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.
Here is a quick tech tip for your Thursday. If you are using Google Slides in class, there are a few things you and your students can do to make it easier.
Find Images while in Slides
Hi all! I am so excited for you to come back soon. As we prepare for a new school year, I wanted to send out a few book recs. I read a TON of great books this summer; here are just a few of my favorites that I definitely think you should check out soon. Trust me, this is just a small sample of what I got through this summer. Stop by and we can talk about some other great titles.
Josef. Isabel. Mahmoud.
Jew. Cuban. Syrian.
Alan Grantz takes the stories of three children displaced at three different times in our world's history, and weaves together a tale of heartbreak, struggle, hope, and what it means when you are forced to leave your home behind. As I read, I found myself putting the book down because it hurt too much to read these realistic tales and then reaching for the book again minutes later because I had to find out what was happening to these children. This is a must-read. Highly recommend.
Chase Ambrose has no idea who he is. When he wakes up in the hospital after falling off of his roof, he doesn't know his name, his mother, or even his own face. So he definitely doesn't know what kind of person he used to be. But he begins to get a pretty good sense when the other kids at school take a wide berth around him in the halls, his 4 year old half-sister screams when he says hello to her, and he finds out he was supposed to be doing court-mandated community service. The problem is, he doesn't remember being that way or doing those things. And the person he is now wants to do other things, like join video club and help out at the nursing home. His old friends don't trust the new Chase and his new friends are having a hard time forgetting the old one.
Holy cow, this is one of the best books I've read in a while. For me, it was a true 5 stars. It had everything-humor, sadness, a gripping reality, characters you rooted for, and a dash of literary awesomeness that seems to be the lifeblood of some of the YA greats-John Green, Jeff Zentner, etc, BUT in a MG novel. So, so, so good.
Ben was a foster care kid, but he's been living with Mom Coffin for two years. Things are going OK, with the plan being that they are going to move to Florida next year after she retires. He finds Flip, a dog, on the street and takes him in. But then, things start to go wrong: Mom dies, he has to move in with his aunt and her boyfriend, and Halley, his best friend, is still sick with cancer. Ben doesn't know what to do, because unlike what he reads in books, he knows that you can't go back to the past. And nothing stays forever. So, while he tries to make connections, he also doesn't get too close because in the end it won't matter.
At least, that's what he used to think.
Full disclosure, Graphic Novels are NOT my forte. In fact, this is only the second one I have read. I made an excellent choice.
Nimona is complete and utter AWESOMENESS as a protagonist. She is complex and complicated, and completely engaging. The way Stevenson deals with well-known fairy tale ideals (good vs evil; the use of magic; overthrowing the establishment) is magical. The bad guy isn't all that bad. The good guy might not be that good. There are layers of gray throughout.
Kit's father has just died. She can't deal with her usual lunch crowd and instead decides to sit with David Drucker, resident odd-ball at her school. She hopes that by sitting with him she won't have to talk, or at least won't have to talk about anything serious. For David, Kit stopping by his lunch table signals the first time that anyone, ever, has sat with him at lunch. He knows. He's counted. While she's with him, he reviews what he knows about her (and everyone else at school) by going through his notebook of information: physical descriptors, notable encounters, and rules for social interactions that his sister Lauren has drummed into him throughout the years. Most important: do not engage with those on the Do Not Trust list. Lucky for him, Kit is firmly on the "trust" list.
As the two continue to sit together, an unlikely friendship develops as Kit tries to figure out how to move on from the accident that killed her father and David tries to figure out how to maneuver high school when you AREN'T neurotypical (or normal).
Highly recommend. Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon, Jennifer Niven, and John Green.