Some excellent books worth recommending

I feel like I have hit the literary jackpot these past few months. I have been picking up awesome book after awesome book; staying up late to finish one while reading another during my lunch break while listening to another every time I get in my car. The following books come highly recommended:

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor takes place in Prague…and Elsewhere, a beautifully-crafted world where angels and devils (beasts) are fighting for control. Young, parent-less Karou has no idea she belongs to that other world until her current one begins dissolving from beneath her feet. Will she learn enough about herself in time to get her old life back?

Her interactions with the beings in both worlds are realistic and haunting. Love, hate, and deception are key themes throughout the book. You absolutely must visit the book’s website and explore the stunning illustrations and descriptions of the characters and Elsewhere. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys exploring fantasy worlds and Romeo and Juliet-style relationships.

**A special thanks to Amy from who let me borrow her copy of the book before its October publication date. Her review of the book is much more passionate and comprehensive than mine.

Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick is the story of Matt, a teenaged Soldier in the Iraq war. He wakes up in the hospital but with no recollection of how he got there. Snippets of the fire fight that caused the accident slowly come back to him, but he doesn’t want to believe what he remembers.

This powerful story of 2 teenagers and one child is set in today’s war, but, changing some terminology and location, could be set in any war in US history. The times have changed, but so much about the psychological and physical repercussions of war has not. McCormick perfectly illustrates the stark contrast between relationships of soldiers, both with the folks at home and the buddies fighting alongside them. I recommend this book to everyone.

I was honored to spend the day with Patricia McCormick when she visited Loudoun County as the author of our 1Book1Community title, which I blogged about here. In one day she met with teens at the county’s alternative school and the juvenile detention center. She fielded their questions with grace and honesty, and really engaged them. I will forever be a big fan of hers.

Blackout by Connie Willis is a history major’s dream novel. The book follows half a dozen contemporary (year 2060) historians who time-travel to major historical events in order to get a better idea of the reality of the time, event, people, etc. One historian’s mission is to observe acts of heroism in every-day folks during WWII. Another’s is to study the children voluntarily orphaned when parents were advised to evacuate their children during the Blitz.

The novel is peppered with astonishing true facts that were deemed by historians not crucial to the story, when in fact they are what humanize such major events. The people escaping the bombings in the underground tube stations who put on plays to entertain their peers. The caretakers of orphans who put their own families on hold to ensure the safety and well-being of their charges. These are incredible stories that I am sad to say I never knew before. I recommend this book to history lovers. The dialogue languishes at times and many internal thoughts are repeated, making the book an unnecessary 500 pages. But if you pride yourself on slogging through the not-fabulous parts to reap the benefits of the entire thing, this is the book for you. A sequel Fallout picks up right where Blackout leaves off.

There will be more. 🙂

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