Ashes, Ashes

Treggiara, Jo.  Ashes, Ashes.  Scholastic Press, 2011.  ISBN 9780545255639, ages 14 and up.

Smallpox epidemics, floods, and droughts have killed most of the world’s population.  Sixteen year old Lucy has been surviving on her own in what used to be Central Park until a tsunami destroys what little she has left.  Not knowing what else to do or where to go, Lucy decides to join the S’ans (a small group of survivors.)  But living in a group make it easier for the Sweepers to find you and it seems they are looking for Lucy in particular!  Why??

“The floods had first come about five years ago, when she was 11 years old.  Melting polar ice caps; rising sea levels; increased rainfall; a steady battering of hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes weakening the land; everything the scientists had warned them about.  And the world mapped in her geography books had changed with a frightening rapidity:  continents shifting shape, coastlines altered.  San Francisco, Los Angeles, Venice, Thailand, Spain, her beloved Coney Island, Japan, had all but vanished beneath the waves.  Australia was half the size it had been, shrinking like an ice cube in a warm drink, and New York City had become a clump of six or seven scattered islands connected to the mainland by a few bridges-the Geo Wash, the RFK, the Will Burg.  Some were only accessible during the Long Dry” (page 2.)



Meyer, Marissa.  Scarlet.  Feiwel and Friends, 2013.  6,133 pages-Kindle addition. ISBN 9781250037633, ages 14 and up.  The Lunar Chronicles Book 2

“Once, people had looked at her with revulsion.  Now, people were terrified of her.  She wasn’t sure which was worse.  She wanted to scream to the world that it wasn’t her fault she was this way.  She’d had nothing to do with it.  It surely wouldn’t have been her choice if one had been given to her.  Lunar. Cyborg. Fugitive. Outlaw. Outcast.  Cinder buried her face in her arms and urged the swirling injustices away.  She would not get carried away with self-loathing.  She had too many other things to worry about” (page 4,366.)


After breaking out of the prison in New Beijing, Cinder must follow the leads that will get her answers to who she is, how she became part cyborg, and how to save Prince Kai from the lunar queen.  Her search leads her to France and the farm of Michelle Benoit

“Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.”  (


Meyer, Marissa. Cinder. Feiwel and Friends, 2012. 390 pages. ISBN 9780312641894, ages 14 and up. The Lunar Chronicles Book 1

“Pearl tilted the box so Cinder could see. Inside was the finest pair of gloves she could have imagined. Pure silk and shining silver-white. They were tall enough to cover her elbows, and a row of seed pearls along the hems added the simplest touch of elegance. They were gloves fit for a princess. It did seem like a joke. A sharp laugh exploded from Pearl. “He doesn’t know, does he? He doesn’t know about your-about you.” She clutched the gloves, ripping them from their tissue bed, and let the box tumble into the street. “What did you think was going to happen?” She waved the gloves at Cinder, the empty fingers wagging helplessly. “Did you think the prince might actually like you? Did you think you might go to the ball and dance with him in your pretty new gloves and your-“ She scanned Cinder’s clothes, the filthy cargo pants, the stained T-shirt, the tool belt strapped around her waist, and laughed again” (page 300.)
After several wars, Earth is now divided into only a few regions whose leaders are trying to sign a peace treaty with the leadership of the moon-a very difficult task because the lunar queen is blood thirsty and really wants to take control of Earth. She desires control so much that it is believed she murdered the true lunar heir (her own niece.) Cinder lives with her step-mother and two step-sisters in New Beijing and is treated like a servant because of her cyborg parts that someone fitted her with after the terrible accident that killed her real parents when she was just a small child. She is an excellent mechanic and because of her skills, happens to meet Prince Kai. Events cast Cinder into roles she wants no part of but she doesn’t really have a choice-Prince Kai’s life and the fate of the world rest on her shoulders.

American Sniper

Kyle, Chris.  American Sniper:  The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.  HarperCollins, 2012.  381 pages.  ISBN 9780062082350, ages 16 and up.

It takes a very special kind of a person to be a military sniper-a killer.  Sure, they receive specialize training and run simulations all the time but, to experience what they go through during these missions and then deployment is not something most would be willing to endure.  Chris Kyle was a very special person.  He shares these experiences-he is very honest about them:  how he truly enjoys killing the bad guys; how military provided gear was inadequate; how his love of country almost ruined his family.  I found this to be a very emotional story.  How can a government that asks men to protect citizens not give them body armor that doesn’t fall apart?  (Chris’s in-laws bought him better body armor on his third deployment.)  How can the government send them off to foreign countries and not even provide them with a warm coat to wear?  How can the government train the military to fight/kill the enemy but then send them off with no way to integrate back into our society when their duty has been served?

