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Monday, October 14, 2013


This is for those of you who love zombie books! This quick read, Contaminated, by Em Garner is about strong Velvet Ellis who has been left to raise her little sister, Opal, when their parents are affected by an epidemic that alters peoples' genes. The epidemic was first thought to be caused by contaminated water used in a popular protein-based weightloss drink. The beginning of the story finds Velvet looking for her mom at a kennel - a place the contaminated zombie-like people called Connies are held until a family member claims them. All Connies released back into public are fitted with a collar that is supposed to shock them into calmness so they don't get violent. The general public is unaccepting of the released Connies; thus, Velvet and Opal soon find themselves kicked out of their government-aided housing unit. Everything appears to be hopeless as Velvet continues to face adversity until her mom starts to show signs of understanding and Velvet meets a caring teen who is determined to help them. Definitely see a book two coming...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Knife of Never Letting Go

I was familiar with author, Patrick Ness, from reading A Monster Calls – which had me sobbing into endless amounts of Kleenex. You can read my review in a previous post. I just started this fall as the Librarian of a high school. My students are very busy with required reading and research, but the ones reading for pleasure all told me that I had to read his Chaos Walking trilogy starting with The Knife of Never Letting Go. I love student recommendations more than anything – they always know the next book to read. Although this book is 479 pages long, it is a quick read. In this futuristic world in Prentisstown, although there are many men, there is only one boy, Todd, who will turn into a man in a month. All the women and girls have been killed by the germ released by the Spackles, enemies encountered when humans discovered the New World. The germ not only killed the females, but left all the males able to hear the thoughts of each other and all animals. There is endless NOISE created from the thoughts of men that takes all peace away until Todd and his dog, Manchee, discover the quiet in the forbidden swamp. Todd is given a book written by his mother and told to run away from Prentisstown. He leaves knowing that everything he has been told his entire life is uncertain. He discovers the quiet is actually a girl orphaned by an accident. The townsmen want both of them and are leading an army to attack. The hardest part for me was reading the misspellings in the text which Ness did to assert Todd’s lack of education. This book was so suspenseful – my students were right, it is a must read! I can’t wait to read Book 2 – The Ask and the Answer. The author answers questions about his Chaos Walking trilogy in the video below.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why We Broke Up

You probably know the author of Why We Broke Up Daniel Handler is popularly known by his pen name, Lemony Snicket. This YA Printz Honor Award-winning novel is about a relationship between theater-loving Min Green and popular basketball star Ed Slaterton. I tried listening to this book on audio and am so happy that I decided to read the book instead. You miss so much of the story if you listen to it as it is creatively illustrated by talented Maira Kalman. The pictures reveal so much of the story. The reader knows from the very beginning that Min and Ed are no longer together. She slowly reveals the timeline of important events in their short relationship. My favorite part of this book is the lesson learned by Min…hopefully, reading the story will forewarn many innocent girls so that they do not make the same mistake that she did. Watch the video below which features the author himself.

Eleanor & Park

I absolutely loved, savored, and now treasure Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. The book takes place in the 80’s and is told from both characters’ points of view. Eleanor, an ivory-skinned overweight new girl, happens to sit by the Asian boy on the school bus. Park, the comic-reading half-Korean boy, who can’t help but like the new girl who reads his comic books as she sits beside him on the bus. Two totally different teens who at first do everything to not like each other, but ultimately cannot stop the chemistry that builds between them. Unbeknownst to Park, Eleanor has deep family secrets that she cannot share with anyone. How could she explain to anyone that she and her much younger siblings are controlled by an abusive stepfather? Will Eleanor ever trust and believe in the love that Park has for her? This is a must read! Click on the student made book trailer video below to learn more. Can’t wait to read Rainbow Rowell’s newest novel – Fangirl.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Siege and Storm

