If this girl had a wishbone…what would she hope for?

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It’s Monday!  What are you reading?  


A face, masked in cobalt feathers, has been haunting my reading life for a couple of years now.  I think the first time I encountered it, I was browsing the teen section at the local book store, my soy chai latte in hand.  I picked it up that day, ran my fingers over the images of the feathers thinking that I might feel their soft, glossy texture.  I remember a tangible chill that ran up the length of my fingers and the length of my arm.  Then, I put it down.

Since that day, the enigmatic mask and daring gaze caught me now and then as I straightened shelves, pulled books out of the return bin, and even placed it in to the hands of one of my avid fantasy readers.

“Have you ever asked yourself,do monsters make war, or does war make monsters? I’ve seen things, angel. There are guerrilla armies that make little boys kill their own families. Such acts rip out the soul and make space for beasts to grow inside. Armies need beasts, don’t they? Pet beasts, to do their terrible work! And the worst part is, it’s almost impossible to retrieve a soul that has been ripped away. Almost.”

Daughter of Smoke and Bone and its sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight completely captured my reading imagination, leaving my heart hurting for the present political and humanitarian situation in Syria, and compelling me to get my hands on my own wishbone.

This YA fantasy series by National Book Award author Laini Taylor is Romeo and Juliet, Aida, and Paradise Lost--but it also reads, to me, as a marvelous commentary on contemporary tensions and turmoils filling the CNN and MSNBC newsfeed this past week.

I do not pretend to understand, nor have I really sought understanding in regards to the present situation in Syria.  It honestly hurts my heart to do so.  When I find my mind grappling with the myriad of political commentary, ethical analysis, and presidential criticism, my son’s face surfaces in my mind, and I freeze at the thought of the world that he is inheriting.

Karou, the heroine of Daughter of Smoke  and bone finds herself in the middle of an ancient battle between good and evil–but, of course, who the real demons are is in the eye of the beholder.

Here’s the thing that I love most about extraordinary Young Adult works–they allow teens to explore, experience, and process situations and questions in a safe context.  Many teens will gravitate this series for the unmistakable star-crossed lovers and first love; but, many–I believe–will find that this little work of fantasy has a lot to contribute to in the way they choose to respond to their generation’s greatest conflict:  hate.

“You have only to begin, Lir. Mercy breeds mercy as slaughter breeds slaughter. We can’t expect the world to be better than we make it.” 

I could go on and on about what this series means to me, but I don’t want to spoil it.  Instead, here’s a list of the top ten reasons to put this book in the hands of your teen readers:

10)  It has the sense of humor to make fun of its own fairy tale origins.
9)  The cast is complete with Karou’s own “band of merry men” and the duo leave you rolling on the floor!
8)  Angels are hot, but demons can be hotter.
7)  The two lovers have an extraordinary balance of masculine and feminine traits, challenging traditional gender roles.
6)  Prague is ah-mazing and a beautiful backdrop for book one–right out of a fairy tale.
5)  The non-linear storytelling adds sophistication and nuance to the genre (but may be a little sticky for readers new to Fantasy or inexperienced with navigating plot devices like flashback and third-person omniscient).
4)  That Laini, she can put together a sentence!  Ex., ““Mercy, she had discovered, made mad alchemy: a drop of it could dilute a lake of hate.” 
3)  It’s a safe place to grapple with very scary issues like war, vengeance, genocide, terrorism, and century-old-hatred.
2)  Love is depicted as raw, complicated, sacrificial, and beautiful.
1)  One word–HOPE.

OH, and what would I use my wishbone on?  An ARC of book three, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, because I cannot wait to experience the fate of Akiva, Karou, the Chimera, Angels, Eretz, and Earth!  (or maybe for blue hair, because let’s face it…that’s cool.)

It’s Monday! What are you reading?–Special Edition–Summer Reading Report 8/19/13

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It’s back to work tomorrow, and as I reflect on this past summer’s reading (while listening to City of Ashes on my newly renovated patio, a pleasant, steady breeze wafting under the cedar pergola) I feel like I’m saying goodbye to my summer camp friends.

I remember  back in June when I loaded up my bags with books that I had been promising myself (and my students) I would finally spend some time with while school was out.  I’m so excited to recommend these books to students this year and to chat about my reactions with my regulars who have been hounding me to try them.

