Sunday, December 6, 2015

The 5th Wave By Rick Yancey


The Others arrived and in four waves decimated the human population.  Now, Cassie Sullivan struggles to survive and to protect her brother during the fifth wave of the invasion.  To stay alone is to survive.  But can humanity survive without trust?  And how do you fight an enemy who could look just like you?  

Fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games will revel in this series by Rick Yancey.  The question of who is your enemy will keep you at the edge of your seat, and the twists and turns will leave you just as suspicious as the main characters.  Why are these foreign invaders here?  What do they want?  And what would happen if humanity was suddenly met with an enemy we simply couldn’t compete with?  

Soon to be a major motion picture, get into this series now before the 2016 release!  

HS

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness


Ness has created a universe where supernatural apocalypses nearly happen at least once a generation (so basically a place where things like the events of Twilight and City of Bones go on every once and a while). However, Mikey and his friends are not the chosen ones who can save the universe (they aren't even friends with those kids), they're just trying to get through the rest of high school. Mikey and his friends all have normal (though not insignificant) problems they're trying to deal with as they work their way towards graduation and on the fringes there are the "indie kids," trying to stop the immortals from ending the world.

In The Rest of Us Just Live Here each chapter opens with a summary of the supernatural battle going on before jumping into Mikey, Mel, Jared, and Henna's world; where crushes, friendships, and family drama take center stage. Ness does an excellent job of using supernatural novel stereotypes (all the "indie kids" have names like Satchel and Finn), humor, and genuine characters that all have their own issues - even if Mike can't always see - it to create a story that feels familiar and real (even if there are the occasional encounters with zombie deer).

Lisa

Monday, October 26, 2015

Johnny Tremain by Ester Forbes



Most historical fiction novels are quite enjoyable. We can learn more about a period of history without having to stutter our way through a 700-page Social Studies textbook. Because it’s not that we don’t want to learn about the past, it’s that the resources available to us are long and tiring. Which is where great historical fiction stories come into play, complete with both information and a story line.

JohnnyTremain is not one of those great books.

In the 5th grade, the entirety of both classes was forced to read this book. Our teacher had never read it before but from the reviews, she was convinced that the book would go over nicely and would allow for intellectual discussion. We talked about it every week, slowly reading it chapter by chapter. And every time, our opinion would of the story would go down.

The summary doesn’t sound that horrible, just, you know, a book you read for class. Not all that great, but tolerable. The book is about a 14-year old apprentice living in Boston during the American Revolution. While making a plate or something out of silver for John Hancock, he injures his hand and is crippled for the rest of his life. Thus begins his journey of self-discovery, a clich√© that apparently also applies to 18th century silversmiths.

This book features characters that nobody particularly cares about with problems that nobody cares about either. It’s an attempt to involve the reader in issues that just aren’t that relevant anymore. Nobody wants to read a book when they don’t understand the character’s motivation for doing something.

All I’ve got to say is that readers of Johnny Tremain, I’m so sorry. I sympathize. This book is a perfect example that even if you love to read and absorb every word around you, you have to (T)remain critical of what you’re reading.


Maja (Teen Blogger)

Friday, October 23, 2015

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King



I would generally describe myself as a fan of King's work; she is an author I highly recommend and Glory O'Brien's History of the Future may be one of my favorite books in general. Many of her works throw in magical realism/surrealism element and usually I think this works and makes her stories unique. Her newest book, I Crawl Through It, takes this fantastical element and runs with it. There are four main perspectives, Stanzi's (which isn't her real name), Gustav's, Lansdale's, and China's and these perspectives all exist in the surreal. Stanzi loves dissection, always wears a lab coat and her crush/best friend is building a helicopter she can only see on Tuesdays. Gustav is building the mostly invisible helicopter. Lansdale is a liar and her hair visibly grows by the day. And China has decided to swallow herself and is a walking set of organs. Gradually the reader is introduced to the real issues and traumas each of these characters are facing and have experienced. While, I have to say this was my least favorite of King's works, it still left me thinking about it after I put it down. Definitely not a light or casual read, but if you're interested in putting some work into your reading and looking for something completely different this may be for you.

Lisa

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

In our modern times, we often forget about the past. Primarily the last century or so. We choose to ignore the great and horrible deeds past generations have committed, maybe because we think they’re no longer relevant; they don’t affect us.

This might come as a shock, but what our ancestors did in times past has built the world we live in today. We don’t know what our lives would look like with a single historic event missing, but what we often discuss is the impact of World War II and the Holocaust. The Book Thief centers around the struggles of a young German girl who, as the title suggests, harbors a love for books and words. She recognizes the fact that words are more powerful than any gas chamber or concentration camp could ever be. Words are what allow Adolf Hitler to convince the German population to carry out the horrible things that they do. Words are a burden, but they are necessary to our survival.

