Small town + creepy clown local business mascot + teenage party in the cornfield = the perfect YA horror story. It starts a bit slow, but once the party begins, it’s very fast-paced, gory, twisty, and even funny at times. If you like Scream, this is right up your alley!
Teenage girls who never hiked before take two days to plan a mini-Appalachian Trail hike near Asheville. This trip is their last hurrah before separating to go to college. They bicker and fight and are practically ready to breakup their friendship before the bad guys come. The plot is ok, but the girls aren’t likable, and the situation and events are so outrageous and impossible that I was never really invested in the outcome.
A creepy, twisty, atmospheric thriller. I loved the way I thought I knew what was going on and then realized I was completely wrong. The lucid dreaming part was fascinating. North weaves together the past and present beautifully and is a master of misdirection.
Change is good. Change is necessary. Change is needed.
Blended family tensions, mental health issues, heavy-handed drug laws, gentrification, an evil corporation, oh and ghosts of victims add up to a twisty haunted house story that kept me on the edge of my seat.
This mystery thriller has an unreliable female narrator and a bunch of men who might be the serial killer. Red herrings abound. I didn’t like the main character, Chloe. She’s a psychologist but doesn’t seem to care about her patients. She’s prescribing drugs to her fiancee and taking them herself (Xanax and who knows what else). I get the addiction and the bad childhood with a serial killer father. But, she doesn’t try to distance herself from her past (no name change, she lives about an hour away from the small town where she grew up, and she gives an interview about how her father’s crimes inspired her to go into psychology). So, she shouldn’t be surprised that people know about her past, but somehow she is. She makes a bunch of awful and confusing decisions. I didn’t like most of the other characters either. I didn’t predict the final guilty party, but I knew it wasn’t who we were supposed to think it was. *shrugs* There’s a lot of hype around this one, and I think Emma Stone is doing a show (movie), but it just wasn’t for me.
Narwhal and Jelly are amazing characters. I love the series and this book doesn't disappoint. It's great how Clanton seamlessly adds cool facts in between the chapters. Our students adore this series. We were even able to purchase one with a Glow-in-the-Dark cover!! I can't wait for the next installment.
Fast-paced, gripping story with strong characters that I won’t soon forget. And the first line doesn’t lie. It’s not a fairy tale. People die - lots of them. Natalie is 8 months pregnant and relying on her friend Ramola (a pediatrician) to get her to the hospital. Problem is, there’s a rabies virus that’s spreading through the area, oh and Natalie has been bitten.
The story focuses on Nat and Rams’ quest to reach the hospital before Nat succumbs to the virus. It is very fast-moving and intense. This story isn’t about a zombie apocalypse (even if some characters think it is). This is a personal story, a personal nightmare, and with the lockdowns and rumors about the vaccine, it feels almost too real. If you like audiobooks, listen to this one. Erin Bennett is superb.
A summer camp slasher horror story with a badass “final girl” main character.
My hands are smeared with blood. - first line
Imagine a summer camp experience based on a slasher flick that takes place where the movie was filmed. People sign up for the camp, knowing it’s a terror experience, but when the killing starts, they aren’t sure if it’s real or an act. Charity runs the camp, and it’s the last night of the season. I was rooting for Charity and her friends, but I knew it was a slasher story, so I didn’t have much hope. This book is creepy as hell and so much fun. Bayron is a terrific writer. She deftly weaves social commentary, humor, and horror together to make an unforgettable, if a bit predictable, story.
A perfectly creepy story about two sisters who find a doll’s head in the woods. The younger sister, Antonia, starts talking to the doll’s head, naming her Hush-A-Bye. The older sister, Lucy, doesn’t know what to make of this, but she has more important problems. Lucy is trying to survive middle school, and she has rules: keep your head down and don’t talk to anyone. Antonia is just starting 6th grade. Lucy has high anxiety and worries about everything, including Antonia. Antonia takes the doll’s head to school, and strange things happen. By the time Lucy realizes how powerful the doll is, it just might be too late. The story is creepy and quick. Perfect for middle-grade readers!
Luckily, I wasn’t reading this in a cabin in the woods. LOVED the way everything was not as it seemed.
