It’s Monday! What are you reading? 12/29/14 #IMWAYR

IMWAYR

Here’s a first for me – I have only finished one book so far while I’ve been on Winter Break! It’s been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to sit down to read my mail let alone look at a book. I’m hoping this will change in a day or two and I can get to some of the books that have been sitting patiently all over my house this fall.

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.

Click on the covers for an in depth synopsis and others’ reviews

el deafo

El Deafo by CeCe Bell

Middle Grade Graphic Novel, 2014
233 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This is my favorite graphic novel that I have ever read. It is HILARIOUS!! and so, so sweet. It centers around the author’s childhood and losing her hearing after being seriously ill. Every page in this book has SO much to look at. The graphics are so well done and I laughed a lot.  I loved all the little stories that the author shared that dealt with being different and learning to live with her hearing aids and amplifier. I really hope this wins an award – maybe the Schneider – although, in my opinion, it is definitely Newberry worthy.

beekle

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

Picture Book, 2014
40 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This picture book will melt your heart. The land of imaginary friends is so cool and unique. The pictures are amazing and I think that little ones will love this book and older readers will definitely relate to the storyline. I think this would be a great mentor text and generate lots of interesting stories in a middle school classroom.

book with no pictures

The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak

Picture Book, 2014
48 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
My husband and I gave each of our sets of nieces and nephews one copy of Beekle and one copy of The Book With No Pictures for Christmas. Last night, my husband sat down with his nephew Eli and read this book to him before bedtime. I tried to warn Eli’s dad that this probably wasn’t a great before bedtime book, but he insisted that it would be ok. Oh, how I wish I would have recorded the next 15 minutes of giggling turning into laughter and cries of “Read it AGAIN!”. I had to laugh to myself when Eli wanted nothing to do with bedtime after this book. Bottom line – this book is VERY funny! I could see it being a hit in any classroom. Even today my husband recited some of the lines out of nowhere and we laughed all over again.

interestings

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Contemporary Fiction, 2013
480 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
This “panoramic” novel was recommended to me and while I stuck with it for almost 2 weeks, I barely held on. It was, in fact, interesting, and once I committed, I had to know what happened to these characters. I found the last fourth of the book to be really disappointing. 480 pages was way too much. I want to read more by this author in the future, but I think I will stick to her YA books.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #IMWAYR 12/15/14

9d8ab-monreadingbuttonpbtoya

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.

Click on the covers for an in depth synopsis and others’ reviews

ill meet you there

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Contemporary YA Fiction, Release Date: 2/3/15
Alcoholism, Death of a Parent, War, PTSD, College, Romance
400 Pages, My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
I was lucky enough to read I’ll Meet You There through Netgalley, and I loved it! The main character, and recent graduate, Skylar Evans, is ready to leave the miserable, soul sucking town of Creek View for bigger and much better things at art school in San Fransisco. Freedom is right around the corner, but first she has to survive through the summer. With 3 minimum wage jobs, a scary home situation, strained friendships, and the return of hometown hero Josh Mitchell, Skylar is going to have her hands full. Josh Mitchell, on the other hand, is back from fighting in Afghanistan, and is barely holding on. His life is nothing of what it used to be and he is struggling physically and mentally. The only thing keeping him going right now is going to support meetings with other vets and working at The Paradise with Skylar. This book is so much more than a summer romance!

Such a great story and the differing perspectives of Josh and Sklyar are really powerful! I loved all the characters in the book, the setting, and really wish we could have more stories about those who have served and the struggles they have when they return home.

the summer I turned pretty

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer #1) by Jenny Han

Contemporary YA Fiction, 2009
Cancer, Divorce, Growing Up
276 Pages, My Goodreads Rating:4/5 Stars
The main character of The Summer… is Belly. Fifteen year old Belly (short for Isabelle) spends her summers with her mother, brother, her mother’s best friend and her two sons, Jeremiah and Conrad, at the beach. Belly has essentially grown up at the beach with these boys – through all the swims, feasts, pranks, trips to the boardwalk, and while this summer is more of the same, it’s also a summer that changes everything.

I enjoy Jenny Han’s writing, and this story was pretty good. At times I found the narrator, Belly, a little annoying, but the flashbacks and storyline were ok. I would be interested in reading #2, especially after reading the first chapter excerpt and thinking “Wait, how did THAT happen?!” From reading these few pages of book 2 it seems there will have to be a lot of flashbacks to clue readers in on what happened between the two books.

not that kind

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Memoir, 2014
265 pages, My Goodreads rating 3/5 Stars
Disclaimer: I purchased this book in the midst of a 7 minute ebook buying frenzy. I have never seen Dunham’s HBO show Girls and don’t really know that much about her. You know where this review is going, don’t you? While I thought a lot of the book was interesting and somewhat humorous, I will be the first to admit that the majority of the book was way over my head and I didn’t get a lot of the references. While I’m happy I stuck with it, I honestly think I probably should have spent the couple extra dollars on Amy Poehler’s book instead.

all the bright places

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Contemporary YA Fiction, Release Date: 1/6/15
Mental Illness, YA romance
384 Pages, My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This book is being advertised as a cross between The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park. Yep. That tagline definitely does All the Bright Places justice. The first pages happen on top of a school bell tower with outsider Theodore Finch contemplating if this will be the day he ends his life. He is interrupted by the beautiful Violet, who is also on the bell tower trying to figure things out. Their stories will intertwine in complicated swirls and readers will get sucked into their love story very quickly. You’ll be thinking about these two characters long after you finish the last page. This book is amazing. Funny, sad and very, very powerful. It gutted me and I still think about it. So glad I got to read this through NetGalley. Highly recommend!

dumbest ideaThe Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley

Graphic Novel Memoir, 2014
Art, School life, Achieving Dreams
240 Pages, My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
I picked up this graphic novel at the Scholastic sale solely on the title. I read it the next day and while I don’t think it’s the best graphic novel I’ve ever read, it does has potential in my classroom library. The author tells the story of how his first graphic novel was published when he was in high school and how dreams do come true with hard work. While this message sometimes gets lost in some slow sub plots, I think if the right reader comes along, this book will make a big impact on his or her life. It just so happens I have a student this year who loves graphic novels and is obsessed with drawing. You can bet that this book will be on his desk Monday morning with a “READ ME!” note. I’m pretty excited to see what he things about it!

Happy Reading, everyone!

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #IMWAYR 11/17/14

IMWAYR

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.

Click on the covers for an in depth synopsis and others’ reviews

glory

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

Contemporary High YA Fantasy, 2014
320 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
A.S. King is one of my favorite YA authors and while I liked Glory O’Brien’s story, the plot was a little weird for me. It definitely has a Grasshopper Jungle vibe to it, so if you were in to that book, you’ll like this too. If you have never read any of King’s books, I highly recommend Please Ignore Vera Deitz, Everybody Sees the Ants, and Ask the Passengers. All are excellent!

the girl who

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

YA Mystery, 2013
213 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
The first chapter of this book will grab you and not let go. The main character has no idea where she is, who she is, or why her captors want to kill her. Cue the craziness! This book has major teen reader appeal and fans of Henry’s Girl Stolen will like this one too. The “twist” three fourths of the way through was a little “meh” for my taste, but I know this book will be a hit in my classroom for sure.

brown girl dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming  by Jacqueline Woodson

Memoir written in verse, 2014
336 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
WOW WOW WOW! This book is amazing. It’s the kind of book that deserves a second or third read immediately after you finish the first. Woodson shares the story of her childhood and takes us from Ohio to South Carolina to New York City. She shares story after story about her unique and loyal family members, growing up in the South, her early struggles with reading and the deep desire to be a writer. Definitely one of my top 3 books of 2014!

I also read some picture books this week that I’ve heard about online and requested from my library. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole was definitely my favorite and one of my nephews will definitely be getting a copy for Christmas.

tough boris

nesting bird

journey

sam and dave

What are you reading this week? I’m always looking for new books, so please share what’s in your stacks in the comments. Have a great week of reading, Literacy Lovers!

