Category Archives: Teen’s Choice

Teen’s Choice Reviews April 2014

At the end of last year I decided to start having my book club students recommend titles for me. I have each person pick three titles that they would like me to read and then I randomly select one. Here are the two Teen’s Choice books for April:

At my high school book club, I drew Maggie’s suggestion:

universe verses

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
June 25, 2013
Hardcover, 407 pages

What it’s about:

When he was ten-years old Alex Woods, the bookish son of a fortune-teller, was hit in the head by a meteorite. This event left him scarred and seizure prone and made him the perfect target for the village bullies. Life isn’t easy for him, but he has the bullies to thank for introducing him to Mr. Peterson, a reclusive American expat and Vietnam veteran. What begins as a punishment develops into an unlikely friendship between the two. It is the story of this friendship that Alex tells the police after he is stopped at customs with an urn of ashes and 113 grams of marijuana. Despite the potential trouble he faces, Alex knows he has done the right thing.

Why you might like it:

Do you like quirky stories with memorable characters? Alex and Mr. Peterson certainly are a memorable pair! Are you interested in issues surrounding death and dying? This book tackles assisted suicide and euthanasia. Do you enjoy books about books? You might enjoy all the discussion about the works of Vonnegut and you may be inspired to check out some of the other works Alex reads. Do you appreciate a tear-jerker? You might want to have a tissue handy while reading this one! The Universe Versus Alex Woods quietly worked its way into my heart. This debut is lovely and moving and I loved the experience.

Want more like this?

You might enjoy The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Staniford, and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.


This next suggestion came from another high school book club reader, Olivia. She wasn’t a fan of this one, but thought I might like it because it has zombies and is creepy.

Chasers by James Phelan
First publish May 25, 2010
Paperback, 256 pages

What it’s about:

Jesse and three of his friends from a Youth Ambassador Camp in New York City are on the subway when the explosion happens. As the four crawl from the wreckage the carnage is immediate. People are dead, buildings have collapsed, and the other survivors seem to be infected in some way. In a once crowded and bustling city the only signs of life are the predators who used to be human.

Why you might like it:

If you like creepy, post-apocalyptic stories you may enjoy Chasers. If you are a fan of psychological suspense you might want to try this one. Do you like survival stories? Jesse and his friends have some pretty clever survival techniques. Do you like a book with a surprising twist at the end? Chasers certainly ends with a shock. I did not love this book, but after the twist at the I may go back to the second book. I need answers!

Want more like this?

For more post-apocalyptic survival stories you might like Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Ashfall by Mike Mullin, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, and Ashes by Ilsa Bick.

Happy Reading!


Mondays with Megan

Happy Monday! I hope everyone enjoyed this beautiful weekend. I had a strangely sports-filled weekend. Friday night baseball, Saturday morning soccer game, and a hockey game in evening. It was nice to be out and about after being sick last week. The one and only sort of silver lining to sick days? I got a lot of reading done!

mondayreading new monday

Thanks to Book Journey and Teach Mentor Texts for hosting It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


chasers traitor in the tunnel shades of earth more than this alpha and omega

  •  Chasers by James Phelon was recommended by a teen reader, so I will have a full review up sometime soon. It wasn’t a favorite, but I might read the next book in the series. This first book left me with only questions and no answers.
  • A Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee is the third book in The Agency series. This was my Random Read for the month, so look for a full review as well. I really enjoy these Victorian-era mysteries. The heroine is a mixed-race (Irish and Chinese) orphan who is trained to be a spy.
  • Shades of Earth by Beth Revis is the third book in the Across the Universe series. This series follows Amy, a teen from Earth who is frozen and sent to space with her family and a number of other people who will colonize a new planet. Things do not go according to plan and Amy is unfrozen early. The second book reveals a number of startling secrets about the mission and the ship, Godspeed. The third book reveals even more shocking information about the planet they are meant to be colonizing. All in all a fun series and with an exciting conclusion!
  • More Than This by Patrick Ness is really hard to describe without spoiling things. The first part of the story introduces readers to Seth, a teen who makes the decision to commit suicide. What happens next is strange and thought-provoking and a little mind-bending. Did you think you were getting an “issues” book? Ha! This is an excellent pick for the serious reader who enjoys a bit of philosophy and science fiction.
  • Locke & Key, vol. 6: Alpha & Omega by Joe Hill is the final book in a dark and disturbing graphic novel series. This series is an addicting mix of magic and shadows and horror. Loved it and hope for more from Joe Hill!

Current Audio:

accident little brother

  • The Accident by Chris Pavone is a suspense book about a book! Win.
  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow is about a group of teens caught up in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

Currently Reading:


  • The Elite by Kiera Cass is the sequel to The Selection. While I enjoyed the first book, I am really kind of disgusted with this one. I am going to be annoyed if I feel compelled to read The One.