The book follows the story of the girl through a unique perspective: literally the character Death. This allows for insightful observations to the story written in bold that completely transforms the voice of the story. The combination of Death's commentary throughout and the  intelligent voice of the girl (which tends to run off on tangents) make the book a notable narrative.

I found that the most shocking part is that as much as Liesel, the girl, loves books and words, at the beginning of the story is unable to read. Through hard work with her adoptive father in the middle of the night, she becomes an expert at the subject, going as far as stealing books (you know, being the book thief and all) from a burning bonfire and from the library of the mayor's home.

This book delves into the depths of the human mind spectacularly, exploring the thoughts of a young girl and how they relate to adult characters and even Death. It proves how even when we don't actively realize it, words are such an essential part of every single person's life.

Maja (teen blogger)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Romance in YA Novels


If you haven’t realized it by now, the main theme in the majority of Young Adult novels is romance. There’s always a couple or a love triangle or a crush around which the story is centered around. Without this, the plot is pointless. Which I find pointless.

Why is it that all of these books need to have love? There is an abundance of adult books without it; it’s just adventure and mystery and an actual story. The characters interact with each other to solve a problem and save themselves. It’s logical, but not emotionless. The emotion just isn’t love all the time.

I believe that the reason love is so prevalent in these novels is because it’s the emotion we’re the most familiar with at our young age. Everyone is loved by someone and everyone loves someone, and I think this is the age we begin to discover that. Authors can use that new life experience to draw us in, perhaps in hope of learning how to love right; how not to hurt people.

Every human being is capable of love, and so much of it is just a spiritual connection with another person, whether it be platonic or not. But because that’s so difficult to find- or better yet, keep- we want to savor it at a young age. We throw the word “love” around a lot. “I love my boyfriend! We’ve been dating for a whole two weeks!” We’re trying to grow up so fast.

Maybe that’s just because there’s so much pressure to be in a relationship it’s inevitable that we want to learn how to really be in one.  And really, whatever is in our lives is in our books. We want to read about ourselves and something we can relate to; something we can understand.

We haven’t grown up yet, but maybe that’s the point. At this time in our lives, we need to be immersed in any kind of love in preparation for adulthood. We’ll be loving till the end of time because that’s what makes the human species special. So we start not with our own loves, or own lives, but isn’t that the whole reason we read in the first place? To live someone else’s life?


Maja (Teen Blogger)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Infinite in Between



Five students are randomly thrown together at freshman orientation on their first day of high school; as their group activity they decide to write letters to their future graduation selves and meet up at the end of high school to read them. Infinite in Between is what happens to each of them in between. There's Zoe, displaced daughter of an actress going through rehab, Whitney, seemingly beautiful and perfect, but dealing with family discord and friends who aren't always friends, Gregor, who's in love with Whitney (despite not really talking to her), Mia, who's smart and awkward, but desperate to get out of town after graduation, and Jake, who's coming to terms with his sexuality after an incident at the end of junior high. Mackler has created an enjoyable and quick (at least quick for a 400+ page book) read, revolving around an interesting concept, with characters who change as each year passes, but with five different stories and four years of high school to get through it isn't always easy to be fully invested in the outcomes for any of them.

Lisa

Monday, October 5, 2015

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg



          
So I happen to enjoy romance novels. There’s just something about taking a break from complete and total pessimism that seems to draw me in and turn me into a giggling mess. And yet, I do have to judge how far away the novel is from mainstream love stories. Hopefully miles and miles.
            
 I was in Glen Ellyn with my family a couple weekends ago, taking a stroll and looking into different shops, not actually buying anything but  just enjoying ourselves. And when I noticed the local book store, I headed straight for the Young Adult section. This book, Openly Straight, was one that looked moderately interesting so I wrote it down in my phone and made plans to get it at the library later. Let me just say, that was a good choice.
            
 The book revolves around Seamus Rafael Goldberg, or Rafe. He lives in Colorado, surrounded by family that strongly encourages him being gay, along with the rest of the decidedly untraditional town. (Think nuns on Segways.) His mom is president of the local Parents, Families, and friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG). His dad is obsessed with recording every single minute of Rafe’s life on his iPhone and showing the videos to absolutely no one. Rafe travels to different schools and talks about coming out. He’s accepted; something that doesn’t tend to happen when it comes to LGBTQ+ people.
            
 And yet, he’s tired of being the gay kid. There’s a barrier between him and everyone else. He has to watch his every move, making sure that what he does isn’t perceived differently than if he were “normal.” He decides that he’s had enough, which is understandable since everyone just wants to be normal (as if that really exists). So he transfers to an all-boys boarding school in New England with hopes of shedding the label and being accepted as simply a person.
            