Leigh Bardugo’s debut novel, Shadow and Bone, was my favorite fantasy read of 2012 and I have been eagerly awaiting book 2 – Siege and Storm. Once again Bardugo brings to life the dark and magical “World of Grisha”. Alina and Mal have left their homeland to hide out from the Darkling and to keep her amplifier (Morozova’s collar) hidden so others will not realize that she is the Sun Summoner. Rather quickly, the Darkling returns and takes them captive. Bardugo introduces us to new characters...ones we grow to like, but do not whole-heartedly trust. The Darkling now has the power to be with Alina without others seeing him. Alina’s powers seem to take over her sense of judgment– to the point that her relationship with Mal is jeopardized. Readers will be surprised as to how this second novel in the trilogy goes...the last half was difficult to put down. Hardest part for me is waiting for book 3 – Ruin and Rising – coming in 2014!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Shatter Me


The most exciting part of starting my new job at a wonderful high school is the opportunity to read YA and Adult books for my job! Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is a dystopic novel about a seventeen-year-old girl named Juliette who has been imprisoned because her touch has the power to kill people. She is surprised when a soldier is sent to watch over her and he is someone that she loved as a young girl. Adam volunteered for the position so he could protect her. The leader who has imprisoned her plans to use her power to defeat others. When Adam and Juliette break out, she discovers that Adam is immune to her deadly touch. The two are not safe for long and must learn to trust each other and a friend from Adam's past. This is a quick read that will leave readers wanting to immediately pick up book 2, Unravel Me. Book 3 will be published in February 2014.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Last Dragonslayer

Young adult literature fans are so excited that Jasper Fforde has started writing for them. The Last Dragonslayer is the first in a trilogy. The story is narrated by Jennifer Strange who is the acting manager of Kazam - a job agency for magicians. She took on the role when the popular when the most powerful wizard became disgraced. Today's magicians must find menial jobs as their abilities have faded over the years. For the past four hundred years, dragons and humans have been separated by lands in an agreement made by both parties. Dragons had stipulations they had to follow in order to be protected. There is now only one dragon left and there are visions of his death at a certain time by the last dragonslayer. Jennifer soon learns that she is being called upon to end the dragon's life. This causes great turmoil as different kingdoms plan to fight over the forbidden land. She becomes an instant celebrity, but wants to have nothing to do with killing the dragon. Will Jennifer accept her given role? Will war break out once the dragon is killed? Read this entertaining fantasy to find out!Look for the second book in the trilogy - The Song of the Quarkbeast - coming to the US on Sept 3, 2013.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Smart Girls Get What They Want

Sarah Strohmeyer’s Smart Girls Get What They Want is on the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2013-14. This novel is about three friends (Bea, Gigi, and Neerja) who are at the top of their sophomore class. They have always looked up to Neerja’s older sister who attends Princeton. They have an eye-opening experience when they realize that Neerja’s sister’s academic success came with huge repercussions – no one in her high school knew anything about her, except that she was the smartest girl at school. The trio decides they must turn things around before it is too late – start eating in the cafeteria, join extracurricular groups that interest them, and ultimately become more social. When Gigi is accused of cheating along with a jock named Mike, she faces being rejected by the college of her dreams. She is given a chance to turn things around, but must face her deeply rooted fear of public speaking first. This novel has just the right amount of humor, romance, and drama – finally a book that recognizes the angst felt by many overachievers.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Spindlers

Lauren Oliver’s middle grade novel, The Spindlers, is a spooky fantasy that will leave readers on the edge of their seat from start to finish. Liza knows that her little brother’s soul has been taken by The Spindlers. She learned about these evil spider-like creatures from her babysitter and knows that she must stop them before it is too late. She must go Below to a new land full of secret forests and mosses. Her only assistant is a female rat who dresses up with makeup. The two encounter many frightening obstacles. I love that Oliver had so many fantastical creatures in her story – it made it read like a movie – a movie I would love to see. She also adds a touch of humor to a frightening story line. This is a great recommendation for Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fans. Listen to Oliver in the video below explain her inspiration for writing The Spindlers. This is going on my 6th grade Reading List next year.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

