2019 Lone Star Books

As a librarian, I wear many hats. Not only am I simply the librarian at a junior high campus with 500 seventh and eighth graders, but I am also the iPad guru, the keeper of the 3D printer, the administrator of the district’s Accelerated Reader, the Canvas chaos coordinator, and I still find time to teach research and conduct daily book talks! On top of my campus duties, I also present at Region XI and TLA annual conference; and I’m a member of the Texas Library Associations Lone Star Reading Committee.

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For those of you not from Texas, the Lone Star list is a list of twenty books chosen by librarians for students in grades 6-8. I have been reading the books on the Lone  Star list for over ten years, as long as I have taught in a middle school setting. I think the best way to get students to read is to talk about books that they would read. So in this post, I’m going to give a quick rundown/my personal opinion of my Top Ten from this year’s list. Because even if you don’t live in Texas, or promote the Lone Star list, it is still a good place to get ideas for good books to purchase for your school library!

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City of Ghosts
by Victoria Schwab

Scary story about a girl who had a near-death experience and can now cross the “veil” between the living and the dead.

This book is perfect for guys and girls and I read an article that says the CW is planning a new series based on the book (loosely based, they’ve made Cassidy a college graduate). Book two is called Tunnel of Bones and will be released September 2019.

 

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Letters to the Lost
by Brigid Kemmerer
Romance that takes place through letters between strangers that are left at a grave.

It is a really great romance  that will have you falling in love with the characters and shedding tears over them as well. There is a sequel called More Than We Can Tell about Declan’s best friend, Rev.

 

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Not if I Save You First
by Ally Carter

An action adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat. The story involves the president’s son, Russian kidnappers, a snowstorm, and a kick-butt heroine to save the day!

I might be a little biased because I received a signed copy and personal note from the author, but my students absolutely love this book!

 

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In the Shadow of the Sun
by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Adventure story that takes place in North Korea, where an American brother and sister must escape after their father, an aid-worker, is arrested.

This book is so eye-opening to the real life oppression that is currently taking place in North Korea. Just Book Talking this title in my library led to so many great discussions!

 

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Ghost Boys
by Jewell Rhodes Parker

When twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer while playing with a toy gun, he comes back as a ghost and the only person who can see him is the daughter of the officer that killed him.

This book is a great middle-grade substitution for fans of The Hate U Give or All-American Boys. It also brings in a historical element because the ghost of Emmett Till helps Jerome cope with the afterlife.

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Nevermoor: Trials of Morrigan Crow 
by Jessica Townsend
Morrigan Crowe is doomed to die on her eleventh birthday. That is until a stranger rescues her from the hell hounds and whisks her off to the strange world of Nevermoor, where Morrigan will endure trials to be allowed into the prestigious Wundrous Society.

Have that student who loves Harry Potter and thinks no other book will ever compare? Give them the Nevermoor series! There are a lot of parallels, but I will admit, I love them both. Book two: Wundersmith is already out!

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Time Bomb
by Joelle Charbonneau

A bomb has gone off in the high school and the six students trapped inside need to survive long enough to figure out which one of them is the bomber.

Even though this book is about high school students, it is appropriate for middle school. It is a fast-paced thriller, but also delves into real-life drama like prejudice, stereotypes, suicide, and LGBT.

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Restart
by Gordon Korman

Chase falls off his roof and loses his memory. When he returns to school, he doesn’t exactly like the person he used to be, and tries to make up for it by joining the AV Club.

A great book for middle grade about bullying and it never being too late for a restart.

 

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After Zero
by Christina Collins

Elise has always been homeschooled and sheltered, but now that she is starting public school, she can’t seem to do anything right. It gets tot he point where maybe it’s better to not to speak at all. But when her silence begins to affect her friendships, can she really go back?

Mental illness is an important topic for students to be exposed to, but hardly ever is there a book written at a middle grade level on the topic. Christina Collins does an amazing job of showing how bullying and social awkwardness can lead to more serious problems.

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Everless
by Sara Holland

In a world where time is currency and your blood is taken straight for your veins to pay the kingdom’s taxes, the rich can live for centuries, while the poor can drain their lives just making rent.

Great fantasy novel for fans of Red Queen and it also reminds me a little bit of that Justin Timberlake movie, In Time . Book two: Evermore was just released!

There are so many amazing books on this list, that I could Book Talk every single one of them, but I really made myself stick with my Top Ten only. If you would like to see the entire list, and all of the resources that the committee has to offer, visit TLA’s Lone Star website.

