Monday, November 4, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/4/13

I am excited to be a part of the conversation at #IMWAYR! Thank you to SheilaJen and Kellee 
for inspiring and hosting this meme.

Whew!  The World Series is over and the Red Sox are winners.  Finally, my life can return to normal!

Rec. for grades 6+
My favorite read, by far, of the past week was The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud.  This is a seriously creepy story (yes, I am creeped out easily, but I actually couldn't read this before I went to bed) about an alternative London which has been taken over by all variety of ghosts and spirits.  The Problem can be sensed and battled by children, thus a number of agencies offer services as ghost busters.  Lockwood and Co., one such agency, is unusual in that it is owned and operated by a child, Anthony Lockwood, without the supervision of any adults.  When Anthony and his two employees are dispatched to one of England's most terrifyingly haunted houses, chaos and horror ensue.  What prevents this book from being simply a scary ghost story is the voice of Lucy Carlyle, one of Lockwood's agents.  Despite the fearsome situations she is put in, she has a great sense of humor, to such an extent that there were times when I was reading this both shivering and laughing.  Stroud is most well known for his Bartimaeus trilogy, but this is an exciting start to a new series.  The blend of fantasy, fear and a smart, self-depricating protagonist make this a winner.
Rec. for grades 6-8

Another book that I was surprised to enjoy as much as I did was Wish, book one in the Faerieground series.  This is a very lushly illustrated modern day fairy tale targeted at "reluctant readers."  I found myself drawn into the story (and the forest) despite some skepticism at the start. Although I wanted a little more depth from all of the characters, the illustrations kept me turning pages in this story about the collision of humans and fairies.

Rec. for grades 5-8

Newbery award-winning Cynthia Kadohata's latest offering, The Thing About Luck is beautiful and lyrical.  It tells the story of Summer, whose Japanese-American family works as itinerant wheat harvesters.  Summer is reluctant to leave her school and friends to go on the annual harvest, especially because her parents are in Japan and she is left under the care of her strict grandparents.  Luck does not seem to be on Summer's side as she navigates her unusual family and their difficult circumstances.  This was a quiet book, to me, and much more character-driven than plot driven.  At times I wanted a little more excitement and action, but ultimately I still came to care about Summer and her family.

For adults

Finally, I enjoyed an advanced reader copy of Valerie Martin's new book The Ghost of the Mary Celeste (thank you NetGalley!).  This historical fiction tale ties together several seemingly disparate stories - the abandoned ghost ship Mary Celeste, Arthur Conan Doyle and 19th century spiritualists.   Loose literary strands slowly come together to deepen, rather than solve, a maritime mystery that is both engaging and intriguing.  Look for this one when it comes out in January, 2014!

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