True Legend

I must say that True Legend has become my new favorite Mike Lupica book…and I am a huge fan of all of his books. This story is about a high school basketball player named Drew that everyone calls, “True”, because he is the real deal. He is so talented that an agent moved him and his mother from the East coast to the West coast to play in his own facility. Drew knows that he gets by in life because others look out for him. Everyone knows he is on his way to stardom. His best friend, Lee, a teammate that isn’t as talented as Drew even helps with all of his school assignments. Things begin to change when Drew notices an old guy playing ball amazingly on an outdoor court really late at night. The guy takes off once Drew lets him know he has been watching him. At an extremely important game, with seconds left on the clock, Drew makes the arrogant decision to take the game winning shot when Lee was wide open and would’ve made it without a doubt. Drew misses – the old guy is at the game and shows Drew his disappointment. Drew is determined to find out who this guy is – why did this guy not make it in the big league? Will Drew learn what it really takes to become a legend before it is too late? The video clip below is an interview of Mike Lupica on the Today Show.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Encyclopedia of Me

The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers is written just as the title suggests – in encyclopedia format. The main character, 8th grader Isadora (nicknamed Tink), tells the reader about all her life by writing an encyclopedia with personal terms from A to Z. She describes the challenges she has faced in being biracial and by having a brother who is autistic. She also describes the hurts feelings she encounters when her best friend begins to exclude her after years of friendship. Things become more complicated when she begins a relationship with her new neighbor, a skater boy named Kai. Readers will totally relate to Tink (especially the girls) – family drama, first kiss, and mean girls. This book is both touching and funny – a must read for middle school! Check out the 60 Sec Recap video...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - The World's Most Dangerous Weapon

Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon is receiving many accolades including Newbery Honor Book and The Robert F. Sibert Informational Medal 2013. I gained so much new knowledge about World War II and espionage after reading this very informative book. Wow! I had no idea how close other countries were in developing the atomic bomb during that time period. Readers will learn the vital roles intelligent physicists played in the outcome of World War II. This nonfiction text at times read like a spy novel as the different methods of transferring private messages between secret agents were revealed. This is a must read – definitely going on my 8th grade reading list in the fall.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Outcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town

This amazing true story will touch your heart. It is about one person making a difference in the lives around her. It is about our nation which is made up of many diverse cultures. It is a story about how the sport of soccer brought boys from different war-torn countries together as a team and their Jordanian female coach who led them to victory. Outcasts United by Warren St. John takes readers to Clarkston, Georgia - a place for many refugees to relocate in the United States after suffering many horrible situations in their own country. Luma, a young woman from Jordan who loves soccer, decided to create a soccer team for youth in an at-risk area. Little did she know that these kids would need much more than just a soccer coach - they needed support for their families who spoke very little English, they needed extra academic help to catch up to their American classmates, and they needed discipline to become better athletes and better men. I appreciate that St. John told the players' stories - we need to be reminded of others' circumstances. This inspiring story will make you ask yourself - What can I do to make a difference for others?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing, and Rescue

I am sure every middle school librarian will agree - our students love Peg Kehret's books! They have read ALL of them and keep asking for more. I was so happy to read Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing, and Rescue as this talented author takes her readers into the latest part of her life. She shares her and her late husband's love of animals, her inspirations for writing particular characters, and the raw emotions of life changing events in her world. Each animal rescue or encounter is written in their own chapter. I was most amazed at her patience during the most trying times of rescuing some animals that seemed impossible to help. Now when I read a Peg Kehret book, I will think about the warm-hearted woman who loves writing, nature, and, most of all, animals. Thank you to Ms. Kehret and her late husband for making a difference in their area - one rescue at a time.

Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution

Avi does it again - captures a time in history for readers to enjoy and learn from - in Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution. The story begins in 1776, in British-occupied New York City and is narrated by a fictional strong young woman named Sophia who is twelve-years-old. She and her mother witness Nathan Hale's hanging and the horors of this war are forever with her. Her parents are forced, like others in the city, to house a British soldier. Unbeknownst to the new Lieutenant John Andre, Sophia has an older brother who is fighting with George Washington for the patriots. Andre gives Sophia a lot of attention and she believes he genuinely cares for her. When she finds out her brother is wounded and being held under deplorable conditions in a prison, she asks Andre for help. He turns his back on Sophia’s request and leaves without a second glance. Sophia will stop at nothing to help her brother. It is now 1780, and Sophia is given the dangerous job of spying for the patriots while serving in the house of a now married Major Andre. Read Sophia’s War to find out the roles John Andre and Benedict Arnold played in the American Revolution. Great read that is definitely going on my 8th grade reading list in the fall.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Three Times Lucky

