Sunday, December 31, 2017

Parnassus on Wheels

Parnassus on Wheels is by Christopher Morley. A book lovers historical fiction novella set in the early 1900s. Roger Mifflin roams the country in a traveling book wagon he has named Parnassus. His goal is to convince everyone he meets of the importance of reading. When he decides to sell Parnassus to Miss Helen McGill, who buys Parnassus to make sure her brother doesn't, rollicking good times result. Helen discovers a woman can have adventures of her own and that books really can change people's lives. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Conference of Birds

The Conference of Birds is retold by Peter Sis. This book is based on a 12th century work by Persian poet Farid Ud-Din Attar. Sis has taken the epic poem and reworked in a beautifully illustrated story. The poem is an allegorical tale of a group of birds who band together to seek their true king, Simorgh, who lives on a distant mountain. The text is compelling and the artwork is simply gorgeous. A wonderful book for reader's of all ages.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

My Friend Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer is by Derf Backderf. Ok, this is creeeepy! A nonfiction graphic novel written by a high school classmate of serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. Backderf manages to make you feel pity for Dahmer, while never excusing his horrendous crimes. The graphics are extremely well done and give you a real feel for what is happening. You will walk away from this book asking the same question Backderf asks, "where were the adults"? If someone had paid attention, would Dahmer's victims still be alive?

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


One is by Sarah Crossan. Wow, just wow! This is a fiction-in-verse novel about two co-joined twins, Grace and Tippi. A moving piece of realistic fiction that gives the reader an inside look at what it means to be an individual, what it means to love, and what it means to face adversity in life. This book will make you laugh; it will make you cry; most of all, it will make you feel. A must-read for all young readers.

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

Rain, Four Walks in English Weather

Rain, Four Walks in English Weather is by Melissa Harrison. A magnificent little nonfiction work! This is Harrison's account of four different walks she took in various parts of England in the rain. The four essays are short, but beautifully and descriptively written. A great example of beautiful nature writing; it will make you want to book a flight to England and pray for rain.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.

Bluebird Bluebird

Bluebird, Bluebird is by Attica Locke. Darren Matthews is an African American Texas Ranger. On suspension pending a grand jury decision, Darren is contacted by a friend at the FBI and asked to investigate two murders in a small town in East Texas. The bodies of a black man and a white woman have been found, and Darren must decide if race is a factor in the murders. But is anything in this case what it seems, can Darren solve the crimes and save himself in the process? An excellent work of multi-cultural crime fiction.

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

Friday, December 29, 2017


Yentl is by Leah Napolin based on the short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. This classic play is the story of a Jewish girl, Yentl, who wants to study the Torah, an activity forbidden to girls in Poland in the 1800s. After the death of her father, she sells everything, cuts her hair, disguises herself as a boy, and leaves town. She enrolls in school in a nearby town. There she falls in love with Avigdor, and decides to marry the girl he loves - because nothing can possibly go wrong with that.

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

The Tempest

The Tempest is by William Shakespeare. The classic play following the adventures of Prospero and his daughter Miranda who have been shipwrecked on an island with only the creature Caliban and the spirit Ariel for company. Prospero is the former Duke of Milan who was ousted by his brother Antonio with the help of the King of Naples, Alonso. Prospero is a magician and arranges for a ship carrying Antonio, Alonso, Alonso's son Ferdinand, and various others to be caught in a storm and shipwrecked on his island so he can seek his revenge and regain his dukedom. A classic tale of revenge, forgiveness, and love. This particular version of the play is perfect for students who have limited knowledge of the Bard' work.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is by Douglas Adams. The second installment in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. This science fiction classic follows the continuing adventures of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Trillian, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and the robot Marvin. The hapless crew finds themselves involved in a plot to meet the person who rules the universe, someone only Zaphod can find; and the quest for the ultimate question, the answer is 42, which Marvin informs Arthur he already knows - he does, and the hilarity of the question is worth the price of the book.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is by Douglas Adams. The first book in the series of the same name. This science fiction classic tells the story of Arthur Dent, who is rescued by Ford Prefect, from the destruction of Earth - the Vogon's needed an express route through the galaxy and Earth was in the way. Ford, an alien himself, is conducting research for a revised edition of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Dent and Ford find themselves traveling the galaxy in a space ship stolen by Zaphod Beeblebrox and his girlfriend, a fellow Earthling named Trillian. The is a must read farce for anyone who loves science fiction, skip the movie it sucks.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.

Luke Skywalker Can't Read: And Other Geeky Truths

Luke Skywalker Can't Read: And Other Geeky Truths is by Ryan Britt. A brilliantly written series of essays about everything science fiction and fantasy related. Britt discusses the important works of both genres and examines their effects on society. From Star Wars to Dr. Who; from Star Trek to Back to the Future; from Barbarella to Batman, Britt regales readers with thought provoking, and humorous, insights into our fascination with other worlds and the characters who inhabit them. A must read for lovers of both genres.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity).

The Duel

The Duel is by Giacomo Casanova. A re-working of the duel Casanova described in his memoir. It tells the tale of his trip to Eastern Europe and the duel he engages in after being insulted after a ballet. The novella is a look at society in the mid 1700s, and Casanova's travels in Europe and the social strata in which he moved.

Ratings: 10th grade - 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star is by Maureen Johnson. The first in the Shades of London fantasy series. Rory Deveaux has come from small town Louisiana to a boarding school in London. As she arrives, a series of murders begin which mirror the infamous Jack the Ripper murders of 100 years previous. While visiting a murder site near her school, Rory sees a man who might just be the killer; the problem is only she can see him. Rory has a unique, but previously unknown talent, she can see ghosts. Now she must work with a small group of others who share her "gift" to stop the new "Ripper" before he kills again.

