The Best Man by Richard Peck is another 2018 Nutmeg nominee I can check off my list.
The plot revolves around main character Arch. The story connects two weddings that he is in, beginning with his first at six years old. This first wedding introduces him to Lynette Stanley, who becomes a friend of sorts (even though she’s a girl).
Lynette’s mom becomes their long-term substitute teacher during their fifth grade year. Overlooked paperwork also gives their class the very handsome, enigmatic Mr. McLeod as a student teacher. They have quite a school year, becoming the envy of the sixth graders, and ending with the revelation that Mr. McLeod is gay.
Throughout the year, and the next couple years which whiz by, Arch discovers that his Uncle Paul is also gay. As you can guess, the final wedding is between his uncle and former student teacher. Arch has taken cues about being a good man from his beloved grandfather (who passes away during the story), from his dad, his uncle and his teacher.
The choppy narrative style and plot made this a slow read for me. It is a coming of age story (of sorts) with some decent lessons, but overall not appealing to my tastes.
Endling the Last by Katherine Applegate is a wild quest. In a land ruled by the horrible Murdano family, there are five ruling classes: humans, dairnes (walking, talking dogs that are able to glide through air), felivets (fierce, multi-colored wild cats), terramants (huge bugs – ewww), and huge flying birds (I’m forgetting their official name because I gave the book away! It’s veloci-something). The Murdano is responsible for killing off all the dairnes, and then staging a huge funeral for the species.
Byx is the last living dairne after watching her family’s horrific murder. She was always the runt and the underestimated member of her pack. As the sole survivor, she must attempt to discover if there are more of her kind hidden on a floating island of legends passed down in her family. To add to Byx’s depth, it turns out that dairne are natural lie detectors. This adds an interesting element to the story.
Byx meets up with a wobbyk (a rabbit or rodent-like creature with three tails), a girl Khara and others they meet along the way (both good and bad). Khara brings Byx to a trusted scholar, but he betrays Khara’s trust by ordering Byx’s death. They manage to escape, but when they are seen at the funeral ceremony it begins a race for their lives.
This book is full of action. There are epic battles and fiercely unique characters. Despite that this isn’t my typical read, I couldn’t help but become immersed in this world and these magical characters. This is a series, so the ending leaves you hanging. Great storytelling!
This entry isn’t a book review.
It’s my explanation for this project. I know I briefly covered this in my “Getting Started” entry, but want to go a bit further here.
Reading is important to me. I love it. I can think back to certain books as favorites of mine growing up. I was around five the first time I read out loud to my family. It was The Little Engine that Could. I was so proud of myself.
Elementary school Witch’s Sister and Witch’s Water were two that I signed out and read over and over again. I can’t remember the author’s name or much about why I loved these titles, but I remember thinking they were so good! Also in elementary, Lois Duncan’s Stranger with my Face. This book fascinated me! I think I tried to astrally project myself for MONTHS (maybe longer!) after reading this book. Late elementary school brought Sweet Valley High. I read and reread these stories. Sometimes multiple books at the same time, alternating a chapter of each until they were finished.
In middle school I remember devouring all Stephen King books, and Dean Koontz (I mentioned that in an earlier entry). I’ll never forget reading Jackie Collins too. My eighth grade Language Arts teacher pointed out that this was trash and was shocked that my mother would allow me to read such a thing! And you know what? I have to agree when I think of it now! But I also wouldn’t tell my kids they couldn’t read something. (At least I don’t think I would!) V.C. Andrews was another high school favorite. I remember sobbing over certain parts of the Flowers in the Attic series, and my grandfather yelling, “Why are you reading it if it makes you that upset!?!”
As an adult and teacher, I have read so many more books and have dug deeply into content with my students. Rereading some of these titles has created favorites too- like The Watsons go to Birmingham with my seventh graders. I think Byron may be one of my favorite characters ever. I’ve taken notes and have had tattoos based on books, primarily The Language of Flowers. This book was amazing to me. The Secret Life of Bees is a title that stands out in my mind to this day even though I last read it probably ten plus years ago. I have cycled through my top adult choices of crime thriller, drama and mystery on repeat.
So many books and so many memories, associations and emotions. I have cried, laughed and been angry by books. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes to this day. Which is why I want to start keeping track of it all. I don’t want to write long summaries of books that I read, but I want to give myself a brief remembrance of what I have read and of what stood out to me.
This project is mostly for me, but here it is in a public forum. It’s about the books. I’m happy to share my reading list and thoughts with anyone else loving to read. That’s why.