Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman


Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: January 9, 2018 by Simon & Schuster

Guest Review by Natalia Sperry

Summary: Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman.

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

Review: Thunderhead packs a punch as a conceptually compelling and action-packed follow up to award-winning Scythe. While at times it moves slowly and teeters on the precarious edge of “middle book syndrome.” Its expansion of the world of the Scythdome helps the book feel more well-rounded. Despite the action, Thunderhead shines most in its explorations of democracy and the implications of AI technology.

Citra’s questioning of identity, though immediately rooted in her struggle between her civilian past and scythedom, provides a good example of identity searching for teen readers. For Citra and Rowan, the stakes are high– despite the novel’s focus on the guiding AI of the Thunderhead, the fate of the world rests not on the shoulders of the political technology or the Scythe’s government, but on the teenage protagonist’s shoulders. Though Thunderhead didn’t invent the trope of teens saving the world, in 2018 it feels all the more prevalent.

Teacher’s Tool For Navigation: As a sequel, Thunderhead will primarily be useful in addition to classroom libraries. However, in discussing the Arc of a Scythe series as a whole, Thunderhead raises interesting questions of power dynamics in politics, democracy, and the role of AI technology. If Scythe is already a text you’ve considered using in literature circles, a discussion about the themes raised in the sequel could provide an interesting supplement to the unit.

Discussion Questions:  Is the Thunderhead justified? Is the Scythedom?  In what ways is the world of the Scythes in MidMerica and beyond a dystopia or utopia?

Flagged: “You may laugh when I tell you this, but I resent my own perfection. Humans learn from their mistakes. I cannot. I make no mistakes. When it comes to making decisions, I deal only in various shades of correct.” (Chapter 4).

Read This If You Loved: Scythe by Neal Shusterman, Illuminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Recommended For: 



Happy Birthday, Mercy Watson! Review and Giveaway!: Mercy Watson and Deckadoo Drive Books by Kate DiCamillo


Mercy Birthday

One of the most popular chapter book series for newly independent readers turns ten

And beloved creators Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen give fans even more reason to celebrate with a new spin-off series Tales from Deckawoo Drive

Mercy Watson, the best-selling early chapter-book series written by the two-time Newbery Medal winner and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Kate DiCamillo celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. Launched in 2005 the fun-filled stories aimed at readers age five to eight star Mercy Watson, Deckawoo Drive resident, lover of hot buttered toast and the most single-minded of pigs when it comes to the pursuit of adventure – and treats. Illustrated in full color by award-winning artist Chris Van Dusen in his signature retro style, the Mercy Watson books are a popular choice with younger readers making the transition from picture books to chapter books.

Although the sixth and final Mercy Watson installment was published in 2009, the series continues to attract new fans and is published in ten languages with sales of over two million copies worldwide. Last year Kate DiCamillo reunited children with Mercy and her neighbours in the first book in her spin-off series, Tales from Deckawoo Drive. Once more illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, and with all the rip-roaring adventure of Mercy Watson, the series is aimed at older readers of six to nine. The longer chapters and fewer illustrations allow Kate DiCamillo to introduce another level of pathos and sentiment to this series of funny, touching stories starring some unforgettable, heart-warming characters.

The first title in the new series, Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, became a New York Times bestseller and Amazon Best Book of the Year. Leroy and his rusty rather than trusty steed Maybelline star in this love story bursting with impassioned declarations and plenty of hilarious horsing around. This summer saw the release of book two, Francine Poulet meets the Ghost Raccoon, which also joined the New York Times Best Seller list earlier this month. Francine Poulet is the greatest animal control officer in Gizzford County – but it looks like she may finally have met her match. Funny, fast-paced and with an empowering message at its heart, readers are reunited with some familiar characters amid some riotous raccoon wrangling!

Tales from Deckawoo Drive is the perfect follow-on for original  fans who grew up with Mercy Watson and are ready to move on to a longer read. And for those readers new to Deckawoo Drive, this series is a wonderful introduction to a warm and witty world where readers are left feeling all buttery-toasty inside.

Mercy Watson

My Review: The characters in this story are so endearing. Even Eugenia! The antics of Mercy within these pages mixed with DiCamillo’s way of writing really push the Mercy Watson books past all the other early chapter books into its own league. No wonder Mercy is considered a porcine wonder!

