Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

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I can still remember reading one of the first Chicken Soup for the Soul books back when they first came out. I thought it was the greatest idea, and I’m glad that the series has continued even if I don’t read them all. (That would be difficult since there are now over 250 of them.)

I was tickled, though, when my daughter gave me Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen for Mother’s Day. Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark collected 101 stories that defy explanation. I don’t know why some people are given the gift of miraculous healings or divine encounters, but I rejoice in sharing their stories and wonder along with the writers at the providence provided.

Now that I am finished, I’m trying to decide where to keep the copy of the book. Should I put it in our Little Free Library to spread the stories even further? Should I leave it lying around in an easy to get to location so I can pick it up and read a story when I need a reminder that miracles do happen?

Even more I am inspired to write some stories of my own. While I have not been rescured from near death or received messages from beyond the grave, I have experienced my own moments with the divine.

What about you? What stories from your life remind you that miracles can happen?

A Praying Life by Paul Miller

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It seems like I have always struggled with prayer. I know I should do it. I try to do it, but often feel like I’m talking to empty space. I know about prayer because I read books and articles about prayer. I’m still searching, but Paul Miller’s A Praying Life has given some direction.

I found much to think about and to try out as I read. I was struck by the beginning section on Praying Like a Child. I don’t have to have it all together and know how to pray before I start, Instead, prayer becomes my response when I can’t do life on my own. I’ve found myself letting go more often instead of trying to control things I can’t control. I can come with my temper tantrums and questions and requests.

Throughout the book, Miller shares the stories God is working in his life and through his family as he prays. I found these stories to be the most powerful aspect of the book. Here is someone who doesn’t just know about prayer from studying, but someone who can share first person experience. As someone who knows the power of stories, I related strongly to the idea that God is weaving stories in our lives if only we look for them.

While I didn’t agree with everything Miller writes, (I’m not sure about his take on the Enlightenment, for example), I found more that was helpful than not. Flipping back through the book, I find underlined sentences scattered liberally throughout. I also found myself sharing quotes across social networks.

The first part of the book explains Miller’s thoughts about prayers and gives examples–stories–from his own prayer life (and prayer life is an integral part of the nitty gritty of life). The last section gives some tools that Miller uses to focus his prayers and keep track of God’s story in his life.

I am trying some of the tools and still thinking about much from this book–even when it feels awkward. As Miller points out, learning something new will feel awkward before it feels natural. I am excited to to see what stories God writes in my life.

What is your experience with prayer?

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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I first saw All the Bright Places (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) sitting on the nightstand in the guest bedroom at my brother’s house on top of a stack of books. Of course I had to go through the stack and see what was there. (It had been left by a librarian friend of my brother’s who didn’t have room in her luggage to take it with her.) This ARC, though, is the one that caught my eye. It looked interesting with the sticky notes of the front cover and the blurb on the back intrigued me. I had plenty of other books to read, though, so I put it back down and left it closed.

As soon as I returned home and started reading the flood of reviews–almost all of them raving about this book–I started kicking myself for not reading it while I had the chance or at least begging to take it with me. (I could have even snuck it into my suitcase and claimed not to know how it got there.) Thank goodness a trip for work took me back through Phoenix where I immediately grabbed the book and started reading.

Finch had me from the very first page. After all, he tells half the story and gets to start it off with “Is today a good day to die?” Even though he is standing at the top of the school bell tower, it must not be a good day to die. Not only does he not jump, but he talks down the popular Violet Markey–and then lets the story stand the she is the hero who saved him. (The truth is somewehere in the middle–they help each other.)

Violet has been frozen with grief ever since the death of her sistser in a car accident (which Violet survived). Finch bursts into her life with an energy that draws her out into the land of the living once again as they explore the weird and unusual landmarks of Indiana for a school project. While Voilet grows stronger on every page, Finch struggles with demons of his own that box him in more and more until he struggles to see any way out.

