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Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi

Wow!  A Land of Permanent Goodbyes is such a powerful and important novel.  The stories of Tareq and Susan, along with all the others involved hit me like a ton of bricks and has stuck with me since I finished it yesterday evening.  This is a novel that I just keep thinking about.

This is the story of refugees who have been impacted by the war in Syria; impacted physically, emotionally, mentally.  It is the story of their journey to safety and let's us know just how dangerous that journey is.  And while this is a story about Tareq and his little sister, Susan, it is also the tale of so many Syrians who have fled their homeland in order to preserve their own lives, along with the lives of their families.

While the story of Tareq and Susan is ficitonal, it is also a completely true representation of the crisis that has effected so many.  As I read the hardships that little Susan endured during her journey, I kept thinking of my own little 4 year old girl, and how I couldn't imagine the same things happening to her.  And while she will never have to experience these atrocities, it is an unfortunate reality for way too many.

This is a novel that should open your eyes to some of the things we often try to not pay attention to.  To some of the things we would rather not think about.  But it will also open your hearts and fill you with hope.  A hope that things can be better, a hope that there are good people out there, a hope that the helpers will always be there to help.  

From Amazon:

Narrated by Destiny, this heartbreaking -- and timely -- story of refugees escaping from war-torn Syria is masterfully told by a foreign news correspondent who experienced the crisis firsthand.

In a country ripped apart by war, Tareq lives with his big and loving family . . . until the bombs strike. His city is in ruins. His life is destroyed. And those who have survived are left to figure out their uncertain future.

In the wake of destruction, he's threatened by Daesh fighters and witnesses a public beheading. Tareq's family knows that to continue to stay alive, they must leave. As they travel as refugees from Syria to Turkey to Greece, facing danger at every turn, Tareq must find the resilience and courage to complete his harrowing journey.

But while this is one family's story, it is also the timeless tale of all wars, of all tragedy, and of all strife. When you are a refugee, success is outliving your loss.

Destiny narrates this heartbreaking story of the consequences of war, showing the Syrian conflict as part of a long chain of struggles spanning through time.

An award-winning author and journalist--and a refugee herself--Atia Abawi captures the hope that spurs people forward against all odds and the love that makes that hope grow.

Friday, April 20, 2018

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying was so much fun!  I love when a book like this keeps you guessing, making you keep turning the page as you try and unravel the mystery.  This book does that in an incredibly fun and unique way.  As we look in to the lives of each of the suspects, we start to learn who they really are, and we start to doubt all of the assumptions we may have made about them early on. 

This is a story of five students who end up in detention on the same afternoon.  These five are all very different, but have one dangerous connection.  The four who become suspects were all the target of About That, a gossip app created and ran by the fifth student, who winds up dead by the end of detention.  Simon was about to release a post implicating the other four in juicy pieces of gossip, but he never got the chance.  Now Bronwyn, Nate, Cooper, and Addy are the prime suspects in Simon's death.  So who is telling the truth and who is lying?  You will want to keep turning the pages as you try and figure out where the truth really lies. 

From Amazon:


Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club” ( in this “flat-out addictive” (RT Book Reviews) story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
 Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
 Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
 Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
 Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
 And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

An Best YA Book of the Year Selection

A Buzzfeed Best YA Book of the Year Selection
A Popcrush Best Young Adult Book of the Year SelectionA New York Public Library's Best Book for Teens Selection
A CBC Teen Choice Book Award Nominee
A Best Young Adult Book of May 2017

A Goodreads Best Young Adult Book of the Year Nominee
A YALSA Best Fiction Book Nominee
A YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

“You’ll tear through this juicy, super-fun (if murder can ever be fun?) thriller."—

"A whodunit with a Breakfast Club twist...following four unique voices on a chase to find the killer, this one will keep you guessing until the very, very end."—Popcrush

"Twisty plotting, breakneck pacing and intriguing characterisation add up to an exciting, single-sitting thrillerish treat."—The Guardian
"This is no ordinary whodunit…surprising and relevant."—USA Today
An addictive, devour-in-one-sitting thriller with so many twists and turns you'll be wondering until the very end: Who really killed Simon?”—Kara Thomas, author of The Darkest Corners and Little Monsters
"[As] McManus's intense mystery unfolds...each character becomes more complex and nuanced, adding richness and depth to the suspense." —VOYA, Starred Review

"This fast-paced blend of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and classic John Hughes will leave readers racing to the finish as the try to unravel the mystery on their own."—Kirkus Reviews
"A smart, twisted, and unpredictable YA mystery that will have readers guessing until the very end."—SLJ

"An engaging, enticing look at the pressures of high school and the things that cause a person to lose control."—Booklist
"Readers will have a hard time putting this clever page-turner down."

