BJ Neary's Top 10 for 2010

Teacher-Librarian
Abington Senior High School
Abington, PA

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well I will certainly be reading all of these books. City of Bones took me on quite a ride from meeting mudane but spunky Clery Fray and sped up with the chance meeting in a night club of Shadowhunters Jace, Isabelle and Alec. Clery and her good friend Simon, stumble into the fight between Jace and a demon and from there the pages keep turning as the story builds around Clery and her sudden relationship with the underworld. I have City of Ashes and City of Bones and I heard about them this past summer on Goodreads---thank you! You will truly enjoy the fast pace adventure that lures you into caring about these valiant shadowhunters.

View all my reviews »
City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2)City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just love these books, with City of Ashes, I was not disappointed with how things exploded between Valentine and Jace (love him!!!) and I so wish there could be a resolution between Jace and Clary or Clary and Simon. Valentine is truly evil. I am amazed at how lightly he speaks of evil, shows evil and is onlyout for himself. I met the Isabel and Alec's parents, the Lightwoods, and I wish they had more of a presence like Hodge. Loved Magnus, he is so colorfully attired, really helps Luke, Clary, Jace, and Alec, etc. I loved the intro of the werewolf character, Maia--she is very special. Especially interesting is the development of Clary's power to draw with a stele and create a rune of amazing power. Jace's stretches his power even more to escape the prison the Inquisitor banishes him to so she can hatch her revenge against Valentine. I have many hopes for the City of Glass, I don't want to be disappointed! n I don't think I will!

View all my reviews »
City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great way to bring together all the great elements of the Mortal Instruments---City of Glass did not disappoint! I was swept along by Cassandra Clare's writing as she delved deeper into the evil of Valentine, he really was crazed, Sebastian was a truly psychopathic demon and Simon really matured as a "daylighter" vampire. I loved the harmony at the end but getting there was mind-numbing, bone-chilling, and as always, I was impressed with the skills of the fighters whether they were ShadowHunters, Werewolves or Downworlders. Jace was tortured, Clary was impressive with her drawing-rune ability and I love Jocelyn and Luke and all the other characters--Isabel, Maia, Alec, Magnus Bane---this would make a great movie! Keep stories like this coming, I can't put the books down, I love this world that has been created!

View all my reviews »
Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry, #2)Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This multicultural YA book was so intriguing, I couldn't put it down. It involves a Mexican American teen, Carlos, who is taken out of his family home in Chicago, then Mexico, and placed under his brother Alex's watchful eye.
He is assigned a peer guide to help him the lst week of school and Carlos tears this girl, Kiara, up by snubbing her, being rude to her and mocking her every chance he can. But Carlos has a soft, vulnerable side and I really liked how he protects people, he has a strong sense of family loyalty and when he is interested in a girl, watch out! There is alot going on in this book, Carlos' brother got jumped out of the Latino Blood gang to be with his white girlfriend Carlos can't stand. Carlos is framed with drugs in his bookbag and then recruited to sell drugs and if he won't his family in Mexico and Kiara's family will be threatened. Kiara is a well adjusted girl from a wonderful family (imagine that???) who loves a challenge, loves to fix cars, got text-dumped by her boyfriend, has a gay best friend Tuck, and is falling for Carlos, despite his attitude, his Mexican ideas of macho and whatever he can do to turn her on and then turn her off. There are alternating chapters of Carlos and Kiara, this book will not disappoint and I think the reluctant readers and some urban readers will enjoy the drug/gang connection.

View all my reviews »
The Chosen OneThe Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A riveting look at a young girl who lives in a polygamist who call themselves the Chosen. Kyra is thirteen, has a mind of her own, a father with many wives and lots of brothers and sisters. You can see from the lst page of the book, that Kyra has her own mind, thoughts which she voices, and loves her extended family very much. But there is something very wrong with this sect and Prophet Childs has been told by God to marry Kyra to her UNCLE who is 50 years older! Even her mother and father are horrified! The parents urge the Prophet to rethingk this union --- he will not budge and it is then that we find he is sinister, evil, and controls all his members through fear, citing their loyalty to God, and if that doesn't work----then they might meet a fate worse than death, death itself, or just disappear. Unbeknownst to everyone,Kyra had also fallen in love with Joshua and reads books from a bookmobile that stops outside the compound once a week. I felt all kinds of revulsion and heartbreak at the same time, I cheered for Kyra to try to get away and survive, and I was sickened by her families' meekness and their begging for Kyra to bend to the Prophet's will. A book I will not soon forget, I couldn't put it down,and I think it has something to say to students who read it---there are teens like them living a horror in sects that denies them their rights and their families' safety all in the name of a twisted religion. The only thing I didn't like was the cover---after reading the book, Kyra and any other girl in the sect would NEVER dress like that!!!

