The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is another book that I requested from the library. This young adult novel was written by Leslye Walton.

The most remarkable thing about Ava Lavender is that she is born in 1944 with a set of wings. But in order to understand why something so peculiar would happen, we need to go back to the beginning. Continue reading


Mr. Grumpy’s Outing by John Burningham

We have been enjoying our summer. We’ve been swimming at the lake, swimming at the pool, and doing lots and lots of reading. I have also tied screen time to workbook pages, and I signed my girls up for Kumon. Kumon is a tutoring program originally based in Japan, and it places emphasis on repetition to ensure mastery of a subject. They offer math and reading programs, ranging from basic preschool skills to high school. My oldest girl is going into second grade, and she is a dynamo reader. She could use a little boost in math to make sure that she has her addition facts down before she goes back to school. Likewise, my younger girls are going to Kindergarten in the fall, and one of them could use some help with letters and letter sounds, so I signed her up for reading. The other twin is pretty well rounded, but I didn’t want her to feel left out, so I signed her up for math.

One of the benefits of the reading program is that it allows the student to bring home a book after every session. We were sent home with Mr. Grumpy’s Outing, a picture book written and illustrated by John Burningham. Continue reading


The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door is a young adult novel by Karen Finneyfrock. I found it at my town library displayed on the end of a shelf. The cover intrigued me, and the plot synopsis on the flap made me add the book to my checkout pile.

The novel begins as Celia is entering high school in Hershey, PA. She has turned “dark” over the summer. She explains rather early in the novel what turning dark entails, but she doesn’t go into the reasons behind her decision until the novel is almost over. To Celia, being dark mean no longer caring about what people think of her, and no longer trying to fit in. Celia is also determined to exact revenge on a Queen Bee type girl named Sandy, who did something terrible last year during eighth grade. Continue reading


The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

I read The Museum of Intangible Things immediately after finishing Great. Both of these novels fall into the young adult genre, but they could not have been more different. Great is a modern version of The Great Gatsby, and filled with fabulously wealthy teens behaving badly. Hannah and Zoe, the main characters in The Museum of Intangible Things, live in a rural part of New Jersey, where there have been cutbacks at the local high school, and no one has very much extra money.

The Museum of Intangible Things was written by Wendy Wunder. As I have mentioned, Hannah and Zoe are best friends. Hannah is the practical sort, and Zoe is much more esoteric. But, like they say, opposites attract, and somehow, they make their friendship work. Continue reading


Great by Sara Benincasa

I have close to 30 books on my reading list, and that doesn’t include books that I have purchased for my Kindle. That being said, one of the books that I was the most excited about was Great, a modern re-telling of The Great Gatsby. This young adult novel was written by Sara Benincasa.

The biggest change is that Nick and Gatsby are both female characters in Beninicasa’s version. Naomi Rye is a Chicago-bred teen with divorced parents who spends her summers in the Hamptons with her social climbing mother. Now, let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge the wry (ha, do you see what I did there?) pun with the surname Rye and the original novel’s Carraway. Well played, Sara- well played! Continue reading


Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Noggin is another novel that I requested from the library before it was released. And once I received my copy, it took me about a month to read it because I had several books in my reading queue that I needed to read first. Now that I have read it, I want to read author John Corey Whaley’s first novel, Where Things Come Back.

Cryogenics has been a fascinating subject for me. I think I recall it being a topic in Matt Groening comics, and I also remember growing up in suburban Los Angeles and hearing rumors that Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen- under the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, no less.

So, I approached Noggin with great interest. The story involves a young man named Travis who reawakens five years after his death. He was saved because he and his parents chose to have his healthy head removed from his cancer-ravaged body and frozen. Medical advancements have come much quicker than expected, and the technology needed to ensure that the surgery can take place is a success arrives five years later. Continue reading


The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams

I requested The Haven from the library before it was released. While I was waiting to receive my copy, I read another of Carol Lynch Williams’ novels- The Chosen One. In that novel, Williams looks into the life of a girl living in a polygamist sect.

The Haven reminded me of The Chosen One. The Haven introduces the reader to Shiloh, a young girl who lives in Haven Hospital and Halls. The story takes place at some point in the future: the hospital was founded in 2020, but it’s not clear how many years have elapsed since then.

Shiloh is a Terminal. She lives with many other children, all of whom are also Terminal. They cannot leave the hospital because they are all sick, but they do not need to leave the hospital. All their needs are provided for; they go to school, receive medical care, and are taken care of. Continue reading