Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

Emily Windsnap is just your average seventh grader except for one little thing: she's half mermaid. I know that is something you can't really miss, and she only turns grows a tail when she's in the water. Her mom has never allowed her to take swim lessons before. Until she decides to let Emily take them in seventh grade which is kind of inconvenient considering Emily and her mom live on a boat. After Emily discovers she's a mermaid she sneaks out at night to go for a swim, and she meets another mermaid named Shona. Shona has a theory about how Emily is so unique but she wants to ask her teacher at her mermaid school a few questions to confirm her theory. They ask the teacher and they learn about an illegal interaction between a merman and a human woman that happened in this area. Apparently they were deeply in love and King Neptune's guards caught them, arrested the merman, and began to wipe the memory of the human woman. Emily and Shona go on a journey to find Emily's father but in the process Emily finds out things that she never dreamed of learning about.

Overall I would give the book three stars because there were a few parts where Emily took forever to figure things out, which bugged me, and I thought the ending only resolved part of the conflict and I honestly hated it. I thought the book had two main strengths, one was the plot was very interesting and there really was no boring parts, also Emily has a very strong sense of who she is so it makes her a character you can relate to easily. I would highly suggest The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler to anyone who likes fantasy and adventure.

Review by SilentLikeALamb17

Works Cited
"The Tail of Emily Windsnap Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 30 Dec. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/1004049/.

A Friend at Midnight by Caroline Cooney

A Friend at Midnight by Caroline B. Cooney is about a girl named Lily and her family. Her brother Michael just moved out to live with her dad. Michael is just eight, but he really needed his dad. Lily lives with her mom and her stepfather. Her stepfather isn't too bad, but Lily doesn't like him simply because he isn't her dad. Nate, Lily's baby stepbrother, is the only sibling she has left living with her, since her big sister, Reb, is just going to college. On the day that Lily's mom and stepdad are taking Reb to college, her little brother calls. He doesn't call from his dad's house though he calls from the airport. Michael just got dropped off at the airport without anything at all. The reason why her dad dropped him off was because Michael wasn't "the son he had in mind." Lily goes through a lot of trouble to pick Michael up, and then not trying to tell anyone what happened to Michael. Michael didn't want his dad to get in trouble, because he was still his dad. No matter what, Michael would always love him- something Lily would never be able to do again, after what had happened to her brother.

Review by jessi479

Works Cited
"A Friend at Midnight Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 29 Dec. 2009 http://www.librarything.com/work/1889177/.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

I found this to be a very compelling read. Lucy (Lucinda) has been raised by two loving adoptive parents. Her mother, Miranda, went crazy after giving birth, leaving Lucy with the lyrics to Scarborough Fair. The Scarborough girls have been cursed...they get pregnant with a daughter at 18 and as soon as they deliver the daughter they go insane. The lyrics to the song they pass down holds the key to breaking the curse. When she is 18, Lucy too becomes pregnant after she is raped at prom. Lucy has people around her who love and believe in her, including the boy-next-door best friend Zach, and together this group tries to race against time to complete the three tasks before she delivers her baby.

Because of some of the issues that arise in this book, I would recommend it as a read for 8th graders. This book would definitely appeal to fans of Twilight and the Gemma Doyle series, but certainly is a strong enough read to find fans all its own. It seems like several of the books I've read lately (From Charlie's Point of View, A Great and Terrible Beauty, Poison, and Keturah and Lord Death) have this common thread of integrating this fantasy or other-worldly realm into the story.

Works Cited
"Impossible Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 23 Dec. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/5398461/

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Highland Book Fair

The first book fair of the year is underway in the Highland Learning Center.
The book fair will be open during the school day from Wednesday, 12/3 - Friday, 12/5. Students will have a chance to visit the book fair with their language arts and literature classes. Checks can be made out to Highland Middle School.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

After her mother's death, Gemma is sent to a boarding school in London where she is to be taught how to behave like a lady in order to land a husband. She is haunted and puzzled by the events around her mother's death and the strange vision she had. After finding a hidden diary and exploring her new powers, she and three friends decide to try to explore the Realm. This decision and the excursions into the Realm has serious consequences for them all and delves into each of the girl's hearts desire.

I am anxious to read the rest of the series and see where Gemma's path takes her. I think this series would appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series.

Works Cited
"A Great and Terrible Beauty Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 3 Dec. 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Forensic Mystery

I did a little travel over break and took the first two books in the Forensic Mystery series by Alane Ferguson with me. These books feature a high school student, Cammie, who is fascinated with forensics and has convinced her coroner father to allow her to work as the assistant to the coroner. This job brings her to the scene of several crimes, and she gets really involved in helping to uncover the mysteries behind the deaths. Intertwined in all the medical and crime scene investigation information is insight into Cammie's personal life including the disappearance of her mother, her relationship with her best friend, and her interaction with the new deputy sheriff, Justin. Cammie somehow seems to get herself in the middle of the action through her tenacity, persistence, and curiosity.

I really enjoyed these books and am looking forward to reading about Cammie's third adventure.

Works Cited
"The Angel of Death Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 30 Nov. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/1782424/
"The Christopher Killer." Online image. LibraryThing. 30 Nov. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/1439350/

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Chains takes place while the Revolutionary War is raging. When their owner dies, Isabel is left alone with her younger sister, Ruth. They are denied their pledged freedom and taken from Rhode Island to New York to work for a Loyalist couple. After meeting another slave, a boy named Curzon on the side of the Patriots, she is torn between which side she should support. Isabel begins to play her part in the conflict, wishing only to gain freedom for her and Ruth.
Chains was a smooth, simple read that gave me a slightly different angle on the Revolutionary War. Although I had already known a little about the War, the author presented the events in a way that made me feel like I was learning about them all over again through the eyes of a young slave girl. For a young adult historical fiction book, it was very good compared to others I have read and got started quicker rather than dragging on. However, as I got to the end, I felt as if it wasn’t complete, and wanted to know more about the fates of the characters. Overall, I would rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Review by Bear Xiong

Works Cited
"Chains Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 30 Nov. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/5175837/

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Great Receiver by Elena Yates Eulo

Joey Eastland is a vital part of his high school football team. As the water boy, he's a team player always ready to help. Unbeknownst to others, he aspires to be the wide receiver of his team, and he has to ability to do it. When one of the players on the team is suspended for cheating, Joey gets the spot and finds himself much more popular. As Joey tries to maintain an unstable equilibrium between staying on top of his schoolwork and acknowledging his newfound popularity, he realizes that in the end you have to do what you believe is right. This book about a high school student's struggles and accomplishments includes many moments of comedy and can be a good read even if you don't like sports.

