Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

You know it’s been too long August 9, 2014

Filed under: book clubs,reluctant readers,school,Teachers,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:51 am
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when you can’t figure out how to post on your blog

you can’t remember the title of the last children or YA book you’ve read

you’ve only been to your favorite children’s bookstore once in 6 months


Somehow I find a reference

to a couple of women

who were written about in Reading Today

and summarized on Marshall Memo

who have a blog

and the most awesome ideas ever!
and now I want to be just like them

which means…

I need to come out of the world of district administration for at least a little while each week

and read more books

and talk to more kids

and get them as excited about reading as I am reading about their brilliant ideas.

Check out Crazy Reading Ladies at their blog or on Twitter!



Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs March 20, 2012

I’d looked at Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children many, many times, always ending up putting it back on the shelf at the bookstore or library. The photos honestly creeped me out a little. (If you are familiar with The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, there’s a picture in the book that also can creep me out-girl with knife and glowing pumpkin). I didn’t try reading any of it. I just got hung up on the photos and had decided it was probably a ghost story. And scary–which I don’t do very well.

It wasn’t until I found it on sale for the Kindle sometime in the past couple weeks that I decided to download it, thinking it would be something to read when I was in Africa. (Not having enough to read while in Senegal is one of my nagging worries, but probably a silly worry). Once I read the first page though, I was hooked!

“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After.”

I love looking at first lines of books and trying to determine what is it that creates the magic that an author can just hook you with a line.

 At first, Jacob and his relationship with his grandfather is what got me. Then I just had to know what was going to happen. Possible mental illness. Time travel. Father/son relationships. Good vs. Evil. I just kept wondering and reading.

I would describe the book as a fantasy/mystery and can’t really imagine anyone who would not enjoy this story. It would be a great book to curl up in the evenings and read with my nine and twelve-year-old (if they could be that close to each other and not start wrestling or sniping at each other). It does have the creepy factor if you are looking for a that in a read-aloud. Overall, it’s just a great story. It got me thinking about what old photos I might find around from my grandparents and what I might think when looking at them. I’m sure there are no floating girls, but it would be interesting nonetheless.

See what you think!


Tearing through Crossed by Ally Condie December 28, 2011

Filed under: authors,book reviews,books,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:18 pm
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Even though it did take me quite a while to get into the book, I really liked Matched, the first in the trilogy. I first tried to read it when it came out last year, but petered out during the first six chapters. My daughter then took the book to read and it disappeared into her scary pre-teen bedroom, not to emerge for many months. I then got the book on audio this fall, thinking that might get me past whatever was holding me up.

The audiobook expired before I was done with the book, so I picked up the hardback again.

Read a chapter.

Put it on my to-read stack,

and left it there until last week.

It’s not that it wasn’t good, it certainly got me thinking about a lot of things…the biggest thing being:

“What if no one learned to ‘write’ anymore (print or cursive) because everything was on a keyboard? How easy would it be for your writing to then be monitored? Hmmm….”

Well, I can’t put Crossed down and have almost finished it in the last 24 hours. I love how the chapters alternate between Ky and Cassia. I, of course, love any teacher turned author, such as Ally Condie.


What I’ve Been Reading (and Listening to) December 11, 2011

I’m currently reading Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler and have recently finished Bystander by James Preller.

Having spent a great deal of time in the car over the past month, I’ve just finished Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher, The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. I loved them all, for very different reasons. I’m one a YA kick right now on the heels of ALAN in November.

I do listen to audiobooks almost every time I’m in the car without someone with me. So even if it’s just a four minute drive between school buildings. I didn’t have much of Whale Talk left, so I thought I could probably finish it on the ride from the office to GIS. I didn’t anticipate that I would start bawling and be unable to go into the school for ten minutes while I pulled myself together. I LOVE Chris Crutcher and Whale Talk is amazing. I do think that any adult who likes to read, really should venture into YA or teen books. There are so many amazing titles that deal with so many different issues that if you don’t, you are really missing out. I love the main character T.J. Jones, his biker father, and the group that makes up the swim team. The issues of race, abuse, hunting, amidst the backdrop of varsity sports and athletic fervor will really make the reader think.

I don’t know how I hadn’t read any of the Larry books by Janet Tashjian. When I go to the library to get audiobooks, I just look for covers that I know have gotten a lot of blog talk over the past several years that I hadn’t gotten to when they first came out. The Gospel According to Larry is brilliant. I really enjoyed Josh’s wry tone as he tells the story of Larry/himself. Consumerism, celebrity, all great messages during the whole Occupy Wall Street Movement.



