what are you reading monday

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? 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 www.threeteacherstalk.com 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: http://www.teachmentortexts.com/#ixzz2KcK6RDGH

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!

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 2/11/13

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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: http://www.teachmentortexts.com/#ixzz2KcK6RDGH

Books I read:

Amazon speedily delivered the following award-winners for 2012 to my home for my son and I to enjoy together:

Austin’s lovely, reaching live oaks provided a peaceful and tranquil canopy as I enjoyed the new memoir, Just Keep Breathing by Joan Scott Curtis.  I’m glad I bought two extra copies, because this is a  pass-it-on read.  

Books I’m reading:

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (audiobook from Audible.com)…there are moments listening to this book when I am in awe at the author’s style and use of language.  I don’t know if this will be an audiobook purchase for the library, however.  The text employs strikeouts to convey narrator’s thought process, which is relayed through an annoying pen scratch sound in the audiobook.  And, the narrator sounds too young and girl-y for my interpretation of Juliet.  The story is fascinating;  think Rogue from X-Men meets Juliet Capulet. 

Bomb: The Race to Build–And Steal–The world’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (audiobook from Audible.com).  I’m really enjoying the vocal talents of this narrator as he captures the international personas of scientists who sought to steal from one another to be the first to create the atom bomb.  There are numerous threads that run through this spy-espionage-historical-nonfiction thriller.  Some readers might prefer the print version so that they can re-visit passages.  The audiobook is working well for me especially with all of the European and Eastern European names that I would have no clue how to pronounce for myself. 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot…ahhhh, HeLa.  I’m still making my way through this fascinating read.  Nonfiction is most definitely my book gap for a reason.  My fluency slows down and my stamina while reading it.  Whereas I am perfectly content to read an entire novel in the course of a lazy afternoon, my mind just doesn’t want to commit to long reading bursts of nonfiction, no matter how interesting the subject or eloquent the writing. 

Books to read:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake still scares me.  I think I’m still recovering Libba Bray’s The Diviners, but I have promised a pair of my most loyal patrons that I will read it! (But only in daylight.)

In Darkness by Nick Lake (Printz Award winner next up in my Audible queue). I’m not exactly thrilled about this one.  I’ve been admiring the cover all year, but the synopsis just hasn’t compelled me.  I think I’ll spend a little quiet time with this one today at the circulation desk once lunchtime madness winds down. 

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver…is still sitting on my nightstand, winking at me.  This week I learned that the first installment Delirium has been optioned for a Fox television series with Emma Roberts!  

What are your reading plans for this week?

What are you reading (listening to) Monday? 2/4/2013

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You know how the saying goes, “the best laid plans…” and all of that. Last week I had a wonderful reading plan, and then something monumental happened; I discovered that the Season Pass for Downton Abbey allows you to download the remaining episodes for season 3.  Whoops.  Needless to say my TBR pile only grew this past week, especially following the YMA announcements. 
But here’s my report:
Books I Read:
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.  2013 NEWBERY AWARD winner that is as much a kid-pleaser as an award-commitee pleaser.  Since reading it Monday night, I’ve had several discussions with librarians and teachers about its content.  We feel that this is definitely a read-aloud or read-along book for upper-elementary to middle grade students due to the obvious issues relating to animal ruelty and abuse.  But, we made it through the heart-breaking pages to a beautiful conclusion that is both real and magical.
ummm…yah, that’s all I finished.
Books I’m Reading:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  I’m on my second week with this book, not because I don’t really enjoy it and find it fascinating, but because–once again–my obsession with period drama t.v.  I finally feel cool when talking to my science-y friends.  I’m like, “so, He-La. Those are some crazy cells, right?”  Henrietta Lacks reads like a novel that weaves together the narratives of multiple Lacks generations and a science-fiction thriller. 
yah.  that’s it.
Books to read:
Here’s where I get really excited!  A dear friend and colleague published her first book for adults this past week and I have a copy tucked away in my bag to read in the hotel while away at a conference this week.  Just Keep Breathing by Joan Curtis is a memoir chronicling Joan’s life following the death of her husband Dennis.  Knowing the background of this book and witnessing her journey writing the book over the past seven years that I’ve known her, I believe that it will be one of the greatest reading experiences of my life.  I don’t say that lightly.  Even though I never knew Dennis, anyone who knows Joan and hears her talk or reads her writing feels like they know Dennis;  her love for him is that powerful.
For the road-trip to Austin for my conference, here’s my Audible listening TBR stack (inspired by last week’s award announcement and one book that I’ve been promising my students I would read):
Happy reading!
Be sure to visit Teach Mentor Texts for a list of participating bloggers for #IMWAYR!  

