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!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Alex & Eliza: A Love Story

By Melissa De La Cruz
Lexile = 990

I've read online that the author of Alex & Eliza saw the musical "Hamilton" and was inspired to write this novel. So it isn't based on the musical, but no one wakes up and suddenly decides to write a romance with the first Secretary of the Treasury as the dashing lead. But it is based in fact. Eliza Schuyler is portrayed as the most pragmatic of the three Schuyler sisters; she avoids the frippery of fashion so common in the Revolutionary Period. She indeed wins the heart of the the young Alexander Hamilton, close associate of General George Washington. Was that a spoiler? Sorry. I figure historical fiction has few real spoilers.

De La Cruz is best known for a series of vampire romances, but she has created a sweet "Austenesque" story here. You will like this if you like historical fiction, Hamilton, or just a well-written romance!

And just for fun, HERE is a clip about the Schuylers from the musical.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Crossover

By Kwame Alexander
Lexile = 750

Josh and Jordan are twins... sons of basketball legend "Da Man" and although they are only in middle school, they are basketball stars on their way up. But things are changing. Their Dad is having symptoms of heart problems and Jordan seems more interested in the new girl in school than in basketball some days.

The Crossover is told in verse, which I have said before seems like a lazy, albeit trendy way to tell a story. I think that the verse may turn readers off, especially readers that would most like this fast-paced sports novel. Just read the words and don't focus on the way they look on the page.

Loved the Mom and Dad in this. Interspersed throughout are the Father's "Basketball Rules". It's a family that really loves and cares for each other. And for Christmas, they give their boys BOOKS!

Watch the author read from his work HERE. An ad pops up first.... sorry.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

elsewhere

By Gabrielle Zevin
Lexile = 720

What happens when you die? Lots of books have been written about this topic, both fantastical fiction and supposed "non-fiction". Elsewhere is where you end up after death, according to this author. It's a lot like earth, but just a little different. People that you knew on earth that have gone before you are there as well. Liz is killed unexpectedly and eventually arrives at this strange place. The Grandma that died before Liz was born greets her. Because her death was sudden and she is young, adjusting to elsewhere is difficult. Liz just wants to return home.

Now, this is about death. But it is funny! I gotta say I like this author's vision of heaven... and how everyone ends up returning to earth! Gabrielle Zevin is the author of two other novels I have read: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac and The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Fikry is one of my all-time favorites. I liked Amnesiac as well. Both are in the Ridgeline Library.

Elsewhere would make a great movie. Until then, HERE is a link to a trailer created by a student.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lilac Girls

By Martha Hall Kelly
Lexile = ?

Caroline Ferriday is a wealthy, youngish New Yorker that works at the French consulate in New York City in 1939. She is tasked with arranging visas for French citizens that are fleeing Europe as Hitler spreads his influence throughout the continent. She also creates and sends care packages to orphanages in France.

Kasia Kuzmerick is a young Polish girl that gets involved with the Polish resistance and their undercover activities. Her actions place her in the cross-hairs of the Nazi regime.

Herta Oberhauser is a young German doctor who, as woman, struggles to find her place in the medical establishment in Germany.

The cover of Lilac Girls, as you can see, shows three women walking arm in arm. I guess I assumed as this story begins that these three main characters are friends. Well, that is misleading.... they don't even know each other and won't ever walk arm in arm anywhere. The title is misleading as well. I never got where that came from, but perhaps I missed something.

Yes, this is another World War II story. Caroline Ferriday is a real person. Kasia's character is based on a real person. What sets this novel apart for me is that so much of the plot is concerned with what happens after the tragedy of war... how these three women cope and battle and survive when the war ends.

Watch an amazing video from the author (and an explanation of the lilacs!) HERE.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Belle: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

By Cameron Dokey
Lexile = 740

If you are a fan of Fairy Tales with a twist, this is the series for you! Written by several different authors, "Once Upon a Time is Timeless" is a series with about 20 titles. I purchased most of them for Ridgeline. Although I plan to read more, I started with Belle. Likely I chose this one because the Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson was recently released. I also remember Beauty and the Beast being one of my favorite fairy tales when I was just a kid.

This particular retelling follows a slightly different plot line than Disney's version. Belle has two sisters, a mother and a father. There are no angry villagers and even the castle isn't enchanted. Belle is a brave, plucky heroine with a gift for wood carving. In fact, it is her carving that takes her the Beast's home in the first place.

Overall, this is a sweet retelling of the classic tale. Lots and lots of back story here; She doesn't arrive at the Beast's castle until a bit past half way! Less romance and more inner reflection. This isn't my favorite version of Beauty, but it was a fun, quick read. Enjoy the entire series! Obviously, they don't have to be read in any particular order.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

By Gabrielle Zevin
Lexile = 720

I've always thought it would be fun, or perhaps at least very interesting to have amnesia. It would be like starting all over again. That is what happens to Naomi in Memoirs of a Teenage Amesiac, except she has forgotten just the last four years of her life. Wouldn't that be strange? You would remember your bestest friend from seventh grade and expect that same relationship to be there. Except maybe it's not. In Naomi's case, she is told that "Ace" is her boyfriend, but with her memory gone, she can't imagine why she ever even liked him. Instead she is drawn to people and situations that are very different from what she is TOLD her new reality is. And her parents? That situation is very different from four years ago.

Naomi is a bit of a manipulator; she uses her diagnosed amnesia to dodge situations and to control people around her. I expected to like this book better. It is written by the same author as The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, which is more literary. Memoirs opens up a lot of questions, but the answers were a little thin. I plan on trying another by this author, Elsewhere. Watch for updates!

And now here is a twist: Memiors was made into a 2010 Japanese movie! HERE is the the trailer...in Japanese!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Everything I Never Told You

By Celeste Ng
Lexile = 870

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. 1977, May 3, six thirty in the morning, no one knows anything but this innocuous fact: Lydia is late for breakfast.”

Opening Line.... so nothing I can add would be considered a spoiler. But I did want to know how Lydia died. I was expecting a crime/detective novel. Nope! This is about WHY Lydia died. And it is super painful. In fact, I didn't... couldn't finish this. Lydia's death is every mother's nightmare.

Everything I Never Told You is all about the characters. Lydia is the favorite child of a Chinese American Family in Ohio in the 70's. James, the Chinese father, suffered a great deal from prejudice while growing up and even now as a professor of western literature. Marilyn, Lydia's mother, almost became a doctor. Her family rejected her when she married James.

Lydia's story is how messed up her family is. And it is super painful.