Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Audiobook review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Narrators: Steve West & Fiona Hardingham
Publish date: 2011
Source: Library
Length: 12 hours 6 minutes
"It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
" (Goodreads)

This book and I have a bit of a history. I downloaded the ebook last year in March and tried reading it a while later. I gave up about 30% in because the story just seemed to go nowhere and I was completely bored. Then later, I heard audio was the way to go and after Heidi and Monica went on and on about it at ALA, I knew I had to try it! Of course Heidi and Monica were right :)

I enjoyed the audiobook, but the story was just not what I expected at all. I never would have read this if not for rave reviews and a Printz Honor, so I'm not surprised that it's not my favorite book ever, but I also liked it more than I thought. Even on audio, the story was still slow, but it was much more enjoyable to listen than read. I do agree that Maggie Stiefvater is great at describing setting--at times I really felt like I was on Thisby. I do like books set on islands, so I think that helped my unexpected enjoyment.

The audiobook aspects of The Scorpio Races were amazing and I would highly recommend listening to it over reading the print. The narrators for both Sean and Puck are amazing, with each having different voices for all the characters found in their chapters. I especially liked Steve West's narration and look forward to listening to more stories read by him. If you are thinking about reading this, please try the audio. You won't regret it!

I am honestly not sure yet what I think of the book as a whole. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I still think most of the book was really slow, with the exception of the last 25%, which zipped by. I'm torn, because I think I more enjoyed the audiobook production than the actual story. I know I definitely would not have finished the print. For now, I'm saying 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

Publish date: April 2013
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Length: 408 pages
"Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.
" (Goodreads)

My student book club picked The Program as one of their summer books, along with The 5th Wave. I would have read it regardless, but maybe not as soon if not for book club. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am really looking forward to reading more from Suzanne Young.

I really love the premise behind this book and think it has huge appeal for teens. Being a teenager can be so hard and I think most go through rough periods, similar to some situations that characters go through in The Program. Teens (and adults) will definitely be able to relate to this and think about what they would do in Sloane's situation. This books raises tons of interesting questions and I can't wait to discuss them with students. The question that stuck with me the most after finishing was: if I could, would I want to erase bad/sad memories? Interesting to think about...

I honestly can't think of anything I didn't like about The Program. I thought the writing was great and it was hard to put the book down. I read it over two days, not wanting to stop. The pacing was good and I was really curious about the characters and who to trust. I am definitely looking forward to the sequel and reading more by Suzanne Young!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: Every Day by David Levithan

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 322 pages
"There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.
" (Goodreads)

I don't think I would have read Every Day if my student book club had not picked it as one of their first books (along with The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe). It just doesn't seem like the kind of book I'd want to read. I enjoyed it, but it's not one of my favorites.

I really like the idea behind Every Day, that A wakes up in a different body every day and gets to be a new person but never his true self. It was a great way for Levithan to explore different characters and it was interesting to see how A reacted to each body and gender. I also liked Levithan's writing and how suspenseful everything was. I ended up reading it really quickly just to find out what would happen.

What I didn't like is that A falling for Rhiannon is basically instalove, one of my least favorite parts of books. It was interesting to see how Levithan handled their relationship and how Rhiannon reacted to A being what he is, but it was still hard to believe that he fell for her so hard. I also didn't really like the ending, which was my students' main complaint as well. Does anyone know if there will be a sequel?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Audiobook review: Once by Morris Gleitzman

Narrator: Morris Gleitzman
Publish date: 2006
Length: 3 hours 8 minutes
"Felix, a Jewish boy in Poland in 1942, is hiding from the Nazis in a Catholic orphanage. The only problem is that he doesn't know anything about the war, and thinks he's only in the orphanage while his parents travel and try to salvage their bookselling business. And when he thinks his parents are in danger, Felix sets off to warn them--straight into the heart of Nazi-occupied Poland.

To Felix, everything is a story: Why did he get a whole carrot in his soup? It must be sign that his parents are coming to get him. Why are the Nazis burning books? They must be foreign librarians sent to clean out the orphanage's outdated library. But as Felix's journey gets increasingly dangerous, he begins to see horrors that not even stories can explain.

Despite his grim surroundings, Felix never loses hope. Morris Gleitzman takes a painful subject and expertly turns it into a story filled with love, friendship, and even humor.
" (Goodreads)

I recently downloaded Once from because, well, it was free and I like free things, especially books. I have the physical book in my classroom library, but was never too interested in trying it out. I love short audiobooks though, so I tried out Once and actually liked it.

Once takes place during the Holocaust and is told from Felix's point of view. Felix lives at an orphanage because his parents need to travel to save their bookselling he thinks. The beauty of Once, for me, was Felix's innocence throughout the whole story. He truly thought his parents were fine and had only taken him to the orphanage three years earlier because they needed to work and travel. Sad, but brutally effective.

As an audiobook, I really liked this too. Morris Gleitzman, the author, actually narrates this as well and he did a fantastic job. He did a great job conveying Felix and I thought it was pretty cool that he was able to narrate his own book. I wish more authors did!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

Publish date: 2011
Source: Classroom library
Format: Paperback
Length: 255 pages
"Sixteen-year-old Liz is Photogirl—sharp, focused and confident in what she sees through her camera lens. Confident that she and Kate will be best friends forever.