Discussion Questions: What makes the Watsons love Mercy so much? What makes Eugenia dislike Mercy so much?; Did Mercy actually save the day or do you think it was all a coincidence?

We Flagged: 

Mercy Illustration

“Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson have a pig named Mercy.

Each night they sing Mercy to sleep.

‘Bright, bright is the morning sun,” sing Mr. and Mrs. Watson,
but brighter still is our darling one
Dark, dark is the coming night,
but oh, our Mercy shines so bright.

leroy ninker

Goodreads Summary: Yippie-i-oh! Saddle up for the first in a spin-off series starring favorite characters from Kate DiCamillo’s New York Timesbest-selling Mercy Watson books.

Leroy Ninker has a hat, a lasso, and boots. What he doesn’t have is a horse — until he meets Maybelline, that is, and then it’s love at first sight. Maybelline loves spaghetti and sweet nothings, and she loves Leroy, too. But when Leroy forgets the third and final rule of caring for Maybelline, disaster ensues. Can Leroy wrestle fate to the ground, rescue the horse of his heart, and lasso loneliness for good? Join Leroy, Maybelline, and a cast of familiar characters — Stella, Frank, Mrs. Watson, and everyone’s favorite porcine wonder, Mercy — for some hilarious and heartfelt horsing around on Deckawoo Drive.

My Review: Leroy is just so darn loveable. His personality shines through the pages and you just are so happy that Leroy and Maybelline found each other. Also, Kate DiCamillo has a way with voice! I can always hear her characters talking in my head, and they each are so very distinct. I also love her use of vocabulary and humor–perfect! This one is going to be loved by many!

Discussion Questions: Why do you think that Maybelline is the perfect horse for Leroy?; Was Leroy truly prepared to have a horse? How do you know?; Why does Leroy want to be a cowboy?

We Flagged:

leroy ninker

“Leroy Ninker said ‘Yippie-i-oh’ because Leroy Ninker had a dream. He wanted to be a cowboy.

On Wednesday nights, the Bijou Drive-In Theater ran a Western double feature, and Leroy Ninker Stood and watched in wonder as the great white expanse of the Bijou screen filled with purple mountains, wide-open plains, and cowboys.

The cowboys wore ten-gallon hats. The wore boots. They carried lassos. The cowboys were men who cast long shadows and knew how to fight injustice. They were men who where never, ever afraid.

‘Yippie-i-oh,’ Leroy Ninker whispered to the screen. ‘That is the life for me. A cowboy is who I was meant to be.’”

francine poulet

Goodreads Summary: Deckawoo Drive’s intrepid Animal Control Officer meets her match—or does she? A funny, heartfelt, and fast-paced romp from the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Francine Poulet is the greatest Animal Control Officer in Gizzford County. She hails from a long line of Animal Control Officers. She’s battled snakes, outwitted squirrels, and stared down a bear. “The genuine article,” Francine’s dad always called her. She is never scared—until, that is, she’s faced with a screaming raccoon that may or may not be a ghost. Maybe Francine isn’t cut out to be an Animal Control Officer after all! But the raccoon is still on the loose, and the folks on Deckawoo Drive need Francine back. Can she face her fears, round up the raccoon, and return to the ranks of Animal Control? Join a cast of familiar characters—Frank, Stella, Mrs. Watson, and Mercy the porcine wonder—for some riotous raccoon wrangling on Deckawoo Drive

My Review: Kate DiCamillo has a special way of writing stories. Her characterization is amazing which leads to truly full characters. Her vocabulary always pushes the reader yet never leaves the reader out of the story either. Her voice rings throughout the pages to where you can hear the narrator in your head. In this book, Francine Poulet is a character that all readers will love. She is determined, good at her job, and loves what she is doing. But then she faces her adversary. What happens after is what truly shows what type of person Francine Poulet can be.

Discussion Questions: Do you think Francine does her job because she loves it or because she felt pressured to do it because of her father and grandfather?; What vocabulary words do Kate DiCamillo use throughout the book to add more descriptive language and imagery to the book?; How would you describe Francine? Frank? The raccoon?

We Flagged: 

Francine Poulet Image

“Francine put the net on the ground. She took the binoculars. She held them up and looked through them. She saw the raccoon sitting on the roof, staring at her.

The moon was bright, and it was shining on the raccoon’s fur. The raccoon shimmered.”

