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).