Want to see more of my book recommendations? Follow me on Goodreads and Happy Reading!
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My List of 18 Best YA Books I’ve Read in 2018

It’s been a GREAT year for YA books!! I’ve read so many that were amazing, and I now have the daunting task of creating a list of the best.  The hardest part? Limiting it to eighteen (oh, the agony!!) But in no particular order here are my top picks in nine different genres I read based on recommendations and personal  choice, with a short one sentence review for each book, a recommendation for exceptional audiobooks, and a link to Goodreads.  Most of them are 2018, but there are a few exceptions for titles I missed in very recent years (haven’t we all done that? 🙂

  1. The Faithful Spy: Deitrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix. Abrams, 2018.  Graphic Novel/Biographical Narrative NF.  The reader gets to see the other side of WW II from the perspective of those Germans who wanted to defy Hitler with their will, solidarity, and faith in good that led to three almost successful attempts to end his reign of terror and to stop the war.

  2. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham.  Little, Brown, 2017.  Historical Fiction.  This book places the reader in one place (Tulsa, Oklahoma) but at two very different times and reveals the horror and destruction prejudice and bias can do to tear apart relationships and families.  **exceptional audiobook booktrailer
  3. Neverworld Wake by Mariah Pessl.  2018, Delacorte Press. Fantasy Fiction/New Adult.  Five friends venture into a world that is warped by time and their living dreams, and their actions will impact their future where only one will survive based on the decisions of them all.  booktrailer
  4. Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton.  2017, Random House.  Realistic Fiction.  The novel chronicles Adam’s struggle with schizophrenia along with a fresh start in a new high school, and with the help of a new drug, he begins to see improvement in his life until the drug begins to fail… **exceptional audiobook
  5. Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer.  2018, Houghton Mifflin.  Fantasy/Horror.  In Nita’s world, those with supernatural powers are curious to her while her mother knows they’re more valuable dead than alive and when the two clash over the next victim, Nita finds herself sold on the black market as a commodity with her life at stake.  
  6. 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling.  2018, Sterling Children’s Books.  Realistic Fiction/Mystery.  Gus lives in Nowhere, Arizona (the name says it all) and has to dodge the local bully and hide a secret crush until a date with a cholla cactus leads him on an impossible journey to make his life bully-free with a possibility of romance.  
  7. Impossibility of Us Katy Upperman.  2018, Swoon Reads.  Romance.  After her brother’s death serving in Afghanistan, Elise is adjusting to a new life when she meets Mati and where she also realizes she struggles with the prejudice her family has against him because of his Afghanistani heritage and culture and her love for him.  
  8. Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.  2018, Delacorte Press.  Fantasy.  Theodosia saw the fall of her country to a brutal dictator and is now forced to live in the castle as a tortuous example of triumph until she is approached as the last hope of their people, where she will have to make a decision of life and death for them and her.  **exceptional  audiobook  booktrailer
  9. Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman.  2018, Simon and Schuster.  Survival Fiction.  Southern California has reached Tap Out, where there is no more available water for the region and when Alyssa’s parents disappear trying to find water, she must navigate herself and others through danger from desperation and drought to survive.  
  10. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family in Crisis by J.D. Vance.  2016, Harper.  Biography/Narrative NF.  The 34 year-old author writes about his childhood and the struggles of the poor white working class culture he grew up in where generational poverty and abuse navigated his decisions and relationships, which ultimately molded his life and success as a lawyer.  **exceptional audiobook   
  11. Poet X Elizabeth Acevedo. 2018, HarperTeen.  Realistic Fiction/Novel in Verse.  Xiomara lives in the Bronx with  her twin brother in a very traditional family with strict expectations and with her growing sense of identity and physicality, which she chronicles in her poetry journal, a clash between both her personal and traditional worlds tears both apart. booktrailer 
  12. I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman.  2018, Penguin Teen.  Realistic Fiction.  In one single day, three teens are struggling with life that include a personal passion turned into a parent’s passion, the love of a boy, and the loss of a father, and they find themselves at the same place in Central Park where their stories are told and they help each other find the beginning of the paths they choose.  booktrailer
  13. Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu. 2018, First Second. Biographies/Narrative NF Graphic Novel.  The author details the lives who brazen women (gasp!) that impacted history, but most importantly, about women whose lives are not nearly as spoken and written about as they should be and includes stellar ladies like Peggy Guggenheim, Agnodice, and Nzinga, to name a few.  
  14. Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein. 2018, Roaring Brook Press.  Narrative Biography/Graphic Novel.  This beautifully illustrated GN traces Mary Shelley’s life along with the joy, tragedies and very complicated relationships that helped her create one of the most recognized monsters of her and our time and opens up the reader’s awareness of how Frankenstein parallels a woman whose personal strength ran deep.
  15. All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson.  2108, Razorbill.  Realistic Fiction.  When a bridge collapses in Boston, four teens nervously sit in the hospital waiting room to find out if their sister, parents, and loved one survived and during the time spent waiting, their stories come out about the impact of those who hopefully survived the bridge collapse made in their lives.                           
  16. Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics.  2015 Harlequin Teen.  Horror.  Amanda’s world changes when she finds her family is moving to the prairie to escape harsh winters, only to find herself living the tales of nightmarish horrors she’s heard about the prairie, all while trying to protect her siblings and her hidden pregnancy. **exceptional audiobook
  17. The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares.  2017, Delacorte Press.  Realistic Fiction/New Adult.  Every family has dysfunction, and this one is no different except that the siblings on both sides continue to have a strong bond beyond their parents’ divorce, the joy of an impending wedding celebration and the loss of life, all in a summer cottage and small town everyone grew up sharing.  
  18. Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricial Hruby Powell.  2017, Chronicle Books.  Historical Fiction.  Told in two strong alternating voices, this novel brings to life the civil rights case for mixed marriage in a time when segregation still reared it’s ugly head, and where readers in today’s world can see the implications of this landmark decision in the United States today.  **exceptional audiobook

