It’s Monday What are You Reading 1/22/18

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I am once again pleased to be able to link up with the other readers courtesy of Jen at and Kellee and Ricki at I had a busy weekend with a hockey tournament, and family time but I managed to finish some great books as part of my reading week.

Books I Finished This Week:

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

This week I became one of the many readers who have really enjoyed Dusti Bowling’s character Aven, a spunky, snarky young lady who often deals with the fact that she was born with no arms by inventing harrowing, fictional tales of how they were ripped from her body in order to terrify people who ask what happened. The humour is a big part of how her family handles adversity and she brings an infectious love of life and want to solve problems to the few other friends she is able to make after changing schools. In addition to this message, there is also a mystery that needs to be solved, and a family business to save. This was a great read that many young readers will enjoy.

Miles Morales

I am not a big comic book guy, and I started this not knowing what, if any differences there would be between Miles Morales and Peter Parker, other than the setting and the colour of his skin. I read this for the novel that is. Its a novel featuring a big-hearted teen with hopes to make his family, community and world a better place. He happens to also be Spiderman.
This book tackles not just Spiderman taking on bad guys but also looks at some of the same contemporary, societal issues that were present in Long Way Down and All-American Boys. Its very good, and I hope it becomes a series. Jason Reynolds seems very busy these days, but also up for the challenge.

The Storyteller

A really engaging folk tale that builds slowly and gets more powerful by the page. Fabulous illustrations enhance the story and there are some end notes that are worth reading as well.

Island: A Story of the Galápagos

A wonderful view of the history of one of the Galapagos islands. It explains, in text that moves along like a pleasant story as well as in beautiful paintings, how many species evolved on this island. Many complicated scientific concepts are explained such as evolution, natural selection, and tectonic plates.

Currently Reading:

Last Day on MarsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)

Last Day on Mars is a book I am re-reading in preparation for my class Literature Circles unit and district Battle of the Books. It is a real thrill ride of an action/sci-fi book that many of the students in the class above mine are looking forward to starting this week. I processed the books on Friday and most (or all) of our 8 copies will be snapped up between our two intermediate classes. I am also looking forward to the sequel which is out Feb. 13 (The Oceans Between Stars). Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is my family’s current read aloud.

Coming Soon:

I have a few books that I am considering as I write this. I have a graphic novel, The Nameless City, that needs to be returned to my public library soon. I am hoping that my copy of Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart arrives in the mail tomorrow (a good reason to choose a graphic novel). I have had the third Magnus Chase novel, The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan on my table for a while as well. I feel as though I should have read an early chapter book by now, so I might start Beatrice Zinker.

Hope you had a great week of reading last week and another ahead of you!


It’s Monday What are you Reading, January 15

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I didn’t really feel like I had much time to write this today (I got Mondaied- is this even a word and how do I spell it). I am pleased to eventually be able to link up my weekly reading report with the great people who also do so at and I feel compelled to write today because I have really enjoyed everything I have been reading lately and want to shout these titles out to random strangers.

Books I Finished This Week:

The Infamous Ratsos

This was a funny transitional chapter book, and as most of you probably already know the first in a series. I think this is one to share and chat about how a person projects to others or builds a reputation and what you should want this reputation to be. I am interested in seeing how the change in the characters that takes place in the book continues on in the future volumes.

How to Be an Elephant

This is a book I had wanted to buy for a while, but I always felt like our budget was slim and we have so many animal books in the library. But this one is worth it. It is so different from the non-fiction I read growing up. I loved the illustrations and all the information that made you really understand what life is like for young elephants.

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2)

I have to admit that Scythe was one of my favourite reads of 2017, so I was really excited for this book to arrive. I got a copy from NetGalley and tossed aside some great books that I planned to read for this one. I want to be cautious in what I write here for people who have not read Scythe, so I will just say I really enjoyed this book’s rollercoaster like plot as well as the political and philosophical debate it would stir in my classroom if I was a high school teacher. There is a little bit of everything in this series including cringe worthy moments where I feared for humanity and for my sanity as a reader.

How I Became a Ghost

I also really loved this book to and want to get others to read it so I can chat with them about it (which plagues me when I read the Scythe books as a grade 5/6 teacher). The members of the Choctaw Nation persevere through terrible treatment at the hands of soldiers as they are relocated from between the Mississippi and Alabama Rivers to Oklahoma in this tale that is written with just the right amount of humour to go with a very serious subject. I was concerned this might not be an easy book to share with my students, but I think I will be able to. Selected wisdom from one character, “You cannot keep your eyes on the bloody footprints you have left behind. You must keep your eyes on where you are going.” That part kind of reminded me of Jason Reynolds’ Ghost. This is a short, fast read that will stick with me for a while and may go well with discussions of the Reconciliation.

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians, #1)

This was our family read aloud that we wanted to get to before the holidays but ended up starting around the 23rd. The imagination of William Joyce in his art and here in the text is really special. We really enjoyed this story that when we started we thought would be the origin story of Santa. It isn’t exactly that, as there is some other world building at work here, but I just really loved this line, “You know, a daydream properly utilized can be the most powerful force in the universe.” I have a feeling that William Joyce has had some of these daydreams.

Currently Reading:

Insignificant Events in the Life of a CactusLast Day on Mars (Chronicle of the Dark Star, #1)

I started Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus last week, and I am really enjoying the main character, Aven, who is spunky and has a sense of humour. Last Day on Mars is a re-read for me as we are using it for our Battle of the Books this year. I am keen to read the sequel in about a month. This was a thrill ride of an action/sci-fi book. Our next family read is to be selected tonight, and while it is not my turn to choose I am pretty sure it will be Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I am also hoping to get to some picture books and maybe Miles Morales as well this week.

Look forward to reading what others have been up to this week. Happy Reading!

It’s Monday January 8! What are you Reading?


This Monday is the first day back at school in my neck of the woods. It will be interesting to return and see what some of my students have been reading. Once again this week, thanks to Kellee and Ricki and and Jen at teachmentortexts for allowing us all to link up to their sites with our weekly reading updates.

Books I Finished This Week:


Very important read for a window into just a few of the far too many harrowing experiences of refugees. A roller coaster of emotions for readers as the characters in each of these three stories that take place in different countries and different time find hope, go through hardships, persevere, and experience even greater challenges. Great author notes at the end to explain some of the history behind these stories. I know this was one of the most read titles by teachers over the last half of 2017. I held on to this for a couple of months before reading it, and it was worth the wait.

Shadow Weaver (Shadow Weaver #1)

This was a book I saw on NetGalley and decided to try. It was released last week as a MG fantasy. Emmeline is a young girl with the power to control shadows. Sadly for her, her magical gift is not seen as a good thing by her family and constantly gets her in hot water. As she finds out more about the nature of her power, the world in which she lives and those closest to her, she is forced into adventures she would have never thought possible. This is the first in the series, and I liked it but I didn’t really love it. There was one character I wanted to shake some sense into. I do think it will find readers in the library though and the slightly slow build might boil over a bit more in the second book of the series.


About a month ago, I started formulating my Must-Read-in-2018 list and I decided that Refugee and Wishtree were likely the first two I would read. They actually go together very well. This is a story that meanders like a tree’s roots to a brilliant conclusion. Wonderful message about the power of community that seems more important than ever. It’s written mainly from the perspective of the tree but the look at how the animals form a community around the tree will capture many readers too.

Currently Reading:

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians #1)How I Became A Ghost (How I Became A Ghost Series)

I started my NetGalley copy of Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) the other day and I am loving it. The sequel to Scythe is out on Tuesday. My family is reading Nicholas St. North and we are really enjoying the Santa Claus origin story. I just started How I Became a Ghost for the moments in which I need a physical book. I will admit this one will take a back seat to Thunderhead but I am looking forward to it all the same.

Happy Back to School day for my teacher friends here, and happy reading to everyone!



Thanks again to Carrie Gelson for continuing to host this fun challenge. Last year, I had a list of 66 books and got through 48. At first, I thought I was going to have a drastically shorter list for this year, but eventually it got to 65. So, mission accomplished, the list is shorter this year!


