Sunday, July 27, 2014

Profiles in Fashion: Jimmy Choo

Profiles in Fashion: Jimmy Choo is by Kerrily Sapet. A wonderful biography series for young readers. This volume focuses on the life and career of the famous shoe designer. Girls will especially enjoy the Profiles in Fashion series.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Golden One

The Golden One is by Elizabeth Peters. It's 1917 and as WWI continues, the Emersons decide to move to Egypt and stay for the duration since travel between Egypt and England is made dangerous by German submarines. Once they arrive events conspire to lure Ramses back into the espionage business. He and the family must travel to the besieged city of Gaza to rescue Sethos, who may or may not be a double agent. Fans of the series will love this installment as well. The ending is especially touching and sets up the next crises nicely.

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


Kira-Kira is by Cynthia Kadohata. Set in Georgia in the 1950s, this is the story of a Japanese family trying to better themselves. While both parents work in chicken processing plants, Katie and her younger brother Sam are cared for by their older sister Lynn. When Lynn becomes severely ill the family begins to disintegrate. Katie must find a way to remind her family that there are always bright spots in life as long as they have each other. A touching coming-of-age story.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity)

15 Seconds

15 Seconds is by Andrew Gross. Dr. Henry Steadman is a successful plastic surgeon. On his way to speak at a Doctors Without Borders conference he is pulled over by a cop who is then killed in a drive by shooting. Events quickly take a turn for the worse and Henry finds himself the subject of a manhunt for a crime he didn't commit. He not only must figure out who is framing him, but avoid the police while doing so. A fast paced crime novel.

Ratings: Adult - 4 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content).

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lord of the Silent

Lord of the Silent is by Elizabeth Peters. The thirteenth installment in the Amelia Peabody series. It is 1915, and WWI is in full swing. The Emerson's return to Egypt and are determined to focus on archeology and keep Ramses out of the spy business. Of course, as fans of this series can probably predict, Amelia and Emerson find another dead body in their assigned excavation. Ramses and Nefret are married and travel to another location to check on tomb robbers, and keep Ramses away from those who want him to return to his work for the government. Then there is the question of whether the Master Criminal has returned from the dead. Fans of this series will enjoy this book as well.

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


Syren is by Angie Sage. The fifth book in the Septimus Heap series. Septimus, Jenna, and Beetle end up stranded on a beautiful island and discover themselves in the middle of a struggle to prevent the invasion of the castle by an army of warrior jinn. To save the castle and his family he must face a Syren, a traitorous ghost, and evil pirates. Another great installment in this charming series.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Go Saddle the Sea

Go Saddle the Sea is by Joan Aiken. The first book in a new trilogy. Felix is the orphan son of a Spanish aristocrat and an English soldier. When he discovers a clue to the location of his father's family in England he decides to secretly leave his grandfather's home in Spain and travel to England to locate his father's family. Boys will enjoy this story.

Ratings: 6th grade - 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Me Before You

Me Before You is by Jojo Moyes. Louisa Clark is an ordinary middle class girl living in an English tourist town. She lives at home with her parents. Her father is on the verge of losing his carpentry job, her mother stays at home to take care of her aging grandfather. Louisa works at a bakery to supplement the household income. When the bakery she works at closes, she is forced to find another job despite her limited job experience and qualifications. As a last resort she takes a job as caretaker for Will Traynor, a rich business tycoon forced to live life as a quadriplegic after a motorcycle accident. Despite his moods and bossiness she comes to care for him and determines to show him that his life is worth living. A tragically beautiful and haunting love story.

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

The Best American Essays of 2008

The Best American Essays of 2008 is edited by Adam Gopnik. A selection of great writing representing magazines such as Harper's, The New Yorker, Swink, Pinch and others; by authors including David Sedaris, John Updike, Lauren Slater, Anthony Lane, Charles Simic, and many more. Simic looks at the history of his native Serbia, Sedaris's hilarious look at growing up in a home where history was not as respected as he would have liked is a gem, and Slater recounts a summer spent at camp. This is just a sampling of the great essay writing found in this book. This series is a great way to introduce readers of all ages to the art of essay writing, and what a good essay really is.

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


Siddhartha is by Hermann Hesse. The classic tale of a young man who leaves his father's home to seek enlightenment. He joins a severe religious sect, leaves them to father a child and become a businessman, and then sickened by his greed and lust becomes a ferryman. This is a complex story of a young man's search for peace, contentment, and wisdom.

