Friday, December 20, 2013

If I ever get out of here by Eric Gansworth

Amazon Review
Lewis Blake inhabits two separate universes: the reservation where he lives in poverty with his mother and uncle, and school, where the fact that he is American Indian (and his sardonic sense of humor) has made him an outcast and a victim of bullying. The seventh grader has begun to accept his status until a new kid shows up in his class. George Haddonfield grew up on air force bases around the world and doesn't seem to know or care about the divisions between the reservation kids and everyone else. Although Lewis and George bond over their shared love of the Beatles, George's friendly overtures to visit are constantly rebuffed by Lewis, who isn't sure if their tentative friendship will be able to withstand the jarring differences between George's home and his own. Can a love of rock and roll overcome all? Lewis's relationships with his mother, his uncle, and even his peers ring true and draw readers deep into his world. Life on the reservation is so vividly depicted that scenes set elsewhere, such as the air force base where George lives, feel a little flatly drawn in comparison. Nonetheless, the overall tenor and wry humor of this novel more than make up for its weaknesses

My Review
I thought this was a nice read. I would mark this as a read a like to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I think all students would like this book as realistic fiction and a good discussion to address bullying and how to handle yourself. Lewis is a great character with a lot of heart. You won't be disappointed with this book.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sylo by D.J. MacHale

I picked this book up at the book fair and bought it for the Library because of the author reviews on the back. I liked all of the authors who wrote positive reviews so thought I would give it a try. I enjoyed the book and found it to be fast paced and engaging. I think this book is similar to Maze Runner or Gone as there are so many questions remaining for the reader. I liked the book but I also have a difficult time when I don't understand everything that is happening. I think students will enjoy this book as they continue to question who is good, who is bad and who really is SYLO.

Amazon Review
MacHale's current-day dystopic series opener begins with a mysterious death and gets stranger from there. On Pemberwick Island off the coast of Maine, Tucker Pierce, 14,  is vaulted onto his high school football team's starting lineup after a star player falls dead at the end of a game. To clear their heads, Tucker and his friend Quinn Carr take a late-night bike ride on the road that runs around the island's perimeter only to encounter a shadowy flying object that emits strange music that then explodes over the water. Within a few days, a stranger to the island offers Tucker a “supplement” called “the Ruby” that makes him feel superhuman. Then a military force wearing red camo uniforms with a patch bearing the word “SYLO” takes control of the island, and the president announces a quarantine until the CDC can identify and neutralize the “Pemberwick virus.” Tucker and Quinn don't know what to make of events or who to trust as martial law takes over. In desperation, the teens make plans with Tori Sleeper, a lobsterman's daughter, to use her dad's two boats to escape the island. MacHale pens some terrific and unique action scenes, but they never overwhelm the story as the characters face one quandary, riddle, or dilemma after another in unraveling the mystery of what is happening. The shocking ending will leave readers hungry for the next installment.

Monday, December 9, 2013

White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick

I was not crazy about this book. The story is told from three different perspectives: Ferelith, The Priest and the Narrator. At the beginning of the book I found it confusing who was narrating and who the characters were. The plot line I found the most odd was The Priests. I thought the author did a nice job wrapping the story up but the beginning was too confusing for me to give this book a positive recommendation. I would put this in a gothic/fantasy/realistic fiction category. Very different than other popular YA titles out right now.

School Library Journal
Some secrets are better left buried; some secrets are so frightening they might make angels weep and the devil crow.
Thought provoking as well as intensely scary, White Crow unfolds in three voices. There's Rebecca, who has come to a small, seaside village to spend the summer, and there's Ferelith, who offers to show Rebecca the secrets of the town...but at a price. Finally, there's a priest whose descent into darkness illuminates the girls' frightening story. White Crow is as beautifully written as it is horrifically gripping.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Period 8 by Chris Crutcher

My Review
This book had such good potential for a strong lead male character and great character development. However, the author tried to create a suspense/mystery/thriller but ultimately the book fell flat. I enjoyed the story but felt unsatisfied with the ending.

