By Jenny

Welcome to Cracken the Spines. I am Jennifer McCracken, English teacher by day and novice blogger by night! This foray into book blogging began as an experiment to see if I could create and maintain a website, while working two jobs, being a devoted wife, and the loving mother of two boys - as if I don't have enough to keep me busy!

I am obsessed with literature - specifically fantasy - and it isn't enough that I get to teach books for a living. I want to discuss them obsessively on the Internet as well.

*Review* ~ The Sin Eater’s Daughter ~ Melinda Salisbury


 

Goodreads Summary:

I am the perfect weapon.

I kill with a single touch.

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it’s price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla’s fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla’s chilling role to the girls she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen’s, some truths should not be told…


Reading this novel was an interesting experience.  There were times when I loved it and there were times when I felt like it was a struggle to get through it.  The problem is, I wanted to love this book cover to cover and I didn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, overall, it was a good read and a nice way to pass the time.  It also had an awesome love story, which by now, I think we all know I enjoy.  However, I just had SUCH high hopes for this book and it just seemed to fall flat – especially in regards to the world-building, which is such a huge component of any successful fantasy novel.

**This portion of the review contains SPOILERS!**

I adored the back story of the Sin Eaters and the role they played in Twylla’s world.  However, I am not sure that Melinda Salisbury was completely successful in connecting the lore of the Sin Eater to the culture of the world that Twylla inhabited.  I wanted to know more about how these Sin Eaters worked and their connection to the Gods.  I guess the real problem I had with this novel is that by the end, I felt like I had been through a bate and switch scheme.  Please understand, I don’t mind being surprised by a novel, in fact, more often than not I am thrilled when an author surprises me.  However, in this book, Salisbury took the lore and turned it on its head, leaving it meaningless.  I didn’t want Twylla’s existence at court to be a sham, I feel like that was an easy out for Salisbury so she didn’t have to get into the complicated existence of the connections between the Gods and the Sin Eaters or the Gods and Twylla.  Although, I will say, that was really about the only thing I didn’t like about this book.

I absolutely loved the business of the court intrigue and the use of an apothecary to keep Twylla’s condition a secret.  I also loved the Machiavellian brutality of the Queen trying to maintain rule over her people in the face of a potential invasion.  These bits of the story added so much suspense and drama, which made really fun to read.   Furthermore, the love story that bloomed between Lief and Twylla was awesome and full of brutal twists and turns as well.  Overall, I would be interested in reading other books by Melinda Salisbury.  I think this novel showed she has the chops to spin a pretty sophisticated tale.

4-star-review3

 

 

*Review*~ Shadow Study ~ Maria V. Snyder


Goodreads Summary: 

Once, only her own life hung in the balance…

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she’d survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek’s job—and his life—are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret—or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is—while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous…


 

 

Wow!  I absolutely LOVED this book.  Maria V. Snyder is one of my all-time favorite authors and I think that she deserves more credit than she receives for writing incredible fantasy novels.  I started my Maria V. Snyder addiction with Poison Study, which is the first novel in her Study Series.  Since then, I have shamelessly devoured every book she has ever published, many of which have centered around Yelena and Valek’s world.  She is up there with the likes of J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman and Kristen Cashore as far as I am concerned.

Shadow Study is a new tale centered around Yelena and Valek, who haven’t had their own story since the conclusion of the Study Series – even though their characters have existed in the spin-offs.  I loved this book because it provided a taste of the romance and adventure that Valek and Yelena created in Poison Study, but it also showcased just how much Yelena and Valek have transformed since their stories began.

Without giving too much away, I love how both characters stay true to their ideals and remain focused on the greater good of their world despite facing the temptations of power and corruption at every turn.  I also adored that readers were able to find out more about Valek’s history!  His back story is even more incredible than I could have imagined and I was fascinated with learning more about him.

I am so excited about the prospect of more stories with Yelena and Valek that I can’t stand it!

Gold star

*Review* ~ Isla and the Happily Ever After ~ Stephanie Perkins

 

Goodreads Summary:

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.


 

I know I have previously mentioned my love for all things written by Stephanie Perkins, and this book did NOT disappoint.  I loved the story of Isla and Josh.  Watching their romance unfold brought back all sorts of memories of first love – the agony, the nerves, the pain, the butterflies and the joy.

However, this story was so much more fun to read than your typical teen romance because it was set against the backdrop of some of the most romantic European cities.  Barcelona and Paris were like minor characters in this novel.  I love the details that Stephanie Perkins included about the architecture of the cities down to the detailed maps that were drawn by Kurt, Isla’s best friend.