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

Portrait in Black

Portrait in Black is by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts. A magnificent realistic fiction play about murder and guilt. A shipping tycoon has died, but was it a natural death or murder. The play centers around the tycoon's widow, his lawyer, his doctor, his daughter, and her boyfriend who is leading a labor strike against the shipping company. One murder leads to another, and the ending is marvelously vague. This drama is definitely worth a read, if you can't find a performance of it to attend.

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

The Duel

The Duel is by Heinrich Von Kleist. This brilliant historical fiction novella is set in the Middle Ages. It is the tale of a noblewoman accused of sexual impropriety with a nobleman. This Count uses his alleged liaison as an alibi for his brother's murder. When Littegarde's friend demands trial by battle, an appeal to God's judgment on her guilt, the result is a stunning piece of realistic fiction where everyone gets what they deserve. A wonderfully engaging story of justice being served.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Horla

The Horla is by Guy De Maupassant. This magnificent little novella chronicles one man's descent into madness, or does it? The narrator claims he is being stalked by an invisible creature he calls "the Horla." De Maupassant wrote three versions of this realistic/historical fiction tale, all are contained the in edition published by "The Art of the Novella" series. All three are well worth the read and make a wonderful study in an author's process of revising his work.

Ratings: 10th grade - 8 out of 10.

Don't Go Away Mad

Don't Go Away Mad is by William Saroyan. A strange drama set in a hospital. The play revolves around patients in a hospital who all have chronic illnesses, which are never defined. These six men are struggling to find some meaning to their deaths, meaning they lacked in their lives. It is a powerful poignant, but challenging play.

Ratings: 11th grade - 7 out of 10 - P (profanity).

Bartleby the Scrivener

Bartleby the Scrivener is by Herman Melville. Widely regarded as the beginning of modernism, this novella is the tale of a strange clerk. Bartleby copies legal documents, but refuses to complete tasks he "prefers" not to complete. It is a strange, yet compelling, tale and well worth the short amount of time needed to read it, which is much shorter than the time you will be thinking about it after reading it.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10.


Museum is by Rita Dove. An amazing collection of poetry by this prize-winning poet. A great introduction to her poetry, and a nice collection for poetry lovers in general.

Ratings: 10th grade - 8 out of 10.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is by Tennessee Williams. Williams' famous drama about two brothers vying for their dying father's fortune. The play centers around Big Daddy who is dying of cancer. His two sons, and their wives, have come home to the plantation house to compete for their father's multi-million dollar inheritance. The play is filled with family drama, family secrets, and loads of sexual tension. A must-read play for those interested in the great works of the American theater.

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

I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916

I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 is by Lauren Tarshis. A great introduction to historical fiction for younger readers. This is the story of the a young boy who survived the great white shark attacks off the Eastern seaboard in 1916. These attacks were the basis for "Jaws." Some of attacks occurred in a river, not in the ocean; this is the story of one of those attacks.

Ratings: 5th grade - 6 out of 10.

It Devours

It Devours is by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor. Another Welcome to Night Vale novel, this entertaining science fiction series is a delight for those who follow the "Welcome to Night Vale" podcast, but you don't need to follow the podcast to enjoy the book. Nilanjana is a scientist who works with Carlos, they are trying to investigate the pits that are appearing in the desert and are also destroying buildings and people in Night Vale. Nilanjana discovers a link between the phenomena and the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God; she befriends Darryl, one of its most ardent members, to get inside the church and find out what is going on - typical Night Vale hijinks ensue. Fans will be thrilled; this is also a great introduction to those new to Night Vale - be warned this podcast is highly addictive.

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

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Days: 12 Stories & 12 Feasts for 12 Days

Christmas Days: 12 Stories & 12 Feasts for 12 Days is by Jeanette Winterson. A collection of magical short stories all revolving around Christmas. Some of these selections are creepy ghost stories, "The Second Best Bed, "A Ghost Story;" others deal specifically with the special magic of the Christmas season "Spirit of Christmas" and "The SnowMama." They are all worth reading. The stories are interspersed with Winterson's remembrances of past Christmas celebrations and the food associated with each memory. Some of the recipes are definitely worth trying. A magical way to prepare yourself for a magical season. You can try reading one story of day, but will find it hard to stop at one.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Snow Child

The Snow Child is by Eowyn Ivey. A brilliant piece of historical fiction with touches of magical realism, this book is a real gem. Set in turn of the century Alaska, it is the story of a middle aged couple who moves to the Alaskan frontier after the death of their newborn child. Jack and Mabel drift apart as they struggle to carve out a farm in the forbidding environment of Alaska. Then one winter they make a "snow child" in the snow, and the next morning see a small child hiding in the forest. The story follows the evolution of their relationship with the mystical Faina, the daughter they never had, and their own struggles to restore their marriage. This is a touching and wonderful story. Alaska is every bit as much a character in this book as the human ones, a beautifully written tale of the power of love.

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

Picnic, Lightning

Picnic, Lightning is by Billy Collins. Collins is a wonderful poet, my favorite modern poet, after Mary Oliver of course. His poems are brilliantly written and a joy to read. If you are looking for an entrance point into modern poetry, you could hardly do better than this small collection.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Painted Queen

The Painted Queen is by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess. The final installment in the Amelia Peabody series of mysteries. This unfinished manuscript was completed by Ms. Hess after the death of Ms. Peters. Fans of this series of historical fiction mysteries set in Egypt will be sad the end has come. Amelia and Emerson are trying to track the down the original bust of Queen Nefertiti which has been stolen and is being copied by forgers, while being chased by a family of assassins. Another day in the life of the Emerson family. I love this series and am so sad to see it end. Amelia's snarky humor and the adventures of the Father of Curses, Sitt Hakim, the Brother of Demons and Nur Misur will be missed.