In the woods behind Tony Barbosa’s house, the autumn leaves screened out so much daylight it seemed like dusk had already arrived. - first line
The book takes place on Halloween night, 1984, in Coventry, Massachusetts. Devastating secrets are coming out, children are trick-or-treating, the Haunted Woods attraction is going on for the last night, and some strange children are begging for help. Many people die - those who deserve it and some who don’t. This book is unnerving, creepy, bloody, and perfect for the Halloween season. I flew through it.
In a parallel world, a massive storm changed the atmosphere and people have nine lives. To avoid overpopulation, governments set up a system where people are rewarded for extinguishing their "extra" lives and punished if they don't keep up with the required schedule (they can't get jobs or go to college unless they are a certain number). But lately, people don't always come back, and when they do, sometimes they don't remember who they are.
So this book is unique and I really enjoyed it. Julian is just a kid, trying to survive. His dad asks him to extinguish two of his lives because they need the money and he can't get a job because he's a one. He eventually decides to burn his two lives, so he can get the leader of the burners, Nicholas, to help him find out about his mom. He meets some interesting people along the way as he tries to uncover the conspiracy. Btw, certain cats have nine lives too, and they also seem to have above-average intelligence.
It's a twisty story with great characters. I recommend it if you like YA novels.
Joe works at a top-secret government facility and he is a workaholic. His daughter, Riley is having visions that she can't explain. Can there be a connection?
I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that this book was excellent. There is some very gory stuff here, but it's got some supernatural elements too. The scariest part is that the overall idea doesn't seem too far off from possible.
I will say that the prologue was a bit confusing, but once I got to the first chapter, I was hooked. As the story progresses, you get some ideas of what is going on, but the end is still surprising. Joe Hempel does a fantastic job with the narration and amps up the tension without going over the top.
This is Twilight told from Edward's point of view. It was very interesting to see what Edward was thinking as the events occurred. It gave me a bit of insight into why he leaves in New Moon. Though I will say that his constant mental self-flagellation is more than a bit annoying. His leaving annoyed me more in this book than when he actually left the first time I read New Moon because I could see how much he loved Bella.
Anyway, I enjoyed this book but not as much as I enjoyed reading Twilight the first time. That might be because I'm at a different place in my life now or because I knew what would happen this time. Jake Abel did an excellent job with the narration. I really felt like I was listening to Edward's thoughts.
This book was just okay. I didn't really care for any of the characters and I spent most of the book waiting for something interesting to happen. And towards the end, when it seemed like something interesting would finally happen, I was disappointed. *shrugs* I read the reviews, but I didn't think it could possibly be that bad. I won't say it was the worst book, but it was nowhere near Big, Little Lies.
Great end to the series. I enjoyed the entire series even though this book wrapped up a little too easily. My favorite things about this last book continue to be Jocko and Erica 5. I could listen to a whole book about Jocko's pirouetting adventures and fear of Johnny Depp. I also enjoyed Mr. Lyss and Nummy. At first, I thought Mr. Lyss was irredeemable, but I think Nummy's naivete and good outlook brought out the best in him. Their banter was more enjoyable than Carson & Michael's in these last two books.
I have recently been disappointed in Koontz's books, but this series reminded me of what I enjoyed about his writing in the first place.
Victor Leben (formerly Helios, formerly Frankenstein) has designed a new race of superhumans. This time he incorporated nanotechnology into his creations. Carson & Michael (New Orleans detectives) and Deucalion are back, as are Erica 5 and Jocko. But there area bunch of new characters and the setting has moved to Montana. This book and the next feel different than the first three, with more characters introduced, and a whole new race of superhumans, and a whole new Victor. I agree with many reviewers that this book seemed like half a book. It ended so suddenly that I had to double-check that I wasn't missing something. Luckily for me, book 5 was already out and I could jump right to it. For me, it was worth the extra credit, but I would have been annoyed if I had to wait a year to continue the story. But, I do love Jocko and it was really fun to hear him again and see how he is developing and to see his relationship with Erica 5 (who is a great mother for him). We aren't exactly sure why the two of them survived Victor's final solution in New Orleans, but I sure am glad they did.