A couple of things I have noticed about this list, and I am curious if there are similarities in your lists. First, it will cost me a lot of money. There are a lot of books I do not own, and my library does not have. I actually cut a few books from my list because I don’t have them, and I don’t think my public library system will come through for them. I also had other books by the same writer on the list already. Secondly, I think I have more YA books on this list compared to past years. As an elementary teacher, I am a little concerned that this will make the challenge more difficult, but maybe that is the point. I might not give myself the time to read some of the YA books if I don’t have them on the list. Similarly, I have fewer picture books but I will likely read a lot through my work in the library this year. I am also giving myself permission to read more sequels than in past years.

Here is some of the reading I hope to get to this year. 65 books, and hoping to do better than the 48 I read from last year’s list. It’s a big list, but I did just watch The Fellowship of the Ring, so a long journey seems like just the thing to do, and this group seems like a bit of a Fellowship.


PBs, Early Chapters and some MGs Updated

MG, YA, Adult updated

I have a few more that do not have cover art yet that I have added to the list.

Blackthorn Key Adventures #4 by Kevin Sands- Not sure of the title, not sure of the cover. Just sure I need to read it! He visited our school in September and I had a chance to talk to him over dinner about the next book which sounds great and will arrive in September.

Mighty Jack #3 by Ben Hatke- Similarly, I know little, but must read it. Those cliffhanger endings! Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. I think this comes out at the end of the school year, as the second book did.

Resistance by Jennifer Nielsen- I hope its out in 2018. Goodreads is a little vague about this.

Mission Defrostable by Josh Funk- I have this fear I somehow missed the cover and its hiding online, but I doubt it. A must read in my house and at school. It’s better known as the third Lady Pancake book.

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel- Just a little description and my desire for another Kenneth Oppel middle grade novel is enough. From the Goodreads description, “When the ink from an artist’s sketchbook gathers itself together and escapes from the pages, this spark of creativity transforms the lives of a family desperately in need of a change.” I hope this one is out in 2018 as I have read. But like Resistance, its vague info.

Amulet #8 by Kazu Kibishi- Finally, I will get to say that I have the eighth Amulet when a student asks me for it! I have read that it will be out in the fall of this year.


Thanks for reading through my list. If you have some favourites from this list, I would love to hear them. I am currently reading Refugee and likely to start Wishtree after that so they can go back into circulation in the library. I look forward to reading your lists as well.


It’s Monday, January 1, 2018

I just practiced writing 2018, some years it takes me a few tries to get the new year correct, but maybe this year will be easier than most for some reason. Time to start the new year with a list of books I have been reading over the holiday break. Thanks to the folks at and for their continued support and hosting of this weekly update.

Books I finished this week

Challenger Deep

An absolutely brilliant book chronicling a teenager’s battle with mental illness. I also loved the way the book acknowledges that no two journeys through mental illness are the same. Highly recommended, it sat on my shelf for way too long.

What's the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?

A neat little picture book where the narrator asks the question from the title to a number of people that he knows as he lives too far north to have much experience with horses. Some interesting cultural facts as well.

Me and Marvin Gardens

Another book that I highly recommend. I have read several of A.S. King’s young adult novels and was excited to see what her middle grade book would be like. It’s a little meditative and thoughtful, and some of my readers might not respond that well. Minor spoiler alert- There is reference to a fight in the book, but for King the details of the fight are not that important, but the impact it has on the character’s lives is important.  So, in this book there may be less action, but more thoughtful reflection on the fight and so many other important topics and themes. This one is a great addition to my library.

Half Brother

I loved the simple cover of this book which I kind of missed when it first came out. After the success of The Nest in my school a couple of years ago (reading that is like a rite of passage into grade 5, even this year) I thought I would go back and read this one eventually. For me, this one straddles MG and YA with some of the language and events. A boy moves to Victoria with his scientist parents who are starting an experiment integrating a baby chimpanzee into their family in an effort to teach it language skills. This book kind of reminded me of early teen moments when you realize the world is not really centered in your actions and things can and will often go awry. That sounds like it could be quite comic and it is funny at times, but there is seriousness about this one too.

