Monday, July 29, 2013

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is a historical fiction novel set in the early 1940's in Siberia.  It's a fascinating novel about a period of history that, I believe, is less explored- especially for young people

In June 1941, Lina is a 15 year old Lithuanian girl living with her mother, her younger brother and her father, who is a professor at a local university.  Her world is completely shattered when Soviet soldiers come and arrest her whole family for reasons unknown to Lina. Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union not too long before their arrest and is under the rule of Joseph Stalin.

Lina and her mother and brother are taken and forced on to train cars that take them deep into Siberia.  Their father is separated with the men and they hear little word of him for the next few years.  Lina tries to communicate her to her father through drawings she sends through backdoor channels.  Lina, her family, and many others arrested that night are forced to survive in the harsh climate of Siberia with little food, meanwhile being abused by the Soviets.

I won't tell you what happens beyond that.  It's an amazing story.  The author's own grandfather was a Lithuanian soldier, who most likely would have been arrested if he had not escaped in the early 1940's.  She did research throughout the country, looking at records and talking with survivors and witnesses to these horrifying events.  Sepetys provides an incredibly brave and empathetic character in Lina and in many of her fellow camp survivors.  A great book.

You can find this book in the YA section of our library.  For more information check out:


Monday, July 22, 2013

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave by Ricky Yancey is a science fiction tale...that's not too science fiction.  Yes, it involves an alien invasion.  Yes, there is a certain amount of futuristic technology that's a bit complicated.  But it is not a complicated story set in space that only true science fiction fans will enjoy.  In the end, it's a story about teens trying to survive in a rather impossible situation.

The 5th Wave is told in alternating viewpoints picking up about 4 months after the first alien ship was spotted.  Mostly from two perspectives. One is a girl named Cassie whose family is gone, but we don't know exactly why or how.  She is trying to go somewhere because she made a promise, but we aren't really sure to where or who.  The other is a boy, without giving anything anyway, whose name is Zombie.  He lives in a tent city outside of a major military installation and he's not doing well.  He is sick.  He has got the disease of the 3rd wave: pestilence.  It has taken something like 97% of the population of the world.  The first wave was an EMP, the second was a Tsunami and the 4th wave being what Cassie calls "the silencer."

What's the 5th wave?

I don't want to give too much away.  This book has plot twists and turns.  It doesn't give everything away in the first part.  You have to be patient in finding out what has happened to these kids, the planet, their family and friends and what is going to happen.  You will probably start to figure certain things out as the story goes on and I will admit that I got a little impatient in the middle.  There are some things that happen that make you want to scream at the characters- "Don't you see what's happening?!"  But I suppose that's supposed to be part of the fun.

The ending is long as you are aware that this is a planned trilogy.  The writing is good.  The characters are interesting, flawed and ones you can relate to in life.  If you can get through the slightly frustrating parts, this book is definitely worth it.

You can find The 5th Wave in the new YA section.  For more information on this title, check out:


Monday, July 15, 2013

The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez with Jenna Glatzer

The Pregnancy Project

The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez is a memoir written by a teen girl who decides to pretend she's pregnant for 6 months for her senior project.  It is a though provoking book written for teens in the voice of a teen.

Gaby was the daughter of a teen mom.  Her brothers and sisters were teen parents.  The town she lived in has a high population of teen pregnancy rates.  Based on statistics, it was extremely probable that she would be a teen mother as well.  However, Gaby, at a very young age, realized the complications that come along with being a parent at a very young age.  She vowed never to let that happen to her, but she was very interested in what it felt like to fulfill the stereotype.  She wanted to bring a little attention to this issue and hopefully learn and teach her fellow classmates about the subject.

Starting in her junior year, she gets the approval of her mother, boyfriend, principal and vice-superintendent. Other than these individuals, a friend and one relative, no one else in her large family, the staff at the school or the student body know that she is faking this pregnancy.  She gets input from a mentor at a local crisis center, along with her doctor is able to demonstrate the symptoms that come with pregnancy.  Her mother helps create a fake belly out of a basketball and wire.  It is a daunting task...especially for someone so young.

I won't get into how it all goes for this young woman, but it is a good read.  A great discussion book, not just about teen pregnancy, but about stereotypes, family, friends, and gossip.  It definitely got me thinking about how I view people in situations.  Gaby is incredibly mature young woman and her voice shines though in this book.  I would definitely recommend this to teens and to adults.

You can find this book in the YA section of Ely Library.  For more information about this book and the author check out:

There is also a Lifetime movie.  For information on that check out:


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Iowa Children's Choice Award Reading Challenge

Earlier this summer my daughter and I challenged each other to read all 25 Iowa Children’s Choice Award Nominated books.  Of course, we have all 25 books at our library, so I challenge you to do the same!  

The Trouble with Chickens: a J.J. Tully Mystery by Doreen Cronin
This is a fun read that would be great to do as a read aloud with your children!  J.J. is a retired search and rescue dog who is used to a life of excitement and clues.  Now retired, he spends his days at the farm, where life is pretty dull.  Until some chicks go missing!  With the promise of a cheeseburger, J.J. finds himself in the middle of a case looking for clues.  The evidence doesn’t add up and things don’t smell right.  Will J.J. find the chicks?  Will he get his cheeseburger? 

Mallory Goes Green by Laurie B. Friedman
Mallory is an elementary student who is passionate about an upcoming school wide project which is to challenge all of the students to “Go Green”.  She volunteers to be her class’s committee chair for this initiative and attends a workshop for the class leaders.  During the workshop she comes up with the project she intends for her class to do.  Excited to tell the class her great idea, she is upset when discussion is leading toward other ideas and not her project.  In her overly ambitious (and somewhat annoying) tactics to get her family, friends and class on board, she ends up making a mess of things.

Willowood by Cecilia Galante

Lily and her mother have just moved from the quiet countryside to a big city.   Lily is struggling to adjust to a new school, a new set of bullies, and trying to make a friend.  She also misses her best friend Bailey terribly, and when Lily calls Bailey, she realizes that Bailey has moved on.  Her single mother is working extra hours to support them and hires the next door neighbor, Mrs. Hiller, to watch Lily after school.  Mrs. Hiller introduces Lily to her friend who owns a pet store, and his adult son, Nate, who has Down syndrome.  Lily loves the pet store and soon finds herself with an unofficial part time job.  Just as Lily is making new friends at school and with Nate, past secrets and misconceptions are revealed that threaten to change everything.

~ Sarah