Sunday, March 27, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (17)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting idea run 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.

 For Review (reviewing for Book Divas)



THE IRON DAUGHTER by  Julie Kagawa
Book 2 in the Iron Fey series. I really need to get going on reading this series - I've heard fabulous things about it!





WILL WORK FOR PROM DRESS by Aimee Ferris
Sounds like a super-cute read, and we're getting close to that time of year.






Received



WAR AND WATERMELON by Rich Wallace
Sounds like an interesting middle grades historical during Woodstock that should grab boys' attention. Thanks, Penguin Young Readers!




CHIME by Franny Billingsley
Thanks Dial / Penguin Books!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dystopian Book Club

It's the end of the quarter, and the grading has been piling up, meaning I haven't had much time to read books and write reviews lately.  So...I was feeling bad about the lack of content, and was working on planning for next quarter, so I thought I'd share what I'm doing book-wise.  Starting on Monday, I'll be doing a book club class (I have a period of the day to do curriculum extension work), and since I can't get my hands on enough multiple copies of single titles, I decided to focus on a specific genre that students could all read a book from, they would be interested in, and would prompt rich discussions.

So, I thought I'd share my working list of titles I'll be introducing to the class to choose from for our Dystopian Book Club. (no pictures because that would take up too much room, but all titles link to goodreads and are in random order as I could think of them)

THE HUNGER GAMES / CATCHING FIRE / MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins
THE GIVER by Lois Lowry
CANDOR by Pam Bachorz
DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver
DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
THE MAZE RUNNER / THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner
UGLIES / PRETTIES / SPECIALS / EXTRAS by Scott Westerfeld
MATCHED by Ally Condie
THE GARDENER by S.A. Bodeen
SKINNED by Robin Wasserman
INSIDE OUT by Maria V. Snyder
SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi
THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness
THE FOREST OF THE HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan
LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow
RASH by Pete Hautman
FEED by M.T. Anderson
INCARCERON / SAPPHIQUE by Catherine Fisher
THE UNIDENTIFIED by Rae Mariz
BLACK HOLE SUN by David Macginnis Gill
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis
THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson
EMPTY by Suzanne Weyn
BIRTHMARKED by Caragh M. O'Brien
EPIC by Conor Kostick
THE LINE by Teri Hall
GONE by  Michael Grant
CITY OF EMBER by Jeanne DuPrau
AMONG THE HIDDEN by Margaret Peterson Haddix
ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card
THE DECLARATION by Gemma Malley
MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert
UNWIND by Neal Shusterman
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND by Allegra Goodman
THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE by Rodman Philbrick
THE BAR CODE TATTOO by Suzanne Weyn
GIRL IN THE ARENA by Lise Haines
NOMANSLAND by Lesley Hauge
BRAIN JACK by Brian Faulkner
NAUGHTS & CROSSES by Malorie Blackman
THE ROAR by Emma Clayton
SURVIVING ANTARCTICA: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White
TRASH by Andy Mulligan
ROT & RUIN by Jonathan Maberry

Maybe this will give you some ideas for titles to read if you love dystopian books also. If you can think of any other dystopian genre books that would be good for 8th graders, I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (16)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting idea run 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.

I bought a bunch of books I'd been hearing good things about with discounts or gift certificates I had this week. Yay!



THE LIAR SOCIETY by Lisa & Laura Roecker
This one sounds like so much fun with a "sasstastic" main character! Can't wait to read it!



HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER by Lish McBride
This is one that I've heard a lot of good things about.




WHERE I BELONG by Gwendolyn Heasley
One of my want-to-reads for Debut Author Challenge 2011



WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE by Caridad Ferrer
Have lots of dancer students, so they'll probably like this one.





POP by Gordon Korman
Love his books for boys.









