Top Ten(ish) Books and Tips for Surviving Icemageddon 2013 by Audrey Wilson-Youngblood

This past week,Texas experienced a “major weather event” according to meteorologists and network morning news stations.  As a reader, this translated to me as a “major reading event.”

I can only imagine what we must look like here in Texas to those who live, work, and play in true winter weather many months of the year, but here’s the thing, folks:  more often than not it ain’t snow falling from those white fluffy clouds—it’s pure ice that transforms any surface into a skating rink.  And no, we don’t have chains for our tires—we don’t even have the heavy equipment to take care of major freeways unless they shut the entire grid down to systematically rake the slabs of ice off with a handful of plows.  Consequently, when the highways shut down, so do the shipments of food and supplies to our grocery stores and schools.  Many rural districts didn’t open back up for business for a full week due to not having received their shipments to provide lunches for students and still treacherous parking lots and roads.

As soon as the forecast started looking icy and my school’s “snowflake” phone tree was circulated one final time, I began rifling through my Goodreads “to-read” shelf and the returned books cart in my high school library.  When it came to prepping for an untold number of days trapped in my home as layers of ice accumulated up to 8 inches thick, my survival instinct didn’t send me scurrying to Walmart for 8 gallons of milk; it sent me to the stacks to fill my grocery tote with nourishment for my reading mind and soul.  Perhaps I should have done a better job stocking up as by day 3 the shelves at our local Walmart were empty of all major staples.


Who needs bread when you’ve got books?! Books curbed all manner of boredom and cabin fever for me.  I managed to read five from my TBR pile:

The Elite by Kiera Cass

I am a sucker for beautiful ball gown book covers.  Slap a flowing silk or taffeta, jeweled-tone dress on a girl and call it whatever you want, I will read that book!  In the sequel to The Selection, America finds herself as part of the remaining 6 “Elite” contenders for Prince Maxon’s hand in marriage.  With conflicting motives and emotions of her own, America struggles to grapple with the choice that has been placed in her hands…does she stay and fight for the prince and love but with the price of wearing a crown or does she let him go and be free to make her own decisions.  Deep down she wonders, with all the turmoil in the nation, could she be the one to bring much needed change?

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

FINALLY I was able to bring this extraordinary story home, and I don’t think it would have been the same if I wasn’t able to hunker down and devour it in one sitting. Lina sticks with me much the same way that Julie and Maddie from Code Name Verity have done.  These beautiful young girls in harrowing conditions, relying on friendship and drawing immense sources of courage to not only survive, but thrive, will forever be part of me.  The author’s note captured the spirit of the book for me, “Some wars are about bombing.  For the people of the Baltics, this war was about believing…They chose hope over hate and showed the world that even through the darkest night, there is light.”

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Anderson’s re-telling of Peter Pan through the eyes of Tinker Bell reveal a Tiger Lily who’s compassion, strength, courage, and heartbreak rise up off the pages and imprint a longing on your own heart–a longing for love, youth, knowledge, and justice.


The Darkest Path by Jeff Hirsch

My teen boys are huge fans of Hirsch’s The Eleventh Plague, so when I saw that he produced another science fiction thriller, I was eager to start placing it in the hands of as many readers as I could.  I happened to catch it falling through the book drop as I scavenged the library for books.  I was reminded a lot of Patrick Ness’s Knife of Never Letting Go and the bond between Todd and his faithful Manchee (sniff, sniff) as I was immersed in Hirsch’s hero’s own odyssey.  Callum has such a simple but driving desire—to go home—that it compels the action and conflicts that arise in a way that is relatable and honest, especially for a sci-fi novel.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi 

Veronica Rossi’s dystopian series never really makes its way back to its spot on the shelf.  As soon as I see it on the to-be-shelved cart, I take it out to the floor and find its next reader.  I enjoyed Aria’s duality and evolution in the first installment of the series and am looking forward to see how she problem-solves and overcomes the challenges set before her.


I asked my friends and colleagues to share their reading adventures during Icemageddon 2013, knowing that many of them were compelled with the same survival instinct as I was.  (I’m so lucky to have so many nerdy friends!)  Here are some of their tips and picks for surviving the five-day ice-out.


Our World’s Story by Eric Burnett

It is a “user friendly” world history book that covers from the time humans become a primary player to present.  It is a fabulous book because it is a very easy historical read.  It skims the surface of world history, much like I have to do in AP.  As the books says, “it’s the tales, traditions and turning points of world history and the regional challenges of today.”

~Drew Klaus, World History AP

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

I LOVED The Falconer (to be released May 6th, 2014).  In 1844, Scottish Lady Aileana  is  caught between her life in high society and the fairies she hunts every night.  I enjoyed reading a book with such a strong female heroine – also an inventor – who isn’t waiting for a man to rescue her!  Even though The Falconer hasn’t been published yet, I am already eagerly anticipating the next book in this steampunk series. ~Jennifer Morgan, French AP

Crazy Jack by Donna Jo Napoli

Tip- Always have a stack of books available. I stopped at the library and got 5 out in preparation, plus I have a bag of them always at my disposal. Also, I’ve enjoyed polling friends to find out their favorites and added them to my goodreads to-read list. My favorites this time around? I got a couple by Donna Jo Napoli,  Crazy Jack and The Great God Pan. I love Fairy Tale retellings ~Joy Holt Blackwell, English

Far from the Tree by Andre Solomon

Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andre Solomon. It is about parents coming to accept their children as they are (Down syndrome, deaf, or dwarfs…). It is very informational as far as medicine, social aspects, politics, and the law, and it is also great inspirational. ~Nino Martin, Spanish

The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin

I had time to finish Goodwin’s Bully Pulpit-wow! non-fiction. Tomorrow-Grisham’s new book and the last of the research papers. ~Carol Hopson, English

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

I just finished Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath. He’s my author crush, no matter how crazy his hair. ~Jennifer Isgitt, English

What books kept you busy and sustained your reading heart and mind during the winter weather?

Audrey Wilson-Youngblood ( is the Library Media/ Technology Specialist at Fossil Ridge High School in Keller, TX.  In addition to matching teen and adult readers with books they love, she’s able to sing all of the Pete the Cat songs by heart and has collected just about every picture book with “diggers” in them for her nearly-three-year old “nerdy” son, Will.