Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Bog Child

The Bog Child is by Siobhan Dowd. The story is set on the border of Northern Ireland and the south in 1981. While digging peat with his uncle, eighteen-year-old Fergus finds a body buried in the bog. He is fascinated when the body is discovered to be from the Iron Age. He must also deal with passing his exams to be a doctor and the turmoil in his family. His brother Joe is in prison for a terrorist bombing and is on a hunger strike. As his brother dies and his family falls apart, Fergus must deal with his own coming of age in a violent political climate. A powerful tale of a young boy's desire to escape and the pressures that make it hard.

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

The Ghost Map

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World is by Steven Johnson. This is the story of the massive cholera outbreak in Soho in the summer of 1854. The outbreak killed hundreds of people and almost wiped out an entire neighborhood. It is also the story of a doctor and a minister who set out to determine its cause, and by doing so changed science forever. The book is a bit gross, but so were the conditions in London at this time; it is, however, worth the read for the triumph of human spirit and science over superstition. 

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10 - AC ( mature thematic content).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida

Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida is by Victor Martinez. The story of a young Latino boy coming of age in a poor family in California. Martinez clearly and movingly portrays the struggle with poverty, alcohol, drug abuse, and gangs faced by so many Latino youth. A short, but moving, tale of the desire to grow up and better your circumstances and how hard that can be to do.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence) - AC ( some mature thematic content).

Monday, March 24, 2014


Divergent is by Veronica Roth. The first book in a new dystopian series. The world has been divided into five factions. At sixteen all teens must chose the faction to which they want to belong. Beatrice has grown up in Abnegation but chooses to belong to Dauntless. As she goes through the initiation she begins to discover she is different from the others. She is "divergent" and can manipulate the computer simulations. She is also warned that society kills off any divergents they find and she must hide her abilities. When Erudite uses Dauntless to threaten Abnegation and take over society, Tris must decide which faction she really belongs to and what being divergent really means.

Ratings: 8th grade - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).

The Lost Child: A Mother's Story

The Lost Child: A Mother's Story is by Julie Myerson. While Myerson is researching her new book on a young artist who died two centuries ago, she must also deal with her oldest son who is addicted to drugs. A frank and honest look at the struggles and pain of parents whose children are troubled. As Myerson researches the history of Mary Yelloly and her amazing book of watercolor paintings; she can't help but be reminded of her own child and the struggles their family is going through.

Ratings: Adult - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

The Dead Drop

The Dead Drop is by Jennifer Allison. The fourth book in the Gilda Joyce series. Gilda lands a summer internship at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Once there, she discovers that the museum is haunted and that the ghost wants her to uncover a spy who is selling secrets to the Russians right under the CIA's nose. Fans of this series will enjoy this installment as well.

Ratings: 6th grade - 7 out of 10.


Lockdown is by Alexander Gordon Smith. The first book in the Escape from Furnace series. A creepy entrant into the dystopian fiction category. Alex and his friend break into people's houses. One night they are caught by some mysterious men in black suits who murder Toby. Alex is framed for his murder and sentenced to the Furnace for life. Furnace is a maximum security prison for young offenders located a mile under the Earth. Once there, Alex discovers there are more terrible things happening in Furnace than just being in an underground prison for life. Boys will especially love this creepy book.

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

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Circle

The Circle is by Dave Eggers. OMG!! You must read this book!  This is Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury, and Rand brought into the 21st century. Mae Holland is thrilled when she is hired to work for The Circle, the world's largest internet company. The Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and supposedly the boon of transparency. However, as The Circle and its new technological advances impinge on personal privacy and freedom, Mae is confronted with a choice. As a teacher, I look at several hundred Mae's every day. This could very well be our future, and we're well on the way. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read. 

Ratings: Adult - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - S (non graphic sexual content).

House of Hades

The House of Hades is by Rick Riordan. The fourth book in the Heroes of Olympus series. Percy and Annabeth must find their way through Tartarus to the Doors of Death. Jason and the rest of the gang must find their way to Greece to the House of Hades to rescue Percy and Annabeth and close the Doors of Death to keep monsters from having a passage to the mortal world. Fans of this series will not be disappointed.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10 - V (some violence).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Interestings

The Interestings is by Meg Wolitzer. Six teenagers meet at a summer camp for students talented in the arts. Five of the six are talented and privileged teens, one is a middle class girl on scholarship to the camp. For reasons Jules never fully understood, she was accepted into the group, which called itself "the Interestings". Wolitzer's novel follows the group as they become adults and struggle to maintain their friendship through the challenges of life. A moving coming of age story, worthy of the generation it follows. 

Ratings: Adult - 7 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - S (non graphic sexual content).

Friday, March 14, 2014

American Masculine: Stories

American Masculine: Stories is by Shann Ray. An amazing collection of short stories that center around the American West. These stories follow struggling men: men with addictions, former basketball players whose dreams never come true, bull rider's, and a man struggling with forgiving his abusive father. The stories also include insights into the lives of the women who love these men and must deal with their violence. A fascinating collection of stories. 

Ratings: Adult - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - S (non graphic sexual content).

The Sight

The Sight is by Judy Blundell. Two novels in one, Premonitions and Disappearance. The novels are centered around a teenager named Gracie. She has moved to Beewick Island to live with her aunt after the death of her mother. Her father disappeared when she was very young. Gracie has premonitions of things that have happened. In the first book, she must use her talent to locate a kidnapped friend. In the second book, she uses her gift to solve a murder. Girls will enjoy these stories.

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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of WWII

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of WWII is by Joseph Bruchac. A magnificent fictionalized account of the famous Navajo Code Talkers who created an unbreakable code used to help win WWII. This is a story long unknown and well worth being remembered. A must read for boys, but girls will find it interesting as well. 

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10 - V (violence).

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is by John Green. Hazel is a teenager with terminal cancer that is being kept at bay by an experimental drug. At a cancer support group she meets Augustus Waters, who lost his leg to cancer and appears to be in remission. The two teens begin a relationship that is doomed from the start, but the story is heart-wrenching and poignant. Another stellar book from John Green. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read. 

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

Reading in the Wild

Reading in the Wild is by Donalyn Miller. Fans of The Book Whisperer will love this follow up. The book discusses how to help students become readers outside of school without teacher prompting. A great book with lots of good ideas.

Ratings: Adult - 10 out of 10.