Monday, July 10, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 07/10/17

It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.

Last Week's Posts

Middle School

The Shadow Cipher (York, book 1) (2017) by Laura Ruby. Steampunk meets magical realism in this new series set in a technologically advanced-ish modern day New York City. In the early 1800s the Morningstarr twins transformed the city through their buildings and inventions before mysteriously disappearing and leaving behind clues to the "Old York Cipher." 150 years later, only scattered elements of the cipher have been deciphered until Tess, Theo, and neighbor Jaime receive a new clue, purportedly addressed to their cipher-addicted grandfather.

Like The Gauntlet (reviewed here), this new series is an action-packed adventure featuring a trio of problem-solving teens. But also like The Gauntlet, I didn't feel that the world-building behind the clues held up well under scrutiny. (It's a bit like watching an exciting action movie where, in the moment, everything is thrilling and exciting, and then as you walk out of the theater and start thinking critically for a moment, you are left with a lot of questions.) Perhaps the rest of the series will help tighten up some of those issues.

Finally, I put this book in my "middle school" category, because even though it was filed under Teen in my public library, there was nothing particularly YA about the book (other than maybe it's length, but it shares that with similar series like The Mysterious Benedict Society, which I would also put on the older end of middle grade). It's an interesting world and an engaging read, but I hope the later books have a little more logic to them.


I used some of my plane time on my recent trip to Scotland and Ireland to step outside my normal kidlit reading and brought along a couple of adult books too.

The Circle (2013) by Dave Eggers. Mae is thrilled to receive an invitation via her old roommate to apply for a job at The Circle (the Google and/or Facebook of her day). The reader, along with Mae, is lead on a rapidly spiraling journey through the impact that small decisions about transparency, popularity, and social media can have on our daily lives. In true Eggers style, the situation builds towards an expected absurdity fairly quickly, but I felt like it didn't quite deliver the "knock-out punch" of social commentary it was aiming for. (Honestly, Scythe, reviewed last week, had more interesting things to say about technology-driven futures.)

The Circle has also just been adapted as a movie, which I find a bit odd, and I do have to steal this line from David Sims's Atlantic review: "It’s all like an episode of Black Mirror, if Black Mirror made no effort whatsoever to be subtle."

American Gods (2001) by Neil Gaiman. I have read some of Gaiman's children's books, but this was the first of his novels for adults. American Gods is a grown-up version of Rick Riordan's series (and predates them), sharing the same central premise: the gods of the past are never truly gone, as long as someone, somewhere still remembers them. But what happens to those gods as their popularity and worship fade? This is a fascinating and engaging story with a wild range of characters, personalities, and road-side attractions (Wisconsin shout-outs!). Not sure I'd want to watch the new Starz TV series based on the book, but the book itself I highly recommend.

Happy Reading!

PS Hi from Nerd Camp, Michigan! I may need to catch up on comments later in the week ...


  1. I get what you are saying about York. There were times that I felt the book was too smart for me, or I wasn't getting it. Maybe I just needed to suspend belief more. I do think it was well written. I find myself torn between wanting it to make sense and make it believable, but then I don't know if it would be as smart as it was. Hope that makes sense, ha!

  2. Enjoy NerdCamp - I'll have to make it there some day.

  3. UGH it seems like all the cool kids went to Nerd Camp - I'm so jealous!!

  4. I was gobsmacked by American Gods and went on to read Anansi Boys. Im also a bit worried about watching the TV series. My son is enjoying it, but hasn't read the book.

  5. I KNOW a child who would love York. Will have to recommend it to her! Not sure if I will end up reading it or not.

  6. I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman, and appreciate your review of "American Gods," thanks!


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