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Author Visit . Aaron Reynolds

Several weeks ago, at the start of march, our elementary school welcomed author Aaron Reynolds into our halls. The moment that he stepped foot outside the school, students began running down the halls whispering, “He’s here!” This was very exciting! I might have also whispered a thing or two to passersby.

During his talk with the kiddos, I was able to sneak in for a few minutes and heard the most entertaining and enthusiastic storytelling that I have witnessed so far. Mr. Reynolds was jumping all around, yelling into the microphone, and using hilarious sound effects like “PFFFT” as he zoomed in on a picture of him as a nerdy student. It was fantastic. I was laughing with the students and soaking up every word. Not to sound too cheesy, but his words of encouragement even choked me up once or twice.

The second best part of the day was when I received my signed copy of one of the most popular books among all grade levels: Creepy Pair of Underwear. What a hit! I am so happy to have it in my collection! I have read this book countless times with students of all ages this year.

Thank you for visiting our school and sharing your story! Mr. Reynolds, we cannot keep your books on our shelves!

Norse Mythology . Neil Gaiman

“They will talk of Fenrir, the wolf that ate the world, and of the Midgard serpent, and they will remember Loki, who was of the gods yet not of them, who saved the gods and who would have destroyed them.”

Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology

In the midst of a transition to new classes with several new reading materials, I have turned my attention primarily to audiobooks, and I believe there is no greater narrator than Neil Gaiman. I love Gaiman’s work anyway, so I was incredibly happy to discover that I enjoy his audiobooks just as much a few years ago while listening to Coraline. While scrolling through Libby, I came across a book of his that I have been meaning to get my hands on, and it just so happened to be narrated by the author. 

My reading experience of Norse Mythology was great! In addition to the narration, each story is rich with detail. We read about the theft of Thor’s hammer, the Mead of Poets, of countless deceits and tricks by Loki, and more! I enjoyed the creation myths as well that of Ragnarok. Each of the short stories are placed between the beginning and end of the Norse Gods’ world. I credit the organization and short story format of this book as two integral components for such a fantastic read. As someone who is entirely unfamiliar with Norse Mythology, I believe that this book worked as an entertaining and accessible resource to the subject. I am excited to learn more about it!

I recommend this book for any mythology or Gaiman fans out there. I specifically recommend the audiobook version. I looked forward to it each and every evening. What I thought might act as a balm for a combined book hangover and reading rut only emphasized the feelings of stress…in the best way, of course. I didn’t know what to do once I had finished.

Thanks for reading.

March Reading Update

This month’s reading is primarily thanks to a Graphic Novels course that I am currently taking. Outside of the Graphic Novels, of which I plan to review soon, I have read only sporadically. Due to current life circumstances, I just haven’t felt like reading much, let alone writing about it. 

Hopefully, my reading will be back to normal soon. 

I am currently listening to, The Winter of the Witch, by Katherine Arden. This is the third book in “The Winternight Trilogy,” which is a work of art as far as I am concerned. I wanted to listen to something familiar, even though this is stressing me out more than I had anticipated. I wish to be as courageous as Vasya!  

I have recently picked up The Bridge of Little Jeremy, by Indrajit Garai, and I am really enjoying it. I am not too far in, but it sets a scene nicely. I love an observational perspective, and that is exactly what this story opens with. As I have been reading about the locations and iconic places in Paris, I have been looking them up and really immersing myself in the scenery of France. So far, so good. 

While I haven’t been reading, I have been up to my normal activities. Spending time outside has been my top priority lately. Not to mention that I have watched an embarrassing amount of Netflix. I just started “Never Have I Ever,” and it’s hilarious! 

Beautiful Wreck . Larissa Brown

“In a world where fragile, intangible threads connected us, we should have been able to find each other in the physical mess of the past. Painful, joyful, disgusting, romantic. People spent their days and nights, to varying degrees of fanaticism, in authenticated settings. They were in lust for their worlds. They shared them with a fervor.”

