Thursday, December 15, 2011

Trapped by Marc Aronson

How the world recused 33 miners from 2,000 feet below the Chilean desert.  Atheneum Books, 2011

Now, you may think, "Not another book about a sensational current event tragedy turned triumph again!"  and if you are, then you don't know Marc Aronson.  This is much more than the Chilean miners.  It's about mining, history, technology, current events, psychology, aeronautics, and politics, all of which Aronson delivers in a short but powerful book about hope. 

Aronson writes in tandem about the Chilean miners while giving back history on mining itself, from early Green and Roman mythology to current books about miners and their god Hephaistos.  What grabs the readers attention is the background details Aronson writes about, including the importance of mining and how the entire world rests with what miners bring to the top for consumers around the world.  Since the San Jose' mine was a copper mine, Aronson also goes into detail not only about the history of copper and its uses, but also incorporates a pictures of the small town of Copiapo, where the miners and their families lived. 
Aronson also gives the reader information on the psychology of the miners, and how they were able to stay months underground without any mental or physical damage to themselves or others, which is the true miracle in and of itself. 

Images are always a great part of the storytelling, and Aronson incorporates some powerful images, including an aerial view of a diamond mine in Alberta Canada, to the very first note that was pulled up from the miners when the first hole was punched through over 13 days later.  Diagrams of the drilling, pictures of the Chilean desert...they are all there to show how bleak this disaster could have become but thankfully didn't.  The world and its humanity pulled it out to make these men come back to life. 

Finally, the afterword is a must read for all librarians and/or teacher teaching research.  Aronson takes the reader through the process of researching and having to use the internet, which could definitely be something to share with students as they begin the reading process.  This author is always insightful, interesting, and intelligent.  This is an easy book to read, with only 111 pages to the story and afterward, but I agree with Aronson.  It'll make readers run to the computer searching for more.  I know I did.  Highly recommended for JH/HS

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Variant by Robison Wells

HarperTeen, 2011
Benson has lived in over thirty foster homes in the Pittsburgh area.  He's tired of it all, and wants out, wants some normalcy.  That's why he was so surprised when Ms. Vaughn came.  Filling out a scholarship to Maxfield Academy on his own, Benson was happy to learn he had been accepted and now he and Ms. Vaughn were on their way there.

As they pull up to this prestigious school, Benson is filled with anticipation.  Within the first hour there, he knows something is not right.  The door that closed behind him was locked.  Becky, the first person he met for initiation, is acting strangely.  And the kids beating on the windows?  What was that all about?

It doesn't take long for Benson to realize that he's trapped.  There are no teachers, no adults.  Just three factions of teens - Society, whose members run security; Havoc, whose members run the cafeteria; and Variant....those that do the maintenance.  Benson is being coerced to join Society and Havoc, but he places himself in Variant's group, all the while planning on how to get out....

Stories begin to emerge about those that try to escape.  No one ever has, according to those that have been at Maxfield Academy the longest.  But why would anyone want to leave?  They have food, warmth, education, which is much better than being in foster care or homeless.  But it doesn't dissuade Benson from plotting, even if it means facing detention....which no one ever comes back from.  But how to escape?  There are cameras everwhere, and the schedules vary - sometimes going to class at 7 am, sometimes at 10 am. Big brother is watching and listening to every action and word.  The Iceman is always there, handing out punishments and rewards on-screen, knowing exactly what's happening.  Benson has no escape.  Until.....

Lord of the Big Brother.  Wells serves out an excellent YA novel with twists and turns that the readers won't expect in a science fiction novel.  Wells's writing will take you from the first page to the last with a big surprise right when you least expect it.  He creates a dystopian world set in the real world, call it a world within a world, and provokes the reader to either love of hate those who want to stay or go.  For those guys who want a great thriller comparable to Kevin Brooks' Being, be sure to put this one in their hands.  This is just the first in a trilogy, and I can't WAIT for the next one (I have a love/hate relationship with cliff hanger endings)!!!!  Recommended for high school.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kill You Last by Todd Strasser

Shelby lives a privileged life.  She drives a Jeep, shops whenever and wherever, and has a father who adores her.  Her best friend Roman and she are inseparable and it seems like they always have been - through the good times, through the bad times.  And it's about to get worse for Shelby.

Shelby's father, a photographer, has been called in question for two missing models whom Shelby's dad was the last to see after a portfolio session with each one.  What makes it worse is that Shelby's father already has a rather skeezy reputation with young models, which puts him and Shelby's mother at odds with each other.  But they continue to stay married, Shelby's mother hanging onto hope that her husband will leave it all behind.

Not only has her father been called in for questioning, but weird emails begin to come in, threatening Shelby,
"I like you Shelby Sloan.  if  I have to kill you, I'll kill you last."
At first, she ignores them but they keep coming, offering tidbits of information no one else could possibly know.  She tells her parents, her best friend, and now they're afraid for Shelby's life as well.

Who could it be from?  It seems the only person Shelby can trust is Roman, but can she?  What about Gabriel, the ex-model who now works for her father?  Or could it be Whit, a reporter who tries too hard to be Shelby's friend, but only wants to scoop?

This latest mystery from Strasser will have you on the edge of your seat as you read this another excellent book in a trilogy of mysteries from this author.  A fast page-turner, the reader will connect instantly with Shelby all the while trying to fathom what is going on and who is the murderer.  For those of you who enjoy this genre, you will NOT be disappointed.  In my opinion, this is the best of the three.  It looks like Strasser hit the high note with this latest one.  Recommended.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris

Publisher:  Delacorte Press, 2011
Kate Grable is a good girl.  She doesn't party, she does well in school, she knows what she's going to do in the future.  She has a best friend, Rocky, who is Kate's opposite - beautiful, talented, loved by everyone.  And to help supplement her career as a physician someday, Kate works with the football team as the manager as well as assists her teacher in a lab at school.

The trouble begins when Kate finds out that Coach has been giving the players steroids.  She decides to take matters into her own hands and get rid of the steroids, but before she can it's too late.  There's something in the vials that aren't what they seem, and soon most of the players, including Mike, the caveman, handsy one, are spewing black stuff from their mouths are turning the color of stinky cheese...and they are beginning to smell like them too.  And it all happens at the first party of the year.

Kate, who usually doesn't go, ends up going with Rocky, but when things go awry, she doesn't know who to turn to.  But quarterback Aaron does, and he turns to Kate for answers, as well as a date.  But are romance and zombies a good mix, or will Kate have to make a decision about her love life because of contamination?

If you've read serious books for awhile, pick this one up for a great refreshing read of humor, romance and zombies.  Harris takes a subject that has been on the forefront for awhile, but gives it a zippiness and gallows humor that makes it stand apart from other zombie books.  Harris's character run the gamut of typical teens from the cheerleader to the quarterback to the overly hormonal littler brother Kate has to deal with.  The adults only add to the books whimsy.  Fans of zombies will enjoy it as will girls who enjoy romance.  It's got a great cover too!  Recommended for JH/HS

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Publisher:  G.P, Putnam's Sons, 2011
Rory was raised in a small town in Louisiana, but that doesn't mean her aspirations are small.  Before her senior year, her parents are offered a position in England, and Rory jumps at the chance to go to school there and soak in all of the culture.  And off  she goes to Hawthorne to live out her English adventure.  It's there that she meets her roommate Jazza as well as the handsome Jerome from the boys' school.  Rory tells them stories about her crazy family and their weird habits.  In turn, Jerome fills Rory in on the latest...the new Ripper killings...

Despite all of the security cameras in the city of London, a murderer is successfully killing people and Londoners as well as visitors are very much into Ripper-mania.  But not Rory and Jazza.  Both find it creepy, but it gets worse when a murder takes place near their school.  When lockdown begins for students, Rory's curiousity gets the better of her.

What she finds out is that she has a unique ability none of her friends have.  It's a gift she never knew she had until she came to London.  People she sees aren't necessarily the people others can see.  The murderer knows Rory has this gift, and now he's after her to stop her from finding out who he is and what he wants.

Talk about a mashup!  Johnson has done a fantastic job of creating a murder mystery book full of the supernatural as well as romance.  Readers of historical fiction will enjoy the book because of its setting and the intrigue of Old Lond and Jack the Ripper.  Others will enjoy it because of the ghostly presence and the gifts that Rory and other characters hold.  Mystery fans will read through this quickly to see who or what is killing people and why.  Recommended for JH/HS. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tech Tool Twinkle - Just in time for the holidays!

Throughout this semester, I've been tooling around on the internet intermittently (try saying that three times in a row!) and found some wonderful new sites, some beta sites and  others your may know about already.  I thought I'd share them with you so if you get bored during the holidays, or if there's snow on the ground but your internet still works, these may be some things you'd like to incorporate into your transliteral world of co-teaching for the greater good of students, who seem to know more about social media than educational media online.

New Sites for Sore Eyes:
1. Projeqt - 
     This is a site du jour, where you can create the most visually beautiful presentations I've ever seen.  They call themselves the creative storytelling platform, and most certainly can be!  Find one of two themes you like, and start creating with your words and images.  Add sounds, RSS, twitter feeds, video and more.  Recommended that you watch the video tutorial first

2. Jux -
Beautiful presentations can be made here using a variety of settings to create a unique slideshow.  Create and mash together from six different templates from slide show, to video, to a top 10 list.  The images you place in your presentation will stretch throughout the entire slide...that's the only caveat to this site

3. Tripline -
This could be such a powerful tool for all curricular levels.  You map out a trip, and add details and the trip becomes interactive.  Includes nice music you won't have to download.  Think of the possibilities with this one!  This is also an app for iphone. 

4. Stixy -
This is an alternative to glogster - not as showy, but that's what makes this a quality site.  You can add photos, notes, documents (ie Word, Excel PDF), a to-do list and a calendar.  Website addresses become links.  Easy to use with younger students, but the simple template makes it pleasing. 

5. Popplet -
This bulletin-board type site is set to show off your creations from photos of a project to creating a flowchart of ideas that sync together.  You can use this alone or ask others to create with you.  The user can organize each "popple" by height, width, columnar or vertical as well as use multiple links to map each popple created.  Choose colors, add links and images....this is a great tool that can be used with ease. 

Two others I'm demo-ing:
9Slides -  Right now, it's in the beta stage and I'm on the list to test it, but haven't been successful is creating one yet.  In short, this is a mashup of video and powerpoint.  Looks to have potential

Masher -  Another interesting video creation site online.  Easy to use, it mimics moviemaker. 

So, here are some virtual jingle treats for you.  Enjoy!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg

Walker & Co., 2011
We all know how Cleopatra died, right?  Well....maybe not.  How about Albert Einstein or Henry VIII?  Twenty famous people in history are dug up for a second exam in this new book.  It's biography meets forensic science in this book, all with a dash of the gory and humor. 
Death by itself isn't pleasant, and some of the ways the people in this book died are truly sad.  Interestingly enough, this book is written in chronological order starting with King Tut and ending with Albert Einstein.  And with the chronology, comes a pretty interesting look at the ways people would try to ward off disease, infection, pus, gout, draining of the stomach and the black fingers of Marie Curie. 
Georgia Bragg does such an excellent job of weaving together history and humor.  A few excerpts from the introduction lets the reader know the style of this book that permeates throughout the pages:

"There are funny crying parts and disgusting stupid parts and hideous cool parts, but it's pretty much one train wreck after another.  And who can tear they eyes away from a train wreck?"

"Looking back from where we sit now, people a long time ago sure did some dumb stuff - and it's definitely the kind of stuff worth writing about."

And that's what hooked me not only into reading about these past lives of famous people (including Christopher Colombus, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, George Washington, and Charles Dickens) but going to the interet to learn more about these amazing people's lives. 

So, if you're awash with all the dark and suspenseful YA books out there, this is a refreshing read that'll not only make you laugh out loud, but also explore the darker side of these luminaries.  Recommended for junior high and high school

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

Amber sneaks out of her house this morning. She’s been thinking about it for quite awhile and she’s prepared herself. She has all the essentials to get her by: jelly beans, drumsticks, and a limo waiting to take her to the ocean. It’s the day before the thing she is dreading most, and she has only this one day to herself to figure it all out…

Cade is standing in the aquarium mesmerized by the swirling, floating jellyfish. He’s here on purpose to lose himself however he can. He thinks he’s prepared for what going to happen. It’s the day before the thing he is dreading the most, and he’s hoping to find the courage to face it, using this one day.

Amber and Cade meet accidentally, and this is where their journey begins. It starts out quite innocently, no one daring to tell their story, or what is going to happen. But slowly, the stories pour forth along with the pain of decisions needing to be met. Heads: you lose; tails: you lose. Is there even a winning side? Both Amber and Cade aren’t sure, but they do know that this is a day of oxymorons – happiness found inside the overwhelming fears both must face.

