Tag Archives: science fiction

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/5/16

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:

 Neal Shusterman’s latest dive into science fiction is amazingly fresh and thought-provoking, which I expected, and a magnificently crafted work, which I also expected.

Shusterman examines a world in which technology has reached its pinnacle, to the point of government being all but obsolete and medicine conquering pain, illness, and even death itself. People may now choose to “turn the corner,” reset their lives, and be as young as 20 again–and they can presumably do it forever.

Because colonizing the moon and other planets has failed, the earth would be subject to overpopulation if not for the Scythedom. It’s guild of sorts that functions completely outside of the Thunderhead, the technological “cloud” that takes care of everything else. Scythes are charged with the task of “gleaning” a set number of people every year, answering only to the rest of the Scythedom. Different scythes adopt different methods of gleaning and choosing whom to glean. Main characters Citra and Rowan are selected as reluctant apprentices to Scythe Faraday. As they learn the commandments of the Scythedom and the art and skill of gleaning, they soon find themselves caught in the middle of a controversy over the old and news ways of being a Scythe and also in danger of losing their lives or their humanity.

Once again Shusterman has created a novel that will keep the reader thinking long after the last page has been turned. I was definitely struck by the idea that no matter how many other challenges, circumstances, and differences this future world took out of the equation, there were still individuals driven to do selfish, evil acts. And in turn, there are always individuals who will stand up to them. It is going to be a long wait for the next book in the series, but I will definitely be coming back to think on this one again and again.
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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/7/16

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.

Last Week’s Books:

 Well, this was a super-engaging science fiction story that I amazed I had not read before, given the author. Partly told in narrative and partly told in court hearings, Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar recounts what happens when some middle graders stumble up on a weird substance in the woods…and the biological material that might be responsible for their ensuing illness. This is another light science fiction like The Fourteenth Goldfish to ease MG readers into the genre. Great  full-cast audiobook presentation as well.

 Lincoln’s Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America’s First Private Eye by Samantha Seiple is the kind of well-researched informational text we love to share with our students. Filled with loads of accompanying photographs, the book introduces readers to Pinkerton’s development of not only detective work as we know it, but the Secret Service as well. I will say that some of the cases started to blend together for me a bit in the middle, but things picked up again when Seiple recounted the Pinkerton Agency’s run-ins with the James-Younger gang. In all, I am pleased to have this book in my collections as a choice for middle grade readers.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/29/16

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.

Last Week’s Books:

I am reviewing All Good Children by Catherine Austen for School Library Media Connection, so they get first dibs. I will say that I enjoyed this dystopian tale, and if I had to give it a soundtrack it would be Pink Floyd’s The Wall.


Adult graphic novel: The Chair by Peter Simeti is a graphic novel I stumbled upon reading about and later learned would be turned into a horror movie. So the newly-released version (which I read) includes not only the original graphic novel but also the entire screenplay for the film. The story takes place in a horrifying prison where Sullivan, an innocent man, must endure not only harsh treatment, but the knowledge that guards are inflicting horrific punishments on his fellow inmates. As Sullivan’s execution date grows nearer, he is driven to equally horrific acts against his captors. This psychological thriller of a horror story is made even more terrifying by the violent, gory images accompanying it. I have to say, though, that if you are a horror fan who plans to see the movie and hates spoilers, you should hold off on reading the graphic novel. I would rather have gone into the movie “cold” without knowing some crucial plot points. This book counts for my Aigust Surprise Me! Challenge. This book also counts for my Horror Reading Challenge 2016. In fact, I have completed my challenge, earning the Horror Hound badge 🙂

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2017 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

Jennifer L. Holm’s The Fourteenth Goldfish is a quick and enjoyable middle grade novel. Ellie begins sixth grade with some apprehension–she is not a big fan of change and her best friend has almost abandoned her for the volleyball team. And then…her mom brings home a strangely familiar 13-year-old boy who turns out to be Ellie’s grandfather, Melvin! It seems he has been working with an anti-aging drug derived from a rare jellyfish and tried it on himself. Melvin, Ellie, and Ellie’s new friend,Raj, get into a few scrapes trying to break into Melvin’s old lab. And by the book’s end, Ellie helps her grandfather realize that perhaps the world is not ready for his discovery. A strength of this book is that it is a gentle introduction to the science fiction genre, challenging readers to think about the implications of tampering with the aging process without overwhelming them. Readers could then go on to books like Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Turnabout or Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies (more YA than middle grade).

Check out this great trailer/introduction from Jennifer L. Holm.

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.

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