Home is the Place (Family Tree, Book 4) by Ann M. Martin

Home is the Place (Family Tree, Book 4) by Ann M. Martin – Middle Grade Fiction

This story is about Georgia who is the fourth generation of a family of women who hold many secrets.   The first was her great-grandmother Abby (growing up in the 1920s and 30s), and then her grandmother Dana (growing up in the 1950s and 60s), and then her mother, Francie (growing up in the 1970s and 80s.)  Georgia was born in the mid-1990s.  This book takes place from 2001 to 2013, when Georgia graduates from  high school.  There is an epilogue that takes place in 2022.   Anyway, Georgia has issues with her mother while growing up.  Her mother, Francie, is fearful for her children and is extremely overprotective, and Georgia and her brother have no idea while.  In fact, no one has any idea why, because Francie never told anyone what nearly happened to her as a child (this is covered in book three of the series.)  Even Francie’s own mother has no idea why.  And then there is Abby and Dana.  Will they resolve their issues from fifty years earlier?  Also, if you are into stories where hidden diaries are discovered, this is definitely the book for you!

I read this book because I’d read the first three in the series, and all three left me kind of cold in a way. They were sad because family members were not getting along with each other. I read this one because I was hoping that the arc of the story – the relationships, the hidden truths – would come to a resolution. Fortunately, this book was very satisfying in that way. I don’t think I am giving away too much here, either.

Summer Reading Online (book 28 of 30)

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio (2014) – Fiction

Jane was born on Christmas and receives a gift she learns about on her 29th birthday, which explains her health issues over the years:  she can see true love!  Before her 30th birthday, she must identify several types of love otherwise face consequences (possibly no true love for herself, for instance.)

I actually liked this book by Jio better than the other two books I read earlier this summer by the same author.  This one actually seemed more plausible in a way.  I liked Jane – she seemed more realistic as a person.  She also didn’t take months to read some found item (like in the other two book.)   It is actually a really sweet story.  Will Jane find her true love?  Will it be too late?

Four stars out of five.

Summer Reading Online (21 of 30)

The Box and the Dragonfly (The Keepers #1) by Ted Sanders

The Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders (2015) – Middle Grade Fantasy

Horace is on this way home from school one day when he notices a strange billboard on a wall while riding the bus.  He eventually gets off the bus, and finds a store that isn’t really a store  – most people can’t see the entry.  It turns out he is a Keeper, and he find an object in the storeroom that feels right to him.  He becomes its Keeper, and it provides him with a special power.  It takes him a while to figure out what is going on.  Eventually he meets Chloe who has been a Keeper since she was five year old.

Long story short, below the city of Chicago, there is a whole world of good and evil, and you just need to read this book to find out more!

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked that it took place in Chicago.  It is lengthy, however, and part of it toward the middle of the book seemed to drag at times.   It speeds up toward the end. . .  and leaves you hanging!

The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer

The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer (middle grade fiction, grief)

Grace is 12.  She’s a writer, but since her mother died (and Grace blames herself), she has been unable to write.  She has only ever lived with her mother, moving around often, but now she goes to lived with the grandmother she has never met.  She has always wanted a place she could really call home, but with the grief and guilt over her mother’s death, can she really find a place in this town that may be able to truly become home?

This was a a very sweet book, and yet parts of it really feel raw.  The reader can really feel everything Grace is feeling.  It really paints an excellent portrait of grief, hope and friendship in the end.  I highly recommend this story for middle grade readers or just about anyone who needs to read a good, hopeful story.

I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster

I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster (2015)

I have read one of Ms. Lancaster’s earlier memoirs, in addition to a couple of her novels.  I have been following her on Facebook as well.  So I thought I would read this book.

It starts off pretty nicely.  I found her bucket list fairly interesting and the remainder of the book was about her journey tick things off of her list.  One item on her bucket list was to get rid of the one tattoo she has since she got it on spring break 20 years ago while drunk.  I applaud her for that (I am not a fan of tattoos.  Period.)  I could not relate as well to her trying to ride a bike for the first time she was a kid, simply because I have never stopped riding a bike (bicycle).  It’s just something I have always done (except for this summer, and my foot surgery.)

However, the whole going to Italy part just became boring.   I.  felt that I just had to slog through it.  I wanted to just read to enjoy.

Because of the slogging portion of the book, I can only give this book three stars out of five at most.  Seriously, getting rid of a tattoo?  That makes up for a lot!

(Summer Reading Online, 18 of 30)

Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin

Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin (2014)

Franny Katzenback of Pittsburg lives not too far from Dr. Salk’s search for a polio vaccine.  However, it is too late for her.  She has gotten paralytic polio, and spends months in the hospital, including time in an iron lung.  While she was in the iron lung, a nun comes to hospital regularly to read to her.  She reads her a brand new book: Charlotte’s Web. Franny falls in love with this book, and the nun gives her a copy of it to take home with her.  Finally Franny can breathe outside the iron lung, and can go home in a wheelchair.  A physical therapist comes regularly to see if she can get Franny back on her feet again (and back to school.)

Franny is short on friends now, because all the kids and their parents seem to think that Franny is still contagious (even though she’s not, of course), so they will not come close.  However, Franny does have a new friend who lives on her dog . . . Fleabrain.  Fleabrain writes her messages and does lots of things to get her attention.  It turns out that Fleabrain is even better than Charlotte the spider!

Summer Reading Online – 15 of 30

Haunted Stuff by Stacey Graham

Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls & Other Creepy Collectibles by Stacey Graham (2014)

This book explores the stories of dolls and other collectibles that are haunted, just as the subtitle states.  The author suggests that items that were well-used or well-loved by their original owners retain of their spirit.

This book is only for those who are into this kind of thing.  I have always liked a good ghost story, but I forgot until I read this in bed one night that I should not read this kind of stuff in the dark!  This book actually rather freaked me out more than I expected, and perhaps it is that I had an experience in an antique shop 15 years ago that left me pretty shaken.  I had been wandering around antique shops most of the afternoon with some family members, and I remember pushing my baby niece in her stroller.  In this one shop, my head suddenly and painfully hurt, as if it were being compressed, and my whole body felt weird.  I remember saying to my brother that I needed to leave that particular room in the store. I did, and took my niece with me.  I had been relaxed, so it wasn’t a panic attack.  I was  fine once I was outside for a minute.  I also tried to explain it to myself that it must have been an incredible amount of mold on some object (I am highly allergic to mold.)  When my brother came out, he asked, “Did you feel that? ”  I told him about the pain and the pressure, and he wasn’t surprised – he’d experienced something similar.  Either that room or something in that room was haunted.  It was so heavy.   Obviously, I haven’t forgotten that experience since.  Fortunately, maybe, I haven’t had a similar experience since.

(Summer Reading Online 14 of 30)