YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten of 2008


During Teen Read Week (Oct. 12-18, 2008), students were invited to vote on their favorite books from the list on the YALSA Teens’ Top Ten site.  The winners are:

  1. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
  3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  5. Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson
  6. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  7. The Sweet Far Thing  by Libba Bray
  8. Extras by Scott Westerfeld
  9. Before I Die  by Jenny Downham
  10. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson                                                                                                             

South Carolina Young Adult Book Award List for 2008-2009


The SCYABA list for 2008-2009 has been released!  Here are the books to be considered to win the top YA prize for our state:

Avalon High  by Meg Cabot

Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe

Christopher Killer: A Forensic Mystery by Alane Ferguson

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Dairy Queen: a Novel by Catherine Murdock

Dead Connection by Charlie Price

Doppelganger  by David Stahler

Firestorm: the Caretaker Trilogy: Book 1 by David Klass

Hit the Road by Caroline B. Cooney

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Monkey Town: the Summer of the Scopes Trial by Ronald Kidd

Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Notes from a Midnight Driver by Jodan Sonnenblick

Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley

Sold by Patricia McCormick

Trigger by Susan Vaught

Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles

We already have 13 of the 20 titles in our collection, and I’ve read 3 of them.  Currently I’m reading Rules of Survival and am already hooked. 

What Happened to Cass McBride?


I love stories told from more than one point-of-view; I become involved with more characters when I can see things through their eyes.

  In What Happened to Cass McBride? Gail Giles takes us into the minds of Kyle Kirby and Cass McBride.  Kyle’s younger brother David has committed suicide, and because Kyle blames Cass for it, he kidnaps her and buries her alive in a wooden box.  The book begins with Kyles’s confession and slowly reveals the true reason for his arrest.

Cass McBride, a pretty and popular high school junior, has been raised by her father.  She seems to live the perfect life:  good grades, plenty of friends, and every material thing she wants.  She is willing to use people to better herself, yet, at the same time, people seem to love her.  When shy, geeky David Kirby asks her out on a date, Cass kindly declines, but then in a note to her friend Erica, calls David a loser, among other things.  David intercepts the note and later is found hanging from a tree in his front yard.

On the day of David’s funeral, Kyle breaks into the McBride home, drugs an already drugged Cass, and then buries her in a wooden box which he has equipped with a fan to pump out carbon dioxide and a small hole through which provides fresh air.  Kyle wants Cass to die, but first he wants her to know exactly what she has done.

Giles has crafted a suspenseful tale full of insight and twists.  What DID happen to Cass McBride?

Rebel Angels


In Rebel Angels, Libba Bray continues the story of Gemma Doyle and her friends that began in  A Great and Terrible Beauty.  Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are preparing for the Christmas holiday season in London. Thoughts of tea parties and balls to attend and young men to flirt with fill the girls’ heads.

However, harsh realities prevent the girls from completely enjoying themselves.  Gemma must help care for her ailing father and Ann fears that her true identity as an orphan will be discovered and that she won’t be accepted by London society. 

Those problems take a backseat to the trouble brewing in the realms.  When Gemma smashed the runes in the supernatural realms in A Great and Terrible Beauty, the magic they had bound is set loose and is now wreaking havoc in that world.  Kartik, the handsome and mysterious Indian boy who is Gemma’s protector from the Rakshana, resurfaces to tell her that she must return to the realms, find the Temple, and bind the magic there. 

Compounding the problem is Circe, Gemma’s mother’s childhood friend who had let power corrupt her.  Circe is back and trying to regain control of the magic in the realms.  The girls must return to the realms, where they happily are reunited with Pippa, their close friend who had chosen to remain there rather than face the bleak future that the real world held for her.  But is this the Pippa with whom they had shared many happy hours?  Why hasn’t she crossed over as the dead must do?

Who can the girls trust as they travel through the dangerous realms?  Pippa?  The gorgon? Asha and the Untouchables?  Or no one?

And who is Circe?

Libba Bray masterfully tells the story of friends caught up in the age old story of good versus evil.  This second installment in the series leaves you hanging – which, thankfully, is not for long as the third book in the series is due out later this month.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman


Unwind, Neal Shusterman’s newest novel, is the story of three teenagers in a futuristic society.  Mankind now believes in the sanctity of life – or do they?

Because abortions have been outlawed, many unwanted children are now raised in state homes.  Other unwanted children are left on the doorsteps of unsuspecting families, who, by law, must take them in and raise them.  Then there are those children who are born into families who love them and who live a fairly normal life.

However, once a child turns 13, a family can chose to have the child “unwound.”  (The decision does not have to be made immediately – the adults are given a five year window in which to make it, but once the child turns 18, he or she cannot be unwound.) The child becomes known as an Unwind and is taken to a harvest camp where he or she will spend his or her last days living life as they have known it.  When their time comes, the children are unwound – their organs and tissues are removed and used for transplants.  The child does not cease to live, but lives in an altered state.

How humane.  How generous of the adults who have raised these children who become Unwinds.

This is the story of three of those Unwinds:  Conner, Risa, and Lev.  Each is being unwound for a different reason, but of course, the end result will be the same:  Conner will cease being Conner, Risa will cease being Risa, and Lev will cease being Lev.

However, things do not go as the adults planned.  Conner, Risa, and Lev escape from their captors as they are being transported to the harvest camp and must run for their very lives.  How do they survive?  Are they able to escape the fate that adults chose for them?

This is one of the best and most thought provoking YA books I have read in a long while.  I laughed out loud, cried, and became angry at characters. I kept wanting to question the adults – “Why haven’t you learned from history?”

Run, do not walk, to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy!

Changes Coming


I started this blog with the best of intentions after the SCASL conference in March.  Obviously, it fizzled.  So now’s the time to start it back up! 

Our bookclub met earlier this month and one of the ideas we discussed was having members write book reviews to be included in the school newspaper and posted on a bulletin board on the English wing hallway.  Students seemed very receptive to the idea, so I need to act on it and request book reviews to be posted here.  I’ll have to start the ball rolling by posting a review myself and asking students to respond. 

YA Fiction


Two weeks ago, my principal’s secretary (without whom, incidentally, the school could not operate) walked into the media center, holding out a sheet of paper and frowning.  Uh-oh.  What bad news is it now? 

No bad news at all!  Cathy was biting her lip to keep from smiling.  It is my library’s year to have the fund that rotates among our district’s schools every few years!  Yes!  Money to  update our collection! 

Now to locate titles to fill in the gaps in the collection – mainly in the science, technology, and math section.  And, of course, to find more titles that I can add to our YA fiction collection.  I am not a prude nor a censor, but must be realistic. Books filled with too much “language” or graphic sex or even too much allusion to sex will more than likely be challenged.  It is impossible to read every book that I wish to purchase so I must rely on reviews which do not include a book rating similar to movies. 

My students ask daily if we have new books in yet – I haven’t even placed the first order!  Once I do, though, and it arrives, I know I’ll be like a kid in a candy shop.  The feel and smell of new books….ahhh!  And the pleasures that await in between the covers….these are worth waiting for.  (Now if I can convince my students of that.) 

Barnes & Noble Book Fair


Three days this week B&N is setting up a book fair in my high school library.  Today was the first day – kind of a “preview” day.  We had some sales, but not as many as I would like to see.  Whitney (public relations with B&N) is wonderful and volunteered to drive to another city to get some books her store was out of so we could be prepared for tomorrow.

Why are high school book fairs usually less successful than elementary ones?  Is it just the involvement of parents at that stage?

Just Getting Started


I’ve just returned from the SCASL Conference held in Columbia, South Carolina, and am fired up about using blogs and podcasts at my school, Boiling Springs High School!