Thursday, July 17, 2014

Trilogy Talk: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

I first discovered Veronica Rossi and Under the Never Sky when I was getting ready to go to RT Teen Day back in 2012, which was in Chicago (and really that long ago? Wow!). The night before Teen Day, Anderson's in Naperville had a Spring into the Future tour stop, featuring Rossi, Cynthia Hand, Tahereh Mafi, and Anna Carey. I got UTNS signed, thinking it was a book I'd love...

Then I tried reading it a month or two later and HATED it. I gave up after 100 pages, completely confused about everything and feeling very meh. Fast forward to January this year: on one of our bazillion snow and/or cold days off from school, I was stuck at home and had just finished the only book I'd brought home from my classroom library, not expecting a day off. I was looking through my books at home (which is surprisingly not many) and saw the tossed-aside UTNS. For whatever reason, I decided to give it another try and miraculously, I really enjoyed it. I pushed through the confusing parts at the beginning and everything started to come together and become a really enjoyable book.

I didn't like TTEN and ITSB as much as UTNS, but they were still interesting and I felt pretty satisfied by the end of the series despite giving the last two books only 3 stars each. Sometimes's Rossi's writing style was too much for me and it's for that reason that I never wanted to just sit and read without stopping. I'd read a chapter or two, then do something else, then go back to the book. She did a nice job of recapping events and characters in TTEN and ITSB without being obvious, so that was nice for people like me who have a hard time remembering events in series books.

Right now, this series is not popular at school but it should be, so I plan on pushing it on students who like science fiction and dystopias. The dual narration is a great way to get students invested, although the covers are not. Man, do I not like these covers! Talk about cheese! Good thing we don't just books by covers, right?


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor

Publish date: May 2014
Source: Conference
Format: ARC
Length: 288 pages
"Sky and River have always lived on Island, the only world they’ve ever known. Until the day River spots a boat. Across Ocean, in a place called California, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she’s just met. Here the rules for survival are different. People rely on strange things like cars and cell phones. They keep secrets from one another. And without River, nothing makes sense. Sky yearns for her old life where she was strong and capable, not lost and confused. She must find River so they can return to Island, but the truth behind how they ended up there in the first place will come as the biggest shock of all." (Goodreads)

I had never heard of Searching for Sky until I was given some books from a conference to put in my classroom library (which I am incredibly grateful for!). Of course, I brought a couple stacks home to read over the summer (plus the library, plus my kindle, plus I buy books...oops) and read Searching for Sky on my recent camping trip. I liked it!

Basically Sky and River have spent their whole lives on Island until they are taken away back to California. Sky lives with her grandmother and has to learn about our lives here in the US while trying to figure out what happened to her, why she was on the island, and why she was taken from it.

The plot is intriguing in itself--how can it not be? It was interesting to watch Sky learn how to do basic things here, like use a fork, and I was curious the whole time about her family's backstory. The book is a quick read and I was completely sucked in until about 75% through, when things started to get a bit too dramatic for me. Before that point, it was a 4 star read for sure.

I think my students will like this one a lot, especially those that like dystopian stories. Has anyone else read this? Thoughts?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
Format: Paperback
Length: 324 pages
"Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.
" (Goodreads)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a strange book. It sounded really intriguing to me, almost like a Gone Girl-esque novel, but it was very different. I ultimately gave it 3.5 stars rounded to 4 on Goodreads.

It was very readable because of the different narrative formats. There are conversations between characters, musings of a few, and letters/emails from one character to another. The different types kept the story moving and kept me intrigued the whole time.

I didn't give it a higher rating than 3.5 because I felt like most of the action happened right at the end. There was a lot of build up to Bernadette's disappearance and I wanted it to happen earlier so I could read more about Bee looking for her mom. The ending seemed a bit abrupt because of that but it was still entertaining.

You should check out Where'd You Go, Bernadette if you are looking for a quirky mystery or something different from the usual. I'm not sure if I would call it YA, but it definitely has YA appeal and I'm looking forward to recommending it to students this fall.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Publish date: 2009
Source: library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 290 pages
"According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.
" (Goodreads)

I don't remember why I had Twenty Boy Summer on my TBR list. It doesn't really seem like a me book, especially since I am not into beach books as much as the typical YA fan. Don't hate me, but I start to feel like they are all the same after a while. Anyway though, I've been on a contemp kick lately and was going through my TBR list on Goodreads and seeing what my library had and thus...Twenty Boy Summer.

First of all, ignore the title. Yes, it's part of the book, but I think it's really misleading to use that phrase as the title. You know immediately by getting to know Anna (who I liked) that the title doesn't fit with her and I wish they had picked something else. I liked the beach setting more than usual, although I thought there was a little too much description of it, but not a huge deal.

