unRequired Reading Blog

07/22/2015 - 4:16pm
The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

Mahlia and Mouse are War Maggots, children orphaned by endless bloodshed across future America. The seas have risen and many of our large East-Coast cities have struggled to keep functioning. That struggle leads to violence, the kind of which leaves only the young to deal with the consequences. These child soldiers have inherited and will fight to control The Drowned Cities.

Author Paulo Bacigalupi slammed onto the young adult scene two years back with Ship Breaker. Resources are depleted. Oil is gone. New Orleans has been destroyed by hurricanes and rebuilt multiple times. Nailer, a boy hired to scavenge scrap metal in massive retired oil tankers, manages to find a path to a better life. Nailer desperately tried to take that path, despite opposition from ruthless vultures, specifically his drunken, abusive father.

05/17/2012 - 3:31am
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Wahoo Cray’s yard is a zoo, literally. That’s where his dad, Mickey, keeps all of their animals, including pythons, monkeys, and an alligator named Alice. Mickey is the best animal wrangler in Florida...or he was until he got hit on the head by a frozen iguana. Since then he hasn’t been able to work. Money is so tight that Mickey accepts a job offer from the Expedition Survival TV series with Wahoo as his assistant. Things get off to a bad start when the show’s bumbling but egotistical star, Derek Badger, gets bitten by a snapping turtle and then an alligator. And that’s before he even leaves the safety of the Cray’s yard in Chomp by Carl Hiaasen.

05/14/2012 - 8:02am
Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent is the sequel to the science fiction bestseller Divergent and picks up Tris Prior’s story immediately where the first book left off. Tris, Tobias, and the other Dauntless members who have not allied with the Erudites after the massacre of the Abnegation faction seek shelter with other factions, trying to find a place to regroup and recover. But Jeanine, the Erudite leader, and the Dauntless “traitors” give them no peace. One by one, their potential allies fall away until the only remaining option is to join forces with the previously despised Factionless.

07/07/2015 - 2:29pm
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Did you know that the Cinderella story is one of the world’s oldest fairy tales? The first version can be traced back to ninth-century China and was written about a heroine named Yeh-shen. Today, more than 1500 versions of the tale exist, many with a unique twist. I recently enjoyed what I consider to be the most singular version of Cinderella that I have ever come upon in Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Cinder Linh is a cyborg – part human, part robot – who knows nothing of her birth parents or history. She is a ward of her evil stepmother, Adri, who relies on Cinder’s extraordinary talent as a mechanic to support the family all the while vilifying Cinder at every opportunity. Together with two stepsisters, Pearl and Peony, they live in technologically advanced, post-World War IV “New Beijing.” Unfortunately, New Beijing is threatened by an airborn plague called letumosis, which strikes at random and has an almost 100% fatality rate.

05/04/2012 - 1:04pm
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

During Chancellor Middle School Cafe Book Get Together Day at Salem Church Library Brianne reviews Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. In Ruby Red Sixteen-year-old Gwyneth discovers that she, rather than her well-prepared cousin, carries a time-travel gene, and soon she is journeying with Gideon, who shares the gift, through historical London trying to discover whom they can trust.

05/02/2012 - 1:06pm
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
This is the story of a quiet boy who embarks on a dangerous quest in order to fulfill his destiny -- and find his father -- in a strange world beneath New York City. When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor's arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland's uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it -- until he realizes it's the only way to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.
 

This is the first book in the Underland Chronicles, followed by Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of the Secret, Gregor and the Code of the Claw:

Gregor and the Prophecy of BaneGregor and the Curse of the WarmbloodsGregor and the Marks of the SecretGregor and the Code of the Claw

If you like Collins' Gregor books, you may have heard of her other series ... The Hunger Games.

If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, be sure to check it out!

You might also like one of these books - they are all the first in a series:

Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
Amulet of Samarkand
by Jonathan Stroud
Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice, summons up the djinni Bartimaeus and instructs him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from the powerful magician Simon Lovelace.

 


 

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl
by Eoin Colfer
When a twelve-year-old evil genius tries to restore his family fortune by capturing a fairy and demanding a ransom in gold, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll.


 

 

City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau
City of Ember
by Jeanne Duprau
In the year 241, twelve-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps even to glimpse Unknown Regions.


 

 

These are good too!:

Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson
Island of the Aunts
by Eva Ibbotson
As they get older, several sisters decide that they must kidnap children and bring them to their secluded island home to help with the work of caring for an assortment of unusual sea creatures.


 

 

Magyk by Angie Sage
Magyk
by Angie Sage
After learning that she is the Princess, Jenna is whisked from her home and carried toward safety by the Extraordinary Wizard, those she always believed were her father and brother, and a young guard known only as Boy 412--pursued by agents of those who killed her mother ten years earlier.

 

 

Want more reading recommendations? Request a Book Match or browse our Book Match archive for suggestions.

07/22/2015 - 4:16pm
Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri

Cole's on the wrong track. He's been skipping school and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Mom has had it with him. So she packs his things in the car and takes him from Detroit to Philadelphia where his dad lives.

Ghetto Cowboy, by G. Neri, is based on a true story of horse raising that does actually occur in North Philadelphia. Cole has never met his dad and his mom isn't thrilled with bringing him back into their lives, but it's her last option.

"He's different is all, but maybe different is what you need."

04/27/2012 - 3:31am
Unwind by Neal Shusterman

During Freedom Middle School Cafe Book Get Together Day at Salem Church Library Alia, Emily, Madison & Hope review Unwind by Neal Shusterman: In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs--and, perhaps, save their own lives.

See more teen book reviews on our YouTube channel.

05/16/2014 - 2:20pm
Seeing Cinderella by Jenny Lundquist

What would you do if you discovered that you could read other people’s thoughts?

It’s not bad enough that Callie Anderson has to get glasses just before the start of middle school, but they are the ugliest glasses she has ever seen. Yet those huge, geeky lenses and fat black frames hide a secret. These glasses show Callie what other people are thinking. Maybe they will actually help her. And she can use all of the help she can get. She’s lost in math and Spanish classes. Her best friend seems to be drifting away. And her parents’ marriage is falling apart. But can Callie follow the eye doctor’s instructions and learn to use the glasses wisely?

04/23/2012 - 3:30am
The Seventeenth Child by Dorothy Marie Rice & Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne

The Seventeenth Child, by Dorothy Marie Rice & Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne, sets down the memories of a childhood lived in the countryside of 1930s Virginia by a black woman who grew up before the Civil Rights Movement made so many gains.  These remembrances are plain, soft-spoken and ring true to an age that was certainly different from the one we know.  In some ways, it was a harder time as in her earliest years even basic food was very hard to come by and the sharecropping system made it difficult for all farmers, black and white, to get ahead or even stay afloat during the bad harvest years.

But it was the warmth of family, faith, shared hardship and simple joys that made those days good as well as difficult. The children worked, not only because their help was needed but because it was understood that working was a good thing in and of itself. They helped pull and tend tobacco, can vegetables, sew quilts, raise chickens, and shell corn.  Lucille Payne tells of how hard it was to earn money. How sometimes her mother might not be paid much more than fifty cents for a hard day’s washing of filthy clothes in a dark and cold shed. Well, fifty cents and a hambone that might not be fit to eat without it being scrubbed, too, and sometimes not even then. But her mother said, “Well, you accept what they give you; next time it might be better.”

It wasn’t all about acceptance. Sometimes Lucille would see her mother spit in the water while she washed and she would ask her why she did that. “That helps to get them clean.”  But I know she was just so angry because she had to survive.  When you have so many children you have to survive the best way you can.  Likewise, when white children rode the bus to their segregated school, leaving the black children to walk and even calling them names, the black children got a bit of revenge…and a chance to be better than their so-called betters with an act of charity.

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