But everything changes in one blurry night. Suddenly, Kate is avoiding her, and people are looking the other way when she passes in the halls. As the aftershocks from a startling accusation rip through Liz's world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship and herself shifts out of focus. What happens when the picture you see no longer makes sense? What do you do when you may lose everything you love most? Told in stunning, searingly raw free verse, Exposed is Kimberly Marcus's gut-wrenching, riveting debut and will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson and Virginia Euwer Wolff.
" (Goodreads)

I've had this one in my classroom library for a while, but didn't read it until I needed to write a poetry review for the YA lit grad class I am taking. It was a quick read that I ended up really enjoying.

Exposed tells the story of Liz and her best friend Kate and what happens that rocks their previously solid friendship. I figured out pretty early on what happened to Kate, but it didn't affect my enjoyment of the book. It was interesting to see how everything played out and I found myself rooting for Liz and Kate's friendship over everything.

This is a verse novel, so it was a quicker read than you'd expect for a 255 page book. My only other experience with verse novels has been Ellen Hopkins and I found Exposed to be quite different from Hopkins's work, but I think that's due to the subject matter. I would definitely recommend Exposed if you like verse novels and think it would be an excellent addition to classroom and public libraries anywhere.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Audiobook review: Feed by M.T. Anderson

Narrator: David Aaron Baker
Publish date: 2002
Source: Library
Length: 5 hours 10 minutes
"Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains.

For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.
" (Goodreads)

I've had Feed in my classroom library for a while, but could never quite get myself to pick it up and read it. I saw it at the library in audiobook format earlier this year and when I noticed that it was only about 5 hours, I knew that would be how I would read it. I was completely sucked into this strange, strange little book.

Feed is essentially futuristic satire and boy, is it scarily real! In M.T. Anderson's future, everyone has a feed implanted in their brains that affects everything. You can communicate silently, see advertisements, order things, etc. It was scary to think about how this could very well be our future. We have already made so many technological leaps in the last hundred years--what is coming next? Maybe brain feeds!

Audiobook-wise, I think I definitely made the right choice to listen to this one. David Aaron Baker was a fantastic narrator and I loved all of his voices for each character. I also loved the touches the audiobook had like changes in the volume/tone to indicate when characters were communicating via the feed and the commercials to show how often advertisements popped up on the feed. I would highly recommend listening to this over reading the print.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Publish date: 2013
Source: Conference
Format: ARC
Length: 457 pages
"After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
" (Goodreads)

The 5th Wave had TONS of buzz. I personally don't like when a book has a lot of buzz, since I am usually let down by my unrealistic expectations of it. I ended up liking it, but I didn't absolutely love it.

The 5th Wave is a book that made me want to keep reading. I read the majority of it on a flight, and it held my attention for those few hours very well. The chapters are short, which I love in a book, and the narrators changed every so often. In my opinion, short chapters are one of the best ways to hold a reader's attention, and Rick Yancey kept the tension high in this book partly due to that.

I liked the differing narrators, but was disappointed in one of them, finding him to be a bit unrealistic and unbelievable. If you've read The 5th Wave, you probably know who I'm talking about. My student book club chose this for our first summer read, and they felt similarly about the narrator. Some liked the book as a whole, some didn't. All in all, I think it was a good choice for a group read and brought up some great discussion points.

I think I will read the sequel when it comes out (next year?), but I won't be clamoring for it. Please tell me your thoughts in the comments! Has anyone listened to the audiobook?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Publish date: 2013
Source: Classroom Library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 320 pages
"When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous
But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.
" (Goodreads)

I put Going Vintage on my TBR list when I first heard about it last year and read it recently as part of my YA lit class to fulfill a contemporary fiction assignment. I really enjoyed it and think it has a lot of teen appeal!

Mallory, the main character, is now one of my favorite YA protagonists. She was funny, smart, and dedicated to her goal of living like her grandma. I laughed out loud while reading, mostly due to Mallory's comments and observations about her life. She is definitely likable and easy to root for.

I had a few issues with how the book ended, mostly because of a number of things that happened regarding Mallory's family members like her grandma and mom. It seemed like there were too many things going on and I wanted to focus to be kept on Mallory. Ultimately, though, I really liked the book and think it will be popular at school this fall!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top Ten Books of 2013...So Far

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I haven't participated in quite a while, so I'm excited to take part this week!
This week's topic is top ten books of 2013 so far, so here are mine, NOT in order!
1. The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

2. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

3. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

4. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

6. Every Day by David Levithan

7. Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

8. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

9. The Hobbit graphic novel by JRR Tolkien & Chuck Dixon

10. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

Publish date: 2012
Source: Purchased
Format: ebook
Length: 325 pages
"Heaven Beach, South Carolina, is anything but, if you live at the low-rent end of town. All her life, Leah Jones has been the grown-up in her family, while her mother moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, letting any available money slip out of her hands. At school, they may diss Leah as trash, but she’s the one who negotiates with the landlord when the rent’s not paid. At fourteen, she’s the one who gets a job at the nearby airstrip.

But there’s one way Leah can escape reality. Saving every penny she can, she begs quiet Mr. Hall, who runs an aerial banner-advertising business at the airstrip and also offers flight lessons, to take her up just once. Leaving the trailer park far beneath her and swooping out over the sea is a rush greater than anything she’s ever experienced, and when Mr. Hall offers to give her cut-rate flight lessons, she feels ready to touch the sky.

