Friday, December 30, 2016

Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming is by Jacqueline Woodson. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read. This is a stunning memoir written as fiction in verse. It tells the story of Woodson's childhood growing up in Ohio, South Carolina, and New York. You walk with Woodson through the Civil Rights movement in the south and get a first hand look at what it was like to be African American during the 60's and 70's. The writing is beautiful and descriptive. This is a wonderful book for young readers - all readers really. Totally appropriate for readers below 7th grade, although they may need to be in 7th grade to understand the historical setting without help.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Upstream: Selected Essays

Upstream: Selected Essays is by Mary Oliver. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read. If you love Mary Oliver's poetry, and I do, you will love these essays. Oliver has a way of making you feel like you are with her observing nature even as she does. This is a marvelous collection of essays from a poet whose body is work is all worth reading.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Everything is Teeth

Everything is Teeth is by Evie Wyld. A wonderful little memoir done as a graphic novel. The illustrations are beautiful, especially the full color pictures of the sharks. The writing is well done and you get a good look at Wyld's fascination with sharks and her childhood with her family. Really enjoyable! Some of the drawings of shark attack wounds might not be okay for some young readers.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cannery Row

Cannery Row is by John Steinbeck. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read. First published in 1945, this book follows the lives of the various inhabitants of Cannery Row in Monterey, California. The story is alternately funny and heartbreaking, much like life itself. The reader follows the adventures of Doc, who runs a marine laboratory; Dora, the local madam, and the other residents of her house of ill repute; Mack and his friends, who manage to live relatively happily without consistent employment; and a host of other loveable characters. This book is a excellent introduction to Steinbeck, being shorter than Grapes of Wrath or East of Eden, and more cheerful than Of Mice and Men. Definitely on the list of books you must read before you die.

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


Stranded is by Jeff Probst. This is the first book in the Stranded series. Probst is best known as the host of the television show Survivor. This is the story of four kids from a blended family who go on a boat trip with their uncle. A storm hits and the adults are swept away in the lifeboat as they try to get the kids off the boat. The kids are then shipwrecked on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific and have to survive on their own. Younger readers will enjoy this series.

Ratings: 6th grade - 6 out of 10.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader is by Anne Fadiman. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read! This small book of essays is a must-read for any book lover. Each essay deals with the joys, and sometimes frustrations, of being a book lover and someone for whom books truly matter to your existence. These essays also help explain biblioaddicts to those with whom they interact. The essays in this book are funny, touching, and poignant; every book lover will be able to relate to all of them.

Ratings: 8th grade - 10 out of 10.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

This One Summer

This One Summer is by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki. A graphic novel for young adults that is well written and well illustrated. It is the story of a teenage girl, Rose, whose family vacations every year at Awago Beach. There she and her younger friend Windy spend a fun summer with their families. But not this year, Rose's parents keep fighting and when she and Windy seek other diversions they become involved in the drama of the local young adult population. A wonderfully done graphic novel that teens will enjoy.

Ratings: 8th grade - 7 out of 10 - AC (Some mature thematic content) - P (profanity).

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Selected Poems

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Selected Poems is by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. A wonderful selection of Longfellow's most famous poems, both long and short, as well as two of his plays. A classic must read for all who love American poetry and those who would like to learn to love it, or at least be exposed to it.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

My Man Jeeves

My Man Jeeves is by P.G. Wodehouse. The first book in the Jeeves series. A selection of eight short stories that introduced the world to that most indomitable of butlers, Jeeves, and his half-baked employer Bernie Wooster - who was known as Reggie Pepper in four of the eight stories. Several of these stories were re-worked into later books, but if you love dry British humor you can't help but snicker at these tales. While these books are not everyone's cup of tea, they are classics of their time and worth at least being exposed to; they give new meaning to the phrase "the butler did it."

Ratings: 10th grade - 8 out of 10.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Crucible

The Crucible is by Arthur Miller. The classic tale of mass hysteria and vengeance that was the Salem witch trials. A cautionary tale of what happens when madness overtakes a community. The play centers on John Proctor who has had an affair with Abigail Williams, the leader of the girls supposedly "bewitched" by the devil. Miller based the play on the historical trials that occurred in Salem in the 17th century; it is also an allegory, not only of Naziism, but of the McCarthyism of the 1950s. A Readers Corner Highly recommended read.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10.

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Clubbable Woman

A Clubbable Woman is by Reginald Hill. The first book in the Dalziel & Pascoe series. When a woman is found dead in her own living room by her husband, Dalziel and Pascoe are called in to solve the case. For those who haven't seen the BBC series (you should by the way), Dalziel is a fat crude older cop with a young college educated sergeant named Pascoe. The murdered woman was married to a member of the local rugby club to which Dalziel also belongs. A fun murder mystery. Fans of the television series will especially enjoy the book.

Ratings: 11th grade - 8 out of 10 - V (violence) - AC (some mature thematic content) - MP (mild profanity).

