Mrs. McGriff's Reading Blog

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Fall Break Reading Challenge

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For the past year or so, I’be joined friends from The Nerdy Book Club in taking on the book-a-day challenge.  I don’t always succeed in reading a book every day of break, but just accepting the challenge has helped me increase the number of books I read.  This past week I wanted to read the stack of books I got from the last book order so I could release them to my classroom library.  I have several students who are eagerly awaiting them.

I also talked with my students about setting their own Fall Break Reading Challenge.  Some chose to read some evey day.  Others had books they wanted to finish.  Many rushed to the library to check out play-always to listen to during car trips.  I can’t wait to hear how they did with their challenges Whe I get back tomorrow.

How did I do with my challenge this week?  I didn’t read all the books in my stack, but I did finish nine books, one for each day of vacation.  I didn’t keep up with writing book reviews for all of them, so here is the short version of what I thought of each.  I also include a link to the author’s web page and Goodreads if you want to learn more.

Underworld by Meg Cabot (Point 2012): I loved this one even more than Abandon.  Time is is compressed in this novel, which happens in just one day, but the action and danger is intensified.  Piersin isn’t sure about being trapped in the Underworld with John, but she is desperate to escape when she learns that her cousin Alex may be in danger. Oh yeah, the Furies are still after her.  I loved learning more of John’s history and meeting new characters like Frank and Henry.

Caught by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Scholastic 2012): once again Jonah and Katherine are headed to the past to try to restore a missing child and fix time.  This time, though, Haddix throws in several unexpected twists And ups the danger with all of time freezing.  Of course, Jonah shouldn’t expect things to be simple when returning Albert Einstein’s daughter.  I loved learning more about Mileva, Einstein’s wife, who is as brilliant as he was.  However, even though Jonah asks, we still don’t know which missing child from history he is.

Bar Code Prophecy by Suzanne Weyn (Scholastic 2012): I was very satisfied with the ending to The Bar Code Tattoo and The Bar Code Rebellion, but I was delighted to learn Weyn had added a third book to the story.  Global-1 is back to their dirty work, but is anyone still listening to Decode? Grace works for Global-1 and believes their problems were isolated and past.  But once she turns 17, her life falls apart.  Can Eric, the guy she has a crush on, save her and lead her to answers?  Once again after entering the world in this book, I have an urge to unplug and live off the grid.

The Statistical Probability of  Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith  (Little, Brown and Company 2012): I had read good reviews of this title and was not disappointed.  A missed flight brings together Hadley and Oliver on a flight to London. They end up sitting together and maybe falling in love, but different paths await them in London.  Flashbacks fill in Hadley’s history with her parent’s divorce, but Oliver just hints at his family’s story.  If you are looking For a contemporary love story, look no further.

Pinned by Alfred C. Martino, narrated by Mark Shanahan (Listen and Live Audio 2005, Houghton Mifflin 2005): I listened to this one from the Sync YA downloads offered this summer.  It is the gripping story of two New Jersey wrestlers.  Ivan Korski and Bobby Zane are both driven to become the state champion in the 129 pound weight class their senior year.  They come from very different backgrounds and face different pressures on and off the mat, but they share a desire to win.  The book alternates between their stories as they head to the final showdown.  By the time I neared the end, I didn’t know which boy I wanted to come outmoded on top.  It didn’t matter because the ending is a cop-out.

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery by Steve Sheinkin (Scholastic 2010): I keep telling you that your history textbook leaves out all the good stuff from history.  Sheinkin fills in all the juicy details about Benedict Arnold.  Arnold could have been the first comic book Hero or action figure if not for one choice which left him villain instead.  I read this one on the edge of my seat.

Through Georgia’s Eyes by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez and Julie Paschkis (Henry Holt and Company 2006): We visited the Eiteljorg museum today and I head straight to their two Georgia O’Keefe paintings.  I found this picture book biography in the bookstore.  The illustrations evoke O’Keefe’s paintings while the text shows her independence and determination to see the world her way.

My Name Is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeannette Winter (Sandpiper 2003) If I ever move into another life where collecting art is a possibility, I would own at least one of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings. The flowers are my favorites, but I also love the desert landscapes and the bones. This picture book biography hints at the beauty and power of an O’Keefe painting while giving the broad strokes of her life and vision.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts (Little, Brown and Company 2011):  If  you liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid (I sure did), you will want to add this title to you stack of books to read.  Rafe has a plan. He is going to break every rule in the student handbook and earn points doing so.  Who knows what the prize might be (survival?), but can he do it before he loses his three lives?  I enjoyed the conversational tone as Rafe confesses all.  Oh yes, Rafe is an artist, and the drawings are my favorite part of the book.

I had hoped to finish Between Shades of Gray (no, not THAT book) by Ruta Sepetys, but I’m writing this blog post instead.  I’ll tell you more about this gripping historical fiction novel later.  It wont’ take long to finish because it’s hard to put down.  How did you do with your reading challenge?

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