I appreciated that this was more than a summer at the beach story. It was about dealing with grief and friendship with the convenient backdrop of a California beach and local boys. I also liked some aspects of the ending and if you've read it, you probably know what I am talking about. While I didn't love the book, I did like it and would recommend to contemp fans.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Publish date: 2013
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 388 pages
"It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. 

As Anna sets out to find her friend's killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge's decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine...
" (Goodreads)

Over the past year, I saw one or two reviews of Dangerous Girls, but never thought much about it until my friend Elizabeth read it and really liked it. I was able to get it through my state's inter-library loan system (which is very useful! Thanks MeLCat!) and devoured it in two days. I easily could have read it in one day because it was THAT addicting!

I don't want to say too much about the plot because you get the basics in the blurb and I don't want to give anything else away. Essentially, Anna goes to Aruba for spring break with her BFF Elise, her bf Tate, and some other friends. They are all having fun until Elise is found murdered and Anna is a suspect. I was completely sucked in by the plot and never wanted to put it down so I could keep reading and find out what actually happened. I felt completely anxious and just needed to keep reading to see if my suspicions were correct (and I'm not telling if they were!).

If you are looking for a page-turner or something to pull you out of a slump, I highly recommend Dangerous Girls. It reminded me of Gone Girl in terms of my general anxiety and need to keep reading, so if that appeals to you, go for it! Definitely one of the best books I've read this year.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review: The Taking by Kimberly Derting

Publish date: April 2014
Source: Conference
Format: ARC
Length: 368 pages
"When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day. 

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?
" (Goodreads)

I went through a bit of a reading slump recently and was trying to find something that would grab my attention to help pull me back into reading. I knew I didn't want fantasy but after a string of contemps, I wanted something with a little more to it, so I decided to try The Taking. I had previously tried reading The Body Finder but gave up a few pages in, so I was a little leery going into another Derting novel. I did end up liking it but didn't love it (as seems to be my theme).

I read a few reviews before starting The Taking and liked that Lisa said it had an X-Files vibe to it. As a fellow X-Files fan, it definitely does, so if that's you, you'll probably like The Taking. Things are mysterious and we, along with Kyra, have no idea what happened to her in that five years. I loved that she hadn't aged at all. Definitely added more intrigue as to what might have happened to her.

Unfortunately, there were some aspects of this book I didn't like. There was major insta-love going on with Kyra and Tyler. I can handle most insta-love, but this kind was almost insane. He was 12 when she disappeared and now she's falling for him when it's only a day later for her? I don't believe that. I also wanted more closure at the end, but I get that this is the first in a trilogy.

If you're a Derting fan already or like your contemps with a splash of paranormal, try The Taking! If you want more than an easy read, though, I'd skip this one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is: top ten books on your summer TBR and wouldn't you know, I have a list on Goodreads just for this summer! That's how nerdy I am and how much I love Goodreads :)

In no particular order:

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: This one looks fun and I've been thinking about reading it for a year now. Also this is kind of cheating because I started reading it a couple days ago.

Winger by Andrew Smith: I've heard many good things about this and think it will be a hit with my students if I can read it and recommend it.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare: I can't believe I haven't read this! I've read The Infernal Devices (and loved them) but not the series that started it all. Very popular with my students and just something I need to read.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: This is in our English curriculum at school, but not in a class I teach. I still feel like I need to read this classic!

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi: This comes highly recommended by a friend and won a Michigan reading award, so I must get to it.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas: I've heard great things about this twisty mystery and it sounds right up my alley.

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick: This one, however, does NOT sound right up my alley, but a few of my big readers at school have all but insisted I read it, so I am going to give it a shot.

Altered by Jennifer Rush: I'm not a fan of the cover, but the premise sounds interesting and she's a Michigan author, so I have to, right?

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrell: I was supposed to listen to the audio of this from, but missed the download window. Good thing I have a copy in my classroom!

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo: I liked Shadow and Bone, but did not LOVE it. Bardugo is coming to Michigan next week with the Fierce Reads tour though, so I plan to at least give the sequel a try.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Publish Date: 2014
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Length: 520 pages
"Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean, in this thrilling, surprising, and thought-provoking debut novel that will appeal to fans of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, and The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood." (Goodreads)

From the above summary, Salvage sounds amazing! Spaceships, betrayal, floating continent of garbage and scrap, FANS OF ACROSS THE UNIVERSE?? I'm totally there. I think because of all that, my expectations were way too high because I felt totally let down when I finished Salvage.

When you read this, the first thing you notice about the writing is that the language is a bit different aboard Parastrata. It took a while for me to get used to, but eventually I figured out what the different words meant. At first it was a little annoying to deal with it, but it makes sense that language would be different in the future aboard a spaceship.

