April 2023 Reading Update

I started off April in Maui, visiting family for my spring break. Each night we read books to my 4 year old nephew, so pictured below are just some of children’s books we read! I love a good picture book and I want to give an honorable mention to the Telepathic Traveler: A to Z Guide Across the Globe. Each page is dedicated to both a country and an animal that start with a letter of the alphabet, with an interesting description of both. Thanks to JJ and Rocco for sharing reading time with me!

This month I also read some wonderful books and for the first time in a long time I put a book aside that just wasn’t right for me right now.

  • Aurora by David Koepp – I love climate fiction, which I classify as Sci-Fi in my handy spreadsheet tracker. Every time I read a story about the not-to-distant future, after some cataclymic disaster (in this case, all power in the world goes out for a long time!), I am both amazed and horrified by what people do in disasters. The author manages to capture the kindness of sharing food, growing a community garden, and a neighborhood watch for safety, while also capturing what fear and greed can drive people to do. I enjoyed some of the characters and I enjoyed hating other characters in this fast-moving story!
  • Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake – This queer romance is by an author I discovered and loved for a YA book last year (Ivy Aberdeen…). Delilah Green is a queer artist who reluctantly returns to her hometown for her stepsister’s wedding. Delilah doesn’t have happy memories of her childhood with her stepsister and stepmother, nor of the town that never seemed to accept her. As she gets deeper into the two weeks of wedding drama, she learns about herself, her past, and her family, while stumbling into romance and love! This was a sweet story!
  • Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman – My cousin (hi JJ!) loaned me this book because she thought I would enjoy it; her brother also liked and so I was able to speak to two cousins about this book over the month! Klosterman writes a collection of essays about random pop culture items, such as Saved by the Bell, Billy Joel, and reality TV. I loved some of the essays, as they made me feel nostagic. The book was published in 2004 so a lot of the content was outdated, but still funny with his sacastic takes on everything. There were a few essays (Celtivs vs Lakers) that I didn’t care about at all. Overall, I enjoyed his writing style, and have heard it’s fun to read some of his other work.
  • Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman – I love a good thriller to read on a beach vacation and this fit the bill! Erin and Mark are planning their wedding and then enjoying their extravagant honeymoon, trying to avoid the financial stress they will face when they return to reality. Then they find something in the water while scuba diving and everything changes. The rest of the story is a fast-paced race to the end, where I was doubtful of all characters, unsure who and what to believe, and not sure where it would end (despite the beginning of the book strating with a significant detail from the end!). Fun read!
  • Trust Exercises by Susan Choi – I have no idea why I owned this e-book, but I’ve had it for awhile and finally decided to read it. Part way through the very angsty, teen-drama filled first part, I almost quit it! Then I read a review on Goodreads that said there was a big twist, so I kept reading. The twist was a second narrator coming in to narrator the second half, showing us that both narrators were unreliable. Both sections were filled with stories of high school problems faced by a group of kids in an elusive performing arts school. There was a lot of sex, drugs, and theatre, but not a lot of plot. I didn’t like the characters, which made this hard to get through. The styel of the book attempted to cross genres, but it wasn’t enough to get me to enjoy this read.
  • The Family Game by Catherine Steadman – This is a fast-paced thriller about an unlikeable wealthy family with secrets to hide. I just read a book by Steadman earlier this month without realizing that this book had been on my radar (and my library hold) for a while! I loved getting to know the Holbeck family through the eyes of Harriet, who is engaged to marry the eldest son. As Harriet is trying to figure out who to trust, she is also keeping her own secret. The “family games” throughout the book are weird and horrifying, leading up to the ultimate game at the end. This was fast and fun and a real page-turner!
  • All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny (Gamache #16) – This was the first in the Gamache series to take place in Paris, and it was such a fun switch from the usual settings. Reading this made me want to visit Paris again! I love Armand Gamache and love that #16 focused so much on his family – his wife, both of his children and their spouses and their growing families, as well as his godfather. We were given a very different look into Armand’s life as he was thrown into a very personal mystery in a special place.
  • Refugee by Alan Gratz [audiobook] – I LOVED this book! What a beautiful, bittersweet, incredible story about three reguees at three different moments in history. Throughout the book we follow Josef as he and his Jewish family escape Nazi Germany on board a boat bound for Cuba, Isabel, as she and her family escape Cuba on their way to Miama and freedom from Castro, and Mahmoud, as he and his family escape bombs in their home in Syria, through many countries on their way to Germany and freedom. Each of their stories, in different time periods, is perilous and unique, and then the ending just made me sob like a baby! I’ve heard from two teachers in our district who have read this with upper grade students and I can only imagine the discussions that followed.
  • Learner-Centered Leadership: A Blueprint for Transformational Change in Learning Communities: The author, Devin, became the superintendent in Vista right after I left the district. I wish I had stayed to work with him through the transformation he describes in this book! Vista needed significant transformation, as most of our systems do, to go from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered system. My current district is now working with Devin’s company, Learner-Centered Collaborative, to help facilitate the creation of a new vision, mission, values, and learner outcomes for us, which is so exciting! I appreciate how he outlines the entire process in this book, including examples from the Vista story, some written by other leaders in the system from their perspective. Devin is honest about his own mistakes as well as when they went too fast and when they got it right. This is a great read for any educator ready to prepare our current learners for an unknown future.
  • All That is Mine I Carry with Me by Williams Landay – I loved Defending Jacob by this author, so I was excited to read another mystery by him that involved some courtroom drama. Turns out, the courtroom was a very small part of the larger story of a mother gone missing. In each of the four parts a different family member or friend narrates the story, so we are given different perspectives of this family with mom, after mom disappears, and in the many decades afterwards. With each new narrator we get more information, but are also a little more confused or unsure – did he do it or not?! I enjoyed the entire story right upt to the very end!

Favorite book(s) of the month

Fiction: Aurora by David Koepp

Nonfiction:Learner-Centered Leadership: A Blueprint for Transformational Change in Learning Communities

About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
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1 Response to April 2023 Reading Update

  1. Andree Grey says:

    I loved Something in The Water!

    Andrée Grey, Ed.D.

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