PASSIONATE ABOUT SCHOOL LIBRARIES

Tag: Books (Page 1 of 12)

Book List: Books to Read if You Loved Harry Potter

Books to Read if you Loved Harry Potter

It has to be the question I get most as a teacher librarian. What should I read after Harry Potter? After students discover their love for Harry Potter and have re read it a few times, worked their way through all the accompanying companion books, information books about how the movies were made, History of Magic, short stories, screen plays and novelty books (the ones with working wands have to be the top favourites), they finally reach a point of wanting something similar but different.

What to read if you liked Harry Potter is also something I deal with for older students. The Harry Potter books might have been the only books they have read. Or maybe the enjoyed the movies, don’t want to read the books but would be open to reading something similar. Having a few titles on hand to suggest is always handing. But searching the web, there must be a million suggestions for Harry Potter readalikes out there. Or, maybe you are a parent with a child who wants to read Harry Potter but you’d like to steer them towards something similar.

There are lots of lists with suggestions out there, so I am not going to recommend the usual suspects, like the Percy Jackson series. While these are perfect for Harry Potter lovers, you’ve probably already seen them in reading suggestion lists, so I am going to chose some of my favourite and more obscure recommendations, as well as books by Australian authors.

Middle Grade Readers

Rise of the Dragons – Angie Sage

I adored The Magyk series by Angie Sage and it remains a perennial favourite with our library’s young readers, and so I jumped at the chance to read and review the first book in her newest fantasy series, Rise of the Dragons. With the promise of game cards and a matching online game, Rise of the Dragons promised to be an exciting release. The new world Sage has created and her daring plot of intrigue, dragon battles and family bonds is both thrilling and thoroughly enjoyable. It is sure to be a hit with our middle-grade readers. After all, everything is better with dragons.

The other books in the series have different authors.

I would also highly recommend Angie Sage’s Magyk series for Harry Potter fans.

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Book Review: Once Upon A Dragon’s Fire

Once Upon A Dragon’s Fire – Beatrice Blue – Clarion Books – Published 2 March 2021

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Synopsis

How did dragons get their fire? It all began once upon a magical kingdom, where a fearsome dragon stalked the land. The dragon was mean and scary and evil, or so the stories said. One day, two brave children set out to stop him for good. But when they finally met the monster, he wasn’t quite what they expected . . .

Find out how two kids’ determination to save their village led to a friendship that will warm the hearts of dragon lovers everywhere in this gorgeously illustrated celebration of the magic of kindness.

My thoughts

A beautiful picture book about bravery and friendship, about the power of story and how changing the stories can change how we see and accept others.

Two children live in a cold village. Everyone in their town knows that the evil dragon is the reason for the cold. All the books tell the same story. When a particularly bad storm starts to build, Freya and Sylas set off to find the dragon and save their village. What they find is a surprise and their kindness and bravery might be what really saves their town.

This book has such a beautiful underpinning story of acceptance, but also of rewriting the story of acceptance and friendship. It points to the way so many of our stories and book spread the stories of evil, difference and strangeness. The two children in this book show that through kindness, bravery and being open to new stories, that we can learn the truth about others and become a far more accepting world.

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Book Review: The Secret Recipe for Moving On

The Secret Recipe for Moving On – Karen Bischer – Swoon Reads – Published 23 March 2021

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Synopsis

Home economics is supposed to be an easy A for Ellie Agresti, but, much like an imperfect souffle, her plans collapse epically when she’s dumped by her boyfriend, Hunter. Now Ellie has to mend her broken heart while watching Hunter fawn all over his new girlfriend, Brynn, in class. To make matters worse, Ellie is partnered with four of the biggest misfit guys in school: Jeremy, the loudmouth with temper issues; Isaiah, the solemn, silent horse racing obsessive; Andrew, who can’t take rejection; and Luke, the giant, tattooed stunt biker.

Over the course of a semester, Ellie works to overcome her feelings for Hunter, as well as deeper insecurities that have plagued her since middle school. As the weeks go by, she’s surprised to find friendships in unexpected places… and sparks flying with the last guy she’d expect.

My thoughts

From that beautiful, pastel cover to the romance and teen drama, this is a sugar-sweet YA novel about, well, life as a teenager.

This book was just a whole heap of fun. Yes, there is drama. Lots of drama. From high school gossip blogs to breakups in the worst of circumstances. Crying, losing tempers, showdowns and attacking classmates in the middle of class. There are also so many moments that just made me grin or happy dance. I adored the time Ellie spends with her Home Ec teammates. As they learn to work together and slowly learn more about each other, as they go on team excursions, they become a great group and it was this dynamic that I really loved about this book. You could have doubled these interactions in the book and I would have loved every minute spent with them.

