Randi's Blog

Rose Under Fire - Elizabeth Wein 4.5 stars (mostly because I loved Code Name Verity more). Review to come.
When You Were Here - Daisy Whitney 2.5 rounded to 3.
I Will Save You - Matt de la Pena Recommended as a YA pairing for teaching Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.
Inexcusable - Chris Lynch Recommended as a YA pairing for teaching Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.
Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins 4.5 stars! Review coming soon.
The Book of Broken Hearts - Sarah Ockler This book broke my heart. It made me cry and laugh...at the same time. It is absolutely beautiful, heartbreaking, and soul-crushing...and then it heals you. Seriously, I can't really explain it. But I know I will read this book over and over again. (And I'm not huge on rereading.) In fact, I kind of want to start reading again now. Go and read this.
A Matter of Days - Amber Kizer Why aren't more people talking about this book?! I love apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic novels, and this is an excellent one. A virus that kills 98% of the population and a teenage girl with her little brother on a journey across the US to their grandfather's supposed safe shelter? It makes for an excellent story and Kizer didn't omit the (what I think are necessary) elements of heartbreak, evil, questions about morality, interesting characters, and hard hits on the journey. How do you go on when the world you knew, and most of the population as well, is dead? Superb YA post-apocalyptic book right here. I wish there were more out there like this. I also hope more people start reading this book; the characters are authentic, the details precise, and the journey intense. Please pick this up!
The Tragedy Paper - Elizabeth LaBan 3.5 stars. I was really excited to read this book - I love the cover and the premise sounded intriguing. Of course, I got a copy and it then sat on my shelf for months! Luckily, it was voted as our book club read for "boarding school" reads. Overall, I liked the story, but there were some things I had issues with:

1) I didn't feel like it had that quintessential boarding school vibe. I wanted to know more about the school and its history and traditions.

2) The character of Duncan felt like a prop to me. I felt like I got to know so much about Tim, but Duncan's parts seemed very dull in comparison, which made me dislike the way his story ended - it felt too tidy.

3) The build up of Tim's story was excellent...and I felt like the climax was rushed. After spending 3/4 (or more) of the book building up to that moment (and wondering the whole time what it would be), I wanted more description and emotion and, well, everything.

4) I could have used more info on the actual Tragedy Paper. It felt like this big ominous THING that was never fully described. I know Tim's story is supposed to be a paper in itself, but I felt the intellectual aspects of the Paper were put out there and never fully supported. Maybe seeing more of Duncan's life (going to class, etc.) would have strengthened that for me.
Night Film - Marisha Pessl Intense and gripping, I really enjoyed this. It threw things at me that I didn't expect, which I really enjoyed.
Twelve Angry Men - Reginald Rose, David Mamet I loved this play and can't wait to teach it to my 8th graders. It is so deep and thought-provoking.
The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin 3 1/2 stars
Dangerous Girls - Abigail Haas, Abby McDonald Wow. What a great read! I don't want to say much about the plot because I don't want anything that could be spoilerish in this review. One thing I loved about this book was the structure. I really enjoyed how Haas included flashbacks to pre-Aruba Trip in addition to scenes of the vacation and also the trial/jail scenes. I felt like these gave me a better sense of the characters and what they were going through at the various points. I really felt for Anna. I read this book in a day; I could not put it down. Definitely recommended!
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock - Matthew Quick Wow!
A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin This book is mind-blowing! It's action-packed and heartbreaking and infuriating and I loved it.

The Outsiders

The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton I can't believe I didn't read this book until I was 25. It made me cry. I can't wait to share this book with my students!
A Clash of Kings  - George R.R. Martin 4 1/2 stars. I didn't like it as much as the first book, but still clearly epic, mind-bending, and nail-biting as the first.

Currently reading

The Thief Lord
Cornelia Funke
If I Ever Get Out of Here
Eric Gansworth
The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith