Summer reads

I’ve been on a blog sabbatical, so I haven’t written lately about the books on my nightstand. I read two books a week, sometimes three, and it’s been a long time since I’ve shared some of my favorites on the blog.

A quick round up:

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko. Once I put Al Capone in my own novel (Finders Keepers), I devoured her Alcatraz series, which also includes Al Capone Does My Shirts and Al Capone Does My Homework.

The ongoing adventures of 12-year-old Moose Flanagan are funny, but the reason I love the books is the relationship between his autistic sister Natalie and their family. The secondary characters shine.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life by Pamela Smith Hill. This was one of the ten books I read as I researched my novel Laura Ingalls is Ruining My Life (slated for publication in 2017).

This book is not just another Laura biography. It probes her life as a writer, including her relationship with daughter Rose Wilder Lane, who was one of the country’s most acclaimed writers around the time of the Depression. If you’ve ever wondered about the influence Rose had on her mother’s series of books, read this book for its insight.

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read this book at least a dozen times as a kid. I needed to revisit it to ground myself in the setting of Walnut Grove, Minn., which is the modern-day setting for Laura Ingalls is Ruining My Life.

On the Banks of Plum Creek is my third favorite Laura book. Little House on the Prairie and The Long Winter are numbers one and two.

The Phoenix Files by Chris Morphew is a six-book series about three teens trying to stop a powerful man from destroying the world. Think of it as pre-dystopian. The plot speeds along at a breathtaking pace with three characters taking turns telling the story. Jordan is my favorite: tough, driven, fearless. I don’t read much science fiction, but this series left me hungry for more.

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt. I’m embarrassed I didn’t read this award winner years ago. It’s a lyrical and evocative story about a lonely hound dog who forms an unlikely family with two kittens. Appelt sets their current troubles against a magical history that seeps into the present.

Next up: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos.

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