The Truth About Martians by Melissa Savage

I loved how this was both historical fiction (Roswell, New Mexico, 1940whatever) and science fiction (a UFO really did crash and there were aliens on it.)  This was such an odd story, or at least, certainly unique. On the one hand you’ve got this sweet story about a boy and his parents trying to recover after the death of their son. Similarly they all love and care very much about the boy’s best friend, who father is a drunk and neglects his child.  Then you’ve got this historical setting that was so vivid I felt hot and thirsty just reading about it. It’s all ranches and dust and children riding horses to get to ranches. And then there’s the Martian (or, as more accurately, Moontian) who crash lands.
Maybe not the fastest paced book ever, but I still enjoyed it and appreciated the novelty of pretty much all of it.

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A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff

It was just coincidence that I read two Lisa Graff books within a couple of weeks.  And the two are totally different from each other (and from the previous book I’d read by her –The Thing About Georgie. I have to say I’m admiring the variety of stories she writes. They all have some nice messages and characterization, but packaged up differently each time.)
This one was right up my alley–magical, but real. Kind of like a Sarah Addison Allen novel for kids. The magic is well known and a part of life-most people have a Talent. What’s kind of fun is how bizarre some of them are. Things like “knowing the exact right cake to make for any occasion.” I loved the different Talents and how they weren’t all things like levitation and mind reading. The story takes place at a camp for children with Talents. The director is kind of shady and something is going on with the lake and the Talents. I liked how it was all tied in to a prologue (which, upon checking this on Goodreads I find out refers to a first novel that is a companion to this one.)
Very enjoyable.

The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff

I bought this for the library quite a while ago and read it so that I could recommend it better, but really it turned out to be quite a treat. I thought this was so fun and can’t imagine a kid not enjoying reading this and imagining their own live in treehouse. I liked the format of the book with post it notes, notes, and emails included in the “scrapbook” that tells the story.

Torn between two parents who want to divide their child perfectly equally, Winnie is really only happy on Wednesdays. On that day, rather than have their child have unequal time with a parent (since there are 7 days in a week), Winnie’s parents are content to let her live on her own on that day. (terrible parents. really.) She lives in a fantastic treehouse that somehow has plumbing and electricity (?!) and is located between her mother and father’s house.  Fed up with the feuding for her attention (while simultaneously giving her no attention) Winnie refuses to come out of the treehouse unless they both visit at the same time. Since they won’t she stays in there. Soon her classmates (conveniently a class of 10) join her and they all refuse to leave.
This is just the sort of story I found entertaining as a kid and still do. All the logical questions (why don’t they just go get her?) are quickly and preposterously answered (“the tree is technically an embassy and exempt from U.S. laws”! really?!).
Solidly fun.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Hunt

This is one I bought for the library and then my daughter had it out and she read it and was very talkative about it. It seemed like I needed to read this too, so that we could talk about it. At its core it does have a pretty heavy concept and sad thing to think about. Carley is with a foster family after a terrible domestic incident. The family she stays with seems so perfect and happy, and also foreign to her–there are hugs and forgiveness and family dinners.
I thought this was good book and although I was surprised by the ending and it wasn’t what I wanted, I guess I’m ok with it. Overall, very enjoyable and a good emotional realistic fiction choice.

Terra Tempo: The Four Corners of Time by David Shapiro, Christopher Herndon

This is #2 in the Terra Tempo series, but it was fine that I hadn’t read #1 as they kindly filled me in on everything in a brief intro. This was an enjoyable graphic novel filled with adventure and so much interesting geology and natural history that it almost seemed like a Science Comics at times. At times some of the plot was a little confusing, including how and why a giant bird sometimes saves them, but overall I thought this was good time travel for kids.

Hits and Misses by Simon Rich

I have an EE (“eagle eye”) for finding misshelved adult books in the children’s section. And thank goodness, because that’s how I found there was this new Simon Rich book!

It was hilarious! As with any collection some stories I liked more than otherse. As with all his collections I just find it absolutely hilarious when he, say, gives a modern style of talking to God, Saint Peter, Jesus’s contemporaries, etc. The foosball story was super funny and I thought the very first story was also great (in part because I was so tickled and surprised by the suprise factor of it.)

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

I love Lisa Jewell books but was somewhat reluctant to read this one. In part because of the description (which I’d read a while ago and thought “if this was written by anyone other than Lisa Jewell I wouldn’t read it.”) Plus my trusted friend said it wasn’t that great, but then clarified that it just wasn’t the level of House We Grew Up In. I was not immediately hooked by this, but after a little while I was and I couldn’t wait to see how it all played out.
Many changing points of view of different characters who all live in the same street of a little town. And most of them seem fairly creepy/voyeuristic/paranoid/unseemly. The main guy who is a headmaster at a school seems to have inappropriate connections with young schoolgirls. Or does he? And why are other women also infatuated with him? Then add in that his son is a total peeping Tom. Or is he truly just fascinated in the goings on of his little town? Then there’s the neighbor who is delusional truly and believes people are out to get her so she constantly watches them and takes pictures and uses binoculars.  And that’s only 3 of them!
I had many theories about how they all connected and really got pretty excited to see how it would all turn out. Oh–and driving this all-the novel opens with a dead body. Much like that Liane Moriarty book a few years ago it’s not immediately clear which character it is. And much like when I read that one, I kept forgetting about that.
I enjoyed this very much-clever and fascinating.