Here are the final books I read and will review this year. I also participated in a MOOC about Laura Ingalls Wilder and read the first four Little House books: Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie, and On the Banks of Plum Creek. It was really interesting to revisit the series as an adult - there were a lot of details I didn't remember and some that I did. I'm hoping to find time to take part two of the course in the spring and finish the series.
My Brother's Shadow
By Tom Avery
Published 2014 by Schwartz & Wade
This was another ARC that showed up at my library, so once again, I decided to give it a read to have a better time recommending it. I knew going in that it was going to be a depressing read and I wasn't wrong - this is the story of a girl dealing with the grief over her brother's suicide. I'm of two minds about this book - I think it tells an important story. As someone who's dealt with the loss of a sibling, I appreciate seeing this story in books for all ages. But the storyline with the new boy at school never really gelled for me. I never got a real understanding of whether the boy was real or not. Well-written but I wasn't blown away.
Meet the Bigfeet (Yeti Files, book one)
By Kevin Sherry
Published 2014 by Scholastic Press
Okay, this one is definitely not middle-grade; this is, in fact, the one early chapter book I read this year. I couldn't resist picking this one up. I knew it would only take me a short time to read and Sherry has written some awesomely fun picture books so I wanted to see how he'd do with a longer format. The answer is fair. It's a cute idea and probably kids will like it, but it wasn't as funny as I hoped and got a bit tedious. The illustrations are great but the story just isn't terribly exciting. A disappointment.
The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee
By Barry Jonsberg
Published 2014 by Chronicle Books
This was another ARC that showed up at my library that I decided to give a try. This was another sad story - Candice's family has basically fallen apart since the death of her baby sister. In addition, Candice is "quirky," which means that normal interactions don't ever quite go smoothly. But Candice is determined to fix her family's problems. I liked the style of this book - it's told as a writing assignment that Candice has for class - and I liked some of the secondary plots quite a bit. But, I felt like Candice's "quirks" (the autism spectrum is mentioned but dismissed) were being played for laughs and it just didn't sit well with me. Also, the family situation is extremely dire - how had no professional gotten involved? I wanted to like it more than I ultimately did.
And that's the end of my books to review this year. If I finish any additional books between now and January 1, I'll try to review them but no promises!