Alternating Voices: YA books with (multiple) perspectives

I’ve been a fan of alternating voices in novels.  It gives more depth for the reader and really allows them to connect with the characters because their personalities, conflicts, realities, and relationships show through their voices.  What’s even better is that we, as readers, become omnipotent and can only hope we could warn the characters what they’re getting wrong or right (but can’t!)

Here are a list of great YA novels with alternating voices. Includes author, publisher, genres and publisher summaries.

dreamland1. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham. 2017, Little Brown Books.

Historical Fiction/Mystery

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the present and the past.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations–both yesterday and today.

lies you never told me2. Lies you Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson. 2018, Razorbill.

Realistic Fiction

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.Quiet, shy Elyse can’t believe it when she’s cast as the lead in her Portland high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn’t sure she’s up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye-someone she knows she absolutely shouldn’t be with-she can’t help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable-breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She’s not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.

impossibility3. The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman. 2018, Swoon Reads.

Romance/Realistic Fiction

The last thing Elise wants is to start over in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move to a sleepy coastal village to be closer to Elise’s sister-in-law and niece.

When Elise meets Mati during a beachside walk, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town, too. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact–Mati is Afghan.

i have lost my way4. I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman. 2018, Penguin Teen

Realistic Fiction

A fateful accident draws three strangers together over the course of a single day:

Freya who has lost her voice while recording her debut album.
Harun who is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved.
Nathaniel who has just arrived in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose.

As the day progresses, their secrets start to unravel and they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in helping the others out of theirs.

snow and glass5. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. 2017, Flatiron Books.

Fantasy

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone–has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina.

Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do–and who to be–to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

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6. One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus.  2017, Delacorte Press

Realistic Fiction/Mystery

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

after the fire7. After the Fire by Will Hill. 2018, Sourcefire Books.

Realistic Fiction (technically not alternating voices, but has before and after alternating chapters)

The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.

Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything–and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.
But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths.

Then came the fire.


pitch dark8. Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda. 2018, Feiwel and Friends.

Science Fiction/Horror

Lost to time, Tuck Morgan and his crew have slept in stasis aboard theUSS John Muirfor centuries. Their ship harbors a chunk of Earth, which unbeknownst to them, is the last hope for the failing human race.

Laura Cruz is a shipraider searching the galaxy for the history that was scattered to the stars. Once her family locates theJohn Muir and its precious cargo, they are certain human civilization is saved.

When Tuck’s and Laura’s worlds collide–literally–the two teens must outwit their enemies, evade brutal monsters that kill with sound, and work together to save theJohn Muir . . . and the whole human race.

thousandth floor9. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee. 2016, HarperCollins.

Dystopia/Science Fiction

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies asecret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her in to a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

all we can do is wait10. All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson.  2018, Razorbill.

