A-Z Reviews

Keep up with what Mrs. Alvarez is reading by visiting A-Z Reviews. If you like the review, check it out!

Some of the books are available as eBooks, and you can check them out with your device!

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Note: The novels reviewed are young adult literature and reflect the ideas, thoughts, and experiences that are universal to young adults around the world. Students with questions about the literary content should chat with Mrs. Alvarez before reading any of the featured works.

July 12, 2018

For as long as he can remember, Salvie's father has been his teacher and mentor. For as long as long as Salvie can remember, Sam has been his best friend. These two are about to enter their senior year, and these two know about love and loss. Salvie's mom died when he was three, and his grandma is making peace with her impending death. Sam's dad left, and her mom leaves her to raise herself. Somehow, these two manage to save each other and save someone who is in worse shape than they are. The inexpliciable logic of their lives is that all three are survivors.

Favorite Line: 'Maybe we don't always know what we have inside us' (9).

Second Favorite Line: "Words only exist in theory. And then one ordinary day you run into a word that exists only in theory. And you meet it face to face. And then that word becomes someone you know. That word becomes someone you hate. And you take that word with you wherever you go. And you can't pretend it isn't there.

Third Favorite Line: 'Let yourself be loved' (414).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available @ your public library.

July 10, 2018

In a refugee camp, Sandra can only watch as her mother, sister, and aunt are shot. She can only watch when her sister is murdered. She can pray when the gun is placed to her head, and when she prays, the man who planned to kill her changes his mind. Accompany Sandra and her family as Sandra reminisces about her childhood and as she recalls the terror of fleeing in the night with her mother after her sister and 165 other refugees are murdered. Then, accompany her as they travel to America to navigate a new culture without her baby sister.

Favorite Line: "In the refugee camp, I had been imagining a time when I could return to school. I was an ace student, and I wanted desperately to put on my school uniform--navy-blue knee-length skirt, white button-down polo shirt, white socks--and get back to class (2-3).

Second Favorite Line: "I had grown up in a land where war was so common, we basically sighed and said, 'Oh man, this again?'

Genre: Nonfiction

Status: Available @ your public library.

July 09, 2018

A month after going for a walk in her favorite jacket, Eden wakes in the hospital. After dying and being resuscitated, she's living in the In-Between. She's not quite in the present, and she's not quite letting go of the place she felt comfort and peace. One of the reasons she can't commit to either life is that she saw someone, Vasquez, in the In-Between and that person wants to tell her something, but Eden has to find out how she can understand and whether she should help Vasquez stay or whether she should help Vasquez go.

Favorite Line: "I don't want to be an apology" (166).

Second Favorite Line: "We do have to rescue ourselves in the end, no matter how much we learn to lean on other people" (301).

Genre: Supernatural

Status: Available @ your public library.

July 08, 2018

Told as a frame novel, the two narrators, William and Rowan, enlighten the reader about life in Tulsa from two different centuries. William was alive during the race riots, and what happens to him and around him make him a central character. Rowan, the 17 year old who moves in to William's family home, discovers the body of someone who was murdered during the Riots. Can Rowan discover the truth of who was murdered, and what does William have to do with that murder that occurred so many years ago?

Favorite Line: "And I did as I was told because he was my father. And because it hadn't yet occurred to me that I had any other choice" (227).

Genre: Historical Fiction

Status: Available @ your public library.

July 07, 2018

Ann Bausum details the March Against Fear that was conceived by James Meredith. At the beginning of his march, that was not just for the people but was for his political goals, he was shot. Thus, a small endeavor became a rallying cry for thousands of people who marched through the state of Mississippi. After Meredith dragged himself to safety, MLK and Stokey Carmichael, among others, lead blacks and whites in an effort to create change. Their goal was to create change by reducing the fear of claiming their constitutional right to vote. I prefer fiction, but this book keep me engaged, and I am definitely purchasing it for the school's library.

Favorite Line: 'When I saw them marching, I decided I wanted my freedom' (36).

Genre: Nonfiction

Status: To be ordered.

July 06, 2018

This novel is more for adults b/c the central characters are adults; however, young adults who enjoy reading would find this book compelling. Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl, are nomads, and in the one place they decide to settle, Pearl feels at home. She's found a best friend, Moody, and she's found stability with Moody's family. Everything is going fine until a Solomon-like debate rages in the community, and this debate inadvertently fractures Pearl's life and starts fires of discontent amongst everyone Pearl and Mia love.

Favorite Line: 'Nothing is an accident' (206).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available from the public library.

July 06, 2018

Jade is doing okay waiting for opportunities. She attends a private school on academic scholarship, but for two years she's been hoping to travel abroad. In the meantime, Jade's mentor Maxine has so much to teach her: how to appreciate the symphony, how to know which fork to use, and how to eat healthy. But, there are other things Jade wants to know. How will she get what she needs if she doesn't learn to speak for herself?

Favorite Line: ' . . . knowing how to read words and knowing when to speak them is the most valuable commodity a person can have' (74).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available from the public library.

July 05, 2018

Oh, this book was good . . . really good. And, the horror genre frightens me. Chance and his older brother, Patrick, are finishing up their chores when Patrick hears wailing. These farm boys aren't afraid to investigate, and when they do, they find their neighbor. She rips out her hair to bind Patrick, and the boys know that this is surreal! By sheer ingenuity, they manage to escape and collect the neighbors' children. When they return home to get help from their uncle and aunt, the brothers see that this nightmare isn't limited to one farm. From now on, it's them against the horror that awaits everyone eighteen and older; and, the children have a future even more horrific. Can Chance and Patrick save the world from an invasion?

Favorite Line: 'I get to protect people now. Make choices that actually matter. I get to actually matter' (150).

Genre: Horror

Status: Available in print.

FYI--There's a sequel; and, it's available!

