Monday, July 30, 2012

Paper Trails: True Stories of Confusion, Mindless Violence, and Forbidden Desires, a Surprising Number of Which Are Not About Marriage

Paper Trails: True Stories of Confusion, Mindless Violence, and Forbidden Desires, a Surprising Number of Which Are Not About Marriage is by Peter Dexter. Dexter has been a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and the Sacramento Bee. He has also contributed to Esquire and Sports Illustrated. This collection of some of his finest columns will make you laugh, cry, and think. A stunning collection of Dexter's work that will charm even the most jaded reader. A great way to encourage interest in non-fiction and editorial writing. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (some mature thematic content).


Dracula is by Bram Stoker. This classic horror story is the basis for almost all vampire mythology. It is a truly iconic masterpiece of fiction and a must read for all "well-read" individuals. It is the story of Count Dracula and his journey from Transylvania to London and back. His encounters with Jonathan Harker, Dr. Seward, Lucy Westenra, Mina Harker, and of course, Dr. Van Helsing, become his undoing. It is the classics tale of good vs. evil and the lengths the human spirit will go to to save those they love.

Ratings: 8th grade - 10 out of 10 - V (violence).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America is by Erik Larson. A stunning non-fiction account of the building of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and the mass murderer who killed those who visited it. Larson did a phenomenal job researching this work and it reads like a novel. The miracle of the Fair's construction and the horror of the murderer named Holmes are equally well related. This work will remind readers of Capote's In Cold Blood. A wonderful and enjoyable read.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (mild profanity) - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Savage Run

Savage Run is by C.J. Box. The second novel in the Joe Pickett series. Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming. Joe is called to the scene of an exploding cow, yep, you heard that right. The explosion killed a famous environmental activist and his new wife. As other environmental supporters begin to die, Joe finds himself in the middle of a war between a secret group of ranchers and militant environmentalists. Box addresses both sides of the debate with fairness and understanding. You will want to vacation in Wyoming. An excellent sequel; you won't want to wait for Joe's next adventure.

Ratings: Adult - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content).

The Souls of Black Folks

The Souls of Black Folks is by W.E.B. du Bois. A fantastic and thoughtful selection of essays on the moral and intellectual issues surrounding African Americans in American society. Although they were written in 1903 these essays still have something to say to readers today. While much has changed since they were written, are race relations what they should be? These essays address the past, present, and the future.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10.

Wildwood Dancing

Wildwood Dancing is by Juliet Marillier. The first book in the Wildwood series. A magnificent fairy tale based on the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Set in the woods of Transylvania five daughters live in a castle with their merchant father. The five girls alone can pass from their world to the world of the fey every full moon for a night of dancing and fun. When their father becomes ill and leaves for the sea shore to recover, their cousin Cezar begins to take over their lives. Cezar wants to find the portal and destroy the denizens of the Other Kingdom. It is up to Jena and her unusual frog to save the Other Kingdom from Cezar and her sister from the Night People. A wonderful tale of love, trust, and forgiveness.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10 - V (some violence).

Geat Expectations

Great Expectations is by Charles Dickens. Miss Dayna's All-Time-Favorite Book! A must read classic. Pip is an orphan living with his nasty sister and her ignorant, but gentle, husband the blacksmith, Joe. When Pip suddenly comes into "great expectations" through the assistance of an anonymous benefactor he must leave for London to pursue his fortune. Pip believes his benefactor to be the crazy Miss Havisham and is thrilled since he loves her lovely, but distant, adopted daughter Estelle. When he discovers the identity of his mysterious friend his whole life changes again. A magnificent tale of crime, revenge, reward, and what really matters most in life. A Reader's Corner Must Read!

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10 - AC (some mature thematic content).

