Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (14)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting idea started by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've gotten that week to help publicize as many titles as possible. IMM is a semi-regular feature here on Teach 8 YA Book Blog to let my students know the books to be looking for on the classroom shelves and for blog readers to know what book reviews to anticipate along with building excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list. 

Won


RIVAL by Sara Bennett Wealer
One of The Contemps Challenge books
Signed by the author "May your friends be many and your rivals few!"  Thanks Sara!







For Review


BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young
Thanks to Simon & Schuster!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

FIRELIGHT by Sophie Jordan

Title: FIRELIGHT
Author: Sophie Jordan
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Number of Pages: 323
Source of Book: Bought the Hardcover on a recommendation
Author's Website: www.sophiejordan.net

Goodreads Summary:
A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love. 


Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form. 

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

*************************
I really like this book. It's a fantasy with a contemporary setting and feel to it. Once I started it, I didn't want to put it down. The pacing of the story made it a page-turner for me. Every chapter ending had me frantic to keep going in the story instead of putting my bookmark in the page. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Jacinda next. Sophie's writing is beautifully descriptive and creates images that drew me further into the story and Jacinda's life. From Jacinda's first manifest (transformation), I was drawn in by her descriptions and enjoyment of her freedom.

But then things go all wrong and her mother has to keep her safe. Jacinda's struggle with her relationship with her mother and twin sister is a key part of the story. And, of course, there's a boy (it is a romance!). A boy who Jacinda can't be completely honest with and who she shouldn't even be around, but she's drawn to him in a way that won't let her walk away from him. Jacinda struggles with her obligations of duty to her family or her draki pride, and really just wants to be normal as herself as she wants to be. Because she's unique, being the first fire-breather in generations, both her family and her pride have their own plans for her, but she wants to make her own decisions. Will just might be the one who allows her to do that. I enjoyed the wittiness of the main characters interactions (and wanted more of the new best friend!) and the realness of them.

The one thing that bothered me was that I did feel like the ending was a little rushed. Everything building up to it seemed to take its time, but then in the end, it all happened so fast. I may have felt that way though because I enjoyed the story so much that I wanted more of it. The backstory that Sophie Jordan created with the world of the draki (descendants from dragons who can shift into human form) and the hunters was very unique, and I anticipate we'll get more about it in the next book, which I can't wait to read (and the covers are intriguing and gorgeous!).

4 STARS for FIRELIGHT

I'm super-excited for the sequel, VANISH, releasing September 6, 2011, to find out where Jacinda's story goes next.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

THE FOURTH STALL by Chris Rylander

Title: THE FOURTH STALL
Author: Chris Rylander
Publisher: Walden Pond Press (A HarperCollins Imprint)
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Number of Pages: 240
Source of Book: Hardcover sent by publisher for review
Author's Website: www.chrisrylander.com

Publisher's Summary:
Do you need something?

Mac can get it for you. It's what he does - he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And his business is booming. 

Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours. 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets The Sopranos in this laugh-a-minute mystery from an exciting new talent.
*************************

I'm always on the lookout for books that will appeal to the boys in my classes. I struggle to find those books that will really engage them through contemporary situations and humor - well I've now found another one to add to my highly recommended for boys list with THE FOURTH STALL. Chris Rylander has created a funny book with heart. Mac, so nicknamed because he can get anything kids want and can solve their problems, thinks he has everything under control at his school as he works from his office in the basement bathroom that no one uses. He has long lines out the door everyday at recess of other kids needing help, and he runs a tight ship of a highly organized business with his best friend, Vince, who is the money guy. The two of them pretty much have control of the school and help people with all kinds of problems - whether it be bullies, dating, homework, or loans - Mac has what kids need. He takes payment or favors for his work. The payment is being saved up so Mac and Vince can go see the Chicago Cubs play in the World Series - if they can make it there. He has an internal network throughout the different levels of the school hierarchy who help him do what he needs - for a small fee. He thinks he has it all under control, until the day Fred walks in with a problem to solve that changes it all for Mac. Someone is infringing on his territory. Now he has to figure out how to solve the illegal gambling ring problem Staples has brought to his school.

This book has a full cast of characters who are each entertaining in their own right. As much as I adored Mac, some of his helpers (I'm looking at you M) were laugh-out-loud funny. The way that Mac runs his business is somewhat mobster-style and is impressive as such a well-oiled machine. Mac's voice is also greatly engaging in this book. It's written as if he's talking right to the reader with asides and side notes. It's like hearing a story from a good friend (almost Ferris Buehler style). Chris throws in some great similes that bring more character to the story overall.  The one aspect I was a little concerned about was the slight glorification of the school bullies. There is a whole range of types of bullies in his school and Mac (humorously describing them all) uses them to do his dirty work. He pays them to be his muscle and while they have his back in the end, I worry if it puts them in too good of a light. I do think, though, that because of the humor and tone of the book, and the way they help protect Mac in the end, that it overall has a positive message about sticking together and standing up for oneself.  The book also deals with friendship and trust and honesty between friends Mac and Vince. There's action and mystery and scheming and humor and friendship. It's a great middle-grades book to recommend to boys that should engage them in reading.


4 STARS for THE FOURTH STALL

Book 4 of 12 for DAC2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (13)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting idea started by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've gotten that week to help publicize as many titles as possible. IMM is a semi-regular feature here on Teach 8 YA Book Blog to let my students know the books to be looking for on the classroom shelves and for blog readers to know what book reviews to anticipate along with building excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

Bought 
(thanks to the recommendations of hmz1505 at YA Bibliophile, an awesome middle school library media specialist here in Wisconsin) 


ON THE DEVIL'S COURT by Carl Deuker
My boys love Deuker's book, Runner, so I'll get any of his books.










FIRELIGHT by Sophie Jordan








(at the Borders liquidation sale - sad they're closing, but love the discounts! Was able to get some titles I've been wanting and some that just looked fun, and a couple of second copies of really popular books in my classroom.)




CALEB + KATE by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma











HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins









 INSIDE OUT by Maria V. Snyder










IRON WITCH by Karen Mahoney
(also on my Debut Author Challenge 2011 list)






LOSER / QUEEN by Jodi Lynn Anderson








A KISS IN TIME by Alex Flinn






THE MOCKINGBIRDS by Daisy Whitney 
An important book and one of the best I read last year (read my review here) - second copy since I can't keep it on my shelves because so many girls want to read it and are then recommending it to their friends. Also, Daisy is fabulous!





TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY by Jay Asher
Another second copy of a popular, important, fabulous book that was one of the best I read in 2010! You must read it if you haven't yet!









RUNNER by Carl Deuker
One of my most popular for dormant boy readers - for some of them, the first full book they've read. Can't keep it on the shelves so had to get another copy!





Received
(Thanks to a very generous donator who was cleaning out her bookshelves, I got a box full of books donated to my classroom library on my doorstep Friday. These are a few highlights.)



STORM RUNNERS by Roland Smith
I LOVED PEAK by Smith (one of my all-time favorites), so hoping this one is a good middle grades option.






THE PRINCESS OF LAS PULGAS by  C. Lee McKenzie








THE GHOST AND THE GOTH by Stacey Kade 




 



STRINGZ by Michael Wenberg 
As a former cello player, this one is very intriguing to me.








What books are you excited about this week?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cover Reveal: SUPERNATURALLY by Kiersten White

I really enjoyed PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White. It was a fun book with a kick-butt, fashionable, pink taser-toting heroine who can see through the glamours of supernatural creatures, and a unique take on the paranormal genre. And then add boys, and baddies, and book-thrills occur and you're hooked. You should definitely read it if you haven't yet!

Today, Kiersten White, on her awesomely entertaining blog (which you should be reading!) revealed the continuing beauty of the covers for her trilogy with the cover of the second book, SUPERNATURALLY.  Isn't it pretty?  It's also one of My Most Anticipated Books of 2011.
I can't wait to read it...too bad we'll have to wait until September to find out what happens to Evie and Lend!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

GLIMMERGLASS by Jenna Black

Title: GLIMMERGLASS (Faeriewalker #1)
Author: Jenna Black
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Number of Pages: 294
Source of Book: Borrowed the paperback from a student who recommended it
Author's Website: www.jennablack.com/books_ya.htm

Goodreads Summary:
Normal. It’s all she’s ever wanted to be, but it couldn’t be further from her grasp…

Dana Hathaway doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in big trouble.  When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, again, Dana decides she’s had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl—she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Soon, Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her newfound friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she’ll never have a chance with… until she does.  Caught between two worlds, Dana isn’t sure where she’ll ever fit in and who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again…

*************************

This book was pretty good, but it took me awhile to really get into it. I just wasn't that invested in the characters to start with, but by the end of the book, I did really want to know what was going to happen. It's written well and in a style that kept me interested and turning the pages. Dana really just wants to be normal, but it seems that isn't ever going to happen. I liked the world that Dana was learning about as she went to live with her dad and entered into the world of the Fae. By the time I got to the point where there are boys, bodyguards, friends, and relatives all fighting to control Dana because of her faeriewalker status leading to Dana needing to take matters into her own hands, I started to really get interested. I liked Dana's take-charge and sarcastic personality. The characters around her were interesting, too, if a little bit surface-level.

