2/24: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This past week was midwinter break here in NYC so I was hoping to devour about 10 books & get two posts up. Instead I spent the week rushing one of my cats back & forth from the vet & tending to him post-surgery. Suffice it to say that Monday came back around way too soon.

I did get some great reading in though!

monsterLast Night I Sang to the Monster, Benjamin Alire Saenz I mostly loved this. If you know BAS from Aristotle & Dante, there is familiar territory here, but I found Zach’s tale somehow enchanting in its rawness. It was a hard read in some respects – at times because of the content, because of Zach’s brutal & honest reactions, & at other times because Zach’s go-to phrases seemed to cheapen or diminish the story. Despite that, & an ending that came too soon & tied up too neatly, this was a beautiful, haunting book about addiction, trauma, secrets, & finding yourself.


The Real Boy, Anne Ursu – Finally! Back in November, I all but camped out at Scholastic’s NCTE booth in hopes of scoring a copy of this lovely book. No dice, though I considered being late to my own presentation to get it. Instead, I had to wait on my local library. Thankfully, I picked up Breadcrumbs, Ursu’s beautiful reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” to tide me over. The Real Boy was wonderful. It grabbed me; I found myself at times gasping & clutching at the book. Some loose ends that never quite came together, but I can forgive that. Really lovely fantasy tale, & awesome cats!


Every Day, David LevithanI’m definitely hooked so far, but I’m not in love. A is…complicated. It’s nice to have a complicated narrator, though. I become so attached to “good” narrators that I’m often too forgiving, so I’m enjoying disagreeing with A, so far.

On deck this week:

Rosie & Skate The Demigod Diaries The Living


February 17th – It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?I love this meme! It does mean that my to-read list balloons every week, but that’s ok with me because books are wonderful. It’s the first official day of midwinter break in NYC, which means I came home with a bag of books on Friday, to go with the three towers in the corner of my bedroom.

Really tempted to build a fort...

It’s only a problem if you can’t admit it?

So! What am I reading?

House of Hades

The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus #4), by Rick Riordan – I’m about halfway through the most recent in Riordan’s Percy Jackson follow-up series, & zomg. I absolutely loved the Percy Jackson series; Riordan clearly knows his mythology & history, not to mention teens. I really enjoyed the books, especially seeing what these gods & mythological creatures were up to in the present (kind of like YA American Gods). I got into this sequel series because of my students, & even though I’ve torn through the first 3 books, they haven’t felt as amazing as the original series. Even though there have been great moments of modern-day god-life, fun callbacks to characters from the first series, & the potential for awesome fights, things have felt rushed & more told than shown.

This installment has been such a welcome change of pace! There’s still a LOT happening on each page, & the drive-by appearances of Scrion, Triptolemus, & Eros have made me wish for a slower pace, but I’ve also found myself smiling & inwardly cheering at many moments. & Tartarus is pretty awesomely rendered so far. I’m forcing myself to move slower through this one, which makes it much more enjoyable, even when I catch myself in social situations inwardly wondering what’s going to happen next & how long it will be until I can find out WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO LEO/FRANK/PERCY/HAZEL!

Home of the Brave

Home of the Brave, by Katherine Applegate – I just finished this lovely novel-in-verse this week, a beautiful story about immigration, refugee experiences, & moving to a strange new land. & cows! I’m going to be reading this with my students soon. I’m so excited for them to meet Kek & Gol. If you’ve read One and Only Ivan, you know Katherine Applegate is amazing, & I do think she brings her A-game to HOTB. I read this right after A Long Walk to Water, & I could see them pairing really well together. Applegate is just so good at telling a story through these poems. It’s a joy to read them, & reread them, & chew them over.


Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell – Rainbow Rowell just needs to stop writing love letters to my soul. Or maybe to keep doing it forever. I LOVED Eleanor & Parkfiercely. I loved it in the primal, intense way that bears love baby bears. & then Fangirl came into my life & I was like, “How can I love you both so much?!” I’d heard a lot of reviews & recommendations that Fangirl was even better than E&P, but I can’t concur with that. They’re too different. & that might be what makes them so great, that FG is so different from E&P, that they speak to very different parts of me & do so honestly. FG was so dead on, about fandom, about college, about boys & nerds & creative writing professors & students. The way Rowell writes about writing unlocked something in me, & I know I’ll be carrying this book within me for a long time.

