It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Shelia at Book Journeys. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s and YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR (to be read) pile. I plan to keep it to titles for young people, with an occasional book for grown ups thrown in if I find it relevant.
If you click the image above, then you can connect to other participating blogs and discover even more new books.
Last Week in Books:
Last week my daughter and I took Amtrak out to the East Coast to visit three colleges. It was a whirlwind of tours, art museums, and used record stores…and walking…lots and lots of walking.
As for the train part, it was long–a great inexpensive way to travel but long. I loaded up the iPad with ebooks, and I thought I would do a lot of reading. I have always been able to read in cars, airplanes, and the like–which is good since I cannot sleep in them (and I can’t sleep on a train either, I was not surprised to discover). And I did read, some, but found it a bit hard to concentrate due to all of the activity around. Knitting and listening to an audiobook worked much better– I was able to tune in and tune out simultaneously.
The book I did finish was Death of a King by Andrew H. Vanderwall, due to be published in September by Tundra Books. This time-travel/historical fiction novel is the companion to The Battle for Duncragglin (2009). The book is set in Scotland during the time of William Wallace. Alex, a teenager from our time, has traveled back in time (again) to try to save his parents from execution. It seems that they warned King Alexander of his impending death one night, and when he did indeed die they were imprisoned for being conspirators in his murder.
Alex is a resourceful young man who first travels with Don-Dun, posing as a deaf-and-dumb servant to disguise his modern manner of speech. Wherever he goes, Alex sets out to help others–first rescuing a young girl, Meg, from an unscrupulous innkeeper. He also tricks Lord Cressingham and Earl Warenne into crossing English troupes over Stirling Bridge, where the Scots are sure to have the advantage. Alex’s friends, Alan, Willie, Craig, and Annie also travel through time to find and help him. Throughout his adventures, Alex always keep his eyes on the prize: the rescue of his parents. When he finds he is too late to save them, he travels even further back to not only reach them in time, but to save a young William Wallace from certain death as well.
I have to say that it took me a while to get up to speed with the characters from our time. The author seems to be relying on readers having read his previous work, and I have not read The Battle for Duncragglin.
Death of a King is quite plot driven–main characters scheme and plan the next steps to meet their goals and supporting characters seem to come and go in order to advance the story from one scene to the next. The events of the time are recounted in an exciting and interesting manner, so as historical fiction it works quite well.
However, the time travel aspect bothers me a bit. Alex and his parents are in no uncertain terms meddling in the events of the past. At one point, Annie figures out where Alex is by reading about a boy with a strange manner of speaking in a book in the library of the University of Edinburgh. Alex knows the important events of the time, yet he is the one who manipulates some of them into happening. When Friar Baldwin, of the historical timeline, joins the children on their second trip back in time, there are then two of him–one eleven years older than the other, and they even meet each other and then each live on, both doing good works. Or maybe the one from the earlier timeline disappears at some point? That bit was unclear to me.
In all, the book was very engaging and fast-paced and would interest many of my students. I would definitely recommend they read The Battle for Duncragglin first though.
I have not yet finished listening to the audiobook of Rotters by Daniel Kraus, but it is just an excellent horror story so far. It turned out to be a perfect pick for the train. Not only does the protagonist Joey Crouch have to travel by Amtrak from Chicago (my departure place) to the middle-of-nowhere Iowa after his mother’s death, but Kirby Heybourne’s narration has an eerie quality that drew me into the story immediately and was perfect for late-night listening. And I don’t know which is more unsettling: the relentless bullying that Joey suffers at his new high school or the grave-robbing craft his father sets out to teach him….
This Week’s Planned Books:
From NetGalley: Goblins by Philip Reeve
To review from LMC: Atlantis Rising by T.A. Barron
Plus I plan to finish listening to Rotters, too.