Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Will’s life falls apart as his brother is shot in the street but Will knows the rules.  No crying, no snitching, and you better get revenge.

As Will hears his mother crying for his lost brother, he picks up the gun is brother had and sets out to take care of business, killing the guy who killed his brother.

The trip down the elevator proves to be a long one as we meet many different characters who all give Will something to think about.

First of all, thank you, once again, Jason Reynolds for being awesome and knowing what kids need.  I love this book for being real.  I love this book for being a novel in verse that is a quick read, especially for those who don’t want to be reading.  I love that you make us think.

Thank you, as always, for helping me understand a world I don’t know and making me a better person.  I wish I had multiple copies to pass them all out to kids who need this book.



The Glittering Court



The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

This book reminded me of The Selection, which I loved.

This is one of of those books that seems to be a fantasy set in historical times.  Lady Whitmore’s future is looking pretty dismal as she must marry to save her family’s legacy as their money is running out.  She decides to make her own destiny by impersonating her lady in waiting, Adelaide and taking a trip to the Glittering Court.  The Glittering Court is an opportunity for girls born in the common life to learn the ways of the upper class.  They are then whisked away to the new world where women are in need.  They are guaranteed to be matched with wonderful men in the New World who will give them a  life of luxury that they have never experienced in their former lives.

The “new” Adelaide fits into her new life easily as she “learns” how to be a classy lady.  What she doesn’t see coming is her attraction to Cedric Thorn, one of the associates responsible for bringing the Glittering Court to the New World.

I feel like this book is hard to explain but you get swept up in this fantasy world rather quickly.  You want to root for Adelaide and the other girls as they start their journey toward the New World.  This book is hard to put down.  When the girls arrive in the New World, the story is just beginning.  I read this book on my Kindle and I would be shocked that I still had so much to read when so much had already happened.

Definitely pick this book up.  You won’t be disappointed.  I’m only disappointed that I have to wait to get the second book to the series!

Top 10 Books of 2017

Once again, it is the end of the year and time to reflect on the best books I read this year.  I didn’t get as many reviews blogged as I wanted to and I hope to remedy that in the new year so some of the books I list might still have reviews coming.

This year I was able to read a lot of books that changed me as a person and for that I am grateful.

In no particular order, here are my favorite books I read in 2017


Here are some titles I’m looking forward to reading during 2018:


I love book recommendations.  What were you favorite books that you read in 2017?  What are you looking forward to reading?

One of Us is Lying



One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

The Breakfast Club meets your favorite murder mystery is the best way to describe this book.

Four students end up in detention, wrongly accused, possibly framed.  While they are sitting in detention, another student in detention has a deadly allergic reaction.  When they try to find an Epipen, they have all been removed from the school.  There is no way to help and their classmate dies.

Forensic results come back that peanut oil was in the water the student drank seconds before he died.  Someone must have planted it there.  Everyone knew he was allergic to nuts.  But who?

In this alternate narrative book, you hear from all four of the students who were in detention that day.  They are all telling their experiences in the aftermath of this horrible accident.  As the reader, you aren’t sure who to believe or who to root for.  I changed my mind about who did it about six times while reading this book.

This book was hard to put down because I just had to find out who was lying.  This is set to be a television show and I’ll definitely be tuning in!  Get the details about that here!


El Deafo

20701984El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo is maybe the first graphic novel I’ve ever read from beginning to end.  That seems weird to say because I know a lot of students who read them, but I’ve never been drawn to them.

I read El Deafo because I had the chance to meet Cece Bell at a recent conference and after hearing her speak, I was interested to read the story.

BREAKING NEWS:  First of all, I didn’t realize that Cece Bell was married to Tom Angleberger of Origami Yoda fame.  I don’t know why that was so exciting to me, but it was!

El Deafo  is a somewhat autobiographical story of Cece, growing up deaf.  I found it interesting that Cece said she struggled with writing this book because she didn’t want to be known as the “deaf” author.

It is a sweet story of a girl coming to terms with what life has dealt her.  She doesn’t always handle it in the easiest manner, but who does?

I can’t say that graphic novels are my favorite or that I would pick one up without a specific reason for reading it, but I am glad that I read it.

BREAKING NEWS:  I also found it interesting that Cece said that the graphic novel authors don’t have any say on the colors in their books.  That’s as fascinating as authors not having say in the covers of their books.

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas35527721

So I have re-evaluated my “to-read” list.  In the past, I have tried to read the books in the order that I added them to list but my list is so long that always meant I was reading books everyone was talking about, long after everyone was done talking about them.  I’ve decided to not be a prisoner to my “to-read” list.  There’s no chance I’ll ever catch up in this lifetime!

So from now on, I’m going to read what I feel like reading, no matter where it lands on my list.  That is what brought me to read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  Every time I turn around someone else is saying what a great read it is!

Starr lives two lives.  She lives her life at home, in her neighborhood, the “ghetto”, and she attends school at a predominantly white private school.  When she is at school, her voice changes, she is aware of her reactions and doesn’t want to come off as the “black girl with attitude”.  No matter what she does at school, it is considered cool because people at school expect her to know what “cool” is.  In her neighborhood, she is just Mav’s daugher who works at the store.  She doesn’t know how to pull her two worlds together.