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

The Melting of Maggie Bean

The Melting of Maggie Bean is by Tricia Rayburn. Maggie is an overweight teenager who wants to become a member of the school synchronized swim team. She began gaining weight when her father lost is job and things at home began to be tense. She tries hard to loose weight and practice the routines with help from a friend; things of course, don't go as planned. A cute middle grade realistic fiction; a quick and easy read.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories

"The Yellow Wallpaper" and Other Stories" is by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. A wonderful book of realistic short stories from a woman's point of view. "The Yellow Wallpaper" is probably Gilman's most famous story a woman going mad. "Cottagette" is the story of a woman trying to convince a man to marry her. "Turned" is the story of a wife who discovers her husband has been unfaithful with a servant. The other stories are equally brilliantly written. A great introduction to the art of the short story.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10 - AC (some mild adult content).

Monday, December 4, 2017

An Antic Disposition

An Antic Disposition is by Alan Gordon. This is the fifth in the Fool's Guild Mystery series. I admit I love this series. This particular installment is a retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet from the view of the Fool's Guild. Gordon manages to beautifully weave the play into the mythos of his Fool's Guild characters. This historical fiction mystery made me want to read Hamlet again. Fans of this series, of which I am one, will enjoy this installment.

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

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Graphic Novel

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Graphic Novel is by Nel Yomtov. A wonderful introduction to Shakespeare's classic play. This graphic novel is beautifully drawn and well written; it is easy to read and faithful to the original. This would be a great way to introduce young readers to Shakespeare.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me is by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This powerful multi-cultural memoir takes the form of a treatise on American culture written by Coates to his teenage son. A powerful take on race in America from a modern African American perspective. While you may not agree with everything Coates has to say or the conclusions he draws, this is still a book worth reading.

Ratings: 9th grade - 7 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content).


Beloved is by Toni Morrison. The classic work of multi-cultural historical fiction that is a must read for everyone. It is the story of Sethe, who was born a slave, then escaped to Ohio to live with her mother-in-law whose freedom had been purchased by her son Halle. Sethe's three children had previously been sent to live with their grandmother. Sethe has been brutalize before her escape and when her old master shows up in Ohio trying to recapture Sethe and her children, she commits a drastic act that changes all their lives forever. This is a wonderful, but sometimes hard to read, novel of pain, love, revenge, and redemption. It shows how painful finding yourself can be. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Possessing the Secret of Joy

Possessing the Secret of Joy is by Alice Walker. A wonderful, but painful, work of historical fiction. This story contains characters we met in The Color Purple. Tashi and Adam are married and have returned to the United States. Tashi, however, is suffering severe mental and emotional problems related to the female genital mutilation she underwent while in Africa. This story is told from multiple points of view and flashes back and forth in time. It is a powerful story of the horrors of FGM and the terrible effects this practice has on the, sometimes very young girls, and women who have experienced it. This is a must read book, but it is hard to read at times due to the horror of the events described.

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale is by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. The first book in the Welcome to Night Vale series. This book is based on the popular "Welcome to Night Vale" podcast series. Jackie runs the local pawnshop and has a very set routine, until one day she is given a slip of paper that says "King City." The problem: she can't get rid of the paper and can't remember anything about the man who gave it to her. Diane Crayton's fifteen-year-old shape-shifter son wants to meet his dad, who Diane keeps seeing all over town, even though he left town shortly after Josh was born. She has also seen a mysterious man she can't remember who speaks to her of King City. Diane and Jackie attempt to solve their own mysteries and discover King City and the mysterious man may be the key for both of them. A completely quirky and strange science fiction novel. Never having listened to any of the podcasts, I am now tempted to do so - Night Vale sounds like my kind of town.

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

Scraps of Paper

Scraps of Paper is by Kathryn Meyer Griffith. The first book in the Spookie Town Mystery series. Thirty years ago a mother and her two young children went missing from the town of Spookie never to be heard from again. When Abigail moves to Spookie after the murder of her husband, she only wants some peace and quiet in which to paint and heal. As she refurbishes her new home she finds scraps of paper written by the missing children and decides to try and find out what happened to them. Abigail finds some help from a former Chicago cop named Frank; as she and Frank attempt to solve the mystery, old secrets emerge that someone in Spookie will kill to keep secret. A nice little supernatural mystery and quick read.

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


Binti is by Nnedi Okorafor. The first book in the Binti series. A stunning science fiction novella set in a not too distant future. I ❤ me a whole lot of Okorafor. Her work is always such an enjoyable reading experience. Binti is the first member of the Himba people ever to be accepted into the prestigious Oomza University. Her family and friends don't want her to leave the planet, but Binti is determined to follow her dreams. On her journey to the planet on which the University is located, Binti's ship is attacked by the Meduse and everyone aboard is killed except for Binti and the pilot. The Meduse seek to invade Oomza and destroy it and everyone there, or be destroyed. As Binti struggles to understand what has protected her from the Meduse, she discovers the war is not as she has long believed, and she is the only person who can end it once and for all. A powerfully provoking novella.

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

The Cancer Journals

The Cancer Journals is by Audre Lorde. A compelling memoir by poet and writer Audre Lorde. Lorde looks at her battle with breast cancer, and details how both she and those around her dealt with her diagnosis and surgery. A thought provoking work, whether or not you agree with everything Lorde writes.

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

A Beautiful Blue Death

A Beautiful Blue Death is by Charles Finch. The first book in the Charles Lenox Mystery series. A charming historical fiction mystery tale set in Victorian London. Charles Lenox is a gentleman who has a talent for solving mysteries. When his neighbor's former servant dies, supposedly suicide, Lady Jane asks Charles to discover the truth. The truth turns out to be much more involved than even a simple murder. The death is linked to very powerful men in the government and a large stash of gold. If you like Victorian mysteries, you will thoroughly enjoy this series

Ratings: 10th grade - 8 out of 10.