View all my reviews »
The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kathryn Stockett has woven a story of heartache, humiliation, friednship and servitude in this wonderful historical fiction novel taking place in Mississippi in 1962. The relationship that develops between Miss Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny has far reaching and final effects. I loved Miss Aibileen, she was such a strong, loving parent figure to Mae Mobly (Stockett does a great job showing how the maids all have their own families---but love these white children like their own) I was so sad to read over and over again of the many children who are eventually turned against these nannies because of the racism that existed and the lines that could not and would not be crossed. Minny endures physical abuse from her husband and still has the mouth to stand up for herself and her friends. Miss Skeeter's job of writing their stories takes many suspenseful twists and turns and she suffers from her maid Constantine's disappeareance, her parent's refusal to discuss it, and it is her enduring love and bond with Constantine that urge her on to write the stories, and finish Constantine's story. This book is so moving and sad, even Stockett's own words at the end show the conflict of getting the black woman's point of view across and examining the roles between the black maids and the white families who employed them. I will be thinking about this book, the characters and the time period for quite awhile. I know my students will love this Reading Olympic book!

View all my reviews »
Out of My MindOut of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Draper's book was awesome. Definitely different from all of her other books---getting into the mind of a girl with cerebral palsy is just the kind of book EVERYONE needs to read.
I really enjoyed Melody! She was feisty, she loved Mrs V (she got Melody). About Mr. Dimming, I really thought he was horrible, have WE as a people, not advanced enough to recognize that all students deserve a chance? I think he was deceitful and those other two girls, Claire and Molly, well they could be any teen today (even though they are in 5th grade), isn't that sad! It was heartbreaking when they all conspired--even Rose---to leave her behind, yes I know what they all said, but their actions spoke louder than words, and I was rooting for Melody when she confronted them and then whirled around in her chair and sped off when she gave it to them, you go Melody!
But I was tormented by the scene with her mother and the rain and Penny, well you know what I MEAN! It really showed that Melody was trapped in her body and only a few people listened to her---Mrs V, Catherine--- even her parents couldn't figure out when Melody was trying to tell them something.
I think this book should be read by all teens from 5th grade on up---it would be a great form of sensitivity training---just by reading a book!


View all my reviews »
After Ever AfterAfter Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful follow up to Drums Girls and Dangerous Pie!!! Jeffrey and Tad's friendship, their survival of cancer when they were much younger, and their ongoing pledge to each other to help Jeff in Math and Tad walk across the 8th grade graduation stage are the signs of true friendship. Lindsey is wonderful as the new girl who likes Jeffrey despite his limp from chemo. Steven, Jeff's older brother has taken a year off from school, from life and to Jeffrey, it seems like he has been abandoned by his older brother. But this book has the humor of all of Sonneblick's books, even when dealing with very sad subjects. You laugh and you cry and that is a good thing when reading books. I learned so much about cancer from both of Sonneblick's books and I definitely recommend this to readers from grades 8 to adult, his books are inspiring, humorous and touching.

View all my reviews »
The Rock and the RiverThe Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The mesmerizing story of two close brothers who become torn apart by the civil rights tumult in 1968 Chicago. Roland Childs is a civil rights leader and father to Sam and Stick. For as long as they can remember, they have been involved in their father's demonstrations. Sam is the "good son" who always does the expected and Stick has the fiery temper and tests his father's oath of nonviolence. And it is this conflict between father and son that comes between the two brothers. Sam learns that Stick is a member of the Black Panthers Party and thinks he may want to join as well. But Sam is conflicted about many things and is not always definite about what kind of person he wants to be. He cares for Maxie, but she lives in a bad neighborhood and at one point, Sam lies and insults Maxie, and loses her caring and admiration. As Sam continues to question what kind of person he is, who he should give his allegiance to (his father or his brother), events conspire to make Sam question the mythological tale Stick would read to him over and over as a child. What kind of person would he be? Was he the rock or was he the river? A piercing coming of age story of a boy who struggles mightily to become the kind of person both his father and brother envision.

View all my reviews »
Flash BurnoutFlash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED this book! Thanks to everyone who recommended it--I loved Blake's voice, his family, friends and HIS VOICE!!! The first chapter sucked me in and the book just flew from that point on! Shannon and Marissa, Marissa and Sharon, GF and friend. But as his mother tells him---Actions have consequences--- and Blake's journey begins...a great coming of age story, sad, filled with humor and sensitivity. Guys and girls alike will enjoy this riveting, can't put it down book!

View all my reviews »