Sunday, September 21, 2014

Some of What I've Read Lately

I had a busy summer and beginning of the school year, and I've been trying to read as much as possible, which has led to not as much blogging happening. But I wanted to share some of what I read over the last part of summer that I've added to my classroom library so you can watch for these titles, too. I'm letting you know why I chose to read it, and then my quick thoughts after reading it (which can also been seen on my goodreads account). Happy reading!

The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley
The premise of this graphic novel was intriguing to me, the title is fun, and I'm always looking for new graphic novel stories to include in my classroom library.
Funny, entertaining, honest. An autobiographical graphic novel dealing with the author's start in coca in middle school and how he had self-published by age 15. I'm betting my students will enjoy this one.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
I've had this book on preorder since it was first announced. You can bet I was starting it as soon as I was able to get my hands on it. I loved Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, so I was anxious to read this final companion book. I love not only Perkins' love stories, but the unique ability she has to make a setting into its own character.
Worth the wait! Reading this book made me so happy, and I couldn't put it down until I was done. So, so good. This was a great story on its own and getting glimpses to catch up on the characters from the previous books was fun. Perkins once again exemplifies a city/setting becoming a character in her deft hands. Her romances are sweet and layered and not without their struggles, but they and her characters feel so real. Loved it!

The Bridge From Me to You by Lisa Schroeder
My students love Lisa's free verse books, and the storyline of this one intrigued me.
I enjoyed this story told in alternating voices and verse/prose, so we get both the boy's and the girl's perspective of a budding friendship between two kindred spirits. Having hopes beyond what parents can see, and feeling alone, Colby and Lauren find a friend who understands them just when they need it. My favorite part was seeing how their relationship developed and grew from when they first met through many interactions after. I have a feeling my students will really like this one. While I felt some parts happened too easily, there are some heavy themes addressed within. It's a quick read. I would recommend this to those who liked One for the Murphys.

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
There was a lot of buzz about this book in the middle school teacher and #weneeddiversebooks circles, so I wanted to read it and see what it was all about. Plus, I love heist stories.
Took a bit to get into it with the numerous characters and history to catch up on, but moved quickly after that. Fast-paced Ocean's 11 type heist story set in middle school. Entertaining. Perfect for fans of Heist Society and The Fourth Stall.

Atlantia by Ally Condie
It's Ally Condie! I was a huge fan of the Matched series, so I was anxiously awaiting her next book - and it's a standalone.
I was very much looking forward to Ally Condie's follow up to the Matched series, and although I wasn't as enamored with Atlantis as I was the first series, I still enjoyed reading it for it's uniqueness and heart and engaging writing style. I will definitely be handing this off to students this fall. It seems a bit of a quieter book (perhaps having to do with the underwater location), and has themes of religion and persecution and acceptance and trust and truth and family and determination and corruption and environmentalism and self-reliance woven throughout within a well-built world.

Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo
No matter how many people recommended Shadow & Bone to me, I was determined to wait until closer to the release of the third book to start it, and I still started too early in April. They were all right-it's an amazing series! I was dying for the final book to find out how this story would end-at least I didn't have too long to wait.
A satisfying end to a great series. Will continue to recommend to my students looking for an engaging YA fantasy trilogy.

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
This one sounded like a powerful diverse story, and another free verse option, and she was signing at ALA, so I stopped by the publisher booth to get a signed copy.
Told in verse from a young girl's perspective, The Red Pencil is a powerful story of survival and finding hope in the midst of the horrors of war in Sudan, addressing the complications that go along with it in a way that is accessible to younger readers. Pair with A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story.

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson
Terry saw on twitter that I was looking for 2014 middle grades books for my committee work & asked if she could send me her book to consider. I'm so glad she did because it was great!
Great story of survival and moving past grief. Love the Alaskan setting and the sled dogs and their relationship with strong, smart female main character. Pair with any survival story.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
So many teachers had been talking about this one toward the end of the year, and it sounded like it would especially hook all the basketball playing boys in my room. I'm always on the lookout for free verse books with guy appeal.
A story of family, basketball, and heart written in engaging verse.

Some Boys
by Patty Blount

I love her powerful, gritty, realistic stories of heavy issues that face teens today.
If the news reports are any indication, as it keeps happening over and over, there is a need for books for young adults that address rape, rape culture, slut shaming, spreading of viral videos of attacks, and consent. This can be one of those books, and because it is written in an engaging way, can aid in the conversations that should be happening. Patty Blount writes books about tough topics! that teens need to be reading. Having dual POVs provides the perspective of not only the survivor, but also the best friend of the attacker, giving a glimpse into both sides of a he said, she said story that is all too common. This is a book to pair with Speak, that adds the element of more of the post-technology advancements to the equation.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
The Legend series is a favorite, so had to read this one right away!
Lu has built an intriguing and dark new (old?) world. Power, trust, family, policy, royalty, fights, rulers, darkness, and magic abound. The last nine pages changed the game and left me anxious to read the next installment.

One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington
I really liked Shirvington's Embrace series, and this one sounded like an intriguing premise. Read this in one sitting because I couldn't go to sleep not knowing how it would end. Although elements were predictable, I enjoyed it. Think Every Day meets Pivot Point with a dash of Girl Interrupted.


  1. The Dumbest Idea Ever! looks great. I just put it on hold, since it's the kind of book I need to read more of. I'm also really looking forward to One Past Midnight, and of course, I loved Isla--but how can you not??

  2. Thanks for all of the great recommendations! I love the little mini reviews.