RIVETING Narrative non-fic book for teens!

If you guys want something that’ll take you on an adventure you don’t want to miss out on, you’ve gotta pick up this book!!  Here’s my booktalk for Into the Blizzard by Michael Tougias, one of my favorite non-fic authors!!


Romanov by Nadine Brandes

40590407._SY475_I have always been fascinted by the Romanov family, especially the controversy surrounding Anastasia Romanov and if she survived or not.  Okay, Rasputin was another character in the Romanov family history that was equally was intriguing but not quite as much as the beautiful Anastasia.  So, when this book fell into my hands, I HAD to read it and I’m so glad I did!  The author did an excellent job in carrying on the controversy of Anastasia’s survival in a unique way that weaves fantasy and romance around it as well.  Excellent book!!  And here’s my vlog review on it!



Expand Your Collection with These Diverse and Inclusive YA Titles (Part One)

Last semester, I had the opportunity to teach a diverse literature for children and young adult graduate class, which I absolutely enjoyed.  After having made a booklist for the grad students to choose from, I realized how much more focused my view became for diverse and inclusive literature and the amount of excellent books that are available.  Looking back (and a little forward) here is a list of what I feel are must-haves for both your TBR and young adult collections:

baobab tree

2018, Katherine Tegen Books.

Based on true-life events of the Boko Haram and the kidnapping of young girls in 2014 in Nigeria, the author weaves a tale of wishes, hatred, heartbreak and survival through one girl’s life from getting into the school where she can learn and move forward to being brainwashed and tortured by the Boko Haram.  What’s most beautiful about this book is the different forms of narration.  Recommended for HS.



words on bathroom walls2017, Random House

Adam has had to start life over in a new school and with an experimental drug to help with his schizophrenia.  He doesn’t believe he can live a “normal” life, but slowly, the treatment begins to work and he finds himself living in a world with real people.  The real world can be a wonderful but tough place to inhabit, and he sees both sides of this.  But when the drug treatment begins to fail, he desperately tries to hold on…if he can.

Recommended for HS.


Sweep2018, Puffin Books

Nan Sparrow has only known the life of a chimney sweep.  When she was little, her Sweeper would tell her wonderful stories, but when he left her all alone, the only things she had left of him was his hat and an old piece of char.  But an accident one day brings the char to life, as a golem, and Nan’s world becomes larger when she learns about the history of the golem in Jewish culture and what exactly is Charlie’s role in her life.

Recommended: JH


Darius the great2018, Dial Books

Darius is Persian by culture but has been living in an American culture all of his life.  He battles depression, a father who seems to want to best for him in an ill-concealed way, and has no friends or social life.  But his life is turned upside down when he travels to Iran with his family to meet his ailing grandfather and along the way finds his first true friendship with an Iranian teen, Sohrab.  One of the best books I’ve read this year.

Recommended: HS


speak a graphic novel2018, Farrar, Strauss, Giroux

Adapted from her best-selling novel, this story becomes more powerful with images.  Melinda, is a survivor, but surviving what she went through is difficult at best, especially when she doesn’t want to let anyone know what truly happened.  It’s interesting to see how things have changed since this was first written in 199 and how cultural movements like #metoo have changed the landscape.

Recommended: HS; upper JH


unpunished murder2018, Scholastic

Many times, facts in history don’t show up in what students study in schools.  This is one such incident that has had multiple impacts on our society today, even though it happened in the 1870s.  When a freedmen’s town was surrounded by the KKK hate group, and hundreds of innocent lives were taken, not one person was convicted for this horrific crime.  Even worse, it was upheld by the Supreme Court.  The author details the history behind it and its implications on human rights

Recommended: HS; JH


sam wu2018, Egmont UK

Sam is a lover of science fiction, but one day at the science museum will alter his life.  Now, he’s determined to show that he’s a fearless adventurer.  Things get even stickier when he believes his house is haunted, but with the help of his friends, they find out just exactly what is happening.  This is a great inside look at Chinese family culture and how he introduces his friends into this part of his life.


Recommended: JH


past and other things2019, Simon Pulse

Dino is working the worst day of his life as an employee of his parents funeral home business.  Not only does he have to work with the best friend, July, who is now deceased, but also having to deal with the feelings of a relationship that’s still new to him.  But things get even crazier when his best friend suddenly comes back to life and his boyfriend decides he wants more than Dino is willing to give.  Things get even crazier when more dead don’t die and his relationship begins to fall apart.  What’s a young mortician to do?

Recommended: HS/upper JH


I'm not dying with you tonight2019, Sourcebooks Fire

Lena and Campbell go to the same high school, but they don’t even know each other.  But one Friday night football game will change their lives separately and together.  When a fights erupts between the two schools, it slowly begins to build momentum to total chaos in a town divided by race.  Both girls need to get home, and the only way they can do it is to rely on each other and think beyond the stereotypes both girls have.  Told is alternating voices.

Recommended: HS



good enough2019, Fiewel and Friends

Junior high can be a defining time for anyone, and this is especially true for Riley.  Before she heard what they said, she was an athlete, and artist, and a great sister and daughter.  But what she overheard in the cafeteria has impacted her very life, and she’s now in treatment for anorexia nervosa.  Treatment is painful, but more for for Riley, who wants to get better but is slowly being sabotaged by her roommate.  Sometimes the hardest thing to do is believe in yourself


Recommended: JH



Upcycled Holiday Tree! Low Tech Makerspace :)

Do you have books you’ve weeded but don’t know what to do with? How about having students (and teachers!) enjoy an easy craft to create a present to put under the tree, or in the hall, or on a table…. Well, here’s a quick craft/low tech makerspace for students (and your colleagues!) to create and share. Upcycled book holiday trees, with little to no folding involved! Create a station for people to come to at their leisure to make a tree, sip a drink and visit with others. It could be a nice break from semester finals or the chaos of the last days before the holidays start. You could even take the hardcover and hot glue the tree to it to make a “tree skirt” too! Add some baubles on it to make it shine!

