100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson
I was completely pulled into this book from page one by the writing. N.D. Wilson has a style that's just full of perfectly worded phrases that create such an image in your brain (what I like to call "shiver language"). I can't resist sharing two examples - "In the same summer, a bottle rocket brought the gift of fire to the bus station's restrooms." and "He was used to milk with transparent edges, milk that looked a little blue. This milk looked more like cream. . . In his mouth, he could feel it clinging to his tongue. His tongue didn't mind." The writing brings both Henry the boy and Henry the town to life and sends them on breath-taking adventures. 100 Cupboards is the first book in a trilogy, and I am impatiently waiting to get back to the library to read the rest of the series. This is definitely a book that I will be buying and sharing with my little boy when he's old enough.
I first heard about this book on the Read Aloud Revival podcast (both episodes 44 and a bonus episode called "Some of the Best Books by Living Authors").
Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
Frank is the best character I have met in a long time. Unique doesn't begin to describe him. Frank is the heart and soul of this book. While some of Alice's decisions drove me crazy, I was never disappointed in any scene in which Frank appeared. When I read the last page, I was so sad that I was done spending time with Frank. He's one of those characters who you feel is surely continuing to live their life, even though the book is over, and I only wish I could be part of that life.
I first heard about this book on the What Should I Read Next? podcast, episode 38.
The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
Penelope Lumley has one of those voices that you just savor as you read a book. She is down-to-earth yet optimistic, determined to do her best even though she really doesn't have any idea how to go about doing that. The children are delightful, and the whole premise of the book is so well executed. This is the first book in a six-book series called The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, and I can guarantee that these are books I will be collecting and rereading.
I first heard about this book on the Read Aloud Revival podcast, episode 59 where the author, Maryrose Wood, was interviewed. (she even reads a snippet of this book, complete with howling!)