Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon

Summary: Jake Taylor, U.S. Marshal, is assigned to protect federal judge Liz Michaels, who just happens to be the widow of his college best friends. Liz's sister was murdered at Liz's house, and the police believe Liz may have been the target. Jake dreads protecting Liz based on his friend's description of her cold ruthlessness and focus on her career above all else. Liz surprises Jake by being warm and caring, the total opposite of what he expected.
As he guards Liz, he realizes his friend's personal demons and struggle with alcohol may have been to blame for the failing marriage and his death, not Liz. Jake must decide if protecting his heart is as important as protecting Liz.
My thought: Irene Hannon is quickly becoming one of my favorite Christian authors. This book is a great combination of suspense with the murder investigation and romance with the feelings between Jake and Liz. the murder details aren't too graphic, and the romance isn't too mushy. The element of faith is not preachy, and overall, it's a great book.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Summary: Lara Lington is a twenty-something young woman living in London, struggling to build a new business, and pining over her ex-boyfriend. When she goes to her great-aunt Sadie's funeral, she is surprised when her great-aunt appears to her even though she only met the lady a few times, convincing her to find her lost necklace. Although Lara tries to brush it off, Sadie continues to "haunt" her until she uncovers the past and in the process finding her own way in life.

My thoughts: This book is a funny read. Sadie's hilarious. She appears to Lara and immediately causes chaos, demanding that Lara find her lost necklace, and in the process making Lara appear mentally insane. As Lara delves into her family's past to find the missing necklace, she finds out more about the great-aunt she never knew and realizes that underneath people's age is still the same young person that wants to live and to enjoy life. Sadie makes Lara dress up in crazy 1920 outfits, ask out a random man, and confront her millionaire uncle. Through all these charades, Sadie teaches Lara the power of love and being loved back.

Monday, December 27, 2010

You had me at Goodbye by Tracey Bateman

Summary: Dancy Ames loves books. She is an editor for a publishing company is even working on her own novel. When Jack Quinn, her brother's best friend, sweeps in and takes her job, Dancy is at a loss for what exactly to do next. Should she work on her book, keep working for free at the little coffee shop, or just mooch off of her rich parents who are reuniting? Add a long lost half brother and a brother who is getting her dream condo, and Dancy's life is pretty much in turmoil. Will she surrender to the plans God has for her or keep fighting for what she thinks she wants?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this book. I love stories about people who fall in love with someone they've known all their lives. In addition to the love story, the storyline of Dancy's relationship with Nick, who fills the role of father since Dancy's dad is self-absorbed, is a strong one. Brandon, Dancy's long lost brother, is a nice supporting character.

Find the book on Amazon: You had Me at Goodbye

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reality Check by Jen Calonita

Summary: Charlie (short for Charlotte) and her three friends become the stars of a new reality teen TV show featuring their lives in a small town. When the cameras start rolling, the girls' friendship is tested as they find out that reality TV is more like "scripted" TV. Relationships are strained, and friendships are broken as the girls juggle their TV persona with their true feelings. Is the luxury of fame worth the price of your self-worth?

My thoughts: I'm a huge Jen Calonita fan. I like how she balances Hollywood life with normal girls. Many teens idolize the reality stars they see on TV, and this book gives a fictional inside look at how things on "reality" TV aren't always what they see.

The book also delves into the dilemma of how much of yourself do you have to give up to be famous. The end of the book has a powerful message as Charlie and her friends have to decide if the price of fame is too high.

Reality Check on Amazon Check out the book on Amazon!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers

I loved this book! Francine Rivers is always impressive, and I loved how she dealt with both the relationship between Marta and her father and then Marta and her own daughter. Growing up with an abusive father determined to keep Marta in her "place", Marta flees and works hard to create a life for herself. Set in the early 1900s, Marta must overcome obstacles for women in general in addition to the shackles that bind her to her family.
When she falls in love and has her own daughter, Marta becomes much like her father: hard and unrelentingly demanding on her daughter, who is meek and mild. While Marta fears her daughter will be limited in life because of her shyness, Hildemara must learn to be her own woman just like her mother did years before.
One of the most powerful bonds in life is the one between a mother and a daughter. It can either be one of the most beloved relationships or one of the most toxic, and this novel is a beautiful portrayal of that relationship from both sides.
I can't wait to read the second book in the series.

