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

Gimme More Middle School Titles!

I have been thinking about expanding what I read.  As you may know, I absolutely LOVE young adult literature, especially targeting teens.  But then I thought, “Hey!  Wait a minute!!  Young adults aren’t just in high school!”  So middle school, here I come!  And here are two titles I read that made me REALLY enjoy reading middle school titles (and they made me laugh too!!)

24 hours24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling.  2018, Sterling Children’s Books

The town of Nowhere is exactly located where it says it is in the state of Arizona.  It’s a town where “no” precedes a lot of things.  No one wants to visit it.  No thing really exciting ever happens.  But at the start of the day, Gus finds himself in a spectacular situation.  He is about to eat a cholla cactus.  No because he wants to, but because Bo Taylor is making him.  And it’s about to happen until Rossi saves him the only way she can.  She gives Bo her dirt bike in exchange for a life.  And the day keeps getting better.

Gus wants so badly to get that dirt bike back for Rossi.  The reason why is because he wants HER to win the next race with a huge prize involved and knows if Rossi isn’t it in, Bo will win.  In order to do that, he decides to find hidden gold currently found only in tales in the Dead Frenchmen Mine (emphasis on dead.)  Bo decides to send one of his buddies with him, and along the way Rossi decides to join.

And what happens in the mine in the rest of the 24 hours of that day….

Bowling writes a novel that contains both humor and the hard parts of life teens go through.  Readers will connect with Gus and his travails with bullying, his life situation without his parents, and his determination to make things right.  And that’s the beauty of this novel that will make you laugh out loud.  Everyone can find themselves in it.  HIGHLY recommended for junior high/middle school libraries.

 

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Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts by Katie and Kevin Tsang.  2018, Egmont, UK

Sam is ready to go visit the Space Center.  He has his Space Blasters suit on and can’t wait to be part of the fun.  Unbeknownst to him, the “fun” is already beginning to percolate for some of his classmates, especially with Ralph Zinkerman.  Once they get there, he dares Sam to take a ride in the Astro Blaster. And Sam, not wanting to look scared, does it.  But he comes out of the situation humiliated and with a new name – Scaredy Cat Sam.

Undaunted (well, a little), Sam decides to channel his inner space hero to prove he’s not scared.  That means getting a side-kick of the most unusual variety.  But it takes more than that, and Sam takes the big step of inviting his best friends over to help him achieve his goal (and show off his side-kick!)  He asks his family to make his favorite dishes for dinner when Zoe and Bernard show up.  And when they do, the humor is amped up!  Enter Sam’s sister Lucy, his grandmother, and the introduction of an Asian family’s culture to his friends who have never experienced it before.

And then add the ghosts!!

Katie and Kevin Tsang write such a gloriously wonderful book for middle graders by creating characters of all kinds and best of all, from all different kinds of backgrounds.  Add a great storyline with some equally great images, and you have the type of book that readers will flock to because who doesn’t like books with pictures AND humor.  This is going to be a great new series!! HIGHLY recommended for middle/junior high school libraries.

 

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.

One State, Two VERY Different Stories…

Coincidence is an anomaly people don’t really know what to do with, but it happens all of the time.  Sometimes, it’s a good thing, while other times it isn’t as good.  Luckily, my coincidence happened to fall on the good side of things.  I finished reading Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman when I picked up The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman.  Coincidentally, both books take place in California, and they are both about current issues relevant in teen’s lives today.  Everything else about these books are on two very separate spectrums.  Here are short reviews for both:

 

38355098Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman   2018, Simon & Schuster

Alyssa and her family, including her little brother Garrett understand the drought conditions California is having.  They also know about the restrictions the “Tap-Out” has had on their lives.  But that all changes the day she turns on the tap and nothing comes out.  Day One isn’t so bad, but then Day Two happens and panic begins to set in.  By Day Five, people are turning into water zombies….

Rumors of desalination plants along the beach prompt Alyssa’s parents to seek it out, but they never return home.  Now, Alyssa and Garrett go in search of them and their lives, and those of others they are with become deadly.

Alyssa’s neighbors, including their son Kelton, are survivalists and Kelton’s dad has been waiting for the end to happen.  While others around them are literally wasting away, Kelton and his family are doing quite well, until word gets out they have water….