Is one day enough?

Lisa Schroeder’s novel in verse will carry the reader forward with the story of each person slowly coming to the surface without the reader losing interest. Her story is poetic, not only in the cirumstances both teens finds themselves in, but also in her concrete poetry she scatters throughout the pages. Redemption can be found even in the darkest of places and Schroeder’s novel captures these two elements with clarity and beauty. After reading this book, it did make me stop and think about both character’s situation and what tough decisions in life both have to make. That is a sign of a quality book. Recommended.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Texas Gothic by Rosemary- Clement Moore

Amy thought she was going to have a peaceful summer while her Aunt Hyacinth was in China. How hard would it be to take care of her aunt’s herb farm in the beautiful hill country of Texas? The worst thing Amy encountered so far were trying to keep the goats out of the yard.

Until she ran after them in her underwear. And met Ben McCullogh…

The McCulloghs own the ranch in Barnett that surrounds Aunt Hyacinth’s small farm. Ben (and everyone in town) has always known the Goodnights have a little bruja to them. And Amy and Ben’s first chance meeting causes even more friction. Not only do the families have a tenuous relationship, but a recent project on the McCulloughs ranch has brought on even more tension. Long dead bodies have been excavated, and the ghost of the Mad Monk now haunts Amy.

Amy and her sister Phin are now part of the anthropological dig headed up by a team of UT students and their professor. The bones seem to be from long ago, but it’s the dangerous and threatening ghost that tries to harm Amy that is the foremost concern for the sisters. Amy now realizes she’s haunted, but doesn’t know what the ghost wants. All he tells her is to be careful (Alto! Cuidado!) but is that enough?

Ben doesn’t want to help Amy find solutions, nor does he believe in hauntings. Even his worst enemies, the Kellys (including the deputy) tell Amy to stay away from trouble and quit stirring up the community. Amy would love more than to stop, but her haunting won’t let her go. It’s telling her to find him…but will it lead to more danger that it’s worth? What exactly is going on at the McCullough ranch?

A great ghost story founded on Texas legend, this novel will be one where teens will find a great mixed genre of supernatural and mystery. The Goodnight girls’ personalities, as well as that of the family, will carry the reader, while the sharp romance between Ben and Amy will carry the reader even further. Adding a flair for modern forensics and ghost-hunting, this novel balances past history with today’s techniques readers may be familiar with. It’s Ghost Adventures meets CSI – all in a great YA book. For a Texas native myself, Clement-Moore’s writing captures the heart and scenery of Texas, from the families to the folklore to the personality of small town Texas.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Okay, a little shameless self-promotion

Sometimes, there are things I post on my Twitter feed that I don't put on my blog.  If you want to see links to sites, comments et al, look at:

teacher librarian with a twist of technology

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Zombie Books

With all the interest about zombies, I decided to compile this list of suggestions, add to and tweak it a little, and post it just in time for Halloween! Check out the trailers with the Youtube links : )

My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces (graphic novels)

Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? By Max Brallier

Bad Taste in Boys- Carrie Harris

Zombies Vs Unicorns- Holly Black

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—Seth Grahame Smith

The Forest of Hands and Teeth. The Dead Tossed Waves. The Dark and Hollow Places. by Carrie Ryan.

The Zombie Survival Guide: How to live like a King after the Outbreak. by Etienne Guerin DeForest

World War Z by Max Brooks

Boneshaker by CheriePriest

Generation Dead series by Dan Waters

Zombie Haiku by RyanMecum

The Maze Runner series by James Dashner

Rot and Ruin; Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry

Z by Michael Thomas Ford

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Never Slow Dance with a Zombie by by Ehrich Van Lowe

The Cellar by A.J. Whitten

Dust by Joan Frances Turner

The Boy Who Couldn't Die by William Sleator

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

The Zombie Autopsies by Steven Schlozman

I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked it by Adam Selzer

Zombie Blondes by Brian James

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

2011 HarperCollins

In New Chicago, there are five factions of societies:  The Dauntless, who have no fear; the Erudite, who have knowledge; the Amity, who are kind and open; the Abnegation, who possess selflessness; and the Candor, who are honest. Then there are the factionless, who don't belong to any group, but are drifters living on the streets, reliant on handouts.  Then there are the Divergent....

Beatrice has only known Abnegation.  She sees the selfless life she leads, but when she and her brother Caleb go to school, her eyes automatically turn to the Dauntless - they intrigue her.  Now, Beatrice is to go through the ceremony which all sixteen year olds go through and make her ultimate decision, whether to stay in her faction or leave it completely behind and start a new life in a new faction.  She also carries a dark secret with her.  She is Divergent, a special set of people who possess traits of more than one faction.

Her brother chooses the Erudite, a faction known to stir trouble with the Abnegation faction, who are in charge of the government.  Beatrice chooses Dauntless, and a new name - Tris.  Her family is devastated, and Tris knows that she'll never see them again, but what waits her for during her initiation process into Dauntless gives her no chance to mourn.  She'll either be part of the faction or factionless if she fails.

It is during her initiation that Tris understands more about herself, what she is capable of doing, and the secret of her status as Divergent.  Tris also uncovers a plot created by the Erudite, threatening the existence of the factions and causing chaos and death.  But is knowing enough?  Is Tris strong enough to fight against this plot, or become a part of it?  Faction over blood is the Dauntless credo...Tris has to make the ultimate decision.

This is a excellent novel for those who enjoy reading dystopian fiction.  The author takes the reader into New Chicago and her writing creates images for the reader, a trait seen in quality writing.  It is the characters, though, that are the strong part of the novel, from those showing love to those who are reckless, to the evil a human can possess.  Adults also play a strong role in this novel and aren't use simply as backdrops to the situations Roth writes about.  A sequel will follow May 2012.  Recommended for junior high and high school.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Conor was awakened by the monster one night.  But when he looks at it, this thing that is a yew tree, he isn't afraid of it.  In fact, he really doesn't have any feeling for it, because it's just a dream...

Conor lives with his mother in house beside a graveyard with a yew tree.  His father remarried and now lives in America, and his bossy grandma comes by once in awhile, the way Conor likes it.  It's just him and his mum, and he's happy with that.  When her hair begins to fall out, he understands.  Her continuous trips to the bathroom to throw up after treatments have become part of their schedule. 

