Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Maze Runner

Dashner, James. (2009). The Maze Runner. New York: Delacorte.

Image credit: Wikipedia

An amnesiac teenager awakes in a box in the middle of a colony of boys.


What is a Maze Runner?

maze runner. n. a fast shank who risks his shuck life everyday running through the ever-changing maze, escaping the grievers, in the hopes of finding an exit for all the gladers.

Thomas wakes up confused and without a memory of who he is or what happened to him. He knows that he is currently surrounded by a large crowd of boys of all ages and that they don't looked surprised to see him. Thomas soon learns he is in a place called the Glade, a large area surrounded on all sides by massive walls. Beyond the walls is a massive labyrinth maze that changes every night. Thomas is immediately determined to find a way out, and he soon discovers that the only way he will succeed is to become a Maze Runner.

  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award grades 9-12, 2011
  • VOYA Best Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, 2009 
  • YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers 2011

Listen to a clip from the audio version courtesy of Random House Audio ©2011 .

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Condie, Allyson. (2010). Matched. New York: Dunton.

Image credit: Ally Condie

In Cassia's society the Officials decide everything, including who you will be matched with for life.


Within the Oria province the Officials control every aspect of life for the members of the Society. They are the ones who decide your job, when and who you marry, and when you will die.

Cassia Reyes: A seventeen year-old good girl who believes in the Society and is anxious to see whose face will appear at the Matching Banquet.

Xander Carrow: Cassia's thoughtful and caring best friend since childhood. The boy every girl dreams of being matched with.

Ky Markham: A bad-boy who lives near Cassia. Outcasted by the community because of his father's actions.

The lives and futures of these three teenagers will become dangerously entwined with one another. Unravel the secrets of the Society and find out the truth about being Matched.


Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs.


  • AML Award, 2010
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Books of 2010

Sunday, November 27, 2011

City of Ember

Duprau, J. (2003). The City of Ember. New York: Yearling.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Residents of the City of Ember begin to panic when the electricity and generator begin to fail. They must figure out something quickly before the lights go out for good and the Emberites are left in dark, dark world.


What is life like for a person in the City of Ember? For starters its pitch-black, all the time, except for the old lights strung across the city. You choose your job out of a bag filled with little papers with different jobs written on them. You stand in line for hours at the warehouse for supplies just to be told that the city has recently run out of the requested item. You are constantly worried that the lights will go out for good as rumors of the generator failing permeate the city.

Lina and Doon, citizens of Ember, are intelligent, curious, and hopeful. Brought together by their shared concern about the eminent blackout, Lina and Doon work together to find out more about the inner-workings of the city. Doon's father gives them cryptic adivce to live by:

"The main thing is to pay attention. Pay close attention to everything, notice what no one else notices. Then you’ll know what no one else knows, and that’s always useful.

Join them in their search for truth and a brighter future in a world consumed by darkness. Will Lina and Doon succeed in saving the people of The City of Ember?


  • ALA Notable Book
  • Black-Eyed Susan Award, 2005-2006
  • Borders Original Voices
  • California Book Awards, Commonwealth Club of California
  • Chapman Award for Shared Reading (Esmé Raji Codell)
  • Child Magazine’s Best Children's Books, 2003
  • Children's Literature Association of Utah Book Award
  • Kirkus Editor's Choice, 2003
  • Land of Enchantment Book Award, New Mexico
  • Mark Twain Award, 2006
  • Nevada Young Reader’s Award
  • New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
  • New York Times Bestseller List (Children's Paperback Fiction)
  • Nutmeg Children’s Book Award, Connecticut
  • Publisher's Weekly Flying Start
  • William Allen White Children’s Book Award, 2006
  • Young Hoosier Book Award, Indiana

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ship Breaker

Bacigalupi, Paolo. (2010). Ship Breaker. New York: Little, Brown, & Co.

Image credit: Powells

A young boy lives a hard life retrieving part from broken down ships. When he discovers a young girl in one of the ships he will be faced with many hard decisions.

What did the Ship Breaker find? Every person experiences a turning point in their lives. For Nailer that time came the day he discovered Nita among the wreckage of a ship. Before he found her his life was anything but great. His father was addicted to drugs and abusive. His mother is dead and the only people he has are his best friend and her mother. Nita changes everything. Nailer is unsure whether he should disregard her and strip the ship she came from or if he should rescue her and hope she offers him a better life. Will Nailer follow his heart, or will he continue to be a Ship Breaker?

  • Best of Books of 2010
  • Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Nominee, 2011
  • Booklist Starred Review
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Michael L. Printz Award, 2010
  • National Book Award Finalist, Young People's Literature, 2010 
  • Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How I Live Now

Rosoff, M. (2004). How I Live Now. United Kingdom: Puffin.
Image credit: Perrot Library


A young American girl is sent to England to live with estranged family at the onset of World War III.



Daisy lived in Manhattan with her father. Her biggest concern was her evil stepmother who had recently revealed that she was pregnant. Daisy was sure the baby would be just as devilish as Davina.

Daisy lives with her four cousins in the remote English countryside. Her aunt has been stranded in Norway due to the outbreak of World War III. For a while things are idyllic without an adult around. But, as the war catches up to them, Daisy and her cousins must face a new reality that is violent, hostile, and deadly. Find out what happens to Daisy and see How She Lives Now.

  • Branford Boase Award, 2005
  • Der Luchs des Jahres Book Prize, 2005
  • Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, 2004
  • Julia Ward Howe Prize (Boston Authors Club), 2005
  • Michael L. Printz Award, 2005

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Ryan, C. (2009). The Forest of Hands and Teeth. New York: Delacorte.

Image credit: Carrie Ryan

In a post-apocalyptic world of zombies a teenager must find courage to protect the ones she loves.


What lies beyond the fences in the Forest of Hands and Teeth? Mary is like any other teenager; she falls in love, she is rebellious, and she has had a best friend since she was little. But Mary's world is post-apocalyptic and overrun with undead cannibals who threaten her existence. When the village fences succumb to the relentless undead, Mary is forced to flee with a small group of friends. And so begins a journey for truth, safety, and a world long forgotten. Will Mary find what she is looking for in the Forest of Hands and Teeth?


I think about how fragile we are here—like fish in a glass bowl with darkness pressing in on every side.


  • ALA Best Books for Young Adults selection
  • Borders Original Voices finalist
  • Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book
  • Denver Public Library Best Teen Books, 2009
  • Georgia Peach Book AwardNomination, 2010-2011
  • IndieBound Kids' Indie Next List for Spring 2009, #4
  • Junior Library Guild selection
  • New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age List, 2010
  • New York Times Best Seller
  • North Carolina School Library Media Association Young Adult Book Award Nomination
  • Texas Library Association TAYSHAS High School Reading list, 2010-2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Last Book in the Universe

Philbreck, Rodman. (2000). The Last Book in the Universe. New York: Blue Sky Press.

Image credit:

A young fourteen year-old boy sets off on a dangerous journey through a post-apocalyptic world to save his younger sister who is sick.


What would you say if you had to write down the story of your life? Would you be happy with what you've done so far? 

After a major earthquake, people are now using probes, needles that inject memories into the brain, to face the reality of their world. Society is divided into two classes: the scientifically improved humans, Proovs, who live in Eden and the poor, imperfect people who live in run-down crypts in the Urb. Spaz, an epileptic young boy, is on his own in the Urb until he meets an strange old man named Ryter.

Spaz convinces Ryter to set out with him to find and save his sick younger sister. Along the way Spaz discovers that Ryter has a knowledge that few in their world possess. Will they save Spaz's sister? Will the story of Spaz's life become the Last Book in the Universe?

    • ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 2001
    • Isinglass Teen Read Award, 2001-2002
    • Maine Lupine Award Honor Book, 2000
    • Maryland Readers Medal
    • YALSA 100 Best of the Best Books for the 21st Century

      Sunday, November 20, 2011

      The Hunger Games

      Collins, Suzanne. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic.

      Image credit: Wikipedia

      In order to prevent her sister from certain death, seventeen year-old Katniss must battle to the death at The Hunger Games, a life or death battle where winning means being the only one left alive.


      How far would you go for the ones you loved? Katniss Evergreen has just volunteered to take her little sister's place as one of District 12's tributes for the annual Hunger Games. In doing so she will spare her sister's life, but she will be putting hers on the line.

      Accompany Katniss as she battles twenty-three other children in an arena that is an unpredictable killing field controlled by the Gamemakers. The only way to make it out alive is to be the last man standing. Who will survive and win this year's Hunger Games?

      "Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun..."

      Check out the new film adaptation of the book out March 23, 2012


      • ALA Amelia Bloomer Project List, 2009
      • ALA Notable Children’s Book
      • ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults
      • Black-eyed Susan Award, 2010-2011
      • Booklist Editors’ Choice, 2008
      • CCBC Choices, 2009
      • Children’s Choice Book Award, 2009
      • Cybil Award for Fantasy & Science Fiction, 2008
      • Horn Book Fanfare
      • Indies Choice Best Indie Yung Adult Buzz Book Honor
      • Isinglass Teen Read Award, 2009-2010
      • Kirkus Best Book, 2008
      • New York Times Bestseller
      • New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
      • New York Times Notable Children’s Book, 2008
      • NYPL “Stuff for the Teen Age” List, 2009
      • Publishers Weekly Bestseller
      • Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Fiction Books, 2008
      • School Library Journal Best Books, 2008
      • Teen Choice Book of the Year Finalist
      • USA Today Bestseller
      • Wall Street Journal Bestseller
      • YALSA'S Teens' Top Ten, 2009
      • LA Times Favorite Children’s Book, 2008

      Thursday, November 17, 2011

      The Adoration of Jenna Fox

      Pearson, Mary. (2008). The Adoration of Jenna Fox. New York: Henry Holt.

      Image credit:

       A seventeen year-old girl awakes from a coma with no memory of who she is or what happened to her. Jenna Fox struggles to find her identity and realize her purpose in life.


       “Tell me who I am.” 

      Who is Jenna Fox? Imagine waking up one day with no memory of who you were or how to do simple things like walk or talk. This is the reality of Jenna Fox's new life. She's constantly looking up words to understand their meanings and watching excessive, almost creepy childhood videos. She remembers things that she shouldn't- couldn't and there are also the crystal-clear voices that visit every night. 

      “The dictionary says my identity should be all about being separate or distinct, and yet it feels like it is so wrapped up in others.” 

      Jenna's mother is obsessive, controlling, and secretive. Her grandmother avoids her like the plague and always seems mad. Her father always masks his emotions with a smile and a sweetly spoken "It's alright, Angel." Yet it is these people who hold the keys to the closet of secrets that is Jenna's life. She must discover her past to understand who she has become.

      Follow in the new Jenna's footsteps and surrender yourself to the mysterious Adoration of Jenna Fox.


      One small changed family doesn’t calculate into a world that has been spinning for a billion years. But one small change makes the world spin differently in a billion ways for one family.


      • ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2009
      • Andre Norton Award Finalist, 2009
      • Arkansas Teen Book Award, 2010
      • Booklist 2009 Amazing Audiobooks
      • Califonia Young Reader Medal nominee, 2010-2011
      • Capitol Choices for Teens, 2009
      • Cynsational Books of 2008
      • Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award nominee, 2010-2011
      • Evergreen Young Adult Book Award 2011 Master list, 201!
      • Garden State Teen Book Award Finalist, 2011
      • German Youth Literature Award Finalist, Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, 2010
      • Golden Kite Honor Award, 2008
      • Heartland Award Honor Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, 2010
      • IndieBound "Top Ten" Summer 2008 Pick 
      • International Reading Association Young Adult Choice Book, 2010
      • Iowa High School Book Award master list, 2010-2011
      • Isinglass Teen Reads Award Nominee, 2010-2011
      • Kentucky Book Award Master List, 2010
      • Kirkus Best Young Adult Books of 2008
      • Librarians' Choices 2008
      • Locus Magazine 2008 Recommended Read
      • Maine Student Book Award Master List, 2010
      • Missouri Truman Readers Award nominee, 2010-2011
      • Never Jam Today Best of 2008
      • Not Your Mother's Faves, 2008
      • NYPL Best Books, 2009
      • Oregon Reader's Choice nominee, 2010-2011
      • Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award Master List, 2011
      • Rhode Island Teen Book Award Master List, 2010
      • School Library Journal Best Books, 2008
      • Sequoyah Book Awards Master list, 2011
      • South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Master List, 2009
      • Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award Master List, 2010
      • Texas Lone Star Reading List, 2008
      • Texas Tayshas High School Reading List, 2008
      • VOYA Top Shelf Fiction, 2008
      • Westchester Fiction Award, 2009
      • Winner Distinguished Work of Fiction CLCSC, 2009
      • YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2010

      Sunday, November 6, 2011

      A Contract with God

      Eisner, Will. (2006). A Contract With God. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

      Image Credit: Wikipedia

      Four short stories give readers insight into the lives of residents living in Bronx tenements.


      Meet some of the tenement's most colorful characters: Frimme Hersch, Diva Marta Maria, Mr. Scuggs, and Goldie. Each resident has their own life experiences and expectations, and each is trying to realize their own "American Dream." Discover the tragic beauty that is alive in the Bronx tenements of 1930's-1950's New York.

      Will Eisner, the godfather of graphic novels, creates images that convey just as much emotion and reality as the text [open book to random page to show the style of illustrations]. Find out how A Contract with God changed literature forever and inspired generations by being the original graphic novel.

      A Step From Heaven

      Na, An. (2001). A Step From Heaven. New York: Penguin Group.

      Image credit: Powells

      A five year-old Korean girl suddenly finds herself adjusting to a new life in America where not everything is what she imagined.


      "What are you singing, Uhmma?"
      "What is that?"
      "Mi Gook."
      "This is a magic word."

      Since moving to Mi Gook, America, from Korea, Young Ju Park is confused, disappointed, and unimpressed. Her parents swear that she will have more opportunities in America, but they have contradicting desires for Young Ju. One day Young Ju's mother forces her to curl her hair so she will "look just like a real Mi Gook girl." The next day she is scolded for speaking English at home. Torn between two cultures, Young Ju adjusts to life in America while enduring painful abuse from her alcoholic father. Join Young Ju on her journey to Mi Gook where she will finally decide if America is truly just A Step From Heaven.

      • ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 2002
      • ALA Notable Children's Book, 2002
      • Children's Book Award in YA Fiction – International Reading Association, 2002
      • Michael L. Printz Award, 2002
      • National Book Award Finalist, 2001

        Saving Francesca

        Marchetta, Melina. (2003). Saving Francesca. New York: Alfred A. Knopf

        Image Credit:

        Seemingly all at once everything in Francesca's life changes from the school she attends to her family dynamics.


        Meet Francesca: a seventeen year-old sophomore at a all-boys high school that just recently became co-ed. But that's a joke according to Francesca, who suggests that the only thing about the school that's co-ed is the restrooms. One of about thirty girls at St. Sebastian's, Francesca feels lost in the crowd and uncertain about her group of friends. After Francesca's regularly perky and overbearing mother succumbs to a bout of depression, her family begins to fall apart. 
        As things at home begin to fall apart, Francesca relies more and more on her friends and a new love interest. However, even things at school are not a perfect as they seem. Will Francesca be able to put the pieces of her life back together? Will Saving Francesca be possible, or will she fall victim to a life of depression like her mother?

         The truth doesn’t set you free, you know. It makes you feel awkward and embarrassed and defense-less and red in the face and horrified and petrified and vulnerable. But free? I don’t feel free. I feel like shit.
        • Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award: Older Readers, 2004
        • South Australia Premier's Awards, Children's Literature Award, 2004

        The Coldest Winter Ever

        Souljah, Sister. (1999). The Coldest Winter Ever. New York: Atria Books.

        Image credit: Wikipedia

        Seventeen year-old Winter's kush lifestyle changes dramatically after a series of bad events. Winter must do what she can to hustle and survive on the streets of Brooklyn.


        Do you remember New York's Coldest Winter Ever? Out of it a young urban princess, Winter, was born into a lavish lifestyle supported by her drug-dealing father, Ricky Santiaga, Santiaga took care of everything and everyone; he and his crew ran Brooklyn. Everything in Winter's life is perfect, her biggest concern being which outfit to floss or which diamond necklace to rock. Once her father is busted and her mom abandons her for a life of drugs Winter finds herself on her own for the first time ever. As Winter's life changes she finds new friends and new enemies, she learns who to trust and who will rat her out. Winter learns new shocking truths that shake her world as she thought she knew everything. 
        But really we women don’t have to do anything to be beautiful. It’s a gift from God. The woman is. Somewhere along the line many of us as women are led to believe that being pretty is enough. And while we rely on that, we forget to strengthen our minds so that we can learn how to think, how to build. How to survive. We forget how to live our lives to protect our spirit, to be clean and decent. We forget that everything we do matters so much.
        Winter proves true the old adage that whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. Her journey will change her and her life won't be what she expected. Will ever find someone who she can trust? Will her family ever be the same again? Will she survive another Coldest Winter Ever?

        •  YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, Hard Knock Life Category, 2010

        Sunday, October 30, 2011


        Meyer, Stephanie. (2005). Twilight. New York: Little, Brown, and Company.

        Image credit: Wikipedia

        A young girl meets and vampire and falls passionately in love.


        Seventeen year-old Isabella is forced to move from Florida to the small, rainy town of Forks, WA. to live with her father. Bella's life is uneventful and high school is painful until she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen. The attraction is instantaneously and irresistible and is all the more complicated by the fact that Edward is a vampire.

