What are you reading? Monday, January 20, 2020

This was an odd week. I had a lot of hockey games planned for the week (at least by my standards, six was a lot), so I didn’t think I would find much time for reading but I did. It was very cold, but while the southern part of our province had snow days off from school, we did not (that surely would have provided more reading time). Late in the week, we saw some horrendous storms in the east, but it was 5 above, Celsius and our snow (we don’t have much, is melting). The other odd thing was that I did not read some of the books I thought I would read, but did read a few I had not planned to. I am happy to link this post of my reading week with others at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Thanks to our hosts Jen, Kellee and Ricki.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

Still Life with Tornado

This YA title follows Sarah, a sixteen year old in the midst of what she calls an existential crisis. We swirl through her past, present and future with her and see how things with family, friends and school have unraveled. Like all of the A.S. King books I have read, this one has many relevant themes running through it and they are woven into a novel that is witty, sad and wise.

The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle

The newest in a funny early chapter series, I have read all of these and both my kids sneak a peak long enough to have read them to even though I don’t think they would sign it out at their library. In public, this book would probably be part of their reading past. If you are not familiar with these, the Princess In Black usually spends her more heroic times battling monsters that have an insatiable desire to eat goats. In this installment there is a larger contingent of help in the form of other princesses that have super-hero identities. The need to work together to foil the largest, smelliest monster the series has yet seen.

What Lane?

Thanks to the publisher and the people at Book Portage for allowing me to read this book before its May release date. It’s a short book that packs a lot into 126 pages. Stephen thinks what he really wants, is to be able to do anything at any time. That he should be able to jump into any lane. But, some of his first experiences with racism while living in a mostly white neighbourhood teach him and some of his friends about white privilege, Black Lives Matter and about the power of doing your thing. To always be in the lane that is for you, not doing what others might try to force you to do. The author of Tight has written a second book that will challenge kids to think and learn about our world.

Currently Reading

The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, #4)Legends of the Lost CausesFrom Ant to Eagle

My family and I continue to read The House of the Hades, Book 4 of The Heroes of Olympus series. It is quite funny at the moment. I am reading Legends of the Lost Causes for a school project. Both of these are re-reads for me. I just started From Ant to Eagle.

On deck books

I write this, in part, to see if I actually can predict what I will read from week to week. Last week, not so much, but here is what I am hoping to get into this week. I also have some NetGalley ARCs to catch up with in the Siha Tooskin Knows series.

Best FriendsI Can Make This Promise

Thanks for checking out my reading week reviewed in this post, I look forward to seeing your reading week soon as well.

 

It’s Monday, January 13, what are you reading?

We are just about to hit the first significant cold snap of the year where I live. Many areas in British Columbia have been hammered with snow, and no doubt there will be a snow day or two. Not in my small town. We seem to be in a snow shadow. Most days I will have a relative phone to ask how much snow we got overnight, and they are bewildered when I answer with none, or less than a centimeter. So, no snow day for me to read tomorrow (that might have been nice), but I am still pleased to have read several great books last week and be able to share them here. I will be linking up with the many great readers and reviewers at Teach Mentor Texts (thanks Jen V) and Unleashing Readers (thanks Kellee and Ricki). Check their sites for great lists of books to read now, and in the future.

Books I Enjoyed

Sunny Rolls the Dice

The third installment of the Sunny books was one I thought I would have read a long time ago. I thought my Scholastic Book Fair would stock it, but it did not. Then I had to buy it elsewhere (this is a struggle now that I am out of library money for the rest of the school year). I was looking forward to having this for kids and for myself. I really enjoyed it. The cover really tells a story here. Sunny stands out here, and this is another of many great graphic novels that tell the story of a tween or teen trying to find and be happy with themselves in the midst of pressure to look or act a certain way. My oldest loves the D & D references in this one.

Redwoods

I was happy to borrow this picture book from my wife (also a school librarian) as I had previously admired Jason Chin’s work in books such as Galapagos and Grand Canyon. Not sure why I did not have this book already (oh yeah, that budget thing), but like some of Chin’s other books it does a fantastic job of taking some complex things in nature and explaining them in simple terms for young readers. Mixed in with a slightly narrative non-fiction style and the great art work, this was another must purchase for me (I am keeping another list for next school year- lol).

The Distance To Home

This is a book that I never quite got to last year, but now I have read it out of my grade 6/7 classroom library (I have about 35% librarian time and 65% teaching time). I really enjoyed an ARC of Things You Can’t Say, which is out March 3, and so I went back to find one of her other books. I always really admired the cover of this one, but there are few baseball fans of this book so I wasn’t sure if it would connect with kids I teach (the cover, I mean). Having read it now, I know I will be able to sell it to fans of Dan Gemeinhart, who is very popular here. This book has “all the feels”. It has really well developed characters that learn and grow as they try to deal with some of the more challenging things life can throw at people (one of the major ones is grief).

Mr. Nogginbody Gets a Hammer

I am not as big of a fan of the David… books as my library patrons, but I borrowed this one from my wife. It’s kind of wacky. Weird things happen and kids will likely enjoy that. This will get picked up by a lot of kids due to the author’s popularity. I don’t think they will like it as much as a David… book but they will laugh.

Ebb and Flow

This novel in verse was the winner of the 2019 Canadian Children’s Literature Award. I checked it out from my public library. It reminded me a little of House Arrest as it tells a story of a character who makes mistakes and goes through tough times using impactful, short pages of verse. It features very well written characters. It is really about a boy named Jett, who knows he has made a few very big mistakes, but shows the capacity to learn and grow from them. Following his “bad year” he stays with his grandmother and reflects on time spent with his friend Junior during the year and how things could have been different. Heather Smith takes her time in letting us know what Jett did, but the journey is worth it. In finding out how to forgive and redeem himself, Jett sees the possibilities in others as well. Jett believes he deserves to be “stranded on an island all by myself,” but eventually learns that life is like the tides and he has to deal with the highs and the lows.

Black Brother, Black Brother

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book to Book Portage, the ARC sharing group that I belong to. I read and enjoyed Ghost Boys so I was excited to get this upcoming book from Jewell Parker Rhodes. Donte is part of a bi-racial family and he and his brother attend a private school in Massachusetts. However, Donte is bullied and the subject of racial profiling and prejudice at his school, while his brother who presents is white is not. Donte only wants to be able to be seen for who he is. After being arrested for an “outburst” at school, Donte and his brother come up with a plan to get revenge on the worst of the bulliest, Alan, by competing against him at fencing, a sport in which Alan is the state champion. The fencing aspect of the book showed the sport to be one of tactics and strategy and I really enjoyed those scenes as well as the relationship between Donte and his coach, as well as Donte’s familial relationships. This story is fast paced and the most obvious readers for this at my school are the students who devoured the Track series by Jason Reynolds.

Currently Reading

The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, #4)Still Life with Tornado

My family and I are really enjoying book four of The Heroes of Olympus series. Its a re-read for me. I really enjoy every A.S. King novel I read, and I did not read one last year. I vowed not to repeat that mistake in 2020. I am only about 30 pages into this one but I am captivated by Sarah, a sixteen year old who is dealing with some problems in her parent’s marriage, the separation of an older brother from the family and something strange about her art teacher at school. I can’t believe I waited this long to read this book.

On deck books

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in AmericaLegends of the Lost CausesI Can Make This Promise

Thanks for stopping here to see what I have been reading, hopefully I will be able to see what you have been reading this week as well. Have a great week!

It’s the first Monday of 2020, what have you been reading?

I missed posting on the last Monday of 2019, so I really wanted to post on the first one of 2020. Thanks to Jen V at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting this link up again.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

When a Ghost Talks, Listen (How I Became A Ghost, Book 2)

In the sequel to How I Became a Ghost, Isaac’s journey continues. Readers will see and learn a great deal of Choctaw culture as the characters move along the Trail of Tears. Throughout, we see how the Choctaw characters have their trust in government officials violated as those connected with the government commit terrible and devious crimes against Choctaw people including a future president of the United States.

Race to the Sun

The next release from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint comes with main characters that are Navajo, and the book delivers on the promise that this imprint made to provide details on mythology and the culture of groups that Rick Riordan has stated he is interested in, but not wanting to write about on his own. Rebecca Roanhorse is a great writer, so I was excited to read this story. Thanks to NetGalley for the e-ARC.

Nizhoni Begay is starting to sense that there is something different about her and if you read any books from Riordan or from the imprint, you will know what is going to happen right away (spoiler in the next sentence). Her powers, and the powers of her brother Marcus as well, are awakening and they will be able to feel the presence of monsters, but also be detected by them as well (one of which is Mr. Charles). The arrival of Mr. Charles, who is important to his Dad’s business kicks off a flurry of activity and Nizhoni’s Dad tells the kids they need to run from danger.

Eventually, they learn more about their new powers and the connections to their family and what they need to do to bring their family back together. The rest of the book takes us through many trials with connections to Navajo culture as the siblings team up with best friend Davery to stop monsters. I do wish the villains (particularly monsters) were more detailed or nuanced but the other characters are worth following and the world they travel through is a welcome addition to this imprint. Maybe this will happen in a sequel? This book is out on January 14.

The Fountains of Silence

I really enjoyed this historical fiction novel that took place after the Spanish Civil War. It is a piece of history I knew little about and while there was a lot to learn about the situation in Spain at the time, the story of the characters was the part that made the story for me. There are so many great secondary characters that live in Spain in this book. The material at the end that went through some of the research was excellent as well. I have only read two of Ruta Sepetys books (Salt to the Sea) but I feel like her work is going to be consistently excellent.

Lila and the Crow

I really loved the images in this book about a girl who moves to a new city and has difficulty with some of her new classmates. Lila is very excited to head to a new school and make new friends, but sadly she deals with being teased and there is a lot of racism here. Eventually, she finds a way to highlight her differences and (very suddenly) she finds acceptance.

Everywhere, Wonder

This book has some great messages but it kind of jumped around a little bit too much for me. The pictures and words show us that there is great stuff all over the world, and we need to continue to explore and show our creativity. Definitely, a feel good read.

Currently Reading

The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, #4)Sunny Rolls the DiceBlack Brother, Black Brother

My family has resumed reading Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series as a family read aloud. House of Hades is the fourth book. My kids cannot get enough of Rick Riordan’s books. I have just started the third Sunny book, and I am also just starting an ARC of Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes. I am excited to read and hopefully finish the latter two this week, and then start another book from my Must Read in 2020 list.

Thanks for clicking your way here to read about my reading week, and I hope I a chance to see what you have been reading as well.

Must Read in 2019: Final Update!

Thanks to Carrie for hosting this fun challenge on her blog. Even though I kind of crashed and burned on my list this year, it was still a great way to see other lists, and if anything I can re-commit to some of the great books that I missed out on this year from my list.

I just re-read my fall update for this list, and I mentioned that I had become distracted by other books, but was hoping to re-focus on these books and read another 15 or 20. At the time, I had read 31/64 on the list. I did not really re-focus until mid-December and ended up reading 10 more for a total of 41. That is not as many as I had read in past years so I have to decide if I needed a smaller list or if I was just distracted by too many ARCs that I did not know about when I originally made this list. My goal was to get to at least 50, so I fell short of that but it was a great reading year otherwise. Here is what I read since the last update!

Bubble

A book often compared to Wonder, which makes it tough, but is different and good in its own way. Stewart has to live inside a specialized hospital room to avoid germs and illness. This is one of those books that has all the feels.

Words on Fire

Being a huge Jennifer Nielsen fan, this one was a given on my list. I did not enjoy this as much as Resistance, but what bibliophile wouldn’t enjoy a story with a girl fighting to allow for book access, and the setting (Lithuania) was something different that I enjoyed. This was an exciting book.

The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3)

A very intriguing third book in a fascinating YA series. I really can’t explain this book, but having read the first two, it was certainly a “must-read”.

Warcross (Warcross, #1)

This one is the start of a really interesting series, again a YA series. When I was the target age for this series, I would have loved reading this just a few years before I read William Gibson or Neal Stephenson’s books featuring near future, virtual reality plots. I should probably find the rest of this series.

Sasquatch and the Muckleshoot

This is the third in the series, this time with Joseph Bruchac co-writing. It was funny, and filled with some interesting cultural traditions explored within the setting in the territory of the Muckleshoot Tribal Nation.

City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake, #1)

City of Ghosts was a really popular book that I missed out on the year it was released. It will be a great book for me to hand to a student looking for a scary book. I also enjoyed the setting of the book, being in Edinburgh.

The Roar

This was my oldest daughter’s pick and it is an inventive dystopian novel. I enjoyed it, but I not sure if it was enough to make me seek out a sequel.

Dry

Another great read from Neal Shusterman this year. This one is co-written with his son, and is a terrifyingly real tale of an extreme water shortage referred to as the “Tap-out.” We follow several characters as they struggle with the impact of this on California, in particular a group of teens who see the world quite differently. This was a very exciting book.

Race to the Sun

This is an ARC that comes out in 2020. I should have had it on that list, but I did get the book on NetGalley. It’s Rick Riordan approved so I thought my kids would want to read it with me, and Rebecca Roanhorse has written an exciting book steeped in Navajo culture. We are enjoying it. That’s right, we are not actually done. But we will finish in 2019.

When a Ghost Talks, Listen (How I Became a Ghost)

I also pledge to finish this book before 2019 ends. It is another sequel and I am enjoying it quite a bit so far.

 

Thanks for checking out my progress on this goal. I went 0 for October, and was generally way too distracted over the last half of the year.

The Pre-Christmas It’s Monday What are you Reading Update

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This might be my final, It’s Monday for the year, but for sure the last one before Christmas. Those first few days after the Christmas Break have been super busy but I did manage to finish one book today and several over the week. I am happy to be able to link my post with other book bloggers at unleashingreaders.com and teachmentortexts.com and thanks to everyone for hosting us once again.

Books I Finished This Week

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Two very different books here. I read A Birthday for Cow with a pre-school group and it was great fun. The Giggle Gang seldom disappoints listeners to read alouds. Lots of laughs in this one. The Outlaw is a much more serious picture book that I have yet to read to kids after finding it through our Monday group (wish I could remember for sure who posted this one two or three weeks ago- I think it was Cheriee Weichel). This will bring up lots of questions about how people might make amends for past misbehaviours and if they deserve grace. If your school is anything like mine, or my children’s, this is something kids can connect to and think about.

42642044. sx318 Carl and the Meaning of Life

I kind of wish there was a Canadian version of Fry Bread, and there is certainly Awasis and the World Famous Bannock, but this book has some other great things going other than just being about fry bread or bannock. The sensory aspect is well done, the way it describes people coming together over food is excellent, and the illustrations from Caldecott nominee Juana Martinez-Neal are really great. The back matter also has a lot of cultural information about fry bread, but also more importantly about injustices done to Native Americans. This is a great book.

I also enjoyed Carl and the Meaning of Life with an earthworm who does not feel he is important, but when he stops doing what he has always done and tries to find out more about his purpose, it become clear that he was indispensable. This will be a really fun read in the Spring when our school starts up its garden.

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah42870613. sx318

Emmanuel’s Dream is a book I have been meaning to pick up and read for a couple of years at least. It might be a reminder to some about this inspirational story of a boy who beats all the odds and accomplishes many things he is not supposed to with only one working leg. Or if you are like me and missed this one when it came out, you might want to check this one out. The Sharing Circle is a recent purchase of mine, I was attracted to the fact that it has a fairly local illustrator and several of our classrooms have a regularly meeting sharing circle. This book is a good introduction to the concept and uses animals to show an example of how it could work.

All Ears, All Eyes43263598. sx318

All Ears, All Eyes is a book that I will end up loaning out to teachers who are looking for more books to practice visualizing with their classes. There is lyrical text that lends to this, but I preferred looking at the illustrations where animals seemed to blend in to the background and nighttime scenes. I think younger students will like finding animals like the owl on the cover. Croc & Turtle was a book I think I saw on Jana the Teacher’s blog a week ago. I enjoyed the friendship in this book, and the compromise that needs to be made by friends.

City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake, #1)

This book I finished today, a sometimes creepy story of a girl who can cross over to a world inhabited by ghosts. She has navigated in-between the two worlds since a near death experience of her own. As her parents examine places that are haunted as part of their work, this becomes something that she cannot avoid even if she wants to. When her parents  head to Edinburgh, Cassie gets a little over her head. If you have students looking for a spooky MG, they might find this worth a try. I won’t rush to find the sequel but this one was okay, and it was on my Must-Read list as I saw it was very popular on the Goodreads MG list in 2018.

Currently Reading

Race to the SunThe Roar

My family and I are enjoying Race to the Sun (in e-ARC format). We are about half finished but finding it hard to find time to read this week with all Holiday related socializing. I just started The Roar, my oldest daughters addition to my to-read list this year.

Thanks for checking out my reading week, I hope everyone has a great Holiday break and catches up on time with family as well as reading.

It’s Monday, 12/16/19, what are you reading?

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Pleased to link up my hastily written pre-holiday post with other bloggers. Thanks to Jen V., Kellee, Ricki, and Jen V for continuing to host our link-ups. I have continued to be focused on the way too long Must Read in 2019 list that I made. I ignored it for most of the last quarter of the year, but am making some progress this week, as well as reading recently purchased picture books from our Scholastic Book Fair.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

Bruce's Big Fun Day (World of Reading: Level 1)

I read a lot of Ryan Higgins’s Bruce books to library patrons, but here is one that some of them can read on their own. I think it will be better for students who have heard the other books. There is nice repetition and most of the book will be accessible for beginning readers. The story and plot is not as good as the picture books, but good for this format.

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This is a book we picked up at our school for teachers that are working on visualizing with their classes. The artwork is really great and it tells of an imagined voyage (a young girl is looking out a window at the river) from a city to the sea along a winding river. I can imagine asking kids to think of or draw a view, and then imagine what would be just beyond it. Over a mountain? Around a bend? Under a lake? Lots of visualizing possibilities.

If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don't!

The cover really tells the story here. If you are a parent, and your child has ever wanted to bring something along on an outing that was not appropriate for that location, you lived this story. In this case, Magnolia has a piano at the beach, and if you are familiar with this series you know these books are written as Magnolia reflects on a mistake. In this one, the piano gets wet and generally messy to hilarious effect.

The Cool Bean

The latest in this set from Jory John and Pete Oswald is the story of a bean that drifts apart from his “cool bean” friends, because he does not see himself as being as cool as they are. I didn’t laugh quite as much at this book as the earlier two (The Bad Seed and The Good Egg) but the conclusion was really satisfying. The “Cool Bean”(s) have much more going for them than just being “cool,” and this is the best part.

The Truth About Bears: Seriously Funny Facts About Your Favorite Animals

This is filled with interesting facts and humour about bears. I have only one of the other books by Maxwell Eaton in this set (Dolphins) and I would like to get more. The pictures are interesting and kids in primary grades especially, are interested in this type of non-fiction book at my school.

Warcross (Warcross, #1)

This is the first in a YA series by Marie Lu. I had it on my list for a while. First, I waited until it came in a paperback, and then it just slipped down my list. Her series Legend is popular at my school, so I wanted to try some of her other books. This one is a little like Ready Player One, in that there is a virtual reality game that is at the core of the plot. It is a more serious plot than Ready Player One, which had a lot of retro references that made it seem lighter, but this one has some important twists and turns that made it exciting trying to guess along with Em, a bounty hunter/hacker, who unexpectedly becomes a key player in the largest Warcross tournament. The amount of romance might put off some of my elementary students, but I might read the sequel as this one kind of left me hanging.

Sasquatch and the Muckleshoot (The Unicorn Rescue Society, #3)

I have enjoyed reading the first two books of this early chapter series by Adam Gidwitz, but I don’t have a huge audience for them in my small school. I am targeting proficient readers in grades 2-4. In this story, the Unicorn Rescue Society heads to Washington State to help some friends of Professor Fauna who are protecting Sasquatch. The are part of the Muckleshoot Tribal Nation, and I think this is why Joseph Bruchac has co-written this part of the series, and the writers consulted with members of the Muckleshoot Nation to ensure that their use of local languages and stories is accurate. There is a fair amount of references to the culture of that area, some of which is familiar from what I have learned of cultural traditions in my area too, so I really connected to this book. For those not familiar with this series, students in New Jersey get caught up with a teacher that runs a society that protects mythological creatures from being exposed. They are funny, but a bit advanced for the early chapter crowd, and seen by some of my older readers as a little juvenile looking. I think I haven’t found the right older reader yet.

Currently Reading

Race to the SunCity of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake, #1)

I continue to read Race to the Sun with my family and we are enjoying it. A couple of us have read so many Rick Riordan and Rick Riordan presents books that we feel like we are locked into the formula that they tend to have while reading this book. I am hoping something happens that jolts us out of that. I just started City of Ghosts, which was a really popular book that I missed reading in 2018, and almost in 2019 too. I really liked the cover and the opening few chapters.

I will likely continue to read from my Must Read in 2019 list for the rest of this week, with a few Picture Books thrown in. Thanks for stopping in and looking at what I read this week. I hope to head to the other blogs and see what other readers are up to soon.

 

It’s Monday, Dec. 9/19, what are you reading?

A little bit of a slow reading week in terms of novels finished, but I was really happy with the one that I did finish and pleased to link up this post with others at teachmentortexts.com and unleashingreaders.com (Thanks to Jen V, Kellee, and Ricki for hosting).

 

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Books I Finished This Week

If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, Don't!

I have really enjoyed the two books in this series I have read (Alligator to School, and Circus to Library) and bought two more. I did not enjoy this one quite as much, but it was still good and certainly timely right now. Tomorrow, I will read another one, If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don’t. I meant to bring it home for the weekend and did not. These (the series is called Magnolia Says Don’t..) are very funny books, and I get requests to bring in more of them.

Bloom

Thanks to the publisher and my friends in Book Portage for this copy to read and review. This book delivered exactly what I thought it would. A freaky beginning to an upper MG series in the vein of some of Kenneth Oppel’s earlier novels The Nest and Airborn, but with other influences and ideas of its own. Bloom launches right into the action with a flash forward scene that tells you how serious things might get. We head back to the beginning and strange plants are beginning to grow around Salt Spring Island near Vancouver and it quickly becomes clear that the invasive species is causing huge problems. Three teens find that it also has a peculiar impact on their lives as well. This was a page turning sci-fi that I can’t wait to share with my students around the release date of February 4, 2020, but it will a long wait until book two comes out in the fall of 2020.

Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth!

Super cute book about the annoying and adorable things a baby can do from the perspective of an older sibling. This one was published about 10 years ago, but I recently picked it up because it appeared on a list that a colleague was using for mentor texts around memoirs. It reminded me a bit of Julius: The Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes. Speaking of Kevin Henkes…

My Garden

This is another book that has been around close to a decade that appeared on a list that a teacher at my school uses when working on visualizing with her class. I really loved the pictures and the child’s idyllic view of gardening and what they would do is pretty funny.

Currently Reading

Warcross (Warcross, #1)Race to the Sun

I am about half through Warcross by Marie Lu and really enjoying it. I did not read books like this at all when I was a teen, but I think I would have if I had known they were out there. In college, I started to get into William Gibson, and this book reminded me of his books, or for some of Phillip K. Dick’s that I have read, or a little of Ready Player One. My family and I are about a quarter of the way through Race to the Sun which we are enjoying. My kids are big Rick Riordan fans so I picked this one for us to read from his impring Rick Riordan presents because both of these books are on my Must Read in 2019 list. I have been ignoring that list the last few months, and 2019 is almost over!

On deck

I intend to find a few more books from that list and start re-reading some of my district’s Battle of the Books titles for 2020, which we just released to our students. Here are some of the options from my 2019 list that I hope to get to (not all this week).

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Sasquatch and the MuckleshootWhen a Ghost Talks, Listen (How I Became a Ghost)The Hunt for the Mad Wolf's Daughter

Thanks for stopping here, and I hope to read what you have been up this week.