Overall, there's a definite feeling of this book being a setup for the rest of the series. So, although things were happening to Dana throughout that built suspense, the entirety of the book felt like it was setting up the world of Avalon and the human vs. faerie existence and the Seelie vs. Unseelie fae battles, to prepare for where the story is going next. By the last page, I was very interested to see where the story will go and was more of a fan of Dana and the other characters around her, and I'm expecting to get deeper with all of them in the next book.

3 STARS for GLIMMERGLASS
Book 2, Shadowspell, was released on January 4th. Book 3, Sirensong, is coming July 5, 2011.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (12)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting idea started by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've received and will be blogging about and reviewing soon.  IMM is a semi-regular feature here on Teach 8 YA Book Blog to let my students know the books to be looking for on the classroom shelves and for blog readers to know what book reviews to anticipate along with building excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list. What books are you excited about this week?

Won


TRAPPED by Michael Northrop
Signed hardcover from winning The Contemps Challenge 
Check out their site for fun information and to participate in part 2 of the challenge!






For Review


THE FOURTH STALL by Chris Rylander
This is one I was planning to read for The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge 2011. The Sopranos meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Sounds like a great book for boys so I'm super-excited to read it and share it with my students to see what they think.
Thank you so much Walden Pond Press (an imprint of HarperCollins)!!!



Bought


DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver
Loved her first book, BEFORE I FALL, and I've heard great things about this new dystopian series from her.



THE LATTE REBELLION by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
Super excited about this new Flux book - sounds really pertinent to today's teens!


OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Another one I've heard really good reviews for that I'm looking forward to reading.








Blog Tour


ARC from Star Book Tours








Borrowed



GLIMMERGLASS (A Faeriewalker novel) by Jenna Black
A student recommended this one and loaned it to me to read.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis

Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: 1/11/11
Number of Pages: 398
How I Got It: Won a signed hardcover copy from publisher's facebook contest
Author's Website: www.bethrevis.com

Goodreads Summary:
A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder. 

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules. 

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next. 

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
************************* 
 
I'm struggling with what to say about this book, but in a really good way! ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is one of those books that just stays with you even after you've finished reading it.  It's deep and haunting and shocking and intriguing and scary and hopeful. I finished it late last night and it's been haunting the back of my mind all day. It's a book that starts off kind of subtle, but the more you get to know and the more you learn as you go through it, the more intrigued you are to find out what's really going on. It becomes one of those books that you just don't want to put down because you want to know what's going to happen next.

There are themes in this book that slap you across the face as you read them, and things that come as a complete surprise when you come to them (some even a little heartbreaking). This book feels claustrophobic being stuck on this ship with Elder and Amy in outer space with no way out. It's terrifying in the way of causing you to think about what people are capable of doing in the name of something they feel is right. It's thought-provoking in it's subtle ways of examining and commenting on power and leadership and hope and survival. There is a definite theme running through on why people do the things they do and what they will do to keep things the way they want them.

There is discovery to be found as the reader journeys with Amy and Elder to discover the lies and secrets on this ship, and what that means for the world they're now living in. There is a mystery to follow along with, but the story is much more than that. The world Revis has created is engaging and scientifically advanced with it's gravity tubes and embedded wireless communication devices. The descriptions are vivid and make you feel as if you're there on the spaceship with the characters, seeing what they're seeing and feeling what they're feeling. The book ends with hope - and as the book tells us - we need hope to survive and have a reason for being. I know I'll be anxiously waiting for the next book in this planned trilogy to spend more time with Amy and Elder and see what they do next now that their whole world has been turned around!

*I do need to warn you that there are a couple of mature scenes in this novel during the "Season" that caught me a little off guard from what I was expecting.


4 1/2 STARS for ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
Don't forget to look at the other side of the dual-sided cover for a map of the ship.


Book 3 of 12 for DAC 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

UNCOMMON CRIMINALS (Heist Society 2) Cover Reveal

I loved HEIST SOCIETY by Ally Carter. I'm a sucker for a good heist book or flick (Ocean's Eleven or The Italian Job anyone?) They're just so fun and Ally's book was the same way. I bought the book right away in February, 2010 when Disney Hyperion released it because the summary sucked me right in.
 It's about 17-year-old Kat, who is a cat burglar, but is trying to get out of the family business. Unfortunately, when her father is captured, Kat has to get back in and assemble her own crew of teenagers to help her steal what her father is accused of stealing to set him free. It's fun and entertaining and you should read it! It was one of my Best I've Read 2010 choices.

Imagine how excited I was then to hear that Ally Carter was writing a sequel. UNCOMMON CRIMINALS (Heist Society #2) will be released on June 21st and I know I'll be celebrating this book's birthday by buying and reading it!  So, with the 15 inches of snow piling up outside, I was pleasantly surprised last night to see Ally's twitter link to her blog post showing this:
The cover reveal for the new book. I love how it fits in with the first one, but freshens it up also. I like the subtle clues to what the book might be about (jewel heist?). It's obvious they're part of the same series, and intriguing enough to make you want to read the book. Although, because heist books can appeal to boys also, I do wish the cover wasn't so "girly" looking, but as I told my students when book-talking Heist Society, you can always figure out ways around that.

