Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/18/16

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 said that I would savor Neil Gaiman’s latest and savor it I did. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction is a whopping 500+ pages of articles, speeches, introductions to books, etc. Loosely divided into themed sections, these selections give readers a look into Gaiman’s views on comics, fantasy, music, film, the arts, and more. As an avid fan, I will always be fascinated by how Gaiman says what he says as well as what he is saying. As an avid reader, I found myself adding book upon book to my to-read list. Not only do I want to read many works he described, but I also want to go back and re-read the essays about them afterwards. This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge 2016 (category 3–a collection of essays).


In October, I will be moderating a panel at the Illinois Reading Council Annual Conference. The panel will be comprised of authors of Illinois Reads 2016 selections for grades 9-12. One of the authors/books is Tempest by Julie Cross. This first book in a series is about 19-year-old Jackson Meyer, who has recently learned he has the ability to travel back in time. He and good friend Adam devise a series of experiments to test how and whether he can control this power. Then one day, Jackson and his girlfriend Holly are attacked by a group of official-looking men and women. As Holly is shot, probably fatally, Jackson panics and feels himself “jumping” away. He then finds himself stuck in 2007, his only aim being to try to get back to Holly and prevent her death. When I first saw the cover of this book, I suspected it would be more romance novel than science fiction, but I was very pleased that that was not the case. I found it interesting that Cross chose for Jackson not to be able to change the future when he jumped to the past and that those he encountered would not remember any interaction with him. Of course, this is true to only to a point, and it will be interesting to see in following books how he will be able to save Holly from certain death.  I could see my 8th graders, as well as high school students, finding a lot to like about this book.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/2/16

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:

goodomens

Oddly, I had never read Good Omens, and with all the hubbub about a TV adaptation coming soon, I felt it was about time. I immensely enjoyed this madcap fantasy about the Apocalypse, which is funny in clever and cheeky and very British ways. Best of all is the tone–Pratchett and Gaiman are fully aware that they are being clever and   cheeky throughout the whole thing, and they want the reader to be in on the joke. And yet, when you stop and think about what a message to take away from the book might be, it is really rather a beautiful one. Planning to steer my 13-year-old son to this one soon–no one who is a fan of clever and cheeky should wait as long as I did to read it.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck: 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/8/16

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:

The Monster Variations was Faniel Kraus’ first novel, and as a lover of his horror works, Rotters and Scowler, I knew I had to read it. It is a dark coming-of-age story of the summer three 12-year-old boys spend together, the one that changes everything. Adults have imposed a community curfew after two boys are (separately) struck by a pick-up truck in  a hit-and-run. James, Willie, and Reggie go to see a “monster,” break into their empty school, and follow a local bully in an attempt to make the summer interesting and a bit dangerous. And what happens that summer affects them forever. I have to admit the book wasn’t quite what I expected, but gave me a lot to think about. Althought the boys are 12, this novel will be better appreciated by high school students and adults. Daniel Kraus continues to be a favorite. I must soon attempt the epic-sized The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Vol. 1: At the Edge of Empire.


Fables, Vol. 2: Animal Farm  is another re-read for me, and I  love the introduction of the non-human fable-land and its inhabitants. Plus, with revolution brewing, it is aptly named.(mandatory reminder:  this series is for adults)


Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena just won the Newbery, surprising many, as it is a picture book. So when my husband and I made our weekly trip to Barnes and Noble, I took time to read it there. I thought the story was beautiful in its simplicity that was not really simplistic because it showed a boy making sense of his world and his place in it. The style and tone reminded me so much of A Snowy Day, and it is destined to be shared with tons of young readers, I am sure. Having read the three honor books, Echo , Roller Girl, and The War that Saved My Life, and knowing that the award is about literary excellenceI find myself fascinated by the idea that the committee compared all of these works, as they are all so very different.


Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier is my random read back from December 2015, so I am glad to have met that goal. I enjoyed this quest/coming-of-age fantasy about Neryn, a young woman who can communicate with the Good Folk (fairies) in a land where people with canny abilities are hunted and persecuted. Right before her father’s death, she is won in a bet by Flint, a young but experienced man whom she thinks means to harm her in one way or another. The two commence a long (very long, lots of walking long, think The Hobbit) journey during which they start to trust and rely on each other, but that trust is questioned and broken again and gain. Ultimately, they are both on the same side, aiming to help the rebels wrestle power away from King Keldec and restore Alban to its former ways of tolerance. It’s a satisfying start to a series, that is slightly marred by feeling a bit too long. I think it would be a good series to purchase for my junior high fantasy lovers.


Odd and The Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman is a re-read for me, and I plan to share it with students during our fantasy / fairy tale Books and Bites tomorrow. It is the story of Odd, who leaves his Viking home and meets Odin, Tor, and Loki, who are stuck in Midgard (our realm) after having been turned into an eagle, bear, and fox, respectively. Gaiman wraps the reader up in a wonderful storytelling experience that is just the right length and hits just the right notes, but what struck me most this time is how seeing the Thor and Avenger movies have colored my perceptions of the Norse gods. Surely, I and many others are more familiar with the mythology, but I also can’t get the image of Tom Hiddleston taking the form of a fox out of my mind. 😉


The graphic novel, Dragons Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado is tons of fun! I didn’t realize that I was supposed to read Giants Beware!  first, but it wound up not mattering much. Claudette is a spunky girl who is always ready and eager to take on a challenge. When gargoyles begin attacking her village and the evil wizard Grombach is on the way, she disobeys her father and follows him on a quest to retrieve his sword from the belly of the dragon, Azra. Accompanying her are her little brother, her friend the princess, and her little dog Valiant. There are many fun jokes along the way, and it is tons of fun to cheer on the amazing adventurers. This book represents all that is great about comics for kids and is a must purchase for elementary and middle school libraries! This book counts for my Panels Challenge 2016: a comic written by an author of color.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

Note: The Bitter Side of Sweet is an ARC provided by the author, Tara Sullivan. It is due to be published on 2/23/16.

On Deck:

gospel of loki

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/23/15

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.

Reading Slump = OVER! In fact, it seems as if by naming my slump I made it crawl away and disappear. Funny how that works out sometimes.

Last Week’s Books:

I finished the audiobook of Max Brooks’ World War Z this week. I knew about its format, and I knew that it would be quite different from the movie because I saw Max Brooks speak a couple of years ago. I highly recommend listening to this book. It is a full-cast production performed by some big-name actors, and the individual voices really help to “sell” that it is a chronicle of many different peoples’ experiences before, during, and after the zombie apocalypse. In fact, I can see listening to it again in the future. Note: This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge (audiobook)


I picked up The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage by Eric Greitens at my friend’s Scholastic Book Fair preview. I was asked to read it by some ELA teachers in order to recommend it (or not) for use in literature circles. For more information, you can read my post about it.


I listened to another excellent audiobook on my way back and forth from jury duty. Angela Johnson’s The First Part Last won both the Printz and the Coretta Scott King Author Award in 2004. Told in a then-and-now format, teenager Bobby recounts the story of his girlfriend Nia’s pregnancy and the experience of becoming a teenage father. This story is raw and honest and at the same time sympathetic and poetic. The narrator Khalipa Oldjohn does a stellar job in helping to make Bobby’s character come to life. Note: This book counts for my Award-Winning Book Challenge.


Neil Gaiman’s newest work Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances was released earlier this month. Most of the works inside have been previously published, but quite a few were new to me. Although I love his longer works I definitely enjoy his shorter ones, too, as he is able to go in so many different directions and whisk the reader away with him. Among my favorites were  the Doctor Who story, “Nothing O’Clock,” which I could definitely see as an episode; “Black Dog,” which was written especially for this collection; and “Feminine Endings,” which has a number of connections to his wife Amanda Palmer. Note: This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge (book of short stories)


I also read Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle because it was included in the anthology, but I had the illustrated book which I had not yet read so I decided to go that route. The tale is a mash-up of the Snow White and Sleeping Beauty fairy tales, and Chris Riddell’s exquisite illustrations make it a beautiful and memorable book.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

I guess I’ve been in the mood for a few adult reads lately, but I’m going to get back in the swing of MG/YA soon because I just bought . . .

On Deck:

When I bought Gracefully Grayson at Barnes and Noble I ran into one of my students who was thrilled I was buying it. He wants “first dibs” when it is added to the library 🙂

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/3/14

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:

hanselandgretelMy All Hallow’s Read present to my daughter and to myself was Neil Gaiman’s retelling of Hansel & Gretel, just published on October 28th. Gaiman tells this familiar story so well, and when I read it I can hear him saying the words inside my head. The accompanying illustrations by Lorenzo Mattotti are swirly and dark and make the reader feel like an eavesdropper on the events. The back of the book includes a history of the fairy tale, including some alternate scenes and details.

Here is my favorite couple of lines: “They slept as deeply and soundly as if their food had been drugged. And it had.” So matter-of-fact and chilling, all at once.

peculiarsMaureen Doyle McQuerry’s The Peculiars was my Random Read for October, and I finished it on November 1st, so I am doing much better than the last few months. It also counts for Gathering Books’ CORL 2014.

This steampunk novel features Lena Mattacascar, a young woman with unusually long hands and feet–a feature that she hides as much as possible lest people accuse her of being a goblin or Peculiar. When her long-estranged father sends her a letter, map, and money for her eighteenth birthday, Lena takes the train towards Scree, a wilderness full of miners that is said to harbor Peculiars as well. In a border town close to Scree, she falls in with librarian Jimson Quiggley and inventor Tobias Beasley, who has many secrets, some of which may involve Peculiars. While this book was an interesting read, I never truly felt a connection to Lena, and I felt that the Peculiars were a bit too mysterious–I needed to know much more about them and people’s perceptions, persecution, etc. of them in order to be sensitive to their plight. In addition, I felt the ending was rushed–so much happened when Lena finally reached her father’s land, and Lena’s future seems abruptly set, especially for a young woman who had been so pensive throughout the novel.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

scowler
It is probably because I listened to Rotters that I am on edge and waiting for the other shoe to drop, even though I am just a little ways into this book.
wewereliars
This book has been getting so much positive and deliberately spoiler-free buzz that I just had to pick it up when I saw it at the public library.