Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bye Bye, July: Wrap Up & Review PLUS Mailbox Monday & It's Monday: What are you reading?

First, a round-up of July Reviews.

Bright's Passage by Josh Ritter (best fiction of the past six months: spare, packed with gorgeous language, epic feel - It's like Cormac McCarthy meets Emily Dickinson meets Tim O'Brien meets Charles Frazier) *****/5
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (allegory of the current U.S. and its economic colonialism - pre- Aug. 2, at least! - focus: Pakistan.  darkly humorous, clever, noir: a real page turner that leaves you thinking - and the title is much more than you think...)  ****/5
The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison (literary fiction w/a WWII London setting - atmospheric and lovely) ***/5
Favorite Sons by Robin Yocum (crime/mystery set in rural Ohio - Stand by Me meets John Grisham) ***/5
Night Train by Clyde Edgerton (quiet slice-o-life as music meets the dawning of the Civil Rights Movement in rural North Carolina) **/5
Change Anything by Patterson, et. al. (wildly useful audio book for anyone who wants to, well, change anything) ****/5
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie ("children's" story full of whimsical language play; also an allegory about freedom of speech - perfect for September's Banned Books Month) ****/5
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (somewhat disappointing but ambitious new release from a favorite Printz Award winner) ***/5
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp (legendary choreographer dispenses inspiring and practical ideas of making your own life more creative) ****/5
The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Burchard (multi-millionaire teaches aspiring world-changers how to get their expert knowledge, skills, and mission into the hands and hearts of those who need it) ****/5

What a fine and varied month July turned out to be.  The High Summer Readathon and the Roots Read-Along, plus the War & Peace Read-Along I'm hosting here brought focus and depth to my reading life.  I hope yours was equally as fulfilling, both within the books and among the new and old friends gathered to talk about and act upon them.

Now, a taste of the week to come.  (Included: Mailbox Monday and It's Monday: What are you reading?)

In my mailbox and my life, I'm mashing up a mix of professional reading and the ever-present Tolstoy's War & Peace as we ramp up toward the school year.  Not only did they arrive this week, but I'll be starting to read them this week too!

Choice Words by Peter Johnston.  I purchased this one to fine-tune the exact language I use as I speak with students.  I've already skimmed it and feel pretty proud to say that I already use 80-90% of the phrases recommended here to empower students to become self-directed, curious learners and strong citizens who also follow their own bliss.  Looking forward more thoroughly reading the whole book and to working the additional language into my daily lexicon.

Helping Teens Stop Violence, Build Community and Stand for Justice by Allan Creighton and Paul Kivel.  I received this from The Library Thing's give-away program, and I'm inspired just perusing it.

Nothing by Janne Teller.  With the possibility of teaching Lord of the Flies next year (jury's still out, thoughts welcome) plus recently reading Beauty Queens (see linked review above), I sought out newer takes on the themes in LotF.  This one came up many times as a successful young adult book treading similar territory via new paths.  Looking forward to reading it this week.

Expect reviews of the first two books above both here and...
I'll also create a new blog this month, The English Teacher Recommends, as a site for professors and teachers to find both
  • the best of current and classic professional development texts and
  • reviews of novels, non-fiction, anthologies, etc. to use with students (including specific info. professors and teachers might need that general readers wouldn't)
so you'll find all three book reviews there.

If you'd like to be part of the team writing reviews for this new blog, do let me know in the comments below or at actionreaders (at) gmail (dot) com.

Finally, for my own personal fun, and with gratitude to Hachette Audio for the review copy, I'm listening to Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand whenever I drive around town.  It's excellent so far: a perfect summer/beach book about two adult women who were best friends growing up, became estranged, and then reestablish their friendship one summer on Nantucket when one of the friends becomes a suspect in an international financial scandal... Read by two fine actresses, so far, it's simply a well-paced story of two quite believable characters, their lives, and how they rekindle their friendship in quite trying circumstances.
Curious about what other readers found in their mailboxes this week?  Wanna know what they're anxious to start reading?  Do visit Mailbox Monday at Life In The Thumb and It's Monday: What are you reading? at Book Journey.



bermudaonion said...

Choice Words looks like a great book for students and teachers alike. Enjoy your new books!

fredamans said...

Good month! Happy August reading!

Tribute Books Mama said...

Looks like a lot of great reading ahead, enjoy!

Staci said...

Nothing sounds interesting to me because of it being close to LotF. Choice Words is a book that I may have to look into!! Great mailbox!

dollycas aka Lori said...

You had a great week and another one coming up!!


Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

You had a great month. I am going to chekc out your review for Bright's Passage. That is a title I had not heard of yet.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Brights Passage sounds like a book that made an impression on you! I will have to check that out.

Laurie said...

Hi friends! Thanks for stopping by, all.
B - Choice Words will be a fine resource to help in my reflections on teaching all year long.
F, TBM - You bet!
Staci - I'll let you know if it turns out to be as promising as it appears.
Dolly - true. see you at your blog.
Beth & Sheila - For whatever reason, I adored Bright's Passage (although maybe the ending didn't quite fulfill its ongoing promise, I still find it to be the best book I've read all year). Hope you find it worthwhile too.
Off to visit all of y'all.

Angelica Joy said...

Looking forward to what you think of "Beauty Queens".

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