Larissa Brown, Beautiful Wreck

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Hello, readers! It has been over a month since I last posted. The combined general life business and reading slump hit me hard, and I still really haven’t pushed through it. I did want to talk about one book that I have read recently, and I would love to hear any of your own thoughts and opinions about Beautiful Wreck.

Let’s go ahead and get it out in the open. The minute that I read the synopsis of this book, I thought Outlander, and I am 100% okay with that. This book has an interesting pace. It is a great part of what kept me so intrigued throughout the story. Imagine the shape of a mountain. This story starts out quiet but still interesting. It’s a little confusing, but not in a bad way. BAM. The largest, middle portion of the book is AMAZING. I am talking forget the homework who cares about anything else absorbed. I sat in dead silence on the floor flying across the pages. After this incredible bit, we start to fall down the mountain and we end with an unsatisfying thud. That is one way I would describe Beautiful Wreck.

Another thing that this book as going for it that I have read multiple complaints about is the writing style. I think that Brown does such a fantastic job combining poetic and futuristic language. The writing is what guided me through the confusing beginning in which we are introduced the the strange, 22nd century world, which, by the way, sounds so boring and sterile. Brown elegantly translates between English and the Old Norse languages so fluidly!

That is it! There are such shifts between the sterile landscape and lifestyles of the 22nd century inhabitants versus the rich, full of life lives of the Vikings from the past. The connections and community established by Brown are so strong.

The ROMANCE. Do you like yearning, pining, and restraint? Need I say more?

To wrap up a series of random thoughts, I really loved this reading experience. My only issues that affected my rating, which I am unabashedly upset about, is the strange and unnecessary inclusion of time travel. Hey, we love time travel over here, but it didn’t fit in with the story. A good, old-fashioned case of amnesia would have sufficed (at least where the ending is concerned). What should have been a victorious ending, for some characters, instead felt cheesy and out of character. All of these people who I rooted for suddenly became strangers that took me out of the story.

That being said, please give this book a read! It will definitely make it into the category of “most exciting reads of the year.” Do you have any romance recommendations? As the weather gets warmer, I find myself reaching for romance.

Thanks for reading!

Mockingbird . Suzanne Collins

“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”

Suzanne Collins, Mockingbird

After being thrown back into the arena, Katniss makes it out once again bloodied and confused. Plans have been in place that she never knew about and now the Capitol is out for revenge. President Snow has left a trail of messages specially made for Katniss that lets her know that no one alive is safe now that she has joined the rebel forces in an effort to unite the districts in the face of the tyrannical Capitol.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I feel lost now that I have finished this series. I can’t believe I slept on this trilogy for so long! This book, which I mainly read via audiobook, kept me wide eyed. My heart rate was actually up at times because I was so freaked out. Talk about a fast pace with high stakes.

I love Katniss, but this is a different type of character love. I don’t want to be her. I don’t want her problems. I don’t want the love triangle, no thanks. I respect her from a distance and worry over her troubles.

About the love triangle, I know it’s a trope that many readers are tired of, but I thought this one was very clever. I couldn’t help but give a gasp when Gale mentioned so casually that Katniss would choose the guy who could help her survive. That was some hurtful truth that she was not prepared for. The drama. Also, the type of trauma that Peeta goes through is reminiscent a kind that I used to HATE many years ago when I read “The Tiger’s Curse” series by Colleen Houck. Wow, I loved those books, but the pain that I felt when the antagonist had gotten into the head of a character that I loved.

If I may be so bold, I think that I am more team Gale. I get it. I understand Peeta’s purpose and who he grows to be, as told to me by a friend…quite passionately, but I have a difficult time letting go to the past history/ growing up together aspect of Gale. To be fair, I would be just as fine without either of them. I see how the books used the love angles, don’t get me wrong, (kiss = broth) but I don’t think they were absolutely necessary. They were fun, though.