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas is by John Scalzi. OMG! What a fantastic science fiction read. If you ever followed Star Trek, and even if you didn't, you will LOVE this hilarious novel. It follows the crew of the Capital Ship Intrepid as it boldly goes where no man has...sorry. Andrew is part of a new contingent of crewmen (and woman) who discover that there is something strange about the Intrepid. On every Away Mission with the ship's officer's the lowly crewpersons (the Redshirts) die, while the ship's officers manage to escape mostly unscathed. Determined to survive, Andrew and his friends set out to discover what is happening on board the Intrepid and stop it from happening to them. This novel is a delightful farce and laugh-out-loud funny. If you have any interest in science fiction, or have ever watched Star Trek you MUST read this book.

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

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls is by Patrick Ness. This is the wonderfully beautiful and sad story of Conor whose father has left the family and whose mother has a critical illness, you suspect it's a form of cancer. One night, as his mother's condition worsens, he is visited by a monster. The monster claims it is there to help and will tell Connor three stories after which, Conor will tell the fourth story. As his mother's situation becomes worth, he must battle his grandmother, his father, kids at his school, and his own nightmares to find the truth he must face to survive. A fantastic story! You can't help but feel for Conor, and his feelings are completely understandable to those who have suffered loss. The illustrations are striking and add to the creepy feel of the novel.

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Study in Scarlet Women

A Study in Scarlet Women is by Sherry Thomas. The first in the Lady Sherlock series. A fascinating reworking of Sherlock Holmes mythos. In this fine historical fiction re-do Sherlock Holmes is really Charlotte Holmes, Dr. Watson is replaced by Mrs. Watson, her female benefactress, and Inspector Lestrade is replaced by Inspector Treadles. Charlotte wants to be independent and have her own life, she arranges this by committing society's unpardonable sin for a woman. After leaving home, she is taken in by an older woman who helps her set up a "detective" agency. Charlotte's first case involves proving her own sister and father are not guilty of several society deaths. This story is incredibly well written, but is dark and not written in the typical Sherlock Holmes style; it is however, well worth the read. I hope the second book in the series is as enjoyable.

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

Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof is by Joseph Stein. The wonderful musical play based on Russian Jewish life in the early 1900's. The play focuses on Tevye and his family in the Russian village of Anatevka. Tevye and his wife have five daughters and the play centers on three of them falling in love and getting married in the middle of the Jewish pogroms carried out in Tsarist Russia. This version of the play includes the lyrics of the beautiful songs from the musical. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read and a classic drama.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.

My Favorite Things is Monsters Volume 1

My Favorite Thing is Monsters Volume 1 is by Emil Ferris. Wow, I don't know what else to say - just WOW! This is one of the most beautifully drawn graphic novels I have ever seen. It is a work of art. It took me forever to finish the book because I kept studying the pictures. This is the story of a young girl whose mother is dying of cancer, whose father is out of the picture, and whose brother is, let's just say "not as clean and pure as the wind-driven snow." It is set in Chicago in the late 1960s. Karen Reyes wants to be a monster, she doesn't want to be a girl. When her neighbor is killed she tries to determine who might have done it, while dealing with her mother's illness, her own same sex feelings, and her brother's troubles. The story is powerfully told and poignant, but it's the artwork that makes this book a keeper.

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

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Jackaby is by William Ritter. The first book in the Jackaby series. A charming fantasy series that the "Chicago Tribune" hales as a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The story takes place in New England in 1892, in the fictional town of New Fiddleham. Abigail Rook has recently arrived and desperately needs a job. She spots an advertisement for an assistant and proceeds to the home of R.F. Jackaby who investigates the "unexplained." Jackaby agrees to a trial period and Abigail finds herself helping him track down a supernatural serial killer. This is a wonderful series that is fast paced and action packed. You won't be able to wait for the next installment.

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

The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw is by Henry James. The classic tale of two children haunted by ghosts, and the devoted governess who tries to save them. This novella is a classic must read tale with an ending that is completely unexpected. If you love gothic ghost stories, then this is one you shouldn't miss.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.

Fluff My Life: I Hate Fairyland Volume 2

Fluff My Life: I Hate Fairyland Volume 2 is by Skottie Young. The story continues with Gertrude, who is now Queen of Fairyland, continuing her quest to find a way back home. Hijinx, of course, ensue and Fairyland itself may not survive her quest. A bloody and "bloody" funny series of graphic fantasy novels.

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Passing is by Nella Larsen. This historical fiction novella is the story of two acquaintances who chance to meet at a hotel in Chicago. Clare is so light skinned she is able to "pass" as white, and has married a racist white man who has no idea is wife is mixed race. Irene is also fair skinned enough to "pass" as white, but she has acknowledged her heritage and has married an African-American doctor and lives in Harlem. Both are wealthy, although, Clare's husband is very rich. Clare wants to spend time with her "people," but she can't risk her husband discovering her secret heritage. Irene finds herself swept into Clare's life, not entirely willingly, and both women must confront the truth of being African-American in the 1920s and the lies we tell ourselves to cope with life. A wonderful book and one that everyone should read.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content) - P (racial language of the time).

The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man

The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man is by James Weldon Johnson. The classic historical fiction story of a light skinned African-American who is able to "pass" as white. His mother is African-American, his father a well-to-do white man who will not acknowledge his mixed race child. The unnamed narrator describes his childhood in Connecticut, his brutal realization that he is "not white;" his decision to go South to college; and his later experiences in New York City. The story is moving and a powerful look at the African-American experience in America. This is definitely a book everyone should read.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10 - AC (some mature thematic content) - P (racial language is of the period).

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is by Frederick Douglass. The short, but poignant, autobiography of Douglass and his struggle from slave, to free man, to writer, to abolitionist leader. A must read for everyone, and a book you must read before you die.

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

Saturday, August 19, 2017

To Murder a Saint

To Murder a Saint is by Nicole Loughan. The first book in the Saints Mystery series. Fanchon and Josephine are best friends from the Louisiana bayou. They moved to New York City because Fanchon wants to play in a symphony orchestra and Josephine wants to be a writer. They have only been in New York several months when Fanchon comes home and discovers Josephine has literally been butchered in their apartment. The rest of this very short story is the search for Josephine's killer. I was surprised the book was so short, but I did enjoy the story.

