It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 09/10/2018 #imwayr


Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday!

This is a tough semester navigating this new-to-me course. I was handed the bare bones and so I am attempting to make a 3-hour class out of it. It’s far more work than I anticipated, though. When hubby comes home from his loooong teaching day, I head up to the office to start my teaching and classroom prep (sometimes late into the night). Oh so hard on our family, so I hope next semester this gets easier. In other news, I’m heading BACK to Texas this week for my grandfather’s memorial on Wednesday and I won’t be home until next Monday afternoon. It’ll be nice to see family again. We’ll just have to see if I can squeak out another #imwayr post before I hop on my flight next Monday (departs at 5:55AM – YIKES!).

This week I’m including Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T. R. Simon in my reviews — this is the second book in the series and it releases tomorrow. I really hope we can get this series into as many schools as possible. It’s that good!! So here we go…


Zora and Me:
The Cursed Ground
(Zora and Me #2)
T. R. Simon
Candlewick Press
September 11, 2018

I thoroughly enjoyed reading book number one earlier this summer (review for the first book HERE). It was incredibly satisfying and even took the John Steptoe New Talent Author Award (Coretta Scott King Task Force) for 2011. So I was eagerly anticipating book #2: The Cursed Ground. And it did NOT let me down! The sequel is another fictional adventure in the life of a young Zora Neale Hurston. This one, however, has alternating narratives going between 1855 and 1903. In the beginning, we meet back up with Zora, Carrie, and eventually Teddy. But now they face a brand new mystery as Mr. Polk has been badly wounded. When they find him, he speaks for the first time (he has always been a mute, to their knowledge), but they do not understand him.

In 1903, we learn that the town of Eatonville is in trouble with a gang of white men from the next town over. To understand WHY this is a real threat to Eatonville, we must have a firm grasp on what took place back in 1855 when slavery was the norm. Therefore, the story flows back and forth and the two different time period narratives provide a deep, rich story that slowly builds in suspense until the stories collide. All the missing gaps are filled and the truth clicks into place.

OH MY GOODNESS I loved the second book even more than the first one. The writing and language were beautiful — I sincerely didn’t want to put it down. I might as well admit it: I cried. While there are sweet and giggly parts to this series, there are some deeply moving scenes that hit me right where it counts. I really, really, really hope this series continues because the stories and characters are so well-crafted and the history is important and powerful. Don’t just take my word for it, it has already received starred reviews from both Kirkus and The Horn Book. My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for access to an e-ARC of this book. I originally discussed this book on my blog back in July, but I wanted to re-review it again today as it will be available for purchase tomorrow.

You can add Zora and Me, book #1 to your Goodreads list HERE.
You can add Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground to your Goodread list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase The Cursed Ground HERE.


Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish
Pablo Cartaya
August 21, 2018

Marcus Vega is a very large kid. He struggles to fit in with the rest of his same-aged friend, so he takes advantage of his size by charging his classmates for various tasks he can handle better than most. Marcus’s younger brother, Charlie, has down syndrome. One day, another student at school makes a rude comment about Charlie and Marcus loses his temper. Everyone ends up in the school office and when all is said and done, Marcus mother decides the family needs a break from everyday reality. They head off on a family vacation back to Puerto Rico where Marcus meets and bonds with his distant relatives and learns a great deal about his country of origin. But all along, he struggles to enjoy the journey because he just wants to find his missing father and figure out why he left their family in the first place. Perhaps it was all a big misunderstanding. Family keep warning him not to get his hopes up, but Marcus is determined to meet the man who he looks so much like and “fix” whatever went wrong long ago. This is both a hopeful and heartbreaking journey. There’s so much love for Puerto Rico and middle grade readers will definitely relate to Marcus as he struggles to come to terms with his identity and his home.

You can add it to your Goodread list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.

