by Kate Messner
Twelve-year-old Ava Anderson is a big hot mess of anxiety. She worries about everything. And I mean everything. From failing a math test to a band audition to the state of her parents' marriage to goats ... and the list goes on. So, when she finds a pencil that gives her answers to factual questions, you'd think she has it made in the shade. Right? Wrong. When the pencil tells her of something serious in the future for a family member (trying not to spoil anything!), Ava "realizes that sometimes the bravest people are the ones who live without all the answers."
I was a really anxious kid who had loads of stomachaches that were no doubt stress related. In the diary I kept at age 10, I worried about millions of things, including my piano teacher's choice of pieces for me! For pages and pages and pages! Yeesh. If I could just travel back and tell myself to go enjoy a bike ride or a game of Barbies or a a book.
So, yeah, I could definitely relate to Ava. Also, I thought it was clever how sharpening the pencil shortened the life of the magic. And I loved the whole you-only-think-you-want-the-answers theme.
But what really grabbed me about this book was how true the characters felt. Even the secondary and more minor ones. Here's one example: Ava's little sister, Emma, is in a class with several Emmas. So, she wears a different name tag to school every day in an effort to be individual. I don't know a girl like this, but I can easily imagine meeting one. The book is filled with these kinds of humanizing, believable idiosyncratic details about the various characters.
In a word: recommended!
Dear FCC: The Yellow Book Road, my local children's bookstore, gave me the ARC for this book. I'm sure they had no idea I'd review it. They're just kind, generous, book-loving folk.
Other business: A huge welcome to our newest reviewer: Rob Costello! Congratulations to Scott Parker who has started his own publishing company, Quadrant Fiction Studio. And sending bone-healing, quick-recovery vibes to Ellen Booraem who had surgery on Monday for a broken femur.
And now....onto the reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!
MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT FICTION BOOK REVIEWS
Alyssa Goodnight: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor (YA)
Beth Bonini: I WAS HERE by Gayle Forman (YA)
Rob Costello: JACKABY by William Ritter (YA paranormal mystery)
Sarah Laurence: NO SURRENDER SOLIDER by Christine Kohler (YA historical)
ADULT FICTION BOOK REVIEWS
Jenn Jilks: CROW LAKE by Mary Lawson
Linda McLaughlin: JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER by Jodi Taylor (time travel)
Patti Abbott: CLOSE TO THE BROKEN-HEARTED by Michael Hiebert (mystery)
Sarah Laurence: THE REMEDY FOR LOVE by Bill Roorbach (romantic suspense)
Scott Parker: ICERIGGER by Alan Dean Foster (science fiction)
Stacy Nyikos: THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan
(Man Booker winner)
Stacy of the Cat's Meow: TELL THE WOLVES I'M HOME by Carol Rifka Brunt (literary)
Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: THE 20-30 SOMETHING GARDEN GUIDE by Dee Nash
HELLSTRIP GARDENING by Evelyn Hadden
TAMING WILDFLOWERS by Miriam Goldberger
Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!