One Small Thing by Erin Watt




While everyone is gearing up for the best of 2019, I thought I’d do a little “throwback” to 2018 with the book I just listened to.  How it escaped my reading in 2018, I don’t know, but I really enjoyed it!  Great for school libraries who carry YA fiction!! Here’s the link to the booktalk If you can’t watch the embedded video 🙂  Enjoy!!




PSYCH! New thriller book review: S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett

35926234._SY475_I posted a new book review last night on a GREAT thriller! S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett will grab you attention and keep you there for a twisted ending you weren’t expecting!  It was definitely on e of those books I saw as a movie and a modern perspective on a timeless short story (you’ve probably read!) Here’s the link to my new 90 second book review! Enjoy!!

Oh, the Horror! GREAT YA books for October

What, exactly is horror?  To me, monsters come in all shapes and sizes.  They can be real or unreal.  They can be your next door neighbor or in the your closet when the lights go out.  For some reason, I can read horror, but I CANNOT watch it (Paranormal Activity scarred me for LIFE!)  Teens love terror, so here’s a great booklist with a little blurb on several books to share with them, including some throwbacks you should dig back up and some humorous horror too, for those who don’t want to truly terrifying.

38116996The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by David Hutchinson.  2019, Simon Pulse.  Dino keeps it together when he begins the task of preparing his best friend, July, for her funeral.  But then he REALLY needs to keep it together when she sits up and asks what’s going on!  Nothing can be more confusing (and smelly!) hanging out with your dead best friend and trying to figure out what’s going on.  You’ll laugh your way through this one!




35068432I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara.  2018, Harper.  This non-fiction adult book is a first hand look of the author’s life as she grew up in California in the hunting grounds during the 70’s when the Golden State Killer was loose.  She details her experience and those of the victims through primary source documents.  Not for the faint at heart.




34324484._SY475_Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer.  2018, Houghton Mifflin.  Helping your mom with her job can be satisfying, especially if you’re the one that gets to dissect them.  But when you don’t do something correctly and it’s you getting parts cut off, that’s a whole other thing, especially when your parts bring the most money in on the paranormal black market.




37506333._SY475_The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart.  2018, Viking Books.  Word of caution, do NOT mess with ancient boxes in the middle of the forest.  And whatever you do, do NOT put sacrifices in the box, make a pact and then break it!!  If you do, the evil undead will come back, not only for you, but for your town!





35926234._SY475_S.T.A.G.S by M.A Bennett.  2018, Delacorte Press.  There is nothing more scary than a group of teens who have dark and evil intents.  And what’s even scarier, is that adults ALLOW them to continue some dark family traditions to ensure they stay in control.  Nothing better than a psychological thriller with beautiful monsters!





33385217Uncanny by David Macinnis Gill.  2017, Greenwillow  Books.  Willow Jane doesn’t understand the dark power behind a old family heirloom her mother has.  She also doesn’t know the Shadowless have come back to not only retrieve the heirloom, but also to use Willow Jane to become even more powerful.  Set in modern day Boston, book captures new and old horror that only Boston can.






28367592Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics.  2016, Harlequin Teen.  Lucy’s mother has passed away, and she lives in an isolated mansion with her father, who makes himself quite absent.  But spending time in the attic has become a catalyst to dark, evil things and soon Lucy can hear scratches and voices in the wall…right behind her bed… Amy is making a name for herself in the realm of YA horror, so you MUST check out all of her books!  Daughters Unto Devils was HORRIFYING!



28962906._SY475_Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalo.  2016, Jimmy Patterson Books.  There can be no truer monster than Jack the Ripper, and in this book (the first of a stand-alone series), one very headstrong girl finds herself in the same circle as the mysterious murderer…Maniscalo’s other books have her chasing the Devil in the White City and Dracula, among others (2017-2019)!




13530957THROWBACK!  The Infects by Sean Beaudoin. 2012, Candlewick.  Nothing can be more scary or hilarious than bad fried chicken, a field trip into the wilderness, and your friends turning into zombies!





90 second vlog review: I’m Not Dying With You Tonight


I’m teaching a master’s course in diversity literature for children and young adults and WISH I had read this in time to put it on my syllabus!!!  EXCELLENT diverse title and highly recommended for JH/HS. It’s really interesting how the authors created a microcosm of the greater issues that surrounds what is happening within the book Here’s my vlog review for it. Enjoy!

Recycled DIY: Fall Pumpkins Using Weeded Books

IMG_1374Hello everyone!  This weekend, I got a little crafty because I just needed a break, and crafting is definitely a de-stressor for me.  I posted this on social media and several people asked me to post instructions for them.  SO….I created a Youtube video that’s short and chock full of different ideas (four in all!) for creating unique Dollar Tree pumpkin DIYs.

PS- I’m using a different camera, so I look REALLY filtered (NOT on purpose!)…must change those settings!  This was my first DIY video, so apologies about not centering as well as I should have, but I couldn’t re-shoot.  It’s all good!  Enjoy!!