It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/8/2019 #imwayr

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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 to share what you’ve been reading!

I’m so exhausted. And in pain. I don’t remember the last time I’ve worked this hard in the hot sun, but the house is beginning to look pretty great — at least from the outside. The inside is a whole different issue, so we’ll handle one thing at a time. With such a limited timeframe, it seems insane to stop working to blog. However, I simply can’t let a week slip by without writing a quick #imwayr post and checking out what the rest of the community is up to. Last week I discovered it was the exact halfway point in the year and I was running behind on my #MustReadin2019 list, so this week I finished two more books from that pile. I’ll have to make this more of a priority in future weeks.


The Oceans Between Stars
(Chronicle of the Dark Star #2)
Kevin Emerson
February 13, 2018
Walden Pond Press

I became enthralled with Emerson’s Chronicle of the Dark Star series, last year. It’s wonderful to see a science fiction series that doesn’t dumb down the terminology for middle graders. Additionally, the story is intricate woven, but feels fast-paced. I’m very pleased to learn that my 13 year old son now wants to read it. YAY! Quick rehash from book number one, Last Day on Mars: The story starts in year 2213 and we learn that Earth is gone and all remaining humans fled to Mars. Liam’s and Phoebe’s parents are part of the scientific team who discovered a new solar system to terraform that will sustain humans long-term, so they prepare to make the lengthy journey. In the meantime, the two main characters discover proof of another intelligent being just before the sun dies. And now it appears that their sun might not have died on its own–perhaps there were other forces at work. We are left on a cliffhanger where The Oceans Between Stars picks up.

Aaaaaaand the second book did NOT disappoint! I don’t want to spoil anything for those who will soon dive into this series, so… Liam is attempting to reconnect with his little sister, who left Mars before he did. He continues to experiment with a special watch he found and learns there are multiple outcomes to his future, depending on what he chooses. We learn a lot more about Phoebe’s family, as well, and the theme of this book revolves a great deal around human behavior and the power of trust. These are a few of the quotes I bookmarked from book #2:

Trust is a power adaptation of three-dimensional beings. The hope or belief in something. It’s your engine for still making a choice when you don’t have all possible information.”

If there’s anything I learned in all those history lessons I had to sit through on Mars, it’s that [the human] species doesn’t have the best track record when somebody else is living on the land that [they] want.”

One of the unfortunate things about a life lived in only three dimensions is that you do not know how or when you are going to die. You’d be surprised how much easier things are, knowing how long you have and what part you play.”

There’s such depth to the relationships in this series. These books need to be in both middle grade and upper teen collections. I plan to squeeze in book #3 just as soon as possible!!

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


Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay Asher
October 18, 2007

I can’t believe this book has been out for over a decade! Due to its popularity among teens, I guess I’m glad that I finally got to read it. In short, teenage Hannah Baker releases recordings that discuss her specific reasons for committing suicide (and has the audio tapes secretly released after she’s already gone). Many of those reasons were specific actions of other schoolmates — some actions were typical mindless things that happen daily in high schools all over the world, so teens can really relate to these experiences. That said, I’m not sure anyone in that mental state would have the capacity to carry out such an elaborate and vindictive plan. Maybe, maybe not.

Back when the Netflix adaptation of this book was released, my daughter was 13 (almost 14). ALL her middle school friends had watched it and she was begging for us to let her. Knowing the seriousness of the topic, my husband and I watched it alone, first. And we decided that since she was so young, we preferred she read the book before watching it on television. I mean, there’s some real nastiness between the characters — not to mention rape. And we initially thought these experiences would be easier to first experience in text. Now I’m not so sure. Because while the book is interesting, I didn’t quite connect with the Hannah Baker in the book the way I did with the Hannah Baker of the television series. For some reason, she sounds even more vindictive and angry in text. Anyway, it’s a very important topic and I know this one was quite meaningful for teens to discuss over the last decade, so I’m glad it’s made an impact on so many and initiated important discussion. But this is one of the very few cases where I actually enjoyed the Netflix version more than the book. I haven’t watched beyond season one, though. If you have, let me know what you think!

AWARDS: Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee for Honor book (2009), California Book Award for Young Adult (Silver) (2007), South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book (2010), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Preis der Jugendjury (2010), Lincoln Award (2013), Missouri Gateway Readers Award (2010), Oklahoma Sequoyah Award for High School (2010)

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


Mixed: A Colorful Story
Arree Chung
July 3, 2018
Henry Holt and Company

This little picture book is the story of three communities of very different people who each think they’re the best. The Reds, Blues, and Yellows eventually decide to live in different parts of the city. Until one day when two colors “mix” and start a whole new trend. Some are angry about this attraction, but over time the colors all catch on. This book is in a similar vein to Splatter by Diane Alber, but it’s a little more obvious that Mixed is basically about humanity. My one complaint would be that it ended kinda abruptly. Nevertheless, it’s still a sweet book that will be a great addition to any children’s library.

The artwork was rendered with black India ink with brush and acrylics on Rives BFK paper. I’ll provide one example, below:


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


Stone Soup
Jon J. Muth
March 1, 2003
Scholastic Press

Someone from our #imwayr community (I think it was Cheriee!) recently mentioned this version of Stone Soup being their favorite. I was able to ILL this through our college this summer, and now I know why it’s a favorite! Instead of focusing on tricking people, its purpose is on community and the value of fellowship. In the back matter, the author’s note briefly explains the traditional roots of Stone Soup and shares how Muth decided to use China as a setting in this retelling. Careful attention is given to the Buddha story tradition, including enlightenment and the three deities Hok, Lok, and Siew. And the color yellow, only worn by royalty long ago, is given to a little girl who we discover is quite exceptional. There are other little Easter eggs to find along the way, so be sure to slowly enjoy the illustrations in this one (and definitely read the back matter to understand the signs and symbols from China)!

The artwork was created with watercolor and ink. I’ll share one of my favorite page spreads as an example, below:


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

To Be Read:

I’m over a third of the way through All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. It won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize and WOW is it good! It’s on my #BigBookSummer challenge list (531 pages), so I’m not sure what else I’ll squeeze in this week with all the house work.


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 167/200
#MustReadin2019 – 20/42

18 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/8/2019 #imwayr

  1. Somehow Thirteen Reasons Why got away from me and I just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I’ve meant to, and then time gets away and pretty soon it’s been out for years. I’ll definitely try to make time for it, because I know I lot of people were talking about it when it came out. Glad you’re able to get outside and get your work done. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just checked out The Shores Beyond Time on Overdrive, but I also looked at my pile of books I’ve purchased and checked out from the college library and checked out from the public library and… I’ve clearly overestimated my reading time while prepping the house for sale and taking care of five busy kiddos. Hopefully I’ll get to this final book in the series before the new school year starts. Definitely entertaining!


  2. I have that book about Mars on my list, & now there’s number 3. Guess I won’t read it soon, but will get to it. I enjoyed # 1 very much. Sorry for all the work. I’m sure there will be a big sign when you’re done & into your new house. Thanks also for the Stone Soup by Muth, whose books I adore. I must have missed Cheriee’s recommendation. Thanks, Shaye, always good to read your posts, & I love that you’re loving All The Light. . . It is fabulous!


    1. Oh Linda, I sure hope you’re right on the feeling of relief once we’re moved. Right now I just feel like I need a vacation! lol I am so glad I picked up All The Light We Cannot See. I wasn’t sure what I was starting, but it’s been really great, so far. It’s difficult not having much time to read. I’m certainly grateful for audiobooks while I’m cleaning, painting, and doing yard work!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know that if you like a series, I need to give it a chance, so I have put a hold on Last Day on Mars, the first in the Chronicle of the Dark Star series.
    I was interested in reading your thoughts on Thirteen Reasons Why. I am not a fan. Didn’t like Hannah or Clay and thought the whole idea was unrealistic.
    I’m so glad you liked Mixed: A Colorful Story and Jon J. Muth’s Stone Soup!
    Don’t forget to take care of yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really, really like the Chronicle of the Dark Star series, Cheriee! I can’t remember how I first encountered the series, but I know that Aaron is a fan, too. I’m excited to read book #3 and am having a difficult time making myself wait (because I have a couple books I need to read right away before returning to the library)! And on Thirteen Reasons Why — I kept thinking the amount of prep and planning might be too much for someone who was that mentally disturbed. I don’t doubt for one minute that one girl could be bullied to that extent because we see it every day (and we know rape is so prevalent). But when she hit that mental breaking point, I’m not sure anyone would be coherent enough to plan and complete such an elaborate plan. In any case, I’m at least happy to hear it’s made an impact on so many teens (to stop and think about how their words and deeds impact those who are already emotionally fragile). I still contend that the Netflix television series was better crafted — made me care more for Hannah and Clay and the pain they both experienced.


    2. I totally agreed with what you wrote about 13 Reasons! The students that I shared Last Day on Mars with initially were totally addicted. Our class got an ARC from Kevin Emerson a few years ago, and he wanted feedback so I selected a few to read it. I find it very exciting. We used it for Battle of the Books last year and kids were either addicted to found it challenging that year (particularly my grade fives). I hope you enjoy it. Oddly enough, my wife got an ARC of Emerson’s last YA book Any Second, and although they are not similar she said she had the same feeling after reading it, as she did when she read 13 Reasons, just kind of emotionally drained. I haven’t read that one yet, but it is on my list.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so excited about your review of Mixed! It sounds like a great book to read to my four year-old. And The Chronicle of the Dark Star looks fantastic for my ten year-old! Great reviews overall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to hear this, Wendi! They’re both great books for very different reasons. I have a hard time putting down the Chronicle of the Dark Star series — always on the edge and anticipating their next move. 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting!


  5. I have 13 Reasons Why on my nightstand, and it’s been there about five years… I’m a little leery of reading it because the premise sounds so mean-spirited; how will the author make me sympathize with someone who uses their own suicide as a tool to make other people feel guilty? But now that my kids are about to leave their teens maybe I’ll be able to accept it. Your review makes me think that the author does a good job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly wasn’t sure how to review it because it’s difficult to read. And it is EXTREMELY mean-spirited. I’m not sure Hannah would have had the capacity to carry out such a detailed plan. But the Netflix series was better crafted, in my opinion. It was difficult to connect with both Clay and Hannah in the book, but I cared for both of them in the television series. My daughter is only about a quarter of the way into the book and I’ve sincerely considered just telling her she can stop reading and we’ll watch the series (just season 1) together so we can talk about each episode afterward.


  6. So happy to come back to your blog! Bonus that I get to see you finishing the second Chronicle of the Dark Star! I thought the third one was the best of the series, I hope you enjoy it. I agree with what Cheriee wrote about 13 Reasons, I haven’t watched the series as I don’t have Netflix. As my kids get older, I might have to be more plugged in to that kind of thing, and I am NOT looking forward to it. I actually got a lot out of all four of the books you shared this week (very different things) so thanks for the great shares and good luck with the house!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, getting plugged into that stuff is nothing to look forward to. After 13 Reasons, a number of my daughter’s friends began posting things on social media about wanting their lives to end and not wanting to go on. I have no way of knowing if this behavior was inspired by the movie or not, but my daughter was constantly worried about possibly losing different acquaintances. I did not, at all, appreciate the vindictiveness of the book. If it was more like sharing different sections of a diary that was found after her death, it could have made just as much of an impact on teens (IMO). But I suppose the lure for some teens was seeing her get even with everyone. *sigh* Thanks for the well wishes on the house!!


  7. I remember my mom and I reading Stone Soup when I was younger! Sadly that is the only book on this list I have read. I watched the first episode of 13 Reasons Why with my mom because one of her students mentioned it (which is very alarming to me because the oldest group she has is still only in fifth grade) and we couldn’t get past it. I cannot imagine myself reading the book either, but I did enjoy seeing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely understand on the series. My husband and I felt we had to watch it all. Because all our daughter’s friends had watched it and so many of them were talking about it. It was such a messed up world and, as I mentioned to Aaron (above), I think it could have made just as much an impact if it was a diary that was discovered, instead of audio tapes intended to get even. Thanks for swinging by, Arin! #superlateresponse

      Liked by 1 person

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