Teen Book Group and the Wonders of Skype

I posted earlier about starting a teen book group at the book store. Well, I am happy to report the group is up and running.  We had about ten or fifteen kids show up and we chose the following four books to read over the summer:

1.  An Abundance of Katerines by John Green

2.  Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

3.  Gone by Michael Grant

4.  Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner

What is even more exciting about this whole project is that I helped my boss set up a Skype account and so far we have three of the four authors doing a skype conversation with the group on the day we meet to discuss.  How cool is that?

imagesUp first is John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines.  We meet on July 7th to discuss.  I will post after the meeting.


Giving into the hype

Everyone I talk to has told me that I HAVE to read The Hunger Games, but so far I have been putting it off. Yesterday, before leaving school for the summer, I raided our school’s library and what did I find sitting on the shelf in the back? Well, I think you can probably see where this is going. I know that the next book (Catching Fire) is due out in July, so I decided this might actually be a good time to finally read it. Now I won’t even have to wait for the sequel!

Look for my review coming soon.

Book Giveaway: The Night Gardener


Thanks to the folks at Hachette, I have one copy of The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos to give away.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Pelecanos (Drama City) delivers a dignified, character-driven epic that succeeds as both literary novel and page-turner. In 1985, the body of a 14-year-old girl turns up in a Washington, D.C., park, the latest in a series of murders by a killer the media dub “The Night Gardener.” T.C. Cook, the aging detective on the case, works with a quiet, almost monomaniacal, focus. Also involved are two young uniformed cops, Gus Ramone, who’s diligent, conscientious and unimpressed by heroics, and Dan “Doc” Holiday, an adrenaline junkie who’s decidedly less straight.

Fast forward 20 years. Detective Ramone, now married with kids of his own, investigates the murder of one of his teenage son’s friends. The homicide closely resembles the earlier unsolved Night Gardener murders. Holiday, now an alcoholic chauffeur and bodyguard, follows the case on his own and tracks down Cook, long retired but still obsessed with the original murders. While the three work together toward a suspenseful ending, Pelecanos emphasizes the fallacy of “solving” a murder and explores the ripple effects of violent crime on society.

Giveaway Rules:  Please enter your name and email address.  I will notify the winner on July 1st.    No PO boxes please.  Contest is open until June 30th.

Testimony by Anita Shreve

images-3Summary:  The book opens with the headmaster of a private school in Vermont viewing  a sex tape.  What is even more disturbing than that previous statement is that the video “stars” three high school male students and one very young (14) female student.  The boys are 17, 18 and 19, statuatory rape in the state of Vermont.  What follows is a look into how this act affects all the members of this one little town in Vermont.

The book alternates points of view, from the students involved in the act to the parents to the reporters to the faculty at Avery Academy. Together all these members of this community tell the story, bit by bit and discuss its aftermath.

Review:  I have said it before and I will say it again, I have a hard time with books that alternate narrators.  Testimony just reinforced this fact.  I found the story really interesting and compelling, but I had hard time losing myself in the book. There seemed to be too many different perspectives for me to fully connect with any character.  However, what I did find really interesting was how depending on the character, Shreve used a different point of view.  The high school students were almost all told in first person, some of the adults involved were third person and one of the parents used the second person, you.

Shreve brings up a lot of issues in this novel, most importantly, why?  What would drive someone to do such an act?  The story is emotional, disturbing and leaves you feeling a little shaken at the end.  It will leave you thinking, that’s for sure.

All in all, I give Testimony a rating of :  3.


Summer Reading List

I recently saw Natalie’s summer reading challenge, and was inspired to create my own.  I think I have a pretty good balance of some quality literature and some just light summer reading.  Here is what I have come up with so far:

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strut

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (re-read)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (re-read)

The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood

Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

Made in the USA by Billie Letts

Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart






Booking Through Thursday: First Fifteen


“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

1.  Night by Elie Wiesel
2.  Native Son by Richard Wright
3.  The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
4.  The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (saddest, most tragic ending EVER)
5.  A Separate Peace by John Knowles
6.  The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
7.  The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
8.  The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
9.  1984 by George Orwell
10.  The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
11.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
12.  Forever by Judy Blume
13.  The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
14.  The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
15.  Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Teen Book Group

On Friday I asked my boss at the bookstore about starting a teen reading group for the summer and he gave me the go ahead. I am so excited to get this project up and running. I can’t wait to talk about books with kids without being the teacher in the room. Our plan is to have our first meeting on the 19th to discuss titles for the summer.  I will keep you posted on what the summer reading choices are and perhaps you may read it as well.

The other idea we talked about was having some of our younger readers write reviews for books that we could post in the store.  Right now we have lots of staff recommendations around the store, but how cool would it be for a kid to come into the store and see their own recommendation posted or have one of their friends buy a book because of their review.   I am pleased to help make this push for literacy in the community.  It can only be a good thing, right?