Books for Younguns, Young Adults and the Young-at-Heart

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey with a children's and YA version at Teach Mentor Texts.

Last week I started with Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon.  I expected it to be cute and funny with great illustrations, but I was not prepared for it to be so sneakily educational.  I love the idea of starting with a subject kids are already interested in (in this case, pirates) and using it as a jumping off point to learn about something else (ocean life).

Next I read the second book in the series, Attack of the Ninja Frogs.  This one uses ninjas and samurai to teach about Asian cultures.  It was just as engaging as the first book and I loved the addition of a smart and strong girl lizard.

Finally, I started Eleventh Grade Burns, the fourth book in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer for her author event.  I keep getting interrupted in this series, but I hope to finish this time.  This book seems to be taking things in a darker direction (not that it was ever all that light).  I've barely started, but I'm curious as where the series will go from here.

This week I'll be finishing Eleventh Grade Burns and starting on Twelfth Grade Kills to finally finish the series.

What are you reading?

Monday, November 19, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey with a children's version at Teach Mentor Texts.

Last week, I finished up What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt.  For my money, Schmidt is one of the most under-recognized writers working today.  Not just in books for the under-18 set, but overall.  His writing is a character in itself, and I found myself repeatedly experiencing the irrational desire to stop reading for a moment to hug the book.  This one could be a poster child for science fiction books also being serious reads with a lot to offer.  I read an Advance Readers Copy provided by Houghton Mifflin.

Next I read Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage, which has to be the cutest book about murder I've ever read.  The narrator's voice (11-year-old Mo LoBeau) makes this a charming, engaging read.  While there is some violence, it's treated in a way that wouldn't make me hesitate to offer this to a middle grade girl, all of whom should find something to admire in Mo.  I read an Advance Readers Copy provided by Penguin.

Last up was The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann.  It was not quite what I thought it was going in, but still turned out to be a whimsical steampunk reimagining of Victorian England, but with fairies.  It was fairly standard, if well-written, until the final chapter, which introduced some surprising dark twists.  I also liked the adult-child crime-fighting pair in a genre that's glutted with "the kids are all on their own."   read an Advance Readers Copy provided by HarperCollins.

This week, I'll be diving into the Dragonbreath series, starting with the titular book one.

What are you reading?

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey with a children's version at Teach Mentor Texts.

Last week, I started by finishing The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith.  This was a gripping and very creepy book; a perfect recommendation for teen boys.  I loved how it avoided exposition, allowing you to discover the world of Marbury through experience, just like the characters.

Next, I read Wild Girls by Mary Stewart Atwell.  This has been published and marketed as an adult book, despite its focus on teen girls in a boarding school, and I can see why.  It walks a rather awkward line between a YA book (teens with supernatural powers terrorizing a town, culminating in a final battle) and adult literary fiction (rather slow and ponderous at times with little idea of where the plot is going).  I found the concept and plot interesting in the end, but thought most of the characters were underdeveloped.


Next up was a Wimpy Kid mini-marathon with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Rodrick Rules and The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney.  I've heard a lot about these (obviously), but hadn't gotten around to picking them up.  I flew through the first three and was pleasantly surprised by the sharp and precise sense of humor found throughout.

Finally, I started What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt.  I could not be more in love with his writing if I tried, so it doesn't so much matter what he's writing about, however the plots (which intersect while remaining distinct) are extremely compelling and complicated and human.  This puts a whole new face on middle grade science fiction.  *I am reading an Advance Readers Copy provided by the publisher.*

This week, I'll be finishing What Came from the Stars and starting Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

What are you reading?

Monday, November 5, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey with a children's version at Teach Mentor Texts.

Last week, I started by reading Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.  I really enjoy how different each of their collaborations are starting from basically the same premise (young adult chronicle their interpersonal romantic relationships through shifting narrators).  This one wasn't my favorite (that honor goes to Naomi and Ely), but it was a solidly entertaining read and seeing the same event from different viewpoints was always done in a convincing and compelling way.

Next I read Intentions by Deborah Heiligman.  Unfortunately, it suffered from the only narrative device I can think of that occasionally distances me from YA.  I like to call it "why-won't-you-just-talk-to-someone-about-it-already?itis."  That issue aside, Rachel was a narrator lots of girls are likely to find something in common with and her narrative voice is highly enjoyable, although there were a lot of loose ends left dangling while other endings felt too tidy.

Next up was Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher.  I would have enjoyed this more if I had read it before Almost Perfect as it only pales in comparison.  Still, I can't think of an author who captures teen boys better than Katcher and all his characters' flaws make for an emotionally engaging read.

Finally, I started The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith for his author event.  It is not at all what I thought it would be, but it is one of the creepiest books I've read in a long time.  I have no idea where it's going, but I can't wait to find out.

This week, I'll be finishing The Marbury Lens, then starting Wild Girls by Mary Stewart Atwell for her author event.

What are you reading?