Monday, December 2, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 12-2-19



It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

I'm back from NCTE and the ALAN Workshop and while I love going every year, I am finding my feelings of FOMO growing weaker and my desire to rest and recharge even stronger. Having said that though, here are a few highlights:

OOOOHHHH MMMYYYY. Getting to meet George Takei and thanking him for his activism and patriotism. 


Getting to help Jennifer Buehler moderate an amazing panel/roundtable session called YA Lit is Complex! with Samira Ahmed, Brandy Colbert, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Kekla Magoon, and Matt Mendez
 

Hanging out with Walden Award winner and finalists Elizabeth Acevedo, Emily X.R. Pan, and Adib Khorram at the ALAN Workshop


Visiting Edgar Allan Poe's home and grave


And apropos of nothing, finding this cute boutique called Cloud 9 that had this adorable sloth dress. It had pockets. I bought it. Duh. 


But back to the books...

I recently reviewed:

Saturday by Oge Mora


I recently read and enjoyed:

Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship by Marie Kondo and Salina Yoon
#KonMarie for kids


Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex, illustrated by Laurie Keller
Pluto may no longer be a planet but we love him even more for it.


16 Words: William Carlos Williams and the Red Wheelbarrow by Lisa Rogers and Chuck Groenink
If you’ve always wanted to know the inspiration for William Carlos Williams’ brief but thoughtful poems, look no further than this sweet picture book.


Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley
I am a huge fan of Lucy Knisley's graphic memoirs so I was elated to discover that she has a new middle grade fiction graphic novel. This book does not disappoint. It is a fictionalized version of her own childhood experience of moving from the city to a farm and learning how to deal with not only the culture shock of going from an urban to rural environment, but also the drama of a new blended family, gaining a step-father and step-sisters.


They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
When George Takei was 5 years old, his family was ripped from their home by American soldiers and sent to a Japanese Internment Camp, labeled "Alien Enemy" despite being American citizens. This is the story of that experience as well as his reflections on how that impacted his political views in later years. You would think it would embitter a person, but instead it compelled him to be an active and involved citizen, reminding us all that in no other country would it be possible for him to be a political prisoner as a child and then giving a speech as an adult in the home of the man (President Roosevelt) who imprisoned him. This book is an important exercise in putting things into perspective.


Kent State by Deborah Wiles
This book is structured like a novel in verse but it’s so much more than that. The varying perspectives are of collective voices and points of view, showing the reader just how difficult it was to get a consensus on what happened on that campus back in May of 1970. But even more important than that, Deborah Wiles circles it back around and points to how this moment in history still matters today and compels you, the reader, to be a vocal and participating citizen in our democracy. Put this book at the top of your TBR pile. I promise you won’t be able to put it down.


Currently reading: 

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Saturday by Oge Mora

Saturday is Ava's favorite day because she gets to spend it with her mother. So when everything during this particular Saturday seems to go terribly wrong, it is a test of Ava and her mother's resilience and sense of humor.

Oge Mora's sophomore effort is even more lovely and endearing than her Caldecott honor book Thank You, Omu. It reminds me a great deal of Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson. I wouldn't be surprised to also see some Caldecott hardware on this book come January. For what it's worth, this is one of my favorite picture books of 2019. 



Saturday by Oge Mora
Published: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 40
Genre/Format: Picture Book
Audience: Primary
Disclosure: Purchased Copy

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Monday, November 18, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 11-18-19



It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.


I recently reviewed:

Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon
Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness


I recently read and loved:

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
This book made my foodie heart so happy (and hungry).


Know My Name by Chanel Miller
If you're a high school English teacher I'm going to need you to be brave and consider replacing one of those dusty old books by a dead white guy with this book instead. It is a book that every teenage and college-age boy needs to read. It is a book that will start conversations and make them consider, understand, and even FEEL what it's like to lose your own bodily autonomy and therefore understand what consent REALLY means. Chanel Miller's gift of writing is like nothing I have ever experienced and I have read a lot of books in my lifetime. I listened to the audiobook of this but I feel like I have to go back and read the physical book too just to savor her lingering words.


The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar, illustrated by Alea Marley
A beautiful book that seamlessly weaves the story of a boy who practices Sikhism, but doesn't become didactic. It is the story of Harpreet Singh, a young boy who moves from California to a place that is cold and gets lots of snow. The colors he wears indicate his moods and feelings so when he moves to a new place and doesn't feel like he fits in, he no longer wears bright colors because he doesn't want to be noticed. I love the meaningful but brief note about Sikhism at the end to help better educate readers about Sikh identity and how that relates to their clothing.


Bob Ross and Peapod the Squirrel by Robb Pearlman, illustrated by Jason Kayser with Bob Ross
Bob Ross in a picture book? YES PLEASE!!!!


Currently Reading:

Frankly in Love by David Yoon


Currently reading with my ears:

Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance by Emily Fletcher

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Audiobook Review: Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van Ness


If you don't know who Jonathan Van Ness is, stop reading this review right now and go watch the first season of the new Queer Eye. He is the grooming expert who managed to be sweet, unassuming, and fierce all at the same time. He will quickly become your favorite of the Fab 5. 

So do yourself a favor if you're going to partake in this book: listen to the audiobook. Hearing Jonathan narrate his own story is essential for making it the most fulfilling reading experience possible.

This book will take you on an emotional roller coaster. Jonathan Van Ness has gone through so much trauma in his life that it's amazing what a positive, sunny outlook he has. He can come across so sunny and cheerful on Queer Eye that in the back of your mind, a viewer might wonder if he lacks substance.