I really love reading about people living on spaceships, so I was disappointed that only about 1/4 of the book actually takes place in space (maybe even less). I guess when it was compared to Across the Universe, I figured there'd be more time in space, but no. I wasn't a big fan of Gyre or even the storyline there. Honestly, I had a hard time with this book and really wanted to like it so much more than I actually did. I appreciate what Duncan was trying to do, but it just didn't work for me, plus I think it could have easily been 100 pages shorter. 520 pages is a lot!!

I'm not sure who I would recommend this to. I have a hard time comparing it to Beth Revis's work and I don't know if my students would be willing to put in the time on this one, especially since the language makes it hard to get into. I would love to hear other people's thoughts though!

Monday, May 5, 2014

How and Why I Open My Classroom Library During The Summer

Over the last couple weeks on Twitter, I've noticed that teachers are starting to ask if other teachers/school librarians open their libraries during the summer for student use. My answer to that question is YES!! Here's why/how:

1. First of all, why not? The books will just sit there otherwise, unread by anyone but me (if I go in and get them), so why not let students borrow them? Last summer I went in every Thursday morning for a couple hours (sometimes with a fellow teacher) so students could come and return/borrow more books. Sometimes no one came; sometimes 5 people came. Regardless of how many, I'm always happy to see books going home with students. This summer I plan on being there at least once a week, probably more. I'd like to pick an evening to be there so students can come by then if they can't make the morning time.

2. Not all of the townships in my school district have access to our public library. The township I live in, for example, does not support the library, so I pay for a card every year (the amount the average tax payer contributes). Thankfully, I can afford this, but not many students can. I like to be a resource for books during the summer and am sometimes the only resource.

3. I love talking books and talking to students, so it's great to able to continue that in June, July, and August. After talking about books daily during the school year, I miss it during the summer! It's nice to have that opportunity to catch up about books and life in general one or two days a week.

4. Like I said earlier, last year I went in one morning per week and this summer, I'd like to be there one morning and one evening. I'm also available by Twitter and email for students to contact me if they are looking for a certain book or they can't come in at my regular times. I'm happy to pop into school at another time or leave a book in the office for them to pick up.

Do any of you, fellow teachers or school librarians, open your libraries during the summer? I'm curious to find out what everyone does!

My wall of books that students can pick from!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Break Reading!

My spring break officially starts today at 11am! I am heading to Las Vegas with my mom and sister to visit my grandparents and plan on getting a lot reading in between the plane rides and relaxation time during our week there. This is what I'm bring with me:

And on my kindle, I hope to get to: 

I'm currently reading The Sea of Tranquility (and enjoying it!) and hope to finish it on the plane ride. Who knows which one I'll read next!

What are your spring break reading plans?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Spring 2014 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is one of my personal favorites, TBR lists! Below are ten books I'd like to read this spring!

1. Dangerous by Shannon Hale: She is coming to a bookstore near me today and I plan on getting her newest book, Dangerous, signed (along with The Goose Girl)!

2. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan: I read The Lightning Thief earlier this year and am looking forward to continuing the series!

3. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales: A few students have gushed over this one and said I need to read it, so I am making a point to get to it soon. Maybe over spring break? Good plane reading?

4. The Forsaken by Lisa Stasse: Another student rec that sounds pretty good!

5. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger: I've been meaning to read this one for a while and am determined to finally read it this spring.

6. The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson: I am thinking about binge reading this whole series! Yay or nay?

7. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows: I have this on my kindle and am thinking of reading it over spring break

8. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: I've been meaning to read this forever and am thinking it's the perfect time because Leigh is coming to Michigan with the Fierce Reads tour in June!

9. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski: This one sounds awesome!

10. Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock: I need to finish DJ's story :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 368 pages
"Incapable. Awkward. Artless. That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because tonight, they’ll come for her.
" (Goodreads)

I really thought I would love Crewel. It's been in my classroom library for a while, the subject seemed really interesting, and the cover is pretty. It all added up to what I thought would be a win for me, but I didn't end up loving it as much as I wanted to.

Gennifer Albin has created a really interesting world here with Crewel, but I spent a majority of the book confused about what was happening. The idea of weaving time with matter is really interesting, but I didn't think the concept was explained enough. I also wish there was more background with Adelice's family at the beginning of the book. Apparently I needed more explanation about everything!

