Friday, December 21, 2012

Review: This is Not a Test

Author: Courtney Summers
Publish date: June 2012
Source: Classroom library
"It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually wantto live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?" (Goodreads)

Well, I have discovered a new favorite author! I've been meaning to read a book by Courtney Summers for a long time and this was the first of hers that we got at school, so I borrowed it and absolutely LOVED it. I cannot praise this book highly enough!

One of the things I loved most about This is Not a Test is that even though there are zombies in it, it's not a zombie book. In fact, I don't think they were even called zombies--just the infected. This book was much more about Sloane and her choices. At the beginning of the book, she has decided to kill herself, but after people became infected, she had to make a choice: give up or fight to stay alive. I really love that the book was more about that and the group dynamics at school than the zombies themselves.

I also really loved Courtney Summers's writing style. At some points it was like a punch to the gut: so real. I'm around teenagers a lot and was one not too long ago and I think her dialogue was spot on (not that I've been in a zombie apocalypse though). Her words were just full of fear and angst with a dose of hopelessness. I basically was just completely captivated and didn't want to stop reading.

I've book talked this one and it's been borrowed already! I hope my students love it as much as I did. What Summers book should I read next?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is:

Top Ten Books of 2012

My plan is to fill out Jamie's end of the year survey, but to basically wait until the last minute so I can get in more reading! Thirteen days left in 2012 and most of them are no work days! My plan is book a day, but we'll see how that goes :)

Anyway, here are my top ten books of 2012, NOT in order, AS OF DECEMBER 18.

1. A Million Suns by Beth Revis

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

3. The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell

4. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

5. Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

6. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

8. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson

9. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

10. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Books I still want to read before 2013: Seraphina, The Diviners, Reached, Water for Elephants, something by Robin McKinley, The Sea of Tranquility, The Language of Flowers, Mudbound, The Compound, Beautiful Creatures...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Author: Mary Pearson
Publish date: 2008
Source: Classroom library
"Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has just awoken from a year-long coma - so she's been told - and she is still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. But what happened before that? She's been given home movies chronicling her entire life, which spark memories to surface. But are the memories really hers? And why won't anyone in her family talk about the accident? Jenna is becoming more curious. But she is also afraid of what she might find out if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions.

What happened to Jenna Fox? And who is she really?
" (Goodreads)

Well, here I am again, reading a book I'd never heard of until we got it at work for our classroom libraries. What a rough job, adding more books to my TBR and reading them as soon as I can! Anyway, after I read this book, I was looking up the series on Goodreads and saw the second book is called The Fox Inheritance, which I have actually heard of. After finishing The Adoration of Jenna Fox, I can't wait to read the rest of the series!

Based on summary of the book (above and on the back of the paperback), I had no idea that the story takes place in the future when medicine is more advanced. I was expecting more of a contemporary read about a girl recovering from amnesia, but was pleasantly surprised at the story. I really enjoyed the story and can't believe the book isn't more popular...but maybe I am just 3 years late to the party?

Sometimes in "person can't remember past books," it's annoying to learn things along with the main character, but I didn't mind at all only knowing what Jenna knew. In Jennifer Echols's Forget You, for example, you learn things along with Zoey, but I was so annoyed with her by the end! I wasn't annoyed with Jenna and was even scared for her at some points.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox also made me think a lot about medical ethics and family secrets and the implications of both. Basically the book made me think and I enjoyed it, which is win win! It's easily one of my favorites of 2012 and I can't wait to recommend it to my students!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Song of the Sparrow

Author: Lisa Ann Sandell
Publish date: 2007
Source: Classroom library
"The year is 490 AD. Fiery 16-year-old Elaine of Ascolat, the daughter of one of King Arthur's supporters, lives with her father on Arthur's base camp, the sole girl in a militaristic world of men. Elaine's only girl companion is the mysterious Morgan, Arthur's older sister, but Elaine cannot tell Morgan her deepest secret: She is in love with Lancelot, Arthur's second-in-command. However, when yet another girl -- the lovely Gwynivere-- joins their world, Elaine is confronted with startling emotions of jealousy and rivalry. But can her love for Lancelot survive the birth of an empire?" (Goodreads)

I'll be honest here: I had never heard of this book until I was unpacking it and putting on my bookshelves in my classroom. I looked it up on Goodreads and found that I'd actually marked another of Sandell's books for my TBR list, A Map of the Known World. Being a fan of verse novels AND historical fiction, I figured I'd give this one a try.

Basically this is a retelling of the story of Elaine, the Lady of Shalott, but told in verse. I don't really know much about the legend of King Arthur, really, other than what I've seen in a couple movies. I've been meaning to read The Mists of Avalon, but we all know how that goes, so I was pleased to grab this book from my class. It was an interesting story, especially the fact that Elaine was one of the few women living with her father, brothers, and other men at the camp.

Most of the time I liked the writing style, which was verse. It made the book seem much shorter, like Ellen Hopkins's novels, although sometimes I thought the line breaks were odd. I prefer Ellen's books with the shorter poems/stanzas. Song of the Sparrow had full chapters and some of the parts just seemed to go on and on.

I would tentatively recommend Song of the Sparrow if you like both historical fiction and verse novels. I enjoyed the opportunity to try another round at poetry and learn a bit more about the Arthurian legend.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: New Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is:

Top Ten New to Me Authors in 2012 (NOT in order)

1. E. Lockhart (Ruby Oliver series)

2. Beth Revis (Across the Universe series)

3. Marissa Meyer (Cinder)

4. Shannon Hale (Princess Academy, The Goose Girl, Austenland)

5. Ellen Hopkins (Crank, Glass, Burned)

6. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)

7. Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy)

8. Jessica Spotswood (Born Wicked)

9. Patrick Ness (The Knife of Never Letting Go and A Monster Calls)

10. Cynthia Hand (Unearthly, Hallowed)

It was so hard to narrow it down to 10 authors! Honorable mentions include Donna Cooner, Neal Shusterman, and Trish Doller.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars

Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publish date: June 2012
Source: Library
"It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's persuasion, "For Darkness Shows the Stars" is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.
" (Goodreads)

I feel that For Darkness Shows the Stars has been all over the internet in the last few months and the general consensus is that it's an amazing book. Well, I have to admit: it seems like a Kyle book. Futuristic, love story, secrets....however, I did not love it. I am honestly still trying to figure out if I like it.

