Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lincoln's Grave Robbers

This is the true story of a gang of counterfeiters plotted to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln.  That's right.  I said TRUE!

In 1875 counterfeiting was a major problem in the US, but no one was more talented than Benjamin Boyd.  He could make coney (counterfeit money) so good it would fool the experts.  His arrest caused a stir in the counterfeiting rings of Chicago, and members of his gang come together in a smokey saloon to plot a way to get him out.

They figured they could steal Abraham Lincoln's body and hold it ransom for $200,000 that they would use to get Boyd out of prison.  Thus begins a tale of thieves, undercover informers, and secret service operations.

Read Steve Sheinkin's account of this true story including a special "Body Snatcher Bonus Section" that is pretty gross!

Here are some photos of Lincoln's tomb from my trip to Springfield a couple of years ago.

The cemetery is still fairly isolated like it was in 1875.

Lincoln's remains are sealed inside this marble box.

This is a back window to the monument, now barred to keep potential thieves and vandals away.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Foul Trouble

Terrell Jamerson is the number one high school basketball player in the country, and everyone knows it.  His life is a constant stream of people trying to get on his good side in the hopes of getting a piece of the pie when Terrell goes pro.  The NCAA rules don't really seem to matter to any of these guys.  Shoe companies, agents, even some guys Terrell thought were friends all want in on the action.

His best friend and teammate Danny Wilcox hates those guys; he calls them the super friends.  He tells Terrell that if he gives in to the pressure those guys will own him.  Danny's dad, who also happens to be their coach, agrees.

This book follows Terrell and Danny as they try to navigate the murky waters of college recruitment through the summer and their senior year in high school.  The longer Terrell waits to make his decision, the sweeter the deals will get.  What will Terrell decide?  John Feinstein will have you on the edge of your seat waiting for Terrell's decision in his latest book!

The Rithmatist

Joel has wanted to be a rithmatist his whole life, but it just wasn't meant to be.  At least he has free tuition at Armedius Academy where he can snatch every crumb of knowledge about the rithmatic arts as possible.

The rithmatists have an important job, defending the United Isles from the wild Chalklings at Nebrask.  Chalkings are two dimensional creatures drawn with chalk.  When a rithmatist does the drawing, these creatures can come to life.  At Nebrask the tower is full of wild chalklings whose origins are unknown.  These creatures are in a constant battle to escape and devour anyone they come across.  The Rithmatist use defensive lines and circles to keep them contained.

Now the rithmatists seem to be under attack.  Several students have been kidnapped in rithmatc battles.  The chalk lines are there as evidence, but there are also strange markings no one has seen before.  Joel's job as a summer research assistant for a professor of rithmatics puts him right in the middle of the investigation and in the sights of a kidnapper who is more dangerous than anyone suspects.

Read this exciting opening book of a new series by Brandon Sanderson!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Boy on the Wooden Box

When Leon Leyson moved to Krakow with his family in 1938, he thought his life would be full of excitement, but an invading force from Germany soon followed, and life changed for everyone.  The boys who once played with Leon began to bully him, and Nazis filled the streets with propaganda about the Jews.

Soon all the Jews were moved to the Krakow ghetto, a small area of the city walled off to contain them.  That is when things really turned frightening, and rumors of death camps and mass killings circulated in the ghetto.

Leon and his family didn't know if they would survive the Nazi occupation, but then his father was hired by Oskar Schindler.  Schindler's enamel works made pots and pans for the German war effort.  While Schindler partied with powerful members of the Nazi party, he argued his workers were highly specialized and necessary.

Leon and his family were still near death many times, and they faced the horror and uncertainty of the camps, and the family would not survive the war in tact, but thanks to Oskar Schindler, Leon and over 1,000 other Jews would survive the war.

This is the true story of the youngest person to be saved by Oskar Schindler.  It is a story of courage and humanity in a time of horror and cruelty.  A must read!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Teen Book Con Is Next Saturday

If you want to go on the bus with me, make sure you get your permission slip in ASAP!  For more information go to the Teen Book Con website.

A Snicker of Magic

Felicity's mother has a wandering heart.  That's why they never stay in one place long enough to make friends, but now that they're back in Mama's hometown of Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, maybe things will be different.

Midnight Gulch used to filled with magic, and folks would come from miles around to visit the town and hear its most famous residents, The Brothers Threadbare, play music that made everybody's feet light and hearts happy.  The day those two brothers had a duel was the day magic left Midnight Gulch, and things haven't been the same since.  That was the day Midnight Gulch and its inhabitants were cursed. There's still a snicker of magic left to make life interesting.

Felicity has a little magic herself.  She sees words everywhere--floating in the air, crawling on someone's arm, sliding across the cafeteria table.  Felicity loves words, but she's too shy and tongue-tied to share them with anyone until she meets a spiky-haired do-gooder named Jonah Pickett on her first day in Midnight Gulch.  Felicity's never had a best friend before, but Jonah claims her for his own on her first day at school.  Felicity makes other friends, too, and she's getting to know her family, too.

