Year 9, Book 12

12. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

The book starts off in 2073 as reporter Eric Seven visits a remote, mysterious island believed to hold the secret to eternal life. There he meets Merle, one of the islanders who he is strangely drawn to without knowing why. Each subsequent chapter carries the reader back through time as Eric and Merle appear together in other times and other places leading back to the original connection. The end is definitely what brings all the pieces together, and there were some really beautiful parts to the novel but ultimately I didn’t care for it all that much. For something that was supposed to be about this incredible connection between two people the whole book felt very cold to me. Also I’ve said it before and now I’ll say it again, I am really not a fan of short stories and mostly this book felt like reading 7 short stories as opposed to a book with an overall narrative, so it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I give it 6 out of 10.

Year 9, Book 11

11. Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker

In a small town in New Hampshire the McAllister family runs the mill that keeps the town alive and thus holds it and its citizens in their stranglehold. Meanwhile the Snow family has a long history in the town as a bunch of never-do-wells. Just as the town finally thought they were rid of the snows a subset of them return to live in ramshackle house on their recently departed grandfather’s property right nearby where a school bus crash happens sending the two families clashing against each other and both trying to hide secrets that digging into the cause of the crash may out.

I liked Baker’s two previous novels a lot, so I had high hopes for this one, but I was disappointed. I really just never got into it. It felt so much to me like the stories of the down and out mill towns that Richard Russo writes so well except without the heart that made me care about any of the people in it. I’m not sure exactly why, but I just didn’t connect with it at all. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 9, Book 10

10. Who Goes There — 50th Anniversary Edition by Nick Griffiths

Who Goes There is a sort of travel-writing memoir except it’s about the kind of travel only the most diehard Doctor Who fans would want to undertake. Griffiths sets out to explore some of the shooting locations from his favorite episodes of Doctor Who, which leads him to such exotic locales as a nuclear power station and a clay pit. It was an ok book, but I think you need to be much more geeked out about Doctor Who than I am to truly enjoy it. Mostly I felt like the book got very repetitive very quickly. Griffiths spends time trying to figure out how to get to said location, he finds it and discovers its off-limits and then does most likely illegal things in order to gain access to sites that he’s not supposed to be trespassing in. It was fun for awhile, but I tired of it quickly. Unless you’re super into all things Doctor Who or really love reading stories about people going to weird, but essentially boring places I would give it a pass. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 9, Book 9

9. To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care by Cris Beam

Beam spent five years exploring the intricacies of the foster care system in the United States from all angles. The book gets in to both laws and policies surrounding foster care as well as goes in-depth with parents, children, and social workers involved in the foster care system. She looks at changes in foster care policies over time and how they affect the families in the system for good or ill. Usually the policies are well meaning and meant to try and help correct problems existing in the system, but they don’t always work out that way. Ultimately this book paints a really complicated picture of the foster care system and shows why there are no easy answers for foster kids. I really enjoyed reading the book even though my heart broke for many of the kids and parents in it, who life has just not treated as it should. I give it a 7 out of 10.