Ellie is our narrator and she is a teenager who is struggling to find her place in the high school world. She was bullied in middle school and starting at a new high school was daunting. Finding a boyfriend so quickly and falling in with his friends seemed the perfect way to both fly under the radar but also not be invisible. Just when Ellie is ready to take the next, big step with Hunter, she finds him distant. It’s pretty obvious to the reader what is going to happen, but when he dumps her, Ellie is devastated. From my reader perspective, it was good riddance, but to Ellie, her heart and trust has been broken. Enter her new Home Ec class. She has to share it with her ex and his new girlfriend, and she is forced to join a team of – in here eyes – losers. But, those losers turn out to be great guys, and together they vow to beat the other teams. Ellie also finds herself romantically drawn to one of her teammates, Luke. But he is in a relationship and the last thing she wants to do is be on the other side of a messy breakup.

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Book Review: Amelia Unabridged

Amelia Unabridged – Ashley Schumacher – Wednesday Books – Published 16 February 2021

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Synopsis

Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.

In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.

When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along.

My thoughts

Amelia Unabridged is a beautiful, beautiful story about grief and loss. It is also about magic. Magic that happens in the everyday world. The magic of books. The magic of friendship. The magic of a new love and the way it can bring out the very best in people and grapple them back from the edge. The magic of a perfectly amazing bookstore. Amelia Unabridged has all of this and more. It was exactly the book I was looking for – deep, heartbreaking, uplifting, inspiring and honestly so easy to read and snuggle up with, but also lyrical and poetic and metaphoric and so I felt a little bit smart reading it.

Amelia loves her best friend Jenna. They are alike as much as they are different. Jenna has the most amazing, loving, supportive parents. Amelia’s father checked out with his young girlfriend and her mother has checked out in the aftermath. Jenna has their future all planned out while Amelia isn’t sure what she wants. But they both love books. Especially the Orman Chronicles. When the chance to meet the reclusive author of their favourite series, they jump at it, only to be disappointed and torn apart by their experience. A few weeks later, Jenna is dead and Amelia is reeling from the loss. Weighed down by grief and guilt, a surprise package sends Amelia chasing something that feels like Jenna directing things from beyond the grave, and what Amelia finds is more than she could have ever imagined – if she is brave enough to reach and and grab it.

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Professional Learning Series: Publications for School Library Staff

Publications for School Library Staff – Part 3 in the Professional Learning series

Welcome to Part 3 in my Professional Learning Series, where I’m talking about the regular sources of inspiration I turn to for professional development. You can find the rest of the series here. 

Professional reading can be really helpful when you are looking for new ideas or maybe just reading up on the next big thing in school libraries. Maybe you are researching for a project – is it time to jump on the makerspace bandwagon, or are you up-skilling on your marketing and branding plans?

There are lots of different sources for finding professional reading. Maybe you like just turning to Google Scholar, or maybe you like a more targeted approach. From regularly released journals and newsletters, to databases, these are my favourite sources for school library related publications.

Publications

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Book Review: What I Like About You

What I Like About You – Marisa Kanter – Simon and Schuster – Published 7 April 2020

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Synopsis

There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.

My thoughts

What I Like About You is about blogging, a love triangle with only two people, online relationships and friendships, books, cupcakes and more books. It’s also about family, growing up and learning to be a better friend. This reads like a great teen novel. The characters have realistic teen voices, from their integrated use of social media and text speech, to facing the problems of finishing high school. It’s a fun, lighthearted book.

Halle Levitt is better known to her many online followers as Kels, book reviewer, blogger and cupcake baker. When she and her brother move in with their grandfather while their parents go overseas for work, she doesn’t expect to come face-to-face with her online (and overall, let’s be honest) best friend, Nash. Shocked, she doesn’t tell him who she is, just introduces herself as Halle. As she gets to know Nash in real life, becomes friends with his friends and maybe even fall in love with him, it becomes harder for Halle to know how she is going to reveal that she and Kels are the same person.

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Book Review: Suggest Reading

Suggested Reading – Dave Connis – Katherine Tegen Books – 17 September 2019

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Synopsis

Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” hit list. The iconic books on the list have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises. Students caught with the contraband will be sternly punished.

Many of these stories have changed Clara’s life, so she’s not going to sit back and watch while her draconian principal abuses his power. She’s going to strike back.

So Clara starts an underground library in her locker, doing a shady trade in titles like Speak and The Chocolate War. But when one of the books she loves most is connected to a tragedy she never saw coming, Clara’s forced to face her role in it.

Will she be able to make peace with her conflicting feelings, or is fighting for this noble cause too tough for her to bear?

My thoughts

As a librarian, I don’t need to be told about the benefits of reading – I see them every day. Suggested Reading is an ode to everything librarians stand up for. The right to read for pleasure, the right to choose your reading material, the right to free and unchallenged access to reading material that stretches and challenges the reader. I highly enjoying this book, as will all lovers of books, libraries and reading.