Books I read:

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.  5 stars.  Lovely, lovely, lovely.  This one took some investment and a lot of faith for the first 100 pages.  Despite the non-linear plot with dual narrators, I felt a tiny ember take root in my heart after the first few pages for the main character, Taylor, and her entourage in the Australian bush.  It’s mysterious, heart-breaking, and ultimately–healing.  When recommending to students, be sure to touch base with them frequently in the beginning and support their “wanderings” and wonderings early on.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  4 stars.  Crazy. Creepy.  Sinister.  This was my indulgence in an adult best-seller with a soon to be released feature film (Ben Affleck and Neil Patrick Harris–perfect casting. I found myself picking up my jaw more than once during this one.  Although I did purchase it for my library, I’m thinking that it might find a comfy spot in my office for special recommendations to mature and older teen readers due to several graphic and sometimes violent sexual scenes and situations.

Legend by Marie Lu.  3 stars.  I’ve heard this series likened to Hunger Games on several occasions.  There were many things I enjoyed about Legend.  As a dystopian title for teens, it delivers on pacing, character, plot, and romance.  With a male and female narrator, it has wide appeal for teens and a nice gender-neutral cover.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.  3.5 stars.  Also a feature film due out in theaters this week, C of B was a demon-killer book I could get behind.  I enjoyed the mix of supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, warlocks, demons, and a race of humans descended from Angels).  I had to joke with a friend who had read them before after the first 50 pages that I had the story line for the next 3 books down.  Predictable?  Yes.  Even the twist of fate between the star-crossed lovers can be deciphered early on in the first installment.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth.  4.5 stars.  I finished this title yesterday during my last day of vacation in Galveston with my family.  I can say that it is perhaps the most honest book I’ve read in a while.  I’ve wanted to recommend this book with its odyssey of a young girl whose parents are killed in a car accident the day after she kisses a girl for the first time in rural Montana, but I don’t want to sell it as just another LGBT title like I sometimes can when recommending dystopia or fantasy.  Cameron Post is so much more.  It’s a moral tale on empathy, identity, and friendship.

Book I’m reading (listening to ):

Books to read (before the kids actually start in 9 days!)

Who did you meet this summer in your books?  Which characters will stay with you, leaving that lasting and warm impression like the first friend you found at summer camp?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 4/29/13

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Join the “It’s Monday! What are you reading?” meme hosted by!  Share your reading to-do list and pick up some great recommendations from other readers.

Here’s my (shamefully overdue) reading report for the week:

Books I’ve read:

Two stellar YA picks: Ask the Passengers by A.S. King and

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys mesmerized me.  Both, stories of young women seeking to break out of “the chains” that their community, their family, an society as a whole places on them.  What I loved about reading these two back-to-back is how relevant their message was.  One set in 1920s New Orleans and the other in contemporary, rural Pennsylvania–both are remarkable stories of young women striving to come into their own selves.  

Couple of my favorite moments:

“I am equal to a baby and to a hundred year old lady. I am equal to an airline pilot and a car mechanic. I am equal to you. You are equal to me. It’s that universal.

Except that it’s not.” 

“Sometimes we set off down a road thinkin’ we’re goin’ one place and we end up another. But that’s okay. The important thing is to start.” 

And on my quest to re-vision, re-design, and renovate my school library, the following two titles provide me with some excellent thinking material regarding the role of the 21st century school library: 

Books I’m reading:

This is hard for me.  The Yellow Birds is your quintessential war-novel. Following the friendship of two  privates catapulted into the height of the Iraqi conflict, the narration and characterization of this novel leave nothing to the imagination when it comes to the gruesome realities of war, including how de-humanizing it is for those in the middle.  I can only stomach about 20 pages at a time, but I feel like I need to understand more about war and this generation’s experience in particular.  

Books to read:

Here’s the biggest one for this next week….The Great Gatsby

Sure, I’ve read it countless times as a student and teacher, but it’s been at least a decade since I read it for pleasure, and I am pleased as punch about next week’s opening!

Here’s the recent tv-spot for your viewing and auditory pleasure to help get you in the Gatsby-mood. 

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 4/8/13

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Join the weekly reading report meme hosted over at!
Catching up today for the last couple of missed Mondays. 
Before I start my reading report, I wan to talk for a minute about reading slumps.  It’s spring.  (Teachers and school librarians silently nodding their heads in agreement).  Anything and everything in the curriculum that hasn’t been reached is now being funneled into studetns’ brains, including research.  Students are resisting at all costs said information that is now streaming at a furious rate into their minds, which are most definitely more focused on prom, summer, and each other. 