July 04, 2018

Finally, a book about a guy who doesn't play football or basketball. Air is Grey's street name. He's good--really good--at racing bikes. But, it's not until his friend, Akil, is killed by police recklessness that Air finds a purpose in life. Sure, he's a good kid who makes good grades. Sure, he's a kid whose mom was killed by her ex-husband. However, he's also a kid who reads Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and it resonates with him because he refuses to be invisible anymore. This is civil disobedience that Emerson and King spoke of in Walden and in "Letter from Birmingham Jail," respectively.

Favorite Line: 'People see me from the angle they want to see me, and that depends on how they've been raised and where they're coming from and what their own beliefs are" (144).

Second Favorite Line: 'I might not agree with you, but I believe in you, so I'll stand by you' (232).

Third Favorite Line: "Because the only people capable of saving us are ourselves" (307).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

July 02, 2018

Three girls with little in common form a group whose sole goal is to improve how girls are treated. What can a preacher's kid, a Mexican, and a girl with Asperger's do to change their high school? Well, they can do a whole lot. They can do so much that they can change their school and their community.

Favorite Line: "I, for one, will not be silenced any longer" (221).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available from Amazon.

June 29, 2018

Dillard Early's name carries a lot of weight in a rural Tennessee town. But, it's not for good reasons. He's the grandson of The Serpent King, and he's in danger of succumbing to the same poison that destroyed his grandfather and father. Just when he's starting to crawl into a cavern of darkness, he's saved by his best friends. But, when things start to go right, darkness lies ahead.

Favorite Line: "Times are simpler when no one hates you because of your name and it doesn't occur to you to be ashamed of it" (64).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

June 28, 2018

When Jessie moves to California, it's not because she wants to; it's because her dad remarried. He didn't tell her he was getting married, and after dealing with her mother's death, this is so not what she needs right now. But, off they go, and nothing about California agrees with her. She's humiliated the first day, her stepbrother won't even ride to school with her, and she is an outcast. That all changes with Somebody Nobody emails her and becomes her first friend. He tells her how to navigate this new world, but he won't reveal his identity. When he Somebody Nobody tells her to tell him three things, it is the beginning of Jessie finding her place.

Favorite Line: "Perfect days are for people with small, realizable dreams. Or maybe for all of us, they just happen in retrospect; they're only now perfect because they contain something irrevocably and irretrievably lost" (72).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print and online @ https://www.mackinvia.com.

June 27, 2018

Ruta Sepetys scores another win with her fictional account of a maritime tragedy. Russian submarines fired torpedos that led to the deaths of 9000. The desperation that leads the 10,000 people who thought they found refuge from Stalin and the war wasn't over, and a watery grave awaited most who boarded the Wilhelm Gustloff. Take a journey back in time and meet four people, Emilia, Alfred, Florian, and Joana, who struggle with their guilt and fear and shame and thoughts of revenge. They are four characters who stay with you--even after you turn the last page.

Favorite Line: "War is catastrophe. It breaks families in irretrievable pieces. But those who are gone are not necessarily lost. Near our cottage, where the small creek winds under the old wooden bridge, is the most beautiful bed of roses. And there Emilia rests. She is safe. She is loved" (336).

Genre: Historical Fiction

Status: Available in print and online @ https://www.mackinvia.com.

June 25, 2018

In seventeen years, Kelsey's mother, Amanda, has not stepped out of her house. She works from home, she has groceries delivered, and she has isolated Kelsey from the world. But, the world has plans for Kelsey, and soon she has no choice to be unveiled for all the world to see. And, when that happens, Amanda's fears finally manifest into the man who kidnapped her seventeen years ago. All of Amanda's plans for protecting and sheltering Kelsey from the world are unravelling, and it's Kelsey who may pay the price for the lies her mother has told her.

Favorite Line: "The danger is everywhere. It's everyone. It's the parts we keep hidden, and the darkness inside, fighting to get out" (276).

Genre: Suspense

Status: Available in print and online @ https://www.mackinvia.com.

June 23, 2018

Lily's mom died, and she and her dad lost their way. Lily took a path to obesity; it was so bad that she was a prisoner in her own home and the fire department had to remove part of the way because she was too large to fit through the door. Her neighbor, who lives across the street, remembers the day, and writes her note telling her that he is rooting for her, but Jack Masselin is having a rough year. His dad is fighting cancer, and he's done something that makes Jack not respect him anymore. When Jack realizes that he must shame Lily, or he'll lose his friends, he feels badly, but he does it anyway. How does Lily respond to someone else who is feeling so much pain that he has to hurt other people in order to feel better?

Favorite Line: 'If everyone who had something to say about me spent as much time on, I don't know, practicing kindness or developing a personality or a soul, imagine how lovely the world would be' (97).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print and online @ https://www.mackinvia.com.

June 22, 2018

Bailey's, who is in D.C., has been communicating with Alex, who is in California. On a whim, Alex invites her out to go to the movies. When Bailey's dad invites her to California, she goes about finding Alex. But, is Alex his real name? She does have a few facts. He has a job in the city; he loves old movies; he has a white cat that hangs around his family's business. Can Bailey find Alex? And, if she finds him, will she still like him?

Favorite Line: "Maybe Walt Whitman was right. We all really do contradict ourselves and contain multitudes. How do we even figure out who we really are?" (147).

Genre: Romance

Status: Available from Amazon.

June 21, 2018

Being on Mars is what Tristan dreams of when he's on Earth. But, thanks to technology and ingenuity, forty people from all over the world, are on their way there. Tristan is hurtling through space with his parents, and they all thought the hard part was making life livable and bearable, but someone on all three spaceships is sabotaging their hard work, and everyone on board learns that if they get to Mars it will be because they thought of others instead of thinking of themselves.

Favorite Line: 'Destiny is not an abstraction' (192).

Genre: Science Fiction

Status: Available from Amazon.