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers’ Guides for Mercy Watson, Leroy Ninker, and Francine Poulet can be found on Candlewick’s website:

Mercy Watson:

Leroy Ninker:

Francine Poulet:

Read These If You Loved: Lulu series by Judish Viorst, Frankie Pickle series by Eric Wight, Bramble and Maggie (series) by Jessie Haas, The Princess in Black (and #2!) by Shannon Hale

Recommended For: 

readaloudbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall litcirclesbuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kellee Signature

**Thank you to Alice at Candlewick for providing copies for review and for giveaway!**


Top Ten Tuesday: Top New Series We Hope To Start At Some Point


top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Top New Series We Hope To Start At Some Point 

These series look so good! We hope we get to read them at some point.


I saw Kellee’s list before I wrote mine, and I thought, “Oh. Yes, she should read those.” Kellee, I recommend Legend as your first series to start on your list! It is one of my favorites. Like Kellee, I am excluding series I need to finish. These are the series I have yet to begin.

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling


Okay, it is time for everyone to freak out. I’ve never read this series. I am not sure why. I fell asleep during the first movie, so maybe it isn’t for me?

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer


I really, really want to read this series. I haven’t started it yet, but I hope to soon.

3. The Diviners by Libba Bray


Libba is an incredibly talented writer, so I am sure this series is as great as I’ve heard it is!

4. Heist Society by Ally Carter

heist society

I’ve never read an Ally Carter book, but I’ve always wanted to check them out because they are so wildly popular.

5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time

I read this book when I was much younger and don’t remember anything about it. I’d like to reread it as an adult.


This list could be 25 series long, but I kept it at 5. There are so many out there I want to read! (And this isn’t even including all the series I’ve started and need to finish!)

1. Legend by Marie Lu


Everyone who has read this series loves it. I look forward to getting to it.

2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

raven boys

Maggie Stiefvater writes some of the most unique books, and I always try to read what she writes.

3. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld


The Uglies series by Westerfeld is one of my favorites, and Leviathan fascinates me.

4. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

pretty little

I love the show and the premise, so I assume the books will be very good.

5. The Selection by Kiera Cass


This series is hugely popular with my students, and I am intrigued by the fairy tale-esque idea. (However, it does remind me of Princess Academy.)

Which series haven’t you started but hope to? 

RickiSig and Signature

Blog Tour, Review, and Author Interview: Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F.T. Bradley



Double Vision: Code Name 711
Author: F. T. Bradley
Published: October 15th, 2013 by HarperCollins

Summary: Twelve-year-old Lincoln Baker isn’t a great student, and he often gets into trouble, but one thing is for sure—he is a great spy. In his last adventure, Linc went on an undercover mission in Paris and saved the world, but this time, Washington D.C. needs his help. A dark car pulls up to his road, and Pandora tells him they need his help. The president and her family have received a death threat, and they need Linc to help save her life. Worse, George Washington’s coat, which is believed to protect the wearer from harm is missing. Unfortunately for Lincoln, his doppelganger, Ben Green is also asked to help with the mission, and Lincoln wants to solve the crime first.

Review: Readers will enjoy this adventure through Washington D.C. and learn about the different museums and pieces of America’s history. Linc’s journey is action-packed and is sure to engage reluctant readers. I was actually visiting Washington D.C. while I read this book, so it was fun for me to learn more about the museums as I visited them. I haven’t read the first book in this series yet, but I was able to follow along with the details of this second book very easily. I enjoyed the hooks at the end of each chapter and was engaged in this detective story.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Middle school students will have a lot of fun with this book. I’d love to see it in American history classes, where teachers might use the book side-by-side with units about our history. Many schools take field trips to Washington D.C., and this would make for a great read-aloud on the bus ride! Or perhaps, teachers might assign it as required reading for the trip. As another alternative, teachers might make a Webquest for students to learn more about our country’s history as they read this book. The great foreshadowing at the end of chapters would be great to teach students how to make predictions.

Discussion Questions: How do 12-year-olds make for great spies?; Why does Linc’s nemesis, Ben Green, play an important role in the story?; Which characters were suspicious? Cite reasons why you found each of them to be suspicious.; How does the setting add to the color of the story? Pick a different setting and tell how the story might the story be different if it were in this setting.

We Flagged: 

“Agent Stark got out of the car and gave me a little nod. And I knew my gut was spot-on: Pandora was back.