That all said, I don't think Crewel was a bad book by any means, just not my thing. I have many students who absolutely loved it and we even considered it for a book club pick last year. I was intrigued by the very end though; will I like Altered more than Crewel? Feel free to advise in the comments!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Popular Authors I've Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is near and dear to my heart, as I often am sad when I think about all the books I need to read and how I won't ever get to all of them! Here are 10 popular authors I have yet to read:

1. Richelle Mead

2. Melina Marchetta

3. Khaled Hosseini

4. Sherman Alexie

5. Stephen King

6. Neil Gaiman

7. Ally Carter

8. A.S. King

9. Tamora Pierce

10. Holly Black (I am currently listening to Coldtown now though!)

Monday, March 3, 2014

At School: Literacy Displays

As most of you know, in addition to being a reader, I'm also a high school English and Spanish teacher. I thought it might be fun to talk a bit about what my coworkers and I do at work to encourage reading and create a culture of literacy at our school. I thought I'd start with a post about one of the most fun things I personally am doing this year: a reading display on my classroom door.
Picture taken in January. Number is up to 51 now!

I borrowed/stole the idea from Jillian (thanks!), who tweeted about it a while ago, and have seen a few other people create these types of displays as well. It was easy to do it: I created a small sign that says "This school year, Ms. Farlie has read _____ novels! Have you read any of them?" I had it laminated and now I just update the number with a dry erase marker every time I finish a book. I print book covers four to a page and tape them up around the sign. I have to say, I really look forward to adding books to the door! I think it makes me read more :)

The display itself has inspired some great conversations with kids and I already know it's helping them discover more books. I notice students checking the display as they walk down the hall or as they come into class, noticing when I add another cover or if my number goes up a few after a long weekend or a snow day. Sometimes I overhear conversations about the door from students I don't even have, especially after school!

I love what this display has done to encourage talking about literacy and to introduce students to more books that they might not notice on the shelves. 50 Cent's Playground has been popular this year, partly due to students noticing the cover on the door as they walk in. I've also had quite a few questions about Marie Lu's Legend series and The One and Only Ivan. I love all of these books getting more exposure!

If you are thinking about creating a literacy display, I'd really recommend doing one like this where students can see it easily. I also have a "currently reading" sign in the narrow window next to my door, so my students are able to check both out as they walk by or in the door. Both are fun, simple, and informative and let me display my reading life for everyone to see :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 352 pages
"Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .
" (Goodreads)

Let me start by saying that this cover is weird! It's creepy and so white and the 2 colored eyes just weird me out. I know they redid the covers for Enders and I don't think they're any better. Just had to get that off my chest!

I read Starters because it's been popular in my classes. One of my students gave a book talk on it and when I asked how many others had read it, a lot of hands went up. Whenever my students really like a book and I haven't read, I always make a point to get to it soon. I read it over a couple days and enjoyed it, although it wasn't my favorite.

In a time with a lot of similar sounding science fiction/futuristic novels, I thought this plot was pretty original. Callie rents her body out to Enders so they can kind of relive their youths in younger bodies. I was entertained throughout most of the book, but felt like the writing started to falter a little toward the end. It was basically just an ok book for me; nothing outstanding but still a fairly fun book. I would say read it if you like the genre!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Publish date: 2005
Source: Classroom Library
Format: Paperback
Length: 377 pages
"Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves
." (Goodreads)

I feel like Percy Jackson might be the younger generation's Harry Potter. There will always only be Harry Potter for me, but Percy Jackson is a good second place. I vaguely knew about this series but never paid much attention to them since they came out at the end of my high school years and while I was in college, when I didn't read much and definitely was not keeping up on YA/MG lit. Rick Riordan's books are VERY popular with my students though, particularly this year's freshmen, so I figured I needed to read them. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked The Lightning Thief!

I don't know much about mythology, so I was a little worried going into the book, but I had no problem getting sucked into Percy's world! Percy is new to all of it too, so we get to learn with him and if you're like me, it's a nice introduction to the topic. I liked all of the side characters, especially Grover, and found it fun to follow their adventures. I'm definitely planning on reading the next book, The Sea of Monsters, although I'm told the Heroes of Olympus series is even better!

If you are looking for a fun adventure series with some heart, check out The Lightning Thief! Or am I the last person who hadn't read it until now?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Reader

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I haven't taken part in a while, but I love this week's topic!

Not in order, of course. I love being a reader because...

1. Reading relaxes me! After a long day I work, I love coming home to unwind with a book. I would much rather read than watch TV or surf the internet.

2. Reading makes you better at EVERYTHING. Seriously. Makes you a better writer, increases vocabulary, teaches you about new topics, increases concentration in general, better critical thinking skills, etc.

3. I love seeing how creative authors are. I don't consider myself to be a creative person, so my mind sometimes is blown at crazy plot twists or intricately created fantasy worlds.

