Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak
Laurie Halse Anderson
Square Fish
Published May 10, 2011 (Orig. published 1999)

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At a high school with an ever-changing mascot, Melinda begins her year friendless and alone. She’s the pariah who called police at a summer party. The one where the awful thing happened. Through a caring teacher and a challenging art project, Melinda struggles to piece herself back together. But when the familiar face of that boy materializes out of the halls of her new school, she spirals into silence and isolation. As the boy, Andy, draws closer to Melinda’s former best friend Rachel, Melinda tries to reach out, to warn her. Rumors swirl that he’s hurt other girls, the same way … Continue reading

Review: The Girl Who Played Chess with an Angel by Tessa Apa

The Girl Who Played Chess with an AngelThe Girl Who Played Chess with an Angel
Tessa Apa
Big Planet Corporation
Published June 8, 2012

Currently Out of Print

Thirteen year old Florence doesn’t want reasons; she needs answers. About her father’s death. About her mother’s fierce anger. But Florence knows answers change things, and everything is about to change.

Things have been changing ever since the day she played chess with an Angel. One might think meeting a real live angel answers a lot of life’s questions, but Florence is taking things slowly. One answer at a time.

As she wrestles with her father’s sudden death and her mother’s bitterness, Florence begins to see life beyond her own needs. In her tenuous friendship with Max, she finds the courage to ask an even bigger question: is God … Continue reading

Review: Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston

Black HelicoptersBlack Helicopters
Blythe Woolston
Candlewick Press
Published March 1, 2013

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She heard the sound of the black helicopters approaching the day Mabby died. Since then, Valley and her big brother Bo have been hiding and waiting for their Da to come home. Staying out of sight because you never know when Those People will show up again. Valley wants to help. Da sends messages to Those People, ones they will not forget. Ticking packages that make Them listen.

But Da is gone now, and it is only Valley and Bo. Bo is forgetting. Only Valley remembers what Da said. Only Valley sees the bigger game. She will make Those People listen to her … Continue reading

Five Books I Couldn’t Stop Reading

In honor of summer’s approach, I wanted to do something a little different today. (A new review will be posted on Wednesday.)

When I was in school, I looked forward to the summer for all the usual reasons. One of my fond memories is taking family vacations with my family. We’d visit my grandparents in rural North Carolina and tube the creek, shop the flea market, hike in the woods and play Nintendo until deep into the night. But one of my most cherished evening activities during those lazy summer trips was reading. I’d often stumble upon an unexpected gem in one of the rundown flea market used book shops. Some of those books I read and reread until my copies came apart. Here are a few of the finds that never left me.

beauty


Beauty
by … Continue reading

Review: Colt O’Brien Grows Up by George Matthew Cole

Colt O'Brien Grows Up

Colt O’Brien Grows Up
George Matthew Cole
Createspace (Independent)
Published October 30, 2012

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With computer certifications under his belt and a new job waiting for him on campus, Colt O’Brien, his best friend Bobby and girlfriend Amy head to their first semester of college. Colt is quickly overwhelmed with school work and problems on the job. His boss Gerry is a UNIX guy in a Windows world, and Colt finds himself the only Windows tech providing support for an entire campus of computers. Despite the unfairness and Gerry’s apparent plot to get rid of him, Colt rises to the challenge and is determined to keep up with his work load.

The first semester of college isn’t exactly what freshman Amy … Continue reading

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay Asher
Razorbill
Published October 18, 2007

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An unexpected package greets high school student Clay Jenson at home one day. It bears no return address. Inside are seven cassette tapes. Curious, Clay pops one into a dusty player and is shocked to hear the voice of his crush, Hannah Baker, who committed suicide just weeks earlier. Clay is stunned. Through the tapes, Hannah promises to reveal the names and circumstances in which thirteen people contributed to her suicide. But how can he be one of them? He liked her.

Hannah’s story sends Clay spinning through town, visiting locations Hannah has marked on a map, reliving … Continue reading

Review: Me, Just Different by Stephanie Morrill

Me, Just Different
Stephanie Morrill
Revell
Published July 1, 2009

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Senior year should be everything beautiful Skylar Hoyt can hope for. She has popular friends, a hot boyfriend. But a terrible experience gives her a late summer wake-up call, and for Skylar, it’s time to make some changes. No to parties, and yes to youth group top her list.

Until her family begins crumbling beneath her. Her parents seem to be moving opposite directions, with Skylar and her sister caught in the middle. Then Skylar discovers her sister’s secret. Should she tell? Can her parents’ fragile marriage handle a blow like this one?

With Skylar’s best friend acting weird and her boyfriend’s jealousy skyrocketing, … Continue reading

Review: Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen

Over a Thousand Hills I Walk with You
Hanna Jansen
Carolrhoda Books
Published April 1, 2006 (Orig. published 2003)

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Jeanne’s family and home are destroyed when the radical Hutu group, the Interahamwe, begin a nationwide massacre of the Rwandan Tutsi population. As Jeanne and others struggle to flee the Interahamwe soldiers and simply survive each day, a black hole yawns inside of her, a grief and rage that threaten to swallow her whole. But something else changes. She finds within herself an unyielding strength and will to survive.

It is a before-and-after story, told by Jeanne’s German adopted mother. Each chapter opens with a behind-the-scenes look at the events and the healing that unfolded … Continue reading

Review: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Ember
Published August 28, 2007 (Orig. published 2006)

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When the girl who just dumped him walks into the club where Nick’s band is playing a show, he resorts to the extreme and asks the random girl standing next to him if she’ll be his girlfriend for five minutes.

Though Nick’s request at first infuriates Norah (what kind of cheap trick does he take her for?), the approach of her not-quite-friend prompts her to take some desperate measures of her own. Like yanking almost-stranger-Nick into an electrifying kiss.

The agreed on five minutes stretches into a whole night of adventure, misunderstanding, … Continue reading

Review: In Between by Jenny B. Jones

In Between
Jenny B. Jones
Sweet Pea Productions
Published March 25, 2014 (Originally published 2007)

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Sixteen year old Katie Parker is not too excited when she discovers she’s moving to a new foster home in In Between, Texas, home of the Chihuahuas. And to top that off, her new “dad” is the pastor of one of the local churches. Not exactly consistent with Katie’s formerly religion-less life. At her new school, she finds herself at home with the other outsiders. At least, so she thinks. When one late night stunt turns to trouble, Katie finds herself sentenced to time with her new nonGrandmother– Mad Maxine. Could things get any worse? And does the God … Continue reading

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