Crazy House

Okay, I’m going to give another go at reviewing books.  I got this one as an ARC back at ALA Midwinter 2017 in Atlanta, but finally downloaded it from RCPL with Overdrive this week.  [A student borrowed my ARC and it has never been returned!]

Crazy House by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, jimmy patterson/Hachette Book Group, 2017

Twins Becca and Cassie Greenfield have had more hardship than most seventeen-year-olds.  Two years ago their Ma and Pa basically abandoned them and they now have  a ramshackle farm to take care of, school to pass, their designated vocation to master and only each other to rely upon.  Everyone in United and Cell B-97-4275 must pull their weight.

One fateful morning Cassie wakes up to find Becca, and more importantly, Cassie’s truck, gone.  Cassie’s initial anger turns to fear when she realizes her sister has become one of the “disappeared” – kids who go missing and never return–no reason, no warning, and no trace of them is ever found.  On the flip side, Becca wakes up in a prison for kids–where the sentence is death – and you must learn, obey, and most of all, fight in order to delay your execution.  What the two don’t know is that it was Cassie who was supposed to have been taken, not Becca!    What will happen when the switch is discovered? Will Cassie find Becca before Becca is executed?

First off, I will say I wouldn’t normally have chosen to read this, simply because I’m not a dystopian fan.  It was the mistaken twins and one being in jail that initially intrigued me enough to give it a chance!  Having said that, I’d say this one is a great choice for those who enjoyed Maze Runner by James Dashner; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; and Divergent by Veronica Roth, etc.   The novel is told from multiple points-of-view in short alternating chapters that I believe reluctant readers will find appealing.  This is the first of a series, so of course, there is a bit of a cliffhanger; however, the book does have an ending, of a sorts.  You just know there is more to come and not all answers have been provided – as this is a new world, conflict still remains, and so much more to resolve.  Overall I’d give this one a 3 out of 5 stars, simply because this isn’t my genre.

2015 Reading “Reflection”

Photo by Bonnyb Bendix via

Image by Bonnyb Bendix via

For the past two years I’ve kept track of every book I’ve read using my Evernote account.  Its been relatively easy since I rarely read a physical book these days.  Mostly I read on my iPad mini (Kindle or Overdrive for library books) and once I finish I just hop over to the Evernote app and record the book.  What I love about this is that it allows me to keep track of:

  • “did I read that book?”
  • the authors I’m reading so I can be sure to get follow up books
  • how many books and what type of books I’m reading

While I know I read a lot, I didn’t realize I was reading quite so many books!  I know that these two years I’ve read “slightly” more books than average as I’m a member of the SC Young Adult Book Award committee and this requires me to read a LOT of young adult books.  Really, this just means I’m reading less of what I would normally be reading – only reading my favorite authors vs reading any/all books that sound good.  I wish I’d thought to keep track of my reading sooner so I could do an accurate comparison.

Anyway, this is the breakdown of 2015 vs 2014:

2015 2014
Books Read: 272 264
Books DNF: 11 7
Young Adult Books Read: 101 43
Children’s Books Read: 6 0
Non-YA & Children’s Books Read: 165 221
Most Books Read Month: December (30) August (37)
Least Books Read Month August (13) October (9)

Monthly Breakdown:

Below is a list of the YA and Children’s books I read in 2015.  The headings for each month indicate the number of total books I read (or did not finish/DNF) in the month and not just the YA/Children’s books.  Just an FYI, I re-read Tamora Pierce’s books at least once a year and have since I was in middle school!  I just love her Song of the Lioness series and was thrilled when she received the Margaret A. Edwards Award in 2013 and I was able to hear/see her give her acceptance speech!

January 2015: 28 Read

  • Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
  • Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
  • Alanna: the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
  • In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
  • The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce
  • Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
  • Strike! The Far Workers’ Fight for Their Rights by Larry Dane Brimmer
  • The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
  • Brave the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
  • Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff
  • The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno
  • First Test by Tamora Pierce
  • Page by Tamora Pierce
  • My Little Pet Dragon by Scott Gordon

February 2015: 22 Read & 1 DNF

  • Squire by Tamora Pierce
  • Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce
  • Skink: No Surrender by Carl Hiassen
  • Eyes Wide Open by Paul Fliechman (DNF)
  • The Accidental Highwayman by Benjamin Tripp
  • The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan
  • Starbird Murphy and the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

March 2015: 17 Read & 1 DNF

  • Transgender Lives by Kristen Cronn-Mills
  • Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
  • Because They Marched by Russell Freedman
  • Followers by Anna Davies
  • Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
  • The Egg & the Spoon by Gregory Maguire (DNF)
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

April 2015: 21 Read

  • On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers
  • The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
  • No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown
  • Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
  • City of Savages by Lee Kelly
  • Conversion by Katherine Howe
  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • Tunnel Vision by Susan Adrian
  • #scandal by Sarah Ockler
  • Get Happy by Mary Amato
  • Hold Tight, Don’t Let go by Laura Rose Wagner
  • The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
  • When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Sterling
  • Woven by Michael Jensen

May 2015: 25 Read and 2 DNF

  • Soulprint by Megan Miranda
  • Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Porter (DNF)
  • Alice + Freda Forever by Alexis Coe (DNF)
  • I Was Here by Gayle Forman
  • Some Boys by Patty Blount
  • The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
  • Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowery
  • How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
  • Death Coming Up the Hill by Chris Crowe
  • Chernobyl’s Wild Kingdom by Rebecca L. Johnson
  • Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

