Tag Archives: genre-buster

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:

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/11/16

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:

So almost every Goodreads review of The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Vol. 1: At the Edge of Empire by Daniel Kraus starts off by wondering how to begin to describe this book. I understand. Daniel Kraus’ epic tale is a difficult-to-adequately-describe genre-buster of a book. In May 1896, at 17 years old, Zebulon Finch is murdered, and 17 minutes later he finds himself “alive” again. Zebulon is not truly alive in that he cannot eat or breath or feel pain, but he is able to think, feel emotion, communicate, and move. Zebulon proceeds to describe his previous life as an unsavory extortionist for the crime syndicate the Black Hand who fell in love with a local prostitute, Wilma Sue, before his violent death. Zebulon also recounts his experiences moving through the world after his resurrection, including his time spent in a medicine show, as a subject of scientific study of a mad doctor obsessed with death, as a soldier in World War I, and as the paramour of a Hollywood starlet. Forever haunting him is the memory of Wilma Sue’s, especially after he finds he has a daughter, Merle, who will grow older than he will ever appear. Kraus’ storytelling and Zebulon’s voice are masterful. Kraus invites readers to think about life, death, morality, war, and what it means to be human. I expected the author of the macabre works Scowlers and Rotters to include some disturbing images and scenes, and they were deftly woven in, although I cannot quite call this a work of horror. I do know that I will be eager to read volume two when it is published. This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge 2016–a book of more than 500 pages.


I definitely needed something lighter as my next read, so I chose How to Survive Anything by Lonely Planet. It presents the reader with step-by-step instructions on how to get out of such jams as meeting ones in-laws, being bitten by a snake, a zombie attack, falling through ice, a parachute that won’t deploy, and getting locked out of one’s hotel room while naked. So it is not quite a book that I would add to my middle school collection, although it’s comic panel style and often amusing illustrations would interest young and old alike. And despite the book’s lightheartedness, its advice seems quite sound. This books was my Surprise Me Challenge book for March.


And then back to some heavier stuff. I was recently urged by two colleagues to read Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt, and I was lucky enough to find a pristine copy of this quite recently published book in the public library’s used book sale for $3. It is the story of Jack, a sixth grader, whose family takes in a eighth grader Joseph as a foster child. It is the story of Joseph, a boy who was abused and incarcerated, and who is the father of the daughter, Jupiter, that he has not been allowed to meet. The two boys attend the same middle school where Joseph is feared, misunderstood, and even hated by many. Joseph’s father is complicating his adjustment to his new home by attempting to get back in his life, for selfish reasons. This book is a beautifully written heartprint book. Schmidt is able to say so much in simple, sparing text. He tells the story in a way that middle graders will understand, even though the topics are tough ones. I am not a book crier for the most part, but this one sent me over the edge not once, but three times, as I read it in nearly one sitting.  It is a book that I will not soon forget.

Currently Reading/Listening To: 

My borrowing period for Ghost Road Blues was up, and I was only about 1/3 of the way done. Since two people had placed hods in front of me, it might be a while before I can get back to it, so I started listening to Serafina and the Black Cloak while I wait.

On Deck:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/7/16

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.

Just one finished last week. The Basic Eight has been a bit slow going due to a busy week, and I am definitely trying to read between its lines.

Last Week’s Books:

I listened to the audiobook of Moira Fowley-Doyle’s The Accident Season and found it to be an intriguing, engrossing genre-buster of a book. Cara’s family calls every October “the accident season” because that’s the time that bumps, bruises, cuts, trips to the emergency room, and sometimes much, much worse plagues their clan. Cara’s mom insists that her children wear multiple layers, turns off the gas line to the stove, and covers all sharp edges with blankets and foam padding. Cara has grown used to this yearly ritual so what’s really bothering her this year is that a strange loner girl at school keeps showing up in all the pictures on her phone. All of them. When Cara; her sister, Alice; her best friend, Bea; and her not-stepbrother-anymore, Sam, decide to host a killer Halloween party at an abandoned house, things get more and more weird and intense. Sounds like a horror book, right? Well, not exactly. There are elements of magical realism, realistic fiction, romance, and a turn that was completely unexpected by me–all wrapped together by beautiful language and storytelling. It’s the kind of book that made me eat lunch in my office so I could keep listening. I recommend it highly for high school libraries, and although it is a genre-buster, this book counts towards my Horror Reading Challenge 2016.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck (still):

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/4/16

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.

