Monday, September 18, 2017

TTT: Hopes for Fall Reading

The delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish host this weekly list challenge.  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great booAk blogs to follow head on over and check them out!

The topic this week is Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List.

Here is what came to mind immediately--upcoming or fairly newish releases, starting, appropriately enough...

Release by Patrick Ness.  I was so bummed when the date I thought it would be out turned out to be the UK date.  Now it's actually coming out in the US, and I have more empathy for how the rest of the world feels waiting for US books to come out locally.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera.  I totally impulse-bought this for myself the other night, and am debating letting a student read it first.  But what if they spoil it?  

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake is also coming out--today?  tomorrow?  Very soon.  I am feeling SO SMUG about having not read book one until just recently, although the wait for book 3 will be tough.  

I'm excited to re-read Refugee by Alan Gratz with my students.

I really want to spend some time reading Passionate Readers, by one of my teacher-heroes, Pernille Ripp.

As soon as one of my students finishes Posted by John David Anderson, I'm hoping to get a chance at it.  My daughter's class is doing it as a read-aloud, and I'd like to be able to chat about it with her. 

I also want to read Laurn Wolk's Beyond the Bright Sea and Spencer Quinn's Woof, two books she's really liked lately.  I love that she is introducing me to some books.

Speaking of reading with my kid, we're looking forward to the fall release of the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, although we won't actually read them until after she gets it from me for Christmas.

And a year after I chose it to read next, I STILL haven't cracked the covers on A Gentleman in Moscow, so I really hope I get to it this fall.  

Middle grade, fantasy, professional reading, literary fiction--I'm looking forward to an eclectic fall!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Best of Summer Reading 2017

It's 7:45 on a Saturday morning and I'm on my second cup of coffee.  (The first was decaf.)  I was so tired last night that I fell asleep on the couch around 9:00, and I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that as a result, I was up by 6:30 today.

I feel like I should have some sort of big elaborate explanation for why I haven't been posted, but, well, I've been busy and lazy and just haven't.  But I miss it, so I'm going to try to get my crap together and do better.

That being said--I wanted to tell you about some of the best (and a little of the worst) things I read in my #BookADay summer.

Ratings are weird.  I rate books right after I finish reading them.  But as time passes, I often find myself thinking more about some books I gave 4 stars to than about some books I gave 5 stars to.  Or I'll look at my five star books, and for many think, "Oh yeah, that book was AWESOME!" but for some think, "Hm, what was that about again?"  So I'm going to start by listing the books I gave 5 stars to this summer, then go back and tell you which ones actually stand out to me as being the ones I love.

June 13: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie *****
June 28: The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz *****
July 1:  The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon *****
July 2:  The Crossover by Kwame Alexander  ***All The Stars***
July 5: Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin *****
July 8: A List of Cages by Robin Roe *****
July 12: A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins *****
July 16: You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie *****
July 17: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah ***All The Stars***
July 23: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz *****
July 24: Glow: Animals with Their Own Nightlights by W. H. Beck *****
July 28: Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty *****
August 12: A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab *****
August 16: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake *****
August 26: Refugee by Alan Gratz *****
August 28: Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan *****

Of those, I'd say I really love The Crossover (which was a re-read), Most Dangerous, Born a Crime, Three Dark Crowns, Refugee, and Tales from Outer Suburbia. And I also have fond thoughts of books I initially rated lower than five stars: Burn, Baby Burn, House Arrest, Stranger in the Woods, Bayou, This Side of Home, and My Life in Dog Years. And, of course, my re-read of most of the Attolia series, including the new book.

Okay, so that's a whole lotta runners-up. I'm horrible at choosing just one of anything, but I'm going to narrow it down as much as I can for you.

BEST AUDIO BOOK OF THE SUMMER (and possibly of all time):
Trevor Noah reading his memoir, Born a Crime.