#BookaDay #3 & #4 Choker, Delirium December 30, 2010

Filed under: #bookaday,book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:17 pm
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Choker by Elizabeth Emma Woods

e-galley Simon & Schuster

release date January 4, 2011

I wasn’t too sure about reading an e-galley or any e-book on my laptop, but I thought I’d give it a try. A couple pages into Choker, and I was hooked. My puppies who are used to being able to sit in my lap while I read, were not happy that my lap was full of my computer. I would describe Choker a thriller/horror YA novel that I think will be a hit with readers who enjoy books such as Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser (see review), Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman, or the Gone novels (see review). Cara’s childhood friend Zoe shows up just when she needs her most. The other girls are cruel and having great fun humiliating Cara with her newest nickname “Choker” based on an ill-fated carrot episode in the lunchroom. Their friendship was obviously flawed and gives off many warning signs. Like watching an accident, I read on, even though I was inwardly wincing every time Cara’s parents didn’t realize Zoe had moved in. Cara’s crush on popular boy Ethan, wouldn’t amount to anything in many YA novels, yet Choker has Ethan and Cara moving closer together even as the end comes rushing up in a manner I never saw coming. Mark your calendar, buy Choker next week.

#4 Delirium by Lauren Oliver (actual cover below left)

release date February 1, 2011

ARC cover- HarperCollins

I LOVED Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver’s first novel (review here). It was one of those books that I just could not stop reading or thinking about. I’ve given it as gifts several times to other YA lovers. My good friend Travis brought home an ARC of Delirium from NCTE for me and I savored having it on the bookshelf until winter break started. Set in the future, love is considered a disease. All citizens have a procedure upon turning eighteen to prevent them from “catching” the disease and experiencing the terrible side effects.  Lena makes the unfortunate mistake of falling in love with Alex. Terrified of being caught, Lena and Alex have to hide their feelings from everyone.

Stated to be the first in a trilogy, I look forward to everyone of the books! Lauren Oliver is on my watch list for any future books.


The Replacements November 9, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:33 am
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The Replacements by Brenna Yovanoff

Razorbill, September 2010

Young Adult (Horror-I think)

I read it because Maggie Stiefvater is quoted on the cover. I had to force myself to do it. It scared me and grossed me out. I had to keep putting it down. I read it because Penguin Books sent them to me and I’d like them to send me more :)  I had seen the cover at ALA this past June, but, no surprise, it creeped me out!

Some will love it (see starred review from Booklist below) and as I reflect on how much I loved horror as a middle school and high school student, I think I used to be the perfect audience for it.

I did find the characters really interesting and like the relationship between the main character and his sister as well as the relationship between the main character and his best friend.

Amazon Exclusive: Author Q&A with Brenna Yovanoff 


Q: Where did you get the idea for The Replacement?

A: The Replacement happened because I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of changelings, but that by itself wasn’t enough to kick-start the story. I didn’t have an actual book until I started wondering one day what it would be like to be a changeling today, where everything is made of steel, and high school means being around a lot of other people all day every day and trying to act normal. One afternoon, I wrote a couple chapters and they worked, so I kept writing!

Q: How does The Replacement differ from other novels about changelings and the fey?

A: I’d say that one of the biggest differences is probably the tone. Even though the changeling aspect of the story has a strong basis in folklore, a lot of the settings and the characters are very contemporary. The story is just as much about Mackie finding his place in the human world as it is about the fantastical world that exists underground.

Q: Your main character, Mackie, is a teenage boy. Given that you are not, in fact, a teenage boy, did you find it difficult writing a male voice?

A: Honestly, I was really scared at first, but that went away once I actually started writing. Now, I don’t think it was much different from writing any other point of view. Every character is their own person, and ideally they each have their own voice. It was really an issue of figuring out what Mackie’s voice sounded like, rather than figuring out what a teenage boy sounded like.

Q: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kinds of music, artists/bands or songs influenced The Replacement?

A: I love to listen to music while I write. For The Replacement, I had a dedicated playlist that was pretty much all rock music, but the two songs I listened to more than any other were The Rat by Dead Confederate, and Allison Crowe’s beautiful cover version of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

Q: What do you like about writing for teenagers?

A: I really like the freshness and the immediacy. The emotions are very raw and intense. I think there’s something so exciting about telling a story where a lot of the things that happen to the characters are happening to them for the very first time.

Q: What were some of the books that you loved as a teen? Did any of these books influence The Replacement?

