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What I’m Reading

July 2015

Summer time is here! Time for LOTS of reading!

Blind Spot (by Laura Ellen) so far a really engaging mystery

All The Things I Never Told You (by Celeste Ng) A haunting tale of a family torn apart and an intense look at the tension between fitting in and standing out. A great book recommended by one of the most inspirational teachers I know, Dr. Kim Parker.

Mechanically Inclined (by Jeff Anderson) This will be the year I teach grammar for real! And this book will help me do it! 

The Poisoner’s Handbook (by Deborah Blum)

June 2015

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (by Cheryl Strayed)

Red Rising (by Pierce Brown) I can’t put this one down! It’s a grown-up Hunger Games!

The Teacher Wars (by Dana Goldstien)

May 2015

Martyn Pig (by Kevin Brooks)

Extreme Serial Killers (non-fiction)

Better than Before (a book on developing habits by Gretchen Rubin)

April 2015:

Whisper the Dead (by Alexandra Harvey) – I have a Harvey fan in my class this year!

Wonder (by R.J. Palacio)

March 2015:

We Were Here (by Matt De la Pena)

Brown Girl Dreaming (by Jacqueline Woodson)

King Dork (by Frank Portman)

Parrotfish (by Ellen Wittlinger)

March-May 2013:

Young Adult Lit:

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

This was my first Chris Crutcher book.  While I wasn’t in love with the story, I did find the main characters appealing.  Also, within the so-so plot are some discussions about religion, philosophy and personal belief that could lead to some rich discussions in student-led book groups.  I would recommend this book to kids that like quirky characters, but may need something with simpler vocabulary and syntax before reading something by John Green.

February 2013:

Young Adult Lit:

Widlefire by Karsten Knight

With all the great YA lit I’ve been reading, I was kind of disappointed in this book. The premise sounded like it had potential – several teens hit puberty and find out that they are actually reincarnated gods and goddesses.  However, not only was I not invested in the main characters, but I also rooted against them multiple times.  The plot bordered on bizzare and the romantic relationships made me roll my eyes time and time again.  Not a recommended read.

Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

When I was in middle school I loved Jerry Spinelli’s book Maniac Magee.  I couldn’t tell you why I loved it, but I just did.  I feel the same way about Love, Stargirl.  The characters are all interesting and I cared about them, as I met them through the main character, Stargirl’s, eyes.  If you enjoy quirky characters and a bit of non-conventionality, you will enjoy this fun and easy read.

January 2013:

Young Adult Lit:

Everyday by David Leviathan

Everyday follows the character A who has many of the emotional issues and struggles of most teens . . . except A is in a different body every day.  The book follows A as he jumps from body to body in Maryland and builds a relationship for the first time in his strange life.  I had never read anything by this author before, and now I’ve requested more of his books.  This was a really fun, and occasionally deep, read!

Little Brother by Corey Doctorow

I finally read this book after multiple recommendations, and I’m really glad I did!  Little Brother follows tech-geek Marcus as he gets unlawfully detained after a massive terrorist attack on San Francisco.  Once he is released he leads a digital rebellion against the civil liberties crackdown from Homealnd security.  As someone who was a young adult when 9/11 happened I found that a lot of this “fiction” rang true, even in ways that were scary.  While the love interest storyline seemed a little over the top to me (but that is often the case with YA stuff) I still really like this book and I’m excited to see that the sequel just came out.

December 2012:

Young Adult Lit:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

This book was recommended to me by a librarian friend.  Katsa is definitely the strongest female character I have read about in a very, very long time.  I love how she fights, survives, and is extremely independent, even while also falling in love.  I can’t wait to share this book with my students, especially the girls who can enjoy all of the suspense and romance that they enjoyed with Twilight, but with a girl who can acutally inspire them to do more than simply angst about which boy to pick.

Fire and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

After finishing Graceling I was super excited to see that there were more!  Fire and Bitterblue are more in the “companion novel” category than sequel, and both are quite good.  I appreciate how each character, and her respective relationships, became more even more complex then Katsa’s.

The Battle of Jericho by Sharon Draper

This book is one that has been on my classroom book shelf for years, but that I only recently read.  Sharon Draper definitely tries to provide accessible characters and text level for students in urban settings, which I appreciate.  While I could see some of my students enjoying this book, I also felt that the characters were a bit too one-dimensional and the plot seemed a bit extreme.  I might recommended this book to student who was trying to move up from the Blueford High series.

The Kill Order by James Dashner

I enjoyed the Maze Runner series last year and I was excited to see this prequel.  I was hoping it would answer some of the questions that left us hanging at the end of the Maze Runner series, and it did  . . . at least some of them.  Truthfully though I actually like these characters better than the main characters of the Maze Runner, so that was nice.  A decent read.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket)

I had heard rave reviews about this book.  I enjoyed the writing and the way that illustrations were interspersed with the story.  However, the narrator seemed to get a bit whiny toward the middle, almost as if she couldn’t keep up the rant about “why they broke up.”  The ending was also a little bit of a let-down, but maybe it was simply true-to-life for teen romantic drama.

Professional Literature:

  • Catching up on Educational Leadership

November 2012:

Young Adult Lit:

Flight by Sherman Alexie

I finally read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian last school year, and I was excited to pick this other title by Alexie at the library.  It is darker than Diary, but it also has a very intriguing main character.  An interesting travel through time.

Professional Literature:

  • Articles about the Coh-Metrix system for evaluating text-complexity

September-October 2012:

Young Adult Lit:

A Feast for Crows and Dances with Dragons from the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin

I’m completely addicted.  I’m on the fifth book, Dances with Dragons, and I’m incredibility depressed that I have to wait for the next one to come out.

Professional Literature:

  • Articles on reading assessment and how students show “metacognition” while reading.

August 2012:

Young Adult Lit:

Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown:

An interesting new book by one of my favorite YA authors.  This book explores a complex sibling relationship that I imagine many teens with siblings could relate to.  There is not a lot of action – it is really great for teens who like a character-centered book.

Game of Thrones and Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

As a sci-fi/fantasy fan I am thoroughly enjoying this series.  Martin created a pretty interesting place, and you never know which character is going to be offed next!  It makes for a fun escapist read.

Professional Literature:

  • Several articles on formative assessment
  • The ACT college standards

July 2012:

Young Adult Lit:

Shadow in Flight by Orson Scott Card

Professional Literature:

Just trying to catch up on ASCD Smart Brief and a couple articles a colleague recommended!


June 2012:

Young Adult Lit:

Mortal Instruments Series:

Insurgent (sequel to Divergent)

Professional Literature:

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margins of Error by Kathryn Schultz

Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents.

Latest issue of NCTE English Journal: Issues and Innovations.  The two articles I really enjoyed in this issue were:

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