Realistic Fiction

In the hours after a bridge collapse rocks their city, a group of Boston teenagers meet in the waiting room of Massachusetts General Hospital-

Siblings Jason and Alexa have already experienced enough grief for a lifetime, so in this moment of confusion and despair, Alexa hopes that she can look to her brother for support. But a secret Jason has been keeping from his sister threatens to tear the siblings apart . . . right when they need each other most.

Scott is waiting to hear about his girlfriend, Aimee, who was on a bus with her theater group when the bridge went down. Their relationship has been rocky, but Scott knows that if he can just see Aimee one more time, if she can just make it through this ordeal and he can tell her he loves her, everything will be all right.

And then there’s Skyler, whose sister Kate-the sister who is more like a mother, the sister who is basically Skyler’s everything-was crossing the bridge when it collapsed. As the minutes tick by without a word from the hospital staff, Skyler is left to wonder how she can possibly move through life without the one person who makes her feel strong when she’s at her weakest.

tradition11. Tradition by Brendan Kiely. 2018, Margaret McElderry Books.

Realistic Fiction

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and to keep the school’s toxic secrets, they are faced with a powerful choice: remain silent while others get hurt, or stand together against the ugly, sexist traditions of an institution that believes it can do no wrong.

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12. Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell.  2017, Chronicle Books

Historical Fiction

Richard and Mildred Loving were sentenced to a year in prison for marrying each other at a time when interracial marriage was prohibited by law in their home state of Virginia.

Their determination to be together led them to bring this case all the way to the Supreme Court where, in a landmark decision, the court invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

The decision was followed by an increase in interracial marriages in the U.S., and is remembered annually on Loving Day, June 12.
This documentary novel vividly brings to life this inspiring story.



13.  Layover by Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer.  2018, Crown. Realistic Fiction

FLYNN-At first we were almost strangers. But ever since I moved to New York, Amos was the one person I could count on. And together we were there for Poppy. (I mean, what kind of parents leave their kid to be raised by a nanny?) I just didn’t expect to fall for him–and I never expected him to leave us.

AMOS-I thought I was the only one who felt it. I told myself it was because we were spending so much time together–taking care of Poppy and all. But that night, I could tell she felt it, too. And I freaked out–you’re not supposed to fall for your stepsister. So I ran away to boarding school. I should have told her why I was leaving, but every time I tried, it felt like a lie.

One missed flight was about to change their lives forever. . . .

NSFW? YA Books That Have…

The beauty of being a school librarian is that you have a variety of readers in unique communities.  But along with beauty comes the part where books you may want in the library will possibly become a barrage of parental and administrative emails asking, “Why is this book in the library?”  Whether softly or loudly, this has been spoken to most of us.  Defending a book is part of our jobs as librarians and ALA supports us with their Freedom to Read Statement

Librarians also come in all types and perspectives.  There are some who don’t bat an eye at a book and will put it in the collection, while others may reconsider adding it because of content deemed too mature for particular audiences.  But still, we can’t read every book and often rely on others to help with information that may help.

So here is are list of books I’ve read that I think were ALL EXCELLENT READS.  Each of them contains a scene/scenes sexual in nature.   I am NOT here to create a booklist of challenged/censored books, so please don’t jump to that conclusion. In fact, I also added why I would recommend this book to teens/libraries.  So, for those out there who may want to know, this is for you.  And those who don’t really care if sex is a part of a YA novel, this is also for you.

34323570Furyborn by Claire Legrand

2018, Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Fantasy

Link to publisher summary

Professional reviews for this book include School Library Journal and Booklist.  Is included on Goodreads Most Anticipated Title of Spring 2018 and Buzzfeed’s Most Anticipated Title of Spring 2018.  It was also listed on the New York Times Bestseller’s List.

From this blogger:  I absolutely loved the way the author weaved together past and present, good and evil, and love and hate in a beautifully written fantasy book.  The world Legrand creates is one that doesn’t complicate, but creates a structure where readers will look for more stories to complete the picture. Looking forward to more novels to follow.  Recommended for HS

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Downtime by Barry Lyga

2018 Hatchette

Genre: Thriller

Link to publisher summary of audiobook (this is the format I used)

I couldn’t find any professional reviews for this.  It could be because it is in e-book and audiobook format only because it’s a short prequel.  I was eager to listen to it because I absolutely loved his Jasper Dent I Hunt Killers series.  This book is about his father, Billy Dent, and the beginning of his murderous killing spree as a super serial killer.

