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The Frenzy

The Frenzy - Francesca Lia Block

A life changing and frightening event happened to Liv when she turned thirteen. All she really remembers is the rage that overcame her when her mother arrived from a hunting trip with wolf as her prize. Afraid of her reaction she rarely allows herself to feel anything except for when she is around her boyfriend Corey and in the woods where she feels safe and at home. It is in these woods that Liv experiences a series of unusual events that begin to change her life as she soon discovers that she has been cursed and her reaction was just an inevitable side effect of becoming a werewolf.  Now Live must come to terms with her new identity and learn to accept her new reality. The book is an enjoyable quick read and will hit the spot for teen readers who enjoy reading about ghosts, werewolves and other supernatural events.   


Block, F. (2010). The frenzy. New York: HarperTeen.


Behemoth - Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson

Behemoth continues the plot where Leviathan left off. In a alternate World War I, where the Clankers use machinery and Darwinists use genetically manipulated animals as their favored weapon.  This second book is packed with even more action and adventure that its predecessor, but with a much linear plot. Alek and his crew have been taken in by the Leviathan and after an attack in which Alek is injured he decides to escape. Alek will try to stop the Ottoman Empire from entering the war. Deryn runs in to trouble herself and her feelings for Alek begging to grow.  If you read Leviathan, continuing the series with Behemoth (book 2) and Goliath (book 3) would be a great choice. Westerfeld out does himself once again creating well rounded characters and vivid descriptions in this Steampunk novel. 


Westerfeld, S. (2010).Behemoth. New York: Simon Pulse.

The Quick Fix

The Quick Fix - Jack D. Ferraiolo

The Quick Fix is a realistic fiction book and a sequel to The Big Splash.  Set mostly in “The Frank” (Franklin Middle School), Matt Stevens (private-eye) is hired by four interested parties (the school bully, the candy dealers, and two cheerleaders) to solve the mystery of a wooden decorative trinket. But who is the rightful owner, and why would they want to pay top dollar for its safe return?  What he is about to uncover will change his life! The book’s plot twists and turns will leave you wanting to decipher the mystery behind the contents of the wooden box. 

I found this book quite humorous and interesting quick read. You will enjoy reading this book because of its complex plot and variety of characters, including a male lead.

Close to Famous

Close to Famous - Joan Bauer

One of the issues covered in this book that spoke to me the most was how Foster dealt with her dyslexia.  As a middle school teacher I have some experience working with dyslectic students.  Most have been identified, provided services at the elementary level, and have learned to cope with this disorder.  However some children go undiagnosed, they become “problem” students, and are even bullied by their peers.  Even though teachers are given modifications, many teachers lack addition training and information in this area.  Foster remained me of a student I had who I noticed struggled tremendously in class because he was undiagnosed.  Being able to experience Foster’s frustration with her learning disability is going to help me better understand some of my students’ frustration.  Another interesting point covered by the book was Foster’s dream of becoming a profession TV baker.  I think it is important for children to set goals and have interests.  Her passion for baking was her escape, and how she coped with her grieve and adversities.  It even help relieve tension when Duke, the escaped convict, held everyone hostage in the house.  Foster always saw the brighter side of life when she baked; which helped turn around the lives of some of Culpepper’s citizens.  

Heart and soul: the story of America and African Americans

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans - Kadir Nelson

Heart and Soul is an informational book that accurately retells the painful story of African Americans in the United States through a female narrator.  The conversational voice used creates interest in young readers while not watering down the context.  My favorite aspect of this book is that it does not focus on one particular event, but gives an overview of the history of African Americans and America. African Americans who have become influential role models and helped pave the way for many triumphs, including electing the first African American president.  Through the narrator’s voice readers are made aware of the struggles, pain, suffering, and injustices that African Americans (her family) endured over the course of a few centuries.  It is important to remember the pain and shame-filled past of our country. This is history has shaped our country and the ideals we treasure some much. The narrator’s accounts are accented by the breath taking life-like illustrations.  The oil paintings which depict various known and unknown heroes are inspiring.  The colors are so vibrant and eye catching, specially the rich blue sky.  A dominant color (aside from browns) is blue; which signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice a theme found throughout this book.  The facial expressions show the pain, strength, and courage of the people it portraits. The book stays true to its informational nature by including additional information such as an author's note, timeline, bibliography, and an index in the back matter.

Annie on My Mind

Annie on My Mind - Nancy Garden

First published in 1982, Annie on my mind caused much controversy for its romantic themes between two teenage girls. Today it still stirs up controversy among readers and those who would like to see the book banned from libraries. Annie and Liza met on a rainy day at the Metropolitan Art Museum. They quickly became inseparable and soon their friendship blossomed into romantic affair.  However, after being discovered in a precarious situation, Liza's college admission might be jeopardized. Liza tells their story as she decides to attempt to respond to numerous letters sent by Annie. Liza finally comes to terms with her sexual identity and reconsiders her relationship with Annie. Readers may also enjoy Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe.


Garden, N. (1982). Annie on my mind. NY: FSG.


The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda - Tom Angleberger

When sixth grader Dwight makes an Origami Yoda, kids in school begin to seek Dwight and Yoda for advice to help them solve their problems. But Tommy is unsure if he should take his advise and decides to write a case file to evaluate Yoda's credibility. This book has been extremely popular with younger readers because of its unique format and Star Wars references.  Reluctant readers will instantly be attracted with this fun book full of illustrations and instructions to make their own Origami Yoda. I decided to read this book because my eleven year old son has been obsessed with Tom Angleberger's books for quite some time and along with  Diary of a Wimpy Kid  it has been among his favorite series. This is the first book in the highly successful Origami series. 


Angleberger, T., & Rosenstock, J. (2010).The strange case of Origami Yoda. New York: Amulet Books.

Adventure Time: Volume 3

Adventure Time Vol. 3 - Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, Braden Lamb

Cartoon Network's number one show can now be enjoyed by fans as a comic/graphic novel. Follow Finn, Jake, and Princess Bubblegum in their adventures  through The Land of Ooo. The full color illustrations and story line are exactly alike to the cartoon enjoyed by fans of all ages. Finn's quirkiness is captured perfectly and the reader is able to use their imagination as they page through this book.  Readers will enjoy the "Choose Your Own Adventure" section and will go back to see the different scenarios. I purchased this book for my son and he has been asking for more Adventure Time comics. This is a great resource to offer to students who are reluctant readers or just plain love the show. Graphic novels are very popular among upper elementary and middle school readers, and one of the most sought after sections in our school library.  


North, R., & Paroline, S. (2013). Adventure time: Volume 3. Los Angeles: KaBoom.

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein

The central conflict of the story revolves around the capture of Julie, a British spy, after the plane she was being transported to carry out a secret mission crash landed in German-occupied France during WWII. Julie begins her written confession with the revelation that she is a coward. She realizes that the confession is just buying her more days to live, and will be executed for her crime. Julie narrates her intricate story in third and first person point of view, and concentrates on her friendship with Mattie, the female pilot that flew her into France. Julie barters supplying information to her captors in exchange for her clothes and to avoid more torture from the Gestapo. However, as the narration progresses we learn that Julie is a strong-willed and clever young woman. Because Julie is a spy she is also an unreliable narrator; it’s almost difficult to believe that she is in fact collaborating with the Gestapo. In fact, Julie’s written confession is an encrypted message, but the reader remains unaware of her subtle clues until Mattie takes over as narrator. Mattie confirms that Julie has been working from the inside, trying to buy more time to find weaknesses within the German stronghold. The resolution is heart-breaking, but true to the events of the time period. Throughout this historical fiction novel, Wein provides well researched facts of the atrocities executed by the Nazi regime during WWII. Code Name Verity is a story of two brave friends that were united and separated by the war.


Wein, Elizabeth. (2012). Code name Verity. NY: Egmont.


Feed - M.T. Anderson

Feed is set in "future" earth which has been ecologically devastated and corporations rule. In this dystopian novel most of the citizens have been implanted with a chip that connects their brain to the feednet, an advanced form of internet. Through this people are able to communicate with each other, and corporations gather information on peoples' feed habits for marketing purposes. Titus and his friends meet a girl named Violet on their Spring Break vacation to the Moon. Titus and Violet begin a begin a romantic relationship, but something goes wrong with Violet's feed and her condition begins to deteriorate. Titus realizes that feed users are doomed without the feed. Anderson leaves us with a question on the table, are consumerism and technology ruining our lives?  


Anderson, M. (2002).Feed. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Please Ignore Vera Dietz - A. S. King

Vera is a high school senior who works part-time as a pizza delivery technician trying to save as much money for college as possible. She enjoys her Vocab class the most and makes good use of the SAT words she learns. But Vera has recently lost her ex-best friend and love interest Charlie, and the only way she knows how to cope is through alcohol.  The story is told mostly through Vera's voice, but it also alternates between Charlie, the Pagoda, and Vera's father. When Vera's father learns of her alcohol problem he decides to seek professional help, which helps them mend their dysfunctional relationship. The resolution of the story is quite unexpected as we learn of the events that lead to Charlie's death. Vera decides that she will no longer be a bystander and as she decides to clear Charlie's name.  


King, A. (2010). Please ignore Vera Dietz. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Uglies: Shay's Story

Uglies: Shay's Story - Scott Westerfeld, Devin Grayson, Steven Cummings

Uglies: Shay's Story is a prequel for Uglies, it tells the readers of how Shay was turned into one of the Pretties. This graphic novel sets a good foundation for both fans of the Pretties series and new readers. At first it was difficult for me to adapt to the story-telling because I am not too familiar with reading graphic novels, but I soon got immersed in the story and did not mind the format at all. In fact much of the story came from the illustrations, which truly help bring the story to life.  This book will appeal to many reluctant readers who prefer comic books or magma/graphic novels. I took the copy with me into my classroom and it has been a hit during SSR.  


Westerfeld, S., & Grayson, D. (2012).Uglies: Shay's story. New York: Del Rey.

Period 8

Period 8 - Chris Crutcher

Mr. Logs's Period 8 class is a safe zone for students like Paulie, who has just confessed to Hannah that he cheated, to talk in a safe environment. However the attendees of Period 8 are unaware that one of their own is holding a big secret. When one of their classmates, Mary, disappears Paulie and his classmates begin to wonder if her strict father might have anything to do with her disappearance. But many things don't seem to be making much sense to Paulie, except for his time training long distance swimming with his coach Logs. One night swimming out on the lake Paulie begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together as he tries to figure out who is behind Mary's strange actions and disappearance. This novel is packed with action, suspense, and a well rounded stand-up guy as a main character. It is a book true to Crutcher's writing style, perfect for reluctant readers and boys who like reading books with male athlete leads. 


Crutcher, C. (2013). Period 8. New York: Greenwillow Books

Going Bovine

Going Bovine - Libba Bray

Cam is an apathetic high school student whose best interest in school is getting high. When he begins to experience hallucinations and physical reactions, he attributes it to his pot smoking. However early on in the novel Cam is diagnosed with a form of "mad cow" disease and his time is running short. Soon he begins to interact with a pink punk angel named Dulcie, who sends him on a quest along with Gonzo, one of Cam's friends and hospital room mate. As the plot unfolds the reader begins to notice how unreliable Cam is as a narrator, and can see how the disease is progressing. Needless to say many of the out of this world events that Cam narrates are humorous and sometimes sexual in nature. After all disease or not Cam is still a teenager. 


Bray, L. (2009). Going bovine. New York: Delacorte Press.

Why We Broke Up

Why We Broke Up - Daniel Handler, Maira Kalman

Why we broke up is a letter written by Min to her ex-boyfriend Ed as she is on her way to drop of a box that contains all the items that are associated with their relationship. Ed is one of the school jocks, and Min is an unpopular girl obsessed with classic films.  Min pours her heart out as she writes this letter. The run-on sentences and repetition agrees with Min's state of mind after her heartbreak. I would recommend this books to readers 15 and above. 


Handler, D. (2011). Why We Broke Up. New York: Little, Brown.



Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson

In Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld introduces us to an alternative version of Europe during World War I. At first it is complicated to understand the jargon used in the book, but after the reader becomes familiar with terms like Clankers and Darwinists it becomes much easier to follow the plot of the story.  The plot is alternated between the two main characters, whose path eventually meet. Alek is unaware of the reasons in which he is  forced to flee his kingdom. It is later that his caretakers reveal to him that his parents have been killed and his life is in danger. Meanwhile Deryn, a young Darwinist girl, has disguised herself as a boy in order to join the military effort. But it is when Deryn and Alek meet that the story takes off. The book is full of action and rich in vocabulary, it would be excellent for readers who enjoy fantasy, war, or books in a series. Leviathan is the first book in the series and is  classified in the Steampunk genre.  


Westerfeld, S. (2009). Leviathan. NY: Simon Pulse.