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posted Mar 6, 2018, 9:25 AM by SCHS Lib   [ updated Mar 12, 2018, 7:00 AM ]

This is a powerful and timely story about one boy's epic journey across Africa to Europe, a graphic novel for all children with glorious colour artwork throughout. From Eoin Colfer, previously Irish Children's Laureate, and the team behind his bestselling Artemis Fowl graphic novels.

Ebo: alone.

His sister left months ago. Now his brother has disappeared too, and Ebo knows it can only be to make the hazardous journey to Europe.

Ebo's epic journey takes him across the Sahara Desert to the dangerous streets of Tripoli, and finally out to the merciless sea. But with every step he holds on to his hope for a new life, and a reunion with his sister.

What immediately struck me about this book is the beautiful illustrations. The artist really has talent for conveying so much with colors and placement. Graphic format is definitely the best way to tell this tale.

The actual story draws the reader in quickly. One thing I appreciate is that my time is never wasted. There are lots of action and humanizing elements for the characters to keep me reading. I devoured this book in one sitting then shared a particular panel with a couple of friends. "Illegal" has a satisfying resolution - even though your heart is broken.

As a high school librarian, I am always looking for items that my patrons can see themselves in. With our refugee students, I know this book will demonstrate some truth of their lives. My hope is that those in our school will read "Illegal" and use it to get to know their classmates better. Even though not everyone's story is like Ebo's, we can use it as a springboard for understanding.

Run, Hide, Fight Back

posted Mar 6, 2018, 7:07 AM by SCHS Lib

Six teens must band together to survive after a shooting breaks out in this high-stakes thriller by New York Times-bestselling author April Henry.

When a deadly shooting breaks out in a Portland shopping mall, a diverse group of teens ends up trapped behind a store’s security shutter. To her own surprise, seventeen-year-old Miranda finds the others looking to her as their leader. But she’s hiding a big secret—and she’s not the only one. The group has only three choices—run, hide, or fight back. The wrong decision will have fatal consequences.

In her masterful style, April Henry crafts an unrelenting thriller that feels chillingly close to recent headlines.

With recent headlines that don't seem to ever let up, reading a story rooted in gun violence was a little difficult. Writing a review of said book proved to be even more daunting. "Run, Hide, Fight Back" is a realistic fictional account of a mall shooting where the gunmen are trying to make a political statement. Told from various perspectives that all come together, the reader will experience the shooting on the front lines as well as from a distance. The narrators are various teenagers and young adults - each reader is sure to find someone who intrigues them or who they identify with. 

While the book is not intended to be a "how to survive" guide, there are several good strategies used and tried by the characters that may end up saving lives one day. 

Great read for April Henry fans as well as those who enjoyed "This is Where it Ends" by Marieke Nijkamp, this is sure to be the first in a booming genre of mass shooting related YA books so our teens can grapple with the subject and come to terms with current events.

The Heart Forger

posted Feb 15, 2018, 9:14 AM by SCHS Lib

In The Bone Witch, Tea mastered resurrection―now she's after revenge...

No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life...and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her―and took the life of her one true love.

But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea's dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can't kill someone who can never die...

War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.

    Ah! It's so nice watching everything fall into place. In my review of "The Bone Witch", I plainly stated that my problem with it was that the book was slow and held little action. Problem solved in "The Heart Forger"! YAY! As predicted, Rin and Sourcebooks pulled the story together in spectacular fashion. There are a few elements I'm still not "sold" on, but I tend to think that will be answered in the third book.

    The storytelling format is very similar (past and present chapters from different points of view) and well done, but my favorite thing about this book is the growth of Tea's character. She's been through quite a bit since we first met her. This book gets to really showcase the struggle of knowing what is right and what feels right but isn't. Tea feels like she is constantly at the brink of choosing whether to be good or evil. While the real world isn't that black and white, she does a good deal of exploration in the grays. This is one of the things I really enjoy in a book, but Rin does it particularly well. 

    So, I hope she goes full on villain and doesn't turn from her ways. I love that. However, we shall see what happens to Tea in book 3 - next year!

In Her Skin

posted Feb 14, 2018, 7:28 AM by SCHS Lib

Sixteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain is about to take on the biggest heist of her life: impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and Jo is hoping to cash in on a little safety, a little security. She finds her opportunity in the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family with ties to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine. 