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

Friday, August 11, 2017


Fables is by Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, and Craig Hamilton. A charming series of graphic novels based on the award winning comic book series. Fairy tale legends have been driven out of their homelands by an evil villain called, "the Adversary." They have settled in modern New York state, the more human-looking legends live in New York City, the less human-looking legends live on a farm in the country - both collectively called "Fabletown." The series follows their various adventures. The artwork is beautiful and the stories are fun, witty, and thoroughly enjoyable.

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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age is by Sherry Turkle. READ THIS BOOK - I mean it, seriously, EVERYONE read this book. This book takes on our technology addiction and its consequences for society in a very readable and understandable way. Turkle does not want us to get rid of technology, but to use it in a way that doesn't destroy our ability to talk to and listen to one another. She provides quotes from students, business people, and others who really make you stop and think. This is a phenomenal read and one I plan to push on everyone I can. It is written in a way that even high school readers will be able to understand it and process the information. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

Ratings: 10th grade - 10 out of 10.

Monday, July 24, 2017

When the Killing's Done

When the Killing's Done is by T.C. Boyle. Alma Boyd Takesue is a biologist for the National Park Service. She is leading the charge to remove invasive species from California's Channel Islands so that native species will have a chance at survival, and removal equals kill. Dave LaJoy is the head of a group who is trying to stop the government from killing the rats and feral pigs that are destroying the native species of fox and birds. This is a story of the battle between these two individuals to advance environmental causes in the way they each think is best. The story also flips back and forth in time to provide the backstory of Alma and other characters in the story. Although at times the writing is beautiful and the descriptions are exquisite, this novel just didn't do it for me. The story seemed fragmented and boring in places. As Auden would say, I can see it's good, but it's not for me. This should not discourage others from giving it a try.

Ratings: Adult - 2 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rip Tide

Rip Tide is by Kat Falls. The second book in the Dark Life series. When Ty's parents are kidnapped, he and Gemma must use all of their gifts to find them before it's too late. No one seems to care that his parents are gone or that entire townships are missing. Ty finds help from unlikely sources, but can any of them really be trusted and are they "really" trying to help him. If you enjoyed the first book, you will enjoy this one as well.

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

The Brimstone Key

The Brimstone Key is by Derek Benz & J.S. Lewis. The first book in The Clockwork Chronicles series, which is a follow-up series to The Grey Griffins series. The Grey Griffins are now enrolled in Iron Bridge Academy, where "special" students learn to fight the forces of evil. Things, of course, are not as they seem and the Griffins must risk their lives to protect each other and the other students who are in danger from the dreaded Clockwork King. Fans of the first series will enjoy this one as well.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.

Alfred and Guinevere

Alfred and Guinevere is by James Schuyler. A strange, but fun, little novella about two siblings who have been sent to their grandparents' home for the summer. The story is told alternately by both children in various ways, including entries from Guinevere's diary and letters. This was presented as a children's book, but that doesn't seem correct. While the voices of the children are absolutely accurate for their ages, there are adult themes that run through the novel that are never fully explained. Their parents are having issues, but it is never clear why or if they are finally resolved. It sometimes takes concentration to follow who is speaking, but the banter between the kids is priceless and worth the effort. Anyone with a sibling will find at least one conversation they remember having.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath is by John Steinbeck. The classic historical fiction tale of the Joad family set during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era. The Joads lose their farm in Oklahoma and with thousands of other families head for California where they believe they will find work. California, however, does not turn out to be the Promised Land of their dreams. While I don't like this novel as much as I do East of Eden, it is a must read classic. The story of the Joads is tragic from start to the horrifically sad finish. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

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

The Hidden Girl: A True Story of the Holocaust

The Hidden Girl: A True Story of the Holocaust is by Lola Rein Kaufman. The true story of a Jewish child in Poland during WWII. After her parents were killed by the Nazi's, her grandmother arranges to smuggle Lola out of the ghetto and into the home of a woman named Anna who hides her. The book is written for younger readers so many of the brutal horrors of the War are glossed over, but readers will still feel for this small child who must struggle to find herself in a world that is not always a wonderful place. A good introductory novel of the Holocaust.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Adventures of the Greek Heroes

Adventures of the Greek Heroes is by Mollie McLean and Anne Wiseman. This is charming collection of the heroes of Greek mythology written for younger readers. It contains the stories of Hercules, Theseus, Perseus, Jason, and others. All have been edited for a younger audience. This is the perfect book to read to kids to introduce them to Greek mythology and its heroes.

Ratings: 5th grade - 8 out of 10.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Uncommon Reader

The Uncommon Reader is by Alan Bennett. This novella is a must read for anyone who loves reading. Bennett tells a charming fictionalized story of the Queen of England who by chance finds herself in a mobile library and feels compelled to leave with a book. She begins to read and evolves into a voracious reader, much to the chagrin of those around her. The way this book talks about reading will resonant with readers everywhere, and the humorous parts of the book that show how nonreaders view readers will be familiar to all voracious readers. The story also gives you an inside look at what it might be like to be royalty. You can read this novella in about two hours, which will be two hours well spent.

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

I Survived the Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79

I Survived the Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79 is by Lauren Tarshis. The tenth book in the I Survived series. A cute little historical fiction book that takes us back to ancient Rome. Marcus and his father are runaway slaves who just happen to find themselves in Pompeii on the day Mount Vesuvius erupts and destroys the city. This book may make young readers desire to learn more about the real incident and Tarshis provides a list of books to help the curious on their way.

