Monday, July 9, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? - July 9

Because I took a break last week from posting, I have read so many delicious books in the last 2 weeks, I'm not sure where to start, so I think I'll just share the highlights by category.

First of all, as I've mentioned on twitter, I have become addicted to our public library this summer.  I go to the library and least once a week, and never bring home less than 8 books each time.  This is a picture of my most recent haul: you'll see some YA titles, some middle grade chapter books, and two adult books by authors I love.  In addition, here is the bookshelf in my living room  - the 3rd shelf and the 5th shelf are all library books.  I plan on having plenty to read at all times this summer!

Really good middle grade reads in the past 2 weeks:

  • Close to Famous by Joan Bauer : I enjoyed this book so much I really need to read more by this author. Love the backdrop of the main character being a good cook but a great baker, however she can not read or write. She just memorizes recipes from the Food Network. I worked up an appetite reading about all the different cupcakes and muffins she baked. Some of my favorite lines from the book:
    - When Foster holds a cookbook she gets from the bookmobile over her heart, the librarian says, "That's where a book should be carried."
    - "There's nothing wrong with having a different way of learning. What's wrong is when people blame you for it."
    - "Cooking is about life. It gives us what we need to keep going, and it gives us something to share with other people."
    "But for now, I'm going to make the world a better place one cupcake at a time."
    A must read!!!! 
  • King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige: I was at our public library reserving books, and I just happened to check my GoodReads. Noticed that a friend I trust for recommendations had recommended this sports historical fiction. For any students who really enjoy baseball, and liked We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson, this would be a perfect fit. I enjoyed so much about this book: each chapter is sequentially titled with what inning it is and whether it is top or bottom of inning (so clever), the main character had polio but learns to overcome some of the disease's obstacles, the main character and his father have a very strained relationship which made for good reading even when I didn't like the dad, and the best part of all was how the author took real events from the life of Satchel Paige and fictionalized their context for the story. The author takes a good look at the bigotry of the time as well without being too preachy. I would agree with my friend, Susan, who recommended this book - King of the Mound is a must read (and now for me, a must buy!!). 
  • The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng: I enjoyed Cheng's Where the Steps Were, so when I saw this on our public library's new book shelf, I grabbed it. In addition, several twitter friends have read it lately. Anna, the main character, could be a member of the #nerdybookclub. She always has a book at hand. I love the artwork where it shows so many great titles Anna has read. More of a girl book as a little girl is trying to find where she fits with the other girls in her grade; she would much prefer to read rather than be involved in their drama. 
  • Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: This book was recently recommended by my friend, Tony. He thought it would have an appeal for both boys and girls, and I have to agree. It appears that this will be the first in a series of books by Lissa Evans. I loved several things about the book:
    - almost every chapter ends with a cliffhanger
    - the clues that the main character, Stuart, has to follow that were basically sent to him from the past by a relative he's never met
    - Stuart's dad has language that will be fun to share: "I shall be preparing a Neapolitan speciality, with fungal and caseous addenda" translates to I will making a mushroom and cheese pizza - a great way to have kids play with words
    - the role magic plays in the story
    - map on inside cover to hep with locations of main events
    Great read and a wonderful book to share with my students. 
  • Capture the Flag by Kate Messner: Really enjoyed this book. Definitely has a good guys / bad guys thing going on. I think kids will really enjoy the antics of the four children trying to solve a big mystery, and will laugh at loud at what befalls some of the adult bad guys. In addition, they will enjoy the silliness of the plot along with the idea of a secret group of people trying to protect things, references to video games to help capture the bad guys, and references to Harry Potter by one of the main characters. This was just a fun book! 
Adult books I would recommend from the last 2 weeks:
  • Plantation by Dorothea Benton Frank: What a perfect book to read on a summer's day - full of lovely, quirky characters and the charm of the South.  I currently have her latest, Porch Lights, in my TBR pile.
  • Island Apart by Steven Raichlen: This book literally just came out this month, and I was fortunate enough to get in from the "new books' shelf at our public library. It was a perfect summer read - it is set on Martha's Vineyard, it talks about amazing food, and there is a romance piece, but not an over the top one. Reading this makes me want to head to Martha's Vineyard asap for some amazing seafood. 
  • Calico Joe by John Grisham: I really enjoy John Grisham as a writer, but this is an entirely different side of him. He tackles a story about baseball, with one narrator, the son of a so-so Mets pitcher who had a serious anger management issue. Even with the one narrator, the story is told in two parts, jumping back and forth, between current day and 1973. This is a work of fiction, but Grisham seamlessly fills in the story with real players and real games.  Great for baseball fans, but also just a well told tale.
Professional book I am currently reading:
  • Opening Minds by Peter Johnston: I am participating in a #cyberPD that begins this week.  I have read the first 3 chapters, and will be writing a reflection about them to be posted this Wednesday, July 11.  I participated in this #cyberPD last year, and loved the interactive part of it.  After you post your own reflection, you head to other participants' blogs and post on theirs as well.  It culminates in a twitter conversation with all participants.  For more info on this great opportunity, check out the details at Cathy's blog, Reflect and Refine
Please join Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, who are the cohosts of this wonderful Monday event!  I love finding out what others are reading, and start planning my next week's reading using some of the participants ideas.  


  1. Capture the Flag is really great. My son read the ARC in April and he couldn't put it down.

    Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms looks like the kind of book he would enjoy so I may add that to his TBR pile.

  2. Yikes! Forgot that #CyberPD started this week. Need to get moving, I've just started Opening Minds. Loved Horton and Capture the Flag too.

  3. I have an ARC for Horten. Must get to it soon, have heard great things. Isn't Close to Famous good? Joan Bauer writes such sweet stories.

  4. I loved all of your listed middle grade books . . . some of which aren't yet on my TBR. I adored the Lions of Little Rock; one my 2012 favorites.

  5. I've heard so much about
    Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms and Capture the Flag, so I guess it's time to get them. I,too, forgot about that cyberPD...perhaps next time!

  6. I've enjoyed the Joan Bauer books I've read ... but not that one yet. It's still in the TBR list. Will have to bump it up!
    And I am excited to read Capture the Flag. We will be hosting a visit from the author in a couple months. Glad you enjoyed it.
    I have one of those ... I think it's the first one before Opening Minds. That's still on the TBR list, too. Will have to check out others reflections. Thanks for the head's up.

  7. Loved Capture the Flag. Had it on my pile to review!

  8. Great books! My uncle loves John Grisham and i keep seeing him on blogs added to my tbr list :)
    I always end up in my library in summer! Its so easy to pick up so many great boojs without spending money!
    Have a lovely week!

  9. I love Capture the Flag! I just started reading Pathways to Common Core. It's good but definitely has a lot to think about. I checked today and I only have four books checked out from the library right now...I'm a library-oholic usually. I usually have between 30-50 books checked out (lots are picture books) so four is crazy low for me. Fun to see all the reading you are doing!

  10. Some great reviews on books- looking forward to time with Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms and Capture the Flag... :)

  11. I can't wait to talk about Opening Minds--we had a professional book group about it at our school but ran out of time to really talk about it. So many important messages in that small book!

    Also, I LOVED Close to Famous and so did my daughters and students. I teach students with learning disabilities so it really registered with some of them about different intelligences people have in life. Another small book with big life messages!