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“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”
― B.B. King

by Julie Hooper

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Article posted July 14, 2014 at 04:35 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 274

The year is 2051 and Earth is being destroyed by global warming. The U.S. has been divided into two states, Eastern and Western, with a large wasteland in between. The government controlled states have many seeming advantages, but Faith’s family lives outside the states. They are Drifters, who resist the government. Faith has attended many different schools, because the population outside the states is getting smaller and smaller. Her best friend leaves for the Western state, and she is sad and lonely. She is attracted to a boy who is training for the World Games, but that turns out very badly indeed. Dylan is watching her and helps her learn how to control her Pulse, the ability to move objects with her mind. Is Faith the one who is destined to help Dylan save the world? This first book in the trilogy has me ready for number two!

Article posted July 14, 2014 at 04:35 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 274



Article posted July 14, 2014 at 04:17 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 18

Imagine your meddlesome but well intentioned best friend signs you up for an online dating site. You are irritated, but curious. You login and almost immediately see a profile picture of a man who you loved and lost many years ago. Would you contact him? What if you discovered this long lost love was involved in the disappearance of not one, but several women?

Detective Kat Donovan is wrestling with ghosts from her past in this fast paced novel. Her investigation also calls into question the circumstances of her detective father’s murderer. Why did her father’s partner, now her boss, visit the man accused of murdering her father just before he confessed? Coben keeps the plot twists coming in this satisfying read.

Article posted July 14, 2014 at 04:17 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 18



Article posted July 14, 2014 at 04:00 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 11

Another dystopian thriller with a strong female protagonist, Reboot , is just the book for fans of Hunger Games, Divergent and Legend. Rebooks are teens who have died due to a virus that his decimating the population and risen from the dead minus many human weaknesses. They are faster, stronger versions of themselves and their bodies have amazing abilities to heal. Reboots that remain dead longer are stronger, and Wren is the most resilient reboot, having been dead 178 minutes. When a new batch of reboots comes into her facility for training, instead of choosing a reboot with a high number, as she usually does, she chooses Callum 22. Callum, having been dead a mere 22 minutes, is practically human. Part love story, part thriller, Reboot held my interest from start to finish. I am looking forward to the sequel, Rebel, which will be told from Callum’s point of view.

Article posted July 14, 2014 at 04:00 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 11



Article posted May 28, 2014 at 04:39 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 1021

Here is an excerpt from the starred review in Kirkus of this excellent work of historical fiction: Sarah Grimké was an actual early abolitionist and feminist whose upbringing in a slaveholding Southern family made her voice particularly controversial. Kidd re-imagines Sarah's life in tandem with that of a slave in the Grimké household. In 1803, 11-year-old Sarah receives a slave as her birthday present from her wealthy Charleston parents. Called Hetty by the whites, Handful is just what her name implies--sharp tongued and spirited. Precocious Sarah is horrified at the idea of owning a slave but is given no choice by her mother, a conventional Southern woman of her time who is not evil but accepts slavery (and the dehumanizing cruelties that go along with it) as a God-given right. Soon, Sarah and Handful have established a bond built on affection and guilt. Sarah breaks the law by secretly teaching Handful to read and write. When they are caught, Handful receives a lashing, while Sarah is banned from her father's library and all the books therein, her dream of becoming a lawyer dashed. As Sarah and Handful mature, their lives take separate courses. While Handful is physically imprisoned, she maintains her independent spirit, while Sarah has difficulty living her abstract values in her actual life. Eventually, she escapes to Philadelphia and becomes a Quaker, until the Quakers prove too conservative. As Sarah's activism gives her new freedom, Handful's life only becomes harder in the Grimké household. Through her mother, Handful gets to know Denmark Vesey, who dies as a martyr after attempting to organize a slave uprising. Sarah visits less and less often, but the bond between the two women continues until it is tested one last time. Kidd's portrait of white slave-owning Southerners is all the more harrowing for showing them as morally complicated, while she gives Handful the dignity of being not simply a victim, but a strong, imperfect woman.