The lives of these teens and her kid brother go from bad to worse, especially when they find themselves entangled with two other strangers, both with quirks in their thinking and personality, which could prove to become more dangerous than they imagined.  The only way to survive it all just have one more sip.

If they can….

Told in various voices, the reader gets to see everything that happens to these characters, including the good and the ugly, and can only wish to help them when all the reader can do is turn to the page to see who lives.  Shusterman (both Neal and son Jarrod) take us straight to the beginning of a dystopic piece of our nation (while in other news, hurricanes are devastating others at the same time).  More than that, he takes the reader into the forefront of current social issues and the possibility of what could happen.  Yes, this is a dark read.  Yes there is horror, but there is also redemption.  And yes…you will re-think your thoughts about potable water, one of the most precious commodities in the world.

 

 

35795898The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman    2018, Swoon Reads

Elise’s mother has just told her they are moving.  What makes it worse is that they’re moving her senior year.  Elise is devastated by this news, but at the same time, she also knows it’s for the best.  They’ll be living in the same town as her adorable niece she loves and her sister-in-law.  But there’s one person who’s missing and always will.

Elise’s brother joined the armed forces and during his time in Afghanistan, he was killed.  No one really know how or why, but that’s something Elise really doesn’t want to know.  She has enough to deal with in real life, including her distant mother and now, this trip.  No friends, an empty summer.  The only thing that is making her summer bearable is the new puppy her mom got her.

And one day on the beach, she sees a stranger step into the cold water of the Pacific and doesn’t stop.  Without thinking twice, Elise jumps in to rescue this person, whose name it Mati.  When they start talking to each other, Elise recoils when she finds out he’s from Afghanistan, the same country…the same people, who killed her brother.

Since moving to this small seaside town, he and his family haven’t been shown a lot of kindness from the community.  Stereotypes, prejudices and anger make his family’s life difficult and Mati is both confused and depressed by it.  Until he meets Elise.  Has has to make her realize that stereotypes are often wrong, and all it takes is a handful of sand.

Together, they make each other’s lives fuller and richer but they still have many  obstacles to overcome on both sides.  Mati’s family is very traditional, and Elise isn’t welcomed with open arms. Because of Mati’s heritage, Elise’s family don’t want to have anything to do with him.  Can they make a difference, even within their own personal circles?

This book is more than just a summer romance. It’s a snapshot of real life, real prejudices, and being able to see the world through two perspectives. Upperman stitches together a girl who has lost her brother t the war in Afghanistan with a young man living in the US from Afghanistan. Elise’s voice is written in prose and shows the gutsy person she is. Mati’s voice is written in narrative poetry and reflects the person he is. LOVED this book about love, prejudice, and racism of two families and how these teens transcend it.

NF Graphic Novels That are Short but Powerful

As a YA enthusiast, I read as much as I can.  Most of the times, these books take a a few  days (or a week with a busy schedule!) to read.  So it’s a nice little surprise for me when I get to read shorter YA books.  And these three were SO SATISFYING!!  Not only are they short, but they are also graphic novels.  It’s like a two-for-one treat for me!!  Another bonus?  Any type of reader can get through these and hopefully, they’ll leave wondering and actually searching for more information on them.  Perfect for junior high and high school!  Here’s a quick review for each book:

36086562I Am Gandhi by Brad Meltzer.  2018, Dial Books.

We all have heard or know about the great leader and inspiration Gandhi was.  But what made him do what he did?  This graphic novel starts at his early childhood and tells his story from all aspects of his life.  It answers a questions as to what shaped him to become an inspiration to millions and why he chose to live the way he did.  What makes this graphic novel stand out is that 25 diffrent acclaimed illustrators take on their piece of his life and artfully depict it.  Meltzer then takes them all and crafts a wonderful biography replete with beautiful images.

37955650Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper by Mannuela Santoni.  2018, Graphic Universe

Jane Austen had a pretty….ordinary life.  She took what she knew best and put pen to paper, writing her famous novels (Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice) based on her life experiences, which consisted of dances, vacations, life at home, family and love.  Another thing she wrote were a lot of letters, but unfortunately, many of them were burned by her sister Cassandra, according to Jane’s wishes.  But in a few that survived, we see the name Tom Lefroy mentioned, and how mad she was about him.  And this is what this graphic novel is about…the “what could have been” life of Jane and Tom and where it would have taken her.  So for fans of Austen, they’ll love this book.  For those who haven’t read her books, read this graphic novel and perhaps…just perhaps….you’ll want to read them afterward.