A: As a teenager, I loved to read. My school locker was full of books and my bedroom floor was covered in them. Some of my absolute favorites were The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. However, if I had to pick one piece of fiction that really influenced The Replacement, it would definitely be The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

Q: The Replacement is being described as Edward Scissorhands meets The Catcher in the Rye, and it certainly has quite a Tim Burton-esque feel. Do you think that’s an apt description of your book? How did you go about creating the uniquely unsettling world of Mayhem?

A: Well, I’m crazy about J.D. Salinger and Tim Burton, so to me, that’s an incredibly high compliment—I’ll take it! For the world of Mayhem, I thought about all the things I like and the things that scare me (which are sometimes the same things anyway—I love horror movies). Then I kind of let them live them together in Mayhem and watched how they eventually grew together.


Q: If you weren’t an author, what do you think your career would be?

A: Well, the actual answer is that I would probably be an editor or a copywriter or a proofreader, which is all stuff I’ve done before, and in a lot of ways, it’s all very closely related to being an author. So, for the sake of novelty, I’m going to say that I would be a forensic anthropologist. Because that just seems really interesting.

Q: What would you like your readers to take away from the experience of reading The Replacement?

A: It’s always difficult to say what someone will get out of a book, because people definitely bring their own experiences to books. However, if readers take anything away from The Replacement, I hope it’s the sense that everyone has their own doubts and insecurities, even if they’re good at hiding them, and you don’t have to be ashamed of who you are, no matter how freakish or strange you might feel sometimes.


From Booklist

*Starred Review* The light paranormals—think vampires, werewolves, angels, faeries, demons—that flood young adult lit often share a similar problem: by merely tweaking established archetypes, they feel largely interchangeable. No such pitfalls bedevil Yovanoff, whose first novel is not only startlingly conceived from the ground up but will still appeal to the legions craving doom, gloom, and, yes, romance. Mackie lives in Gentry, a small town that owes its history of good fortune to an uneasy relationship with the supernatural underground dwellers who protect them. Their price? Merely an annual human sacrifice, which they take in the form of a stolen baby, leaving behind a fragile nonhuman replacement. Mackie is such a replacement, and despite his allergies to iron and blood, he has somehow survived to be a teen—but now is about to meet his makers. The two separate menageries of monsters—housed in a slag heap and a dump hill—are almost Victorian in bearing, and possess an apocalyptic Bradburian worldview: “‘We are pandemonium and disaster. We are the dancing, gibbering horror of the world,’” says the baddest of them all, the Dirt Witch. The climax is not perhaps what it might be, but Yovanoff’s unsettling villains and intriguing moral ambivalence make this effort shockingly original and frequently breathtaking. Grades 9-12. –Daniel Kraus



Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin November 8, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:59 am
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Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

release date September 7, 2010

ARC courtesy of Dial Publishing

young adult

I was first alerted to Extraordinary when I was doing some searches for hot ARCs at ALA 2010. I can’t remember if it was Monica Edinger’s Tweet or blog post at Educating Alice or Liz B at A Chair, A Fireplace, & a Tea Cozy. No matter, I’ve never been steered wrong by either of those women, so it went on my ALA “shopping list”.

Not only did I manage to track down an Advanced Review Copy, but was also fortunate enough to run into the author while I was in someone else’s autograph line. What a kind and gracious person she was. Based on that encounter and the reading of Extraordinary, I have added Werlin’s other books to my reading list.

While the first “chapter” reveals to the reader that part of the story involves Faeries, if one inadvertently skipped it by starting to read “Chapter One”, it would be possible to begin reading thinking that you were going to be reading a realistic fiction book about middle school girls and their friendships. Hopefully when the reader gets to the chapter after Chapter Two, entitled Conversation with the Faerie Queen, 2,they would realize they missed something and go back to the beginning. If the chapter titles weren’t enough clue, there is also ivy that curls up and down the pages that are conversations with the queen.

Extraordinary is a fabulous read that intertwines the friendship of Mallory and Phoebe, with mystery surrounding Phoebe’s family history, and faerie lore. Does that sound like hard things to mix? Well not for Werlin. The three are exquisitely wound in and around each other, resulting in a unique and compelling story.

As a reader, I throughly enjoyed all parts of the story. Seamlessly the story of friendship, mixed with conversations between an unseen queen and her subject, pull the reader along on a fantastic journey.

For a much more detailed review/critique, head on over to The Book Smugglers. They don’t say anything I disagree with, but for me the combination of the friendship, intermixed with faerie, made it a fascinating read for me!



As often happens, when I went onto Liz ‘s blog, I got distracted by a new post she has. I then got further distracted by reading the comments in reply to her post, which of course led me to other blogs, other posts, and other comments.

That’s how writing a book review ends up taking over an hour!



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