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YA Fiction Review

The Dark UnwindingThe Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Dark Unwinding at BEA this past spring and I was eager to read it. Mine didn’t have the pretty cover, but I had a postcard with what it would look like. I defintely really enjoyed reading this story. I thought the characters were very well done. The main character was interesting because she wasn’t your typical saintly, innocent heroine. She had a job to do and her own interests to look after, especially in a time when females typically had no income without a husband or someone to take care of them.

It was a well-told tale, full of intruging imagery and mysteries that kept me wondering. I did crave a bit more darkness and maybe some more romance. But it is still a creepy and chilling tale, without even being supernatural, which is usually the case for these types of Victorian/Gothic/Clock-work-ish novels. Because of this, I would recommend it for younger teens +.

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YA Fiction Review

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Kristin Cashore’s third book in the – well, I’m not sure exactly what to call it. Realm Trilogy? I don’t know. Regardless, it was good! It made me want to re-read Graceling and Fire to remember some of the history of the characters. Bitterblue’s grown-up character was very believable and refreshingly real for a fantasy novel. I loved how honest and frank she is about herself as she discovers, not only the mysteries of her re-awakening kingdom, but who she is as a queen and woman. It was dark in a way that I hadn’t expected, and that Graceling had only scratched the surface of, but that was what made it so good I couldn’t put it down. The other great thing? I got to read my very own autographed copy from BEA where I actually spoke to Kristin (we have so much in common since we both went to Simmons and all – haha.)

Authors are my celebrities 🙂

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Book Review

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG. I have a girl-crush on Mindy Kaling. No. I have an actual crush on Mindy Kaling. Honestly, this book is hilarious. I saw Mindy speak at BEA in New York this past spring. She introduced Jeffrey Eugenides, Charlaine Harris and Diane Keaton at an author breakfast, and (though I secretly went specifically to see Charlaine Harris because I am a huge fan of Sookie Stackhouse) I thought Mindy was so funny and eloquent, and she really was the best part of the whole thing. (I felt so sad when Diane got choked up!)

I read the excerpt of this book, which I received at the breakfast, and I was so excited to read the rest. I kept reading passages to my husband and laughing in the middle of them so that he eventually had to hide out from me until I finished. The pictures are priceless. And no, it’s not Tina Fey’s book, but it might just be a super close second…..just kidding, Mindy. You Rock! Not that you will read this and even if you did, you’d be like “gee, another awesome review of my book, *Yawn*.)

But I hope you don’t.  ❤

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No More Teachers, No More Books….

It’s that time of year when school is finishing up and kids are thinking about those long summer days with no studying and no homework. But just when they thought it was safe to relax, the dreaded Summer Reading List arrives. In the elementary school kids get a suggested reading list, which some parents follow and some don’t. The middle school and high school kids get required summer reading. It’s always interesting for me when I get the lists from the schools. (Though sometimes I don’t get them and have to procure them from a library patron, but whatever….) Some teachers change up the lists every few years, while some have been the same since the 1950’s.

The link below is the list is for 4th graders going into 5th grade. I think this is the best list I’ve seen so far because there isn’t one “required book” and they only have to read one from a pretty big list. Not as daunting or scary as some. They can choose one book from the following list of authors: Avi, Andrew Clements, Cornelia Funke, Kate DiCamillo, Jerry Spinelli, Katherine Paterson, Christopher Paul Curtis, Pam Munoz Ryan & Mike Lupica. It’s a list of authors with different styles and genres. Hats off to the teacher or reading specialist who created this list!

 Middle School 4th to 5th Grade Summer Reading List

For the most part, I think summer reading is a good idea as long as it’s not a crazy amount. For the kids who don’t like to read, it won’t kill them to read one or two books. I also try to carry as many of the required books on CD at the library because sometimes it’s the only way they’ll do it. Some teachers and librarians don’t agree with this, but if it’s a choice between listening to the book or nothing at all (or worse, the MOVIE version of the book) then I think it’s a good alternative for a reluctant reader. And giving kids a choice of books to read is easier to manage, though most teachers will have at least one required book that they all have to read, and then a choice of one or two more. Another thing I try to do, though last year no one really took advantage, is to have a book group for the required reading books. The idea was for kids and parents to read the book together and then talk about it over yummy snacks and a fun activity.

For the kids who do read, I think that requiring too many books over the summer is just plain mean!

I like to put out a list of my own favorites as suggestions for some fun summer reading. Because summer reading SHOULD be fun! It shouldn’t be something a kid dreads the minute school lets out. Here are a few great middle grade books I’ve read recently that I’ll be recommending at the library (I’ll leave the YA for next time):

I’m also looking forward to reading all the galley copies I picked up at BEA last month! Some of them look very good and I can’t wait to get into them. I’ll post my reviews and let you know when they are due to come out. Have any good books to recommend or Summer Reading horror stories??

 

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