The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window by Kirsty Moseley

Amber Walker and her older brother, Jake, have an abusive father. One night her brother's best friend, Liam, sees her crying and climbs through her bedroom window to comfort her. That one action sparks a love/hate relationship that spans over the next eight years.

Liam is now a confident, flirty player who has never had a girlfriend before. Amber is still emotionally scarred from the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. Together they make an unlikely pair. Their relationship has always been a rocky one, but what happens when Amber starts to view her brother's best friend a little differently? And how will her brother, who has always been a little overprotective, react when he finds out that the pair are growing closer?


Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I did have some issues with the plot, however. Amber is the classic damaged girl, and Liam has loved her since they were kids. In an attempt to get over her, Liam develops the reputation as a player, until Amber begins to see him in a new light. The story does deal with some heavy issues and my main issues with the plot stem from plot's timing and inconsistencies with characters. Amber and Liam's love story was sickly sweet at time, and this is definitely more YA than New Adult. 

Stop reading now if you don't want plot spoilers....

All of It by Kim Holden

Seventeen-year-old VERONICA SMITH has it all: a loving family, a funky car named Jezebel, and a plan to go to college after graduation. On the first day of senior year, she meets DIMITRI GLENN--a mysterious transfer student with gray eyes and a mischievous smile who seems determined to win her heart.

But there's something odd about Dimitri, leading Veronica to wonder if there's more to him than meets the eye. Before long she finds herself in a whirlwind romance that seems to good to be true--until a series of devastating events leaves her questioning everything. It's not until she chooses to think with her heart instead of her mind that she can rise from the ashes to learn the truth of their connection.


A book is sometimes...just a book. A simple collection of words inked on pages in straight lines, separated by spaces and punctuation, enclosed between two covers. 

A book is sometimes...more than just a book. Sometimes it is a story that entrances the mind and nestles into your heart. All of It is more than just a book.

I was so wrapped up in this story from the very first page, that I actually had to forcefully make myself stop reading one night. I was seriously tempted to say to hell with sleep and ignore that fact that I had to get up early the next morning to go to work. My fellow book nerds will understand this dilemma well.

I don't want to give two much away, because I don't want to spoil the twist in this sigh worthy love story. While reading, I had two working theories, one of which turned out to be true. I got slightly annoyed with Veronica when she broke up with Dimitri because her life got too overwhelming, and had to remind myself that they were high schoolers, but in the end, she redeemed herself and I forgave her for her serious lack of judgement. 

This book has everything you would want in an epic romance - humor, drama, tragedy, hope, and a happy ending. This is the second book by Kim Holden that I have read, and she has become my new favorite author. This one is definitely worth your time.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war.

His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions that he's committed to flying, he's trapped by the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, the bureaucratic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he's sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.


So, this is one of those novels that I feel like everyone read in high school, but I somehow managed to avoid. Not for any particular reason, it just never ended up on any of my reading lists. As an endearing example of the American novel (and parent to the phrase "catch-22"), it always seems to show up on those "must read" book lists. So, when I needed a book with a number in the title for my 2015 reading challenge, I decided to take the opportunity to finally read it.

This was an interesting read for me. From all the reviews that I have read, it seems like a book that people either love, or hate. I'm in between. I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it either. I simply appreciate it for what it is. I appreciate it's ironic and often disturbing sense of humor. I appreciate it's disjointed plot line and how it reflects the chaos of war. I appreciate Yossarian's desire to live and the lengths he took to avoid the war going on around him. I can understand why this book makes those "must read" book lists.

I am glad that I read it, but it is not a book that I will re-read and recommend to others (although I wouldn't not recommend it either). For me, it will simply live on as one more book that I can cross off on those "must read"  lists.