LL_JKT_template.inddLions and Liars
Kate Beasley
June 5, 2018
Farrar Straus Giroux

Fifth-grader Frederick Frederickson is having a rough time. He’s beginning to question his friendships — whether his friends are who he thinks they are, or if they even like him at all. One day, in frustration, he climbs into his friend’s boat with a storm quickly approaching. He intended to just scare his friend by unlatching his boat from the dock, but his plan backfires and his boat is sent bobbing downstream, landing miles away where he discovers Camp Omigoshee, a program created for troubled boys. If things weren’t crazy already, it gets even wilder when the counselors and campers believe him to be the famous Dashiell — a young boy rumored to be scarier than all the other troubled campers combined. This is a funny, but meaningful story about finding your clan and being a true friend, even when faced with crisis. Its “feel good” ending will leave young readers smiling.

You can add it to your Goodread list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.

Harbor-MeHarbor Me
Jacqueline Woodson
April 28, 2018
Nancy Paulsen Books/
Penguin Random House 

This book hit me so hard in the gut, but also lifted me up into the fluffy clouds — so much sad, but so much beauty. Written from the perspective of Haley (also known as “Red”), we learn of a group of six best friends in 5th/6th grade who are “special” at their school. Every Friday, they’re sent to the ARTT (a room to talk) room to talk about anything they want to talk about. With their permission, Haley decides to voice record some of their sessions as they each unpack some of the most difficult parts of their young lives. The language paints tangible pictures of the devotion and heartache of childhood. Woodson eloquently addresses racism in multiple forms along with other painful issues such as the death of a parent, illegal immigration, having a parent in prison, loss of a favorite pet, school bullying, and more. How in the WORLD does she get the innocent heart of a young child so very right? I just want to hide in a closet and read Jacqueline Woodson all day. If you haven’t yet, I highly, highly recommend this one! It’s definitely one needed in any juvenile reading collection.

You can add it to your Goodread list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.

To Be Read:

I’m not sure how much reading I will be able to accomplish since I’ll be visiting with a lot of family in Texas from Wednesday to Monday. However, these two books were on my list. I’ve been looking forward to reading EngiNerds for a long time and it’s currently on a Kindle Deal for .99 right now!! On Beyond the Green, I found out from the publisher’s twitter account that it will not be published. Nevertheless, today I received an email from Netgalley reminding me that they are expecting my “Beyond the Green” review for next month. Who knows… If any fellow book reviews have had this happen before (a book be retracted from publication before you reviewed it), I’d love your feedback.


Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!

31 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 09/10/2018 #imwayr

  1. I hope you have a good trip, seeing family & having that bittersweet goodbye, Shaye. Glad you enjoyed the 2nd Zora & Me. I loved it, too! And yes, Harbor Me is fabulous. It is one I will keep to re-read! Thanks for sharing Marcus Vega, too. I’ll love reading about him & Puerto Rico.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you do enjoy Marcus Vega! His relationship with his little brother, his desire to know his father, and his later admiration of his mother are so precious. I also just checked out The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora on Lisa’s recommendation, above, so I hope to get that squeezed into this week, too.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. My only complaint about Harbor Me is that it had to come to an end. If you have a list going for this semester, we need to make sure our college library gets a copy of this one, for sure! Thanks for the well-wishes. I hope I catch all my flights (I have three on the way down). Aghhh!


  2. I loved Harbor Me! Sometimes it’s tough to keep up with NetGalley books. I haven’t always been able to review all of them. Once I had a technical glitch and the book froze on my reader and then I couldn’t download it again. I sent a comment to NetGalley and the publisher was kind enough to send me a hard copy. Sometimes if a book is published before I get a chance to review it, I go ahead and check it out from the library. If it’s not possible to review it, then I just move on to the next books and try to be better about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jana, have you ever had a publisher decide not to publish a book that you were slated to review? This seems to be a very unusual situation. I haven’t finished this book, so now I wonder if I should since they’ve cancelled the project. But I don’t want to hurt my Netgalley rating, either. LOL I guess I’ll contact Netgalley and ask if I should proceed. Thanks for sharing!


    2. Quick update: I contacted NetGalley and they said there’s no way to remove the book from my list. Even though they’ve withdrawn the book from publication, if I don’t review it then that will count against my rating. Oh well… I guess worse things have happened. 🙂 Have a great week, Jana!