Yes, Jennifer Niven confronts some tough issues in this book–mental illness, suicide, grief, abuse. Yes, the end broke my heart and left me a blubbering mess. No, I did not find this book depressing. In fact, I found myself snorting many times as I read. It’s hard not to get carried away with Finch’s grand adventures–and he can be quite persistent. Just ask Violet, who finds herself exploring places and feelings far outside the boundaries she set for herself after her sister’s death. As she says, “With Finch, you never know.”

There are many things I love about this book: Niven’s unflinching, honest look at mental illness and suicide and grief. She doesn’t sugarcoat any of it and neither does she glamorize it. More importantly, she does’t sweep these issues under a rug and pretend they have no effect. The alternating narration allows her to get inside Finch’s mind and experience something of what it is like to be in the grip of mental illness. Violet’s chapters shows her own journey through grief-and her struggle to understand and help Finch as he spirals deeper into the trap of his own mind. Even through the toughest parts of this story, there is still hope.

I love the fact it’s set in my home state of Indiana. I want to go on my own wanderings to explore the more eccentric sights of my state. Alas, I cannot find any evidence of the bookmobile park, but I can visit the world’s largest ball of paint. Even more, I love the idea of experiencing the small moments with such great enthusiasm, even if it’s just the highest point in Indiana.

I love that the adults in their lives are not ignored. Finch’s parents are a disaster (unfortunately I have met parents even worse), but as Finch said, Violet hit the jackpot with her parents. They aren’t perfect, but they are there when she needs them. Even though teachers and school counselors play a small role, they are portrayed as caring if overworked. I especially liked Mr. Embry, the guidance counselor.

I love the fact that this is a book I want to share and to talk about. This is a book that can begin conversations–important conversations. As we begin talking about mental illness and grief and suicide, just maybe we can remove some of the stigma. Maybe people will offer support and help to those who struggle with mental illness instead of calling them “freaks.” Maybe we can save someone’s life.

Have you read All the Bright Places? What did you think?

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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It’s been good to be back home–and I’ve enjoyed the cooler weather. Work is picking up for the summer, so I won’t be keeping up with the #bookaday challenge like I have in past summers. I’m trying to find the balance between reading and writing and enjoying the great outdoors. Fortunately, they all work together! We finally got to the library to sign up for the summer reading program this week. My daughter and I think alike–the best prize is the free book! We also signed up our neighbor that my daughter is babysitting several days a week.

I finished…

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark – Now that I’m finished with this volume, I’m thinking about where to put it so I can easily pick it up and reread a story or two when I need to be reminded that God (however you refer to the mysterious divine) does reach out into our lives in unexplainable ways. I also want to write down some of my experiences that defy any explanation other than miracle or an encounter with the divine.

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A Praying Life by Paul Miller – I enjoyed reading Miller’s thoughts and experiences wiith prayer, especially as he shared his own (and his family’s) personal experiences with prayer. I’m not sure I agree with everything he writes (I was troubled by his explanation that God causes suffering to teach us a lesson), but there is much I will take away from this book. Many of is ideas will stay with me and inform my own experience as I pray.

I’m currently reading…

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Dodger by Terry Pratchet – I’m still downloading the SYNC YA books each week, but it takes me a while to get through an audio book. I’m going to have to find more work I can do alone so I can listen more. This week, Dodger went to get shave from Sweeney Todd. I haven’t read (or seen Sweeney Todd), but I have the feeling this is a bad idea. I love Dodger even more as the book goes on and am fascinated with his roommate/mentor Solomon. I have a feeling Dodger is going to go far, and I hope I learn more about Solomon.

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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan – Now that Willow’s life has hit rock-bottom, things are slowly getting better. Even in the midst of the sorrow, though, Sloan provides some comic relief–especially with the counselor Dell Duke. Did I say that reading this aloud with my daughter is one of my favorite times of day? Now I also get to enjoy overhearing her read Junie B Jones books (one of her absolute favorite series from elementary school) to the girl she is babysitting.

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What Have You Lost edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – Now that I’m back home, I’m picking up these poems again. They are so beautiful and so haunting. One a day is plenty for me to think about and feel. I do want to explore some of the things I’ve lost through poems, too.

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The Wright Brothers by David McCullough – My daughter gave me this one for my birthday. She describe it, “You’d want it if you knew about it.” She was right. In fact, I had been eyeing it in the airport bookstores the week before. I knew a little of Wilbur and Orville’s work to build the first flying machine from visits to Kitty Hawk, but I knew almost nothing about their work with flying back in Dayton. I am fascinated by the brothers, their family and the colleagues in learning to fly. Did you know that the mainstream press ignored their success and the story broke in the most unlikely of magazines–Gleanings in Bee Culture? The US government also blew them off, but foreign governments were most interested. My favorite, quote though, came from Orville in response to a friend who said the brothers stood as an example of how much Americans could accomplish “with no special advantates.” Orvile replied, “to say we had no special advantages…the greatest thing in our favor was growing up in a family where there was always much encouragement to intellectual curiousity” (McCullough 18).

Coming up…

I struck out in finding the books I wanted to read at the library this week, but not all is lost. Even though our local library didn’t have Maggie Stiefvator’s and Neal Shusterman’s latest books (in the Raven Boys Cycle and the Unwind series), one of my favorite librarians was able to put a hold on them for me through interlibrary loan. Now I’m waiting for the phone call that tells me Blue Lily, Lily Blue and Undivided are waiting for me to pick them up!

I hope you have read something good this week! Let me know what it is.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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I had a wonderful trip out west last week. The work went well, but the best part was spending a few extra days soaking up sunshinie in Phoenix while visiting my brother. I could get used to waking up to eat breakfast by the pool and then enjoying a swim. I put most of the books I was currently reading on hold and enjoyed completely different books on the trip.

I finished…

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – I first saw an ARC of this at my brother’s house when we visited after Christmas. I picked it up and thought it looked interesting, but didn’t read it then. I’ve been kicking myself ever since, so I was glad to get another chance on this trip. WOW! It is amazing. Finch and Violet will stay with me for some time, and I am eager to share it with other readers. (Is there anyone left who hasn’t read it?)

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A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking – I’ve had this book for about 12 years before I finally got brave enough to read it I’m not sure I grasped all the concepts (actually, I’m sure I missed half of them), but Hawking’s writing was much more accessible for this English major than I thought it would be. Hawkings chose analogies that helped me at least glimpse the new understandings going on in physics.

I’m currently reading…

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A Praying LIfe by Paul E. Miller – I still have a lot to think about this week. I like how Miller is open about the struggles he has with his own faith and prayers, especially with his family stories. I am opening my eyes and heart to see the stories that God is weaving in my own life. I agree that God can use suffering in our lives to teach us and help us grow in our faith, but I’m not sure God causes suffering just to teach us a lesson. I’m not even sure that is what Miller says, but these latest chapters seem to lean that way.

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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan – I was tempted to hide the book while I was gone, but my daughter waited on me to get back. (It helped that she had a full week of finals while I was gone.) We were both glad to return to Willow’s story last nighht.

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark – I’ve read quite a few more stories this week. I find that they are like chocolate–delicious to read but easy to consume too much at once.

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Dodger by Terry Pratchett – I downloaded this from Sync YA and started listening to it while I was mowing this week. I like the character of Dodger and his roommate/mentor. I also love that Charles Dickens is one of the characters–and seems to be playing quite a major role so far. Now I’m waiting to see what trouble finds Dodger next. He seems to have a knack for attracting trouble–as well as luck and wits to get out of it.

Coming up…

I see a trip to the library in our near future so we can sign up for the summer reading program. We don’t take part in many of the activities, but we do read and record enough minutes to claim our favorite prize–a book off the summer reading book cart.