CRESCENDO (sequel to Hush, Hush) by Becca Fitzpatrick
Had several students looking for this one after reading the first.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

BORN AT MIDNIGHT by C.C. Hunter

Title: BORN AT MIDNIGHT (A Shadow Falls Novel)
Author: C.C. Hunter
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Number of Pages: 416
Source of Book: ARC from Publisher for review
Author's Website: www.cchunterbooks.com

Goodreads Summary:
Don’t miss this spectacular new series that will steal your heart and haunt your dreams,  Welcome to Shadow Falls camp, nestled deep in the woods of a town called Fallen…

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever.  Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.”  Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either.  Or does she?  They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason.  As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas.  Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past.  Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

*************************
BORN AT MIDNIGHT is a fun, light read - even though it's a paranormal story. I really enjoyed the story as Kylie goes to camp and it turns out it's a place for paranormal teens of all types (werewolves, vampires, shape-shifters, faeries, and witches) to get together and learn about each other so they can get along and stop all of the infighting. Kylie is a sassy character with vulnerability and a great voice. This was one of those addicting books that I stayed up way too late reading to find out what would happen next. I so enjoyed spending time with Kylie at Shadow Falls.

Don't get me wrong, there is definitely some seriousness to this book too. Sixteen-year-old Kylie is dealing with her parents divorce, friends who are growing apart as they make differing choices, an ex boyfriend who isn't quite out of her mind because of how badly things ended, feeling displaced and lonely and unwanted and left out; however, she really does grow to start deciding things for herself. Kylie becomes stronger throughout this book. She comes into her own as she starts to fight for what she wants and what makes her happy. She starts to discover more of who she is, and if she has special abilities herself, and learns who the people are that she can count on who she would fight to keep in her life. The thing I loved the most about Kylie is the good example that she is when it comes to romantic relationships and not doing anything more than one is comfortable with - it's a great message for young girls. There is also a really great, but subtle, message about getting along with others and not having preconceived notions or prejudices about those who are different. Of course, it's all done in a really approachable, non-preachy way which I think will come across well. All of the secondary characters were intriguing as well, which made it easier to get the message because I really liked all of them and wanted them all to get along too.

At times, I did feel it was a little too predictable in the love triangle. I didn't totally feel the reason for the attraction to one of the guys, but I could appreciate where their storyline went. The other thing that threw me off a little bit was the places the author chose to end the chapters  - sometimes I felt as if it was right in the middle of a scene, so it wasn't a good ending point to put in my bookmark because I had to know what would happen next.

Overall, this book was quite interactive. I had laugh out loud moments when reading this book. I tried to figure out the mystery of what was going wrong. I felt for Kylie when she was drifting apart from a friend. I smiled when she realized that she had new friends. I melted when the boy was being so sweet to her. I cheered her on when she stood up to others and fought for what she believed in. This book is about friendship and finding oneself and learning to get along and moving on and standing up for oneself and making one's own path. I'm looking forward to seeing where Kylie's path takes her next in the Shadow Falls series.

4 STARS for BORN AT MIDNIGHT
Book #2 in the Shadow Falls series, AWAKE AT DAWN, will be released in October. I'm definitely going to be reading it to see what happens in Kylie's world next!


Book 7 of 12 for DAC 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

Title: DIVERGENT
Author: Veronica Roth (she's only 22!)
Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Number of Pages: 487
Source of Book: Won an ARC from the author's blog contest
Author's Website: veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com

Author's Book Summary:
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris, and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together, they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes-fascinating, sometimes-exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret: one she’s kept hidden from everyone, because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly-perfect society, she also learns that her secret might be what helps her save those she loves . . . or it might be what destroys her.
*************************
A weird thing happened to me when I started reading DIVERGENT. I kept turning pages although I couldn't figure out why. I'm not sure if I went into this with a little bit of a skewed perception. I have already been hearing so much hype for this debut book, and I had just finished another dystopian that was haunting in an entirely different way. But, I just couldn't put this book down. I couldn't quite figure out what it was that was making me want to keep reading because it wasn't feeling mind-blowing to me, in fact, it was seeming a little bit predictable, but in the end, I LOVED it. I read it so fast that when I finished, I wanted to go back and reread the whole thing again to pick up on things I may have missed the first time around. So, I guess what I'm saying is, it took me a little while to feel fully engaged in the characters and this world, but at the same time I never wanted to put it down. DIVERGENT is an engrossing read. It's scary in showing how easy it was to get to this point with a world built of the five factions. It was really interesting to see how the world ended up divided by the five different strengths people valued. It is definitely a book that caused some deep thinking/analyzing (as any good dystopian should!) of our current societal beliefs.