June 20, 2018

Seda, her four siblings, and her mother are waiting on winter to arrive. They're living in an old house up in the middle of nowhere (with no cell reception). But Seda's convinced that her twin, Sawyer, is running loose on the property. The problem is he was never born. As a storm takes hold, four kids out exploring find their home, but Seda knows they're safer outside than they are in her house. What has to happen in order for them to understand that Seda was right? Because there are some things that are better left alone.

Favorite Line: "My checkered flannel nightgown stretches from neck to toe, and it's as red as my cape and my flushed cheeks. I'll probably look like the Red Death, coming after them at the masquerade party" (69).

Genre: Suspense

Status: Available from Amazon.

June 18, 2018

Girls are disappearing; sometimes they are never found. Sara's best friend was one of the girls, but since she's a reporter, she can use her words to advocate for her best friend and those like her. But, speaking the truth comes with a price. While Sara's fighting the cartel, her brother believes the only way to improve his family's situation and court the girl he likes is to join the same cartel that hopes to kill his sister. No matter what Sara and Emiliano choose, there's no safe passage, but sometimes doing what's right is more important than being safe.

Favorite Line: "He does not want to believe what is slowly becoming obvious to him" (66).

Needed Line: "It had all been words, an abstraction. But here it is, palpable, shown through bullets meant for her and her family. Sara had never realized fear could be so physical, how it invades all of your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. She can even taste it. It tastes like metal" (213).

Second Favorite Line: ' . . . we are all meant to be the best person we are capable of being' (227).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available from Amazon.

June 16, 2018

Nikki's dad, Nate, has just had his conviction overturned after five years in prison; Nikki's happy, but the thing is, she and her mom have gotten use to his absence. While he's been locked away, they've been running the casino, and times are hard. When Nate returns, he tries to solve the murder of one of his best friends, the guy he was accused of murdering. But, when he gets too close, he becomes a victim. Can Nikki solve the crimes and save the casino, or is she in over her head?

Favorite Line: 'Three heads can't wear one crown' (329).

Genre: Mystery

Status: Available from Amazon.

June 16, 2018

Julie discovers a painting that compels her to purchase it, but it when it's real message glows in the darkness, Julie feels a connection with it. And, she goes back to seek it's companion. But, this is no ordinary painting; it was painted a century ago, and each painting that she finds tells a story and contains a message on each one. This novel, told as a frame novel--much like Frankenstein--reveals how the paintings came to be and how light can be deceptive.

Favorite Line: "It seems so much safer in the light. That's probably why it took me way too long to figure out that it wasn't the dark I needed to fear, never the dark, but a certain kind of light that lurks on the other side of it. This light calls to you on false pretenses; it makes promises it never intends to keep. Things that happen in the dark--forbidden kisses, broken promises, buried secrets--are supposed to stay there, but that light will always expose them. Because that light is not kind. It's not innocent" (1).

Genre: Historical Fiction

Status: Available from Amazon.

June 15, 2018

I'm going to do something I typically don't do in these reviews . . . I'm going to use last names. Tom Grendel lives in a neighborhood, Hereot, filled with the elderly. His dad suffers from PTSD, and being surrounded by the quiet is what works best. However, Rex Rothgar moves in, and the parties and loud times start, and Tom Grendel's dad can't handle it. Tom Grendel decides he's going to stop these rowdy shenanigans, and just when he think he's won, Wolf Gates, Rex Rothgar's cousin makes the battles between Tom Grendel and Rex Rothgar worse. Have you figured out why I've used last names? If not, you haven't read Beowulf and are not familiar with Hereot, Grendel, and the parties that keep the monster up all night, come by the library. I'll be glad to give you a brief (yes, brief) summary of that Anglo-Saxon epic that is the heart of British literature.

Favorite Line: 'I am so tired . . . of being the person things happen to' (199).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available from Amazon.

June 14, 2018

Told from the perspective of Susannah Martin, Condemn Me Not transports the reader back to the Salem Witch Trials. Susannah, a twenty-five year old, is rapidly and happily approaches spinsterhood until a widower, his sister, and his young daughter purchase the neighboring farm. Suddenly, Susannah realizes she would rather be alone than be without George, but their idyllic life does not last long. Suspicion and ill-will break free, and George spends his life protecting his family, but hatred and jealously run rampant, and George and Susannah cannot escape.

Favorite Line: 'It will soon pass' (91).

Genre: Historical Fiction

Status: Available from Amazon. (I purchased it for free.)

June 13, 2018

As she played outside with her friends August 9, 1945, Sachiko was the only survivor of that play group. The Fat Man had been dropped on her city, and her world was never the same. Be a witness to the life before the atomic bomb and the life after the atomic bomb. I promise, it brings the horrors of war home.

Favorite Line: 'Every word is precious. One word can make you feel loved. One word can hurt. One word can make you cry. One word can break your heart. One word can do so much damage. One word can do so much good. Even one word can lead people. One word can protect world peace. Every word is precious' (112).

Genre: Nonfiction

Status: Available in print.

June 12, 2018

Julia's sister, Olga, was a perfect Mexican daughter. She worked, helped her mother clean houses, was a good cook, and took care of her parents. Julia is not the perfect Mexican daughter, and she's left to be the kind of daughter she's supposed to be after Olga dies. But, Julia's a rebel, and she couldn't be the perfect daughter--even if she tried. Julia's okay not fitting in, but will it be okay with those who matter to her that she doesn't fit in?

Favorite Line: " . . . when a woman with a burned face makes her way through the crowded aisle, asking everyone to spare some change. When she gets closer, I see that her green T-shirt says God Has Been So Good to Me! The letters are so bright and shiny, they feel like they're yelling. She puts her hand in front of me, and I reach into my backpack to pull out the rest of the money I have left. The mystery guy at the diner paid for my food today, so why not?" (46-47).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available at Amazon or at Burry Bookstore.

June 3, 2018

Max is a witness to his mother's battle with cancer. She won the first battle, but ten years later, the cancer returned, and while she fought bravely, she left her mother, her husband, and her son behind. Max, as one would expect, has a hard time coping. He figures the cancer that disfigured her face has moved to his brain, and so Max's paranoia and depression begin. He cannot cope, and he cannot maintain. So, Max has to decide if he wants to play it safe or if he wants to to trust and possibly fall.

Favorite Line: 'You've gotten it into your heads that to be good, you have to twist your sentences into pretentious pretzels. Your grammar is bizarre. Can't you hear that? Haven't you heard of subjects and verbs? English is your first language, people. There's no excuse for this kind of garbage. Just say what you want and be done with it' (134).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available at Amazon or at Burry Bookstore.

June 1, 2018

Gertrude Tompkins took off in the P-51 she was ferrying in October 1944 and did not land in a safe place. After a life of stuttering and feeling insecure, Gertrude found her place among the clouds. During WWII, she served her country as a pilot. Read a surprising story and little known story about young women who defied the odds and the low expectations of the people who surrounded them.

Favorite Line: From General Barton Yount's tribtue to WASPs killed in service: 'Let us acknowledge the measure of their sacrifice by honoring them as brave women, and by honoring them as women who served thought thought of glory which we accord to heroes of battle' (161).

Genre: Nonfiction

Status: Available at Amazon or at Burry Bookstore.

May 31, 2018

Leigh Bardugo's novel is comprised of six short stories. These stories are fantastical tales of toys that come to life, girls who murder, fathers who wear two faces, and girls who can enchant the sea. For a reader who wants a break from an involved read, this offers a nice break.

Favorite Line: 'Great magic asks that you trouble the waters. It requires a disruption, something new' (205).

Genre: Fantasy

Status: Available at Amazon or at Burry Bookstore.

May 31, 2018

It's been awhile . . . sometimes, you need a break from activities you love.

Ivy is autistic, and her honesty is so refreshing. She is one character without deceit or sarcasm or anger. Ivy is almost 21, and her younger sister, Chloe, thinks that Ivy is lonely, so she arranges "dates" with another autistic student in Ivy's class. Well, Ivy isn't interested in Ethan, and the things Chloe now knows are the things she should have known.

Favorite Line: 'You didn't actually have to ask nicely. I was going to say yes anyway' (255).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available at your public library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog.

May 15, 2018

Lynet--her body of made of snow. Mina--her heart made of glass. Lynet is without a mother, and so is Mina. Lynet wants a mother; Mina wants love. These two, created by the same man, find their lives intertwined. Is it really necessary that in order for one to live that the other has to die?

Favorite Line: 'We still have so much to do together' (366).

Genre: Fantasy

Status: Available at your public library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog.

May 13, 2018

Five women, three generations. The story begins in England, but the roots can be found in India. Sonia, Tara, and their mother are immigrating to America. Their mother, a traditional Bengali lady, wants them to be traditional girls who marry traditional men. However, life has other plans, and what happens is that they don't leave India behind; their traditions allow them to bring what is physically distant close to their hearts.

Favorite Line: "All is well" (303).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available at your public library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog.

May 12, 2018

Diana, Princess of Themyscira, is determined to stand on the victor's podium so that she can prove to her mother, Queen Hippolyta, and the other Amazons that she is worthy. Diana is poised and ready, but she takes a detour that leads to to the one person who is a catalyst to the world consuming itself; Diana saves the Warbringer. But, it's her duty as an Amazon to defend the world from chaos and strife; however, in the World of Mortals, nothing is as it seems, and Diana must do all she can to save the world and save the Warbringer.

Favorite Line: 'It's the people who never learn the world impossible who make history, because they're the ones who keep trying' (168).

Genre: Supernatural

Status: Available at your public library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog.

May 12, 2018

It's the summer before Lucy's senior year, and instead of looking forward to swimming practice and spending time with her parents and her boyfriend, she's watching her mother battle cancer, for the second time, and watching her boyfriend pause their relationship. Instead of this being the summer of what Lucy prefers, it is the summer of what Lucy needs.

Favorite Line: "It occurs to me, not for the first time, that maybe I was always supposed to end up right here" (316).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

May 9, 2018

Jude's earliest memory is of her parents' murder, and it happens when her mother's first husband darkens their doorstep. She, her twin, and her oldest sister are "spirited" away to a land of fairies and enchantment, and her life becomes one of intrigue and attempts of assimilation. But ironically, the mortal girl is the one who is so much like those who mock and underestimate her.

Favorite Line: "All my promises have come due" (364).

Genre: Fantasy

Status: Available at your public library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog.

May 07, 2018

Girls: Are you tired of being singled out for violations? Are you being mocked by boys? Boys: Are you "woke"? Do you see that some boys aren't polite?

Well, if you, answered "Yes!" to those questions, you need to read Moxie. Vivian, a high school junior, uses zines to spark change in her school. She's about girls being treated fairly and girls working together. Together, the girls in her school stand up to those who mistreat them---even those who occupy places in authority.

Favorite Line: It's on the dedication page! I think it means I'm going to enjoy this book!

"And for my twelfth-grade Current Topics teacher for calling me a feminazi in front of the entire class. You insulted me, but you also sparked my interest in feminism, so really the joke is on you. Revenge is best served cold, you jerk."

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available at your public library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog.

May 06, 2018

Riding on the 57 bus, Sasha is on their way home after a day at school. Richard, too, is on his way home after a day at school. On this day, Richard does something that changes the course of their lives forever; he sets fire to Sasha's skirt. Before this awful event happens, the author spends time letting the reader understand Sasha and Richard, and at the end of the story, this reader wishes Richard would have chosen differently, but in the end, Richard has to atone--the only question is whether he'll make atonement in a juvenile facility or in an adult facility.

Favorite Line: 'Never let your obstacles become more important than your goal' (68).

Second Favorite Line: "You could get there, if nothing knocked you down. But life had a way of sticking its foot out, sending you sprawling" (65).

Genre: Nonfiction

Status: Available at your public library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog.

May 02, 2018

Being a witness to the murder of her parents and her eleven month old sister scars Nova in ways most of those who live under the rule of the Renegades cannot imagine, so Nova fights back against those who could save them and did not. She fights against superheroes and conjures a way to bring them down. Nova becomes that which she abhors . . . a Renegade to get justice for her family.

Favorite Line: "Heroism wasn't about what you could do, it was about what you did" (169).

Genre: Supernatural

Status: Available in print.

April 26, 2018

It's the arrival of Gil Burke that has Jean Custis wanting more. The problem is that once he meets Fritz O'Neill, Jean is on the outside looking in, and it's not where she wants to be. Can Jean, the girl who has the right look and the right connections, win the match against Fritz, the Army brat who can never fit in with the local aristocracy? And, is Gil Burke worthy of the affection of both girls?

Favorite Line: "I prided myself on being observant, but sometimes I didn't see the importance in the things that I noticed" (110).

Genre: Romance

Status: Available in print.

April 26, 2018

It's a Throwback Thursday Edition!

Since I finished History is All You Left Me, it reminded me of a new favorite. So, I returned to I Wrote This for You. The author, who remains anonymous, chronicles the journey of his love. The story of their romance is like a stream-of-consciousness to which any reader can relate because no matter where the reader is in his journey, he can feel the joy, delight, anguish, and sorrow of the writer.

Favorite Line: And then my soul saw you and it kind of went / "Oh there you are. I've been looking for you" (7).

Second Favorite Line: "There are a million ways to bleed. But you are by far my favourite" (55).

Third Favorite Line: "Congratulations. / You took me down. And now, you have made everything that is sad, relevant" (91).

Fourth Favorite Line: "The least you could do, is uncross your heart. Unhope to die" (114).

Genre: Poetry

Status: Available for purchase from your local bookstore or from Amazon.

April 11, 2018

It took me fifteen days to read this book. It took me fifteen days because I knew this book wasn't about laughter, and I knew it probably didn't have a happy ending. It is a book about how to move on when the person you love the most dies. It is a book about facing the truth of the role you played in that person's life and in this case--that person's death. If you scroll down, you'll see this novel contained quite a few lines that were memorable. So, let me give you a little summary. Theo McIntyre no longer exists, and his best friend and former boyfriend, Griffin is upset that Theo broke his promise not to die. It doesn't matter that Griffin and Theo are no longer together; what matters is that Griffin is broken and that their history is all he thinks he has left.

Favorite Line: "And if bringing up the past annoys you now . . . know that I'm sorry, but please don't be mad at me for reliving all of it. History is all you left me" (1).

Second Favorite Line: "I've spent a lot of the past year waiting--mostly for you" (130).

Third Favorite Line: "Having a plan isn't always a guarantee" (142).

Fourth Favorite Line: "History remains with the people who will appreciate it the most" (292).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

April 08, 2018

Jessie and Dawn were separated because of curiosity and because of betrayal, but now that they are teenagers who are adrift, they need each other. Jessie, on the cusp of being a professional dancer, decides to fit into the mold that others create, and she wills herself to conform until it is painful. Dawn, on the other hand, is plagued by an unknown condition that embarrasses her mother and isolates her and threatens to derail her dream of getting into Stanford. As they decide their paths, what becomes of the ballerina and the scientist?

Favorite Line: "What matters is not what is taken but that we fight" (226).

Genre: Fantasy

Status: Status: Available online @ https://www.mackinvia.com.

April 05, 2018

If you find yourself not understanding why people want to come to this country and what those who have that desire in their heart are really like, read American Street. Fabiola, or Fab, as her cousins call her, just returned to the US. Accompanied by her mother, they plan to start a new life after living in Haiti for the last sixteen years. However, Fabiola's mother is detained in New Jersey, but Fab is allowed to proceed to Detroit because she has American citizenship. Yet, life on the streets of Detroit is really not much different than life in Haiti. There is still corruption, and there is still two sides to every story amongst the truth. How can this one girl help her cousin, who has an abusive boyfriend, and her mother, who is still detained, and her boyfriend, who puts his "fam" before good decisions save her cousins, her aunt, her boyfriend, and herself from all that awaits them at the intersection of Joy Street & American Street?

Favorite Line: "And then tomorrow, she will come to this side of the glass, where there is good work that will make her hold her head up with dignity, where she will be proud to send me to school for free, and where we will build a good, brand-new life" (6).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

April 05, 2018

When I read the jacket, I thought This isn't going to end well for her. And, I was right . . . and, I was wrong. Amanda is transgender, and after suffering for fifteen years, she gets the chance to be the girl she always wanted to be. After being beaten, she transfers to a small town to start over with her dad and start over at a new school. Things go well for a while; she meets a nice boy, and she makes friends, but as I figured, not all goes well for Amanda. But, Amanda finds she is stronger than most people give her credit for, and she learns that her friends are stronger than she gave them credit for.

Favorite Line: 'You can have anything . . . once you admit you deserve it' (180).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

April 04, 2018

Three siblings were given up for adoption. The boy, Joaquin, spends his life in and out of foster homes and trying to atone for a mistake he made as a twelve year old. The sisters, Grace and Maya, grow up with loving families, but one of them spends time looking for love in the wrong place, but both of them ignore the love that surrounds them. Can these three figure out what it means to be a family?

Favorite Line: "Maya had never realized how much power was in loving someone. At first, she thought it was a source of strength, but now she was realizing that, in the wrong hands, on the wrong day, that power was strong enough to destroy the very thing that had built it" (156-157).

Second Favorite Line: " . . . and Joaquin hung on to them so tight that his arms ached and he thought that this must be what forgiveness felt like, pain and hurt and relief all balled up together, pressing against his heart so that it might burst" (355).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

April 01, 2018

She is the author and illustrator of one of the greatest and most profitable online creations . . . Monstrous Sea. And, she likes her identity being a secret. IRL, she is an older sister to two brothers and a misfit in her high school. It is not until Wallace, a new student, shows up that Eliza contemplates leaving her online world for the real one. Can Eliza conquer the monsters that live outside the sea?

Favorite Line: "There's a small monster in my brain that controls my doubt. The doubt itself is a stupid thing, without sense or feeling, blind and straining at the end of a long chain. The monster, though, is smart. It's always watching, and when I am completely sure of myself, it unchains the doubt and lets it run wild" (88).

Second Favorite Line: "Nothing makes a joke less funny than someone wanting in on it, especially parents" (144).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

March 19, 2018

If you liked "The Most Dangerous Game," you will love Blackbird. This novel is told in second person because the protagonist does not know her name, her family, or her past. She wakes up on subway tracks with a bookbag and no memory of how she came to be in such a dangerous situation. All she knows is that she is being followed, and when she manages to trust anyone, she discovers those people cannot be trusted and the ones she does not trust save her life. This is the first in a duology.

Favorite Line: 'Isn't everything a choice?' (174).

Genre: Suspense

Status: Available in print.

March 18, 2018

Five teenagers spend their senior year wondering if they could have stopped Christopher Goodman from dying after their individual decisions, small--yet important, could have altered how or when or whether Christopher meets two other teenagers who shoot him and leave him on the side of the road in order to steal a car to escape their hopeless lives. There is no wonderful ending for Christopher; there are only "what-ifs" for those who have no choice but to go on without him.

Favorite Line: "Either way, I'm glad I've got God who is tough enough to withstand my blame and gracious enough to forgive my guilt" (262).

Genre: Mystery

Status: Available at your public library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog.



March 17, 2018

"Ant"hony Jones from East Cleveland, Ohio has just been accepted to a private boarding school in Maine, and thank goodness---on his way back from the store, he and his friend dodge bullets. One of those bullets kills his friend, Mookie, so going to Maine probably saves Ant's life. But, in Maine, Ant has to become Tony if he wants to be accepted by his roommate and his teachers. Being a black boy in a white school shows Ant there's more to the world than East Cleveland, and that just like he wears a face to fit an image, other people wear masks, too.

Favorite Line: 'So I put on a mask that was so perfectly polished that it only reflected who you all wanted to see' (241).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available at your public library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog.

March 14, 2018

Five kids and one teacher walk into detention. Four kids and one teacher go home. One kid winds up spending the night with the medical examiner. We know how, but we don't know why. All four kids have a valid motive. With too many motives and far too many suspects, can the truth find its way out of detention?

Favorite Line: 'I already wasted too much time' (355).

Genre: Mystery

Status: Available in print and online @ https://www.mackinvia.com/.

March 12, 2018

After a night out, Justyce sees his ex-girlfriend unaware and vulnerable, and like a gentleman he tries to help her get home safely. While in the process of doing the right thing, he's accused of assault and arrested. For Justyce, this is when the blinders come off, and he sees himself through the eyes of those who who don't see him as equal. By writing to MLK, he hopes he can find a way to make himself better and avoid the path of anger.

Favorite Line: 'You ever consider that maybe you're not supposed to 'fit'? People who make history rarely do' (38).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: To be ordered.

March 10, 2018

It's the summer right before senior year, and all is well with Lena. Her best friend comes over every night; her part-time job allows her to save a little money. She stands a good chance to earn a volleyball scholarship, and right now, she's on her way to a party hoping that when it's over her best friend is her boyfriend. But, Lena's a master at hiding her feelings and waiting until tomorrow, and when tomorrow comes, she's bedridden after a horrible accident in which four of her friends died. Instead of putting off facing her mistakes, can Lena face her mistakes today?

Favorite Line: 'It's always easier to point out the flaws in others while ignoring your own' (320).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

March 04, 2018

They say only two things are guaranteed: death and taxes. The title doesn't leave room for any other interpretation regarding the protagonists, but the mystery and uncertainty is found in their lives. Rufus and Mateo, virtual strangers, begin their last day apart, but they find meaning with each other, and at the end of their day, they find death. These two fast friends come together via an app for people who receive a call from Death-Cast. Death-Casts calls on the last day of your life. If you're lucky, you get about 24 hours to do all that you wanted to do. For these two, how they spend their last day is so much more meaningful than all their days prior.

Favorite Line: "I can't just wish for the future; I have to take risks to create it" (265).

Genre: Science Fiction

Status: Available at your public library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog. (I purchased it from Kindle for $1.99.)

March 03, 2018

I did not plan on reading this book because, really, how can John Green top The Fault in Our Stars? But, since I purchased it for the library, I figured I should.

Aza cannot escape her thoughts, and her thoughts can take her into a tightening spiral in which the reader is also trapped. So far, there is nothing than can help her--not thinking about, taking medicine, therapy. But this year, a diversion awaits her--the disappearance of a friend's dad gives her and her best friend a chance at a $100K award. Can Aza find a way to overcome her paralyzing spirals that threaten every relationship?

Favorite Line: "True terror isn't being scared; it's not having a choice in the matter" (22).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

March 01, 2018

Ruth, Dora, Alyce, and Hank are metaphorically lost. These four teenagers are bound to the land and bound to a past they cannot manage to escape. They have lost fathers and mothers, so it is no wonder that they are lost. It appears that their stories have no connection but towards the end their paths cross. This story, set in Alaska, shows another reality that we just don't see in South Carolina. Although each teenager has a different challenge they yearn for the same feeling and connection--and, it is universal to us all.

Favorite Line: "It feels like my best friend just skipped a pebble across the glassy surface of my soul" (87).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

March 01, 2018

It's Another Throwback Thursday!!

There is nothing wrong with a picture book. And, anything Kadir Nelson illustrates is a work of art, so if you have not seen his work, be ready to be impressed.

Not only is Nelson the illustrator of this beautiful book, he is also the author. In this book, he treats the chapters as innings, and in the first inning, he tells the story of the beginnings of baseball and the beginnings of the Negro National League to ninth inning and the first man who integrated baseball. And, just like some games do not end in the ninth inning, Nelson gives a little extra by adding an additional inning with more information.

Favorite Line: "When Willie Wells was just a rookie, he found the ball was making its way toward his head a little more often than he liked, so he decided to wear an old miner's helmet when he stepped up to the plate. Boy did they laugh at him! But today, you won't find a ballgame played without batting helmets" (18).

Genre: Nonfiction

Status: If you just want to look through the book, visit me in the library; I have a copy in my office. If you want time to sit and enjoy and read, it is available from your local library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog.

February 24, 2018

The science of capturing killers is an ancient one and dates back over a thousand years. In the process of refining this science, innocent people have been accused and convicted, but innocent people have also been freed. In the process of refining this science, the guilty have been apprehended. Heos highlights cases/people you've heard of (Jack the Ripper, Sam Shepard, Czar Nicholas), and she highlights people you've never heard of (Fannie Creighton, Germaine Bichon, and Walter Dinivan). Read this if you're looking for an intriguing history and science lesson that connects what you've learned in school to what you've learned from watching Law & Order & CSI.

Genre: Nonfiction

Status: Available in via interlibrary loan via the public library. Go to inside and speak with a librarian to borrow a copy. This is one of the 2018-2019 SCYABA nominees, so it will be available in the library soon!

February 21, 2018

I planned on reading this book in segments, but I kept turning the pages until I arrived at the end. The title lets you know that it's not like every other book. Ari is a loner until he meets Dante. Together they discover the secrets of the universe. So, what is this novel really about? Read my favorite lines to get a better understanding.

Favorite Line: "The problem with my life is that it was someone else's idea" (8).

Second Favorite Line: "I had a rule that it was better to be bored by yourself than to be bored with someone else" (17).

Third Favorite Line: 'I was ashamed of myself for being ashamed of myself' (18).

Fourth Favorite Line: "Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer morning could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder" (261).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: To Be Ordered

February 19, 2018

If you're looking for a book that raises more questions than it answers, this is the book for you . . .

Mary didn't kill the baby her mom was watching, but she agreed to take the blame. The problem is everyone believes that she did. Now, Mary is pregnant, and as a ward of the state, she won't be allowed to keep her baby. Can sixteen year old Mary save herself and her child?

Favorite Line: "We smile and I can't help but to look for my smile in here. I wonder if that's the problem. Too much of my daddy in me, not enough of her. Maybe if she had been able to see herself in me, she would have loved me a little more" (141).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: To be ordered. FYI--I purchased it from Kindle for $1.99.

February 15, 2018

Emika Chen is three days from being evicted from her Manhattan apartment, and she's desperate to earn quick cash. So, she hacks her way into the biggest online game in the world with the plan to steal an artifact that she can sell on the dark web. Of course, her plan goes awry; and, she finds herself on a private jet meeting the game's creator, Hideo Tankana. Hideo's pitch is simple . . . find the hacker who is sabotaging his company and win the $10 million dollar bounty.

Favorite Line: "Every locked door has a key" (22).

Genre: Science Fiction

Status: Available in print.

February 09, 2018

Because she's good with numbers, Farrah's unwanted nickname is Digit. She's better than good with numbers; she's a prodigy who figured out that the terrorists communicated their plans to bomb a private plane at JFK via a message on a popular teen show. Now, the FBI has her under protection, but Farrah still isn't safe. How is it that a girl named Farrah, for Farrah Fawcett, grows into her own and embraces who she really is?

Favorite Line: "The worst part was that I had been so wrong. I had become my truest most authentic self; I had listened to my instincts and followed them completely. I had opened up and jumped in . . . and I had been completely wrong" (177).

Genre: Suspense

Status: Available in print.

February 8, 2018

Hey . . . It's another Throwback Thursday!

This book started my personal library when it was given to me as a gift when I was about 14 years old.

Patty Bergen, a young Jewish girl, is loved by two people, and those two people aren't her parents. Those two people are her nanny, Ruth, and her sister, Sharon. Ironically, it's not until she meets Anton, a German soldier, that she understands her worth and her strength. This story is one of sacrifice; it is a story of love.

Favorite Line: 'Am I still your teacher?' . . . 'Then I want you to learn this, our last, lesson. Even if you forget everything else I want you to always remember that you are a person of value, and you have a friend who loved you enough to give you his most valued possession' (134-135).

Genre: Historical Fiction

Status: Available in print.

February 06, 2018

Ben Gibson has decided he is going to be good at making people happy--his mother, his girlfriend. He makes this decision after a traumatic incident that affected his life and his mother's life. This decision means hs spends the rest of his life in the same town in which he grew up, and he's okay with that until he decides to go camping with his teacher and a few classmates. Nothing about this trip goes right, and when it's finally over, his teacher, three classmates, and three strangers are dead.

Favorite Line: "I'm no longer ice drawn to flame; I'm captured beneath glass, far more sculptured than alive, and there's nothing about my current situation that's going to change--no matter how much I believe in myself. No matter what choices I make" (292).

Genre: Suspense

Status: Available in print.

February 1, 2018

Nixy Bauer is the go-to bounty hunter for parents whose kids whose kids are spending too much time in the MEEP, a virtual reality game, and she has a 100% success rate in bringing kids home in an hour. However, this time, she's going after the game creator's son, Wyn, who has created his own game that reflects all of the other bounty-hunters' worst fears. It's Nixy's turn to go after Wyn, and if she can't find him, the game will be shut down, and everyone in the game will be lost with them.

Favorite Line: "After the dark hell that was Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, Hemingway's stories seem pleasingly crisp and clean" (90).

Genre: Science Fiction

Status: Available in print.

It's Another Throwback Thursday Edition!

February 1, 2018

I read this a few weeks ago, but I have to share it. Jason Reynolds' protagonist, Will just learned his brother was murdered. And, what does Will want? Revenge. So, he grabs his brother's weapon and leaves his apartment to take the elevator. But, on every floor the elevator stops. And, someone from his past gets on for the ride down.

Favorite Line: 'I know you're young / gotta get it out, / but just remember, when / you're walking in the nighttime, / make sure the nighttime ain't walking into you' (40).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

Bonus: Listen to Jason Reynolds' interview on National Public Radio @https://www.npr.org/2017/10/30/560286304/in-long-way-down-the-ghosts-of-gun-violence-chill-a-plan-for-revenge

March 01, 2018

I still haven't restarted this book.

January 26, 2018

What I'm Reading Now . . . I'm going to put this read on pause. I borrowed it from the public library, but the vocabulary is challenging, so I am going to purchase this novel so that I can annotate. I'll come back to this in a few days.


Favorite Line:

Genre: I'm Not Sure.

Status: Available at your public library. Visit http://darlington-lib.org/ and search the online catalog.

January 25, 2018

Throwback Thursday Edition!

This novel is another one of my favorites . . . In fact, my seniors in English V had to read this! When I first passed out this book the first day of the second nine weeks, one of my students said, "It's thicker than the Bible!"

Let me begin by telling you that Howard Roark is the man that every guy wants to be. He is an architect who was dismissed from school because he would not conform. He refuses to conform--even when it is in his economical best interest. He refuses to be anything other than being an individual. He is the kind of man who others seek to destroy because he lives up to his full potential. Howard is tested at every turn, but he never falters. If you are looking for a novel that illustrates what it takes to be a courageous individual, this novel is exactly what you need.

Favorite Line: 'A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose' (24).

Genre: Classics

Status: Available in print.

January 18, 2018

Throwback Thursday Edition!

This novel is one of my favorites . . . In fact, my sophomores in English II had to read this!

Jude's life is not easy. His mom left when he was a baby. His dad is a drug dealer. When we first meet Jude, he is being interviewed by a detective because his dad was just murdered. In fact, Jude saw who did it, but thirty minutes after the fact, Jude keeps silent about what really happened. So, can his life get any worse? Yes, in fact, it does.

1st Favorite Line: "The old man looked at him. 'Do your own time, brother,' he said" (194).

2nd Favorite Line: "He found the difference between learning enough to get by and and learning enough to understand was the difference between thought and action" (248).

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.

January 14, 2018

This is the fourth and last book in William Ritter's Jackaby series, and I do believe that it is the best. Jackaby and Abigail are battling the magical creatures who want to rule the human world, and they are up against the Dire King--the most formidable opponent they have faced. Jackaby's sight is needed to separate the two worlds, but he needs the help of Abigail, Jenny, Charlie, Mayor Spade, and others to mend the veil between the two worlds. With humor, suspense, a nod to the challenges of being different in America in the 21st century, and magic to spare, this is a fitting conclusion for the eccentric detective and his competent assistant.

1st Favorite Line: 'Real love is when you let another person make you better. You don't lose yourself in love--you find yourself there' (340-341).

2nd Favorite Line: 'It is for the sake of our humanity that I stand against you' (54).

Genre: Supernatural

Status: Available in print and online @ https://www.mackinvia.com/.

January 13, 2018

In this fifth and final book in the Mike & Riel series, Mike just cannot find peace; his best friend has been murdered. Mike was supposed to offer Sal moral support for his driving test, but Mike left his girlfriend's book at home, so instead of going with Sal, he went home. By the time Mike makes it back to school, Sal has been murdered in an alley. Who did it, and why?

Favorite Line: "But just because you know something probably hasn't happened yet, that doesn't stop you from wishing that it had" (214).

Genre: Mystery

Status: Available in print and online @ https://www.mackinvia.com/.

January 10, 2018

Henri Montague has just been expelled from Eton, but his father has the grand idea to send Henri on the Grand Tour so that Henri has a chance to live wildly before it is time to settle and learn how to run the family estate. Accompanied by his bear-leader, best friend, and sister, Henri knows the rules to which he is to adhere, but he still manages to find himself at the center of embarrassing scandals. This spoiled protagonist learns much about his family, his friend, and himself. A truly delightful read full of humor.

Favorite Line: "I understand less than half the words in that sentence, but God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends" (257).

Genre: Historical Fiction

Status: Available in print.

January 08, 2018

This is the first in a series, and it is not for the faint of heart. Cassie is a Natural who understands serial killers. Cassie's ability was, ironically, refined by her mother--the victim of a homicide. And, it is her mother's murder that spurs Cassie to catch a killer who is fixated with her and her mother. With the help of other Naturals, Cassie is able to crack a case, but will she be the victor or the victim when the case closes?

Favorite Line: 'Anything happens to her . . . this family---we know how to dispose of a body' (44).

Genre: Mystery

Status: Available in print.

January 07, 2018

Ryan is about love. She loves her dad. She loves the Chicago Cubs. She loves the last day of school. When her dad dies, her connection to him is severed. Ryan pulls away from her mom and sister, and she pulls away from her friends. On the first day of Opening Season, Ryan skips school and encounters Nick. Like Ryan and the Cubs, Nick is hoping that this season is his comeback season. Should he and Ryan and the Cubs hope that this season is better than the last one?

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Status: Available in print.