It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/30/13

IMWAYRIt’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 Books:

Well, I told my students I expected to read about 8 books over winter break, and with one week to go, I am more than half-way there!

false princeHuzzah! The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen reminded me of all the the things I love about fantasy books. Sage is an orphan who has been plucked from the streets by a nobleman named Conner and forced to compete against other boys to find out who will best be able to impersonate the dead Prince Jaron and save the kingdom from falling into the hands of an ambitious regent. Of course, there is much, much more to the story–including numerous twists and turns and breath-taking moments when you fear the worst will happen to Sage. And Sage is such a delightful protagonist–quick-witted, sharp-tongued, mischief-filled, and definitely more than he seems. It’s a must-purchase for middle grade readers, if you haven’t gotten it–and its sequel The Runaway King–already.

ungiftedUngifted is classic Gordon Korman–funny realistic fiction with likable characters in somewhat unlikely circumstances. Donovan Curtis is accidentally sent to a special academy for the gifted, and, rather than tell anyone it is a mistake, he hides out there to avoid being discovered and punished for a prank that accidentally lead to tremendous damage to his middle school’s gym. Donovan and his socially awkward classmates bond together over the upcoming robotics competition, dramatic events occur, and it all works out OK in the end. Multiple narrators with unique voices make this one of my favorites by Korman.


So after reading Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker, I am noticing an unplanned trend in my reading. This is the third book in two weeks which has featured a mother who has been unable to care for her child due to mental health issues. In this book, Stella is placed with her Great Aunt Louise when she is taken away from her mother for abandonment. Stella and another foster child, Angel, will spend the summer on Cape Cod, where Louise manages rental cottages for tourists. Almost immediately, Louise passes away, and the girls bury her in the back garden and tell no one because they are afraid of where the foster care system might place them next. They do an excellent job of running  and cleaning the rental units, a mediocre job of feeding themselves, and a surprising job of constantly ducking the questions and visits of George, the property owner. I have to admit that this book made me wonder about whether it fits the designation of realistic fiction. The hiding of Aunt Louise’s death for so long from so many people stretches my suspension of disbelief about to its limit. But how else would one categorize the book? That said, I found much beauty in the relationship between Angel and Stella, and in Pennypacker’s language, so I enjoyed reading the book, even as it confused and bothered me a bit.

make good artI adored Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” Speech as I do pretty much anything he writes.  And so I featured it in my last Saturday Book Share of 2013.

If you are a fan of Gaiman’s and have not yet checked out his blog or followed @neilhimself on Twitter, you really, really should. In real life and in the writing of short things, he is insightful and witty and all the good things he is in his books.

fourth stallI loved reading a second funny book this week! (actually third, if you count The False PrinceThe Fourth Stall chronicles the exploits of sixth-grader Mac, who runs a business “helping kids, ” out of an abandoned bathroom in his school. Mac, his best friend, Vince, and a few henchmen solve kids’ problems, sometimes breaking or bending school rules in the process, in exchange for money or favors. When big-time bookie Staples moves in on the school, leaving kids with less cash and more problems, Mac faces off with him in a battle for power, control, and his Cubs-World-Series-tickets fund. This is another pretty far-fetched book–but intentionally so–and it also gets into the nitty-gritty of Mac and Vince’s lifelong friendship. Again, a great middle grade read.

Currently Reading and On Deck:

tbrI just started Liar, Liar by Gary Paulsen since I need even more laughs, and I will probably finish it later tonight.

To complete the winter break pile, I will read See You at Harry’s  by Jo Knowles and Shadow on the Mountain  by Margi Preus. Also, I have a graphic novel galley to review for Library Media Connection this week. I stashed the review box in the basement for Christmas, so I will let you know at least its title after my review is done. Finally, I have chosen A BOOK FOR ADULTS as my First Book of 2014–one that I have been itching to read for a while and which will usher in a new year of reading. Look for my post on January 1st 🙂


12 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/30/13

  1. Hi Michelle, The False Prince is a huge fave! I also enjoyed Ungifted. You have reminded me that I should really book talk that one soon. The Summer of the Gypsy Moths is one my TBR list. I have not read The Fourth Stall, but your review makes it sound really interesting. Happy New Year!

  2. The Gordon Korman sounds like a must-read for me! I was obsessed with a few of his books in the 80s–Don’t Care High, Son of Interflux, Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag. He’s so prolific and I haven’t come close to reading all of his books, but Ungifted sounds really fun. I love Sara Pennypacker sooo much, but I ended up abandoning Gypsy Moths because I could not get past the extreme unlikelihood of hiding a body for that long. That one plot point drove me crazy. A BOOK FOR ADULTS as your first read of 2014! I have decided I’d like to read more adult fiction and nonfiction in 2014–my reading life has gotten a bit imbalanced. Can’t wait to see what you chose! I feel like I should say this in small font, but the only book by Neil Gaiman I’ve read is Graveyard Book. I have to remedy that in 2014! Really enjoyed reading your thoughts on these books–thanks!

    1. I almost forgot about A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag! That was one of my first YA reads in grad school.

      And I am SO GLAD I am not the only one who thought that about Gypsy Moths–I wondered if anyone would shout at me because they loved it and I did not.

      Small font–that’s funny–I know Gaiman is not for everyone, but it is hard not to gush about him. I hope you will like his other work 🙂

  3. My 12 year old girl also loves books that make her laugh, so I’d check out a few of your recommendations here. We are huge fans of Neil Gaiman over at GatheringBooks and I know that Fats follows him closely as well on Twitter. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was one of my best reads this year. 🙂 I also borrowed The False Prince in our library, and I really am enjoying it. I like getting lost in a world that the author has created. 🙂

    1. Myra! I am thinking we are quite the kindred spirits in reading preferences lately 🙂

      Also, I have made up my mind to join GB’s “Check off” challenge to “get rid of” lots of my “plan to read” books on Shelfari–will do an official post and sign up soon.

      1. Wonderful! I am so excited to see everyone’s reading lists! I’m sure mine would be significantly much longer once I see everyone else’s. 🙂

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