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Recommendations: Books I've Loved

When I'm writing the first draft of a book, I don't let myself read (much). Other peoples' words and styles tend to seep in and influence my writing. But when I'm brainstorming, outlining, or just mulling, I read non-stop. There's something about reading great books that kicks my brain into idea-mode. I'm developing a new series right now (not writing yet), and because of that, have had a lot of time to read. I'll start the first draft of the first book next week, and sadly this means my reading time will come to a close - so I wanted to share a few of the most wonderful books I've read this month.

Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley instantly became one of my all-time favorite books. I never love it when people compare characters or books to Beverly Cleary's Ramona - but in this case, it is a totally fair comparison. Gertie is deliciously flawed, lovable, impulsive, and full of big ideas. This book is extraordinary and hilarious. I highly recommend it to any age kid or adult!

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin is a touching - and oftentimes funny - novel about a girl whose younger brother has cancer. Thyme's brother's treatment plan forces the family to move from California to New York City, and Thyme must deal with a new school, new friends, and being a great sister. She's a wonderful main character, full of empathy and honesty.

I finally got to read The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner. I love Kate's writing, so I'm not sure why it took so long for me to dig into this one. In this story, the twelve-year-old main character has an older sister who falls prey to heroin addiction when she goes off to college. Kate writes her books with so much humor and heart - and she clearly does so much research, and understands how kids think and feel - that this book with big issues isn't heavy-handed, nor would it be difficult for a fourth or fifth grader to understand and absorb. I'm putting this on my fifth grader's must-read list.

An excellent book for middle-grade readers is Sticks and Stones by Abby Cooper. The main character, Elyse, has a special condition that makes words appear on her body - good words, bad words, anything people call her. It's a super-fun novel about believing in and loving yourself, with the perfect amount of magic. Some of the themes remind me a lot of MOON SHADOW (my soon-to-be-published novel), so I really enjoyed this one.

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin was another winner this past month. An excellent account of the days leading up to September 11, and how that day impacted four very different middle-school-aged kids. Sad and tense, but also really uplifting.