Tag Archives: 2016 Hub Reading Challenge

2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #9

27 Mar

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Yesterday, I reached the magic number of 25. I read my 25th book for the 2016 HUB reading Challenge. Yay me! I reached this magic number by reading Rad American Women A-Z written by Katie Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl.

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The book is exactly what the title implies: an alphabet  book of notable American women, beginning with

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and ending with

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In between we encounter many familiar names , and some new ones:

Billie Jean King, Carol Burnett, Dolores Huerta, Ella Baker, Florence Griffith-Joyner, the Grimke Sisters, Hazel Scott, Isadora Cuncan, Jovita Idar, Kate Bornstein, Lucy Parsons, Maya Lin, Nellie Bly, Odetta, Patti Smith, Queen Bessie Coleman, Rachel Carson, Sonia Sotomayor, Temple Grandin, Ursula K. LeGuin, Virginia Apgar, Wilma Mankiller, X,  and Yuri Kochiyama.

Each Rad Woman gets a one page biography, just enough to get a reader interested enough to learn more. The back matter includes suggestions about what readers can do as well as book and online resources for further research.

An excellent nonfiction book to add to classroom libraries across multiple grades.

2016 Hub Challenge Check-In # 8

20 Mar

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I have made it to 24 books, finishing Shadowshaper,  by Daniel José Older.

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Goodreads Summary: Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

I really like the gritty urban setting. In some ways, everything is ordinary: mom is a teacher, the teens are smart and artistic. Some mild racism is presented when Sierra ventures out of her usual hangouts. Although a Shadowshaper, Sierra also has body issues like so many teen girls. This stand alone is what I hoped the later Mortal Instruments books would have been.

2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #7

13 Mar

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I’ve read a total of 23 titles for the 2016 Hub Challenge. To finish, I only have to read 2 more. Some years, I read more than 25, but I might just stop at 25 this year because I have this giant pile of TBR books at home: arcs and library books.

This week saw me finish two graphic novels and a regular novel.

The first graphic novel was Super Mutant Magic Academy by  Jillian Tamako.

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Summary:SuperMutant Magic Academy, paints a teenaged world filled with just as much ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humor and irreverence. Tamaki deftly plays superhero and high-school Hollywood tropes against what adolescence is really like: The SuperMutant Magic Academy is a prep school for mutants and witches, but their paranormal abilities take a backseat to everyday teen concerns.
Science experiments go awry, bake sales are upstaged, and the new kid at school is a cat who will determine the course of human destiny.  Whether the magic is mundane or miraculous, Tamaki’s jokes are precise and devastating.

The second GN was Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia.

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Summary: The children of U.S. small-town Alexandria are just trying to live like normal teens until their parents’ promised return from a mysterious, four-year religious pilgrimage, and Ben Schiller is no exception. She’s just trying to take care of her sister, keep faith that her parents will come back, and get through her teen years as painlessly as possible. But her relationship with her best friend is changing, her younger sister is hiding a dark secret, and a terrible tragedy is coming for them all. Filled with teenage loves and fights and parties, Sacred Heart is a wonderful coming-of-age graphic novel set against the threat of a big reckoning that everyone fears is coming but has no proof.

I didn’t love either of these. I’m not a huge reader of graphic novels and these two just weren;t my thing.

On the other hand, I loved Dumplin’  by Julie Murphy.

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Summary:Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #6

6 Mar

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I’m not sure where this week went. While the previous week dragged, this one flew by in a rush. I only really finished one book for the Challenge, though I hope to finish an audiobook this afternoon.

I finished this slim, small book

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The title of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs, says it all. This is a how to book for fangirls.

Summary:Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.

I think if you are a beginning fangirl, this is a great place to start.

I am still listening to the 16 disc (20 hour) audiobook of Libba Bray’s Lair of Dreams, book 2 of the Diviner’s series.

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Summary: After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, earning the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners.

Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret—for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.

As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess…As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?

There are a lot of characters and the book is long. As with The Diviners, I don’t love the story enough to have read the actual print book. But the narrator of the audiobook,  January LaVoy, is excellent. She ably differentiates the multitudinous character voices in an authentic way. When I finish it, this all bring me to a total of 20 books for the Challenge, 5 away from the minimum required.

2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #5

28 Feb

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It was a good/bad week for the HUB Reading Challenge. I read a good book and listened to a not that great audiobook, both of which are parts of series.

This week, I listened to Half Wild by Sally Green.

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I read the first book in the trilogy, Half Bad, when it came out in 2014 and really liked it. Maybe it’s been too long since I read it, but I didn’t enjoy Half Wild  nearly as much. The narration by Carl Prekopp, was excellent. I just couldn’t get into the story and really only managed to finish it  because I was knitting while I listened. Nathan’s obsession with Annalise was not realign interesting to me, especially since I can’t really remember her from Half Bad.  There seems to be a lot of gallivanting all over Europe and shapeshifting in a stream of consciousness sort of narration, but overall I just didn’t love it. At this point, I don’t care about any of the characters enough to read the third book, Half Lost,  which comes out later this year.

On a happier note, I really enjoyed Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

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For the last few years, I’ve seen the books of  Bardugo’s first series, the Grisha trilogy, on the shelves of my local library. They’ve intrigued me, but I’d never read any of them, despite a strong fan base.

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I got an ARC of Six of Crows when I was in San Francisco this summer and finally got around to reading it.

I had a little trouble getting into it at first. I have this name issue and have abandoned books because I hate the pretentious names an author has given his/her characters. This happened most recently with Marie Lu’s Rose Society series. The names felt too forced to be believed. I abandoned the first book of the series and will probably never pick it up again.

I worried a little as I started Six of Crows that I would have the same reaction. I DO believe that reading it might have been made easier if I’d read the Grisha Trilogy, even though this is a separate first book in a series. However, as I got going, I got the rhythm of the world Bardugo had created and really connected with the characters.

Set in the same world as the Grisha trilogy, Six of Crows follows a group of six outcasts as they embark on deadly heist to break someone out of an impregnable prison. Bardugo is a compelling writer. What I really like is how she unfolds the story. The plot is set in motion and then, as events unfold, each character’s backstory is slowly revealed to deepen our understanding and connection to them. Bardugo suspends the plot in strategic places to reveal the backstory. Then, she suspends the backstory to move the plot forward. It is very effective and it certainly made me want to keep reading. I am looking forward to the release of the next book in the series, Crooked Kingdom, later this year.

2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #3

15 Feb

It’s been a slow reading week. I worked two twelve-hour days for conferences then had a day off in which I was so tired I couldn’t concentrate t read. The only book I read, though not quite finished yet, is  The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B  by Teresa Toten.

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My sister sent me this book last year and I’d not yet gotten around to reading it. I can see why it won a Schneider Family Book  Award that recognizes a book “that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

One of the things I really enjoy about the book is the narrative voice. I keep thinking it is narrated in the first person because the details about Adam’s thinking are so precise, but it actually has third person omniscient narration. This could be something that annoyed me, but Toten really got it right.I wonder if she and her editor considered writing in the first person. I’d like to ask her that question.

Publisher’s Summary: Filled with moments of deep emotion and unexpected humor, this understated and wise novel explores the complexities of living with OCD and offers the prospect of hope, happiness and healing. Perfect for readers who love Eleanor & Park and All the Bright Places.

ADAM’S GOALS:
Grow immediately.
Find courage.
Keep courage.
Get normal.
Marry Robyn Plummer.

The instant Adam Spencer Ross meets Robyn Plummer in his Young Adult OCD Support Group, he is hopelessly, desperately drawn to her. Robyn has a hypnotic voice, blue eyes the shade of an angry sky, and ravishing beauty that makes Adam’s insides ache. She’s also just been released from a residential psychiatric program—the kind for the worst, most difficult-to-cure cases; the kind that Adam and his fellow support group members will do anything to avoid joining.

Adam immediately knows that he has to save Robyn, must save Robyn, or die trying. But is it really Robyn who needs rescuing? And is it possible to have a normal relationship when your life is anything but?

2016 HUB Reading Challenge Check-in #2

7 Feb

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I had a  busy book week. I had to finish reading two of the Cybils NF finalists to be prepared for our decision-making discussion yesterday. We had a wonderfully robust discussion. It took three hours for us to whittle down to a winner, which will be announced on Saturday, February 14th.

All this is to explain why I only almost finished one book for the HUB challenge this week. I am about 2/3 of the way through Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman.

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I will admit, I had a little trouble getting into it, until I realized what was going on. Suddenly, I realized why it won the National Book Award and has gained so many other accolades.  Here is Neal Shusterman’s NBA Acceptance speech.

Publisher’s Summary: Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence, to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today’s most admired writers for teens.

When I was reading for the Morris Award, we saw a lot of books about teen mental illness and often discussed how hard and how rarely they give an honest picture of what it is like to have a mental illness. But Challenger Deep  does. It is not an easy read, but the short, meaningful chapters pull you deeper and deeper into the story.

I highly recommend it and I think a lot of adults would enjoy it as well as teens.

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