Tag: epic reads

#TopTenTuesday: Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year

You might have noticed that 2016 has already seen a huge number of excellent, intriguing, and unique books published, especially in the Middle Grade and YA genres. This week the goal is to share our Top Ten Favorite 2016 releases, and I can say this is definitely a fantastic way to start off the summer on the blog. Now that school is out, I anticipate finally being able to spend some substantial time on blog. Thank goodness!

leo gatsby

This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their blog and join in any week you like.

Here’s what they have to say about Top Ten Tuesday: “Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly link-up in the community where we provide a prompt and other lovers of listmaking join in on it with their own top ten list. Feel free to have less than 10 or more if you need to at times and put a spin on the topic if you need to! Just please link back to us if you are participating :).”




Stay tuned for my mini picturebook review of this one and another fantastic 2016 release. If you haven’t read or purchased THE NIGHT GARDENER, then I would highly recommend you do just that. If there is only one picturebook you purchase this year, make it this one. This is definitely a Caldecott contender!




You can hear more of my thoughts about this new book of Kate’s here. This is one of my choices for the Newbery!



This is another one of my top Middle Grade reads for 2016. I describe this as a young reader’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, but it’s this and so much more. This is another contender for the Newbery. Themes of social justice, friendship, and sacrifice are threaded throughout this beautiful narrative.



Perry T. Cook is an unforgettable protagonist!

key natalie lloyd


You probably already know how I feel about Natalie Lloyd and her books.



PAX is another unforgettable animal Middle Grade that I was thinking about for many days after I finished the last page.


the reader


This one isn’t out until September, so my review will have to wait a bit, but I can safely say this is an amazing and fast-paced start to a series that I will be eagerly following!

salt to the sea


I actually read this book last summer, after I picked up an ARC at ALA Annual in San Francisco, but it didn’t release until February 2016. If I have to pick one top book for the entire year, this one would probably be it. It’s that good. And it’s an important story.



This is the second and final installment in Jodi Meadows’ Orphan Queen duology, and it was wonderful!


black rabbit hall


You know I’m a big fan of books by Kate Morton, so when I heard that this was a Kate Morton-esque story, set in England, and that, like Kate Morton’s books, it shifted between time periods, I was set. BLACK RABBIT HALL is an intriguing historical mystery. If you enjoy books by Kate Morton, then by all means, make sure you grab this one.

And there are still so many more 2016 releases to look forward to! Are any of these on your list? Which 2016 titles do you think I must absolutely read next?

What Katie Read


A Middle Grade Marvel: ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOKAll Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on March 1st 2016
Pages: 400

From Leslie Connor, award-winning author of Waiting for Normal and Crunch, comes a soaring and heartfelt story about love, forgiveness, and how innocence makes us all rise up. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook is a powerful story, perfect for fans of Wonder and When You Reach Me.
Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home.
When Perry moves to the “outside” world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from . . . but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?

Don’t let this book escape your grasp!


What I Loved

I loved PERRY T. COOK! What a wonderful, kind, compassionate, and creative eleven year old. I had no idea just how much I would adore this book and Perry’s journey. When the book opens, Perry has spent the first eleven years of his life in the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility where his mother is serving a sentence (for something that Perry knows a little bit about, but not all the details have been revealed to him). At both the correctional facility and out in the wider world where he attends school, Perry brightens the lives of those around him. Perry approaches people by believing there is good within him, primarily because of the kindness with which he has been raised in the prison. Over those eleven years, Perry has become close friends with many of the inmates, and learned a lot about their stories. He recognizes that there are good choices and bad ones to be made, but it seems that Perry is able to distinguish between the idea that people can do bad things and that people are always one way or another. Perry is a strong character, and he gracefully navigates difficulty throughout the story.

Illuminations of Spirituality

There is a definite social justice aspect to this book in that the protagonist (and those close to him) want to see justice for those who have been treated unjustly (particularly within the prison system). Though there may not be concrete actions that Perry can take for all those within Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility, telling their stories is one way he gives a voice to their lives.

The way that Perry sees other people, especially those whom he knows within the prison, brings up another aspect of the spiritual life. When we look at people, do we only see their actions? Do we only see their bad choices? Or can we take the time to look beyond, to the authentic person inside, to the person he/she is becoming? This is an aspect of spirituality that the narrative brought up to me, because, like Perry, we, the reader, also get to know the inmates of Blue River. And I think I can safely say that we also come to care about them.

Who Should Read This Book

Readers in 3rd grade and up would appreciate this fun and thought-provoking title, and anyone who loves Middle Grade with a social justice aspect would do well to pick it up. After reading Perry’s story, I’m planning to look up other books by Leslie Connor, and my hopes are high for future books.

You readers know: When you read a good novel that makes you look at people differently and perhaps with a little more empathy, you can safely say that such a story is doing something wonderful. This is an important story in that it just may change your thinking about people in correctional facilities.

These people have stories worth telling. May Perry T. Cook teach us all a little something!

**Thank you, Katherine Tegen Books, for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this title.**

What Katie Read

#TopTenTuesday: Ten Books I Love and Haven’t Talked about In Awhile…

TopTenTuesday5 Border

It’s the day to discuss the books we all adore but just haven’t chatted about enough lately…this isn’t hard to do and I hope you enjoy my post on ten books that are close to my heart…and now…not far from my mind.

This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their blog and join in the TOP TEN TUESDAY FUN!

Here’s what they have to say about Top Ten Tuesday: “Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly link-up in the community where we provide a prompt and other lovers of listmaking join in on it with their own top ten list. Feel free to have less than 10 or more if you need to at times and put a spin on the topic if you need to! Just please link back to us if you are participating :)”

The Book Thief


When this book came out, I purchased a copy from The Strand in NYC, and I’ve never looked back. I fell in love with this book hard and I went on to make it required reading for my Freshman Composition course I taught for many years. My students loved it, as I suspected they would. I adore Liesel and this story makes me laugh and cry every time. I’ll never stop having it as a favorite. It celebrates the power of words and the redemption of story and the price of courage.

cover when you reach me


It is no surprise to me that Rebecca Stead’s Middle Grade novel won the Newbery Award, and if you haven’t read WHEN YOU REACH ME, you’re in for a treat. This is a lovely story that qualifies as both historical fiction and fantasy! But I won’t say more–it’s just too good.



I actually read an e-ARC of this on my kindle while in Jerusalem a few summers ago and it was such a delightful experience to be reading it while abroad. I adored THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRYE, and this represented a companion novel of sorts. I loved it just as much, perhaps even more, and than HAROLD FRYE.



You probably know I love the British author, Wilkie Collins. Well, THE MEANING OF NIGHT is by a contemporary author who created an absolutely fabulous mystery with a flavor similar to Collins’ work. I was swept up into this book, and the good news is that there is a sequel (which I’ve started but haven’t finished yet!).



There’s too much to say about this book, and this story brings up all the emotions! And it’s so GOOD! I really need to re-read this because the first time I read it, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it afterwards. These characters will stick with you for awhile. And that’s a good thing.



This is a companion novel to CODE NAME VERITY, and I loved this one just as much. Maybe even more. Elizabeth Wein’s historical fiction is top notch, and I can’t get enough of it.

five children and it9780571314768-us


This classic fantasy was a childhood favorite, and I still adore it today. This one needs a re-read, especially because I’m getting ready to dive into my ARC of FIVE CHILDREN ON THE WESTERN FRONT, which you’ll find, is related to Nesbit’s classic. A sand fairy that grants wishes?!?! Yes, please!

love affair england


The first time I read this book, I was getting ready to travel to England myself, and I truly fell in love with the story. I have a used copy and it is well read and worn…and I love it! I often pull this one off the bookshelf just to gaze at the cover and flip through it, remembering all my favorite parts. This charts the journey of the author during her first visit to England, and her subsequent travels there. She fell in love with England (as many of us do) and she never looked back!

without reservations


This is another travel memoir that I loved–and this author travels to Europe, sharing her adventures and experiences as a solo woman journeying abroad. It’s fantastic, and there’s a sequel as well.



I need to re-read this adult fantasy soon–I loved THE NIGHT CIRCUS so much, and it was such a unique story. I hadn’t really encountered anything quite like it before. There’s fantasy and romance in this one, and the world of this story is one you can get lost in– I would love for this author to write something else–I guarantee it would be a highly anticipated novel.

What are some of your favorite book that you haven’t talked about in awhile? Are any of mine on your list?

What Katie Read
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