 He doesn’t expect to fall in love but of course he does. I know, shocking. At an enormous school filled with boys on the other side of the country? Did not expect that one.
            
 In the end, he realizes that no one actually cares about anyone else. (Whoops, back to the pessimism.) No one is paying attention to what he’s doing because they’re too busy thinking about themselves. You’re not on stage with an audience watching your every move and judging you. You’re not a character written by producers, every bit of you extensively mulled over. You’re simply human, controlled by your own thoughts. So if no one else cares, why should you please anyone but yourself?

Maja (Teen Reviewer)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson



Heroes, villains (all though which is which is not always clear), arch nemeses, a corrupt institution, and Nimona. Nimona, a shapeshifter, gets herself a job with Ballister Blackheart, "the biggest name in supervillany" and may be a tad over enthusiastic to help him bring down the hero, Ambrosius Goldenloin and the Institution. It soon becomes clear though that Ballister's and Ambrosius's relationship is more complicated than simply hero and villain (why else are they both still alive?), and Nimona's powers may be greater than anyone bargained for. A fun read with snark and heart and very human complications.

You can find more on Nimona and other comics on Noelle Stevenson's website.

Other Books You May Like
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Lisa

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


  
As teens, we are constantly exposed to clich√© love stories about “quirky” girls who couldn’t possibly like themselves until the average blonde boy saved them. They have absolutely nothing in common and don’t particularly seem to care about each other outside of school and the local mall/movie theater. Sounds like your average middle school relationship, right?

Well, this can get tiring quite soon (or immediately). So I was looking for a cute story that wasn’t fan-fiction on Tumblr when this book was recommended to me, and it was really a great find. I happened to finish it in approximately 4 hours. This book is set in 1986, which is honestly something I’d never seen before. The time period added a dimension to the book, like it could be the story of how your parents met.

Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus when Eleanor doesn’t have anywhere to sit, and Park begrudgingly offers her a seat next to him. (Begrudgingly meaning swearing at her and yelling to just sit down. I know, absolutely adorable.) They continue on like any other teen would in this situation: awkwardly staring at anything but each other. 

But after a while, they begin an almost-wordless infatuation with Watchmen comic books and The Smiths on Park’s walkman (so basically an iPod). This slowly transitions into an infatuation for each other, and they start learning more and more about the other’s life. This makes you recognize that everyone has problems- real problems. Teenagers are definitely not immune to everything, as I’m sure you know.      
   
This book is a great story about first love, and the fact that amazing as it may be, it never really lasts. It’s getting to know yourself as a person and understanding how to love someone else: putting their needs above your wants. But sometimes, all you want- and need- is them.

Maja (Teen Reviewer)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Supermutant Magic Academy



A magic high school (as in magic is taught, not that there is anything magical about the school itself), students with varying abilities and mutations learn how to fly, get involved (or deliberately not) in school events, and spend time on social media. There is no chosen one and no one is on any special mission, it's just a bunch of students getting through high school who happen to have special abilities. Supermutant Magic Academy is told through mini comic strips and the over arching plot is a bit thin, while this does cause the book to be a little disjointed to start, once the characters become more familiar the graphic novel is quite entertaining. Artwork is almost entirely in black, white, and shades of gray and includes a couple side stories told entirely in pictures. The stories and characters may seem random and ridiculous at times, but Tamaki also captures some of the ridiculousness that can be every day high school.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein


Emilia and Teodros are essentially brother and sister, even though he's black, she's white and they have different biological parents. There mothers are flying partners (and best friends) in the 1930s when Delia, Teo's mother, is killed during a freak accident. Rohda, Emilia's mother, decides to fullfill a dream of Delia's (for her son to be raised in a place where he isn't looked down upon) and moves the family to Ethiopia, which is the only African country to never have been colonized. However, 1930s Ethiopia is on the brink of war with Ethiopia and not only is Teodros a half Ethiopian of military age, but he discovers unfortunate information about his family's past.

Black Dove White Raven doesn't have the same spark as Wein's other two works (Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire), but it's still an interesting story taking place in the midst of serious precursor to World War II that is generally overlooked.

Lisa

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Middle School Reads

Fiction

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acamora
When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to "destroying the mockingbird."


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse.

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives





The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway? But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And one gamer has been doing exactly that, with murderous results. The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they've been watching Michael. 

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
If you ain't scared, you ain't human. When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He's surrounded by strangers--boys whose memories are also gone. Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade. Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It's the only way out--and no one's ever made it through alive.



Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
Everyone says guys and girls can't be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Mac's friends. They are platonic and happy that way. Eventually they realize they're best friends -- which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't keep getting in each other's way.

Fake ID by L.R. Giles
Nick Pearson is hiding in plain sight. In fact, his name isn't really Nick Pearson. He shouldn't tell you his real name, his real hometown, or why his family just moved to Stepton, Virginia. And he definitely shouldn't tell you about his friend Eli Cruz and the major conspiracy Eli was uncovering when he died.