Amazon Review
Bruce Logsdon's Period 8 session, held during the regular lunch period, is a place for Heller High School students to talk about their concerns and feelings. Logsdon, or Mr. Logs as he is called by his students, is gifted at getting teens to unburden themselves and speak honestly. Chief among his admirers is Paulie Bomb, whose unbridled honesty has cost him his relationship with his girlfriend, Hannah. When quiet, unassuming Mary Wells (called the "Virgin Mary" by other students due to her outwardly prudish behavior) goes missing, Period 8 must grapple with the fact that their safe space has been compromised. Issues centered on trust, forgiveness, extreme bullying, disturbing parenting, and reputations are prevalent throughout the story. Crutcher captures teen speak in a natural and realistic manner. Although the narrative begins at a deliberate pace, the drama over Mary's disappearance and incidents in the final quarter of the story ratchet up the intensity. Some sexuality and rough language are present, but it is never gratuitous or excessive. Mr. Logs is a positive portrayal of an involved teacher; he is dedicated to his students and genuinely concerned about them. However, his personal contacts with several students outside of school might, in real life, cause some concern among hypervigilant administrators and parents. Crutcher keeps readers guessing as to who is behind Mary's disappearance, and the portrayal of the psychopath is truly chilling

The Husbands Secret by Liane Moriarty

I loved this book. I thought this was a great suspense, page turner read. My sister recommended this book to me and I passed it along to two other teachers who loved it. I couldn't wait until all of the secrets were revealed. I think students, particularly female students would enjoy this book by this Australian author.

Amazon Summary
Australian author Moriarty, in her fifth novel (after The Hypnotist's Love Story), puts three women in an impossible situation and doesn't cut them any slack. Cecilia Fitzpatrick lives to be perfect: a perfect marriage, three perfect daughters, and a perfectly organized life. Then she finds a letter from her husband, John-Paul, to be opened only in the event of his death. She opens it anyway, and everything she believed is thrown into doubt. Meanwhile, Tess O'Leary's husband, Will, and her cousin and best friend, Felicity, confess they've fallen in love, so Tess takes her young son, Liam, and goes to Sydney to live with her mother. There she meets up with an old boyfriend, Connor Whitby, while enrolling Liam in St. Angela's Primary School, where Cecilia is the star mother. Rachel Crowley, the school secretary, believes that Connor, St. Angela's PE teacher, is the man who, nearly three decades before, got away with murdering her daughter—a daughter for whom she is still grieving. Simultaneously a page-turner and a book one has to put down occasionally to think about and absorb, Moriarty's novel challenges the reader as well as her characters, but in the best possible way.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Amazon Summary
A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.

I thought this was a sweet realistic fiction book about summer love and life. Trying to be who you want to be, who your parents want you to be and who you really are. I think students would like this book.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Amazon Summary
"You can't touch me," I whisper.
I'm lying, is what I don't tell him.
He can touch me, is what I'll never tell him.
But things happen when people touch me.
Strange things.
Bad things.
No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.
But Juliette has plans of her own.
After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever.

I loved this book. I think students would really enjoy this read. It looks like it will be several titles within the series. From the first page I was hooked. What is her special power? How does she have this power? Why does she have this power? Whats going on with America and the World? This will be a popular book once people discover it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cuckoo's Calling by Richard Galbraith

Amazon Review
The Cuckoo's Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick

I had no interest in reading this book based on the cover. I was assigned this book for a group I am in and ended up LOVING it. The author wrote Silver Linings Playbook and Forgive me, Leonard Peacock. I can not recommend this book more. Heartwarming, quick and engaging. Pick up Boy 21!

Amazon Summary
You can lose yourself in repetition--quiet your thoughts; I learned the value of this at a very young age.
Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in broken-down Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, his dad works nights, and Finley is left to take care of his disabled grandfather alone. He's always dreamed of getting out someday, but until he can, putting on that number 21 jersey makes everything seem okay.

Russ has just moved to the neighborhood, and the life of this teen basketball phenom has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he won't pick up a basketball, but answers only to the name Boy21--taken from his former jersey number.

As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, a unique friendship may turn out to be the answer they both need.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Across the Universe by Beth Revis (Abe Book)

I had been hesitant to read this book as there are so many novels right now about space travel. I am committed to reading all 22 Abe titles this year and this was number 21 on my list. I actually really enjoyed this book. The book starts off slightly in the future as a family prepares to be frozen before embarking on a space ship. It will take 300 years to reach the new planet so they family will be frozen until they reach the destination.