Find this book on Amazon: Her Mother's Hope on

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Writing a Book

When I taught language arts, I loved writing stories with my students. I had my students each "publish" a book through StudenTales Publishing, and I used to love writing the stories and having my friend Jessica illustrate them for me. Now that I'm out of the classroom and in the library, I've missed writing. So, around Thanksgiving, I started writing a book. I've written about 15,000 words so far, and I'm enjoying it.
Even if it never gets published, it's fun to write. We'll see what happens. :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Perfectly Dateless by Kristin Billerbeck

In Kristin Billerbeck's first YA book, she shares the story of Daisy, a sheltered teen, who just wants a prom date. I was very excited about this book since I have been a fan of Kristin's for several years and since YA books are my favorite (teaching middle school does that to you). I was slightly disappointed. The plot line of a sheltered young girl wanting to fit in is a great start, but the book didn't have much spark. It took me a few weeks to finish because I just wasn't that interested in the characters or what would happen to them.
The qualities that make Kristin such a great writer (unique voice and colorful characters) aren't in this book. Daisy isn't well-developed, and the high school private school is unrealistic (at least compared to my private high school experience).
Another reason Kristin is one of my favorite authors is that she doesn't "preach" in her books, but this book felt like there was an agenda, which is annoying, especially to teens.
Overall, the book is pretty good. Writing adult chick lit is different from writing YA books, and I think Kristin's second YA book will be much better!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Double Shot by Erynn Mangum

Double Shot starts where Latte Daze ends: Maya and Jack are engaged and now planning a life together. Maya must plan a wedding (planning not being her strong point) in just a few short months while figuring out what God has planned for her and Jack. A possible move away from her family and friends along with complications with Kate’s pregnancy (I won't spoil what happens) teach Maya to trust God even when His ways don’t make sense on her sticky notes.

One of the best things about this series is the relationships between characters. Maya’s family and friends are some of the best supporting characters I’ve read in a while, and this book left me wondering what will happen with Ethan, Andrew, and Jen. I hope these characters will pop up in later books. Erynn captures these relationships through her dialogue; the banter between characters feels authentic and makes the characters come alive.

Erynn Mangum ended the Maya Davis series with a burst of caffeine. This final book was the best in the series with Jack and Maya finally tying the knot. Erynn also accomplished what she does so well: writing a book that teaches a spiritual truth while still entertaining a reader with well-developed characters who are unique and funny.

**This book was given to me by NavPress for reviewing. (Thanks so much!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth

In Hurricanes in Paradise, four women meet on an island, and their worlds are forever changed when they must confront their pasts and learn to live again. Riley, a hotel manager, must deal with three high maintenance clients, each with a past of hurt much like her own. When their lives become linked, the women confront their past and learn to heal and to move on.

Denise Hildreth captures the personalities of strong yet vulnerable women perfectly. She tackles the painful situations of life gracefully. At times, there was a little too much drama: how many bad things can really happen to four women? The theme of forgiveness for the past and healing for the future was evident, but it could have been achieved with more realistic problems. (I don't want to give away the ending by being more specific!)

Overall, this is a good read. I would especially recommend it to a woman who is feeling the guilt of yesterday's mistakes!

Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury

My thoughts: This is Karen Kingsbury's best book. In this book, Karen delves into the world of autism. Instead of focusing on the debate on whether or not autism is a result of too many vaccinations (although Holden's mom believes that is the cause of Holden's withdrawal), she focuses on the family and relationship dynamics that are affected by autism.

Holden, the protagonist, is locked inside of himself. Through his thoughts, the reader gets a glimpse of the struggle between what he feels and what he can express. When he "meets" Ella, who is really his childhood friend, Holden begins to find a way to express himself: music. Their relationship develops despite educators who don't believe Holden can break out of his autism and bullies who prey on anyone who is different.