By the time she’s a high school senior, Leah has become a good enough pilot that Mr. Hall offers her a job flying a banner plane. It seems like a dream come true . . . but turns out to be just as fleeting as any dream. Mr. Hall dies suddenly, leaving everything he owned in the hands of his teenage sons: golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson. And they’re determined to keep the banner planes flying.

Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business—until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers—and the consequences could be deadly.
" (Goodreads)

I wanted to love this book. The premise sounds amazing--female pilot, twin brothers, what could go wrong? Plus I loved Jennifer Echols's novel, Going Too Far (but not Forget You). I thought I would love Such a Rush, but sadly, I didn't.

I spent the entire book annoyed with everything that Echols piled onto Leah. She lived in a trailer park, had mommy issues, had no money, and just assumed that everyone was judging her because of all that. It seemed like her actions just reinforced the stereotypes that she thought everyone made about her. And I was a bit surprised at some of Molly's friends comments about Leah--do people actually say/think things like that?

Speaking of Molly, she was really confusing. Most of the time, I had no idea if she and Leah actually liked each other. Honestly, I was just not a fan of any of the characters in Such a Rush. Alec was boring and underdeveloped and Grayson's motivation for certain actions made no sense. The characters as a whole just were not up to par for me.

Like I said, I love the idea of this book and just wish it was better executed. I know a lot of people loved it, but it just wasn't the right book for me.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

ALA 2013

Will I see you at the ALA Annual Convention in Chicago next week? I will be there Thursday evening to Monday morning and would love to meet you! So far my only pre-conference plans are attending YALSA's Ten Years of Teens' Top Ten on Friday morning. I will probably spend most of my time in the exhibit hall after that and possibly attending a few sessions. Let me know if there's anything I shouldn't miss! I am really looking forward to my first ALA convention, especially now that I have been taking MLIS classes for over a year now.

In the next couple weeks, I plan to get back to regular posting on the blog, mainly reviews and top tens and of course a recap of ALA. Books I will be reviewing are:

Feed by M.T. Anderson (audio)
The Hobbit graphic novel
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
Every Day by David Leviathan
Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

Good to be back!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hiatus (if you couldn't tell already)

Just a quick note that I won't be posting until school gets out, if you haven't already figured that out! Too much going on with finishing up the year and starting a new grad class (YA lit!). I'll be back to reviews and Top Tens in mid-June! In the meantime, you can still find me on twitter, sporadically talking about books :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Publish date: 2013
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 325 pages
""Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
" (Goodreads)

So basically everyone loves this book. EVERYONE. As soon as people started declaring their love, I started feeling pressured and was worried that I wouldn't like it just because it was so well-loved by everyone in the YA blogging community. I ended up really liking it, although I know I didn't absolutely love it as much as others.

It took me a little while to get into Eleanor & Park, but by halfway through I was cruising through and could hardly put it down. The last half absolutely slayed me and I felt like I couldn't put it down until I found out what happened at the end. I felt really satisfied with the ending and don't even want a sequel! It's nice to read a stand-alone book every once in a while.

I have to say, I wasn't a huge fan of the 80's setting since I am not the most up on bands from then, but it didn't necessarily distract from my enjoyment of the book. I liked the story itself and the characters and felt appropriately bad for Eleanor given her circumstances. I would definitely recommend this to romance fans and am curious about what my students will think!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Audiobook Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Narrators: Joel Johnstone & Debra Wiseman
Publish date: 2007
Source: Library
Length: 6 hours 25 minutes
"Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
" (Goodreads)

I honestly don't know what I can say about Thirteen Reasons Why that hasn't already been said. I like the premise of the story, although I don't know how believable cassette tapes are anymore. I don't think I have anything that would even play them at this point other than my old car! They do add a certain sense of nostalgia though; Hannah's thoughts on CD or something else would have had a different effect, I think.

I am definitely going to look for a paper copy of this for my classroom library. I think it will be popular and certainly relevant. Thirteen Reasons Why would actually make a great required book in a high school English or health classroom--newer YA and would provoke some great and necessary discussions.

Audiobook wise, this was one of the best I've listened to. 
Due to the format of the book, I would even suggest listening it over reading it. I loved that Clay and Hannah had their own narrators.  I especially like Debra Wiseman's voice for Hannah: she definitely had her snarky tone down.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Publish date: 2011
Source: Purchased from Barnes & Noble
Format: Hardcover
Length: 323 pages
"Beth and Jennifer know their company monitors their office e-mail. But the women still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers at the newspaper and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can't seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period.

When Lincoln applied to be an Internet security officer, he hardly imagined he'd be sifting through other people's inboxes like some sort of electronic Peeping Tom. Lincoln is supposed to turn people in for misusing company e-mail, but he can't quite bring himself to crack down on Beth and Jennifer. He can't help but be entertained-and captivated- by their stories.

But by the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late for him to ever introduce himself. What would he say to her? "Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you." After a series of close encounters and missed connections, Lincoln decides it's time to muster the courage to follow his heart . . . even if he can't see exactly where it's leading him.

Written with whip-smart precision and charm, Attachments is a strikingly clever and deeply romantic debut about falling in love with the person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Even if it's someone you've never met.
" (Goodreads)

So obviously at this point, most people have heard of Rainbow Rowell due to her YA debut, Eleanor & Park, which I haven't read yet but I am patiently waiting for my hold to come in at the library. Her first novel was Attachments, which I had on my TBR because Elizabeth loved it so much. I found it on sale at Barnes & Noble over the weekend and devoured it a few days ago. I loved it!

