Thursday, July 3, 2014

Forget Me Not, by Carolee Dean

This book was part of my latest order for the high school library, and I grabbed it, along with about a dozen other books to read this summer.  I must admit, this one was definitely not what I expected it to be!  That's not to say I didn't like the book --  I  just didn't get swept away by it until a little more than halfway through.  That's when the metaphorical light bulbs went off in my head as I "got it" and the action picked up. (OK sometimes I'm slow!)   The last hundred pages were a frantic, fast-paced race for me, with the pages turning rapidly in my quest to see where things would end up.

Forget Me Not is written in verse, and it focuses on two main characters: Ally and Elijah.  The book opens with Ally in a dark hallway in an abandoned wing of her high school.  She is hiding out because a scandalous photo of her has gone viral and her reputation has taken a major nose-dive. With the single click of a "send" button, she has gone from an up and coming freshman girl on the cusp of major popularity, to a whore--a girl that "wants to sleep with the entire football team."  Everything is so convoluted and upside-down that she can't imagine ever facing anyone again.  So she hides....or at least, that's what it seems like she'd doing...until things get very weird in that hallway, and she realizes that she's not hiding there--she's there for an entirely different reason

Elijah has also spent some time in that same dark hallway in the same abandoned wing of the high school, after trying to kill himself by overdosing on pills.  His mission has a singular focus:  Get Ally out of that hallway at any cost.

Ally finds herself with the biggest decision of her mortal--and immortal, life.  She has to decide whether she lives.  Or dies. And her time to make that decision is limited.

Fans of If I Stay, by Gayle Forman will undoubtedly be drawn to this one, as the main premise is similar.  (Think comatose patient forced to make a choice)

I have to be honest and say that I was far more impressed with the quality of writing than I was with the storyline. I especially enjoyed reading the author's notes at the end, describing the different poetry styles used in different parts of the book.  That being said, I would definitely recommend this book to many of my students--especially fans of (paranormal) novels in verse.

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell

I have had several people recommend this book to me, but the main reason I decided to read this is because one of my former students, Jackie, suggested it in a Facebook comment.  (Gosh, I love social media when it keeps me connected with kids that have moved away!)

Set in 1986, this one took me back to high school, with the characters bonding over mixed tapes of The Smiths and The Cure, among other iconic 80's bands.

Eleanor is a "big" girl with red hair.  At 16, she's the oldest of five kids being raised by their mother and an abusive, alcoholic stepfather named Richie.  She shares an overcrowded room with all four of her siblings, and they are incredibly poor and neglected.  They are quite literally, the "red-headed stepchildren."

Park is a comic book reading, punk music listening half Korean/American boy that Eleanor meets on morning school bus. Park has one foot in popularity and one foot in the land of the misfits.  He and Eleanor form a friendship over comic books and music shared on a Walkman.  That friendship blossoms into a first love that's intense and complicated.

I loved this book.  The characters are so fully and wonderfully developed that I felt like I knew them personally.  I don't want to give away too much of the story, but I know this will be an incredibly popular read during the upcoming school year.

Thanks, Jackie!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

COALTOWN JESUS, by Ron Koertge Blog Post by Mrs. Schauer

I just read this one, start to finish, right when I opened my newest shipment of books for the high school library.  Wow.  What a great read!  Ron Koertge's latest novel in verse plunks Jesus Christ right down into the bedroom of a fourteen year old boy's room in Coaltown, Illinois.  He is there to help Walker deal with the death of his older brother Noah--and he does exactly that.  I won't give away too much of the story, but I will say this:  I will be recommending this little treasure to everyone I know!

Koertege depicts a Jesus that is exactly what Walker needs at this juncture in his life.  Koertge's Jesus is witty and irreverent, while at the same time being deeply profound in that irreverence.  Within the first few lines of Jesus's dialogue I was immediately reminded of the Jesus depicted by Christopher Moore in  Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal.  In fact, I would say Coaltown Jesus could almost be the "junior" version of Moore's book.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Jesus:  "I'm sorry, but I can't just giggle.  I'm God."
Walker:  "You look like Jesus."
Jesus:  "John 10:30: I and my Father are one.'"
Walker: "I don't think I understand that."
Jesus:  "You're not the only one."

Jesus:  "I'll be back. Relax.  Or as they say in the Bible, 'Fear not.'"

Jesus:  "I love being called the Great Spirit.  Some of the other names not so much.  The Anointed One, for instance.  Makes me feel greasy."

Walker:  "You're mad at kids for wanting a pony?"
Jesus:  "Little kids I don't mind.  Every kid want a pony.  It's grown-ups that get my robe in a knot.  Stop with the begging, okay?  Adore me for a change. Or give thanks.  I like gratitude.  Or ask for guidance.  But oh, no.  It's always the pony."

Jesus:  "All of a sudden I'm in this body.  I've got a heart and hands and feet.  I can see and feel.  That's why babies cry so much.  All of a sudden having a body is a lot to deal with."

Jesus:  "I knew what was coming down the pike so I'd practice.  Like making one hot dog feed six kids and running on water."
Walker:  "In the Bible, you just walked."
Jesus:  "Yeah, but I was so bad at it that I'd run so I wouldn't sink so fast.  Didn't help  Went right down like a stone.  Faith is like anything else:  you have to work at it, I wasn't that good at first."

Jesus:  "Ah, there it is. Signs of your holiness."
Walker:  "I just smiled.  You made a dumb joke and I smiled."
Jesus:  "And that isn't holy?"

Jesus: "Confusion is good."
Walker:  "Everything's good to you."
Jesus:   "And that's a bad thing?"

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?