School Library Journal Review
Imagine leaving everything behind in order to be with the people you love, only to be left with nothing. Amy and her parents have been cryogenically frozen to be awakened in 300 years when their spaceship reaches the planet they will colonize. Unfortunately, Amy is unfrozen 50 years too soon. Her parents are too critical to the colony to awaken early, so by the time she sees them again, she will be older than they are. The culture on the spaceship is unfamiliar and everyone Amy meets is either an emotionless drone or lives in the mental ward. But there is little time for her to grieve the loss of her former life, because someone is thawing other colonists and leaving them to die. In order to find the murderer, Amy must join forces with Elder, the teenage future leader of the ship. But all of the inhabitants onboard have been told lies, and there are secrets that even Elder doesn't know. This compelling novel is told in alternating chapters from Amy's and Elder's points of view. Amy is a contemporary character in a fish-out-of-water situation, and her grief and fear are realistically depicted. And as Elder learns the truth behind the ship, he begins to experience a coming-of-age that is convincingly written. The mystery will propel readers along, and the budding romance between Amy and Elder set against the backdrop of a dystopian society will appeal even to readers who don't enjoy science fiction. Revis's thrilling debut novel hints at more great books to come

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

ReviewI was hesitant to like this book. I had heard reviews all summer about how awesome this book was. The new "it" book. I find it hard to trust other peoples book opinions. I finally got around to reading the book for our schools book club and could not put it down. There were a few points in the book I found confusing but eventually everything was cleared up. The author provided a fresh perspective on an alien invasion and how we as people would react and respond. I thought the book was great and can't wait to discuss it tomorrow with the book club.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

I loved this book. Simply could not put it down from the first page to the last. Every once in a while you come across a book that you just want to sit and finish from front to back. This was that book for me. I had to apologize to my colleagues at the lunch table because I rudely read during lunch instead of engaging in conversations. I highly recommend this book for all. I want to read everything by Matthew Quick now.

Amazon Summary

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I'm sorry I couldn't be more than I was--that I couldn't stick around--and that what's going to happen today isn't their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart--obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school's class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting book, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made--and the light in us all that never goes out.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I loved this book. From the first page I was engrossed and fell in love with both Eleanor and Park. For the romantics in all of us who want to see young love flourish.

Publisher Summary
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo ( Abe Book) Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2012: Alina Starkov has never been anything more than yet another orphan of her country’s on-going wars...until she channels magic not seen in centuries to protect her best friend, Mal. Her new-found powers attract the attention of the Darkling, the most powerful of the country’s magic-wielders. He tells Alina that her magic could heal the Shadow Fold, if she can only learn to control it--and if she agrees to trust the Darkling despite the mystery that surrounds his very existence. Leigh Bardugo brings a cast of well-defined characters and a unique magic system to her lavishly imagined world, where light doesn’t always conquer dark and deception runs so deep that it becomes truth. And yet, against all expectations, the bonds of sacrifice and friendship remain too strong to be severed in this thrilling debut. --Malissa Kent

Ms. Mangurtens Review
I had a hard time getting into this book. It wasn't until 100 pages that I LOVED this book and couldn't put it down. As a fantasy book it took me a few pages to get the language down of this fictional country. I recommend this one for everyone, especially if you were a fan of Graceling.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald Balson

From the Publisher:
The gripping tale about two boys, once as close as brothers, who find themselves on opposite sides of the Holocaust.
Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, is attending a fundraiser when he is suddenly accosted and accused of being a former Nazi SS officer named Otto Piatek, "the butcher of Zamosc." Although the charges are denounced as preposterous, his accuser, Ben Solomon, is convinced he is right. Solomon persuades attorney Catherine Lockhart to take his case, revealing that the true Piatek was abandoned as a child and raised by Solomon's family only to betray them during the Nazi occupation. But has he accused the right man?

Once We Were Brothers is Ronald H. Balson's compelling tale of two boys and a family who struggle to survive in war-torn Poland and a young love that incredibly endures through the unspeakable cruelty of the Holocaust. Two lives, two worlds, and sixty years converge in an explosive race to redemption that makes for an enthralling tale of love, survival, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit.

Ms. Mangurtens thoughts
I LOVED this book. It took me a few pages to get hooked by Ben Solomons story but once I was I couldn't put the book down. I have read many Holocaust books over the years and this was certainly one of my favorites. What an interesting premise to have someone so close to you and have them turn on you because of the war and circumastances. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick (Abe Book)

From the Publisher: When Private Matt Duffy wakes up in an army hospital, he's haunted by an image of a young Iraqi boy as a bullet hits his chest. Matt can't shake the feeling that he is somehow involved in the boy's death, but because of his own head injury, he struggles to put all the pieces together.'