Well dear reader, you need not worry. Johnathan Van Ness has substance in spades. Just be aware: there are trigger warnings all over the place in this book: drug use, sexual abuse, prostitution, and death. If you've dealt with any of these things that you might not be ready to tackle, it is probably best you set this book aside until you are ready.


Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness 
Published: September 24, 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins
Physical book length: 288 pages
Audiobook Length: 5 hours and 50 minutes
Genre: Memoir
Audience: Adults/Queer Eye fans/LGBTQIA+ identifying and allies
Disclosure: Audiobook provided by publisher

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Audiobook Review: Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon

When Adam Rippon became the media darling of the 2018 Winter Olympics, it was because he made the decision to soak in the experience of the Olympics rather than pushing to win the gold medal. At 28, he knew that was likely not possible. But what he didn't expect was that despite not going home with a gold medal, Adam Rippon really was the winner of the 2018 Olympics. He was joyful and sassy and shared every exciting moment with his fans.

Adam's sass has become his trademark personality trait, but sass can quickly come off as bitchiness if you're not careful. The reason his sass never comes off as bitchy in this book or in his life is because Adam is not a catty gossip. If he is talking smack about anyone, it is only himself. The only time he speaks overwhelmingly negatively about people in this book are when he describes the actions of a possessive, borderline abusive ex-boyfriend, when he describes the horrible behavior of his former coach Nikolai Morozov, and also when he discusses the manipulative behavior of Mike Pence when he tried to have a meeting with Adam before the Olympics. But as you learn in comedy, always punch up, not down. He spoke truth to power in those moments and used the rest of the book to be both hard on himself and to give himself some grace.

Verdict: I wanted to be BFFs with Adam before reading this and I want to be even more so now that I've read what an amazing, hardworking, honorable man he is -- despite the Khardashian-like trashiness he tries to portray himself as in front of the cameras. That facade is all a fun ruse, a joke he even lets the public in on, but if you don't know a lot about him, doesn't always translate for those who see him on TV in small doses. Also, other than missing out on the included photographs in the physical book, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook instead of the physical book because, of course, Adam narrates it himself.

My only criticism of this book is more a commentary on our culture. All I could think about when I was listening to the audiobook is how much the public would not allow or excuse Adam's behavior in a female skater. She WOULD come off as bitchy and ungrateful and be expected to not show any sort of humor or emotion. So as much as I love Adam, I also recognize that loving this persona that he has created would only be granted to a man and not to a woman.


Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon
Published: October 15, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 256
Audiobook length: 8 hours, 19 minutes
Genre: Memoir
Audience: Adults/Skating Fans/ LGBTQIA + identifying and allies
Disclosure: Audiobook purchased with my Libro.fm credits, which supports The Brain Lair Bookstore

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Monday, October 14, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 10-14-19



It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.


Last week I read and enjoyed:

So You Want to Start a Podcast by Kristen Meinzer
No, I don't want to start a podcast, but I love Kristen Meinzer's podcast, BY THE BOOK, and so when I had the opportunity to listen to her narrate her own audiobook, I decided to give it a try. I love Kristin's voice and I love her practical, detailed advice for potential podcasters.


The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Long-Lost Home by Maryrose Wood
A lovely end to a wonderful series


Kevin the Unicorn: It's Not All Rainbows by Jessika Von Innerebner
Even unicorns can have bad days. And that's okay.

A great message to counteract the pervasive "good vibes only" messages we're being given that has turned into toxic positivity -- i.e., encouraging a positive outlook at the expense of exploring necessary negative emotions that need to be expressed in order to be fully human.


Why? by Adam Rex, illustrated by Claire Keane
A super-villain with daddy issues meets his match when he runs into a little girl who only asks one question over and over.


Frankie's Scared of Everything by Matthew Franklin
Will Frankie succumb to his fears or will he use them to his advantage? Interesting sort of street art style to the illustrations though I think they still need more refinement to be in the same league as a regular children’s book illustrator.


Little Muir's Song by John Muir, illustrated by Susie Ghahremani
"The sun shines not on us but in us.
The rivers flow not past, but through us."

Short, stunning writing in board book format from John Muir's journals.


A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
A gorgeous book that gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at how MLK's most famous speech came to be -- in fact, it almost didn't.


The President Sang Amazing Grace: A Book About Finding Grace After Unspeakable Tragedy by Zoe Mulford, illustrated by Jeff Scher
This book left me in tears. A beautiful tribute to a tragic moment in our nation's history.


Currently (still) reading:

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys


Currently reading with my ears:


Over the Top: A Raw Journey of Self-Love
by Jonathan Van Ness
I am absolutely loving listening to Jonathon narrate his own story. I was only a few minutes in and I had to stop the audiobook to write down a quote because I identified with it so much:


Monday, September 30, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 9-30-19



It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.


Last week I read and enjoyed:

What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by April Harrison
A beautiful story about a young boy who has lost much but still finds a way to give. I can see this book being in Caldecott contention


Vroom! by Barbara McClintock
Young girls can dream of being race car drivers too.


Field Trip to the Moon by John L. Hare
On a field trip to the moon, one young student gets left behind and makes some new friends. A fantastic wordless picture book.


Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival by Lindsay Moore
Stunning writing and beautiful illustrations


Currently (still) reading:

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys


Currently reading with my ears:


Akata Witch
by Nnedi Okorafor