First of all, I have not read Persuasion, but I don't think that's necessary to read For Darkness Shows the Stars. I understood the basic plot of the story, but I don't think Diana Peterfreund explained the world enough. I wanted to know more about what actually happened to cause the Reduction and more about the Luddites rather than just the little snippets we got. I'm curious, dang it! Tell me more!

I did like the characters, especially Elliot. She was such a good person, always advocating for the Reduced servants at the estate and trying to do what was best for everyone. I liked most of the other characters as well except for Kai. I don't understand why Elliot loved him. I know he was supposed to seem cold and angry, but he never changed from that for me.

The letters throughout the novel were just meh. I found myself skimming them except for the end as they became closer to the current time of the book. I guess honestly...I was just bored most of the time except for maybe the last 30 pages. I felt like nothing really happened. I probably would have DNFed except I'd read such glowing reviews that I figured I'd just keep reading and wait for the amazing part. Alas, this book and I were just not meant to be.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

November in Review

November is over! Meaning it is almost 2013! Whoa! I swear this year has flown by, especially since September and the beginning of the school year. November wasn't bad in terms of how much I read, since I actually reviewed 8 books. It helped that we had a few days off school for Thanksgiving, allowing me more reading (and family!) time. I am really looking forward to winter break--my goal is to read a book a day. Cannot. Wait.

November Reviews
The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Lark by Tracey Porter
Gilt by Katherine Longshore
Life as We Knew it by Susan Beth Pfeiffer
Skinny by Donna Cooner
Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
Cut by Patricia McCormick

I also did two Top Ten Tuesdays: Books/Authors I'm thankful for and Most Anticipated 2013 Reads. I am looking forward to so many books next year!!

I read a couple books this month that I didn't review: The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and Book Love by Penny Kittle. Both are about teaching reading and incorporating choice reading into the ELA classroom. I absolutely love Penny Kittle. She is an amazing English teacher and I highly recommend both of her books that I have read and refer to regularly: Write Beside Them and Book Love.

The blog will be quiet this week, as it's the last week of our trimester at school and I have a big group project due for my grad class. I'm about halfway through For Darkness Shows the Stars, so I might review it this week depending on when I finish it. I'm also listening to Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margie Stohl and it is taking FOREVER! I've been listening to it for weeks when I drive and I'm not even halfway through yet. I hope it's worth the time!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: Cut

Author: Patricia McCormick
Publish date: 2000
Source: Classroom Library
"A tingle arced across my scalp. The floor tipped up at me and my body spiraled away. Then I was on the ceiling looking down, waiting to see what would happen next.

Callie cuts herself. Never too deep, never enough to die. But enough to feel the pain. Enough to feel the scream inside.

Now she's at Sea Pines, a "residential treatment facility" filled with girls struggling with problems of their own. Callie doesn't want to have anything to do with them. She doesn't want to have anything to do with anyone. She won't even speak.

But Callie can only stay silent for so long....
" (Goodreads)

We ordered Cut for our classroom libraries and I was intrigued by two things right away: the cover and the length. After reading the back, I knew I wanted to read it, especially being a big fan of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I did enjoy the book, but didn't love it.

I actually enjoy reading books about topics that I can't relate to because they help me to try to understand why someone might do something like Callie did: cut herself. I try to read about a wide variety of topics so I can recommend books to students and more importantly, so I can relate to them and be a better teacher because of that. I definitely know more now and hope that other teachers read books like this and Speak. Cut was sad, but ultimately hopeful. I like that Patricia McCormick actually spoke to girls like Callie at treatment facilities to ask their opinion on her portrayal of Callie and the other characters. The author's note at the end in which she detailed that was pretty interesting.

Like I said, I liked the book, but I wish it was longer. 150 pages is not a lot of time to get to know a character, especially one like Callie, and I want to know more about her. It was nice to read a quick book, but I wasn't satisfied at the end. I will still recommend Cut to my students, especially for those who liked Speak.

We have purchased other books by McCormick and I'm looking forward to reading more by her, particularly Sold, which is a verse novel. Any other recommendations?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated 2013 Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is:

Top Ten Most Anticipated Reads of 2013

So many great books coming out in 2013! I'll try to contain the list to ten. 

1. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis: I am dying to read this one! I absolutely love this series and Beth!!

2. Requiem by Lauren Oliver: Must know what happens!

3. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare: I surprisingly loved Angel and Prince--so good!

4. Boundless by Cynthia Hand: Never though I'd like angel books, but I completely fell for Unearthly and Hallowed!

5. Unravel Me by Taherah Mafi: Yes please.

6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer: I flat out loved Cinder and am so excited for Scarlet!!

7. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: Yesssss, more Stephanie Perkins!

8. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen: Who doesn't love a good Sarah Dessen?

9. The Archived by Victoria Schwab: I didn't love The Near Witch, but The Archived sounds really cool.

10. The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson: MJ. That's all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature

Author: Robin Brande
Publish date: 2007
Source: Classroom library
"Your best friend hates you. The guy you liked hates you. Your entire group of friends hates you.

All because you did the right thing.

Welcome to life for Mena, whose year is starting off in the worst way possible. She's been kicked out of her church group and no one will talk to her—not even her own parents. No one except for Casey, her supersmart lab partner in science class, who's pretty funny for the most brilliant guy on earth.

And when Ms. Shepherd begins the unit on evolution, school becomes more dramatic than Mena could ever imagine . . . and her own life is about to evolve in some amazing and unexpected ways.
" (Goodreads)

This is another example of a book I'd never heard of until we ordered it for school. It caught my eye as I was putting it on the shelf, mostly because of the cool cover. It was a pretty quick read, although I'm not sure if I necessarily liked it.