Sheila Turnage’s first mystery novel for upper elementary and middle school is already getting great awards including the Newbery Honor Book. She successfully draws her readers in this tale of mysterious beginnings, suspicious murders, kidnappings, ransoms, and hurricanes. Mo (short for Moses), a sixth grader, narrates the story. She describes how she was found after a devastating hurricane wrapped in the arms of The Colonel who suffered memory loss and has no idea who he was before the storm. With the help of an eccentric woman named Miss Lana, The Colonel has raised Mo for the past eleven years. Lately Mo has been searching for her “upstream mother” by sending out messages in bottles. Mo and her best friend, Dale, help out at Miss Lana and The Colonel’s café. One day a detective from another area comes to the café asking questions concerning a mysterious death in his city. The little town turns upside down when a local man, Mr. Jesse, is murdered and Dale is the last person presumed to have seen him alive. Soon The Colonel is missing, next Miss Lana. It is up to Mo and Dale to solve the mystery before it is too late. The problem is that a hurricane is headed their way and no one can be trusted. Read Three Times Lucky – you won’t be disappointed!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World

I am so fortunate to have had one of my smart book club members (a 7th grader) who loves nonfiction tell me that I should read Sy Montgomery’s Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World. I learned so much about the amazing woman who gave the world answers to what it feels like to live in an autistic world. She, also, gave animals going to slaughter a comfortable end to their lives by designing systems that are cruelty-free. I appreciate the way Temple Grandin describes her connection to animals as a result of the way her brain processes information. She describes her mind as being made up of photographic images. I learned so much from this book and can’t wait to share it with my students. The video clip below is an introduction to the HBO movie of Temple Grandin’s life – many of the scenes are in this book.

The Always War

Margaret Peterson Haddix’s stand alone novel, The Always War, will appeal to sci-fi fans. In this dystopia, a war has dragged on and on between the east and the west. Gideon, a pilot, refuses to accept his military honor for courage. He is devastated to find out how many innocent lives were destroyed when he bombed the enemy. His neighbor, Tessa, is determined to help Gideon feel better about his situation. She follows him one day and notices someone else is after him. She must warn him. She follows him onto a redesigned aircraft that is headed to the place he bombed to apologize. They have another unwanted passenger on the aircraft. The problem – when they land at the place of the casualties – it looks like untouched forest land. Read the book to find out why the Always War exists and who is in control. Each chapter ends with the reader determined to find out what happens in the next. Other great books by Haddix include The Shadow Children series, Double Identity, The Missing series, and Running Out of Time.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Raft

S.A. Bodeen’s most recent novel, The Raft, keeps her readers on the edge. Robie is trying her best to get back home to a small island called Midway a little early. When she boards the small plane she finds out there is the regular pilot and a substitute co-pilot named Max. The plane ultimately crashes into the waters in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The only survivors are Robie and Max and they have to endure the harsh conditions of floating on a yellow raft under the hot sun and cool nights. Their biggest threats are starvation and the dangerous sharks that lurk in the ocean. Will their arrival onto the island make things better? Read The Raft to find out. I could not put this one down! I loved The Compound so I couldn't wait to read this one.

A Girl Named Faithful Plum

Richard Bernstein describes his wife’s younger years in A Girl Named Faithful Plum: The True Story of a Dancer from China and How She Achieved Her Dream. In 1977, Zhongmei was an eleven-year-old growing up in a small farm town in China. She loved to dance and was determined to audition in the big city of Beijing for their elite dance company. Her family had to make huge sacrifices for her to travel days just to try out for this prestigious dance troupe. She quickly realizes the prejudices she must face because she is not a cultured city girl with connections. She works hard each and every day to learn how to be the best. She is forced to grow up quickly, just to fit in. The author does an excellent job of describing the government changes during that time period and how the big cities differed from the rural areas of China. I appreciate how far Zhongmei came from her humble beginnings with loving siblings to the exalted stage. I am placing this book on my 6th grade reading list next year – what a great tie in to World Cultures. Watch the video clip below to see Zhongmei’s dances.

A Girl Named Faithful Plum-Dance Excerpt from zhongmei li on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Keeping the Castle

Patrice Kindl’s Keeping the Castle, a historical romance novel being compared to Pride and Prejudice, is on the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2013. Althea Crawley has the daunting task of finding a rich suitor so that she can cover the expenses of her family’s large, aging estate built on a precarious cliff by her great grandfather. Her father died right before her little brother, Alexander, was born. Thankfully, being male, he is an appropriate heir to the estate, but the family is in dire need of money to keep it up until he is of age to take it over. Besides Alexander, the Crawley castle is home to their mother and two unpleasant stepsisters who are also looking for husbands that can take care of them. While being courted by an appealing, eligible bachelor, Lord Boring, Althea learns to disdain his cousin, Mr. Frederick, who is always keeping their company. Mr. Frederick constantly finds things wrong with Crawley Castle and doesn’t hold back on saying exactly what he feels. Althea is determined to earn the affections of Lord Boring – he seems to be the answer to all of their problems. When a new single young lady comes to town, things become disrupted. This would be a great recommendation for fans of the television show, Downton Abbey. It is also great for libraries wanting to beef up their high lexile level selections.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Laugh with the Moon

I am a huge fan of Shana Burg’s A Thousand Never Evers so I couldn’t wait to read Laugh with the Moon which is on the Texas Bluebonnet Reading List 2013. The author transports her readers to Malawi, Africa, using her own experiences from having stayed there. Clare is grieving because her mom has died and her father is making her live in Africa with him while he works as a doctor providing care for those in need. She must adapt to her new environment: a new school with hundreds of children and no teaching supplies, a meager home with a mosquito net covering her bed to prevent disease, and learning a new language. She immediately realizes that she is surrounded by others who have lost even more than she has. She wants to ask a classmate and new friend named Memory how she is able to cope without a mother or a father. Tragedy strikes once again. Clare learns the biggest lesson of all. Another awesome book by a wonderful author! Click on the video below to hear the author tell you about her book.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25

A girl in my middle school book club enthusiastically recommended that I read Richard Paul Evans’ Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Book One) so I set aside the 20 other books I have stacked on my dresser…I am so happy I did. This is a middle grade/young adult sci-fi thriller that keeps the reader on edge. Fourteen-year-old Michael Vey has a huge secret that only his mother and best friend, Ostin (pronounced “Austin”), know about. When he is bullied by one of the meanest guys at his high school and his posse, he lets loose and fights back with his electrical powers. A popular cheerleader named Taylor witnesses the way he single-handedly fights off his attackers. She confides in him and eventually Ostin that she also has secret powers. They decide to research if their powers are connected in any way. The results are astonishing, but their online search ends up leading powerful, dark people straight to them. How will Michael fight back when the secret society kidnaps both Taylor and his mother? My student says that Book Two: Rise of the Elgen gets even better – can’t wait to read that one.

Ghetto Cowboy

I enjoy reading books that teach me something I didn’t know before. G. Neri’s Ghetto Cowboy (illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson), on the Texas Bluebonnet Reading List 2013-14, did just that. Cole’s mom has had it with Cole’s troublemaking ways and she is taking him from their home in Detroit to a Dad he doesn’t know in Philadelphia. No amount of sweet talking is going to change her mind this time. Cole discovers a whole new world in this urban area where run-down housing has been made into make-shift horse stalls. His father, Harper, is a leader in this tight-knit community of urban cowboys who use the horses to set street kids straight – if they can keep them busy with riding and caring for the horses, maybe they will stay off of drugs and out of gangs. At first Cole is determined to find his way back to his mom, but quickly changes his mind when he becomes attached to a wild horse named Boo. This story is inspired by real inner city areas that have stables of horses in the most unlikely city dwellings to help keep young boys out of trouble. This story is about bringing about change by doing positive things and I love that message.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

An Elephant in the Garden

I was able to read An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo (author of War Horse) in one night as I could not put it down… I had to know how the story ended. This is another selection on the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2013-14. The story begins in current day where a nurse begins to narrate the story of an elderly woman named Lizzie in her care at a nursing home who wishes to share her childhood story with her son named Karl. She reflects that the story must be told because it is the anniversary of a very important date. The story then backtracks to Lizzie’s childhood in Dresden, Germany. Lizzie’s father was fighting the war in Russia. Her mother, Mutti, worked at the zoo in Dresden during World War II. Lizzie’s little brother, Karli, was a feeble child with asthma and a limp. The story flips back and forth between Lizzie’s childhood and present day. Lizzie describes Mutti’s determination to save a young elephant named Marlene from the Dresden Zoo when the allies began bombing the city. How can Mutti, Lizzie, and Karli save Marlene or themselves from the repercussions of war? Morpurgo did a lot of research to put true accounts into his moving story about war, perseverance, and love for a smart, loyal elephant. This is great fictional tie-in to the Holocaust.


Ripper by Stefan Petrucha is the perfect selection for upper middle school students looking for a meaty thriller that has a huge twist in the story. It is another selection from the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2013-14. Carver Young knows he was meant to be a detective his entire life. Shortly before being told that he has to find a new home because the orphanage who had raised him could no longer care for the three eldest children at the facility, Carver finds a note with clues about his father. Thankfully, he is taken in by Mr. Hawking an infamous lead detective in New York City who is part of the well-known Pinkerton Agency. It seems that Jack the Ripper has traveled from London to New York City to continue his killing spree. Mr. Hawking makes sure that Carver solves all his own clues to move forward in his investigations. Could the treacherous Jack the Ripper actually be Carver’s father? Read Ripper to find out. I had to go back and reread parts that seemed too shocking to believe – 8th graders will love it!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Steve Jobs The Man Who Thought Different

I just finished reading Karen Blumenthal's Steve Jobs The Man Who Thought Different - another selection from the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2013-14. I was so excited to see that this book made the list, because surprisingly many middle school students don't know anything about Steve Jobs even though their most treasured possessions were created because of Jobs. This biography is detail-oriented and sticks straight to the facts about Jobs' philosophy on life, his personal characteristics, his work history, and what people truly thought about him which wasn't always flattering. It is vital that young adults know about Steve Jobs as he was one of the most innovative people in our contemporary world. Click on the tribute video below from ABC News.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Great Unexpected

If you have been following my blog, you know that my students and I are huge fans of Sharon Creech. Well she has done it again – The Great Unexpected begins as two alternating stories that eventually come together with twists and turns along the way. Naomi, the narrator of our story, explains that she is being raised just outside of a tiny town called Blackbird Tree by an elderly couple named Joe and Nula. She describes how she first meets the peculiar boy named Finn who has dropped straight out of a tree. Lizzie, Naomi’s talkative best friend, comes upon their meeting and asks the boy many questions. The story then continues across the ocean in Ireland where an angry woman is plotting revenge. Before long, the chance encounters with Finn stir up feelings Naomi hasn’t felt before and she becomes frustrated that Lizzie always seems to be in the mix of things. When Lizzie tells her church that she and Naomi will offer their services to help the elderly of Blackbird Tree, the readers are introduced to the eccentric people of the town. The sudden death of someone Naomi loves dearly wrenches her heart and in seeking comfort, she uncovers secrets from her and others’ pasts. The phrase, “It’s a small world”, applies to this one and I love that! Other great books by Sharon Creech include Heartbeat, Love That Dog, Hate That Cat, Walk Two Moons, The Unfinished Angel, and The Wanderer. Sharon Creech tells you about this book in the video below.

Glory Be

Glory Be, another selection from the Texas Bluebonnet Reading List 2013, is Augusta Scattergood’s debut historical fiction novel set in Hanging Moss, Mississippi during the summer of 1964 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. I absolutely loved this book and its strong female characters – it reminded me of “The Help”, but for upper elementary through middle school readers. Glory has noticed some changes going on in her small town and it doesn’t make her happy. Her older sister, Jesslyn, doesn’t seem to have time to play junk poker with her anymore. Jesslyn makes excuses to sneak off with Eddie the new boy with ideas that are different from those in Mississippi. When her friend, Frankie, tells her the town council is going to close the public pool, because it needs repairs – Glory knows something is up. Glory, with proof-reading by her maid Emma who is a surrogate mom to her and Jesslyn, writes a letter to the town newspaper declaring she knows the real reason the public pool has shut down and how angry it makes her. This causes big problems for their father who is the local preacher. When Glory gives away a secret she has promised to keep to herself, she learns the hard way about the price of betrayal. Scattergood transports her readers to the hot, humid summer where outsiders and a few strong, brave individuals from Hanging Moss stand their ground to offer those discriminated against the equality and justice they deserve.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


S.J. Kincaid’s Insignia, a thrilling science fiction novel that takes place in a futuristic world, is also on the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2013-14. Before it made it to this list, it was getting a lot of buzz and rightly so. Countries, divided into coalitions, are in the midst of World War III – battles are now fought by gifted people who control warfare equipment fought in space, but controlled on Earth. Tom Raines is a misfit who misses a lot of school, even though his reformatory school is via a sim community on the computer, due to his gambling father’s need to hop from casino to casino seeking that one big jackpot. Tom Raines helps earn money by conning opponents to play virtual reality games for money. The government tracks those playing in VR rooms to find the most talented to work for the government. General Marsh offers Tom one of the most sought after government jobs of training for the Intrasolar Forces to help win the War. Tom’s initial response is to walk out when he sees that all trainees must have neural processors implanted into their brain to help them process information faster and speed up their physical growth process, but his need to be important overrides any doubts he has. The competition between the new recruits causes deception and the need to sabotage others. Things begin to escalate when a company who funds the top-rated combatant group begins to upload viruses into Tom’s neural processor to make him work for them. This highly technical novel will appeal to readers wanting a science fiction novel chockfull of new technology and gaming warfare. Gamers will love this one! It is the first novel in a trilogy with Vortex (book 2) coming out on July 2, 2013.

Friday, January 4, 2013

May B.

Caroline Starr Rose’s May B., a historical fiction novel in verse, is set on the Kansas prairie during the time of horse drawn wagons and pioneering days. May’s parents send May miles away to the Oblinger’s homestead to help out Mr. Oblinger’s new bride and to help her own family by bringing in some money. May is promised that she will only need to stay until Christmas. May wants so badly to attend school like her brother, Hiram. Despite reading being difficult for her, May is determined to overcome any obstacles and doubts to become educated. Mrs. Oblinger is just a little older than May herself and is extremely depressed, being isolated on the homestead is not what she had anticipated when she married. When Mr. Oblinger leaves the farm to find his wife who is determined to leave town, May finds herself stranded and alone in the harshest of wintery conditions with little food or warmth for weeks on end. When the food runs out and she becomes snowed in, she must make some tough decisions. This novel made me reflect on current stories of individuals who have lost their lives when stranded in harsh snowy conditions despite our new technological advances. Rose capture’s the isolation and unforgivable conditions of frontier life, as well as our human need to survive.


Stephen Davies' Outlaw is on the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2013-14. It is an action-packed adventure that will appeal to fans of Horowitz's Alex Rider series. Jake Knight has a gift - he can scale high walls without any help. Jake's parents and sister, Kas, live in Burkina Faso in West Africa where his father is a highly regarded British Ambassador. Jake finds himself having to return to his family when he is booted out of his British boarding school for too many infractions. The story goes back and forth between what is happening in Jake’s life and a masterful outlaw dubbed The Chameleon – the Robin Hood of the Sahara Desert. When Jake and Kas are kidnapped by ruthless henchman the story quickly picks up with twists and turns. I love the way Davies intertwines modern technology and warfare with the simple natural resources that exist for those in the harsh desert. Other young adult books by Davies include The Yellowcake Conspiracy and Hacking Timbuktu.