Mid-year Monday, What are you Reading?

Midway through this crazy 2020, usually I am looking at the number of books I have read right about now, and thinking about how many I can read over the summer break, which started for me on Friday. This year, everything is so different, very few picture books for me and far more current year releases than usual.

I finished off the school year re-reading some of my District Battle of the Books title. We were not able to have our usual event, like a lot of other events it had to look different because having 100-150 readers in one space was not going to happen. We also found a lot of students didn’t stay with the online learning. That being said, I still wanted to have something for the readers who did, and I had a great Zoom call with about 10 of our readers, one amazing librarian in my district, and author Brad McLelland (co-author of Western fantasy series Legends of the Lost Causes). We had authors Jennifer Nielsen and Christina Collins send us a video greeting as well. Usually, it is a competitive event between teams of readers from different schools, but this time we just chatted about the nine books in this year’s event, I shared some of the book trivia that would have been in the event, and upcoming releases by the authors of the books we read. It was a good way to end the year.

Next week, I should start with my summer reading plans. Usually, I try to read the odd adult book, more YA, some older titles that I missed out on when they arrived and try to ensure that I read any ARCs I have before they are released. I also want to do some professional reading as well. Last year, I did very little, the year before I did lots. This year, my district cannot have our Summer Institute professional development days, so we are doing more self-directed PD, and I have several books I can read as part of that.

Happy to link my post up with other bloggers at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts (thanks to our hosts), I hope I also do a better job of reading all the blogs compared to the last two weeks. Have a great week, everyone.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

The Nameless City (The Nameless City, #1)

This one was for our Battle of the Books, so a re-read for me. It is the first of a trilogy and the graphic novel depiction of a city that feels like it could be in medieval China. It is a city that is continually conquered by different nations because of its geographic location. Those born in the city are ruled by outsiders and at the core is a friendship between a girl, Rat, born in the city, and a boy, Kai, whose father works for the current government. I enjoyed this whole series last year.

Illegal

Another of our Battle of the Books titles this year, I re-read this story of two brothers making an extremely dangerous journey from Africa to Europe to find their sister. This is a really heartbreaking story based on interviews with refugees. Stories like this and this year’s, Where Stars are Scattered, are so important, particularly to share with kids who may not know much about these experiences. Most of my students don’t.

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

Another Battle of the Books re-read, this novel is one of those stories that has lots of emotions and so many great lines and phrases that stick with you after. I found it to be a very unique and engaging story.

The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #1)

This was another re-read for me. My family and I were reading this one aloud. It is the first in an engaging series full of real historical figures, mythological creatures and history. Typically, series like this have a lot of build up and character development and this one does too. We learn about Nicholas Flamel and his wife, and their battles with their arch nemesis, John Dee, a struggle for world domination with Dee and the Dark Elders, who once ruled the world, pitted against Flamel and others. Unexpectedly joining this battle are two twins who had never considered that magic could be real until they start seeing it before their eyes as their bosses start battling golems and the mysterious Dee. Flamel believes the twins could be the key to this centuries old battle.

Takedown

This is a book that I thought I was going to read as an ARC a couple of years ago, but it got lost in the mail on its way to me, and it took me a while to get my hands on another copy for my classroom. I haven’t really ever read a book about wrestling but it is the sport of choice of Lev and Mickey (aka Mikayla when she is not wrestling). I really enjoyed this book which has a lot of familiar elements of kids trying to discover who they are and who they want to be in a middle school environment. Gender plays a role in this and rules seem to change as to what is deemed acceptable. A girl joining a travel (more advanced) wrestling team is even more complicated. Mikayla has to deal with defying stereotypes and gender norms that are not fair. Lev has to deal with his own fear and prejudice and then his friend’s as well. Family dynamics are important as well. This is another sports book with a lot more in it, as is the case in books such as Ghost and a 2020 book I loved, Black Brother, Black Brother. I will be giving this one to fans of those books at my school.

Currently Reading

The RivermanA Royal Guide to Monster Slaying

I am re-reading The Riverman with my family, it was my oldest daughter’s choice. She has read it too, but it is such a puzzling and odd book she wanted to read it again and be able to talk about it with two more readers who haven’t experienced it yet. I just started A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying. I have the second one on my NetGalley account but I haven’t even read the first one yet, so I am trying to read both this week.

I have no clue what else I will try to get through this week, but I am hoping to finish the duology and get into some books that were tougher to access during the school year. Thanks for stopping by here this week, and I hope you have a great week of reading ahead of you.

8 thoughts on “Mid-year Monday, What are you Reading?

  1. I usually try to do #bookaday for my summer reading, but I decided that wasn’t a reasonable goal given that I’m not using the library right now and have no access to picture books, and we’re moving and days are crammed with moving-related tasks. I’m trying to prioritize catching up on PD reading and reading some YA titles that would be good for sharing/booktalking. I don’t read a ton of YA, and that’s going to have to change! I still haven’t gotten around to Sweep–I bet it’s good on audio. Might be one to try as a family listen. It sounds like even though Battle of the Books was different and couldn’t feature some of its most cherished elements, it was still really meaningful to that core group of readers.

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  2. It’s nice that you continued your “battle” with those who wanted to connect & had some authors in, too. What a time for everyone to adjust to new ways of doing things, hard for adults & kids! I enjoyed Illegal, amazing journey that is tough to imagine that children have to take it on to survive. And I loved Sweep, a loving tale, right? Takedown is a great one for a granddaughter who is a sports-minded girl who loves reading about other girls breaking into new things. I’ll look for The Nameless City, Aaron, a new title to me. Thanks for all & best wishes for a great summer break beginning!

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  3. You have shared some books that I too have loved. Thanks for the heads up about the new Kelley Armstrong title. I enjoyed the first one and have now put in a request for the second. I have wanted to read some of Erin Hicks’ Nameless City series for ages, and just never get around to it. Happy reading this week!

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  4. I’m glad your school district was still able to hold an enjoyable event despite the coronavirus! These books sound great! I was actually just reading about Takedown on Amazon, so I’m glad to see that you enjoyed it! Also, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on The Riverman—I heard about that book but never actually read it. Thanks for the great post!

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  5. How awesome that you got video greeting from authors Jennifer Nielsen and Christina Collins! I am so happy to hear of how teachers and librarians are working hard to continue serving young readers in any way they can. I know many awards ceremonies and gatherings have been cancelled, but WOW is everyone outdoing themselves to make sure meaningful interactions are still taking place. I’d forgotten that I wanted to read Takedown, so thanks for the reminder. And The Riverman sounds intriguing. I mean, anything described as puzzling and odd deserves attention, right? lol Thanks for the shares, Aaron, and I hope you have a wonderful week of reading!

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