Ms. Mangurtens thoughts
I gave this book a 3 out of 5. I liked it but it was not one of my favorite books. The topic is very interesting covering war and an injured soldier struggling to remember how he ended up in the hospital. His friends told him what happened, his sergeant told him what happened, but he seems to recall something else. What really happened the day that put him in the hospital and who is telling the truth?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Stupid fast by Geoff Herbach (Abe Book)

It took me a while to get invested in this story. Once I got into the story I couldn't put it down and wanted to see what was going to happen with Felton, Andrew and Jerri. Felton is 15 and having a big growth spurt. All of a sudden he is over 6ft tall, hairy, smelly and STARVING. His mom, Jerri, is acting weird ( weirder than normal) and his one and only friend Gus is off to Venezuela for the summer.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (Abe Book)

This was not my favorite Abe Book. In the end I did think it was a cute realistic fiction book and think plenty of students would like the book. Especially the music fans at LPHS.

When in a rush of uncommon bravado high school senior Piper offers to manage Dumb, her school's most popular student rock band, her family thinks it must be a joke. A retiring student and member of the chess team, Piper is neither the stereotypical band manager nor a typical teen: she is profoundly hearing impaired. After she discovers that her parents have spent the majority of her college money to treat her infant sister's deafness with cochlear implants, Piper's quest to get Dumb a paying gig leads her to consider her managerial role as a potential source of income. John's novel is written with a reverence for popular music–particularly the work of Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain–and a respect for its ambitious teen characters. Although Piper's hearing is a characterizing detail that could have been used solely to add a type of politically incorrect and screwball humor to the story, her abilities are seen as assets: while lip reading allows her access to public conversation, she is not above using sign language to obscure her intentions. The parallel attention to Piper's hearing family and the strain her parents' decision to treat her sister with cochlear implants adds to the greater story and informs the novel's direction and ending in a satisfying way.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hate List by Jennifer Brown (Abe Book)

Book Description
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

I LOVED this book. I thought the premise was so interesting. Are you guilty if you wished something bad would happen to someone. I think this was a great read and I can't wait to read it with book club to discuss what they thought of Valerie, Nick, Jessica and Stacey.

Friday, May 24, 2013

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr ( Abe Book)

I LOVED this book! A librarian friend of mine gave me this book a year ago and it has been sitting on my bookshelf at home. After making the Abe List I put it on my to-read list. I was home sick this week and needed a book so grabbed How to Save a Life. I didn't know anything about the book but was familiar with the Author. I loved this book from the first page. I found the characters completely engaging and found myself wanting to see what was going to happen to Mandy, Jill and the Mom. I highly recommend this for everyone!


Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends -- everyone who wants to support her. When her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she's somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.
Mandy Kalinowski understands what it's like to grow up unwanted -- to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she's sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It's harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy -- or as difficult -- as it seems.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

I bought this book at the book store after it won the Newberry Award even though it skewed a little young. I have heard so much about this book and finally sat down for an hour and finished it. Quick, adorable read that will pull at your heart strings.

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.
Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.
Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.
Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King (Abe Book)

Weird title. Great Book. I highly recommend this book to everyone but especially boys. A. S. King captures the true heart of a young boy, a child being bullied, and a kid navigating trouble at home. I loved this book and I think you will too!

Amazon Summary
Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn't ask to be the target of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

But Lucky has a secret--one that helps him wade through the daily mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos--the prison his grandfather couldn't escape--where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It's dangerous and wild, and it's a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?

Michael L. Printz Honor recipient A.S. King's smart, funny and boldly original writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you and taking a stand against it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cinder by Marissa Meyer ---Abe Book

Cinder is a great combination of Science Fiction meeting a futuristic Fairy Tale of Cinderella. The reader meets Cinder, an orphan being raised by a step mother who hates her, two step sisters, one who adores her and one who can't stand her and a robot best friend named Iko.  She is the best mechanic on New Beijing, the Commonwealth where she resides, when a scruffy stranger shows up at her work to fix his robot. The scruffy stranger turns out to be the Prince and he asks Cinder to fix his Robot. Cinder doesn't even have time to tell her step mother and family because the plague is found in the market and Cinder returns home to find her sister has also contracted the plague. Blamed for her sisters disease she is given away to science to be studied as a cyborg, half human/half robot herself. This is where the story gets interesting. Pick up a copy of Cinder to find out if Cinder had survive the medical study and if she will ever get to see the Prince again.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez (Abe Book)

I have had this book in the Library for a while but never noticed it until it made the Abe List. I always love the Abe memoirs ( Ghosts of War, House Rules, etc) so I was excited to try this book. I enjoyed the book and I think it is an excellent read for high school students to learn about stereotypes and prejudices. I have been trying to locate the Lifetime movie now that I finished the book.

