Wednesday, December 2, 2015

8 of the Most Overlooked (Yet Completely Awesome) Series for Young Adults

So check out this article from Brightly:

8 of the Most Overlooked (Yet Completely Awesome) Series for Young Adults

by Dena McMurdie

Chances are, you know the rock stars of the young adult book scene — Twilight, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games — but with over 30,000 books published for juveniles every year, it’s no wonder that the majority of them go unnoticed and overlooked. I’m often alone in my love for a young adult series because nobody else has heard of it, much less read it.
The next time you are looking for a good book to get caught up in, give one of these less-read series a second (or first) look. You might discover your new favorite book.
  • The Atlanteans

    by Kevin Emerson
    This series is set in the near future in a disintegrating world. It's about 15-year-old Owen, a girl named Lily, and their race to discover their past in order to save their future. Fans of dystopian and fantasy stories will enjoy this action packed and genre-bending series.
  • Slayers

    by C.J. Hill
    Double crossing, dragon fighting, and falling in love are all part of a day's work for a special group of teens. This urban fantasy series is full of action, humor, and adventure.
  • Belles

    by Jen Calonita
    For a lighter, contemporary read, dive into the Belles series. When tragedy hits Isabelle's home, her social worker sends her to live with a well-to-do uncle and his family. Adjusting to her new life isn't easy, and when a long-buried family secret begins to emerge, Isabelle's life will be changed forever.
  • The Paladin Prophecy

    by Mark Frost
    Will tries to stay inconspicuous, but it's not easy when you have superhuman abilities. This series is full of twists, turns, and the unexpected. You will get sucked in for days at a time, so grab some snacks and an oxygen tank now, because you won't be coming up for air any time soon.
  • Forbidden

    by Kimberley Griffiths Little
    Teens will be glued to each page of this series about a young girl torn between her duty to her family and the desires of her heart. Set in the harsh desert of ancient Mesopotamia, this sweeping romance is rich in historical details and riveting suspense.
  • Palace of Spies

    by Sarah Zettel
    Left in a desperate situation, Peggy Fitzroy agrees to impersonate a lady-in-waiting in the whisper-filled court of King George I. When she learns that the girl she is impersonating may have been murdered, Peggy must uncover the killer before the same thing happens to her.
  • Sekret

    by Lindsay Smith
    Yulia is a young psychic forced to serve the government of Communist Russia. While she learns to manipulate her mind reading abilities, she also becomes the target of an American super spy with the ability to erase her mind. This historical thriller will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

  • The Book of Ivy

    by Amy Engel
    A nuclear war leaves the United States with just a small group of survivors and two rival families battling for control. This near-future thriller was a favorite amongst its readers last year, and with the newly released sequel proving to be just as good, now is the perfect time to pick it up.

Monday, November 30, 2015


Four of our Language Arts classes participated in our first HCMS Library BOOK TASTING!

Here's how it went:
  • we sent THIS video for the students to watch beforehand
  • we pre-selected 6 genres and 6 books for each genre
  • students were provided a Menu (listing all the books) and a Book Tasting log
  • students spent 4-5 minutes "tasting" a book from each genre table and logged their tasting experience for each book.
  • students were allotted time to check out any of the books they tasted

I got the idea from The Book Bug blog and The Unquiet Librarian.

I wanted to make it seem like a big deal, so tried to fancy it up with invitation, cupcakes, flowers, doilies, and fake tealight candles.

Most students said that they found at least one book that they want to check out, so success!

Changes for next Tasting: 
  •  Don't have a set menu beforehand.  Some of the books were unavailable because they were checked out.  
  •  Make sure to have trashcans around for cupcake trash
  •  We are a 1:1 iPad school, so providing the tasting log as a pdf so students can annotate on it and can easily have a digital copy to reference later is a good option 
  • I'd like to try the musical chairs version

The Invitation

Book Tasting Log (double sided)

I used Canva to create the menu and tasting log

The set up
Cupcakes always make things fun!

The set up

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Well, it's about time! Get Reading!
Her two books:

And here is everything you need to know about EXTRAORDINARY MEANS.
Young love collides with tragic illness.


Monday, November 16, 2015


Next year, the magical world of Harry Potter will return to screens, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, based on JK Rowling's book with the same title.  

