Shout, the new memoir-in-verse by Speak author Laurie Halse Anderson brings to life some familiar stories that may ring a bell from the characters in Anderson’s books. Anderson tells her tale from childhood until the present beautifully – especially focusing on the sexual assault she experienced as a teenager. She is honest on the topic and her rage and unapologetic ferocity to the issue of sexual abuse, rape, and the unforgivable way society treats women (and men) who find the courage to come forward and speak the truth is a reality check we all need.


Refugee A middle school novel that connects both historical fiction and the current crisis in Syria, Gratz has tied together three refugee stories.  We meet Josef, a Jewish boy in 1940’s Nazi Germany who is fleeing the possibility of being captured and sent to a concentration camp; we meet Isabel, a girl from 1990’s Cuba who sets out on a raft hoping to make it to the United States and a better, safer life; we meet Mahmoud, a boy from Syria in 2015 who is fleeing the danger and violence of his country for safety and survival.  Three refugees from different parts of the world at different times in history tell their story of seeking refuge and a new homeland. Each story vastly different. Each story shockingly the same. Recommended grades 4 and up.

More Than Words

9780735218307Nina’s father is dying and she is not ready to face it. When Nina was eight, her mother was killed in a car crash, so she has no other family left. There is Tim, her best friend and his family – his dad is running her father’s company- and she is close to his mom, but it’s not the same. Nina will have to give up her career as a speechwriter for Rafael, a candidate for mayor, to concentrate on taking her dad’s place in his business. And what will she make of the growing attraction between herself and Rafael? Will she ignore it to marry Tim? Jill Santopolo has written a new novel about the difficulty of relationships, and managing family secrets buried in the past.

Train I Ride


It’s hard to talk about this book without giving away too much. The Train I Ride by Paul Mosier  reveals information about the protagonist (Ryder) slowly and deliberately. Each drop of new information tugs on the heart strings. This book made me cry a lot, which very rarely happens. Ryder’s mother is an addict. Mosier doesn’t share anything graphic from Ryder’s life, only the hurt she comes to terms with as she rides the train to Chicago to stay with her new guardian following her Grandmother’s death. It is clear that Ryder has had a hard life filled with trauma – but she refuses to be a victim so she often lies to strangers about her life. The relationships that she forms with other passengers and transit workers on her journey are unique and heartfelt.

Ryder is 12 going on 13, so this is a good crossover book. I would HIGHLY recommend this book even for adults, and it is a short read!

Europe Through the Back Door

rick steves bookRick Steves has been writing these guides to Europe for almost 30 years, and guidebooks in general for almost 40 years. His guidebooks instruct how to travel on a budget, and get the best “bang out of your buck”, as well as how to have an authentic experience by staying at small hotels owned by the local people and eating where they eat. Not to mention how to pack, or what to visit in wherever  you are visiting, with some restrictions. Mr. Steves has a travel show on PBS television, and travels around the U.S. meeting his fans and signing their copies of his books. There is an excellent article in the March 24 issue of the NY Times Magazine about him that you shouldn’t miss if you are a fan of his.