At school, Conor is alone.  The bully beats up on him, but he won't raise a fist or fight back.  He won't speak to his best friend Lily, because of the secret she revealed to everyone.  No one notices him.

But when the monster calls, Conor goes.  And the monster is going to tell Conor three stories.  The last one will be the one Conor tells.  And that's the scarierst one of all.  It's nearly 12:07....time for the monster to come out.

Don't let the cover fool you - this isn't one to put with the scary reads.  Instead, this is a hauntingly beautiful story about the power of love and strength of hope.  Ness has captured such a perfect story that relies on allegories and double entendres that serious readers will understand.  What exactly is this monster and the crazy stories he tells?  Although Conor may not understand, the reader begins to see the whole picture.  Ness takes the reader into the mind of Conor, how he justifies his actions, and how he deals with this most difficult issue of his life. 
It's been a long time since I cried through a book, and this one packs an emotional punch.  This isn't a book just for children, but a whole range of audiences about love, loss, and letting go.  Highly recommended.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

By Ransom Riggs, Quirk Books, 2011

When he was young, Jacob loved his grandfather's stories about his life, especially the ones about the peculiar children. They all lived at Miss Peregrin's Home for Orphans on a tiny island in Wales, and each had different talents. They ranged from being able to lift huge boulders, to being invisible, to being able to float through the air. And there were also the monsters that were chasing Jacob's grandfather....

But as Jacob grew older, the less he listened to his grandfather's meandering tales. They were for children, and he knew his grandfather, in his old age, didn't make as much sense anymore. But one day, while Jacob was trying hard not to work in his family's business, he got a call from his grandfather. And this call changed Jacob's life.

Now, at sixteen, Jacob hears a cryptic message from his beloved grandfather, now deceased. He has a recurring dream about his grandfather telling him to "find the bird, find the loop, find the grave." His other dreams are about monsters, whose mouths are lined with dangerous teeth and tentacles. Now, he sits in Dr. Golan's office, telling him about these dreams, along with the stress of finding his grandfather's dead body and the monster he truly saw, which his doctor says is trigged by this stress.

The best curative for Jacob, under Dr. Golan's orders, is to find out about his grandfather's past, and now Jacob has a chance to find out what exactly his grandfather was talking about by going to this mysterious island in Wales. But are they truly tales or the truth?

Riggs writes a fantastical story about the modern world and those that reside beyond imagination. Not only is the story an amazing adventure, but how Riggs manages to incorporate old and unusual photographs into the story is what makes this book stand out from any other I've read. The photographs are part creepy, part intriguing, but the mash-up of both the narrative and images makes for an excellent read for adults and young adults alike. Riggs keeps the reader engaged with Jacob's discoveries about the truth behind his grandfather's stories and the possibility of leaping across time. Perfect for fantasy readers and highly recommended by this reveiwer.  Publisher book trailer:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Books about Bullying - a booklist

I had this on, but decided to share it on my pretty pink blog and add a few more books I've read since then.  I've highlighted those books I feel are among the best when dealing with this subject.  So, if you need a book about bullying, try some of these titles:

UPDATE 10/12/2012:  Good thing I saved this list on the blog!  Seems like isn't working anymore, which is was a good site.  I've added some more titles on the list and these appear at the top of the list.  I'll be working more with this list and providing date of publication, publisher, and book trailers. 
Quarantine:  The Loners by Lex Thomas

The List by Siobhan Vivian

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

Blank Confession by Pete Hautman

You by Charles Benoit

By the Time Your Read This I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

The School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Shrefer

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

The Ruling Class by Francine Pascal

Bullyville by Francine Prose

Freak Show by James St. James

Angel by Cliff McNish

Endgame by Nancy Gardener

Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja

Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia

Inventing Elliot by Graham Gardner

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Breaking Point by Alex Flinn

Bruiser by Neal Schusterman

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Stay by Deb Caletti

The Guardian by Joyce Sweeney

The Julian Game by Adele Griffin

Raiders Night by Robert Lipsyte

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

(NF)  Letters to a Bullied Girl:  Messages of Healing and Hope by Olivia Gardner

(NF) 101 Facts about Bullying:  What Everyone Should Know by Meline Kervorkian

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Librarian's Life Split In Two...

This morning, I had the privilege to be interviewed by a college student for a project.  After asking all of the typical questions about libraries and my field, he asked me if the role of a librarian has changed because of technology.  Of course, you know the answer to that.  It's not about books anymore....

But it was the next question that made me really think.  He then asked, "Which do you feel is more important, books or technology?"  My immediate reply was both.  I was split between both because of the integration and integral pieces of both. 
It was after he left that I really REALLY started to think about it.  Books.....or technology?  Where does my heart truly lie?  It's like asking which came first, the chicken or the hen.  Back in 1996 when I was a teacher, I got my first taste of educational technology, but it was the books that sustained me.  Three years later and a full-fledged librarian, I became intrigued with technology, even creating my first ever blog (which I thought was a place to store bookmarks) with books surrounding me, still part of my landscape.  It was like having an older child and its youngest sibling, being able to predict one, still grappling with the behavior of the other.  

But I digress.  My love has always been books, from the first one I've read to the latest one I'm reading now.  It's the foundation, information and story they have that makes them individually valuable or worthless; time well spent or time spent on.  It was around during King Solomon's reign is still exists thousands of years later.  Books fill a need for me as a librarian.  It showcases my talents, my relationships with them and an individual or groups or readers, my abilities as that traditional librarian who knows her books.

But then there's the technology.  A sweeping change across the face of our field, transforming what people see everyday into something far more grand and beautiful.  It's transformed my booktalks and is meeting the needs of today's teens, who are all bound up in video and instantaneous virtual gratification.  It makes those paper projects dull in comparison to the shiny LCD screened in project only technology is capable of.  It puts books in the hands of those technophiles.  It's not about old school, it's about trending.

So, without a list and with still a lot of thinking, I still don't know which would outway the other.  I still have a lot of thinking to do.  And the interviewer, a former student who graduated from my school 2007?  He told me he was NEVER a reader until his senior year.  It was during a booktalk I did where I captured him with the trailer for Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars that he flipped and become a true reader.  I made a difference using books and technology.  I wonder.... would it have been the same without technology?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Book Trailer: Cha0s by Rachel Ward

It's been a HECTIC beginning of school year.  I finished this a few weeks ago, but haven't had time to upload it yet.  I'll have the link and download on the NHS library webpage and Schooltube soon.  For now, enjoy it here and on Youtube : )

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ashes by Ilsa J. Blick

Alexandra knew she needed to get away. Aunt Hannah was all she had left, but then came the deadly diagnosis – a tumor in her brain. Alex has been through enough treatments, including the PEBBLES, nano-sized beads implanted in her brain to help kill the tumor. But Alex has decided to make some of her own decisions, which is why she’s in the Waucamaw Mountains, miles away from her old life, no treatments just serenity….

