Tag Archives: mystery

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/19/16

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:
 Fans of Escape from Mr. Lemocello’s Library, Edgar Allen Poe, and the Book Crossing movement will love this book, and it will have lots of appeal to avid readers in general.

When Emily has to move *again*, this time to San Francisco, she is happy to at least be in the same city as Garrison Griswold, creator of the Book Scavenger game she loves so well. Unfortunately, Griswold is on the eve of launching an exciting new challenge when he is brutally attacked in a subway station. Fortunately, Emily and her new friend and fellow puzzle-lover James find Griswold’s copy of The Gold-Bug, which was missed when police investigated the crime. The two embark on a quest to play what they believe was the new game and put themselves in peril as the bad guys are now after them. Filled with coded messages to break and the ups-and-downs of middle school family and friendship issues, this book is sure to engage middle schoolers. Bonus: I recently found out that, coincidentally, our local Betabrain team is designing this year’s challenge around this book.

Currently Listening To:

On Deck:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/5/16

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:

Oblivion by Sasha Dawn is an Illinois Reads 2016 selection for grades 9-12. It is the story of Callie, a teenage girl in foster care after she was found the previous year in an abandoned apartment scrawling “I killed him” all over the walls on the same night her father, a reverend, and a young girl disappeared. Although she has been seeing a therapist, Callie’s graphomania has continued to be a problem, and she must carry a notebook and red felt-tipped pens with her everywhere she goes. As she tries to navigate high school and relationships with her same-age foster sister, boyfriend, and classmate/new love interest, John, Callie is also trying to use her writing and regain her memories to solve the mystery of what happened that fateful night and what role, if any, she played in the disappearances. I found the mystery intriguing and enjoyed the twist at the end, but I think the story  got a little bogged down by the love quadrangle. However, I can see many high school students enjoying this suspenseful thriller.

Currently Reading/Listening To: 

On Deck:

 

2017 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: Masterminds by Gordon Korman

mastermindsMasterminds by Gordon is a fun sci-fi/mystery that I started promoting to my sixth graders as soon as I had finished it. Many 7th and 8th graders have enjoyed it as well, but it especially speaks to those firmly planted in middle grade books.

Eli lives in the idyllic town of Serenity, NM with 184 other people. Well, 183, now that his best friend Randy has been sent away to live with his grandparents (official story). In reality, Randy is really at a boarding school (a secret he shares with Eli in a mysterious note). After this revelation, Eli becomes suspicious of the workings of the Serenity, which he had never left in his entire life until a bike ride out of the city limits left him not only physically ill but resulted in his being hauled back by security guards. For example, he begins to suspect that the town’s WiFi is providing kids with altered information from Google, Wikipedia, and the like, and he wonders if the town’s security guards are there just to keep people safe or if they have a more sinister purpose. So Eli enlists his friends, Malik, Hector, and Tori work together to discover Serenity’s secret–and it’s a whopper!

Spoiler Alert: The children are the subjects of Project Osiris–a scientific experiment in which they were cloned from serial killers and brought up in a peaceful, carefree world so all the adults in town could determine whether environment could overcome heredity. This is quite an action-packed thriller for the middle grade set. The ending is a cliffhanger times 10; however, the second book Criminal Destiny has already been published so readers can cruise right into that one.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/6/15

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.

I am participating in Donalyn Miller’s #bookaday this summer, the idea being to, well, read a book every day (on average). I am doing well so far, although I didn’t quite read a whole book every day this past week. My front porch is my new favorite place to hang out with a great book, though, as the weather has been beautiful 🙂

On thing I love about summer is that my reading is all over the map, as you will see below….

Last Week’s Books:

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart is a beautiful and important story, told in two voices. Lily is a transgender girl who is struggling with the courage to be herself and especially to seek acceptance from her father. Dunkin has a bipolar disorder and has recently discovered that skipping his meds helps him be a better basketball player, something that he hopes will gain him acceptance at his new school. I love how their friendship develops not only tentatively but also uneasily, and with lots of ups and downs. This is definitely a book to add to my middle school collection. This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge 2016 (category 12–a book by or about someone who identifies as transgender).


Fables: The Mean Season (Vol. 5) is another great entry in the series, which includes Snow White giving birth to some definitely unique offspring.


Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani is an exciting adventure/mystery about a Japanese-American teenager who follows clues to figure out that her long deceased father was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mob. In doing so, she puts her own life and the lives of her family and friends in danger. I love the relationships Claire has with her own brothers and the long-time friends that are as close as brothers. And Maetani masterfully writes such a sweet story of a best friendship blossoming into something more. In addition to being an up-and-coming young author, Maetani is a Team Member over at We Need Diverse Books.


Horrostor by Grady Hendrix is a fun twist on a haunted house story. Amy is a twenty-something slacker working at ORSK, an American rip-off of IKEA, and strange things have been happening there lately. When manager Basil calls her in, Amy is sure she will be fired, but instead he asks her to work overtime to help him and dedicated cashier Ruth figure out if there is someone hiding in the store and vandalizing the place after hours. Two other employees who want to be paranormal investigators show up as well. It turns out that ORSK was built on top of an old prison where terrifying experiments and punishments were inflicted on its residents. And you can guess that those restless spirits are very unhappy and will take it out on our five ORSK team members. The idea is a clever one, and the book is designed to resemble an IKEA catalog, including product ads and store information. It just could have been a bit more terrifying for my taste…or a bit more campy like Sean of the Dead. That it was somewhere in between made it a good read, but not a great one. This book counts for my Horror Challenge 2016.


Sorry Please Thank You: Stories by Charles Yu is my random read for June, and I got it done so early! This collection of short stories with a science fiction bent really kept me thinking. Some were a little far out there for me and might benefit from a second reading. My favorites were “Yeoman,” “Standard Loneliness Package,” and “Hero Absorbs Major Damage,” as they were written in a more straightforward traditional story style. Yu has been likened to both Douglass Adams and Kurt Vonnegut, as his stories are both humorous and thought-provoking. I would like to try his novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

I am reading 2-3 essays from Neil Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats to make it last 🙂

On Deck: 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/9/16

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 was not expecting to love Something Real by Heather Demetrios as much as I did. In fact, when it came up as my April Surprise Me! book, I barely remembered adding it. Thank goodness for kismet, fate, etc. because this is one of the nest realistic fiction books I have read this year. It chronicles the life of high school senior Chloe Baker who is FINALLY living like a normal teenager since her family’s reality show Baker’s Dozen was canceled four years ago. Chloe, who was then called Bonnie, and her twelve siblings and parents lied liek on-screen until the parents’ divorce and Bonnie’s “incident” resulted in the show’s cancellation. Imagine Chloe’s horror, when she arrives home from school early one day to see camera crews and producers swarming everywhere, as her mom has decided to restart the show with her new husband. All the normalcy Chloe has relished is about to come to an end, which could spell disaster for her friendships and budding romance with Patrick. Oh, how I loved the richness of Chloe’s character and her response to her struggles. Her relationship with her brother Benny, also a senior, was complex and interesting and important to her sanity. I loved to hate not only the producer, Chuck, but also Chloe’s mom (most of the time). I think that teens will find this look behind the scenes of a reality TV show an eye-opening one, and it might change the minds of those who have been dreaming of that kind of fame. This counts for my Surprise Me! Challenge 2016.



Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty is a wonderfully fresh and creepy middle grade novel with great characters and atmosphere. Serafins has always been different from other children, and not only because she secretly lives in the basement of the Biltmore with her pa. I listened to the audiobook and at the very beginning I kept getting the sense that all of Beatty’s descriptions of Serafina reminded me of a cat–and that makes perfect sense later in the book. Two important things happen at the beginning of this book to change Serafina’s life forever: she makes her first friend, Braeden, nephew of the Vanderbilts; and she sees a man in a black cloak envelope a young girl and make her disappear. Soon, other children go missing as well, and Serafina is determined to figure out the identity of the man and put an end to his attacks. Serafina gets herself into some pretty harrowing confrontations, and the man and the cloak itself are quite evil forces to be reckoned with. And while I guessed much of the ending, it was still fascinating to see how it all played out.This will be an exciting read for my junior high students. This book counts for my Horror Challenge 2016.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

Ghost Road Blues audio became available from library again. Hoping I can finish it before my loan period runs out again.

On Deck: