Thursday, January 28, 2021

The In-Between blog tour - 1.28.21

Two siblings, a mystery that has more questions than answers, and one big plot twist.  All inside Rebecca K.S. Ansari's sophomore book, The In-Between.

The In-Between
written by Rebecca K.S. Ansari
published by Walden Pond Press

About the book:

A dark, twisty adventure about the forgotten among us and what it means to be seen, from the acclaimed author of The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly.

Cooper is lost. Ever since his father left their family three years ago, he has become distant from his friends, constantly annoyed by his little sister, Jess, and completely fed up with the pale, creepy rich girl who moved in next door and won’t stop staring at him. So when Cooper learns of an unsolved mystery his sister has discovered online, he welcomes the distraction.

It’s the tale of a deadly train crash that occurred a hundred years ago, in which one young boy among the dead was never identified. The only distinguishing mark on him was a strange insignia on his suit coat, a symbol no one had seen before or since. Jess is fascinated by the mystery of the unknown child— because she’s seen the insignia. It’s the symbol of the jacket of the girl next door.

As they uncover more information— and mounting evidence of the girl’s seemingly impossible connection to the tragedy—Cooper and Jess begin to wonder if a similar disaster could be heading to their hometown.

What you need to know:

This book has one of the best twists in it - when I got to it, I think I might have really said, "no way" out loud!  When a book can throw in a good surprise, it always stands out to me!

I really liked meeting all of the characters.  Cooper is trying so hard to get things right even though he's dealing with his own pain.  His father has left his family to start a new one and Cooper hasn't let go of that pain.  He feels like he needs to be the man of the house, but really, he just wants to be a kid.  He has to help his younger sister, Jess, with her diabetes.  That responsibility is just another thing on his plate.  Jess is a good sister, nagging at times, but she is the younger sister, after all!  Their mom is trying to keep their family stay afloat and often works more hours than she is at home.  On top of everything that is going on at home, Cooper is also having some issues with his best friend, Zack.  Even though Zack tries to still talk with him, Cooper keeps trying to freeze Zack out.  But then Cooper meets the new kid at school, Gus.  Gus has his own family issues - he's been sent to live with his grandmother (the neighborhood scary lady) while his parents work on their own issues.  Cooper is more comfortable with Gus than anyone else, and they strike up a friendship.  The last character we know about is the strange girl across the alley.  Her family has renovated a very old home and she's always sitting outside, sitting on a swing.  Never says anything, just stares.  She doesn't go to their school because she is always seen with a blazer that has an insignia on it, which makes Cooper think she attends a private school.  

The first third of the book is spent learning about the characters and their backgrounds and about a potential mystery that connects the mysterious girl to a deadly train crash.  Jess has found an old, unsolved mystery on the internet of a train crash that had an unidentified victim, a school-aged child.  Accompanying the article is a half drawn illustration of an insignia that had been on the child's school blazer.  Jess realizes that the same insignia is on the blazer of the girl across the alley.  If they find out what school it is, there is a chance they can solve the mystery.  It starts to get more interesting when they discover another accident with an unknown child victim, again wearing the insignia.  How do these things connect?  And how do they connect with their mysterious neighbor?

The first 100 pages or so build up the background of the characters and the details of the mystery.  This part moves much slower than the rest of the book.  If you can keep students reading through the slower beginning, I promise, it gets harder to put the book down.

Eventually, Cooper finally talks to the girl and finds out her name is Elena.  When it really gets strange (and when it finally starts picking up) is when he enters her house.  First of all, the beautifully renovated house is completely dark, abandoned, and in horrible shape on the inside.  It looks like no one has lived inside for many years.  Inside the house, Cooper finds letters written on notebook paper.  He grabs one to bring home, but not before he cuts his finger on broken glass.  Once he gets home, his mom admonishes him for being inside a home that has been abandoned for this long.  She is shocked to hear someone is actually living inside of it.  At this point, Cooper and Jess realize that while they see a completely refurbished house on the outside, their mom sees the house as it had been - run down and abandoned.  

This is where the book really picks up pace because there are so many unanswered questions:
  • who is Elena?
  • why is she living in an abandoned house?
  • why can only Cooper and Jess and Gus see the refurbished house and Elena?
  • why is the insignia on her jacket the same as the one as the unidentified victims?  What is the link?
  • what will happen with Cooper's angry feelings towards their father?  Will their father return?
As always, as you continue to read, we eventually get answers and see how things are put together.  Of course, things are not what they seem to be.  They mystery grows for awhile and Cooper learns things about Elena and why she is there and about her home.  The more Cooper learns, the more he comes to realize that there is a reason why Elena is there and it involves the three people that can see her - Cooper, Jess, and Gus.  And it doesn't appear that she's there for a good reason.  It ends up being a race against time to put the pieces of the mystery together.

If you can get through the first 100 pages, I promise you'll have a page turner on your hands, especially the last 60 pages of the book.  I couldn't put it down once I had an understanding of what was going to happen.  I loved how Ansari put everything together in a way that I never saw coming.  

It's a longer book (over 300 pages - not as long as her The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly) so I would suggest 4th grade readers with a strong reading stamina - 7th grade readers will enjoy this one.  The cover is fun to go back and look at after most of the book is read as it is full of details from the story.

Ansari's stories continue to engage me and I will be looking for more from her in the future!

Don't just take my word for it!  Praise for The In-Between:

More about author Rebecca K.S. Ansari:
Photo credit: Pixel Dust
Rebecca lives in a very loud house in Minneapolis with her husband, four boys, and her seriously massive pets. After twelve years as an ER doctor, she shed her scrubs to write magical and mysterious worlds for middle-grade readers. She is drawn to any story that evokes, "Please, Mom! Just one more chapter!" and she strives to craft the same. Rebecca was the winner of the Minnesota SCBWI Mentorship for 2015. When she isn't writing, you can find her biking, cooking or escaping "up north" with family, friends, and a stack of good books.

Stop by the other legs of the tour to find out more about this intriguing story!

Blog Tour 1/27-2/2

January 27 Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers @grgenius

January 28 Michele Knott @knott_michele

January 29 Writer's Rumpus @writersrumpus

January 30 Maria's Melange @mariaselke

February 1 StoryMamas @storymamas

                  Charlotte's Library @charlotteslibrary

February 2 A Library Mama @alibrarymama

          Iowa Amber Reads @iowaamberreads

Tonight - Thursday, January 28th - is the virtual book release party.  Hosted by Red Balloon Books in St. Paul, MN, join Rebecca in conversation with fellow author, Anne Ursu, from 6-7pm CST.  Register for this free event here:

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - writers and words - 1.27.21

 Today's nonfiction roundup celebrates a love of the written word!

Exquisite by Suzanne Slade
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
written by Suzanne Slade
illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, the name Gwendolyn Brooks was always shared in English classes.  Her poetry was always a mix with other well-known poets, and I remember there being a special on the local WTTW channel.
This book takes a look at how she grew up and how her family fostered her love of words.  She married a man who also loved words and supported her writing.  But Gwendolyn didn't stay home and write - she lived during the Great Depression when she had to work to help supplement  the family income.  Although in working, she saw the hard-working people around her; she saw the dire straits so many people lived under and doing what they could do scrape by.  Her poems were a reflection of the life she saw - around her and the life she saw in the world around her.
This book is accompanied by illustrations by the fantastic Cozbi A. Cabrera.  She is an illustrator I hope we see more and more from in the future!

Jump at the Sun by Alicia D. Williams
Jump at the Sun: the True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston
written by Alicia D. Williams
illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara
This book is absolutely wonderful.  The writing is gorgeous, which shouldn't be a surprise since it comes from Newbery Honor winner, Alicia D. Williams (Genesis Begins Again).  Telling the story of award winning author, Zora Neale Hurston, Williams captures the voice of the Black storyteller who passes along folktales by word of mouth.  Zora captured these tales and created beautiful stories that are still read and in print today.  As you read this book, Williams takes you through the south and paints a picture with her words that will make you feel as if you've traveled alongside Zora and seen her life.
Accompanying the text are breathtaking illustrations by Jacqueline Alcántara.  The bright colors and the fun illustrations of some of the folktale characters will invite the reader back into the pages again and again.

Both of these books are mentor text for amazing writing.  Teachers can use the stories to share the passion you can have for words and the worlds that can be created.

Monday, January 25, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 1.25.21

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

Last Week's Adventures

Find out what it's like to work inside the White House!  It's truly fascinating!

Picture Books

The Snow Dancer
The Snow Dancer
written by Addie Boswell
illustrated by Mercè López
There is something so peaceful after a fresh fallen snow.  When the snow is unbroken by tracks or footprints.  (Please keep in mind I am speaking about looking at a picture, not looking at real snow outside my window.  I never admire that snow)  
Our young dancer has just woken up to snow and a snow day.  It's quiet, no one has been out yet, and the snow is ready for her dancer's lines and designs.  
But then everyone else comes out and instead of peaceful turns and dips, it's snowball fights and sledding, and the peaceful snow is interrupted.  Except one small friend has noticed the dancer and together they continue their dance.

One Girl
One Girl
written by Andrea Beaty
illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
What a perfect author/illustrator pairing for this book!  A story about the power of education and reading featuring illustrations of a young girl who receives a book that is a shooting star.  The power this book gives the young girl, who appears to be living and going to school in a more poverty stricken country, is shown in the illustrations as she gains knowledge, in both the science and arts!  
In the author's note, Beaty details the importance of an education and how many people, many are females, who do not have access to books and education.  A couple of educational alliances are mentioned in the note for further information.

Tiara's Hat Parade
Tiara's Hat Parade
written by Kelly Starling Lyons
illustrated by Nicole Tadgell
"Some people let hats wear them.  But others - they can wear a hat."  Lyons includes these statements in her author's note and they really made me think about them.  I am not someone who wears a hat well and I have found myself jealous of those who can.  
Tiara's mother is a local milliner who has found herself out of business because another company can made hats cheaper.  Tiara's mom goes back to work as an art teacher, but Tiara can see how much her mom misses creating hats.  To give her some joy, Tiara comes up with a special surprise.
It's a very sweet story and I love how Lyons explains the importance of hat creating in the African American culture.

Bedtime Bonnet
Bedtime Bonnet
written by Nancy Redd
illustrated by Nneka Myers
Definitely a book you want in your library to share the culture and traditions of Black hair care.  I like that this one focuses on nighttime routines.

Middle Grade

One Jar of Magic
One Jar of Magic
by Corey Ann Haydu
Make sure you pay attention to this one!  It is by far, my favorite of Haydu's.  A touching book, with important and layered ideas.  This would make an excellent book club selection for 5th grade and up.  This book may be tricky for younger readers because of the heavy symbolism that is used, however advanced readers will be able to pick up on it.  In a town where magic is celebrated more than anything else, those who have a lot of it are revered, and the more jars you're able to collect on the special New Year's Day celebration, the better you are.  For the rest of the year you can use your magic for anything - un-burning your cooked meal, making a rainbow, or even making yourself taller.
Rose has always known she was meant for magic because she is her father's "Little Luck".  Even when she questions it herself, she knows she will do great things when it's her turn to finally catch magic on New Year's Day.  It's embedded into her mind and even psyche as he father constantly reminds her that she'll be better than everyone else at catching magic.  It rubs off on her relationships with friends as her self-confidence is not always well received.
However, when New Year's Day comes and Rose only catches one jar of magic, she begins to question everything she has been told.  And once she starts, she begins seeing things as they are instead of through a magical perception.  And her father's "quirks" are finally seen as the abuse they have always been.
Haydu's ability to write a story about heavy topics such as abuse and the cost of having it all (materialism?) into a story for young readers is a gift.  I think the conversations and understandings that middle grade readers will bring will astound you.
Thank you to Edelweiss for the e-galley.  Publishes Feb. 9th.

Currently Reading

A Promised Land
A Promised Land
by Barack Obama
This is my #mustreadin2021 book for Jan-April.  If you have followed my #mustread post, you know that I choose one book each month (at least) that have been in my piles and I want to read.  This book is rather lengthy, so rather than attack it in one month, I'm spreading it out.  Plus my sister is reading it too and we're going to hold monthly (virtual) meetings to discuss!  I got through Parts one and two so far.  I know it's available as an audio and President Obama reads it (and I do love his voice), but I'm not one who does well with listening, I need the print version!

The Dragon Warrior (The Dragon Warrior, #1)
The Dragon Warrior
by Katie Zhao
I made very little progress in this book, so no dragon post just yet.  It ended up being a busier week than I thought it would be!

Hope January is treating you well and you're getting some reading in :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - a look inside the White House - 1.20.21

Since today is Inauguration Day, I thought it was most fitting to share this title.  While I am hoping today is a peaceful day, this book is fun and a delight to read.

Exploring the White House: Inside America's Most Famous Home
Exploring the White House: Inside America's Most Famous Home
by Kate Andersen Brower
published by Quill Tree Books

When I first heard about this title, I thought it was going to be a picture book with lots of illustrations of the White House.  Instead, it's a chapter book that is stuffed with secrets and insider knowledge of what it's like to work inside the most famous residence in America!  Lots of black and white photographs, which I almost wish I had the digital copy of the book so I could enlarge the pictures and see them in more detail!

Ever wonder about the people who keep this mansion going?  This book tells it all!  It digs into the more unknown facts you might otherwise know about the White House.  Like, you probably know there are gardners, but did you know there is a florist and a florist's staff for the White House?  There's even a room that is used just for their beautiful creations!  And of course there is the White House chef, but did you know there is a pastry chef - now that's a good person to have around!  

But more than the different jobs and titles of the workers, what about them as people?  Author Kate Andersen Brower gives us an insider's look at the relationships the First Family has with the many people that work inside their home.  No political affiliations inside!  Regardless of politics, the people who work inside the White House know how special it is to be a part of this home and they focus on keeping the First Family happy and give them some sense of "normalcy" inside their home.  No matter what is happening, their privacy comes first.  As a result, the workers often become their own family since rarely can they speak about what is happening at work outside of work!  As you read this book, you really understand how it is not a "job" for these staffers, but a new way of life.  The privilege of working in the White House is very important to them and it is highly valued.  Want to work at the White House?  You won't find a job in the want ads!  All of the positions are generally hired by referrals.  It's important because of the level of privacy that is needed for the position, knowing ahead of time about someone's character is an important part of the hiring process!

Some of the fun facts:
  • George H. W. Bush loved playing horseshoes and would often call over to the Usher's Office to see if anyone was available to play.  Housekeeper Linsey Little was a favorite competitor and often played with the President.
  • Keeping house for the President isn't always easy.  Like the staffers for President Johnson.  Apparently he hated when lights were left on, so he would turn them off... without checking to see if anyone was actually in the room or not!  So the staff got used to carrying flashlights with them in case they ever found themselves in the dark!
  • The chapter about "moving day" was especially interesting, considering today is moving day!  It made me think if some of the traditions mentioned were going to be broken today... for example, usually the staff gathers in the State Dining Room and the President and First Lady walk through the line to say their goodbyes.  Can't help but wonder if that will happen today!  The goodbyes by George and Barbara Bush and the Clintons were touching.

This book is not only fun to read, it is also a perfect read aloud.  As I read, I was constantly telling little facts to my family because you want to talk about them!  With all that is going on with Washington DC and the White House, this is a perfect time to share this book!  A must have for elementary, intermediate, and middle school libraries.

Monday, January 18, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.18.21

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

Last Week's Adventures

No blogging last week!  I think the start of 2021 is going to busy.  Looking forward to having this week's Inauguration behind us (praying for peace) and getting into this new presidency.  Looking forward to the hope the next 4 years will bring!

Picture Books

A Sled for Gabo
A Sled for Gabo
written by Emma Otheguy
illustrated by Ana Ramírez González
I adore this sweet little book about friendship and imagination.  It has snowed and young Gabo wants to go play in the snow with the other children.  But he does not have the proper snow boots and hat, nor does he have a sled.  Mami comes to the rescue with lots of socks, waterproof bags for boots, and Papi's hat.  But Gabo is too shy to talk to the other children, nor does he have a sled.  But Tío Tim and Madrina bring a plastic tray from the school cafeteria... could that be used as a sled?  With the imagination from a new friend, Gabo ends up having a great time in the snow.  
This book is perfect for young readers - it definitely warmed my heart!

Stella's Stellar Hair
Stella's Stellar Hair
by Yesenia Moises
I would have gotten lost in this book when I was younger!  The colors and hairstyles are simply beautiful!
A book about identity and figuring out your own style.  Stella needs her hair perfect for the Big Star Little Gala and it's just not cooperating!  After advice from all of her aunties on different planets, she finally figures out her own style.  
I liked how the author included some planet facts in the backmatter and incorporated them into each auntie's hairstyle.

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners
written by Joanna Ho
illustrated by Dung Ho
This book is beautiful!  It's lyrical way of celebrating eyes that are a different shape from others.  Never speaking of races, the book celebrates a young girl and the other women in her family who have "eyes that kiss in the corners" and the stories from their culture.  It's a book about family and love and things a family shares.  A must have for libraries.

Middle Grade

Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger, #1)
Skunk and Badger
written by Amy Timberlake
illustrated by Jon Klassen
A quirky story about curmudgeonly Badger, and the ever-inquisitive and friendly Skunk.  An unlikely pair, especially roommates, who help each other learn more about the world around them and letting others in.
I'm reading this one with young readers right now.  I wasn't sure how they would enjoy it.  It's quirky, it has rich vocabulary, and I wasn't sure if the humor would pass them by or not.  But so far, I think they are enjoying it!  They are enjoying this interesting twosome and are definitely invested as Badger starts behaving poorly.
This one is the first in a series.  Looking forward to reading more about this friendship.  Think of it as Frog and Toad, but with grouchy old characters (although I don't think Badger or Skunk are old, but they certainly have a more "mature" personality!).

by Megan E. Freeman
A survival story that is more modern than the beloved Hatchet.  A lengthy story (over 400 pages) but told in verse, readers will be rooting for Maddie and hoping she catches a break while trying to survive for years, on her own.
Heads up - this does have some mature scenes.  Some minor language.  A dilemma with using a gun or not, and a particularly vicious scene with a young animal.  
While I enjoyed the story there were a couple of things that made me think if it could have been better.  It's lengthy, so with it being in verse, it will keep readers sticking with the length.  But, at times I felt like the author skimmed over the details because of it being in verse and wondered if prose would have been a better choice.  Also the ending was very rushed.  You go through this whole, long novel, and then it's just over.  I did read an e-galley and I tend to have trouble falling into those, so that may have something to do with my opinion!

Young Adult

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying, #1)
One of Us is Lying
by Karen M. McManus
I had heard so much about this book and the author.  It's one I've had in my piles for awhile.  I really liked it, but it also wasn't my favorite because of the timing.  I started it right before Winter Break ended, thinking I would be able to finish it before school got too crazy.  Such optimism!  School got crazy and then the overtaking of the Capitol occurred.  I had a hard time reading in the days after that.  Finally finished it the next weekend, but by then I was no longer into the storyline like I was before.  I own the other books by her, so I'll keep at them!

Currently Reading

The Dragon Warrior (The Dragon Warrior, #1)
The Dragon Warrior
by Katie Zhao
I have a dragon round up coming soon for you!

Here's to it being a calm and peaceful week that is full of hope!  

Friday, January 8, 2021

#mustreadin2021 - 1.08.21


Better late than never, right?  I've had my 2021 Must Reads list together for awhile, but couldn't find the time to write the post.  Happy to finally be sharing it with you.