The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove
Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World--a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods. Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself. Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them...all at once?






The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
Saving the school -- one con at a time. Jackson Greene has reformed. No, really he has. He became famous for the Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz . . . But after the disaster of the Mid-Day PDA, he swore off scheming and conning for good. Then Keith Sinclair -- loser of the Blitz -- announces he's running for school president, against Jackson's former best friend Gaby de la Cruz.

Legend by Marie Lu
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect.


Rain Reign by Ann M Martin
Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She's thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose's rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose's obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different - not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father. When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose's father shouldn't have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.

V is for Villain by Peter Moore
Brad Baron is used to looking lame compared to his older brother, Blake. And Brad doesn't measure up at his high school, either, where powers like super-strength and flying are the norm. So when Brad makes friends who are more into political action than weight lifting, he's happy to join a new crew-especially since it means spending more time with Layla, a girl who may or may not have a totally illegal, totally secret super-power.  But when they're pulled into a web of nefarious criminals, high-stakes battles, and startling family secrets, Brad must choose which side he's on.


The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
A nightmarish danger threatens from the other side of reality . . . Armed with only a frying pan and her common sense, young witch-to-be Tiffany Aching must defend her home against the monsters of Fairyland. Luckily she has some very unusual help...

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
As Wild Chalklings threaten the American Isles and Rithmatists are humanity's only defense, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist  students learn the  magical art that he would do anything to practice




Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
The Congo is a dangerous place, even for people who are trying to do good. When Sophie has to visit her mother at her sanctuary for bonobos, she's not thrilled to be there. It's her mother's passion, and Sophie would rather have nothing to do with it. But when revolution breaks out and their sanctuary is attacked, she must rescue the bonobos and hide in the jungle.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it's safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner. But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda's mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles
It is 1964, and Sunny's town, Greenwood, Mississippi, is being invaded. So is her home. Her daddy got married last summer, and her house filled up with a new stepmother, Annabelle, a new brother, Gillette, and a new sister, Audrey. Sunny's new family has been growing together, but when Gillette tattles to her father, things grow chilly between them. Greenwood has been tense and chilly too, but that's because students and "agitators" from up north have driven down in buses for a Freedom Summer, to help register citizens in the town to vote. Everyone in the town, from the churches to the schools to the movie theaters, has been choosing sides, and Sunny suddenly understands how scary it can be to help people out, even when you know you're doing good.


Poison by Bridget Zinn
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction-which means she's the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom's future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend. But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart misses. Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king's army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal.

Graphic Novels & Manga

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
As young boys, Edward & Alphonse Elric dabbled in alchemy to try to resurrect their dead mother. As a result, Ed lost one arm and one leg, while Al lost his entire body and had his spirit sealed into a suit of armor. Now, they are searching for the fabled Philosopher's Stone to restore what they've lost.


World Trigger Vol. 1 by Daisuke Ashihara
Earth is under constant threat from Neighbors, invincible monsters from another dimension that destroy our way of life. Our hero Osamu Mikumo may not be greatest warrior, but he'll do whatever it takes to defend life on Earth.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow
Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing; But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer -- a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along.

Black Butler by Yana Toboso
Just a stone's throw from London lies the manor house of the illustrious Phantomhive earldom and its master, one Ciel Phantomhive. Earl Phantomhive is a giant in the world of commerce, Queen Victoria's faithful servant...and a slip of a twelve-year-old boy. Fortunately, his loyal butler, Sebastian, is ever at his side, ready to carry out the young master's wishes. And whether Sebastian is called to save a dinner party gone awry or probe the dark secrets of London's underbelly, there apparently is nothing Sebastian cannot do. In fact, one might even say Sebastian is too good to be true...or at least, too good to be human...

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
The origin story of the Green Turtle. Yang revives a 1940s superhero.

Nonfiction

Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg by Tanya Anderson
Relates the experiences of ordinary teenager Tillie Pierce during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, as she helped save wounded Union and Confederate soldiers during the bloody, three-day battle.


The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb
 In 1945, at the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, the head of operations for the Final Solution, walked into the mountains of Germany and vanished from view. Sixteen years later, an elite team of spies captured him at a bus stop in Argentina and smuggled him to Israel, resulting in one of the century's most important trials -- one that cemented the Holocaust in the public imagination. The Nazi Hunters is the thrilling and fascinating story of what happened between these two events.

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
When Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew into the Russian Revolution.

Titanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
Tells the tale of the sinking of the Titanic  using the narratives of the witnesses and survivors to the disaster.

Bomb: the Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific  race that spanned three continents. This is the story of the plotting, risk-taking, deceit, and genius that created the atomic bomb.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.