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Surprise Me Challenge December ’16

In 2016, I am continuing to let random.org choose a book from my TBR list, to be read sometime during the month. I picked my random book a few days ago and lost the post-it with the exact random number and number of books that were on my TBR list at the time (it is since larger, of course). But I do, in fact, remember that I am supposed to be reading the following book. I also remember that a fellow middle school teacher who liked Ready Player One and is into gaming recommended it to me and my 14 year-old son.

Here is the Goodreads description for Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer:

Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard.

What could possibly go wrong?

An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin… and not, y’know, die or anything.

2016 Challenges: November Progress

  • Goodreads goal of 130 books: 7 this month, 128 total
  • 2016 Horror Reading Challenge  goal of 16+ books: One this month, 20 total – CHALLENGE COMPLETED!
  • Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge (24 specific categories of books): None this month– 13 total – ABANDONED
  • Panels’ 2016 Read Harder Challenge (26 specific categories of books): None this month-seven total – ABANDONED
  • Surprise Me goal of one book per month: One this month, nine total (I still can’t find the Shakespeare/Big Lebowski book…and I am still listening to Dead Man’s Song )
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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/5/16

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Book:

 Neal Shusterman’s latest dive into science fiction is amazingly fresh and thought-provoking, which I expected, and a magnificently crafted work, which I also expected.

Shusterman examines a world in which technology has reached its pinnacle, to the point of government being all but obsolete and medicine conquering pain, illness, and even death itself. People may now choose to “turn the corner,” reset their lives, and be as young as 20 again–and they can presumably do it forever.

Because colonizing the moon and other planets has failed, the earth would be subject to overpopulation if not for the Scythedom. It’s guild of sorts that functions completely outside of the Thunderhead, the technological “cloud” that takes care of everything else. Scythes are charged with the task of “gleaning” a set number of people every year, answering only to the rest of the Scythedom. Different scythes adopt different methods of gleaning and choosing whom to glean. Main characters Citra and Rowan are selected as reluctant apprentices to Scythe Faraday. As they learn the commandments of the Scythedom and the art and skill of gleaning, they soon find themselves caught in the middle of a controversy over the old and news ways of being a Scythe and also in danger of losing their lives or their humanity.

Once again Shusterman has created a novel that will keep the reader thinking long after the last page has been turned. I was definitely struck by the idea that no matter how many other challenges, circumstances, and differences this future world took out of the equation, there were still individuals driven to do selfish, evil acts. And in turn, there are always individuals who will stand up to them. It is going to be a long wait for the next book in the series, but I will definitely be coming back to think on this one again and again.
Currently Reading:

On Deck:

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It’s Monday-ish! What Are You Reading? 11/29/16

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

So I could say that I was so busy Sunday and last night that I didn’t get a chance to write my post but the truth is that I just put the electric blanket on the loveseat and the cats and I zoned out and barely moved from that warm place. Still, I did some reading while I was seated there😉

Last Week’s Books:

High School & up: The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch: Empire Decayed  by Daniel Kraus is a genre-buster of an epic tale that looks at life in the 21st century, told through the eyes of undead, forever-17 Zebulon Finch. In this final volume, readers experience the Vietnam War, Woodstock, a disturbing commune, and more in ways that will not soon be forgotten. Kraus is a magnificent storyteller who never ceases to disturb, but who also never ceases to provoke much thought. Older teens who are willing to put in the effort will find this a fascinating book. This book counts for my Horror Reading Challenge 2016–although it is a genre-buster, there are definitely horror elements.

Adult: Defending Jacob by William Landay is the story of a District Attorney  who finds his son accused of murder, and the ensuing defense of the troubled young man. It was an interesting read, but not as good as I expected it to be. This book counts for my Surprise Me! Challenge 2016.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/21/16

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Weeks Books:

Since I am reading such an epic fiction novel just for me (see below), I decided to supplement with a little bit of nonfiction this week.

fireflyReading What If My Cat?  by Claire Arrowsmith is a direct result of Firefly, the new kitten at our house. It has been about 10 years since we last had a kitten, and I feel I have become a little rusty at the let-us-introduce-her-to-the-old-cat-and-hope-there-is-no-bloodshed thing. So far, so good, and the book did give some good tips for introducing new cats to other pets and children. It also gives good basic information to first-time cat owners. I will definitely recommend it to students who are welcoming a new kitty into their lives.


First Flight Around the World by Tim Grove was written in conjunction with the Smithsonian and supplies readers with lots of information and photographs from its archives. It tells the story of the 1924 race to be the first to circumnavigate the earth in an airplane. America sent out four planes, and two of them were successful in completing the mission and ensuring that the United States was the winner. Grove made heavy use of the journal of First Lieutenant Leslie Arnold, the mechanic on the Chicago, one of the planes that made it, and the details of flight preparation, navigation, and the stops along the way are riveting. Readers will learn much about the world in the 1920s as well. What’s more, it is a beautifully designed book which will keep readers engaged and will compel them to examine the many photographs. Back matter is excellent, including all those elements that make an informational text stand out. It is no wonder that this book was a finalist for the YALSA-ALA Excellence in YA Nonfiction Award.

(Still) Currently Reading/Listening To:

(Still) On Deck:

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/14/16

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Book:

 When Fast Break by Mike Lupica opens, 12 year-old Jayson is contemplating stealing a pair of new basketball shoes. It’s not his first theft–since his mother died a month or so ago and her latest boyfriend took off soon after, Jayson has been avoiding the authorities, stealing so he can eat, and pretending everything is OK at school and on the court. After the store manager catches Jayson in the act, he is put into the foster system and must not only live with a new family but also play on a new team. Jayson’s struggle to adapt to his new life and fear of his friends and teammates finding about his old one are well portrayed, and Lupica includes a satisfying amount of basketball action for fans of the sport. This is definitely a solid middle school read.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck: