Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense by David Guterson: A high-school English teacher ponders the seeming contradiction of homeschooling his own kids. Realistic and thoughtful about some of the arguments against homeschooling, but ultimately a feel-good book for homeschoolers.
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher: Why, strangers on the Internet can find a perfect literary match for me. One of the DGLM agents ran a personalized book recommendation extravaganza several months ago, and this was my match. Featuring likable but deeply flawed protagonists, a bleak and brutal prison world sealed off from the Outside, a static politics-and-poison society stuck in the seventeenth century by royal decree, and twists aplenty (save for one which everyone could see a mile coming), this YA fantasy is a winner in my book. I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood by Susan Linn: Documenting the pervasive and destructive influence of commercial advertising to children, this is the sort of book to raise any parent’s blood pressure. I’m so glad we live where we do (no television programming, no billboards, limited shopping outlets).
The Secret History of the Mongol Queens by Jack Weatherford: Who can resist a title like that? Secret histories? Mongol Queens? I’m all over it. Weatherford’s enthusiasm for his subject might cause him to view them through somewhat rosy-tinted glasses, but he’s written an accessible and easy-to-read book about these fascinating people from the steppes. I especially loved the cultural details, which brought this history alive to me.
Lord Sunday by Garth Nix: Good, but I didn’t like it as well as the other books in the series. It’s a bit hard to put my finger on why. Nix certainly did a good job describing the destruction of the House, the convergence of three armies on Sunday’s domain, and the ripple effects of the denizens’ meddling in Arthur’s world. Perhaps it was because Arthur was so removed from much of the action and spent a large part of the book in forced inactivity (being a prisoner will do that to you!).
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson: Unusual magical system? Biochromatic Breath, check. Humans transformed by magic into gods? Returned, check. Twisty politics? Check. Yep, that’s a Brandon Sanderson novel all right, but don’t be fooled into thinking this book is formulaic. Sanderson throws two sisters from an austere kingdom into the tropical flamboyance of the city of T’Tiel, right into conspiracy and moral conundrums. A satisfying read, and one that deserves a sequel.
The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge: Awesome! Unusual cultural inspirations and a mythology that is shaped by the volcanic landscape of a tropical island. I loved the concrete sensory images and the worldbuilding details. Oh, and a really *good* story, too. Hardinge packs the narrative with action and conflict and emotional turmoil.
Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto: This book surprised me by being more thoughtful than I was expecting. From the title I’d expected Gatto’s tone to be more strident and hostile. This is a rather strong indictment against school as a government institution from an award-winning teacher, but Gatto couches it in a way that shows his passion and genuine concern over an educational system that teaches a child to be a mere cog in the machine.
Did you read any good books this June?