What have you been reading this week?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

May books read

I enjoyed a variety of reading experiences this month. It is hard to pick just one or two favorites, but I did star the books I enjoyed the most.

43) *Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter – This time the job is personal for Kat and her “family”

44) *The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter – a fun story about three ordinary children (almost) who have an extraordinary adventure

45) **One to the Wolves by Lois Duncan – gripping and heartbreaking

46) *All Our Yesterdays by Christin Terril, narrated by Meredith Mitchell – one of the most thought-provoking time-travel books I’ve read

47) The Foot Book by Dr. Suess – Just as much fun as the first time I read it decades ago

48) Trucks A to Z by Christopher Hernandez – I had no idea that there were trucks for every letter of the alphabet

49) If You Gave a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond – Such fun!

50) Because of Winn Dixie: The Official Movie Scrapbook by Jean K. Kwon, photographs by Suzanne Tenner – I love any excuse to revisit this book in any form

51) A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking – This defninitely stretched my brain. I’m not sure I got all of it, but I enjoyed the introduction to  physics

52) **All the Bright Places by Jennifer Nivens – Amazing!

What have you read the past month?

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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I had the delight of opening my front door one day this week and finding a bag of books that someone had left for the Little Free Library that I am a steward for. Thank you, Ashton! I had fun reading some of these before putting them in the LFL. Later in the week I met Ashton as he browsed for some books. We also finished planting the garden before the next round of rain sets in. The best part of the week–eating fresh strawberries as soon as I pick them from the back yard. Yum!

I finished…

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Because of Winn Dixie: The Official Movie Scrapbook by Jean K. Kwon, photographs by Suzanne Tenner – You should have seen how fast my daughter grabbed this one when she saw it. We both love Kate Kicamillo’s book and revisit the story any way we can.

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If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond – I loved reading this series of books to my daughter. Who knew what delightful messes a pig can drag you into if you innocently give her a pancake for breakfast. The photo shoot is  my favorite–or is the tree house or the wheelbarrow full of mail?

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The Foot Book by Dr. Suess – This was the first book I pulled from the bag to read. I have always loved Dr. Suess His rhymes are deceptively simple but absolutely brilliant. Read it again!

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Trucks A to Z by Christopher Hernandez – I never knew that there were trucks for every letter in the alphabet (sometimes more than one truck). I wish I had had this when my nephews were younger. They loved trucks of all kinds and would have loved this text.

I’m currently reading…

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A Praying LIfe by Paul E. Miller – I still have a lot to think about this week. I like how Miller is open about the struggles he has with his own faith and prayers, especially with his family stories. I am opening my eyes and heart to see the stories that God is weaving in my own life. I agree that God can use suffering in our lives to teach us and help us grow in our faith, but I’m not sure God causes suffering just to teach us a lesson. I’m not even sure that is what Miller says, but these latest chapters seem to lean that way.

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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan – It’s always a good sign when my listener begs for one more chapter. Now that Willow’s life has completely fallen apart, she is slowly starting to put it back together again. The hardest part of reading this book aloud to my daughter is NOT to comment on it. I know what’s coming and want to point out all the foreshadowing, but I’m biting my tongue so she can enjoy it unfolding through the story.

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark – I’ve read quite a few more stories this week. I find that they are like chocolate–delicious to read but easy to consume too much at once.

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Dodger by Terry Pratchett – I downloaded this from Sync YA and started listening to it while I was mowing this week. I like the character of Dodger and his roommate/mentor. I also love that Charles Dickens is one of the characters–and seems to be playing quite a major role so far. Now I’m waiting to see what trouble finds Dodger next. He seems to have a knack for attracting trouble–as well as luck and wits to get out of it

Coming up…

I’m heading to western Arizona this week to facilitate a conference, so I get to decide which books to take with me. Space is limited with carry ons, so I am glad for the Kindle app on my phone on these trips. Since I’ll get to spend a few days at my brother’s house, I can raid his books while I sit by the pool!

