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Posts Tagged ‘middle grade realistic fiction’

March brought Daylight Saving Time, spring, and a rewarding reading month for me. I completed six books in the month of March, and as of today, I am seven books ahead of schedule. Go, me!

Nonfiction Selection

Life is Messy by Matthew Kelly was my March nonfiction selection. I received this book as a Christmas gift from the administration of my school. Last year, I finally got around to reading a couple of Matthew Kelly’s books, which I had received as gifts from my church parish over the years, and I really enjoyed them. The messages in his books are comforting and inspirational, instead of being preachy, and Life is Messy is no exception. Kelly’s inspiration for this book stems from three years of intense struggles in his own life that he documented in his personal journals. Kelly explains, “It’s what we do with the mess that determines everything.” Life can be messy; however, it can also be filled with joy if one seeks to fill one’s life with goodness. This was an enjoyable 4-star read.

#Read21in21 Challenge

I kicked off the month of March reading a middle grade horror book (or so I thought) and then switched to middle grade realistic fiction for the remainder of the month. I read another Gordon Korman novel because I love his writing, and I was not at all disappointed with my choice. Korman is fast becoming one of my favorite middle grade authors.

The first book was Creep by Eireann Corrigan. I expected a horror novel, but I ended up reading a mystery/thriller novel with a splash of drama. So, needless to say, I was a little disappointed. A new family moves into a house that was vacated by the previous family under unusual circumstances. The family discovers someone is watching them when they receive ominous notes shortly after moving into their new home. A few of the storylines running through the book could have been eliminated, so other storylines could be fleshed out a bit more. Overall, it was a decent read. I gave it 3 stars.

The second book was Ungifted by Gordon Korman. What a funny and heart-warming story! The characters are endearing. I love how the chapters are written in alternating perspectives of the characters. Basically, the main character, Donovan Curtis, accidentally destroys school property at his middle school, setting off a chain of events that lands him at another school for gifted students. Hilarity ensues along with touching moments and a clear message of acceptance at the core of the novel. I had no trouble giving this literary treasure 5 stars.

The third and final book was Rules by Cynthia Lord. Rules was another enjoyable read; however, it has a more serious vibe to it than Ungifted. The main character Catherine is trying to lead a normal life even though she considers her family circumstances not so normal. Her brother has autism, and her parents lean on Catherine a great deal to help with her brother when they work, or she has a social event. Two new people enter her life, and her world becomes complicated. Soon, she learns the pitfalls of not being honest, the true meaning of friendship, and the importance of acceptance. This tender-hearted story easily earned 5 stars from me.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

March’s selection for my book club was the The Troop by Nick Cutter. Oh, my! This book was horrifying, disturbing, and at times, heart-wrenching. Five teenage scouts and their scoutmaster head to Falstaff Island to spend the weekend camping in the wilderness. Shortly after arriving on the island, an emaciated man with a rapacious appetite wanders into their camp, exposing the troop to an unseen threat that soon turns their enjoyable camping trip into a nightmare and a desperate fight for survival. The Troop is one of the best horror novels I have read in quite a while. It is definitely a must-read for horror fans. However, be warned that body horror runs rampant throughout the novel, and children behave brutally towards humans and animals. It is a 5-star read, hands down!

Year of King

March’s selection was The Langoliers. It is one of the four novellas originally published in King’s Four Past Midnight collection. Even though I watched the made-for-tv mini-series back in the 90s, I had never read the novella. Basically, ten passengers and a black-bearded man on Flight 29 from Los Angeles to Boston travel through a time-rip to the past where they encounter the langoliers. They must race against time to survive the menacing timekeepers.

I really enjoyed The Langoliers. It earned a 4-star rating from me. I love a novel with a plethora of characters who have interesting backstories. Stephen King does a fine job with character development. The mini-series sticks pretty close to the novella. There is dialogue in the movie lifted straight off the page. Kelsi and I had a terrific time chatting about The Langoliers and laughed quite a bit. If you were unable to watch us live on 27 March, dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

That’s all she wrote for March, dear reader. It was another productive and fun month of reading. I recommend all of the books I read in March, especially my 5-star reads.

April starts tomorrow, and I am currently reading Slasher Girls & Monster Boys compiled by April Genevieve Tucholke for #Read21in21. My book club selection for April is The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. The Dark Half is the novel Kelsi and I will be reading for Year of King. We will be chatting live about the novel and the movie on Sunday, 01 May at 2:00 PM. Finally, for my nonfiction choice, I will be reading The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp (with Mark Reiter).

Last but certainly not least, I am also attempting to participate in Kelsi’s Old School April Readathon & Watchathon. I presently do not have a TBR list for the readathon; however, I know I will be reading Night of the Living Dead by R.L. Stine. It will be my Goosebumps book. April is going to be a busy but exciting reading month for me. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“Reading brings us unknown friends” ~ Honoré de Balzac

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February may have been a short month, but it was a productive reading month for me. I completed seven books in the month of February, and as of today, I am four books ahead of schedule. Woot-Woot!

Nonfiction Selection

Even though I absolutely adore reading horror and thrillers (my favorite genre), I also enjoy reading realistic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, nonfiction, and a good mystery. The only genre I am not a huge fan of is romance. Therefore, each month, I plan to read at least one nonfiction book in addition to everything else I have slated for the month. Back in January, my book club chose a nonfiction book, so I did not choose a separate title in that category like I did for February.

Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson and written with Karin B. Miller was my February nonfiction selection. I received this book as a gift from mon frere Simon. I never in a million years thought I would read, much less enjoy, a book about laundry. It is a delightful read about how to properly take care of laundering any textiles that you own. Richardson gives you lists of necessary supplies for washing clothes as well as for removing stains. There is a section devoted to types of stains and how to treat them. Another section lists various textiles and how to clean them. In addition, he claims a dry cleaner is no longer necessary, even if the tag on the article of clothing states “dry clean only.” While Laundry Love is technically a resource guide on how to properly take care of laundry, it is written with humor and more like a story than a reference book. An appendix with recipes from the women influencers from his Appalachian upbringing is included in the back of the book. This was a pleasurable 5-star read for me.

#Read21in21 Challenge

As I mentioned last month, this daily reading challenge is devoted to children’s literature which I adore just as much as horror and thrillers. Last month, I did focus on middle grade horror selections. However, for February, most of my selections were middle grade realistic fiction with the exception of my first read being middle grade horror. I fell in love with every one of the main characters in the books I read this month, especially Ollie in Small Spaces and Hope in Hope: Project Middle School.

The first book was Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. It is a terrifically well-written middle grade ghost story that takes place on a farm with a creepy past, a deadly secret, and the Smiling Man. Ollie and her two classmates work together to save themselves and the rest of their class in this spine-tingling adventure. It is the first book in the Small Spaces series. I gave it 5 spooktacular stars.

The second book was The Unteachables by Gordon Korman. This tender-hearted story is about redemption and not giving up. It has well-written, likable characters and lots of humor. Each chapter is designated to a character in the book giving his or her viewpoint. It was an entertaining 5-star read for me.

The third book was Firegirl by Tony Abbott. I have been wanting to read this short book for quite some time. It is a moving story about accepting others, the power of friendship, and having the courage to get to know someone who looks differently than you. This is a wonderful coming of age story that is worthy of receiving 5 stars.

The fourth book was Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech. Another heartwarming story about a young boy named Louie who decides to nurse a sick donkey despite his unfortunate attempts at helping critters in the past. This story shares a beautiful message of empathy, compassion, and the meaning of love with its readers. I also gave this literary gem 5 stars.

The fifth and final book was Hope: Project Middle School by Alyssa Milano and written with Debbie Rigaud. It is not surprising that this was another fantastic 5-star read for me. I absolutely adore the main character Hope and her story about navigating through her first year of middle school. Hope is smart, friendly, confident, loves animals, and wants to save the world. It is the first book in the Hope series.

I look forward to reading more great stories from these authors and continuing the series featuring Ollie and Hope. Reading middle grade books brings me lots of JOY.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club/Year of King

February’s selection for both my book club and Year of King was Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. This was a reread for me; however, it had been so long since I read it that I could only remember that Jessie and her husband Gerald go away to their lake house for a little hanky-panky. Soon after they arrive, Jessie is handcuffed to the bed, and Gerald suffers a heart attack and dies. Therefore, I felt like I was reading Gerald’s Game for the first time. Basically, Jessie is left all alone to face the demons of her past and her present fears that threaten her future. Personally, this was a hard book to read because of content. King tackles sexual abuse, abused women, as well as female inequality in Gerald’s Game and does it in a respectful way. Like Misery, there is no supernatural element, but there are human monsters, and sometimes they are scarier than the boogyman. I gave Gerald’s Game 4 stars, not because it was poorly written, but more or less, I think it could have been condensed in parts, especially those pertaining to the sexual abuse and the length of time it took Jessie to take some action in saving her own life. I was also a little disappointed with the mysterious presence in the bedroom and would have liked that element to have played out differently.

As for the movie adaptation of Gerald’s Game, well…it was okay. I rated it 3 stars. I think I would have rated it higher if I had not read the book. After watching the movie, it made me appreciate the novel more, and it also made me realize the slow pacing of the novel may have been mirroring how Jessie was feeling during her horrific ordeal, exhausted. I found it exhausting to read at times. Mike Flanagan did a fine job directing this film, considering I never imagined it could be done since so much of the story takes place in Jessie’s mind. There are significant differences between the book and movie. While the cast was chosen well overall, their portrayal of the characters was unlike the book. Gerald is attractive and more understanding in the movie than in the novel, suggesting a different perspective of what really happened between the Burlingame couple at the lake house. Kelsi and I had an interesting chat about Gerald’s Game and discussed it more in depth along with tidbits surrounding both the novel and the movie. If you were unable to watch our live chat on Sunday, 27 February, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

That’s my reading round up for February, dear reader. I am super proud of the amount of reading I did throughout the month. I recommend all of the books I read in February, including Gerald’s Game. However, if you have never read a Stephen King novel, I do not suggest starting with Gerald’s Game. Misery would be a better first read in my opinion.

March has officially started, and I am currently reading Creep by Eireann Corrigan for #Read21in21. My book club selection for March is The Troop by Nick Cutter. The Langoliers is the novella Kelsi and I will be reading for Year of King. It is part of my Four Past Midnight collection. We will be chatting live about the novella and the mini series on Sunday, 27 March at 2:00 PM. Finally, for my nonfiction choice, I will be reading Life is Messy by Matthew Kelly. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“There are many little ways to enlarge your world.  Love of books is the best of all.” ~ Jacqueline Kennedy

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