Thursday, March 28, 2013

STUDENT REVIEW- Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Out of My Mind
By Sharon Draper
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012
320 pages (paperback)

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school, but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows…but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write.
Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice…but not everyone around her is ready to hear it. (from

It was a very emotional book. It made me feel like I was right there with her. I don’t think this book could be improved! Yes, [middle schoolers should read this book]. It teaches people not to discriminate and that everyone is smart in their own way.
--Lilly H.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I will Recommend to You!

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is the Top Ten Books I Recommend Most.
This topic is super easy since it is my job to recommend books to students & staff! Below are books I frequently recommend to students, staff, friends & family…

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This is usually a sure-fire hit. There are so many elements that appeal to so many different types of readers.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
There is something about the sarcasm and brutal honesty that makes me think a lot of students (especially boys) will enjoy this book. So far most students have loved it.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
For students who like The Hunger Games and other SciFi novels, I recommend this one quickly. I think it is well written and so engaging that no one can put it down.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
For those students who want something more serious and meaningful, this is one of the books I recommend first. It is just so heartbreaking and the scary thing is, it is totally plausible.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
One of my new favorite books. It had some unique twists it left me guessing until the end.

How They Croaked: the Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg
Creepy, gross, interesting, and kind of hilarious. What middle schooler wouldn’t want that in a book? I also think that the History Channel needs to do a special based on this book.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Since it is one of my favorites I obviously recommend it… especially to friends & family.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
This is one of the few books that had me doing research to see if the book was historically accurate (it pretty much was). This is a great book for fans of historical fiction.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Want creepy? Neil Gaiman is the king of creepy. This book gave me nightmares and made me want to go hang out with my Mommy.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
I love John Green and this is my favorite of his books. I think it is the random footnotes that I like best. It definitely was not all the math references, but that might interest some students & staff.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Wonder by RJ Palacio

By RJ Palacio
Published by Random House Children’s Books, 2012
320 pages (hardcover)

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.
WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. (from

I have heard great things about this book, though it took me a while to get around to reading it. The premise just seemed… uncomfortable. But March 6, 2013 was the annual Spread the Word to End the Word* day AND I had just finished another book, so I picked Wonder up. Wow. I seriously wish everyone at UMS could read this book. It does an amazing job of bringing to light and raising issues that those with mental and physical problems face, as well as those who love them.

What was most interesting, is that although we get to hear Auggie’s point of view, we also get to hear and understand where his family and friends are coming from. Wonder kindly shows that no one is perfect, but we can all be compassionate and not assume the worst about others. I thought that this book might be a sad guilt-trip, but instead it was inspiring and sweet. I am so glad I bought quite a few copies of this book because students are already begging to read it.

UMS Staff working to Stomp Out the R-Word!

*Auggie is not a special needs student. However, he is often assumed to be because of his physical appearance.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

STUDENT REVIEW- The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Series #1)
By James Dashner
Published by Random House Children’s Books, 2010
400 pages (paperback)

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every thirty days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind. (from

It was suspenseful and mysterious. You can really imagine what’s going on in your head. And its funny too! I loved it! Yes, [I would recommend this book to middle schoolers]. It’s my new favorite book and I think that middle schoolers would love it too.
--Kelsey H.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

STUDENT REVIEW- Wolf Rider by Avi

Wolf Rider
By Avi
Published by Simon Pulse, 2008
208 pages (hardcover)

The phone rang three times before Andy picked it up. "Hello?" he said. A voice replied, "I just killed someone. I killed...Nina."
Andy Zadinski is convinced that the man who calls himself "Zeke" is serious. But no one will listen to Andy - not the police, not his friends, not even his father. They all say he's crying wolf, even when Andy discovers that there really is a Nina Klemmer. Even when he spots her at the local college and sees that she fits Zeke's description of her. Exactly.
Despite warnings from his father that he should just forget about the call, Andy feels obligated to track Nina down and warn her. What if Zeke really is plotting to kill her? When Andy investigates further, he finds out that Nina may not be Zeke's only target... (from

This book was good because it was a mystery. Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler] because if they like mystery books they will like this book too!
--Carlee R.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: The Top Ten Books I Want to Read this Spring!

