Austin Adventures



We made it to Austin for the Austin Teen Book Festival! We’re having a blast taking on this weird town. On the way here, we tried some vintage soda, discovered an abandoned space ship, and managed to not get lost (with the help of our handy atlas).

Once we arrived in Austin, we headed to South Congress street to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere, and we also had our first food truck experience! Then we debated between being old ladies and coming back to our hotel to work (there are blog posts to be written! interview questions to brainstorm! plots for our future books to be discussed!) and going to BookPeople.

BookPeople won.

We were super giddy as we walked in the door (see here), and the lady at the front was astounded that we drove all the way from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Austin just for the festival. She was so impressed (and thought we were pretty–we may or may not have heard this when eavesdropping on her conversation with her coworker) that she took our photo and posted it on the BookPeople Instagram! So basically we’re celebrities.

Gonna be at ATBF? Come find us. We have Girls in Plaid Skirts bookmarks. We’ll even autograph them for you.


Waiting on Wednesday : Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

“Waiting on” Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer
by Katie Alender

Murder. Mystery. Paris. France boys.
*sigh* a few of my favorite subjects, all in one book!!

Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.(less)

(Thanks to Goodreads for the summary!)



Hello world,

It seems there is this interesting bookish gathering commonly referred to as ATBF (Austin Teen Book Festival, for those not in the know–or in Texas) coming up in a few days. In regards to this gathering, The Girls in Plaid Skirts would like to announce an exciting opportunity we have been given.

Are you ready for this?

Are you SURE you are ready for this?


She is author of Cinder and Scarlet, and if you have not read them-you should! (Take it from somone who just finished Cinder 10 minutes ago! –Rach)

Isn’t that cool?! We meet her last year at ATBF12 and were very happy she was returning. We are even happier she that she agreed to an interview! So, PLEASE stay tuned for more news on the interview and to see how it goes!

Thank you, you may now go back to your lives.

-Liz (aka Rachel) coming to you live from The Girls in Plaid Skirts!


Educational Review: Sounder


Author: William H. Armstrong

Recommending Source:  Newberry Medal 

Interest Level:  Upper Elementary (3-5th)

Format/ Artwork:  James Barkley, illustrator.  Black and White pictures that are watercolor or sketches.  Chapter  book.

Summary: This is the tale of a loyal coon dog, an African American boy, and his father who is a sharecropper. It is during the great depression and told from the son’s point of view. The father is thrown is jail after stealing food for his starving family. Sounder, the coon dog, chases after his master and gets badly wounded by the people arresting him. The dog goes missing and the boy goes and looks for him. His mother goes to work trying to make some money and the boy is left to watch his siblings. He visits his father in jail and is told not to return. The family hears the father is sentenced to hard labor, and the boy travels around searching for him in the winter. One time the guard wounds the boy. As the boy is returning home he finds a trashed book and he stops to wash his hands at a school. The teacher hears his story and offers to let the boy live with him in the winter and go to school. Years later the father returns, badly wounded. The dog and father go for a hunt. The boy sets off to find them and finds his father dead under a tree. Sounder dies a few days later.

Evaluation: This book made me cry. It was good book to read to learn about some of the hardships of a Great Depression family.

Curriculum Uses:

1.  Language Arts: Write a paragraph predicting how the boys life will be different in 20 years and how it will be different from his fathers. Will his ability to read affect this?

2. Language Arts/Discussion: The mother references the Biblical story of Joseph several times. How is this story similar to Sounder? Why may the mother and son like this story so much? Make a venn diagram comparing the two stories.

3.  Art/Math: Draw a time line and mark important parts of the story with illustrations. How much time passes when the father is gone?

4.  History: Study sharecroppers – How was it different from slavery. How much did they get paid and how long did they work? What were their living conditions?

5.  Math: The mother shells nuts each night. How many does she shell a night? How many pounds for the whole week? How much could she sell them for? What could she buy for that price?

Related books:  Old Yeller, Fred Gipson (A boy and his loyal hunting dog); Shilo, Frank Asch (A young boy falls in love with an abused dog and sets out to rescue him); Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls (A boy and his two hunting dogs).

-Liz (aka Rachel)


United We Spy Release Day!


We are ridiculously excited because today is the release day for the final Gallagher Girls book, United We Spy! We’re sad to say goodbye to our favorite characters, but we’re excited that the gang is finally graduating.

When Love You Kill You came out and we first bonded over the series, we never thought we’d be even closer and even more obsessed at 22. But here we are. We’ve dressed up as Gallagher Girls, met Ally Carter, and started a blog. If that’s not awesome enough, we’ve also been given the opportunity to volunteer at the Austin Teen Book Festival next weekend and interview a really awesome author that we met last year.  And all because we read a book about teenage spies when we were 16.

It’s been an incredible 6 years, and the end of the series makes us feel like we’re really growing up. Because college and real-world jobs and marriage apparently don’t make us feel like grown ups yet. Yeah, we’re still working on that whole being-an-adult thing. Even when we do finally reach that point and retire our plaid schoolgirl skirts, we will still forever be Gallagher Girls.

Review: Scarlet

Marissa Meyer

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Age: Young Adult

When Scarlet’s grandmother disappears, she sets out to find out what happened to her. The only person who seems to have any idea about her grandmother’s whereabouts is the new stranger in town who calls himself Wolf. As the two search for Scarlet’s grandmother, they find themselves crossing paths with Cinder, a cyborg and escaped criminal, and they must work together to stop an attack issued by the Lunar queen Levana.

The second book in the Lunar Chronicles does not disappoint. It picks up right where Cinder left off and introduces us to Scarlet, Meyer’s idea of Little Red Riding Hood. When I first read Cinder I thought it would be really weird to include other characters and really thought it would take away from the original story. It didn’t.

I love all the new characters introduced in this book: Scarlet, Wolf, and also Captain Thorne. The book switches between the stories of Cinder and Scarlet every few chapters, and it’s awesome to see how the stories and characters are connected. I loved guessing throughout the book about what would happen next and if this small piece of information is somehow connected to this big piece of information and so forth. There are lots of things happening that will keep you on your toes.

A 5 out of 5 stars for sure, and I’m anxiously waiting for Cress!

UPDATE: Check out some of our other Lunar Chronicles posts:

Review of Cinder (book 1)
Review of Cress (book 3)
Interview with Marissa Meyer Part 1 and Part 2
Looks From Books character-inspired and galaxy-inspired
Dream Cast

Educational Review: A Wrinkle In Time


Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Recommending Source:  Newberry Medal

Interest Level:  Upper Elementary (5th)

Format/ Artwork: Chapter book.

Summary: This is a mystery and time travel novel wrapped up together. Meg Murry is a smart girl who struggles in school and does not fit in. Her father is missing and her little brother, Charles Wallace is a genius. She meets Calvin, who turns out to be somewhat ‘special’ like Charles Wallace. The three of them meet Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. The “Mrs. Ws” take the children time traveling by tessering to their father. They are shown a dark shadow that is threatening the universe. They land on the planet Uriel and discuss fighting “The Black Thing.” The children go to Camazotz, to find out more and find Mr. Murry. They realize IT is responsible, and Charles Wallace gets affected and left behind. The Calvin, Meg, and Dr. Murry escape. However, Meg must go back and use her gifts to rescue Charles. Once he is rescued, the group is tessered back home and the Murry family is reunited.

Evaluation: I had seen the movie and thought it was weird, yet intriguing. Reading the book left me with the same feelings. I really found myself falling in love with the characters and wanting to see what happened next.  Charles Wallace is probably my favorite character, yet I feel that Meg has an important lesson to teach. I like how she was an everyday girl and proved how everyday people can serve an important purpose.

Curriculum Uses:

1.  Language Arts/Art : Mrs. Who uses quotes from famous people to express her feelings. Choose an inspiring quote, paint it on a canvas where is looks appealing, and write why you choose it on the back.

2.  Language Arts: This book has themes of “good versus evil” or “love versus hate”. What other pieces of literature have this theme? (Harry Potter series, Narnia series).

3. Science: Study the space. Look at the stars, black holes, nebulas and how these are represented in the story. Make a 3D model of the solar system.

4.  Art: Create a model using fabric and craft supplies to show how a “tesser” looks in your mind.

5.  History: The characters list a long list of famous people who fought the “dark thing”. Study a few of these people by making a graphic organizer. Who were they and how did they make a world a better place? How would you add to the list? Why does that person deserve to be on the list?

6.  Math: Mrs. Whatsit says there is 5th dimension. What is the 4D? Study shapes and the different forms. Explain and demonstrate the differences between 1D, 2D, and 3D.

Related websites:  (teacher resources site) ( Space fore kids, music and games) (Famous people from the enlightenment age) (Information about Albert Einstein and his theories for kids.)

~Liz (aka Rachel)

Review: False Memory


10194494Author: Dan Krokos

Age: Young Adult

Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure

Miranda North wakes up in the middle of the city and knows only one thing: her name. In panic and confusion, she discovers that she has deadly powers that she doesn’t know how to control. However, Peter seems to know who she is and what her powers do, and now she must trust this stranger to keep her safe. Miranda finds herself fighting with people she doesn’t remember to protect the world from herself.

After finishing this book, I kicked myself for not reading it sooner. Also, Rachel, I’m sorry I’ve had your (signed) copy of False Memory for a year and just now actually read it. My bad.

I love a story that has twists that drop my jaw. False Memory totally meets this expectation several times over. Just as I thought I knew what was going down, I would be surprised. That is how a good book is done.

One of my favorite things about this book is the relationships between the characters. Sure, there’s some romance involved (along with romance drama, naturally), but I loved the brother/sister relationships between the main characters.  The familiarity between them seemed so natural.

I also loved all the discoveries made about the bad guys throughout the book. There was so much more to them than I (and Miranda) originally thought, and I’m sure there’s even more to come in the second book.

Hoping my library gets False Sight soon!

Read Julianne’s review of False Memory here.



Lord of The Rings Trilogy: Synopsis and Analysis


Title: Lord of The Rings Trilogy

Author: J. R. R. Tolkien

Age: Middle School and Up (For advanced readers)

I wish my series that I read looks like the books above, but I had a Kindle gift card and that’s how I read Lord of The Rings (LOTR). I’m not a LOTR hipster. I honestly didn’t even watch the films until I got in college. The only reason I watched them was because of these two:


Caroline was always talking about the movies and how I would love them. One evening at their house, Garrett put the first movie on. I loved it… I went home and rented the rest. It wasn’t to long until I saw Caroline hauling the book around in her purse. I’m the Tolkien/Lewis loving fan that I am because of her. She told me about the books and the Inklings writing club. I thought it all was so cool! Thanks for the wonderful adventure Cline. On the brink of the movie release of The Hobbit, I decided to read The Hobbit over Christmas break. Thanks to a Library Science course the following semester, the only reading that was accomplished after that break,was children’s literature (I’ll be sharing some of that as well – later though). That did include Narnia, Harry Potter, Rats of Nimh, and other popular reads. Finally, this summer I made my way through LOTR. I had begun the first one during the school semester and during vacation I finished the second and began the third. Talk about action, adventure, and excitement – LOTR has it all. I understand that thesis long paper could be written on the ends and outs of each of the books, but to keep it simple I’m looking at them as a whole trilogy here. They are very, very deep books, so please understand this post will not do them justice.


While I could go back further, I’m going to start with a hobbit. During the adventures of The Hobbit, Bilbo found an enchanted evil ring and bequeathed it to Frodo (with encouragement from Gandalf). The ring once belonged to the evil Lord Sauron ( he is the Lord of the Ring referred to in the title), and he wants the ring back. Lord Sauron is rising up an army to take over Middle Earth and sends out the Black Riders to find the ring. Frodo, followed by hobbit buddies Sam, Pippin, and Merry, are sent by Gandalf to Rivendell to be safe from the riders and figure out what to do with the ring. There the Fellowship is formed, and the epic journey and battles ensues.



Okay…as said earlier, these books are very deep and sent my mind spinning sometimes. When you read these books, its important to know something about the author. He was a devoted Catholic and was against the industrialization that he saw taking place across his country. So this book could be viewed as a pastoral writing and/or a christian allegory of sorts. Now, in my reading on the Inklings, I have read that Tolkien didn’t want his books be to as allegorical about Christianity as Lewis’ writing… not everything has a direct parallel. Just the overall sense of good vs evil. However, there are some biggies that hard to not miss. Gandalf dies and comes back to life in the books, which is a huge hint he represents Jesus in my opinion. Now, I’m oneness and I have to remember that Tolkien was Catholic, and therefore more likely to be Trinitarian. So, If Gandalf is “Jesus”, who is “God”? Wikipedia has the answer, and has to do with the history of middle earth and such. Like I said, the books are very deep. I could be all wrong about this stuff, I’m new to Tolkien’s world. Garrett would probably say I’m thinking to hard about it. What fascinates me about these books, is how developed their world is. Tolkien created another universe in a book. He made it have its own maps, cosmology, language, history, culture – it is all very well done. Back to analogies, I keep wondering about the elves, are they just a chosen race (like the Hebrews from the Bible), or do they equate to Angels some how? I like how books like these are able to point out the faults of man kind and our nature, with out it being directly about us or to harsh. We realize our greed for power and other human faults when we have a chance to read a book like this. That is the under lining point of the battle of the ring. Greed. The ring is temptation. Men want power and the temptation of the ring is sometime to much. Sam came over that temptation because of his love and loyalty for Frodo, and he was a hobbit. He wasn’t greedy and didn’t want power. He wanted to be back to the Shire and marry Rosie. That is something to remember – keeping our priorities straight and love can help us overcome temptations and greed.

If you have anything to add or insights, please share them!

~Liz (aka Rachel)