When Jo takes on Vivi's identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her back with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. As hidden crimes come to the surface, and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold onto an illusion of safety, or escape the danger around her before it’s too late.

I have been going back and forth for a couple of days trying to decide how I feel about this book. Honestly, that's a good thing. Any book that makes me think about it when I am done reading it is a treat. I read "Beautiful Broken Girls" by Kim Savage before and enjoyed it, so I was pretty excited to get to read this book early thanks to NetGalley. I think the whole not-knowing-how-to-feel about a book is just kind of Kim Savage's jam. I think it's intentional. She wants her readers to think and be left with the book nagging at them.

"In Her Skin" picks up with lots of action and a main character that is really fun to get to know. Jo was taught all about the con life by her mother. Now, she cons on her own. The PERFECT con falls right into her lap, and Jo cannot resist presenting herself as the long-missing girl Vivi. And from there, everything gets twisted. I can't say too much, but holy cats. I loved the story line on this one. And the whole thing makes Jo grow so much as a person, I love it.

Okay, so why am I being so cryptic? WELL, there's a major plot twist which actually explains A LOT (nice job dropping weird hints in, Kim Savage) half way through the book. Here's the part I'm not a huge fan of.... it came halfway through the book. I really felt like the rest of the book could have been more action packed and condensed down into half of the pages it was. It's just one time where I felt that the author/publisher was really aiming for page count.

So, yes. Super cool, unsettling book. Very good for illustrating foreshadowing, body language, and character arcs. Also touched on many sensitive issues (sexual abuse, death of a parent, homelessness, mental illness). I will be thinking about this for quite some time.

The Lost Savior

posted Jan 25, 2018, 12:53 PM by SCHS Lib   [ updated Jan 25, 2018, 12:59 PM ]

Have you ever been sick?

I mean, I hope you have....if not, you might be more like Tori than you think!

Well, on the day I read "The Lost Savior" by Siobhan Davis (who was cool enough to let me read it before it even came out - say what?!?!), I was siiiiiiiiiiiiiiick. Huddled on the bathroom floor with a blankie, a bottle of water, and this ebook. I kept coming back to the book over and over. It was almost like eating potato chips, but reading. You know, the whole, "I bet you can't eat just one" thing?

As soon as I finished the book, I knew I had to share it with you. Just in case you need some convincing, I came up with THREE REASONS high schoolers should read "The Lost Savior"!

First, here's the cover photo and description from Goodreads:

They came from another world to protect her. Now it’s her destiny to save them … 

Tori King is a normal senior in high school. Head over heels in love with her childhood sweetheart, she is busy making plans for college when a chance encounter with an alien bounty hunter turns her world upside down. Now, she’s experiencing terrifying changes and developing supernatural abilities that leave her questioning her entire existence.

Then the arrival of four hot new guys at school has everyone talking—especially when they become fixated on Tori, following her wherever she goes. She can’t shake them off, and as they grow closer, she finds herself drawn to all four of them in ways she cannot explain.

When they finally reveal their true identity, and why they’re here for her, she discovers everything she thought she knew about herself is a lie.

Because there is nothing normal about Tori King.

And she’s about to discover exactly how underrated normal is.

This mind-bending alien reverse harem series is only suitable for readers aged seventeen and older due to language and mature content.


1. Empowering females without taking power away from anyone else.
At first, the whole "reverse harem" thing sounded a little scary to me. Call me old-fashioned. I did wind up really liking how it was presented though and feeling sorry for Tori about half-way through the novel. Siobhan Davis explained the concept really well and how it was even a thing in this book. Yes, it is VITAL to this book. No, it's not added gratuitously. Yes, I am sure we will learn plenty more. These guys basically worshipped Tori, and I think their treatment of her overall is a positive example. Her own boyfriend treats her very well for most of the book, even while Tori struggles with a new identity and future. So, Davis's book is a shining example of how you don't have to take power away from someone else to be empowered yourself.

I see a lot of shaming in high school. More than I would like. Shaming for making sexual decisions for yourself. That shouldn't happen. Your choices, good or bad, are your choices. And while I want you to make good choices, it's not going to happen 100% of the time. Even if I wish it could. Tori chooses to have sex with her boyfriend who she loves. Then, due to circumstances beyond her control, she finds herself attracted to these other guys who are pursuing her with gusto. She feels guilty, even though she's never done anything with any of them. Her boyfriend feels betrayed. However, there is never a moment where her rebuffing the advances of these guys leads to them shaming her or saying that she's been sexually active in the past so why not with them? (There is a character who talks like that, but well, he's not quite himself either.) The main cast of characters gets it. Her choices are her choices. And they have to live with those choices. This doesn't mean that everyone is understanding, but it is seriously one of my favorite things about this book. 

3. Tori's not afraid to "Go There".
Davis has a really cool talent for pointing things out without seeming preachy using Tori and those around her. 
Many teens are sexually active. 
Tori's not afraid to go there. 
Many teens experience a life-altering change during senior year.
Tori's not afraid to go there.
Many teens use profanity.
Tori's not afraid to go there.
Many teens have healthy relationships with their parents and a good support network around them.
Tori's not afraid to go there.
Positive, negative, or unclear, Tori's not afraid to GO THERE in a realistic way that just makes you identify with her more and more. This book is gutsy in all kinds of ways - just like you. 

The library will be getting its own paperback copy as soon as they are available. Come try something new! Soon you'll find yourself creepy-whispering "Aliinthiiiiiiiaaaaaaaa" in the hallways.

Say You'll Remember Me

posted Jan 10, 2018, 11:53 AM by SCHS Lib

When Drix was convicted of a crime--one he didn't commit--he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor's newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor's daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn't may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle's parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix's messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can't imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves--Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence--and each other to finally get what they deserve.

I keep saying I'm not a romance reader, but many of my favorite books do involve some romance. So, if you dig reading romance or it's not your thing, it doesn't matter. Here are 4 reasons you should read "Say You'll Remember Me".

1. Forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. 
This is a theme often missing from young adult/new adult novels. The freedom of forgiveness is the ultimate redemption in this book in every single relationship model. It's a notion that folks need more experience with in this harsh world: forgiveness doesn't "fix" things, but it does give you a place to go from there. 

2. Healthy relationships vs. unhealthy relationships.
Both kinds of relationships abound in this book, with a stressor on the fact that there are no perfect relationships. Many relationship flaws are profiled as well as possible solutions or, in the case of habitual abuse, presenting the difficulties of walking away from unhealthy relationships. While Drix and Elle -the main characters- acknowledge that their relationship is not without its issues, they navigate a plethora of situations and model an overall healthy relationship. Familial relationships are also a point of focus - including that sometimes your family isn't the people you grew up in the same house with.

3. Steam but responsibly and with a side of consent. Yes, please!
I'm not normally a romance reader (someday, I will have to quit saying that!), but who doesn't enjoy a little steam now and again? This book was great for me because I could read it without feeling old and creepy and uncomfortable. It's also one I'd let my twelve year old daughter read. It's steamy and realistic and passionate while Elle makes if very clear that she doesn't want to go farther. Drix is exactly what a reader would hope. He understands and respects her decisions. He also makes it clear that, when they are both ready, it's on. It's a great example of a positive relationship and how to voice how far you want things to go.

4. It's just fun.
I know, it's not a deep takeaway. There were so many deep things to choose from in this book, but when I step back and look at the overall picture, what resonates and fills my reader soul is that it was really fun to read. I'm kind of sad it's over! I found myself excited to snuggle in my warm bed and open the book again. 

"Say You'll Remember Me" was a bit of a dark horse for me. I'm normally exclusively fantasy and science fiction, but the popularity of Katie McGarry in my library had me curious. I'm glad I stepped away from my norm, and I'm insanely happy that I looooooved it. 

I encourage you to take a chance and read something you normally wouldn't. Who knows? I may try a historical fiction next!

Before I Let Go - Guest Posts - T.P. and S.H.

posted Jan 9, 2018, 1:49 PM by SCHS Lib

T.P.'s review
Reading “Before I let go” I had many different opinions of it. I loved how she made the characters unique and that when she talked about Kyra, she described bipolar perfectly. Personally I feel like we could’ve talked more about Corey seeing Kyra, I feel like it would’ve worked better to have it as a ghost instead of just Corey imagining it. Overall, I loved the atmosphere and story. It’s like something I’ve never read before! 10/10 would totally recommend to the world!

S.H.'s review
At first glance, I really could tell that Before I Let Go was going to be a great book. I love the suspense it gave me, the characters, and how it’s in a setting you wouldn’t expect. I would totally recommend it to my friends or to anyone who wants to read a book full of mysteries and secrets.

