Have you ever felt like you've pulled your Reading Hamstring Muscle and are just not making the progress that you should be making? On a good day, I really can read four or five good sized novels, but over the past week I've read... three chapters of Weber's Meet the Malone's. Obviously, nothing actually hurts, but it feels very much like it does when I've taken time off running and start back up again. I read a few pages, put the book down to catch my breath, read a few more pages, pet the dog, etc. Very little forward progress being made.
I blame the winter, which was long. The cold weather made just getting to school draining!
If I've sprained my reading muscles, is the best thing to Rest and Ice? How do I Compress or Elevate my brain? I feel very behind on my reading, and want to get back into some sort of groove. What do others do when they just feel sort of "meh" about every book they come across? Any suggestions gratefully received!
It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Nonfiction Monday also occurs today.
Meyer, Carolyn. Anastasia and her SistersApril 7th 2015 by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Anastasia and her sisters live a sumptuous life in the palace with their father, the tsar, and there are many intrigues that catch Anastasia's attention. She is enthralled when she finds her older sister Olga's journal in which Olga details her star crossed love of a guard as well as some of the family secrets. Covering a number of years, from well before WWII until the family is exiled (and later executed), the traveling back and forth to different palaces, the family dynamic with relatives, Alexei's illness, and eventually, the Russian and world events that lead to the family's downfall are all covered.
Strengths: If you want to lose yourself in Anastasia's world, this is the book. I loved all of the details, from the sisters having outfits to wear to tea that matched their mother's sitting room, to the war work the mother had the sisters do, to all of the events that occurred, this is beautifully researched and presents a wealth of information. I've read Meyer's Royal Diary about Anastasia, but she has another book on her as well. There must be a huge trove of the family's writings still extant.
Weaknesses: A bit lengthy for middle grade, especially since it is detail driven rather than plot driven, mainly because most people know how the story ends. A few more details about various affairs than needed, as well.
What I really think: Anastasia is still intriguing, even almost 100 years after her death. I think I will buy this, as it really is THE definitive novel about her. While reading, I realized the Olga was two years younger than my grandmother. That gave me an entirely new perspective on the events. Did not happen that long ago!
And, of course, this is fabulous paired with...
Fleming, Candace. The Family Romanov: Murder ,Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia
July 8th 2014 by Schwartz & Wade
This is an excellent, detailed overview of the family of Tsar Nicholas, told in a way that will fill in any gaps that young readers might have. Not only are there good photographs of the family's journey, but there are pictures of peasants in Russia at the time used for contrast. There are also quotations from books written by people who struggled through the abject poverty, detailing just how dire the living conditions were. The text is quite readable; even though the book is long (almost 300 pages), Fleming always manages to keep the readers interest with interesting or riveting anecdotes. Since most of my information about this period in history came from a Leonard Nimoy In Search Of episode in the late 1970s, it was good to know that there has been even more research and investigation into the family's demise, and the information is presented well. I bought this for my library because Fleming does such good, literary nonfiction, but I have a feeling it will be hard to convince most middle grade readers to read this much on one period of time. Definitely a good purchase for research in high school and middle school libraries, though!