Tag: mystery

#TopTenTuesday: Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year

You might have noticed that 2016 has already seen a huge number of excellent, intriguing, and unique books published, especially in the Middle Grade and YA genres. This week the goal is to share our Top Ten Favorite 2016 releases, and I can say this is definitely a fantastic way to start off the summer on the blog. Now that school is out, I anticipate finally being able to spend some substantial time on blog. Thank goodness!

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This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their blog and join in any week you like.

Here’s what they have to say about Top Ten Tuesday: “Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly link-up in the community where we provide a prompt and other lovers of listmaking join in on it with their own top ten list. Feel free to have less than 10 or more if you need to at times and put a spin on the topic if you need to! Just please link back to us if you are participating :).”

PICTUREBOOKS:

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THE NIGHT GARDENER

Stay tuned for my mini picturebook review of this one and another fantastic 2016 release. If you haven’t read or purchased THE NIGHT GARDENER, then I would highly recommend you do just that. If there is only one picturebook you purchase this year, make it this one. This is definitely a Caldecott contender!

MIDDLE GRADE:

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RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE

You can hear more of my thoughts about this new book of Kate’s here. This is one of my choices for the Newbery!

WolfHollow

WOLF HOLLOW

This is another one of my top Middle Grade reads for 2016. I describe this as a young reader’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, but it’s this and so much more. This is another contender for the Newbery. Themes of social justice, friendship, and sacrifice are threaded throughout this beautiful narrative.

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ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK

Perry T. Cook is an unforgettable protagonist!

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THE KEY TO EXTRAORDINARY

You probably already know how I feel about Natalie Lloyd and her books.

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PAX

PAX is another unforgettable animal Middle Grade that I was thinking about for many days after I finished the last page.

YOUNG ADULT:

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THE READER

This one isn’t out until September, so my review will have to wait a bit, but I can safely say this is an amazing and fast-paced start to a series that I will be eagerly following!

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SALT TO THE SEA

I actually read this book last summer, after I picked up an ARC at ALA Annual in San Francisco, but it didn’t release until February 2016. If I have to pick one top book for the entire year, this one would probably be it. It’s that good. And it’s an important story.

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THE MIRROR KING

This is the second and final installment in Jodi Meadows’ Orphan Queen duology, and it was wonderful!

ADULT:

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BLACK RABBIT HALL

You know I’m a big fan of books by Kate Morton, so when I heard that this was a Kate Morton-esque story, set in England, and that, like Kate Morton’s books, it shifted between time periods, I was set. BLACK RABBIT HALL is an intriguing historical mystery. If you enjoy books by Kate Morton, then by all means, make sure you grab this one.

And there are still so many more 2016 releases to look forward to! Are any of these on your list? Which 2016 titles do you think I must absolutely read next?

What Katie Read

A Dream Come True: Kate Morton Visits BOSTON!!

I know I’m a bit late on telling you about this BUT:

December 2015 was an epic month because….THE KATE MORTON BOOK SIGNING IN BOSTON!!

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Can you believe that at the end of last year I heard Kate Morton speak, spoke to her, and had four of my books signed!?!?!

It was an epic evening—Kate’s last North American tour stop just happened to be in Boston so you can bet I cleared my schedule in order to arrive at Brookline Booksmith early in order to secure a good seat for the talk.

I hadn’t been able to unpack all of my Kate Morton books in time for the big evening, but I bought a paperback of The Forgotten Garden at the store that night and skipped in with my hardbacks of The Lake House and The Secret Keeper and my paperback of The House at Riverton.

I was on pins and needles as we waited quietly for Kate to show up. At around 4:30pm I heard an accented female voice on the stairs and was certain that Kate was descending. Sure enough, I turned around to see a smiling Kate making her way down the stairs with several other people and soon they disappeared into a back room until the 5pm show.

That first sighting of Kate had me feeling like this:

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It seemed as if I was so close to a life complete…hearing and meeting in person one of my favorite authors of all time….

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Then…5pm was upon us, and the person responsible for the bookstore’s events took the microphone to introduce the one and only Kate Morton. Kate stood just behind our row until it was time for her to step up and introduce herself.

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All I have to say: She is an amazing speaker, and her talk was interesting, engaging, and inspiring! She is definitely a kindred spirit, and the kind of person that would be a dear friend, I am certain. She shared an interesting and engaging talk about her writing process, her books, her inspiration, and the kind of books she grew up reading. One really interesting thing she talked about was the fact that she read British children’s literature growing up in Australia and when she traveled to England for the first time, she felt like she had been there before. It’s almost as if the books you read as a child become a part of your life geography, and I could completely relate because I had this same experience. I grew up reading a lot of British children’s literature, so that when I first journeyed to London as a college undergraduate to study abroad, I felt as if I had already been there….

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Kate also shared snippets from her tour in the UK, including a journey on a train down to Cornwall (where The Lake House is set!) that gave her an idea for another story. She read a passage from The Lake House, a chapter set in the perspective of Theo, and it was absolutely wonderful to hear the story read aloud from the author herself.

Then, a handful of questions came from the crowd, and they were all graciously answered by Kate. I was a bit star-struck, to be honest. Not only was my favorite author an amazing and creative writer, but she seemed like one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet!

At the end of the Q&A, we queued up for book signing, and we all happily and patiently waited while people chatted with Kate and had books signed. Kate is such a cheery and kind person–she took the time to talk with each person and it was delightful.

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Then my turn arrived! Here’s what we talked about–I told Kate I adored her books and that we have a fan club of hers (Morton Ladies) on Twitter. She said to say hello to all the gals in that club–Lindsey, Laura, Jess, and Morgan! I also told Kate I had studied for my M.A. in Children’s Literature in London and that I had read TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN and THE CHILDREN OF GREEN KNOWE for the first time during that adventure. We chatted about those books and it was wonderful! She even listened to me share a little about my master’s thesis on the spirituality of children’s fantasy. Then of course I had a picture with Kate, and the evening was complete…

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What more could I ask for in the way of a wonderful December bookish event?!? Absolutely nothing!!

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What Katie Read

Mini Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly (2015) by Stephanie Oakes

Mini Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly (2015) by Stephanie OakesThe Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Published by Penguin on June 9th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Physical & Emotional Abuse, Religious
Pages: 400
Goodreads
five-stars

A hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in yourself The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too. Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.Gorgeously written, breathlessly page-turning and sprinkled with moments of unexpected humor, this harrowing debut is perfect for readers of Emily Murdoch's If You Find Me and Nova Ren Suma's The Walls Around Us, as well as for fans of Orange is the New Black.From the Hardcover edition.

This book is definitely one of my favorite reads for 2015 so far. It’s a gripping story about seventeen year-old Minnow Bly who has just emerged from a cult in the woods—the Kevinian cult (named after the Prophet who founded it, Kevin).

Minnow is in a juvenile detention center for attacking a boy she encountered after she left the cult. However, she is one of the only people who knows how the Prophet died and what happened that last night in the community (which burned to the ground).

That’s why an FBI agent begins visiting her, in an attempt to piece together what happened. But will Minnow reveal anything? That’s a question readers will be wondering about throughout the narrative, a story that is compelling, beautiful, and tragic, but ultimately hopeful. 

I read a huge chunk of this book on a plane journey, and it’s the perfect book for a long road or plane trip because you will want to keep reading in an attempt to find out what happened that last night with the community of the Kevinian cult.

A few things I loved about this book:

Stephanie Oakes, the Wordsmith: The prose of this novel is gorgeous! It’s no surprise to me that the author has an MFA in Poetry—you may find yourself re-reading passages, reflecting symbolic language that features gaps where meaning can be mined. Trust me—there are so many passages in this book you’ll want to highlight and return to later.

The Spirituality: So, it makes sense that a book focusing on a girl emerging from a cult would feature talk about spirituality and religion. It’s clear that the cult Minnow’s family was a part of was abusive and terrible in so many ways (let’s not talk about Minnow’s hands getting cut off—don’t get me started!) but that doesn’t mean that Minnow stops wondering about the existence of God and who made the stars and how God works. There are multiple points in the story where Minnow is talking to others or thinking about the big questions of meaning so many of us don’t ask or think about often enough.

The Hope: There are a lot of dark and sad events in this book—I won’t lie. That includes events that happen prior to the beginning of the book, and are featured through flashbacks of Minnow. Some majorly intense happenings took place within the cult community, and it might make you really mad. But in spite of the twisted beliefs and actions of those in the Kevinian cult, Minnow still manages to keep an open mind, and an underlying hope (as much as it sometimes doesn’t seem like she does). Minnow is coming to grips with the fact that the world may not look the way “The Prophet” said it did. God may be different than who he was constructed to be within the cult. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that the narrative is seeped in hope, even in the midst of some very difficult circumstances for Minnow and others.

Quotes I Loved

“Everybody around me was in pain, I realize now, but none of them ever poured it out of themselves into another person. Jude taught me what love was: to be willing to hold on to another person’s pain. That’s it.”

“We have to be happy to keep searching and not knowing all the time.”

“If it’s possible to have a soul, mine was steel-plated and invincible that night, and I think that’s what love does, makes you strong. Makes you think nothing can bring you down.”

This books get all the stars—a solid 5. I’ve already recommended it to multiple readers, but what about you? Did you read Minnow Bly’s story? What did you think?
five-stars
What Katie Read
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