Book Description
Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. After all, her mother and her older sisters had gotten pregnant as teenagers; from an outsider’s perspective, it was practically a family tradition. Gaby had ambitions that didn’t include teen motherhood. But she wondered: how would she be treated if she “lived down” to others’ expectations? Would everyone ignore the years she put into being a good student and see her as just another pregnant teen statistic with no future? These questions sparked Gaby’s high school senior project: faking her own pregnancy to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever—and made international headlines in the process. In The Pregnancy Project, Gaby details how she was able to fake her own pregnancy—hiding the truth from even her siblings and boyfriend’s parents—and reveals all that she learned from the experience. But more than that, Gaby’s story is about fighting stereotypes, and how one girl found the strength to come out from the shadow of low expectations to forge a bright future for herself.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ashes by Ilsa Bick (Abe Lincoln Book)

Ashes is on the Abe Lincoln list this year as well as one of our Book Club picks. We are going to be reading Ashes this month in Book Club so I thought I would get a head start on the book for the students. The premise of the book is similar to many popular reads right now. Something strange happens to the planet (not defined in the book) and millions of people drop dead, lots of people become changed ( similar to a zombie) and very few humans are remaining. We follow Alex as she makes her way through this new world making and losing friends along the way.

I thought the book was good but not great. It ends in a way that forces the reader to continue on to the next book. I'm not so sure I will continue with the series so I will never know what happened and why it happened.

It could happen tomorrow . . .
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.
Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Battle Dress by Amy Efaw

Amy Efaw's first book  After is a hugely popular book at LPHS. I read it with book club and book talk it all the time. When I saw Amy Efaw wrote a new book I had to read it. While I enjoyed this book about life at West Point fof the first six weeks of BEAST training I dont see it being a favorite at LPHS.

Andrea Davis accepts an appointment to West Point, knowing its reputation for strenuous training but believing it can't be any worse than surviving her abusive mother, her silent father, and constant family fights. Andi believes her dysfunctional family has prepared her to meet all challenges. The story chronicles "Beast," the aptly nicknamed new-cadet program, from a female plebe's perspective. Nothing is left out, from arrival blitz through grueling physical training, "square" meals and lack of sleep, military science, and the daily regimen of marching and torment from upper-class cadets. Team building is always the training focus. Andrea confronts stereotypes and negative attitudes toward women in the military, fights her own fear of failure, and pushes herself to prove her abilities and worth. Based on Efaw's experiences, the novel provides insights into long-held traditions at a mostly unfamiliar, formerly male-dominated institution. Intense depictions of pain and the mental and physical near atrocities plebes suffer make this compelling, at times stomach-turning, reading.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

The Storyteller is Jodi Picoults newest release. I was very excited to read this book and saved it for my Spring Break. The book is about a girl who is mourning the loss of her Mother and Father. Sage has a scar on her face and hides from everyone and took a job as an evening baker to not have to be around people. Sage meets an elderly man named Josef at her grief counseling session and the two strike up a friendship. After bonding, Josef confesses that he used to be a Nazi and askes Sage to help him die. He believes he is cursed and unable to die at the age of 95. Sage can't believe what she is hearing. Her Grandmother is a Holocaust survivor and she can't believe this man could be capable of what the Nazis did during WWII.
The story takes a turn and we follow Josef and Sages Grandmother as they tell their own stories about the Holocaust. Once again, Picoult does an incredible job painting a picture for the reader. I have read countless Holocautt books before and never did I feel as if I was in the story as I did with The Storyteller. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes Jodi Picoult, reading about the Holocaust, or is looking for an engaging read. I could not put this book down.