That being said, I seem to experience a slump this time of year in my reading life.  There is more (pressing)work to do at school than hours and manpower available to do it, and family life is super-charged with nice weather for outings and holidays.  Donalyn Miller bared her reading soul this weekend over at Nerdy Book Club.   She shares, “I know that I will fall back in love with reading again. We are just taking a break. I have wandered into the reading doldrums before and I always find my way through them.” 

Donalyn shares some wonderful advice in her post on working your way out of the “reading doldrums.”  And, I’m going to take some of her advice this week.

Books I Read:

Looking back over these titles, I’m realizing that although there are only a few, they were all great in their own right.  I devoured Drama one morning sitting at the circulation desk.  My poor students patiently waited in line while I sped through the last half, dying to see how the young budding romances played out.  This book is pre-cious!  Love and Other Perishable Items continued my love affair with Australian YA authors.  The narrators were so honest and achingly real.  Kudos to Laura Buzo on this one!  And finally, When You Were Here.  I think I have a reading hangover with this work.  Check out last week’s review. You know when you read a book that you love so much that you are afraid to read something else because you know you’ll be disappointed that you don’t love it as much as the last one?  That’s me right now. 
So, I’m going to take Donalyn’s advice to 1) re-read some favorites and 2) try something I normally wouldn’t pick up.

Books to Read:

Some old favorites…

Hmm….I’m sensing a theme here.  It’s been a long time since I’ve relived Gemma Doyle’s adventures, and I could use a little Kartik time.  How GREAT!  I’ve felt a little sorrowful that the English III teams are diving into Gatsby, and I’m left out. Plus, I’m planning a HUGE Gatsby event leading up to the movie release, so I must find my inspiration. . 

Something I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up….
I need some help here.  What should I read that might surprise me?  Nonfiction is notoriously my gap.  Also, boy books.  I struggle to keep up with my boy readers outside of realistic fiction.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 3/18/13 (The Evening Edition)

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I don’t have much to report this past week (sad face).  But I did manage to finish one book and a brand-spanking new shipment of books did arrive in the library today with more expected this week, so my TBR list is about to sky-rocket!

Books I read:

Hardcover–which I much prefer.
Suits the tone and mood of the book
with the rough-hewn dress and sans make-up
Mary in smoky-eye and blackliner?
I don’t think so paperback cover.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.  I am a self-professed M. Night Shamylan fan and as I mentioned in last week’s report, I was really excited by the The Village-esque quality to this story.  I don’t know how I feel about the protagonist, however…I’m getting a “I’m a choosy girl who has two great guys who adore me and I just don’t know what I want so I’m going to let my indecisiveness destroy everyone around me” vibe.  But, Mary does have some difficult decisions that I know all seventeen-year-old girls can relate to:

Do I believe what I’ve always been told and conform to what’s expected of me?
Do I leave the familiar but limiting community I’ve grown up in to face the dangers of the unknown and risk being even more alone than I am now?

Do I choose the boy who makes me feel like I’m burning or the one who has the constant source of warmth?
Do I run into a forest of flesh-eating zombies, many of whom were once my neighbors and relatives, or do I hide on a platform indefinitely?

I mean, come on…who wouldn’t relate?!

Books I’m Reading:

Books to read: 

What are your reading plans this week?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 3/11/13

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It’s a very special Monday–Spring Break Monday–which means that I am sneaking in a quick post in between car inspections, tire rotations, and a bathroom remodel.

Last week I neglected my favorite day of my blogging week but for good reasons; I am now a GREAT aunt!  Between the arrival of a new baby and three classes of seniors researching in the library for the last two weeks I am “knackered” (to quote the characters from one of my favorite reads these past two weeks).  So, here is my reading report for the last two weeks:

Books I finished:

Yes, this is a big one–Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.  And, I really enjoyed it.  Granted it was full of horror and ghosts and gore, all of the things I try my hardest to avoid. I was completely captured, however and promptly passed it on to as many patrons as I could find.  I even included it in my Romeo and Juliet book talk, likening the star-crossed Anna and Cas to Shakespeare’s quintessential teen lovers.

P.S.– apparently Stephenie Meyer is producing a film adaptation of Blake’s gothic romance.

I also read Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray.  I enjoyed this contemporary re-make of Ophelia’s experiences growing up in the midst of Elsinore’s family drama, but I found myself feeling detached to the heroine rather than empathetic in the end.

And finally, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer Smith (sigh).  Confession:  Sears has  commercial called “Connecting Flights,” a spoof on the romantic comedy flick.  But, every time I see it , I am secretly wishing that it really were a film!  The trailer begins with two professional bloggers who meet in the airport when their flights have been cancelled, thus ensuing a comedy of errors-adventure, resulting in true love.  This book is that movie, but better!  Jen talks about her thoughts regarding the emotional layers to this book, and I absolutely agree.

And now I must shamelessly scour the internet for any reports of an upcoming film adaptation…

Books I’m reading:

The Forrest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.  This series has been sitting on my TBR shelf for about a year now, but I’m really enjoying it.  It has a definite M. Nnight Shyamalan’s The Village feel to it.  My mind has already robed all of the characters in mustard yellow and bright red.

 Books to read:

I should be binge reading this week, but I have wracked up a “honey-do-list” for myself this week.  I will most likely continue with Ryan’s series and move through The Dead Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 2/25/13

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Thanks for joining me for another #IMWAYR! 

With my 2 year old’s birthday party, a parent night for the big grant project, and major iPad woes at work all added up to reduced reading time 😦

But!  I did finish one book that I promised to last week, continued on my audiobook adventures on bomb-making, and even found some courage to start a truly frightening book.  Here’s my reading report:

Books I Finished:

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver.  I gotta say I saw it coming!  (Okay, so maybe I had a hunch, accidentally dropped my book, which happened to land on the last page of the book and my eye naturally caught one word…which is all that it took!)  Can’t wait to see how Lena continues to evolve and how the series concludes.  I’ve read parts of some reviews from ARCS, carefully avoiding spoilers.  But, I know that Oliver really comes into her own in the final installment, Requiem.

Books I’m Reading:

Today, I sat outside while my toddler played with bubbles, trucks, and sidewalk chalk and devoured the first 100 pages of Anna Dressed in Blood.  Now, I’m the girl who has to plug her ears and closer her eyes when a teaser for a horror film that is rated pg-13 comes on during Once Upon a Time.  The cover of Anna alone is enough to give me nightmares.  During bathtime I managed another 15 pages, but it was getting to dark for my scaredy-cat heart to pick it up again later.  I might be such a wuss that I even stowed it in my bag in my car so I don’t accidentally glimpse the floating white-dressed girl with inky-black hair.  Other than being scared of a book in broad daylight, I’m really enjoying Cas and his quest.

Books to Read:

Amy over at published a retro review over at Nerdy Book Club introducing me to Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray.  My nerdy heart goes bonkers over literary adaptations, and I’m really looking forward to this modern re-telling. 

Now, I’m expecting a HUGE order from my jobber anyday now, which will bring with it many of the 2013 YMA winners and honor books.  Where on earth am I going to begin???  Spring break is two weeks away; I think my TBR pile is about too take on a life of its own in preparation.

What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 2/18/13

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It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!

Be sure to stop by Teach Mentor Texts for a list of participating bloggers and even more great reading ideas from Jen and Kellee.

Read more:

Books I finished:
Shatter Me by Tahera Mafi–Yes!  Wow, what a ride.  This girl knows how to spin a story and paint such a dark, twisted world with beautiful language.

I spent my life folded between the pages of books.

In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.

Lovely, lovely, lovely!  I’m not sure if I can wait for my jobber to send me the sequel, Unravel Me.  It might be a Nook purchase this week.
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver–I haven’t quite finished it, but tonight when I get home it’s me and Lena and we’rre gonna do this thing!  I can’t remember when I have enjoyed a sophomore sequel as much as I have this one.  Delirium was nice.  It was slow but sweet.  Oliver’s second installment is a character power-house complete a non-traditional plot twist:  “then” and “now.”  I love seeing Lena develop, fight, and claim her own path.

Books I’m reading:

BombThe Race to Build–And Steal–The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin–I never thought I would enjoy listening to a nonfiction book as much as I do this one.  Reading it in print would be just as pleasurable.  I’ve already passed the library copy onto our AP World History teacher, and I have two more teachers in line to read it.  I’m excited to hear their reactions.

In Darkness by Nick Lake.  I have to digest this one in small doses.  It is just like it sounds, dark. 

Books to read:

Decisions, decisions…

Hopefully, Unravel Me, will show up on my library door step.  And, poor Anna Dressed in Blood is still sitting on my bedside table.  This week is a busy week as the Boy is turning 2, and we have a wonderful Winnie the Pooh party planned for Saturday. 

Introducing Blog-of-the-Week

I read so many wonderful blogs each week from colleagues, librarians, and book-lovers that I want to start adding a blog-of-the-week for #IMWAYR.

How often do you hear from students and colleagues, “I don’t have time to read?”  Jennifer over at Empathic Teacher has a response to that!  Check out her blogpost reflecting on all the creative ways she finds time to include reading in her busy day

Happy reading!