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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It was a good reading week. I finished several books and even posted a couple of reviews. Imagine my thrill when Lois Duncan shared my review of her book on her Facebook page. Not only did I enjoy some good books this week, my husband and I finally planted our big garden. We’ve been enjoying spinach and green onions from our little raised bed at the house, but schedules and weathe had kept us from planting the rest of the seeds and plants. We still have a few more things (some more summer squash, okra and flowers to plant), but we are ready for the rest of it to grow!

I finished…

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The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter – I absolutely love this book, but I find it very hard to describe. It has such a fantasy feel to it, but it’s really not fantasy at all. Maybe some things that happen stretch believability (How many fathers do you know who make their living by painting exiled and deposed royals with strange histories?), but everything is explained in the end. The castle folly (a small-sized copy of a real castle) is amazing, and the three Hardscrabble children found a way into my heart. (Click on the title for my longer review.)

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One to the Wolves by Lois Duncan – As soon as I received the review copy sent by the author, I opened the cover and couldn’t stop reading. Lois’s account of her search for justice for her daughter is gripping and heartbreaking. Over twenty-five years have passed since her daughter Kait was shot down in the street. During that time, Lois has tracked down every lead and compiled evidence for other suspicious deaths around Alburquerque, but she still searches for answers. I hope that she will soon be able to write an ending to this true story.  (Click on the title for my longer review.)

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All Our Yesterdays by Christin Terril, narrated by Meredith Mitchell – I forgot to include this one last week, but I am still listening to it. I’m to the point of looking for more mowing to do (too bad I broke the mower) or other chores so I can listen more. The conflict between the future Em and the past Marina is building steam until the ultimate showdown at the end. I loved the ending–though for a few minutes I wasn’t sure where it was going.

I’m currently reading…

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A Praying LIfe by Paul E. Miller – I am enjoying this book, and it gives me much to think about. The chapters I read this week focused on the contrast between the cynicism of the larger world and the realistic optimism that faith and prayer can lead to. I found lots of things for me to work on in my own life.

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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan – I think my daughter must be enjoying this one since she asks me to read every night. I am throroughly enjoying revisiting Willow and her friends. Even after I read our chapter aloud, I have a hard time tearing myself away and flip to favorite scenes to reread.

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What Have You Lost edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – I haven’t read many poems this week. I guess I got out of the habit. The few I did read were quite good, so I am determined to get back in the habit of reading one every day. 

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark – This is the book that I find myself grabbing to read whenever I have a few minutes. It’s perfect to take along while waiting to pick up my daughter from school or to sneak in another story while I am waiting on someone for something.

Coming up…

Oh my, it’s time once again for SYNC YA. I  missed the first week last week, but there are still two audiobooks a week for the rest of the summer to enjoy. Glancing over the titles for the summer, I see some titles that have been on my TBR pile and others that I would love to revisit while listening. If you’re not familiar with SYNC YA, they give away two audiobooks–one contemporary young adult title and one classic title that relate thematically–each week of the summer. All you need is the free Overdrive app. I’ve enjoyed many books for the past few summers. The downloads are available for just one week, but they remain on your computer for as long as it takes to get to them.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

One to the Wolves by Lois Duncan

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When I taught middle school, Lois Duncan’s suspense books were ones I went to frequently to hook those students who hadn’t yet met a book they liked. More times than not those students would become readers after being drawn in by relatable teenage characters facing danger and intrigue. Duncan packed in more drama and suspense to keep my students turning pages.

Last week Duncan sent me a review copy of her latest book, One to the Wolves: A Desperate Mother on the Trail of a Killer (Planet Ann Rule, LLC, 2015). This nonfiction book is every bit as suspenseful as her earlier novels, but even more horrifying in that every word is true.

In July 1989, Duncan’s daughter Kaitlyn Arquette was shot and killed on a street in Albuquerque. The police classified it as a random drive-by shooting and arrested a few suspects they later let go for lack of evidence. They considered the case finished even if unresolved, but for Duncan, too many pieces did not fit together.

