Monday, March 3, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

These are memes started by Teach Mentor Texts and Book Journey, and I'm excited to participate, along with many other bloggers, in reviewing books I read the previous week. I'll be reviewing picture books through adult books. 
Whale Shines: An Artistic Tail

Whale swims through the ocean advertising for "The Hugest Art Show in the Deep & Briny - Curated by Mr. Jackson Pollock." Hammerhead, Eel, Wrasse, and many of the other ocean animals are ready to show off their artistic talents. Whale, though, feels inadequate and uncreative until he gets an idea from the bioluminescent phytoplankton. I love the illustration of the Starry Night.
Marty McGuire
This was 2013's Global Read Aloud for young readers, and I wanted a mentor text for my writing ideas.  I've never read the Marty McGuire series, so now was the perfect time. Marty McGuire is spunky, adventurous, and a tomboy - all things I could've related to when I was her age. Perfect plotting and characterization. Messner amazes me in her versatility as a writer - she writes excellent professional teaching books, picture books, early chapter books, middle grade fiction, and YA. Amazing. I really enjoyed this one - it was definitely a great choice for the Global Read Aloud!
audio-book, award-winner, character-traits, horror, model-for-writing, young-adult-book

This Odyssey Award winner was horrifying. I mean it. Truly horrifying.   I'm warning you.   The writing is exquisitely creepy - SLOW, drawn-out, SCARY, unpredictable scenes. My stomach was in knots listening to it on the way to school and back, and I couldn't stop even though there were times I asked myself, WHY AM I LISTENING TO THIS?! Kirby Heybourne and Daniel Kraus make one heck of a team - I'll never forget this book. I'm a little creeped out that I immediately borrowed the Rotters CD, also narrated by Kraus, from the library right after I finished this. Haven't I had enough?! What is wrong with me?! And I don't like the horror genre at all. I've only read one Stephen King book (The Stand - which I LOVED, but is not one of his horror books)because I don't like horror. Anyway, this is NOT for anyone under high school! One more note - portions of this book would be perfect for writing models - the dark and sinister figurative language would be perfect for h.s. students to study.
Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
adult-fiction, book-club, fantasy-science-fiction
What a strange and haunting story. Through Kathy's first person narrative, we learn that she and her friends, who grew up at Hailsham private school in England, were not ordinary children. She's now in her 30s, so the story is told in retrospect. Kathy's point of view doesn't clearly reveal what is really happening, so it is left up to the reader to piece it together and what the characters really are. I look forward to discussing this book at book club tomorrow night. This book reminds of A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood..  I didn't realize it was made into a movie until I saw the trailer when I was looking for videos.
"Is there a greater way to love the Giver than to delight wildly in His gifts?" Through poetic, painful, and intense writing, even somewhat like stream-of-consciousness, Ann Voskamp, a popular blogger, works through her anxiety, self-loathing, and grief to come to the conclusion that true union with God only comes through gratitude. I saw that Caroline Starr Rose compared her to Annie Dillard (Voskamp even quotes her at one point) - yes! Favorite lines:
1. The only place we have to come before we die is the place of seeing God.
2. Why do I have spiritual Alzheimer's, always forgetting?
3. Fear is like this piano wire cutting round the wrists, life shackled, cutting deep, and the hands spasm, fists of control. Fear keeps a life small. (See what I mean about her writing?)
4. Worry can be our lunge for control and we forget the answer to this moment is always yes because of Christ.
5. Quote from Martin Luther: "God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us."
6. Quote from her mother: "Expectations kill relationships."
7. Quote from Mother Teresa: "If we pray the work...if we do it to Jesus, if we do it for Jesus, if we do it with Jesus...that's what makes us content."
8. Quote from C.S. Lewis: "If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it's not so bad."
I'm going to look into her Bible study for a possible class offering at church. Be sure to visit her blog at I also discovered Holley Gerth's blog through her: Thank you to Lyn Stagnaro for recommending this book!

A Snicker of Magic
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

My family loves to read, too!  One of Katie's friends stayed with us for a couple weeks, and she got hooked on the Divergent series.  She read it straight through while she was here. :-)  Her last day here was her birthday, so I bought her the Legend series to keep her reading after she left!  Katie is reading:
Eleanor & Park
The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)
My mom:
The Storyteller
My dad:
White Desert (Page Murdock, US Deputy Marshall #6)
My husband:
The King's Deception (Cotton Malone, #8)
What are YOU reading this week?


  1. So much to comment on here. If the illustrations in the whale book are anything like the cover, it must be amazing. I love Marty McGuire and want the new one! Scowler gives me the creeps along with Holly Black's book. I have Doll Bones but have not read it yet. I absolutely loved Snicker of Magic...might be my fave for 2014 and it is only March! Lastly, there is not another website as inspiring as Ann's. Her website was my inspiration for my OLW this year and last year. Have you started writing your 1000 gifts? Great books this week.

  2. Looks like some great books all the way through, Holly. I certainly have A Snicker of Magic on my list. Thanks for Whale Shine too-looks good. I loved Never Let Me Go, a real classic. I've read it with my older middle schoolers who loved it too. Thanks for all the reviews!

  3. I am reading A Snicker of Magic and LOVING it so much! I am also reading Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult. Thanks for sharing what you are reading!

  4. Hi there Holly, Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go is definitely one of the titles that I have to read soon. I think I have a copy of the book in my own shelves that I haven't gotten around to reading yet. Unlike you, I like horror stories, I must have read practically all of Stephen King's novels when I was in the university. I should really look for Scowler. Have a great reading week!