Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Out of My Mind addressed Cerebral Palsy from a unique point of view.-a young girl who has CP and is unable to talk. I really loved Melody, the main character. Some of my students chose this book as a special reading project. We were able to visit students at a local school for children with developmental disabilities. Now, my students are planning a fund raiser to purchase equipment for children with special needs. This book educates and inspires kids to change the world!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I loved Ready, Player One. I felt like it had been written especially for me, and that if I went into the universe of the book, I would be able to find my husband and many of my good friends living there. If you grew up geekish in the 80's, it is like a reunion-not a painful, scary event like a high school reunion. It's more like coming home.  One caveat-my parents and/or any others who did not grow up around Sci-fi literature, RPG gamers, and video games would have great difficulty understanding the novel.

I recommend this book for readers of high school age or older due to dystopian themes and violence.

Asylum by Madeleine Roux

in regular book form, the photos from historical mental asylums make Asylum an interesting and slightly creepy read. Otherwise, the story places inane characters in an impossible situation in order to stumble through an improbable plot. Seriously-the plot-to very liberally paraphrase-followed this type of format.

 "Look-It's a rusty autopsy table in a forbidden basement."

"Cool! Let's kiss!"

If you can borrow a copy, you won't regret it any more than you would an evening watching teen drama on ABC Family. If you can't borrow a copy, keep your dough. 


The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Although I really enjoyed Raven Boys, this sequel,  The Dream Thieves, fell flat. While in the first novel, I was intrigued by the characters and the quirky plot twists that surprised me a tad, the second novel left me vaguely annoyed at the characters. I am a fan of the flawed hero, and this series has several, but when the protagonists are seriously flawed, and the antagonists are complete sociopaths, I do long for a little goodness to creep in for balance. That being said, I will read the third book when it comes out.

 

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

In the annals of delectable literature for perspicacious young ladies, Gail Carriger’s Etiquette and Espionage combines the wonderful names and quirky characters reminiscent of Roald Dahl with a most lovable rapscallion of a young Victorian heroine. Add a finishing school with a very special curriculum, hordes of angry skywaymen in airships, and an adorable Steampunk wiener dog, and this novel provides the reader with several happy hours of escapist reading. An additional plus, this novel is clean enough for me to recommend to sixth graders without risking their innocent minds. I especially enjoy the fact that the heroine does not feel the need for romance to complete her. I am excited for the release of the sequel, Curtsies and Conspiracies, to be released early next month.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn-Dixie  remains one of my all-time favorite dog stories, not only because the dog survives through the entire novel, doesn't contract rabies, get done in by a cougar, or have to be put to sleep with the weeping family standing by, but also because the novel is an uplifting tale of friendship and community and what happens when a group of lonely misfits band together. The characters are well drawn and witty, the dialogue engaging, and the plot, though not a rollicking adventure, stretches out like a summer Sunday afternoon. An added plus-the movie is also charming.

Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina

Adina's Lady of Devices, the firs in the "Magnificent Devices" series, makes no pretense to be other than it is, an upbeat tale of Steampunk adventure based on the life of an uber-plucky heroine who dreams of being an engineer. loves chemistry, and who adopts a gang of stock character street urchins who charm the reader nonetheless. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel, and I would recommend it to young adolescents as it is conservatively written enough to be fit for their tender eyes and ears. 

Clockwork Fagin by Cory Doctorow

I love, love, love this story! Clockwork Fagin, a YA novella,   is a FREE excerpt from the collection Steampunk! The novel encompasses all of the gritty, grimy, evil-hearted machinations of a Dickensian villain with the pluck and ingenuity of the clever street urchins a la Artful Dodger-if everything had happened in a technologically alternative timeline where children lose limbs and eyeballs to the great, steam-powered computer works.  With fresh, witty and engaging characters, an extremely clever plot, (no spoilers,) and a masterful use of language, I recommend this book highly to any reader interested in a great story and an introduction to the Steampunk subgenre. I would caution younger and squeamish readers that this book can get a tad macabre, but for everyone else, this story is a must read. I was only sorry that it was so short.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I read absolute loads of young adult fiction. I do like to keep up with what my students are reading, but I also love a good, engaging story, and the best I have found lately have been YA novels. After an absolute deluge of fallen angel stories which began as  promising sub-genre and quickly deteriorated to "Pretty Little Liars" with wing stubs, I was reluctant to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone ; however, the novel surprised me with its unusual and well rendered setting, Prague, a city I knew to be famous for defenestration and the Holy Roman Empire-and I wasn't sure what else. After reading the novel, I would like to visit.  I also enjoyed the new take on the angel/demon rivalry, where the angels are more the warlike, fiery sword-wielding instruments of vengeance and the demons are chimera-patchwork beasts cobbled together from various animal parts. The characters are shallow but charming, and the annoying love triangle is deferred until the second book in the series. The book is better for older young adults-more the 16-year-old set than the 12-year-olds, as it deals with themes like sex and evil. Still, I was pleasantly surprised, and I enjoyed the read.