Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 in Review!

So, I love the new format Goodreads is using for their year end stats!  It is both beautiful and informative.  Here is mine if you are curious. :)  At the end (School starts tomorrow.  It's still the end!) of each year, I like to take a little stroll down reading lane to review my year.  For the first part of this analysis, I'm including all books from picture books through books written for adults.

Total books read:  115

Total pages (Thank you, Goodreads!):  37,040

Five star books:  28

Four star books:  43

Three star books:  37

Two star books:  6

One star books:  0

Abandoned:  1

Adventure:  12

Fantasy:  30

Historical Fiction:  12

Horror:  6

Mystery:  17

Realistic Fiction:  18

Romance:  18

Science Fiction:  14

Sports:  2

Biography/Memoir:  8

History:  3

Technology:  1

Now for the really fun part!  Here are some of my favorite middle school books of the year!  If you want to see some of my other five star picks, click on the link to my Goodreads page.

My absolute favorite book of the year is this gem by Laura Amy Schlitz.  I just finished it over Christmas break, and what a treat it was!  Please, don't be put off by the cover.  You MUST read this book!  It is full of humor, voice, and intelligence.  Read it!

I feel like an evangelist, but this book is worth it.  You will be happier for meeting Joan Skaggs, a large and somewhat ignorant (but so intelligent) girl with an affinity for Jane Eyre!

What happens when a modern if nerdy Texas teen decides to take advice from a 1950's beauty queen on popularity?  Everything wonderful!  This book is delightful, thoughtful, and at time heartbreaking.  Popular navigates the social waters of middle school with surprising depth and skill.  A must read!

With a page taken from Freaky Friday, The Swap tells the stories of Jack and Ellie, two middle schoolers with some serious problems.  Jack is a great athlete,but he finds his father's militaristic training and parenting style almost impossible to bear.  He know he has to "be a man," but that is getting tougher every day.  Ellie's former best friend has suddenly turned her queen bully sights on her, and she feels abandoned and belittled.

This book is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking.  As a side note, I picked it up because it was popular with my students with no advertising from me.  That's usually a good sign!

If you've been reading this blog for long, you know I'm a huge fan of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles, so Stitching Snow naturally appealed to me at first glance, but Lewis's world is darker and grittier with an epic sci-fi feel.

I read this book in one sitting because it is just so compelling.  Be warned, Disney's Evil Queen never thought to be as horrible as Essie's parents in this book! (Grades 8 and up)

This is a fantasy murder mystery with talking cats and a dash of female empowerment and even a bit of romance.  It's like Forster wrote it just for me!  Set in a fantasy version of ancient China with a dash of magic this is a lush world you won't want to leave! (Grades 8 and up)

This is a great story for all the animal lovers out there who know the power and healing that can come from a beloved pet.  It is the story of Tony, who has been neglected and abused, but when he is at his lowest point, he finds love, acceptance, family, and healing.

Stuart Gibbs is one of my favorite middle grade authors.  His books are the perfect blend of mystery, humor, and poop jokes!  Space Case was even better than I expected with a great twist at the end.

When Jack's aunt is kidnapped, he is warned to avoid the police, but he won't be alone.  Legendary film director and master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, just happens to be staying in the next hotel room.  Hitchcock proves a competent if reluctant detective, and this story is full of tongue in cheek humor and intrigue plus plenty of Easter eggs for Hitchcock fans!

This book was my first real introduction to the Romanov family, and it is fascinating exploration of royalty, the Russian class system, and political upheaval.  Fleming as effectively contrasts the daily life of royalty with that of the peasant class.  Highly recommended.

This evocative memoir in verse recounts Woodson's childhood in both rural South Carolina and in New York City.

Finally, here are a few sequels I read and enjoyed this year.

Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles concluded this year with Winter the long awaited sequel.  I love the series as a sci-fi and fairy tale fan, and this juicy conclusion weighing in at over 800 pages was the perfect fit for Christmas break.  I also recommend the companion novella, Fairest, which tells the story of Queen Levana.  (grades 8 and up for Fairest)

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of this Dickensian ghost series by Jonathan Stroud, and the third entry is no exception even if I did find myself yelling in frustration at the end.  I can't wait for the next one!

While not achieving the perfection of the first book, Crime is still an excellent book and continuation of The Winner's Kiss. This series is a blend of romance, politics, and morality. (grades 8 and up)

What are your favorites for 2015?

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