I liked Mena a lot as a main character and actually enjoyed most of the other characters. Casey seemed adorably nerdy and pretty awesome. Also puppies! I was disappointed in how Mena's parents treated her; I didn't think it was quite justified, despite what Mena "did." Ms. Shepherd was pretty kick ass, which I loved. Nice to see a teacher portrayed like that.

I guess my issue is that I didn't think the book would revolve so much around religion. I mean, yes, I knew it had something to do with religion since the blurb says that Mena has been kicked out a church, but I didn't realize what a pivotal role it would play. Had I been aware of that, I probably would have read the book differently. I felt like the author made the religious characters pretty typical (thinking LOTR promotes witchcraft?) and it seemed overdone in some parts.

That all said, I didn't dislike the book and think it will be popular in my room, especially with 9th grade students since Mena is that age. She grew as a character and it was nice to see her realize some things about herself. I look forward to book talking this in a few weeks when I get new students!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Thankful

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is:

Top Ten books/authors I'm thankful for

There are so many, but I'll try to come up with just ten! These are not in order!

1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: My 8th grade language arts teacher recommended this book to me (through book orders!) and I can't be thankful enough for it, LHA, and my teacher. I devoured Speak and immediately told my mom to read it because I liked it so much.

2. Sarah Dessen: I loved everything by Sarah Dessen in high school and credit her as one of the reasons I loved reading so much in high school!

3. The Baby-sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin: This was the first series that I adored and is totally one of the reasons I was a huge reader as a kid. I ate these up like candy.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: The reason so many of my students love reading.

5. JK Rowling: Do I even have to explain? Magic. Just plain magic.

6. Judy Blume: I really connected with a few of her books as a kid and appreciated her honest and frank writing style.

7. The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder: Another series that made me fall in love with reading, history, and books about history. Love her and them.

8. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: I am thankful for this book because it opened up a whole new side of history I knew nothing about. Powerful book and makes me wonder what else I don't know about and still need to learn.

9. Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred Taylor: This was one of the first books I loved that was required reading in school. Promptly asked for the sequels when finished. I'm thankful for liking it and for its content.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: One of the first books that really affected me in a big way. So thankful to Harper Lee for writing it and for allowing me to enjoy rereading over and over.

Lastly, I am thankful for book blogging and twitter because of all the wonderful people I have "met" and friends I have made this way! In the last year, I've really felt like I've found my people. You guys get me. I get you. What more can I ask for?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: Skinny

Author: Donna Cooner
Publish date: October 2012
Source: Classroom library
"Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.
" (Goodreads)

I heard about Skinny awhile ago, but never read any early reviews for it, which made me even more curious about how it was. We bought it for our classroom libraries at school and after a student read it, I borrowed it for last weekend...which ended up being my sick weekend, so lots of time to read! I liked it, but did have some issues with it by the end.

I think it's necessary that we have books with an overweight main character, but I'm not sure that Ever from Skinny is the right kind of character to be reading about. I actually found Ever to be pretty funny and I liked her relationship with her friend Rat a lot. It was painful to read about how Ever's classmates treated her aka not like a human being. I found Ever to be in an interesting person, but I had a problem with her choices.

My problem was that she went straight to gastric bypass surgery. At the initial appointment, all she did was tell the doctor that she tried diet and exercise, but it didn't work and then it was over. No more talk of making lifestyle changes or keeping a food diary or anything. To me, that was unrealistic. Not that I've had this surgery, so maybe I am not one to talk, but I know you don't just immediately go to surgery without more discussion of other methods. I don't want young people reading this to think that surgery is the only answer. I also wish there was more counseling follow up after Ever's surgery. There were clearly issues that needed to be worked out with professional help.

My issues with the book aside, I think this will be popular with female students. I already book talked it and expect it to be checked out pretty frequently. I did like Skinny and its overall message and would tentatively recommend it if you are interested in this subject matter.

One more thing: I really want to know why her parents named her Ever!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: Life As We Knew It

Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publish date: 2006
Source: Classroom library
"Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.
" (Goodreads)

I had sadly not heard of this book until we purchased it for our classroom libraries. I of course read the back of all the books I don't know as I catalog them (aka stick a card and pocket in them) and this one seemed awesome. I took it home last weekend, thinking I might get to it, then I got the flu (yuck) and read a few books while I was holed up in bed. I really liked it and have already recommended it to my students.

One of the things I liked most about Life As We Knew It is that it seems almost realistic, especially after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. When I read about cities being flooded, it wasn't shocking or hard to imagine because it happened! Now I don't know if a meteor could actually hit the moon and knock it out of orbit, but it was scary to think about all of those natural disasters happening at the same time: tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, you name it. I feel like I need to have food and water stored in the basement...just in case.

I also really liked that this was an epistolary novel (woo look at my obnoxious English teacher lingo), or told through journal entries. It was easy to believe that a teenager was just writing about her life as it was happening. Because it was told in that format, though, it wasn't necessarily action packed, but that didn't bother me. I think it was a great format for the story and really helped you to feel what Miranda was feeling. Like I said before, I already book talked it in class and I think it will be popular, especially given recent events.

Life As We Knew It is the first in a trilogy and I am really looking forward to seeing where the series goes!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: Gilt

Author: Katherine Longshore
Publish date: May 2012
Source: Library
"When Kitty Tylney's best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII's heart and brings Kitty to court, she's thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat's shadow, Kitty's now caught between two men--the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat's meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head." (Goodreads)

I remember hearing about Gilt back in May when it came out and I figured I would just find it at the library at some point...which is exactly what I did. Went in to find an audiobook and came out with two plus Gilt. Common occurrence when I go to the library. ANYWAY. I liked Gilt, even though it's not my favorite historical fiction.

One of the things I liked the most about Gilt is that it's told from a point of view that is not normally used when reading about King Henry VIII. I also really enjoyed reading the author's note at the end, in which she explained that Kitty was actually a real person, but not much is known about her, so thus...Gilt was born. The "how" of creating historical fiction is so interesting to me and it was just fun to read Gilt from Kitty's POV while still getting that inside look at court and Cat.

