A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
Patrick Ness has a way of conjuring just about every emotion I have when I read his books. His Chaos Walking trilogy was an emotional roller coaster. I must say though, he has outdone himself with A Monster Calls. If this book doesn’t pull at your heartstrings I don’t know what would. It’s a story of love and loss, of dealing with an inevitable death that follows a prolonged illness and all the emotion that comes with it. It’s overcoming not just sadness, but anger, injustice and hopelessness. Yet, the story is oddly comforting.
It’s a book you just have to read for yourself. I don’t think any one persons review could do it justice.
I was fortunate enough to read a hardcover copy. The illustrations in this book are wonderful and really add to the darkness of the story.
An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo
With Lizzie’s father fighting in World War II, her mother takes on the job of a zoo keeper to provide for her family. Lizzie, her mother, and her eight-year-old brother Karli have become especially attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene. The bombing of Dresden is imminent and soon, so the zoo director explains that as a precautionary measure all the animals must be destroyed so that they’re not running wild through the city. Lizzie’s mother persuades the director to allow Marlene, the elephant, to come stay in the family’s garden.
As predicted, Dresden is bombed, and the family, including Marlene, is forced from the city. Lizzie and her family aren’t alone. Thousands of Dresden residents are fleeing to find somewhere safe to stay. Lizzie’s mother has to find a different route out of the city to keep the elephant and the children safe from harm. Once they reach the abandoned home of their relatives, they come across Peter, a Canadian navigator who, by putting himself at risk of capture to save the family, gains their trust.
This unlikely grouping of family, elephant, and enemy turned ally come together beautifully to illustrate the importance of love, resolve, and hope.
I have had the opportunity to read quite a few books from the World War II era that have touched my heart with their message of love, hope and survival. This was a wonderful addition to that group. Following Lizzie’s family through their harrowing journey to safety made for an exciting adventure appropriate even for young readers.
If you enjoyed Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys I believe you’ll enjoy this one as well.
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
In this irresistible memoir, the New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize Anna Quindlen writes about looking back and ahead—and celebrating it all—as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all the stuff in our closets, and more.
As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves.
Anna Quindlen reflects back on her life and the lessons she’s learned throughout her journey. It’s extremely perceptive and often humorous. The book was easy to relate to and I often found myself saying “That’s exactly how I feel!”. She does sometimes go off on a tangent, which made some parts seem repeated. There are lots of good reflections and insight for women whose children are beginning to or have already left the nest.