2015 Reading Challenge: A book with a number in the title

When I'm Gone (Rosemary Beach #11) by Abbi Glines

Mase Colt-Manning has always preferred his humble life as a Texas rancher to his birthright as the son of a legendary rock star. In fact, he rarely visits his father’s rarefied world in Rosemary Beach, especially if it means bunking at his vile half-sister Nan’s house—until one visit leads to a chance encounter with a young, gorgeous house maid who awakens him with her off-key but spirited imitation of a country music star…

Reese Ellis finally has her freedom. After escaping a lifetime of abuse from her parents and classmates for an undiagnosed learning disorder, she seizes the opportunity to be a house maid to some of the richest families in Rosemary Beach. But her job is in jeopardy when she causes an accident at the home of her most important client, Nan Dillon. When a hot, half-naked stranger with a cowboy’s swagger comes to her rescue, she’s intrigued—then afraid once he shows his own interest. Reese has never met a trustworthy man in her life. Will Mase be any different?


There is not much to say about this book, except that it is yet another amazing read from the amazing Abbi Glines. Mase is the perfect cowboy/white knight and Reese is the underdog that you can't help but root for. Together they make an adorable couple. Although there is some mention of characters from previous novels, this book can be read as a stand alone (although I would highly recommend reading the entire series...it's amazing...you won't be disappointed...you're welcome in advance). Just be prepared for the cliffhanger, as the sequel is due out in June. This one got a big book hug when I finished it.

Seth & Greyson (The Coincidence #7) by Jessica Sorensen

After being betrayed by someone he thought he loved, Seth leaves for college hoping to get a new start. But leaving his past behind is more complicated than he expected, and underneath his upbeat attitude, Seth struggles with opening up to people.

Then he meets Greyson.

Seth is instantly drawn to Greyson and his sweet and charming personality. But even though he feels a strong connection with Greyson, Seth’s still hesitant to open his heart to love.

With the help of his best friend Callie, Seth realizes he needs to overcome his fear of commitment. But will he be able to finally admit how he truly feels about Greyson?


Seth & Greyson is the last book in the Coincidence series, and I have to admit that I am sad to see this one come to an end. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to get into this one, not because I have anything against same sex couples, but because I didn't know what to expect. This didn't happen at all. Once again, Jessica crafts her characters in such a way that wraps you entirely in their world. Not once while reading, even the more steamy scenes, did it occur to me that I was reading about a same sex couple. Instead, they were simply Seth and Greyson, two wonderful characters falling in love.

You should definitely read the other books in the series before reading this one, as there are glimpses of other characters that would spoil the plot of early books. It was so fun to relive those peeks through Seth's eyes. After I finished it, I had the urge to re-read the whole series from the beginning again. Unfortunately, I have too many books demanding my attention right now, but I definitely see myself doing just that in the near future.

This book was a perfect ending to this series and I am quite pleased with how each couple's happy endings played out.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative--like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it--but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!


I have to admit that I am not really a graphic novel person. I have read a few, and while I don't dislike them per say, it is not a genre that I seek out often. This graphic novel was quite enjoyable, however. It had me laughing out loud, especially the stories about her neurotic dogs that reminded me of my own, and a particularly humorous story involving a rouge duck. There are also some serious stories in there dealing with identity and depression. The illustrations are not high art, but they were an essential part of the stories. I'm not sure that I would have found some of the stories as humorous without the accompanying pictures.

This is an overall enjoyable read, even if you are not a graphic novel fan. Just be careful about reading it in pubic. You will laugh out loud.

2015 Reading Challenge: A graphic novel


Awakening You (Unraveling You #3) by Jessica Sorensen

Lately, life has been going well for Ayden. His relationship with Lyric is starting to heat up and his career in music is taking off. But the disappearance of his sister still weighs heavily on his mind.

Desperate to find out where his sister is, Ayden decides to take drastic measures. But his dangerous risk leads to the unraveling of secrets, and he’s left facing a darker past then he ever could have imagined.


I love this series and the covers of these books are my favorite out of all of Jessica's books. I had hoped that this book would be the end, only because I worry that the plot line might be stretched too thin, but it's not, and it appears that there is one more book to come. If Inspiring You (due out in May) is the final book, then I will be happy with how this series played out. Awakening You is another typical middle book, but rather than move the plot forward, I think it's main purpose was to further develop Ayden as a character.

In many ways, Ayden grows quite a bit in this book - taking steps to move on from the past, changing his self-perspective, allowing himself to grow closer (emotionally/physically) to Lyric, and building the courage to face his past head on. While he is in no way completely "cured," I think his character is set up quite nicely to face whatever awaits him in the next book, which of course, includes the bombshell dropped on us at the end and involves a startling revelation about who held Ayden and his siblings captive. So after reading this book, I am left with only one question: Is it May yet??

