unRequired Reading Blog

01/09/2012 - 3:30am
Tropical Secrets by Margarita Engel

Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engel is a historical novel in verse about holocaust refugees in Cuba. Daniel is a thirteen year old Jewish boy. His parents can only afford one ticket out of Germany and they give it to their child in hope that he will be able to escape Nazi Germany. They send him on a ship out of Germany, hoping that they will be able to meet him in New York City one day once they have saved enough money to pay for their tickets.

01/13/2012 - 4:21pm
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Check out the latest from John Green, author of award-winning books like Looking for Alaska and an Abundance of Katherines:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love. (Amazon.com)

Place your hold now!

For more from John Green (including lots of hilarious videos) check out his web site johngreenbooks.com.

01/02/2012 - 3:30am
Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper

Years ago, three-year-old Gerald was left home alone in an apartment where a fire broke out. When authorities discovered that Gerald was home by himself, he was removed from the custody of his substance-addicted mother Monique and sent to live with his aunt. While living with his Aunt, Queen, Gerald is happy. After his aunt dies when he is nine, his mother returns but now she has a new husband, Jordan, and a daughter, Angel. Gerald goes to live with them, but he soon learns that all is not well. Jordan works sporadically and is abusive towards Angel and Monique. Monique does not stand up to Jordan--in fact she spends most of her time trying to please him. Jordan's abusive behavior towards Angel is a constant source of distress for Gerald. Soon the problems escalate to a point that force Gerald's hand in Forged by Fire, by Sharon Draper.

12/26/2011 - 3:30am
Juliet Immortal

Do you remember Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? Well, perhaps that storyline is not true, and Juliet did not kill herself. Perhaps Romeo Montague killed Juliet Capulet.  It was he, her soul mate and new husband, who committed a terrible crime. Romeo gave up Juliet to the hands of the Mercenaries, demons who seek to destroy love and separate soul mates. Juliet Immortal, a fantasy by Stacey Jay, retells the story of what happened between Shakespeare’s famous lovers.

Juliet has spent seven hundred years working for the Ambassadors of Light after Nurse, her Ambassador guide, saved her soul on the night Romeo killed her. At that moment, Juliet pledged allegiance to the Ambassadors’ cause, which is to bring soul mates together and make sure that their love blooms. She now spends much of her time in a dark mist, from which she is only taken out by the Ambassadors of Light to return to Earth, shift into a borrowed body, and assist soul mates. However, Romeo is working against her, and his allegiance to the Mercenaries makes Romeo and Juliet immortal enemies.

12/19/2011 - 3:30am
The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss

The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss takes a look into the lives of middle-school girls and the cliques that can rule their relationships. This novel uncovers the world of bullying by presenting a first-person view from each of the five girls involved in the lost friendship. Throughout the text Koss digs deep into the workings of bullying and also gives hope to those that might experience bullying themselves.

Maya, Rene, Breanna, Darcy, and Candace have promised to be friends forever. But this all changes one day when Candace decides that Maya is no longer welcome to hang out with the girls. Maya is unaware of the girls’ change of heart. She calls to invite her friends to go to an amusement park with her, but for some reason none of the girls wants to go. She soon finds out that the others are having a party, and no one even thought to invite her. This wouldn't be such a big problem except for the fact that the five of them usually do everything together.

12/12/2011 - 3:30am
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science

Phineas Gage was truly a man with a hole in his head.  Phineas, a railroad construction foreman, was blasting rock near Cavendish, Vermont, in 1848 when a thirteen-pound iron rod was shot through his brain.  Miraculously, he survived to live another eleven years and become a textbook case in brain science.  

What an amazing story!  The pictures and illustrations add to the narrative, and the cover photograph of his skull is very thought-provoking.  Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story, by John Fleischman, approaches Phineas’s life after the accident from a scientific and psychological viewpoint. Fleischman includes interviews with people who knew Gage before his accident as well as after and observed the changes in his behavior.  The author also presents notes from the doctors who treated him over the eleven years following his accident. It is an amazing story of survival and the resilience of the human brain. Who would have thought that anyone could have survived even a little while--let alone talk, walk and function after such an event? 

12/09/2011 - 3:31am
The Underdogs by Mike Lupica

The Underdogs by Mike Lupica

Small but fast twelve-year-old Will Tyler, an avid football player in the down-and-out town of Forbes, Pennsylvania, takes matters into his own hands to try and finance the city's football team, giving the whole community hope in the process.

If you like sports be sure to check out our "In the Game" book list for more great reads.

12/05/2011 - 8:14am
The Summer I Learned to Fly

The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt is a coming-of-age story in which Drew, the female protagonist, matures into a teenager experiencing both a new love and parental disputes. Drew is a thirteen-year-old girl who spends most of her time with her mother at their cheese shop, unlike most of the girls at her school who spend most of their time angry with their mothers and completely boy-crazy. This makes her less popular with others at her school. Her life basically revolves around the cheese shop where her friend Suwuzie, a middle-aged woman going through a divorce, and Nick, her crush who is a surfer turned pasta maker, work for her mom. School is about to end and she intends to spend the entire summer at the cheese shop.

12/02/2011 - 3:30am
No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman

No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman
Eighth-grade football hero Wallace Wallace is sentenced to detention attending rehearsals of the school play where, in spite of himself, he becomes wrapped up in the production and begins to suggest changes that improve not only the play but his life as well.

Sports fan? Check out more great reads like this in our "In the Game" book list.

11/28/2011 - 3:30am

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater is the second book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. I choose to read this book because the author is actually a Westmoreland County, Virginia resident. It goes along with the contemporary interest in mythical creatures, with werewolves being the focus of this book. The film rights for this story have been bought by Unique Features/ Warner Brothers and a screenplay has been written. The final book in the series, Forever, came out early 2011.

Sam and Grace are in love. They can finally be together through the entire year. Sam's werewolf past made it hard for them to be together during prior winters, because the cold weather triggers Sam's inner werewolf. This causes him to spend months lost in his werewolf form, making it impossible for him to be with Grace. Since Sam is now a full-time human, they are certain they will be together forever. Everything is perfect, except that Grace can’t kick a fever she has been having recently.  Sam and Grace are unsure about what their future has in store for them now due to Grace's sickness. They only know that they want to be together.

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