The story is thrilling and kept me on the edge of my seat, the narrator did a fantastic job, and Jocko is hysterical. I loved how the narrator performed the character of Jocko. He made him even funnier than he was originally written. Jocko might be my favorite part of the entire book.
The end wrapped up this part of the story very nicely. I'm looking forward to seeing what the characters encounter in the next book. I loved the way Victor prepared for the chance that something could happen to him.
Excellent continuation of the story. Deucalion, Carson & Michael are all that stand between Victor Helios' (formerly Frankenstein) new race and the destruction of humankind. They have two hearts and are nearly impossible to kill, but some are mutating and breaking down. The story follows several different characters including a new race couple assigned to kill Carson & Michael, and Erica 5, Victor's current version of his wife. Victor is haughty and convinced he is brilliant and incapable of making mistakes.
This is another fast-paced book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It ended quite suddenly. It was jarring because I was listening to the audiobook and didn't realize how close I was to the end. Moving on to book 3...
Frankenstein's "monster" has been alive for over 200 years and he goes by the name Deucalion. He has been living at a Monastery until he finds out that Victor Frankenstein is still alive and continuing his evil work. Deucalion travels to New Orleans and teams up with Detectives Carson O'Connor and Michael Maddison to try to stop Victor. Wow. This book is fantastic. Carson & Michael's banter can be a little annoying at times, but they are endearing enough to make up for it. Deucalion is fabulous and determined to stop his creator and end his plans to destroy humankind. The characters are terrific and the story is amazing. Koontz did a fabulous job bringing the story of Frankenstein into the current century. The series is 5 books long.
This is an amazing book about the power of words & truth and how they can change lives. When I looked at this book and saw reviews referencing Fahrenheit 451, I was excited because I read that book recently. The idea that government removed words from our vocabulary and pushed their reality to make people believe that crime had been eradicated instead of hidden isn't really so farfetched. Meri buys into the government's truth until her mom is killed and Meri is accidentally exposed to the truth.
I love the idea of an hidden, underground library where people save books (and the truth). I wanted to live in that library. The characters are terrific and the premise is scarily believable. I loved this book and look forward to the next one.
Joelle Charbonneau is an amazing writer and I loved her Testing series. I don't know why I haven't read more books by her. I look forward to changing that. :)
I watched the Netflix show before I read this. I enjoyed the show, but I'm not thrilled with the book. I don't know if it was being inside Joe's head the whole time or that almost all the characters are completely unlikable. I just didn't want to pick up the book and keep reading. I was pretty disgusted by the whole book, but I think I was supposed to be. It just wasn't for me - funny since I already purchased book 2. *shrugs*
I listened to the audio of this book from Audible Plus. It takes place two years after The Girl From the Well. Instead of Okiku's point of view, this book is told from Tark's. The narration is fantastic and the story is dark and creepy. I liked seeing The Suicide Forest in a different way and learning about the ancient village hidden within. A scary story with loads of ghosts and psychological horror too. Sometimes human beings are the worst monsters of all.
This audio is amazing, with a full cast including Alan Cumming & Tim Curry. With so many vampire stories out there, it is interesting to check out the original. The atmosphere was scary and tense. I wasn't sure who would survive the hunt for Dracula and the ensuing battle. I knew what was happening to Lucy & Mina and I couldn't believe the men couldn't see it. So frustrating!! I'm glad I finally got around to listening to this book. I loved the accents of all the characters, though some of the slang was a bit confusing. It's amazing how much fear and tension Stoker created without any explicit violence. A must-read for completists and vampire fans.
Trapped on an oil rig, with an organism - the Black, that dissolves everything it touches except metal and glass, including people. They found it at the bottom of a trench while drilling for oil. The problem with dangerous unknown creatures is that they are so unbelievable. Every time something unusual and dangerous happens, they can't believe it is possible. Thus, the creature manages to get on board and kill 75% of the crew before someone actually believes. The only thing they can use against it is light, and that makes night the most dangerous time of all...
I enjoyed this book and the feeling of terror and claustrophobia it created. This monster is terrifying, fast, and utterly deadly. Once it touches you, there is no escape.