  3. Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground sounds like everything I love about historical fiction; a new way of looking at the world. Harbor Me is on my list of books to read. My library finally has it on order!
    I love that you have included the different links to your books!
    Good luck on your journey this week. I hope the time with family brings comfort and joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m thrilled to hear your library has Harbor Me on order. This book is so important — exploring several issues through young kids’ discussions. And on the links, I always appreciate having easy access to Goodreads and a book seller. So I hope it helps others who want to read more about each book. I don’t know about you, but I pretty much always keep Goodreads open while I’m reading everyone’s IMWAYR posts. My list grows by leaps and bounds every Monday. LOL Thanks for visiting, Cheriee!


  4. Enginerds is one of my favorites. So looking forward to the sequel coming out in February. I haven’t read any of your other reads but they are all on my TBR. Thought I would get more reading done this summer but there are always too many books and not enough time. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, too many books and not enough time should probably go on my gravestone one day. 😉 I’m glad to finally have a copy of EngiNerds. And that .99 deal is GREAT!! Have a wonderful week, Laura, and thanks for swinging by!


    1. I knew Harbor Me would be good, but it still exceeded my expectations. I want a copy in every public library and every school library. It’s too important to miss (but short enough for kids to finish in a day or two). Thanks for dropping by my blog, Rose!


  5. Oh, yes, I heard that book got pulled from publication. I don’t know why netgalley would still need a review. I’m assuming it’s an automated email??
    Lots of books on your list I want to read. The Zora books have just come to my attention, I had not heard of them prior.
    Lions and Liars is one I want to get to soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope the Zora books get more traction because they are such good (and important) reads! I heard back from NetGalley and they’re aware of the cancelled publication, but they cannot remove it from my shelf. Oh well… Thanks for visiting, Michele!


  6. Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish sounds really good!

    I probably wouldn’t review a book on my blog if it wasn’t going to be published, just because no one who read my review would be able to get the book. My guess is the NetGalley email is automated and the system doesn’t “know” that book has been canceled. If your NetGalley ratio is decent, I don’t think one book would make that much difference. My ratio is 88% and there have been many books I didn’t review for a variety of reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marcus Vega kept a lump in my throat through the second half. I was nervous to see how things would turn out. And on NetGalley, unfortunately I’m still pretty new over there. So one missed review will hurt for a while. I heard back from them and they are aware that publication has been cancelled, but they won’t remove it from my shelf. So I may just finish it and place a brief review on NetGalley (I was interested in reading it, anyway — I heard such mixed responses about whether it was inappropriate or not).


  7. These all sound good, but I’ve added Harbor Me to my TBR – you’re the second blogger today I’ve read to post a rave review. I loved Woodson’s memoir and one of her adult novels, so I definitely want to see what she can do with a MG novel – thanks for the recommendation!

    Enjoy your books this week –


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    Liked by 1 person

    1. The characters in Harbor Me gave me all the feels. I felt like I was in the room with them while they had all their big talks. Ahhh… soooo lump-in-the-throat, but also sweet! Thanks for visiting, Sue!


  8. I hear you about teaching preparation – I am teaching four different courses this semester and it’s absolutely insane – two of them are new courses as well, so craycray. Harbour Me sounds like a book I must read. Safe travels and have a great reading week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I HOPE you can get Harbor Me — so touching and meaningful, overall. I want my children to read it this year. Yes, insane on your have two NEW courses at once! After teaching 12 credit hours as adjunct one semester, I’ll never do that again unless I’m full faculty. Expectations of adjuncts (without full benefits) can be outrageous. But a couple courses a semester, I can usually handle. This one was different though — it was just handed to me with hardly anything other than the textbook and a few notes. So trying to create all the in-class and outside activities, discussion topics, the online component with assignments, and the weekly assessments is becoming a full-time job. These are all education majors, so I’m especially invested in it (knowing where they’re headed). Have a wonderful week, Myra, and thanks for stopping by my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

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