It’s there that she meets Jack, and older man, his dog Mina, and his granddaughter Ellie, who Alex considers a major brat. What can go wrong does, but then something odd happens. Birds begin screaming, deer jump off cliffs, and Alex’s head feels like it’s about to explode….and then it stops. When Alex picks herself up, she see Jack, dead on the ground, and Ellie scared out of her wits.

Alex also notices a change in herself. She experiences things again that she hasn’t been able to since the chemotherapy started, like taste and smell. More than that, she can sense the mood and energy of things through her sense of smell, and something is definitely not right. This is made all the more apparent when she and Ellie come upon a campsite and see two teens in a grisly situation – they aren’t normal, and they’re killing and eating their campmates…

Soon Alex and Ellie meet up with Tom, and their trek through the wilderness goes from bad to worse. The only thing keeping them alive is the survival skills both Alex and Tom learned and Mina, the faithful dog that keeps close to her. Now, Alex must not only keep Ellie safe but figure out just what happened and how far this eerie phenomenon has gone and why people, especially teens, are changing into monsters…

If your teens are gobbling (pun intended) up zombie books, this one will do your collection justice. Ilsa J. Blick not only reinforces her novel with page-turning action, but also creates a world gone horribly wrong through one energy blast that completely destroys all things humans now take for granted, making Alex’s world even more difficult to survive in. The reader will find himself submerged in the details of this new world after “the Zap” as well as in the plot only to find that what one expects to happen, doesn’t always. The ending takes a complete twist and Blick leaves this book begging for the sequel, which I want RIGHT NOW but sigh…this book doesn’t come out until September 2012. Part horror, part dystopia, this one will grab attention from the first page. Recommended
Published by Egmont, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

Victor Frankenstein wasn’t always a monster creator. At fifteen years old, Victor lives with his family near Geneva in the Frankenstein home. His father, a diplomat, tends business and travels frequently while his mother stays home. Of all of Victor’s siblings though, it’s his twin brother Konrad that Victor is closest to. Another family member, their distant cousin Elizabeth, has also come to live with them and the three make a lively pair.

Although Victor and Konrad are twins, their personalities are vastly different. While Konrad is gentle and slow to anger, Victor is vicarious, always looking for adventure and prone to anger quickly. Elizabeth, with a fiery temper, is not one to back down, but also realizes the importance of kindness.  And as with all twins, there is definitely sibling rivalry. This rivalry becomes apparent when Elizabeth gives more attention to Konrad than Victor.

One boring day, the three and their curiosity lead them to an old cellar door in the castle where they find the Dark Library. In the stacks are books of alchemy and old magic, including the Occulta Philosphia,  and when the boys’ father finds them there, he forbids them to ever come back. But when Konrad falls deathly ill, Victor will stop at nothing to save his brother, including taking this dark book from the Bibliotecka Obscura, to find a solution.

Without the help of the old magic, both Elizabeth and Victor know they’ll lose Konrad. They soon learn about an alchemist, a dangerous castoff, who is willing to help them if they can procure the ingredients for an elixir to help Konrad. But is Polidori, the alchemist, truly trying to help or using them for his own dark gain?

This is an excellent premise to the birth of Victor Frankenstein in the classic tale by Mary Shelley. Part historical fiction, part fantasy, the reader will be drawn into the adventure, and mystery all the having the opportunity to see Victor become the man known in legend and what circumstances brought him to that dark place. Not only does Oppel create an adventure mystery, but he also adds the element of teenage relationships into the mix, giving this book credence for both guys and girls to pick up and read. Oppel leaves the ending open for another dark look into the making of Victor Frankenstein (this is Book One), but for now, this book does an excellent job of that. Recommended. Published by Simon & Schuster, 2011.  Due out 8/11.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Prezi booktalks/lists

Thanks to everyone for coming to the presentation at SLSA day in Ft. worth!  I learned a lot and enjoyed sharing as well : )  Here are the two link for the presentations I showed:  (Fall 2010) (Spring 2011)


Friday, June 3, 2011

Num8ers: The Cha0s by Rachel Ward

Adam knew he inherited the gift from his mother.  He sees their numbers, the day they'll die, and it's a curse.  His father died before he got to know Adam, and his mother passed away nine years ago.  Now, it's the year 2026, and Adam knows something terrible is going to happen soon - 01012027....

Sarah is trapped.  What's happened at her house has left permanent damage emotionally, and she's now holding onto the one good thing that could happen in her situation - a baby.  And she knows she has to get away from Him.  Her mother has turned a blind eye, and Sarah can't take it anymore.  But more than that, it's the nightmare that keeps recurring, that of a scarred monster stealing her baby and taking it through flames and fire.  She can shake the nightmare she's living, but she can't shake the nightmare that keeps coming back to haunt her.

Now in London, Adam and Sarah's paths cross.  She can't help but be repulsed and drawn to Adam at the same time.  He doesn't look like the monster in her dreams, but she draws away from him.  Adam, on the other hand is drawn to Sarah, including her number, which isn't like the thousands of others he's seen.  She's a beacon of hope in a world set to destruct on New Year's Day.

No sooner have their paths crosses, when they're separated again.  And Nan, Adam's great-grandmother is telling him to do something his mother told him to always keep a secret.  She's trying to persuade him that he can save lives, and numbers can be changed...but can they?  Adam only hopes he can find Sarah, who is a missing link in this awful event, and he needs to find her quickly before their world ends in destruction.

Rachel Ward has once again written a thrilling novel that carries readers to the very end.  Suspenseful, intriguing, she creates characters and a future world that is thoroughly believable.  Although this is a sequel, it can also be read as a stand-alone book, which is a trait of an excellent follow-up to an original story.  Teens will love this one because of the fast-paced situations and the ultimate ending.  A quick look at the third book in this trilogy at the end of this one will make all readers hold on for another great book.  Recommended

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stay by Deb Caletti

Clara thought she'd found love, but what she didn't realize is that she'd found obsession as well.
After a bad relationship in the past, Clara sees Christian for the first time and she feels that connection. Even though they go to different schools, she makes the time to "bump" into him again, and a deeper relationship soon begins. She likes the way Christian makes her feel - wanted, cared for, concerned about - and the way she can be a new person around him. He's a good person, but sometimes, good is just a layer hiding the real truth.

