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February Book Talks

This past month, I read four books that I would like to share with you.  Some of the books I read are more “adult,” (and I guess you could argue what that really means), but many are young adult books, as I give book talks to my 8th graders often.  They’re not into “adult” books.  I thought the fantasy/dystopia fad would taper off among YA books, but based on my students’ reading habits, this genre is far from going anywhere.

I try to read a variety of genres, as my students read a wide range as well.  The following four books fall into fantasy, mystery, autobiography, and realistic genres.

The Lie Tree

BookThe Lie Tree

Summary:  Set in England at the turn of the century, teenager Faith Sunderly and her family has had to leave prestigious London for the small town of Vale, all on account of something her father has done.  As the truth of why the family had to leave in haste comes to light, Faith’s father is murdered.  It is when she tries to figure out what has happened that she comes across a tree, that when you feed it lies, it reveals a truth.  Is the truth going to lead her to who murdered her father, or lead the murderer closer to her?

Why I liked it:  The story-line intrigued me, as it is similar to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, from The Bible.  Whispering lies to a tree in order for it to produce fruit was a fun twist.  And once the fruit was eaten, it would reveal a deep truth for the person who ate it. The author did a good job of embedding the mystery behind this magical tree and weaving in a strong, female character.  While the story is historically set, it is a fantasy/mystery novel for sure.

Vincent and Theo

BookVincent and Theo

Summary: Biography about the relationship between famous painter Vincent Van Gogh and his brother, from his growing up years to his death.

Why I liked it:  I have always been a fan of Van Gogh’s paintings, but the story behind how he even cultivated his craft, let alone became famous, was fascinating.  The fact that I didn’t even know Vincent had a brother left a lot of room for me to learn.  It begs to be shared with others.  Like, Theo worked in an art gallery and was on the forefront of the Impressionist Movement.  He was the first to show Monet to the world.



Summary:  Son of a famous rocker, Blade Morrison is about to graduate high school and move out on his own.  However, his washed-out rock-star father can’t stay clean and has messed up Blade’s high school graduation.  After the humiliating day, which should have been filled with joy and laughter, Blade leaves the country, set on finding himself and leaving his family behind.

Why I liked it:  I loved Alexander’s book The Crossover and the way he could tell a story in verse (poetry that has a plot).  This book does the same.  While it took me a little while to get into the book, I loved how lovable and strong Blade was, working to survive devastating truths about his life.  The poetry is beautifully written and that made for a very enjoyable read.


BookTurtles All the Way Down

Summary: Aza is a high school student who struggles with severe anxiety and OCD.  She has the support of a good friend and her mother, but when her old friend’s father disappears, she’s bound and determined to reconnect with him and help solve the mystery.

Why I liked it: This is the first John Green book I have read (gasp!).  While the story line, to me, was a bit weak, I did like how Green delved into the mind of Aza.  It helped me understand what those who have mental disabilities go through on a day to day basis.


Feel free to recommend books you think I, or my students, would like.  I am always on the hunt for a good read!

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