Summary of UNCOMMON CRIMINALS (from Goodreads):
Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

PROM & PREJUDICE by Elizabeth Eulberg

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point (Scholastic)
Release Date: January 1, 2011
Number of Pages: 231
How I Got It: Bought the Hardcover because of the author
Author's Website:  www.elizabetheulberg.com

Goodreads Synopsis:
After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.

Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? 
 
*************************

I really enjoy Elizabeth Eulberg's books.  I loved her debut novel, THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB (read my thoughts here), and thoroughly enjoyed PROM & PREJUDICE as well. There's just something so easy about her writing style - it's comforting and familiar. Her books are quick reads and so enjoyable. They're just happy books. Sometimes (especially on a snow day) I just really want a light-hearted book, and that's what Elizabeth delivers, but always with a good message. Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice is a classic for a reason, and with PROM & PREJUDICE, Elizabeth has delivered a cute contemporary twist on the classic. Some scenes were so familiar from the many interpretations I've seen and read of Austen's original work, but with the new Lizzie, Darcy, and Jane, they all felt like friends I would have wanted to have in high school and it felt so contemporary. 

The importance placed on getting a prom date at Longbourn Academy is entertaining, and setting it in a boarding school gives the perfect background for analyzing class differences and the problems that can cause. I found myself rooting for all of them to figure it out and see the goodness in each other. There are issues of prejudice by many in this book - and it's really about misconceptions and assumptions made before one knows the person or gives them a chance to prove themselves different and worthy of positive thoughts...hmmm, maybe something we should all take away from a book. I like how Elizabeth writes her characters - they're flawed and real and make mistakes and are easy to relate to. Another aspect that was subtle was the love of piano playing that this Lizzie has. Elizabeth places references to several classical music pieces throughout as a part of Lizzie's identity as a scholasrship student due to her gift at playing piano. As a former cello player, I always appreciate references to classical musicians such as are scattered throughout this book. I thought it was interesting that both of Elizabeth Eulberg's books feature music as a prominent piece of the action. PROM & PREJUDICE is a really cute contemporary reboot of the classic story and you'll read it quickly and enjoy every page.

4 STARS for PROM & PREJUDICE
I can't wait to see what Elizabeth has planned for her next book!

FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB by Antony John

Author: Antony John
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: November 11, 2010
Number of Pages: 352
How I Got It: Hardcover to review for Book Divas
Author's Website: antonyjohn.net

"For the record, I wasn't around the day they decided to become Dumb." So starts the story of high-school-senior, Piper, and how she came to be the manager of her school's resident rock band. Piper promises them she can get them a paying job within one month of being their manager, but how can one manage a ragtag group of "musicians" and wanna-be rock stars while keeping all of the egos and high school dramas in check? Oh, and Piper can't actually hear their music because she's deaf. But Piper is determined (one of her most endearing characteristics) to show everyone around her, including her family who don't seem to understand her, that she is more than just deaf, she is complicated, conflicted teenager and all that entails. As we meet the five flavors (band members) of Dumb, Piper is taken on her own journey to discover rock music in Seattle through the stories of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix. She learns how hard it can be to manage a band, but also how rewarding it is to accomplish something yourself and be taken seriously. Misunderstandings abound, and not just for the girl who can't hear the music, but the journey these teen's make to self-discovery is worth it. But in the end, will they make it to the big stage?

Antony John has written a witty, smart, funny, humble, honest, heart-wrenching, and soul-pounding ode to rock music and contemporary coming-of-age novel all in one. His writing style is comforting and honest. He's written real characters with real flaws all within a sensitive handling of the main character's deafness, which at times puts her at odds with those around her, but is it really about them or about her? That's the journey Piper takes in this story. She figures out more about who she is and wants to be, but she learns much more about those around her as well. She's authentic. She has problems and misunderstandings with family, friends, a boy, and high school social dynamics. In wanting to prove herself, Piper finds who she really is and learns not to hide.  It was engrossing following along as Piper learned to come out of her shell and developed into her strong voice. And how could I write about this book without mentioning the awesomely designed cover - it's so rock star! Just reading it myself I had students asking me about it when they saw the cover. I'll definitely be recommending it to them. Piper's voice deserves to be heard, and you'll enjoy discovering it, so put this one at the top of your to-read pile!

4 1/2 STARS for FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB

A book that feels similar to recommend next: THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB by Elizabeth Eulberg
 
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