I enjoyed this book. November is a kick-ass character who is thrown into a completely screwed up situation. Her father hides her in a school where you worry more about staying alive than your grades and where classes are about poisons, deception, and fighting skills. November knows she is a target but she has no idea why. She doesn't know anything about the Families or about Strategia but admitting that could put her in even more danger. This is a fun story despite the underlying plot being a bit predictable. I knew who November shouldn't trust, but I was sometimes surprised by who she could. I also knew her backstory before she figured it out, but that didn't make the story any less enjoyable. There is a second book and I plan on reading it after Halloween Bingo. :)
A unique premise that I thoroughly enjoyed. A 20th-century town haunted by a 17th-century ghost - the Black Rock witch whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. The town elders use high-tech surveillance to keep their secret, but the teenagers are tired of being kept quiet. Tyler decides to create a website and video the ghost, which results in a series of events that spiral out of control.
Jeff Harding did a fantastic job with the narration. I couldn't put this book down. Some of the things I saw coming, but that didn't make them any less terrifying. The evil that regular people are capable of can be the scariest of all. Not for the squeamish.
This book is creepy as hell. And the narrator did an excellent job of making this even scarier. I was listening to it on a walk (at night) and nearly jumped out of my skin when a bird squawked near me. And I loved it! It's hard to find a book that really scares me and this one did it. The claustrophobia, the terrifying visions, the gory violence, and the fact that they were 8 miles below the surface of the ocean. Oh and the narrator's voice and the way he made everything ten times scarier.
There is a lot of gory violence and one of the characters experiments with animals. Let's just say he isn't exactly humane. The end is amazing. I kept thinking it was over and what else could there be. I also thought I knew how it would end - I was wrong.
...it was never the Event--illness, asteroid, nuclear war, whatever--that was the problem. It was what people did after. And people always reduced to their least human denominators when things went bad.
But the danger never had passed. It had only gotten worse, despite quarantines and precautions and the supposed late-night efforts of desperate doctors to find and manufacture a vaccine to stop the nightmare that was rolling across the country. (this one hits a bit too close to home)
he said ...the government would take care of everybody, that it wasn't as bad as it seemed. It was like he was deliberately misunderstanding the way diseases spread, thinking that a few quarantines would magically make it all stop. (this one too - yikes)
Hmmm... this book. I love the idea of a Red Riding retelling set in a virus-devastated world (despite current circumstances). And I enjoyed other books by Christina Henry. So, I was really looking forward to reading this. If Henry had stuck with the main storyline, this would have been a 4-star book easy. But for some reason, the virus wasn't enough - there was also something that left people with their chests bust open. That part was unnecessary, in my opinion, and a bit convoluted. I don't know why she felt it was necessary. Other than that, the book was great. I loved Red's determination and refusal to let anyone get to her. I also loved her rules for the apocalypse, and her tendency to capitalize things - Things People Used to Do and the rule of Not Separating. Red reads A LOT and watches sci-fi movies and I loved that about her too. Overall this was a good book and I still love Christina Henry.
I enjoyed the format of this story. It is written like a true story with eyewitness accounts and interviews with survivors. It was crazy the way things devolved so quickly in the park. There were a bunch of things left unexplained at the end, which I guess makes sense given the format - we don't always know every detail of who, why, or how something happened in real life. I think it was a clever idea to set this in a park that was supposed to be a Disney/Universal competitor in Florida. It seemed like something that could have happened considering how the government handles the devastation caused by hurricanes. It is a bit gory at times, but if you can handle that and like YA, it's a great book.
Creepy as hell. I'll never look at handymen the same way. This was a great audiobook - terrific narrator. I hated to stop listening. Mostly I just wanted to know what was Frank's deal and how did he do it. The end came a bit quickly, I don't know if I wasn't completely paying attention or what. But I was surprised how quickly things resolved. Still a great book!
What happened to 3 year old Coco? I spent most of the book trying to figure out how she disappeared from a house with a bunch of adults in it. Well, let's just say the adults weren't as concerned with being parents as they were with partying (and their own drama). I loved how the book moved between the present and the night it happened, and how it revealed the different character's points of view. You don't find out the truth until the final couple of pages and I didn't expect it. This is a great mystery by a brilliant writer. Highly recommended!
