Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

seven-days-of-youLittle Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017

Sophia has only seven days left in Tokyo. Seven days before she faces a senior year back in the United States. Seven days to revisit her favorite places and say goodbye to her best friends. Seven days of kombini shops, tiny ramen restaurants, and karaoke. But Jamie changes everything she thought the last seven days would be when he returns to Tokyo just as she is leaving and stirs up Sophia’s emotions even more.

Seven Days of You is a love story: to Tokyo, to young love, to family, to the swirling tornado that is adolescent emotions.

I loved this story for its insight into expat life in Tokyo, its sweet, but not unrealistic teen romance, and its hot mess of characters. I knew these kids in high school—confident and capable on the outside, a hot mess of emotions on the inside, spending their days trying to navigate all the many relationships that make up their lives. A great book for armchair travelers and not-too-sappy-romance lovers alike.

I received an electronic advance reader copy of Seven Days of You courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Seven Audiobooks to Make Holiday Travel Fly By

The impending holidays make me think of travel with kids. I don’t know any kid who likes a long car ride, but a good audiobook can turn cranky into complaisant and make hours feel like minutes.

For the Younger Set:

audio-winnie-the-poohWinnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

The set we had when our children were small was put out by the BBC. We loved it because it had pooh stories but it also had poems from When We Were Very Young. There are loads of editions out there. I’d definitely go for British actors!

 

audio-junie-b-jonesJunie B. Jones by Barbara Park

The whole family loved to listen to Junie B stories. She always got us laughing out loud with her antics!

 

For Older Kids:

audio-hp-and-the-sorcerers-stoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

This one almost goes without saying. We’ve listened to some of the Harry Potter stories in addition to reading them. They’re beautifully read by Jim Dale, and each book contains hours of material. We found we got a different appreciation for the stories by hearing the words read aloud.

audio-chronicles-of-narniaThe Chronicles of Narnia C. S. Lewis

My in-laws gave my daughter this boxed set with all seven of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia stories. They’ve been a favorite of both my kids. There are connected stories that fall both before and after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, so there’s lots of material there. They’re read beautifully, so even though my husband and I aren’t C. S. Lewis fans, we’ve all listened to them together.

My Current Favorites:

audio-the-graveyard-bookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I’m just listening to this book now. It’s one I’ve been meaning to read for years and what a fun book it is! Nobody, the main character, is a living boy raised by the ghosts in a graveyard. So charming, such beautiful language, so very English! It’s a tribute to The Jungle Book with a very different setting. The beginning is quite violent and scary, so if you’ve got very small or sensitive kids, this might not be the best choice.

audio-brown-girl-dreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I don’t know why it took me so long to get to this book, but it became an instant favorite. Written in verse and read by the author, it was an absolute delight to listen to in the car. Because each track is a poem, it would also be a great book to listen to in small chunks. The language is gorgeous and Woodson’s memories of growing up brown during the civil rights era is important for all American children to hear. This book could also spark great discussions. I may have to plan a road trip, so I can share it with my family.

Finally, Flashing My Geek Card — the radio play my entire family can quote from:

audio-hitchhikers-guideThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

This series was actually a radio play before it was published as a book. It’s got everything you need for a long, boring trip: excitement, space travel, and the answer to life, the universe, and everything. What more could you need besides a towel?

The library’s a great place to discover new audiobooks, and for airplane trips Playaways, those tiny library mp3 players with just one book on them, are perfect. Then everyone can have their own story to enjoy.

Wishing you peaceful, story filled holidays and safe travels.

 

Under the Dusty Moon by Suzanne Sutherland

under-the-dusty-moonDundurn, 2016.

It’s hard to be sixteen when your mother’s a rock star and pretty much everybody knows her for her famous band, the one that broke up when Vick was a toddler. Vick and her mom, Mick (rhyming names, of course!) are close, but sometimes Vick just wants to have her own life. She wants to be certain that some people like her for herself, not because of her mom. When Mick goes off to Japan on tour, Vick finally has a chance to explore who she is on her own terms.

I loved this book! Suzanne Sutherland captured beautifully what it is to be sixteen. I was completely with Vick as she struggled with her over-the-top but loving mother, her first boyfriend, and her relationship with her best friend. Her writing manages to evoke full emotion, setting and mood without pages and pages of description. The story moved quickly and included a cast of characters and relationships that were very appealing, warts and all. They were realistic and yet definitely upbeat.

This book will appeal to the music obsessed, computer gamers, geeks, and anyone who’s just trying to build their own life. This one’s going on the gift list.

I received an electronic advance reader copy of Under the Dusty Moon courtesy of Dundurn and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

mango-shaped-space

Recorded Books, 2007.

Mia Winchell is a middle schooler with a secret: for her, everything has a color as well as a shape or a sound. Until third grade Mia thought everyone saw things that way, but when she tried to explain it in math class everyone laughed at her and her teacher thought she was lying. Since then, she’s kept her secret to herself. But one day in the grocery store Mia meets a little boy who also sees colors for words. Their meeting emboldens Mia to confess her secret to her parents. The confession isn’t easy, and it takes them some time to understand.

It’s been a tough year for Mia. Her grandfather’s death had her whole family, and especially Mia, mourning. Now she has to deal with reinterpreting who she is as someone with a condition named synesthesia. Will she be able to mesh who she once was with who she is now?

I listened to A Mango-Shaped Space as an audio book expertly read by Danielle Ferland. Though I was enjoying the story and fascinated by the details of synesthesia, a condition artists like Van Gogh and Rachmaninoff also had, I must admit that I considered not finishing the book at a point about halfway through. The synesthesia had been explained, and the plot was spiraling toward both inevitable bad decisions of adolescence and difficult facts of life. Though I took a break from the story, I couldn’t resist finishing it, and I’m glad I did. Not all of the terrible things I was anticipating came to pass, and the story wraps up in a place of warmth and love that left me feeling buoyed rather than sad.

This book has so many points that readers can connect to. It’s rich in details of neuroscience, personal relationships between classmates and family members, death and grieving. This would make a great addition to a classroom or school library.

I listened to A Mango-Shaped Space as an audio book from my local library.