I had already had the idea of what my list would look like, but when the #DisruptTexts movement hit some criticism due to an opinion piece in the WSJ, it became solidified.  In my opinion, the op-ed piece completely missed the point of what the #DisruptTexts movement does and focuses on.  

So this year, my must read books are mostly current YA novels that are written by BIPoC authors.  Books that should be read and shared in high school classrooms today.  I have two MG titles that are also #ownvoices novels, as well as the new Barack Obama book.  Because, you know, I need reminding of what a President sounds like while I wait for January 20th...

Now if you have seen President Obama's newest book, you know not only is it a great read, it's also a weight.  Getting through that book in a month would have me forgoing all other reads, which is hard to do.  So that one is split into months - I'll read parts of it starting in January and finishing in April.  I'll have a reason to continue reading since I'm using it as our current book club selection that I do with my sister.

If you have followed my blog, you know that I read one book a month for my Must Read selections.  That way I know I can get to one book that has been languishing in a pile, yet still make time for all the millions of other books I want to read.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you also know that I tend to add a book here or there because it is near impossible to limit a list to just 12 books.  This year was especially hard!

Without further ado, here are the books I must read in 2021!

January:  A Promised Land (parts 1-2) by Barack Obama
February:  A Promised Land (parts 3-4)
March:  A Promised Land (parts 5-6)
April:  A Promised Land (part 7) and Grown by Tiffany Jackson
May:  Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh and Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon
June:  Something to Say by Lisa Moore Ramée and Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
July: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
August:  This is My America by Kim Johnson
September:  The Assignment by Liza Wiemer
October:  The Belles by Dhonielle  Clayton
November:  Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
December:  For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington and Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Should be another great year of reading!  Happy 2021 to all.

Monday, January 4, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.04.21

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

Happy 2021!  I don't think I've ever been so excited for a New Year!  
I took a few weeks off from blogging to enjoy the holidays.  Today's post will catch you up on the books I read that are must reads!   
Over break I took a lot of time to just read.  I had four days of participating in #StayHomeReadMore and that's when I really got a lot of reading time in.  It felt like such a relief to get lost in a book and reclaim my reading identity.  But as Winter Break ended, more and more responsibilities took over reading time.  While it was nice to get a lot of them done, I do want to keep in check my reading time vs having to do EVERYTHING else time.  That's what it was up until Winter Break.  EVERYTHING else got done and reading was often abandoned.  If you remember, a lot of picture books were read, but nothing with chapters.  Now that the holidays are done, I'm looking forward to reclaiming a little more reading time.  But while I acknowledge that, I also know that with reading comes blogging.  And when I blog, that takes away from reading.  Knowing that, I'm guessing my blog posts will be a bit sparse as I get back into the swing of things, and that's ok.
Have you been able to reflect on your reading time and habits lately?  What kind of goals are you giving yourself?

Last Week's Adventures

A reflection on 2020 reading and my #mustreadin2020 goals

PIcture Books

Spring Stinks
Spring Stinks
by Ryan T. Higgins
Only one picture book this week!  But it's a Bruce one, so that makes it all worthwhile!  This is a new format for the Bruce books, it's labeled a "little Bruce book".  Trimmer in size and length, but it does not lack in humor.  It's spring which makes everyone happy, except for one animal.... I'm guessing you don't need me to tell you who.  Ruth, the bunny, goes on to rejoice in all of spring's glorious smells, but Bruce can't find one that makes him happy.  Readers will be happy as they giggle along with Bruce's grumpiness.  This one publishes tomorrow!

Middle Grade

King and the Dragonflies
King and the Dragonflies
by Kacen Callender
This won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for a reason.  It is beautifully written.  You'll be uplifted, you'll feel despair, your heart will break, but it will be put back together.  So well written.  If this doesn't land high on the Newbery committee's decision later this month I'll be very very surprised.