The novel also takes the reader into the strain stereotypes of autism put on families and even friendships. Ella's parents fear their daughter may "catch" the autistic traits Holden displays and therefore distance themselves from Holden's family. Holden's mother and father struggle to deal with the change in their son and drift apart from one another.

Music, the universal language, draws all of the characters together. Music often speaks for us when we can't find the words, and it is through music that Holden finds his voice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Little Phony by Lisi Harrison

Summary: In this installment of the Clique series, Claire has finally broken free from Massie's hold, forming her own group of friends and introducing a new "Clair-a" where people are free to be themselves.

My thoughts: This may be my favorite Clique book so far. I have always seen the underlining theme in the series: that girls in a clique are just like regular girls and are probably even more insecure. This book had that idea come full circle as Massie finally realizes what it's like to be on the outside looking in and what real friendship is. I'm looking forward to the last book in the series.

This series is a good read for middle school girls. It opens a dialogue about fitting in and what lengths girls will go to be popular.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Latte Daze by Erynn Mangum

Summary from back of book: Maya Davis already has many titles--Christian, barista, maid of honor (new), possible girlfriend (newer)--and her life is about to become even more complicated. Just when she thought things couldn't get any worse, her ex-boyfriend proposes to her roommate and best friend, Jen. It's not long until their apartment becomes Wedding Central. As if that weren't enough, Jen's obnoxious mom moves in to help plan the wedding, and Maya's genius brother and sister-in-law announce that they're expecting. Then to top it off, there's the whole matter of Jack---is it love? Who wouldn't need a coffee break!

My thoughts: I am a huge Erynn Mangum fan. I've loved all of her books, and this one is no exception. Her writing voice is fun, and her characters are too. Erynn is also one of the best about including a spiritual concept or truth without sounding preachy. The new character of Ethan was a good addition to the cast, and I am eager to see what happens with him in book three. I also love that this book showed a little more depth in the relationship between Maya and her mom.
While I enjoyed the book (especially the development of Jen's mom), I felt this book moved a little slowly. There are a lot of subplots that could have been developed a little more instead of focusing on food/drink/movie details quite as much. The plot developed, but it didn't move as quickly as I would have liked until the end! The last chapter of the book was the best and left me excited about the release of the third book in the series.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mistletoe Prayers by Betsy St. Amant

Summary from the back of the book: Allie James returns to her hometown in need of a holiday job. Never did she expect old boyfriend Jordan Walker to hire her as his secretary! Years ago, Jordan shredded her heart like wrapping paper. Now he must convince Allie that all he wants for Christmas is her love.

My thoughts: I tried to put my ideas together in paragraph form but couldn’t get them to gel completely. So, I’m making bullet points.

• I enjoyed the characters. (I’m a sucker for first loves reuniting.) Allie and Jordan were well-developed, and their actions were realistic…nothing over the top as is sometimes expected in romances.

• Betsy captured the heart of a small-town well. Allie and Jordan grew up smothered in the smallness of Ginger Falls, fled the town and each other to big cities, and eventually made their way back to the town, realizing that the small town they thought was holding them back was the comfort and security they needed.

• I loved the festivities in the book—cute Christmas ideas.

• I hate reading books with a helpless woman being “rescued” by the man. (It’s one reason I don’t read a lot of romance novels.) I was excited that Allie was the one who was helping Jordan revive the town. Her ideas were the ones that helped put the town back on the map.

• The downside: The story was short—only a little over a 100 pages. It would have been nice to have had a longer story to see the relationship between Allie and her mother and sister develop. (This book was two stories in one, so that explains the brevity of the story.) Typical of Love Inspired books, the couple reunites in a happily ever after fashion, but with the harsh reality of today's world, sometimes you need a happy ending.

Overall, this book is a heart-warming Christmas tale to enjoy over a cup of hot chocolate (even though it’s still hot as all get out here in Texas)!

Visit Betsy St. Amant at her blog:
Find the book on Amazon: Buy Mistletoe Prayers

Thanks, Betsy, for giving me this book to review. I enjoyed it!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dying to Meet You

Summary: A washed-up writer Mr. Grumply moves into a mansion on Cemetery Road in a last-ditch effort to salvage his writing career. Living in the house requires him to take responsibility for Seymore, a young boy who loves to draw and hang out with the ghost of the house. Will they be able to coexist, much less become friends?

My thoughts: I picked up this book because it's on the Bluebonnet list for this school year. The book is a fun read. It's told through letters from characters and the town's newspaper, which makes it a fast read. The illustrations (artwork by character Seymore) add to the overall fun feel to the book. The characters are funny and unique. The book is also a good introduction to irony and a few puns. The only downside was the the book could have used another ten or fifteen pages. The conflict is wrapped up a little too quickly. Overall, a good Bluebonnet book for the more reluctant readers. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Quick Summary: Cammie Morgan, now a junior, must tackle her biggest mission yet: discovering who is after her, what they want from her, and just who belongs to this secret group.

My thoughts: This is my favorite Gallagher Girl book so far. I like the “darker” turn to the book as Cammie delves into her family’s (particularly her father) secrets. I tried typing my thoughts several times, but I found I was giving away too many of the plot’s twists and turns.  Cammie grows as a character and as a spy through this book: she is more confident in herself and her abilities in than in previous books. She also tackles on more difficult tasks, which adds to the adventure of the book. The supporting cast is as strong as in other books, and the character of Zach and the mystery surrounding him is developed further in this fourth book.

Once again, I must praise Ally Carter for the thought she puts into her books. Events are well-planned, and while the twists are surprising, they are not unrealistic. I can’t wait to see what happens in Cammie’s senior year!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sworn to Protect

Summary: Danika has already paid a stiff price for protecting America's border: her husband's life. Determined to find his killer, Danika suits up every day to catch the criminals who now threaten her own life as she uncovers a conspiracy surrounding her husband's murder.
My Thoughts: Immigration is a tough issue, and the Border Patrol is often a hot topic for many. DiAnn Mills manages to show both sides of the fence (no pun intended…yeah, well, maybe.) DiAnn Mills humanizes the issue: the reality of the laws in America, the struggle of many illegal immigrants, and the balance we must find as human beings. The book has action and a few twists I wasn’t expecting. I look forward to the third book in this series!

Ruby Unscripted by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma

Summary: Small-town Ruby moves to a big city after the divorce of her parents. Confronted with a whole new world so different than the one in which she grew up, Ruby must find herself and her place in the world.

My Thoughts: I don’t know entirely what I think about this book. I liked the concept for the book, but I wasn’t impressed by the development of the story. Ruby moves to the big city, and she becomes friends with a gay guy. She wonders about her beliefs on homosexuality, but this storyline is never developed. Ruby continues her friendship with Frankie, but after bringing up the ideology of the church and homosexuality, I felt the issue should have been addressed. The second thing that bothered me was that Ruby’s close friend becomes sexually active. Again, the author brings up a topic but never addresses the aftermath of the topic. If this is book one of a series, this may be okay. Ruby also struggles with her own beliefs in God, trying to line up how she sees God in relation to how her family sees him.

Both of these topics are relevant to today’s teens, especially those who are Christians as Ruby is in the book. However, because the author brought up these tough topics without developing them further, it seems to be a waste of a great book that could spark dialogue between teens about faith. This book had too many loose ends for me.

I did like Cindy Coloma’s writing style, so I may check out another of her books for comparison.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover by Ally Carter

Summary: The third book in the Gallagher Girls series finds Cammie Morgan involved in a presidential campaign when her schoolmate Macey's father is running for vice president. When Cammie and Macey escape a kidnapping attempt, Cammie and the rest of the Gallagher Girls must protect Macey from those wishing to attack her. Old secrets are revealed, and the Cammie realizes Macey was not the intended target of the kidnapping...she was.

My thoughts: I bought book four in this series, and I decided to reread book three before starting book four. I LOVE this series. The book's plot moves along swiftly with several twists, turns, and surprises. Ally Carter plans her novels out carefully, and the end product reflects that thought as characters are fully developed, the plot twists aren’t contrived or expected, and the events are realistic (as realistic as having teens perform spy missions can be). There's also a little bit of age-appropriate romance involved. (I can't wait to see what happens next with Zach!)

As I've said about every Ally Carter book, I respect how she treats the young adult character. The girls are strong and intelligent. I'm tired of books that show teen girls as superficial and concerned only with materials things. Although the Gallagher Girls are fictional, they are good role models for young girls who have big dreams—work hard and work together.

I recommend this series to all teens and preteens. I let my sister borrow the series, and she's hooked too. So, it's a great series for a mom and daughter to read together.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


I just accepted an offer to become the librarian at an elementary school. I'm so excited about starting a new job, but I'm a little nervous about working with grades K-4 after teachingg 7th grade for so long.
Since I am starting a new adventure, many of my reviews will be of books for elementary aged kids since I need to get to know the good books out there for kids!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark

Summary from the back of the book:
At age 83 and in failing health, Olivia Morrow must decide--should she expose a long-held secret? Olivia has letters from her deceased cousin, Catherine, a nun being considered for beatification--the final step before sainthood. The letters are evidence that at age seventeen Catherine gave birth to a son whom she surrendered for adoption. The baby's father was Alex Gannon, who made a fortune inventing orthopedic devices. The rightful heir is Catherine's granddaughter, a 31-year-old pediatrician, Dr. Monica Farrell. Those now squandering the money must prevent Monica from learning the secret and will stop at nothing--even murder.

My thoughts:

Mary Higgins Clark is one of my all-time favorite authors. I started reading her books back in high school, and I have enjoyed them ever since. What I love about Mary Higgins Clark’s books is that it is obvious the book is well planned. The storyline flows, and the characters are woven to together perfectly. Like most books by Clark, the protagonist Monica is a strong, independent woman who is able to think and act for herself (with the help of a nice guy).

Even though the reader knows who the murderer is and who Monica Farrell really is, the ride to find out what will happen to the characters is still entertaining with a slight twist at the end. The supporting characters of Olivia, Ryan, and even Sally are balanced and support the main plotline well. The connection between the main character Monica and a saint was an interesting and thought-provoking subplot.

The one downfall of the novel is that the book seems to follow the same formula as many other books by Clark. The saint/healing subplot is what kept the book unique.

Overall, I recommend this book to readers who like mysteries without too much gore. Mary Higgins Clark is a class lady, and her books reflect that. Therefore, these books are also good for high school kids who want to read a good mystery.

Buy from Amazon: Shadow of Your Smile on Amazon

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Summary: Meena Harper has always been able to tell when someone is going to die….until she meets Lucien Antonescu. She can't see his death because he's been dead for centuries. Their whirlwind romance is cut short when a Palatine Guard comes in town with the sole purpose of tracking down vampires like Lucien. Meena becomes wrapped up in a battle between dueling vampires. Will she choose the man she loves or life?

My thoughts: Meg Cabot is one of my favorite YA authors. Her voice is unique and fun, but I felt her voice didn’t translate as well into this adult book. The dialogue didn’t seem to flow as her books normally do. The minor characters did little to develop the plot. (The best friend is a random character until the final battle of the book.) Several characters were found to be vampires by the end of the book, which didn’t seem realistic (as realistic as a vampire writing soap operas can be). I am tired of the vampire phase, so this could be the reason for my low rating since the book does have some great qualities. For one, Meena is a strong female character. She’s independent and doesn’t follow blindly after a man. Second, Meg Cabot is able to weave humor into a tale of a murderer, a vampire feud, and a boyfriend who turns into a dragon when provoked. Both of these redeeming qualities aren't enough to make me want to buy the book to reread it.

Overall, the book is an average read for an adult or high school (11th up) girl who wants more of the vampire craze.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills

Summary: Paige Rogers is a small-town librarian with a big-city secret. Her name is really Mikaela Olsson, and she is in hiding after a botched mission with the CIA. When a dangerous man from her past wants her cooperation, Mikaela’s cover unravels, and everyone she loves is in danger.