DIVERGENT has a page-turning, action-packed, fast-paced, twisting plot from the very beginning to the very end full of heart-pounding thrills and wrenching shocks of sadness. This book definitely has a thriller feel to the plot as well. Smaller plot points would be important and keep me wanting to read and then the big overall conflict came together at the end in a way that was not totally expected earlier on in the book. I loved how it deals with fear and bravery in interesting, thought-provoking ways. It has lots of commentary on people and perceptions and control and fear and focuses on figuring out what true strength is. Some parts were horrifying in what this world has become (when it started with the best intentions) and shows the worst part of human nature. Other parts were inspiring in how people with the best intentions can use their strength to overcome odds and work for those they love.

DIVERGENT has likeable characters and I enjoyed spending time in Beatrice's head. I did feel that some secondary characters could have been developed a little bit more though. Ultimately it's about Tris' journey to figuring out how she can go against what she's always been conditioned to do/believe. Tris is a strong, kick-butt, take-no-crap character who always does what she thinks is right, but with a caring heart. She's so smart, but doesn't always realize it, but when she finally does, her bravery and intelligence shows through in unexpected ways. Tris struggles in this book between family obligation and what she thinks she wants. She's having to start dealing with the consequences of actions and discovering how she can affect her world. Seeing her insecurities and struggles through her eyes, but most especially seeing how she dealt with them with sass and wit, really made the book for me. Some parts seemed a little predictable - it was obvious who was going to be the love interest, but I still enjoyed seeing how that played out and how they grew closer. I felt that way about most things though - the way everything was tied together in the end made me feel better about the whole book because it all made sense. It was just an exciting book and a fast read - make sure you have time to get through it because you won't want to put it down.

4 1/2 STARS for DIVERGENT
This is the first book in a trilogy and I will definitely be in line to get my hands on the next book in this intriguing dystopian series (although it'll be a really long wait now since I got to read this one early)!

Book 6 of 12 for DAC2011
 

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (15)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting idea run 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


SEAN GRISWOLD'S HEAD by Lindsey Leavitt
(Won as part of The Contemps Challenge)
Signed book with signed bookmarks. Thanks so much Lindsey! 






INVASION by Jon S. Lewis
I heard him speak at the ALAN Workshop in November and have been looking for his books ever since (seem great for boys) and now I won a copy. Thanks Thomas Nelson Publishers! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver

Title: DELIRIUM
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Number of Pages: 441
Source of Book: Bought the Hardcover because I'd heard amazing buzz about this book and loved her first book, BEFORE I FALL
Author's Website: www.laurenoliverbooks.com

Goodreads Summary:
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

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It's been a few days since I finished reading DELIRIUM, and I can't get Lena's story out of my head. It's a haunting story about love and trust and opening one's eyes to the world around you. Disclaimer: I love dystopian novels - there's just something about stepping into a world that is like ours, but has a different view on something that drastically changes how people live. In this case - love. Love is seen as a disease that can kill, so they've created a procedure (basically brain surgery) that eliminates the possibility of any form of love from those 18 and older. Everyone has the surgery because they're scared not to because they've seen how crazy love has driven others. They believe the world is a better place this way, and Lena believes what she's been told as she is ninety-five days away from her procedure when the book begins. What she doesn't completely see is how unengaged all of the Cureds are. DELIRIUM reminds me a bit of Matched meets Uglies with a little Hunger Games thrown in. And if it reminds me of three of my favorite dystopians, you know I loved this one, too.

I've been a fan of Oliver since reading BEFORE I FALL in which her writing and story arc made me grow to care about a character who was dislikable in the beginning - and that takes quite a bit of talent to make one feel so strongly one way and then be able to guide them toward another through the course of a book. She has a beautiful writing style with descriptions that grab you and heart-wrenching moments and a way that makes you live in this world and care about these people. She makes you want to jump right in and grab them sometimes and cry when they cry and fear when they fear and love when they love. Lauren Oliver's writing is a sophisticated writing style with a literary feel to it. It's writing that makes me really feel for the characters and what they're living through, while feeling fully engaged in the story and the world that she's created. This novel deals with the idea that if you can't feel pain, you can't really live and love - it's all a part of the same emotion.