I got off my board and carried it as I walked toward her. ‘Hey, Agent Stark. You must be here for my mom’s spaghetti dinner'” (Chapter 1).

Please note: The above quote is from the Advanced Reader Copy. The quote may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: The 39 Clues series published by Scholastic, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowtz, or detective/spy middle grade novels

Recommended For:

readaloudbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall


Interview with F.T. Bradley!

F.T. Bradley--photo

Websites: and

Twitter: @FTBradleyAuthor

How did you become interested in writing detective/spy novels?

I’ve always loved mysteries, from when I was young, and was given an Enid Blyton Secret Seven paperback. When I was a kid, there wasn’t a YA section in my library, so I moved on to Agatha Christie novels after that. I love the puzzle in mysteries. My interest in all things spy didn’t come until later, when I watched movies like Sneakers. Spies are cool.

When did this story come to you? When did you realize that you wanted it to be a series?

The Double Vision trilogy really started with Linc: what if a regular kid (and a troublemaker with a sense of humor to boot) had to take the place of a lookalike spy? Linc really drives the story; when I sit down to write, I just let him take a run with it and hope for the best. So far, the story is a hit with kids—but that’s all Linc, I swear.

Some of the stories developed as I worked with my agent and editor, once it was sold to Harper Children’s as a three-book series. For the second book, Double Vision: Code Name 711, we started with the Washington D.C. location, which is the center of the spy world. From there, I began researching George Washington, since Linc would be on the hunt for a mysterious double of Washington’s coat.

Once I found out George Washington was a spy, the pieces just fell into place. The history of Washington as having the code name 711 in the Culper Ring during the Revolutionary War is just so awesome, it fueled Double Vision: Code Name 711 from there.

Tell us a little bit about your writing process.

For each book in the Double Vision trilogy, I usually start with a cool location (like Paris for the first book, Washington D.C. for the second), and then try to think of an interesting historical figure and magical artifact. Next, I’ll think of my bad guy/lady: who is the antagonist, and what is at stake? Since it’s a thriller I’m writing, I try to make the stakes as high as I can. I’m putting Linc’s life on the line on these missions after all.

Once I have those elements nailed down, I plot the book as best as I can, trying to think of the most daring things Linc can do on his quest. Like jumping from an airplane onto the Eiffel Tower’s gardens in the first book.

And once that plot gets the thumbs up from my editor, I start writing, and brace myself for what Linc will do. I never quite know, and that’s the best part. Linc is a cool and funny dude.

How did you settle on Lincoln’s age for your book? Did you always know it would be a middle-grade book?

Linc is twelve, which is a solid age for middle-grade. It’s important that he’s not too old, but not so young that he can’t go on his missions.

From the start, I wanted the Double Vision books to appeal to reluctant readers, especially boys who might give up on reading by the time they hit the double digit birthdays. Although I love award-winning children’s books, mysteries and thrillers kind of get forgotten, or are looked at as less somehow. I want to write MG thrillers that mirror the great books written for adults, those that hit the bestseller list because they’re entertaining, moving, sweep you away on a mysterious quest. I want kids to read for fun, and keep reading into adulthood. It’s important that this type of reading—reading for entertainment, whatever the book is—gets more respect.

What were your favorite books as a child and middle schooler?

I was a huge Roald Dahl fan–the BFG was my favorite book. Pippi Longstocking I loved because she did exactly what she wanted. Once I hit middle-school, I moved to the Agatha Christies. As a kid, I loved going to the library, and devoured books.

During my teens, I became a bit of a reluctant reader. There was so much required reading (I grew up in Europe, where there’s a lot of it in high school), and I stopped reading for fun. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I got back to reading when someone gave me a paperback thriller. That reignited the passion for books in me, and eventually I worked on writing them (for many years…).

You could say I came full circle: I’m now back at my library every week, leaving with a stack of books.

What are your current favorite middle grade or young adult books?

I’m all over the place with my reading… In MG, I recently loved Wonder, and Eion Colfer’s latest The Reluctant Assassin. In YA, I loved Rat Life by Tedd Arnold, Seconds Away by Harlan Coben.

I’m forgetting titles, I’m sure of it. 🙂 There are so many books, I wish I could just read all day sometimes…

Tell us a little bit about your family.

My husband is in the Air Force, which makes us professional nomads. The cool part about this is that I get to meet new people all the time, and that I have friends all over the globe. My two girls are tweens, and they keep me sharp. My family is so amazingly supportive of my crazy writing career, I thank my lucky stars every day.

