It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11-18-13

Visit our hosts Jen & Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their reviews as well as links to all the other blogs participating in the book sharing fun!

Books I Read this Week:

The Art of Flying by Judy Hoffman
Disney-Hyperion, 2013
320 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

I was drawn to this book because of the lovely cover and my love of birds.  Right away readers are thrust into a magical mystery of how and why two sister witches transformed a young sparrow into a young boy.  
Fortuna finds herself asked by the strange and creepy Baldwin sisters to convince the young boy that he wants to be turned back into a bird.  The sisters think their spell won't reverse unless the boy wants to be turned back, and if they don't turn him back they are in loads of trouble with the witch counsel.
As layers are revealed we find out that an entire bird community is coming together to set things right too.  Turns out 3 birds were transformed by the sisters, and two are missing.  The spell will only be reversible if all three bird-humans are together at once, since they were together for the original spell.

I found the birds to be tiresome, finding myself not enjoying their portion of the storyline.  Fortuna begins her mission of helping "Martin," but once she finds out she can fly with him she isn't so keen on helping him become a bird again.  I wouldn't say it was captivating, and would assume that readers that need constant action will not make it to the end of this story.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013
432 pages
Recommended for grades 8+

Earlier this fall I shared a review for one of my favorite 2013 books thus far, Doll Bones.  With such a superbly done story for middle grade readers I was of course awaiting The Coldest Girl in Coldtown with high, high hopes.

Coldtown is not for young readers, don't let the publisher name fool you!  Geared towards high school readers, this is a vampire story that fantasy fans should not miss.  

Tana lives in a world where vampires have become a threat to all civilization, and the fix is to create Coldtowns to contain all vampires and all infected individuals.  The opening scene of this book is hugely surprising, and it is immediately apparent that this story is not for the faint of heart or young readers.  

There is blood, blood, blood, love, betrayal, and loyalty, all found in this quickly moving story.  I know it's not for everyone, but I will say I was immediately captivated and drawn into this story.  Truly, I was sad to see it end.

I guess this is Holly Black's year, it will be a hard one for her to top!  
(And isn't that cover awesome?)

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck
Dial, 2013
224 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

A sweet story about a funny little mouse who isn't quite sure who he is or where he belongs.  Peck does a nice job at introducing readers to the mouse world running parallel with our human world through the young nameless narrating mouse, without it feeling like forced explanations of the hows and whys.  
I think many young readers will enjoy this fun fantasy with wonderful illustrations, but readers with their wits about them might quickly predict the bloodlines of this orphaned mouse.
  I have given my heart to another small mouse, but have to admit that there was fun to be had within these pages.

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013
Historical Fiction/Poetic Narrative
160 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

A few years back my students fell in love with a poetic narrative titled Hidden, also by Helen Frost.  Now she brings us a story with an entirely different feel and purpose.  
Two young boys in 1812, an American boy and a Native American boy, friends with a language barrier.  Told in alternating poems by each boy, readers are privy to the feelings and experiences of a child on either side of the battle lines which are beginning to form between American, British and Native forces.  

When it comes to Helen Frost's poetic narratives you can feel assured that though the text is sparse, each word and each poetic form is put to the page with intention.  I've already added this one to my classroom library!

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

Have a wonderful week reading and discovering!
Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Adored Lockwood and Company. Should have saved it for a rainy Saturday and read it with tea and biscuits. So good! The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was one I didn't even read because I knew it wouldn't be middle grade. Doll Bones had its moments, though.

  2. You read some pretty awesome books this week. I've never seen THE ART OF FLYING before but you're right, that cover really draws you in.

    I'm interested to hear your thoughts about Alexander Baddenfield. I was kind of ambivalent about it but I love how the ending can spark a great discussion about irony.

  3. Hello there Nicole, I love Helen Frost's novels-in-verse so I can't wait to read her newest book. Have you read "Crossing Stones" yet? That one is also beautiful. The book cover of The Art of Flying intrigued me as well, I shall have to find that one. I enjoyed Stroud's Bartimaeus trilogy so I would have to find his newest books and devour them soon. :)

  4. The Coldest Girl In Coldtown sounds fabulous. I will have to look for it. I also keep seeing great reviews of Salt. I need to find that one too. I actually haven't read anything by Helen Frost yet but it seems that it is time to change that! Have a great reading week.

  5. Holly Black is certainly a name heard everywhere right now. I loved Doll Bones but not sure if I will pick up this title Vampires are not really my thing I must admit! Salt intrigues me. I read Hidden last summer and yes, so powerful.

  6. I just read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown this week too! I thought it was fabulous. A new and unique and utterly captivating take on the vampire lore.


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