'Never has a work of fiction seemed so realistic to me, all of the different stories magnificently intertwined to create a book which is truly on a new level. There are certain books that leave you bereft knowing that there is no more story to tell and this is one of them.' -- Amy, Waterstones, UK 'Beautifully written, compelling fiction. I couldn't put it down. I'm now bereft!' -- Ros, Burway Books, UK 'Hard to put down. This book lingers with you after you've finished ... It has compassion, anger, and a small touch of happily ever after that doesn't destroy the realism of the main events. If you can stomach a story based in the horrors of Nazi concentration camps then read THE STORYTELLER. It's worth the time you'll spend lost in its pages.' -- Sarah Talbot, UK bookseller Praise for LONE WOLF -- : 'Picoult fans will love it' -- Sunday Express 'LONE WOLF could have been an overblown sob story, but the excellent Jodi picoult moulds it into superior literary ficton in a gripping human story.' -- Mail on Sunday 'There are many aspirants to her throne, but nobody in commercial fiction cranks the pages more effectively than Jodi Picoult' -- USA Today 'Never one to shy away from moral and ethical dilemmas, or from presenting every side of the debate, Picoult gives her readers all the virtuosic plotting, cliffhangers and twists they've come to expect' -- Daily Mail 'Picoult tackles this sensitive subject with her usual flawless research and convincing characters ... as is Picoult's signature style, the reader is left just as torn as the characters over the best solution. Thought-provoking and gripping.' -- SHE 'Picoult as usual probes intriguing matters of the heart while introducing her fans to subjects they might not otherwise explore. You can always count on Picoult for a terrific page-turner about a compelling subject.' -- Publishers Weekly 'It's as fascinating as eavesdropping.' -- Saga 'An absorbing read.' ***** -- Woman's Own 'Heartache and an unbearable decision are at the centre of Jodi Picoult's latest powerful book.' **** -- Star magazine

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Girl Child by Tupelo Hassman

This is one of the new books I just ordered from the Library. I saw this book reviewed in a magazine recently as an upcoming popular read. I immediately grabbed it and brought it home for Spring Break. I truly enjoyed this coming og age novel of a young girl trying to find her way with an unreliable mom and an interesting community of latch key children. I recommend this one for kids and adults.

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
Rory Hendrix, the least likely of Girl Scouts, hasn’t got a troop or a badge to call her own. But she still borrows the Handbook from the elementary school library to pore over its advice, looking for tips to get off the Calle—the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop.

Rory’s been told she is one of the “third-generation bastards surely on the road to whoredom,” and she’s determined to break the cycle. As Rory struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good, she finds refuge in books and language. From diary entries, social workers' reports, story problems, arrest records, family lore, and her grandmother’s letters, Tupelo Hassman's Girlchild crafts a devastating collage that shows us Rory's world while she searches for the way out of it.

Variant by Robison Wells

We read Variant for Book Club. I didn't know anything about this book when I selected it for Book Club but truly enjoyed the read. I thought it read very similar to the Maze Runner by James Dashner, which is funny considering Mr. Dashner wrote the review for this book. This is the first installment of a trilogy. Upon finishing the book I immediately went to Barnes and Noble to pick up the sequel for the Library. One of my book club students checked it out immediately. I hope to get a chance to read it over the summer.

Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
He was wrong.
Now he's trapped in a school that's surrounded by a razor-wire fence, where video cameras monitor his every move—and where breaking the rules equals death.
All Benson wants is to find a way out. But when he stumbles upon the real secret the school has been hiding, he realizes that escape may be impossible.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Where Things Come Back by John Whaley

This has been on my list for a while as it was nominated for the book of the year. The original cover was very unappealing and NO ONE checked it out. Once the paperback edition came out more students have been willing to give it a try. This book was definitely unlike anything I have ever read before. I didn't love it, or hate it.

Winner of the 2012 Michael L. Printz and William C. Morris Awards, this poignant and hilarious story of loss and redemption “explores the process of grief, second chances, and even the meaning of life” (Kirkus Reviews). In the remarkable, bizarre, and heart-wrenching summer before Cullen Witter’s senior year of high school, he is forced to examine everything he thinks he understands about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town. His cousin overdoses; his town becomes absurdly obsessed with the alleged reappearance of an extinct woodpecker; and most troubling of all, his sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother, Gabriel, suddenly and inexplicably disappears.      Meanwhile, the crisis of faith spawned by a young missionary’s disillusion in Africa prompts a frantic search for meaning that has far-reaching consequences. As distant as the two stories initially seem, they are woven together through masterful plotting and merge in a surprising and harrowing climax.      This extraordinary tale from a rare literary voice finds wonder in the ordinary and illuminates the hope of second chances.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder was nomiated for one of the 2013 Notable books for children. While shopping for books at Andersons book fair I saw this book. My initial thought was it was too young for High School as it was about a 5th grade boy. I had a few extra dollars to spend and grabbed it thinking it would be good for low level high interest. Boy was I wrong. This book is wonderful for all ages. I loved this book and couldn't put it down besides to wipe the tears away. I recommend this for everyone young and old.