Review by I. Kanreed

Works Cited
"The Great Receiver Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 29 Nov. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/6065045/book/38714622

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalester

Charlie is a fourteen year-old girl living in New Avalon, a city in a world where everyone has a fairy that gives them good luck in certain areas, whether it be making the perfect serve every time, always having nice hair, or possessing a knack for finding loose change. These fairies are very helpful, make life easy, and can even bring fame. But for Charlie, having a fairy is a nightmare. Her is a parking fairy which always allows her find a good parking spot. Charlie’s gift has become a horrible nuisance as people always drag her along with them when driving anywhere. She begins going out of her way to get rid of her fairy. As things get worse and it seems like she will never be free of her fairy, Charlie teams up with a girl she despises, Fiorenze, who also dislikes her gift, in hopes of getting rid of their fairies. They both find a way to get what they desired only to realize that their new gifts might be even worse than before. In the end, they have to take some extreme actions to fix things.

This book was an enjoyable read, and I think it would appeal to most younger girl readers at Highland, especially those who enjoy more girly fantasy stories. I found this book a bit confusing as it was set in a different world with a whole new vocabulary. I also felt like I wasn’t able to relate to the characters. The plot was very simple and the lack of major conflicts bothered me. I also felt as if I had read similar books and thought this one didn’t stand out. I would give it two out of five stars. Though I wasn’t very impressed by this novel, it was a fun, lighthearted book that I think most readers will enjoy.

Review by KM

Works Cited
"How to Ditch Your Fairy Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 27 Nov. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/5267367/.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Savage by David Almond

The Savage is written by David Almond and illustrated by Dave McKean. It is a great novel within a novel kind of story. It is a fast-paced, violent, and intense book. The story is about a boy, Blue, who loses his father, and to drown out his sorrows, he creates a comic book called the Savage. This comic is about, you guessed it, a savage boy living in the woods that feeds on stray chicken and children. Blue writes about many of the Savage's adventures, that he puts into his comic book, and some of which are included within the book.

The Savage is fairly short, about 80 pages, and with all the pictures and large print, there isn’t much reading. I wound up giving the Savage a 3 out of five. It was a little too quick to read, and Blue’s handwriting is hard to decipher, but otherwise, it was a fairly good execution, and a decent book.

Review by JH

Works Cited
"The Savage Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Nov 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/5175834

Trouble by Gary Schmidt

Henry Smith is just your average kid. He has a mom, a dad, sister Louisa and a brother named Franklin. Franklin is a rugby star who promised to climb the mountain Katahdin with Henry. Henry’s life is quite uneventful until a car hits Franklin. Franklin looses his arm and is rarely conscious in the hospital bed. The entire family goes into depression. Louisa locks herself in her room and refuses to come out, Henry’s father just stares out the window, and Henry’s mother tries to put on a brave mask but Henry hears her cry herself to sleep at night. Henry immediately hates the man who hit Franklin, Chay Chouan. When they go to court to see what happens to Chay, the court declares him innocent and just takes away his license for a few months. Henry is furious that the man who tried to kill his brother is off the hook. As Chay leaves the courtroom he looks up at Louisa and she begins to cry. Henry decides that in honor of Franklin he is going to climb Katahdin. Will he make it, and what’s up with Chay and Louisa? To find out these answers and more read Trouble.

I give the book 3 out of 5 stars because the book was excellent once the action started but until that point it was slow. I have to admit that the author set up the plot very well but there were a lot of unnecessary details that dragged down the plot. Overall I thought the book was average with an occasional glimmer of extraordinary writing.

-Review by SilentLikeALamb17

Works Cited
"Trouble Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Nov. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/4124215

The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks by E. Lockhart

Frankie-Landau Banks is known to her family as ‘Bunny Rabbit’, a rather degrading nickname, and has been underestimated by them for her entire life. She attends an elite boarding school where most don’t really notice her and those who do have no idea what she is capable of. After a huge summer growth spurt, Frankie suddenly acquires the attention of a whole new crowd of friends, including her crush from the previous year, the handsome and talented Matthew Livingston. She quickly starts dating him, but while everything seems to be going perfectly, she knows that he is keeping secrets from her and shutting her out. She thinks that Matthew is part of an all-male secret society called the Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds. After finding a book of Former Bassett’s deeds and spying on the group, Frankie uses her undiscovered intelligence to take over the Bassett Hounds and direct them to perform complicated pranks with hidden meanings, while challenging the club’s leader. Nobody suspects it is Frankie since her boyfriend and his friends all seem to want her to be a cute and fragile girl instead of the brilliant genius that she really is. When everything goes terribly wrong, Frankie has to confess to what she has done and deal with the ruined relationships afterward. In the end, Frankie realizes that though losing friendships might hurt, it’s better to be yourself than to be with people that don’t accept who you really are and won’t let you become a part of their lives.

I really enjoyed reading The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks. It was an entertaining book and was hysterically funny. I would give this book three stars. This is a great book for girls who enjoy humorous books and are looking for a fun read.

Review by KM

Works Cited
"The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Nov. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/3528275

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer

In this mystery Sherlock Holmes' assistant Dr. Watson goes missing. Enola Holmes, Sherlock's sister, is determined to show her brother that she is capable of solving mysteries just as well as he can and she sees this mystery as the perfect one to solve. When Enola starts to investigate, she realizes that these bizarre bouquets of flowers keep showing up. The bouquets are regular flowers but there is green asparagus in all of these bizarre bouquets. Enola is determined not only to solve the mystery of Dr. Watson but also the case of the bouquets. The story is filled with some suspence and a lot of big words.

Out of five stars, I give this book a three because the plot is a little hard to understand. There are many slow parts in the book that did not entertain me.

Review by Fredrick O'Charles

Works Cited
"The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 10 Nov. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/3569417

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Highland Mock Election Results

Highland students participated in a school-wide mock election on Tuesday. In addition to the popular vote, a mock electoral college was also conducted with studio ones representing the states.

The Highland Mock Election results were...
Obama/Biden 438 = 53.3%
McCain/Palin 317 = 38.6%

Obama/Biden = 344
McCain/Palin = 145

The complete results are available on the mock election page of the LC wiki.

Students served as election judges and did a great job making the election a success.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

Keturah follows a hart into the forest and gets utterly lost. As she is sitting there completely depleted of energy a well-dressed handsome man, Lord Death. appears. Keturah relies on her talent to tell stories and makes a deal with Lord Death to give her an extra day of life in order to find her one true love. The story weaves Keturah's exploits to try to find her love and her relationship with Lord Death. I thought of Shadow Spinner as I read, especially in the early parts of the book. I've wanted to read this book for a long while, and I wasn't disappointed as I found the book really enjoyable.

Works Cited
"Keturah and Lord Death Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 3 Nov. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/37670779

New Lunch Bunch Book Club Page Launched

We've just finished the second round of Lunch Bunch Book Club meetings at Highland.
The book clubs have a new web page within information about our upcoming meetings and selected books - http://highlandlc.wikispaces.com/BookClubs. Any students at Highland are welcome to join the book club at any time.

