Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Auggie Pullman was born with a severe facial deformity and has always been homeschooled, because of all the surgeries and medical problems that have come along. This year, Auggie and his parents have decided it’s time to give school, with actual teachers and students, a try. Despite Auggie’s fear of how people will see him, he heads into school and succeeds in the most 

Wonder chronicles Auggie’s entire first year at school, from the point of view of several different characters. The reader is able to hear from several of Auggie’s classmates, his sister, his sister’s boyfriend, and others, including Auggie himself. The chapters are short and the writing is both uplifting and totally inspiring.

Friends, this book is amazing. One that every single one of you reading this blog must get a copy of right away. It’s one of the most honest, powerful books I’ve ever read, while still being completely enjoyable. I laughed, cried, and got angry…all of the emotions I believe the author wanted us to feel.

Auggie is a character that will stick with you for a long time. I know I’m still thinking about him.

-Amanda

Wonder by R.J. Palacio; $15.99; Random House Children’s Books; Ages 10+

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A great summer read for grown-ups!

18-year-old Victoria Jones is an incredibly strong yet stubborn young woman who just aged out of the foster care system. Bounced around for most of her life, Vanessa finds herself unable to trust anyone who crosses her path, no matter their good intentions, and almost finds solace in being homeless. She is able to make her own decisions, and doesn’t have to deal with people, staying as far away from people as she can.

When her little bit of money runs out, Victoria manages to wrangle herself a job in a flower shop. Because she has always been fascinated with the “language of flowers,” she spends her days making the perfect bouquets for her customers’ personal situations. Still dealing with her past, Victoria is forced to come face-to-face with specific people and events she’s wanted nothing more than to leave behind.

The descriptions in this book are top notch and learning all about hidden meanings behind flowers, no matter how true or false they may be, was fun. The author has experience with the foster care system and it was apparent. She obviously knows how children who spend their lives in the “care” of multiple people might turn out and the issues they might experience. Victoria was haunting in the best possible way and her character, plus the intriguing plot, make for a great book club discussion.

Some heavy subject matter and situations make this most appropriate for grown-ups, but a great read for teens that has definite similarities with this plot regarding the language of flowers is Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White, one of our local authors!

A fun index of flowers is included, so you can look up all of your favorite flowers and their meanings. Very cool!

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh; $15.00; Ballantine Books

Awesome Teen Author Panel!

We’ve been so lucky to have a steady stream of YA Authors dropping by the store to share their books with all of you and next week we have 4 more! Come join us at 3:30 on June 30th and welcome Elizabeth Scott, Alethea Kontis, Diana Peterfreund, and Brigid Kemmerer to Hooray for Books!

Elizabeth Scott introduces her latest book, Miracle, the story of a young girl who is the only survivor of a plane crash. Megan is a miracle. At least, that’s what everyone says. Having survived a crash that killed everyone else on board, Megan knows she should be grateful just to be alive. But the truth is, she doesn’t feel like a miracle. In fact, she doesn’t feel anything at all. Then memories from the crash start coming back.  Miracle, Simon Pulse, $16.99

Diana Peterfreund’s book, For Darkness Shows the Stars, features 18-year-old Elliot North, a girl who chose family over love four years ago, refusing to run away from the caste system she grew up in, as the servant, Kai, wanted her to. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.  For Darkness Shows the Stars, Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, $16.99

Alethea Kontis’ foray into the young adult world is Enchanted. It isn’t easy beign the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true. When Sunday meets an enchanted frog, the two become friends and the friendship deepens into something magical. Sunday’s love transforms the frog into a prince!

A lovely retelling of “The Frog Prince.”  Enchanted, Harcourt Children’s Books, $16.99


Brigid Kemmerer has written Storm, a fast-paced story with lots of thrills and will definitely have you turning the pages faster and faster!

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys — the ones she doesn’t want. Then she saves Chris from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water– just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death. Storm, Kensington Publishing, $9.95

Come join us as the authors talk about their latest books, answer questions, and sign your copies.

If you like Jenny Han, you’ll love Morgan Matson!

We get a lot of customers in the store looking for read alikes. The “I’ve read this book, what should I read next” kind of thing. That’s probably my favorite question from those of you that walk in our doors, because it’s like solving a mystery.

I know we have a lot of fans of Jenny Han’s “Summer” series, myself included, and as I was reading Morgan Matson’s fantastic new book, Second Chance Summer, I couldn’t stop comparing them…in a good way! They’re both perfect get-ready-for-summer reads, with an excellent balance of relationships, family, and emotional impact, as well as the required cute boys and beach time.

Each and every character in Second Chance Summer has a place and you’ll end up caring about all of them.  You’ll sympathize with Taylor as she works through some serious friendship hurtles after returning to her lake house after 5 years of being away and you’ll laugh as her serious brother Warren attempts to wrangle himself a date with the girl from the pet store. You’ll cry as Taylor’s father battles a tragic illness and you’ll cheer when she and Henry finally start to talk to each other again. A rollercoaster of emotions in the best sort of way.

So much is going on in this book, but Matson, like Han, has managed to play out a realistic teen’s life on the pages. It’s like real life: bad things happen, but life also goes on. Funny moments get taken out with tears and vice versa. I loved Second Chance Summer and I think all of those fans of Jenny Han’s books (and Sarah Dessen and Jessi Kirby) will love it too.

