Tag Archives: Fantasy

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/24/16

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 Books:

We have a new book club at one of my middle schools, and the students decided that everyone should read a dystopia for our upcoming November meeting. I had just purchased Everland by Wendy Spinale, and then saw it featured at our Scholastic Fair, so I figured it would be a good choice. The premise is that London has all but been destroyed by the German ruler’s son, Captain Hook, who bombed (among other things) a medical facility that housed a deadly virus. Now, nearly all adult and female children are dead, and the Lost Boys are eeking out survival in the presumed-destroyed London Underground. Meanwhile, Gwen is a teenager trying to take care of her little sister, Joanna, and her brother Mikey. On a late-night scavenge she meets Pete and Bella, and the three soon become entwined in a mission to save kidnapped Joanna and to discover if Gwen is truly The Immune with the potential to save humankind. Great premise; however, the execution falls just a bit flat. Other characters from Peter Pan are woven in, sometimes not as successfully, and Hook waivers too widely between a sympathetic character and a monster. Still, students who enjoy Peter Pan and devour retellings will be pleased.


Adult: Amber Fang: The Hunted by Arthur Slade is a fun romp for readers, especially librarians. I mean, how are those of us who like horror supposed to resist the tag line: “Librarian. Assassin. Vampire.”? After spending all her time pursuing her master’s degree in Library Sciences and researching her next meal (she eats ethically–murderers with no remorse only), Amber is recruited by the mysterious League as their newest assassin. Dermot, her “handler,” promises that “meals” will meet her standards so that everyone wins. As Amber embarks on her new career, readers will enjoy the fast pace, Amber’s quick wit and inside jokes for librarians, and the potential for romance.  Although Amber is a vampire and there is some unsettling talk of bloody meals, this series is shaping up to be more of the fun, thriller type, and I will definitely enjoy reading further installments. Note: There is nothing in here to preclude interested teens in reading this book; it is just aimed at a different audience.  Though not truly horrifying, this book counts for my Horror Reading Challenge 2016 because “vampire bloodlust rage.”

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/8/16

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 Books:

So droves of other people and I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this week. I have not spent an abundance of time reading other people’s review/opinions of this play; however, from what I have read, it seems that readers either love it or hate it. I am planted firmly in the “love it” camp. I picked up the book and after a few minutes of acclimating to the play format, I found myself completely immersed in Harry’s world once again. I found the plot and the characters engaging, and there were just the right amount of dashes of peril and fun. An, most importantly, I know that when school starts I will have many junior high readers eager to talk to me about it or to get their hands on a library copy. This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge 2016 (category 23 – a play).


The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko is an informational picture book about a lesser known area in the struggle for civil rights. In 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter wanted to marry, but their home state of Virginia did not allow interracial marriage. So they crossed into Washington, D.C. for their ceremony and went back home to live. Not long after, police broke into their home and jailed them for “unlawfully cohabitating.” The couple were forced to leave Virginia, but in 1966 they missed their families and hometown and hired lawyers to fight against the unfair law. Their case went all the way to the Supreme Court and won! This book is a great way to introduce this civil rights achievement and the idea of marriage equality for all to readers at a variety of age levels. The text is simple enough for elementary students, but the topic will provoke discussion among middle and high school students who experience it as a mentor text or read it on their own . Alko and her husband, Sean Qualls, collaborated on the illustrations, which are a mixture of painting, collage, and colored pencil and are a great accompaniment to the narrative. The author’s note, list of sources, and suggestions for further reading will inspire interested students to continue to learn more.


I read Drones in Education to review it for School Library Connection. I cannot provide my full review here, but I will say that it is a comprehensive guide for educators interested in exploring the use of drones in the classroom, written with the newbie in mind.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/1/16

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 Books:

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley was a poignant story about 16 year-old Maggie Lynch, whose flighty mother quickly marries and moves the family from Chicago to Ireland. There Maggie must adapt to a new way of life, first love, and the death of her beloved uncle. Set in 1993, with many references to the grunge scene, this book makes me ponder when we start calling books historical rather than contemporary fiction. Thoughts?  Note: this is a 2016 Illinois Reads book for grades 9-12.


The Good Braider by Terry Farish starts in the late 90s and is the story of Viola, a young woman from warn-torn Sudan. This haunting novel in verse first recounts the family’s struggles to live and then the devastating rape that Viola suffers at the hands of a local soldier. Her “bride price” ruined, Viola sees little hope for the future, even after she and her mother and brother bravely flee to Cairo, where the wait for being accepted as refugees in the U.S. seems endless. When their time finally comes, the adjustment to U.S. life is not easy, especially as Viola attempts to fit in with her American classmates while her mother tries to force her to follow traditional ways. Viola’s story will open many students eyes to how other teens must live in our world. This book counts for my Surprise Me! Challenge 2016.


Princeless, Vol. 3: The Pirate Princess is another fun entry by Jeremy Whitley. In it, Adrienne and Bedelia free Raven from the tower her jealous brothers locked her in as an attempt to take over for their father, the pirate king. Raven wants revenge, of course, and great adventures follow.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

Is anyone else reading Harry Potter? Or, rather, is anyone else NOT reading Harry Potter? 😉

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? 7/25/16

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 Books:

Survive the Night by Danielle Vega is a YA novel that reads like a horror movie. Recently out of rehab after a problem with painkillers, Casey ditches the volleyball team’s sleepover to hang out with the more adventurous (and dangerous) friends she made while sitting on the sidelines. Shana, the ringleader, convinces the group to find Survive the Night, a rave held in the abandoned old subway system of NYC. First Julie disappears, and then they find her dead and disemboweled. The group predictably becomes lost and stuck underground while something hunts them. A serviceable and gory read for the horror crowd. This book counts for my Horror Challenge 2016.


I finally got around to reading Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. I was kind of putting off since I am not really a circus person, but I was hooked as soon as I picked it up. Micah Tuttle’s determination to find the magical circus from his beloved grandfather’s stories and convince them for a miracle to prevent the old man’s death is definitely heartprint stuff. Micah has a wonderful friend in Jenny, even if she’s not the sort to believe in magic. And Aunt Gertrudis is a villain the middle graders will love to hate. Such a strong debut from an author I’ll be looking for in the future.


Princeless, Vol. 2: Get Over Yourself by Jeremy Whitley continues the story of Princess Adrienne and Bedelia as they strive to rescue all of Adrienne’s sisters from their respective tower/prisons. This time they go after the beautiful, older Angelica, who is not so much imprisoned as in charge of a league of worshipers. This volume was a little less fun and exciting than the first, but will still delight readers who have started the series.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/11/16

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 Books:

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives is the memoir of two friends: Caitlin, an American middle schooler, and Martin, a young Zimbabwean student, who met through a school pen pal program. At first their letters are quite casual, but the two become close through sharing their lives and hopes for the future. At first Caitlin imagines Martin’s life is very similar to her own, but when she learns of the terrible poverty he and his family are suffering, she becomes determined to help them, especially in funding Martin’s education. This book will be quite eye-opening for middle schoolers, who will learn not only about the living conditions of children in other parts of the world but also about how one person can really make a difference. They will enjoy seeing the actual letters and photographs that the two friends exchanged over many years and will cheer when the two finally meet in person. An engaging and inspiring memoir.


Blind by Rachel DeWoskin is an Illinois Reads 2016 selection for students in grades 6-8.  The book opens as high school sophomore Emma Silver is preparing to start up at her local school after a year of absence. As the story unfolds, readers learn about the accident which led to her blindness and her year-long period of recovery in the hospital, at home, and at a school for the blind. At the same time, Emma is adjusting to life back with her peers, she and the community at large are reeling from the recent suicide of a popular high school girl. Struggling to understand this tragic event helps Emma to also confront her feelings about her blindness and relationships with her best friend, Logan, and her large family. I think this is best for the upper end of the 6-8 range.


Princeless, Vol. 1: Save Yourself is an amazing and fun graphic novel by Jeremy Whitley, who wanted to write a comic about a fierce and confident young woman that he would be proud to hand to his 2-year-old daughter one day. Sixteen-year-old Princess Adrienne has been imprisoned in a tower guarded by a dragon (just like her other sisters) because that’s how her parents intend to find princes for them to marry. One day, Adrienne decides she has had enough, and she and Sparky, the dragon who has become her close companion, secretly break out and go on a quest to save her youngest sister, Apple. It is not long before Adrienne meets a female teenage blacksmith who joins her (and who makes amazing armor for her). There is a great exchange between the two about why females need real armor instead of the skimpy costumes most female heroes wear.

Last school year, I purchased the first three volumes of this series, and my middle school girls, particularly 6th graders, couldn’t get enough of reading and recommending them to friends. I definitely see why, and between this series and Lumberjanes, I hope that comic companies will further recognize the need for more works like this, which feature not only independent and inspiring young women, but also young women of color. Oh, and I just grabbed volumes two and three from school so I can keep up with Adrienne’s adventures–she rocks! 🙂

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