Now, Clara and her father have moved away from Seattle to get away from the person Christian really is, and Clara wants no contact from him, this time from fear instead of love. They settle down in a small seaside village and soon become part of the community.

Life goes well for Clara and her father, but there are still secrets that are lurking under the happiness. Clara has become increasingly aware that her dad is hiding something about her mother through conversations she overhears between him and a close friend. Clara also has to get used to sharing her world, not only between herself and her father, but also with herself, when she begins a fresh friendship with Flinn, whom she meets by chance. 

Always looking over her shoulder, Clara soon begins to find some breathing space, until a message comes through on her new phone - from Christian.  Soon, she finds herself living a life of paranoia, convinced that he'll find her, that he's still around....and her paranoia then becomes reality....

Deb Caletti has written a beautiful novel, surrounded with layers of descriptive and poetic writing filled with witty metaphors, ironies, and narrative.  She not only breathes life into her characters, but creates images through her words, so that what the reader is taking in becomes visual in their minds (I, for one, would LOVE to meet Clara's dad!!)  Caletti's book is serious in tone, but her deft writing also provides some comic relief in the form of all things, a seagull, which she uses at perfect opportunities to give the reader a pause, just for a moment, in Clara's life.  The adult characters in this novel aren't separated that far from the teen main character, but become a huge part of the story, that of a daughter and her father.  But above all, it's about relationships on all levels, from friendship, to family, to loves present and past and how to make the decision to leave or stay.  And this theme will draw readers in.  Highly recommended

Friday, May 20, 2011

new book trailer! Z by Michael Thomas Ford

Sometimes, I make a good book trailer, sometimes I KICK BUTT on one...this is definitely one I feel is the one of the best I've created so far....enjoy!  You can download it on my NHS Library webpage as well as link from youtube or schooltube.  NHS Library link:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Horrors of Andersonville: Life and Death Inside a Civil War Prison by Catherine Gourley

Some of the first pictures of war were from the Civil War, fought in the U.S. between 1861-1865. There were the famous men, from Lee to Grant; famous battlefields from Antietam to Gettysburg; and famous cities, from Richmond to Charleston to Washington D.C. But there’s the dark side of war too – the prison camps that hardly anyone talk about, that paints another part of the picture that was the Civil War. And Andersonville was one of the most squalid prison camps to come out of the Civil War’s history.

Andersonville didn’t start out as a prison camp. Set in the countryside of Georgia, 27 acres in swampy land would be cleared to hold Union soldiers. Built to house 10,000 prisoners, Andersonville maxed out in 14 months with over 32,000 soldiers, all living in squalid conditions with little food, no fresh water, lice, mud, open sewers….through cold winter nights and steamy hot summer, prisoners were left to try to live not through the war, but through this hell on earth.

The story of Andersonville is disturbing and intriguing at the same time. From orders issued from commandants to build the place, to the person (Wirz) who led camp, hindsight proved to be too late. There were no trade-offs between the Confederate and Union armies to free prisoners, afraid that once out, the soldiers would swell the ranks of that particular army. There was no discipline within the walls of Andersonville except those that belonged in gangs and those that opposed them. Everyone was fair game to be used, cheated, and killed – not only for their clothing and items, but for their living space as well. There was no food, especially not for prisoners. Men who came out Andersonville looked like walking skeletons, malnourished and suffering from anything from rickets to gangrene.

This non-fiction book is comprised of letters, diaries, first-hand accounts and court documents as well as photos and images of Andersonville for newspapers printed during the time. From the present perspective of the author looking back into history a new picture and story emerges from all of these primary source documents to weave a tale of hope, survival, death, and dedication. The author also uses inserts to other pertinent information involved with prison camps, including army orders, problems throughout prison camps in general (ie lice, gangrene) to personal letters, which creates a sore spot in once was called a gentleman’s war.

Catherine Gourley writes a great book to add to any collection of Civil War books, but what makes this one stand out is fact that this subject hasn’t really been written about or noted in most Civil War histories. Gourley writes for the reader, making it easy to process the facts, all the while keeping interest high through the many images and documents used within the book, which makes it highly appealing for teen readers. Gourley takes the reader on the journey instead of the reader digesting the facts, which is the beauty of the book. Highly recommended.

Z by Michael Thomas Ford

Josh loves hunting zombies. He knows the rules of the game, and he’s good at it. He’s quickly risen in the ranks of zombie hunting and his skills no few bounds. There’s only one problem – his parents have banned him from playing this virtual game because it hits too close to home.

This is the year 2032, and Josh knows about the deadly virus that created a war between the well and this stricken that happened 15 years ago. It was a virus that slowly deteriorated the brain, creating “zombies” of those that had no control over their synapses anymore. It was kill or be killed, and to this day, Josh’s mother won’t talk about her experience much. But to Josh, it’s past history, and the game rocks. There’s nothing like killing meatbags and trying to out maneuver them to be the best torcher in the game. He and his best friend Firecracker, play online together when they can, but it’s Josh who receives a strange message from Charlie, THE best player, that’s an invitation to something deeper, something hidden….

When Josh finally meets Charlie, he’s amazed, not only that she’s a girl, but that there’s real zombie hunting going on without anyone being aware it’s happening. She invites Josh into a dark secret, where a real game is being played… humans vs. zombies… and televised live to a wealthy audience. Josh not only gets to play the game he loves, but also make some money at the same time.

But with all secrets, dark and deep, this secret holds a deadly consequence. Josh doesn’t realize it at first, but the more he plays the real game, the more he realizes he’s in over his head. But is it too late to stop playing? Can he just quit, or is he an unwitting victim in a game he thought he was in control of? Is Josh the player or the played?

What a great dystopian book that has so much written into it! Michael Thomas Ford has created a unique and brilliant premise not about zombies as monsters, but how a small virus infected the human race, one that put strains on relationships and families, both well and infected. The game simulation Josh plays under rides the main theme and focus of this book, but plays so well alongside it, making this one readers won’t be able to get through fast enough. This is one guys will pick up and read, and girls will too thanks to Ford’s main characters. I’m hoping there’s a sequel….it definitely leaves it open to one!

Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Cara is a loner. She doesn’t have many friends at all. She left her best friend Zoe behind when they were just kids and she’s never replaced her. There could be no replacement for Zoe. But Cara wishes she could see her again, especially now.

Cara’s high school life consists of living in the fringes of society. She is part of the track team, but not quite part of the girls. But an incident in the cafeteria escalates Cara into running and hiding, especially from Alexis and Syndey, whose mission is to make Cara’s life miserable. They have everything going for them, especially Alexis, who’s dating Cara’s fantasy boyfriend, Ethan, who’s more than real. She doesn’t understand how someone that nice could be with someone that nasty.

Living beside Sydney doesn’t help either. Cara gets to watch the parties, the friendships, the life she’d love to lead through her bedroom window. It’s not enough that people in school don’t include her, but her parents are always absent as well, working through the nights in their law firms and leaving Cara by herself.

But one day, Cara comes home, and Zoe’s there. Her best friend, who’s run away from problems of her own asks Cara to help her, hide her, protect her….and Cara is ecstatic to have her best friend back in her life again. It’s easy to help Zoe with her parents gone, and Zoe more than helps Cara with her self-esteem and problems at school. And slowly, Cara’s life begins to blossom, from making friends, to even catching the attention of Ethan….

But then, one night Sydney mysteriously drowns. Accidental or deliberate? The town is rocked to its core, and Cara begins doubting how harmless her best friend is. It isn’t until Alexis shows up missing that Cara’s doubts become stronger. Is Zoe to blame?

Elizabeth Woods makes a stunning debut in her first novel. A glimpse into the life of a girl who’s been bullied and separated, Woods, connects the reader to the character through those emotional ties that are so important. The twist in the book is subtle and Woods manages to reveal it slowly but steadily throughout the narrative. This novel will keeper readers entranced until the end. Perfect pairing with de la Pena’s I Will Save You. Recommended.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher

It's the future....the United States is now divided into eight territories.  The population is dependent on the most influential political group in the nation, protecting its most precious commodity - water.  While China is taking clouds from the sky, other corporations or desalinating and polluting the oceans, or damming up the precious liquid, only available to those wealthy enough to afford it.  Things taken for granted in the past - bottled water, swimming pools, blue oceans, polar ice caps - are now stuff of legend and history.  Now, most of the planet is covered with dust and endless hot days and nights. 

Vera and her brother Will live in the Republic of Illinowa, where dust prevails and water doesn't exist.  Their rations go quickly, and what there is of it is filled with chemicals, making people sick.  Nothing happens in their small town...nothing, that is, until Kai shows up.  He's different from everyone else.  He drinks crystal clear water, takes showers regularly, is escorted in a limo while others use their electric cars.  And he knows a secret that he only mentions to his new friends, Vera and Will. 

But suddenly, Kai disappears and Vera and Will find themselves being pulled into the intrigue of who wants Kai and where he is.  From gypsies to mobs to the most powerful people on the planet, the brother and sister set up against all odds to find Kai and in the process, finds out the truth about their world they live in. 

Stracher creates a dystopic world that depends on the one resource no animal, plant or human can live without, and he paints a picture of a parched earth struggling to survive.  The characters will reach readers, but it's the plot and action that will hold their attention as well as the descriptive writing that brings this bleak future world into the minds of those that pick up this book.  Another good addition to those who love dystopian novels.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Recovery Road by Blake Nelson

Mad Dog Maddie....that's what people called her when she got wasted.  Her alter-ego comes out and there's no stopping her.  That's why she's at Spring Meadows for eight weeks.  Her parents sent her there to dry up but how can she even try when it's like living in her worst nightmare?  She shares her space Jenna and Angela, but it's Trish that she's drawn to, and a friendship begins to develop. 

The girls share their stories, as well as their lives inside rehab.  They go to the movies together, confide in each other, and work to make it out.  Trish's rehab stint is nearly over, but the two promise they'll continue their friendship outside the walls of Spring Meadows.  After Trish leaves, Maddie is on her own....until she meets Stewart. 

There is no mingling between patients in Spring Meadows, but Maddie can't help it.  During the rest of her time there, she and Stewart become close, unlike any other person she's ever been with.  Maddie also knows she's putting her personal demons aside and vows to hold onto sobriety.  Life right now looks so much different and feels so much better than she could have imagined.  But now it's her time to leave...and also leave Stewart behind.  Again, another promise is made outside of rehab...

But it's those promises Trish, Stewart and Maddie make to each other that become problematic in the real world.  Maddie's friendship with Trish starts out well, but slowly takes a downward spiral when Trish tries to push past the damage she's done.  Maddie's family life is still hard for her to handle, but going back to school and trying to make it past the whispers and rumors is the most difficult.  And when Stewart gets out of rehab, it's into his arms that Maddie runs.

Sometimes though, the things you run from are the things you should run away from.  Maddie's life is a completely different one than when she left it to go into recovery.  Things are beginning to become clearer, including her wanting to graduate, making new friends instead of the ones she got into trouble with, and her love for Stewart.  Real life gets in the way, and are the lessons and treatment at Spring Meadows enough to keep Maddie's life in synch or will she turn again to the demons in order to cope with the stress she faces?

Blake Nelson is an author who crosses bounderies in genres.  This novel is realistically portrayed not only through the characters and their interactions, but also the situations each character finds themselves in.  A powerful story begins to unfold in parallel worlds pre and post rehab.  Blake doesn't sugarcoat Maddie's experience, but writes with gritty realism that resonates throughout the book.  Nelson gets the reader down to the level of the characters, and this is what makes this a remarkable YA book that flows and will quickly take the reader along for the journey. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

Football is king.  At least, at Oregrove High School it is.  Coach has his best players on the field.  Scott, Tom, and Mike are the reigning trinity for the Knights.  Along with their coach, they are going to make sure they win the state title this year.  But coach has been recruiting, and it’s where he finds a diamond in the rough….Kurt.

Kurt, a product of foster homes is big, strong, and fast.  And he made a vow – he will never again be a victim.  He remembers what Crud Bucket did to him and Lamar, but it’s what happened to Lamar that has made Kurt who he is today.  

Walking onto the team, Kurt Brodsky tries to hide himself, but the scars on his face and his stuttering don’t help.  But with Coach on his side, the three kings welcome him with open arms.  Another warrior on the battlefield to help defend against the enemies, and target the weak….