Also, I have four cats, so there’s always one to keep me company as I write. The secret to my success is cats, honest.

Is there any reason you chose to use F.T. Bradley instead of Fleur Bradley as the specified author name for your books?

Because the Double Vision books are meant to appeal to boys, we decided to play it safe and go with initials instead of my (sort-of-girly) first name. To be honest, I think I sold today’s boys short. When I do book signings or go on school visits, they couldn’t care less if my hair was green or my name was Bob. We talk about our favorite books, donuts, and what would make a good spy gadget. And the girls join right in.

Kids today are amazing, funny, smart, open-minded, and utterly inspiring in their enthusiasm. They’re why I love to write middle-grade.

Thank you to F.T. Bradley for providing me with a copy of Double Vision: Code Name 711 to review and for this wonderful interview!



Top Ten Tuesday: Best Series


top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Top Ten Best Series

Today’s topic is supposed to be the Top Ten Best/Worst Series Enders. We didn’t want to be too negative, so we decided to share our favorite series, instead.


1. The Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Chandler Warner

This series helped me learn to love to read when I was a child. Sometimes, series get a bad reputation, but many kids learn to love to read through series books, so I couldn’t exclude this important collection from my top ten list. The kids in this series show incredible strength and are great role models for readers.


2. The Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore

I am sorry I keep bringing this series up in my posts, but it is my all-time favorite series, so it must make this list. The world-building is incredible and the characterization is beautifully written. I don’t usually enjoy the series books that others rave about, but Cashore shows that authors can really do it right. 🙂


3. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

I love this series because it has such widespread appeal. These books were very enjoyable to read, and I loved sharing them with students because they hooked so many of my kids to reading. There are some great themes for teachers to discuss, and my students and I had a lot of fun viewing these books through the lens of 1984.


4. Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene

I am convinced that I am so good at predicting story twists because of this series. Nancy Drew taught me to look for clues in books and make solid predictions. I haven’t read one of these books in about two decades, but I am convinced they developed me as a reader.


5. The Berenstain Bears Series by Stan, Jan, and Mike Berenstain

I bet you weren’t expecting this one! Who doesn’t love the Berenstain Bears? They have been teaching kids moral lessons for decades, so they need to be on this list.



I love so many series, so this one was very hard for me. I second Ricki’s Graceling Realm as it is brilliant and these are my favorites.

1. Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin

This series, I believe, is why I am such an avid reader. I owned hundreds BSC books and loved them all. As an adult I’ve been collecting them to A) reread & B) for my children. I just love how each girl (and Logan) had a different personality and the books dealt with some really important situations. Such a great series!

2. Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

Brilliant. I remember reading A Knife of Never Letting Go and knowing that the book was so important. Then when Monsters of Men won the Carnegie Medal, I knew that the masses had seen how amazing this series was.

chaos walking

3. Betsy books by Carolyn Haywood

My mom read these books when she was a little girl then she read them to me when I was a little girl and if I have a little girl, I will read them to her. Betsy was a great companion during my early childhood.


4. The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry

The Giver has been my favorite book since I read it in 1993. Though I was very satisfied with the ending and loved the ambiguity of deciding what happened to Jonas, when another book came out in 2000 then another in 2004 and finally the series finale in 2012, I had to read them all and I loved them. I think the way Lois Lowry writes is magical and the world of The Giver is brilliant, so I would read anything by her, set there.

the giver quartet

5. Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz

This series was my first series that I began reading when I started teaching. During my literature degree, my love of reading faltered (lit degrees are tough! And make reading such a chore!), but when I decided to become a teacher, I started reading middle grade and young adult books. I remember reading Stormbreaker and knowing I had to read the whole series. I have not stopped book talking this series since then.

alex rider

Honorary. Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Doctor Dolittle series by Hugh LoftingPercy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan, Skinjacker trilogy by Neal Shusterman, (adult) Spellman Files series by Lisa Lutz

I had to mention all of these because they are so great as well. I had a hard time picking the top 5, so I wanted to list these other amazing series as well.

Which series do you love?


All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill [Ricki’s Review]


13514612 17451105

All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Published: September 3rd, 2013 by Disney Hyperion

GoodReads Summary: “You have to kill him.” Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

 Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

Review: This is a great science fiction text that will please readers who enjoy reading about time travel and/or dystopian settings. I was immediately pulled into the prison cell with Marina. Terrill does an excellent job with imagery, and I enjoyed the way the plot unfolded. As with most books that discuss time travel, I found a few paradoxes that felt like plot holes, but most books with a time-traveling plot seem to raise this concern for me, as time traveling is sort of a paradox in itself. Overall, I think Terrill did an excellent job trying to alleviate any possible plot issues, and I was impressed with her ability to build such an, intricate, complex plot. While there was a love story, it doesn’t take front and center of this novel, which I appreciated. Often, love stories forced in science fiction books, and Terrill seems to achieve the perfect balance between plot, theme, and romance. The book contains wonderfully richly realized themes that I will discuss in the next section, and I think teachers would be wise to add this book to their classroom libraries. Teens will absolutely love this one.

You can also see Kellee’s point of view by viewing her review here.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: The themes of this novel truly make it shine. This book would provide for some fantastic classroom discussions. Teachers could have students examine power and how it influences people, or they could look at loyalty and whether there is a limit to our loyalty to our loved ones. Students would have a lot of fun imagining one thing they would change if they could use a time travel machine (either changing a worldly event or a personal life event). The journal opportunities are endless.

Discussion Questions: How does power influence an individual? Given extreme power, will all people be driven to selfishness?; Who are we most loyal to? Is there a limit to our loyalty?; What events would we change if we could travel back in time? How would our changes impact the world or our lives in a positive way? What are the negative outcomes?; What paradoxes come with time travel? Is there any way to alleviate these?; If we had the power to travel in time, should we? How might time travel be harmful?

We Flagged: “‘Was [the world] always this beautiful and we just never noticed?'” (Chapter 5).

“…But progress is always dangerous, isn’t it? Most of the time, walls don’t get dismantled brick by brick. Someone has to crash through them” (Chapter 19).

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. The e-book (a galley) did not provide page numbers. The quotes may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Legend by Marie Lu, Divergent by Veronica Roth

Recommended For:

litcirclesbuttonsmall  classroomlibrarybuttonsmall


**Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for providing the Advanced Reader Copy for review!**

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Sequels Ever


top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Top Ten Best Sequels

Unlike the stereotype, these sequels will rock your world!


1. Prodigy by Marie Lu

I greatly enjoyed Legend, but I might argue that Prodigy was even better! It is rare that I like the second book more than the first. I wonder if I was just more into the world that Lu created after the second book. This second book is incredibly good.

2. Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles (Warning: This is a companion book, not a sequel.)

Oh, look, I cheated again. I just read this book a month ago, and I absolutely adored it. It is a companion book to Jumping off Swings and is told through Josh’s voice. I don’t care if it isn’t technically a sequel, it is going on my list.

3. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (The third book in the Graceling realm—Does this count?)

I disregarded food and sleep while reading this book. It is one of my all-time favorite reads. If you haven’t gotten lost in this series of companion books, do yourself a favor and read them. They rock.

4. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials will always hold a special place in my heart. I read the first book in college in a literature course about Hell and the devil, and I couldn’t stop there. Each book was excellent.

5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I really enjoyed both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, and I secretly wish they never became a movie series because the craze seemed to water down how truly great these books are. I was hooked to this second book, so I thought it was deserving of this top ten list.


1. Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson

I loved both Hattie books, but the sequel actually resonated more with me. In both Hattie faces circumstances that most woman wouldn’t face in the early 1900s; however, in the sequel, Hattie really grows up and finds herself. I also loved that in this one she was going after HER dream.

2. Son by Lois Lowry (the 4th book in The Giver quartet, but technically the only true sequel to The Giver)

The Giver has been my favorite book for 20 years now and I have always been fine with the ending, but when companions came out and finally a series finale, I couldn’t not read them. Though some people found that the end of the series was a bit too wrapped up, I loved finding out what happened to all of my favorite characters.

3. The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

This series is just so epic and the two sequels of Knife of Never Letting Go are just as intense as the first.

4. Red Glove and Black Heart by Holly Black

I love this world that Holly Black came up with and Cassel’s adventures are just as addictive in the sequels as the first.

5. The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm

Like Hattie Ever After, this is a sequel that while I really liked the first, I found the sequel to really hit home for me. I think it once again has to do with our protagonist growing up.

What are your favorite sequels?