I enjoyed the writing style quite a bit as well. It was a bit flowery and slightly poetic, but seemed to mesh well with the subject matter and setting. Character wise, Katherine Longshore did a great job at making Cat annoying, but also in making you feel a teensy bit sorry for her toward the end of the book. Still though, it's crazy how obsessed some of those people were with royalty and THINGS.

All of that said, I didn't adore this book. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I would recommend it if you're in the mood for historical fiction or enjoy reading about Henry VIII.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Review: Lark

Author: Tracey Porter
Publish date: 2011
Source: Classroom library
"When sixteen-year-old Lark Austin is kidnapped from her Virginia hometown and left to die in a snowy forest, she leaves behind two friends who are stunned by the loss. As Lark's former best friend, Eve can't shake the guilt that this tragedy was somehow her fault. Meanwhile, Nyetta is haunted each night by Lark's ghost, who comes through the bedroom window and begs Nyetta to set her soul free. Eve and Nyetta realize that Lark is trapped in limbo, and only by coming together to heal themselves will they discover why." (Goodreads)

I had never heard of Lark until we ordered it for our classroom libraries and my coworker took it home one night and read it in one sitting. She told me about it the next day and since it was a short book and I was jonesing for one of those "read in one sittings" kind of books, I took it home and shockingly, read it all that night. It's a short book and I enjoyed it, although I don't think it's for everybody.

This book is told from the point of view of all three main characters, Lark, Eve, and Nyetta. I normally don't like that many narrators, but I think it really worked for this book, mostly because of the length. There was a LOT packed into less than 200 pages, but I don't think the book would have been as good if it were longer. I do wish there was more of an ending, though--I felt like Porter could have gone a bit further with the characters.

The writing in this book is beautiful, almost poetic, and I really enjoyed reading it. There is one chapter in particular toward the end, told from Lark's POV, that I thought was amazing and an interesting choice in the narration. If you've read the book, you know which one I'm talking about.

This book isn't for everyone, but if you are looking for a short, sad book, mostly based on character development, Lark will work for you. Expect to read it in one sitting!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2)

Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publish date: October 2012
Source: Purchased
"Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?
" (Goodreads)

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was one of my favorite books last year and I've been eagerly anticipating the sequel since, oh, the last page of Unbecoming. That cliffhanger about killed me! Usually when I read a sequel a year after the first book came out, I have to either reread book one or find a detailed recap, but I actually remember mostly everything that happened in Unbecoming (this does not happen often!). I devoured The Evolution of Mara Dyer and am happy to report that it did not disappoint.

This book picks up soon after Unbecoming ends and rather nicely recaps events from book one, but not in an obvious or annoying way. I loved learning more about Mara as she did and for probably the first time, found myself enjoying an unreliable narrator. I usually can't handle them, but Michelle Hodkin must be magical or something.

The only issue I had with this book had nothing to do with the actual story. I was cruising right along, inhaling the story when all of the sudden noticed that my book went from page 436 to 469. It was missing 33 pages!! I was angry, mostly because the story was so good and I needed to finish it! It was actually really easy to return to Amazon and I have zero complaints about the process, to be honest. I read the last 80 or so pages as soon I got a new copy from them and NOW I NEED BOOK 3. NOW.

Really, though, I loved the developments in Mara's story and can't wait to see how everything works out! I highly recommend this series and don't be put off by the length: the pages fly by!

Friday, November 2, 2012

October in Review

October was a busy month for school--lots going on and I went through a bit of a reading/blogging slump. I've been pretty tired once I get home from work and lately, sleep/rest has sounded better than reading or writing reviews. I hope that I'll get back into the swing of things in November, especially with a few days off work coming up.

I only reviewed 6 books this month:

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Unwind by Neal Schusterman (audiobook)
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
Safekeeping by Karen Hesse
Forever by Judy Blume
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

4 of those books were read during the readathon, which shows how little reading I did otherwise this month. My favorite was The Boyfriend List--I love Ruby!

I am almost finished with The Evolution of Mara Dyer (had to send it back due to missing pages) and need to write a review of Lark by Tracey Porter. Look for those soon!

Favorite book in October?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Simply Irresistible

Author: Jill Shalvis
Publish date: 2010
Source: purchased ebook
"Maddie Moore's whole life needs a makeover.

In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother--a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.

Starting over won't be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career--if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too.

The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes--and mouth--are making it hard for her to remember that she's sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie's struggles to overcome the past, though she's about to discover that there's no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.
" (Goodreads)

I read Simply Irresistible because of Ginger from G Reads! love for the entire series. This ebook version of this one was pretty cheap and I read it in a few hours during the readathon. I didn't think it was fantastic, but it wasn't terrible either.

I knew from the start that Simply Irresistible was going to be one of those books with a happy ending no matter what, as most romances of this variety have. Of course I was pulled in by the hot contractor mentioned in the blurb too. Who wouldn't be? The book was pretty cheesy, but not cheesy enough to make me stop reading it.


One thing I didn't like about Simply Irresistible was how Jax seemed to be the answer to EVERYTHING. I mean, seriously, he had like seven jobs and everything explained at the end? Too much. Seemed to press the idea that you need a man for things to work out. Gah.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: Safekeeping

Author: Karen Hesse
Publish date: 2012
Source: arc from conference
"Radley just wants to get home to her parents in Vermont. While she was volunteering abroad, the American People's Party took power; the new president was assassinated; and the government cracked down on citizens. Travel restrictions are worse than ever, and when her plane finally lands in New Hampshire, Radley’s parents aren’t there.

Exhausted; her phone dead; her credit cards worthless: Radley starts walking.
" (Goodreads)

I received this book in a box of arcs/books given to me from a conference last spring. I put it in my classroom and when I was deciding what to read for the Readathon, I remembered Safekeeping and how much I loved one of Hesse's other books, Out of the Dust. However...this one didn't exactly stack up to her previous work.

I really like the basic premise of Safekeeping, but unfortunately did not like the execution. Since Radley doesn't know where her parents are (and we know that from the blurb), it added an element of mystery, along with the fact that something bad is going on in the US. The problem for me was...where is the world building? I felt like I had no idea what was happening to the country, why Radley's parents were MIA, and why she could just walk to Canada. Consequences for actions, like getting thrown in jail, made no sense. When she got to Canada, though, everything was hunky dory. Seems a little sketchy that Radley could cross a border and just be fine.

Another thing I had some issues with while reading was the photographs interspersed throughout. I am not saying that pictures can't be in a YA book: they definitely can, but in Safekeeping, they were distracting and didn't add anything positive to the story. Honestly, the photos just weren't good. Period. Half of them didn't even relate to the text on the page or story in general.

One last thing before I end what is basically a rant: I didn't like the ending and how preachy the book felt by that point. I won't spoil it, but if you've read it, you probably know what I mean. I honestly will not be recommending this to anyone and am pretty disappointed overall.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: The Boyfriend List

Author: E. Lockhart
Publish date: 2006
Source: Library
"Fifteen-year-old Ruby has had a rough ten days. During that time she:

* lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list)
* lost her best friend (Kim)
* lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
* did something suspicious with a boy (#10)
* did something advanced with a boy (#15)
* had an argument with a boy (#14)
* had a panic attack
* lost a lacrosse game (she's the goalie)
* failed a math test (she'll make it up)
* hurt Meghan's feelings (even though they aren't really friends)
* became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
* had graffiti written about her in the girls' bathroom (who knows what was in the boys'!?!)

But don't worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.
" (Goodreads)

I read this book during the readathon, meaning I read it between 8am and 11am last Saturday...not my usual reading time! Even so, I devoured it and LOVED it! I love Ruby Oliver!

One of the things I loved about The Boyfriend List is how detailed it was, especially when describing what high school and teenagers are like. We all know that high school can SUCK sometimes (friends and boys) and I think Lockhart really captured that. Some of the details about Ruby's life really jumped out at me and made me crack up, much like Sloppy Firsts. I have to admit though...I like Ruby more than Jessica! Don't hate me!

I think this book would be great for high school students to read (adults too, let's be honest) because it really shows that you can work through your issues and things will be okay. Ruby is such a real and likable character, whom you love even though she makes mistakes. No one is perfect, but that's okay, and THAT'S why teen girls need to read this. I will definitely be book talking this one to my students and getting copies of the series for my classroom.

Also, I loved the footnotes. I feel like I talk with footnotes or random asides all the time, so I thought they were perfect. Basically, I loved this book much more than I thought I would and now I want everyone to read this series!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Readathon October 2012

1am: Well, I'm done here! My eyelids are very heavy, so it's time to call it quits. I had a fantastic readathon and already can't wait for April so I can do it again! Thanks to all the readers, cheerleaders, and organizers!!

Total pages read: 1186

Total books finished: 4 (The Boyfriend List, Forever..., Safekeeping, and Simply Irresistible)

Started: Masque of the Red Death (before I got too tired)

11pm: Things are slooooow going over here. I've been pretty much completely distracted by the Tigers game and am getting a bit sleepy. I started Masque of the Red Death but am only on page 56. I'll try to keep going, but I'm not sure how much longer I can last! 

Pages read: 1116

Books read: 4

8pm: Finished another book! Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis was cute, if a little cheesy, and I liked it enough to read the sequels when I'm in a cute romance mood again. I going to try Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin next.

I watched the Michigan game earlier and now I'll be watching the Tigers kick some Yankee ass, so the reading will probably be slower again. Go Tigers!

Pages read: 1060

Books read: 4

5pm: I finished Safekeeping. It was...interesting and again not what I expected (it was kind of preachy). I'll need to think about it for a while before I write my review. I started Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis on my kindle and am about 15% in. It's cheesy but cute, so I will probably keep going with it. 

I'm reading and watching the Michigan game, so I probably won't make as much progress for my next update, but that's okay with me. Go Blue!!

Pages read: 800

Books finished: 3

2pm: I finished Forever..., which was not was I was expecting, but I liked it nonetheless. I've started Safekeeping by Karen Hesse, which is okay so far. Nothing spectacular. I took a short break for lunch and to call my grandma, and now I plan on going strong until the Michigan game, which will probably distract me a bit :)

Pages read: 474

Books finished: 2

11am: I finished The Boyfriend List and LOVED it. So much. I wish I had the next one in the series, gotta be honest. I also drank three cups of coffee, so I am ready to keep going. Next book will be Forever... by Judy Blume. If I can't get into it, good thing I have lots of others to pick from!

Pages read: 229

Books finished: 1

8am: I've got coffee, my snuggie, and book number one, The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart. Let's do this!!

I am so excited to be participating in the readathon again this year! Last April was my first one and I absolutely loved it, finishing 2 books and starting 2 others. My goal this year is to finish at least 3 books, but we'll see how that goes. Picking books for this was like packing for a vacation: I always overpack. I never know what I'll be in the mood for, so I tried to get a variety of genres. I also will be using my kindle this time, which has many more books on it now than it did in April.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angellini (kindle)
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis (kindle)
Forever by Judy Blume (from have I NOT read this?)
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart (library)
Safekeeping by Karen Hesse (from classroom)
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella (own from library sale)
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (library)
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (library)

Obviously, this is WAY more than I can read in one day, but like I said, I need options! I've got some fantasy, some contemp, and even nonfiction, in case I need a big change of pace. There are more books on my kindle than I have listed (The Scorpio Races, The Eleventh Plague, The Body Finder and a few more), so I might delve into some of those, but my plan right now is to stick with my list.

Also, I need a new kindle case. Black is boring.

I plan to update this post every 3 hours on Saturday, starting at 8am, so be sure to check in!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Audiobook review: Unwind

Author: Neal Schusterman; Narrator: Luke Daniels
Publish date: 2007
Source: Library
"The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive." (Goodreads)

Even though Unwind came out in 2007, I had not heard of it until earlier this year when Elizabeth from Don't Take my Books Away had it in a couple of her Top Ten Tuesdays. I was totally intrigued by the premise and knew I had to read it. I listened to the audiobook version instead of print and was pretty happy with my choice.

This book was, in a word, disturbing. I could not believe that parents would choose to unwind their kids after having raised them for the previous thirteen years, at the least. Risa and Lev being unwound made sense, being a ward of the state and a tithe, but it was pretty harsh of Connor's parents to have made that choice. Disturbing as the book was, it was still really entertaining with lots of action. There was never a dull moment, which made for a great audiobook.

As scary and far off as the plot might seem, I think it raises some really great discussion points, especially for young people to have. Unwind would make a great read aloud book for my English classes, given its universal appeal, and would definitely lead to great writing and discussion opportunities. One scene in particular would be a great example of "show, don't tell" and if you've read Unwind, you probably know exactly which one I'm talking about.

I was pleased overall with the audiobook and Luke Daniels's narration. The book's point of view switches around between the three main characters and some others and Daniels did a great job differentiating between them all. The sequel to Unwind just came out, Unwholly, which I think I will also be listening to via audio. Anyone else read Unwind?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Settings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is a rewind, so I'm going with:

Top Ten favorite settings

1. The prairie: I adore historical fiction that takes place on the prairie, particularly when the characters live in a shanty or sod house. LIW or Hattie Big Sky, anyone?

2. Islands: I find islands to be really cool settings, especially when very few people live on said island, like in Burn for Burn or The Gathering.

3. Boarding schools: Boarding school settings are AWESOME, especially if they are old and have cool features like forbidden wings. I'm thinking of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Looking for Alaska.

4. Mountains: Mountains make great settings, like in Princess Academy.

5. The South: I love southern settings, especially in historical fiction, like Ruta Sepetys's upcoming Out of the Easy.

6. 18th & 19th century east coast: I love when historical fiction takes place in old timey cities on the east coast, like Born Wicked and The Vespertine.

7. Really small towns: Books that take place in super small towns always suck me in, like Cryer's Cross (although I ended up not liking that one). Bonus points for one room schoolhouses in modern times.

8. Spaceships: Who doesn't love spaceship settings? I'm looking at you, Across the Universe! Any other spaceship books I need to read?

9. London: London is an awesome setting, historical and modern. I'm thinking Name of the Star.

10. Castles: Castles kind of fascinate me, so if a book were set in a London boarding school that used to be a castle? I would die. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Anne of Green Gables

Author: L.M. Montgomery
Publish date: 1908
Source: purchased ebook
"Everyone's favorite redhead, the spunky Anne Shirley, begins her adventures at Green Gables, a farm outside Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. When the freckled girl realizes that the elderly Cuthberts wanted to adopt a boy instead, she begins to try to win them and, consequently, the reader, over." (Goodreads)

So for whatever reason, I never read Anne of Green Gables as a kid. I loved historical fiction, especially the Little House books, but never read this series. When I saw that Elizabeth from Don't Take my Books Away was doing a read-along of the second book, Anne of Avonlea, I knew it would be the perfect motivation for me to start the series. I downloaded the whole series for my kindle and read Green Gables in a few days.

 First of all, I found Anne to be completely charming, if a little annoying, throughout the first 3/4 of the book. I kind of loved how much she talked and babbled because hello, she was eleven years old. Most girls that age are talkers, myself included. I loved how Matthew and Marilla came to love her and basically forget that they ever wanted a boy. Who wouldn't love Anne?

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about Anne of Green Gables was the friendship between Anne and Diana. Their closeness and love for each other really reminded me of my best friend and me. I think Anne and Diana is already one of my favorite friendships from literature and I am looking forward to reading more about them (hopefully).

The setting of Prince Edward Island was another aspect of the book I loved. Historical fiction is awesome in general, but the settings usually are one of my favorite parts. We all know I love anything with the word "island" in it!

So pretty much....I am sad I didn't read Anne of Green Gables as a kid, but so glad I am reading the series now! I am really looking forward to reading the next book in the read-along!

Monday, October 1, 2012

September in Review

Well, I just typed "October in Review" as the title of this post, which should show you how tired I am! I am always wiped out at the beginning of the school, trying to get back into the groove of things and making sure I'm prepared for all my classes. Reading fell to the side a bit, since school has to come first, but I did fall back in love with audiobooks. I listen to them on my sometimes too short commute, while doing chores around home, and often in the morning while getting ready. They are a great way to pass otherwise boring time!

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (audiobook)
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Origin by Jessica Khoury
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Top Ten Tuesday
Series I need to finish
Bookish people I want to meet
Fall TBR

My favorite book was probably Gone Girl, even though it COMPLETELY freaked me out and I had to keep reminding myself, this is not my life, my relationship is not like this, this is just a book, etc. That, my friends, is the mark of a good book. I think.

Right now, I am doing my best to actually read what's on my fall TBR list. I have a few on hold at the library from the list and already own one. Usually as soon as I put a book on a list, I don't read it, so I'm doing my best to reverse that habit!

Best book you read in September?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: The Gathering

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publish date: 2011
Source: RT Goody Bag!
"Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.

Until now.

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.
" (Goodreads)

I feel kind of ashamed to admit this...but this was my first Kelley Armstrong book. At RT in April, where I got this book, she was one of a few authors who required a wristband just to get in line. That, along with the fact that I haven't read Richelle Mead yet (who was also there), made me feel like I was missing out. I got The Gathering in a goody bag that night, and I just now got around to reading it!

For me, The Gathering was a good example of a book that was entertaining but nothing special. It wasn't unputdownable, but at the same time, I enjoyed reading it. It's not exactly my type of book, per se, but the island setting sucked me in, along with the main characters going to a really small school (which I also love).

The problem was that not a lot actually happened in terms of plot. This book is part of a trilogy, so this whole book is pretty much the set-up for action in the second book. The Gathering was interesting, yes, but the only action happened at the end and of course ended in a cliffhanger. I also wasn't too into the "sexy new bad boy," as the blurb so aptly describes him.

So really, in the end, this book was good, but nothing that I will remember forever. I'll probably read book two...someday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Audiobook review: A Long, Long Sleep

Author: Anna Sheehan; Narrator: Angela Dawe
Publish date: 2011
Source: Library
"It should have been a short suspended-animation sleep. But this time Rose wakes up to find her past is long gone-- and her future full of peril.

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose-- hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire-- is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes-- or be left without any future at all.
" (Goodreads)

I've been meaning to read this book for a while now. I love the concept and am new to loving fairy tale retellings, so I figured this was a win-win. It was pretty good, although I didn't quite love as much as I wanted to.

I really enjoyed the set-up of A Long, Long Sleep and how the reader learned everything about Rose's new world as she did. Life is interesting and different after the Dark Times, and I appreciated the new technology Anna Sheehan created for the future, although I wish there was more. The most often discussed device seemed to be a glorified iPad and the nerd in me would have appreciated something "cooler."

I had a lot of issues with Rose's self-confidence and always calling herself stupid, but by the end, there was an explanation for that, so if that annoys you, keep reading! Some of the dialogue also seemed strange and choppy sometimes, but the story was interesting enough to look past that. I was pretty satisfied by the end and was pleased to read a standalone novel.

Like I said earlier, I liked this one a lot, just didn't absolutely love it. Angela Dawe did a great job, as usual, and I think listening to this was a good choice. I think my students will like the print version, so I'll be on the lookout for one for my classroom!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Need to Finish

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and was started by the lovely Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner.

This week's topic is: Top 10 series I haven't finished yet (in which all the books are out). There are tons of series I need to finish that are not all out yet, but here are the ones with all the books available!

1. Jessica Darling series: still need to read the last two!

2. The Firelight series by Sophie Jordan: have only read the first one, but I'd like to keep going

3. The Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale: I read The Goose Girl and loved it, so I know I need to continue

4. Graceling Realm: Still need to read Fire and Bitterblue!

5. Chaos Walking trilogy: Sadly only read The Knife of Never Letting Go. I loved it, so I will be sure to listen to the others on audio.

6. A Wrinkle in Time: I think I read at least the first two

7. The Giver series by Lois Lowry: I didn't even know it was a series until recently!

8. The Crank series by Ellen Hopkins: Still need to read the last one!

9. Uglies series by Scott Westerfield: I've only read Uglies! I think there are three more left!

10. Millennium series: Have only read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: The Edge of Nowhere

Author: Elizabeth George
Publish date: September 4, 2012
Source: conference (arc)
"Whidbey Island may be only a ferry ride from Seattle, but it's a world apart. When Becca King arrives there, she doesn't suspect the island will become her home for the next four years. Put at risk by her ability to hear "whispers"--the thoughts of others--Becca is on the run from her stepfather, whose criminal activities she has discovered. Stranded and alone, Becca is soon befriended by Derric, a Ugandon orphan adopted by a local family; Seth, a kindhearted musician and high school dropout; Debbie, a recovering alcoholic who takes her in; and Diana, with whom Becca shares a mysterious psychic connection.

This compelling coming-of-age story, the first of an ongoing sequence of books set on Whidbey Island, has elements of mystery, the paranormal, and romance. Elizabeth George, bestselling author of the Inspector Lynley crime novels, brings her elegant style, intricate plotting, incisive characterization, and top-notch storytelling to her first book for teens.
" (Goodreads)

I'll be honest: I had never heard of this book or author until I found it in a box of books given to me for my classroom. The summary is pretty intriguing and as you may now, I love when books take place on islands, like Burn for Burn, so the idea of Whidbey Island immediately sucked me in. However...I did not really like The Edge of Nowhere.

I'll start with what I did like: the setting and the original plot. You find out right at the beginning that Becca is going to Whidbey Island and doesn't know anyone. I really liked that it took place on an island (and a real one, at that) and how it really added another element of mystery and intrigue to the story. I like everything at the beginning, then it all kind of took a turn for the meh.

Basically, this book felt like it was written as an adult suspense novel, then the author made it YA by changing the characters' ages and making some scenes take place in the high school. Some of the events just seemed strange for teenagers and the writing style was just so reminiscent of a suspense novel like Gone Girl, for example (since that was my most recent adult suspense). The ending left a lot to be desired too. I felt like nothing was really resolved and if THAT was how she was going to end it...why was the book over 400 pages?

Really, I just wasn't satisfied at all. I went into the book with a completely open mind and just feel so meh about it now. I don't even think I can recommend it, although if you are a big fan of suspense/mystery novels, perhaps give it a try. Anyone else read it? Thoughts?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish People

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and was created by the lovely Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner. This week's topic is:

Top Ten bookish people I'd like to meet (authors, bloggers, etc). This one was hard for me to do since I have been fortunate enough to meet many of my favorite authors and bloggers, but here goes!

1. JK Rowling: I would like to worship at her feet, then probably cry and combust from fangirling.

2. Lauren Oliver: I love her books so much and really just want to tell her that. Coincidentally she is coming to a bookstore about 2 hours north of me in October for a "children's event." Am I allowed to go to that? I think it's a release party for The Spindlers, her new MG.

3. Laurie Halse Anderson: I want to thank her for writing such powerful books, especially Speak and Wintergirls.

4. Laura Ingalls Wilder: I know she's been dead for over 50 years, but hello, I am a fangirl for life. Meeting her would be amazing because of 1. who she is and 2. time travel would be possible.

5. Sarah Dessen: I think she was my first favorite author and I'd LOVE to meet her someday!

6. Ruta Sepetys: I loved Between Shades of Gray and the upcoming Out of the Easy, plus she is from Michigan. Win-win.

7. Ann Brashares: I grew up on the Traveling Pants books and it even inspired my friends and me to have a traveling notebook.

8. Caragh M. O'Brien: I love the Birthmarked series and I'd love to discuss making the move from being a teacher to being a full time writer (a dream of mine...)


9. Christina from Book Tasty: So Christina and I are pretty much twins (and have been known to maybe obnoxiously hashtag #twinsies on twitter) and I think she's awesome. She's a middle school librarian, has excellent taste in books, and is one of my closest blogging/bookish friends.

10. Elizabeth from Don't Take My Books Away: I also really want to meet Elizabeth, another awesome blogging friend. Any book she likes I am pretty much guaranteed to like and we are both fans of baseball and cleaning our kitchens while coffee is brewing.

Why can't bookish friends live closer??? Guess I need to plan some vacations...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: Burn for Burn

Authors: Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Publish date: September 18, 2012
Source: conference (arc)
"Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste.
" (Goodreads)

I know there was some buzz for Burn for Burn at BEA and probably ALA, but I figured I'd read it much later than now, maybe next year or something since it didn't sound that appealing to me. Well, I ended up getting a box of books for my classroom, Burn for Burn included, and decided to try it out a few days ago after being in a "I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO READ!!!!" mood. I liked it a lot and am looking forward to the sequel!

One thing I noticed right away about Burn for Burn is that it's not straightforward at all. Yes, there are 3 narrators, Lillia, Kat, and Mary, and yes, they know the same characters within the book, but it was much more complicated than that. Each girl has a distinct voice and personality and along with that, each sees the other characters differently. I liked that we got different perspectives of everyone along with background stories.

I liked this book, but I didn't love it for a number of smaller reasons. The first is that I felt like a lot of the problems in the characters lives could have been taken care of much more easily than they were (like Nadia?). I mean, yeah, plot and conflict and all that, but come on. The second issue was that although I love island settings, little things about this one weren't thought out enough. 1000 people live on Jar Island year round, but there are 4 middle schools and a high school just full of people? The town I teach in has 2000 people in the village limits and we have 1 middle school and 1 high school that share the same building. 1000 year round residents does not equal that many schools. I think I remember something about a community college on the island too. Yeah right!

Nitpicking aside, I enjoyed the book and will read the sequel whenever it comes out (preceded by a reread so I can remember who the characters are!). I'm sure the book will be a hit in my classroom and I plan on booktalking it soon.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: Origin

Author: Jessica Khoury
Publish date: September 4, 2012
Source: conference (arc)
"Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost.
" (Goodreads)

I'm in the process of getting everything back on my classroom bookshelves (which takes forever since I tend to read the back of every book) and while I was unpacking a box of books from a conference, Origin caught my eye. I like the cover and the plot sounded really intriguing so obviously I HAD to read it. As usual, here are my mixed feelings.

Origin took me forever to read and I blame 2 things for that: 1) the fact that school started and I am crazy busy and 2) the book just didn't grab me like I thought it would. It was interesting, yes, and pretty original, but not in a "I can't do anything but read" kind of way. I never found myself itching to pick it back up, but I enjoyed it when I was reading it. Does that make sense?

This book has a case of something I typically hate: instalove. I despise instalove, especially when it is between teens. I can see WHY the author chose instalove here, knowing how Pia grew up and everything, but how convenient that the first person she meets outside Little Cam is an attractive boy her age, right? Right?? I don't know. I would have found it more believable if Eio and the rest of the Ai'oans were better developed, I think, and weren't just rather convenient plot devices.

Reading back through my review, it sounds like I didn't like Origin, but I really did! The plot was enough to sustain me despite some character issues and I think this will be a hit in my classroom. Also Jessica Khoury is only 22. Damn.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn
Publish date: May 2012
Source: Library
"On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.
" (Goodreads)

Okay, I will admit: I read Gone Girl because of the hype. For once, though, guess what? I LIKED IT.

Gone Girl really creeped me out, but in the best way. I hardly ever read suspense novels (as in, this might have been the first?) and I HATE scary movies, so I essentially was freaked out the whole time I was reading. As the same time, though, I couldn't STOP reading because I needed to know what was going to happen. Gillian Flynn is good at what she does.

In addition to being creeped out, I was in complete awe of Gillian Flynn's ways with words. I swear every word and sentence was perfect. She thought of ways to describe things that I would have NEVER come up with, yet they were perfect. I seriously kept rereading passages because they were that good. I am usually more of a speed reader than a reread parts kind of girl, so to do the latter is pretty rare and the mark of an EXCELLENT writer.

In short, if you like suspense, if you like great writing, if you want to try something different than YA (which I usually read), try Gone Girl. You'll love it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is one of my faves: 

Top Ten Books on my fall TBR list NOT in order

1. Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life by Pamela Smith Hill: Gotta feed my addiction! I am obsessed with learning about her real life versus her books.

2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: I STILL HAVEN'T READ THIS

3. Such A Rush by Jennifer Echols: Loved Going Too Far, didn't love Forget You. Curious about this one.

4. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund: Sounds fab!

5. Origin by Jessica Khoury: I just started this one and I like it so far

6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: I totally failed at reading this over the summer.

7. The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan: I like reading about food.

8. The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian: Sounds interesting

9. Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien: Love this series!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

August in Review

August was a decent month for me. In terms of reading, I reviewed 8 books and read a few more than that which I probably will not review on the blog. I also went on two weekend trips, which ate up some reading time is almost back! I had to go in for professional development for two days last week and have been spending lots of time working in my classroom and preparing lessons. I'm not teaching any new classes this year, but we have new textbooks for Spanish and I'm teaching a few new things in my English class. It should be a fun and challenging year! I am looking forward to meeting my new students on Tuesday :)

Books reviewed
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Glass by Ellen Hopkins
Something Like Hope by Shawn Goodman
Secret Letters by Leah Scheier
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Other posts
Top Ten Tuesday: ME
Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite books since I've started blogging

My favorite book this month was Princess Academy, although I have really enjoyed listening to Ellen Hopkins's verse novels as audiobooks. Be on the lookout for my review of Gone Girl soon!