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So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

So Much CloserSo Much Closer by Susane Colasanti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great Colasanti read about friendship and relationships! Brooke is a genius student (which she hides with bad grades and a bad attitude about school) who has been in SECRET love with Scott Abrams for the last two years. Just when she is about to tell him, Scott’s family is moving to New York. Brooke follows him to NY since they are soul mates and moves in with her dad who left Brooke and her mom when she was a young child. She makes friends with Sadie, Scott and tutors John. As Brooke discovers New York, she begins to find out some good things about herself. A great romance with angst and warm fuzzies (in the book!) girls will pass this around to all their friends.Romance

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eBook: "An Educator's iPad" ... published

eBook: "An Educator's iPad" ... published on Amazon and Apple iTunes.

... written for educators and parents who have an interest in mobile learning and especially the use of Apple’s iPad.
It is not a “how-to” manual but a resource for enabling more informed decisions regarding the use of mobile technology in learning and teaching

From iTunes :
~ US$2.99
Only available in the Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Spain, UK and USA Stores.
If you purchase in the iTunes store then this book is available for download on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iBooks and on your computer with iTunes.
Books must be read on an iOS device.

From Amazon
~ US$4.99
If you purchase from Amazon then the book can be read on any Kindle device, also on the web using Amazon Cloud Reader and on iPad, iPhone, iDevices, Android devices and other mobile devices using the free Kindle App.

Visit for more details and to purchase/download.

I do hope you find this of interest and relevance and it helps support you and your students.

I plan to revise this eBook each year and republish in January ... at the rate of change in the use of Edtech even eBooks have difficulty keeping up.

There are links at the end of each chapter in the book to facilitate feedback for future versions.
I look forward to reading any contributions you are able to share.

... and all for the price of a Hamburger ;-)

Have fun

Chris [Shamblesguru]

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Stay by Deb Caletti

StayStay by Deb Caletti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Caletti, Deb. Stay. New York: Simon Pulse, 2011. 978-1-4424-0373-4. 313p. $16.99. Gr. 10-12.
Clara’s story about an obsessive boyfriend is scary, suspenseful and heartbreakingly real. Clara falls hard for a guy and he falls hard for her too, but what Clara tells you now as she relates her love story with Christian is that the tell-tale signs were there from the beginning about Christian’s insecurities. Clara alternates the chapters with her life now; she and her father have had to flee their home and go to a secret beach location because Christian has become obsessive and a stalker since she broke up with him. Caletti does a great job of showing how this relationship has made Clara so insecure about who she is. Fleeing to Washington State with her father provides a much needed time and place where they both confront secrets about themselves and their lives. A must read for teen girls about the dangers of obsessive relationships.

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Rotters by Daniel Kraus

RottersRotters by Daniel Kraus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joey Crouch is a straight-A student who lives with his mom in Chicago when she is suddenly and horribly killed by a bus. Child Services locates his father; Joey‘s mom has never told Joey anything about him. Imagine arriving in Bloughton, Iowa; your father is nowhere for 3 days; there is no food in the hovel he lives in and it is filthy and filled with old newspapers. Joey gets himself to school and finds students hate him because his father is a garbage man. Joey’s horror story begins and we follow, unable to turn away when we learn his father is a grave robber, that there is a long line of insurrectionists; and one particularly crazy one, Boggs will stop at nothing to destroy Joey and his dad. Along the way you will learn the history of grave robbers, the methods of burials and lots about rats, maggots, death, and decomposition. Joey is so miserable in school with bullying he begins to join his father and learn his trade. You can’t turn away as you follow along with Joey Crouch and meet many unforgettable characters !

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Treasures Just Waiting To Be Discovered

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.-Chinese Proverb

This year I have been included in a special group of Alabama School Librarians from my region to learn ways to improve our school libraries from each other and master teachers, Sandra Hornig and Anita Meadows. 

This past week we learned how to use VoiceThread.  Ridgecrest Elementary School Librarian, Jamin Ellis, started a fantastic VoiceThread designed for School Librarians to share how they have designed interactive areas in their school libraries for students and/or teachers.  


Share treasured ideas from your library by adding to this VoiceThread!

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Ferocity Summer


Flux Books

Pub Date:

May 08, 2012




Alissa Grosso


FICTION - JUVENILE: Family & Everyday Life: Social Issues

· Posted at; forwarded through Twitter!/pseudandry and

· The review will first be posted the week of March 4, 2012.

· Short summary from

What happens when the only escape from crushing despair is betrayal?

It's the hottest summer on record in New Jersey and soon Scilla Davis must stand trial for her involvement in a deadly speedboat accident. With the possibility of conviction looming, life seems empty, unreal, and utterly hopeless. Watching her best friend Willow destroy herself with drugs and booze is especially painful. Yet Scilla can't manage to wrest Willow-or herself-from a path of self-destruction.

