Monday, July 2, 2012

A Small Town, A Rich Fantasy, and Traveling Through Time (or What I Read Last Week)

I've resisted doing "What I'm Reading" or "What I've Read" posts in the past, because I simply thought I should just do post on my responses after finishing a book. And those responses should be one post/one book. I've come to the realization that I simply don't have the time make the time to do a worthy response for EVERY book I read. Sometimes, I just don't know what to say. Other times, I just don't feel like writing a post. Suddenly, I realize I've read something like TEN books with no posts. Yikes! Even though it's not what I originally had in mind, I've decided it's better to post some general, multi-book posts than not at all. I still hope to write some thoughts on individual books as I'm able.

That said, since it's the start of a new week and a new month, here's some of what I read last week.

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.
Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a cafe owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous cafe hostess. She will protect those she loves with ever bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

Reminded me of Because of Winn-Dixie with the small-town, quirky characters and a strong sense of community family, but add in the mystery of Mo's background and a local murder. It's one of my favorites of the summer so far. I can't wait to see what my students think when school starts again. A rating.

Sabriel by Garth Nix.
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death--and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

Okay, this one has been on my To Be Read list for a super long time. I adore YA fantasy, and this one has been recommended to me numerous times. I could just kick myself for not reading it sooner, because it's absolutely a-mazing. Simply unforgettable. Nix creates a complex world in the Old Kingdom, but one that's so richly described I had no trouble visualizing and immersing myself there. I have already added Lirael to my lists and hope to get to it before school starts. A+ rating. This one is going on my "Keeper" shelf.

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone.
Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett's unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna's life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility. As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate--and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.

I received this ARC from NetGalley, as the book isn't scheduled for release until October. I think this time travel romance has something special to make it stand out, and I personally can't wait to get it into some of my teens' hands this fall. Although I am generally a fan of romances, I don't always care for the time travel ones. (Usually, it's travel to a completely different era where the traveler stands out as Not From There. Here, with the travel being only 17 years in the past, most of my concerns were erased.) I think what really resonates with the story is how Anna gets the strength, or maybe gains enough confidence, just by knowing Bennett to change her life. She's a better person for knowing Bennett. It's not a perfect story, by any means. I still had some questions at the end. Will we ever know Bennett's story completely? What happened back home with his sister? Argh! I don't like being left hanging.  That said, it won't keep me from recommending it to my students. B rating.

Now, back to some reading.

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