This story deals with the nitty-gritty logistics of long-distance relationships while also addressing dysfunctional families and the pressures that kids feel to perform and live up to familial expectations.  I think that both Isla and Josh were exceptionally realistic throughout the novel in both their decision-making and their insecurities.  As the story progresses, both characters transform into more mature and believable representations of the characters they were at the start of the book.

Stephanie Perkins knocked another one out of the park with this novel and I am utterly bereft at the thought of this series coming to a close.  That being said, I am so happy that I finally finished the series, I had put if off long enough and it truly provided the ‘Happily Ever After’ that I wanted for this family of characters.

Gold star

*Review* ~ Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

Goodreads Summary: Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’.

Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin’s new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her.


 

I was extremely excited to read this book when it came out because it was getting so many fabulous reviews and I am thrilled to report that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.   Seeker is a novel that takes readers on a whirlwind journey through time and space as Quin Kincaid follows her own path of self-discovery to find out what being a Seeker truly means.  The world-building was awesome – although a bit complicated at times – and the characters were captivating.

However, I will say that when I was reading this book, I found myself wondering about the history of the seekers, their families, and the Dreads.  My curiosity about the backstories and histories is the only serious drawback that I really encountered while reading this book.  This was an entertaining, fast-paced read, but it wasn’t life-changing.  This isn’t a book that made me feel like I wanted to dig into the themes and motifs to try and find a way I could use it in my classroom with my students.  I also haven’t found myself telling people that they should be reading this book and recommending it everywhere I go.

Ultimately, this was a good book that was set in a brilliant, colorful and fascinating world.  I am curious to see what is going to happen in the future as this story continues. I give this book 3.5 stars

*Top Ten Tuesday* ~ 4/28/15

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday
Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish
Description: Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!


 

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday Features Great Books With Musical Themes!

 


1. If I Stay ~ Gayle Foreman

Goodreads Summary: Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.


2. Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist ~ Rachel Cohn

Goodreads Summary: It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City–and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.
This he said/she said romance told by YA stars Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is a sexy, funny roller coaster of a story about one date over one very long night, with two teenagers, both recovering from broken hearts, who are just trying to figure out who they want to be–and where the next great band is playing.
Told in alternating chapters, teeming with music references, humor, angst, and endearing side characters, this is a love story you’ll wish were your very own. Working together for the first time, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have combined forces to create a book that is sure to grab readers of all ages and never let them go.


3. Revolution ~ Jennifer Donnelly

Goodreads Summary: BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.


4. Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie ~ Jordan Sonnenblick

Goodreads Summary: Steven has a totally normal life (well, almost). He plays drums in the All-City Jazz Band (whose members call him the Peasant), has a crush on the hottest girl in school (who doesn’t even know he’s alive), and is constantly annoyed by his younger brother Jeffrey (who is cuter than cute – which is also pretty annoying).
But when Jeffrey gets sick, Steven’s world is turned upside down, and he is forced to deal with his brother’s illness, his parents’ attempts to keep the family in one piece, his homework, the band, girls, and Dangerous Pie (yes, you’ll have to read the book to find out what that is!)


5. Eleanor & Park ~ Rainbow Rowell

Goodreads Summary: Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.


6. Shiver ~ Maggie Stiefvater

Goodreads Summary: For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.


7. Tithe ~ Holly Black

Goodreads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death.


8. Just Listen ~ Sarah Dessen

Goodreads Summary: Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.

This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.


9. Supergirl Mixtapes~ Meagan Brothers

Goodreads Summary: In Meagan Brothers’s Supergirl Mixtapes, a music-obsessed girl travels to New York City to find herself. After years of boredom in her rural South Carolina town, Maria is thrilled when her father finally allows her to visit her estranged artist mother in New York City. She’s ready for adventure, and she soon finds herself immersed in a world of rock music and busy streets, where new people and ideas lie around every concrete corner. This is the freedom she’s always longed for—and she pushes for as much as she can get, skipping school to roam the streets, visit fancy museums, and flirt with the cute clerk at a downtown record store.

But just like her beloved New York City, Maria’s life has a darker side. Behind her mother’s carefree existence are shadowy secrets, and Maria must decide just where—and with whom—her loyalty lies.


