March
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller
Dan and Noelle gave me this for a quick read. It's a memoir of sorts with a lot of metacognition going on. Looking at life as a story, Don talks about living a meaningful story including the suffering. It was slow, which was OK. Dan calls it putting theology on a low shelf.

Battle of the Bulge by Rick Atkinson
This was a very technical recounting of the Battle of the Bulge. I finished it only because I knew Grandpa MacLeay was actually there, which made the descriptions pretty moving. It would take a student with a huge interest in WWII to finish this. Well written but small audience. YA.

Travels with Gannon & Wyatt Ireland by Patti Wheeler
the twins are traveling to Ireland this time, which is interesting in and of itself. I enjoyed this read even though the plot was highly unlikely. The boys find themselves doing a student internship on a sheep farm in the Irish countryside, where something is causing major crop and fishing failures. It's the evil monoplex giant feeder farm upstream..A bit strained but the countryside is so cool. This was a quick and enjoyable read. 4th+

The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos
Joey, in this last book, is left to take care of his perfect baby brother, Carter Jr. Dad has disappeared and Mom checks herself into the hospital for fear of hurting someone. There are sweet and funny moments, but overall this is a heartbreaker. Joey's voice as a truly hyperactive, mind blowing ADHD kid is pretty sad and scary. As it should be. A tough read. 5th+

Famous Last Words by Katie Alender
This may be a bit much for some (but then I remember what kind of movies they watch...). Serial sociopathic Holliwood killer who sets up his scenes like famous scenes from old movies. Creeeps. Our main character has just moved into the stepdad's mansion and is suffering culture shock. And later much more shock. Whew. Well done. 7th+ YA for violence.

Tomorrow Girls: Behind the Gates (#1) by Eva Gray

Louisa is a lucky one who is being sent off to boarding school along with her "twin" Maddie. But Country Manor is sketchy. Before you know it, Louisa and three other girls are fleeing some scary people. I never got into the story for some reason. It's OK, but not enough to catch me. OK for 5th+

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

I don't think this has to be YA. It's street talk often, but not swearing. The family values education and morals which raises the level of the story. Twins Josh and Jordan are their father's sons. He was a pro basketball player, and that's what they love. Written in verse, but an easy read. It's sad. 5th+ Newbery.

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

This was a tough read. Laurel's sister has died and it take a long time before we find out what happens. In fact it takes the whole book for Laurel to face the whole truth. This story involves relationships of lesbian love, sisterly heroism, molestation and date rape, and coming to understand yourself. Is it middleschool appropriate? It's difficult, but yes. Does suicide, drinking, abuse and misunderstanding happen to middleschoolers? Yes. YA

Smek for President by Adam Rex

Such great dialogue. It helps to know the back story, but not necessary. The Boov J.Lo wants to clear his name and decides he should go to the new BoovWorld on the moon of Saturn. Of course Tip (Gratuity) Tucci has to go too and craziness ensues. Smek is running for President based on a false story by Dan Landry. Good message about friendship and love too. 4th+ Excellent.

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Albie wants to fit in. He wants to be cool. But it's so confusing. He is starting fifth grade in a new school and meets Betsy who is kind but picked on by the Popular Darren. His new nanny Calista does things that probably wouldn't make his mother happy, but make him happy. His best friend since kindergarten is suddenly in a reality show because he is one of two sets of triplets. Fame is not always so great. I'm not sure this will be popular--the writing is OK but not terrific. OK 4th+

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jaqueline Kelly

This is so unique. The style of the writing and dialogue is perfect for the setting of Texas, at the turn of the century to 1900. Calpurnia is the epitome of the strong, smart heroine. Her world is invaded by Aggie who has been displaced by a horrible hurricane in Galveston. But there is also the new vet in town who has moved from Galveston. Callie spends a lot of her time helping her favorite brother Travis save a variety of maimed wild animals.I enjoyed this all the way through. Excellent 4th+

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

Best book this month. Mai has to travel to Vietnam to accompany her Ba (grandmother) back to her village where she hopes to find out what happened to her grandfather during The War. Ba speaks only Vietnamese and Mai speaks English but can listen to Vietnamese for a basic understanding. The family/cultural piece of this story is awesome, but the humor really pulled me in. Mai's voice was definitly one of a 12 year old California girl. "Dr Do Gooder Dad" disappears into the north of Vietnam, leaving Mai with her grandmother and a young man interpreter with a Texas accent. Great vignettes of cultural interactions through the story. I loved this. 5th (maybe not a good read aloud due to discussions of thongs and breast size which are hilarious). Bravo.