Room by Emma Donoghue

On Jack’s 5th birthday, Ma creates a celebration out of the meager resources available to her. She has lived in an 11′ by 11′ foot “room” for 7 years, since she was kidnapped and held by a sexual predator.  Jack’s whole life has been defined by the room and items doled out by “Old Nick.”  Although based on a terrifying premise, this is a story of courage, determination, and love.  Beautifully told in Jack’s words, this is a story of the great love of a mother for her child, creativity in the face of want, and the persistence of a woman in her fight for freedom from captivity.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King

An intelligent and beautifully written mystery featuring a retired Sherlock Holmes, who meets his match in precocious fifteen-year-old orphan Mary Russell. Russell impresses the legendary Holmes with her intellect and sharp tongue, and Holmes takes her under his wing. The pair set out across England to solve a series of mysteries, getting along at times like oil and water, at others like two cantankerous peas in a pod. King captures the acuity and fastidiousness of Conan Doyle’s original Holmes, and creates a very likable character in Mary Russell. This the first (and my favorite) in an ongoing Russell/Holmes series.

Classy: Be a Lady not a Tramp by Derek Blasberg

While it may seem odd to find a man doling out advice to young women on how to be classy, Blasberg’s experiences working in the fashion and entertainment industries give him credibility as a resource.  Unfortunately, we live in a time when many famous young women are TERRIBLE role models.  It’s not uncommon to see young actresses with barely any clothing behaving in a less than classy manner (to put it politely).  Blasberg provides excellent “lady vs. tramp” visual guides for topics like dressing appropriately, sitting in a skirt, and dating,  as well as etiquette tips for a multitude of situations.  There are sections on clothing, parties, travel, friendship, dating, facing temptation, and the importance of lifelong learning.  I absolutely LOVED this book because it shows young women that looking trashy is not the best way to get attention, that there are many things more important than worrying about your physical appearance, and that dressing/behaving appropriately can still be lots of fun!