Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Super Books (Again)

     This summer there is no end to the fabulous books that I have been reading.  Every Monday I make my way through the other book blogs from teachers and librarians out there and end up with at least 2 or 3 new books on my to read list.  The best part about this is that every book I have picked up this summer has been well worth my time.  Last week was a great reading week with enjoyable book selections.  

I was very excited to go pick up the copy of Bitterblue that finally came in for me at the library.  I had been waiting not so patiently for a few weeks.  I absolutely loved both Graceling and Fire and was really anxious to read the newest book by Kristen Cashore.  This book definitely lived up to my expectations.  Here's the Goodreads blurb about the book (they said it far better than I can):

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

What I loved about this book is that I was re-introduced to the characters that I loved in the first book.  I also love the fact that Bitterblue is another strong female character that learns a lot about life and love throughout this book.  Although this book was a bit thicker than Graceling and Fire were, I devoured it in as short a time as with the others.  At the end of this book I had that bittersweet feeling when you are glad to know how the story ends but sad to see the characters go.  I hope to see a lot more from this author in the future!

I purchased The Glass Maker's Daughter by V. Briceland through the Kindle store with one of their deals.  I was intrigued by the cover and the title and thought that this book would be  historical fiction.  I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading and it became obvious that this book was a fantasy novel.  Risa is a daughter of one of the seven chosen families in the land.  As such, she expects to be sent to the boarding school to be taught how to use the magic of the land to form the enchanted glass that the people expect from her family.  Fate is not on her side and she unexpectedly gets left behind.  Then one morning her parents are summoned to the castle and do not return.  She is suspicious of the Prince and unsure of how to proceed.  Risa must rise to the occasion and work to save her home and her land.  This book was one that caught my attention from the beginning and kept me reading.  I loved it that there was yet another strong female lead character in this book.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy (and a little romance) and will certainly look for the other books in the series to read.  

Jumping off Swings is another excellent book by Jo Knowles.  What I love about all of her books is that I can definitely see recommending them over and over to all students.  The length is quite manageable and I can see many students really connecting with these characters.  In this book, Ellie has gone too far searching for love and is now pregnant.  Josh buckled under the pressure from some of his "friends" to just do it already.  Caleb and Corinne are the friends who support Ellie and Josh through it all.  The book tells the story by alternating perspectives of all four of these teenagers.  I stayed up way too late yet again with this book...this author seems to have that effect on me.  I will be recommending this one to all of my students.  I would highly recommend it to any teenagers who enjoy realistic fiction.  

When I was walking through Target the other day, this book jumped into my basket.  I had heard great things about Smile by Raina Telgemeier and am looking to expand the graphic novel section of my class library so I thought, why not?  I am so glad I picked it up.  This is a funny and touching story that I am sure all middle schoolers will be able to relate to.  I loved the fact that, since it was a memoir, it was set in the years that I was in middle school.  The late 80's and early 90's references and clothing drawn here were very entertaining for me and I am sure would be great fun for modern day middle schoolers.  Who didn't go through that self-conscious and awkward stage in middle school?  This character has real challenges to feeling good about herself and her friends do not make it much better.  This is an excellent graphic novel and I can't wait for her next one!

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