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Dragonflight is by Anne McCaffrey. The first book in the Dragonriders of Pern series, originally published in 1968. This book is as good today as it was when I read it well, more years ago that I want to admit to. Pern is a planet settled by humans, who for whatever reason never returned to visit the colony. The colonists genetically engineered fire breathing beasts they called dragons, after the old Earth variety, to destroy the "threads" which fall from a mysterious red planet that orbits Pern every two hundred years (turns). At the beginning of the story, it has been 400 turns since the last thread fall, and many on Pern have ceased to believe in the danger. The land owners see no reason to support the dragons and their riders any longer, even though there is only one "weyr" out of six left and it appears the dragons and riders are slowly dying out. The remaining dragon riders set out on search to find a female to "impress" with the new queen egg about to hatch. The red planet has also appeared in the sky and those who still believe know that threads are coming and the weyrs may not be able to save Pern this time. A wonderful start to a classic science fiction series.

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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Snark! The Hearald Angels Sing: Sarcasm, Bitterness, & the Holiday Season

Snark! The Hearald Angels Sing: Sarcasm, Bitterness, & the Holiday Season is by Lawrence Dorfman. I have had this book on my shelf for some time, but when the Christmas decorations went up in Wal Mart the day after Halloween I pulled it off the shelf and laughed myself silly. It is the perfect read for the seriously jaded and terminally Scrooge-like among us. A charming way to spend an hour or so between now and Christmas.

Ratings: 10th grade - 7 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (some mature thematic content).

The Historian

The Historian is by Elizabeth Kostova. This is an absolutely wonderful book! It is filled with history, and yet has enough fiction to make the history not only palatable, but fascinating. It is the story of a young girl who finds herself in the midst of a modern day search for Dracula. To find and kill the vampire she, and virtually everyone she knows, must search out the true history of the real Dracula, Vlad the Impaler. The story takes us across continents, in both the past and present and makes Vlad Dracula come to life in a way the typical Dracula story never seems to. This book was the inspiration for a friend of mine to plan a trip through Hungary, Bulgaria, and into the Carpathians to visit Dracula's castle, the pictures are beautiful! A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

Ratings: 11th grade - 10 out of 10 - V (violence) - AC (some mature thematic content).

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Horrorstor is by Grady Hendrix. What to say about this book? It's like Poltergeist in an IKEA, okay weirded out yet? The story takes place in an IKEA rip-off, and it admits to being so, called Orsk. Weird things seem to be happening in the store at night so the deputy store manager, Basil, decides to catch the culprit before the corporate suits arrive the next day. He enlists the aid of two other employees, Amy and Ruth Ann, and they decide to patrol the store overnight and find out what's going on. The group finds themselves joined by Matt and Trinity, two want-to-be ghost hunters, who believe the store is haunted - unfortunately for everyone, Matt and Trinity are right. There were parts of this book that had me laughing out loud and parts that scared me silly. I have never read a humorous horror story before, but I really enjoyed it. The humor made the horror a little easier to read, but the book was still scary. The book is also laid out like an Orsk sales catalogue which describes in detail at the beginning of every chapter the wonderful furniture offerings available at Orsk. I was surprised by how much I liked this book, and so...I recommend it to all fans of horror, and even those who aren't.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - V (Violence) - AC (some mature thematic content).

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Mary Seacole in Many Lands

The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Mary Seacole in Many Lands is by Mary Seacole. A fascinating biography from the point of view a mixed race Jamaican woman and her travels throughout the British Empire in the mid to late 1800s. She travels to Panama, London, and even travels to the Crimea to assist the soldiers during the Crimean War. The memoir is definitely a work of its time, but well worth the read. It is also from a non-white perspective which makes it more fascinating.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mister Pip

Mister Pip is by Lloyd Jones. A masterpiece of historical fiction that everyone should read. This is the story of how literature can change a life. On an island in the Pacific overcome by war an eccentric man takes over a village school when all the other whites have fled to safety. Mr. Watts knows nothing about teaching, so he decides to read the children Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Thirteen-year-old Matilda and her classmates are swept away from their terror of their lives on the island and into Dickensian England where they share the adventures of an orphan boy named Pip. Unfortunately reality does not allow itself to be ignored forever.

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

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Madly Ever After

Madly Ever After is by Skottie Young. The first volume in the I Hate Fairyland graphic novel series. Gertrude was a six year old girl who was sucked into Fairyland for a magical adventure that should have lasted a day or two. It's been nearly thirty years however, and Gert is still trying to get out. She is a middle aged woman in the body of a six-year-old. This experience has had some unfortunate side effects for Gert - she's psychotic. She is literally cutting a swath through Fairyland, so much so that Queen Cloudia wants Gert disposed of, but that's not going to be all that easy. A hilariously violent take on fairytales for older readers, definitely not a series to hand younger consumers. I will admit, I loved it, but I have a sick sense of humor.

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is by Paul Krueger. An interesting take on urban fantasy. Bailey Chen has completed college and is living with her parents while she looks for a job. An old friend she hooked up with in high school offers her a job as a bar back in his uncle's bar. Once there she discovers that Zane and his friends are really demon hunters. They seek out and kill tremens, creatures who like to prey on drunk humans. Bailey also learns that certain drinks give you super powers which bartenders use to fight the tremens. But, of course, everything is not that simple; Zane's uncle may be trying to create a magical Long Island Iced Tea which will make him immortal so he can take over the world; there's always someone who wants to take over the world. A quick and fun read and the drink recipes are fun to try - if you're over 21 of course.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10 - V (violence) - MP (mild profanity).

Career of Evil

Career of Evil is by Robert Galbraith. The third book in the Cormoran Strike series. Robin is about to get married; when a package is delivered to her at the office she thinks it's something she ordered for her wedding - not so much - it's a severed human leg. Cormoran has several crazies in his past who might have sent a leg to him. He is also worried that the leg was addressed to Robin and afraid she will be targeted to get to him. This book is creepier than the first two. Fans of the series will love this installment. In case you didn't know, Robert Galbraith is really J.K. Rowling, but these books are no Harry Potter.

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

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey is by Rupi Kaur. A book of poetry that has become a best seller. It is free verse poetry divided into four sections: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, the healing. The poems walk us through Kaur's life in a way that most women can read this book and find something they can relate to and something to think about.

Ratings: 12th grade - 8 out of 10 - AC (mature content).

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Paper Magician

The Paper Magician is by Charlie N. Holmberg. The first installment in the Paper Magician series. Ceony has just graduated from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined; it's time for her to be bonded to her element. She dreams of being bonded to metal and what is she assigned - paper. She finds herself apprenticed to Magician Thane to learn a magic she never wanted to learn. Then a woman magically appears and steals Magician Thane's heart and it's up to Ceony to save her master. A delightful story set in late Victorian England, with a nice touch of gore.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fun with Kirk and Spock: A Parody

Fun with Kirk and Spock: A Parody is by Robb Pearlman. If you have ever watched the original Star Trek, you MUST read this book. Think Star Trek meets Fun with Dick and Jane and Baby Sally and Spot. I laughed so hard! A wonderful introduction to parody and how funny it can be.

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Euphoria is by Lily King. Loosely based on the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead. Nell Stone, her husband Schuyler Fenwick (Fen) and fellow anthropologist Andrew Bankson are studying various tribes along the Sepik River in pre-WWII New Guinea. Nell and Bankson find themselves drawn together by love, loneliness, and a desire for knowledge, while Fen is jealous of his wife's success and capable of anything to have some of that success for himself. This book is a fascinating look at tribal cultures and colonial attitudes towards them, as well as a very human examination of a love triangle doomed from the start, and the lengths to which greed and jealousy can drive a man.

Ratings: Adult - 7 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content).

Beautiful Darkness

Beautiful Darkness is by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. The second book in the Beautiful Creatures series. Lena's sixteenth birthday has passed and she still has not been claimed. Ethan becomes concerned when Lena begins to pull away from him after Macon's death. When Lena runs off with Ridley and a strange Caster boy, Ethan, Link, and a Keeper-in-training from England embark on a journey through the Caster tunnels to find them and stop Lena from going dark. An action-packed novel that will delight fans of the series.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is by Anthony Marra. A magnificent novel set in Chechnya in 2004. This novel follows a group of characters whose lives are, for the most part, unknowingly intertwined. Things come to a head when eight-year-old Havaa hides in the woods and watches Russian soldiers abduct her father and burn her home. Their neighbor, Akhmed, afraid for Havaa, takes her to a nearby city to what passes for a hospital in the war-torn country. The hospital is run by Sonja, an ethnic Russian and the sole remaining doctor. Over the five days after Havaa's father's disappearance, we learn through a series of flashbacks the web of events which link the lives of all the characters. This book is a brutal look at war and what people do to survive. It chronicles both the humanity and inhumanity of humankind. It is a novel filled with pain, regret, evil, and yet incredible bravery and courage. A must read especially for those of us who have never known the horrors of prolonged war and the toll it takes on the human soul. Read this book!!! You won't be sorry. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

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

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Spellman Files: Document

The Spellman Files: Document is by Lisa Lutz. The first book in the Spellman Files series. Meet the wacky Spellman clan. Albert and Olivia Spellman own Spellman Investigations, they have three children David (a lawyer), Isabel (works for the family firm), Rae (13 - wants to work for the family), and Uncle Ray (drinks, gambles, whores around, and helps out when needed). To be a Spellman does not just include spying and tailing strangers, and bugging people suspected of wrong doing; being a Spellman means spying on, tailing, and bugging each other. When Izzy decides it's time to leave the family business for a more "normal" life, craziness ensues. A thoroughly enjoyable read, looking forward to the rest of the series.

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

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Everyone Brave is Forgiven is by Chris Cleave. Set during WWII London, this is the story of two roommates who fall for the same girl at the beginning of the war. The story follows the trio throughout the course of the war with all its horrors and displays of heroism. The author was inspired by the real love letters written by his grandparents during the writing of this book. This book makes you feel like you are with the characters in all their trials and tribulations; the writing is outstanding.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content).

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Seeing Stars

Seeing Stars is by Simon Armitage. A strange, yet entertaining, book of free verse prose poems. Those adverse to poetry, and a strange sense of humor, might find this collection worth reading.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Crimson Shore

Crimson Shore is by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The fifteenth installment in the Agent Pendergast series. Pendergast and Constance head to the small seaside town of Exmouth, Massachusetts, to recover a stolen wine collection. They assume this will be a relaxing visit at the seaside and an easy case. Then a dead body is found with carvings on the body which may lead back to an ancient settlement of witches who fled to the Exmouth marshes to escape the Salem witch trials. Another gripping installment. Fans won't be disappointed.

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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hyperbole & a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem & Other Things That Happened

Hyperbole & a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem & Other Things That Happened is by Allie Brosh. A hilarious memoir by the popular blogger containing material not posted on her blog as well as classic pieces. Brosh frankly, yet with humor, discusses depression and its effects and other incidents from her life. The pieces are witty and insightful. You won't be able to hold back your laughter. The illustrations are charmingly simple and vivid.

Ratings: 12th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity).

Saturday, July 23, 2016

2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas

2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas is by Marie-Helene Bertino. A wonderful Christmas story about a group of lost souls seeking to find themselves in the snow covered streets of Philadelphia on December 23rd. Madeleine is a nine-year-old girl who wants to sing jazz. Her mother is dead and her father has isolated himself after the loss of his wife. She is cared for by a group of neighbors all of whom knew her mother. Across town Lorca owns a jazz club called the Cat's Pajamas which has fallen on hard times. He is ticketed by the police and must raise $30,000 to keep his club open. He must also deal with an estranged son, a girlfriend who left him, and his house band who live in the club during the day. Madeleine's school teacher, Sarina, is newly divorced and is nervous about meeting an old flame at a party. Madeleine's school principal takes her dislike of Madeleine's dead mother out on Madeleine. All of these wounded people meet up at 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas and Christmas magic happens. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

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

Weaving the Eath and Sky: Myths & Legends of Aotearoa

Weaving the Eath and Sky: Myths & Legends of Aotearoa is by Robert Sullivan. A beautifully illustrated book of myths and legends from New Zealand. A great addition to collections of myths and legends from around the world. Again, the illustrations are lovely.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Nest

The Nest is by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. The four Plumb children are waiting for their inheritance. Their father put a little money aside that has grown into a significant fortune. The will stated that the inheritance couldn't be had until the youngest child turned forty. So Jack, Bea, and Melody have been living with "The Nest" in view for some time. Leo, the oldest, has plenty of money. Then shortly before the long awaited day, Leo is involved in an accident. He is drunk, high, and in the car with a young woman who is seriously injured. The "Nest" is used to bail him out of his trouble, and now the siblings want the money paid back - something Leo isn't able, or willing, to do. The Nest is a story of family: when to hang on and when to let go, and the importance of friendship, possibility, and coming to terms with our mistakes.

Ratings: Adult - 7 out of 10 - (Profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Silkworm

The Silkworm is by Robert Galbraith. The second in the Cormoran Strike series. When an author goes missing his wife comes to Strike for assistance in locating him. Since he has "disappeared" in the past, she doesn't want to call the police. As time goes on, Strike begins to wonder if there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife thinks; then Strike finds Quine's body. The author has been brutally murdered, and his final unpublished novel may have something to do with his death. Better than the first novel, this series promises to entertain. 

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

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Martian

The Martian is by Andy Weir. A mission to Mars is scrubbed due to a dangerous storm; as they evacuate, one of the astronauts is struck by flying debris and presumed dead. Only Mark Watney is alive. The story is about Watney's fight to survive as NASA attempts to come up with a way to rescue him. A fantastic science fiction novel! Even if you are not a scifi lover, you will love this story of a man's fight for survival against insurmountable odds.

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

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Willows and Beyond

The Willows and Beyond is by William Horwood. Horwood continues the stories begun by Kenneth Grahame in The Wind and the Willows. This story takes place as the characters in the original tales have aged and are now in their later years. Ratty is feeling the urge to travel and his friends are dealing with a threat to the Wild Wood. If you were a fan of the original tales you will enjoy this story as well. The illustrations are also beautiful.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Super Mutant Magic Academy

Super Mutant Magic Academy is by Jillian Tamaki. An interesting graphic novel about a prep school for mutants, witches, and other kids with paranormal skills. These kids are also dealing with typical teen concerns: dating, prom, popularity, typical teen angst. It is not a story in the traditional sense; each set of strips contains it's own story. The humor is outrageous. Do not make the mistake of thinking this graphic novel is for kids though, because it definitely is not. Reluctant readers will find it engaging, as will readers in general.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Little Paris Bookshop

The Little Paris Bookshop is by Nina George. Jean Perdu owns a floating bookshop in Paris. He is known far and wide for his ability to match up the right book with the right person. Twenty years have passed since his lover left him with a letter which he has never opened. After a series of events cause him to open the letter, he sets off on his book barge headed towards the south of France on a journey of self-discovery hoping to make peace with his past. He is joined on the trip by a young writer, two cats, and an assortment of other characters. A touching story of love, pain, forgiveness and healing.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania is by Erik Larson. Another wonderful book by Larson, the King of Nonfiction writing. This book looks at the sinking of the British liner Lusitania on May 1, 1915 by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1962 passengers and crew, only 764 survived - 128 of the dead were Americans. The sinking of the Lusitania helped draw America into WWI. Larson also provides information on the German U-boat captain responsible for the disaster and the secret British intelligence unit who were tracking the U-boat but told no one. Larson brings history to life in a way few nonfiction writers are able to do. Along with all his novels, this book is A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

Ratings: 11th grade - 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The One-in-a-Million Boy

The One-in-a-Million Boy is by Monica Wood. Quinn Porter is a musician who has spent his life on the road. When his young son dies suddenly, his twice-ex-wife, guilts him into completing his son's Scouting commitment to help out a 104-year-old woman named Ona. As Ona and Quinn begin to build a relationship, Quinn learns to love the son he never understood, and Ona discovers she is still very much alive at 104. A heart-warming story with very lyrical prose. A beautifully written story about learning to live and love.

Ratings: 10th grade - 8.5 out of 10 - AC (some adult content) - P (profanity).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Norton Book of Light Verse

The Norton Book of Light Verse is edited by Russell Baker. A charming collection of verse divided into categories that make it easy to find what you are looking for. There are a wide selection of authors and time periods to wander through. An enjoyable introduction to light poetry.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity in some poems).

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Mr. Churchill's Secretary is by Susan Elia MacNeal. The first book in the Maggie Hope Mystery series. Set in London in 1940 on the eve of the Blitz, Maggie Hope, a Brit raised by her aunt in America after the death of her parents in a car accident when she was an infant, finds herself one of the secretaries for Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Maggie is remarkably gifted in mathematics and codebreaking. When she accidentally breaks a secret German code, she finds herself involved in a web of intrigue that may cost not only her life but the lives of those she loves. A very enjoyable piece of historical fiction.

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

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Persuasion is by Jane Austen. Classic Austen, fans of Pride and Prejudice will like Persuasion. Persuasion may even tempt those who are not fans of P&P. Anne Elliot was persuaded to break off her engagement with Frederick Wentworth because he was "beneath her family's class." Eight years later, both still unmarried, they meet again. The now wealthy "Captain" Wentworth appears again in her social circle. Is this their second chance? Can he forgive her, does he still love her? Can he be persuaded this time? Wonderful Austen fare. A must read classic book.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression is by Amity Shlaes. The graphic novel version of Shlaes' full blown novel. A long over due look at what caused the Great Depression and why it lasted so long. Shlaes is fair to all sides and doesn't paint either side of the aisle as all good or all bad. A must read for history lovers and those who want to understand how we got where we are today. A great way to introduce younger readers to important historical events in a way that will engage them.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us

Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us is by Murray Carpenter. A must read for those who drink coffee, tea, soda, and other sources of caffeine. At times Carpenter gets a little into the weeds with the science, but the book is easy to understand and follow. You will never look at caffeine in the same way again! Carpenter presents both the good and bad effects of the drug and provides the science from both sides. A well-researched and readable excursion into our favorite addiction.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10.

Pluto: Volume 1

Pluto: Volume 1 is by Naoki Urasawa. The first volume in a manga series based on the character Astroboy created by the legendary cartoonist Tezuka. The series opens in a futuristic society where robots and AI are common. A very popular robot, Mont Blanc, has been murdered. This is followed by the murder of a human; robot detective Gesicht is given the case. He discovers someone/thing is killing robots and he is on the list. A wonderful science fiction tale for readers who may find manga more accessible. This is definitely not a childish story or series and provides much content that is rich and thought provoking.

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

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Blue Labyrinth

Blue Labyrinth is by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The fourteenth installment in the Pendergast series. When a dead body arrives literally on Pendergast's doorstep, he finds himself plunged into a deadly game of cat and mouse that is more dangerous than anything he has ever faced. This episode involves Pendergast's family history, which then leads to a search for vengeance. As suspense-filled as any book in this fantastic series; fans will not be disappointed.

Ratings: Adult - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence).

Maus, Vol I: My Father Bleeds History #1

Maus, Vol I: My Father Bleeds History is by Art Spiegelman. This absorbing graphic novel tells of Spiegelman's father and mother, and their experiences as Polish Jews during WWII. Spiegelman interviews his father about his experiences and turns the interview into a graphic novel in which the Jews are represented by mice and the Nazis by cats. A moving tale, the first volume takes us from the mid-1930s until 1944 when Spiegelman's father and mother are taken to Auschwitz. A must read for young readers - reluctant readers especially.

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

The Circus of Dr. Lao

The Circus of Dr. Lao is by Charles G. Finney. This classic little book is a wonderful treat! When the unusual circus of Dr. Lao arrives in Abalone, Arizona, the citizens are treated to a variety of strange attractions such as a mermaid, a sphinx, a chimera, an ancient god, and other bizarre creatures. Set in a small town during the Great Depression, this is a classic work of speculative fiction. Warning: it is not politically correct in any way shape or form, so be prepared. For those of you who have seen the movie version, the book is similar - but there are differences. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read.