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is the Top Ten Books on My Spring 2013 TO BE READ List!
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (March 19th!)
  • Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson (I have seen listings that said it came out March 1st…but it is nowhere to be found. Now message board posts say it is coming out NEXT year. Anyone know anything???)
  • A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • Witch & Wizard by James Patterson
  • The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa
  • Ghetto Cowboy by Greg Neri
  • I, Emma Freke by E.J. Atkinson
  • Monday, March 11, 2013

    Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

    Sweet Venom (Sweet Venom #1)
    By Tera Lynn Childs
    Published by HarperCollins, 2011
    384 pages (paperback)

    Three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates.
    Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it's also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.
    Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.
    Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters. . . . (from

    I recently got the second book in this series so I thought I would try out the first book. The cover looked dark and (possibly) depressing and boring so I didn’t think I would like this series.

    I. Was. Wrong.

    Not only is this book light-hearted, intense, captivating, and intelligent, it was something I could not put down. Really. I stayed up until 2am reading and then finished it the next day. The world Tera Lynn Childs created was believable and well-constructed. There was cliff-hanger after cliff-hanger plus a good dose of action (killing monsters!), romance, and sass. Fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books or Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy series will definitely love this set of books.

    I am already super excited to start book #2 (Sweet Shadows). Luckily book #3 (Sweet Legacy) will be out in September so I won’t have to wait too long for my next Grace, Gretchen, and Greer fix!

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    STUDENT REVIEW- A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

    A Hat Full of Sky
    By Terry Pratchett
    Published by Feiwel & Friends, 2006
    278 pages (hardcover)

    Tiffany Aching, a young witch-in-training, learns about magic and responsibility as she battles a disembodied monster with the assistance of the six-inch-high Wee Free Men and Mistress Weatherwax, the greatest witch in the world. (from Destiny)

    The Nac Mae Feegles are hilarious! I also like that it portrays magic in a way that is different from many other books. Mistress Wetherwax could be a little more harsh, though. Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler] because it is very different from other books and it tells the truth .
    --Bella S.

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Series I Need to Read

    Top 10 Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is the Top Ten Series I'd Like to Start But Haven't... Yet.

    Why haven't I read these series yet? I don't know. I mean, I read lots of books and I can't read EVERYTHING, but everyone seems to love these series so I need to put these at the top of my "to be read" list ASAP! Seriously... I'll stop being such a slacker soon.

    Percy Jackson & The Olympians series by Rick Riordan

    Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan

    Vampire Diaries series by L.J. Smith

    Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead

    Sisters Grim series by Michael Buckley

    N.E.R.D.S. series by Michael Buckley

    Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi

    Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini

    Tiger’s Saga series by Colleen Houck

    Bone series by Jeff Smith

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder & Scarlet) by Marissa Meyer

    Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)
    By Marissa Meyer
    Published by Square Fish, 2012
    448 pages (hardcover)

    Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
    Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. (from

    I normally am not a fan of fairy tales. They are either too sugary sweet or too creepy/odd for me. HOWEVER, Cinder is a whole other story. It is SciFi meets a classic tale meets the dystopian future meets a strong female character who is quite tech savy. While Cinder uses elements from the classic Cinderella tales, Meyers makes unique and compelling in her own way. And don't think that this book is just for girly-girls. There is plenty of action, humor, emotion, sarcasm, and treachery for all types of readers.


    Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)
    By Marissa Meyer
    Published by Square Fish, 2013
    456 pages (hardcover)

    Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.
    Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.  (from

    When I heard that The Lunar Chronicles would be adding the ideas of Red Riding Hood to the already established plot of Cinder/Cinderella I was a bit skeptical about how it would all come together. But never fear folks… Scarlet is just as interesting and well constructed as Cinder. Not to give anything away, but I loved how the storylines worked together and came together. Mixing classic fairy tales together and throwing them into the future is a creative way to tell this story. Now I just have to wait for Cress to come out next winter and Winter to come out the following, um, winter. I dislike waiting.