Book Description
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

I absolutely loved Between Shades of Gray and was so excited to find out the author wrote another book. From the very first page I was captivated by Jo and her crazy life living in New Orleans in the 1950's. I see this book winning many awards and being very popular in 2013! 
It's 1950 and the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie Moraine wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity was an honorable mention at the ALA awards this year. Michael Cart also recommeneded it as one of his favorite books of 2012. I decided to read all the Prinze nominees so was determined to finish this book. The book starts off slow and is not much of a page turner. I did feel rewarded sticking with this book and enjoyed the ending.


Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York TimesCode Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was an honorable mention for the 2013 Prinze Award. When the nominees came out I grabbed all of the winners and made a to-read-list for myself. I had this book sitting on my desk and a student asked to check it out. The student brought it back the very next day and said that it was the best book in the Library. I immediately started reading to see if she was correct.

I enjoyed this book and thought the main character was very interesting. I think the students at LPHS will enjoy this read.

Booklist Review
When Aristotle and Dante meet, in the summer of 1987, they are 15-year-olds existing in “the universe between boys and men.” The two are opposites in most ways: Dante is sure of his place in the world, while Ari feels he may never know who he is or what he wants. But both are thoughtful about their feelings and interactions with others, and this title is primarily focused on the back-and-forth in their relationship over the course of a year. Family issues take center stage, as well as issues of Mexican identity, but the heart of the novel is Dante’s openness about his homosexuality and Ari’s suppression of his. Sáenz (Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, 2004) writes toward the end of the novel that “to be careful with people and words was a rare and beautiful thing.” And that’s exactly what Sáenz does—he treats his characters carefully, giving them space and time to find their place in the world, and to find each other. This moves at a slower pace than many YA novels, but patient readers, and those struggling with their own sexuality, may find it to be a thought-provoking read. Grades 9-12.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dark Song by Gail Giles

Dark Song is on the 2013 Abe List. I have been slacking in reading all 22 titles so when this book came in, I grabbed it and finished it overnight. Gail Giles book, Left Behind was on the Abe List last year so I was familiar with the author. The book starts off following Ames and her perfect life, her perfect family and her perfect house. However, nothing can stay perfect for long and soon Ames world begins unraveling. This was a quick and compelling read and I will start recommending it to the students during my Book Talks.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reached by Ally Condie (Book 3 in the Matched Trilogy)

 I love the Matched series and have been dying to read the final installment of the Trilogy. Ally Condie did not disappoint. I truly enjoyed the series following Cassia, Xander and Ky. My only complaint is the author did not spend anytime reviewing where we left off and I found myself struggling to remember what happened in the Carving and the Mountains.

Cassia’s journey began with an error, a momentary glitch in the otherwise perfect façade of the Society. After crossing canyons to break free, she waits, silk and paper smuggled against her skin, ready for the final chapter.

The wait is over.

One young woman has raged against those who threaten to keep away what matters most—family, love, choice. Her quiet revolution is about to explode into full-scale rebellion.

With exquisite prose, the emotionally gripping conclusion to the international–bestselling Matched trilogy returns Cassia, Ky, and Xander to the Society to save the one thing they have been denied for so long, the power to choose.

We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

This book was recommended to me a while ago. After reading "Defending Jacob" a second person recommended "We need to talk about Kevin". The premise of this book is about a child who has committed a crime against their school mates told from the Mother's point of view. With the increasing school shootings, I felt this was a very topical read and was interested to read a novel from the mother of the killers perspective. From the first page, this book grabs the reader and doesn't let go. I highly recommed this book but caution any parent as I believe it could be a difficult read for a parent.

Eva never really wanted to be a mother—and certainly not the mother of a boy who ends up murdering seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage, in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.