36912588The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown.  2018, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The struggle for democracy in Syria began seven years ago when some teenaged guys graffiti-ed a wall that read “Down with the regime.”  The dictator, Assad, was quick to put down any rivalry against his rule and the boys were quickly taken to jail and tortured.  But little did the dictator know this one event would change Syria and its citizens profoundly.  At the onset of civil unrest (and war), Syrians began leaving the country to make a new life for themselves.  And that is the foundation and basis for this book.  Don Brown knows how to weave a graphic novel and he does it again with this one.  The reader will get perspectives from those who fled…what happened, who survived and the hardships they endured.  Religion and politics were left out, but the reaction to these victims of war shows the ripple effect that happened across the globe.  After reading this and more importantly in the middle of this GN, readers may start to search about the war in Syria and everything else.  At least this reader did!

A Fanfarade for YA Fantasy!

I’ve been fast and furiously reading a ton of YA novels, and there are two very distinct fantasy novels that have passed through my hands.  Here’s a short review of two of them:

34275232The Hazelwood by Melissa Albert  Flatiron Books, 2018

Alice is used to her quirky life with her mom.  Constantly moving, she has never really created roots.  But then her mother stops moving and finally Alice can take a breath, even though she must share her breathing room with a new family.

Alice never really knew anyone in her family, but she knows of them, especially her famous grandmother, who lives at the Hazelwood and is world famous for the only book she wrote: Tales from the Hinterland.  And now, Alice will need that book in order to find and rescue her mother….

This book isn’t any old and ordinary fairy tale book.  The tales spun in them are dark, brooding and dangerous, with the main characters in each tale more than likely to do harm than grant wishes.  She enlists the help of Ellery, a friend from school, to track down not only this dark and dangerous book, but to find the Hazelwood…

Only to find herself alone in the Hinterlands, coming face to face with the nightmare terrors the book describes….rescue or escape is now a possibility, not a fact…

Some may call this fantasy, while others may call it magical realism.  Whatever genre or sub-genre you call it, it’s still a great read that can definitely cross over beyond teens to adults.  Albert weaves a provocative tale that splits the real world the characters live in with the equally real world the others make a home. If your readers enjoyed Ransom Riggs Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, they will definitely enjoy this! Recommended for 9-12 grades.

 

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Furyborn by Claire Legrand Sourcefire Books, 2018

Welcome to the world of Avitas, where wars for power and dominance take place.  Humans have finally, after years of bloody battle against angels, thwarted them behind powerful magic.  But that magic is slowly disintegrating….

Rielle has lived in the kingdom of Celdaria all of her life.  An appointed outcast by her father, she can be a threat to others with the power she possesses.  But harnessing fire is the only one that she is aware of.  It isn’t until assassins try to kill Celdaria’s prince, that her other latent powers come to the surface.  Now she must pass seven tests against her powers to be crowned queen, or die trying to establish the power she possessed.

A thousand years later, angels have begun to escape.  They invade human form and are now propelling their Undying Empire across the Great Ocean to Ventera, where Eliana lives.  Known as the Dread of Orline, Eliana lives for the hunt…and the kill. When girls and women in her town and nearby start to unpredictably vanish, Eliana’s focus is now to find her mother, with the help of a rebel leader, who remains mysterious and infuriating.

But what she and Simon uncover is far beyond her reckoning or imagination….

What a powerful first book in a series for this author!  She takes angels and makes them devils and the reader gets caught up in the magic of two different times in the same fantastical world.  Each chapter is told alternately by both strong female characters and soon the reader understands just how intricate and closely threaded Rielle and Eliana are.  Two queens, one prophecy.  This is an amazing fantasy for high school readers due to intimate relationships between the characters.  Recommended 9-12 grades.

BONUS:  Two different book trailers featuring both characters were created by the publisher.  This trailer describes the sun queen  while this second trailer describes the blood queen