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #IMWAYR 11/2/14

IMWAYR

 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.

ivan

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate

 Picture Book, 2014
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
The One and Only Ivan is my favorite book. This picture book tells the story of how Ivan made it to the mall in Tacoma, Washington and eventually to Zoo Atlanta. It is fantastic and the note at the end from one of Ivan’s favorite zoo keepers made me tear up. Such a special story. I look forward to reading Ivan’s story to my students every year.

chasing brooklyn

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

YA Mystery, 2010
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
This is one of Schroeder’s longest novels in verse and it is very hard to put down. I enjoyed the two differing perspectives and the characters Nico and Brooklyn were interesting to follow. A sad story about loss and grieving. I would really like to add this one to my classroom library.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #IMWAYR 10/27/14

IMWAYR

 

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.

Here’s what I’ve read lately:

(Click on the covers to read a book’s synopsis and others’ reviews)

 

Four

 Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

Dystopian, 2014
208 Pages
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Divergent was my first dystopian book and it has a special place in my heart. I was lucky enough to get a copy signed by Veronica Roth at NCTE12 and to me she is the epitome of a cool writer. Reading Divergent scenes from Four’s point of view was interesting and entertaining. What a complex character! I like the books from the trilogy series better, but enjoyed how this title filled in gaps, especially regarding Four’s relationship with each of his parents.

blood of my blood

Blood of My Blood (Jasper Dent #3) by Barry Lyga

YA Mystery/Thriller, 2014
464 Pages
My Rating 4/5 Stars
The Jasper Dent series has given me more nightmares that I’d like to admit. I am not a fan of *anything* scary, but these books are so well written that I couldn’t resist devouring them. #3 is particularly twisted and has one of the most memorable endings that I’ve ever read. Just thinking about it seriously creeps me out. Jasper Dent is a true YA hero and surely will find his way to the screen someday soon.

Ill give you the sun

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

YA Contemporary Fiction, 2014

My Rating 5/5 Stars
Listen up, everyone – this is the BEST BOOK I HAVE READ IN 2014. It is fantastic! The main characters, Jude and Noah, are inseparable twins, with a somewhat magically connection, that end up broken and lost after a tragic event rocks their family to the core. Over the course of chapters from both twins’ point of views, the book is filled with amazing characters, sub plots and the setting is described so beautifully. This is a story about love, loss and growing up. I have read online that there is already a script written for the movie version of this book, and I think Rainbow Rowell, John Green and David Levithan fans will fill theaters for this one. This book is all of these authors rolled into one. I love Jandy Nelson’s work – The Sky is Everywhere – is also amazing. Highly suggest you check these titles out.

far from you

Far From You by Lisa Schroeder

YA Contemporary Fiction written in verse, 2008
355 Pages
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Lisa Schroeder’s novels in verse are always great additions to my classroom library. They are popular for readers of all backgrounds and interests. I like novels in verse because I find the writer’s decision making process fascinating. Intentionally having two lines on a page vs. a much longer section for impact is a valuable lesson for student writers. Alice’s mother has died from cancer, and her relationship with her dad and step mother is strained. She finds solace when she is with her boyfriend and friend, but even those relationships start disintegrating. Alice has a hard time getting over her mother’s death and starts retreating into herself and it takes an almost deadly predicament for her to come around. I Heart You, You Haunt Me is still my favorite title from Schroeder, but this one is pretty good, too.

famous last words

Famous Last Words by Katie Alender

YA Mystery, 2014
320 Pages
My Rating 4/5 Pages
Katie Alender’s Bad Girls Don’t Die series and Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer are great mystery reads and I really enjoyed Famous Last Words too. It was a little predictable near the end, but creepy enough to hold my attention. Out of all of her books, Marie Antoinette… is my favorite. Alender definitely has a genre that she writes very well. Middle School readers will devour these books.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #IMWAYR 9/29/14

IMWAYR

We are a month into the new school year and wow, is it going fast! I’m still catching up on my 2014 Goodreads goal of 140 books and I am behind for sure!

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.

Here’s what I’ve read lately:

(Click on the covers to read a book’s synopsis and reviews)

 

killer instinct

Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

YA Mystery, Expected release date 11/4/14

My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

This is the 2nd book in The Naturals series and it starts right where #1 ends. The Naturals are a group of misfit teens with incredible talents and are used in a secret FBI project to solve crimes that no one else can. While this book is centered around Dean and his super creepy father, the main character, Cassie, is still dealing with trauma and feelings from events in book 1. I love the characters in this book and feel that this series is set up so well for a successful teen CSI type psychological thriller TV show that I would not be surprised if it happens sometime soon!

upside down

           Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana

     Middle Grade Historical Fiction, 2014

   My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

This book takes place in the Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. Armani Curtis and her family are celebrating her 10th birthday on the day the devastating hurricane changes their lives forever. This book is long at 320 pages, but would make an excellent read aloud if you have the time. I had to read it in sections because of the lump in my throat that wouldn’t go away. I participated in a mission trip to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and helped rebuild a house. While there, we toured the city, including the Ninth Ward. This book really resonated with me. Beautiful writing and a very sweet main character that will stick with you!

bronx masquerade

 Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes YA

Realistic Fiction, 2001

My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 stars

This award winning novel is centered around a poetry slam and gives readers a glimpse at the lives of 18 different teenage writers in a Bronx High School. The poems are gritty, heart wrenching and most often, heartwarming. I loved the poetry aspect of this novel, but did find the multiple points of view hard to keep up with. It was challenging to follow all of the sub plots and keep everyone straight. I did appreciate that after each poem there was commentary from Tyrone, who moves the story along with his thoughts and updates about how this group of teenagers is transforming while sharing their writing with each other. This book would be a great addition to a poetry unit with older readers and writers about finding your voice.

geography of you and me

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

YA Realistic Fiction, 2014

My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

Fans of Smith’s other books, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and This is What Happy Looks Like, will not be disappointed with her newest title. Set in New York, and a plethora of other places, this is a sweet look at two teenagers who meet each other in the middle of a sweltering summer blackout in NYC. I did enjoy the first two books more, but this one will definitely be as popular as the others with young readers. I also just found out the The Statistical Probability… has been picked up and optioned for a movie. This would be interesting to see on the big screen!

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #IMWAYR 9/8/14

IMWAYR

We are starting our 3rd week of school, and let me tell you, I have some readers this year! We have set up our interactive notebooks, talked about the 40 Book Challenge, and most classes are reading 20 minutes a day already. I’ve managed to read a little bit too, and hopefully I can catch up on my Goodreads goal by the end of the month.

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.

 Here’s what I’ve read lately:

(Click on the covers to read a book’s synopsis and reviews)

nest

Nest by Esther Ehrich

Historical Fiction, Release Date: 9/9/14
336 pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 stars
Nest is one of those books that is hard to put down. The main character, Chirp, has such an unforgettable voice – she’s vulnerable, sassy, wise and unsure all at the same time. While Chirp is an expert on birds and loves to watch and observe them, she is still very much figuring things out at home and school. After a family tragedy, life gets very hard for Chirp and she becomes a shell of her vibrant self. It takes an adventure and a lot of understanding to come back to where she belongs. I loved the 1970’s music and culture references throughout and the themes of family, friendship and love are very strong. Beautiful book!

payback time

Payback Time by Carl Deuker

Realistic Fiction/Sports, 2010
304 pages
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
This is my first read by this author. I picked it up at a book sale, while crossing my fingers that it would be a good fit in my middle school classroom. I was super excited that 1. it takes place in Seattle, which is my favorite city, and 2. it is a great book that will be an excellent addition to my classroom library. Mitch is an overweight sports reporter for his high school and he and Kimi, the photographer assigned to work with him, stumble upon a football mystery while working their senior year. Mitch and Kimi are excellent students with bright futures, and find themselves way over their heads as they unravel a story of ineligible players, cheating coaches, and a state title on the line. Fans of Mike Lupica and John Feinstein sports books will like this one, too.

shackleton

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi

Historical Fiction Graphic Novel, 2014
128 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
I plan on doing a quarter long unit with my seventh and eighth grade students in my reading intervention class that centers around explorers, and specifically Sir Ernest Shackleton, the great Antarctic explorer. Shackleton is a fascinating person to read about! While I am not sure this is the best book for my students, it does have some very cool layouts of the ships and some interesting maps. Bertozzi also has a similar book on Lewis and Clark that is probably worth checking out.

Happy Reading, everyone!

Lesley ♥