Amy Says Read This

Seriously, you should totally read this.


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Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan

Image from Goodreads.com

Image from Goodreads.com

Fagan, D. (2011). Circus Galacticus. Boston: Harcourt. ISBN: 9780547581361

Annotation: Trix sort-of-accidentally runs away with the circus when her school takes a field trip. Along the way she discovers that the universe is a much bigger place than she ever realized, and the meteor her parents gave her to protect is something much more special.

Reaction: This book is great fun; I love a good novel about the circus! And adding in SPACE only makes it better. Trix’s adventures with the Circus Galacticus are all about finding one’s place in the world and making friends. She is an angry teen, but her angst is totally relatable for anyone who ever felt left out or picked on, and she starts to mellow out as she finds Her People. She doesn’t take crap from anyone, but she also learns about accepting responsibility for her actions and grows into a more mature teen along her journey.

My regular library has it shelved in the children’s area, though it is more appropriate for the teen section, being about a 16 or 17 year old high school girl. There’s nothing in this that would be inappropriate for middle school readers, and it would probably appeal to a pretty wide range of ages.

Author’s Website

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High School Banned Books Booktalk

Here! Have a booktalk presentation I did to my local library’s TeensReach group for Banned Books Week 2013. (If I had been planning this better, I would have posted this during THIS year’s Banned Books Week. Oh well.)


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Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Image from Goodreads.com

Image from Goodreads.com

Rosenthal, A. K, & Lichtenheld, T. (ill.) (2013). Exclamation Mark. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN: 9780545436793

Annotation: Exclamation Mark didn’t fit in with any of his friends. He tried everything, but he always stood out, and then the day came when he learned to embrace his differences.

Reaction: Omg, this book is so adorable, and if I thought my four year olds in storytime understood what punctuation was, I would totally use it in storytime over and over. As it is, I want to read it over and over, and I think it could probably be a good book to help introduce kids to punctuation and the different purposes of a period versus an exclamation point. I love the simple illustrations on what looks like lined writing practice paper. This is a simple sweet story that is original and totally delightful.

(And, here, have a video from the publisher!)

Media Used: Ink and “other exciting materials”

Author’s Website

Illustrator’s Website


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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Image from Goodreads.com

Image from Goodreads.com

Taylor, L. (2011). Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Little, Brown Book for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780316134026

Annotation: Karou is an art student living in Prague, but she is also the errand girl for the wish monger Brimstone, whose shop is through a portal into Elsewhere. When all the doors to Brimstone’s shop are destroyed, Karou sets out to find another way to him.

Reaction: This book is delightful. Laini Taylor reminds me a lot of Sarah Rees Brennan, with great characters and sharp dialogue. I’d wanted to read this book since I first saw that gorgeous cover, but I didn’t get around to it until after the second book was released. When the third and final installment in the series was released in April, I decided to do a re-read of the first two before I dove into the last one. I am so glad I took this opportunity to experience the lushness of Taylor’s creation all over again.

Laini Taylor does something really interesting & unique with the idea of angels and devils in this series, and she does it really well. I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted by the fallen angel trope, and I am leery of anything that uses it. Taylor’s angels and devils, though, are different races from an alternate world rather than actual supernatural beings, which I find really refreshing. Her characters aren’t limited to a good versus evil dichotomy or a struggle against their “true nature” the way you often see in other books featuring angels. These characters are individuals and some of them are good while some of them are bad and most of them are somewhere in the middle trying to live their lives and survive the war that’s been raging between the two races for the last thousand years.

In the first book, she weaves mystery around these two races, using Karou’s journey of discovery to take the reader on a fantastical journey to figure out what is going on. Her writing is dreamy and magical, and the story is compelling. Taylor’s style is one that I love to read, full of beautiful descriptions that make me long to live in her world and enough plot development and suspense to keep the story moving forward at all times. At no point in this trilogy did I ever want her to just “get on with it,” because it was never boring or slow. And I love her characters! Zuzana totally needs to be my new BFF. But everyone is smart and snarky and super enjoyable, and the villains really make my skin crawl with how wonderfully vile she has made them.

I listened to the audiobook, and I loved the narration, though the voices of some of the characters are not as distinct as in some other books to which I’ve listened. The second I finished the first one, I downloaded the sequel from Audible, and I had the third on preorder in anticipation of its release. The narrator of this series, Khristine Hvam, has become one of my favorite favorite narrators, and I’m always excited to see that she’s reading something I’ll be listening to. Hvam’s voice does an excellent job of capturing the tone of Taylor’s writing, and I don’t think I’d ever be able to read the text without hearing her voice in my head.

Author’s Website