Ratings: 5th grade - 7 out of 10.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes is by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The first book in the classic Tarzan series. Unless you have been living in a lead mine you know the story: Lord Greystoke and his pregnant wife are marooned in Africa. They die, but a "great ape" takes their child and raises it as her own to replace her own child who has died. Tarzan is raised in the jungle and becomes its ruler. When another group of Brits are marooned in his jungle, he falls for the beautiful Jane Porter. You will need to willingly suspend your disbelief at Tarzan's ability to teach himself to read and write English, though, of course, not to speak it - but all in all it's a quick and fun adventure read. If you have never read the book and only watched the movies, you need to read the book.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Poor Clare

The Poor Clare is by Elizabeth Gaskell. This gothic novella is the story of a cursed girl and the lawyer who loves her. It is set during the social and political turmoil of Victorian England. It uses a family curse to demonstrate the harshness of class in English society and the tensions between Catholics and Protestants. When a gentleman kills the dog of a poor old woman, she utters a curse on his family that will come back to haunt her as well. A creepy, but powerfully written, story.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Seafaring Lore & Legend: A Miscellany of Maritime Myth, Superstition, Fable, & Fact

Seafaring Lore & Legend: A Miscellany of Maritime Myth, Superstition, Fable, & Fact is by Peter D. Jeans. A rollicking romp through maritime history and legend. The book covers explorers, sea monsters, famous sea battles, mermaids, mutinies, fabled lands, and all manner of maritime superstition and lore. This would be a great entrance for boys into nonfiction, though girls will find it fun as well. The book is well-researched and footnoted, and ends with a lengthy bibliography for interested readers to pursue further.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke

The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke is by Theodore Roethke. A wonderful collection of Roethke's beautiful poetry. Some of his poems are funny, some are serious, all are worth reading. Some of his poems about nature are exquisite.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Denise Levertov: Poems 1960-1967

Denise Levertov: Poems 1960-1967 is by Denise Levertov. A very good collection of Levertov's poetry; fans of Levertov will love this collection. Those who have not yet experienced Levertov's poetry could do worse than starting here.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology is by Neil Gaiman. A wonderful collection of Norse mythology. Gaiman takes the tales from the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, and makes them understandable and easy to read. We learn of the beginning of the gods, various stories of their adventures, and the end of the gods when Ragnarok comes. The stories of the strong, but not so bright, Thor; Loki, who is nothing but trouble and still manages to save the gods numerous times; and all the other gods of Norse mythology. A beautiful rendering of the stories central to Norse myths and legends.

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

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Uprooted is by Naomi Novik. A fantasy tale based on Eastern European fairy tales. Agnieszka lives in a village next to the Woods that constantly try to destroy the humans who live near them. The villages close to the Woods rely on the wizard Sarkan, the Dragon, to protect them from the evil in the Woods. However, to assure this protection they must not only provide supplies, but every ten years they must also provide a young woman to serve him. Everyone in Agnieszka's village believe Sarkan will choose the beautiful Kasia, but he makes another choice instead, one which will change everything.

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

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Displacement: A Travelogue

Displacement: A Travelogue is by Lucy Knisley. The author of French Milk and Relish is back with another graphic memoir. This time Lucy is heading off on a Caribbean cruise with her 91 and 93-year-old grandparents. She wants them to have fun, but can she keep up with their needs. Her grandmother's memory is mostly gone and her grandfather's health is tenuous as well. Knisley weaves the story of the cruise with passages from her grandfather's journal written about his experiences in WWII. The memoir is sad and funny, and a reminder to all of us that mortality is never as far away as we would like. It also reminds us of the power of love and family. The artwork is beautifully drawn and the text is well written.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity).

The Elfstones of Shannara

The Elfstones of Shannara is by Terry Brooks. The second book in the Shannara series. The Ellcrys is dying; the Ellcrys is the magical tree which has protected the land of the Elves from the demons it's magic has kept banished for thousands of years. Even as the Ellcrys makes her Chosen aware she is dying, the Forbidding weakens and a few powerful demons break through determined to make sure the Ellcrys and her Chosen are destroyed forever. When the murder of the Chosen is discovered, the mysterious Druid Allanon returns to inform the elven king that one Chosen still lives; Amberle must be found and must embark on a quest to restore the Ellcrys. Allanon must stay behind to help the elves hold off the demon armies, so he sends Wil Ohmsford (grandson of the famous Shea Ohmsford and possessor of the magical Elfstones of Shannara which only he can wield) to protect Amberle on her quest. If you enjoyed The Sword of Shannara, you will enjoy this adventure as well. Lovers of Lord of the Rings will also enjoy this epic fantasy series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is by R.A. Dick. This classic novella was the basis for the 1947 movie of the same title starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison - a must see classic movie. Mrs. Lucy Muir has been recently widowed and wants to escape the tyranny of her late-husband's family and live her own life. She takes her two children and rents Gull Cottage in a small seaside village. The house, however, is haunted by the ghost of its former owner, Captain Daniel Gregg. Gregg takes a liking to Lucy and decides to let her stay in his house. The novella follows her "relationship" with the Captain throughout the remainder of her life. Romantics will not be able to suppress tearing up at the end. A charming romantic fantasy and a Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10.


Laura is by Vera Caspary. This wonderful novella is a classic that everyone should read. The basis for the classic noir film staring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews, one of my all-time favorite movies - if you haven't ever seen this movie RENT IT NOW! Laura Hunt works for an advertising agency, and is engaged to marry a playboy named Shelby Carpenter; much to the chagrin of her long time friend, the famous columnist Waldo Lydecker. When Laura is found murdered in her apartment, Detective Mark McPherson is called in to solve the crime. Who killed Laura Hunt? Wait for the huge plot twist in Part II of the book, it is a complete game changer. I LOVE this book (and the movie) and therefore it is a Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

Just So Happens

Just So Happens is by Fumio Obata. A beautifully drawn multicultural graphic novel about a Japanese woman living in England who must return to Japan upon the sudden death of her father. Yumiko is torn between her traditional father and more modern mother, who divorced when she was a teenager. She is also caught between her traditional Japanese heritage and the life she loves in modern England. While a little light on text, the graphics are powerfully drawn. You feel the tension of being part of two cultures and trying to find your place in each.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.