"Stranger Things meets The Goonies in this suspenseful yet heartwarming adventure story about a group of friends who set out to find a crashed meteor...but find mystery and danger instead as their close relationships begin to fracture."
A coming-of-age, edge of your seat adventure with well-developed, likeable teenage characters. Kathleen McInerney is an exceptional narrator who really brought the characters to life. If you liked 24 Hours in Nowhere (on last year's state nominated list), you will enjoy this one. Recommended to grades 4 & up.
Anytime you are driving cross-country and your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, don't trust the small town that tries to help you. It never ends well. In Cavus, Evil is feeding on the townspeople, but it is hiding behind their innocent faces. Fantastically creepy story! Bottom line... don't take food (or drink) from strangers, don't trust little girls you don't know, and don't trust anyone who is afraid of dogs. Halloween Bingo 2020 - first book - Terror in a Small Town
Klawde is not your average cat. He's an emperor from another planet, exiled to Earth. He's cruel. He's cunning. He's brilliant... and he's about to become Raj Banerjee's best friend. Whether he likes it or not.
This book is hysterical. I loved Klawde's sarcastic, superior attitude and Raj's innocent acceptance and affection for him. Raj's dad's attempts to bond with Klawde made me laugh. Kids who enjoy humourous stories will fly through this series.
"The first time I heard about Planet Choom, we'd been on Mars for almost a year. But life on the Mars station was grim, and since Earth was no longer an option (we may have blown it up), it was time to find a new home."
Humanity may have found their last hope. The Zhuri invited the humans to take refuge on Planet Choom, but in the 20 years it took to get there, the Zhuri changed their minds. Now Lan, his sister, and his parents are the only humans allowed on Choom and they must convince the Zhuri that humanity is worth saving.
This is a quirky story filled with messages about acceptance, fitting in, and being yourself. By making Lan's family the only 4 humans on an alien planet, Rodkey confronts acceptance and discrimination without being overly preachy. The story had some twists and turns and kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen to Lan, his family, and ultimately, humanity.
Krakauer joined an expedition to Everest in 1996. The tragedy he witnessed there is recounted in this book. It took a while to get caught up in the story, but once I did, it was very compelling. Krakauer's writing draws you into the story and gives you an idea of what those involved went through. I think he did a great job of telling the story and including different perspectives.
Recommended to those who like to read about real-life adventures.
Thanks to Netgalley for the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Greer is a 15-year-old girl, sarcastic, funny, loyal, and a fabulous character. I love the way this book captured the feelings of insecurity that plague all teenage girls. I was once a teenage girl, and I remember feeling like every flaw (or everything that made me not fit in) was overwhelming and it was all people saw. Greer's insecurity is about her huge boobs (her bra size is a 30H), she even named them Maude & Mavis. She feels that everyone who looks at her only sees them. Greer wears XXL mens sweatshirts to conceal her boobs, slouches, and avoids any attention. Every activity Greer does or is asked to do requires she considers Mavis & Maude. She can't swim because of the lack of coverage, athletics hurt, and she can never find a bra that fits properly. When Greer discovers her talent for volleyball and makes the team, she fears she will never be able to play without being a laughing stock. She finds a teacher to alter her uniform so it fits better and finally discovers a bra that can control Mavis & Maude. This allows her to move toward acceptance of herself. Greer has some amazing friends and teammates, and a cute boy who really is as nice as he seems. Greer is so relatable and so real that every teenage girl should read this book. Society constantly tells us what makes a person beautiful and filters make everyone look perfect. It's so hard to grow up and to understand that you aren't the only one who doesn't have it all together. This book helps.
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed EVERY school library should own this book! Recommended for 4th grade & up. This story is filled with both heartbreak & hope and based on a true story. Omar & his younger brother Hassan live in a refugee camp in Kenya after escaping from their war-ravaged home in Somalia. Omar finds strength in his community and perseveres despite overwhelming odds. The story is powerful and tells a remarkable story in a way that young people can understand. It tackles some seriously tough topics like war, extreme hunger, and arranged marriages. This book would be a great choice for a class read and give teachers and students a chance to explore the difficult themes together.