This book takes place in 1999-2000, which I wasn't expecting, but that didn't deter my love for it at all. I thought this was one of the most fun, charming, and real romances that I have read in a long time. I loved that Lincoln was a huge nerd (being one myself, of course) and loved his friends from D & D, especially Christine. She was that awesome hippie mom friend that everyone needs.

I also loved Beth and Jennifer's friendship, even though we only get to see it through their emails. Their struggles and worries are similar to what a lot of people in their 20's go through and I could relate to some of it. I thought they were both funny and seemed like fully developed characters despite the epistolary format. Being a person who has chatted online with people in the same room as myself, I can also completely understand their emails to each while both at work!

As someone who doesn't usually enjoy contemps this much, I was really surprised at how much I loved Attachments. Maybe I need to try more adult contemps? Any recommendations for other books like Attachments? I suppose that would be a good question to ask my librarian... :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landeau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Publish date: 2008
Source: Gifted from my Secret Santa!
Format: Paperback
Length: 345 pages
"Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:

Debate Club.
Her father's "bunny rabbit."
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Landau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take "no" for an answer.
Especially when "no" means she's excluded from her boyfriend's all-male secret society.
Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she's smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew's lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.
" (Goodreads)

During last year's readathon, I read book one of the Ruby Oliver series, The Boyfriend List. I absolutely loved it and decided I needed to read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landeau-Banks, also by E. Lockhart. My lovely Secret Santa got it for me and I just read it, which is sad because it was AWESOME and I wish I'd read it way sooner!

Reasons I loved this book:

Frankie herself: She was a great character and I just understood her on so many levels. Her wanting to hang out with Matthew and his friends because they were goofy and fun: that was like E. Lockhart took a trip to my past, met my high school self, and then put me into Frankie. I also loved that she was righteously upset at how certain things were okay if boys did them, but not her. I GET THAT and it infuriates me too.

The setting: Boarding school, secret societies, and pranks? All wins.

The writing style: I was surprised to see that this book, like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, was also written in third person (and has a similarly long-winded title). Unlike Statistical Probability, I thought the narration and point of view really worked well here. It didn't bother me, although it took a few chapters to get used to.

Basically, this book was amazing and I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. I knew I'd like it, since it's E. Lockhart, but I wasn't prepared for how much I would relate to Frankie. If you haven't read this one, do it! If you know me, a YA contemp recommendation is a big deal!

Monday, April 1, 2013

March 2013 in Review

March was a good reading month for me. I was pretty busy with work and life in general though...does it ever slow down? Somehow I doubt it. We are on spring break this week and I will be spending it doing homework, writing a paper, and hopefully getting a lot of reading in.

I ended up reviewing 5 books and 1 trilogy this month:
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (audio)
The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe
Defiance by CJ Redwine
Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
The Birthmarked trilogy by Caragh M. O'Brien

I also read but didn't review (yet): 
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Readicide by Kelly Gallagher (about how standardized tests are destroying reading--must read for teachers)
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (audio)
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landeau-Banks by E. Lockhart

My favorite one was Disreputable History, but I also really enjoyed The Way We Fall.

I did 3 Top Ten Tuesdays:
To-Read Series
Spring TBR
Books I Recommend the Most

And last but not least, I got a little personal and explained how life stopped me from reading Scarlet by Marissa Meyer for quite a while.

What was your favorite book this month? Anything I need to read immediately?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Publish date: 2012
Source: Purchased
Format: ebook
Length: 236 pages
"Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.
" (Goodreads)

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight has been on my radar since it came out last year, but I didn't have any strong desire to read it. When it was 2.99 for kindle a little while ago, I figured I should read it since it seems like one my female students would enjoy. I think they will, although I didn't love it as much as I wanted to.

At the beginning of the book, I felt like I could really empathize with Hadley and what she was going through. I probably would have reacted to those situations in the same way, although I definitely would not have done what she did at her dad's wedding, regardless of how well we got along. Other than that decision, I liked Hadley and felt like I learned a lot about her despite the short length of the book.

The one thing that bothered me throughout the book was the fact that it was written in the third person. I feel like it would have been better in first person from Hadley's point of view. I think I just prefer a first person narrator in general and was honestly surprised that this one was third person. I'm not sure if that makes me nitpicky or what!

I think this one will be a big hit with my students and I'm looking forward to book talking it soon. I didn't love it, but I think they will!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

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

Top Ten books I recommend the most

I was thinking about both my students and my family/friends when I made this list, so keep that in mind!

1. Delirium by Lauren Oliver: This is a big hit at school, especially with the girls. One of my favorite books!

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth: This is also a big hit with everyone! Popular among students and I got it for my sister for Christmas. She liked it!

3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer: I always recommend this amazing fairy tale retelling! Coincidentally, another Christmas gift for a family member this year!

4. Anything by Sarah Dessen: I always recommend her books to students looking for love stories or romances. She is always a hit!

5. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness: The Chaos Walking trilogy is becoming more popular at school, hopefully partly because I recommend it so much.

6. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach: I usually recommend this one to people looking for a funny story, a sports story, or both. I love Felton!

7. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson: This is a great one for someone looking for a gritty, real read. I loved it and recommend it all the time.

8. Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis: I like to recommend this to people looking for something different than usual or for people who don't think they like sci-fi.

9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: For people looking for a crazy thriller!

10. Anything by Ellen Hopkins: I recommend her books to my students who are looking to try something different or who want to try a verse novel for the first time. She's very popular!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson (sequel to Hattie Big Sky)

Publish date: 2013
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 219 pages
"After leaving Uncle Chester's homestead claim, orphan Hattie Brooks throws a lasso around a new dream, even bigger than the Montana sky. She wants to be a reporter, knowing full well that a few pieces published in the Arlington News will not suffice. Real reporters must go to Grand Places, and do Grand Things, like Hattie's hero Nellie Bly. Another girl might be stymied by this, but Hattie has faced down a hungry wolf and stood up to a mob of angry men. Nothing can squash her desire to write for a big city newspaper. A letter and love token from Uncle Chester's old flame in San Francisco fuels that desire and Hattie jumps at the opportunity to get there by working as a seamstress for a traveling acting troupe. This could be her chance to solve the mystery of her "scoundrel" uncle and, in the process, help her learn more about herself. But Hattie must first tell Charlie that she will not join him in Seattle. Even though her heart approves of Charlie's plan for their marriage, her mind fears that saying yes to him would be saying no to herself. 

Hattie holds her own in the big city, literally pitching her way to a byline, and a career that could be even bigger than Nellie Bly's. But can making headlines compensate for the pain of betrayal and lost love? Hattie must dig deep to find her own true place in the world. Kirby Larson once again creates a lovingly written novel about the remarkable and resilient young orphan, Hattie Inez Brooks." (Goodreads)

Hattie Ever After is the sequel to Hattie Big Sky, a 2007 Newbery Honor that I listened to last summer. I really enjoyed it, as it reminded me a lot of Laura Ingalls Wilder and I liked Hattie Ever After a lot too, despite its lack of a prairie setting (one of my all time fave settings).

Hattie Ever After picks up after Hattie has left Uncle Chester's homestead, but she is definitely the same spunky, positive girl that she was in Montana. One of my favorite things about her is that she has such a great attitude throughout the two books. I loved following her journey from Montana all the way to San Francisco. I've been to San Francisco once and it was cool to imagine how the city has changed since Hattie's time.

I think my favorite thing about this story is Kirby Larson's writing style. It fits so perfectly with both Hattie's character and the time period. The word choice, the dialect, the sentence structure: everything was just perfect for the story. It's obvious everything was well-researched and it was really interesting to read the author's note afterward to learn about Ms. Larson's journey to writing this unexpected sequel.

Hattie Big Sky and Hattie Ever After are the types of books that remind me of why I love historical fiction. Definitely read these two if you are looking for fun, well-researched, and compulsively readable historical fiction!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom Library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 403 pages
"Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city's brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father's apprentice, Logan--the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city's top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor's impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.
" (Goodreads)

The cover and blurb of Defiance make it seem like a completely awesome book. Rachel is looking pretty sweet in her cloak on the cover, she's off to search for her father, the village has a wacky name like Baalboden...seems like a fun fantasy, right? Well, it wasn't. I honestly don't know if it was fantasy or a sci-fi/dystopian and I was not satisfied with the plot.

It took me until about halfway through Defiance to be actually interested in the plot. I'd read some good reviews, so I wanted to keep going and just push through the beginning to get to the action, but it still took about 200 pages for me to be invested in the story. Rachel was a likable character for the first few chapters, but after she was interacting with all went downhill. Normally I like romance in stories, but I just didn't understand Logan and Rachel. No chemistry at all and Rachel turned into a different person.

The one thing I did like about Defiance was the writing itself. CJ Redwine is a great writer and that really shines here. The writing was basically the reason I finished the book. Great word choice and descriptions, just not enough of them! Definitely not enough world building for me to even know what genre this is.

I really wanted to like this, since it seems like my kind of book, but it just didn't click for me. Obviously other people liked/loved it, just from looking at Goodreads, but I don't know if I'll be recommending it. Have you read it? Thoughts?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Trilogy Talk: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

I don't know about you guys, but I have a hard time reviewing books in a series. The first one? Sure, no problem, it's just a regular book review. But further in the series? It's hard to review them without spoiling anything, plus if someone is invested in a series, they probably don't need to be told to read the sequels. In an effort to talk about series as a whole and to solve my problem of reviewing sequels, I decided to start Trilogy Talk. Whenever I finish a trilogy (or series, I suppose), I plan to review the books as a whole series and invite you guys to share your thoughts in the comments. Here goes!

Trilogy Talk: Birthmarked, Prized, and Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien

When I started this series in 2011, I thought it was a fresh new take on dystopian fiction. I really loved Birthmarked and almost counted it as one of my favorite books of 2011. I also liked Prized a lot and didn't think it suffered from the dreaded second book syndrome. I found both of the book's subject matter to be fascinating, since you don't see a lot of books involving midwifery, especially in that kind of setting. 

However...there was the last book in the series, Promised. I read Promised in January and while it was a relatively short book, it seemed to drag on and on. I was not a big fan of it, if you can't tell. Honestly, it was kind of boring and I hate saying that, since I truly enjoyed Birthmarked and Prized. I guess I was just expecting more of an ending and not one with such strange plotlines and unanswered questions. If you've read Promised, you know what I'm talking about.