“It would have been tough to go and just blatantly shoot people in Iraq.  For one thing, there were always plenty of witnesses around.  For another, every time I killed someone in Ramadi I had to write a shooter’s statement on it.  No joke.  This was a report, separate from after-action reports, related only to the shots I took and kills I recorded.  The information had to be very specific.  I had a little notebook with me, and I’d record the day, the time, details about the person, what he was doing, the round I used, how many shots I took, how far away the target was, and who witnessed the shot.  All that went into the report, along with any other special circumstances.  The head shed claimed it was to protect me in case there was ever an investigation for an unjustified kill…” (page 296.)  Soldiers could be convicted of murder for unjustified kills.

Now a major motion picture.



Anderson, Laurie Halse. Wintergirls. Penguin Group Inc., 2009. 278 pages. ISBN 978067011100, ages 14 and up.
Lia and Cassie became best friends in elementary school-doing all the things best friends do-especially sharing secrets. The biggest secret between them-their eating disorders. Now at 18, Lia must deal with the guilt of Cassie’s death, parent’s that don’t understand, and the urge to be in control of her body. She counts the calories in everything that passes between her lips trying to keep her intake at just a few hundred calories a day. She also sneaks hours of exercise into the night to burn off the few calories that she does consume. She knows all the tricks of how to make her parents think she’s eating and how to hide the weight loss in her weekly weigh-ins. As she hits rock bottom, Cassie visits her mind to urge her into crossing over into death. “She speaks slowly. Your kidneys failed a couple of hours ago. Starvation plus dehydration plus exhaustion topped off with an almost-overdoes? Nice job, Lia-Lia. Nice job, indeed. Your lungs are filling. Just a few more minutes. Relax” (page 270.) Will Lia give up and end the pain or will she have the courage to fight back and survive?



Lu, Marie.  Legend.  G.P. Punam’s Sons, 2011.  305 pages.  ISBN 9780399256752, ages 13 and up.

Los Angeles, California:  Republic of America; population 20,174,282.  June is the only one to ever score a perfect 1500 on her Trial.  She excels in everything and is the pride of the Republic.  She is determined to find and kill the person responsible for killing her brother.  Day failed his Trial and as a result is sent to be experimented on and then killed but escapes and is living as one of the Republic’s most wanted.  He is accused of killing June’s brother.  As June hunts down Day, she learns that things are not as they seem and she that has been lied to for years.  She must find out the entire truth before it is too late for both her and Day.


“I don’t move for the next few hours.  When the Republic’s pledge starts up outside, I can hear the people on the streets below chanting along, but I don’t bother to stand.  I don’t salute when the Elector Primo’s name comes up.  Ollie sits next to me, staring, whining every now and then.  I look back to him.  I’m thinking, calculating.  I have to do something.  I think of Metias, of my parents, then of Day’s mother, and his brothers.  The plague has gotten its claws around all of us, in one way or another.  The plague murdered my parents.  The plague infected Day’s brother.  It killed Metias for uncovering the truth of it all.  It took from me the people I love.  And behind the plague is the Republic itself.  The country I used to be proud of.  The country that experiments on and kills children who fail the Trial.  Labor camps-we’d all been fooled.  Had the Republic murdered relatives of my Drake classmates too, all those people who died in combat or in accidents or of illness?  What else is secret?” (page 250.)

The Giver

Lowry, Lois.  The Giver.  Houghton Mifflin, 1993.  225 pages.  ISBN 9780547995663, ages 12 and up.

Conflict, divorce, unemployment, injustice, inequality don’t exist.  Everything is tranquil and peaceful.  Children are observed and the perfect job is assigned to them.  Great consideration is given to marriage assignments.  Birthing women are carefully chosen-birthing rates are tightly controlled-only 50 a year.  Each family consists of mother, father, one girl, one boy.  Once each year a special ceremony marks a milestone in life.  The Ones (children born over the last year) receive their name and go to their family; Female Threes receive hair ribbons; Fours receive a backward buttoning jacket; Sevens receive a front buttoning jacket; Eights receive a new jacket with smaller buttons and pockets; Nines receive a bike; Tens receive their adult haircuts; Elevens receive their adult-like clothing; Twelves receive their Life Assignments.

Everything is carefully planned for perfection.

Jonas is one of the Elevens about to be given his Life Assignment as a new Twelve but when he does, it is a very unexpected responsibility.  There has only been one other to receive this assignment in recent memory and she asked to be released the same day of the assignment and was never seen or heard from again.

Is everything as perfect as planned?  Can perfection exist?