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste I just finished reading The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste. I chose this book because I am playing a game with my on-line reading community (booklikes.com) and I needed a book that takes place in Central or South America. Since I will work in a school library starting in August (Hooray!!), I often read middle grade and young adult books. There are so many great books out there and I like to stay informed so I can provide the best possible reader’s advisory for the students (and the books are fun to read). The Jumbies takes place on a Caribbean island and is based on Caribbean fairy tales. Everyone in the village avoids the forest, but Corinne doesn’t believe in the fairy tales about jumbies and she isn’t scared. Corinne’s mother died when she was four and she and her father have taken care of each other ever since. One day, a strange and beautiful woman appears in the market and again later at Corinne’s house. Her name is Severine and while Corinne’s father likes her, Corinne senses something is not quite right with Severine. Corinne and her friends will have to gather all of their courage and work together (despite their differences) to save her father and the island from Severine and the jumbies. Before I started reading, I looked for some background on the book. First to check where the story takes place and then to find out what jumbies are. I found an article about the book that specified some of the types of jumbies: douens (small creatures that lure children into the forest), soucouyant (old ladies who shed their skin and suck your blood), and lagahoo (a kind of wolf-man). So, when I came upon these creatures in the story, I had some idea of what they were. But Baptiste does a fantastic job of describing them in the story so I would have understood even without the background knowledge. I did come across a word in italics, used several times: chups. It was used along with the phrase “sucked her teeth.” Even using text clues, I wasn’t sure exactly what it meant, so I Googled it. Chups means to suck one’s teeth in disgust or as a sign of disrespect. I’m glad I looked it up because it added another layer of meaning. There are a lot of hints in the book about who Corrine’s mom was and how it pertains to Severine. I had an idea what the truth was, but I was also excited to watch Corrine discover the truth. Corrine is a strong, clever, brave girl and a great role model for young girls. In the article about the book, Baptiste talks about how much she loved fairy tales as a kid but how she never saw herself in the books. I think it’s fantastic that she wrote this book (and the series) so that young girls like her can see themselves in her books and relate to them.
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden Lately, my reading for pleasure has consisted of audiobooks. With all the reading I have for classes, my upcoming move, and my job, I don’t have much time for leisure reading. But audiobooks are perfect because I can listen to them while I do other things (driving to and from work, at lunch, while I’m packing or cleaning, etc.). The only problem with audiobooks is that I sometimes become distracted and have to rewind and re-listen to properly comprehend the story. At least it’s easy to skip back at the rate of 30 seconds or to the beginning of the chapter. The book I just finished listening to is Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. I’ve seen Small Spaces on shelves, but I was never interested in reading it (I’m not even sure why). Turns out it is a scary story that involves ghosts, and that is right up my alley. Ollie is a sixth grader who loves books and uses reading to escape from a tragedy that she doesn’t want to think about. One day Ollie sees a strange woman about to throw a book into the river and she grabs the book and runs home. Ollie reads the book and is intrigued by the creepy story about making deals with a “smiling man” for a price. During a class field trip to Smoke Hollow farm, Ollie discovers the graves of the people from the story. On the drive home, the bus breaks down and the driver tells Ollie to “get moving before they come for the rest of you.” Ollie is confused but decides to trust her gut. She only manages to convince two kids to go with her. It seems like the scarecrows are closing in on them, but what do they want? After reading some of the assigned reading this week, I realized that I often use questioning as a strategy. Through most of the book, Ollie starts to think about what happened to her mom but doesn’t follow through to the end. I found myself wondering what happened to Ollie’s mom and trying to guess how she died. When Ollie read about the deal with the “smiling man” I questioned who exactly he was (the devil, an evil spirit, a demon, or a complete unknown). I also noticed a theme in the book of questioning stereotypes. Ollie’s mom was a bold adventurer, her dad bakes and knits, and Coco is a pretty, feminine girl who also rock climbs. Ollie realizes that Coco doesn’t cry because she is weak, but because she feels things so strongly. Crying is not a weakness. Ollie is trying to hide from her feelings in books, but she realizes that she can’t hide forever. The scarecrows who chase the kids during the second half of the book must eventually be faced, just as Ollie must face her feelings about the loss of her mom.