I hesitantly recommend this series to certain students/friends. Like I said, I truly enjoyed the first two books and know that some people enjoyed Promised, but it just didn't work for me. If you like dystopian fiction and are interested in reading about midwifery, try them out! (And let me know what you think of Promised.)

Have you read this series? Tell me what you thought/think!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 309 pages
"When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn't?

Poignant and dizzying, The Way We Fall is the heart-wrenching story of one girl's bravery and unbeatable spirit as she challenges not just her fears, but her sense of what makes life worth living.
" (Goodreads)

Even though The Way We Fall just came out last year, I don't remember hearing anything about it. After finishing it, I'm surprised that I hadn't because it was great! I really enjoyed it and am hoping to pass it along to quite a few students as well.

First of all, if you've read my blog for a while, you know I'm a sucker for island settings. I love that whole small town feel and the added bonus of if anything bad happens, it's hard to get off the island (hint, hint). The setting worked well for this story of a virus/plague type thing taking over the island, although sometimes I found it hard to believe that a small island had such an advanced hospital like the one Kaelyn's dad worked at. Overall though, I liked the plot and found it to be pretty engaging.

The Way We Fall is told in journal format, first as Kaelyn writing to a friend and then just as a general record of everything happening. I liked this format and think it worked well for this particular story. It reminded me of the journal format in Life as We Knew it. It added a sense of desperation and loneliness to the story and never felt over the top or too detailed to be a journal, like some epistolary novels can be.

The second in the series, The Lives We Lost, is currently sitting in my classroom and I plan to read it soon! I also think this will be a hit with my freshmen English class...who doesn't love a good plague story?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Audiobook Review: Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Narrator: Mike Chamberlain
Publish date: 2007
Source: Library
Format: Audiobook
Length: 6 hours 28 minutes
"High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy— and Tyler’s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in school, in his family, and in the world." (Goodreads)

Twisted has been on my radar for quite awhile and I knew I'd eventually read it due to my love of both Speak and Wintergirls. I had it in my classroom, but seeing that it was a shorter book, I decided to try the audio. I'm glad I did, although I don't think reading it would have changed my opinion on the story.

Twisted is told from Tyler's POV, which I thought Anderson did well. She is a great writer and this was no exception. The dialogue felt a bit stilted and awkward at times, but I can forgive that with contemporaries. Everything flowed well and I never felt like the story was stuck on a certain point for too long.

My main issue with Twisted is that I don't have any overarching feelings about it. I thought it was just ok, nothing fabulous like Speak or Wintergirls (which I loved). I understand that it's a completely different type of story than those two, and a very different narrator, but I just didn't feel satisfied at the end. I wanted to know more about Tyler and his relationships with his father and Bethany and just how everything was going to work out, given the events throughout the story. I suppose that I am simply not the intended audience for this one. I can imagine that some of my male students looking for a contemp not about sports or war (which are the popular topics in my classes) will enjoy Twisted and I'm looking forward to hearing their opinions.

If you have read Twisted, what are your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring 2013 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is: Top Ten books at the TOP of my spring TBR

1. Requiem by Lauren Oliver: I have heard mixed reviews on this one, but I still need to finish the series!

2. Unravel Me by Taherah Mafi: I probably should have read this by now.

3. Boundless by Cynthia Hand: I can't believe this series is over!

4. Defiance by CJ Redwine: This seems like a fun fantasy and right up my alley.

5. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: Have only heard good things about this contemp

6. Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson: Loved the first book, Hattie Big Sky!

7. The Miseduation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth: Have this in my class and it looks interesting

8. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: I know, I know.

9. Wonder by RJ Palacio: Thinking of trying this on audio

10. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: This one intrigues me.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

When Life and Books Collide

As you may have noticed, I have not really been posting lately. Part of that reason is work being super busy, but the bigger part is something from my personal life. My grandmother passed away on February 24 and it took me a good two weeks to be able to read again (and want to blog). Part of that was the grieving process, yes, but part of it had to do with the specific book I was reading.

One of my favorite pics of my grandparents, right after they got married. I miss them both like crazy.

I eagerly took Scarlet by Marissa Meyer from my classroom library when it arrived, fully intending to read it over a few days since I was so excited for it. I was about three quarters of the way through when Granny died and if you've read Scarlet or the description of it, you know why I couldn't continue. One of the main plot lines in the book is Scarlet searching for her grandmother and I just could not read about a grandmother with mine being gone so recently. I couldn't even think about the book, honestly. It made me too sad.

I am not writing this post to garner sympathy, but to instead try to explain the first time I can remember my personal life impacting my ability to read. Sure, I've read books that remind me of high school or some event in my life, but never anything that made me not want to read like this. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever been unable to read something because it hits too close to home?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Top Ten To-Read Series

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

Top Ten series I'd like to start, but haven't yet

This will be an embarrassing list, since there are many series that I probably should have read or at least started...but haven't.

1. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare: I even own the first two! SIGH

2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: I think it is my life's goal just to read the first book. Anyone want to do a readalong?

3. Curse Workers by Holly Black: I have the first on my kindle. Why haven't I read it? I've also heard the audio is good.

4. Starcrossed by Josephine Angellini: Another one I have on my kindle already.

5. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld: I think I would like these, plus I liked Uglies.

6. Anything by Cinda Williams Chima: Where do I start? Help!

7. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier: I have these in my classroom and they look fun!

8. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead: Don't hate me!

9. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta: Or, um, anything by her.

10. Anything by Rick Riordan: Should I remedy this?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab
Publish date: January 2013
Source: Classroom library
"Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.
" (Goodreads)

I will start out by saying that I have read The Near Witch and I was not its biggest fan. Basically, I liked the premise of the story, but felt like it was slow and didn't go anywhere. That said, I went into The Archived with a completely open mind, like a do over with Victoria Schwab. Unfortunately, I think her books and I are just not meant to be.

The Archived starts out pretty slowly and for me, it never really picked up enough speed to carry me through and make me want to pick it back up again. The story was interesting, but just moved too slowly for my liking. I actually considered DNFing about halfway through, but after reading Goodreads reviews, I decided to keep going. I don't regret finishing it, but I do feel like I'm the only person out there who feels meh about it.

The thing that stood out to me from The Near Witch was Schwab's writing style, which holds up in The Archived. It is rather flowy and lovely, although without wanting to sound like some kind of crazy person...I thought it got to be repetitive. There were a lot of purposeful run-on sentences, which I can appreciate, but when that's your main style, it gets old. I know that is super nitpicky and teachery of me, but it's what I notice!

The Archived is just one of those "it's not you, it's me" kind of books. I think most people will like it, but if you need action packed and fast moving plots, this might not be the read for you. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Out of the Easy

Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publish date: February 12, 2013
Source: Borrowed
"It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.
" (Goodreads)

It's no secret that I loved Ruta Sepetys's first novel, Between Shades of Gray. I was immediately excited to read Out of the Easy and the lovely Tara was kind enough to lend it to me last year. I loved it and am happy to say that Ruta Sepetys is now one of my favorite authors.

I'd never read a book in either this time period or setting before, but after Out of the Easy, I really want to. I thought it was such a great time period for historical fiction (although I love historical fiction in general) and the setting just made the story fascinating. I'm such a sucker for settings and this is definitely one of my new favorites.

This book is completely different that Between Shades of Gray, but I loved it just as much. Josie's mom was very easy to dislike, which is exactly what she was supposed to be like, and I was rooting for Josie herself the whole time. The writing style also added to my enjoyment as well: elegant, yet simple and impulsively readable. I tore through the pages of this one and was sad when it ended because I just wanted to keep reading!

I plan on purchasing a copy of this for myself and despite not really being a rereader, I know I will be devouring this and Between Shades of Gray again.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: Stupid Fast

Author: Geoff Herbach
Publish date: 2011
Source: Classroom library
"I, Felton Reinstein, am Stupid Fast. Seriously. The upper classmen used to call me Squirrel Nut, because I was little and jumpy. Then, during sophomore year, I got tall and huge and so fast the gym teachers in their tight shorts fell all over themselves. During summer, three things happened all at once. First, the pee-smelling jocks in my grade got me to work out for football, even though I had no intention of playing. Second, on my paper route the most beautiful girl I have ever seen moved in and played piano at 6 a.m. Third, my mom, who never drinks, had some wine, slept in her car, stopped weeding the garden, then took my TV and put it in her room and decided she wouldn’t get out of bed.

Listen, I have not had much success in my life. But suddenly I’m riding around in a jock’s pick-up truck? Suddenly I’m invited to go on walks with beautiful girls? So, it’s understandable that when my little brother stopped playing piano and began to dress like a pirate I didn’t pay much attention. That I didn’t want to deal with my mom coming apart.
" (Goodreads)

I remember hearing about Stupid Fast because Sarah at YA Love Blog read it and raved about it. It was one of the books we recently purchased for our classroom libraries at school and as soon as I saw it, I couldn't wait to read it. It was great, as I predicted, and is starting to become a hit at school.

The thing I absolutely loved the most about Stupid Fast was Felton's voice. Geoff Herbach clearly nailed the voice of a teenage boy going through a lot of changes (aka all teenage boys). Felton is hilarious and awkward and smart, and I just loved seeing life through his eyes. If Felton's voice hadn't been so strong and clear, I definitely would not have liked this book as much.

Based on the cover, you'd probably imagine this is a sports book and nothing more, but it's obviously a lot more than that. Male students who like sports books (like Tim Green's or Mike Lupica's) will definitely gravitate toward the cover, but I think they'll be pleasantly surprised at the story beyond the sports aspect. After my book talk, Stupid Fast was checked out immediately and I can't wait for it to make the rounds!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Top Ten Bookish Memories

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

Top Ten Bookish Memories

These are most definitely NOT in order!

1. Every midnight Harry Potter release I went to, starting with Goblet of Fire. They were awesome!

2. Reading Deathly Hallows. I was so sad it was over...

3. Meeting Meg Cabot last summer! She is hilarious and I would love to attend another of her events.

4. Going to the RT convention last year. Meeting so many amazing authors and bloggers was just the BEST.

5. Starting my MLIS last year. Maybe someday I will make the move from being a teacher to being a youth librarian! I am pretty happy where I am right now though.

6. Stopping in DeSmet, SD, when I was a kid and visiting Laura Ingalls Wilder's old home. It was awesome!

7. Reading The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure. She is also an LIW fangirl and the entire time I just kept thinking, THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE LIKE ME OUT THERE!!

8. Discovering Schuler Books in Lansing and the great events they put on there! So far, Meg Cabot and the Smart Chicks Kick it tour!

9. Anytime my students connect with and love a book I recommend (or that anyone recommends)! I love seeing that book love.

10. The amazing people I have met through a year and a half of blogging! You guys are the best.

Monday, February 4, 2013

January 2012 in Review

January wasn't a great reading month for me, but I did post more reviews that usual, due to reading a lot over winter break. This month I read 5 books, including the last books in 2 trilogies: Shades of Earth and Promised. I'm not sure if I'll read either of them since I don't know if I can do it spoiler free! Maybe I will review the entire trilogy?

I also have to admit giving up on an audiobook that I really wanted to love: Chime by Franny Billingsley. I DNFed the print version last year, but heard that the audio was fabulous...which it was! I absolutely loved the narrator but just could not follow or get into the story. After 2 tries, I think I am officially done with the book.

Reviews this month
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Recovery Road by Blake Nelson
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (audiobook)
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
The Diviners by Libba Bray

I also posted my End of the Year Book Survey, a WoW for The Madness Underneath, and my plea for audiobook recommendations

My favorite book that I reviewed this month was probably Seraphina, although I also really enjoyed Recovery Road. My least favorite was by far Beautiful Creatures, which I was really bummed about since it took so long to listen to. I'm glad I read it though--nice to know what the fuss is (or isn't) about. 

This month look for my review of Stupid Fast and my return to Top Ten Tuesdays!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Audiobooks, please!

In January 2012, I started listening to my first audiobook and I've been hooked ever since. I've found a few duds along the way, either due to story or narrator, and that's why I'm writing this now...I need your recommendations! Right now I'm listening to Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson and also have Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, both from the library. Below are the ones I listened to last year:

I know I need to listen to the rest of the Chaos Walking trilogy, but what else? What are some must-listens? YA or adult is fine!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Madness Underneath

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine. This week's pick is...

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (Shades of London #2)
Publish date: February 26, 2013

"After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city's secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late.

In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
" (Goodreads)

I devoured The Name of the Star, even though it completely creeped me out, and it is always a big hit with my students. I can't wait to read The Madness Underneath and see where MJ takes us! I already know I'll need to sleep with the light on!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: The Diviners

Author: Libba Bray
Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
"Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.
" (Goodreads)

Let me start this off by saying this is the third Libba Bray book I have read (or tried to read). I read A Great and Terrible Beauty back in June and was disappointed and tried the Beauty Queens audiobook over the summer and just couldn't handle it. At this point, you may be wondering why I even wanted to read The Diviners, as it seems Libba's books and I just don't mesh. Well, I gotta be honest, The Diviners just sounded really cool. And I did actually like it for the most part.

So yes, I liked it. The Diviners was definitely not what I expected, but it was entertaining nonetheless. I was completely annoyed by Evie at the beginning, but I think she was supposed to be that way. At the beginning, I also thought there were way too many characters, but I think everything came together pretty nicely be the end. I have no idea how she plotted all of that out!

I will say I found the entire book to be about 100 pages too long. By the time I was within a couple hundred pages of finishing, I just wanted it to be over because it had just been going on and on. I also found the 20's lingo to be a little annoying (like "you betski!"), but I suppose I'd rather have books be historically accurate than not.

I think this book might have turned from like to love if it had been a bit shorter. I am definitely curious to see where the story goes and will be reading book 2!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: Hate List

Author: Jennifer Brown
Publish date: 2009
Source: Classroom library
"Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.
" (Goodreads)

I don't really know how to explain my feelings about Hate List. I didn't love the book, but I didn't dislike it, and it's hard to pinpoint exactly what I liked and didn't like. I'll do my best to break it down!

What I liked:

1. The title. Hate List is short, but powerful. I like that you learn just from the blurb what it means and how it fits into the story.

2. The past and present narration. I liked reading about Valerie's feelings before and after the shooting.

3. The newspaper articles. I liked reading the reporter's take on the victims and what happened that day. It was a nice change of pace from just Valerie's POV.

What I didn't like:

1. I felt like I couldn't really connect with Valerie and Nick. I don't think I was supposed to connect with Nick (maybe?), but I don't know. I didn't dislike Val as a main character, but I never quite liked her. Basically I felt that the same way about the book as I felt about Val.

2. I didn't like everything else that happened besides the shooting, like Valerie's parents issues and them pretty much hating her. It was just too much going on in one book.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Beauty

Author: Robin McKinley
Publish date: 1978
Source: Classroom library
"Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?"

Robin McKinley's beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple, Beauty and the Beast.
" (Goodreads)

I first heard of Robin McKinley when I added The Hero and the Crown to my TBR list on Goodreads after reading a list of great fantasy somewhere. I wish I could remember where! Anyway, I now have a variety of McKinley's novels in my classroom and my coworker recommended Beauty, so I brought it home to read over winter break and it ended up being my first read of 2012!

Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I was a little worried that it might get tiresome since I know the story, but it wasn't at all! The book is slow, but a good kind of slow. It takes a while to get to the point of meeting the Beast, but I enjoyed all the back story and learning about Beauty and her family. I thought the ending came up a bit quickly, but I suppose I was used to the slow pacing of the earlier parts of the story.

One thing I really loved was McKinley's writing. It was just beautiful and I found myself rereading certain sentences because they were so wonderful. I also used a couple as examples of great writing in my English classes. I will be book talking this soon and can't wait to read more of McKinley's work. I am thinking The Hero and the Crown next?