From this blogger:  One of my favorite genres, Lyga doesn’t disappoint with this prequel.  After reading his IHK series, he allows the reader a peek into the socio and psychopathic mind of Jasper’s father and creates a link for the reader depicting Jasper as an infant and the relationship that begins from the onset.

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The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

2018, HarperTeen

Genre: Realistic Fiction; Novel in Verse

Link to publisher summary

Professional reviews for this book include Booklist, Hornbook and School Library Journal.  This is a National Book Award Longlist title

From this blogger:  Acevedo is able to take the reader through the list of Xiomara trying to balance her families expectations against the cultural teen norms she wants to be a part of.  Diversity plays a huge role in this eloquent novel in verse and how society and culture play a crucial role in a young girl’s/teenager life.  HIGHLY recommended for HS.

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Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton

2017, Random House Books for Young Readers

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Link to publisher summary

Professional reviews for this book include Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal.  This book is also on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults 2018 list and is in post producation as a movie (release date unknown).

From this blogger:  Schizophrenia is a word people know, but very few really understand.  The journey Walton takes us on through the Adam’s diary to his psychiatrist (and postscripts by the doctor as well) shows the triumphs and difficulties of this mental illness.  The reader will walk alongside Adam through his ups and downs with medicine, family, and relationships, as well as a new school experience he must find his way through. HIGHLY recommended for HS.

31145130Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn

2017, First Second

Genre: Science Fiction; graphic novel

link to publisher summary (parent company)

Professional reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and School Library Journal.

From this blogger:  Earth is forever changed by the Derichets, intent on mining resources for their own gain.  Shinn does an excellent job of depicting that life and how societal structures have crumbled and the mighty have fallen.  Survival is tantamount serving the Derichets, but at what cost?  Resistance is critical, despite their past lives, where Colleen and Jann must make decisions together that could be the key to saving lives.  (sidenote:  there’s a boob shot in this one, on a single panel).  Recommended for JH/HS.

PG Rated Romances

swoonWhen I was in middle school (back when JNCOS were popular) if you said you were “going out” with a boy it meant you wrote his name all over your binder with little hearts, held hands in the hallway, and maybe you even passed notes between classes; but you never actually went out anywhere. Middle school kids today are about ten years more experienced than I was at that same age. Kids today are exposed to so much more language, violence, and sex in their lives through television, the Internet, and yes… books! It’s difficult to know where the line is for students in middle school because they think they’re too mature for some age-appropriate books and not old enough for some YA books. I’m a full supporter of giving students the right to choose their own books, but I will draw a line at books with sex scenes that will make even this librarian blush. So here is my list of middle school appropriate romances, if you know of good books that I might have missed, please let me know so I can make sure to add them to my library collection. I’ve included age ratings from School Library Journal (SLJ) and Common Sense Media (CSM) and book summaries from Follett.

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han

“Lara Jean writes love letters to all the boys she has loved and then hides them in a hatbox until one day those letters are accidentally sent.” Netflix movie available 8/19/2018. SLJ: grades 7-10    CSM: ages 13+ 

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P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

“Every day in chemistry class, high school student and aspiring songwriter Lily Abbott is finding notes left to her by a mystery boy, love letters really, and she hopes they are from Lucas, a boy she is attracted to–so when she finds out who they are really from, she is shocked and unsure about how to respond.” I recommend all of Kasie West’s books. SLJ: grades 7-10    CSM: ages 12+

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The Selection series by Kiera Cass

“Sixteen-year-old America Singer is living in the caste-divided nation of Illea, which formed after the war that destroyed the United States. America is chosen to compete in the Selection–a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illea’s prince–but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, Aspen, who is a caste below her.” Also check out The Siren by Kiera Cass SLJ: grades 8+    CSM: ages 13+ 

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Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

“Hadley and Oliver fall in love on the flight from New York to London, but after a cinematic kiss they lose track of each other at the airport until fate brings them back together on a very momentous day.” SLJ: grades 8-11    CSM: N/A 

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Well, that Was Awkward by Rachel Vail

“There are unexpected consequences when thirteen-year-old Gracie sends texts pretending to be her bashful best friend, Sienna, and their friend Emmett starts texting back pretending to be shy A.J.” SLJ: grades 5-8    CSM: 11+ 

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Project (Un)popular series by Kristen Tracy

“Sixth-graders Perry and Venice, photographers for their middle-school yearbook, are frustrated to learn that only pictures of popular students are welcome, but when Venice gets involved with a boy Perry doesn’t like, Perry puts their friendship at risk by siding with Anya, the editor-in-chief.” SLJ: grades 5-8    CSM: N/A

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1)

The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han

“Belly spends the summer she turns sixteen at the beach just like every other summer of her life, but this time things are very different as she finds herself falling for a boy she has known since childhood.” SLJ: grades 5-8    CSM: N/A

Middle School Boys… UGH!

