Monday, March 3, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3-3-2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is weekly challenge begun by Sheila at Book Journey to blog about the books readers enjoy each week.  For some wonderful reading suggestions, please visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers, who took Sheila's It's Monday! What are You Reading? challenge and gave it a kid lit twist.

As someone who grew up painfully shy, I love reading books that have strong, independent female characters. I happily found several books featuring such main characters in my selected readings over the past week. 

Young Adult Books

The Book of Maggie Bradstreet by Gretchen Gibbs
Glenmere Press, 2012


Written by a descendant of the Bradstreet family, The Book of Maggie Bradstreet, examines the witch hysteria that overtook Massachusetts in 1692 from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old girl. Having received a diary for her thirteenth birthday, Maggie records her account of the day-to-day happenings and gossip in her town of Andover. Through Maggie's diary entries, we can see how the hysteria spreads from Salem to Andover and its impact on the lives of many good citizens in Maggie's hometown. 

I love the way Gibbs presents Maggie as an individual with independent thoughts. She seems to realize the deceit of the so-called victims before many adults do. Yet she knows not to mention her doubts about the accusers because of the danger it would bring to her and her family. Like many other citizens in Massachusetts at the time, Maggie stands by as neighbor after neighbor faces imprisonment, trial and possible death. 

I've included some related resources with this book for a couple of reasons. First, because I spent a lot of time as an undergraduate studying women's history in colonial America and I'd hate to waste the opportunity to share some awesome nonfiction books on the subject. Second, because I know there are some people out there who, like me, find it fascinating that a superstitious fear of witches led to "the man" stepping aside and allowing a group of young women to reverse traditional power roles in early Puritan society. Before the witch hysteria, young women had never experienced so much control over the fate of others in their community. 

Related reading:
The Crucible by Arthur Miller (Adult Fiction)

Nonfiction accounts of The Salem Witch Trials:
Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750 
by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich 
In The Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 by Mary Beth Norton 

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Random House Delacourte Books for Young Readers, 2003

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)

Most of the YA books I read have female main characters, so I'm really happy when I can read a book from a boy's point of view.

Sixteen-year-old Thomas finds himself trapped in an elevator with no memory of how he got trapped inside. In fact, the only memory he has is his name. His past, his family, his entire life is missing. Soon the elevator opens up to bright sunlight and Thomas is surrounded by many unfamiliar, unfriendly faces. Thomas has emerged into the maze.

The Maze Runner is a dystopian novel about boys who arrive, once a month over the course of two years, in a maze with no memory of who they are or who sent them there. For the past two years, the boys have sent runners into the maze, hoping to find a way out. Each day, the runners must return before nightfall or come face-to-face with the Grievers - monsters that attack the young men.

The Maze Runner is the first book in Dashner's Maze Runner trilogy. I am looking forward to reading books two and three - The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure - because I'm really curious about what kind of world Thomas and his friends are living in. The people who put them in the maze swear that it's better than the alternative - living out in the real world. So I'm wondering what happened to civilization in Thomas's world.

Check out this awesome book trailer for The Maze Runner by CinemaBookTrailers.

Middle Grade Book

Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff
Wendy Lamb Books, 2008

Sam McKenzie is a young boy troubled by nightmares about his fear of the number eleven and today is his eleventh birthday. Despite a learning disability, Sam is a clever boy who finds a way to sneak into his grandfather's attic to search for his birthday present. What Sam finds instead is a newspaper article about a boy named Sam Bell, who went missing several years ago.

Sam's dyslexia makes it impossible for him to find out more information, so he enlists the help of a classmate named Caroline. As the two work together to solve the mystery of Sam's past (Is Mack his grandfather or his kidnapper?), Sam and Caroline become friends. When the time comes for Caroline to move to a new city with her parents, Sam is once again alone in a world of twisting, confusing words, unable to find the answers he seeks about his past. 

Eleven is another good book that features a strong female character, Caroline, who loves to read, is intelligent and outspoken. She's also a great match for Sam's character.

Advanced Reader Copies
Thirty Sunsets by Christine Hurley Deriso
Flux, 2014


I only had time to finish one ARC this week and it was Christine Hurley Deriso's upcoming novel, Thirty Sunsets. This is another book with a strong female character, though at times she doubts herself. I posted a review of the book yesterday, and I am really itching to make my first YA book trailer. There are so many twists and turns in Thirty Sunsets, a book that explores dysfunctional family relationships and secrets. The book is set for publication in July 2014. 


  1. I read the Maze Runner trio on our last snow break. My students are really enjoying them.
    Mrs. Brown Loves Bookworms

  2. Hi Monica. I've heard of the James Dashner novels but not the other two. Thank you for sharing them! I think I have a few of Patricia Reilly Giff's titles in my own shelves, but haven't gotten around to reading them yet. Have a great reading week!