Before I Let Go - Guest Posts - C.C. and C.M.

posted Jan 8, 2018, 7:02 AM by SCHS Lib

C.C.'s review
Before I let go was an interesting book. I loved the friendship in this book, but right away I could tell that Kyra was in love with Corey. The intensity of this story was carried out really well throughout the book, and the suspense really helped keep me interested. To some of the concerns the other girls who read this book had, I never really had those concerns. I thought that that Kyra was just a picture of Corey’s imagination. Overall, I thought that this book was good.

C.M.'s review

1 star
I am not a fan of this book

There were so many things left unexplained, I just want to scream. Is it ghosts or is the main character crazy, I don't know. The ending was so rushed and thrown together. I basically predicted what was happening in the first few chapters and I hoped there would be some unexpected twist. 
SPOILERS - There wasn't.
The writing was really repetitive. I frankly could care less about the characters. And the motivations of the main antagonists didn't make sense!
I will say that this book was easy to get into and I did like the different formats. That's all it has going for it.

Before I Let Go - My perspective, a giveaway, and an excerpt!

posted Jan 5, 2018, 5:48 AM by SCHS Lib

My perspective
Following up to a highly successful debut novel can be rough. John Green even does a YouTube video about his fear that he'll never be able to follow up to The Fault in Our Stars. Therefore, when I was approved to read the ARC of Before I Let Go, I was willing to give some concessions to Marieke Nijkamp. I didn't really need to because the book is good. It has a creepy vibe from the second Corey arrives back into Lost Creek. I really enjoyed the creepy factor and wish that the author had capitalized on that more. Perhaps that is why portions of the book felt lackluster: I wanted more creepy, and it just wasn't the case. But that was MY fault, not the author's. Another thing that I felt could have been better was delving into the mental illness aspect of Kyra. We get lots of hints and tiny stories, but again I was hoping for more. I don't know if what was included was quite enough to jolt my sympathy into place.

I thought the author did a great job of building up the plot. The slow pace is a reminder of how life feels after the death of a loved one, how numb you are, how mechanical your days become. Hints were dropped throughout the novel so, yes, you can guess the ending. I think you were supposed to be able to guess early on so you could frame the rest of what happened to Kyra in that context.

Nijkamp is also very readable. It's one of her strongest qualities that is consistent from book to book. Characters are relatable too. Even though they are quite different from me, I was able to feel like I could have passed them on the street of my own small town.

Something that I really did NOT like in the ebook edition but was happier with in the print edition was the script style chapters dropped into the narrative. I think script form doesn't translate well to digital text. So, if this was off-putting to you, don't let it stop you from picking up the book in print instead.

This book is completely different from Nijkamp's first. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!

Sourcebooks Fire has put together a super cool gift basket. You can enter this giveaway for free (logging in with Facebook is mandatory). Here's the link:



Before I Let Go - Guest Posts - A.R. and J.S.

posted Jan 4, 2018, 7:51 AM by SCHS Lib

Our school had an amazing opportunity to pre-read "Before I Let Go" by Marieke Nijkamp and discuss it in December. Our group had so many good discussions. Lots of, "What do you think happened here?" and "Was this real or in her head?" We also examined Nijkamp's writing style to help us develop and grow as authors.

As part of this experience, we also got to Skype with the author! EEEEE!!! We got to talk to Marieke about everything from inspiration to formatting and finally to how a writer goes about being faithful to the real life mental illness experience. Our readers and writers learned so much in our time with her. 

This week, we are posting book reviews for "Before I Let Go" written by these awesome students in honor of the book's release day!

First, here's a bit about the book:

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter...

Reviews Round 1

A.R.: Before I Let Go is an amazing book and I rate it 4.5 stars.  This book is about a girl named Corey who is returning to Alaska to be with her best friend Kyra.  Then, it all becomes a tragedy when Kyra dies before Corey can be with her again.  Corey then goes on to question what happened to her best friend.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a suspenseful and heart-throbbing novel. This book will have you wanting more and it will definitely not let you down. If you want to continue following Corey on her quest to the truth of her best friend’s death, read on!

J.S.: This book was phenomenal. My emotions were all over the place. I love how you couldn’t predict what was going to happen next, it kept the reader on their toes, waiting to see what happened next.

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