Um, we're excited, to say the least.

Check out this Entertainment Weekly article about the secret project.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


So I just found this amazing book and the chef/author will be at BookPeople on November 15!  
And the recipe below is in her new book.  Someone, please make them for the Library (and by Library, I mean me).  Except I don't want them to be textbooks, I want them to be book titles, like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, etc.

And, go!


Thursday, October 29, 2015


Today, Soman Chainani, author of the School for Good and Evil series, spoke to HCMS 6th graders.  We all had a blast and are pumped to start reading the series (if we haven't already).  

Soman began by telling us what inspired him to write the series.  When he attended Harvard, he was placed into a Seminar - Fairy Tales and Literary Culture of Childhood - which turned his understanding of fairy tales on their head.  You see, he grew up watching all of the Disney movies.  In fact, he thought Disney created these tales.  But thanks to this seminar, he soon realized that he had it wrong - Disney actually butchered these classic tales by Grimm & Anderson.  Disney sends unrealistic messages to children, undoing their original intent, to prepare children for adulthood and teach them lessons.  Yes, the classic versions may be a bit dark and bleak, but they were honest.  Soman talked about the difference between the Disney and original version of The Little Mermaid, claiming in the Disney version, girls are taught that it's ok to fall for a guy just based on his looks, even if you've never spoken to him before.  Whereas, the original version, said that you shouldn't run away and fall for a stranger, or you will die. 

So Soman set out to write a trilogy in the form of the classic tales.  And so The School for Good and Evil was born.  And the cool thing about it is that you're never quite sure who is good and who is evil.  

Soman dazzled us with fun videos, descriptions of his books, opened our eyes to the initial intent of fairy tales, and played a fun poll with us.  It was a fantastical visit!

So hold onto your hats and because this read will take you on a fantastical ride! 

We have signed copies of the books in the library for sale through next Friday, November 6.  Come and get them!

Here are some pictures from the visit today:

 Special shout out to Mr. Reilly for the amazing posters!


Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Today 6th graders Skyped with author Paul Catanese!

They were super excited to "meet" Mr. Catanese, especially since they just finished reading his first novel, The Thief and the Beanstalk.

Mr. Catanese gave a brief introduction and then dove right in to answer student questions:

"Where did the idea for the book The Thief and the Beanstalk come from?"
Mr. Catanese use to read to his daughter every night and for an entire week she wanted to hear the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.  He began thinking about the description of the beanstalk growing, which is not told in the original story.  This prompted him to sit down and write a description of the beanstalk growing, which eventually turned into the sequel to the original story.

When asked about his revision process, he said it's his goal to go back and cut out unnecessary words in order to make his story "lean and muscular."  When revising, it's his goal to "make the book a little bit skinnier."

When asked about how to overcome writer's block, he said that it's important to "just keep writing."
 Some other tips:
  • Skip over the place where you're stuck and move on.  You can always come back to it later.
  •  Do research.
  • Write biographies for your characters.
  • Write an outline
One of the last questions was, "Is there going to be a sequel?"
He said that he had an idea to write a sequel involving vikings, a return to cloud island, and exploring beyond the castle.  But unfortunately, his editors wanted him to focus on the other stories in the series instead.  But as Mr. Catanese stated, at least the ending gives you a "feeling that the adventure can continue."  And the "hope of another adventure."

We ran out of time for all of the questions, so feel free to email Mr. Catanese your questions and he'd be more than happy to answer:

Thank you Mr. Catanese!  

We have all of the other books in the Further Tales series as well as the Books of Umber.  Come check them out today!

Here are some pictures and a video of the event:

Mr. Catanese talking to the students

Student asking Mr. Catanese a question
Our "thank you!" and goodbye

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Today the 6th grade LA classes skyped with author, Lee Wardlaw!!!

They just finished reading her novel, Seventh Grade Weirdo, and were full of interesting questions for the author.

She began her "visit" with a power point presentation riddled with interesting facts about her life, childhood, writing, and hilarious cat pictures!  You heard me right!  She's a HUGE cat lover!  Sorry dog fans.  She shared that she bases many of her characters and their struggles from real-life people and things she's experienced or heard about.  She, herself, was a seventh grade weirdo.  Or at least she felt like one when she was in middle school.  And the shark is based off a real-life bully that antagonized the students in her husband's middle school.  What real-life experiences and people can you write about?