10. The Sky is Everywhere ~ Jandy Nelson

Goodreads Summary: Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

 

*Thursday Quotables* ~ 4/16/15

Thursday Quotables

Thursday Quotables

Hosted by: Bookshelf Fantasies
Description: Share a favorite quote, line, or passage from your reading each week!


 

 

“Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you’ve been in before – you will recognize the furniture, the pictures on the wall,the books on the shelves, the contents of drawers: You could find your way around in the dark if you had to.”~ Jandy Nelson I’ll Give You the Sun

“Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”  ~ Jandy Nelson I’ll Give You the Sun


Goodreads Summary: A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

*Waiting on Wednesday* ~ 4/15/15

Waiting on Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday
Hosted by: Breaking the Spine
Description: “Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


 

Good afternoon, all!  I cannot wait for these books to be released!  What new books are you excited to read once they become available?


 

1. An Ember in the Ashes ~ Sabaa Tahir

Goodreads Summary: Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.


 

2. Tease ~ Amanda Maciel

Goodreads Summary: From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide.

Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault. At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

With its powerful narrative, unconventional point of view, and strong anti-bullying theme, this coming-of-age story offers smart, insightful, and nuanced views on high school society, toxic friendships, and family relationships.


 

3. A Court of Thorns and Roses ~ Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads Summary:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

 

*Top Ten Tuesday* ~ 4/14/15

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday
Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish
Description: Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is the Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books (anything that inspires you, challenges you, makes you think, encourages you, etc.)


1. “I believe good things happen every day. I believe good things happen even when bad things happen…” ~Gabrielle Zevin Elsewhere

2. “Instead of agonizing about the things you can’t change, why don’t you try working on the things you can change..” ~Jordan Sonnenblick Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie

3. “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” ~ J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

4. “The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.” ~Stephanie Perkins Anna and the French Kiss

5. “The important people in our lives leave imprints. They may stay or go in the physical realm, but they are always there in your heart, because they helped form your heart.  There’s not getting over that.” ~ David Levithan Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

6. “Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it’s really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.” ~ Erin Morgenstern The Night Circus

7. “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.” ~ Sharon Creech Walk Two Moons

8. “We all possess different gifts and abilities.  How we use those gifts determines who we are.” ~ Brandon Mull Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

9.”It’s funny how humans can wrap their mind around things and fit them into their version of reality.” ~ Rick Riordan The Lightning Thief

10. “Be a little kinder than you have to.” ~ E. Lockhart We Were Liars

*Review* ~ Girl on the Train 4/14/15

The Girl on the Train ~ Paula Hawkins

Goodreads Summary: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?


Girl on the Train is a book that has been getting a lot of buzz this year.  I finished reading it a few weeks ago, but held off posting my review until I was certain about my feelings for this book.  Goodreads called Girl on the Train, “A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories”.  However, after taking some time to reflect, I am certain that, for me, this book has not lived up to all of the hype.

As an out of work alcoholic, Rachel has everything a reader could hope for in an unreliable narrator. She is sad, weak and starved for attention – no matter how negative.  Her obsession with the lives of the people she observes on the daily commuter train creates a blurred line (in no way referencing the song) between reality and the world she has created within the confines of her imagination.  Thus creating a predicament for the reader about who to believe as the narration is divided up among the characters.

While the premise of the book was intriguing, I felt that the book itself left something to be desired.  I wanted this book to be as gripping as Gone Girl. I wanted the characters to be as enigmatic and as the fabulous the Liars in We Were Liars.  I had SUCH high hopes for this story, but for me, it fell flat.  When my friends asked me how I was liking this book, I struggled to find anything nicer to say than, “It is FINE.  I don’t exactly find myself dying to pick it back up.”

I suppose my biggest issue with this book is that I found the bulk of the characters to be flat, spiteful and vindictive.  The main cast of characters didn’t have a lot of redeemable qualities. So, I found myself not really caring whether or not I finished their story.  I wasn’t invested in discovering what was going to happen later in the book because the narrative just didn’t drive me to keep reading.  It took me WEEKS to finish this book, when I normally tear through several books per week.  Overall, I would say I found this book disappointing – especially considering the media hype surrounding the story.

three stars

 

*Top Ten Tuesday* ~ 3/24/15

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday
Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish
Description: Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is devoted to the top ten books from my childhood (teen/college years) that I would love to re-visit. These books are, essentially, a smattering of my youth. Enjoy!


1. A Wrinkle in Time ~ Madeleine L’Engle

Goodreads Summary: It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?