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 1/28/13

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Wow, I’m so anxious right now I can hardly stand it!  I’m furiously hitting the refersh button on my browser, waiting for the ALA Youth Media Awards to start so I can grumble and hooray at the list of honor recipients and award winners.  So, to pass the time, I figured let’s go ahead and blog about our reading plans for the week (in third person I told myself this). 

Books I finished:

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel–Fun, sci-fi read sprinkled with philosphical inquiries into the interplay between faith and science. I enjoyed Oppel’s attempt at providing some backstory for Victor Frankenstein as to a possible explanation for his obsession with harnessing the power to create life (which I won’t give away here…but I’m not sure if Mary Shelley would entirely agree with this new age take on her protagonist when most critics seem to agree that the mad scientist is modeled after her inner psyche’s turmoil as a result of the multiple tragedies she faced as a young woman).  But, nonethless,  a satisfying read complete with a fiery heroine in Elizabeth, Victor’s adopted sister and eventual bride in the original tale.  3 1/2 out of 5 stars for imagination, creativity, and memorable secondary characters.

The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha–Here was a last minute addition to my stack for this week.  This book was all the rave at the TCTELA conference last weekend in Dallas.  Thanks to my Amazon Prime membership, it promptly arrived on Tuesday, just in time to be included in a lesson on expository writing with some students on Wednesday.  The book is an extension of teh blog 1000awesomethings.com.  The author writes short reflective entries about things that are awesome (pushing the button on the elevator and it opening right away, finding a few remaining fries at the bottom of your take-out bag, high-fiving babies, sticking your hand out the car window while driving down the freeway, making a rollercoaster motion….AWESOME!)  After reading this book, you can’t help but join in the meme of recounting the most trivial parts of your day as deep thoughts of awesomeness.  5 out of 5 stars for originality, breadth, and depth.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio–(Sigh)  (extra long sigh thinking about this lovely story NOT receiving mention in 36 minutes and 18 seconds during the ALA awards…keeping the faith that it will).  What can I possibly say about Wonder that hasn’t been said before?  Not much, so instead, I’ll let R.J. provide us with a glimpse into the heart of kindness with one of my favorite excerpts:

“If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you wil try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.”

I’m tearing up all over again just thinking about it! 

If you haven’t read it, put every other book on hold for this week and get it, NOW!

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh–I know it took me a few weeks, and the first half of the book didn’t necessarily leave me compelled to read the whole book in one sitting, but oh my gosh, I loved this book by the end.  You know how sometimes you have reading weeks when the books seem to be talking to one another?  This was one of those weeks.  Between Jepp and Auggie from Wonder and a few other characters I’m just getting to know, the underdogs really had a lot to teach me about life, love, and free-will.  Wow, just wow.

So, I had to get serious about my library class this week, which took a bite out of my reading plans, so my next two lists are somewhat repetitive from last weeks.

Books I’m reading this week:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot–I don’t want to put this book down.  I’m only a few chapters in and already I feel like I’ve known Henrietta my entire life.  She’s such a strong, soulful presence in this true account of HeLa cells and their impact on the medical community.  We’re toying with the idea of using this as a whole-school read, tying in activities from all the content areas. 

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner–I would have finished this short novel during naptime yesterday had the warm weather not inticed me to work on my winter garden and prune the rose bushes.  Again, there’s something about the underdog in this one.  More on it when I’m finished with it.