Be sure to check out Morgan Matson’s previous book, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, which is also one of my favorite get-ready-for-summer books. Can you say road trip?!

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson; $16.99; Simon & Schuster; Ages 14+

Along for the Ride…a great intro to summer reads!

I really think Sarah Dessen and I could be best friends. She’s fun and quirky and writes amazing books. Plus, I hear she really likes dessert. We’re meant to be! She’s also a brilliant author that can truly channel the teen mind and the need for “real” fiction. Though I love them all, Along for the Ride is definitely my favorite and the perfect book to get teens geared up for summer vacation!

Auden is an incredibly smart girl, a girl with a great head on her shoulders, but also a girl forced to grow up quickly to impress her academic parents, even after they divorced. Always studying, always doing the right thing. This summer, Auden is just sick to death of putting up with her overbearing, uncaring mother and all the graduate students that flit in and out of the woman’s life, so she decides to go spend the summer at her father’s beach house, with his new wife, and new baby sister.

 Taking a job in her stepmother’s fancy beach boutique is about the last thing Auden planned to do, as were falling in love with both a guy and her baby sister, or forgetting to study all summer long. But work, fall in love, and become a “real girl” she does, and the experience is both satisfying and terrifying. Her simple, lonely life has become one filled to the brim with people and emotions and Auden isn’t quite sure how to live anymore.

 In true Sarah Dessen fashion, the reader gets a perfect YA book experience. The characters feel like they could be kids you go to school with (and they all have fabulous names), the situations are ones that teens today really find themselves in, and the connections Dessen makes between plot, character, and reader is truly remarkable.

Plus, cute guys and the beach?? You all need this book.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen; $9.99; Penguin Group USA; Ages 14+

Another Teen Author Panel!

This coming Saturday, 5/12, we’ll be having 3 awesome teen authors at the store to talk about their books, do a signing, and answer any of your awesome questions.

Jay Baker is the brainchild of debut author Jay Clark.  In The Edumacation of Jay Baker, this high school freshman’s parents are separated because his mom had an affair, he’s in love with his cheerleader best friend, and his football playing nemesis calls him “Gay Baker.”  But Jay can give as good as he gets in the insult department, which makes for some funny and tense moments along the way. A funny and fast-paced coming-of-age story for ages 14 and up.

 In Magic Under Stone, Jaclyn Dolamore  continues the story of Nimira and Erris, started in Magic Under Glass. For these star-crossed lovers, there can be no happily ever after until Erris is freed from the clockwork form in which his soul is trapped. The two lovers go in search of the sorcerer Ordorio Valdana, hoping he will know how to grant Erris real life again. When they learn that Valdana has mysteriously vanished, Nimira decides to take matters into her own hands, and begins to secretly study the sorcerer’s spell books. Yet even as she begins to understand the power and limitations of sorcery, it becomes clear that freeing Erris will bring danger-if not out-and-out war-as factions within the faerie world are prepared to stop at nothing to prevent him from regaining the throne. Ages 12 and up.

Jon Skovron is the author of Misfit and Struts and Frets. In Misfit, we meet Jael Thompson, who has never really fit in. She’s changed schools too many times to count. The only family she’s ever known is her father, a bitter ex-priest who never lets her date and insists she attend the strictest Catholic school in Seattle. And her mother–well, she was a five thousand year old demon. That doesn’t exactly help. On her sixteenth birthday, her father gives her a present that brings about some unexpected changes. Some of the changes, like strange and wonderful powers and the cute skater boy with a knack for science, are awesome. But others, like the homicidal demon seeking revenge on her family? Not so much.  Steeped in mythology, this is an epic tale of a heroine who balances old world with new, science with magic, and the terrifying depths of the underworld with the ordinary halls of high school. Ages 14 and up.

Call us to reserve your books or to let us know you’re coming! 703-548-4092.

Author event with Sharon Draper

This Thursday we are hosting Coretta Scott King award-winning author Sharon Draper at the store! She’ll be here to talk about the paperback release of her fantastic book, Out of My Mind. Several of us here at the store have read it and loved it and we recommend it to customers all the time. Now is a great time to pick up the book if you haven’t read it before (trust me, you want to), or if you’ve been a fan for awhile and want to ask Ms. Draper some questions. We’re really excited to have her!

The book centers on 11-year-old Melody, an incredibly smart girl with a photographic memory, who also happens to have cerebral palsy and is unable to speak for herself. Unfortunately, this leaves both teachers and her peers believing that she is functioning on a low level of learning, teaching her the same letters and numbers every day, rather than the math and history and science she loves and is perfectly capable of doing.

When Melody finally gets an electronic device that helps her speak, she’s able to communicate her thoughts and her intelligence to the world. She even earns a spot on her school’s quiz team, surprising everyone! The story follows Melody on her journey “out of her mind,” including the difficulties and triumphs she faces along the way.

It’s an amazing story of hope and perseverance  and could be used as an excellent classroom tool by teachers. Come hear Sharon Draper talk about the book on Thursday, 5/10, from 6:30-7:30. Let us know you’re coming at 703-548-4092.