My thoughts: This is the first book I’ve read by DiAnn Mills, and I enjoyed it. It has a little bit of romance and a lot of action. The plot is well-developed, and Mills creates a sense of family with the minor characters that make up the small town. Fans of Dee Henderson will enjoy this book. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Author's website:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Summary: Jamilah is a Lebanese teen living in Autralia. To diguise her heritage from her racist classmates, Jamilah goes by the name Jamie, dyes her hair blonde, and wears blue contacts. She also keeps herself distant, developing few friendships in an effort to keep her classmates from finding out the truth of her father who has a PhD yet works as a cab driver who barely speaks English, her activist sister, and her fun-loving brother. Although Jamilah does not want to let her classmates know the truth about her, she loves her heritage and enjoys participating in a band with fellow Muslim teens from the center where she takes Arabic lessons.

When Jamilah meets a guy online who allows her to be herself, Jamiliah must decide whether to be true to herself or to fit in with the crowd.

My thoughts: I loved Randa's first book Does My Head Look Big in This, and I was eager to read this book. It wasn't as good as the first book, partly because it seemed to have the same plot: Muslim girl standing up to her classmates over her heritage. The book was predictable, but the strength of the characters made the book an overall good read. Jamilah is a character teens will like. She lives a sheltered life since her father has a Charter of Curfew Rights, which is a list of rules including one that Jamilah must be home by sunset. She longs to fit in yet still remain true to her family. The parts of the book where her father tells her stories of her mother are heartwarming. Her sister's antics and her brother's frivolousness balance each other and show the differences between males and females in Muslim culture. Overall, I enjoyed the book.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Predator by Terri Blackstock

Summary: Krista Carmichael is on a mission: to catch the man who kidnapped and killed her sister. When other young women are stalked and kidnapped in the area, the cops are led to GrapeVyne, a social network where the girls left detailed "thought bubbles" about their day. Ryan, the CEO of GrapeVyne, joins Krista on the search for the killer and online predator.

My thoughts: This book is great! In addition to the plot about Krista and Ryan finding the murderer, there are also several intriguing subplots: social networks and what information people, teenagers in particular, put out for anyone to see; the grief of a father who has lost his wife and now his daughter; Krista's mission work in a low-income area; and the corruption of GrapeVyne's partners.

The book leaves the reader wondering what exactly these ad companies have access to on our social networking pages. Remember to only add friends that you actually know, and always keep your page private!

Author's website:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Take Four by Karen Kingsbury

Take Four is the final book in the Above the Line series. Readers find Andi, in her final months of pregnancy, struggling to decide whether or not to give up her baby for adoption. Bailey and Cody have declared their love for one another, but their new relationship is tested. The Jeremiah Production company films the much-anticipated movie Unlocked, which involved Bailey and a famous actor, Brandon Paul. 

Although the book is the final book in the series, the ending leaves openings for several new stories. (Hopefully, the new series featuring Bailey will answer many of the questions readers have at the end of this book like what happens with Brandon, Cody, and Bailey.)

Take Three was a little disappointing, but this book left me satisfied. It was less preachy than the last book, and I was thrilled with how the Andi storyline finished. Brandon Paul was an interesting new character who added a spark to the familiar characters. I hope Karen will let us readers know what happens next for Andi and her family. I was frustrated with the Cody and Bailey ending since I’ve looked forward to their relationship for like ten books, but I’ll buy the new books to find out what happens to this great couple.

This is a good series for people who enjoy realistic Christian fiction with characters who make mistakes, face the consequences of their mistakes, and sometimes learn from them.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sold by Patricia McCormick

Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl in Nepal. Her family is poor, and her mother sells to her to be a maid for a rich family. Sadly, like many girls in Nepal, Lakshmi is sold as a prostitute. Sold, written in free verse poetry, tells Lakshmi's tale of horror and eventual triumph. McCormick does a wonderful job of illustrating the plight of these girls without going into graphic details.

Sold deals with a topic that many parents may not want to let their children read in middle school, but it's a book I recommend to mature middle school girls or high school girls.

