It’s summahtime and the reading is easy, sort of. Not really, but it sounds good. I had plans to set aside time every day in the summer to read. I have articles due that require reading, I have pleasure reading to accomplish, I have review journals to scour, I have oodles of books and articles that need reading, and yet I find myself … struggling. Perhaps I’m overwhelmed by the sheer amount of it, so then I do none of it. Does that happen to you? I’ve made myself a schedule to read. I never used to have to do that, it just happened naturally. Mostly, though, I think it’s because I’m on summer vacation, have lost my regular schedule entirely and thus think I have endless amounts of time to get it done. Weird, but true.
But, since it’s been two whole months since I last posted I do actually have books to talk about today. Over at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts the meme It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is happening and Shannon Messenger at Ramblings of A Wannabe Scribe is hosting Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, and so here I sit on a Sunday afternoon/evening, typing up a blog post and drinking a pink beer. (For anyone out there who might be a craft beer enthusiast, it’s PYNK from Yards). Here’s a pretty picture.
Phew, that’s a lot of linkage in one paragraph.
Let’s talk books, that’s the fun part.
The Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard
I know that I’m waaaayyy behind on this one, I believe the third installment is about to come out, or has just recently published. It was highly recommended by a colleague, and I needed to lose myself in another world. It was a fast-paced, tightly plotted novel that really kept me engaged.
Sixteen-year-old Mare has red blood, which denotes her commoner status in this world divided by the haves, who have silver blood, and the have-nots, with their oh-so-prosaic red blood. Given a job as a servant to the royal family, Mare is thrust into a dangerous political game when it is discovered, quite by accident, that while she may have red blood, she has a power that should only belong to a silver. Her role navigating between the two worlds is perilous and loyalties are tested and broken numerous times. It was a fun, engrossing fantasy. Fairly tame, content-wise, but still some romance and complex relationships. I’ll be recommending this one to my 7th and 8th graders.
Losers Take All
by David Klass
Another older title, but we put this one on our recommended summer list, so it seemed appropriate for this post. Strong realistic fiction for junior high crowd. This one actually made me laugh out loud a few times, which makes it a keeper in my book.
Jack Logan is a senior in high school and has been raised in a family of superb athletes, in a town that reveres high school sports. He couldn’t feel more like an alien if he tried. But then, he does try. Sort of. His hopes of flying under the radar for his senior year are dashed when the news breaks that all seniors must participate in a team sport. Jack, and his many non-athletic friends decide that making a co-ed, 3rd string soccer team is for them, and their one goal for the year is to not win a single game. Easy enough to accomplish, but when their sports-crazed principal is recorded during an insult-laden rant against the team, their efforts go viral and they discover a whole world of people out there supporting them.
by Paul Volponi
Sept. 1, 2016
E-ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher
I think this is Volponi’s first real foray into middle grade fiction, as his other contemporary sports novels have featured high school and college-age athletes.
Travis is just starting high school, when the dream of a lifetime for any student athlete comes along. His older brother Carter is a freshman on the Florida Gators football team, and the head coach takes a special interest in Travis, who is an outstanding quarterback. He is “offered” a scholarship to the university when he comes of age, and Travis is elated at the opportunity, and loving the status that kind of notoriety gains him. Eventually, Travis feels the pressure to perform, to maintain his skills at any cost, which may cost him is future.
This novel features authentic relationships, both between family members and friends. Travis and Carter are both navigating new and difficult terrain, and they are both forced to make grown-up decisions before they are ready, and both carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. The lengthy football game descriptions got a little tiresome for me, so I skimmed those, but I don’t think I’m the intended audience here anyway. Kids who read/love Mike Lupica and Tim Green books are going to eat this one up, I’ll definitely be nudging them to try it.
by Helen Frost
August 9, 2016
E-ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher
A poignant, beautiful book of verse about family, grieving, traditions and storytelling. Frost’s poetic form is strong, her imagery is lovely and this one has rhythm that left me wanting more.
Uncle Arthur is grieving the loss of his wife, but the family is hoping he’ll appear on the farm on the day the first apple falls off the tree, just as he and Lucy did every year. When he does finally come, Faith and Peter, the two children anxiously awaiting his arrival, try to find ways to engage with him, to help him remember, to keep traditions alive and well and basically connect with a favorite uncle. It’s an ode to fall and to families that is not to be missed.
That’s it for now, but I’m looking forward to reading your posts tomorrow, and reconnecting with the blogging world. Hope to see you out there somewhere.