Article posted May 28, 2014 at 04:39 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 1021



Article posted May 13, 2014 at 03:53 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 321

I was afraid this book was going to be a Fault in Our Stars wannabe, but I was pleasantly surprised. Be warned that Richie, the narrator, is a dying teen who doesn't mind talking about his urges and who uses very raunchy language to do so. His voice is utterly appropriate for a teen in his predicament, but not everyone will appreciate his smart mouth and rebellious spirit.

If you decide to give SUTHY a chance, and you get past Halloween night and you don’t want to keep reading, it is probably not the book for you. It may not be for everyone, but I was hooked by the determination of Richie and Sylvie to LIVE, in their own way, by their own rules, while they still can.

P.S. The author wrote this as a short story in 2009 before John Green wrote Fault in Our Stars. In an interview with School Library Journal, she says,” … the real origins of this book go back much farther, to the many times that I stayed with my son in Babies Hospital … in New York City. There, I met all sort of kids—sick, wounded, all hurt in some way. The ones who have always stayed in my mind—and my dreams—are the teenagers, who were both heartbreaking and hilarious. Full of wit and spirit and rebellion, even in the face of devastating illnesses. I’ve never forgotten their voices. That’s really where Richie and Sylvie came from.”

SYTHY contains mature subject matter and coarse language, and may not be deemed appropriate by all. As always, please adhere to your family’s values when choosing reading materials.

Article posted May 13, 2014 at 03:53 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 321



Article posted April 29, 2014 at 04:22 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 451





Fourteen year old Carey has lived with her mother in the middle of a national forest almost as long as she can remember. She has vague memories of the father her mother told her beat them, the man her mother claims she rescued her from. And yet, Carey and her beloved younger sister Jenessa have been alone in the camper in the woods for weeks with no heat or electricity and their meager food supplies are quickly dwindling. Soon a man shows up with a social worker, and Carey’s life is turned upside down. She can survive on almost nothing in the woods, but can she survive a “normal” family life and high school? What has become of Carey’s mother? Who is Jenessa’s father? Was Carey’s father really abusive? What happened on the “white-star night”? This tale of survival, family ties and dysfunction is a quick yet compelling read I would recommend to reluctant and avid readers alike.

Article posted April 29, 2014 at 04:22 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 451



Article posted April 22, 2014 at 08:46 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 208

I have been trying to come up with a good synopsis for The Goldfinch, the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize, which I loved, but I am having trouble with my words. So I am borrowing from others. In her review, “Donna Tartt’s ‘the Goldfinch” is So Much More than ‘Harry Potter’ for Adults”, Emily Temple captures the allure of the book:

“Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is a myth exploded. It’s a fairy tale for grown-ups, an outsized caper, a tragic love story, an improbable crime novel, a bromance, a coming-of-age tale, a dissection of family life post-divorce and post-death, an exercise in life-as-ekphrasis. Despite its wide range — nearly 800 pages — bustling cast of characters, and multiple coincidences (Dickens will come up in nearly every review of this book, and Tartt is a devoted fan), this is a novel that will enchant you into believing before you blink an eye.”

OK, I will admit it, I had to look ekphrasis up; it is a rhetorical device meaning a literary description of a visual work of art. The Goldfinch is quite the page turner; however, it is definitely a LITERARY page turner. Enjoy! This title contains mature themes and subject matter.

Article posted April 22, 2014 at 08:46 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 208



Article posted February 3, 2014 at 08:00 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 460



This epic ranks as one of the best fantasies I have read in years! Thankfully the sequel has already been published, because I could not get enough of Kvothe’s story. I actually had trouble deciding whether to reread The Name of the Wind or start on The Wise Man’s Fear. A student wanted the first book, so I am now deep into the second, looking for answers raised in The Name of the Wind . In addition to all my questions about Kvothe and the mysterious Deena, the characters of Bast and Auria in particular have me wondering.

I love what Bast is saying in this conversation, but is he really who he pretends to be? Is he simply Kvothe’s student or something more sinister?

”…. We all become what we pretend to be." Chronicler relaxed a bit, sensing familiar ground. "That's basic psychology. You dress a beggar in fine clothes, people treat him like a noble, and he lives up to their expectations."

"That's only the smallest piece of it," Bast said. "The truth is deeper than that. It's..." Bast floundered for a moment. "It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story."

Frowning, Chronicler opened his mouth, but Bast held up a hand to stop him. "No, listen. I've got it now. You meet a girl: shy, unassuming. If you tell her she's beautiful, she'll think you're sweet, but she won't believe you. She knows that beauty lies in your beholding." Bast gave a grudging shrug. "And sometimes that's enough." His eyes brightened. "But there's a better way. You show her she is beautiful. You make mirrors of your eyes, prayers of your hands against her body. It is hard, very hard, but when she truly believes you..." Bast gestured excitedly. "Suddenly the story she tells herself in her own head changes. She transforms. She isn't seen as beautiful. She is beautiful, seen."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Chronicler snapped. "You're just spouting nonsense now."

"I'm spouting too much sense for you to understand," Bast said testily. "But you're close enough to see my point.”

Auria at first seems a pathetic figure, living in the tunnels below the University. As her relationship with Kvothe develops, though, she teaches him and becomes almost maternal in her dealings with him. What is really going on with Auria? How did she come to live under the University? Why is she so afraid of interactions with others? What role will she play in the rest of Kvothe’s story?

Article posted February 3, 2014 at 08:00 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 460



Article posted January 21, 2014 at 07:03 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 150





Sixteen year old Sophie became the adult in her household five years ago when her mother’s mental illness made impossible for her to function. Sophie makes sure her mom takes her meds, the rent is paid and dinner is on the table, all while going to school full time. Her life changes the day she comes home from school and finds her mother has tried to kill herself.



Sophie’s mother is hospitalized, and she goes to live with her aunt’s family. She feels she has failed her mother, and she feels alienated from her cousin, who used to be one of her best friends. Sophie also feels guilt about her mother’s suicide attempt; could she have prevented it? But worst of all as Sophie begins to slip back into a normal teen life, she feels guilty to be glad not have to care for her mother.

Article posted January 21, 2014 at 07:03 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 150



Article posted December 12, 2013 at 02:29 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 83





I loved, loved, loved this book! Here are exerpts from John Green's, review in the New York Times March 8, 2013 (hey there's a reason he makes the big bucks to write):



…I have never seen anything quite like Eleanor and Park . Rainbow Rowell’s first novel for young adults is a beautiful, haunting love story….

There’s bullying, sibling rivalry, salvation through music and comics, a monstrous stepparent — and I know, we’ve seen all this stuff. But you’ve never seen Eleanor and Park. Its observational precision and richness make for very special reading.

Eleanor is a "big girl" with bright red hair (kids on the bus call her Big Red, and she describes herself as resembling a barmaid) who has just returned to her home in Omaha, after being kicked out for a year and forced to stay with acquaintances. Every moment Eleanor is home is terrifying and claustrophobic — she shares a room with a mess of siblings and lives in constant fear of offending her abusive alcoholic stepfather, Richie. She’s also poor — she cannot afford a toothbrush or batteries for her Walkman.

Park is a half-Korean kid who’s passably popular but separated from the larger social order of his school both by his race and by his passion for comic books and good music. On the first day of school, Eleanor sits down next to him on the bus. Over time, she begins reading his comics over his shoulder. Then he lends them to her. They bond over music. Eventually, they begin holding hands on the rides to and from school.

The hand-holding, by the way, is intense. "Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat." Evocative sensual descriptions are everywhere in this novel, but they always feel true to the characters. Eleanor describes Park’s trench coat as smelling "like Irish Spring and a little bit like potpourri and like something she couldn't describe any other way than boy." Every romance has its obstacle: I have another boyfriend; my parents say we can’t; you’re a vampire and I’m not; etc. But the obstacle in Eleanor and Park is simply the world. The world cannot stomach a relationship between a good-looking Korean kid and Big Red. The world cannot allow Eleanor a boyfriend of any kind, because she’s poor and fat and dresses funny. The world cannot allow Park a girlfriend because he likes wearing eyeliner, and everyone knows that’s gay. The world is the obstacle, as it always is when you’re 16 and truly in love. Park’s parents — two of the best-drawn adults I can remember in a young adult novel — serve as evidence that sometimes love conquers the world, and Eleanor’s family is a reminder that sometimes it doesn't. As for Eleanor and Park . . . well, I won’t spoil it.

Article posted December 12, 2013 at 02:29 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 83



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