Monday, July 27, 2015

Currently Reading 7/27/15

Check out the roundups at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers!

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks: The Concept is fascinating, and I didn't have a problem with the extreme hopelessness and all the unanswered questions, but the characters remained ciphers to me, to the extent where it's hard to care about them except in the abstract.  Odd to say I wanted a book to be MORE brutal, but that's basically where I am with this one...***
Greenglass House by Kate Milford: Pretty much everything a middle grade mystery novel should be.  Yes, it's unrealistically convenient in places, and maybe a little long, but the characters (especially the protagonist) have unusual depth for a plot-driven novel, the mystery is clever and satisfying (and complicated but not TOO much so), the setting vivid, and the twist completely unexpected but logical.  The added thematic heft (families, lost loves, identity, good vs. legal) incorporated seamlessly.  Well done. ****1/2
**REREAD**  The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner: Still my favorite series.  The books get progressively better, but this is still a riveting start to the story: endlessly complicated in ways that only enhance the reading experience, emotionally honest, with the knottiest of plots, this is what Game of Thrones WISHED it was. *****

The Whisper by Aaron Starmer: I didn't even understand what was going on in this book half the time (which mostly has to do with the fact that it inexplicably took me 3 months to read it) but I know it's brilliant.  Brutal in a way unlike any other MG or YA novel I've read, the plot SEEMS like something you've seen before (kid finds his way into an imaginative and not-so-safe other world and just wants to get himself and his friend home!) but I promise you, it's completely unlike anything else.  Ingenious, terrifying, and, at times, soul-crushingly tragic, a winner from beginning to end. *****
The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon It's flawed, some of the writing is slightly awkward, and I'm not sure we get to know all the characters as well as we should, but goodness if it doesn't touch on some startlingly relevant themes that are rarely addressed in MG novels. ***1/2
Batgirl vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Steward and Babs Tarr:  I really like the new direction they've taken Batgirl.  It's young, fun, and hip, the art and colors are amazing, and it's unlike anything else in DC's wheelhouse right now.  Not my favorite comic by any means, but I think teens (especially teen girls) will eat this up.  ****1/2


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
If You Find this Letter by Hannah Brencher

The Tight-Rope Walkers by David Almond
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater


Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Tenderness by Robert Cormier
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
Hold Me Closer by David Levithan

Antyhing Could Happen by Will Walton
Railsea by China Mieville
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King


  1. I'm going to have to save & return to all your titles, so many look good & sound good. I need to read the Riverman Trilogy, & now another one is out! A former student loved The Greenglass House. I read it a long time ago, & thought it was fine, don't remember much. I'll also look for the trilogy in which The Thief belongs. don't know that series. Thanks for a great bunch of books!

  2. The Whisper most definitely has me intrigued. Haven't heard of it before!

  3. I really appreciated your reviews. I have Greenglass House and The Thief, but I haven't read either one. You've got me so excited about The Thief that I want to head over to school and grab it from my classroom library so I can read it NOW! The Great Good Summer is a book I've had on my list for a while. I have not read the Riverman, and didn't realize until I read Linda's comment that The Whisper was a sequel. From your comments, I thought it was likely a YA title. Is it appropriate for middle grade kids? I teach gifted 5th graders, and wonder if it would be a good book for them. Thanks for your great information!

    1. The Riverman and The Whisper are such strange little books, they seem marketed to Middle Grades, the protagonist is 12 and the covers seem very young, but there is some content and themes (about betrayal, ageing, violence, and hopelessness especially) that I feel might not be appropriate for all younger readers. One character in particular is just so amoral and nasty that some kids might be disturbed. I think a 5th grader could read and enjoy the books, it would just have to be the right 5th grader!

    2. and I'm so sorry I didn't put in the post that The Whisper is a sequel to The Riverman! I'm such a dope!

  4. These all look good--and most of them are new to me. I've read some other books by Kevin Brooks. His books always push my thinking and imagination.

  5. Oooohh, now I have to be on the lookout for The Whisper! I loved Greenglass House so much! I am hoping I can get some kids interested, as it is rather long for some.


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