Sticks and Stones

We’ve all heard the adage, “Sticks and stone may break my bone but words will never harm me.” No saying has been a bigger lie than this one. Every kid who’s suffered a bully knows just how badly words hurt. They are flung out at us and burrow deep into our hearts like poisoned thorns. They permeate our very being until we believe them. Fatso, whale tale, faggot, stupid…these are just a few arrows that destroy lives. Kids today have it even worse than those of us who grew up pre-social media. Now, bullying takes on a whole, monstrous life of its own and for all the world to see. Suicide is one of the main causes of death in young adults. More than 4,000 per year die by their own hand. One study found that more than half of all teens who killed themselves were victims of bullying. Whether these children take their own lives, lash out at their tormentors or both, words can definitely do harm.

Bullying and Suicide

There are many young adult authors who have tackled this sensitive subject from every point of view. These books help readers to work through feelings of rage, loneliness, and pain. They also point out the devastating effects of a mere rumor. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu is one such book.

truthAlice is an average, popular high school girl, right up until IT happened. Everyone who was anyone was at the party and everyone heard all about it the next day and suddenly Alice is a slut. She slept with two boys, one right after the other. Day after day, the stories circulate and, like any good fishing tale, they get bigger and wilder as they go. A stall in the girls bathroom is dedicated to her shame. The four who “know” what happened tell the story but end up revealing as much about themselves and their motivations as they do about Alice. It all comes to a head the day that one of the boys she slept with is killed in a car crash and a tornado of innuendo is unleashed. But what is the truth? Does it really matter to anyone? What about Alice? Who is she, really? Slut? Murderer? Friend? Popular girl? If you really want to know, go ask her.

A short list of other books that deal with this issue are:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (should be required reading for all teenagers)

Inexcusable by Chris Crutcher (should also be required reading, in conjunction with Speak)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Bystander by James Preller

Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

What Happened to Lani Garver and The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Blubber by Judy Blume

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier


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Dystopia revisited

Anyone who knows me and my reading habits knows that I love dystopian fiction. It is quickly becoming my favorite genre, second only to Fantasy which holds firmly to number 1 in my heart. I’m not sure what it is that attracts me to these books but I do love the fact that many of them have a female main character who is smart, strong and can handle most anything that the new world throws her way. She thinks and feels deeply even if the characters she interacts with don’t know it. Her power comes from an innate knowledge that she knows who she is and what she believes. She is willing to fight for these things. I admire these young women for their strength of character and, if I’m honest, I want to be more like them. Sometimes I don’t know what I believe or just how to fight for it. I do have very strong opinions but not always the best way to express them. I am strong but don’t know how I’d survive something cataclysmic or even being jobless with a house to pay for. Anyway, the women in these dystopian stories have my undying admiration and I will continue to live vicariously through them, hoping that some of their wisdom and strength seeps into me. Below are the most recent titles I’ve read. Ivy is one amazing girl. You will fid yourself rooting for her!

ivyThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engle

The United States has been destroyed by a nuclear war. There is a pocket of survivors who have banded together for survival and to rebuild some semblance of society. All is not peaceful, however. The two founders disagreed on how to run the community and there was a brief but violent battle and the Lattimer family came out on top and the Westfalls moved to another side of town. In order to keep peace, the children of each side are married to one another each year, when they turn sixteen. This year, it’s Ivy Westfall’s turn and she is to marry Bishop Lattimer, the president’s son. She has been trained, these last few years, to be wife…and murderess. You see, she is going to kill her husband and help her father regain control of the community. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love.

ivy2The Revolution of Ivy is the sequel and follows Ivy through the next chapter of her life. It’s not easy and learning to trust is still an issue for Ivy but lying may just cost her the one thing she loves most.

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Dragons, fairies and beasts, Oh My!

I have been on a reading bender the last couple of weeks. It’s been truly lovely to get back into the pages of good books. I discovered two new series. One is called Slayers by C.J. Hill. The other is a really cool take on the classic Beauty and the Beast tale, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. In this post, I offer a twofer.

Slayers_JKTYes, dragons are real, very, terrifyingly real, and they are out for blood.

Tori is a typical teenager; well, maybe not totally typical. Her father is in the running to be the next President of the United States! Summer stretches before her, and she talked her parents into letting her go to dragon camp to feed the obsession with the mythical creatures she’s had all of her life. They all think it’s a history camp where she will learn about Medieval history. They couldn’t be more wrong.

