Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May in Review

My Reading

Books read: 14.  It's been a weird month, but I guess that's not actually too bad overall.  I didn't have many standouts this month though.  


I saw Sherman Alexie's new picture book, Thunder Boy Jr. and couldn't resist.  I read it to my classes the next day.  I'm still hoping to finish up The Girl I Used to Be and A Tale Dark and Grimm with my classes before school lets out next week.   My seventh graders are loving both of those.

Mildly Disappointing

I read two sequels that let me down: The Epidemic and Prodigy.  I love how much some of my students love Suzanne Young's books, but The Remedy was the only one I really liked, so I was even more sad that its follow-up went back to unexplained suicide epidemics and teen romance.   Prodigy was better, but nothing remarkable.  Marie Lu's Legend was just good enough to keep me reading despite the glut of dystopians I've read in the past few years.  I will probably finish the series all the same, in hopes that Legend is the weak middle link.

Snow Like Ashes is another decent book that falls prey to genre overload on my part.  Been there, done that. And could the cover be any duller?   Brown Girl Dreaming fell victim to hype and excessive expectations on my part.  Girl Against the Universe took a terrific premise and kept it all a bit too light for my taste.  3 stars for most of these, but I rated The Epidemic only 2 stars.  


I finally read the first in the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi, The Stonekeeper..  It was pretty darn good.  I should really get over being surprised when I like graphic novels that my students adore.  I also finally got around to reading The Eternal Smile, three thematically linked graphic stories by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim.  Wildly imaginative.  AKA kind of weird.  I also finally read Lauren Myracle's Shine, which I've had checked out for months now.  Intense, as expected.  Let's Get Lost was a fun read with enough complexity to keep me interested, and enough ridiculous coincidence and silly situations to keep it from getting too heavy.  Charm and Strange was nothing like I expected, probably because I somehow had gathered it was a middle grade novel, so I wasn't expecting the very dark tone and topic.  3.5, maybe 4 stars for each of these.

Wow, wow, wow!

I real a lot of okay books this month, but I did manage to read three great ones as well.  Rain, Reign by Ann M. Martin was excellent.  I read it in one sitting, right there in the library.  I will never disrespect the author of The Babysitters Club again.   Another book I read in one sitting without even making it to check-out is the graphic novel version of Walter Dean Myer's classic, Monster.  This is probably the first time I felt a graphic novel was easier to follow that the original text.  The original is written mostly as if it were a screenplay, one the narrator is constructing in his head to help himself deal with the reality of being on trial for contributing to a murder.  Well, a graphic novel is an excellent way to share a screenplay.  I finally felt like I understood the book.
4 stars for these two books.

Without a doubt, though, my favorite book of the month was NOT one I could finish in one sitting.  At a robust 465 pages, Six of Crows took even me several days to get through.  I am not a fan of the Grisha series, giving up on it after just one book, but I am so glad I took a chance on Leigh Bardugo's new book.  My only regret is that I didn't wait until the next book is out, because I hate waiting between books in a series.  This book reached all the notes I expected Shadow and Bone to hit for me--the European-ish history vibe, the racing adventure, the camaraderie, the romance that hits snags based on who the characters are, not plot contrivance to keep them apart.  LOVED IT.
 5 stars

Assorted Stats

So far this year: a full half of the books I've read I've given four stars to.  I'm still reading mostly white, American female authors who write contemporary fiction.  My goal for May was to read 50% authors of color, and I succeeded, reading six white authors and eight non-white authors.  Reflection post to come.

My Writing

This is my 15th post of the month, which is far fewer than the previous months, but perfectly aligned with my averages before then.  I did write one post in May inspired by my "read more authors of color" project.  I started participating in the Sunday Post this month, thinking it might make this monthly wrap-up shorter.  Hmm.  Nope.  My apologies.  My most popular post this month was about the visit my students and I took to see April Henry speak.  My first post of the month, sharing my frustrations with students I never got to read all year must have struck a chord with fellow teachers, as it got the most comments. 


There is a lot I've already covered in those Sunday Posts, so I'll just mention a few key things.  I interviewed for but did not get an entirely different job.  High school students in my district staged a walkout over racism in our community, which triggered a lot of emotion in my middle school.  The emotional ups and downs of all that were swayed dramatically (well, for me)  by the news that I will be getting a Book Love Foundation grant that will allow me to buy about 500 new books for my classroom library.  Lastly, Memorial Day weekend was a blast, featuring a brunch with old friends, a long walk in a park with my son, s'mores around the fire pit in our back yard, and a day trip to the beach.  

Looking forward

In June I'll be spending four days at the beach for a writing workshop/retreat.  I've never done something like this, and I'm wildly excited about it.  Also, my first post on this blog was June 28, 2015, so it looks like my one year blogoversary will be at the end of the month.  I'll have to figure out something fun for that.  And this month I'm hosting the giveaway for Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction's Wrap-up Round-up!  It seems fitting to make this venture into offering something to the blogging community this month.  


  1. I'm waiting to read Six of Crows until book two is out - but it's hard!! I've heard so many amazing things!! Sorry you didn't get the job you were hoping for, but it's exciting that you got that grant for so many books in your classroom!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  2. Oh man, I have Six of Crows and I was thinking about reading it soon - maybe I'll wait!
    I love that you read books with your students! Sounds like things were a bit stressful this month and I hope June is a little brighter for you :)
    Oh - and congrats on that grant! It sounds fabulous!

  3. I hope your writing workshop/retreat will be as fun as it is productive! And thanks for hosting the wrap-up giveaway this month. I always enjoy that scavenger hunt :D

  4. I'm glad to hear you loved Six of Crows - I'm also one who wasn't wowed by the Grisha series, but I'll give the new book a try!


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