Monday, April 16, 2018

For Everyone by Jason Reynolds

ATTENTION EVERYONE!!! Go find this book, take 10 minutes to read it, let it open your heart, then pass it on to anyone who will listen.

Through my blog I’m often giving reviews of the books I have read, telling all of you what I think about what I am reading. But I don’t think I have ever finished a book and immediately thought, “Everyone needs to read this book.” But as soon as I finished it, I passed it to my wife, then my sons, and I plan on reading it to every one of my classes. As the name says, it is for everyone. It is for everyone that has ever dreamed, dreamed of being a parent, an artist, an athlete, a writer, a teacher. In this beautiful little poem, Jason Reynolds has put in to words what everyone who has ever dared to dream needs to hear. I am blown away.

From Amazon:

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.

For Every One is just that: for every one. For every one person. For every one dream. But especially for every one kid. The kids who dream of being better than they are. Kids who dream of doing more than they almost dare to dream. Kids who are like Jason Reynolds, a self-professed dreamer. Jason does not claim to know how to make dreams come true; he has, in fact, been fighting on the front line of his own battle to make his own dreams a reality. He expected to make it when he was sixteen. Then eighteen. Then twenty-five. Now, some of those expectations have been realized. But others, the most important ones, lay ahead, and a lot of them involve kids, how to inspire them. All the kids who are scared to dream, or don’t know how to dream, or don’t dare to dream because they’ve NEVER seen a dream come true. Jason wants kids to know that dreams take time. They involve countless struggles. But no matter how many times a dreamer gets beat down, the drive and the passion and the hope never fully extinguish—because just having the dream is the start you need, or you won’t get anywhere anyway, and that is when you have to take a leap of faith.

A pitch perfect graduation, baby, or love my kid gift.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Refugee by Alan Gratz was an extremely powerful read.  This novel will open your eyes to the plight of so many people, especially children, from all over the world and from all times.

Refugee tells the stories of three kids, all of whom are trying to leave their homeland in order to find safety somewhere else.  We hear the story of Josef, a Jewish boy living in Germany during the beginnings of the Nazi rule.  He learn about Isabel and her journey as she tries to leave Cuba and the lack of resources during the time of Castro.  And then there is Mahmoud, a Syrian boy whose family is seeking refuge from the ongoing civil war that threatens all the citizens of his home country.

While these are all fictional stories, they are all based on the true and harrowing stories that have come out of these countries.  It should open the readers eyes to the atrocities that have not only happened in the past, but to the ones that are happening in our world today.  This is an important book for all readers.  

From Amazon:

JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .

ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .

MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers -- from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.

This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Rebound by Kwame Alexander

With Rebound, Kwame Alexander has given us another beautiful novel in verse.  This is the follow up (not a sequel; a prequel?) to the award winning The Crossover.  This one was a long time coming, but it was well worth the wait.

In Rebound, we are taken back in time to see the summer that influenced and created the man we know as Chuck Bell.  During this summer of hardship, we see all the things that helped Chuck become the man that his sons, Josh and Jordan Bell, so admired.  Through the influence of his grandparents and his cousin Roxie, Chuck begins his love of all things basketball and jazz and learns that he has to rebound, both on and off of the court. 

If you enjoyed The Crossover, you will no doubt love this one as well.  It was amazing!

From Amazon:

From the New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander comes Rebound, a dynamic novel in verse and companion to his Newbery Award-winner, The Crossover, illustrated with striking graphic novel panels.

Before Josh and Jordan Bell were streaking up and down the court, their father was learning his own moves. In this prequel to Newbery Medal winner The Crossover, Chuck Bell takes center stage, as readers get a glimpse of his childhood and how he became the jazz music worshiping, basketball star his sons look up to.  

A novel in verse with all the impact and rhythm readers have come to expect from Kwame Alexander, Rebound will go back in time to visit the childhood of Chuck "Da Man" Bell during one pivotal summer when young Charlie is sent to stay with his grandparents where he discovers basketball and learns more about his family's past.