unRequired Reading Blog

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.

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.

04/26/2012 - 10:38pm
You Wish by Mandy Hubbard

During Cafe Book Get Together Day at Heim Middle School,  Priya & Danielle review You Wish by Mandy Hubbard.

See more teen book reviews on our YouTube channel.

You Wish by Mandy Hubbard
Kayla McHenry's sweet sixteen sucks! Her dad left, her grades dropped, and her BFF is dating the boy Kayla's secretly loved for years. Blowing out her candles, Kayla thinks: I wish my birthday wishes actually came true. Because they never freakin' do. Kayla wakes the next day to a life-sized, bright pink My Little Pony outside her window. Then a year's supply of gumballs arrives. A boy named Ken with a disturbing resemblance to the doll of the same name stalks her. As the ghosts of Kayla's wishes-past appear, they take her on a wild ride . . . but they MUST STOP. Because when she was fifteen? She wished Ben Mackenzie would kiss her. And Ben is her best friend's boyfriend.

07/21/2015 - 12:41pm
White Cat by Holly Black

Cassel Sharpe, wearing only his underwear, awakes to find himself slowly slipping off the icy roof of his school dorm. He’s clueless about what landed him in such a precarious position (with certain death below) and is equally unsure about navigating his way back safely. Thus begins White Cat, the first book in The Curse Workers series, by Holly Black.

Cassel comes from a family of workers, a worker being someone—who with the slightest touch of a fingertip—has the power to place spells, change memories, or even kill. Although his grandfather, mother and brothers each possess one of the above-mentioned skills, Cassel appears to have been skipped when the special talents were being passed out. He tries to live a normal life away from the family madness by attending school at Wallingford.

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