This memoir is, like, Mary Karr and Frank McCourt level. I knew the guy was smart, and funny, but this goes beyond either of those things. Fascinating, heart-breaking, galvanizing, this is no celebrity memoir. It's an examination of a very particular time and place (South Africa as apartheid stumbled to an end), a tribute to Noah's wildly courageous, fiercely independent, and deeply religious mother, and an insightful examination of what it means to be biracial and bicultural. PLUS it's hilarious.

Refugee by Alan Gratz

I was maybe two pages in when I knew I wanted to read this with my students this year. And the more I read, the happier I was with that decision. There's so much meat to it. There's the "No seriously, Nazis are always the bad guys" message. There's a beautiful moment when we come to understand how damaging "I'm just doing my job" can be--as well as understanding how impossible the situation may be in which one falls back on that line. There's the way he ties together 1930s Germany, 1990s Cuba, and contemporary Syria in a way that illuminates the way history repeats itself, and the lessons from the past we can apply to the present. There's also a shark attack. #SoMuchWin.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood was just okay for me. It definitely didn't put Blake on my "authors to watch for" list by any means. But Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction kept raving about this one. Still, I was lukewarm enough about it going in that I accidentally read The Crown Game instead, thinking THAT was the "crown book" she kept mentioning. And that one was, again, just okay, so I was all, "Um, Nicole? Really?" But I finally figured it out, and YAY! Fantasy is my first love, and when you create a fantasy world that is dangerous and beautiful and complicated (but not TOO politics-driven), you make me happy. Plus three great female protagonists, all of whom I'm rooting for, but all of whom are in life-or-death competition with each other? Way to keep me coming back for book two.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

#BookADay Summer Report #1

I did it.

I read (an average of) a book every day for 12 weeks.  I started a week and a half before school go out, and wrapped up over Labor Day weekend, a week and a half after I went back to work.  I resorted to plowing through three graphic novels and a book of poetry right at the end, but I DID IT.*

*I think so, anyway.  When putting this together I found a couple of duplicate titles, and I'm not sure if I double-counted them, or wrote the wrong title down.  

Here are some gorgeous stats.  Feast your eyes!

Clearly I read a majority of books for younger people, but I'm going to say that I'm still pretty sure that 15 adult books is more than the typical American reads in a year, let alone a summer.  So there.

Of the non-picture books, here's a formatting breakdown:

A hefty amount of graphic novels, a handful of other styles, and then a solid majority of, well, novels.  Yes, I read a lot of graphic novels in part to keep on top of the whole one-a-day thing, but as a result, I found some interesting series and stand-alones I wouldn't have tried otherwise.  I just wandered the YA Graphic Novels section of my library and pulled out anything that wasn't superheroes or manga.

The always fun look at genre is next!

The only surprises here are that I only read one "real" mystery, and that I actually read quite a bit of nonfiction.  Otherwise, yes, fantasy and realistic fiction are my long-time favorites, with historical fiction, memoir, and mystery being three of my other preferred genres.

Here's an embarrassing one:

That's under a quarter, isn't it?  I really need to put my money where my mouth is on this one.  I'll save us all some time and add that most of these white authors are American women.  Nothing like reading in one's own comfort zone.  Pfft.  

I had five re-reads: The Crossover, The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and Resistance.  I read The Crossover with a teacher summer book club, and the others I read before reading on with the series.  Speaking of series, I finished the two I just mentioned, as well as the Half Bad series, the Savage Song duology, and Schwab's ADSOM trilogy.

Coming up soon in parts 2 and 3: a brief review of the best and worst of the bunch and a sage (humor me) reflection on the experience overall.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Results are In! Movie Survey Findings

A while back, my daughter put together a survey using Google Docs, and you lovely people helped her out by responding to it.  She now has enough data to share with you.  Take it away, Daughter!

Thanks for taking my quiz.  Two movies are tied for most popular: The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Almost half of the movies were based off of books.  I'm not really surprised.  The most popular movies are based off books.  You don't take your own quiz, but I would have chosen Deathly Hallows too.

The top three categories are romance, fantasy, and comedy.  The three with the least clicks are action, based on a true story, and Disney. Nobody chose horror and mystery.  

Thanks again for taking the quiz. Bye-bye! Go read Falconer's Library.