Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Book Review Club (April 2021)

Welcome to the April 2021 edition of The Book Review Club. I'm thinking we could all use a brief break from things serious and news-y. So, here's some April frivolity! April is Grilled Cheese Month, National Humor Month and Soft Pretzel Month. In French, someone who is tricked on April Fool's Day is a "poisson d'avril" or an April fish! Ha! And now to the task at hand...we've compiled a bunch of terrific reviews of terrific books just for you guys! Enjoy!

by Marie Arnold (middle grade, magical realism)

In THE YEAR I FLEW AWAY,  10-year-old Gabrielle Jean leaves her family in Haiti to start a new life in America with her aunt, uncle and three cousins. Right off the bat, there's a lot of built-in conflict: Gabrielle leaves warm Haiti for winter in Brooklyn. Brrr. The students at school make fun of her accent. She has trouble making friends. One of the cousins is an unfriendly teen. She's lonely and homesick.

You might think this is enough tension for our middle-grade protagonist? Enter Lady Lydia, a witch. Lady Lydia offers Gabrielle three wishes. Of course, the witch, as witches are wont to do, has her own agenda. So, each wish comes with a (secretly hefty) price. 

This book easily opens the door to discussions about immigration, assimilation, acceptance, celebrating differences, and bullying. All important discussions to be having in the current climate. One of my favorite lines from the book: "Yeah, but you should know that until you tell the truth about who you are and where you're from, no one sees the real you."

THE YEAR I FLEW AWAY is author Lola StVil's first middle-grade novel. Incidentally, the author emigrated from Haiti to New York in the middle of the winter as a child to live with her aunt, uncle and cousins. I'm not sure if there was a witch.

Highly recommended.

(Dear FCC: library, which is appropriate given that it's National Library Week)

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


Phyllis Wheeler: A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON by Kate Albus (MG, historical)


Jenn Jilks: VERONICA SPEEDWELL series by Deanna Raybourn (mystery) 

Lucy Sartain: BLACK WIDOWS by Cate Quinn (domestic thriller)

Linda McLaughlin: THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES by Kristin Hamel (historical)

Patti Abbott:  REMAINS OF THE DAY by Kazuo Ishiguro (literary)

Ray Potthoff: SMALL GREAT THINGS by Jodi Picoult 

Sarah Laurence: SMALL ISLAND by Andrea Levy (historical)

Scott Parker: MURDER AT THE BEACON BAKESHOP by Darci Hannah (mystery)

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 had me at three wishes. :)

    Sounds like a good and impactful story. Thanks for reviewing!

    1. Ha! I can truly see all sorts of interesting discussions coming from this book. :)

  2. Thanks for hosting! I admire your success.
    This is such a great spot to find books to read.

  3. Hmm, I am wondering how the witch fits into this immigrant story. It's a mishmash of genres. Does it work?

  4. J'aime le nom du "poisson d'avril." Sounds like a wonderfully topical own-voice story with an original magical twist. Thanks for hosting and corralling us cats.

  5. Sounds like a delightful book, Barrie.

    Linda McLaughlin


Comments are always welcome!