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

Ira Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old, in poor health and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash. Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

A few miles away, at a local rodeo, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward -- even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans -- a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.


It's been awhile since I have read an NSparks book, and this one doesn't disappoint. NSparks did a great job of weaving two seemingly different stories together, although I had an easy time figuring out how the two stories would converge and the overall ending. I would have preferred a bit more drama to the story, but other than that, the story had everything that we have come to expect and love about an NSparks novel. In the end, it was a pleasant read and a fine way to spend an afternoon.

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

You just can’t keep a good girl down . . . unless you use the proper methods.

Piper McCloud can fly. Just like that. Easy as pie.

Sure, she hasn’t mastered reverse propulsion and her turns are kind of sloppy, but she’s real good at loop-the-loops.

Problem is, the good folk of Lowland County are afraid of Piper. And her ma’s at her wit’s end. So it seems only fitting that she leave her parents’ farm to attend a top-secret, maximum-security school for kids with exceptional abilities.

School is great at first with a bunch of new friends whose skills range from super-strength to super-genius. (Plus all the homemade apple pie she can eat!) But Piper is special, even among the special. And there are consequences.

Consequences too dire to talk about. Too crazy to consider. And too dangerous to ignore.


This was a very unexpected and enjoyable read. I hadn't paid much attention to the story, not even bothering to read the synopsis on the back cover. I picked it up and started reading it simply because it was the next book on the Battle of the Books list, so I went into it without expectations. How pleasantly surprised I was by this book. It is like Anne of Green Gables meets the X-Men. The main character, Piper, was a sweet (if somewhat stereotypical) country girl, and I liked her innocence and optimism right away. The other characters were fun and there is plenty of action that I think will appeal to young readers. The paperback cover is better than the original hardback cover (see right) and better represents what the story is about. I think the original cover might lead some readers to pass on what is actually a fun read. The sequel is due out in October and I definitely plan to check it out.

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. I'm not the only kid who lives here. There's my sister, Natalie, except she doesn't count. And there are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cook's or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. Plus, there are a ton of murderers, rapists, hit men, con men, stickup men, embezzlers, connivers, burglars, kidnappers and maybe even an innocent man or two, though I doubt it. The convicts we have are the kind other prisons don't want. I never knew prisons could be picky, but I guess they can. You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you're me. I came here because my mother said I had to.


This was an interesting little story and it was clear that the author had spent time researching what life was like on Alcatraz in the 1930's. While I knew of Alcatraz and it's infamous inhabitants, I was not aware that there was a small community on the island consisting of the guards and their families. The only thing that really bothered me was that there seemed to be two competing parallel stories that didn't quite mesh together the way that the author intended. One was the story of Moose and what life was like living on Alcatraz and the other was what it was like to have a child with Autism in the 1930's when "Autism" as we understand it today did not exist (not that we fully understand it today, but we have come a long way since the 30's). 

I often felt like the author was telling two different stories, both of which could have existed without the other. The book could have easily left out the part of Natalie and her Autism and still have been a success and vice versa. Because of this, at times I felt like a spectator at a tennis match, my attention bouncing back and forth between the two, each competing for my attention. They just never really came together for me and gelled into one story, and because of this, I'm not sure that justice was done to each respective story.

Overall, I found it to be an enjoyable story. I think that the author, despite being a female, created a lead male character that many boys can relate to. I found the setting of the story intriguing and the characters and plot fun. There are several sequels and it is definitely a series that I would recommend to my students.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

After inheriting her uncle's homesteading claim in Montana 16 year-old orphan Hattie Brooks travels from Iowa in 1917 to make a home for herself and encounters some unexpected problems related to the war being fought in Europe.


I liked this story. It was clear that the author had done her research, and I think she captured what life was like for a homesteader pretty accurately. I liked Hattie as a character. She was strong, determined, kind, and had a mind of her own, which I appreciated. The theme of home and what it means is strong throughout the story, and is universal enough that I think it will appeal to a wide range of readers. There is a sequel to this book, but I can't say that this book had enough of a lasting impression on me that I will seek it out. Overall, I think this is a well written story that many will enjoy. 