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities is by Charles Dickens. A Must Read Book! The classic tale of love and sacrifice set during the French Revolution. Charles Darnay is wrongly accused of treason and is sentenced to the guillotine. His wife, daughter, and father-in-law come to France to attempt to save him. But his fate will ultimately depend on Sydney Carton, the debauched, yet heroic man who loves Darnay's wife. It includes, arguably, the most famous beginning and ending lines in literature.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10 - AC (some mature thematic content).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda

State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda is by Steven Luckert & Susan Bachrach. A must read! This wonderful book discusses the Nazi use of propaganda techniques during WWII and explains how Hitler and his minions used media control and propaganda to convince the German population to along with, or at least acquiesce to, their programs. The pictures of Nazi posters are in full color and are absolutely beautiful. A well written and timely book.

Ratings: 8th grade - 10 out of 10.

The Night Circus

The Night Circus is by Erin Morgenstern. Welcome to Le Cirque des Reves, the Circus of Dreams. A very special circus which is open only at night and features amazing and magical exhibits and performers. The circus is also the venue for a mysterious magical challenge between Marco and Celia who have been training their whole lives of a contest they don't fully comprehend. When the two young magicians fall in love the stage is set for disastrous consequences, and not only for them, but for everyone involved with the circus. A lyrically written and beautifully expounded story. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10 - AC (some mature thematic content).


Walden is by Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau's classic philosophical memoir of his time spent living in the woods near Walden Pond. He discusses reading, economics, nature, and his basic philosophy of life. A must read classic!

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Scorch Trials

The Scorch Trials is by James Dashner. The second book in The Maze Runner trilogy. Thomas and the other Gladers have made it out of the Maze. They think they are safe, but they are wrong. Now they discover they must face the Scorch Trials and must travel 100 miles across a wasteland filled with diseased Cranks and another group whose purpose is to kill Thomas. A worthy sequel! Lovers of The Hunger Games will love this set of books as well.You will find youself unable to wait to get the final book in the series.

Ratings: 8th grade - 10 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - V (violence) - AC (some mature thematic content).

The Chocolate War

The Chocolate War is by Robert Cormier. A must read classic for all young readers. This book is The Lord of the Flies set in a private school. When Jerry refuses to sell chocolates in the annual school fundraiser he not only runs afoul of Brother Leon, but of The Vigils, a secret group at the school. The results are tragic and make you realize afresh the dangers of the mob  mentality.

Ratings: 10th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).

The Red Necklace

The Red Necklace is by Sally Gardner. The first book in duo set during the French Revolution. Yann, a young gypsy, falls in love with the daughter of a French nobleman. As the French Revolution breaks out Yann must save her from the Revolution and the evil Count Kalliovski who wants Sido for himself. Can he rescue Sido and get her to England where she will be safe?

Ratings: 8th grade - MP (mild profanity) - AC (some mature thematic content) - V (violence).

The Red Garden

The Red Garden is by Alice Hoffman. This novel is much like Hoffman's The Blackbird House in that it follows residents of the town of Blackwell, Massachusetts, from its founding to the modern era. The stories are moving, tragic, and satisfying. The characters are well done and so human. The book is filled with Hoffman's trademark magical realism and all fans of Hoffman will enjoy this book.

Ratings: 12th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera is by Gaston Leroux. The timeless classic of love and loss set in the underbelly of the Paris Opera House. Christine is an opera singer who finds herself taking lessons from the mysterious phantom. When she falls in love with a young Vicomte she angers the phantom and endangers all their lives. The showdown at the end is masterful and what we learn about the phantom makes us both loathe and pity him. A must-read classic!

Ratings: 8th grade -10 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - V (violence).

The Sea Wolf

The Sea Wolf is by Jack London. Humphrey Van Weyden is "rescued" from a shipwreck and finds himself aboard The Ghost, a sealing vessel captained by Wolf Larsen, a deranged and abusive man. He must learn to survive or die at sea. This 1904 maritime classic depicts the clash of materialistic and idealistic ideology, not to mention, shipwrecks, mutiny, cruelty, and escape. The plot becomes formulaic at the end, but it is a classic nonetheless.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - V (violence).