So, here are a few things I've been reading lately.
Just finished: The Seventh Most Important Thing. SO GOOD.
Goodreads review below.
The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
***This title is a nominee for the 2017-18 Golden Sowers Chapter Book list.***
OK-I loved this book. I didn't really know too much about it before I started it (just that Arthur, the main character was in trouble for throwing a brick at the "Junk Man") but I couldn't put it down. I red it straight through in one sitting. The characters were oh-so-relatable. The story was compelling and interesting (and based on a true guy!). The writing was spectacular. I can't wait to recommend it to others.
Arthur Owens knew he shouldn't have thrown the brick. But when he saw the Junk Man, the guy who is always out going through people's garbage, wearing his deceased dad's hat (after his mom threw it out without telling anyone), something just came over him. And now his punishment is to help the Junk Man out. Something about redemption. Arthur doesn't know what that means, but he knows he'd rather do this than go back to juvie. So he starts working on Junk Man's list of the 7 Most Important Things. And he begins to wonder if he was meant to be doing this all along.
Other recent reads:
All the Answers
Ava finds a blue pencil in the junk drawer and decides to use it on her math test. She always gets SO NERVOUS before tests and she doesn't think this one will be any better. But, during the test, she discovers the pencil KNOWS the answers. All of them. At least the fact-based ones. So she and and her friend Sophie start asking it all sorts of things. But is there ever such a thing as too much information? Do you really want to be able to ask if someone likes you (or doesn't)? Or if your Grandpa really is sick? Ava has to figure out what to do with all of her new knowledge and if she can balance her desire to know everything with the stress of trying to figure it out.
Books that are in my TBR:
Over this long weekend, I had a chance to read a few of the current and upcoming Golden Sower nominees. Mainly they were adventure stories, which isn't always my preferred genre, but they were really good. Highly recommend!
Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
***This is a nominee for the 2017-18 Golden Sowers Novels list. ***
I did NOT expect to like this book as much as I did. It was fast paced, adrenaline pumping, and all too realistic. At one point, I had to quit reading and tell my husband this book seemed like my worst real life nightmare. And then I immediately began reading again.
Cort has always lived along the river. Hurricanes are nothing new, but this one feels different. His dad is worried about checking on his estranged wife and doesn't seem to be preparing as much as usual. In the end, Cort is left with Liza and Francie, his neighbors, to ride out the storm. And after Francie runs off, they have to try to survive overnight in the wilderness during the storm.
Highly recommend. I can't wait to book talk this one next week with my students.
Ruby Lee and Me by Shannon Hitchcock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
***This book is a nominee for the 2017-18 Golden Sowers Chapter Book list.***
Sarah Beth Willis is having the worst summer of her life. Her younger sister was hit by a car and Sarah is convinced its her fault. She was the one who was supposed to be watching Robin and now they don't know if Robin will make it, let alone ever walk or jump or play again. Besides that, this is the last summer before Sarah has to start at a new school, and this is the first year the colored children will be in her class. Her best friend (when she spends summers at her grandparents) has always been Ruby Lee, so she should be excited they can finally be in school together, but everyone from their grandmas to their mommas tell them they shouldn't be school-friends. Because it would just be too hard. Integration isn't going to come easy for Shady Creek.
Through all of this Sarah Beth has to finally learn what it means to grow up and make decisions based on what is right, not what is easy.
So, for the review:
I read this because it was up for the Golden Sower award. The intended grade level is probably 3-6. I thought it felt a bit forced/stilted at times, and after reading the author's note, I'm sure it is because the author was writing based on her own experiences. While that is fine (and this is an admirable topic to undertake) the writing of one's own encounters with integration means that there is no magic or spark since the author didn't take any liberties. This leads to a somewhat dry retelling of events. I would recommend this for purchase if a library is participating in the Golden Sowers or if there is a deficit in materials related to this subject matter. If there is already a robust collection of diverse materials, this is probably a skip for me.
Desert Dark by Sonja Stone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was actually a pretty good book and if this was my preferred genre/style of story, I probably would have given it a 5. As it was, I started it late one Friday afternoon and had it finished by the next Saturday after lunch. The story sucked me in and kept my interest with some twists and turns, and credible red herrings.
