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At the beginning of the year, I set myself a goal on Goodreads to read 55 books. As of today, I’ve read 114 books. I’d say I’ve smashed that goal!
Of those 114 books, some were brain candy, some were not so great, some were pretty good, and some rocked my socks off. I wanted to share some of the highlights with y’all.
Here, in no particular order, are some of the high notes of what I’ve read in 2017.
Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt – nonfiction, history, science
This is the story of the women who served as the computers at the brand-new Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1940s and 1950s. At a time when women were discouraged from pursuing things like math and science as career fields, these women used just pencil, paper, and brain power to calculate rocket trajectories and help launch us farther into space than we’d previously been.
I read this book in a single sitting when I was home sick. It’s a fascinating story for anyone who’s interested in history, science, or just a good read about women breaking boundaries and doing things no one thought they could.
Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator by Homer Hickam – fiction? fact? epic adventure
In keeping with the rocket theme, this book was written by Homer Hickam, of October Sky fame. This book is described as a family epic, and tells the somewhat true tale of his parents, Homer and Elsie, the alligator Elsie received as a gift from Buddy Ebsen, and the journey they take to get Albert (the alligator) back home to Florida. Is it true? In places. But what places? Well, you’ll have to read it and figure that out for yourself.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill – middle grade fiction, fantasy
This is a story of a man desperate to hold on to power, a witch who isn’t really wicked, a young man who is more than he seems, and a girl filled with magic. It was a beautifully written book, and I don’t cry much, but this book made me cry. It’s a love story and a power struggle, and the story of sacrifice for something bigger than yourself. It’s described as a middle grade book, and of course it would be excellent for that age group, but it delighted me as an adult.
The Daggers & Steele series by Alex P. Berg – fantasy, humor, police fiction
This link is for books 1-3, which is what started it all for me. You can buy the books individually on Amazon, or start with the three-book set like I did. I think I got these free through some email or other. I thought they sounded like fun. Little did I know. Daggers is a somewhat crusty police detective whose aging partner calls it quits. Daggers is pretty disturbed when they assign him a new partner who is brand new to the job. She’s also young. And attractive. And she isn’t falling for any of his tricks. Hilarity ensues, not quite to the level of greatness of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, but still a lot of good fun. There are a whole bunch of Daggers & Steele books, and I’m going to have to read them all.
Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce – fiction, fantasy, young readers, chapter books
Brian read this for a children’s literature course he took this past semester. He recommended I read it, and I’m so glad I did! This is a wonderful story of Billy and the stuffed animal, Ollie, made for Billy by his mother. Ollie isn’t just any stuffed animal. He’s special. He’s Billy’s Favorite. It’s the highest honor a toy can receive to be a child’s Favorite. But Ollie is in danger. When Zozo the clown (who is king of a subterranean kingdom at an abandoned carnival) and his army of Creeps toynap Ollie, Billy arms himself with his lightsaber and ventures into the big and sometimes scary world beyond his yard to rescue his friend. The Creeps might be a little unsettling for very young children, but I think this would be a great book to read with your kids (even if they can read just fine on their own, because sometimes it’s just fun to have mom or dad read to you!). Thing Two was so inspired, he wanted to make his own Creep. I’m just glad he didn’t want me to make a stuffed animal for him, because that is beyond my sewing and crafty skills!
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick – fiction
Arthur Pepper’s wife, Miriam, died a year ago, and he’s carrying on. Same routine, same slacks and sweater vest, same puttering around in the garden. Until he finds a charm bracelet tucked away in one of her shoes, and realizes he’s never seen it before. The charm bracelet leads him on an adventure to learn about the wife he only thought he knew, and to learn about what he meant to her and what it means to live, instead of just to exist.
This is not a high drama book. Yes, there are moments of suspense (with tigers, there always are). But it’s mostly just a sweet, well-told story about a man who misses his wife and who finds himself wondering what exactly he meant to her as he learns things about her that he never knew. I read it in one sitting, so it’s a quick read, and very enjoyable.
These are just a few of the high points of what I’ve read this year. If you’d like to see all the books I read in 2017, come find me on Goodreads and get all the scoop!
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