unRequired Reading Blog

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot & Ruin

In the book Rot & Ruin, Jonathan Maberry has created a post apocalyptic zombie infested world.  Benny Imura and his brother Tom live in a safe zone that is separated from the zombies by a fence.  They are constantly under threat of attack by the zombies.  Benny is fifteen and it is time for him to find an occupation.  After several failed attempts at employment he decides to learn his brother's trade which is bounty hunter.  Benny eventually learns that his brother is not a typical bounty hunter.  He does search for zombies but he is hired by family members with a special request.  Benny and Tom head out together beyond the safety of the fence.

Benny never knew his parents.  The night of the zombie apocalypse, Benny's father is infected and becomes a zombie.  His mother who has been injured, hands the baby Benny off to his older brother Tom and tells him to run. That is the last that they see of their parents.  Benny has believed for years that his brother is a coward.  That happened fourteen years ago.  Tom has been raising Benny ever since but their relationship is very strained.  As they work and travel together Benny learns more about his brother and the reality of that night. 

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

A Tale of Two Castles

In A Tale of Two Castles, by Gail Carson Levine, young Elodie embarks on her journey to Two Castles with the warning of her family ringing in her ears: beware of ogres and dragons, and, even worse, the whited sepulcher. Elodie’s parents think she will apprentice to a weaver. But headstrong, independent Elodie dreams of becoming a mansioner--an actress. As she nears Two Castles, Elodie discovers that the free,10-year apprenticeships have been abolished. She does not have enough money to pay for an apprenticeship or to pay for the voyage home. What will she do? How will she survive?

If you like Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess

Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading  recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. You can browse our book matches here.

Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess
Haunted by flashbacks, fifteen-year-old Meredith learns that three years in prison has not changed the abusive father who molested her.

If you like Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess, you might like these books:

Lessons from a Dead Girl by Johanna Knowles
Lessons from a Dead Girl
by Johanna Knowles
An unflinching story of a troubled friendship -- and one girl's struggle to come to terms with secrets and shame and find her own power to heal. Leah Greene is dead. For Laine, knowing what really happened and the awful feeling that she is, in some way, responsible set her on a journey of painful self-discovery. Yes, she wished for this. She hated Leah that much. Hated her for all the times in the closet, when Leah made her do those things. They were just practicing, Leah said. But why did Leah choose her? Was she special, or just easy to control? And why didn't Laine make it stop sooner?
 

Light on Snow by Anita Shreve
Light on Snow
by Anita Shreve
Written from the point of view of 30-year-old Nicky as she recalls the vivid December day, 19 years earlier, when she and her father found an abandoned infant in the snow, this is a beautiful contemporary novel about love and memory.


 

Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Make Lemonade
by Virginia Euwer Wolff
LaVaughn is saving money for college, babysitting for a single mother whose life is out of control! Meanwhile, LaVaughn and her friends have other things to figure out.

 

The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolson

The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolson

In The Freak Observer, by Blythe Woolston, Loa Lindgren is not your typical 16-year-old and yet she is a quintessential one. Her life is certainly not the ideal. In the past year her family has fallen apart, having lost the one thing that their lives revolved around: her little sister, Asta, named for the stars. Born with Rett’s syndrome, she stopped growing after a few months and was destined to remain infantile her entire life, until she suddenly died. Without the constant need to care for Asta, Loa and her family are like planets without a star to revolve around, cut loose to wander the universe. They are, of course, also stricken with grief, each one reacting in their own way. Her father has fits of violence. Loa wakes screaming from nightmares--just one terrifying symptom of a case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

With everything else that has gone on in Loa’s life recently, from a friend’s hit and run death to a strange relationship exposed on the Internet, she is dealing with more than her share of sorrow and shame. She also has an after-school job that deepens her exhaustion but is a vital part of their family’s pitiful income.

If You Like Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. You can browse our book matches here.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
For thirty-five years, the acclaimed, bestselling first-person account of a teenage girl's harrowing decent into the nightmarish world of drugs has left an indelible mark on generations of teen readers. As powerful -- and as timely -- today as ever, Go Ask Alice remains the definitive book on the horrors of addiction.

 If you like Go Ask Alice and Ellen Hopkins books, then you may like:

Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
Fallout
by Ellen Hopkins (her latest book)
Written in free verse, explores how three teenagers try to cope with the consequences of their mother's addiction to crystal meth and its effects on their lives.
 




Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You
by Peter Cameron
Eighteen-year-old James living in New York City with his older sister and divorced mother struggles to find a direction for his life.

 



Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
Story of a Girl
by Sara Zarr
In the three years since her father caught her in the back seat of a car with an older boy, sixteen-year-old Deanna's life at home and school has been a nightmare, but while dreaming of escaping with her brother and his family, she discovers the power of forgiveness.

Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents by Zac Bissonnette

Debt-Free U book cover image

If there was one thing that people across the country could agree on right now, it would be the ridiculously high cost of today’s college education. Most parents assume that student loans are a fact of life, and most students assume that student loan debt is a necessary and even positive thing. If you want to get a good job, it’s commonly thought that going to a good college (chosen in part by U.S. News and World Report rankings) and getting a good name on your diploma simply costs money and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Enter Zac Bissonnette. Twenty-one, college student, and an art history major. So what knowledge does he have that the rest of us--and many other experts--do not? Well, as the subtitle of Debt-Free U suggests, Zac paid for his college education, “without loans, scholarships, or mooching off [his] parents.” And you can, too. Because, as it turns out, Zac might know what he’s talking about. He is a writer and editor with AOL Money & Finance, has written for the Boston Globe, appeared on CNN, and has the financial savvy and banking portfolio of someone several times his age.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky Is Everywhere

Lennie, a 17-year-old bookworm and band geek, has always walked, safe and happy, in the shadow of her dynamic older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies suddenly, Lennie is left to cope with life in this intense debut novel The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson.

Even through her grief, Lennie, who’s barely had a boyfriend before, finds herself drawn toward two completely different guys. The first is Bailey’s boyfriend, who is also suffering from the loss. Lennie and Toby both recognize that their relationship is wrong, but can’t seem to stop themselves. And then there’s Joe, the new kid in school, who just moved here from Paris and who helps Lennie forget her pain with his beautiful smile and musical talent. Music plays a major part in the story, bringing them together with Joe even nicknaming her John Lennon. Meanwhile, Lennie is eaten up with guilt over hooking up with Toby. Wearing her dead sister’s clothes and dating her boyfriend seems to keep Bailey alive. Only with each other can they share their true feelings of sadness.

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman

Charles and Emma

A mountain of information has been written about Charles Darwin’s life, ideas and adventures, but this may be the first book about his romance with Emma Wedgwood. The dilemma? Emma was staunchly religious while Charles was bound to science and his revolutionary idea of the origin of species. Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman, examines the true story of their courtship, marriage and family life as a backdrop to Darwin’s famous discoveries.

Faced with the question of whether or not to marry, Darwin, ever the scientist, compiled a list – a wife, he wrote, is “better than a dog” but then again he’d have “less money for books.” Eventually, Darwin did decide to marry Emma and the couple spent many happy years together.

The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant

The Fortune of Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro works at the local Quikmart.  She is bored with her job.  Ryan Sweeney  goes to the Valley Forge Military Academy, where there are no girls.  In The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant, their two worlds collide.  One day Carmen is working at the checkout counter, and Ryan comes into the store on a one-day pass.  He sees her jet-black hair and snake tattoo and falls for her immediately.  Carmen sees Ryan as a cute boy with whom she'd like to spend some time.  She invites him to come and listen to her band.   That is the beginning of an intense relationship for Ryan.

Ryan Sweeney comes from a military family.  His family decided for him that he would be going to Valley Forge Military Academy.  He wants to please his family and has never questioned their authority.  He has been a model student and a rule follower - that is, until he meets Carmen.  He starts sneaking off campus to see her and lying to his classmates about where he is going.  His grades start to slip.  Ryan has never met anyone like Carmen, and he has fallen hopelessly in love with her.

If you like The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. You can browse our book matches here.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.

If you liked The Giver, you might also enjoy the companion books (they're not exactly sequels) that Lowry has written:

Gathering Blue
Gathering Blue
by Lois Lowry
Lame and suddenly orphaned, Kira is mysteriously removed from her squalid village to live in the palatial Council Edifice, where she is expected to use her gifts as a weaver to do the bidding of the all-powerful Guardians.



 

Messenger
Messenger
by Lois Lowry
In this novel that unites characters from "The Giver" and "Gathering Blue," Matty, a young member of a utopian community that values honesty, conceals an emerging healing power that he cannot explain or understand.


 

If you like these books, you might also enjoy:

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Airborn
by Kenneth Oppel
Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt's always wanted; convinced he's lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist's granddaughter that he realizes that the man's ravings may,in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.
 

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Hidden
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting afamily to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years inisolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the government is wrong.