2. Walk Two Moons ~ Sharon Creech

Goodreads Summary: “How about a story? Spin us a yarn.”
Instantly, Phoebe Winterbottom came to mind. “I could tell you an extensively strange story,” I warned.
“Oh, good!” Gram said. “Delicious!”
And that is how I happened to tell them about Phoebe, her disappearing mother, and the lunatic.

As Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe’s outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold — the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.

In her own award-winning style, Sharon Creech intricately weaves together two tales, one funny, one bittersweet, to create a heartwarming, compelling, and utterly moving story of love, loss, and the complexity of human emotion.


3. Holes ~ Louis Sachar

Goodreads Summary: “If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy.” is motto for Camp Greenlake. Stanley runs away to find pal Zero. Their journey to freedom becomes a battle with hunger, thirst and heat in the shadow of Big Thumb. The mountain is entwined in the Yelnatz’s unlucky history. To get there means salvation.


4. To Kill a Mockingbird ~ Harper Lee

Goodreads Summary: The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos.


5. The Hobbit ~ J.R.R. Tolkein

Goodreads Summary: In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. The text in this 372-page paperback edition is based on that first published in Great Britain by Collins Modern Classics (1998), and includes a note on the text by Douglas A. Anderson (2001). Unforgettable!


6. Shark Girl ~ Kelly Bingham

Goodreads Summary: A teenager struggles through physical loss to the start of acceptance in an absorbing, artful novel at once honest and insightful, wrenching and redemptive.

On a sunny day in June, at the beach with her mom and brother, fifteen-year-old Jane Arrowood went for a swim. And then everything — absolutely everything — changed. Now she’s counting down the days until she returns to school with her fake arm, where she knows kids will whisper, “That’s her — that’s Shark Girl,” as she passes. In the meantime there are only questions: Why did this happen? Why her? What about her art? What about her life? In this striking first novel, Kelly Bingham uses poems, letters, telephone conversations, and newspaper clippings to look unflinchingly at what it’s like to lose part of yourself – and to summon the courage it takes to find yourself again.


7. Touching Spirit Bear ~ Ben Mikaelson

Goodreads Summary: Within Cole Matthews lie anger, rage and hate. Cole has been stealing and fighting for years. This time he caught Peter Driscal in the parking lot and smashed his head against the sidewalk. Now, Peter may have permanent brain damage and Cole is in the biggest trouble of his life.

Cole is offered Circle Justice: a system based on Native American traditions that attempts to provide healing for the criminal offender, the victim and the, community. With prison as his only alternative, Cole plays along. He says he wants to repent, but in his heart Cole blames his alcoholic mom his, abusive dad, wimpy Alex–everyone but himself for his situation.

Cole receives a one-year banishment to a remote Alaskan island. There, he is mauled by Mysterious white bear of Native American legend. Hideously injured, Cole waits for his death His thoughts shift from from Anger to humility. To survive, he must stop blaming others and take responsibility for his life. Rescuers arrive to save Cole’s but it is the attack of the Spirit Bear that may save his soul.

Ben Mikaelsen paints a vivid picture of a juvenile offender, examining the roots without absolving solving him of responsibility for his actions, and questioning a society in which angry people make victims of their peers and communities. Touching Spirit Bear is a poignant testimonial to the power of a pain that can destroy, or lead to healing.


 

8. The Chronicles of Narnia ~ C.S. Lewis

Goodreads Summary: Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Stables Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.

For the past fifty years, The Chronicles of Narnia have transcended the fantasy genre to become part of the canon of classic literature. Each of the seven books is a masterpiece, drawing the reader into a land where magic meets reality, and the result is a fictional world whose scope has fascinated generations.

This edition presents all seven books—unabridged—in one impressive volume. The books are presented here according to Lewis’ preferred order, each chapter graced with an illustration by the original artist, Pauline Baynes. Deceptively simple and direct, The Chronicles of Narnia continue to captivate fans with adventures, characters, and truths that speak to readers of all ages, even fifty years after they were first published.


 9. Elsewhere ~ Gabrielle Zevin

Goodreads Summary:  Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.

Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?

This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.


 

10. Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret. ~ Judy Blume

Goodreads Summary: Margaret Simon, almost twelve, has just moved from New York City to the suburbs, and she’s anxious to fit in with her new friends. When she’s asked to join a secret club she jumps at the chance. But when the girls start talking about boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret starts to wonder if she’s normal. There are some things about growing up that are hard for her to talk about, even with her friends. Lucky for Margaret, she’s got someone else to confide in… someone who always listens.