Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Book Review Club (April 2019)

Welcome to the April 2019 edition of The Book Review Club! In April 1828,  Noah Webster, at the age of 70, copyrighted his first dictionary. April is the birth month of Charlotte Bronte. It's also the birth and death month of William Shakespeare. Actually, a lot of authors were born in April: Poet Williams Wordsworth, Harper Lee, Henry James and more. So, it's a perfectly good month to bring you reviews of books we'd like to recommend. Please scroll down after my post.  Enjoy!

by Margaret Dilloway (middle grade, contemp fiction)

Summer of a Thousand Pies is one of those terrific middle-grade books that gets kids thinking about tough stuff.  It's also a great story, so entertaining and heartwarming that readers won't be able to put it down.  Win-win.

When 12-year-old Cady Bennett's dad ends up in prison, she goes to Julian, CA (I was there last week for lunch!) to live with an aunt she'd never met. Cady makes new friends, discovers the town, works in her aunt's pie shop (Julian is famous for apple pie!), learns to bake pies. and helps save the pie shop from financial ruin. It's a story about family and friends and community and, yum, pie!

 It's also a story about homelessness, parents with addictions, undocumented immigrants and Dreamers. See what I mean about tough stuff? But the tough stuff is deftly and naturally woven into the story in the most perfect of middle-grade ways.

In fact, one of my favorite scenes is when Cady's new friend shares that he and his family don't ride the public bus for fear of getting caught up in an ICE sweep and deported to Mexico. Jay and his family are undocumented immigrants. What follows is an interesting, thoughtful conversation about immigration between two 12-year-old kids. Beautifully written. With only the kinds of insights 12-year-olds can have. We're in Cady's head as she puzzles through the complex issue as it pertains to her. (Eg. My grandfather wasn't born here. Did he come to the U.S. legally?) She considers the difficulties in her own life (and there have been several), but concludes they don't match up to the worry of being kicked out of the country.

Also, there are scrummy* recipes at the back of the book!!!
(*British for delicious)

Summer of a Thousand Pies goes on sale April 16. There will be a book signing (with pie!) at Mysterious Galaxy on April 20 where I will be interviewing Margaret Dilloway with hard-hitting and embarrassing questions. Or we might just have a friendly chat. Details here.

(Dear FCC: I was given an ARC of this book. That said, I only review books I want to recommend.)

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!


Jody Feldman: SAVE ME A SEAT by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarjan (MG, contemporary)

Phyllis Wheeler: HOW I BECAME A SPY by Deborah Hopkinson (MG, historical mystery)


Linda McLaughlin: MADAME PRESIDENTESS by Nicole Evelina (biographical, historical)

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: HANGOVERS AND HOT FLASHES by Kim Gruenenfelder

Patti Abbott:  MAISIE DOBBS by Jacqueline Winspear (mystery)

Scott Parker: CRASHING HEAT by Richard Castle (mystery)


Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: THE REASON YOU WALK by Wab Kinew (memoir)

Margy Lutz: THE TREES IN MY FOREST by Bernd Heinrich (memoir, natural history)

Ray Potthoff: BECOMING by Michelle Obama (memoir)

Sarah Laurence: THE HARE WITH AMBER EYES by Edmund De Waal
                           (family biography/art history)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. You definitely make me want to read this book! It doesn't hurt that it's about pies, either!

  2. Phyllis: I want to try some of the recipes at the end of the book. :)

  3. What a timely book! Thanks for hosting, Barrie.

  4. I always meant to get to Julian when we were in CA but never did.
    Wish my grandson would read this but I doubt it. If it is not about Fortnite or Dungeons and Dragons, it is hard to get him interested.

  5. Wow! The last couple of months you've reviewed books with serious content. This sounds like a good book though. Thanks for the review.

    On a side note, I noticed that you didn't have your disclaimer to the FCC about where you got the book and it's not released until later this month so it makes a mind wonder. :)

  6. Ack! Lucy, good call. Every once in a while I delete the FCC thing, and ,once it's out, it's. I'll add it now because I did read an ARC. Thanks for noticing!

  7. Wow, that's a lot of issues for a middle grader. I think back to what I read at that age and it wasn't anywhere that complicated. Times change! - Margy


Comments are always welcome!