"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

27 September 2016

My Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly series hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. 

I try to keep a relatively short to-be-read (TBR) list, so my "Fall TBR" list is pretty much just my TBR list right now, since it's fall.

  1. One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi
  2. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
  3. Burn, Baby, Burn by Meg Medina
  4. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  5. Vicarious by Paula Stokes
  6. Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee
  7. Three Truths and a Lie by Brett Hartinger
  8. The Bronze Key by Holly Black
  9. When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
  10. We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
What are you itching to read this fall?

22 September 2016

As I Descended

Talley, Robin. As I Descended. Harper Teen, 2016.

Maria and Lily want to have it all. They are competing for a scholarship at their prestigious private school, but they know that Delilah will win it, just as she wins everything. How far are Maria and Lily willing to go to get what they want, and will they be able to live with the consequences?

This is a retelling of Macbeth, modernized and set in a boarding school, so it's hard to judge this book, since it's not a standard boarding school story, nor is it a standard fairy tale retelling, nor is it a typical story with LGBT characters. It's spooky, and it's confusing at times, and the pace is pretty slow even though the events take place over a short period of time. In all those ways it's a lot like Shakespeare's Macbeth.

I would recommend this book to teens who enjoy boarding school stories and for strong readers. Readers looking for an action-packed page turner should find a different book.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: This is a retelling of MacBeth, so murder. Also underage drinking and drug use
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Huntress, Dorothy Must Die, Beast

20 September 2016

I See You

Your ninja skills are not as advanced as you may think, my young friend. You came to our LEGO club, and like all the other kids, you heard me say that each kid gets "one eatable and one drinkable" snack during club. I don't spend much time near the snack table, doling out food to you kids. I like to wander around the room, chat with you as you build, take pictures if you don't mind, etc. etc. I don't like to guard food.

I saw your trick; it was a good one. You put your first snack in your pocket and ate it, then when you got a second snack, you put it in the same pocket. I certainly wasn't paying attention to which snacks people had, so probably no one would notice if you were still eating snacks from your pocket. But I noticed.

I have eagle-eyes honed by years in a classroom, so I knew when you took a second snack, and a third and fourth, and then a second drink, and then a fifth snack. I saw you each time you walked oh-so-casually over to the refreshments and shoved another cellophane bag into your pocket.

You know what I also saw, though? I saw your eyes. You were not being a greedy kid. You were not trying to get away with something simply because I said no. Other kids were too busy building to care about a second snack. You, however, were too hungry to care about building.

I've seen that hungry look before, on my students when I was a teacher, and when I was a librarian, that look hounded a few kids who were honest with me: "Miss, I got here too late to get my free breakfast, and I'm hungry. Do you have anything to eat?" For some kids, the meals at school were all they could depend upon.

I don't know if that's your situation; I didn't ask. But I saw the hungry look in your eyes and I chose to ignore the plastic rustling in your pocket, because maybe getting a second snack isn't fair, but being hungry isn't fair, either, and I can certainly afford to make sure there are extra snacks available for you, kid.

Maybe some day you'll know me well enough to tell me what's going on, or maybe not. Either way, though, I'll keep the snack tray stocked, and please, please eat what you need.

15 September 2016

The Pants Project

Clarke, Cat. The Pants Project. Sourcebooks Jaberwocky, 2016.

A delightful middle grade novel in the vein of Gracefully Grayson with the upbeat hopefulness of Better Nate Than Ever.

Liv is not excited about starting middle school. He hasn't told his moms yet, but Liv has figured out that he's transgender, and his school has a strict dress code which will require him to wear a skirt since everyone thinks he's a girl. Not only that, but he loses his best friend to the popular crowd within the first week of school. Liv takes matters into his own hands and decides to challenge the school's dress code, and along the way he finds allies in unexpected places.

This story was completely adorable, from the small details of Liv's Italian heritage to the superhero comic pages his friend Jacob draws. I am so glad to see that there are more middle grade books featuring transgender characters, especially FTM (female to male) characters. This book is smart and funny and good, and even though the ending wraps up in a Disney-esque fashion, I want my middle grade readers to see some "happily ever after" endings. I love Liv, and I'm so glad his moms are supportive of him being true to himself. Strongly recommended

Recommended for: middle grade readers
Red Flags: minor bullying - Liv is referred to as "it" on occasion and called a freak, usually in reference to his two moms and not related to his being trans*
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

Read-Alikes: The Other Boy, Gracefully Grayson, George, I Am Jazz

13 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Fantasy Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

There's no way I could pick the top ten books in ANY genre. It's like asking me to choose my favorite child (which is part of the reason why my only child is a cat). I can't pick the top ten books of all time, but I can give you the top ten books of right now.

With that caveat in mind, here are my current top ten fantasy books:

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling. I still remember exactly where I was sitting when I read this book, and I consistently re-read it, too.
  2. The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Like HP but for grown-ups. Also, not as happy. But still really good.
  3. Ash by Malinda Lo. Cinderella retold with a queer angle.
  4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Allegorical Christian references aside, this series defined my childhood. I re-read these books then like I re-read HP now.
  5. Tuesday by David Wiesner. This picture book is fantastic! I find new things every time I look through its pages.
  6. The Iron Trial by Holly Black. This is a different take on the Harry Potter story. What if Harry discovered he was actually a reincarnation of Voldemort?
  7. A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston. This book is truly lyrical and beautifully written. This is a book to be savored, not devoured.
  8. Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire. This is a thick book, but it's well worth the journey.
  9. Lair of Dreams (Diviners #2) by Libba Bray. This book also makes an excellent audiobook, and it had my spouse sobbing as we listened to it.
  10. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. If you haven't read this book yet, watch the movie first. Then read the book. Then watch the movie again and appreciate all the back stories you don't get in the movie, since you've read the book. 
Did I miss one you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments!