Tuesday, October 14, 2014

TTT: Top 10 Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Top Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit

Barcelona
ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Stephanie Perkins

Prague
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor

Hogwarts
The HARRY POTTER series by JK Rowling

Paris
STARRY NIGHTS by Daisy Whitney

Coldtown
THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN by Holly Black

Cinque Terre, Italy
WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN by Kristin Rae

The Winter Olympics
GOLD MEDAL WINTER by Donna Freitas

Backstage on a Concert Tour
OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord

New Orleans
INFINITYGLASS by Myra McEntire & OUT OF THE EASY by Ruta Sepetys

Midnight Gulch
A SNICKER OF MAGIC by Natalie Lloyd

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Some More of What I've Been Reading Lately

A busy start to the school year meant not much blogging. It always surprises me even how little reading I get done in the first two weeks of a new school year, but I've been getting back into it. These are the books I've been reading since I got back to start working in my classroom mid-August. Almost all of these are ones I'd consider adding to my classroom library. I'm letting you know why I chose to read it, and then my quick thoughts after reading it (which can also been seen on my goodreads account). Happy reading!

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
(I know, I know, it doesn't come out until June 2015, but I want you to know about it and I hope you'll check out her other books, too.)
I have loved both of Trish Doller's previous books, Something Like Normal & Where the Stars Still Shine, and could not wait to read her next one. There is just something about her writing and her characters that has undoubtedly pushed her onto my must-buy & favorite authors list.
This book, following up Boy Nobody, hits the right notes of keeping the things I enjoyed from the first book while still making it fresh and moving the overall plot forward. Getting to know the main character more, and getting to find out more about the organization behind his assassin work, led to a more engaging read where we're rooting for the main character to come out on top. There is action, excitement, and an intriguing sinister secret organization. I'm handing this to the video game loving boys in my classroom.

Killer Instinct (sequel to The Naturals) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
I couldn't wait to read this one after reading the first book and liking it so much (as do my students who have read it). It is a can't-stop-reading kind of book.
This is a fantastic series. Highly engaging, incredibly interesting, and unendingly thrilling. The mental and crime aspects are intriguing, and somewhat frightening. I hope there will be more to this series!





Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt
Another free verse book - yay. Another book addressing issues with bullying. Another book that will appeal to the boys in my classroom and help them see other perspectives on an issue that affects them.
A bully finds a different side to himself - there was more to him than anyone knew. He is the poetry bandit, sharing found poems, and telling his story in free verse.

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
I had been hearing so many good things about this middle grades book and needed a quick read. This was a perfect choice. Now I want to share it with our science teacher.
A great early middle grades book with heart. Science concepts tie in to make the family elements even stronger, and the humor inherent in the concept makes for an entertaining story.



Empower (the final book in the Embrace series) by Jessica Shirvington
I have been waiting and waiting for this digital copy to be available from my library. I could not stop reading the first four books in this series (I've been a fan since I had an ARC of the first book from my first NCTE convention).
A satisfying conclusion to an addictively readable series.

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
I had been hearing about this Swoon Reads title, a love story told from 14 different POVs, for awhile, and was in the mood for something light and fun.
Very unique concept to tell a romance story through 14 different voices - none of which are the couple at the center of the will they or won't they get together situation - and it succeeds. I especially smiled at the bench and squirrel voices every time. Added into the voices of a brother, friends, classmates, a professor, a diner waitress, a Chinese delivery guy, a bus driver, and a barista, it becomes easy to follow what's going on in Gabe's and Lea's lives throughout this school year at college. It's a quick read, a cute story, and has one of my all time favorite big brothers in any book. A Little Something Different is true to it's title, and is also fun to read and entertaining. It's a romance of two unsure people with missed opportunities and misunderstandings, and the way everyone around them sees what's happening and is rooting for them, even while they struggle to figure it out themselves. Although the characters are in college, the book is clean with just a bit of underage drinking (fake IDs are mentioned in the first line), but nothing else questionable, so this could be handed to students with other YA offerings. This is a book for the sky kids. If you're looking for a little something different in a sweet romance, try A Little Something Different.


