It’s Monday, March 16, 2020

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It’s the first Monday of what I hope is my two week Spring Break. I have seen that a lot of schools are planning to be out for longer. My district has asked me questions about my travel plans (I have none) in order to see if we will be operational in two weeks. No one really knows what will happen. Not entirely. However, a book I recently read (see below, try to guess the quote) said that “routine lessens risk” so I will keep a routine going and write this blog post reviewing my reading for last week, and I should have time to read all of the other blogs (I hope there are lots) and see what others have been reading. I have seen a lot on Twitter about how hard it is going to be for authors to get their releases promoted without book events happening. Hopefully, all of us that blog can be a very small help. Spread the word about new releases that people can order online from their favourite source and enjoy while they are at home. Head to teachmentortexts.com or unleashingreaders.com to hear about more great books (mostly new, but not always).

Books I Enjoyed This Week

The Key of Skeleton Peak (Legends of the Lost Causes, #3)

I was fortunate to have a chance to read an early copy of this book, which comes out tomorrow. I enjoyed this third book in the Legends of the Lost Causes series. I thought it was the third of a four book series, but it seems like it could be the conclusion of a trilogy (plans do change). It is hard to write a review of a third book without spoiling books 1 and 2. This is a series set in the mid-19th century, but isn’t historical fiction per se, it reads more like a fantasy series, with a lot of (dark) magic. There is a diverse cast of characters and the author’s note at the end describe the work the authors did to research and get help from native speakers of French, Spanish, and members of the Osage Nation to give their characters a more authentic feel.

The series is filled with action and there are many twists and turns to keep the reader (and the characters) guessing. The third book has even more of these attributes than the first two as the gang of Lost Causes, a group of orphans who found each other, not coincidentally, in earlier books in the series, battle to save their world from the evil Reverend Rose and his associates. There are some colourful characters that are more prominent in this book, but Keech and Duck still shine the most for their ingenuity and ability to think on their feet. The gang of Lost Causes continually work as a team to make their world a better place. A message that rings true given what we are seeing all around us right now.

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

Okay, the quote above was from this book. Page 72. “Routine lessens risk.” Not sure how true that is, but I think routine lessens anxiety, and we seem to have a lot of reason for that right now. I believe that if people can keep routines that still work given what is happening, or come up with new ones that will work, that we will be better off. For me, that will include exercise and reading. This book, kind of reminded me of that just a little. It is as the cover says, “a tale told in ten blocks,” meaning that we see a lot of people’s stories and the ways they weave in and out of each other, the way we are all interconnected. In this neighbourhood, nothing changes, at least nothing major. Which is why, I think, Jason Reynolds was able to use stories from his upbringing and bring them to us in a way that still felt fresh and new. Some of these characters really take in the world around them, really observe it (the way a writer would, you know, to write a story about a neighbourhood). This is another book that should work for MG readers who like Jason Reynolds other books for many reasons: they feel authentic, they are short and they get to a point worth getting to. It’s a slice of life, or slices (ten in this case) and I could see some wanting more closure in a book, but I can imagine asking students to write the new chapter for the character they really need to hear more from.

Currently Reading

No Fixed Address49245102

No Fixed Address is a re-read of a book I am hoping to be using with my class in two weeks. I really loved it! The boy on the top of the van is homeless and lives with his mother, Astrid, a nice person, who hasn’t been so great at parenting lately. The story gets into how messy it is for an elementary school child to try to live as normally as possible while living in a van darting around Vancouver. The Stone of Sorrow is the first of a trilogy, it is released in April. I am reading an ARC from NetGalley, but haven’t made much progress yet. The series is called Runecaster and the story has Icelandic mythology, but the length is shorter than most books that have mythology as part of the plot. That might appeal to some high school readers who don’t make time for long books.

On deck

MañanalandSara and the Search for Normal

I really have no idea what the coming days will hold, and how much my mind will focus on things I enjoy, but I am hoping to read at least one of these books, maybe both. I will finish No Fixed Address, and probably read another of the books that I am planning to use for my literature circle unit in April. It might be The Night Diary, After Zero, Sweep or Words on Fire. I have ARCs of the above titles, but Mananaland is already out and I really want to read it, so it is likely the next book I start.

 

I sincerely wish the best of health for everyone and hope that you are able to enjoy some time with your families and reading as well. Thanks for stopping by here to check out my reading week!

6 thoughts on “It’s Monday, March 16, 2020

  1. Best wishes to you as well, Aaron. I was lucky to find a copy of Look Both Ways yesterday at my library. They are closing as of today! It’s a great idea to think of sharing new books, which I did today, to help authors whose plans for book tours have been canceled. What a crazy time. Enjoy Mananaland & all the reading!

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  2. I think Reynolds is right, routine lessens anxiety. I’m trying to do that as well – normal blogging, and setting up a schedule for my kids, who will be doing school from home the next few weeks. Have a good reading week.

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  3. What a great quote to hold on to. Thanks for sharing these books. I hope you and your kids are back up and running very soon! (after spring break, of course) Here in Florida, this is possibly it for the school year.

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    1. We have been told no classes after our Spring Break, but we are to report to work at the end of Spring Break (March 30). I guess I will see in two weeks what that looks like. Everything seems day by day at the moment.

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  4. I’m finding it a bit hard to read with all that is going on. Still trying to get used to this new norm, I guess. I don’t know about you but my blog hits have been extremely low this week. I thought about stopping blogging until some of this craziness is over. But what you said resonated with me – about helping authors out. That is true. Thank you for giving me that to think about!

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    1. It is tough, but I think that keeping to the routine is a good thing. It will keep us off the news sites a bit. I think my traffic, although I do a horrible job of checking, is maybe down just a little. I am going to try to keep going and do the things I usually do. I am not sure what my work situation will be. My district has told us to be back on the 30th (just teachers) to see what we can do. We don’t know how that will look yet. Good luck! If you keep going I will enjoy reading your thoughts, as I always do.

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