Joss by Erin Falligant

Joss is the American Girl Girl of the Year for 2020. She likes surfing and cheerleading and can’t decide if she’s really a surfer or really a cheerleader because surely she can’t be both. Joss is the first book all about her. It’s a cute story of friendship and figuring out just who you are. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys American Girl books. It makes a great family read aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 9
Pages Read in 2020: 2741
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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

Twilight Rogue by Andrea Pearson

So often a book series will have a great beginning and end, but then loses steam in the middle. Not this one! Twilight Rogue is the third book of the Midnight Chronicles and it’s absolutely fantastic. Two huge things happen that I was seriously not expecting and one of them changes absolutely everything I thought I knew. I love how Abel’s character, including his feelings under that seemingly emotionless exterior, is being developed through this series. The writing is excellent. It’s the kind of story that you just don’t want to put down and leaves you with a book hangover when you’re all done. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes urban fantasy. It’s even better if you’ve read Lizzie’s series first, but that’s not necessary (though I do recommend it).

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 8
Pages Read in 2020: 2599
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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: Asked by the Author, Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: I Like the Series

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton

Aya is an 11-year-old dancer from Aleppo, Syria, forced to flee with her family due to the war. Making their way across the Mediterranean her father is presumed drowned and her mother’s mental health breaks leaving Aya basically in charge of her baby brother. In England they claim asylum and await the verdict of whether they can stay or if they must leave. Aya begins dance classes at a community center with a teacher who was herself a refugee during World War II. The book does a really good job of presenting the concepts of asylum seeker and refugee and what having to flee your home can do to you short and long term in a way that middle grade children – the age the book is aimed at – can understand. The story is told very effectively through both present day narration and flashbacks. It’s very well written. I recommend No Ballet Shoes in Syria to people of all ages.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 7
Pages Read in 2020: 2404
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Filed under Children, Reason: LitHub Bingo

The Shrigley Abduction by Abby Ashby and Audrey Jones

I’m not really sure why this book was even written. It’s true crime, but it’s the most boring true crime I have ever read. Basically, guy easily kidnaps girl from school with fake story. Guy fools girl into marrying him. Girl’s family gets made. Court case declares marriage annulled and another court case convicts guy of kidnapping. And that’s pretty much it. Barely any of the book is on the crime. Most of it is the minutiae of the people involved. So many people who really didn’t have to be mentioned or discussed. It just was not an enjoyable book, but rather was quite tedious for the most part. I don’t really recommend it unless you have some urgent need to learn about this particular criminal case.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 6
Pages Read in 2020: 2132
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Filed under Reason: LitHub Bingo, True Crime

Murder by Plum Pudding by Lee Stauss

Murder by Plum Pudding is a lovely mind vacation. It’s short and simple with humor and fun scattered among the death. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 5
Pages Read in 2020: 1842
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Filed under Annual Wrap-Up, Realistic Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Mañanaland is a gentle story with an almost dreamlike quality to it. The imagery as well as the division into yesterday, today, and tomorrow are quite lovely and effective. I read it to my 11 and 13 year old boys and the 11-year-old, especially, loved it. I highly recommend it as a family read aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 4
Pages Read in 2020: 1734
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***This book will be released March 3, 2020***

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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Doctor Who: Shroud of Sorrow by Tommy Donbavand

Set during Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor with Clara as his companion, Shroud of Sorrow all the inhabitants of the earth must be saved from the final stage of grief. Occurring right after JFK’s death, the Shroud attempts to bring everyone to acceptance of grief, which would be too late. Including a trip through a wormhole and a planet of clowns, this book is excellent for any Doctor Who fan.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 3
Pages Read in 2020: 1483
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Filed under Annual Wrap-Up, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Science Fiction