After only a day or two at camp, Tori’s world is rocked by the revelation that dragons are real, and she was born to slay them along with the rest of the advanced campers. Obviously, she has great difficulty adjusting to the news, but she has little time to digest the information because her new-found powers have revealed the existence of two dragon eggs in the possession of their enemy. Overdrake is a dragon lord and is descended from a line of knights that bonded themselves to dragons to control them for nefarious purposes. Worse yet, they are close to hatching! Training kicks into overdrive but distractions abound because, well, they are teenagers and very good looking ones!

Tori and her friends must find a way to learn to work together to defeat not only the dragons but a traitor they know nothing about…yet.


thornsrosesFeyre is a young woman who has taken responsibility for her family, just as she promised her mother she would do. Her family’s fortunes have taken a turn for the worse, and they were forced from their lovely mansion into a hovel where they had to do their own everything…cooking, cleaning, etc. Feyre, the youngest of three girls, is tough and adapts to her new life easily. She hunts the woods with an ash bow and arrow she made for herself. The animals are scarce because they have fled the weather deep into the woods where she dares not go alone. One day she is out hunting and spots a doe eating the bark from a tree. In the same instant, she realizes that she’s not the only one who’s spotted a potential meal. A huge wolf creeps out of the underbrush, stalking the doe. Feyre knows that if she doesn’t do something, her family will starve so just as the wolf strikes down the doe, she lets loose her arrow wounding him. A second arrow through is eye finished him off and secured her family’s food for the rest of the winter.

A few days later, she had sold the pelt of both the doe and the wolf for a pretty penny. When she returned home, an unnatural sound came from the door and a beast shatters his way into her life. It turns out that the wolf was not just a wolf. He was one of the fae and he had been the beast’s friend. Feyre was a murderer in his eyes. He wants her life for the life of his friend. With a sinking heart, she realizes that there’s no way out of this and her family is not going to help her. O accepts her fate but soon finds it both more and less deadly than she thought.

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I love new books!

It’s been an exceedingly long while since I have posted here…my pesky job gets in the way of my reading! In addition, I don’t have the resources to purchase new books because of a minuscule budget that got even smaller this year. BUT, we just had our Fall Scholastic Book Fair and I was able to buy some new stuff!!! In fact, I just finished a book I bought and it was wonderful.

dragonflyPiper is a young scrapper living in a poor town miles away from civilization. She and the rest of the townspeople make a living by scavenging treasures and trinket that fall from the sky during the strange meteor showers that rain down periodically. She has a rare gift for fixing machines and other mechanical bits that she finds. One day, the meteor shower brings a strange visitor who changes the course of her life. A caravan is destroyed when a meteor strikes it. A girl is the only one left alive, or so it seems. She remembers nothing about how she got there or even who she is. One thing is for sure, though, she is valuable to someone. She bears the mark of the Dragonfly, a tattoo that means she is under the protection of King Aron, himself. If Piper can get the girl back to him, it will mean a reward that could change her life forever. The girls journey will reveal much more than either of them are expecting and the people who come into their lives will bring danger, magic and, perhaps, a home.

Jaleigh Johnson is a newcomer to writing and her first book is full of extraordinary characters. It’s a little bit steampunk (which I LOVE) and a little bit fantasy (beastly) and a whole lot of adventure. This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a spine-tingling reading experience with just a touch of young love.

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Fantastic Book

If you know me even a little bit, you know that I am not a math person…AT ALL! I don’t understand it and, frankly, it scares me. It is astonishing, then, that I read The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson and even more so that I liked it! Sanderson blends mathmatical, specifically geometry, with fantasy in his latest book.

rithmatistRithmatists are powerful people and they are charged with protecting everyone else. They have the ability to make their drawings come to life. The creatures they create are called chalklings and will do whatever their creators direct them to do. Chalklings have a dangerous counterpart; wild chalklings do not follow anyone’s orders and, when they attack, the leave death in their wake.

Joel, the son of a chalkmaker, wants to be a Rithmatist more than anything. He has studied their defenses and drawings since he was very young, but this magical art was not meant for him. He attends Armedius Academy, where his father worked before his death. All Joel can do is learn and practice on his own…until Rithmatist students begin disappearing. The only clues are a trail of blood and strange chalk drawings on the wall. With the help of some unlikely friends, Joel is soon on the trail of the killer. It’s a trail that will lead to an unexpected discovery that will forever change the course of his life and the world.

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AHHHHH!!!! Holly Black is AWESOME!

You MUST read this book…especially after you see this amazing book trailer!

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Popular YA author speaks

Jacqueline Woodson writes gut wrenching, real stories about growing up. Here’s a great interview with MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry talking about her memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming.



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