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch My latest pleasure read is Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. I chose this book because I loved Crouch’s Wayward Pines series so much that I want to read everything I can by this author. He also just released a new book, Recursion which reminded me I had this one sitting on my shelf. Crouch’s books are thrillers with a twist that catches you completely unawares (Wayward Pines) or with a storyline that threatens to break your brain (Dark Matter) - this is part of the author’s schema. I expect to enjoy books by this author because I appreciate his writing style. In Dark Matter the main character, Jason Dessen, was a brilliant physicist with a promising career until he decided to marry his pregnant girlfriend (Daniela). Now he has a teenage son and is a professor at a small college in Chicago. One night, after celebrating his friend’s prestigious award, Jason is assaulted by a masked man and wakes up in another world. In this world, Jason never married and never had a son. He is an eminent scientist who invented a machine that does the impossible. But which world is real, and which is only a dream? I am constantly monitoring my comprehension during reading, even though I don’t usually think about it. This assignment is helping me pay attention to the strategies I use. For example, I often read in bed and I sometimes find myself rereading a passage because I wasn’t focused and missed something. During the first chapter, I was able to infer that Jason and Daniela both gave up something when she became pregnant. Jason might have been a brilliant scientist and Daniela a famous and successful artist. Though they both sometimes wonder “what if,” they’re happy with their choices. When Jason woke up in the hospital, there was an overwhelming sense that something was amiss. By the time he escaped and found Daniela (who confirmed they aren’t married), I knew that the people chasing him were dangerous and he was putting Daniela in danger. Because of this, I was able to predict what would happen to Daniela (at least generally). As I continued to read, I realized that Jason was in an alternate universe. I connected the storyline to other stories in my schema. In the various DC TV series (Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl), the characters often face people (or creatures) from alternate universes. Making this connection helped me understand the theory Jason’s character worked on that every choice a person makes creates another “world” that is similar and yet different. Trying to wrap my mind around a machine that could take a person to any one of these worlds by walking down a long corridor and opening a door was pleasantly challenging. My affinity for science fiction and ability to suspend disbelief are parts of my schema that help me do this. I can’t wait to read his next book.
The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman. The book I most recently read for pleasure is The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman. It is an unvarnished look at the plight of homeless children in India, but is also filled with bravery, love, and hope. The story follows Viji and Rukku, two sisters who escape a violent father and find themselves on the streets of Chennai. Viji is unprepared for the danger and violence they face, but they manage to find friendship with two boys who live on an abandoned bridge. When the two younger children become ill, Viji and Arul must decide whether to take a chance and seek help from a stranger or try to cling to their hard-won freedom. I am an avid reader and usually read around 100 books each year. My choice of books ranges from picture books (to enrich my knowledge as a librarian) to middle grade & YA books up to adult books. My favorite level to read tends to be young adult. I work in a school library that serves Pre-K to 8thgrade, so many of the books I read are at those levels. The Bridge Homeis a realistic fiction book in the middle grade range, meaning it is appropriate for grades 4-8 and beyond. I don’t usually pay attention to my cognitive choices during reading, so this seemed like a difficult challenge. However, once I started thinking metacognitively, I realized I use more strategies than I realize. Considering the age level of most of the books I read, I don’t generally find words that I don’t understand. But, if I do, and the books are e-books, I use the dictionary search feature to find the meanings right away. That is an amazing feature that we should teach and encourage students to take advantage of. I often visualize the scenes described by the author. In this book, I found myself picturing the trash piles the children searched through to find metal or glass to sell to the waste man. The descriptions were so vivid I found myself wrinkling my nose at the smells she described. Another strategy I often use is predicting. Throughout the book, I kept trying to figure out what would happen to the kids and what situation would ultimately force them to seek help from the friendly woman at the church. Towards the end of the book, Viji’s father comes to see her. I tried to predict whether she would forgive him or not and how she would react when she saw him. This book was hopeful and heartbreaking, and I highly recommend it to students and adults. The author grew up in India and her authority and knowledge is reflected in the details of the story. The interactions of the kids and their dog bring a lighthearted feel to what could have been a very heavy subject.