As far as the entire government collapse issue goes, I thought it was the perfect stressful and engaging mess. Would I have been brave enough to do anything about it? Absolutely not. I would have gone into hiding long before like the coward I am.

Actually, this is something that makes Katniss particularly interesting to me. She did have things to lose like her family and the other close ones around her…at the same time, she was sort of dead inside after all of the trauma that occurred over the previous two books. This combination of grief, numbness, and just animal instinct to live, not to mention the absolute rage, made her the perfect candidate for the job that she set out to complete in this book.

To wrap up this short review, I am mourning the loss here. I loved his series. I really enjoyed how the books changed so dramatically text by text. They are so entertaining and more than I ever anticipated they would be. Shame on me for being such a book snob or maybe I had to wait for the right time. Now, I want to go back and reread them, especially the second book, just to take in everything that I missed.

Read the series! Or, reread it and tell me if it has stood the test of time!

Should I read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

Thanks for reading.

How do you read?

How do you read? Do you order books as soon as you see them? Or borrow from the library? Do you subscribe to reading platforms or find free copies online? Do you collect books that you will never crack or collect specific ones that you love? I am just curious. What kind of reader are you?

I am a continuous reader. At all times, I am reading both a physical and audiobook. This year, I am attempting to focus on reading the books that I already own. So far, I mean, I’ve done worse. When I do splurge and buy a book or two, 8/10 times, they are second hand. I use Libby for my audiobooks. You have probably heard me sing the praises of Libby already, but I am baffled with the accessibility at my fingertips.

I also collect books in my own way. I don’t own books just for the sake of owning them, anymore. Up until a year ago, I only collected the ones that meant something to me, that I knew I would read again. Now, I am also collecting, very choosily, for a classroom. I want my students to have every opportunity to read. One day, I always say to myself, when I have more room, I will be less choosy, and I will adopt books freely. Welcome to your new home book about underwear that make the kids laugh.

So really, tell me! How do you read? I am nosy. I want to know!

The Redhead of Auschwitz . Nechama Birnbaum

Hello, readers. It is well past midnight, but I don’t believe that I will be able to sleep unless I write about this book. I don’t often write about a book like this on the blog, at least in this format, but I felt strange pitching this particular book like I do most fiction and fantasy books. The Redhead of Auschwitz, written by Nechama Birnbaum, is based on the life of her grandmother, Rachel, who was forced from her home during World War II and into a period of unimaginable cruelty. Rosie, like millions of others who suffered during the Holocaust, was separated from everything that she knew including her family and her home.

This book, which jumps between years in which Rosie is a young child and those in which she survives in concentration camps, wove such haunting and beautiful memories that left me speechless at each turn of the page. The way that Birnbaum structured her grandmother’s story created such intentional space for empathy and longing and love that I was moved to tears multiple times. The acts committed against so many lives are already impactful, of course, but I believe that Birnbaum did an incredible job at making this story accessible. Several chapters are left with such enticing ends, and not necessarily enticing in a good way, that I was unable to take a break. I read it all in one sitting because I had to know what would happen to these people that I became so attached to.

The Redhead of Auschwitz doesn’t read like a historical fiction novel because it’s not one. (I am not knocking that genre by any means, I enjoy it myself). This story of Rosie, Leah, and all of their family members throughout the past and present chapters of this book opened my heart to the fears and feelings of love that I feel like we might numb ourselves to too often.

This story made me marvel at the joy that comes from weddings and babies. Events that I take for granted, or that I don’t recognize the significance of often enough, maybe. It made me weep at its tragedy and hopelessness. It also made me reflect, and I think I will be reflecting on this book for a long time to come. I only discovered @theredheadofauschwitz on Instagram a few days ago, and as soon as I saw the link to the book, I bought it. I was moved by the messages that I saw from this account.