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom; the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged, because she cannot tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she's determined to let everyone know it, somehow.

In this breakthrough story, reminiscent of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, from multiple Coretta Scott King Award-winner Sharon Draper, readers will come to know a brilliant mind and a brave spirit who will change forever how they look at anyone with a disability.


As a special education teacher, I love the idea of a book with a protagonist with special needs, and as I read the book, I couldn't help but get wrapped up in the story. While I was reading it, I loved it, but after I finished and had a moment to think about it, my enthusiasm for the story diminished somewhat.

How is it that a student with cerebral palsy, in the early 2000's (kids mention MySpace and the first iPhone), is still in a self-contained classroom all day and using only words taped to her chair table to communicate? No one considered assistive technology prior to this? Her mother, who is a nurse and a fairly strong advocate for her, didn't research it? Where is her IEP? By law, she should have had an IEP and specially designed instruction provided by a special education teacher. By law, she should have spent at least part of her day interacting with her non-disabled peers. The fact that the Melody's school just piloted an "inclusion" class is alarming. Like they had been completely immune to the inclusion moment that started in the 1950's and hit it's peak in the 1980's. 

If the story hadn't taken place in the 2000's, I might have been able to let it slide, but factually speaking, the school Melody attended would be hard pressed to dispute claims of major violations of IDEA and ADA. It was these little inconsistencies that drove me crazy, and in the end, diminished my opinion of the book as a whole. 

On a side note, I also didn't see the point of the accident involving Penny, Melody's sister, that took place towards the end of the novel. I don't want to give too much away, but it was also something that was inconsistent and unnecessary to the greater picture of the story. It felt like it was thrown in at the last minute to provide a touch of drama to the story line. I saw it as an unnecessary distraction, but I digress...

I thought that Melody was a well developed character, and I found her to be endearing, sassy, and lovable. For all intents and purposes, she was a typical teenager, and I think that many young readers will be able to connect with her, even if her vernacular seem somewhat off for the times. However, some of the other characters where somewhat flat and stereotypical. There were of course the horrible teachers who believe that students with disabilities (SWD) do not posses any level of intelligence and treat them like pets; the students who lack any real understanding of SWD due to lack of expose and education, who make fun of them; the teachers and students who mean well, but still see SWD as "other," and the strong advocates for SWD who go to battle for them every day. The full spectrum of perspectives was present, albeit shallowly.  

What happened to Melody in this book, probably would not have happened in today's world without some serious legal ramifications. Unfortunately, some of the things that Melody endured still do happen today. There are still teachers out there who, through a lack of education, compassion, or willingness to put in extra effort, complain about teaching students who have learning difficulties. Students, disabled and non-disabled, still get made fun of for their differences and are, at times, ostracized by their peers. It was easy to judge, and in many cases, condemn these characters for their thoughts and actions. But reality is so much more complicated. It would be easy to say that perhaps the author kept things simple because of the target audience. But I wonder if in doing so, we do the audience and YA genre a disservice. I think that young people are far more capable of understanding complex issue than we give them credit for.

I read an article recently about how studies show that people who read have a greater capacity for empathy than people who do not read. It argues that through reading, people are able to experience things and perspectives vastly different from their own in an objective way. This in turn, makes it easier for them to put themselves in the shoes of others and see their perspectives objectively. While many of the characters in this novel are simplistic and stereotypical, the fact is that every stereotype has a basis in truth. While there are many problems with the story's plot, I wonder if focusing on them deters from the real purpose of the book. 

I wonder if the real purpose of the book is to see the world through the eyes of someone who faces challenges many of us take for granted. I wonder if children who read this book might develop greater empathy towards those who are different from them because they have the chance to experience what life is like for Melody. I wonder if reading this book might make them think about how they see and judge other people and perhaps change a thing or two. I can almost forgive the short comings of the finer plot points if I look at the story through this lens. While I find fault with the story because of its unrealistic and underdeveloped plot, I cannot find fault with it for using a protagonist like Melody to educate and bring even the smallest amount of understanding into the world. After all, the only thing that can drive out ignorance is education.