Lately, I’ve been reading some great books on Net Galley and borrowing books from my students. It’s been a good reading week!
It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys and invites bloggers to recap what they’ve read this week while planning ahead on what to read next! Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers added their own twist by focusing on kidlit, from picture books up to YA.
Be sure to click on the covers for an in depth synopsis and others’ reviews
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
YA Historical Fiction, Release Date: 3/17/15
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
I haven’t read many YA novels that take place in 1849 and on the Oregon Trail. Ok, I don’t think I’ve read any, but I’m glad I found this one! This gorgeous hooked me from the start. Samantha and her father are Chinese immigrants in unfriendly and unfamiliar territory. After a suspicious fire, Samantha is left alone with nowhere to go. Her father’s landlord offers her a place to stay, but after a very scary situation, she is forced to leave town with Annamae, a slave who is desperate to head out West, with little more than what they can carry. They decide to disguise themselves as “Sam” and “Andy” and when they meet a group of cowboys, things get really interesting. This is one of the best books with the theme of “friendship” I’ve read in awhile. I loved it! I was surprised there were almost 400 pages, because I flew through it, needing to know what was going to happen next. The group gets themselves in some pretty interesting situations, and the ending is pretty intense! I really, really would have been fine with 300 more pages. Excellent book and I highly recommend!
My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp
YA Contemporary Fiction, Release Date: March 3, 2015
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Isn’t this cover really cool too? It’s one of my favorites that I’ve ever seen. Lulu has just finished high school and is headed as far away as possible from the small Virginia town she grew up in. Unfortunately, after some financial issues, money for college isn’t there anymore and her dream is crushed. Desperate, Lulu convinces her two best friends and brand new crush to sell moonshine around town to make her dream of escaping a reality. I was caught a little off guard by the moonshine plot twist, but it’s really well done and perfect for the setting and characters. I loved Lulu and her friends. The whole book is a letter to Lulu’s crush, Mason, and as the reader you’re not sure if it’s a love letter or a goodbye letter. I was a little frustrated with the somewhat open ending, but that’s just me, needing loose ends tied up. Would like more by this author. Good book. Definitely recommend!
Unlocked by Ryan G. Van Cleave
YA Contemporary, written in verse, 2011
My Goodreads Rating: 2/5 Stars
Andy is at the bottom of the high school food chain. His dad is the school’s janitor, he has no friends, and is frequently picked on. There’s a rumor going on around school that Blake, a fellow student, has a gun in his locker. To impress a girl, Andy steals his dad’s keys and decides to find out if the rumor is true. After a series of events, Andy and Blake become friends and everything goes downhill. This book focuses on bullying and school violence and is pretty intense.
Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner
Contemporary YA Fiction, 2014
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
One of my students bought this title at the book fair we recently had and I asked if I could borrow it when she was finished. I highly recommend doing this no matter what the book is. It instantly shows the student you value their reading choices and it opens up a great opportunity for dialogue. Can’t Look Away’s protagonist is Torrey Grey, a You Tube star, famous for her beauty and fashion videos. She has a cult following, and when tragedy strikes her family, Torrey’s world is turned upside down – online and in real life. She and her parents move, and she is thrown into a new high school, with new rules and new mean girls to contend with. While the least of her worries is not being recognized, Torrey has a lot to deal with and a long way to go to realize what is really important. This book has great teen reader appeal. While it wasn’t my favorite book I’ve ever read, I’m glad I read it because it led to several conversations with a student reader in class, in the hallway and now we have a bond over a book and that won’t ever go away.