The Jumbies

The Jumbies is by Tracey Baptiste. This book is a re-imagining of Caribbean fairy tale creatures called Jumbies. The Jumbies live in the forest and everyone in the villages are afraid of them; they stay out of the forest, especially at night. The story revolves around four youngsters: Corinne, Dru, and the brothers Malik and Bouki. When a Jumbie follows Corinne out of the forest, things become dangerous for the friends and their village. Corinne must learn the truth of her heritage and save her father and her village. A charming multi-cultural fantasy tale that is also appropriate for younger readers.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Quicksand House

Quicksand House is by Carlton Mellick III. OMG! This is the strangest and somehow one of the coolest books I've read in a long time. I'm not even sure how to classify this book; I will probably file it under science fiction, but the book classifies itself as "bizarro fiction," which is probably more accurate. Tick and his sister Polly (who has green hair and antlers growing out of her head) live in a nursery in a huge house. They have never seen their parents, ever, their nanny promises their parents will come for them soon. When the power goes out and all of the machinery in the house stops working, Tick and Polly must brave the world outside the nursery to find their parents, but the world outside the nursery is a dangerous place. No language or sex in this book, but there is science fiction type violence. The idea of what makes a parent, combined with the desire to be a part of a family is both sad and touching. Reluctant readers, both boys and girls, who like creepy stuff will enjoy this book. I didn't know what I would think of it, but I ended up really really liking it.

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen is by Lucy Knisley. A charming graphic memoir about Knisley's childhood and the way her parents instilled in her a love of food and cooking. The art is charming and colorful, and the added recipes are fun and easy to make and relate well to each chapter. This is a charming memoir about family and the role food can play in making family memories. This would be a great way to introduce reluctant readers to nonfiction and memoir.

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is by Alison Bechdel. This a memoir in graphic novel form describing Bechdel's childhood and the death of her father, in what the work hints might be a suicide. After his death, Alison, who has recently told her parents she is a lesbian, discovers her father was a closeted homosexual. This memoir is bitingly funny and tragic at the same time. The complexity of Bechdel's feelings for her family, especially her father, are told with brutal honesty. The art is also stellar. This is a memoir worth reading, but it is definitely not for everyone.

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

The Key

The Key is by Pauline Baird Jones. The first novel in the Project Enterprise series is a rollicking science fiction adventure. The United States is venturing out into a new galaxy "to boldly go where no man has gone before" (sorry couldn't resist the Star Trek reference). As luck would have it, first contact finds us in the middle of an intergalactic civil war. When Sara Donovan, an elite pilot, is shot down she finds herself alone on an inhospitable planet with Fyn, a member of the Ojemba (a resistance group aiding the Gadi against the evil Dusan). All three groups are looking for a mysterious "key" that will give them the power to win the war, and when Sarah appears to be linked to the key she finds herself being fought over by all three groups. While this book is listed as a romance, there are none of the expected steamy sex scenes. This is truly just a fun science fiction adventure, the romance is almost a side effect of the story. This would be a good way to get girls interested in science fiction. The addition of a strong female fighter pilot heroine is also a plus.

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pobby and Dingan

Pobby and Dingan is by Ben Rice. This charming little novella is set in an opal mining town in Australia. Ashmol Williamson and his sister live with their parents; their dad has a claim where he mines for opals - not very successfully. Ashmol's sister Kellyanne has two invisible friends named Pobby and Dingan. No except Kellyanne believes they exist. One day, to humor her, her father takes Pobby and Dingan to his mine and comes home without them. Kellyanne insists they are lost and that everyone search for them, as her health steadily declines, Ashmol decides to search for the two himself. A touching story of the ability of human beings to believe in things they cannot see, and the love of a brother for his sister. This novella is rated 10th grade only because of the language used in parts of the book. This would be a wonderful little book for parents to read to their children, skipping over the few bad words.

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Bestiary

The Bestiary is edited by Ann VanderMeer. A bestiary is a collection of descriptions of animals, usually fantastical ones. Bestiaries trace their origins to Ancient Greece, but rose to popularity in the Middle Ages. VanderMeer has drawn together quite a collection of authors to create entries for this little volume. The beasts are indeed fantastical, some hilariously so, and the illustrations are beautifully drawn. A wonderful way to fill a couple of hours of your time.

Ratings: 9th grade - 7 out of 10.

A House at the Bottom of a Lake

A House at the Bottom of a Lake is by Josh Malerman. A creepy little novella about two teenagers on their first date who discover a house at the bottom of a lake. There are many creepy things about the house and it does not end the way you would think. I'm still contemplating the ending and what might happen next, and what the ending might mean for the characters. If you like creepy mysteries that aren't filled with gore, this little book might be for you.

Ratings: 11th grade - 8 out of 10 - AC (some mature thematic content).


Carmen is by Prosper Merimee. The wonderful little novella upon which the opera "Carmen" is based. This is the story of a solider who descends into banditry due to the influence of the beautiful gypsy Carmen. Carmen loves Don Jose in the way only a gypsy can, and his jealously leads him into a great deal of trouble. If you loved the opera or the ballet, read the original classic.

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is by Isabel Greenberg. A charming graphic novel relating the supposed-mythology of Early Earth. Many of these tales will sound eerily familiar, although the names have been amusingly changed. The tales are all linked by the plight of a storyteller who is traveling from the North Pole to the South Pole to find the missing piece of his soul, while being both aided and impeded by the gods. The stories are entertaining and the artwork is lovely.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Girl on Legare Street

The Girl on Legare Street is by Karen White. The second book in the Tradd House series. Melanie's long estranged mother has decided to move back to Charleston and buy the old family house she sold thirty years ago when she deserted Melanie and her father for a career in the opera. Of course, the family house is haunted and Melanie, Jack, and her friends must uncover an ancient family secret to pacify the family ghosts. Melanie's problems with Jack and an old flame, and her issues with her parents make things even more problematic. This series is a nice blend of Southern mystery and ghost story.