It goes without saying that I recommend this book, but I wouldn’t want to force it on anyone who is unwilling to really listen to the story. There is so much packed within the pages that I would hate to see any of it be ignored. I hope that some of what I wrote makes sense. All in all, I am very happy to have read this book, and I want to share it with others. Before I type away all night, I must get some rest.

Thanks for reading!

Catching Fire . Suzanne Collins

“‘Why did you do it anyway?‘ he says. ‘I don’t know. To show them that I’m more than just a piece in their Games?’ I say.”

Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire

After winning the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta find themselves gifted with an abundance of food and wealth, but these gifts come with a price. They must obey the expectations and demands of the capitol who are watching their every move. While the couple are both blurry as to whether their romance was created by the games or out of truth, they cling to one another as the world that they know begins to change. On their mandatory visits to each district, Katniss and her team begin to notice that there has been a shift in the attitudes of the people who have been oppressed for so long. With whispers of uprising in the streets, threats from President Snow, and news of a Quarter Quell that forces her back into the arena, Katniss realizes that she is the face of the rebellion, and time is running out.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was beyond excited to read this book after my newly discovered love of its predecessor, The Hunger Games. However, my expectations were somewhat marred after someone claimed that the second and third storylines are “stupid.” Why did I listen to that opinion? I don’t know. All it did was make me hesitant about picking up a book that I was looking forward to reading. Also, I learned that this person hasn’t even read the books. I guess I’m the clown in this scenario because, despite the delay, I loved Catching Fire even more than The Hunger Games.

I understand that the first book introduces us to the characters and the world, so I am not blind to the necessities of that, but I applaud the depth that this book goes into. This book takes our favorite characters and the mystery and cunning of the Capitol and goes full force.

The stakes in this book are even higher than in the first, we meet new characters, and TALK about the twists. I never even recognized the puzzle pieces of this plot let alone put them together. I think it’s a sensation, and that’s why I give this book five stars and bump The Hunger Games down to four.

If it’s not obvious enough, I completely recommend this book. If not for the drama, if not for the high stakes, then Catching Fire also wins for the best last line of a book. Give it a shot if you haven’t read these books before!

Thanks for reading!

The Hunger Games . Suzanne Collins

“You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.”

Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

Each year, the totalitarian Capitol of Panem hosts the Hunger Games where tributes between the ages of twelve and eighteen are chosen to promote their homes out of the twelve remaining districts. As the districts continue to survive in extreme poverty and fear, the children prepare for the reaping. If chosen, they must fight to the death in a controlled arena where the victor walks away with food and riches for their family in addition to symbolizing as hope for those ready to give up. On the day of the reaping, Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute when her sister’s name is called. Along with her skills as a hunter, her determination to keep her family alive, and a mentor who seems more interested in drink than helping her survive, Katniss does everything she can to be the victor of the seventy-fourth hunger games.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

About a week ago, a group of sixth graders tried their best to convince me that The Hunger Games is the best thing to ever exist. I was pretty skeptical because during the height of the YA Dystopian craze so many years ago, I was not a fan of the trend. Outside of The Giver, I have never enjoyed this genre, so you can imagine how annoyed and bored I felt when it was Dystopian or nothing. Actually, that period of reading isolation allowed me the “freedom” to explore classics, and I became obsessed with Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, so not all was terrible.

On a Thursday afternoon, I found an old copy of the book, and oh man. This book. I am such a fan of the fast-paced storytelling and plot. It is one of the most addictive books that I have read in a long time. I love the drama. I love the high stakes. I love the emotions. What a transformation. I in a day’s time I went from “can’t stand hearing about it,” to “10/10 would recommend.”

I started the second book a couple of days ago and haven’t had the time to really sink my teeth into it, yet, but I already like the premise of it. It might be slower right now, but I have assurance from a friend that it will blow me away before it’s over.

Do you like this series? Who is your favorite character? (Do I even ask #teamGale or #teamPeeta?)

Thanks for reading.