Nadia, 16, has been recruited to the Desert Academy, an ultra-exclusive training center and boarding school that preps students to become part of the CIAs Black Ops unit. Their training is absolutely confidential, from their families to the rest of the country. No one knows what goes on there. For good reason. But now there is a suspected double agent in their midst and everyone assumes it is Nadia. Will she be able to prove her innocence and find the real double agent in time?
This was a fast paced mystery/adventure story that students will enjoy. I would recommend it for grades 7 and up. There is some kissing, but no sexual or graphic language. Highly recommend.
I had one of those amazing weekends where not only did I have TIME to read, but I also had a stack of books that looked interesting. The first was one that I picked up from the ACMS library on the recommendation of Mr. Feeken and the next was one that I got at the public library after seeing a recommendation on Twitter. My reviews are below.
How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I ended up really liking this one. It was on the edge of a normal YA teen story (almost verging into Rom-Com status at times) while also walking the edge of something a little darker (what happens when we allow our online personalities to consume us?). Overall, a book I would recommend and one that I think would appeal to young readers. Many of the books I've read/enjoyed lately have been geared towards an adult audience/perspective, and this one was not.
Vicky's best friend (her only friend) has moved away. So now there is no one who can act as a buffer for her, talk for her, reset her when the world gets to be too much. Which happens all the time. Then, one night, Vicky creates an Instagram account for Vicurious, an alter-ego of sorts who photoshops herself into outrageous situations and places. As she continues to post photos, more and more people notice. And Vicky begins to realize that there are many others out there who feel #alone, #afraid, and wish that they could just #beseen. Using Vicurious, Vicky begins an underground movement of kindness, but can't keep up with the demands of living a double life.
Like I said, this was a good, solid read. The characters are sophomores in high school, but there is little in the way of language or situations that would make this only appropriate for older readers. Recommended for grades 8 and up.
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well, I was pretty late to this party, but I have enjoyed quite a few of Jennifer Nielsen's other books, and most of my students and other staff members kept raving about this series, so I picked it up to quickly read over the weekend. That was a good choice on my part.
Sage, Roden, and Tobias are all orphans who have been bought by Conner, a regent to the crown who has a sinister plan. Not everyone knows, but the king, queen, and crown prince were all recently assassinated. On the brink of a certain civil war, Conner is searching for an orphan boy to pass off as the long-lost second prince, Prince Jaron. None of these boys are a perfect fit, but he is sure he can do enough to make them pass muster when it counts.
This was a fast-paced fantasy read. While it doesn't have the intense world-building of some of the other fantasy reads students enjoy, this was a good blend of adventure and fantasy. It was also a clear volume that could be read as one story while still leaving it open for the remainder of the trilogy. Highly recommend. Also of note, this book is completely appropriate for middle grade readers.
Happy Monday ya'll! Here is a current round-up of what I am reading RIGHT NOW:
This is book 2 in the Firebird Series. I read (inhaled) the first book and then took an unexplicable break from the series. I found book 2 through Overdrive on Friday and was happily reading away this weekend. I am just getting started, but this book does a good job of refreshing where we left off. I was grateful for this, but could see how some readers might not appreciate it.
Short synopsis: the Firebird allows for travel between dimensions, where alternate versions of you and the people you know live. Margueritte has to travel to find Paul and stop Triad from exploiting the technology.
I found this book based on a recommendation from folks on Twitter. It is a MG novel that was given as a suggestion when I asked for mysteries. I'm only a chapter in, but so far so good. I haven't been reading much MG lately, and hope this will help to break me out of my slump. I wasn't expecting it to be set so far in the past, but am curious to see how it goes. The MC works in an apothecary and seems to be setting up for some great adventure.
I picked up this book after seeing it on a list of books to read after Thirteen Reasons Why. I found the audio version through Overdrive and it has been a good pick so far, but as I've noticed with other serious/sad pieces, listening to them makes for a much more in depth experience. You can't gloss over the sadness or the hurt like you can when you are physically reading; when you are listening to it, the narrator has total control over your experience. And this one has had some TOUGH moments, and I'm only about a 1/3 of the way through it. Overall, I'd recommend, but with some warnings.
So, there you have it. My current reads. Happy Monday everyone!