I Am the Mission (Boy Nobody, renamed I Am the Weapon, book 2) by Allen Zadoff
I really enjoyed reading Boy Nobody last year, and knew that it would be the kind of action-packed, exciting book that would appeal to the boys in my classroom, so I was eager to find out what would happen next.
This book, following up Boy Nobody, hits the right notes of keeping the things I enjoyed from the first book while still making it fresh and moving the overall plot forward. Getting to know the main character more, and getting to find out more about the organization behind his assassin work, led to a more engaging read where we're rooting for the main character to come out on top. There is action, excitement, and an intriguing sinister secret organization. I'm handing this to the video game loving boys in my classroom.

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
This was highly recommended to me by one of the HarperCollins reps (thanks, Molly!) at ALA.
The Jewel is being compared to Kiera Cass' The Selection, and I think that's appropriate. They both have that same sense of being addictive reading (with some plot holes or unnecessary deviations) with instalove, but not being great literature. And talk about a cliffhanger ending... It's an interesting premise for a world, and there are hints of fascinating world-building, but I still didn't feel like I fully understood how/why things are like they are. But I still couldn't stop reading. It's full of political intrigue and societal commentary and a bit of a whole lot of stuff. Basically, I'll be waiting for the next book, and will have students who will like it, but it won't make a best of list for me. I would also recommend to readers who liked Aimee Carter's Pawn and Marie Rutkowski's The Winner's Curse.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Some of What I've Read Lately

I had a busy summer and beginning of the school year, and I've been trying to read as much as possible, which has led to not as much blogging happening. But I wanted to share some of what I read over the last part of summer that I've added to my classroom library so you can watch for these titles, too. I'm letting you know why I chose to read it, and then my quick thoughts after reading it (which can also been seen on my goodreads account). Happy reading!


The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley
The premise of this graphic novel was intriguing to me, the title is fun, and I'm always looking for new graphic novel stories to include in my classroom library.
Funny, entertaining, honest. An autobiographical graphic novel dealing with the author's start in coca in middle school and how he had self-published by age 15. I'm betting my students will enjoy this one.





Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
I've had this book on preorder since it was first announced. You can bet I was starting it as soon as I was able to get my hands on it. I loved Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, so I was anxious to read this final companion book. I love not only Perkins' love stories, but the unique ability she has to make a setting into its own character.
Worth the wait! Reading this book made me so happy, and I couldn't put it down until I was done. So, so good. This was a great story on its own and getting glimpses to catch up on the characters from the previous books was fun. Perkins once again exemplifies a city/setting becoming a character in her deft hands. Her romances are sweet and layered and not without their struggles, but they and her characters feel so real. Loved it!

The Bridge From Me to You by Lisa Schroeder
My students love Lisa's free verse books, and the storyline of this one intrigued me.
I enjoyed this story told in alternating voices and verse/prose, so we get both the boy's and the girl's perspective of a budding friendship between two kindred spirits. Having hopes beyond what parents can see, and feeling alone, Colby and Lauren find a friend who understands them just when they need it. My favorite part was seeing how their relationship developed and grew from when they first met through many interactions after. I have a feeling my students will really like this one. While I felt some parts happened too easily, there are some heavy themes addressed within. It's a quick read. I would recommend this to those who liked One for the Murphys.

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
There was a lot of buzz about this book in the middle school teacher and #weneeddiversebooks circles, so I wanted to read it and see what it was all about. Plus, I love heist stories.
Took a bit to get into it with the numerous characters and history to catch up on, but moved quickly after that. Fast-paced Ocean's 11 type heist story set in middle school. Entertaining. Perfect for fans of Heist Society and The Fourth Stall.




Atlantia by Ally Condie
It's Ally Condie! I was a huge fan of the Matched series, so I was anxiously awaiting her next book - and it's a standalone.
I was very much looking forward to Ally Condie's follow up to the Matched series, and although I wasn't as enamored with Atlantis as I was the first series, I still enjoyed reading it for it's uniqueness and heart and engaging writing style. I will definitely be handing this off to students this fall. It seems a bit of a quieter book (perhaps having to do with the underwater location), and has themes of religion and persecution and acceptance and trust and truth and family and determination and corruption and environmentalism and self-reliance woven throughout within a well-built world.


Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo
No matter how many people recommended Shadow & Bone to me, I was determined to wait until closer to the release of the third book to start it, and I still started too early in April. They were all right-it's an amazing series! I was dying for the final book to find out how this story would end-at least I didn't have too long to wait.
A satisfying end to a great series. Will continue to recommend to my students looking for an engaging YA fantasy trilogy.




The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
This one sounded like a powerful diverse story, and another free verse option, and she was signing at ALA, so I stopped by the publisher booth to get a signed copy.
Told in verse from a young girl's perspective, The Red Pencil is a powerful story of survival and finding hope in the midst of the horrors of war in Sudan, addressing the complications that go along with it in a way that is accessible to younger readers. Pair with A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story.



Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson
Terry saw on twitter that I was looking for 2014 middle grades books for my committee work & asked if she could send me her book to consider. I'm so glad she did because it was great!
Great story of survival and moving past grief. Love the Alaskan setting and the sled dogs and their relationship with strong, smart female main character. Pair with any survival story.






The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
So many teachers had been talking about this one toward the end of the year, and it sounded like it would especially hook all the basketball playing boys in my room. I'm always on the lookout for free verse books with guy appeal.
A story of family, basketball, and heart written in engaging verse.







Some Boys
by Patty Blount

I love her powerful, gritty, realistic stories of heavy issues that face teens today.
If the news reports are any indication, as it keeps happening over and over, there is a need for books for young adults that address rape, rape culture, slut shaming, spreading of viral videos of attacks, and consent. This can be one of those books, and because it is written in an engaging way, can aid in the conversations that should be happening. Patty Blount writes books about tough topics! that teens need to be reading. Having dual POVs provides the perspective of not only the survivor, but also the best friend of the attacker, giving a glimpse into both sides of a he said, she said story that is all too common. This is a book to pair with Speak, that adds the element of more of the post-technology advancements to the equation.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
The Legend series is a favorite, so had to read this one right away!
Lu has built an intriguing and dark new (old?) world. Power, trust, family, policy, royalty, fights, rulers, darkness, and magic abound. The last nine pages changed the game and left me anxious to read the next installment.









One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington
I really liked Shirvington's Embrace series, and this one sounded like an intriguing premise. Read this in one sitting because I couldn't go to sleep not knowing how it would end. Although elements were predictable, I enjoyed it. Think Every Day meets Pivot Point with a dash of Girl Interrupted.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ATLANTIA by Ally Condie + Giveaway

Title: ATLANTIA
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Children's (a Penguin imprint)
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Number of Pages: 368
Source of Book: ARC from Publisher at ALA

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?
        For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.
        Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

My Thoughts:
I was very much looking forward to Ally Condie's follow up to the Matched series, and although I wasn't as enamored with Atlantia as I was the first series, I still enjoyed reading it for it's uniqueness and heart and engaging writing style. I will definitely be handing this off to students this fall. It seems a bit of a quieter book (perhaps having to do with the underwater location), and has themes of religion and persecution and acceptance and trust and truth and family and determination and corruption and environmentalism and self-reliance woven throughout within a well-built world.


Because I ended up with a second advanced copy of Ally Condie's new book, Atlantia, in the mail (Thanks, Penguin Classroom!!),  I'm giving away an early ARC to one reader. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
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