The book opens with Starr going to a party that ends suddenly with gunshots.  As Starr leave the party, she runs into her childhood friend, Khalil.  He offers to give her a ride home.  On the ride home, Khalil is pulled over because of a taillight out and everything goes wrong.  Starr has always been told how to act in front of the police and she hopes Khalil got that talk too.  Horrifically, Khalil is shot by the police officer right in front of Starr, even though Khalil wasn’t doing anything wrong.

This is the story of how Starr survives after this horrific incident.  She already had her childhood best friend die in her arms after a drive-by shooting so Starr is no stranger to tragedy but it is all so wrong.

Khalil’s death becomes a national headline and Starr struggles to keep her life at school and home together throughout everything going on.  She battles through her emotions of the possibility of the cop who shot her friend not even being punished.

This book…I couldn’t put it down.  Even though Starr’s life and my life could not be any more different, I just wanted to reach through the book and hug her.  This book is why it’s important to get all types of books into all types of kids hands.  Starr made me think about the Black Lives Matters movement in a different perspective than I could have on my own.  She made me see all sides to stories that I only see in headlines.  She brought Starr and her entire lovable family right into my little white, rural home.

Angie Thomas does such a great job of bringing all the characters in this story to life.  They are all so complex, no matter how big a role they played in the book.

I loved the line, “You can say racist things and not be a racist.”  I’m not a racist but I’m sure I have said very inconsiderate things without even realizing it.  After reading this book, I am much more aware of the world around me and my part of being a responsible, compassionate person.

I am a better person for having read this story.

AND it’s being made into a movie.  I can’t wait to go see it!

Never Never

never neverNever Never by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

In alternating chapters, Silas and Charlie tell us about how they both instantly have lost their memory in the middle of a normal school day.  I mean I guess it was a normal day, they don’t really remember.

This is a quick read where Silas and Charlie try to figure out who they are and what their relationship is all about without letting the people around them know there is anything wrong.

I’ve read several of Colleen Hoover’s other books and so I decided to give this one a try.  Here’s one of my book pet peeves…it drives me crazy when young characters get themselves in sticky situations and they go out of their way to not tell the authority figures in their life.  Are there really kids walking around every day with huge secrets that they just aren’t telling the grown ups?  I’m sure some but I’ve read several stories that seem to take this to the extreme.  If you don’t know who you are, why would you know not to tell someone and wouldn’t the people closest to you notice something was extremely wrong?

This was a quick read that I had to get to the end of.  Unfortunately, the ending leaves you hanging for the next book.  I was very relieved to see that it was available in Overdrive so I could pick up right where I left off.  If I had read this books as a new release and had to wait several months for a sequel, I probably would have lost interest.

There are some language issues and one scene where they listen to a video on their phone of Silas sneaking into Charlie’s bedroom to wish her a happy birthday.  There is nothing graphic but you definitely get the idea of what is going on.  I have a hard time just putting this in the adult category or the young adult category.  I think it could go in both.


Brown Girl Dreaming

brown girl dreaming.jpgBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Look at all those shiny medals on the cover!

Jacqueline Woodson tells a beautiful story of her childhood, stuck between two worlds in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

There was a big difference between South Carolina and Ohio and an unstable home life didn’t help.  This novel in verse shares about Woodson’s journey to become a writer while living with turmoil all around her.

I listened to this audiobook.  I might have been able to follow along a little better if I had been reading it and seeing how the words fit together but I still enjoyed this story immensely.

Map Trap

map trapThe Map Trap by Andrew Clements

Alton Barnes has always loved maps.  It must have been his destiny since he was named on the way to the hospital by looking at a list of towns in Illinois.

In his spare time, Alton makes his own maps.  It’s amazing the type of data you can get on a map, everything from what your teacher things/talks about, how many times the principal says “um” while on the announcements, and which cafeteria meals make the most students head to the bathroom.

You can imagine Alton was about to have a nervous breakdown after he decides to show a classmate one of his secret maps and shortly after that, his maps go missing!  If some of those maps get in the wrong hands, Alton could be in a heap of trouble.  Then the ransom notes start appearing.  Alton is now at the mercy of the kidnapper to get his maps back.

I listened to this audiobook with my children on a roadtrip.  It took around two hours to listen to it and we all enjoyed it.  Andrew Clements always does a great job of writing an interesting story that everyone can enjoy.

Under a Painted Sky

under a painted skyUnder a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

I love historical fiction!  I have a hard time selling it to my students but this one will be an easy sell.

In 1849, Samantha lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, with her father.  They keep to themselves running their local business but they see the way people look at them…because they are Chinese.

An unthinkable string of tragedies leaves Samantha on her own and on the run.  Her only chance is to head west and start a new life.

Samantha teams up with a runaway slave, Annamae, and they realize their best chance of survival is to pretend to be boys and find their way on the wagon train.  Sammy and Andy find themselves in the midst of quite the adventure as they stay out of eyesight from the law while figuring out who they can trust.  Plus just being on a journey out west in 1849 is an adventure all on its own.

I was rooting for Sammy and Andy to make it out west without getting captured.  There were many close calls and, at times, I found myself getting confused keeping everyone they met straight in my own head.  With that being said, I stayed up past my bedtime to finish this one.  It’s a keeper!