Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Whisperer in Darkness by H. P. Lovecraft

The Whisperer in Darkness by H. P. Lovecraft

What a wonderful surprise to find this classic in the list. I have read a number of authors who sight Lovecraft as one of their sources of inspiration and even some who have built upon the mythology he developed. I had not ever read any of his works. He is famous for his influence on the horror genre of the 20th century and numerous songs and games have been influenced by his work, unfortunately, he did not experience financial success during his lifetime.  This is written in a first-person narrative with a bare minimum of dialogue.   It also has a far more challenging vocabulary than is usually found in YA or even modern fiction with only a little archaic vocabulary. It was a scary page-turner edge of the seat, classic horror novel. I’ll never look on the hinterlands of Vermont the same.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Blink By Sasha Davis

Blink By Sasha Davis


There were four choices for the title Blink. One was a Batman graphic, another a rapture story, (religious rapture), and another a psycho-thriller. I chose this one.  However, this is definitely more a late High School book than an early middle school. Mostly for the level of violence, most of it domestic, second for language and finally for some intimate personal interactions. The story is told in first person past tense by high school junior Josh Michaels who as a rising star on the football team and who should have it made except for a neglectful dysfunctional mother, an abusive ex-stepfather, a dope smoking friend, and twin little sisters who need his love and protection, and Chatham Claiborne, the most beautiful person he has ever met.  Two storylines begin in the first chapter and finally meet fully in the last chapter. They are the story of four-year-old Rachel Bachton, kidnapped 11 years before our story begins and the mysterious Chatham Claiborne who shows up in this nowhere town north of Chicago. By the end, Chatham owns who she is and Josh does some growing up, but there is a lot of pain before that happens. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Leaving By Tara Altebrando

The Leaving By Tara Altebrando


The Leaving uses three characters to tell the story from their point of view. Two of the characters were part of the six kindergarteners who were taken 11 years before the story begins. The third is the sister of a boy who was taken but doesn’t return. The search for the truth is a suspenseful journey and right up to the end I wasn’t sure who to trust. The story raised for me a lot of questions about memory. It points out that most of us remember very little of our childhood. The story asks; What is a really good memory? Would you rather remember a catastrophic event or simply have a blank spot where that memory was? If you lose your memory can you go forward without trying to regain that time? The story also explores the ways in which those who are left behind try to cope.  And throughout the story is the conflict between people who chose to deal very differently with the same events. A good read. 

The Maze Runner By James Dashner

The Maze Runner By James Dashner


The Maze Runner is written in third person past tense. It is the story of Thomas’ entry into a new community of all teenage boys and his journey out of that community. It is a solid and exciting story. The questions it raises are not so much questions of youth and growing up but questions of life. The primary question is how does one build and maintain community and how does one foster hope in a restrictive setting.  The community has rules and the leaders believe order is absolutely necessary in order to maintain community and hope. When the rules are broken for a reason there is no provision for mercy and forgiveness. The other big question is how does the community deal with suspicion. Suspicion is hurtful to individuals but also destructive to the community. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

because of mr. terupt by Rob Buyea

because of mr. terupt by Rob Buyea


When I read the Amazon description of this book and saw that it was about a fifth-grade class, I wondered why several of these 7th graders had recommended this book. Having read it I would highly recommend it to sixth and seventh graders. This story is told with seven first-person voices. They are all fifth graders. All is good in the beginning but they foreshadow that a terrible accident will change everything. They honestly share their self-reflections on their roles as good, bad and sometimes mean kids. None of them are all one way. In fact, some of the least nice and least outgoing are the best people when the class rotates through assisting in the special needs classroom. And maybe most importantly they all have challenges going on at home which contribute to them falling short of their better selves at school. I think the fifth-grade setting offers a simpler school structure in which to tell the story and a genuine honesty to the children’s self-reflection. It offers the sixth and seventh-grade reader the chance to talk about who they most identify with and who they want to be. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

If I Stay By Gayle Foreman

If I Stay By Gayle Foreman


If I Stay is written in First person Present with many Flash Backs. All is going well until Mia and her family is in a terrible car accident. Mia’s body is left in a coma as her consciousness is left to wander the corridors of the hospital and of her life. In a style that reminded me of “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder Mia remembers significant and insignificant moments of her life. She is sharing with us how each of these moments shaped and created her life. You might say she is telling us who she is by sharing her History. All this is to build to the question of whether she will stay or go. An interesting question would be to take a rather ordinary memory and explore its impact on our present life. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Stuart’s Summer Reading List

Stuart’s Summer Reading List

I usually find my next book to read by following the suggestions made by Amazon. You know “The people who bought this book also bought ____.” Well that doesn’t mean they read it. This year I start my summer with forty books recommended by a hundred seventh graders at Marstellar Middle school. I am enjoying the diversity and breadth of the list. I am posting a paragraph about each book as I finish it. * are books read at this time.

First Period
*A Million Ways Home
The Lane of Stories
The Maze Runner
Genius the Game
*Wonder
The Thickity
Ready Player One
The Whisperer in the Dark
The Energy Bus
*Turtles All the Way Down

Second Period
*Life of Mars
Echo
*If I Stay
Listen
Long Way Down (poetry book recommended by Ivanna)
The Selection
Tomb Quest
Red Rising
The Leaving
Reign Reighn
Team Yankee
Everything Everything
*The Fifth Wave
Along for the Ride
*Henry on Fire
A Man Called Of
*Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Third Period
*Ransom
Ranger’s Apprentice
Awake
The Thing About Jellyfish
*Cirque du freak
The Doll Graveyard
The Kindling
All American Boys
Out of my Mind
I am Number Four
Michael Vey the Prisoner of Cell 25
Fable Haven
*The War that Saved my Life
The Sword of Summer
The One and Only Ivan
Vampire Girl
Orbiting Jupiter
The Magician's Elephant
Dragon’s Egg
Theodore Boone the Accused

Seventh Period
The Last Star
*The BadBeginningg
Because of Mr. Terupt
Pretties
Eregor
*Liar and Spy
Solo
The Wife Between Us
The Big Field
Blink