        Like any teenage girl Bella feels the strain of juggling school, family, friends, and a relationship. However the consequences of falling in love with a vampire are much more fatal than dating the boy next door. Will Bella survive this love or is this the Twilight of her human life?

        • ALA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2006
        • Black-Eyed Susan Award, 2007-2008
        • Isinglass Teen Read Award, 2006-2007
        • Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Books of 2005 
        • School Library Journal's Best Books of 2005 

        Saturday, October 29, 2011

        The Giver

        Lowry, Lois. (1993). The Giver. New York: Random House.

        Image credit: Wikipedia

        The implications of a young boy's twelfth birthday will change his life forever.


        What does it mean to be The Giver? In eleven year-old Jonas' utopic society everything in life is decided by the Elders; your name, your parents, your job, your life partner. The community naively enjoys the simplicity that a controlled lifestyle brings;  pain, suffering, and all things negative have been eliminated.

        However, Jonas' perfect world begins to show cracks after the Ceremony of Twelves where he is selected to begin apprenticing under The Giver. Will his new assignment sustain his role in the community, or will it open his eyes to a world of possibilities? Join Jonas on his journey to understand what it means to be The Giver.

        • A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book 
        • ALA Best Book for Young Adults 
        • ALA notable Book for Children 
        • Booklist Editor's Choice 
        • Newberry Medal, 1994 
        • Regina Medal, 1994 
        • School Library Journal's Best Books of the Year 
        • William Allen White Children's Book Award, 1996

        Sunday, October 23, 2011

        Annie on My Mind

        Garden, Nancy. (1992). Annie on My Mind. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.

        Image Credit:

        Eliza Winthrop has her whole perfect life figured out. She is comes from a great family, she's class president, and she hopes to be accepted to MIT in the fall to study architecture. However, her plans are threatened when she beings a relationship with a new friend.


        What is on Eliza Winthrop's mind? Compared to most teenage girls who daydream about boys and obsess over fashion, popularity and Prom, Liza is different. She is a tomboy who aspires to be an architect and would rather hang out with boys than girls. In fact, she only has one girl friend until she meets Annie Kenyon. Annie is more original and unconventional than anyone in Liza's world. Annie is beautiful, talented, and completely understands Liza from the moment they meet.

        As a friendship blossoms, Annie and Liza become inseparable, magnetically drawn to one another with great intensity. Are the girls simply friends, or is something more developing between them? One unexpected event will test their friendship and the girls in ways they never dreamed. The love and depth of their relationship will explain why Liza has Annie on Her Mind.

        • ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 1982
        • ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (Lesbian/Gay  Tales),  1997
        • ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000, #48
        • ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999, #44
        • Booklist Reviewer's Choice, 1982
        • Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award, 2000.


        Myers, Walter Dean. (1999). Monster. New York: Harpercollins.

        Image Credit: Harpercollins

        A high school film geek finds himself on trial for felony murder. Through a journal Steve tells the story of his life and trial.


        Is Steve Harmon a Monster? Or just a kid who got caught at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people? Growing up on the streets of Harlem is no easy task. But aspiring filmmaker Steve loves his neighborhood and the tragic beauty it contains. After a botched robbery ends in the horrendous death of a convenience store owner, Steve finds himself in jail and on trial for felony murder.
        Steve documents his incarceration and trial in an attempt to grasp the reality of what truly happened that fateful December day. His journal, creatively written in the form of a screenplay details facts and feelings [open the book to any page to reveal the formatting]. Strategically placed pixelated photos convey key emotions and events in Steve's life. Will Steve spend his life in prison or will the truth set him free? Join Steve through the trial of his life and decide if Steve truly is a Monster.

        • ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 2000.
        • ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2000.
        • BCCB Blue Ribbon, 1999.
        • Booklist Editors' Choice, 1999.
        • Booksense 76 list, 2002.
        • Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, 1999. 
        • Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, 2000.
        • Edgar Allan Poe Award nominee, Best Young Adult, 2000.
        • Isinglass Teen Read Award, 2002-2003
        • Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Literature Finalist
        • Horn Book Honor List, 1999.
        • Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 2001.
        • L.A. Times Book Award nominee, 2000.
        • Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award nominee in high school category, 2000-2001. 
        • Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Literature for Young Adults, 2000.
        • National Book Award Finalist, 1999.
        • New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, 1999.
        • New York Times Notable Book of the Year, 1999.
        • Notable Children's Book, The New York Times, 1999.
        • PW Best Books of the Year, 1999.
        • Riverbank Review Children's Book of Distinction