Monday, September 21, 2015

Currently Reading 9/21/15

Check out Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for lots of other #IMWAYR posts!


The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
It was a three star book until I read the end which I thought was one of the most quietly powerful endings I've ever read in a children's book.  Dewey is a great character, sciency, shy, and smart (although it did take me a little while to warm up to her) and Suze's mom is one of my new favorite characters in all children's literature, supportive, intelligent, and good; but not typical and certainly not wholesome (so much smoking, drinking, and swearing!).  Suze was a brat at first, she improved as the story went along, but I never warmed up to her after her extreme selfishness at the beginning of the story.  Klages did a good job of making the friendship between the two girls make sense and arise organically, though.  All around, the relationships were well done.  The setting is superb and I thought most of the history was incorporated quite well, especially the moral debates about everything happening on The Hill.  
I wish some of the other characters had a bit more scenes, especially the boys and men, and it struck me as odd that every female I remember besides the main three were pretty horrible.  My main problem with the book though, is hard to explain.  The reason I didn't care for Dewey at first was she seemed such a sad sack kid.  It was like I was supposed to immediately feel sorry for her because she had such a bad life, and then her life just kept getting worse and worse til I finally just became numb to all her problems.  I don't think so much personal tragedy for one character was needed, especially with so much historic tragedy going on all around.  The writing switched tenses a few times, all the sudden going from past to present and back again, which pulled me out of the story each time it happened, but is a very small complaint, but worth mentioning,
Oh!  and I LOVE the title. It's immensely relevant yet mysterious unless you've read the whole story. ****

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
With a different denouement, this would have been a fine, probably even good, coming-of-age realistic fiction YA novel, but it is a VERY BAD thriller.  Hardly anything happens until the book is 3/4th done, the exciting bits are extremely brief, the protagonist is selfish and STUPID beyond belief, and my goodness, this might be the most predictable plot I have EVER read. The character development is fine (for really selfish stupid people), and the sentence level writing is evocative and vivid.  There's some laudable feminist thoughts, but I thought they were quite awkwardly integrated.  It gets an extra star for not killing off the dog.  ***

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Beautifully written, with a plot that is complicated and ambiguous in all the best ways.  A lot of thematic heft here, with the subtly horrible schemes girls use to demean each other and the way jealousy unchecked can steamroll all other thoughts, feelings, and disciplines being the most penetrating to me.  I felt all the characters other than the two narrators remained mostly ciphers, which certainly added to the mystery but also kept me emotionally disconnected from the story.  ****

 Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr
Completely charming and my favorite MG I've read in a while.  People keep likening it to Pippi, but while I find Pippi grating and often TOO over-the-top, I thought Lena was just the right balance of moody, precocious, and captivating.  It's delightfully funny, with plenty of Scandinavian character and enchanting details, but I think my favorite part is how it deals with the very real problem of worrying that you care about someone much more than they care about you. *****


Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox
Railsea by China Mieville
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord 
How to Sit by Thich Nhat Hanh

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Julia Child: An Extraordinary Life in Words and Pictures by Erin Hager and Joanna Gorham

Requiem by Lauren Oliver
Thistle & Thyme: Tales & Legends from Scotland by Sorche Nic Leodhas
A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
More Than This by Patrick Ness


  1. You have some interesting books coming up. I have An Ember in the Ashes on my stack to read too. Here is my reading week. Happy reading!

  2. I had a student a long time ago that adored The Green Glass Sea, & now I don't remember much about it, maybe a re-read? I loved The Read Boy, such an innovative idea, you'll see. And I have More Than This, sadly still haven't read it although I like his writing a lot. Thanks for the honest reviews, will note Adventures With Waffles.

  3. I've heard several people talk about Adventures with Waffles. I may need to check it out!

  4. Adventures with Waffles sounds great. I actually saw it at the library today. I'll have to go back and get it tomorrow!

  5. I love your taste in books! There are so many books in your post that I've read or want to read! I've just borrowed The Green Glass Sea from my library because I am so curious to find out what that quietly powerful ending is all about. And The Devil You Know was on my TBR, but I might not bother after reading your review about it.Thanks so much for sharing! =)

  6. So many books in that TBR pile that I'm curious about. That Julia Child book likes interesting - I have a soft spot for picture book or illustrated biographies, I've seen them done so well before, and their so great for sharing with kids. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I have The Walls Around Us, but I still haven't read it yet. Adventures with Waffles sounds like a great read!


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