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Yvain: The Knight of the Lion

Yvain: The Knight of the Lion is by M.T. Anderson. This is a beautifully worked graphic novel retelling one of the more obscure of the Arthurian legends. Yvain goes off to seek adventure, kills a knight in a battle, marries his wife, and then leaves her to go on more adventures. This is one of the few legends in which strong women are main characters. The illustrations are exquisite. Boys and girls will enjoy this story.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


Mooncop is by Tom Gauld. This is a charming science fiction graphic novel about the last policeman on the moon. The moon has been colonized, but everyone is leaving. The last police officer continues his patrols even though there is nothing really to do. The beautifully drawn graphics in the book really make you feel the extent of his aloneness and wonder about how we would deal with similar feelings. A quick, but thoughtful, little book.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10.

Monday, May 1, 2017


Fup is by Jim Dodge. This short little novella is fantastic! This is the story of Grandaddy Jake, who believes the whiskey he brews keeps him immortal; Tiny, his grandson who comes to live with him after his mother's death; Lockjaw, a nasty old wild board; and Fup a mallard chick Tiny saves from Lockjaw and raises as part of the family. This story is laugh-out-loud funny, touching, and a thoroughly enjoyable read. I can't recommend this novella strongly enough. It is definitely a Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read. READ THIS BOOK! Share it with all your friends.

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

The House on Tradd Street

The House on Tradd Street is by Karen White. The first book in the Tradd Street series. The story is set in Charleston, South Carolina, where family and status is all important. Melanie Middleton, is from an old Charleston family, but she is now working as a successful realtor. She also sees dead people. She unexpectedly inherits a run down mansion on historic Tradd street, complete with all its secrets and ghosts. Jack is a writer from another wealthy old Charleston family; he convinces Melanie he can help her solve the mystery surrounding her new home, but does he have ulterior motives. A quick and fun mystery with ghosts thrown in. If you like mysteries and ghosts this series will work for you.

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

So You've Been Publically Shamed

So You've Been Publically Shamed is by Jon Ronson. Wow, what a timely book. Ronson looks at individuals whose careers and lives have been devastated by social media. Some people lost their jobs and families, others committed suicide, and others managed to come out relatively unscathed. Ronson asks the very legitimate question, should we engage in public shaming on social media without having all the facts and with no concern for the ramifications of what we are doing once we hit send? Ronson also looks at the revenge wrought on those who "shamed" someone, as well as the person against whom the original post was directed. While a little dry at times, the book asks questions that need to be addressed. I will certainly think three or four times before posting anything online - and I'm not all that active on social media. This book does not encourage me to change that practice.

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

The Bear Went Over the Mountain is by William Kotzwinkle. Arthur Bramhall is a professor at the University of Maine, and he's just written a novel called Destiny and Desire which he hopes will be a bestseller. Because his first copy of the novel was destroyed in a fire, he hides it under a tree near his cabin while he goes to town to buy a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Hal Jam is a bear; he steals Arthur's novel and heads to New York where the book does indeed become a best-seller and Hal is vaulted to super stardom. This book is a hilarious farce about a bear who becomes a man and a man who becomes a bear. If you enjoyed Forrest Gump, Hal Jam will delight you. A thoroughly entertaining read.

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Lesser Blessed

The Lesser Blessed is by Richard Van Camp. Larry is a Dogrib teenager living on a reservation in Canada. He was in a terrible accident and lost much of his memory. This book follows his experiences with his mother, her boyfriend, and other teenagers in his community. The novel is full of the horrors of drugs, abuse, and violence that seem to be found on many reservations. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful, but painful ,story of coming of age. As we glimpse Larry's past in snippets throughout the story, we can't help but hurt with and for him. An excellent book!

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

Indian Killer

Indian Killer is by Sherman Alexie. A creepy, yet mesmerizing, tale of murder, prejudice, and hatred. John Smith is an Indian who was adopted by white parents as an infant. As he grows up he can't seem to find his place in the white world; his mental illness doesn't help. John, and a variety of beautifully written characters, become involved in the hunt for a serial killer in Seattle who is killing and scalping white people. Dubbed the "Indian Killer" by the police, he/she has created a firestorm of violence that sweeps through the city and engulfs every character in a unique way. A masterfully written book, Alexie does a great job of making you step inside a dark and brooding world.

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

Friday, April 7, 2017

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores is by Jen Campbell. An incredibly amusing recitation of just how dumb and inane people can be. Many of these vignettes are alternately laugh-out-loud funny and bury-your-head-in-your-hands embarrassing. Book lovers will thoroughly enjoy this book; it is a fun quick read. It will also make you look around more closely at other people on your next trip to the bookstore.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World is by Michal Pollan. This fantastic little nonfiction book is about four different plants and how they relate to four of man’s greatest desires: sweetness – the apple; beauty – the tulip; intoxication – marijuana; and control – the potato. Pollan discusses the history of each of these plants and how they have affected human history. He wonders in the book if plants “use” humans to spread their own species and evolve in a way that will assure their own existence. This book is easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. Pollan makes you stop and think about nature in a completely new and different way.

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sáanii Dahataał: The Women Are Singing: Poems and Stories

Sáanii Dahataał: The Women Are Singing: Poems and Stories is by Luci Tapahonso. A wonderful book of poems and stories about Tapahonso's life and family in Shiprock, New Mexico. She beautifully intertwines life and death, and aspects of Navajo family, culture, and beliefs. The writings are about simple everyday subjects: raising children, death, family pets, or family interactions; yet they are all beautifully written using both English and the Navajo language. A wonderful book!

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.