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Inside Practically Paradise

Top Teen Titles #90-95

These nominees seems to follow the trend on this part of the list to lean towards the upper range of young adult. I’d say many of the titles in this portion are adult titles that appeal to youth than strictly titles written for young adults that also appeal to adults. But then, that’s just my opinion while reflecting on this portion of the list. Due to the nature of ranking submissions, it doesn’t take as many #1 votes to get a title on this end of the top 100 list. Since these did receive #1 rankings, it shows there is something very appealing about them.

#95 Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills by Charles Henderson. Berkley Publishing Group, 1988. ISBN13: Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills Cover978-0425103555 

Aha! Not a vampire love story. Here we have facts, a hero, biography, and history. Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Norman Hathcock II’s story is told in Marine Sniper by Charles Henderson Berkley. His is a fascinating story with many sources available online including the wikipedia article, the Marine Sniper Scout site, and Marine Corps Sniper Heroes. From GoodReads:

Marine Sniper is not only one of the most astonishing true stories to emerge from the Vietnam War, it has become a classic of military nonfiction, inspiring a sequel, Silent Warrior: The Marine Sniper’s Vietnam Story Continues.

There have been many Marines. There have been many marksmen. But there has only been one Sergeant Carlos Hathcock. A legend in the Marine ranks, Hathcock stalked the Viet Cong behind enemy lines-on their own ground. And each time he emerged from the jungle having done his duty. His record is one of the finest in military history, with 93 confirmed kills.

This is the story of a simple man who endured incredible dangers and hardships for his country and his Corps. These are the missions that have made Carlos Hathcock a legend in the brotherhood of Marines.

The nomination of Marine Sniper surprised me as I had not considered it a young adult title, but as an adult title. I had to stop and consider that teens are children one moment and adults the next. This is a quick read which engenders a strong emotional response in the readers who have left reviews all over the internet. Some people hated it because they cannot tolerate the idea of glorifying killing as heroic. Others saw this as an example of someone who did a necessary evil for his country and then went on to further the sniper program.  No matter your personal opinion, there is a strong market for military titles in Young Adult and Adult literature.

Looking for something for older teens beyond Fallen Angels, Cracker, The Purple Heart, and Sunrise Over Fallujah? Pull out Marine Sniper.

Many Waters Cover#94 Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle. Many WatersMany Waters (Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet)Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986. ISBN13: 978-0374347963. 

Awards: American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults

Recommendations: Booklist; Children’s Book Review Service; Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review; New York Times Book Review; VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates); Washington Post Book World; Wilson Library Bulletin

Part of the Time Trilogy/Quartet/ Quintet/Septology?? books about the Murray family, Many Waters did not get an excellent review from SLJ in 1986, yet you can find unique reviews and comments from children, teens and adults after reading Many Waters all over the internet. It is so unlike the fantastical world of A Wrinkle in Time yet Many Waters impacted me as a teenager when I first found it. 

This story of the middle children – 15 year old twins Dennys and Sandy – intrigued me when I was a teen with its exploration of growing sexual interest and intermingling of science fiction/fantasy with Biblical lore. As a college student I revisited A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and An Acceptable Time to try to put this family in order and to explore the idea that the author might be a "Christian writer". Many Waters stood out then as different.Will others in this series appear on the list? You’ll have to wait and see.

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5)#93 The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. Disney Hyperion Books, 2009. ISBN13: 9781423101475. 400pp

Librarians can be dweebs. I spent an enjoyable half hour swapping quotes from the  Percy Jackson books on Facebook one night. One of the aspects that appealed to adults in this series was the humor. While The Last Olympian wrapped up the series and answered many questions, it seemed to lack some of the unexpected humor of previous titles. My personal favorite remains the Lightning Thief because it draws in new readers each year and hooks my middle school students on Greek mythology. While every middle school student studies Greek and Roman mythology, only those who sample The Lightning Thief become passionate partakers of mythology musing. 

My middle schoolers have an interesting outlook on book releases. They believe if a bookstore stays open til midnight to begin selling a book, I should be able to excuse them from school the next day while they stay home and avidly read the title. When The Last Olympian came out last May 5th, I had notes from students begging for more time to read and less work at school.

The Percy Jackson series has its own website. Logical since the movie has appeared in theaters. Each of my students have raced in to tell me their opinions of the movie. Everyone has an opinion. There is quite a bit of indignation regarding Clarice’s role in the movie (or lack of!) Do you think the Last Olympian is the best book of this series? What’s your opinion?
Here’s one of my favorite YouTube videos by Rick Riordan:

The Journeys of Socrates Cover#92 The Journeys of Socrates by Dan Millman. HarperOne, 2006. ISBN: 9780060833022 Pages: 352; $14.99; Ages: 18 and Up

Check out the author’s page at to read some of the comments from readers. 

There are some interesting Reader’s Guide Questions like these: 
Why do Sergei’s grandparents give him the nickname "Socrates"? Heschel describes Socrates the Greek as being "among the wisest and the best of men." What do you learn about Socrates the Greek by reading The Journeys of Socrates? Is the name a good choice? How does Sergei resemble Socrates the Greek over the course of the novel? What else do you know about the ancient sage? 

Since this is part of the Peaceful Warrior’s Way, it is important to address this question in the RG: 
What is a "peaceful warrior"? Why does Heschel call Socrates the Greek a peaceful warrior? How does a peaceful warrior differ from a warrior? When does Sergei become a peaceful warrior?

Martial arts followers, historical fiction buffs, Russian history fans will particularly enjoy the philosophical interests of The Journeys of Socrates. 

Reviews online: 
Guardian Spirit
Peter’s Soapbox
after he saw the movie Peaceful Warrior
Dusk Before Dawn

#91 The House of Night series by PC Cast and Kristen Cast
Publishers description:
HOUSE OF NIGHT is a thrilling, New York Times bestselling book series that follows 16-year-old Zoey Redbird as she is “Marked” by a vampyre tracker and begins to undergo the “Change” into an actual vampyre. She has to leave her family in Broken Arrow, OK, and move into the House of Night, a boarding school for other fledgling vampyres like her.

It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. Although Zoey has awesome new powers, it’s hard to fit in when everyone knows you’re “special.” As Zoey tries to make new friends and maybe find a hot boyfriend (or two), she comes up against all kinds of evil, from the perfect-looking, super-popular girl with not-so-faultless plans, to the mysterious deaths happening at the House of Night and all over Tulsa. Things at the House of Night are not always what they seem. Can Zoey find the courage deep within herself to find the truth and embrace her destiny? 

The appeal of vampire books is not limited to Twilight. There are many readers avidly seeking teen titles with supernatural or paranormal activity. The House of Night series appeals to my 8th graders and older teens along with the series Vampire Academy and Blue Bloods. Each release of a new title in the series brings enthusiastic girls to the library to show their copies. I admit that I can’t wait either. 

Issues of bullying, cliques, conspiracies, teenage jealousies, sexual exploration, and leadership are explored in this collaborative effort by mother Phyllis Cast (P.C. Cast) and daughter Kristin Cast. This interview in the Wall Street Journal shows why both are needed to create this series. 

According to the article: "There are 4.3 million copies of the first four "House of Night" books in print, and 650,000 copies of "Hunted," which went on sale March 10. St. Martin’s Press has signed the Casts for 12 books in the series, and Empire Pictures has optioned the screen rights."

Some parents have read these titles and questioned their inclusion in our middle school (come on, a blow job scene?!), but they understand that we have many other titles to place in their sixth graders hands instead of Marked. When parents questioned Marked, I was able to discuss reader’s guidance with them. We had wonderful conversations about maturity levels and exposure to more mature themes. They understand that I guide younger students to other titles first and went away pleased that their children had options. The parents realized that I wasn’t going to police their children, but they were able to have the conversation with their child to express their concerns. 

Debbie Reese has blogged about her problems with the series co-opting Cherokee and mixed native myths. None of this has slowed the enthusiasm the series enjoys from our vampire series lovers. [Burneduk.jpg](Debbie’s blog includes four posts about House of Night)

[Burned_FinalCvr.jpg]Titles in the series include:

Marked, 2007
Betrayed, 2007
Chosen, 2008
Untamed, 2008
Hunted, 2009
Tempted, 2009
Burned release date is April 27, 2010

The US cover is on the left, the UK cover on the right. 
Check out P.C. Cast’s blog for updates.

#90 The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star by Nikki Sixx. Pocket Books, 2007. ISBN13: 9780743486286. 432 pp
Nikki Sixx - The Heroin Diaries: A Year In The Life Of A Shattered Rock Star
A biography makes it in at #90. The Heroin Diaries comes from the actual diary of Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx during on year of his addiction to heroine and cocaine. He has come far from being clinically dead to testifying on the hill in 2007 for National Alcohol And Drug Recovery Month.  

BlogCritics review
Chad Bowar’s Review
GoodReads’ compilation

Recently while perusing the shelves at the local bookstore, I was struck by the large number of memoirs of Rock ‘n Roll band members.

Readers, I want to apologize. I had to have a pouting pity party because I had written a large number of blog posts that suddenly disappeared. I was so upset at having to re-write, that I just stayed away for a week to regather myself. Look forward to a mass of writing coming this week and I slap myself in the head and say (via Cher) "Snap out of it!"


  1. Debbie Reese says:

    Hi Diane,

    You have talked with parents about the sexual content of the HOUSE OF NIGHT. You note that my critiques of the misrepresentation of Cherokee spirituality don’t faze readers. How are they finding out about my critiques? And, what about the plagiarism?

  2. Thanks for asking Debbie. I meant to put the links back in to your blogs. They were in my first drafts that disappeared. I’ll go add them back in. My students, teachers, and some parents read your blog also. The students asked why no one but you were talking about some of these issues. I assure them you are not alone.

  3. Debbie Reese says:

    So, did they seem to want to dismiss my critiques because I’m the only one making them?

  4. Debbie, the students take any critiques seriously whether one or a hundred people are making them. This doesn’t stop the girls from enjoying the books. One of their biggest criticisms is that the main character is a “slut” who is involved with too many men.