Sunday, July 5, 2015

TSS - July 5, 2015

Happy day-after the Fourth of July!

For my American readers, I hope you had a fun and safe celebration in honor of our country's freedom. We spent yesterday evening at home, but celebrated instead on Friday by attending the Royal's baseball game (with a win!) and watching fireworks afterwards at the stadium.

I have finally found my reading mo-jo. In the past week, I completed SIX middle grade books! I do believe that is a record for me. I still have a few left on my library pile, but I am always on the look out for more Middle Grade (early YA) books to add to my reading list. I would love to hear any suggestions you might have.

I plan to begin writing book reviews in the very near future, so I don't want to go into great detail here. But I will share the titles I have enjoyed this week:

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney.

The plot had such promise: paintings coming to life at night;  a romance between the protagonist and a beautiful model trapped inside a masterpiece; an old curse which threatens the existence of great works of art.

But in the end, I simply skimmed that last half of the book. There was too much focus on the romance and too little attention on the art to hold my interest.

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne.

A clever premise. Hamlet's parents are Shakespearean scholars and her seven year old sister, Desdemona, a child genius. In other words, Hamlet has a difficult time just blending into the 8th grade crowd.

To make matters worse, her sister is now taking courses at the middle school and becomes friends with the popular girls in Hamlet's class.

I felt Hamlet's pain, and I enjoyed the references to A Midsummer Night's Dream, a play I used to teach my 8th graders. The author's sense of humor helped make this a quick and enjoyable read.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

A young boy living within the walls of a Parisian train station. The perfect hook for this Francophile.

I am surprised how much I enjoyed this book. It is a quick read, as about a third of the book is comprised of pen/ink drawings that not only illustrate the text but actually move the plot forward.

I enjoyed the historical fiction component - I adored Hugo's quirky personality - and of course the setting was formidable.

Ghost Cadet by Elaine Marie Alphin

I enjoyed the author's non-fiction book, Creating Characters Kids Will Love, so I wanted to read an example of her character development.

I am not typically interested in military stories, but the concept of this novel held my attention.

While visiting his grandmother, 12-year-old Benjy tours the Battlefield of New Market where he encounters the ghost of a young Confederate soldier. Benjy has few intimate relationships in his own life, so he welcomes the opportunity to befriend Hugh. Together they try to find a family heirloom lost in the war so Hugh can finally be honored for his service and rest in peace.

Building Blocks by Cynthia Voigt.

I selected this book because of its time travel element.

Bramm Connell is the youngest child of a couple who epitomize "opposites attract" His mother is strong, determined, and ambitions; his father seems weak, resigned, and a doormat. Bram has little respect for his father and at times thinks his family would be better off if his parents divorced.

Escaping the shouting match of yet another parental argument, Bramm retreats to the basement where he builds a fort with some old blocks he finds hidden in the corner. This provides the means to travel back in time to the Great Depression and the opportunity to meet his father as a young boy.

I liked the time travel element - I liked the idea of meeting one's parents when they are still children - I was disturbed by this man's past.

Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder.

I adored this book.  Apparently it is the sequel to Bigger Than a Bread Box, which I plan to read very soon.

Annie's grandmother is a cantankerous, hateful woman - even on her deathbed. Annie goes to bed wondering what could make someone so angry, and wakes up fifty years earlier with the opportunity to befriend her own grandmother as a 12-year-old girl.

Not only do we learn Molly's past (which offers an explanation for her angry disposition), but we discover that Annie has the opportunity to alter history for the better.

I'm still working on a consistent blogging schedule - slowly but surely I will get there.

This past week I wrote an introductory post to Paris in July - an annual meme sponsored by Tamara of Thyme for Tea. As I mention in that post, this is also the first post of what I hope will become a weekly blogging event for me: French Fridays.

This coming week I hope to add one more regular event: Wordless Wednesdays - where I hope to share my recent Europe vacation. I'm sure the post will contain a few words, but hopefully the pictures will be the focus.

I haven't made much progress in either of my projects but...

I did have the opportunity to attend a week-long writing conference for children last week (do not be fooled by the title, this adult learned SO much).

I will be using the sponsor's curriculum, One Year Adventure Novel, next year in my storytelling  workshop ... but this conference gave me so much writing goodness to share with you.

I finished the week with a renewed passion for writing in general, storytelling as a focus, and connecting with like-minded people who enjoy these activities as much as I do.

Yes, I enjoyed this productive week of reading... but I am excited to add a bit of writing and blogging to the mix.


  1. The books you chose look tempting, although I don't usually read Middle Grade books...and very few YA.

    Enjoy! Here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

  2. Reading middle grade books sounds like a lot of fun! Good luck with French Fridays!

  3. Happy Sunday, July 5, to you. :)

    I like the Paris book.

    I don't read middle grade, but enjoy.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

  4. Thanks for the reminder that Paris in July has commenced. I need to ready a blog post!

    Congrats on all the reading last week. Good job.

  5. Congrats on your reading mojo. I look forward to your French Fridays to see where all you went in France. cheers.

  6. I love middle grade books! There's little to no angst in it compared to young adult books. Have you read Homecoming by Cynthia Voight? It was first published in the late 80s, but is a really good book. Have you read Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo? It's a late elementary-early middle school read. What else is in your library stack? :-)

    I hope you have a fantastic week.

  7. I adore middle grade books, so I'm always happy to get some suggestions. I've read a few by Cynthia Voight but not this one.

  8. I don't read many middle grade books, but loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret! Have a good week, Molly.

  9. Hi Molly!

    Before I forget, thank you so much for coming to my PIJ post on The Marmelade Gypsy. I'm always looking for new books and enjoying this post -- especially the French ones, of course! I've never read Hugo Cabret, though I loved the film, and am pleased to hear it's well written and enjoyable. On the list! Look forward to more!


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