4. Going to author events at bookstore and libraries is really fun. My go to bookstore for events has had some great ones, most recently Marissa Meyer. I've also met Meg Cabot and the Smart Chicks Kick It ladies a few years ago and plan on seeing Shannon Hale there in March!

5. Having favorite books in common with someone is a great way to bond. Automatic conversations there!

6. I know how awesome my local library is. My library system has a great YA section and impressive collection of audiobooks and graphic novels.

7. I can help my students become readers. Being a reader yourself is absolutely crucial if you want your students to become readers. Let them see you as an example. I think I need a post about this.

8. I am always entertained at a moment's notice, with either a book I have with me or with one on my kindle app on my phone. Never bored!

9. I can be in whatever kind of world I want: a Wisconsin dairy farm, the prairie, a spaceship, Hogwarts, the Congo, post-Civil War, anything.

10. With blogs and twitter, my reading community has exploded and I couldn't be more grateful. I love that some people I've bonded with over books have become real life friends :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 272 pages
"The Congo is a dangerous place, even for people who are trying to do good.

When one girl has to follow her mother to her sanctuary for bonobos, she's not thrilled to be there. It's her mother's passion, and she'd rather have nothing to do with it. But when revolution breaks out and their sanctuary is attacked, she must rescue the bonobos and hide in the jungle. Together, they will fight to keep safe, to eat, and to survive.

Eliot Schrefer asks readers what safety means, how one sacrifices to help others, and what it means to be human in this new compelling adventure.
" (Goodreads)

Endangered is a great example of a book that seems totally not for me. The setting, the storyline, the cover, all of it just screams a great book for someone, but that someone isn't me. Obviously, though, I did read it. I kept seeing it on my shelf at school and saw that a few Goodreads friends had given it good reviews, so I brought it home and read it over a few days last December. To my surprise, I liked it!

Even though I didn't absolutely love Endangered, I did like it, and can think of students I would recommend it to. It's a great example of a survival story: Sophie has to survive in a jungle by herself with a group of bonobos and no other humans for the most part. I wouldn't have made it, that's for sure, but I still like reading survival stories (apparently they teach me I wouldn't make it). It was interesting to learn about bonobos and animal sanctuaries, two things I know very little about.

Just like my Under the Never Sky lesson last week (right book, right time), this book gave me a another mini-lesson for my students (and me): leaving your reading comfort zone can be scary and uncomfortable, but is often really rewarding. I'm definitely glad I read Endangered and expanded my world a bit. I'm looking forward to exploring Schrefer's other work!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Publish date: 2012
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Length: 374 pages
"Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland--known as The Death Shop--are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild--a savage--and her only hope of staying alive. 

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile--everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.
" (Goodreads)

Under the Never Sky and I have a history. I bought it from Anderson's when I went to the Spring into the Future signing the night before RT Teen Day in Chicago. It was in 2012, but I swear it was just last year! Anyway, I bought it and had Veronica Rossi sign it without having read it, just assuming I'd like it. I tried reading it for the first time during a readathon and quit after 100 pages. I was completely lost and just wasn't getting into it at all. I was especially bummed because I loved meeting Veronica and thought she was hilarious and fun to listen to.

Fast forward to last month when we had a two snow days to start the week and I'd run out of books to read, having brought home and read Starters and The Caged Graves from my classroom library. Nothing sounded good on my kindle, so I was looking through my own books, hoping something would jump out at me, when I decided to give UTNS another shot. Amazingly, I got really into it and loved it!

The beginning of Under the Never Sky is really confusing, to me at least, and if you are thinking about reading it, just push through and keep going. Once you get about a third in, things really click and it becomes hard to put down. I read it over 2 days and was happy I picked it up when I didn't have to work--it would have been hard to stop reading! I was sucked into the story and found it to be a fresh take on the dystopian/futuristic science fiction genre. I still have a lot of questions about the world building, but I'm hoping they will be answered in Through the Ever Night (which I am currently reading).

I used my experience with Under the Never Sky as an example to my students of reading the right book at the right time. The first time I tried to read it, it didn't work out at all, either due to readathon burn out or just not feeling the genre. After a long break and needing a new book though, UTNS clicked! I definitely am wondering now if I should go back to any books I DNFed to try again...

Friday, January 31, 2014

Review: The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

Publish date: May 2013
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 329 pages
"17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.

Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance, and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core.
" (Goodreads)

I first heard about The Caged Graves when I was at ALA and was immediately sucked in by the cover and title while walking around one day. It came out in May, so we got copies for our classroom libraries this fall and I can't believe I waited until now to read it! I absolutely loved it!

