The Raven Boys

I just finished The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. It was quite an enjoyable read. Earlier this year I took Eldest daughter to hear Maggie speak at our local Schuler Bookstore. I hadn’t actually read anything of hers, but my daughter wants to be an author and so I take to her as many author talks as I can. I had started reading The Scorpio Races prior to the event so I would have some sense of Stiefvater’s writing style.

I loved The Scorpio Races, particularly the way that Stiefvater incorporates elements of mythology into her fantasy story. This is the same thing that I love about the amazing series The Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. She has done it again with The Raven Boys, bringing in psychics, ley lines, and ghosts – Stiefvater has created characters that are trying to make sense of themselves in their own world as well as intangible dimensions. And this woman does her research – she talked about going to Scotland and getting lost looking for a ley line in the foggy mist with her mother and sister.

I also love that she wrote female characters that aren’t weak or dependent on men. They interact with them, yes – and there is a bit of romantic tension for those they like it. But Blue, her mother, and her “aunts” aren’t reliant on men for either their income or their identifies  They are not treated badly, and are not looking outside themselves to define themselves. For this an other reasons – I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. I’m also looking forward to sharing it with my preteen daughter.

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I made a huge discovery about myself. I can walk on the treadmill and read at the same time! I love reading and I am very undisciplined about exercise so it is a perfect combination. As a result, I’ve finally finished a book I’ve been trying to finish for more than a week, started on another, and completed one that has been on top of my tbr pile for far too long.

I finished The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater. A lovely example of a fantasy novel that draws on folklore (something we just talked about in my children’s literature class last week!) I also like the way that we hear the story told from boy Puck and Sean’s points of view – but I tend to love multi-vocal stories. The way that Steifvater writes about the connections that both characters have with horses and the land felt so very authentic to me. I immediately recommended it to my cousin, who could BE Puck (you know, if it weren’t a fantasy fictional story).

I finally read A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban. This has been on my tbr pile for a while. My friend, Colby Sharp, is a big fan of Linda’s and I’ve been wanting to read it. I read it in an evening, immediately gave it 5 stars on goodreads, and handed it to my 12-year-old daughter as a “must read”. For more, see yesterday’s blog post. (It needed it’s own post, it was that amazing.)

I reread The Arrival, The Red Tree, Eric, and Sketches from a Nameless Land by Shaun Tan. My children’s literature students read, wrote about, and discussed The Arrival last week. Every time I read Tan’s books, I’m blown away by the way he creates multiple levels of story, and therefore, response. I picked up Sketches from A Nameless Land when I was in Australia this summer, it is amazing to be able to read about Tan’s process and get a glimpse at his creative process. Hoping that this will be available in the US soon.

I started reading A Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz. I absolutely loved A Tale Dark and Grimm because of the way that Gidwitz turns upside down (and inside out) what we think we know about fairy tales. This follow up is not disappointing. I also love that the narrator talks to the reader – nothing like breaking the fourth wall in an artful way.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading…

Be sure to check out the fabulous teachmentortexts to see what others are reading!

This week I read:

Homer written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper

The calm and steady character of Homer the dog are integrated into every aspect of this book; from a simple yet meaningful text to gorgeous water color illustrations. Framed, single-page spreads show Homer’s vantage point from the porch throughout the day. Occasional double-page spreads with full bleeds “speak” for Homer without needing text. This is a dog who is completely satisfied with his life.

House Held Up By Trees written by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen

I reread this book in preparation for a discussion about realistic fiction in my children’s literature course this week. Kooser’s prose is beautifully written and the accompanying illustrations showcase a variety of points of view. The color palate is subtle and is a great example of green representing life, even when it seems it may not go on.

Grandpa Green written and illustrated by Lane Smith

I’ve read this book many times and was not disappointed on this reread. The students in my children’s literature course are also reading (and rereading) it in preparation for our first class discussion and their first papers. I’m always struck by the intricacies of the illustrations and the different ways that I think about the grandson and his grandfather.

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

This story has not disappointed. Schlitz’s ability to weave together magic, history, social class, and mystery create a tale that engaged me from the first page. She gives enough information to bring me in without making things predictable. I’m looking forward to finishing off the last few chapters tonight!

This coming week:

I’m still working on No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, it’s next on my tbr stack. I also picked up The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater at the library yesterday. I’ve not read any of her books, but she is going to be at our local independent bookstore this coming friday and I’m planning on taking my daughter. I was hoping to get her newest, The Raven Boys, but it was checked out.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I’m working on creating a “school-year” reading routine for myself. During the summer months I have some more flexibility and don’t need to be quite as plan-full. Thankfully, our local library had some great new books to get me started!

Remember to check out Teach Mentor Texts to see what others have been reading!

What I read last week:

The Hueys in The New Sweater written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers is a genius – both as a storyteller and illustrator. When we talk about picture books in my children’s literature course, I want the students to understand the role of brevity – both in text and illustration – and this is fantastic example.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combination story by Monica Brown illustrations by Sara Palacios

This thoughtful story about a young girl who is a “creative, unique, bilingual, Peruvian-Scottish-American, soccer-playing artist” is published with both english and spanish text. I love the potential discussions that could follow a reading of this about identity, how we define ourselves, and diversity.

The Obstinate Pen written and illustrated by Frank W. Dormer

Funny story about a pen that people just don’t want to listen to, when a young boy finally does some wonderful things happen.

The Insomniacs written by Karina Wolf illustrated by The Brothers Hilts

I loved this quirky story about a family who is adjusting to moving across multiple time zones and finding a rhythm that works for them. As someone who struggles with insomnia, it is refreshing to read – and see – it set in a positive “light”. (I know it’s a bad pun, couldn’t help myself.)

Isabella’s Garden written by Glenda Millard and illustrated by Rebecca Cool

Rich, vibrant illustrations accompany this sweet add-on story in the style of “the House the Jack Built”. This is particularly close to my heart because I was able to see some of the original artwork at an exhibit in Sydney, Australia over the summer.

What I’m reading now

Same Sun Here by Silas House & Neela Vaswani

So far I’m loving the dual voices in this book about pen pals from New York City and Kentucky.

It’s Monday June 4, What Are You Reading?

This past week (or 2) I read:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is an absolutely stunning book. I read this via NetGalley and was absolutely blown away by the writing – the characters are rich and multi-dimension and the story drew me in. There were a few twists that I didn’t anticipate that made me love it even more. Wein clearly did her research before writing this amazing work of historical fiction. I’m sure we’ll be seeing some medals on the cover come next year!

Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett is a lovely and honest story about siblings. I picked up an ARC of this at ALA Midwinter and had forgotten it was sitting on my daughter’s shelf. This past week while researching Australian children’s authors and illustrators, I remembered that this was by Aussie Sonya Hartnett and was able to locate it after a bit of searching. I myself am and older sibling, and parent to two daughters so this book rang true from multiple perspectives. I love how Hannah names her hands and uses them to help her work through needing to grow-up just a big. The charcoal illustrations add to the story, particularly the personalities of Sadie & Ratz.

The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker. I’m not sure how I haven’t read this Clementine story before this, my 2nd grader’s teacher recommended it to me and as with Clementine’s other stories, I wasn’t disappointed. I love the voice of this character, it feels authentic without going over the top – particularly the way that she thinks through things. I also love that the adults in Clementine’s life seem to “get” her and go with her free-spirited, unusual way of thinking.

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner is an adventure mystery that has a number of twists and turns (both literal and figurative) that  will keep you guessing about the outcome.

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan A. Shea asks readers to think about things that do and don’t grow as well as what they will become. The rhyming, illustrations and interactive fold-out pages make this a picture book that will be popular with a variety of young readers.

Look! Look! Look! At Sculpture by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace is a picture book that invites readers to consider the different ways to look at sculpture along with some friendly mice. Not only does this book encourage us to rethink how to enjoy sculpture, but is also shows readers how to create some of their own.

Next week I’ll be Reading…

I’m still working on Graceling – I want to read it when I have time to just sit and devour it. I also broke down and bought Insurgent – am looking forward to talking with my oldest daughter who as already read it. Lastly, I’m preparing for my upcoming visit to Australia by researching and reading books by Australian Authors and Illustrators (picture books through YA). If you have any favorites or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you!

I’m Back – It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I took a few weeks off recently to wrap up Spring Semester 2012. I’m officially finished with coursework for my Ph.D. and now have a whole lot of writing to do (more on that in future posts). I’ve enjoyed taking time in the past week to connect with my reader self.

Last week I read:

After Eli by  Rebecca Rupp was recommended by Paul Hankins on either Twitter, GoodReads, or Facebook (likely all three)! This did not disappoint. Daniel is trying to make sense of his brother’s death and growing up. His voice is thoughtful and honest, and brought me to tears a few times. This is the first complete book I’ve read on my new iP*d through NetGalley. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about reading on an e-device, but the story was so fantastic I barely noticed. Release date: Aug. 14, 2012

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin – I’ve been on the waitlist at my local East Lansing Public Library for a while; and am glad that it finally came in! I remember distinctly sitting at dinner at ALA Midwinter reading Roger Sutton’s editorial mentioning this book, it was the first I’d heard of it. Less than 2 days later it was announced as a Newbery Medal Honor book. It’s one that I want to read a few more times and am thinking of pairing with the beautiful picturebook The Wall by Peter Sis. Lots to think about in the best possible ways.

See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles – this one is getting it’s own review, check back tomorrow!

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle – This was on the “new books” shelf at my library and I thought I’d read something about it (can’t remember were). The dialogue is distinctly Irish, making me think of my father-in-law (born outside of Belfast), and my own Kelly & O’Malley relatives. Mary’s characters is multi-dimensional and the plot intriguing. Another book I want to reread.

This coming week I’m reading:

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinnaire by Mrs. Bunny translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath – My 2nd grade daughter and I are reading this adventure story together. She is quite enchanted with both Madeline (the main human character) and Mr. & Mrs. Bunny. We are looking forward to finishing it this week.

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper – This is was recommended to me by a librarian friend who knows that I like historical fiction and am also looking for books to read by Australian authors in preparation for my first visit down under in a few months.

How to Write A Lot by Paul Silvia – A fabulous little book about academic writing. I’m rereading it for the third time as I return to the final leg of writing my practicum and begin to work on my dissertation proposal. This, along with Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird are my two favorite books about writing.

There will be more… but I’m not sure exactly what yet! I’ve been trying to hold off reading Insurgent thinking it would be good for the airplane trip to Australia, but I honestly don’t think I can wait that long. I’ve also got the 6th and final book in the Nicholas Flamel series waiting for me on NetGalley and am hoping to get Rebecca Stead and Sharon Creech’s newest titles soon as well.