unRequired Reading Blog

Dark Water by Laura McNeal

Dark Water by Laura McNeal

Sometimes we make choices that have unexpected and devastating consequences. In Dark Water by Laura McNeal, 15-year-old narrator Pearl begins her story with just such a dark foreboding. Then, page by page, chapter after chapter, the shocking story unfolds.

Pearl and her mother live in the modest guesthouse of her uncle’s southern California avocado ranch since her parent’s messy divorce. Passing groups of day-laborers on her daily commute to school, Pearl is drawn to Amiel, an older boy with a talent for mime. After convincing Uncle Hoyt to hire Amiel, she learns that he lives alone in a makeshift hut in the woods, evading la migra, the border patrol. Throughout that dry, searing summer, Pearl watches Amiel, fascinated by his mysterious inability to talk.

Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Sometimes you love a book so much that it becomes like an old friend. When you need the memory of that book, it comes back to you and comforts you from time to time. Green Angel by Alice Hoffman is like that for me.

Two years after the September 11 attacks, I decided that my 13-year-old son didn’t read enough books during his summer school breaks. I decided to host a book club for him and four of his best friends. We always met at fun places to discuss the books we read – poolside, pizza parlors, water parks, etc. We read about five books that summer, but the book we all loved the most was Green Angel. The book is about Green, a moody 15-year-old girl. She was the daughter of a farmer who grew produce which the family sold in the city. One day, after a fight with her family, she insists on staying home when they go into the city. There is a huge explosion in the city which causes her to lose some of her vision, and ash keeps falling for days.

If you like The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

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.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance.

If you liked The Westing Game you might like:


The Beekeeper's Apprentice, or On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie King
The Beekeeper's Apprentice, or On the Segregation of the Queen
by Laurie King
Sherlock Holmes takes on a young, female apprentice in this delightful and well-wrought addition to the master detective's casework. In the early years of WW I, 15-year-old American Mary Russell encounters Holmes, retired in Sussex Downs where Conan Doyle left him raising bees. Mary, an orphan rebelling against her guardian aunt's strictures, impresses the sleuth with her intelligence and acumen. Holmes initiates her into the mysteries of detection, allowing her to participate in a few cases when she comes home from her studies at Oxford. The collaboration is ignited by the kidnapping in Wales of Jessica Simpson, daughter of an American senator. The sleuthing duo find signs of the hand of a master criminal, and after Russell rescues the child, attempts are made on their lives (and on Watson's), with evidence piling up that the master criminal is out to get Holmes and all he holds dear. (Publishers Weekly Review)
 
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Chasing Vermeer
by Blue Balliett
When seemingly unrelated and strange events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra and Calder combine their talents to solve an international art scandal.

 

 

Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Mystery by Peter Abrahams
Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Myster
y
by Peter Abrahams
Welcome to Echo Falls. Home of a thousand secrets, where Ingrid Levin-Hill, super sleuth, never knows what will happen next. Ingrid is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or at least her shoes are. Getting them back means getting involved in a murder investigation rivaling those solved by her idol, Sherlock Holmes, and Ingrid has enough on her plate with club soccer, school, and the plum role of Alice in the Echo Falls production of Alice in Wonderland . But much as in Alice's adventures down the rabbit hole, things in Ingrid's small town keep getting curiouser and curiouser.

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Egypt Game
by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
A group of children, entranced with the study of Egypt, play their own Egypt game, are visited by a secret oracle, become involved in a murder, and befriend the Professor before they move on to new interests, such as Gypsies.

Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck

Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck

Kerry Williamson is 15 years old and suddenly has been selected by three of the most popular girls in school to be a part of their group.  In Richard Peck's book Three Quarters Dead, we meet Tanya, McKenzie, and Natalie, the three girls who rule the school and are the meanest girls around.  Kerry is surprised by this sudden attention from these three who previously ignored her.  They sit with her at lunch, they include her in their shopping expeditions, and she is invited to their party preparation meetings.  Tanya is clearly the ring leader of the group.  She is in charge of all the activities and the wardrobe decisions.  While at lunch with Tanya, Kerry begins to notice that time seems to stand still and lunch goes on much longer than it has in the past although the clock has not stopped.  There are several significant occurrences like this that Kerry notices but she is so happy to be part of the group that she ignores any signs that things may be weird.