Danny wants so badly to show his father that his sport isn’t just a hobby.  He works hard beside Bruce, Ronnie and the other gymnasts to become the best he can on the mats, and the high bar.  His suicide jump isn’t perfected yet, but when it is, he knows it’ll garner him some attention.  

He also knows that the gym, especially the weight room, should be avoided when the football players take over.  He’s not only seen how they bully the other, smaller students, but himself as well and will do anything to avoid a run-in.  And now there’s another one. 

But a confrontation does occur.  And what starts out as a small incident quickly becomes violent over time.  Danny witnesses what Scott, Mike and Tom do and so does Kurt, and it’s that incident that lays the foundation of right against wrong, right over might, and victimization vs. freedom.  

Cohen writes his first YA novel that’s powerful.  Gritty, realistic, intense… the reader will step into the halls of Oregrove and walk unseen with both Kurt and Danny as they struggle with themselves and those that surround them.  Cohen doesn’t sugarcoat in this book.  In your face…all of this describes how seniors, especially those that are privileged living in a small town, will act, think and speak like.  Written in alternate voices between Danny and Kurt, readers will experience the triumph and the tragedy Cohen’s written so well within this novel while dealing with issues like bullying, suicide, drug use, friendship, and redemption, what others expect from you and what you expect from yourself.  Excellent debut novel!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

YA Books to Movies list

I neede a list of these, and fabulous librarians, you responded!  So, here it is - use it for displays, booktalking, whatever you can do with an amazing list! 

About a Boy
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (they changed the title for the movie)
Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Blood and Chocolate
Breaking Dawn
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009)
City of Ember (2008)
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
Eagle of the Ninth (released as The Eagle)
Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine
Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen
Golden Compass
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Holes, by Louis Sachar
How to Deal (based upon 2 of Sarah Dessen's titles, That Summer and Someone Like You)
I am number Four
I Love You Beth Cooper
It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Jane Eyre

Legend of the Guardians : The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)
Last Song
The Losers
Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
My Sister’s Keeper
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Princess Diaries 1 was based upon a book, but 2 was not.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the world
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Soul Surfer: a true story of faith, family, and fighting to get back on the board


Upcoming (either the film rights have been bought, are in pre-production or post-production):

Hugo Cabret
Hunger Games
Maze Runner
Mortal Instruments
If I Stay
Wicked Lovely

Perks of Being a Wallflower
Thirteen Reasons Why

tv series:
Pretty Little Liars
Vampire Diaries

You may want to check out Mid-Continent Library's website Based on the Book:

Before they were movies bibliography:

I genre-fied!!!

Took the plunge!!  The funeral wreath is from our floral class and it just fits perfectly : )  This is the supernatural section.   Working on fantasy next....
I know it's a little thing and lots of people are doing it, but it was WORK and I'm just so proud that I finally jumped tracks a little : )

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

Liz and Kate has been forever bests since they were six years old and are still best friends at sixteen.  Liz is Photo Girl – taking amazing photographs and hoping to purse photography in college.  Kate is Mistress of Modern Dance, but unsure exactly what she wants to do.

It’s their monthly sleepover – the only time dedicated to the two girls without outside interference, without threat of anyone taking time away from them, cocooned in the comfort of their friendship and lives.  But a minor spark, a disagreement, gets in the way this one time, and for tonight, Kate sleeps on the couch, while Liz stays in her room.

But something happened….Kate avoids Liz, even after she apologizes for hurting Kate’s feelings.  But nothing Liz can say could possibly prepare her for what Kate finally reveals to her.  Mike, Liz’s brother, home from college, raped her….

Is it true or is Kate lying?  Liz can’t possibly believe that her brother, the one who introduced Liz to Brian, the one whom she told Kate was off limits, could do this.  Why would Kate make something like that up?  Or is Mike the one who is lying?  Consentual or forced?  It not only ruins a friendship, but ruins Liz’s focus, not only with Kate but with those closest to her as well as her passion for photography.  She feels out of focus….and still unsure about who is telling the truth….

A powerful novel in verse, the author sets the scene of the book without the reader possibly knowing what could have happened until they read it.  It’s a look at relationships, not only between friends, but those that are familial as well.  Marcus delves into the gray area that teens start to run into the older they get.  No longer is life a clear division of opposites, but sometimes the lines blur.  And that is what that author so clearly writes about.  Who is truly innocent or guilty is left up to the reader, but the nuances allow a certain modicum of bias the reader will pick up on.  An excellent first book for a new YA author.  Recommended.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

Liz and Hope are sisters, and they know what a regular family is like.  But that’s in the past….now it’s just them and their mother.  Things at home aren’t the same as they were, and it gets worse when Hope finds her older sister in the bathroom with gun.

Now, in order to make ends meet, Liz and Hope’s mother takes on clients at home to make money.  At their age, they don’t exactly understand what that means, but their lives are uninterrupted with friends, secret crushes and a private spot in the house that becomes their clubhouse. 

But  for Liz, her normal life quickly turns into a nightmare, and one she wants to protect Hope from.  But Liz can only stand so much before she breaks…

Although sisters, both girls have lived very different lives under the same roof.  Hope doesn’t understand why Liz would want to kill herself, but she tries to every time she and her mother visit Liz in the mental hospital.  Liz won’t talk to her mother at all – it’s only Hope that she’ll speak to, although it’s not a lot.  All her mother wants to make sure of is that Liz hasn’t told the secret, whatever that means…

The more visits Hope and her mother make to Liz, who is still unresponsive, the more Hope begins to understand what happened to Liz, especially when she and her mother must see a family counselor who talks to Hope about Liz’s predicament.  But it’s when the counselor asks for Liz’s diary that Hope’s mother becomes aggressive, mean…demanding Hope give her the book.  Hope doesn’t have it, but she knows where it is.  And when she finds it in their secret place, the floodgates open and Hope then realizes exactly how bad Liz’s life has become because of her mother’s demands on her. 

Lynch Williams unfolds a tragic story gradually to a situation both girls live in and through, but with different voices that create very strong characters in Hope and Liz.  The author writes a tale about abuse and neglect and its ugly aftermath without having to resort to first-hand experiences or sufferings of the older sister, but the reader knows all too well what has happened.  Lynch Williams also leaves the ending open, not tied up in a perfect bow that makes this novel all that more realistic and powerful.  Those who love novels-in-verse will find this an excellent choice, and one that will make them read every part of the beautiful prose Lynch uses so well to convey the truth about the lives of two innocent people.  Highly recommended.