Sunday, December 4, 2016

November Wrap Up

I'm never going to get this posted if I do links and pictures, so...sorry!  Maybe I'll be able to jump back in later with some pics at least.  I'm linking up to both the Sunday Post at Caffeinated Book Reviewer and the Monthly Wrap Up Round Up at Feed Your Fiction Addiction.

My Reading

Books read: 21 (a bunch were graphic novels, don't worry)


I didn't include in my count Orbiting Jupiter, a book I first read to myself, then to last year's classes, and now to this year's classes.  It is an amazing read-aloud, and the slower pace of reading it that way has brought me a huge appreciation for the poetic language of the book.  It's not particularly subtle, but have you met any middle schoolers?  The book WORKS for its intended audience.  Gary D. Schmidt did a great podcast interview on The Yarn, and I challenge you to not tear up when he talks about his wife's death and how it influenced the book.  

Ahem.  That was a lot to say about a book I'm not officially counting.  I'll try to keep the rest of this SOMEWHAT briefer.

I read the graphic novel version of The Lightning Thief to my kids. It was decent.

I read The Savage to my squirreliest class.  (That is TOO a word, spell-check!)  It wasn't very successful as a read-aloud, but it is a good book.  I think it lost something by the difficulty in showing the pictures.  

We've started our annual tradition of reading a Christmas book each night, more or less, depending on how late bedtime is.  These are all in our personal collection and we've read them each year.  

Mildly Disappointing

I went on to read The Sea of Monsters graphic novel, and it was kind of boring.  I'm sure more familiarity with the source material would have helped.

Three Men in a Boat hasn't lost much of its humor since being written in the 19th century, but it has lost some of its humor since growing up.  There's a lot of teenaged sniggering.

Mortal Heart was a bit of a let-down after liking the first book in the series and really liking the second.

I can't say I was disappointed in Call Me Hope, because I went in with zero expectations, but the ending annoyed me greatly.  It falls victim to the MG problem of wrapping things up with more optimism than believability.  


Literature Study Circles in the Multi Cultural Classroom is a rather dated professional book, but I got several good ideas from the early chapters.

As mentioned, I liked Grave Mercy and really liked Dark Triumph.  And I also liked reading a series that is already complete, so I could plow through the whole thing inside of a month.

The Husband's Secret was my first Lianne Moriarty novel, and it was great fun.  I'm sure I'll be reading more of her thrillers.

Wow, wow, wow!

Lots of good books this month, and several great ones.

I continued to read a bunch of Chris Crutcher this month, and enjoyed Stotan!, The Sledding Hill, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, and his memoir, King of the Mild Frontier.  I need to convince students to try him, because I know many of them would love him.

I got my hands on a library copy of The Scythe by putting it on hold before it came out.  It is terrific, of course, because it's by Neal Shusterman.  Something is keeping me from calling it a five star book, though, and I think it's because the characters felt to me like they would be right at home with the characters from Unwind, even though it's a completely different set-up.

Another reliable author is Brian K. Vaughan. While I wait for the next volume of Saga to come out, I read volume one of Paper Girls.  And yes, it was terrific.

Gaijin: American Prisoner of War is a graphic novel about a biracial Japanese American boy living in San Fransisco at the beginning of WWII.  I loved the color pallet, and the story was fresh and heart-breaking and (unfortunately) timely.

My Seneca Village is a novel in verse with multiple characters, describing life in Seneca Village a New York neighborhood that was destroyed to make room for Central Park.  Who knew?  Many of the inhabitants were black, with immigrants moving in over time.

There are several contestants for best book of the month:

I finally got to read When I Was The Greatest, and now I'm super excited to read more Jason Reynolds.

Kate Messner's The Seventh Wish is pretty much perfect, and it slays me that it's considered controversial.  What is wrong with people?

Tana French is a genius, and The Trespasser builds my case for saying that.  It's also the most optimistic ending she's ever written, which was kind of a nice change of pace.

I loved Matt Phelan's graphic novel version of Snow White, set in 1920s and Depression era New York.

I gave Snow White five stars, so I guess it was my favorite, but now that I write that, I'm also super tempted to say The Seventh Wish.  

Assorted Stats

  • Eleven of my books this month were by men, and ten by women, which is pretty unusual for me, as I do tend to read a lot of women authors.  My current obsession with Chris Crutcher is probably the reason why it's more balanced this time.  
  • Only two of my books were not by white authors, proving once again that unless I pay attention, I default to that.  Sigh.  
  • I read five graphic novels, one novel in verse, and read one book online.  
  • Most of my books were by American authors, with one English author, one English co-author, one Irish author and one Australian.  

My Writing

I published 18 posts in November.  My most viewed post was If You Liked Orbiting Jupiter, in which I shared an infographic I created (*pats self on back*) suggesting other books that link in to themes and motifs from that one.  It got a lot of views because I shared it with the Global Read Aloud community.  The next viewed post was a TTT, as it usually is.  For the Holiday Gift Guide theme, I shared free/cheap ideas for Secret Santa exchanges.

I enjoyed writing a review of Chris Crutcher's works and one of the His Fair Assassin series.  I wrote a couple of posts in my "Does Your Mother Know You're Reading That?" series, which is about censorship, gatekeeping, and covering one's ass in the middle school classroom.  I also started participating in the Diversity Thursday Spotlight link-up, writing a post about Mexican-American YA books/authors and one about autism representation.  Finally, I wrote a post about using books to teach empathy, listing some books I use or will use with that specific purpose in mind.  


This post is going up late because the holiday season is revving up and days are getting full.  Also, the election threw me for a loop, and I'm still trying to get caught up on stuff I let slide the week after.
Thanksgiving is always a nice holiday, and although I had a bad cold that is still lingering annoyingly, I enjoyed having some time off.  The Winemaker and I started re-watching Harry Potter, and have just the final movie to see.  (We meant to watch them with the kids, but they are still too freaked out by the later ones.)  We also got to see Fantastic Beasts in a movie theater, which is always a big treat for us.  The only other highlight I can think of is having breakfast last weekend with a group of friends I've had since grade school.  It's always lovely to get together with them.  Lots of belly laughs, lots of honesty.  There aren't many people you can really tell how you're doing.  

At work we were participating in the Global Read Aloud in my classes, and I did my first Google Hangout with a class in Iowa.  Then at the very end of the month I started Lit Circles with my kids, only they all said, "Is it gonna be LIT?!?" so we're calling them book clubs instead.  I was nervous about the discussion part, because I wasn't sure how they'd do without a teacher running things, but we had our first discussion meetings last week and they did AWESOME.  Well, my 8th grade classes did.  7th graders seemed to need more support.  

In case you're curious, the books they are reading are:
  • The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
  • Call Me Hope
  • Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
  • The Giver
  • Nightjohn
  • Soldier's Heart
  • Gabi, A Girl In Pieces
  • The Crossover
  • Stargirl
  • Out of My Mind
  • If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
  • Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphry

December is already under way, with all the accompanying excitement and hoopla.  I hope your November was delightful, and that you weather the intensity of the upcoming season well.  

1 comment:

  1. Lol, yes, book clubs are gonna be LIT! I’ve never read a Chris Crutcher book. That’s probably really bad of me. I know his work is popular. It sounds like you had a good month. Happy December!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!


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