June 2015: 20 Read & 2 DNF

  • Althea & Oliver by Christina Moracho
  • Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King (DNF)
  • We Shoud Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist
  • Homeroom Diaries by James Patterson (DNF)
  • This is How It Ends by Jen Nadol
  • My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
  • Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
  • The Things We Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Cooner
  • Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker
  • Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
  • Chicken Chicken by Jeanne Willis
  • Penguinpig by Stuart Spendow
  • The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
  • Abe Lincoln’s Dream by Lane Smith

July 2015: 26 Read & 1 DNF

  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
  • The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
  • Jackaby by William Ritter
  • The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson
  • Sway by Kat Spears
  • Webster’s eMail by Hannah Whaley

August 2015: 13 Read and 1 DNF

  • Mosquitoland by David Arnold
  • Forget Me by K. A. Harrington
  • Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall
  • A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery
  • Audacity by Melanie Crowder (DNF)
  • The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

September 2015: 27 Read and 1 DNF

  • Hunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury
  • Push Girl by Chelsea Hill and Jessica Love
  • Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern (DNF)
  • Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
  • Bleed Like Me by C. Desir
  • Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Stolarz
  • Damaged by Amy Reed
  • Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer
  • Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn
  • Sweet Unrest by Lisa Maxwell
  • Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton
  • The Stepsister’s Tale by Tracy Barrett
  • The Wrong Side of Wright
  • The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  • What Waits in the Woods by Kieran Scott
  • We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
  • The Wraith and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  • Undertow by Michael Buckley

October 2015: 20 Read

  • Damage Done by Amanda Panitch
  • Joyride by Anna Banks
  • Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
  • Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

November 2015: 21 Read

  • Who R U Really by Margo Kelly
  • The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

December 2015: 30 Read & 2 DNF

  • Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  • I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
  • Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes (DNF)
  • Chocolate: Sweet Science and Dark Secrets by Kay Frydenborg (DNF)

2016 – New Year!

Happy New Years photo by by Gerd Altmann via

Happy New Years photo by by Gerd Altmann via

I’m ready to kick off 2016 with a new batch of books.  My TBR list is already overwhelming with YA titles that I have to read along with ones I want to read (sequels & favorite authors) as well as non-YA favorite authors who have releases in 2016!

I’m even thinking of joining (and/or starting) some challenges with my students/faculty such as:

Does anyone have other challenges/suggestions to motivate teens to read?  I’d love to hear from you!

Summer Reading

Summer Reading 2014

“So many books, so little time!”

One of my goals has been to get back into reading young adult literature.  I’d been in a slump, or should I say disappointed with what I’d been reading, so haven’t been reading like a good YA librarian should.  To that end here are the ones I picked up to give a go and have read so far this summer:

1. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (4 out of 5 stars); [contemporary; realistic fiction; PTSD]

Uhm, read it a LONG while ago, so don’t remember any pertinent details, just that it was good, not as good as some of her other books (ie: Speak), but still definitely worth purchasing.

2. Forgive Me Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (3 out of 5 stars); [contemporary; realistic fiction]

This was a VERY well written book and I have my own reasons, not to do with the plot/issue of the story, of why I didn’t give it a higher rating.  If anyone is interested in why I didn’t give it a higher rating, ask me in the comments and I’ll email you.  My answer has the potential to spoil the ending for those who may want to read the book and I hate spoilers so I wont do that to anyone else!!

3. Love in the Time of Global Warming by Franchesca Block (DNF); [science fiction; survival fiction; magic realistic fiction]

Okay, this one I just couldn’t get into – mostly due to the back and fourth “fantasy/reality” passages and as you really need to know/understand some mythology (I guess) to “get it” and I just didn’t feel like I wanted to put in that much effort in my summer reading!  Sorry!  This wasn’t my “cup of tea”!  Maybe others will enjoy it as I know she’s a popular YA author.

4. How to Love by Katie Cotugno (3 out of 5 stars); [contemporary; realistic fiction; teen pregnancy]

Good, but not great.  I like that the main character accepts responsibility for her actions; however, I don’t believe that it accurately depicts the hardships single parents face – she had it too easy!  This also borders on a New Adult(ish) title since half the book is while the main character is out of high school flashing back to high school and how she became pregnant so I don’t know that it is a true YA title in my opinion.

5. Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young (4 out of 5 stars); [contemporary; realistic/science fiction; romance]

Reminded me of a YA version of the movie “Sliding Doors” – what happens if you make one decision/choice over another?  Does it lead to the same conclusion/fate?  I didn’t always like the choices Caroline made, in either “reality”, but overall I liked the book.

6. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales (4 out of 5 stars); [contemporary; realistic fiction; bullying; romance]

Really liked the positive aspect of the adults in the main character’s life – didn’t stay in the background/absentee as in most YA, but took active roll!  Adults aren’t the enemy!

7. The Gaged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni (4 out of 5 stars); [historical fiction; mystery; romance]

Very interesting that the story is based on true account of caged graves!  Who ever heard of such a thing?  Weird.

8. Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel (4 out of 5 stars); [historical fiction; mystery; espionage; romance]

I would have given it even higher marks; however, this isn’t a YA book in my opinion.  This reads like a regular romance novel that happens to have a teenage protagonist.  It has very sexual undertones: an attempted rape; mentions of the kings mistress; witnessing a lovers tryst; etc.  While nothing overt/explicit, it is more adult in content and in writing style/language than most of my teens would be willing to invest.  That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and WILL be recommending it to my teen girls who like romance and mysteries.

9. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason (3 out of 5 stars); [steampunk; historical fiction; science fiction; romance; mystery; fantasy]

This book tired to be too many things and just didn’t work for me.  Overall, it is an okay story/mystery, but it just tried too hard to do too much at once.

Okay, that’s it for now, but I have a whole bunch more on my TBR pile.  I’ll post those as I get to them!  What have you been reading?

Photo credit: “So many books, so little time!” photograph by Heather Loy, 7/11/2014.