It seems like everybody in Midnight Gulch is being held back by the curse, and Felicity is convinced if she can break it, magic will come back to town, and her mama's wandering heart will finally find home.

I love this book!  It's a wonderful story about words, creativity, magic, and love.  I got to meet Natalie Lloyd last week, and she was so cute and sweet just like you would imagine.  You should all read this book!

The Giver Movie Trailer

The movie comes out this summer.  It better be good because I LOVE this book!  If you haven't read it yet, now is the time!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond

Violet Diamond loves her family, but she is tired of the strange looks she always gets when she meets new people.  Violet's mother, sister, and grandparents are blond and blue-eyed, but Violet's father was African American, and she stands out with her brown skin and curly hair.  To make this worse, there aren't even very many African-American people in her small hometown.

Violet's father died before she was born, and she's never even met his side of the family because of anger between them and her mother.  She knows their names, and she knows what her grandmother looks like because she's kind of a famous artist, and Violet has researched her on the internet.

When she discovers that her grandmother will have a showing at a gallery in nearby Seattle, Violet decides it's time to meet her father's side of the family whether they like it or not.

It's not always smooth getting to know new relatives, and Violet discovers that she doesn't just magically fit into this new world like she thought she would, but with time and effort, her universe of family and love will begin to expand.

Read Brenda Woods's new book about what it's like to be biracial in a world that is sometimes still divided into black and white.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Maze Runner Movie Trailer

If you haven't read this series yet, now is the time to start!  The movie comes out in September!


What if heroes with super powers like the guys in the comic books suddenly became real?  Sounds pretty awesome, right?  But what if there are no heroes, only villains?

This is the nightmare for David and everyone else after Calamity appeared in the sky.  At first some were hopeful like David's dad.  He believed that in a world with super villains there would have to be super heroes as well.  All that changed the day Steelheart murdered David's dad and pretty much everyone else in the bank where they were trying to take out a loan.  David was the only survivor of that horrifying day, and he's pretty sure Steelheart would kill him, too, if he knew David existed.

That day David vowed to avenge his father's death, but how do you kill someone who is invincible?  Bullets bounce right off him.  Knives shatter without even scratching his skin.  But David know Steelheart has a weakness; all epics do, and David has seen a glimpse of Steelheart's.  He just hasn't figured out quite what it is yet.

Steelheart has one other power.  He can turn any inanimate material into steel which is what he does to the entire city of Chicago--steel buildings, steel trees, steel streets, steel corpses of everyone he killed that day.  To make matters worse, Steelheart teamed up with Nightwielder, an epic who can block out the sun.  Now Chicago is Newcago, a city ruled by a tyrant and plunged into perpetual darkness.

Now that he's seventeen, David has been living under Steelheart's rule in Newcago for years, but he's not giving up his desire for revenge.  When a rebel group shows up in town, he may get his chance.

Read Brandon Sanderson's new book that's a twist on the super hero genre.  This was a great read with a great twist at the end that I did not figure out.  You will love it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Watcher in the Shadows

Irene's family has fallen low since her father died leaving them with a mountain of debts.  As they morn for their father and fall into ever worse circumstances, an offer arrives that seems like a miracle.  Irene's mother has been offered a position as a housekeeper to the reclusive toy maker Lazarus Jann.  The job comes with a large salary and a house for the family to live in.  It seems to good to be true!

Upon their first visit to Cravenmoore, Jann's home, the children are spooked by the life size automatons which fill the house, and they are warned never to go into the east wing of the house where his invalid wife lives.  In addition, the forest surrounding Cravenmoore and the Sauville's new home is filled not with real birds but with strange automatons built by Lazarus Jann.  Despite their uneasiness, the job still seems like a good fit.

Soon after their arrival, Irene meets Ismael, a young sailor with whom she instantly falls in love, and the two begin spending all their time together.

Things quickly turn sour when an unsuspecting housemaid releases a powerful evil that begins to hunt down everyone connected with Lazarus Jann.  Who is the toy maker really, and why does this evil force cling to him?

Read Carlos Ruiz Zafon's thrilling tale of horror and suspense to find out!

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

One day Alice is sitting outside with her sister feeling bored until she sees a white rabbit wearing a pocket watch.  This is the beginning of a great adventure.  She follows the rabbit down a hole, and from that moment on nothing behaves like it is supposed to.  There is growing and shrinking, a philosophical caterpillar, a mad hatter, and a shape-changing baby.  Don't forget the Queen of Hearts who is cruel and tricky.

In the second part of this volume, Alice returns to Wonderland by going through a mirror into Looking Glass Land.  Here she meets the players on a chess board and has many strange experiences as the she plays on a large scale board with the Red Queen and the White Queen.  Alice begins as a pawn, but she must try to become a queen herself if she hopes to return home again.