To celebrate 2016, I am finally switching over to the new IMWAYR graphic developed by Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers last year. Of course, they might change it again for this year, so we’ll see if I can keep up 😉

Last Week’s Books:

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai is about a 12-year-old girl named Mai/Mia who is accompanying her grandmother to Vietnam for the summer. Although she is proud of her heritage, she has zero interest in leaving the California beaches she has been looking forward to all school year. The two are travelling to get information about Mai’s grandfather, who died in the Vietnam War, but whose body was never found. Mai’s grandmother needs closure and has been in touch with a detective who might know something about Ong’s last days. Through meeting extended family and friends, Mai gains an appreciation and even love for the country of her heritage. Beautiful writing from Lai, as usual, accompanying a story that will stay in readers’ hearts.


The Unstable Earth series is one that I have reviewed for School Library Connection. I am not allowed to publish my review here, but I will say that this is not a series I would purchase for my middle school collection. And I will add that I am starting to become more and more disenchanted with series nonfiction because there is not the same attention to providing evidence of sources and citations as what I see in most non-series titles.


The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness is the book I honored by making it my first read of 2016. Imagine watching a remake of The Avengers movie, without the point of view of any of the superheroes, but told through the eyes of some teens who just happened to live in New York at the time. That’s what this book is like, although the heroes, setting, and circumstances are unique. The format is interesting, as each chapter is headed by a brief description of what’s going on with the heroes (called indie kids) and villains, and then the “action” shifts to the everyday life of Mikey, his sister, Mel, his best friend, Jared, and Henna, the good friend he has been pining after for years. What’s going on is not only prom, graduation, heading to different colleges, mom’s run for political office, and dad’s alcoholism, but also Mikey’s anxiety that manifests itself in compulsive behaviors and the time that’s running out for him to declare his love for Henna. And did I mention that all sorts of new weird shit is happening in the small New England town that, throughout its history, has already survived a zombie invasion, soul-eating ghosts, and a plague of vampires? The brilliance of Ness is that he makes readers feel that Mikey’s real world problems are much more important than all of the strange and possibly world-ending events–because they are, to Mikey. I love Ness’ writing because it is genre-busting and filled with opportunities to ponder universal truths. This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge 2016–a book with a main character that has a mental illness


Joshua Dread by Lee Bacon is a fun story about Josh Dread, son of notorious supervillains Dr. Dread and The Botanist. His identity is a secret, of course, and things start to get wild when he begins sixth grade; his Gyft starts to manifest;  Sophie “Smith,” the daughter of his parents’ arch enemy Captain Justice, moves in; his parents are kidnapped; and giant smoke monsters (and more) begin to terrorize his town. Can Josh, Sophie, and best-friend-with-no-superpowers Milton save the day? Read this first book in a series to find out! This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge 2016–a middle grade novel

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:

redmadness

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/7/15

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 Different Girl by Gordon Dahliquist a novel set on an island, presumably sometime in the future. The story is told by Veronika, who lives on an island with three other girls almost exactly like her and Irene and Robbert, their caregivers. Not long after the story starts, the reader will figure out that Veronika and the others are not girls at all, but androids. They are being raised in isolation and taught to explore, question, and reason. When a “diffrent” kind of girl, May, washes up on the island during the storm, she is not only physically injured, but also shocked to see Veronika and the girls. Dahlquist uses the very slow reveal throughout this novel, so that readers infer that there has been a backlash against technology and that Irene and Robbert are hiding their work and the girls. I enjoyed all the speculating and being given very few answers, but after reading some Goodreads reviews, it seems that many others have not. I know that there are many students in my schools who would definitely need a more literal type of science fiction; however, I am eager to try this book with a few others whom I think will really “get” it. This was my November Random Read.


The audiobook of Conversion by Katherine Howe made for some fascinating listening. The story takes place both in the current day, as Colleen’s Boston prep school classmates start suffering from a variety of strange afflictions and in the time of the Salem Witch Craft trials, as Anne Putnam describes the start of an epidemic of girls pretending to be afflicted and identifying others as witches. Because the parallel stories occur from the very beginning, the reader (listener) starts to wonder very early on what part witchcraft might play in Colleen’s story, but the story is laid out like a very subtle mystery. A mysterious texter who warns Colleen to read The Crucible adds to the puzzle. Ultimately, I felt a bit let down by the end of the book–as I think I expected a more gripping end to the story. Still Howe gives readers much to think about and definitely sweeps them up into the stories.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck: