It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/14/2019 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from

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!

I read a number of great books this week. I’ll discuss a few of them in detail, below. But feel free to connect with me on Goodreads to see my entire reading feed as it happens.


Hey, Kiddo
Jarrett J. Krosoczka
September 25, 2018

For those who haven’t yet read Hey, Kiddo, this graphic novel is a memoir of Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s childhood and teen years (through his high school graduation). It’s one of those can’t-put-down accounts — I devoured every illustration and hung on each word. Included in this memoir are actual photos of letters, post cards, and illustrations he and his mom drew and wrote during his childhood. Every last detail was carefully planned out, including the color pallet and the inclusion of his grandmother’s wallpaper as a background to each chapter’s beginning. At the end, he provides an important Author’s Note followed by A Note on the Art. Even the Acknowledgments are far more personal and meaningful than what I’m accustomed to. This book totally makes me want to write a memoir in the same fashion. We’re left with the following feelings from his story:

When you’re a kid and a teen, you’re not in control of your circumstances. But the beautiful thing about growing up is that you get to create your own reality and your own family. That family might be a group of tight-knit friends, that family might be a spouse and children of your own. But ultimately, your childhood realities do not have to perpetuate themselves into adulthood, not if you don’t let them. It for sure takes work.

NOTE: The language and subject matter make this book more appropriate for older readers (probably high school and up). I’m handing it off to my 15 year old right away! If you haven’t yet watched the TED Talk that inspired this book, please take 18 minutes of your life to hear his inspiring story:

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


(Warcross #2)
Marie Lu
September 18, 2018
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

This week I finally read Wildcard, the second book of the Warcross duology. No big spoilers here, friends, so I’ll just hit the high points. The main character, Emika Chen, is thankful to be alive at the end of book #1. Still on rocky ground with her former lover (it was basically over at the end of Warcross), Emika learns she must re-connect with him AND work with the remainder of the Phoenix Riders to save the world from complete mind-control plans. A new female character, Jax, helps bridge so much of the murky past to the present. But can we trust her? This book presents even more questions of ethics and how they play out in humanity throughout the generations:

“If the end results are this remarkable, would you throw away that research just because the process was unethical? Immoral human experimentation has been around forever. Has been performed by your country. By mine. By everyone. You think people don’t want the results of this kind of research regardless of how it’s obtained? People ultimately don’t care about the journey if the end is worth it.”

By the end of Wildcard, we finally come to fully understand the origin of Hideo Tanaka’s NeuroLink. And I, for one, can say that it is not exactly what I expected. While it’s claimed that Warcross is somewhat predictable, Wildcard was more complicated with mystery and past revelations to unravel. This one was fast-paced and hard to put down.

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


J.A. White
July 24, 2018
Katherine Tegen Books

I picked up Nightbooks unexpectedly this week and was glad I did. This is one of those tales with magic and mystery and it felt like anything might happen at any moment. In the beginning, Alex is running off to destroy his nightbooks (all his written stories) when he is intercepted by an apartment when he hears one of his favorite movies playing inside. Once he enters, he cannot leave. And he’s not the only captive. To stay alive, Alex must tell stories to the “witch” to keep her happy. Thankfully, he still has his trusty nightbooks to provide plenty of scary adventures while he explores the enormous library for clues about previous captives. How long will his stories last before he runs out of time?

There were many stories told in this book, but one in particular made me nearly come out of my skin. It didn’t help that I was reading this after midnight (when my 4 year old refused to sleep) and was about to go climb into bed!! Nightbooks will pair nicely with Small Spaces as both would be engaging scary-but-not-too-scary fall-ish reads for middle graders.

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


The Thief & The Queen of Attolia
(The Queen’s Thief #1 and #2)
Megan Whalen Turner
1996 & 2000

I cannot believe this series has been out this long. In fact, The Thief took a Newbery Honor, and yet I haven’t read any of this series until NOW. So briefly, the series begins with Gen (for Eugenides, the god of thieves) being removed from the King of Sutan’s prison to help the King’s Magus on his expedition to uncover a hidden treasure. The journey is long and winding, but ancient myths about the gods and goddesses are told along the path. In fact, what is particularly surprising (about at least the first two books of this series) is the number of long journeys described in minute detail. Yet somehow, Turner keeps the discussion active — this is where we learn a great deal about the kingdoms, about their history, and about the individual characters (so pay attention!). The surprise ending of book #1 was well worth the wait! And it’s one reason why I cannot share much of anything about book #2.

Book #2, The Queen of Attolia, gets so. much. better. Seriously, if you read book #1 and think it’s a tad slow-moving, don’t let that deter you from moving on to book #2 at its conclusion. So… Gen is captured (yet again) and this time he’s imprisoned by the Queen of Attolia. The prison of Sutan was a cakewalk in comparison to what Attolia has planned for Gen. She is decisive and cruel. But she’s also… human. We find that Gen seems to truly believe in his gods/goddesses by this point, so we learn even more about their history and mythological relationships. I appreciate so much of the philosophical conversation surrounding these beliefs (and how they can so easily be applied to multiple religions):

Nothing I’ve even learned from a priest makes me think I know just what the gods are or what they can accomplish. But Gen, I know my decisions are my own responsibility. If I am a pawn of the gods, it is because they know me so well, not because they make up my mind for me.

Since I cannot share much about the ending of book #2 without spoiling both books, I’ll just say that I fully intend to read books #3, #4, and hopefully #5 in time for the publication of book #6 in March. My sincere thanks to Elisabeth of The Dirigible Plum for recommending this series!

You can add these to your Goodreads list HERE and HERE.


Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix
Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee
Man One (Illustrations)
April 4, 2017
Readers to Eaters

Chef Roy Choi discovered his love of cooking through his family. One day he became a chef who cooked for famous movie stars and ran a kitchen that cooked for thousands of people per night. After losing his job, he has a fresh start running a restaurant out of a taco truck. But it’s not so easy to find willing customers, at first.

Roy calls himself a “street cook.”
He wants outsiders, low-riders,
kids, teens, shufflers, and skatboarders
to have food cooked with care, with love,
with sohn-maash.

Parts of this book may seem a little text-heavy for a picture book, but it is very informative as a biography and the artwork is fantastic! The artist, Man One, shares the following:

It took many steps to create the art for this book. I first spray-painted the background onto large canvases. I photographed them afterward and loaded the images onto the computer. Then the people and detailed pencil drawings were added digitally. I thought it would be fun to highlight the cooking poems within blank stickers that are commonly used in street art. Finally, all the parts were assembled electronically.

The back of the book showcases an author’s and illustrator’s note along with a bibliography, resources, and biographies to read. This is a Sibert Honor book, was an NCTE Orbis Pictus Award Nominee, and it is a Junior Library Guild Selection. You might want to hunt this one down if you haven’t already! I’ll share one page-spread of the artwork as an example, below:

Collage created using TurboCollage software from

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


The Rough Patch
Brian Lies
August 14, 2018
Greenwillow Books

This is a precious picture book about love, loss, and healing. Evan and his dog do everything together until one day when his beloved dog dies. Evan’s grief is so strong that he lashes out and completely destroys the gorgeous garden he once built and tended with his dog. Over time, Evan notices a pumpkin vine that has climbed into his garden. And it is this vine that eventually leads him back to old friends and the prospect of new joy. The beautiful artwork in this book is created with acrylics, oils, and colored pencils. I’ll provide the final, very moving illustration as an example, below (I just love that old pick-up truck!):

screen shot 2019-01-06 at 2.10.25 pm

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

To Be Read:

Pretty in Punxsatawney_RD3

Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton will be released tomorrow. I am just over halfway through this one (NetGalley didn’t release the title to me until this weekend), but I’m enjoying it so far and will plan to review it in the next week. You can read an interview with Crompton and enter a giveaway to win your own copy of Pretty in Punxsutawney right HERE. Hope everyone else enjoys their reading this week!



