full of fourth-grade doings and mother-daughter angst.

The Wangs adopt a baby girl from China in The Year of the Baby. Little Kaylee becomes part of Anna's fifth grade science project. Friends Camille and Laura join in to help Kaylee adjust to life in America and learn to eat.

The bright illustrations by Abigail Halpin and Patrice Barton are lovely and comical.

Length: 146 pages and 162 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes. For middle readers and up. My 13-year-old daughter (who's a bit above the middle-reader age) and I both enjoyed Cheng's books.

Bonus: Anna travels to China with her teacher in The Year of the Fortune Cookies, due out in early 2014.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

My 2 cents:

The Lucy Variations is a very interesting book. Author Sara Zarr is a National Book Award Finalist and has written four previous YA novels, including Story of a Girl.

Zarr's newest book, barely out on bookshelves this summer, is destined for critical acclaim. Set in San Francisco (Zarr's hometown), The Lucy Variations is a page-turner from the first page, with Lucy unsuccessfully giving CPR to her 10-year-old brother's piano teacher, to the very last, with Lucy grandly making “her entrance” in a surprise ending.

I love a flawed heroine. 16-year-old Lucy is that. She's also a brilliant pianist, beautiful, wealthy, confused, traumatized, and a bit self-absorbed. She's a sister, a best-friend, a daughter, grand-daughter, and high-school student who's trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She's crushing on her English teacher and fighting with her mother. In short, Lucy's sixteen.

Young adults will identify with Lucy's life, and adults will find plenty to relate to, as well. Especially when it comes to crossing the line between supporting your kids and pressuring them into doing something they don't want to do.

Length: 304 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes. A riveting read.

Bonus: For more about the author and her work, check out Sara
Zarr, The Official on Facebook.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Fiddler by Beverly Lewis

My 2 cents:

Bestselling Author Beverly Lewis said she's “been waiting nearly a lifetime to write this book!” The Fiddler, first in her Hickory Hollow fiction series, weaves a compelling story of first loves and heart's desires, talents and spiritual beliefs.

Amelia Devries is a well-known, classical violinist, who goes by “Amy Lee” when she plays her fiddle at a Tim McGraw concert. Trained to travel the world and become a famous solo musician, Amelia is engaged to Byron, an ambitious trumpeter, and is beginning to wonder if all that is what she really wants. A stormy night and a wrong turn bring her to the doorstep of Michael Hostetler, a burgeoning architect reared in the Pennsylvania Amish faith, who is also questioning his upbringing … and his future.

What happens when their worlds collide? Captivating characters and a beautiful setting, rich in Amish culture and Amelia's lovely music, combine to make an interesting tale.

Length: 326 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes, especially if you like music or enjoy reading about the Amish.