If you like Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree

Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree

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.

Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
Growing up in the flamboyant 1980's, Tracy Ellison is a smart and charming teenager who uses her good looks to attract any boy she wants. With a life of promiscuity as she approaches womanhood, she learns valuable lessons that impels her to examine her reckless lifestyle.

If you like Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree you might like:

Boss Lady by Omar Tyree
Boss Lady by Omar Tyree
(follows Flyy Girl)
Rescued by now successful filmmaker Tracy, Vanessa finds herself immune to Hollywood's parties and smooth-talking players. She is at the top of her game, thoroughly in charge, and taking life strictly on her own terms. She tries to persuade Tracy to film Flyy Girl, and Tracy is prepared to do anything to make sure it's done right. (Adult Fiction)

 

 The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
The Coldest Winter Ever
by Sister Souljah
Ghetto-born, Winter is the young, wealthy daughter of a prominent Brooklyn drug-dealing family. Quick-witted, sexy, businessminded, and fashionable, Winter knows no restrictions. No one can control her. She's nobody's victim. And her Pops lets her know she deserves the best. No slum jewelry, cheap shoes, or knockoff designer stuff ... Winter knows the Brooklyn streets like she knows the curves of her own body. She maneuvers skillfully, applying all she has learned to come out on top, no matter how dramatically the scenes change. But a cold Winter wind is about to blow her life in a direction she could never have expected. (Adult Fiction)

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
The First Part Last
by Angela Johnson
Sixteen-year-old Bobby and his girlfriend, Na, had planned to put their baby, Feather, up for adoption, but Feather becomes impossible to relinquish. (Young Adult Fiction)

 
 

A Girl Like Me by Ni-Ni SimoneA Girl Like Me by Ni-Ni Simone
She's got a voice like Keisha Cole, attitude to burn and is the body-rockin', Bebe-sporting girl everyone in her high school wants to be...or be with. But in real life, sixteen-year-old Elite has a crack-addicted mother, no father in sight, and is secretly raising her sister and two brothers on her own. Now a radio contest has put her up-close-and-personal with mega-hot singer Hanseef and their chemistry is too sizzling for Elite to stop pretending. And as the clock ticks down fast for this hood Cinderella, she has only one shot to save her family and make all of her dreams come true. (Young Adult Fiction)

Glitter by Babygirl Daniels
Glitter
by Babygirl Daniels
Asia Smith is still reeling from her rich father's death, but she looks forward to starting high school with her best friend, Tracey, until she loses Tracey in a fight over a boy who subsequently gets her pregnant and dumps her. (Young Adult Fiction)

 

The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen

The Gardener

High-school junior Mason suffered severe facial scarring from a dog attack as a child. People tend to avoid the intimidating six feet three, 230-pound football player. But Mason’s gruff exterior hides a character that is a smart, quiet hero in S.A. Bodeen’s latest bestseller, The Gardener.

Having grown up never knowing his father – except for a DVD of the faceless man reading a children’s book – Mason longs for answers. When he plays the video for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works, the inexplicable happens–a beautiful girl wakes up. Mason learns that the teens are part of a hideous experiment designed to create autotrophs—genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don’t need food or water to survive. The discovery sparks Mason’s heroism, sending him and Laila on the run for their lives as they try to learn who the mastermind behind the gruesome plan is.

If you like the Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan

Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan

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.

The Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan begins with The Vampire's Assistant:
After traveling with Mr. Crepsley, the vampire who made him into a half-vampire, Darren returns to the freak show known as the Cirque du Freak and continues to fight his need to drink human blood.

We have eleven other books in the Cirque du Freak series that you would probably enjoy. They are all written by Darren Shan. Here are some other titles you might like: 

Abarat by Clive Barker
Abarat
by Clive Barker
Candy Quackenbush of Chickentown, Minnesota, one day finds herself on the edge of a foreign world that is populated by strange creatures, and her life is forever changed.




The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos
The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs
by Jack Gantos
On an unseasonably warm Easter Sunday, a young girl named Ivy discovers a chilling secret in the basement of the Rumbaugh pharmacy across the street from the hotel where she lives with her mother.

 

 

The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld
The Secret Hour
by Scott Westerfeld
Upon moving to Bixby, Oklahoma, fifteen-year-old Jessica Day learns that she is one of a group of people who have special abilities that help them fight ancient creatures living in an hour hidden at midnight; creatures that seem determined to destroy Jess.

 

 Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
Un Lun Dun
by China Mieville
What is Un Lun Dun? It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too - including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book. When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last. But then things begin to go shockingly wrong.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

All of us have had that sense, at one time or another, of seeing something inexplicable out of the corner of our eyes. It may be a flash of light, a reflective glint, or just a shimmery difference in the air around us. And then it usually goes away. But for Aislinn in Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely, it’s a different story. She has always been able to see faeries around her, and they aren’t cute and precious like Tinkerbell. The fey are at times hideous or breathtakingly beautiful, cruel or mocking, and always a danger. They often pinch and mock the humans that they follow and then don glamours to blend in with humans (and often lead them astray) when it suits the faeries’ needs.

Aislinn’s grandmother shares this gift of sight and she has helped Aislinn cope by drilling firm rules into her: #3. Don’t stare at invisible faeries. #2. Don’t speak to invisible faeries. And #1. Don’t ever attract their attention. The only way that Aislinn can survive being in a world shared by both faeries and humans is to never, ever let them know that she can see them. She keeps her head down and spends most of her time at her friend Seth’s house – a converted railway car – where she feels strangely protected. Unfortunately, she has attracted the attention of a new, strikingly handsome student at school, Keenan, who doggedly pursues her.

Fat Vampire by Adam Rex

Fat Vampire by Adam Rex

“I think sometimes you think you’re the hero of the story, and sometimes you think you’re the victim…but you’re not either.”

Douglas Lee is rightfully confused in Adam Rex’s new novel Fat Vampire. He is the title character, doomed to remain a chubby fifteen-year-old for all time. He was trying to lose weight before he was attacked at his family’s cabin, but the curse of a vampire means that he will never change. Eternally hefty, eternally hungry for blood. 
 
At first, he gets by biting cattle and stealing from a bloodmobile (aided by his partner in nerd-crime Jay). But an incident at the San Diego Zoo while trying to suck a panda has blown Doug’s cover, and the host of the basic cable show Vampire Hunters is now close behind and frantic for high ratings.

Bone by Jeff Smith

Banished from their small village, three small, bald cousins aimlessly wander in the desert. The one with a star on his shirt is greedy and sneaky. The tallest one is jolly but dim-witted. The quietest one is a hero in the making, though he doesn’t know that yet. They quickly become separated and when they reunite they are wrapped up in the beginnings of a brutal war involving humans, dragons, and a frightening race of giant rat-creatures…stupid stupid rat creatures.

Jeff Smith’s graphic novel series Bone manages to combine the look and humor of Disney cartoons while tackling the sort of epic adventure that one might find in J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis.

Fone Bone, our hero, and his cousins owe their looks to early Disney characters, particularly the work of Carl Barks, who created Scrooge McDuck comics and revolutionized the drawing style of Donald Duck for the company. Recognizing Barks’ influence baffled me at first. Donald was not someone’s subject to be reformed and retooled. Similar to Athena, he sprung forth from Walt Disney’s head, already wearing his sailor suit…without the pants. Right?
 
Apparently not. Just like those famous ducks, the Bone cousins have large heads, round bellies, low centers of gravity, and the same aversion to pants. All of this might make it hard for a reader to take their epic quest seriously, but Smith valiantly strikes at the importance of their mission.