This book moved me. It broke my heart to know how many girls suffer from this horrible modern day slave trade. I read it during silent reading time with my students, and I actually screamed out at the end because I desperately wanted Lakshmi to be rescued. My kids all looked up in shock at me screaming, "Tell him your name. GO!" You'll have to read the book to see if she does.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lisi Harrison's Books

On the surface level, Lisi Harrison's books appear superficial and petty. The Clique series is about a group of popular girls and the lengths they will go to stay popular. The girls focus on boys, designer brands, and getting even with girls who cross them. In the Alpha series, the girls are competing for a number one spot in a prestigious school. Some of them will stop at nothing to get to the top. While some parents and even readers may be concerned that the books focus on beauty, fashion, and doing anything to get ahead, the books actually point out that girls are the same: they all want acceptance.

I used The Clique in literature circle a few years ago, and the group of girls who read the book had some amazing discussions about fitting in, what people do to fit in, and how mean girls are to one another. These are topics middle school girls need to discuss.

I recommend these books for middle school girls. It is a great book to read and then discuss as middle school girls face some tough decisions when they try to fit in or become popular.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chick Lit

I love chick lit. I am not ashamed to say it!
Here are some YA chick lit authors I enjoy.

1. Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot has a unique writing voice; it never gets old. I have read all of her YA books except the Mediator series, and I have enjoyed them all. Her protagonists range from average girls to princesses, yet each character is someone with whom the reader can relate.
Note for parents: some of Meg's books talk about sex (NOT graphic), so that is something parents may want to know. (The Princess Diaries series is the first series by Meg that I would suggest for cautious parents.)
2. Jen Calonita

Jen Calonia's character in the Secrets of my Hollywood Life series is down-to-earth yet fun. She's a nice girl who lives a glamorous life. I like that combination because many of today's girls believe you have to be mean to get ahead or to be popular. This series shows that niceness does win in the end.

3. Melody Carlson: Christian fiction author

Melody Carlson's one of the few Christian fiction writers for teens. (Kristin Billerbeck is coming out with a YA book, and I can't wait!) The TrueColors series can seem a little preachy. In each book, a girl deals with a problem (alcohol, bad boyfriend, tough home life), and she eventually finds her way to Christ. The Carter House series is about several girls, each with her own set of unique problems, living in a boarding house. The Diary of a Teenage Girl series is written in journal form, recording the thoughts of a girl as she goes through high school.

That's all for now.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Some of my Favorite--Middle School

I love young adult literature. Posting my favorite may take a few posts!

1. Ally Carter:
Her books are about strong, independent teenage girls who have more going for them than just finding a boy to like. The Gallagher Girls series is about Cammie, who is a spy in training. The Heist series is about a girl who has been raised in a family full of art thieves. I recommend both series to middle school and high school girls. Ally's books also have the catchiest titles!

2. Jordan Sonnenblick

Jordan Sonnenblick is one of the best at capturing the thoughts and feelings of young adults. I can't tell you how many times I've had students say that he writes like they think. He tackles tough topics in a funny way, and I love his books.

3. Suzanne Collins: Hunger Game series

This series is cutting edge and full of suspense. It's a springboard for great talks about society. The third book comes out in August, and I can't wait to read it!

4. Brandilyn Collins: Christian fiction writer
Brandilyn Collins has teamed with her daughter to write a teen suspense series, which turned out to be a great series. I recommend it to the mystery lovers.

More to come....

Monday, May 3, 2010

Some of my Favorites for Intermediate Grades

Here are some books that I highly recommend. I have not read a lot of books for this age group, so I am sure that there are plenty of other excellent authors who write for this age group. If you know of any good authors, let me know!

Intermediate Grades (4-6)

*Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (This is listed as 4-8, but it is an excellent novel.)

*Ramona series by Beverly Cleary (It's old, but since there's a movie coming out, a lot of kids will want to read them.)

*Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (ages 9-12) All of Lois Lowry's books are great.

*Allie Finkle series by Meg Cabot (note that other Meg Cabot books are not appropriate for this age)

*On the Run series by Gordon Kormon

*39 Clues series by various authors

*Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

*Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper (note that most of Sharon Draper's other books are for older readers)

*Main Street Series by Ann M. Martin (who is the author of the Babysitters Club books)

*Mandie Series by Lois Gladys Leppard (Christian)

*Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket