Pax by Sara Pennypacker


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

PAX by Sara Pennypacker is a powerful animal fantasy exploring the journeys of a boy and his fox.

With his mother dead and his father going off to war, twelve-year-old Peter is forced to abandon his pet fox Pax and go live with his grandfather hundreds of miles away.

This gripping story is told in alternating chapters through the eyes of Peter and Pax as they try to survive in their new worlds and reunite with each other. Whether caring for his new companions or treasuring his toy soldier, the author is most successful when speaking through the eyes of Pax.

A beautiful story about a boy, his fox, and the meaning of friendship, loyalty, growing up, and the cost of war. Truly feels like a modern-day Charlotte’s Web. Have Kleenex ready!

Midnight Sun: A Novel by Elwood Reid


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Taut, riveting, and complex, Midnight Sun is an arctic Deliverance, a literary thriller set deep in beautiful but dark and indifferent Alaskan woods.

Narrator Jack and his buddy Burke fish on weekends, and work as carpenters during the day putting up cheap housing developments in Fairbanks. When Burke meets an older man, Duke, whose daughter Penny has joined a cult deep in the wilderness and never came back, our protagonists are dispatched to go save her. They are woefully unprepared, both for the voyage and for what they encounter at journey’s end.
The author skillfully builds up the mystery surrounding the leader of the commune, Nunn, and the strange grip he seems to hold on the various occupants of the camp who have escaped from civilization for various reasons.   But once Jack and Burke take off up the river to the camp to “rescue” Penny, the adventure really begins and Reid hits his stride.

A very unique and interesting read that I couldn’t put down!

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It was creepy, spooky, scary, icky, wicked, and horrifyingly delicious.  Meet Victoria Wright, a 12-year-old who’s so driven that she won’t even make friends because friends are just “idiots trying to distract you” from the goal of being the most perfect child living on Silldie Place and attending Impetus Academy, “Where Tradition Meets Innovation.” Blonde-curled Victoria — compulsively well-behaved, tidy, competitive, smugly self-assured — lives in the town of Belleville, a Stepford, Conn., clone in which “everything smelled of clean, crisp money” and upper-class, overachieving parents breed self-absorbed, perfectionist children.

Victoria’s only friend, the unkempt musical prodigy Lawrence Prewitt, she dismisses as a personal project. But when on Tuesday, Oct. 11, Lawrence suddenly disappears, Victoria slowly begins to realize that something is very wrong in Belleville. Her suspicion strengthens further as gradually more and more students — always the bohemian or unpopular ones — begin to disappear, too, and the Impetus Academy teachers began to act oddly cheery or terrified.

What’s going on? Victoria isn’t sure, but it seems to involve perpetually rainy weather, odd cockroach-like insects, extremely strange behavior amongst adults and popular kids, and the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, an orphanage located near Victoria’s home. Victoria knows two things for certain: (1) most of the adults who live on her street — including her family’s housekeeper — and most of her teachers have at least an inkling about what’s going on but are terrified to speak out, and (2) Victoria Wright, using the same relentless determination which she has lavished on getting straight-As and keeping her room and life immaculately tidy, will get to the bottom of the eerie matter. Or else! Along the way, Victoria proves herself to be more clever and courageous — and compassionate — than anyone knew.

I had no idea that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls would turn into such a page-turner! Or so suspenseful and scary and much darker than I expected.  Loved it!

Room by Emma Donoghue



Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A story that is similar in ways to the true story of Jaycee Dugard as my mom pointed out while I was telling her about this book!

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

This seriously disturbing story is narrated by Jack and starts on his fifth birthday. Jack and his Ma share Room. He thinks of every object in Room like Rug or Plant or Meltdy Spoon as a friend to be treasured, and he and Ma spend every day doing their chores and playing games like Scream where they yell as loudly as they can. Jack loves his Ma and Room, but he’s scared of Old Nick who comes some nights and stays with Ma in Bed while Jack sleeps in Wardrobe.

Jack’s Ma blows his mind by telling him that she used to live Outside, and that Old Nick stole her and brought her to Room seven years ago. She has a plan for them to get out of Room, but Jack can’t believe that the things he’s seen on the fuzzy TV screen for years are real. How can there be anything but him and Ma and Room?

The premise for this book sounds like something that a Stephen King or Dean Koontz would have come up with, and it certainly works as a kind of horror novel as Jack’s innocent depiction of life inside Room shows Ma to be the victim of a horrible crime that she is trying to shield her son from. What makes this so chilling and heartbreaking is Jack’s view of the Room as the entire world, and he has so adapted to it that the very idea of real people existing outside of it is something akin to blasphemy to him.

The writing here is exceptional, and Emma Donoghue makes what could be an over-the-top plot into a character based and all too plausible story. It’s creepy and chilling and terrible and intriguing and kind of sweet.