So many great books, so little time. Please, share your thoughts & recommendations as well. More than writing, I love talking about a great book. Join me on Goodreads for nerdy book conversations! Come back often to see what's new.
“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”
― C.S. Lewis
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Ellen's bookshelf: read
by Jaime Berry
Full disclosure: Jaime Berry writes with joy and light, and every character comes to life in the page. Oh, and we are critique partners, and I adore her stories! Jubilee has a heart of gold. Fran is feisty. And there’s a farting dog in a...
Lyrical and poignant. Young readers will enjoy getting to know the young Cassius Clay and his pals. Written mostly in verse, thus book will appeal to seasoned and reluctant readers. Recommended for readers 10-up.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. Gorgeous, fluid, and deeply moving story in verse about a teen from the DR growing up in Harlem. More than a coming of age tale, this book is a coming into power. Highly recommended for readers 12 and up.
A beautiful and overly informative book about our planet. Great for kids of all ages. Definitely a book you will never finish.
It’s astonishing all of the historical facts that are omitted from school curricula, but this book brings some of the hidden shameful stories to light. This is an important book for young people to read, compare, and discuss. Highly reco...
Some past reviews...
A ROOM AWAY FROM THE WOLVES
OCD LOVE STORY
Haydu does an amazing job with Bea's compulsions. You feel the desire to want, to know, to touch... just like Bea. The tale is constricting, and you want to close the book and run away. Just like Bea. We all obsess over things: chocolate, movie stars, the sun. That is not a disorder. That's human. OCD is real. It can be a prison. I've watched young people struggle to let go of their compulsions. This is a fantastic story to read if you know someone with OCD. It's a great talking point. I can't wait to read more by Haydu.
IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A #GOODDAY
Natalie has a knack for capturing the angst and voice of teenagers. This story features alternating narratives of four high school students during the course of one life-changing day. The most captivating voice is Henry who manages his autism along with the noise and closeness of his high school campus. As a licensed speech pathologist, Natalie capably takes us inside Henry's world. We feel his confusion and discomfort as students hurl insults and mixed messages his way. In the final chapters, Henry and the three other narrators' worlds collide inside a tension-filled cafeteria. Their lives will never be the same again. A must read.
THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS
Very easy read, and engaging narrator, but the plot is slow. She went looking for Mom chapters ago, yet I know nothing new about the woman. Maybe she doesn't exist. Perfect summer read filled with adventure, friendship, & romance. Memorable settings & characters. Plus, an awesome list of music to search out!
Suspenseful and humorous. Macabre at its best. Always a masterful storyteller (or is that storywriter?), Stephen King has created truly memorable characters. Annie Wilkes comes alive off the page in a way that makes you check under your bed when you finish reading.
AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS
After hearing Choldenko speak at a SCBWI event, I decided to pick up her novel inspired by her autistic sister. This is a charming story of friendship, family, and acceptance.
Moose Flannagan is an ordinary seventh grade boy who happens to live on Alcatraz yards from the notorious Al Capone and feet from his autistic sixteen-year-old sister. Choldenko writes each character with love and compassion and a tremendous amount of humor. The ending is perfect.
A great middle grade read!
Love the voice. I'm totally hooked from the start. The voice floats off the page. So engaging. This is a truly inspiring story with a fallible heroine you can't help but root for. Willowdean will burrow into your heart.
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY
I did not emotionally connect to this book, which is unfortunate as that is its goal. Considering the topic, that is. The narrator and Hannah were not distinguishable enough for me. At times, I had to shake my head and say 'wait, who was talking?'
I wanted more fallibility with Clay. He was too good. Too perfect. The one who could have... but didn't... because... you know... her.
I applaud Asher's venture into the topic of suicide and his clever efforts with the tapes. It just didn't work for me. I think it's difficult to have YA protagonists offer deep insights when part of being a teen means not having those insights. The adults were the opportunity to offer those 'ahas,' but all the adults in the story were clueless jerks or just clueless.
I would read other books by Asher because I think his writing is fluid and easy to read. In fact, even though I only gave this book three stars, I recommend it.
I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN
The book reads like dipping your feet in a bucket of warm water. It is delightful, but confining at times. Love is deep and broad and messy. Family is more than you want it to be but never always what you'll hope it to be. The best part of this story for me is the friendship of Jude and Noah and the belief that love will prevail. Beautiful.
Ellen Mulholland's books on Goodreads
Birds on a Wire
ratings: 11 (avg rating 4.36)
This Girl Climbs Trees
ratings: 15 (avg rating 4.20)
So absolutely touched by this collection of verse and memory. Woodson reaches into her soul and brings you inside. I highly recommend this book to anyone who's ever dreamed.
WHY WE BROKE UP
I absolutely love this book. The format is brilliant, but the characters, dialogue, and sentences are unparalleled. A must read for every teen and adult who has ever loved then loathed. It's not what you expect.
ELEANOR AND PARK
Rainbow Rowell was born to write. Her words flow effortlessly across the page; her characters spring to life. I loved this book. It seemed to skirt sappy and corny. I think that is due to Rowell's snarky love pen she uses. Definitely a must for middle school and up. Some mature teen behavior, but the message is not lost in it. This book is a hug.
IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY
This is most definitely kind of a funny story. It also has a few deeply moving moments. Because of the author's personal experience in a psychiatric hospital, the descriptions there are vivid and real. The MC's voice reads as older, but it's an important story. Great for teens dealing with depression or for these who have friends or family with a mental illness. Written with humor, warmth, and compassion for the Human Beings that we are.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It was, at times, predictable. The main character sounded older and wiser than the majority of sixteen-year-olds I know. The parents were caricatures.
That sound, Konigsberg writes with love. The message is heart-warming.
I recommend this to teens searching for their real selves.
THE WRITING LIFE
This is not an instructional book on writing. It's more a journey within. It's Dillard's journey, which might be very different than your own. Probably will be. Read it to quiet your mind and to remember why you write. Her written words read like whispers in your ears.
YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS
Although the story was slow to start, once the conflict intensifies, the end justifies the means. Puffy Sanchez' angst and fears mimic real life teens. Sometimes we don't realize the strength that hides inside us until we are forced to use it.
This book touched me deeply. In the beginning, I was so frustrated. I wanted her to speak up. Anderson did a great job building tension and respecting the pain and shame someone feels in this situation. A beautiful story told with love and compassion. Great writing and storytelling. For mature teen readers.
I HADN'T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS
A charged topic for young people, but Woodson lets this story flow with her usual grace. A must read. Mature content but handled with the gentle pen of Woodson.
THE BEST PUNCTUATION BOOK, PERIOD
I love this resource. It's easy to find what you need. The examples are clear. I also like how they've delineated between fiction grammar and news media grammar. The English language is complex. This book sits by my side (right next to my Strunk and White). It is a worthy companion. Every writer needs this book. Period.
I equally liked and disliked this book for its unconventionality. It's like a sour candy that you want to spit out as soon as it's in your mouth then have another. I don't know that young adults will get this book. It's more for your hipster college-age crowd. A fast read and a fun ride.
THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE
TC Boyle's imagination is unparalleled. The characters are vibrant and as equally despicable as they are pitiful. I loved each one. If you are looking for a long read that will boggle your own imagination, THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE is for you. Not for the squeamish or faint of heart.
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE
You only think you know where the story will take you when you begin. Really, though, you've no idea. Doerr does an amazing job spinning this tail of Marie-Laure and Werner's separate stories. You wait and wait to see if their paths will cross, but when you realize truly how that must happen, you hope it doesn't. Heartwarming and heartbreaking. What humans are capable is at once devastating painful and deeply beautiful.