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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gwendolyn Brooks: Poetry is Life Distilled

Gwendolyn Brooks: Poetry is Life Distilled is by Christine M. Hill. A wonderful look at the life of one of America's best African-American poets written for younger readers. A great introduction to nonfiction for younger readers.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Kate Remembered

Kate Remembered is by A. Scott Berg. For those of us who loved Katharine Hepburn, this is a wonderful look at her life. Berg obviously loved and respected Hepburn and it shows in every word of this delightful book. Fans will love this book and hopefully it will introduce those who don't remember Kate to go out and watch some of her movies. A thoroughly moving and enjoyable read.

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

Deeper Reading

Deeper Reading is by Kelly Gallagher. Another helpful and well researched aid for ELA teachers.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

He Shall Thunder in the Sky

He Shall Thunder in the Sky is by Elizabeth Peters. Book number twelve in the Amelia Peabody series. The Emerson's attempt to carry on as usual, but it's difficult. WWI is in full swing and there is fear that the Turks will attack the Suez Canal. The British government is rounding up all Egyptians involved in the independence movement, including David. Ramses is being ostracized for his apparent pacifism, but with Ramses nothing is ever what it seems. Nefret seems to be growing close to the disgusting Percy, and Amelia and Emerson must again face off against the Master Criminal. A wonderful addition to this fun series. A must read for all Amelia fans.

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

The Lotus Eaters

The Lotus Eaters is by Tatjana Soli. Helen is one of the few female war photographers in Vietnam. She initially goes to find out the truth about what happened to her brother, who was killed in the war, but then her work becomes something more. Soli's writing is powerful and rich. She does a great job of telling the story of Helen and the two men she loves and her struggle to discover herself in the midst of the Vietnam War.

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

The Complete History of Jack the Ripper

The Complete History of Jack the Ripper is by Philip Sugden. The most comprehensive look into the Ripper killings and the search for his identity. This book is extremely well researched and fascinating to read, but don't look for a definitive answer to the ultimate question. A great nonfiction read for fans of Ripperology and those just wanting a detailed introduction to once of history's most famous killers.

Ratings: Adult - 9 out of 10 - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content).

Duckling Ugly

Duckling Ugly is by Neal Shusterman. The third installment in the Dark Fusion series. Cara is ugly, no I mean can't-can't-look-in-a-mirror-without-it-cracking ugly. She has been tortured by everyone at her school and others in the town of Flock's Rest. Then she receives a note telling her to seek her destiny elsewhere. After a particularly brutal prom date, Cara sets out to find her destiny. Shusterman takes several legends and fairy tales and combines them to create a truly creepy story. Another great installment in this series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - V (violence)

I Am Number 4

I Am Number 4 is by Pittacus Lore. The first book in The Lorien Legacies. The planet of Lorien is destroyed for its resources by the evil Mogadorians. They manage to send nine infants and their caretakers to Earth. Once here they must separate and hide until their legacies (powers) appear and they can return and fight the Mogadorians, who can only kill them in numerical order as long as they are separated. The first three are dead. John Smith, a 15-year-old in Paradise, Ohio, is Number 4 and he has just moved to town. He and his "father", Henri, have been hiding for years waiting for his powers to develop; now this is finally beginning. Being the new kid in town isn't easy for humans, but John finds it more difficult. He meets a human girl and begins a relationship with her and even finds a friend - and then the Mogadorians find him. Can his powers develop quickly enough to save him? Can he save his new friend and girlfriend, and maybe Earth? An action-packed science fiction read boys and girls will enjoy.

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

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sarajevo Blues

Sarajevo Blues is by Semezdin Mehmedinovic. One of Bosnia prominent poets and writers, Mehmedinovic stayed in Sarajevo during the war and this book of short stories and poems takes you to the war torn city and lets you experience for yourself the horror of a war Americans still know little about. A magnificent work, this book is a Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

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

The Dead Tossed Waves

The Dead Tossed Waves is by Carrie Ryan. The second book in The Survivors series. Gabry and her mother live in the lighthouse outside Vista. They guard the town from the Mudo washed up on the beach during high tides and storms. When Gabry and some of her friends sneak outside the fence on a dare one night they are attacked by Mudos and everything changes forever. Now, Gabry must venture into the Forest of Hands and Teeth to save herself and her friends, and discover the secret of her past - and possibly  decide her future. Girls will enjoy this story of teenage love, but boys will enjoy the zombies.

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