She began a decades long search for the truth of what happened to her daughter. She first wrote Who Killed My Daughter? in hopes that presenting the evidence she had discovered would encourage people to come forward with new information that might answer their questions and bring Kait’s killer’s to justice.

One to the Wolves tells the story of what came during the following years. People did come forward–with information about Kait’s life and death as well with information about many more suspicious deaths in and around Albuquerque. The deeper Duncan looked, the more she realized that many of the deaths were connected by people and places and events. The Real Crimes website gave families a place to share their information and get word out.

With the work of private investigators, Duncan uncovered evidence in Kait’s case that pointed toward organized crime involved in insurance fraud and drug imports. Many people hinted at involvement of VIPs in a drug ring, but no one was willing to name names. At every turn, law enforcement in Albuquerque blocked progress on the case. In more recent years, What do you do when you learn that some of the people who are supposed to serve and protect you are the ones who are thwarting justice.

Duncan and her family used every means possible to learn what really happened to Kait that night. They hired private investigators and interviewed witnesses. They consulted psychics, including Betty Muench and Robert Petro. Skeptical at first, Duncan has seen many of the details from their readings confirmed by other sources. She also shares dreams she had that felt like more than just a dream–a message from Kait after her death.

Once I started reading, I had a hard time putting down the book. I can’t imagine the pain and horror of losing and child to such violence and then learning that law enforcement was not on your side. I hope that Duncan and the other families will soon find answers and justice for their children.

The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter

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I was captivated by The Kneebone Boy (Scholastic 2010) from the very first page–actually from the back cover, which gives an excerpt that introduces the narrator:  “I was the one voted to tell you ths story because I read the most novels, so I know how a story should be told. Plus, I’m very observant and have a nice way of putting things, that’s what my teacher, Mr. Dupuis, told me. I can’t tell you which Hardscrabble I am–Otto, Lucia, or Max–because I’ve sworn on pain of torture not to. They said it’s because the story belongs to all three of us, and I suppose they’re right, but it seems unfair since I’m doing all the work. No one can stop you from guessing, though.”

Ellen Potter does a delightful job channeling this particular Hardscrabble to tell the story of three ordinary (almost) children who have a most extraordinary adventure.  It all begins when their father leaves unexpectedly to draw anothe portrait of a royal in exile. Instead of sending the children to stay with thei neighbor Mrs. Carnival, he sends them to London to stay with their cousin Angela in London. Unfortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), Angela is not at home, and the children decide to explore London on their own. They then follow a few clues to meet their great aunt Haddie Piggit (who is living in a castle folly) and just maybe discover the secret of their missing mother.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what a castle folly is. Max–who is sometimes too smart for his own good–will fill you in and teach you many more interesting tidbits as well. Lucia’s determination to have an adventure leads them down many unexpected pathes. Otto–even though he hasn’t spoken in years except with his hands–has a knack for discovering hidden things. Together, the Hardscrabble children explore the castle folly, meet the mysterious Kneebone Boy, and outsmart several adults.

I loved the narrator. (Yes, I figured out pretty quickly which Hardscrabble wrote the story down, but I’m not telling. You’ll have to read it for yourself. In addition to telling the story with just the right amount of detail to give a decidedly otherworldly feel to the tale, the narrator gives insightful commentary on the process of the story itself, even having the nerve to disagree with Mr. Dupuis about the best way to tell a story.

This is a book I want to put in people’s hands to read, but I find it difficult to describe. In some ways it is an ordinary story about ordinary children, but it feels most extraordinary. It feels like a fantasy adventure even though everything is explained in the most believable and realistic manner. Most of all, it makes me think about what makes a hero. These three children go on a hero’s journey. Even though they end up righht where they started and nothiing of their outward circumstances has changed, they are different. That makes all the difference in the world.

Have you read The Kneebone Boy? What did you think?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

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