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

Thursday, June 2, 2016


Grendel is by John Gardner. A fabulous re-telling of Beowulf from the point of view of Grendel, the monster. A must read for anyone who has read the epic poem. Read this in tandem with Seamus Heaney's translation, they make a spectacular duo. Gardner never paints Grendel as less than evil, but you can't help walking away from the story without feeling for him. A wonderful book. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

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

The Immortal Realm

The Immortal Realm is by Frewin Jones. The fourth installment in the Faerie Path series. A plague is sweeping through the Faerie realm and Tania and her sisters seek help from the mortal world to save Faerie. Tania, Rathina, and Connor set out on a quest to find an ancient magic that will save everyone they love. Fans of the series will not be disappointed and will be anxious for the next installment.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is by Gabrielle Zevin. This charming story follows A.J. Fikry the grumpy, book-snob owner of a small bookstore located on isolated Alice Island. His wife recently died in an accident and he is struggling to cope with his loss. Then one day he meets a new publishing rep, has his prize collection of Poe stolen, and discovers an unexpected package left in his store that changes his life forever. A wonderful story about books, their place in our lives, and the power of love to help us overcome life's challenges.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend & Reality of Marie Laveau

A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend & Reality of Marie Laveau is by Carolyn Morrow Long. A fascinating look at the historical "Queen of Voudou" and New Orleans in general. Long does a great job of sifting through legend and myth to find the truth about Marie Laveau. A very well researched book, at times a little dry in the reading, but nevertheless a great read for anyone interested in learning more about historical New Orleans and the emergence of voudou and its most famous practitioner. Long shies away from voudou practices and sticks with historical information about the city and the people.

Ratings: Adult - 8 out of 10.

Monday, May 30, 2016


Beowulf is a new translation of the classic epic poem by Seamus Heaney. It takes a poet to translate poetry obviously. This is probably the best, and easiest to read, translation of Beowulf I have ever read. Beowulf is the epic tale of a hero taking on the monster Grendel and his mother to save a neighboring kingdom from certain destruction. Beowulf is a must read classic and this is the must read edition. Heaney's translation is lyrical and absolutely magnificent. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read; one of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

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

Eyes Like Stars

Eyes Like Stars is by Lisa Mantchev. The first book in the Theatre Illuminata series. Bertie has been raised in the magical Theatre Illuminata where characters from every play ever written live and perform. The actors are bound to the theatre by a magical book. When The Book, and the Theatre itself, are threatened it's up to Bertie to save everything she loves; to do so she must learn the truth about her past and the magical power she possesses. A charming and unique premise, promising an enjoyable series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Watership Down

Watership Down is by Richard Adams. The classic saga of a group of rabbits fleeing one home to search for another. Led by a pair of brothers, one of whom seems to see into the future, the group travels across the English countryside passing through various dangers to find the perfect home. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read. A classic tale of courage that's not just for kids.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store is by Robin Sloan. Clay is an out of work web designer, one day wandering San Francisco looking for a job he wanders into Mr. Penumbra's book store and his life changes forever. He finds himself a night clerk in a bookstore that hardly sells any books; its few customers come in to borrow books that are written in a strange code. Clay and his talented group of friends set out to solve the mystery of the Unbroken Spine. A touching story of the power of friendship and the magic of finding "just the right book." The ending is a little cheesy, but the story is extremely enjoyable.

Ratings: 10th grade - 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling is by Robert Galbraith. The first book in the Cormoran Strike series. Cormoran Strike is hard boiled detective. He lost a leg in Afghanistan and his relationship with his girlfriend has finally ended. He is living in his office, which he is about to lose due to debt. On the day his life seems to be falling apart, he finds himself with a new temporary secretary he can't afford and a new client who is rich. His new client is the half-brother of a famous supermodel who recently fell to her death from the balcony of her flat. The police believe the death to be suicide, her half-brother does not, and he wants Strike to prove it. A gripping crime novel for those who love the genre. Oh, and by the way, Robert Galbraith is the pen name of J.K. Rowling. This is her first crime novel and if you are thinking Harry Potter - DON'T.

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

Folk and Fairy Tales

Folk and Fairy Tales is edited by Martin Hallett and Barbara Karasek. A wonderful anthology of classic folk/fairy tales and some of their modern re-tellings. There are also a fantastic sampling of criticism and introductions to the various tales that should not be missed. These are not the Disneyfied versions of the tales; they are the originals so reader beware.

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

Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy

Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy is edited by Scott McMillin. A wonderful selection of Restoration drama completely annotated for contemporary readers. This book includes the following plays: The Country Wife, The Man of Mode, The Rover, The Way of the World, The Conscious Lovers, and The School for Scandal. If you have never read an example of these comedies of manners, you should.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

White Fire

White Fire is by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The thirteenth book in the Agent Pendergast series. Corrie Swanson wants to win the Rosewell Prize, and to do this she heads for a ski resort in Colorado built on the location of an old mining town to examine the bodies of eleven miners who were eaten by a bear 150 years ago. When she is denied access to the bodies, she breaks into a building to examine them and finds herself facing a ten year prison sentence. Enter Agent Pendergast, who arrives to rescue Corrie, and finds himself in the middle of a series of murders that might be linked to a missing Sherlock Holmes story penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1928. Another fantastically suspenseful and action-packed installment. Fans will NOT be disappointed.

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

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History is by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. A must read book about America's first conflict with radical Islamic states; yes, this conflict began long before 9/11. From the Presidency of George Washington, the Barbary states in north Africa had been taking American ships and enslaving American crews. Washington and Adams both tried to pay for peace; Jefferson determined to win it by force. This book documents the birth of the American Navy and Marine Corp and the success of our first war on foreign shores. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read. An excellent look at a chapter of American history we would do well to remember.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.

Freud in Oz: At the Intersection of Psychoanalysis and Children's Literature

Freud in Oz: At the Intersection of Psychoanalysis and Children's Literature is by Kenneth B. Kidd. A marriage of psychology and children's literary criticism which posits the symbiotic relationship between the two fields. I had to read this for a college class. Kidd looks at both genres of children's literature: trauma fiction, picture books, and fairy tales; and specific texts: the Pooh novels, the Oz series, Alice in Wonderland, and The Catcher in the Rye. It is not a textbook and I did find it interesting and worth the time it takes to read (it is only 205 pages), but I wouldn't take it to the beach for summer vacation.

Ratings: Adult - 7 out of 10.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Indemnity Only

Indemnity Only is by Sara Paretsky. The first book in the V.I. Warshawski series. For those readers unfamiliar with V.I., she is the typical Chicago private detective, only she's a woman. In this, her first appearance in print, we find her meeting an anonymous client. The "client" gives a false name and asks her to find his son's girlfriend whose name is also false. When she attempts to locate the girl she finds a dead body instead; the son of a prominent banker. Solving his death leads her into the seedy world of insurance fraud, corrupt union leaders, and hit men. If you're a Philip Marlowe fan, you'll fall in love with V.I. as well.

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

Station Eleven

Station Eleven is by Emily St. John Mandel. It's the end of the world as we know it. A flu pandemic has swept the earth and wiped out the majority of the world's population. This book focuses on a group of survivors all linked to a famous actor who died of a heart attack on the eve of the pandemic. The book is realistic and the premise is interesting. The way the book travels back and forth in time is well done. There are aspects of the plot that are not addressed and some of the characters in the book are a little weak, but the book was an enjoyable read.

Ratings: 11th grade - 7 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is by Katarina Bivald. A charming story about how books bring people together. Sara has been writing her pen pan (Amy) in Broken Wheel, Iowa for some time. When she arrives from Sweden for their long planned two month visit, it is on the day of Amy's funeral. The people of Broken Wheel, a dying town, want their visitor to stay as Amy had planned. When they refuse to let Sara pay for anything, she decides the way to pay the people for their kindness is to open a small bookstore with the house full of books she finds at Amy's. Eccentric idea, well Sara is an eccentric person and the effect she has on the residents of Broken Wheel is almost as incredible as the effect they have on Sara. A must read for book lovers.

Ratings: 12th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Adventures of Pinocchio

The Adventures of Pinocchio is by Carlo Collodi. Yes, this is the original version of the classic story of a puppet who wants to be a real boy. It is nothing like the Disney version, so know that going in. It is a much more powerful story than the Disneyfied version. Read this book, you will enjoy it immensely! A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

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

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches is by Deborah Harkness. The first book in the All Souls trilogy. Diana Bishop is a historian and a witch; a witch who doesn't use her magic. While doing research on ancient alchemical texts at Oxford she discovers a bewitched manuscript that witches, vampires, and demons all seem to want. Suddenly, Diana finds herself pursued by a host of creatures who think she has the power to get the manuscript for them. She finds she has no one to turn to for help but Matthew Clairmont. The problem is Matthew is a vampire and relationships between witches and vampires are forbidden. A wonderful book, full of action and historical references that delight and enlighten the reader.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence) - AC (some mature thematic content).

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Castle of Wizardry

Castle of Wizardry is by David Eddings. The fourth book in The Belgariad. Garion and his group have retrieved the Orb and must return it to the Hall of the Rivan King. There Garion discovers his true identity and learns the truth of his destiny. Fans of this series will not be able to wait for the final installment.

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

Rise of the Elgin

Rise of the Elgin is by Richard Paul Evans. The second book in the Michael Vey series. Michael and his friends have escaped the Elgin compound and now discover that Michael's mother is being held in Peru. With the help of a mysterious group, they head to South America to rescue her. Can they save his mother and bring down Elgin at the same time? An adventure-filled continuation of an interesting series.

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

The Prisoner of Cell 25

The Prisoner of Cell 25 is by Richard Paul Evans. The first book in the Michael Vey series. Michael Vey seems to be an ordinary kid, but he isn't. His father died when he was young and his mother works hard to make ends meet. Michael has Tourette's - oh, and he's electric. When Michael discovers the most popular girl in school, Taylor, is also electric, it sets in motion a series of events that change his life forever. His mother and Taylor are kidnapped and it's up to Michael, his friend Ostin and the two school bullies to save them.

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

Monday, March 28, 2016

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson. This memoir is one of the funniest books about the unfunny subject of mental illness I've ever read. Lawson is an absolute riot; she also gives great insight into life with a diagnosis of mental illness. If you've ever thought about going to Australia in a Koala suit, laminating your cats to keep them from shedding, strapping your taxidermy raccoons onto said cats and letting them ride around the house, or buying a taxidermy giraffe neck to place in your yard then this is the book for you. 

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

The Virtuoso

The Virtuoso is by Thomas Shadwell. The classic Restoration comedy satirizing the proponents of New Science in the seventeenth century. Sir Nicholas is constantly conducting "important" scientific experiments. Two of his followers, Bruce and Longvil are really after his nieces. A wonderful example of the drama of the era.

Ratings: 12th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is by Aimee Bender. On her 9th birthday, Rose discovers she can "taste" people's emotions in the food they make. Through this gift she discovers her mother's depression. Her father is distant, and her brother is a strange genius loner, each with secrets of their own. This is a family in emotional disarray, yet Bender makes their disorders believable, funny, and poignant. An interesting concept for a novel, worth the read though the plot and characters could have been developed further.

Ratings: Adult - 6 out of 10 - MP (profanity) - AC (some mature thematic content).

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Dragon Heir

The Dragon Heir is by Cinda Williams Chima. The third book in The Heir Chronicles. Jason sneaks into Raven's Ghyll and discovers an unknown cache of magical objects. He takes as many as he can carry, including the powerful Dragon's Heart, but he doesn't get away clean. He carries the jewel back to Trinity and now Trinity is under siege. Now Jason must bring the Elicitor, Madison Moss, back to Trinity to uncover the secret of the stone which could save them, or destroy them all. Fans of this series will not be disappointed!

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

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read. This is the classic true story of the Allied effort to save the world's art treasures and architecture from destruction during WWII. The small but gallant force of men and women who gave their all to save world culture for posterity is a story few know, but one that everyone should take the time to learn.

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

Friday, February 12, 2016


Armada is by Ernest Cline. Zach Lightman lives in Beaverton, Oregon with his mother. His father died in an accident when he was a baby. He works in a video game store and plays video games constantly. Then one day the alien space ship from the video game Armada arrives at his school. The game is real! The government has been using video games to seek out and train fighters to defend Earth from the upcoming alien invasion - wait! - the book is actually much better than this makes it sound. Zach is recruited into the Earth Defence Alliance and sent to Moon Base Alpha, but things are not as they appear. A very different read from Ready Player One, though 80s references are still in evidence.

Ratings: 11th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content).


Found is by Harlan Coban. The third book in the Mickey Bolitar series. Mickey is living with the guilt of Spoon's injury, Rachel isn't speaking to him, and he is digging up his father's coffin to discover if his father might be alive. Secrets abound in this third installment. What really happened to Mickey's dad? What is the truth behind a basketball player's disappearance? Who is the mysterious guy Ema met on the internet? What is Mickey willing to do to be accepted by the basketball team? Another fast-paced action-packed adventure in a series boys will love. This one will make you think about keeping secrets and telling the truth and the consequences that follow.

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

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Chaperone

The Chaperone is by Laura Moriarty. A wonderful piece of historical fiction. The story introduces soon-to-be movie star Louise Brooks, who goes to study dance in New York City at fifteen with her thirty-six year-old chaperone - Cora Carlisle. You think the story will be about Brooks, but it's really the coming of age of Cora. She has to deal with her past in order to embrace her future in a time of great change in our country. A beautifully written book, thoroughly enjoyable. The hallmark of good historical fiction is when you want to go out and read more nonfiction about the subject. This book made me hunt for information on Brooks.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America

Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America is by Mark Levin. A fantastic look at the history of the men and women who have served, and serve, on the Supreme Court; how they have usurped power from the other branches of government; and how the country is in danger of becoming an oligarchy instead of a constitutional republic. Levine walks us back through history and explains the important cases and how those decisions affect us today. He also makes some thought provoking suggestions on how to constitutionally reign in unelected unaccountable judges.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

On the Road

On the Road is by Jack Kerouac. This American classic is one that everyone should read. It seems a little dated at times, being written in the late 1950s, but it is still a wonderful look at individuals who don't quite fit in to "normal" societal roles. It is no wonder this novel was the bible of the Beat movement. This is the story of Sal Paradise and his friends. He is convinced by his buddy Dean Moriarty to head out and see the country. This "travelogue" takes him across America several times and even down into Mexico. It is a stunning look at the misfits of American culture from an insiders point of view. "Definitely one of the 1001 books you must read before you die." If nothing else, it will make you glad you missed those rollicking days of sex, drugs, booze, and jazz; but it's still fun to go there vicariously.

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

Leven Thumps and the Ruins of Alder

Leven Thumps and the Ruins of Alder is by Obert Skye. The fifth and final volume in the Leven Thumps series. Winter and Geth make their way into reality to fight the Dearth, while Leven is taken to the island of Alder to speak with the oldest of trees in a final effort to save both reality and Foo. An ending fans should find most satisfactory.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.