Monthly Archives: February 2018

2018.12 – Renegades

Do any of you audiobook fans have a favorite reader? One of mine is Rebecca Soler, who reads The Lunar Chronicles books by Marissa Meyer. (My other favorite is Jim Dale, because who doesn’t want to listen to the magic of Harry Potter with unique voices for each character?!) I was so super thrilled to hear her voice when I started Renegades, also by Marissa Meyer.

Renegades, by Marissa Meyer

Great audiobook readers make the experience even better!

If you enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles, then you’ll love Renegades! In a land of prodigies, humans with special abilities, the Renegades are the governing body, bringing peace, justice, and order after a period of chaos. Though her allegiance lies with the villains, Nova joins the Renegades in an effort to seek revenge and overthrow them. This story is filled with heroism, the contrast between two sides who think they stand for justice, and maybe even the buddings of some love?

It’s even more fun because it’s half narrated by Nova, and half narrated by Adrian, a Renegade (and yes, there were two readers on this audiobook too). I’m honestly getting a little tired of YA books with multiple narrators, however this one made perfect sense. It’s fun how their narrations contrast and dance around each other. If only they knew what the other was hiding.

The ending completely left me hanging, in true Marissa Meyer fashion! I know from reading her books that nothing is ever predictable, and this definitely holds true here.

The only thing I don’t like about this book is that I have to wait another 8 months before book 2 is scheduled to be released! I just need to know what happens next, and there is so much that still needs to be resolved.

For anyone who liked Cinder and the rest of The Lunar Chronicles, definitely check out this book! And, if you haven’t read Heartless, get your hands on that one too!


2018.11 – The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley

I stayed up until midnight last night to finish The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson. I was about 40% through when I picked it up yesterday evening, and couldn’t put it down until I was done. I had to know what happened to Andrew!

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, by Shaun David Hutchinson

Andrew’s whole family died at the hospital, and now he secretly lives there, hiding in an unfinished wing, hanging with nurses and patients, working in the cafeteria, and creating his Patient F comic. When he meets Rusty, who was burned over half his body by hateful classmates, Andrew is forced to confront his reality in the past, present, and future.

One really nifty part of this book was the Patient F comic book was sprinkled between chapters. It was fun to change up the book with the undercurrent of the Patient F story–and it brought to light a lot of Andrew’s struggles and roadblocks.

Now that I’ve read two of Shaun David’s Hutchinson’s books, I will say that his books are weird, different, and perfect. Both The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley and We Are the Ants are like nothing I’ve read before. In his Twitter bio, he says he is a “Writer of weird books about queer teens.”

I absolutely love that these books don’t follow the predictable YA patterns of love stories or dystopian words, fall a little outside the norm, and are entirely relatable to the darkness that lurks within each of us. Both of these books confront real issues of love, death, grief, despair, friendship, and not conforming to society’s “normal.” And, I’m 110% sure that these are books some of my students are wishing for, but don’t know exist in this world–recommendations happening on Monday morning.

I just requested At the Edge of the Universe from the public library–they don’t have it in the ebook collection, so yay real physical books! Our library doesn’t have his newest book, The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza (released February 6, 2018) in their catalog, but it’s in stock at the Barnes & Noble 5 minutes from my house. That’s enough of a reason to get dressed on a Saturday morning.

I can’t get enough!

2018.10 – Bored and Brilliant

I am incredibly guilty of spending a lot of time on my phone. Too much, in my opinion. Ollie (my dog) agree. For once, I need to put down my phone, stop trying to take his picture being adorable, and just snuggle.

Bored and Brilliant.png
Bored and Brilliant, by Manoush Zomorodi

So, that’s what I did this afternoon. I put down my phone out of reach, and sat on the floor petting him and snuggling. He says, “thank you mama!”

I’m so grateful to my friend Adnan Iftekhar for recommending Bored and Brilliant to me back in November. He’s quite knowledgeable in all topic Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and mindfulness, and I admire the way he carries himself and lives his life. So, I had to check out this book!

It’s all based on a challenge from the “Note to Self” weekly podcast that Manoush Zomorodi hosts. (To be quite honest, I had never heard of the podcast until this book. And to be even more honest, I haven’t had a chance to listen to any episodes.) There are 7 days of challenges, each addressing our technology habits, and helping us mindfully disconnect and be more present in the world around us.

“I wasn’t using my smartphone to connect. I was using it to escape.” – Bored and Brilliant, page 5.

Ok, you got me. 110%. I know I’m not the only one who spends mindless time scrolling social media and playing games for a little too long. I’ve found myself having a hard time focusing, getting easily off track by my phone, and not as goal-oriented as I once was. It’s time for a change!

As the book says, read it all the way through, then try the challenges. I just finished the book today, and my next step is doing all 7 challenges. I’m apprehensive and nervous and anxious, but I know these are all necessary things to feel as I am changing my habits.

Wish me luck, challenge accepted!

2018.9 – What the Valley Knows

I was super lucky to win a copy of What the Valley Knows by Heather Christie! Not only did I win her book, but also I won some cool WTVK swag, including the most awesomest sign that says “go away I’m reading”!


The book deals with a variety of issues, including mean girls, high school drinking and alcoholism, and shifting family dynamics. The characters were likeable, and you couldn’t help but root for Molly, and feel her pain when others were unkind to her.

Molly is new in the small town of Millington Valley, PA. She falls in love with Wade, an all-star football player. He gets into an accident with Molly in the passenger seat, and Molly is thrown out through the windshield. She wakes up in the hospital with gaps in her memory, and a sinking feeling she is forgetting something…

Ollie, my reading buddy 🙂

I love how this book is told from multiple perspectives, through her, her mom (Ann), and Wade. It allows for a full 360 view on the storyline and how troubling situations can be easily hidden from the people closest to us.

One of my favorite things about this book is it is actively shining a light on teenage drinking and hidden alcoholism. I hope this opens up some conversations among high school students and older teens around alcohol (and drug) issues, the risks of drunk driving, and where to go to get help!

My What the Valley Knows swag! Thanks Heather Christie!