Thursday, July 26, 2012

SEE YOU AT HARRY'S, by Jo Knowles

See You at Harry's, by Jo Knowles
Interest Level:  6th Grade and Up
Reviewed by Mrs. Schauer

I first got this book as an ARC at Net Galley.  I started reading it, but only read the first few pages before life got in my way and I never finished it.  I have this problem where I have a hard time putting a book down once I pick it up.  I have to read the entire thing in one sitting, and nothing else in my life gets any attention. For the past week, I've done nothing but read....and last night, I finally read this wonderful book...yep, in one sitting.  :)

I fell in love with the characters immediately.  How could I not?  Four children, ages 3-18, who are named after some of my favorite book characters:

Sara, the oldest:  She's named after Sara Crewe, from The Little Princess.  She longs to have been born in the age of dead-heads. She couldn't get into any good colleges, so she's taking a year off to work in her parents' restaurant.   She's blunt and honest at all times, and has dreadlocks.

Holden:  He's the second child, aptly named in honor of Salinger's angst-filled protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye.  Holden is fourteen years old , and the reader is allowed the privilege of growing with him, championing his strength and bravery as he comes to terms with his sexuality.

Fern:    Her mom named her after Fern Arable from Charlotte's Web, because she knew, from the moment she was born, that she had a special soul. In her own words, she knew Fern would be a good friend....a hero.  The story is told from Fern's point of view, and she is indeed, possessed of an incredibly special soul.

Charlie:  Ah, Charlie...perfectly named after Charlie Bucket, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Charlie is three years old, a "surprise" addition to the family fold, and he is the light of their lives.  Charlie is full of life and finds joy in everything around him.

I will not give away too much of this family's story, because it's just something that readers need to experience for themselves.  I will only say that I fell in love with this quirky family, as they dealt with running a family business and the joys and sorrows of life.  I laughed, I cried, my heart soared, as well as broke into a hundred pieces.  By the end of the book, I was a blubbering mess of tears and snot....but in a very good way....a way that does the heart good.

Jo Knowles is one of my favorite authors because she writes about subjects that are tough...and she does it in a way that is just so REAL.  She writes important books for teens and young adults...books that bring healing and hope.  I applaud her!

For my review of Knowles' Lessons from a Dead Girl, click here.

To view a trailer, created by Kaycee, one of our Pettus middle school students,for Jumping Off Swings,  click here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

THE DAY BEFORE, by Lisa Schroeder

THE DAY BEFORE
by Lisa Schroeder
AR: Not Yet
Interest Level: 9th and Up

Wow, I have been so bad about keeping up with this blog. I've read a lot of books; I just never seem to tie myself to a chair long enough to post about them! This one, though...I simply MUST share, for several reasons:

1. It's written by Lisa Schroeder, and to put it plainly, Lisa rocks my face off. Click HERE to find out why. :) Click HERE to visit Lisa's blog.

2. It's written in verse, which means it will automatically fly off of the shelves the same way my (multiple) copies of I Heart You, You Haunt Me, Chasing Brooklyn and Far From You do. While it's true that novels in verse tend to resonate with reluctant readers, they are by no means easy to write! It takes a true gift and talent to use so few words and still manage to capture enough emotion to fully develop a character.

3. Emily, my (you should read this next part real fast and run the words together without taking a breath, or it will just look like poor sentence structure) "unofficial library assistant for the past four years who picked out so many great books for our collection and just graduated and I'm going to miss her so much I can't stand it," bought it on our Kindle at like midnight the day it was released, and raved about it.

4. When I opened the book on the Kindle and skimmed through the acknowledgments, imagine my GLEE (hate the show, love the word) when I saw, right next to each other, the names. "Teresa" (as in, uh...ME!) and "Hailee" (as in my daughter!) I would have thought it coincidental, but they were right next to each other and I've never seen anyone spell Hailee like that...so what do you know? We got an acknowledgement from a real live ROCK STAR YA author!

OK, I guess I should stop pontificating on the magnificent jumble of awesome that is Lisa Schroeder, and get on with what I thought of this book:

This is Amber's story--or rather, one day of her story. Amber wants one day at the beach--just one--for herself, with no obligations, no family, not even her best friend, with whom she shares everything. She wants one perfect day. Just one. After this one day, she knows that her life is going to unequivocally change, and she's resigned to, and even accepted that fact. She just doesn't want to think about anything but this one day: the day before. (The day before what, you may be thinking--but I'm not gonna give that away, because it's Lisa's privilege to determine when that is, which she does, in the book--but you'll have to read it to find out!)

Amber meets Cade at the aquarium. Cade is also on a mission to get away--for one day--from his own situation. They have an instant connection, and both understand immediately that the other needs this day. They make a promise to not ask any questions about the other's life. Then they set out to escape from the world--for just one day.

That's all I'm going to tell you about this particular book. What, you thought this would be any different than my others? I never give away a book in a blog post! That's the author's right and privilege to do, not mine! Of course, you can probably surmise that Amber and Cade don't end up keeping that promise, they bond, and...ack, there I go again.

My favorite part of this book was Amber. I loved her personality--and her taste in music. P!nk is one of my own personal favorites, so I felt an instant connection to Amber because of her love of the artist and her music. I will never hear "Glitter in the Air" in quite the same way again.

I have no doubt that I will have to order multiple copies of this book, as I had to do with all her others.




Thirty Books, by Mrs. Schauer

So I had one of my former second grade students, Kathy Mireles, from Skidmore, post a link to the "Thirty Day Book Challenge" on my Facebook wall this morning. I loved the concept, but knew I would not follow through with posting a single book each day. Then I had a great idea--post my answers on the high school blog!

Anyway, I'm here in the library, and I have a gazillion things to do, which is par for a librarian in the summer. The main thing I never fail to miss getting around to doing is procrastinating. :) At first, I thought completing this book list was yet another effort in procrastination, but now that I'm incorporating it into my high school blog, and not JUST on Facebook, it's part of my job duties!

My hope is that a few people will add their own thirty books to the comments section...hint, hint! I doubt anyone will though; I'm so bad about not keeping up with the blog, that I don't think many people check it anymore. Anyway, here are my answers....

1-Your favorite Book: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

2-Least Favorite Book: Anything by Charles Dickens. Blech!

3-A Book that completely surprised you: (bad/good) The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. I didn’t know anything about the premise and the title made it sound like a self-help Book

4. - A Book that made you laugh out loud: Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, by Christoper Moore

5- A Non-fiction book that you actually enjoyed: It's So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families, by Robie Harris

6- A Book that makes you cry: Far From You, by Lisa Schroeder

7- A Book that’s hard to read: The Host, by Stephenie Meyer

8- A Book you want to read, but never have: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

9- A Book you’ve read more than once: The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

10- The first novel you remember reading: Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

11- The Book that made you fall in love with reading: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

12- A book so emotionally draining you couldn’t complete it or had to set aside for a bit: Living Dead Girl, by Elizabeth Scott

13- Favorite childhood Book: Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume

14- Book that should be on hs/college required reading list: Crank, by Ellen Hopkins

15- Favorite book dealing with foreign culture: A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini

16- Favorite book turned movie: Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

17- Book turned movie and completely desecrated: My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Piccolt

18- A Book You can’t find on shelves anymore that you love: Little Dream, by Cynthia Leonetti

19- A Book that changed your mind about a particular subject: Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Piccolt

20-A Book you would recommend to an ignorant/racist/closed minded person: Dinner With a Perfect Stranger, by David Greggory

21-A guilty pleasure book: Does the Noise In My Head Bother You? By Stephen Tyler

22-Favorite Series: Left Behind by LaHaye, Jenkins

23- Favorite Romance Novel: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

24 - A Book you later found out the Author lied about: Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous

25-Favorite Autobiographical/Biographical Book: Three Little Words: A Memoir, by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

26-A Book you wish would be written: The Gospel According to Mary Magdelene

27- A Book you would write if you had all the resources: Teresa Schauer: A Memoir J

28- A Book you wish you never read: I can’t think of one

29- An Author that you completely avoid/hate wont read: I don’t have one of these…

30 - An Author that you will read whatever they put out: Patricia Polacco

Monday, March 7, 2011

LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL, by Jo Knowles

LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL
Review by Mrs. Schauer

AR: Yes
Intended Audience: Upper Grades

This book has been in our collection for a while. Emily, of course read it right away, and encouraged me to read it. I, as always, could never seem to find the time to get it read it as well. I have this problem where if I start a book, I can't put it down until I finish it, and nothing else in my life gets done. Even if I had found the time, though, it always seemed to be checked out when I went to look for it. In any case, I finally took this one home last weekend, and read it in two sittings.

This is most definitely a book that is a prime example of why my personal motto as it pertains to a librarian's role in helping make the match between student and book is: "Not every book is right for every person, but for every person exists the perfect book." Not everyone needs to read this book. In fact, some people will strongly dislike it. For some, though, this book could be life changing--for some, this book might really be needed. And that is the exact thing that makes it the perfect book, in my opinion.

This is the story of Leah and Laine. Leah is the beautiful rich popular girl that everyone longs to be. Laine is the quiet wallflower that fades into the background of whatever crowd she's in. That is, until Leah decides, in the fifth grade, to make Laine her official BFF. For a little while, even though she's confused about why she was selected for the prime role as BFF to a goddess, she's grateful to be noticed, and to have friends. She feels incredibly special to be by Leah's side.

LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL opens with the news of Leah's death in a terrible car accident. The rest of the story takes the reader on a journey through the complexities of their years-long friendship. Through her reflections, we are taken into Laine's heart and soul as we travel with her through experiences that played a huge role in shaping the person she has become.

Not all stories are happy idyllic coming of age tales that tie up neatly with a bow in the end. I will say that Laine does find healing in the book, and the reader is left with a sense that she's going to be OK--but there is a lot of pain, loss and confusion along the way.

I applaud authors like Jo Knowles who step out on a limb to write about things that are considered taboo. Life is full of many things--joy, love, loss, pain, sadness, anger, abuse...the list goes on. Libraries need to have books on their shelves for everyone--and sometimes this includes books that might make people uncomfortable. To them, I say: Don't read it. Put it back on the shelf, where someone who really needs the words contained within it can finally find another human being to whom they, maybe for the first time, are able to relate.

For Teachers: Click here for a teacher's guide to go along with the book.



Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wooohoooooo!!!

Well, well, well. I have not been blogging here much, because it felt like no one ever read what I posted. It would appear that some of my students have stumbled on this blog, FINALLY! LOL Guess I need to start posting what I read, huh?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ROOM, by Emma Donoghue
AR: Not Yet
Interest Level: Upper Grades

I have not purchased the hard copy of this book yet, because Emily wanted it..um....NOW, so I ordered it for the Kindle. I decided to download the audiobook to listen on a road trip, and am SO glad I did! This was one of those books that I became so engrossed in the audio, that I ended up reading it on the Kindle whenever I wasn't in the car. Captivating....to say the least!

This is the story of "Ma" and her son Jack. Ma was abducted off the street when she was nineteen. The entire first half of the book takes place from within the confines of a twelve by twelve foot soundproofed room, where the young woman has spent seven years being raped repeatedly...Jack is the result of that abuse. The book is told in the voice of Jack, a precocious, adorable, brilliant, resilient five year old boy that I immediately fell in love with....and that love only grew with each turn of the page.

As always, I do not want to divulge too much in this blog post--even though there is SO MUCH I could say about this beautiful book.

If there is enough interest, I will order it....Oh, who am I kidding? I'll order it and shout from the rooftops when it comes in....the same way I do with EVERY book.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

BLOOD ON MY HANDS, by Todd Strasser

BLOOD ON MY HANDS
by Todd Strasser
AR: Not Yet
Interest Level: High School and Up

Well, Todd Strasser has done it again! His books are so incredibly popular in our library because they are....juicy! They keep the reader on the edge of their seat for the entire experience of reading them...and this one is no different.

I must be honest and tell you that I haven't finished this book yet. Now that Hailee is driving and taking her sister to school, I am finally able to listen to audiobooks on the way to work again. I started this one yesterday. Even though I haven't finished it yet, I have heard enough to write a blog entry that will make people want to read it! (Don't worry, Emily...I will finish it...especially since you won't tell me what happens!)

From the jacket flap: Callie is at an October keg party in the woods, when she notices that her friend Katherine has gone missing. The kids spread out to look for her and Callie finds her, lying on a path, with a big, bloody fake knife in her. She reaches for the knife and raises it, only to discover, to her horror, that it is real. At that moment, another of the search party stumbles on them, and takes a photo of Callie holding the bloody knife. Now she is the suspect in a grisly murder. How can she prove her innocence - and find the true murderer?

Friday, June 4, 2010

SUCH A PRETTY GIRL, by Laura Wiess

SUCH A PRETTY GIRL

by Laura Wiess

AR: Yes

Interest Level: High School

I read this book in one sitting on a recent fishing trip with my family. I simply could not put it down. It reminded me a little of LIVING DEAD GIRL, but the emotions it evoked in me weren't quite as harsh. Still, it was a tough read.

This is Meredith's story. She is fifteen years old, and at the start of the book, she learns that her father is going to be released from prison after serving only three years of a nine year sentence. For a lot of kids, hearing that their dad is coming home would likely be welcome news. Meredith however, feels her father's homecoming is like the slamming of a prison door on her own life, trapping her in with the worst possible enemy...the man who raped her when she was only twelve.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I was riveted from the very first sentence in this book. Because her character was so well developed, I wanted to strangle Meredith's mother, who is in total denial over the fact that her husband is a monster. I wanted to grab some of the other characters up in a great big hug of gratitude for the amount of love and support they showed to Meredith.

As usual, I don't want to give too much away in my blog post...but if you like a book that evokes strong emotions, this is a great one!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Trailer for FALLOUT, by Ellen Hopkins

FALLOUT, by Ellen Hopkins
AR: Not Yet
Book Release Date: September 16, 2010
Interest Level: Upper Grades
Trailer by Mrs. Schauer

video

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

High Point of TLA (for me anyway!)

Last week was the annual Texas Library Association Conference--and I FINALLY got to meet three of my favorite authors: Ellen Hopkins, Sonja Sones and Lisa Schroeder. The were on a panel together, discussing their personal writing styles and the processes they go through to write their books. It was awesome to listen in an three such incredible writers sharing like that. I wish I would have been video taping the audience when Ellen held up the ARC for FALLOUT--we couldn't believe we were going to get our hands on it! Anyway, I took a few photos that I thought I'd post:

Lisa Schroeder and I



A signed copy of FALLOUT for Emily

The ARC for FALLOUT (which isn't hitting bookstores for 5 months!!!)

Ellen Hopkins and I


Ellen, Sonja, and Lisa