Also recently read:








What are you reading?

Book Review: A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue ParkA Long Walk To Water, Linda Sue Park


128 pages – Middle/High School – Historical Fiction/Based on a True Story/Global Issues/War

In Short: Based on Salva Dut’s account of fleeing the Second Civil War in Sudan, this brief but intense novel takes readers on a journey across Africa and through time. Park alternates between two narratives: Salva at 11 years old in the 1980s, and Nya’s life in present-day Sudan (2008). Salva’s moving story will draw in readers regardless of age, though the honest depictions of violence and hardship make this novel appropriate for middle school and up. A Long Walk to Water would make an excellent companion for Ishmael Beah’s memoir A Long Way Gone, or Terry Farish’s novel-in-verse, The Good BraiderALTW could also support a unit on war, historical fiction, or interviewing. Continue reading for a more detailed review, and more ideas for bringing A Long Walk to Water into the classroom!

Continue reading

Book Review: On the Come Up

On the Come Up: A Novel, Based on a True Story, by Hannah Weyer, 320 pages, adult fiction, 4.5 stars, recommended for high school

In short… This wonderful coming-of-age novel, based on the life of actress Anna Simpson, takes readers through the life of a teenager growing up in the projects of Far Rockaway. Through the main character of AnnMarie, readers journey through the foster care system, the projects, teen pregnancy, public school in New York City, dysfunctional relationships of all sorts, the making of an independent film, young motherhood, and more. Hannah Weyer manages to take on the ever-complicated life of this character without appearing to juggle chainsaws, which is impressive in and of itself. Even better is the realism of this story; despite the hardships and trauma of AnnMarie’s life, despite the surprising break an indie film offers, the novel follows a character making a normal life after the flash in the pan has dimmed. Put this in your high school independent reading library, add it to a literature circle unit for students to discuss in groups, or add it to your units on coming-of-age. Paired with To Kill a Mockingbird: the comparisons students could draw between Scout and AnnMarie, the examination of gender in these two societies, the value and influence of setting, and so on! Click more for a detailed review!

Continue reading

Fat Angie Book Review & WOW!

I’m going to start with the wow. This week has been amazing. When I wrote the post below, I expected about four people, all of whom I knew personally, would read it & say nice things to me about it. As of today, 213 people have viewed that post, & 110 people have shared it on Facebook. That is INSANE. Only 9 of my own Facebook friends shared it, so I don’t know who you other 101 people are, but THANK YOU. I can’t describe how it feels to know that people took the time to read what I wrote, & felt like sharing it afterward. You are amazing & I heart you.

So, I read a lot. Never as much as I want to, but still quite a bit. And while I’ve got a Goodreads account to keep track of what I read, I rarely do more than assign a star rating to a title once I’ve finished it. I get caught up in “why am I writing this review?” & “who is reading this review?” & “shut up, you write too much.” But now that I’m trying to put this lovely stretch of Internet to good use, I figured out the why and the who (unfortunately, still working on the shutting up). These book reviews are for teachers who are readers. They include my reader reaction, my teacher reaction, and how I think the book would fit into a classroom. And they come with a handy abstract that gives you all the key points, so you can check out the details only if you feel moved to do so! First up: Fat Angie.


Fat Angie, by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo, 272 pages, YA

3.5 stars, recommended for high school

In short… Fat Angie is an intense, eye-opening, gritty novel about bullying, loss, death, and depression, that still manages to be uplifting, entertaining, and amazing. While the author tries to take on a lot in one novel, it does not prove to be so much that the characters and their triumphs are overshadowed. Put this book in your high school classroom library for Independent Reading, use an excerpt to start a whole-class discussion of bullying, respect, families, or self-love, or incorporate it into literature circles or book clubs. See below for an in-(too-much-) depth review!

Continue reading