With a new drug called Ferocity sweeping the nation, an FBI agent is eager to make a bust. He offers Scilla a way out of this nightmare. But is she willing to betray her own drugdealing boyfriend?

I initially chose this book to review because it is set in New Jersey and so are my students and my school library. I'm glad I chose this book because most teenagers I know, regardless of their relationship -- or lack thereof -- to illegal, recreational drugs, deal with the issues of rebellion or at least of gaining independence from their "parental units." The main character, Priscilla (Scilla) is fraught with peer pressure and questionable self-esteem. The author, Alissa Grosso, does a great job of creating tension based on loyalty vs responsibility.

Scilla and her best friend Willow are financial opposites. Willow is an "upper, middle class" teen whose Mother spoils her in spite of her father's protests, while Scilla must work at the local Quik Mart in spite of a spate of recent robberies. Scilla has an on-again, off-again relationship with Willow's older brother, who is also a rich kid, but he supplements his income by dealing drugs. Scilla describes Willow and Randy's parents as "nutjobs." Scilla lives with her mother, who "always has some reason to be unhappy with me," as well as with Scilla's friendship with Willow.


The story really began the prior summer when the three teens and Randy's friend, Tigue, borrow Tigue's parents' speed boat for a drunken joy ride. They ended up killing a passenger on another small boat. Their trial is at the end of this summer. Though many adults -- a court appointed attorney, her Social Studies teacher, an FBI agent, and her mom -- try to help Scilla maintain a record of good character until the trial begins, Scilla's loyalties are tested as she struggles between what her high, drunk and promiscuous peers expect of her and what the adults expect.

Whether as a matter of fairness, a reflection of humanity, or as a backdrop to highlight Scilla's attributes, the adults in the story are portrayed as flawed as the teens are. Scilla's mom holds a grudge against the upper, middle class; Willow's parents are disciplinary polar extremes; the FBI agent makes a pass at Scilla; and Pablo the Perpetually Stoned is, well, perpetually stoned.

As a bildungsroman, the reader begins to see the beginning of a more mature, more responsible Scilla as the story progresses. However, just as actual teenagers may take more than one summer to grow up, Scilla does not neatly reach her full maturation by the end of the story. This is painfully clear when Scilla doesn't accept Tigue's explanation of his primary culpability for the accident as he describes it in court.

Grosso draws recurring analogies of Scilla as Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. Making both military and personal comparisons between Scilla and Sherman distracted me from the story rather than enhanced my experience. Since I am not familiar with Sherman's story, I felt as though I was reading a (wholly unnecessary) frame story. It was as if I had to employ two different reading styles, seesawing back and forth between concentrating on understanding the connections between Scilla and Sherman or simply enjoying the teenagers' tales as they unfolded.

Throughout the novel, I really enjoyed Grosso's snarky, sarcastic, but witty sense of humor. You'll forgive me if I don't list any of them here. I don't want to be like a movie trailer that gives away the punchline before you even get to see the movie.

Remember that this book's premise is peer pressure, complete with sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll, and while they certainly are teen issues, I recommend Grosso's treatment of them for older teens. Unfortunately, though the repercussions are periodically displayed, there are LOTS of drunk driving and under-the-influence driving incidents in the book. At no time do any of the underage teens hesitate to get into a car with any other teen - sober or not. Additionally, Scilla is quite open about her lesbian daydreams. That being said, the teen characters will appeal to real teens, and I will be purchasing this book for my high school's library.

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Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Under the MesquiteUnder the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful, intense novel in verse concerning Lupita’s close Mexican American family who must deal with her mother’s cancer and the heartache it brings. Lupita puts her life on hold to care for her siblings as they fervently wish their mother good health. With the loss of her mother, Lupita must learn to live with life’s limitations, star in the school play, and write her deepest thoughts and fears under the shade of the mesquite in her yard. A novel of affirmation and hope, the best choice for the 2012 Pura Belpré Award Winner!

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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of GrayBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fifteen year old Lina’s life in Lithuania changes drastically when the Stalin regime brands her family, “thieves and prostitutes.” They are rounded up and forced from their homes and their land to the deprivation of Russian Siberia. Separated from her imprisoned father; Lina, her mother, and little brother, each try in their own way to survive the brutality of the Russian soldiers and the harshness of their environment. In the twelve years that they are brutalized, fall ill, and starve; thousands die, but it is through a determination to live to see their homeland, that drives these deportees to triumph through the hell of their imprisonment. If you loved The Book Thief, this book will speak to how the world must never let this kind of genocide ever occur again.

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