Books to read this week:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare BlakeAfter reading The Diviners by Libba Bray this fall I swore off scary books with ghosts for a while (too many night-time reading induced nightmares with jazz music and occult serial killers).  But, a library regular insisted that I read Anna because it is “just so good!”  She’s fantastic about taking any book I recommend to her, so I figured I’d bite the bullet and hide under my covers for her.

Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Pena–here’s my sports pick for this week as an attempt to meet my book gap challenge (and because I’m kind of enamoured by Matt after hearing him speak at TCTELA ❤ ).

Oh, my gosh…only ten minutes to go!

Happy Monday everyone, and happy ALA Youth Media Awards Day!  I’m sure next week’s Monday blog post will be full of all the books mentioned this morning that I haven’t read yet….

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 1/21/13

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Overall, if was a fairly productive and satisfying reading week.  I attended a conference over the weekend, however, that amplified my TBR list to include a healthy selection of nonfiction titles especially.  So here’s my report:

Books I Finished:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore.  Of course I adored Katsa’s chutzpah, her super-survival abilities, and her yummy un-boyfriend, Po.  Since I finished it, I’ve had the nagging desire to change my calico cat’s name to Po.  But seeing as how she’s not a boy, and Po probably would turn his nose up at that, I guess we’ll stick to Bebe afterall.
3.5 stars for an overall enjoyable story with some twists and depth of character, especially in the secondary character department (Bitterblue and even Leke), but nothing in her prose pushed me over the top.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  You all told me I would love it, and I  harbored some doubts half-way through the book, but then there was Amsterdam (sigh).  I think it was quite serendipitous, by the way, that I finished the book on its release date anniversary and the same date that John and Hank sold out Carnegie Hall with A Night of Awesome!

A hearty 5 out of 5 stars to one of my favorite “literary” YA books for its splendid treatment of a heart-wrenching subject, awesome characters, and awesome writing….awesome. 

Currently Reading:

Jepp Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh.  I really am digging this sweet little book.  I don’t feel compelled to rush my way through it, and even if I wanted to, I leave it in my special spot at the circulation desk to enjoy during 7th and 8th period after the lunch bunch has left for the day.  Like I predicted, Marsh broke my heart, but I’m seeing a new adventure on the horizon and excited to see what is in store next for our little dwarf.
(Anyone else notice a pattern from last week…stars, fate, destiny…last week’s stack inspired me to start working on a review of “stars” books…so stay tuned!)

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel.  This guy is a prime example of my tendency to withhold certain books as reward since a friend “loaned” it to me over a year ago, and I’m just now reading it.  The sequel, Such Wicked Intent came out this past August, so I figured it was time I got serious about this one.  A pre-quel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, what literature-loving-English-teacher-turned-librarian could pass this up!  Speaking of chutzpah, Oppel’s reimagined Elizabeth has loads;  I love her little asides about women’s lib, an homage to the original author’s activist mother I’m assuming. The quest narrative allows our imaginations to run wild as we see the seeds of obsession planted in young Victor’s mind….okay, I better finish this post so I can see what happens next!

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver.  Oliver’s first book in this series, Delirium, did take me some getting in to before I was invested.  I felt there was a surplus of exposition in the first installment–a criticism I usually reserve for the sophomore in a series.  Much like Ally Condie’s Matched and Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, this series takes us to a dystopian future where society has re-organized itself around the eradication of the root of all evil, only this time the culprit is Love.  Deliria Nervosa, as it the illness is known, is “cured” by an invasive procedure to the frontal lobe when a person turns sixteen.  After gut-wrenching revelation and a heart-breaking decision at the finale of Delirium, Lena’s complexity is said to really develop once she finds herself alone at the start of the second book.  I’m early in, but already I see potential for some serious evolution in character. 

To Read:

My sources tell me that ALA will release their coveted book award honorees and winners lists soon!  You know what that means–just like the pre-Oscar countdown, it’s time to read (or re-read) some of the hottest contenders:
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

And to keep in touch with my YA base,  how about Gae Polisner’s Pull of Gravity.

…And to work on my book gap challenge, let’s throw in some nonfiction with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks  by Rebecca Skloot. 

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 1/14/13

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In an effort to take my participation in the blogosphere up a notch, connect to a community of book bloggers, and do a better job documenting what I am reading, I have decided to participate in “What are you reading” Monday, a meme started by Sheila over at bookjourney.wordpress.com.  On Mondays, I’ll share the books I finished the previous week, have started reading, and plan to read in the coming week.
Be sure to jump on over to her blog to see a list of other meme participants.  It’s a fun, fast way to learn about possible TBR titles and get to know some of the other bloggers out there.
And so, here’s what I am reading this week:

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh

Fate: Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born? Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands? Jepp of Astraveld needs to know. He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them; but it breaks Jepp’s heart to see his friend Lia suffer. After Jepp and Lia attempt a daring escape from the palace, Jepp is imprisoned again, alone in a cage. Now, spirited across Europe in a kidnapper’s carriage, Jepp fears where his unfortunate stars may lead him. But he can’t even begin to imagine the brilliant and eccentric new master–a man devoted to uncovering the secrets of the stars–who awaits him. Or the girl who will help him mend his heart and unearth the long-buried secrets of his past. Masterfully written, grippingly paced, and inspired by real histori-cal characters, “Jepp, Who Defied the Stars “is the tale of an extraordinary hero and his inspiring quest to become the master of his own destiny. ” ~Goodreads.com

I picked up this lovely, little guy at NCTE this past year when I happened to stroll by the publisher’s booth and notice a line of people waiting for an author signing.  When I learned the book was free (shameless), I jumped on in, completely unaware of who I was waiting to see.  Oh, my gosh!  It was Katherine Marsh (The Night Tourist).  Lucky me!
My first impression was to oooh and ahhh over the cover art.  The minute silhouette of the protagonist, Jepp, a dwarf in the Spanish Infanta’s court is set against a city’s skyline underneath a milky-way night sky. The title dominates the cover in ornate silver lettering; the ink inside is indigo blue!  “Defy the stars!” Katherine inscribed on the title page addressed to the students at Fossil Ridge, and I thought to myself how empowering the call could be for so many of them.
Confession:  This little guy sat on my “to be processed” cart until after the Winter break when I finally finished barcoding and covering its dust jacket with our shiny, protective film.  And, instead of shelving it I ended up snatching it away to horde in my office to read at school.  So far, I am enjoying getting to know Jepp, and I have formed a fondness for him, especially once he leaves his mother to be a prized possession of a spoiled and corrupt court.  I have a feeling, however, that Katherine is about to break Jepp’s heart (and my own!).  

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn’t shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn’t seem human….
Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.
Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.

In a world where people born with an extreme skill – called a Grace – are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even shedespises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.
When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po’s friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace – or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away…a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. ~Goodreads.com

For shame, for shame, I have never read Graceling.  Now that it’s 2013 I knew it was time to get serious about catching up on some terrific 2012 books, which include Bitterblue, so at the urging of several of my library regulars, I stored Graceling in my TBR pile on my night stand.  I’d walk by, glance at my pile, notice it sitting at the bottom and sneak it up a few spots in the stack until finally, there it was, right on top!  

At first I had a sneaking suspicion that I had read it before.  Female assassin who is controlled by a corrupt entity to do another’s bidding questions her place in society and her entire identity.  Enter in exotic, yummy young man who tempts our fearsome heroine away from her understood station in life only to discover that she’s met her equal in intelligence, skill, and strength…sounded an awful like Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers to me, which coincidentally was written after Graceling.  I don’t care if the plots are similar;  I love them both!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now. 
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind. ~Goodreads.com

Another goodie that I have been withholding from myself as a reward for doing this and that.  Am I the only one who uses books as motivators to do the unpleasant stuff first?  I’m not moving through this one as quickly as I anticipated, but I think I had just come off a rocky, realistic fiction binge over the break, and my reading soul cried out for a little bit of magic and fantasy for a while.  

Stay tuned to see if I finish them by next Monday and what books are up next!
It’s Monday!  What are you reading?