Add these to your TBR list NOW!

First of all, I remember the first time I saw those three letters in email conversations and always wondered, “What does TBR mean?”¬† So I asked ūüôā¬† And if you, like me, don’t know what it is, here’s the answer –¬† “To Be Read.”¬† We ALL have that list, be it by our bedside, our coffee table, or our desk (hey, even the dining room table or your device!)¬† and I wanted to share a few titles I’ve recently read that should be on that list!

grim loveliesGrim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd.  2018, HMH Books for Young Readers

Modern day Paris is filled with witches, goblins, Pretties, and beasties.  But these witches wear Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada.  Ruled by the Royal Court, they have been given designated parts of Paris, including the humans (Pretties) living in them.  Mada Vittora is the most powerful and influential of the witches and she has made beasties to serve her, including Anouk her servant, Cricket the thief, Luc the apothecary, Beau the chauffeur and  Hunter Black, the mercenary.

But after one evening spent with the royals, Mada Vittora is found dead, and the beasties only have 48 hours until they turn back to their original forms.¬† But news of the death gets out through scryboards, crows, and the Haute (magical community), and Viggo, Mada Vittora’s boy, is set on revenge.¬† The only thing left for the beasties to do is seek asylum and help from Vittora’s enemy, Mada Zola.¬† But can she be trusted?¬† She is a witch…

This is a beautiful, dark, and fantastical book that creates a Paris that is dangerous, alluring, and grim.  The main character, Anouk, juxtaposes the setting with her purity and naivete, which the reader sees slowly dissolves as reality sets in.  The author left nothing and everything to the imagination from the spells cast to the tongues the witches use to cast the spells, to the history of the Haute and more.  Read this NOW, or at least put it at the top of your TBR pile!  Highly recommended for JH/HS


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New Kid by Jerry Craft. 2019, Harper Collins

There is nothing Jordan loves more than drawing.¬† What he wants is to go to an art school, but his parents decide he needs to go to an Riverdale Academy Day School, which is a far cry from his Washington Heights neighborhood.¬† His first day there as a sixth grader, Jordan sees that he’s one of very few students of color and feels more out of place that ever.¬† He wants out.

But his parents tell him that time and patience can change things and so he must stick out the bus rides that have five stops before he gets to school, the bully who won’t stop bothering him, the teacher who seems biased, and trying to understand why pink shorts are so cool.

Eventually,¬† Jordan finds himself enjoying his new school and friends, but now doesn’t know where he fits in – is he Washington Heights Jordan or Riverdale Day School Jordan?

Jerry Craft does an amazing job presenting, in graphic novel format, a struggle that many kids find themselves in.  This is such a perfect book for junior high (and high school!) not only for its content and graphic novel popularity, but also in the characters, which are highly relatable.  Highly recommended for JH/HS.

 

 

 

shadow stateShadow State by Elyse Brayden.  2018, MacMillan.  

Brynn Caldwell is¬† an excellent student.¬† She excels in academics, paticularly science, which isn’t so unusual because her mother is a top science in a major pharmaceutical company and her father sits on the National Symphony Orchestra, a genius in his own right. But all it took was one bad semester….

Brynn suffered from acute depression and her grades, and friends, and her boyfriend abandoned her.¬† She is also having unusual flashbacks of being tied up in a room, a man’s voice…something she swears she’s never experienced before.

And now, her mother is being feted at a gala for creating a breakthrough medication, Cortexia, that allows soldiers coming back¬† from war with PTSD, to deal with their symptoms better through altering memories, feelings and emotions in a suggestive state.¬† But someone is out to sabotage the company and the drug, and it all involves Brynn…

Fast-paced YA action thriller at its best!  The premise for the novel lends itself to a mystery, although readers may be able to piece together the clues, but it still has an explosive ending.  Highly recommended for HS.

 

soul keepersThe Soul Keepers by Devon Taylor.  2018, Swoon Reads.

Rhett just watched himself die.  At first he was in a state of shock and confusion, but then Basil Winthrop shows up and tells him the Harbinger is about to pick them up and not to dawdle.

And what is the Harbinger?  It is a massive sea vessel that contains the souls of the dead that need to be ferried as well as place to protect them.  The crew members, known as syllektors, are VERY aware of psychons, who eat souls to stay alive.  The most dangerous missions are when Rhett and his small group of crewmates must collect souls, and possibly run into these monsters.

