Please browse here to find books that I think are worth your time.... or are real stinkers. I will let you know what I REALLY think of what I am reading. You might not find the newest and most popular books here, but I would LOVE it if you find something unexpectedly great!

I will indicate on each post the Lexile level of the book.
To find out more about Lexile levels, go HERE.

Use the labels list on the right side of the screen to find a title about something you are interested in. You can also search by Lexile levels.

Happy Reading!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Turtles All the Way Down

By John Green
Lexile = Not Yet!

A book by John Green is NOT an automatic buy in my library. If you have read my review of Paper Towns, you may recall that I used the word "crude". And it is. That is an apt description for much of Green's work. However, in Turtles All the Way Down, it isn't an overwhelming part of the plot OR any character. That means, Mr Green, the F-bomb and the reference to crude selfies could be removed from the book and the integrity of the story would NOT be jeopardized... anyway.....

Aza and Daisy, best friends for life, get caught up in attempting to solve a mystery when a local billionaire goes missing, leaving behind two sons. The oldest son was kinda a friend of Aza's way back when and Daisy convinces Aza to pay a visit to her old friend in an attempt to earn the substantial reward.

The title comes from this concept..... (I stole this from Wikipedia)
The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"

The significance here is that when Aza's thinking tends to spiral downward and she can't control her thoughts at stressful times.

So... this is my favorite John Green so far. I actually liked the characters and I thought that Aza particularly was a pretty sympathetic character. Although there is some romance here, this is mostly a story of a friendship and what that friendship can survive.

Monday, November 20, 2017


By R.J. Palacio
Lexile = 790

Auggie Pullman is the new kid in school. He's been home schooled since forever because he has "mandibulofacial dysostosis". He says, "I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse." But at the beginning of 5th grade, his parents have decided it is time to get out there more, make friends, and start school. He is super smart and accustomed to the looks he gets in public.

Some kids at his school are "assigned" to befriend him as the year begins. Yeah, that isn't going to go well. First it does and then it doesn't. So this is his story... but also the story of his older sister and the rest of his family.

I didn't buy this book initially because it really is considered an elementary book. Then the movie was released. Haven't seen the movie yet, but if it carries the impact of the book, it should be required for all students. View a trailer for the movie HERE. Read this book.

HERE is another video featuring a real boy with the syndrome described in the book. Choose KIND.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


By Victoria Laurie
Lexile = 820

Maddie has a gift. She knows when you are going to die. Now, maybe that isn't much of a gift, but she is is never wrong. She will tell when you will die, but you have to pay for it. Maddie's mom is an alcoholic and has used her daughter's ability to finance her drinking.

When a boy that Maddie has predicted will die goes missing, the FBI considers Maddie the prime suspect. When they find his body, she is the ONLY suspect.

I did figure out who really did it before the book told me. To enjoy this book, you have to just accept the whole "she can see your death date floating about your head" and move on. Just go with it.... this is a fun read!

Watch a fun student created book trailer HERE.

Friday, November 3, 2017


By Dan Brown
Lexile = 800

Remember Da Vinci Code? Or maybe Lost Symbol? These books in the Robert Langdon series have all been made into great, adventurous movies. I am pretty sure that Origin will be a movie soon as well. Likely also starring Tom Hanks! Here's the story:

Langdon is a symbologist and professor of religious iconography at Harvard. Years ago, he had a student named Edmond Kirsch who is now a technology futurist and eccentric billionaire. Langdon and Kirsch are not close, but recently, Kirsch has approached Langdon with some deep religious questions. Now, Kirsch has announced that he has made a discovery that will answer the age old questions of "Where did we come from?" and "Where are we going?" AND will end religious belief worldwide. Wow. Quite a discovery.

This novel is set in Spain, so the Catholic Church weighs in to attempt to squelch the reveal. Things go bad... very bad ... and the adventure takes off from there.

Loved that this is set in Spain, so I was familiar with the language and the landmarks mentioned. This is truly a quick read; felt a lot like the others in this series. A fun read!

HERE is the trailer from DaVinci Code just to get you in the mood. I think I will watch it this week!

Jenks Student Reviews

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Your Name
Title of Book
Brief summary
Detailed opinion of the book

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Fixer

By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Lexile = 620

One of my current binge shows on Netflix is:

Scandal is all about a "fixer" ... the person you turn to when you need a situation fixed. Like you found a body, but you are an important person (a senator?) that can't be involved in a scandal. You call the Fixer and they take care of it and make it all go away. Well, The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is like a young adult version of this great TV show! Here's the plot:

Tess is living with her Grandfather in Montana, but he is slowly deteriorating due to Alzheimer's Disease. Tess's big sister, who has been largely absent from Tess's life since their parents died, swoops in to rescue them both and moves them BOTH back east and into her life. Ivy Kendrick is a well-known and successful Fixer in Washington DC. Ivy's notoriety does ease the transition for Tess into her new elitist school, but students at the school think that Tess can do for them what Ivy does when she fixes things up for their parents.

I think this is a bit unbelievable, but maybe the First Lady does visit high schools in DC and ask students for favors.... uh.... likely not. I happened to take this book on a trip to DC last week, so I read it while in the city of its setting. Kinda fun. Good book. There is also a sequel.

Watch a student made trailer HERE.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Smith's Class Book Reviews

Please post in comments section below. Be sure to include:

Your Name
Title of Book
Brief summary
Detailed opinion of the book