On Deck:

bar code tattoo enchantment nantucket red

  • The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn is a Teen’s Choice for the month.
  • Enchantment by Orson Scott Card is the other Teen’s Choice read for the month.
  • Nantucket Red by Leila Howland is an e-galley and the sequel to Nantucket Blue.

Happy Reading!






Teen’s Choice Reviews March 2014

At the end of last year I decided to start having my book club students recommend titles for me. I have each person pick three titles that they would like me to read and then I randomly select one. Here are the two Teen’s Choice books for March:

My High School book club students are a bunch of little tricksters and they stacked the deck, guaranteeing that I would pick House of Stairs by William Sleator.

house of stairs

House of Stairs by William Sleator
First published 1974
Paperback, 176 pages

What it’s about:

Five orphans find themselves trapped in an unusual building. With the exception of a machine in the floor of one landing that gives them food, the teens are surrounded by nothing but staircases. The machine is a fickle and demanding little thing and soon the food only comes when the starving kids complete certain tasks. As food deliveries become infrequent and the kids’ hunger grows some in the group are willing to go to extremes to please the machine.

Why you might like it:

Are you looking for old school science fiction? This one is for you. Unlike a lot of modern science fiction books (Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.), House of Stairs does not have a lot of action. However, the patient reader will be drawn in by the escalating suspense. It’s a short book and has some slightly dated language, but the reveal at the end is pretty disturbing.

Want more like this?

For other accounts of bad things happening with groups of stranded teens, try Lord of the Flies by William Golding or Gone by Michael Grant. You might also want to try some of William Sleator’s other books such as Interstellar Pig and Singularity.For more classic sci-fi try 1984 by George Orwell, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and Feed by M.T. Anderson (not quite as classic as the others!)

From my Middle School Book Club came this recommendation:


The Outcasts (Brotherband Chronicles #1) by John Flanagan
November 1, 2011
Philomel Books
Hardcover, 434 pages

What it’s about:

The Skandians are a sea-faring people known and feared for their size, strength, and pillaging skills. Every year the young men of the village participate in Brotherband training, where they will learn the ways of the sea and how to work together as a team. The training is challenging enough for the strongest and bravest in the group, but for Hal and his group of outcast friends, the competition will be grueling. They call themselves the Herons and they are the underdogs.

Why you might like it:

If you liked The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan, you won’t want to miss this new series! At first I missed Will and Halt, but soon discovered that Hal and Thorn are just as awesome a pair. If you like action and adventure, you’ll find plenty of that here. Do you always cheer for the underdog? You’ll be rooting for Hal and his crew from the get-go!

Want more like this?

If you haven’t read The Rangers Apprentice by John Flanagan, you’ll want to check those out immediately! For more seafaring adventures try the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer.

The final verdict? My teen readers picked some great books for me to read in March!

Here’s a sneak peek at what I am working on in April:

universe versus chasers

Happy Reading!



Mondays with Megan-Well, This Stinks…3/10/14

Hello Monday! I hope everyone had a smooth transition to daylight saving time. You know who didn’t have an easy transition? The skunk who has apparently been living under my back porch and one of my dogs! The skunk did not get the memo that the new 6:30 am is the old 5:30 am and even though it is still dark, it’s time for him to skedaddle. The dog did not get the memo to leave the skunk alone. So, not an awesome start to this week and I am pretty sure I still smell like skunk. I apologize to everyone who has to be around me. And yet, this is actually better than last week. Last week I was incapacitated with a bad back and it was not fun. The only good that came out of the whole ordeal is the obscene amount of reading I got done and my first totally awesome experience with acupuncture.

mondayreading new monday

Check in with Book Journey and Teach Mentor Texts for more It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? lists.


house of stairs outcasts evolution of mara dyer selection perfect lies

  •  House of Stairs by William Sleator was chose for me by my high school book club readers. They thought they were being clever by assigning me the worst book they have ever read. Too bad I kind of liked it! This is old-school science fiction here. Five orphans trapped in a building that is all stair cases and nothing else, except for the machine that gives them food. The machine is a fickle and demanding little thing and soon the food only comes when the starving kids complete certain tasks. I get why my teen friends did not enjoy this book, but I thought it was pretty disturbing.
  • The Outcasts by John Flanagan is the first book in The Brotherband Chronicles. This new series takes place in Skandia and stars a new cast of young men who are basically training to be sea-faring men. I miss Will and Halt, but I think I am going to enjoy Hal and Thorn just fine.
  • The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin is a 500 page book that I devoured in one sitting. What is it about this series? It is so strange and intense and utterly compelling. I really need the third book now.
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass is a book I had not intended to read, but some of my avid readers really enjoyed it, so I gave it a shot. It’s pretty fluffy, and yet, it interested me just enough that I want to know what happens next.
  • Perfect Lies by Kiersten White is the sequel to Mind Games. I really enjoyed getting to know Annie better and I loved the ending, but I struggled to keep up with the wacky timeline. I also seemed to have forgotten a lot from the first book and there was very little recapping. Still, an exciting and fast read.

Current Audio:

cuckoos calling call the midwife

I didn’t do much walking or driving, so I am still not finished with these audiobooks.

Currently Reading:

crash grave mercy

On Deck:

ring and crown across

Happy Reading!


Random Reads March 2014 Out of the Easy and February in Review

random reads

It is already time for a new Random Reads, hosted by I’m Loving Books! decided that in February I should read book #31 on my TBR list, Vicious by Victoria Schwab. I absolutely loved it! You can read my full review of Vicious here. In March I will be reading Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. This was book # 20 on my list, added June 16, 2012.

out of the easy

From Goodreads:

“It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.

She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.”

And just because I am a big nerd, here is my February in review:
Total Books: 16 (not too shabby for a short month!)

Read: 11
Listened: 5

Favorites: It was impossible to pick this month. I had so many amazing reads!

Cress by Marissa Meyer, Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe, Vicious by V.E Schwab, and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart were all standouts for me.

Review Written: 4

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulburg
Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Roomies by Sara Zarr
Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Teen Programs:

Teen Tech Thursdays
Dungeons & Dragons
Teen Pizza Pagers discussed Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
High School Book Club discussed Mothership by Martin Leicht

Teen’s Choice: To read in March

The Outcasts by John Flanagan
The House of Stairs by William Sleator

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner, Teen’s Choice Read #1

This year I decided to let my loyal teen readers pick reading materials for me. At our last book club meeting, I asked my high schoolers to jot down 2 titles they thought I needed to read and then I randomly picked one. My first official selection was The Eye of Minds by James Dashner.


The Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine #1) by James Dashner
October 8, 2013
Delacorte Press
Hardcover, 323 pages.

What it’s about:

Michael is a gamer who spends almost all of his free time in the VirtNet, an extensive virtual reality world that offers a high-tech mind and body immersion experience. Michael and his friends (who have not actually met in real life) are expert hackers and often reap the benefits of knowing how to change game coding. It’s all in good fun, until a mysterious gamer known only as Kaine begins manipulating the VirtNet with devastating consequences in the real world. Suddenly Michael and his crew are called upon to help stop the rogue hacker. As the trio delves deeper into the unknown corners of the virtual world they discover that their real lives are actually at stake. Will they quit while they can or risk it all to stop Kaine from rendering gamers brain-dead in the real world?

Why you might like to read it:

If you like high-tech, high-stakes futuristic thrillers, you’ll probably enjoy this one. I however, never fully connected with the story. As an adult reading this, I totally understand the appeal, but I found that I was not completely willing to suspend my disbelief and therefore struggled with some of the major plot elements. I really loved the shocking twist at the end! It *might* be enough to compel me to read the next book. Maybe.

Want more like this?

I might have to insist that you immediately run out and get Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, BZRK by Michael Grant, and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I have been meaning to checkout Erebos by Ursula Poznanski and Little Brother by Corey Doctorow as well.

Thanks, Jill for recommending this one! I can’t wait to see what I will be reading in February!

Happy Reading!


Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst Review

Towards the end of last year I started brainstorming some new ideas for my blog. One of the things I came up with was letting my teen readers pick books for me. It seemed like a fair thing considering fact that I select about 90% of the books my two teen book clubs read. I ran the idea by my high schoolers and they loved it. Their first wicked thought was “what horrible book can we force her to read.” I kindly reminded them that I still picked their books and they quickly changed their tune! I picked one title out of a bowl for my first official Teen’s Choice book. This month I will be reading The Eyes of Minds by James Dashner, but it is currently checked out, so I secretly picked another one of their recommendations to read while I waited. That book was Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst. Here is a quick summary and review for you:

Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011
Hardcover, 385 pages

drink slay love

What it’s about:

Pearl is your typical sixteen-year-old vampire. You know the type-a bloodthirsty predator of the night. That is, until she is stabbed through the heart by the horn of a sparkly unicorn. Seriously. A unicorn. Of course, no one in her Family (yes, with a capital F) believes her. It’s surprising that she survives the attack. It’s a complete shock to discover that she can survive exposure to the sun. This discovery comes just in time. The Family is responsible for providing a feast for the Vampire King of New England and Pearl is their meal ticket. They ship her off to high school with one assignment: round up a feast fit for a king!

Why you might want to read it:

I thoroughly enjoyed this snarky little book! I loved watching Pearl learn the ins and outs of high school and I totally appreciated all the John Hughes references. Her observations about social hierarchy are spot-on. While the book is mostly light and humorous, there is some meat to it as Pearl questions the ethics of what happened to her. It’s pretty interesting. This was an unexpected gem. If you need a vampire fix, this book is for you. If you like a sassy heroine, this book is for you. If you like your high school romances to have a unicorn, this book  is for you.

Want more like this? Try Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White and Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride.

Thank you Emily, for the recommendation!

Happy Reading!