It’s Monday! What I’ve been Reading 1/6/14


I have been avidly reading young-adult literature over my winter break.

My brother and I decided we would race to see who can finish my 20 free books from NCTE first. It may be important to note that even though he is winning it’s just because I’ve been working over break. Okay…maybe it’s because his reading stamina is superb. Whichever.

Anyway, you might be wondering how I could manage to read ten books in only four weeks while working. Well, to quench that question, I’ll show you in a picture:


For those of you that don’t know what this is, I’m ice fishing. And reading. Hey, it was a slow day on the ice but a good day in my reading life (also note my new pink ice fishing pole I got for Christmas!).

I kicked-off the reading shenanigans with:

Laurie Halse Anderson’s new book The Impossible Knife of Memory:


Why did I want to start with this book? Because I loved Speak. Although the book had a unique plotline and characters (it features a war vet and his daughter), unfortunately, Speak was better. In Anderson’s defense, Speak was really really great.


Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith


Guys, this book is the cat’s pajamas. It has a lot of similarities with Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan but with a backdrop of doomsday.


You see, Austin and Robby are just average 16-year-old Lutheran boys living in Iowa. They skate and smoke cigarettes and just hang out.

But that’s where the normality stops.

Robby Brees is gay. Austin dates Shann Collins. Austin and Robby are best friends.

Robby loves Austin. Shann loves Austin.

Austin loves Shann AND Robby.

On top of all that, the end of the world is happening. And no one knew anything about it.

Austin writes the history of his family while writing the history of the end of the world. In a weird way, it’s all connected. Here’s how the end of the world went down:

                It all started when Austin and Robby got beat up by Grant Wallace.
Then grasshopper mutants took over the world.

Okay, so that was a little abbreviated but I really enjoyed this book. Smith had me believing that Austin truly wrote the damn book. The voice was well executed; Smith wrote with the perfect amount of cussing and real thoughts boys actually think about and would say.

This book just screams “teenager.” It was a page-turner and addressed issues like sex, homosexuality, drugs, war, and the end of the world. I can’t wait to see what else Smith has in store for us!

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier:


Not my favorite book but it is a signed copy! I don’t think it helped that I read Grasshopper Jungle right before this book. In comparison, this one was a little bland.

Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore


My brother described this book as “Kardashian.” In this case, that is a good thing.

This book addresses the issues of aristocracy of England a few decades ago before women’s suffrage really took over. The cover of the book says: “Upstairs. Downstairs. Drama.” I couldn’t have pegged it better myself.

The plot unravels as Charlotte from upstairs wants to mingle with the servants who are housed downstairs, particularly Janie who is wild and free – everything that Charlotte is not. The seams of the uptight aristocracy unravel when Charlotte desires to break free of her chains.

Here Comes Our Bride! An African Wedding Story by Ifeoma Onyefulu


This was a short, enlightening picture book. I loved the exposure to another culture I got from this one. I can use this in my classroom for writing prompts or to incorporate nonfiction into the class.

Three-Ring Rascals #1 and #2 by Kate Klise with illustrations by M. Sarah Klise (sisters!)

rascal1 rascal2

Although I reluctantly took free copies of these books at NCTE, it really is a charming story. I initially did not want to tote two primary-aged books back from the conference but they were actually well-done.

The series is all about animals in the circus. The plotline is adorable and beautiful black-and-white illustrations grace nearly every page.

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

killing woods

This was a five-out-of-five star book for me. I’m looking forward to reading more of Christopher’s books!

The Strong-Willed Wife by Dr. Debbie Cherry


I read this one for personal reasons and it was also the only book I got for Christmas. I really enjoyed reading this one and it has helped me to understand the role of “wife.”*

*Disclaimer: I’m not married or engaged

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy


This is the book I’m stuck on. Obviously, it isn’t adolescent literature.

It’s dense. It’s a hard read for me. It’s challenging.

I ordered this book because my professor had mentioned that it was the only book he has ever read that truly scared him. Unfortunately, he didn’t mention it wasn’t a beach read. But that’s okay because I need to be challenged.

I also loved McCarthy’s The Road. It’s amazing to me that his prose in each book is so different. On top of that, the entire storyline and setting is different. AND they are both beautifully written.

I’m about a fourth of the way through it and it’s picking up which is most definitely a good sign. I just hope I can finish it before classes start next Monday!