It’s time for #6degrees, inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. We all start at the same place as other readers, add six books, and see where you end up. This month’s starting point is whatever book you last read. I just finished Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham (2019), an Australian author who lives in Sydney, although the story is set in Nottingham (shades of Robin Hood). This is a very suspenseful novel about a psychologist with a past of his own, caught between a girl who needs to be saved, Evie, a teen without a past, and Jodie, a girl who needs justice. I can't wait to read more by this author (although I did guess whodunnit)!Speaking of justice, did you know that mystery writer Elly Griffiths has written a juvenile mystery series that begins with my first book, A Girl Called Justice (2019)? The fact that it takes place at a boarding school also ensured my niece Katherine and I both enjoyed it. Too bad these books haven’t been published in the US.
I was at the library getting the 12th Elly Griffiths book about Ruth Galloway when my second book caught my eye, The Girl on the Balcony (2018). This is a memoir by Olivia Hussey, the beautiful actress who played Juliet in the Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet. I love the movie but must admit reading this book was not a good use of time. Lenora Mattingly Weber fans may remember that Stacy Belford tries to see this movie with Bruce in my third book, Hello, My Love, Goodbye (1971), but his mother interferes before they get to the front of the ticket line. When I read these books as a pre-teen, I didn’t understand why Bruce’s parents were so nasty to Stacy but skimming it today I suspect they were probably anti-Catholic/anti-Irish as well as determined to keep Bruce focused on his future rather than on the effervescent Stacy. They didn't need to worry - Bruce always yells, "Brakes!" if they get too hot and heavy.Stacy is a great basketball player, which reminded me of an old favorite, My Sister Mike by Amelia Elizabeth Walden (1956), my fourth book. Mike (born Michel) is a talented hoopster who doesn’t bother with makeup and flirting until handsome Jeff Parker asks her out. When she realizes it was meant as a joke, she is humiliated but decides a makeover will show Jeff that he is the loser. Okay, this book is somewhat sexist because Mike considers changing herself to be attractive to a young man but ultimately she finds a way to be true to herself without fearing her girly side. Walden wrote nearly 50 young adult novels and I read most from the library as a teen. Several are set in Connecticut where she lived with her husband. Some have heroines who love sports, some are aspiring actresses or teachers, and some popular ones near the end of her life involve espionage. Readers may recall seeing some in Scholastic Book Club editions, while this one is a classic Berkley Highland edition. Remember that plaid at the top? Established in 2008, the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, presented by ALAN, is an annual award in the United States for a book that exemplifies literary excellence, widespread appeal, and a positive approach to life in young adult literature. The 2020 winner is my fifth book, Lovely War by Julie Berry (2019), which caught my attention when it got a fabulous Washington Post review. It’s a historical novel set during World Wars I and II, where the gods hold the fates–and the hearts–of four mortals in their hands. Their story is told by the goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus. I got it from the library over the summer but it was due before I had a chance to read it. My sixth book is also set during a war, A Chelsea Concerto by Frances Faviell (1959). Recently brought back into print as part of the Furrowed Middlebrow imprint at Dean Street Press, this is a moving memoir of life during the London Blitz in 1940-41. My mini-review. So my Six Degrees took me from Nottingham, the English countryside, all over the world with Olivia Hussey, Denver, New England, New York, and back across the ocean to London. Have you read any of these?
Off the Blog: Congratulations to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris! Proud to have done my small bit campaigning.