Get cozy by the fire…

I have been reading some pretty random stuff the last month, and not all of it for my K-6 library crowd, but here it is..

Sorcerer of the North

by John Flanagan

Grades 5 & up

This is book 5 in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, finally out in the U.S. Will has his first official assignment as a Ranger, and if he fails, the whole kingdom could fall. Careful, though. This one has a cliffhanger ending and book 6 not out for months.

I, Q: Independence Hall

by Roland Smith

Grades 5-8

Smith is a very popular author amongst middle readers. This new series is about a blended family traveling around the country in an RV on tour. The parents are musicians while the new step-siblings are out solving crimes and helping international spy agencies. Good adventure, cool gadgets, lots of fun!

Catalyst

by Laurie Halse Anderson

Grades 9-12

Anderson knows how to strike a chord with young adults, and how to address taboo subjects in a way that’s smart and interesting. In this novel, a young perfectionist runs headlong into a family whose lives are falling apart. Anderson deals deftly with incest, unexpected grief, and understanding of what compassion really looks like.

Twisted

by Laurie Halse Anderson

Grades 9-12

Anderson again takes on some tough subjects (suicide, bullying, date rape, internet gossip, emotional abuse) with a skilled hand. This time her protagonist is a boy, Tyler, who has a reputation for being a screw-up because he vandalized the school. He’s paying for his crimes over and over by the way he is treated by his family and peers. However, the dream girl starts to pay attention to him, and things are looking up until someone posts some unseemly photos of her, and Tyler gets blamed. I am still not sure I liked or believed the resolution, but I still enjoyed the book.

The Knife of Never Letting Go

by Patrick Ness

Grades 8-adult

This novel has a fascinating premise: imagine a world where the thoughts of all males (people and animals) can be heard by everybody else. In Ness’ novel people walk around hearing each other’s “noise” all the time, however, nobody can hear the noise of women. When one boy, Todd, is about to become a man, he discovers the secret of what really happened to the women in his town, and he tries to escape. This is a great adventure, with a really thought-provoking and original premise. Warning: it’s also book one in a series with a cliffhanger ending.

Tender Morsels

by Margo Lanagan

Grades 9-adult

I generally love novels that feel a bit like fairy tales, or at least that have some of those elements. This one had that appeal, but in the way the darkest, original versions of fairy tales appeal. A young woman who has been brutalized in many ways is “given” another world to live in, a world that is her dream in many ways. However, as she raises her two daughters there, the real world keeps encroaching on her world, and eventually the two come together again. There is a lot of darkness in this book, and at times it was achingly sad, but the characters and story are compelling and rich.

Octavian Nothing: Kingdom of the Waves

by M. T. Anderson

Grades 9-Adult

I read and liked the first book of Octavian Nothing, which won the National Book Award a couple years back. I liked this one even better. Octavian Nothing is a Revolutionary War-era slave who is raised to believe he is a prince. However, this fabrication is an experiment created by a college of scientists to test the mental and emotional abilities of the slave races and the idea of Tabula Rasa. This book continues Octavian’s story as he joins the Loyalist forces and tries to discover more about his past and parentage. Anderson has a created a richly written historical novel, with some wonderfully original stories about some of the lesser known participants in the Revolutionary War. A challenging but worthwhile read

The Last Lecture

by Randy Pausch

Grades 6-adult

This is not my normal fare, but I bought this on the recommendation of several friends, and I’m really glad a did. Pausch was a smart, insightful guy with a some incredible clarity about his own life and death. I admit I cried whenever he talked about his children growing up without a father, but not because it was maudlin, because Pausch said things that connected in a universal way. His actual “Last Lecture” is on You Tube, and watching it made me like Pausch and the book even more.

To Kill A Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Grades 6-Adult

My 8th grade daughter just read this book for the first time. It challenged her, especially those first fifty pages, but once she was deep into the book, she was hooked. She rooted for Tom, couldn’t put it down during the trial, and loved the ending. For her, Scout is the hero of the book as much as Atticus. I loved hearing her perspective on this beloved novel. If you haven’t read it in awhile, it might be a timely classic to pick back up.

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