Sunday, August 2, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

Blogposts/Reviews from This Week

Featuring: The Blue Whale & The House that Jane Built

This past week I have been tearing through books like crazy. I was finally at home and able to sit out on the back porch in the summer heat or in my favorite living room chair for hours on end. Lovely!

I really enjoyed all of these middle grade novels. Circus Mirandus is flat out amazing. That she is a debut author is astounding. The characters grabbed me and I was completely transported. I can't wait to share this fantasy with students. Pickle had me laughing and I know students will enjoy following along with this team of pranksters. The House of Hades is lengthy, but I tore through it in a day. Riordan manages to pack a ton of action, drama, and humor into the almost 600 pages. I am sad that there's only one left in the series. I've got it on order so maybe I can finish it before school starts. I got This Journal Belongs to Ratchet last year at NerdcampMI, but for whatever reason had never gotten to it. Ratchet is home-schooled and helps her father fix cars. Since I also handed tools to my father while he was under cars, this one had an added layer for me. I think tinkerers will enjoy this one.

Shooting at the Stars was an incredible look at the Christmas Truce during the first winter of World War I. In a Village by the Sea is a circular story about family and home that takes place in Vietnam. It's gorgeous and heartwarming. I didn't find William & the Missing Masterpiece to be bad, but it also wasn't really a favorite. There were many cheesy puns, but young children would likely not realize they were puns so may not get the jokes. I think it's likely funny enough for them without the second layer, but for me it was only okay. Me, Frida was a look at the time when Frida was in San Francisco seeing the U.S. for the first time. It's also when her artistic style was solidified (at least according to this author) and she came into her own. I really appreciated the illustrations and this look into a small part of Frida's life. The Storyteller's Candle is a fictional story, but it does share about the real children's librarian Pura Belpré. I was sad to see it's out of print, but there are still copies floating around. I'm hoping to snag one for my school library. It will help as I share about the Pura Belpré Award. 
None of the Above is an excellent young adult novel about a young woman who has recently discovered she is intersex. This means she has male chromosomes and while she has female parts on the outside of her body, she also has some male parts inside her body. As you can imagine, this is a major shock. The author did an excellent job explaining facts without making it seem like a textbook.

These were two very tough nonfiction books to read. Children Growing Up With War is a photo filled book highlighting how children are often denied their basic rights due to war. It is written by a photojournalist and that's what makes it so powerful and also tough to see. There are photos of children experiencing grief, starvation, physical distress and so much that we would never want children to go through. Being Mortal was also difficult, but it is written for adults. It's a commentary on the way the topic of death is often avoided to our detriment in healthcare and life plans here in the U.S. This really should be a must read for anyone planning to live into retirement and anyone who has aging family members. So yes, that would be basically everyone. It will help people think through the discussions that would be helpful and understand more of their options. Avoiding these topics may make us feel more comfortable in the short-term, but they likely won't have us comfortable down the road.

I didn't participate in Teachers Write this year. With all of my traveling (with limited Internet), there was no easy way to do that. Instead, I got a copy of Kate Messner's 59 Reasons to Write which incorporated a lot of lessons, prompts and examples from the past Teachers Write camps. This is a great professional development book for teachers who want to hone their writing skills and improve their teaching of writing.

Reading Challenge Updates:
Diversity on the Shelf/Diverse Books - 123/100
Goodreads - 299/520
#MustRead2015 - 33/53
Diversity Reading Challenge - 10/12

The Coming Week:
I want to get The Blood of Olympus and get started. I have the ARC of the YA book Everything Everything by Yoon and I will likely start it. I have March Book 2 checked out and Meg Medina was praising The Hired Girl so I may start that too. It should be a good week for reading. Happy reading to you!


  1. Circus Mirandus was one of my favorite reads this summer as well. I've ordered a sample of 59 Reasons to Write on my Kindle - that would be a good buy for me!
    (My list is here:

  2. You did have an awesome reading week! I need one of those - I never feel like I'm getting it all in :(
    I wanted to read 59 Reasons this summer, but it's not going to get in. So many other books to read!
    Hope you get that Rick Riordan book in!

  3. I loved Circus Mirandus too, Crystal. What a wonderful story! I still haven't read This Journal Belongs To Ratchet, but when I see it reviewed it always sounds good. Also have not read Frida, a must read I think. I love the picture book biographies. Thanks for telling about None of The Above, and I'm also interested in Children Growing Up With War. Though sad, I know I will like seeing it. Lots to enjoy in your post!

  4. These are all new to me, although I have seen some online and in our library. Circus Mandicus and This Journal Belongs To Ratchet look fabulous! I have None of the Above and I plan to read it as soon as I get done reading Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. I came across Being Mortal through Book Riot's Quarterly box from several months back. I subscribed a few months too late but I'm hoping I can get a copy and read it. Thanks for all the wonderful titles! =)

  5. My hold on Circus Mirandus finally came in so I'm hoping to start it this week or next week! I've heard nothing but raves. I am really really impressed that you read The House of Hades in 1 day!!! I'm going to pop over to your The Summer of Chasing Mermaids review now, as that is one I've been debating picking up.

  6. I felt the same way about Circus Mirandus - brilliant writer! I'm reading Being Mortal now - an important book for anyone like me, who has aging parents.

  7. So much to comment on!!
    Glad you loved Circus Mirandus. I love the Lightbender. Such a special character!
    I need to catch up on my Riordan books. I love the Percy Jackson and Red Pyramid series.
    I'm so happy to hear that Pickles is funny--I am going to pick it up soon!
    Ratchet is a Sunshine State Book this year, so I will be reading it at some point as well.
    None of the Above was shared with me by Carrie who highly recommended it. If you recommend it too, it must be a must read.
    I will be reading Children Growing Up With War very soon. I know it is going to be a tough read.

    Happy reading this week! :)

  8. I agree with Kellee. There is so much I want to comment on! I like how you wrote that Circus Mirandus was "flat out amazing." I agree that it is incredible that she is a debut author. I can't wait to read her future books!

    I started Children Growing up with War two nights ago and needed to take an emotional break. It is a fantastic book, but it is very heavy on my heart. I plan to finish it in another day or two.