Nina O'Daniels

nodaniels@fz.k12.mo.us

Shannon Grieshaber

grieshaber.reads@gmail.com

Created in 2017

January 30, 2020

I’d like to think I’m pretty down with the young people of today (even though I realize that sentence proves quite the opposite, lol).  I’ve been teaching teens for over 27 years and I’m a mom of a twenty-two and a nineteen-year-old. I try hard to remember what it was like to be young (reading YA helps quite a bit in that department) and I’m good at viewing circumstances through the lens of a teen.  But there’s one thing I just don’t get and I know I’m not alone in this. How is it entertaining to watch other people play video games??? What’s with these kids today watching YouTube for hours on...

June 24, 2019

Sorry for Your Loss is Pup’s coming of age story.  Every bildungsroman features a character that faces challenges, but Pup suffers more challenges than most.  This poor guy is trying to discover himself while being the oops baby in the very large, working middle class, suburban Chicago Flanagan family.  As the youngest of eight siblings (seven years separate him from his next youngest sibling), Pup has always felt loved but under the radar. The entire, huge family (the sibs, the sibs-in-law, the nephews and nieces) have Sunday dinner every single week.  EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. Pup says family vac...

June 23, 2019

Monday’s Not Coming tells the story of Claudia, who comes home from a summer away at Gramma’s house to find that her best friend is nowhere to be found.  Claudia thought it was strange that Monday didn’t write over the summer (as was their tradition) but she figured there must be a good explanation. She’s disappointed to not see Monday as soon as she gets home but Mom convinces her to be patient since she’ll see her tomorrow on the first day of school.  Monday doesn’t show. Claudia questions everyone - teachers, school officials, her parents, classmates; no one knows where Monday is and, even...

April 22, 2019

Although Kat fought off her would-be rapist with her champion Brazilian jiujitsu skills, she is not left undamaged.  She is suffering from PTSD and anger that her accusations left her attacker unpunished. In an effort to help her daughter, Kat’s mom sends her away from California to Boston to live with a an elderly (but awesome) family friend.  Grandma Vee is loving and wonderful and so, so wise. She insists Kat attend a youth group meeting in order to get to know people Kat’s own age. In all her wisdom, Grandma Vee knew Kat would form a connection with Robin, a member of the youth group.  Rob...

February 22, 2019

Bri Jackson’s family is struggling HARD.  Her mom, Jay, is an eight-year recovering drug addict and she just lost her job.  Her older brother, Trey, is a college graduate without a “real” job who has to work at the local pizza joint for money.  Jay can’t apply for food stamps because, apparently, you can’t get food stamps if you’re taking college classes?? (btw, is that really a thing because if it is that is MESSED UP).  The family has to decide which bills to pay, like do we want heat or do we want to eat? This is how talented a writer Angie Thomas is, despite how hard this family is struggl...

January 24, 2019

Courtney “Coop” Cooper is a super-sweet, great-looking basketball player and cheerleader who is secretly (not-so-secretly if you ask his buddies) in love with his best friend in the world, extremely close family friend, and next-door-neighbor, Jupiter Charity Sanchez.  Why secret? If they and their families are so close, why doesn’t Coop just profess his love so they begin their epic love affair? Because Jupiter is a lesbian. She has yet to be in a relationship with anyone or even kissed a girl but she has always known and been confident in her sexual identity.  When Rae Chin moves to town, sh...

October 16, 2018

This excellent retelling of Pride and Prejudice takes place in current day Brooklyn.  Zuri lives in a divided brownstone with her mom and dad, an older sister, Janae (home from college for the summer), and three younger sisters (two of whom are straight up silly).  Zuri’s neighborhood is very close. Block parties, stoop sitting, struggling to make ends meet, and looking out for one another are all a part of their culture. Zuri’s family and the rest of the neighborhood are all in a tizzy over the new neighbors moving in.  The brownstone across the street has been rehabbed into a mini-mansion so...

August 27, 2018

Winnie’s Senior year begins in upheaval.  Her long-time boyfriend and seemingly-fated soulmate (like, for real - her family’s astrologer predicted it) started dating her arch-enemy while she was away at film camp.  Raj!! How could you?? Winnie only said she wanted you two to take a break, not break up! Have you never watched Friends? You are clearly not allowed to date someone else while on a break from your longtime girlfriend.  Duh. Anyway, now that she and Raj are estranged, film club is gonna be hella awkward. They are co-presidents. And Film Club means EVERYTHING to Winnie. Organizing the...

May 1, 2018


This book, very quietly, blew me away. It’s understated like the main character, but packs a huge punch and delivers authentic dialogue within its short chapters. It’s not told in verse but at times held that quality, showcasing the writing of Watson while getting to know Jade. Jade knows she has to work harder than her counterparts at her private school for white, rich kids, about an hour’s bus ride away from her hood in North Portland. She’s not afraid of a little hard work but she’d like some recognition for it once and awhile. She’s tired of being labeled “at risk” and given opportunities...

April 10, 2018

That cover. That hair. That title. ALL THE HYPE! All totally worth it. 

Enough is enough, and she’s not going to take it anymore! That “she” is Zélie, a girl born of dead magic that lives in poverty and fear of the King of Orïsha. Eleven years ago, on his command, the King of Orïsha destroyed her city and killed all those who had Diviner blood. The manifestation of these powers is in the early teen years, and as such, the children were spared since their powers haven’t, and won’t, develop. All Zélie remembers is not just that her mom died that day, but so did magic. Years later, Zélie’s still s...

March 20, 2018

When Ozzie’s longtime boyfriend, Tommy, literally disappears from the world, Ozzie (literally) feels like the universe is shrinking.  As his world gets smaller each day, Ozzie spirals into depression and bounces from therapist to therapist. He still has his best friends but he feels a distance from them ever since the universe started shrinking.  When he begins a new relationship with classmate, Calvin, his mental health issues extend to sexual health issues and Ozzie feels more confused than ever. Even though Ozzie can be completely obnoxious (rude to his parents, impatient with his friends,...

March 12, 2018

I can see why American Street was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2017. It’s a familiar take on the immigration experience in that it shows the American Dream isn’t as easily achievable as it might seem.  What makes it different is Fabiola and her mother’s journey.

Sixteen years ago, when her mother was eight months pregnant with Fabiola, she traveled from Haiti to Detroit to live with her sister until the baby was born.  Fabiola was born an American citizen and then the two of them returned to Haiti. Flash forward sixteen years. Fabiola’s aunt has been s...

February 12, 2018

In 2013, agender teen, Sasha Fleischmann, a senior at a small, private school in Oakland, fell asleep on the 57 bus.  They (Sasha’s preferred pronoun) were wearing a skirt.  Richard Thomas, a sixteen-year-old junior at Oakland High, was goofing around with some friends on the same bus.  Richard saw a dude in a white, gauzy skirt asleep on the bus.  Richard had a lighter in his pocket.  He thought it would be funny to light that skirt on fire.  So he did.  Sasha became engulfed in flames.  They were able to escape the bus, was eventually assisted by a good samaritan, and ended up with third deg...

February 5, 2018

Would you just look at this gorgeous cover?!  A beautiful and fierce girl of color looking flawless and ready to take care of business.  More of this, please, publishers!

Camellia is a Belle in the world of Orleans.  Except for the Belles, the people in this world are Gris - “skin pallid, gray, and shriveled, eyes cherry-red, hair like straw - as if all the color was leached out of them, leaving behind the shade of freshly picked bones and ash” (14).  If they have enough money (spintria), they can pay for one of the Belles to temporarily change their appearance.  See, the bloodline of the...

January 26, 2018

Daaaaaang.  In The Hollow Girl, Bethan executes the most brutal rape revenge I’ve seen since Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  Bethan lives with her Gran in their vardo within a traveling community of other Romani (Gypsies).  

Gran is the much-respected drabarni (wisewoman, witch) in the community.  Bethan is her apprentice.  One of Bethan’s jobs is to sell their herbs and medicinal remedies in the market.  While working at the market, Bethan meets Martyn, a yellow-haired diddicoy (non-Romani) who sells produce from his family’s farm at the spot right next to hers....

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