Next books and meetings are:
  • 6th Grade - Fever, 1793 by Anderson on Wednesday, 11/19
  • 7th Grade - Son of the Mob by Korman on Thursday, 11/20
  • 8th Grade - Monkey Town by Kidd on Monday, 11/24
  • 8th Grade - Maus by Spiegelman on Tuesday, 11/25

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Are you looking for a good romance book but tired of the typical love-story plot line? If so, I would recommend the book Evermore by Alyson Noël. The novel’s main character, sixteen-year-old Ever, lost her family in a terrible car crash. She miraculously survived the accident, and gained the ability to hear people’s thoughts, see auras, and know everything about a person by touch. She also has frequent visits from her dead little sister. She takes extra measures to restrain her powers, and these precautions make her an outcast. This doesn’t affect Ever because she hasn’t cared about most social matters since her former carefree lifestyle ended. That is, until she meets an unusual new student, Damen. Everyone at her school is falling for him, and for good reason, because he is extraordinarily handsome, interesting, and talented. He not only stops the hearts of every girl at the school, but also stops Ever’s burdensome gifts. Ever finds herself in love with Damen, but she quickly realizes that he isn’t like other humans. In fact, she isn’t even sure that he is human. Along with this new love comes danger. Damen’s close friend, Drina, hates Ever and becomes a horrible threat to her existence. Ever finds herself facing a horrible enemy, trying to understand her abilities, helping her sister move on, and deciding whether or not she belongs with Damen.

I thought Evermore was a really interesting and thought provoking book. I also thought it was a refreshing, unique love story compared to typical romance novel, however it was not one of my favorites. I felt like I didn’t get to know other characters besides the narrator very well, and this made it harder to understand their ways of thinking and had trouble wanting Damen and Ever to end up together. Also, it seemed like I had heard some of the ideas and details before, in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. I think that those who haven’t read the Twilight series will appreciate this book more. Overall, I would give this a rating of 2.5 stars out of 5. Despite my low rating, I did like this book and think that fans of romance and the paranormal will enjoy reading Evermore.

Works Cited
"Evermore cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 1 Nov. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/6103672

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cherry Heaven by L.J. Adlington

In the distant future, humans have colonized many new worlds and developed gills. On one such world, people are sorted into three different classes according to their genes. A massive war has decided the "ranks" of these classes. Cherry Heaven is a story of this world told through two different viewpoints. Luka is a Galrezi, thought to be an inferior class. Kat and Tanka are two adopted sisters who happen to be Atsumisi, the "highest" ranked class. As these characters meet, the story of past events and injustices is revealed. This book tends to drag on a bit, but it is a great read for science fiction lovers who are looking for something new.
Cherry Heaven
is the companion novel to The Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington.

Review by I. Kanread

Works Cited
"Cherry Heaven Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 27 Oct. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/catalog/ewyatt

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Ghost of Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

The Ghost of Spirit Bear was an exhilarating reading experience. The Ghost of Spirit Bear starts off where Touching Spirit Bear ended. Cole has returned from the island of Alaska. His enemy, Peter, is now his best friend after they shared experiences on the island. They now need to face the dangers of Minneapolis Central High School. They have to endure bullies, drugs, and a suicide. Yes…suicide. Cole needs to learn to cope his anger. This book is for mature audience as there is some strong language due to the characters mostly being high school students.

In my opinion, this book is a 5. The book has a great moral, just like its prequel and the author has ended it excellently. I recommend this book to every mature reader at Highland. Hope you read this book and hopefully the prequel before it. And remember, read every chance you get!

Review by KP

Works Cited
"Ghost of Spirit Bear." Online image. LibraryThing. 17 Oct. 2008 .

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Pfeffer

Alex Morales, a New Yorker, was a junior at a prestigious school, overshadowed by those more fortunate than he. He worried about earning suitable grades for a good college. Then, something completely unexpected happened that changed his way of life forever. In one cataclysmic moment, the moon was knocked closer to the Earth, dramatically altering its climate and leaving its inhabitants frightened and confused.

Now, Alex must support the two remaining members of his family, responsible Bri and kid sister Julie. Bri keeps her faith in religion and preserves undying hope for the safety of their parents, as Julie thinks that everyone and everything has turned against her. They all grapple with reality and fight to try to stay alive.

A powerful parallel novel to Life As We Knew It, The Dead and The Gone was suspenseful, emotional story. The author sets you in the characters’ shoes, and as I read on, I began to see more and more from the point of view of Alex and Bri, and empathize with Julie. However, the first major event came too soon without much emphasis given to it at first, perhaps this is because the characters themselves don’t quite understand what has happened. Those who didn’t read Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It probably wouldn’t comprehend the idea as much, so although it isn’t necessary, reading Life As We Knew It would be advisable. However, I still feel as if this book drew me in fairly quickly and continued to do so until the end. Overall, I would give this book a rating of four out of five stars, but it is not a story for those who dislike sad stories or angst.

Review by Bear Xiong

Works Cited
"The Dead and the Gone." Online image. LibraryThing. 17 Oct. 2008 .

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Jennifer Harris has turned her life around. Once the outcast, the girl who was spurned by her classmates becomes social Jenna Vaughn. She hides bitter memories from her new friends and boyfriend. One of those memories was of her best and only friend, Cameron Quick. She constantly recalls an incident between them which has repeatedly haunted her. Now, eight years later, it is Jenna’s birthday, and Cameron unexpectedly enters her life again. Jenna now has to cope with suppressing Jennifer Harris and the secrets that have been kept from her by the people she loves.

Reading the inside cover of this book, the plotline did not appear particularly unique to me, but I decided to give it a chance. Now that I have read it, I still think that it isn’t the most creative or engaging idea for a story. The first several pages lured me in a bit, but as the book progressed I didn’t find that it had a real focus. It didn’t leave me with a distinctive feeling at the end either. I did not connect with the characters as much as I would have liked.

Overall, I would give Sweethearts a rating of 2 out of 5. Although I considered it slightly below average, those who enjoy romance might like this story.

Review by Bear Xiong

Works Cited
"Sweethearts." Online image. LibraryThing. 17 Oct. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work//edit/37132168

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Simon Bloom: The Gravity Keeper by Michael Reisman

The Gravity Keeper brings new ideas to the sci-fi genre in an interesting and colorful way. Sixth grader Simon Bloom stumbles onto the well kept secrets of the Union, a secret society known to everyone but the Outsiders (everyday people). As he learns the fantastic abilities of a mysterious book that literally fell out of the sky, Simon is thrown into a dangerous adventure of saving the world from a tyrant who wants the power of the Union. On the way, he meets Owen, a peculiar boy who is afraid of shredded lettuce, and Alysha, a curious girl who is getting tired of being popular. Together they float, electrify, and ground skate their way through dangerous, and sometimes funny, perils.

Overall this book is a good read that is full of fun adventures and wacky characters, but on the downside, there is not a very strong plot. The book can leave readers with a sense of wanting more story rather than adventure. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Review by CR

"Gravity Keeper Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 15 Oct. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/2990767

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Blood by Peter McPhee

New Blood by Peter McPhee is a very interesting and quick read (167 pages). Callum, a high-school aged immigrant from Scotland, has moved to Canada because of a horrible incident between himself and some thugs from his old, dangerous neighborhood. Callum’s whole family is now living with his older brother Ewan and his wife, Vickie. Callum soon finds himself between a rock and a hard place once again after he gets into a fight with the toughest group of guys at school on the first day. Callum is fortunate, however, to have found two new best friends; Aidan, the rebel, and Tyler, the technology buff. It seems that Callum has bitten off more than he can chew this time. He is in for a lot of surprises living on Morley Avenue. From a cute girl who has an abusive family member, to putting soap in a fountain, to pictures on the internet of Callum wearing a kilt, you never know what could happen next in New Blood.

I thought that New Blood was a relatively good story, but the storyline was not as good as some other books that I have read. It didn’t seem as if the plotline really came together in the end to serve a meaningful purpose. The ending of the book did not really satisfy me. Overall, I would give this book three stars because even though the plotline was not my favorite, the characters were well-developed and the book ended up to be very interesting. I would definitely recommend this book to those readers who are into teenage conflict stories. I usually would not pick out a book like New Blood so it was a somewhat new experience for me.

Review by BH

"New Blood Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Oct. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/4951479

Exodus by Julie Bertagna

For science fiction and fantasy readers, I would highly recommend Exodus by Julie Bertagna. After pollution caused the polar ice caps to melt, entire continents have been covered by water and whole nations drowned, leaving only a few scattered islands inhabited by survivors. One of these is the island Wing. As the days grow hotter, the immense waters rise. Fifteen-year old Mara knows that her people need to face the problem before they all drown. A new discovery convinces her that strong cities were built that could provide safety for them. Her people leave to find them. Once they reach one of the grand metropolises, they realize those in safety have decided to turn away all refugees. As everyone grows ill, Mara sneaks in and finds others living in hiding in the city. They are convinced that she is meant to save them. When two of her new friends are taken to be slaves, she ventures into the world above with the hope of helping them all escape to a land that may exist in the north. With the help of a rebel citizen, her plan might work. In the end, Mara has to make a huge sacrifice so that the unwanted people can start their own civilization.

This novel was almost magical and had the important message of protecting our environment and acting with selflessness. My only complaint was that some of the subjects weren’t fully explained. This was a great read!

Review by KM

"Exodus Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Oct 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/255625/covers/

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Gail Carson Levine has done it again with Ever. Olus is the god of winds who has never had a friend. Kezi is a mortal peasant who loves to weave and dance. What were to happen if these two were to fall in love? But how long can this love last when Kezi is going to be sacrificed to Admat, what Kezi believes to be the god of all, in 30 days. Olus has a plan, if Kezi were to become immortal then when the priest stabs her he will live, but becoming immortal isn't as easy as you think. Will love conquer all or will Kezi only have 30 days to live with her beloved Olus?

I would give this book a 4.5 stars out of 5. I thought the book was enchanting except for the ending. The author, in my opinion, wrapped it up way too quickly, but other than that the book was extraordinarily well written. The book has many strengths including a plot with so many twists and turns that it made it nearly impossible to put down. I found myself saying just one more page, no wait maybe another page, constantly. The characters also have very refreshing personalities. How often do you come across a girl who loves to dance and weave with a heart of gold and a god who has human needs and just wants to be loved? I loved these unique personalities, they made the book worth while.

I also loved how Gail Carson Levine described the characters and settings. For example, this part is describing Olus, "The slave was flawless, without a blemish. Majestic, taller than Elon, more muscular... He stands straight, and he is clean-shaven so I see his square jaw and wide mouth... I see humor and sadness in the mouth." (p.63) I think that paints a better picture in your mind than any artist could ever try to paint. I thought that was one of the major strengths because you feel like you are Kezi looking at this perfect slave.

If you like romance, adventure and a sprinkle of humor then read Ever by Gail Carson Levine, where you'll be whisked away to another world and go on the adventure of a lifetime!

Review by SilentLikeALamb17

Image Citation
"Ever Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 9 Oct. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/4517682.

Student Reviews to Appear on the Highland LC Blog

This fall an idea that has been rattling around my head for awhile has finally come to life. I'm really excited about it! There are a lot of students at Highland who are avid readers and writers. At the Highland Learning Center we've started a student reviewer program. Interested students applied to be reviewers. These students get first crack at the new books we receive in the library in exchange for writing reviews of those books. The reviews will be published here and also linked into our library catalog. Thanks to all those students who have agreed to be part of this program! If there are other Highland students interested, see me to get an application.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First Book Club Meetings of 2008-2009

It is almost the beginning of October which means that the book club meetings are finally here! I'm really looking forward to talking about our first books of the year. The 6th grade club meets on October 1 to talk about Rules by Cynthia Lord. As soon as we pick our next book I'll post it here. The 7th grade club is set to meet October 2 to talk about Turnabout. Finally, the 8th grade club will meet on Monday, October 6, (which is a change of date!) to discuss Acceleration.

Web Search Strategies in Plain English Video

I'm a big fan of the Common Craft Show. Lee and Sachi Lefever make really easy to understand short videos on often complicated topics. Their latest video is about web search strategies. Check it out. The tips will help you improve your searching.

Monday, September 22, 2008

An animation about Runner

I read the book Runner by Carl Deuker this weekend. I really liked it. Chance and his dad struggle to make ends meet, and his dad can never seem to keep a job. They live on a run down sailboat. Chance is desperate to make some money to pay the bills. When a strange man on the docks approaches him with the opportunity to make $200 a week to pick up packages on his daily run, it seems too good to be true or at least legal. What will Chance do?

I was just playing with the tool GoAnimate. It is a really simple way to create animations. I thought I'd use the tool to make a teaser about the book. If you try out goanimate, please share what you make!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Everlost by Neal Shusterman was a book that hooked me right in and made me want to find out what would happen to the main characters.

Allie and Nick awake to find themselves in a place called Everlost after a car accident they didn't survive. As they try to navigate this new reality, they try to figure out its rules, tangle with Queen Mary, and deal with the evil creature McGill. Allie is desperate to get back home again, and she'll do just about anything to try to get there. This was a creative concept for a story and a really enjoyable read. The book had action, adventure, interesting characters, and was thought-provoking.

Another book I recommend to a lot of Highland students is Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. It imagines the life of the main character after she has died in a biking accident and goes to a place called Elsewhere. Although the after death places are totally different, this book came to mind while I was reading Everlost.

Image Citation
"Elsewhere Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 18 Sept. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/76114

"Everlost Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 18 Sept. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/36103293

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Evil Genius

I just finished Evil Genius. The sequel for this book, Genius Squad, just arrived at the Highland library as well.

Cadel is smart, really smart with a genius IQ. He is moved ahead in school despite his teacher's concerns about his social skills. He is also a master manipulator and studier of systems of all types. Small challenges he tackled were to create traffic jams and make all the teachers late for school without getting caught. Cadel is surprised when he finds out from his psychologist, Thaddeus, that his dad is really Phineas Darrkon, one of the most dangerous criminal masterminds around. Cadel gets enrolled in the Axis Institute, an academy to train potential supervillians and other evil doers. Cadel starts to wonder if he is really cut out to be evil and if his plans are spinning out of his control. I enjoyed the book, but the characters and plots once Cadel starts at the Axis Institute got a bit convoluted. This book would definitely appeal to fans of the Artemis Fowl series!

Image Citation
"Evil Genius Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 17 Sept. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/36052441

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Be Funky - An imaging tool

I am working on the new version of the Learning Center website this weekend. I was looking for a tool to convert a photo to become a more cartoon-like image. I found an easy one to use, Be Funky, and the results are so cool!

Before getting funky

and after

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Support for Book Clubs

I just finished reading a book this week for a new book club that I've started with my childhood friends. These are girls I've been friends with since middle school - that's a long time! Since we are spread out all around the country, we are going to use technology tools to connect us together to let us having our "meeting".

The Learning Center runs several book clubs at Highland for students. However, I know there are many Highland students who have book clubs of their own or want to read the same books with friends. Libraries are great resources to help facilitate book clubs, and the Highland Learning Center is no exception! From offering help in gathering copies of the books to providing suggestions for things to read to having meeting space for groups, libraries offer all sorts of services for book clubs. The Highland Learning Center will offer these services to you as well. If you have a book club for your group of friends or want to get one started, feel free to ask me for help - I can work with you to get copies, select books, or build discussion questions.

I'll let you know how my virtual book club meeting goes later this week!
Happy Reading and Discussion!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Book Club News

It is the first week of school and the library will officially open for business tomorrow. I am so excited! I can't wait to hear what students have read this summer and share the things I enjoyed.

At Highland the Lunch Bunch Book Clubs will be back as well. The titles and dates for the first meetings have just been posted.
The 6th grade group will meet on Wednesday, October 1, to discuss Rules by Lord.
The 7th grade group will meet on Thursday, October 2, to talk about Turnabout by Haddix.
The 8th grade goup will meet on Friday, October 3, to talk about Acceleration by McNamee.

Any interested Highland students are welcome to attend book club. We meet about once a month to talk about the book we read for that month while we eat lunch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

I've been totally bitten by the Vladimir Tod bug!

I picked up the first in the series, Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer. It looked kind of gory and gruesome from the cover. I really liked the book. Vlad has lived with his aunt for the three years since his parents died. Vlad has all the problems of a normal teenage kid including dealing with bullies and working up the nerve to talk to his crush. He also has to deal with being half vampire. He feeds from blood donated from a blood bank and has blood capsules embedded into his PB&J sandwiches at lunch. When his teacher disappears and a strange substitute takes his place, Vlad has to try to figure out what is happening and what his dead father has to do with it.
The story had action and humor. As soon as I finished the first book, I wanted to get started on the second.

In Ninth Grade Slays, Vlad and the crew are back again, as this book picks up right where the first left off. Vlad starts high school and finds out aside from the bullies and STILL working up the nerve to talk to his crush, he has some new problems. First, Eddie Poe suspects that Vlad is not totally human. Second, a vampire slayor has been sent to "take care" of him. Vlad gets to do some training and discover more about the mysterious prophecy of the Praxus.

I'd definitely recommend this series. It's very entertaining and a good mix of vampire stuff, humor, action, and realistic fiction. I'm anxious to see what happens to Vlad and best friend/drudge Henry when they are sophomores!

Image Citations
"Eighth Grade Bites Cover." Online image.
LibraryThing. 19 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/34886156

"Ninth Grade Slays Cover." Online image.
LibraryThing. 19 Aug. 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rat Life

I picked up Rat Life by Tedd Arnold tonight and almost before I knew it I had finished the entire book. It was partially a mystery with a little bit of history and realistic fiction mixed in.

Todd is an aspiring teenage writer and the events that he is part of during 1972 certainly lend themselves to his stories. During an incident that haunts Todd when a stray dog he had tried to protect gets struck by a truck, his path crosses with a slightly older boy named Rat. To say Rat has had a difficult life would be an understatement. He has abusive, often absent parents and a mom who arranged for him to serve in Vietnam when he was just 14! Todd is interested in Rat and wants to really understand this mysterious kid who seems to somehow be linked with a dead body found in the river.
This book, with its short chapters and layered storytelling, was a quick read that was as much an exploration of character and story telling as it was a mystery.

Image Citation
"Rat Life Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 16 Aug. 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Alabama Moon

I just finished the last 2009 Caudill book that I brought home for the summer, Alabama Moon by Watt Key. I think this brings my total to eight of the books so far.

Moon is a ten-year-old who has been raised in a shelter in the middle of the forest by his survivalist, anti-government father. When his dad breaks his leg, refuses to leave the forest for medical attention, and then dies, Moon is left alone with his father's dying words that he should go to Alaska. He is taken to a boys home and has his first of many run-ins with the increasingly sadistic, vengeful Constable Sanders. He somehow manages an escape with all the boys in the boys home - this kid not only knows everything about surviving in the wilderness, he may be a long lost relative of McGyver (please excuse the 1980s TV reference). Ultimately, Moon connects with some other boys, Hal and Kit, and finds an unlikely ally in a wealthy lawyer. This was a strangely compelling book, but at times it also struck me as a bit out there. There was something really unsettling about Moon, like an absolutely wild child out of place in the modern world. I did learn somethings about natural living, and ultimately I wished Moon a life where he could find a family to care for him.

If you read Alabama Moon, leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the book.

Image Citation
"Alabama Moon Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 15 Aug. 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Gossamer by Lois Lowry is a Caudill 2009 nominee. It was a quick read about little sprites who are dream givers. A young trainee, Littlest, works with Thin Elderly to gather fragments from people's belongings that are the basis for dreams. These fragments are delivered to the woman, dog, and foster child within the house where the work each evening. Woven into the fabric of the story about Littlest is the story of Jack healing from an abusive father and being placed in a foster home. The story had a bit of magic. I like the thought of these sprites visiting me to deliver dreams each night.

If you read the book, I'd love to hear about what you think these dream givers look like and what you thought of the book.

Image Citation
"Gossamer Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/34668238

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wolf Brother

I felt like I hadn't read enough of the Caudill 2009 books yet this summer, so I grabbed Wolf Brother to take with me on a weekend trip. I wasn't too excited when I opened to the first page, but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by this book. That's one of the things I really like about the Caudill program, it stretches me and gets me to read some books that I wouldn't pick up on my own.

Wolf Brother, the first of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series by Michelle Paver, takes place 6000 years ago when people are mostly nomadic and live in clans. Torak and his father live away from other people, and it turns out there is a pretty good reason for that. After his father is killed by a bear, who turns out to be demon possessed - the bear, not the father, Torak is on a quest to try to stop the bear. He has to journey to the Spirit Mountain and find three items to give to the great spirit that answer the ancient riddle. Torak finds an orphaned wolf cub who helps guide him on his mission, and it turns out he has the ability to speak the language of wolves. Renn from the Raven clan also is a helpful companion on the quest. Although I won't be running out to read the rest of the series, I think this book will definitely appeal to many of the students participating in the Caudill program. And this book managed to wrap me into its world.

Image Citation
"Wolf Brother Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 11 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/26051/book/34520992

Breaking Dawn

I was in Arizona when Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer was released. After stopping in at a local book store the night of the release, I was really impressed as there were at least 30 people participating in the release party activities and it was only 9:30, hours before the book was available for sale. I did listen for a few minutes to the trivia contest and even managed to score some free stickers when I answered a question correctly!

I didn't wait around to get the book that night, but I did pick up a copy a couple days later. I was really anticipating the end of the series. And like some things that you look forward to for a long time, this book didn't quite meet all my expectations. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading it and finding out what happened to all the characters I had grown to like so much during Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse. I'm glad I read it, I enjoyed it, but it was missing a bit of the magic of the earlier books in the series.

I'd love to hear what you thought of the book. If you've read it, please leave a comment.

While I was in Arizona, I saw the Twilight movie trailer in a theater. I'm really anxious to see how the world of the book is translated onto the screen. It'll be interesting to see what I've imagined in my mind compares with the movie.

Image Citation
"Breaking Dawn Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 11 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/34309234

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Acceleration by Graham McNamee has been on my want to read list for the past two years. I finally had a chance to read it and found I couldn't put it down!

Here's the review I wrote on my LibraryThing page:
Ohh...this book was creepy and action packed. Duncan gets stuck with a horrible summer job. Working in the back room in the lost and found at the subway in Toronto, he finds a diary. He starts to read it and is shocked by what he finds - a detailed account of animal killings, arson, and a desire to do something bigger. Duncan is being haunted by his own demons. He tried to save a drowning girl the summer before, but didn't quite get to her in time. He talks his friends, Vinnie and Wayne, to help him investigate this mystery man after the police refuse to take the issue seriously. Wow, I couldn't put this book down - especially the last few chapters!

I would definitely recommend this book. If you've read it, leave a comment about what you thought!

"Acceleration Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 3 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/34116392

The Recruit

I got my copy of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer this afternoon. I'll write more about that after I finish the book. I did stop in to a release party on Thursday night, but I was there too early to get a copy. I did, however, answer one of the trivia questions while I was in the book store and won some cool Twilight series stickers.

I'm on vacation this week and turned in the big paper I have been working on this summer before I left, so I have been reading for fun by the pool! I read a couple books in the last few days. The first was The Recruit by Robert Muchamore. It is the first book in the CHERUB series. Lots of eighth grade guys at Highland were reading the series last year, so I just had to check it out. I really enjoyed it, it was action packed! The first book in the series follows James as he goes from a troubled kid whose mom dies to his experience as a recruit for a secret organization called CHERUB, a division of MI5 for under 18 spies. In order to go on a mission, recruits have to get through a gruelling 100 day training. James' first mission puts him undercover investigating a possible terrorism threat. It was surprising at times how much these kids could do and experienced when they were so young - like 10 or 12 years old! This series has a lot in common with the Alex Rider series. Although, it is a little grittier with more emphasis on action and spying and less on the gadgets.

If you've read any of the CHERUB books or Breaking Dawn, feel free to leave a comment!

"The Recruit Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 3 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/3102579/book/34115678

Monday, July 21, 2008

How Ya Like Me Now?

A book with a couple guys playing video games on the cover? This cover art definitely has some appeal for some of Highland's students! I guess it did for me too as I brought this book home to read over the summer. I am glad I did, I really liked Brendan Halpin's How Ya Like Me Now.

Eddie has been taking care of himself and the household for more than a year. After his dad died, his mom turned to painkillers and soon developed an addiction. When the whole situation unravels and Eddie's mom goes to rehab, Eddie moves in with his aunt, uncle and cousin, Alex, in Boston. He goes to school at CUE, an alternative high school where students are called "associates" and the whole school is run more like a place of business. At CUE Eddie feels it is ok to be smart and achieve. This is a quick engaging read about Eddie's struggle to heal and fit in at a new school with friends and maybe even find romance. Eddie and Alex, though really different at first, find they have a lot to learn from each other and grow to rely on each other.

Image Citation
"How Ya Like Me Now cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 21 July 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/33585758

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Green Glass Sea

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages is a Caudill 2009 nominee. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this historical fiction book. The book is set during World War II and revolves around life in top-secret Los Alamos where scientists are inventing the gadget, a.k.a. the atomic bomb. The Green Glass Sea refers to the mineral that is created as a result of the test of the gadget.

Dewey goes to live with her father on The Hill in Los Alamos during World War II. Her father is a scientist working on the invention of what is referred to in the book as the gadget. When Dewey's dad, Jimmy, has to go to Washington DC to meet with the President, Dewey stays with the Gordon family. The Gordon's daughter, Suze, and Dewey don't get along so well at first. Their conflict and the ways they find to connect to each other occur as the adults are working feverishly trying to get the gadget to work to put an end to the war.

A lot of people and events are simply alluded to in the story, which is great because it doesn't slow the story down, but I wonder how much Highland readers will connect events and people in the story with historical events and people. Students, if you read this book, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

Image Citation
"The Green Glass Sea Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 16 July 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/1149553/33391435

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Does My Head Look Big in This?

The last few books I've read have been fluffy (How My Private Personal Journal Became a Best Seller) or just a bit strange (Frannie in Pieces). As a reader, when I'm involved in a book that I enjoy I have a hard time putting it down. I can't wait to finish it and find out what happens to the characters. I was pleased that the book I most recently pulled off my summer reading pile, Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah, hooked me in to its world.

Here's what I wrote about the book on my library thing page:
Amal decides to wear a hijab (Muslim head scarf) full-time. She is really worried about how she'll be accepted and perceived in public, especially at her prep school, especially by her crush Adam. There is an interesting cast of characters, and Amal is a strong, likeable girl. Sometimes the message got a bit heavy-handed. However, it is not often you get a Muslim teenager as the narrator in a YA book. I enjoyed the book - a touching read with Amal learning a lot of life lessons during her junior year of high school.

Please leave a comment if you've read this book or if you have a recommendation for a book that has really hooked you in this summer.

Image Citation
"Does My Head Look Big in This? Cover." Online image. Library Thing. 15 July 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/33324401

Thursday, July 3, 2008

How my Private, Personal Journal Became a Bestseller

I was in the mood for a light, girly book this afternoon. And I got just that with How My Private, Personal Journal Became a Bestseller by Julia DeVillers.

Jamie's journal is accidentally turned in to her English teacher instead of her assigned essay. It's not a spill my guts and secret kind of journal, more of a story about high school life and the way she wishes it could be. Her writing, about an independent girl who has the power to flick mean girls and put them in their place, is a hit and her teacher happens to be connected into the publishing industry. In a whirlwind, Jamie's book is published and is hotter than hot. Soon Jamie is jet setting around to interviews and events. But she still has to deal with her everyday life - encounters with her crush, friend dramas, the mean girl at school, and family issues. This was a good read for a sunny summer afternoon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Summer Reading...so far

Happy Summer! It is hard to believe it is already July. I haven't been reading as much as I would like for pleasure as I've been working on a research proposal. But I thought I'd give an update about what I've been reading so far.

I just finished The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan today. I'm so glad this is one of the 2009 Caudill books! Percy Jackson discovers he is the son of a Greek god, making him a half-blood or demigod. There is loads of action and adventure and a good dose of Greek mythology in this story about a boy's quest to try to stop a war between the gods of Mount Olympus. I can't wait to read more of Percy's adventures.

I read the first book of two series: The Mediator series by Meg Cabot and the Chasing Yesterday series by Robin Wasserman. Chasing Yesterday is about a girl who awakes with amnesia after an explosion in a factory. Most of the first book is spent trying to figure out who she is and what is going on. One hint - there is a conspiracy involved. The Mediator series tells the story of Suze and her work attempting to get the dead to move on to their final resting places. She meets a nasty, violent, and vengeful spirit in her new high school who she has to convince to move along. I liked this book and will definitely pick up more of the series.

I have a huge stack of books waiting to be read. I'm anxious to dive in! Please leave a comment if you have any books you've enjoyed this summer!

Image Citation
"Wyatt LibraryThing Book Covers." Online image. LibraryThing.com 2 July 2008 http://www.librarything.com/home/ewyatt

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Learning Games to Change the World

Summer break has nearly arrived. It's time to play!
What a perfect time for me to happen upon this blog post from J T Cobb listing 26 learning games to change the world. Free Rice, which has been a Highland favorite this year, made the list along with a bunch of other games that might offer hours of entertainment and make you think! Check out the list and explore some of the games this summer.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Summer Reading Lists

The last full day of school has just wrapped up. It was a hot one here with temperatures in the high 80s!

I posted a couple weeks ago about the personalized summer reading lists. Almost 100 students took me up on this offer. It was fun to create the lists. As I was doing this, I created a list of recommended reads and annotations that served as a base for the summer reading lists. I thought I'd share that list here as well. It is separated by genres and categories of books. Enjoy!

The Wizard Heir by Cinda Chima
Seph must find a way to control his wizard powers before they destroy him or put him under the power of the evil headmaster.

Evil Genius by Catherine Jinx
Child prodigy Cadel Piggot, an antisocial computer hacker, discovers his true identity when he enrolls as a first-year student at an advanced crime academy.

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landry
When twelve-year-old Stephanie inherits her weird uncle's estate, she must join forces with Skulduggery Pleasant, a skeleton mage, to save the world from the Faceless Ones.

Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan– first of a series
Will doesn’t get chosen for battle school and he becomes the apprentice of mysterious Ranger Halt.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – first of a series
Percy learns his father is the Greek god Poseidon, and is sent to Camp Half Blood. He fights side by side with the Olympians.

The MEQ by Steve Cash
Zianno Zezen learns that he is a member of a race know as the Meq and possess amazing powers which he endeavors to use against a sinister villain, the Flower of Evil.

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
Joey finds he’s one of an army or near-Joeys who can walk between universes.

Beauty by Robin McKinley
A blend of real life and fantasy in this retelling of the tale of Beauty and the Beast.

Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding
“A macabre, eerie story set in a vividly portrayed cityscape, full of action, with foul enemies and ghoulish creatures…’’ need I say more?

Everlost by Neal Shusterman
When Nick and Allie are killed in a car crash, they end up limbo for lost souls, where, although Nick is satisfied, Allie will stop at nothing--even skinjacking--to break free.

Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
Nathaniel, a young magician's apprentice, becomes caught in a web of magical espionage, murder, and rebellion

Goose Girl by Sharon Hale
Princess Anidori, on her way to marry a prince she has never met, is betrayed by her guards and her lady-in-waiting and must become a goose girl to survive.

Book of a Thousand Days by Sharon Hale
Dashti and the Lady Saren are locked in a tower, escape, and they both must hide who they are as they work as kitchen maids.

Pendragon Series by D.J. MacHale
The adventures of Bobby Pendragon, a Traveler--someone who can ride "flumes" through time and space.

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper
Hannah never gets the letter forbidding her to visit plague infested London in 1665. Too bad, as once she is in she cannot leave the city as she is surrounded by disease and death.

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy
A Jewish girl and her family struggle to survive in Poland's Lodz ghetto during the Nazi occupation.

Fleshmarket by Nicola Morgan
Robbie decides to take revenge on Dr. Robert Knox, and makes a gruesome discovery about the lengths the medical profession will go to advance its knowledge of anatomy.

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman
In 1949, Francine becomes best friends with a girl who questions authority and is punished by the nuns, causing Francine to question her own values.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
A murder mystery, a coming of age story, and historical fiction all in one!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Arnold is torn between life on the rez and a future that includes college. He’s a great narrator that doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. You’ll cheer for him to succeed.

Diary Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
It’s not an easy summer for DJ. She is pretty much running the family farm, training the spoiled (and handsome) Brian for football, and trying to make up for the F she received in sophomore English. A similar feel to a Sarah Dessen book.

Comeback Season by Jennifer Smith
Ryan Walsh, a Chicago Cubs fan, meets Nick when they both skip school on opening day, and their blossoming relationship becomes difficult for Ryan when she discovers that Nick is seriously ill and she again feels the pain of losing her father five years earlier.

Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson
Kate finds herself losing control in her senior year as she faces difficult neighbors, the possibility that her college plans may not work out, and an unexpected death.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Do I dare disturb the Universe? Find out !

Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce
When a boy finds himself with a lot of money, he has to decide what to do with it.

Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks
He’s been cursed with a strange name. Martyn also has a rough home life. When his dad “accidentally” dies, Martyn tries to keep his life together.

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
Summer love told in alternate viewpoints

Misfits by James Howe
A group of students who don’t fit in try to change their school for the better.

Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman – first in a series
Vince just wants a normal life and nothing to do with the family business (his dad is the head of the mob). He falls for Kendra, her Dad happens to be an FBI agent. Funny stuff!

Bluford High series by Paul Langan
These quick, short reads all take place at Bluford High School and follow the lives of students there.

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Aside from having a great title, this book has its funny parts but it also has some tough family issues that Virginia has to deal with.

(Angus, Thongs lovers)
Girl 15, Charming but Insane by Sue Limb
Jess, living with her mum, separated from her father in Cornwall, and with a best friend who seems to do everything perfectly, finds her own assets through humor.

shug by Jenny Han
Shug is trying to figure out the problems she is having with friends and boys as she starts Junior High. Plus, things aren’t going so well at home either. I really liked this book!

Click Here by Denise Vega
Erin keeps her thoughts on a private web page, that is until it accidentally gets published on the school’s web site.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Naomi loses her memory of the last four years of her life. She doesn’t remember her boyfriend, the activities she likes, nothing. She gets the chance to totally reinvent herself.

Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Reminded me of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants without the pants but with peaches!

How Not to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler
Seventeen-year-old Sugar Magnolia Dempsey is tired of leaving friends behind every time her hippie parents decide to move, but her plan to be unpopular at her new Austin, Texas, school backfires when other students join her on the path to "supreme dorkdom."

Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper
After Kate has sworn off love, she finds herself in Italy for the summer studying Shakespeare where romance abounds.

True Meaning of Cleavage by Mariah Fredericks
Jess’ best friend falls madly in love with a senior. Their relationship is strained and damaged after Jess accidentally gets a rumor started.

Girls in Love by Jacqueline Wilson
Ellie, a normal, ordinary girl, starts ninth grade with high hopes of keeping her best friends, staying on a diet, becoming more glamorous, and getting a boyfriend.

The Breakup Bible by Melissa Kantor
After a breakup with her boyfriend, Jen receives a book from her grandmother that provides advice as she sets out to recover from the loss of the romance.

The Market by J.M. Steele
After Kate discovers the underground market ranking popularity at her high school, she becomes obsessed with raising her rank.

Indie Girl by Kavita Daswani
Indie has always dreamed of a career as a fashion reporter, so when she gets a job as a nanny for one of the industry's hottest editors, she hopes it will be her big break.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
I liked this book so much I had to read the whole series! The earth is at war with creatures called the buggers and Ender is taken to Battle School.

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
A dictator’s clone is the main character in this interesting action and sci fi book.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
After Liz Hall is hit by a taxi and killed, she finds herself in a place that is both like and unlike Earth, where she must adjust to her new status and figure out how to "live."

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story about Brain Science by John Fleischman
The true story of Phineas Gage, whose brain had been pierced by an iron rod in 1848, and who survived and became a case study in how the brain functions.

Cherub series by Robert Muchamore
CHERUB, a group of teens whose mission is to spy on terrorists and international drug dealers, hack into computers, and download crucial information for the government.

Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart
Four gifted children are selected for a secret mission that requires them to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened.

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeves – first of a series
Tom has many dangerous adventures after being pushed off London by Thaddeus Valentine, a historian who is trying to resurrect an ancient atomic weapon.

Larklight by Phillip Reeve
“Creatures, swashbuckling pirates, and more in this Victorian space adventure.”

The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot
Susannah, a liaison between the living and the dead, hopes to be able to live as a normal teenager. Unfortunately, the ghosts who want her help have other plans!

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
As a sophomore at a secret spy school, Cammie is sheltered from "normal teenage life" until she meets a local boy while on a class surveillance mission.

Spy High Series by AJ Butcher
All about students at a special high school that trains them to be secret agents.

Spy Goddess Series by Michael Spraolin
Rachel Buchanan winds up at mysterious Blackthorn Academy in Pennsylvania, where she uncovers secrets about the school and a case of international espionage.

Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner
Set in Ancienct Greece, headstrong Helen learns to fight, hunt, and ride horses while disguised as a boy.

Peak by Roland Smith
A fourteen-year-old boy attempts to reach the top of Mount Everest.

Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith
This book hooked me in and kept me turning the pages. After a break-in at Zach’s house, his family has to enter the witness protection program. The sequel is Jack’s Run.

The Beasties by William Sleator
When Doug and his sister Colette move to a forested wilderness area, they encounter some weird creatures and a lot of people with missing body parts.

Cut by Patricia McCormick
While confined to a mental hospital, thirteen-year-old Callie slowly comes to understand some of the reasons behind her self-mutilation, and gradually starts to get better.

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
Troy has a hard time fitting in. He’s obese and on the verge of suicide when he meets Curt, a homeless guitar player. Soon Troy finds himself as a drummer in a band, and he realizes that maybe he doesn’t have it so bad after all.

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
A high-school senior's attempt to answer a friend's dramatic cry for help.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay gets a package containing cassette tapes from Hannah containing insight into why she killed herself.

How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor
In order to make money for their family, a brother and sister come up with a scheme to steal the dog and collect the reward money.

Listen! By Stephanie Tolan
Training a stray dog helps Charley deal with her accident and the death of her mother.

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick
After an earthquake has destroyed much of the planet, an epileptic teenager nicknamed Spaz begins the fight to bring human intelligence back to the Earth of a distant future.

Declaration by Gemma Malley
In 2140 England, where drugs enable people to live forever and children are illegal, Anna has her world view challenged when she meets Peter.

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Whoa! A meteor hits the moon and disaster strikes all over the world. Miranda describes what is happening in her journal.

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
Scott is writing a high school survival guide. He finds himself involved in all sorts of activities to try to get close to his crush, it just never quite works out the way he plans.

Boy2Girl by Terrence Blacker
A guy starts at a new school disguised as a girl on a dare from a group of new friends.

Rat Life by Tedd Arnold
After developing an unusual friendship with a young Vietnam War veteran in 1972, fourteen-year-old Todd discovers his writing talent and solves a murder mystery.

The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh
Jack Perdu, a prodigy of classical mythology, suffers a near-fatal accident after which he meets Euri, a young ghost who introduces him to New York's ghostly underworld.

Half-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer
Half Moon Fletcher is surprised when he ends up the mystery he is trying to solve!

KiKi Strike by Kristen Miller
Ananka discovers an underground room in the park across from her apartment and meets a mysterious girl who claims that she, too, wants to explore the subterranean world.

Gilda Joyce Books by Jennifer Allison
A really sassy detective with a great sense of humor!

Chasing Yesterday Series by Robin Wasserman
After an accident that should have killed her, a teenager tries to discover the truth about her supposed past and her future.

The Case of the Missing Marques by Nancy Springer
Enola Holmes, much younger sister of detective Sherlock Holmes, must travel to London in disguise to unravel the disappearance of her missing mother.

Keeper by Mal Peet
World Cup hero, El Gato, describes his youth in the Brazil and the events, experiences, and people that helped make him a great goalkeeper and renowned soccer star.

Kickoff by Donna King
Tyra moves to England from Florida. She loves soccer and tries to be part of the soccer team while dealing a mean queen bee, boys, and other issues.

Soccer Chick Rules by Dawn Fitzgerald
While trying to focus on her soccer season, Tess becomes involved in politics when she learns all sports programs at her school will be stopped unless a tax levy is passed.

Tangerine by Edward Bloor
Paul, who lives in the shadow of his football hero brother Erik, wants to play soccer despite his near blindness and begins to remember the incident that damaged his eyesight.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Alden Carter
Memory Boy by Will Weaver
Wild Man Island by Will Hobbs
Overboard by Elizabeth Fama
Shackelton’s Stowaway by Victorian McKiernan

Nonfiction Survival
Within Reach: My Everest Story by Mark Pfetzer
Into the Wild by Jon Kraukauer
Alive by Piers Read

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden
A nonfiction book about a US military helicopter that crashed in Somalia.

Left for Dead by Pete Nelson
A nonfiction recounting of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the investigation about who was at fault for the tragedy.

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
The story of a boy who lied about his age to become a British soldier during World War I

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
A story of a group of soldiers during their time fighting the Vietnam War.

WAITING for the next installment of TWILIGHT
Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
Love among the werewolves? Vivian is torn between her human boyfriend and the new werewolf life she is expected to lead. The movie was kind of lame, the book was much better!

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libby Bray
After the suspicious death of her mother in 1895, Gemma returns to England to attend a finishing school where she becomes aware of her magical powers and ability to see into the spirit world. Of course there’s some romance too.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Will Pi survive a shipwreck when he is stuck with a collection of animals from his family’s zoo? How much of what he remembers is real?

Montmorency by Eleanor Updale
A rich gentlemean, Montomorency, and his servant, Scarper, are really the same person living a double life in England. Can he be a thief and a gentleman, without getting caught?