Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart: For elementary-middle school readers, except that I loved it and considered it one of my favorite reads this year! I bought it a long time ago to read and see if it was okay for Caiden to read. He read the Series of Unfortunate Events earlier this year and loved each book, so I was excited to see a new series of books that might be good for him. It was! Super clean, with a great story, and we were both captivated through the end. There are two more in the series, which will be going in a red box with a bow next month for him (and me!). These are long books, over 400 pages each, so they're great for keeping a fast reader occupied.
House of Dies Drear, by Virginia Hamilton: I read this one, somehow having missed it in high school. It was a different book, but very good, and I loved it. (Sidenote: the first night I started reading, it was a little scary and suspenseful, and at midnight when I put the book down and turned off my lamp, I realized I saw raccoon feet out in the barn. I had to grab a lantern and the dog and head out into the pitch black of the field and into the barn to wield off possibly-rabid creatures. I was scared stiff. Pace was asleep, so no help there. Even the dog didn't want to go in the barn! Then it turned out not to be raccoons at all, and I had to fight the urge to run all the way back to the house. I walked, but only barely. I don't read scary books very often, obviously.) There is a sequel I haven't checked out yet.
Our Only May Amelia, by Jennifer Holm: another juvenile book, but also not for younger readers. I can't remember where I read about this one, but I'm so glad I did. It takes place in Washington in about 1900 and is about a lone girl among 7 brothers. Her Finnish family experiences several heartaches in that year, and the story is in her voice, and it's excellent. I always come away from literature about that time period astounded at what pioneers struggled with just to survive.
Stories from Grandma's Attic, by Arleta Richardson: Caiden is reading these out loud to us for school, and even though the characters are a young girl and her grandmother, he loves it. Each chapter is a story from the grandmother's childhood, and she was a mess! We laughed out loud when she snuck hoop skirts under her church dress, sat down on the pew, and the entire dress flew up into her face. Each chapter is the grandmother's retelling of her life lessons to her granddaughter, and they're all based on the author's grandmother's life. There are a few sequels to this book.
March, by Geraldine Brooks: I read this after my dad recommended it. Yikes! I had a hard time with this one, because the character, Mr. March from Little Women, was completely different from how I'd imagined. In Little Women not much about him is mentioned, other than the fact he's at war and comes home emotionally and physically damaged. March is his story, and it's based on Louisa May Alcott's father's journals. (Father? Grandfather? I can't remember.) I have to be honest and say I didn't like the book until the very end because I didn't like the main character. Then I was glad I stuck with it, because it was riveting and touching and made me think. There are some adult themes in this one, being a book about abolition and war, so be forewarned.
Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow: I've had this book a long time and occasionally re-read it, always coming away glad I did. Linda Dillow has written some really great books, Creative Counterpart being one of them. This includes a Bible study at the back and has a sequel that just came out, A Deeper Kind of Calm, which I haven't read yet. This is a good book for these days, it seems. So much to worry about, and Calm My Anxious Heart is a soul tonic!
I don't know what's next on the list. I finished Our Only May Amelia last night and need to pull out my copy of Honey for a Woman's Heart to find another good suggestion. (Honey for a Child's Heart is fantastic, a must-read for parents who want literature to play a key role in their children's lives. The booklists are dog-eared in my copy, but the beginning chapters are really where all the gold nuggets are. Each time I re-read them, usually at the beginning of our school year, I re-realize why books are so important!)
So there you go! What are you reading, that you'd highly recommend?