Sunday, October 2, 2016

September In Review

No really, where HAS this month gone?!?!

This is going up as part of Nicole's Monthly Wrap-Up Round Up at Feed Your Fiction Addiction.  I'll also be linking this up to Sunday Post at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, since I'm posting on Sunday, after all.

My Reading

Books read: 11


Not included in my count, but my daughter and I read part of Chomp together, and I've read to my classes Separate is Never Equal, David Goes to School, Smoky Nights, and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.

Mildly Disappointing

  • The Journey: Guardians of Ga'Hoole 2 by Kathryn Lasky.  I listened to the rest of this on tape after my kids started it in my car.  It was...okay.  


  • The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine (do you think that a pen name?)
  • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta.  It wasn't all that I was expecting, but it was definitely good.  Another one I listened to part of and read part of.  
  • Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier.  I'm really struggling with how problematic her use of Dia de los Muertas is against how wonderful her story telling, art, and portrayal of family is.  My brief review reflects none of this, written before it had been brought to my attention.
  • Rhyme Schemer by K. A. Holt is a fun little novel in verse in which a bully gets our sympathy but also gets his comeuppance.
  • Tommysaurus Rex by Doug TenNapel is a graphic novel my kids read that I found surprisingly sweet and funny.
  • Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks is another one that wasn't quite what I expected, but I enjoyed it.
  • A Game for All the Family is your basic slippery twisty thriller from Sophie Hannah.  Loads of fun, probably won't remember it long.

Wow, wow, wow!

Some of the books above got even a 4 star rating from me, but pale in comparison with the ones that seriously blew me away thins month.

  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys.  I am so glad I finally read this, and it was SO AMAZINGLY GREAT.  Great job with multiple POVs.  Great job with historical research that made me feel like I was THERE.  Great character development and plot development and emotional connection and pretty much everything I would want from a book.  

  • The Serpent King by Jeff Zintner.  The first half I thought it was a good book.  Then it became something far beyond that.  It's been a long time since a book made me cry this hard.  There was a lot less snake-handling than I was expecting, but that's hardly a forceful complaint.

  • A Savage Song by Victoria Schwab.  Who maybe should be called "Dark Perfection Schwab" instead.  I've only been reading her for three months, but I've gone through four books and ALL OF THEM ARE TERRIFIC.  Original, dark, but compelling.  

  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.  Oh, I loved reading this book so much.  I intentionally dragged it out over four days instead of plowing through it all at once, just so I could spend more time immersed in Ketterdam.  I rated it a half star lower than Six of Crows in part because sequels always struggle to keep the sense of discovery going, but more because the politics of the plot got a bit mathematical at a few points.  And it didn't make me cry, for what it's worth.  Just misty-eyed.  

Damn, I have read some GOOD BOOKS the past few months.  Most of them have had a lot of hype too, reminding me that sometimes things are super popular because they are really good.  Take, for example, chocolate chip cookies.  Or Prague.  Or summer vacation.  

Assorted Stats

I'm not going to bore you with all the facts and figures, but I will say that without me paying deliberate attention to the authors I'm choosing, I've skewed heavily towards white Americans again.  I am going to refocus on reading 50% non-white and non-American this month.

My Writing

I wrote 17 posts this month, plus one over on Nerdy Book Club.  My most-viewed post was Why My Students Hate Reading (And Why They Love It Too).  My most-commented on post was also school related, when I did the Audio themed TTT on books I've read aloud.  And I was super proud of myself for creating my own nonfiction tag, even though the only one blogger picked it up.  AJ is the best, and seems to be my niche audience, as she reads and comments faithfully.  *Waves*


Today I was at a branch library in a Portland neighborhood, and I asked for a guest pass for their computers.  "You can do that, or I can sign you up for a library card," the librarian said.  I told him that I don't live in the county.  "That's okay," he replied, and the clouds parted, and a chorus of angels descended.

I was a two-county library patron before, when I moved away from the town where I taught and the local library let me keep my card. But then I changed jobs and lost my privileges.  My own library system is fantastic, as I may have mentioned once or twice, but it's still great to have privileges at the Multnomah libraries.  My mother-in-law, my therapist, and the best French bakery around are all blocks away from Portland branches, and now I can make better use of that.  Also, it's the library system I had my first card at, back when there were card catalogues, and they stamped the due date on the index card that sat in the little pocket glued to the back of the book.

September is a huge month for teachers and parents, so it's pretty much been a blur for me.  New students, new routines, and three separate back-to-school nights.  I'm working manfully (hey, look at that casually sexist word!) to fit reading and blogging into my life.  One kid started middle school, and that's been absolutely glorious, by which I mean immensely stressful to all concerned.  The other kid signed up for Battle of the Books again, which resulted in some side-eye from her mama, as last year she annoyed her team immensely by dropping out with exactly zero books read.  I love that she loves the idea of reading though, and her skills and confidence are both much higher this year, so I'm not discouraging her.

I keep spending too much money on books and coffee, but let's be honest--mostly on books. My ears have been ringing non-stop since my concussion at the start of the month, but otherwise my health seems to be back to normal.

Things I keep getting mildly obsessed with:
  • book censorship and banning and the implications for my classroom
  • school dress codes  I've always hated enforcing them, and I'm finally hearing pushback that makes sense and helps me explain my objections.
  • cats
  • waffles
  • labeling my classroom library
  • the gorgeous design of Crooked Kingdom.  The red page edges.  The dull black endpapers.  The cover art and colors.  *heaves a sigh of pleasure*

Things I keep refusing to think about, even though I should:
  • the upcoming election
  • my lack of shoeware other than sandals
  • bullet journaling, meal planning, and all those other wonderful organization schemes that might make my life better


  1. Thanks to your rave review of Salt to the Sea I think I'll request it (for the third time!) from the library.

    You are going to think this is really, really crazy, but even though I live near Houston, I have a library card from the Multnomah County system! I collect library cards and try to get one from every library I visit.

  2. 11 books is pretty good! Everyone seems to be reading Crooked Kingdom. And that's exciting about the library card...

    I spend too much on books too. I've been better lately, but... yeah. :)

    I hope the ear ringing goes away soon. Have a great week!

  3. CROOKED KINGDOM WAS EVERYTHING AJFDKALFDSA I LOVED IT SO MUCH I CANNOT EVEN. *pauses to hyperventilate* Although I do think I liked SoC better, but like only minutely. :') And omg I've heard SUCH good things about The Serpent King, and I actually bought it but havne't read it yet. afjdskalfd I need to get onto that too. Also I 100% agree about VE Schwab's utter perfection in This Savage Song. I've yet to read a book by her and rate it lower than 5stars. Her woooords are beautiful. *shrieks* I'm so glad you had a good reading month!

  4. It sounds like you've definitely had a busy month Wendy, with the writing, teaching, changing jobs and reading! You had such a fantastic reading month, I can't wait to read CK and This Savage Song. I'm glad you're making a conscious effort to check out books that are more diverse which is awesome!~

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

  5. *Waves back*

    I hope the ringing ears problem goes away. That would be really annoying.
    Also, I’m probably your niche audience because you’re a teacher who blogs about kids’ books, and I’m a student who researches what kids read. If I didn’t have blogs and teacher friends, I’d probably have to chase after random children while screaming “What are you reading? I need to know for research purposes!” Reading blogs is less likely to get me arrested.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  6. Good luck to your daughter in the Battle of the Books. Hopefully this time she knocks it out of the park!

  7. Congratulations on getting the library card. Back when I lived in WA, I was thrilled that Seattle let me keep my card when I moved across the water since I still worked a few days a week in the city.

  8. I also read The Serpent King and loved it! Wow--this author now has a fan for life in me. The writing was so powerful and I'm looking forward to his next book.

  9. I am dying to read the four books you designate as mind-blowing from this month! Lucky you! Cheers, Kara S


Please share your thoughts. Comments are almost as sweet as chocolate!