When Clara, a regular library volunteer, starter of a tiny library community scheme and avid reader, discovers that her school has banned 50 books and plans to remove them from the school library’s shelves, she unwittingly starts a rebellion when she creates a library in her school locker. What starts as a mini rebellion soon has far reaching consequences and Clara must decide if her stance against the banned books policy is worth the cost.

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Book List: Road Trips in Young Adult Fiction

Road Trips in Young Adult Fiction

I do love a good road trip. Wind in your hair, volume turned up loud and either a journey in mind or mindless wandering. From the sunshine-filled and delightful to the soul-searching (or maybe even one long crime spree, as in Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry), this little list of YA road trip novels will have something for all readers.

Hello Girls – Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 6 August 2019

Hello Girls is an epic road trip novel slash crime novel slash ode to friendship slash feminist piece de resistance. With razor-sharp wit and punchy action, this book swings from hilarious to what the hell to hell yeah and back again.  Read full review.


 The Geography of Lost Things – Jessica Brody – Simon Pulse – Published 2 October 2018

The Geography of Lost Things is a fun road trip novel about learning to forgive and starting over. Jessica Brody weaves together a compelling story of second-chance romance and father-daughter relationships, family financial difficulties and learning to see again the value in little things.  Read full review.


A Heart in a Body in the World – Deb Caletti – Simon Pulse – Published 18 September 2018

Achingly poignant and beautifully written, A Heart in a Body in the World is a book that everyone, man, woman and teen, must read. It’s a road trip – but one where the character runs the entire journey. Read full review.


 Autonomous – Andy Marino – Disney-Hyperion – Published 3 April 2018

Autonomous is an examination of the true nature of humanity, where buried secrets are laid bare and the harsh truths of reality are posed against the speculation of how technology might evolve and how it might reflect those truths. When William wins a state-of-the-art car in a competition, he plans to take his three best friends on an epic road trip. Read full review.


Good and Gone – Megan Frazer Blakemore – HarperTeen – Published 14 November 2017

When Lexi’s brother Charlie suggests a road trip to locate missing pop star, Adrian Wildes, Lexi is shocked. Charlie hasn’t moved from the couch since he broke up with his girlfriend and dropped out of college. So despite Lexi’s scepticism, despite the hurt she has been feeling, she agrees. Along for the ride (and actually providing the means of transport for this road trip) is their neighbour, Zack. As Lexi, Charlie, and Zack hunt for the elusive pop star, they begin to work through the emotions, hurt, and actions of the past year.  Read full review.

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Book Review: The Impossible Story of Olive In Love

The Impossible Story of Olive in Love – Tonya Alexandra – Story of Olive #1 – Harlequin Teen – Published 20 March 2017

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Synopsis

I get that I’m impossible. I get that I’m mad and rude — perhaps even a drama queen at times. But you’d be impossible if you lived my life … You’d be impossible if you were invisible.

Shakespeare was an idiot. Love is not blind. Love is being seen.

Plagued by a gypsy curse that she’ll be invisible to all but her true love, seventeen-year-old Olive is understandably bitter. Her mother is dead; her father has taken off. Her sister, Rose, is insufferably perfect. Her one friend, Felix, is blind and thinks she’s making it all up for attention.

Olive spends her days writing articles for her gossip column and stalking her childhood friend, Jordan, whom she had to abandon when she was ten because Jordan’s parents would no longer tolerate an ‘imaginary friend’. Nobody has seen her — until she meets Tom: the poster boy for normal and the absolute opposite of Olive.

But how do you date a boy who doesn’t know you’re invisible? Worse still, what happens when Mr Right feels wrong? Has destiny screwed up? In typical Olive fashion, the course is set for destruction. And because we’re talking Olive here, the ride is funny, passionate and way, way, way, way dramatic.

My thoughts

The Impossible Story of Olive In Love is a hilarious and (strangely) charming story of love, relationships and growing up that is both unique and quirky.

Olive is invisible. Her family was cursed three generations ago, so that the women in her family (herself, her mother and her grandmother, yet strangely not her sister) are invisible to everyone except their true love. Olive spends her time writing gossip columns and hanging out with her best friend (who happens to be blind and thinks Olive is making up the whole invisible thing). When Olive meets Tom, she is shocked to discover he can see her. Does this mean he is her true love? But falling in love is so much harder than Olive imagined.

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New Book Releases August 2017

New Book Releases for August 2017

Here are my book picks for August 2017. Click on covers for more information and reviews.

Young Adult Fiction

The Way It Hurts – Patty Blount – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 1 August 2017

Music is Elijah’s life. Kristen dreams of a career on stage. When a photo and comment go viral, Elijah and Kirstin are thrown into the spotlight as the comments become increasingly sinister.

Young adult fiction: Contemporary



Project Pandora – Aden Polydoros – Assassin Fall #1 – Entanged:Teen – Published 1 August 2017

Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening—waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight— Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself.

Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions…questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right?

Young adult fiction – Mystery/thriller.

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