But Rhett is different, he was told by Urcena, the most dangerous leader of the psychons, that he is the Twice-Born Son.  And she wants him to find his power.  Once he does, she will come for it and him.  And the battle for the protection of souls begins.

This fantasy relies heavily on good vs. evil, but the best thing about it are that these aren’t angels and demons.¬† There is no heaven or hell.¬† There is the¬†Harbinger¬†and there is nothing.¬† The author did an amazing job of creating a world based on age old theme of good v. evil in such a fantastic, phantasmagoric way.¬† Recommended for HS.

Book Trailer Toolbox Update

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It’s been two week since the Texas Library Association conference was over, and there were SO MANY great sessions!¬† My presentation on book trailer tools was accepted and I got to present on the last day at the nearly last hour of conference.¬† I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of people attend my session and they got the tools they wanted as well as shared some I added!¬† Now, it’s time to share with my virtual community ūüôā

Because these are lists of curated tools, I thought I’d use Destiny Discover Collections as a presentation tool.¬† Anyone can access them and if you have Destiny, you don’t have to save the URL (bonus!) The site address is: bit.ly/booktrailerupgrade

I hope you can use these lists, but even better, I hope you share them with students and teachers for all types of digital projects!!

A YA Fiction and Non-fiction Novel to Read RIGHT NOW

2019 started out with a BANG! I started a TBR list and these two were at the top of the stack. I couldn’t have chosen better. They are STUNNING reads. I included a book trailer (when possible) as well as a book pairing for each. Let’s begin this YA novel joyfest!!

Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Graphix, 2018.  There has to be something said about writing your biography using the talents you possess, which is what this graphic novel is about. It’s also about what the definition of family is and how he learned from them, grew up with them, and loved each and every one of them, including the ones he never knew existed.

Jarrett’s family life has had starts and stops. His mother had him when she was a teenager and trying to balance a baby and life took it’s toll on her. His grandparents tried to help, but could only do so much until she ended up in rehab and Jarrett ended up living with his grandparents. He’d receive an occasional card from his mother (hence the title) but there wasn’t a lot of connection between the two.

His life with his grandparents wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either. He finally found himself with family, something everyone craves, including Jarrett. His grandfather, Joe, worked hard and owned his own business. Sometimes at night he’d come home later than usual and the arguing would ensue. Joe loved his grandson and was a catalyst behind his talent, urging him to use it to find purpose. His grandmother, Shirley, was a woman who had a manage a large family and had a mean streak in her that would rear its ugly head. But it went as quickly as it came and Jarrett knew how much she loved him despite are actions sometimes.

It’s important in today’s society to understand the complexities some kids go through when it comes to family dynamics. This essential graphic novel shows a dysfunctional family dynamic many young adults can identify with. Highly recommended.

A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel. 2019, Sourcebooks Fire.  Hannah spent her summer in California, rooming with Agnes while they both worked hard attending courses to get a step up on their college applications. Then Jonah came…he and Agnes became a couple, but that didn’t stop Hannah from letting him know of her affection for him too, which led to a secret relationship to form the perfect toxic relationships.

Now, Hannah finds herself surrounded by four walls, small windows, a narrow bed, and regular visits from a psychiatrist she nickenames “Lightfoot,” which visits her regularly. Before coming here, she tried to see Agnes in the hospital but was told to never come back. It wasn’t her fault what happened to Agnes…it truly was an accident.

Now, all Hannah wants to do is “pass” Lightfoot scrutiny to get back to New York in time for school and finishing her college applications. That’s all she can think about, living by herself in a small room with no interaction with others living there, including eating meals and showering. Hannah scoffs at the label they put on her – A danger to herself and others but she’ll play the game as long as it takes to be able to leave.

What exactly happened and how dangerous is Hannah?

Riveting from the beginning, you’ll wonder if what the main character is saying is true or not, real or not, and how dangerous they think she is. Thrilling throughout, the psychology and psychiatry built into the plot only adds to the thrill.

Book pairs:

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

 

My FIRST blog post EVER (yes it’s a book trailer!)

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Oh my gosh….I went back to look at my first blog post ever written.¬† It doesn’t include anything but my book trailer (I started actually blogging about books later lol!)¬† I can definitely tell how far book trailers have come in the last nine years, but back in the day, I was really proud (and still am!) of this one.¬† It’s for Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Ucci.¬† Check out¬†the comment from the author!!