Kellee and Ricki’s #mustreadin2016 Fall Update!



#MustReadIn2016 is hosted by Carrie Gelson at There Is A Book For That:

“For anyone out there with a To Be Read list that seems like it will never end, this challenge is for you! This is all about making your own personal list of books (5? 10? 20? 30? more?) that you commit to reading in 2016. Books can be published in any year, be from any genre, and be from any category (adult, YA, MG, Graphics, NF, etc.).  As your TBR list grows, you promise you will get to the books on this list.”




My plan was to read 5 books between each update, and I am right on track!

great greene

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
Finished 6-23-16

Summary: Saving the school — one con at a time.

Jackson Greene has reformed. No, really he has. He became famous for the Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz…. But after the disaster of the Mid-Day PDA, he swore off scheming and conning for good.

Then Keith Sinclair — loser of the Blitz — announces he’s running for school president, against Jackson’s former best friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby hasn’t talked to Jackson since the PDA, and he knows she won’t welcome his involvement. But he also knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the election whatever the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team to ensure the election is done right: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess and cheerleader. Charlie de la Cruz, point man. Together they devise a plan that will bring Keith down once and for all. Yet as Jackson draws closer to Gaby again, he realizes the election isn’t the only thing he wants to win.

My Thoughts: I love heist books and movies because the characters are always so smart, and I can never figure out how they did what they did (i.e., Heist SocietyOceans 11, Unusual Suspects, etc.). The Great Greene Heist fits right into this category. Jackson Greene is a bit cocky but so easy to love! This book will keep you guessing and reading. To show you how much I liked it: As soon as I was done, I grabbed the sequel and devoured it too!

the marvels

The Marvels by Brian Selznick
Finished 8-5-16

Summary: Caldecott Award winner and bookmaking trailblazer Brian Selznick once again plays with the form he invented and takes readers on a voyage!

Two seemingly unrelated stories–one in words, the other in pictures–come together. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle’s puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries.

My Thoughts: Brian Selznick is so brilliant! Each of his books are set up so cleverly (and differently), and The Marvels is no different. This one is set up with the first half in pictures telling a story of The Marvels, a family of actors, then it switches to Joseph’s story. The two stories then intertwine later in the book in a way you won’t see coming. This book definitely pulled on some heart strings!


Masterminds by Gordon Korman
Finished 5-11-16

Summary: From bestselling author Gordon Korman comes a thrilling new middle grade trilogy about a group of kids living in a Pleasantville-type town who discover a dark secret that connects them to some of the greatest criminal masterminds of their time.

Eli Frieden lives in the most boring town in the world: Serenity, New Mexico. Only thirty kids live in the idyllic town, where every lawn is perfectly manicured and everyone has a pool and a basketball hoop. Honesty and kindness are the backbone of the community. There is no crime in this utopia.

Eli has never left town…. Why would he ever want to? But everything changes the day he and his friend Randy bike to the edge of the city limits. Eli is suddenly struck with a paralyzing headache and collapses. Almost instantly, a crew of security—or “Purple People Eaters,” as the kids call them—descend via helicopter. Eli awakens in the hospital, and the next day, Randy and his family are gone.

As Eli convinces his friends Tori and Malik to help him investigate Randy’s disappearance, it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems in Serenity. As the clues mount to reveal a shocking discovery, the kids realize they can trust no one—least of all their own parents. So they hatch a plan for what could be the greatest breakout in history—but will they survive? And if they do, where do they go from there?

This first book in a thrilling new series from the middle grade “mastermind” Gordon Korman is sure to be a hit with his myriad fans.

My Thoughts: I’m so glad Michele recommended this book to me! As soon as I finished, I had to go tell people about it because the concept is so crazy, I immediately had to share it with everyone I could find! And the end is such a cliffhanger (though satisfying also) that you will want to pick up the sequel right away because you are going to want to know what happens to Eli and his friends. And now I am just waiting for book #3 to come out!!

terrible two

The Terrible Two by Jory John & Mac Barnett; Illustrated by Kevin Cornell
Finished 4-14-16

Summary: Miles Murphy is not happy to be moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy town that’s famous for one thing and one thing only: cows. In his old school, everyone knew him as the town’s best prankster, but Miles quickly discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster, and a great one. If Miles is going to take the title from this mystery kid, he is going to have to raise his game.

It’s prankster against prankster in an epic war of trickery, until the two finally decide to join forces and pull off the biggest prank ever seen: a prank so huge that it would make the members of the International Order of Disorder proud.

In The Terrible Two, bestselling authors and friends Mac Barnett and Jory John have created a series that has its roots in classic middle-grade literature yet feels fresh and new at the same time.

My Thoughts: I am obviously not the audience for this book; however, while I was listening to the book, I could think of so many students that will love this book! Since I have read it, it has been borrowed permanently twice and read so many times. It is a perfect book for Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate fans as well as fans of books like The Great Greene Heist too!


Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
Finished 6-22-16

Summary: Alone at home, twelve-year-old Grayson Sender glows, immersed in beautiful thoughts and dreams. But at school, Grayson grasps at shadows, determined to fly under the radar. Because Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body.

The weight of this secret is crushing, but leaving it behind would mean facing ridicule, scorn, and rejection. Despite these dangers, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson might finally have the tools to let her inner light shine.

Debut author Ami Polonsky’s moving, beautifully-written novel shines with the strength of a young person’s spirit and the enduring power of acceptance.

My Thoughts: I love that there are books like Gracefully Grayon and George out there for my students to learn to emphasize or identify, depending on what they need, with transgendered students. I found it interesting how similar yet how different the two books are also. Both very much worth reading.


I am following the motto that any progress on this list is good progress! I have read 6/15 books, and while I know I am a bit behind, many of the books I have left are shorter. (Cough. And there are a few denser ones in there. Cough.) I started a project to read Muslim literature, and it took up much of my time!  However, I loved all three books that I read on my #mustreadin2016 list!

All American Boys

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Finished 4-25-16

Goodreads Summary: Rashad is absent again today.

That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’sgot to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.

Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.

Cuz that’s how it can end.

My Thoughts: I read this book a few months ago, and frankly, I can’t stop thinking about how important this story is. We read so many books in our lifetimes, and some just take our breath away. This is one of those books. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I believe it belongs in every classroom. The strength of the two voices in this book is remarkable, and it makes for an excellent teaching tool—about heroism; about doing what is right and true; and about being a good, decent human being. The acts within this book are all-to-common, and I believe this book promotes genuine change. The book is literary at the same time that it is engaging. It will pull (and has pulled) readers of all ages and backgrounds. I typically don’t review books long after they have been published, but this book feels too important to leave out. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend it move to the top of your TBR list. It’s and incredible story.

honest truth

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
Finished 6-5-16

Goodreads Summary: In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He’s got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.

But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier–even if it’s the last thing he ever does.

The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.

My Thoughts: In the introduction of the ARC, Dan Gemeinhart writes that this story was inspired by his friend Mark, who passed away from cancer. While the book is not about Mark, there are “smooth rocks of truth” within it. He wrote the story in hopes that Mark would enjoy reading it. With this in mind, I began the book already emotionally invested. Mark is a 12-year-old boy who has recently relapsed with cancer. He is tired of being sick, and he has set out with his dog and plans to go to Mt. Rainier to die. Much of the book is Mark’s journey to Rainier, and we slowly learn about his experiences with cancer throughout the story. Every other chapter is written by his best friend Jesse, and I found their friendship to be inspiring, particularly given the author’s introduction. This is a beautiful story that will leave a mark on readers’ hearts. I will be recommending it often.

this dark endeavor

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
Finished 6-17-16

Goodreads Summary: Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein and inseparable until Konrad falls gravely ill. In the forbidden Dark Library, Victor finds an ancient formula, and seeks an alchemist to recreate the Elixir of Life. With friends Elizabeth and Henry, he scales highest trees in the Strumwald, dives deepest lake caves, and each sacrifices a body part.

My Thoughts: What a neat, neat book! The second half really captured my attention, and I had difficulty leaving my car! I found myself listening to it while I played with my son on the floor. I only do this with audio books that I really enjoy! I loved the way this book mixed adventure with the gothic setting. I felt like I was wrapped up in Oppel’s words.

Stop by There Is A Book For That to see the updates of everyone’s #mustreadin2016 lists!

Kellee Signature andRickiSig

4 thoughts on “Kellee and Ricki’s #mustreadin2016 Fall Update!”

  1. My list intersects with some of yours, Ricki & Kellee, and then there are a few I’ll put on my list because of what you wrote. Ah, the list grows longer. All American Boys & Gracefully Grayson are two favorites this year for sure! Happy Reading!

  2. You are both making great progress. I read All American Boys earlier in the year – as a read aloud for my whole family. I think of that book often. I really want to read The Marvels. Looks incredible. I am a fan of his other titles so think I would love this too.

  3. I haven’t gotten to The Marvels yet:( but I keep reading such great stuff about it! I’ve enjoyed many of the books here on your lists – The Great Greene Heist, Masterminds, All American Boys, Gracefully Grayson,and The Honest Truth.


Leave a Comment