Monday, August 29, 2011

TOP TEN TUESDAY: My TBR (To Be Read) List For Fall

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top 10 Books That Are On The Top Of My TBR (To Be Read) List For Fall.

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
The last book in the Iron Fey series. I have wanted to know what happens since I finished The Iron Queen this summer.  And I want to read more about Puck & Ash. Whoo hoo!

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
Abraham Lincoln + Vampires = Yippie!

The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
As part of a class assignment in library school I read the first chapter of the first book. I never got around to reading the rest of the book (I was pregnant and too busy eating ice cream bars), but I thought the premise sounded interesting and the writing was creative.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
I loved Stephanie Perkins’ last book and I am so excited for this one. I wonder if I will have enough time between classes to go to the bookstore to grab this or if I will have to wait until the end of the day? Hmmmm…..

Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson
The last book in the series by Laurie Halse Anderson that has included Chains and Forge. What will happen with Isabel and Curzon? Will Ruth be found? At least I know how the Revolutionary war ends.

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
The last book (I think) in the Leviathan series. I got hooked on this steampunk series and am anxious to see what happens. Again, I will be at the bookstore the day it comes out.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
A friend introduced me to the awesomeness that is John Green this summer. Now I am just waiting for this book to get here with my next book order.

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski

This book just sounds fun.

 Kick by Walter Dean Myers & Ross Workman
Walter Dean Myers co-wrote this book with a teenager. That in itself is awesome.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I have heard nothing but good things about this book. Plus, it should be coming in my next book order so I’ll have to read it before I put it out J

Trash By Andy Mulligan

By Andy Mulligan
Published by Random House Children's Books, 2010
240 pages (hardback)

 In an unnamed Third World country, in the not-so-distant future, three “dumpsite boys” make a living picking through the mountains of garbage on the outskirts of a large city.
One unlucky-lucky day, Raphael finds something very special and very mysterious. So mysterious that he decides to keep it, even when the city police offer a handsome reward for its return. That decision brings with it terrifying consequences, and soon the dumpsite boys must use all of their cunning and courage to stay ahead of their pursuers. It’s up to Raphael, Gardo, and Rat—boys who have no education, no parents, no homes, and no money—to solve the mystery and right a terrible wrong. (from 

Wow. I don’t think I ever felt so fortunate to live where I do and have the opportunities I have had then after reading Trash.

Andy Mulligan vividly describes life in a third world country where the only hope hundreds of people have of survival is to dig through garbage day after day. It is suspected that the setting is based on the Philippines where Mulligan was a teacher for a while, but we will probably never know for sure. It is nearly impossible to NOT see pictures or images of children in third world nations when watching TV or read about situations in Somalia, Haiti, and other places. However, Mulligan doesn’t just describe the scene; he gives these poor children names and personalities and makes you really care about them.

The story is told in first person from the point of views of all three main characters: Raphael, Gardo, and Rat. At first this was a bit confusing, but I think it was the best way to do the book because each boy could explain certain situations and things and I really felt connected to all three and not just one.

But this book is so much more than a book about impoverished children who dig through trash and find something cool. It is a story about friendship and trying to make a better life for oneself. It’s also a mystery and an action-packed drama with chase scenes and an eerie night in the cemetery. Readers will want to know what is so important about what Raphael found, why government leaders want to find it, and what 3 boys with little education or hope will do to save themselves. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

STUDENT REVIEW - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

 The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
Published by Scholastic, Inc., 2009
384 pages (paperback)

 In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

It was action-packed with great ideas and plot twists. Not much [could be improved about this book]. I would rather Katniss not love Peeta because I like Gale. YES, YES, YES! [I would recommend this book to middle schoolers]. This is so good I recommend it to EVERYONE! –Zina D.

[I liked] the friendship with Rue and the tension. [I wish there were fewer] details about death. Yes, [I would recommend this book to middle schoolers] because it has a little bit of everything and there is a lot of stuff middle schoolers would like. –Hannah S.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

 Leviathan (Leviathan Series #1)
by Scott Westerfeld & illustrated by Keith Thompson
Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2010
464pages (paperback)

It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever. (from

Before this book I had heard of steampunk, but I hadn’t read any. In case you are wondering, steampunk is
  • a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world (from
So, to me, steampunk is a little bit of everything. Science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and a lot of randomness. If nothing else, the clothes look cool so I decided to try out my first steampunk book.

Leviathan drew me in quickly. The beginning of the book was action-packed and many of the chapters ended in cliff-hangers so I wanted to keep reading. Then there were the steampunk elements. Wow. I am really glad the book included illustrations because I am not sure I could have imagined the creatures in the book. Yes, Scott Westerfeld described them pretty well and I do have a good imagination, but the fabricated animals really are fantastical. But it was fun to follow a story where history, science fiction, military technology, and fantasy meet.  

As a former history teacher, I was a little bothered by the plot being partly historical fiction and partly revised/made-up history. Thankfully the end of the book has some notes on what really happened and what didn’t happen, but I did do research on my own to double-check what was real and what wasn’t.

However, I did enjoy Leviathan’s explanations of how World War I began. How a huge war that affected so many nations could erupt from an assassination is confusing. The author simplified the confusing politics while putting the thoughts, feelings, and situations of the main characters in the hands of egotistical leaders. Also, the book alternates between Aleksandar’s story and Deryn’s story so getting details about the start of World War I from two very different perspectives was interesting and helpful to empathizing with people in the book.

I would recommend this book to most middle schoolers. It does take a while to figure out some of the steampunk elements, but it is a fresh take on several genres and fun to read for those of you who like to use your imagination.

If you like Leviathan, you will definitely enjoy the 2nd book in the series, Behemoth. And good news… the 3rd book in the series, Goliath, comes out on September 20th!

Monday, August 8, 2011


Welcome to the Urbana Middle School Library's blog. This is the place for news & information about the UMS Library as well as book summaries & reviews that are written by students & your friendly librarian. Check back regularly to learn what great preteen and teen books we have!!!