The Caged Graves is basically my favorite kind of historical fiction, in that the setting doesn't overwhelm the story. I love historical fiction, but find that sometimes the setting takes over, which usually means I'm not a fan of the book. Instead, the time period of just after the Civil War was a great complement to Verity's story. I loved Verity herself and all of her intelligence and curiosity. Also: she decided to come back to Catawissa to enter her marriage. I think the blurb makes it seem like the was forced into it. Nope.

I really love that there are actual caged graves in Catawissa. Author Dianne Salerni found them in an abandoned graveyard and after not being able to find out why the cages were there, decided to write a book about them. It's just the best when historical fiction makes me want to learn more about actual events, so you better believe if I ever go to PA, I will be going to see these cages!

If you are in the mood for addicting and interesting historical fiction, check out The Caged Graves! I don't think it's gotten the attention it deserves and I look forward to pushing it on people :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio (January Adventures through Awkwardness)

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 315 pages
"August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
" (Goodreads)

So obviously I've heard of Wonder...who hasn't? Everyone loves this book but I still didn't feel the need to read it, probably because of the age of Auggie. What can I say? I tend to be drawn to books with older protagonists. I figured it would make a good choice for January's Adventures through Awkwardness challenge, since the genre is contemporary, and I was right!

Wonder is the story of Auggie, born with a facial deformity and starting 5th grade. He's never been to a real school before and is afraid of being the new kid, like we all would be. The story is essentially his 5th grade school year, taking us through the ups and downs of being the new kid and him trying to show his classmates that he's just a normal person too. Some of the kids were predictably terrible to him but some were surprisingly nice and providing some good moments in the book. Auggie's parents were very supportive, which was nice to see as well. I didn't really have any issues with the storyline.

The one thing that kind of confused me while reading was the multiple points of view. I liked reading from Via's POV but didn't think any of the others were necessary. I thought they took away from the story, especially a few that only were around for a few pages. I also had issues with certain conflicts not being resolved, but instead just forgotten about (but maybe that's just me reading this as an adult reader).

Overall, I think Wonder has huge appeal for late elementary and middle school readers. I know some teachers are starting to include this in their curriculum, which is great, and should provide some excellent conversations in class. If you've read it, what did you think?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Audiobook Review: Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Narrator: Natalie Moore
Publish date: 2006
Source: Library
Length: 6 hours 7 minutes
"When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right. 

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D. J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.
" (Goodreads)

I'd been meaning to read Dairy Queen for quite a while, mostly because of people's reviews and not because the book necessarily sounded like my kind of book. I'm usually a tough sell on contemps, so it took me a while to decide to read it. I actually picked up the audiobook at the library, which is a good way for me to read books I'm feeling iffy about. Dairy Queen, though, ended up being great and I really wish I hadn't waited so long to read it!

One of the reasons I liked Dairy Queen was not the sports aspect of it, as I'm not a football person, but it was where D.J. lived and what her family did. I live and teach in a rural area myself (although did not grow up in one) and really enjoyed that a lot of this book took place on a Wisconsin dairy farm. Farming and rural areas are not well represented in YA, as far as I can tell, so it was refreshing to take in that setting and read about those activities.

I thought the narrator, Natalie Moore, was a great choice for D.J. Her voice definitely sounded like a teenager and I loved her accent. Listening to this book was the right choice for me since D.J. rambles sometimes and I think that would have gotten a little boring to read. It was also just over 6 hours, making for a nice, quick read.

Basically this was a solid contemp that had lots of great elements: family dynamics, friendship issues, romance but not too much of it, and really D.J. just trying to figure out what she wants. I've already requested the audio of book 2 from the library and I love the cover with the cow!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Publish date: 2013
Source: Classroom Library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 352 pages
"Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
" (Goodreads)

I had heard of this book earlier this year, but didn't pay much attention to it. However, after seeing consistently high ratings from friends on twitter and Goodreads, I decided it was time to try it out. I brought it home over winter break from my classroom library and spent a few hours kicking myself, wondering why it took so long for me to read this! Pivot Point was excellent and I think it deserves more attention.

First of all, I like the concept of the advanced psychological abilities and Addie's skill of Searching. How many of us have wanted to see into our futures to see if we're making the right choices? I know I have. I liked that each chapter alternated between her potential future with her mom at the Compound and another life with her dad in the real world. It was interesting to see what Addie knew about in the real world in terms of what we know is normal and to see what abilities other people at the compound had. All fun to read about!

I also really liked that this book wasn't just about meeting guys and falling in love. Addie has complicated relationships with boys, her parents, and her friends, making the book that much more enjoyable. I think I initially didn't pay attention to Pivot Point when it came out because the synopsis makes it seem like it's all about boys, but the book is about much more than that.

If you are looking for an interesting take on powers, but a book that reads more like a contemporary, try Pivot Point! I would not consider myself a big paranormal fan, but I was very pleasantly surprised by this (and it really does seem like realistic fiction!).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Middle Grade Challenge: Adventures Through Awkwardness

Well, I've decided to take part in a reading challenge this year! The wonderful Lisa (Lisa is Busy Nerding) and Amy (Tripping Over Books) are hosting a 2014 Middle Grade Challenge called Adventures Through Awkwardness. If you like MG or want to read more MG, sign up!

I never considered myself a fan of middle grade until recently, due to reading Counting by 7s last year and The Lightning Thief (my first book of 2014!). I really liked both and it made me realize that there is awesome stuff in MG that I don't know anything about! That definitely needs to change.

Check out Lisa or Amy's blog to find out the details for the challenge, but basically there's a genre within MG assigned to each month. Read a book within that genre and post your review that month, linking up to either Lisa or Amy's post (depending on who is hosting). Easy!

January's genre is contemporary, so I was thinking of reading Wonder by RJ Palacio (if students don't have it checked out) or a fun looking one I have at school, Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur. Looking ahead, February is fantasy, so that might be a good time to read more Percy Jackson with The Sea of Monsters!

Please let me know if you have any MG suggestions!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Publish date: August 2013
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 384 pages
"Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life... until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.
" (Goodreads)

I will be honest: I would not have read Counting by 7s if my coworker, another English teacher, hadn't mentioned how much she loved it. I obviously noticed it as I shelved it in my classroom library, but it didn't jump out at me, screaming to be read. I decided to read it because I trust her recommendations and wow, was she right! This book was amazing!

Counting by 7s is middle grade, but don't let that deter you (if it does). I would not call myself a reader of MG by any means, but I absolutely adored this and it changed my mind about what MG lit can be. I was completely sucked into Willow's story and could have easily read this in one day if I'd had the time. I essentially loved every single thing about this story and wish I could spend more time with the characters.

I also loved Holly Goldberg Sloan's writing style here, which definitely fit with Willow's quirky characteristics. It wasn't like the book was narrated by her, but the third person omniscient just fit so well here. Typically that style does not mesh with me, but not the case!

It's hard for me to explain exactly why I liked this one so much, so just take my word for it. This is a solid, wonderfully written middle grade about the power of family and friendship and finding your people that everyone should read. Quite possibly my favorite book of 2013!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Publish date: September 24, 2013
Source: ALA
Format: ARC
Length: 320 pages
"Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….
" (Goodreads)

While attending the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago over the summer, I met the fabulous and amazing Mindy McGinnis, whose debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink, was published in September. I actually met her at a meet-up Friday night (along with Debra Driza!) and then went to her signing at the Harper Collins booth the next day. She is smart and hilarious and you will love her if you get the chance to meet her. I hope I can go to another of her signings someday so I can tell her how much I loved Not a Drop to Drink!

The premise of Not a Drop to Drink is amazing because it is so scarily real. Limited drinking water creating havoc in the future? I can definitely imagine that (and am happy I have a pond at my house...just in case!). Lynn lives with her mom, guarding their pond from people trying to steal water. This is definitely a survival story, so if you are looking for a government conspiracy dystopian, this isn't it. But read this one too!

McGinnis's writing style works perfectly with the events happening in the book. It's concise and straightforward, with no extra words, working perfectly with the tone and mood of the novel. At first I was a little put off by it, until I realized more of what the story was about and then it made perfect sense.

Not a Drop to Drink was my favorite debut I read last year and one of my favorite 2013 reads, period. In my 2013 book survey, I classified it under science-fiction, but I don't even know that it really is. Read it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

Publish date: December 24, 2013
Source: ALA
Format: ARC
Length: 288 pages
"When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.
" (Goodreads)

I read Roomies over the summer after picking up an ARC from the generous publishers at ALA in Chicago. I have previously loved Sara Zarr's Story of a Girl and How to Save a Life, so I was sure I'd like her newest, co-written with Tara Altebrando. Books with two authors fascinate me, as I don't think I'm the type that could do that, but this book turned out fantastically with two excellent authors.

Roomies is written from two points of view: Elizabeth and Lauren, two girls who will be roommates during their freshmen year of college. Zarr writes from Lauren's POV and Altebrando writes Elizabeth's, which works out very well here (although if you've read How to Save a Life, you know Zarr can do two POV's masterfully). I loved how different both girls were and how true to life the story was in terms of starting college. You room with someone you don't know, sometimes leave family behind, and start over in a new place.