Girl Giant and the Monkey King
Girl Giant and the Monkey King
by Van Hoang
A Vietnamese myth story, told in the vein of Rick Riordan books - kids will love it!  Thom accidentally releases the mischievous Monkey King from his imprisonment.  But rather than it be a bad thing, Thom is hoping the Monkey King can help her be released from her own imprisonment.  She is super strong, doesn't know why she is super strong, but knows it is messing up her social life and she wants it gone!  The reader can quickly figure out she has this power because she probably got it from a god and it's fun to watch Thom go on this self-discovery journey.  Cliffhanger at the end has me excited for book 2!

Framed! (Framed #1)     Vanished! (Framed #2)
Framed! and Vanished!
by James Ponti
These books were on my #mustreadin2020 list.  I remember Kellee Moye celebrating this series and really wanted to get to it.  I've owned them for awhile (put it this way, it's now a trilogy, but book 3 wasn't out when I got book 2 as a hardcover!), just hadn't read them.  It's a really fun mystery and adventure series.  The main character is super smart and ends up working with the FBI on some cases in the DC area.  The first two books take place in famous DC landmarks which makes it even more fun to read about.  Hand this series to kids who enjoyed Kate Messner's Silver Jaguar Society series.

Shaking Up the House
Shaking Up the House
by Yamile Saied Méndez
Another book that takes place in DC, this time in the White House!  It's a time of transition for the White House, as one White House family gets ready to leave and a new family moves in.  Ingrid and Winnie have grown up in the White House for the last 8 years, but their time is ending.  The president-elect's (a female African American!) children, Skylar and Zora, are moving in a little early to help with the transition to a new school.  While they share a house, Ingrid and Winnie decide to welcome them with a friendly prank.  Of course, the prank is taken a bit wrong and an all out Prank War is started!  Will this start a war between the two families, or will a centuries old tradition be seen as something fun?  Readers will really enjoy this kids-eye view of the most famous house in America.  Publishes tomorrow!
Thank you to Edelweiss for the early e-galley.

Echo Mountain
Echo Mountain
by Lauren Wolk
Holy amazing writing.  A Newbery Honor has already been bestowed to Wolk, but I feel like this one blows Wolf Hollow away.  A historical fiction that takes place on Echo Mountain in the northeast, it's a tale about survival, trust, love, and friendship.  I'm still thinking about the characters and wish there was more to read!

Young Adult

Dear Justyce (Dear Martin, #2)
Dear Justyce
by Nic Stone
I thought Dear Martin was powerful, but this one, woah.
I read this one before the #DisruptTexts blowup happened.  But this book is exactly why #DisruptTexts needs to happen.  My daughter is a sophomore in high school.  She has read several whole class novels, and only one was written by a person of color - A Raisin in the Sun.  That play debuted in 1959.  Why is it our high school readers are reading about topics and events from 1959?  They aren't reading the books for the stories.  They are reading them to learn how to write papers and thesis and introduction sentences.  They are reading them to learn how to spot ethos, pathos, and logos.  They are reading them to find literary devices.  They are reading them to argue about characters and themes.  It's not so they are exposed to different cultures and historical times.  So why can't they read books that are pertinent to their own lives today and do those same things?  Because, this book, there's a lot to be said and written and discussed in this book.

Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles, #4.5)
Stars Above
by Marissa Meyer
This was my last #mustreadin2020 title and I was so glad to be back in the Lunar world.  This collection of short stories tied together and gave more background to the characters from the Lunar Chronicles novels.  If you haven't read them, please add them to your TBR pile!


Back to Reality: Christmas in Sunshine Lake
Back to Reality
by Erin Downing
This was such a fun book to read at the start of my #StayHomeReadMore reading binge!  If you love watching The Bachelor, this is a must read for you!  It's light, it's fun, and it will make you want to book a stay in a warm and cozy lodge!

Currently Reading

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying, #1)
One of Us is Lying
by Karen M. McManus
It's so fun!

Not sure if I'll have a post next week.  Busy weekend coming up and I'm holding to not adding to my stress!  But I have lots of posts in my head that will be written soon enough :)  Hoping to at least publish my #mustreadin2021 list this week!