Well, what I’m reading so far!  I like the start of a new year because it makes counting and listing so simple.  I started off January by reading Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry.  It’s on the Mock Newbery list, plus she’s a local author, which is always nice.  Plus it’s a story where the characters are actively religious, in a way where you respect the way spirituality pervades their lives without the story becoming preachy.  While I think that people who are Christian might find this aspect of the story more appealing than other groups, I would still recommend it to a young reader who isn’t.  A variety of faiths are represented, and if anything the message of the story is to support your community and your family through thick and thin.  It also deals with military families and rural life in a way that is positive but never feels sugar-coated.  I’m looking forward to the discussion on this one.

I also finished up listening to The Lacuna without accruing too many late fees.  My next audiobook is Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr, which, like The Lacuna, is read by the author.  In Zarr’s case I keep forgetting that – she’s a natural.  Kingsolver’s voice was great to listen to, but it’s more distinctive and kept me aware that she is reading it.  So far I’m loving Once Was Lost – if you’re looking for realistic YA fiction that isn’t fluffy but doesn’t fall into any problem novel cliches, Zarr’s books are an excellent choice.

Somewhere in there I read Jennifer Weiner’s Best Friends Forever, which I think I was convinced to read by a Maureen Corrigan review (yup, I was).  It’s a fun, quick read, but far from satisfying.  Not because it’s chick-lit, but because it had me rolling my eyes as much as laughing, and because I never quite mustered sympathy for either of the women.  There’s plenty of plot, but it never really gains focus and instead contributes to the eye rolling.  I’m sure Weiner didn’t mean us to take that plot seriously, but there’s enough serious stuff in the story to make the plot ridiculous in contrast, as compared to the pure hilarity of, say, a Georgette Heyer plot.  Now I’m trying to imagine Heyer’s characters as modern-day Americans, running away to Florida instead of Paris.  Heh.

For something completely different, I’m having a delightful reread of Elizabeth Enright’s Return to Gone-Away.  I can’t even remember the last time I read Enright, but this is sheer bliss.  The characters, the narrative style, the illustrations, the very soft, very worn pages of my library copy (owned by my library since 1967).  Also, clearly I had a thing for fantastic houses in fiction, even as a child.  Hmm, I should compile a list.

Next up on my list – by necessity – are the last two Mock Newbery titles for Saturday.  Almost Astronauts and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  Clearly I’ve been distracted from this list by all the other lists – the Mock Printz, which is next weekend, and the shortlists for the Morris and the YA non-fiction award.  Shame!  I’ll have to get busy reading.