24 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/14/2019 #imwayr

  1. I have to admit, I just skimmed a couple of these reviews because I haven’t read Warcross yet (its on my night table, but has been for a month). Also, I had Nightbooks in a pile to read and a student grabbed it before I started, so I let her have it over the break. I haven’t gotten it back yet. I am hoping to read these soon. I am adding some of your picture books to my list though, and Hey Kiddo has its place already. It is not a book I can add to my library, so I might see if the high school will order it. Thanks for the great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I try to not give any spoilers, but I totally understand on skimming over just in case. Nightbooks was pretty spooky — this has been my month for reading all of the Halloween-ish middle grade books. LOL I hope your high school can get Hey, Kiddo. I found it so sad, but quite touching. Thanks for visiting, Aaron!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Like Lisa, I plan to read Hey Kiddo so thanks for the reminder. I am huge fan of Brian Lies. His illustrations are gorgeous. The Rough Patch is both heartbreaking and heartwarming and oh yes. That last illustration fulls my heart with pure joy! Have a great week Shaye!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved Hey! Kiddo!, am glad to read stories that will touch so many. I haven’t read any recent Marie Lu books & know they will be good. Thanks for this review, Shaye. And oh my, Nightbooks sounds very good. It’s fun to read scary stories once in a while. I still haven’t read Chef Roy Choi, and it’s on my long list, and loved The Rough Patch a lot. Thanks for all & have a good week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While Hey, Kiddo was so sad, I’m glad it leaves the reader with such hope! Just loved that message. I’ve had Chef Roy Choi checked out for a very long time, so it was nice to finally get to it last week. One thing I didn’t mention is that he recommends cracking an egg and cutting up greens to add into instant ramen. We don’t get it often, but my kids LOVE instant ramen noodles. So last week we went and picked up some up and I’ve been adding an egg and greens to make it feel fresher and more authentic. LOL Thanks so much for dropping by, Linda!


  4. Looking forward to reading Hey, Kiddo. You are the second person to recently recommend that book. I think The Rough Patch by Brian Lies is beautiful and very powerful. Perfect for kids going through a loss. Thanks for the recommendations!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I’ve got Rough Patch coming from the library today! I loved Hey Kiddo of course and I am so glad you’re reading the Queen’s Thief series! The King of Attolia is my very favorite and one of the few books I’ve reread many times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I was just coming here to say this about the Queen’s Thief series AND The King of Attolia (though I haven’t reread it). It is some GOOD STUFF. I’m glad you’re on board!

      I have Wildcard on my counter and hope to be getting to it soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooooh, I hope you enjoy Wildcard, Akilah! I definitely liked it more than Warcross — answered a lot of questions and I was just more into it for some reason. Thanks for visiting!


    2. I’m now working on book #5 of The Queen’s Thief series. Hope to be finished by the time book #6 comes out. I’m totally into this world! I’m so grateful for your recommendation, Elisabeth!


    1. Yes, it will definitely resonate with many readers — but will provide some much needed hope. That’s hard to come by when you’re in the midst of such sadness and negativity. 😦 Thanks for swinging by, Jane!


  6. Hey, Kiddo is sitting on my table along with all the other graphic novels I have to read for the Cybil awards. I’m really excited about it. I haven’t even heard of the Queen’s Thief series! My library only has the first and third book, so I’m worried that if I start it, I’ll have to purchase the rest.


    1. How odd that they’re missing book #2! I would be worried about having to purchase the rest of the set, too! I’ve been lucky to find them through Overdrive — both the e-books and the audiobooks. But I think we’ll be purchasing a set for our home library once the last book is published (I’m hoping they’ll republish a new hardback matching set by that point).


  7. Nightbooks looks like an awesome middle grade read. I know that the kids I’ve taught really enjoy scary stories, so I’m looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for sharing and have a terrific week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Kiddo is a must — so if that’s the only one you add, I’ll be happy! But Nightbooks was a great addition to my reading week. I don’t like horror movies and don’t think I could stomach an adult horror book. But this was very spooky while being safe all at once. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by, Vidya!


  8. I have the Warcross books to read – I did not know it was only a duology… that makes me want to get to it because there’s only 2 to read instead of what could have been a longer series. Two seems more doable 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know it was a duology until this month! I enjoyed book #1 enough, but book #2 was much better in my opinion. More world building, lots of questions answered, and more ethical decision to consider. I hope you enjoy it, Michele!


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