I was surprised at how much I ended up enjoying Roomies. I thought it was well-written and brought me back to that summer after high school when I "met" my freshman roommate for the first time via phone and email. It was a summer of beginnings and endings, and I think Zarr and Altebrando captured that perfectly. This book hasn't gotten a lot of attention, but it's definitely a solid contemporary you should read. I'm picky about my realistic fiction, so if I recommend one, you know it's good :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My 2013 Book Survey

I'm back! (I think.) I took an unofficial break from blogging there for a few months, but I'm ready to start again with reviews and Top Ten Tuesdays. Over the last month or so, I've been missing writing reviews and interacting with other bloggers, so the new year seemed like a great time to start posting again.

I'm starting the year with my 2013 book survey and I'll post some reviews after that!

This fun survey was created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner, one of my favorite bloggers. All questions belong to her and answers to me :) All links go to Goodreads!

1. Best book you read in 2013 (broken down by genre for me)

Contemporary/realistic: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell; Counting by 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan; The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Science fiction/fantasy: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis (is it sci-fi?); The Program by Suzanne Young; Pivot Point by Kasie West

Historical fiction: Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson

Audiobook: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love, but didn't?

This seemed to be the year that books fell short for me, so just to name a few: Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson, Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols, Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, and Defiance by CJ Redwine. OH and Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney.

3. Most surprising (in a good way) book of 2013?

Pivot Point! I was not expecting to like it as much as I did.

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people the most?

Probably The Program. My student book club read it and it became very popular at school, which is awesome!

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Pivot Point and The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe (have only read the first of each series)

6. Favorite new author you discovered?

Rainbow Rowell, for sure! I loved Attachments, Eleanor & Park, and Fangirl this year.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone?

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer. I didn't think I would like it, but I did!

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book of 2013?

Either The Program or The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.

9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to reread?

I don't reread much, but I found it was really helpful to reread Divergent & Insurgent and Legend & Prodigy before finishing the respective series, so probably...The Program or The Way We Fall.

10. Favorite cover?

11. Most memorable character?

Probably Cath from Fangirl. I found a lot of myself in her. And definitely Willow from Counting by 7's.

12. Most beautifully written book?

I loved the writing style of Counting by 7's and The One and Only Ivan.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you?

Hmm...The Program brought up a lot of great questions that really made me think. Professionally, Kelly Gallagher's Readicide will make you rethink reading in schools. Read it.

14. Book you can't believe you waited until 2013 to FINALLY read?

The Scorpio Races, although I listened to that one on audio.

15. Favorite passage or quote?

Yeah, let's pretend I remember or even write those down. Oops.

16. Shortest and longest books you read in 2013?

Shortest was Fables Volume 1: Legends in Exile at 128 pages (graphic novel)

Longest was The Diviners by Libba Bray at 578 pages (and I felt EVERY ONE of those pages)

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to someone about it?

Allegiant, for sure.

18. Favorite relationship from a book?

How about Eleanor and Park? :)

19. Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you read previously?

Either Scarlet by Marissa Meyer or Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

20. Best book you read in 2013 that you read solely based on the recommendation of someone else?

I read Counting by 7's based on my coworker's recommendation and absolutely LOVED it.

21. Genre you read the most?

Science-fiction/fantasy, followed by contemporary, graphic novels, nonfiction, and historical fiction.

22. Newest fictional crush?

Yeah, not that kind of person :)

23. Best 2013 debut?

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis. Met Mindy at ALA and she is amazing!

24. Most vivid world/imagery?

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson felt like it took me back in time

25. Book that was the most fun to read?

It was really fun to reread the Divergent series before starting Allegiant. I really enjoyed Divergent for the second time.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry?

I'm not a crier with books, but The One and Only Ivan brought out some feelings.

27. Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked?

Roomies but it did just come out in December! I also don't think Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight got enough attention.

I'm going to skip most of the blogging questions, since I was a sad excuse of a blogger this year, but I will say I did not reach my reading goal. I originally set it at 120 books, but changed it to 100 around October when I realized there's no way I'd hit 120. By December 31, I'd read 85 novels/graphic novels//audiobooks in 2013. I did not count picture books toward my total.

Looking Ahead!

1. One book you didn't get to in 2013 but will be a priority in 2014?

Cress by Marissa Meyer. I got an ARC at ALA and have been passing it around to students, but still haven't gotten to it myself. I plan on it being my next book or the one after.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2014?

Sisters' Fate by Jessica Spotswood and The Treatment by Suzanne Young! Both sequels to favorite series.

3. 2014 debut you are most anticipating?

I have no idea! I haven't been keeping up with debuts, sadly.

4. Series ending you are most anticipating?

Sisters' Fate!

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2014?

Reading-wise, I'd like to read 100 books. Definitely do-able, especially if I keep up with reading over the summer and don't get distracted by Netflix :)

Blogging-wise, I'd like to blog! I want to stay motivated and write book reviews and TTT's. I took a break last year because it felt like work, but now I'm missing it and ready to start again!