Students then asked intriguing questions, many which she had never been asked before, like, "Have you ever considered writing the story from Winnie's point of view?"  Wardlaw conceded that she has never thought of that but it is definitely something to think about.  It would be interesting to hear what Winnie's been up to and how fame and fortune has changed her.

We also got the inside scoop, on what she's working on now: How to Bug Your Brothers & Sisters (#4 in the series) and an informational book about the history of humor and jokes!  She gave a sneak peek into a piece of information from the latter: The earliest recorded joke was a fart joke!  Ha!  

We had a great time visiting with Lee Wardlaw!

A huge THANK YOU to Lee Wardlaw for writing books that entertain us and visiting with us today!   

Check out these pictures and videos from today's visit:

Do you have more questions or comments for Lee Wardlaw?
Here's how to contact her:

For more information about Lee, her books
and how to purchase them
please contact Lee by visiting her new email page
You can also find out more about Lee by visiting her Blog.
Click here to visit her blog
or you can email Lee at

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


All American Boys authors, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely visited the 8th graders yesterday.  Their visit was eye opening and inspiring!

They began with a show of hands.  

Who has seen the news and social media about Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and other instances of police brutality?

Most students raised their hands.

Who has been talking about these issues?  

Very few students raised their hands.

And this is one reason Jason & Brendan decided to write this book.  To give readers a platform and an easy way to discuss the issues.  

They told two parallel stories of encounters with law enforcement in their teen years.  The significance of telling their stories side-by-side was that they had two totally different experiences.  Jason, a teen legally riding in a car in his neighborhood, was handcuffed while the car was searched and torn apart,  leaving him embarrassed and humiliated.  Brendan, a teen recklessly driving and speeding, was sent home with a warning.  Two all American boys, two very different experiences.

They also read alternate chapters in their book and then allowed students to discuss with others around them and write down any questions they have.  The questions were passed up and they answered many.  

One of the most asked questions was, "WHAT CAN WE DO?"

There's not one easy fix, they said.  But you can start by talking about the issues.  Talk to you parents, teachers, and most importantly, each other.  YOU have all the power to make change, they said.  

So what will you do?  Who will you talk to?

The books will be for sale in the library for the next week. Click HERE to download the order form.

Monday, October 19, 2015


All American Boys authors, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely are here TODAY!

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Just in time for Halloween!



You read the books, now watch the movie on the big screen!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Star Wars Read Day

We had fun this Friday celebrating STAR WARS READ DAY!
We made Origami Yoda Bookmarks and took our pictures in the Star Wars Photo Booth.

Did you miss the fun?

No worries!  Here's a video tutorial on how to make your very own Origami Yoda Bookmark:


Wednesday, October 7, 2015




authors of


click HERE to download the order form
or pick up one from the Library

You'll receive a raffle ticket for every book purchased.
3 lucky winners will WIN a Special Meet and Greet with the Authors!

A little more about the VISIT & BOOKS

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Literary Math Problem:

The HCMS Library took 29 students, 2 adults, and 1 bus to the Texas Teen Book Festival at St. Edward's University on Saturday, September 26.  They left at 9:15am and returned at 6:00pm.  How much fun did they have?

Answer: LOADS and LOADS of fun!

That's right!  We had a blast meeting our favorite authors and discovering new authors!  We bought loads of books, listened to authors speak about writing, life, and the universe, and met new people.  The St. Edward's University campus is beautiful and our students also got a glimpse of university life.

We even made it into the Publisher's Weekly Article!  Woot!

So be sure to join us next year as we invade Texas Teen Book Festival 2016!

Here are a few pictures of our adventures:

 We arrive and pose on the St. Edward's steps in front
of the infamous RED DOOR!

 Cortina doesn't waste any time buying books
so that she can get them signed!

 Chloe meets author Jenny Han!

 Martine meets author Jenny Han!

 The girls meeting Jesse Andrews, author of
Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl

 Our ladies hang out with authors Jesse Andrews
and Aaron Hatzler

 I catch Haruki and Paresh reading their 
new booksduring some down time

Cece and Katie meet author Rose Garcia