Aren’t middle school boys the worst? I mean they are almost as bad as middle school girls! LOL! But really… you know the type: they come in to the library with their arms crossed, telling everyone how much they hate to read. When they are asked to check out a book, they wander around the library (usually in groups of 3 or 4) and by the end of the class period they have blindly chosen a book off the shelf with absolutely no intent of actually read it.

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However, these students are not a lost cause! When I have a student (boy or girl) inform me that they hate to read, I see it as a challenge! I usually start by asking the student about their hobbies or favorite TV shows. I try to get an idea of what the student’s interests are before suggesting books, and I always suggest more than one! Give them three options, allow them to pick a favorite. If you hand a kid one book and tell them to check it out, what happens if the kid doesn’t want that book, or ends up not liking it; your credibility has just gone down the drain and they will never ask you for another book recommendation again. I always give them a few choices and if they don’t like the one they picked then it is back on them. I also make sure the students understands it is a “no pressure” choice. If they aren’t hooked by the first thirty pages then bring it back and I can help them find a different book. I tell my students over and over the worst mistake a reader can make is forcing themselves to finish a book. If you aren’t enjoying the book you have, then you need to abandon it, get rid of it, turn it in and find a new one. Now, there are always those situations when a student thinks they can abandon every book they check out because they just don’t want to read, and that is a whole other conversation!

Now if you have accepted the challenge to help these reluctant readers find a book then I’m here to help with a few of my favorite recommendations for those boys who hate to read. These books are popular with my junior high boys and always my first go-to when it comes to recommending a book. If you know of any other books that are popular with the middle school boys, let me know and I will make sure to add them to my library collection!

Ghost (Track, #1)

Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel of a brand-new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds.

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Zom-B series by Darren Shan
From Darren Shan, the Master of Horror, comes the first book in the Zom-B series that will have you on the edge of your seat and questioning what it means to be a human or a monster.

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I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis
History’s most exciting and terrifying events are brought to life in this fictional series. Readers will be transported by stories of amazing children and how they survived!

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Vietnam and World War II series by Chris Lynch
Best friends Morris, Rudi, Ivan, and Beck, having been either drafted or enlisted in the military during the Vietnam War, pledge they will come home together, and Morris, a sailor on the USS “Boston,” relies on that promise to stay strong while his courage and resolve are tested under attack.

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Shadow Squadron by Carol Bowen
Shadow Squadron hits the ground running in their first mission, operation SEA DEMON. When well-organized Somali pirates kidnap several V.I.Ps at sea, Lt. Commander Ryan Cross and his men are called upon to put these pirates down before innocent blood is shed.

Football Genius (Football Genius, #1)

Football Genius and Baseball Great series by Tim Green
Troy, a sixth-grader with an unusual gift for predicting football plays before they occur, attempts to use his ability to help his favorite team, the Atlanta Falcons, but he must first prove himself to the coach and players.

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Kwame Alexander’s novels in verse (The Crossover, Rebound, Booked)
Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.

Phase One: Marvel's The Avengers

Marvel’s The Avengers series by Alex Irvine
Gathered together by S.H.I.E.L.D, Captain America, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye must protect the world from ultimate destruction. Join the action as these Super Heroes battle against Loki and his army for the fate of mankind as told in Marvel’s The Avengers.

Maximum Ride, Vol. 1 (Maximum Ride: The Manga, #1)

Maximum Ride: The Manga by James Patterson
Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it’s like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the “flock”—Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel—are just like ordinary kids—only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time.

Summer Reading Challenge!

Ahhhhh….the sweet sense of freedom that summer provides is what makes this season such a popular one.  No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s….(did you finish the Pink Floyd’s iconic song?)

Another thing that happens is our reading habits change! FREEDOM!!  SO…instead of just giving another booklist with a bunch of titles, how about trying this list?  It has the freedom to read what you want (or even incorporate the “recommended reading” that happens) as well as making it a challenge to complete it.

But hey, whether you get to 10 or finish all twenty, here’s a lemonade salute for what you do accomplish!  It is summertime 🙂

 

 https://spark.adobe.com/page-embed.jsSummer Reading Challenge!