Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Update: Must Read in 2014

It's been fun spending time with a "Must Read" list this year.  I put 15 books on my list - ranging from middle grade to YA to adult, fiction to nonfiction.  As of today, I have read 6 of my 15 books.  You can see my original list here.  Below are the books I have read and a few thoughts about each!

We Were Liars

I LOVED this book...I have a review set to post in May when it comes out.  It's hard to talk about it without giving too much away.  A great summer read!

The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Trilogy, #3)

The final book in the series.  It is a definite must-read if you have read the first two books.


I was excited to have just finished reading this book when the Newbery announcements came out in January.  This was the first year that I had actually read all of the awarded books before they were announced!  I think the way this book was written makes it more accessible to upper middle grade readers, maybe 6th or 7th grades.  I haven't been able to get any of my 5th graders to read it yet.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

FINALLY!  I have been wanting to read Cinder for quite some time, so I put it on my MUST list.  I loved that it was a totally different type of dystopian novel.  Cyborgs are actually pretty interesting to read about!


When I looked through my Goodreads list for books to add to this list, I was surprised that I still hadn't read this one.  What a powerful story.  I think it is a must-read for any teenager.  I read this one along with The Impossible Knife of Memory.  Another book to put on YOUR must-read list if you haven't read it yet!


I loved Endangered, so Threatened was a definite must read for me.  Threatened is a stand alone, not connected to Endangered in any way.  After reading both books, I was so amazed at the human characteristics that the bonobos and chimpanzees exhibit.  By the end of each book, you feel for them just as much as you feel for the humans.  Powerful stuff.  I will automatically read anything Eliot Schrefer writes in the future.

All told, I have read 43 books this year, including picture books to my 5th graders.  Here are a couple that I see as must-reads for everyone:

The Night Gardener                                             
I reviewed this one here.                                       

The Power of Poppy Pendle
I thought this was adorable:  Poppy hates magic and her parents (who are non-magic) are obsessed with it.

A Snicker of Magic 
Natalie Lloyd was kind enough to send my class signed bookmarks!

 Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
I love anything Snow Queen.  I reviewed it here.

I can't wait to catch up with the other bloggers who are participating in this challenge!  I am sure I will add lots of new books to my to-read pile!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier has been on my Kindle for awhile, thanks to NetGalley.  I LOVE the cover of this book.  Even if I hadn't read and enjoyed Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes, I would have picked it up based on the cover alone.  When spring break finally arrived, and after I immersed myself in the joy that accompanied leaving cold and dreary Ohio for a few days, it was the first book I pulled up to read as I lazed by the pool.

The Night Gardener 

Thumps in the night?  Check!
Mysterious spirits?  Check!
Forbidden rooms?  Check!

The perfect ingredients for a DELIGHTFULLY CREEPY story!

Molly and Kip are surviving without their parents, traveling the countryside in search of work and safety.  Molly is hired to work as a servant at the mysterious old Windsor house.  As they travel to the house, they are warned several times about staying out of the "Sourwoods" and told to stay away from the house and the people in it.  But, work is work, and they move forward.  

Upon arrival, Molly and Kip meet a very welcoming daughter, Penny, a not-so-welcoming Mistress Windsor, and brother Alistair, who has a strange collection of candy with him at all times.  As Molly works to improve the state of the house, she can't help but notice things that are out of the ordinary.  She sees a portrait, reportedly from the previous summer, showing a glowing and healthy family.  However, the people in front of her are pale and withdrawn.  There is a mysterious green door in the hall, locked with a large iron bolt, to which the Mistress has supposedly lost the key.  And there is a tree outside...a huge, hulking tree that has grown into the house and taken over the land around it.  Finally, Molly starts waking up in the night to sounds...strange THUMPS in the night.  In the morning, the house is covered with dead leaves.  When she wakes one morning with a dead leaf in her hair, she and her brother decide to get to the bottom of things.

This book is nearly perfect, from the descriptions of the setting, to the characters.  It's creepy, but not too creepy (unless you are afraid of the dark...maybe don't read it before bed?)  I think it will be a perfect recommendation for kids who loved Doll Bones, Wait Till Helen Comes, and A Tale Dark and Grimm

Definitely a perfect addition to any upper grade classroom library!  Have you read The Night Gardener?  I'd love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

It doesn't take much to get me to read a book.  An amazing cover and tweets from Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp...that will pretty much do it.  This is how I came upon Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

As I spent my days indoors during the great "Polar Vortex" of 2014, I happened upon Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy on NetGalley.  I had already requested it at the library, but when I thought about waiting until January 28 or popping it onto my Kindle in 10 seconds...well I didn't have to flip a coin.

Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard ranks right up there with my most favorite of characters...Harry Potter, Hazel from Breadcrumbs, Flora from Flora & Ulysses.  

Ophelia has just lost her mother.  She is sad and she is lost and her relationship with the rest of her family is different now.  She and her sister, Alice, have traveled with their father as he prepares for a great exhibition of swords in a mysterious museum with a mysterious curator.  

As Ophelia spends her time exploring this museum, she comes across a hidden door.  When she peers through the keyhole, she finds another eye peering right back at her.  Ophelia has discovered the Marvelous Boy, locked away from the world by the Snow Queen.  He's been waiting for someone for many years and he thinks that Ophelia is just the person to help him.

I didn't read any reviews or summaries of this book before starting, so it was a surprise to me that this was another story based on the Snow Queen.  If you have read my blog in the past, you will know that Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu is one of my favorite books of all time.  As I read, I was thinking about how awesome it would be to read this with my class, who I have shared Breadcrumbs with.  I think we would have fantastic discussions about how both authors incorporated aspects of The Snow Queen.  

So now to figure out if I can squeeze this book into my read aloud schedule...

Have you read Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy?  I'd love to hear what you thought!

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's Monday..What Are You Reading?

I'm joining Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers in sharing my reading this week.  Head on over to their blogs to see what others are reading and link up your own post!

This is the Arctic Blast edition of It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  I just received the phone call that school is cancelled again tomorrow due to cold temps...more time for hot tea, books, and a little Netflix!  Though I am getting a little anxious to get back into a routine.  I even had an email from a student today, sad that we were out of school.

Here's what I read last week...

YA Books

We Were Liars

We Were Liars was on my Must Read in 2014 list.  It doesn't come out until May, but I happened upon an ARC on NetGalley and devoured it in about 3 hours.  I highly recommend it!

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Cinder was also on my Must Read in 2014 list.  I liked how different it was from the usual dystopian novel.

 Where She Went (If I Stay, #2) 

I read If I Stay last week and was happy to get this sequel right away.  It was interesting hearing from Adam's point of view.  I wasn't into this book too much until the ending (possibly because I just don't get into music that much), but I am really glad I finished it!  If you read the first book, you should definitely read this one too.

Picture Books

Hank Finds an Egg
I love books with illustrations done in unusual mediums.  This is a wordless book that I will definitely share with my 5th graders!  (When we share wordless books, I place the book next to some chart paper, kids read it when they have time and jot their thoughts.  After about a week, we will talk about it as a class.)

The Snatchabook

I think I will enjoy sharing this story with my little niece when she is slightly older.  Someone is stealing the bedtime stories from all the animals...and they will be surprised to find out who it is and why he's stealing them.  

Reading Plans For This Week

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

I just found Ophelia and The Marvelous Boy on NetGalley, so this one is up first!

Happy Reading...Stay Warm!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Must Read in 2014

As I've been poking around Twitter during this winter break, I came across a great idea shared by Carrie Gelson who blogs at There's a Book for That.  She shared her list of books that she "Must Read in 2014".  Beyond making a Goodreads goal, I don't do much goal setting for my reading life.  If I see a book I like/want to read, I add it to my to-read list or read it right away.  I decided to join this group on Twitter to see how setting this goal would go for me.  Here's my list of Must Reads in 2014...

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)          The Fourteenth Goldfish          We Were Liars      
                                                                                    READ - 1/2/14

The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Trilogy, #3)          Jinx's Magic           Paperboy
 READ 1/13/2014                                                           READ 1/20/2014

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)          The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)          The Art of Fielding
                   READ 1/5/14

Outliers: The Story of Success          The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)          The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest--and Most Surprising--Animals on Earth

Revolution          Speak        Threatened
                                                                     READ 1/11/2014              READ 3/8/2014
As I was looking over my Goodreads to-read list, I realized that this could go on and on forever.  So I decided to stop at 12 15.  I've got some middle-grade fiction and a non-fiction, some YA, and an adult fiction and nonfiction.  Some old, some new.  I'm excited!

I'm looking forward to watching the progress of everyone else during this challenge.  You can follow this challenge on Twitter at #MustReadIn2014.'s a link to other participants and their posts!  

Happy Reading!

**Update - I started this post yesterday...and today I found WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart on Netgalley.  Three hours later, I can check that book off my list.  

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten of 2013

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Head on over to see more Top Ten lists!

This is the first time I am participating in Top Ten Tuesday, though I have read and enjoyed many of the blog posts in the past.  I was going to do a Favorites of 2013 list anyway, so I figured I would link up today!

My Top Ten of 2013

Winger by Andrew Smith

Even though it's hard to pick a TOP book of the year...I think this one does it for me.  Any book that can make me laugh and cry and then punch me in the gut is a sure-fire winner!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park

Two of the best, most memorable characters ever!

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

I just love the voice in this book.  I reviewed it here.

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

The Real Boy

While Breadcrumbs is still my favorite, this one was amazing as well.  I reviewed it here.

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadahota

The Thing About Luck

This is another book with very memorable characters.  I reviewed it here.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Where the Stars Still Shine

Callie has spent her life running from town to town with her mother who kidnapped her as a child.  When she is caught, she is sent to live with the father she barely knew.  Callie is one of my favorite characters of the year.  

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing (The Testing, #1)

I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series that comes out in January!

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks Like

Considering You've Got Mail is one of my favorite movies ever, it's no surprise that I loved this book.

Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Counting by 7s

I'd love for this book to get some Newbery love in January!

Jinx by Sage Blackwood


Looking forward to this sequel, Jinx's Magic, coming out next week!

Happy Reading!

Monday, December 30, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm joining Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers in sharing my reading this week.  Head on over to their blogs to see what others are reading and link up your own post!

I haven't posted an IMWAYR post in quite awhile.  But since I am once again attempting a winter break book-a-day, I thought I'd recap my reading so far.  I've been in quite a reading rut, I think that between Thanksgiving and winter break, I only read picture books, not one complete novel to be found.  Thankfully, having time to travel and rest over the last week has brought me back to my usual reading habits!

YA Books

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to Drink

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.  A different take on the usual dystopian novel.  Water has become extremely scarce, and therefore, extremely valuable.  Lynn and her mother have lived alone for her entire 16 years, their main goal for survival is keeping their water supply safe from others.  This is the book that brought me out of my reading's fantastic!  I'm really looking forward to anything this author writes in the future!

Let It Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson

Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances

I think someone recommended this on their blog, so I checked it out as a quick, Christmas-themed, read.  It's a collection of 3 short stories that have intertwining characters and events.  I enjoyed reading the first story and getting a glimpse of a character, then reading the next two to see how their story fit in with the others.  

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)

This book starts out with a seemingly perfect-for-each-other family spending an unexpected snow day together.  Quickly, things turn to tragedy and Mia is fighting for her life.  It kind of reminded me of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, which I also loved.  There is a sequel to this book, Where She Went, which I have requested at the library and will hopefully be reading soon.

Absent by Katie Williams


I would actually kind-of put this book in a category with the above book, and the Lauren Oliver book.  Paige has recently died as a result of falling off the roof of school during physics class.  She and her fellow ghosts, two other kids who also died at school, are bound to the school grounds.  As she listens to her fellow classmates deal with her death, she starts hearing awful rumors about herself and sets out to set the record straight.  This was a really short book and I loved it!

Middle Grade Books

The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman

The Wells Bequest (The Grimm Legacy, #2)

I loved this companion book to The Grimm Legacy.  The whole premise is so intriguing - a mysterious library in the middle of New York City where guests can borrow objects from history - including magical items from fairy tales and science-fiction.  I think I'm going to do a blog post about this one later this week.  

The Hidden Summer by Gin Phillips

The Hidden Summer

Nell and Lydia have been best friends for ages.  However, their mothers do not get along, and Lydia's mom has forbidden her to see Nell all summer.  Nell comes up with a plan for them to be able to spend the long summer days together because she can't bear to be in her house with her unpredictable mother.  This is a book where I felt like nothing much happened, but it was beautifully written.  Here's an example from the beginning where Nell describes her mother:

"I am an expert when it comes to reading my mother, but that doesn't mean I don't make mistakes.  The trick is to tell when she's in a carnivore mood or a herbivore mood.  (Carnivores have sharp teeth for biting.  You shouldn't get too close.  But herbivores never attack.)" p. 8

I really felt bad for Nell and wanted everything to change for her in this book.  But as she says at the beginning, "Don't go thinking that this story will end with my mother coming to her senses and realizing her mistakes and begging me to forgive her." p. 16

Picture Book

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker


I read this one to my sweet little niece...she's not quite 1, so I don't know what she thought of it.  But I think it's cute!

Currently Reading

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train

Possible Reads This Week

The Twistrose Key          Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)          The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., #1)