Currently Reading:

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians #1)Shadow Weaver (Shadow Weaver, #1)Refugee

Nicholas St. North is our current family read aloud. It was my choice for the holiday season. My youngest (7) has had it for a while and I was concerned that she might never read it on her own as she gets distracted reading and re-reading longer books in series (Land of Stories, Harry Potter). I fear she will have this huge stack of books for kids 6-9 that never gets read. We are enjoying it.

I am reading an early copy of Shadow Weaver that I got from NetGalley, which comes out tomorrow. I am really not too far into it, but the first few pages are very interesting. There seems to be an interesting world being built here.

Refugee is my current hard copy book (I have trouble only reading on my IPAD with the NetGalley stuff). I just started this morning and I feel like I can safely say that this one will live up to the hype.

On deck: I have a lot of books that I have been wanting to read for a while, but I was working through the list I made at the beginning of 2017 first. I have added them to my new MustReadin2018 list and it starts with Refugee, and from there I think I will move on to Wishtree.

Thanks for reading, Happy New Year to everyone, and I look forward to reading about all of your reading years in the months ahead.


#MustReadin2017 Final Update

Thanks to Carrie Gelson at There’s a Book for That for hosting this fun little challenge once again. I started this year with a list of 66 books for my challenge. Realistically, I felt I would most likely read just over 40, and that has pretty much been the case. I have just a few pages left in my 47th book. I am going to likely read a 48th before the end of the year. I am pretty satisfied with that.

So, 19 books on the list got passed over. Why? Life. Also, I got distracted by signing up for NetGalley this year, re-reading books for our district Battle of the Books, and extra picture and early chapter books. As a K-7 librarian (part-time) I need to read more of this type of book so I am perfectly fine with that. As a grade 5/6 teacher (and former middle school teacher), I am most likely to read novels for MG readers and to have them on MustRead lists. The books that I missed out on tend to be YA, or Adult, books that relate less to the work that I do with students and the reading I do with my own children. Again, I am okay with that, but part of the point of this for me is to stretch a little in certain areas of my reading, so I might try to have less MG for next year on the list.

Here are very short notes on some of the MustReadin2017 books that I have read lately, a visual representation of the books that I have read and then not read (let me know if there are any that you think I should add to my list for 2018, which currently sits at 29).

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King- I have read several YAs by this writer, penned as A.S. King and love them, so I was excited to see what an MG book from her would look like. I am almost finished and it has many of the same things I loved in her YA: introspective characters thinking about important topics, and the relationships are always key.

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel– This book is from several years ago and is set in the 1970s. Two scientists conduct an experiment raising a chimp as part of their family to see if they can teach it language. Its written from the perspective of their child and it feels like this boy is learning about how things in the world often go awry, both in the experiment and his relationships with friends and family. There are a couple of swear words and some kissing scenes that would not play well in my grade five class but a very interesting plot.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale- A Newbery Honor from several years ago about a community that lives on a mountain far away from royalty and the seats of power. Events conspire to make the capital interested in this community and its girls are sequestered to a school to teach them how to integrate into the capital if one of them is selected to become the next princess. They end up learning so much about the world, their attachment to their community and more. Its a great book with very good world building.

The Whispering Skull (Lockwood and Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud- My ten year old was crazy for this series and is always pushing my wife and I to read more of them. It took me a while to get to #2 but it was an exciting, chilling read. These tales of an agency that works in London on The Problem (the prevalence of ghosts in an steampunky kind of world the author created) are filled with action and characters that continue to develop.

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee-  There was lots to like in this book which would be a great read with all the snow many of us are seeing right now. The weather is in fact a character for part of the book and snow is a big part of it. There is a lot of mystery and strong connection to nature too. This was a short and slightly sad read that sticks with you.

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann- I had a student eating this series up so I read the first one and found it to be a satisfying tween dystopian read. The premise of kids being separated by those that are creative and those that are not as a tool of social control worked for me and I may go back and read more in this series at a later date.

Read the Book Lemmings by Ame Dyckman illustrated by Zachariah O’Hora- Another hilarious hit for this picture book duo of Wolfie the Bunny and Horrible Bear fame. Just read the book, you’ll see.

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblink– This is an author that I just missed out on reading for quite a while and I had pledged to make sure I read one of his books this year. I really enjoyed his first novel and should move on to more. This stirred up some of the same thoughts I had when reading more recent titles like Counting Thyme and House Arrest.

The Mighty Odds by Amy Ignatow- A very subtle story that builds to a satisfying conclusion  but slow at the beginning as tweens find out about some less-than-super superpowers. Kind of like a tween version of Zeroes.

The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase #2) by Rick Riordan- More zany thrills in Norse mythology. I would likely fit better with the heroes from The Mighty Odds but this group is a hoot to watch. Starting book 3 soon, I have two readers spurring me on.

Books I Finished from the list:

Must read in 2017 books read

Books I missed out on:

Must read books I missed out on

Three of these books I still do not have access to at school, in my classroom, at home, or the public library and those are The Left Handed Fate, The Magic Mirror Concerning a Lonely Princess, a Foundling Girl, a Scheming King and  a Pickpocket Squirrel and finally, Still Life with a Tornado. Sophie Quire got popular in the library the last few months and I really had no access to that one either. I may read Challenger Deep before the end of the year still (or Into the Wild- my then nine year old’s pick for me this year, although she switched to The Whispering Skull). Some (but not all) of these should make it to next year’s list. Let me know which ones you think I really missed the boat on.      

Thanks for reading about my MustReadin2017 journey. Tour over to one of the best book blogs going, There’s a Book for That to see the others. This is a great community of readers that will always keep your to-be-read list full.


It’s Monday, what are you reading? November 20, 2017

I am linking up my post with other book bloggers at (hosted by Jen) and (hosted by Kellee and Ricki). These are great places to find books to fill your actual and virtual book shelves. It was kind of a slow reading week for me in terms of books finished, report cards will do that to many teachers, but I have a couple that I find noteworthy.

Books I finished this week:


I actually had the pleasure of attending a book launch for this new title at a cafe in Merritt. Author Nicola Campbell grew up just west of Merritt and was there to read some of her poetry and the book itself. She attended the school that I work at, so it was great to have her sign the book to our students and then bring it back this week for kids to enjoy.  It’s exciting to have a book with many words in the traditional Indigenous language of the area. There is some information about local plants and there usage as well as the characters explore and gather with their relatives. The book really came to life when Nicola read the story and I got a real sense of what her childhood was like. I wish I could have her in to read it to my students, as I will not be able to read it as well as he does, but she actually lives in the Lower Mainland now. This book is a great addition to our library and the fact that the author and setting are local is amazing.


I just finished this book and I really liked it. There was an obvious comparison to me to Pax, which I read with my class last year and that is valid, but this book stands on its own as well. There is a little bit of mystery, some supernatural elements, some sad parts for sure, and a broken family trying to keep it together. The connections between people and the land, and the main characters and animals will be intriguing for readers at my school.

Currently Reading:

Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package (Tales from Deckawoo Drive #4)The Skeleton TreeInkspell (Inkworld, #2)

I am reading the fourth Deckawoo Drive book with my seven year old right now. We do not miss these titles, and the series has become popular in my school as well. The secondary characters from Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series have captivated a few students who loved seeing the changes that the underwent.

The Skeleton Tree is a book I read last year. It is a survival story set in Alaska that also has a subplot in which two characters struggle to come to terms with issues they have had in their families. We are going to be using this title in our District Battle of the Books this year, so I am re-reading it for that purpose. There are several exciting scenes in this one, but the struggle between the two boys that are stranded is the most frustrating and satisfying for me as a reader.

My family continues to read Inkspell, there are times when I absolutely love this series and times in which it does not really have my heart. It is quite long, so that is understandable. I think if we could find more time to read it together, I would like it more.

Thanks for reading, I hope your reading week is great. I hope to finish off these report cards today and have more time for books!