Category Archives: #amreading

#amreading Blues

Book Report 39

I remember not-finishing Island of the Blue Dolphins when I was a child. Probably because I couldn’t deal with the harsh realities and character death. Historically fascinating, but not a happy story. The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is a WWII story set on a country estate that’s been turned into a hospital for children with tuberculosis. Only Emmaline can see the winged horses that appear in the mirrors. When one comes through the glass, needing help, she struggles to save her. Nostalgic and sad. Indigo (Water Tales, #2) is about Martha and the McGill brothers, Trevor and Eli, better known as Trout and Eel. Who have webbed fingers and toes.

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#amreading Fascinations

Book Report 38

A Single Shard is a historical piece set in Korea and introduces an orphan boy who would do anything to become an apprentice to the best potter in the village. Working with the area’s gray-green clay is harder work than he realized. Wings is about a lanky misfit of a boy who sprouts wings. A riff on fallen angels with a side of talking animals. And I finally decided to check out The Land of Stories. The Wishing Spell introduces twins who fall through a book into the world that inspired all our fairy tales. Solid storytelling here. Good first impression!

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#amreading Delights

Book Report 37

The Tea Dragon Society is a graphic novel set in a fantastical world where a small group of friends tend to dragons inspired by different blends of tea. Skellig won my heart and will be one of my top books for the year. A boy finds a strange winged man/thing in his shed and tries to help. And The Samurai and the Long-Nosed Devils is the first in the Zenta & Matsuzo mysteries, set in 16th century Japan. Lots of cultural details for this historical setting, with two wandering samurai (ronin) solving the case.

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#amreading Bees and Birds

Book Report 36

I’ve discovered a fondness for novels in prose, and Rhyme Schemer is a fun one. A boy who bullies and posts rebel poems finds the tables turned. But he also finds support from his English teacher (who is awesome). Hour of the Bees brings a blended and estranged family together to sell the family ranch and move Grandpa Serge into assisted care.  He’s getting senile, except Carol is beginning to think there’s some truth to his strange stories. And in Hoot, new-to-town Roy allies himself to a feral boy in order to save a colony of burrowing owls from an incoming pancake house.

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#amreading Winged Things

Book Report 35

Flight of the Phoenix kicks off a smart lower middle grade series about a boy from a family with a long history of adventuring. My Side of the Mountain is a classic story about a boy who decides to try fending for himself, living off the land in the Catskill mountains. And Forest of Wonders is about a boy, too. Raffa’s a pother (apothecary) with an unusual knack for herbs. In saving the life of an injured bat, he inadvertently changes him … and is desperate to keep that fact a secret.

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#amreading Minnesota

Book Report 34

An autobiographical trilogy, in which Paulsen simply refers to himself as “the boy.” In The Cookcamp, the boy is bundled off to stay with his grandmother, who’s working as a cook for a team of nine burly men building a road through thick forests in northern Minnesota.  Alida’s Song takes place about a decade later, when the boy’s grandmother sends for him to come help in the countryside where she’s working as a cook for two Swedish farmers. (This was my favorite, often reminding me of my own childhood in MN.) and in The Quilt, we flash back to a little-boy story that celebrates the hard work and courage of the women back home during WWII. (Full reviews and fair warnings on Goodreads.)

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#amreading Cautiously

Book Report 33

Every so often, I’ll hit a patch of books that I’d be cautious to recommend (for one reason or another). Unclaimed Treasures is a slice-of-life story with a quirky cast. I did a double-take when it opened with an open casket in the parlor and serving wine to children. And it did get odder (in parts), but was also sort of wistful and lovely (in parts). Such is life? Starfire introduces us to herds of winged horses and the plight of the single black foal who’s a child of prophecy. Beware. Vicious, with vivid descriptions that would unsettle sensitive children. No Such Thing as Dragons is one of those rare MG thrillers. Solid storytelling with edge-of-your-seat action. It’s basically a monster movie. Many things (and people) die messily.

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#amreading Playfully

Book Report 32

King of Shadows is about a young actor pulled back into the past, where he joins William Shakespeare at the Globe Theater, playing Puck to his Oberon. (So many feels!) Definitely one of my favorite books for the year. Felix Yz is certainly off-beat, but in ways I completely enjoyed. In the lab accident that killed his father, Felix is fused with an alien entity. Mostly about family, the story also slips into LGBTQ territory. My favorite character was Grandy, Felix’s father’s parent, who sometimes goes by Vern and sometimes by Vera and has invented veir own set of gender-neutral pronouns. In Enchanted Glass, Andrew Hope inherits his grandfather’s field-of-care, although he’s a bit vague on what that entails. He has his hands full with the housekeeper and his gardener, who dislike change almost as much as they dislike each other. Then young Aiden shows up on his doorstep. Magical realism in true Dianna Wynne Jones style!

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#amreading Whiplash

Book Report 31

“Middle grade” isn’t a genre. It’s a recommended age level. Which is just about the only thing these titles have in common. Half a Chance is a slice-of-life summertime story about a girl whose family moves a lot and her love for photography. (Adored the “scavenger hunt” style photography challenge.) In When You Reach Me, Miranda tries to make sense of the things that are going on around her—the notes, on-again-off-again friends, who likes who, and the best way to win at a game show. And At the Bottom of the World is the first book in the Jack and the Geniuses series, which succeeds in making science fun. (Makes sense, considering Bill Nye is part of the project.)

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#amreading Boldly

Book Report 30

Loser is an endearing story about a boy who’s … a little different. I picked up The Vanishing Game to fill a slot on my A-Z Reading Challenge and was intrigued to find that the Hardy Boys have been dragged into the modern era and equipped with cell phones and contemporary slang. Not too shabby, though this particular mystery had a slap-dash finish. Jungle of Bones is a survival story in which an angry boy behaves stupidly, then has to live long enough to learn from his mistakes. Lots in this about WWII in the Pacific and respecting our veterans.

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