DELIRIUM was a long book, but a page-turner. It's starts off more subtle, but leads to heart-pounding chance scenes. Following Lena and her discovery of living in a world of lies, a world ruled by fear, made me frustrated at times, brought tears to my eyes at others, and made me want to push her in the right directions as she started to make her own choices and live for herself as she discovered who she was for herself. I almost liked the secondary characters, Alex and Hana and Gracie (there better be more of her in the next book!), more than Lena for many parts of the book; although Lena was the most fully developed character. It became a race to the finish, a ticking clock to beat a deadline, and a hope that friendship and love would win out in a world that doesn't believe in the goodness of love. And the end, oh the end...while feeling resolute also left me really wanting to know what happens in the next few minutes after the book leaves the scene. It's really the end that I can't get out of my head, and the choices made by Lena and Alex, and how they fulfill their hopes and dreams, and how they feel about them that sticks with me the most.

4 1/2 STARS for DELIRIUM
It's going to feel like a really long wait for book 2, PANDEMONIUM, in 2012 and book 3, REQUIEM, in 2013.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

MY FAIR GODMOTHER by Janette Rallison

Title: MY FAIR GODMOTHER
Author: Janette Rallison
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Release Date: Hardcover-January 6, 2009 Paperback-December 22, 2009
Number of Pages: 320
How I Got It: Bought the paperback because I got an ARC of the sequel at the ALAN Workshop
Author's Website: www.janetterallison.com

Goodreads Summary:
After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy.
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This book is just a fun read. Although Savannah at first seems to be the character that you love to hate, she actually ends up as a really sympathetic character who I was rooting for. I wanted her to get her happy, fairy tale ending, but I wouldn't have thought I'd get there from how I felt about her at the start of the story. I guess that just shows how good of a job Rallison did in writing these characters. I love a well-written sassy, sarcastic character, and this book had that in both Savannah and Chrissy. Their misinterpretations of each other and comical misunderstandings kept me giggling to myself throughout the whole book. Chrissy is hysterical from her flamboyant style to her attitude toward her job.

It was so fun to see a twisted fairy tale told in this way. Chrissy really is only Fair as a Godmother because she can't manage to do the job correctly. First Savannah goes back to the Cinderella story, which, in "real life' is not like the fairy tale version. The prince is not so great. This is due to Chrissy not really listening completely - although she says it's because Savannah is not being clear in her wishes. Then, she accidentally gets sent back to be Snow White. Finally, she has to go back herself to "rescue" the boy who could be her prince at home, but is sent back to become a real prince in fairy tale times.

This book is time travel; and wishes with fairy godmothers; and the world of fairy tales; and a girl coming into her own and finding herself and who she really wants to be. Savannah has a journey that is enjoyable to follow along with, and it gets so much better once she starts to take charge of her own destiny.

3 1/2 STARS for MY FAIR GODMOTHER

The sequel is MY UNFAIR GODMOTHER, releasing April 12, 2011. I'll definitely pick it up (especially since I have an ARC) the next time I want a light-hearted, fun read.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

ASH by Malinda Lo

Title: ASH
Author: Malinda Lo
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Number of Pages: 264
How I Got It: Free Hardcover at ALAN Workshop
Author's Website: www.malindalo.com

Goodreads Summary:
In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

*************************
I had heard this title quite a bit and was looking forward to reading it once I got it.  This book has lyrical writing creating a fantasy world retelling of the Cinderella story. I enjoy reading retellings of Cinderella stories, the classic little-girl fantasy, and this one took it in a completely different direction. The story just flows with gorgeous detail and a real struggle between two worlds for Ash. I was pulled into the story because of the writing and the main character from the beginning, as I compared it to what I expected of a retelling. Following Ash's journey, and the two options she had to choose between, created a dynamic that kept me reading. I thought the LGBT aspect of the story was beautifully and subtly done. It was honest and true and realistic. When I heard Malinda Lo speak, she said that in the world she created it was completely accepted as a part of their society because it wasn't anything people thought twice about. That's why it's not made to be a big deal in the book. I felt bad for Ash for her circumstances in the beginning, but appreciated when she got out there and started making her own choices. Lo's lyrical fantasy world is calming and beautiful.

3.5 STARS for ASH

I also got an ARC of the prequel Huntress, releasing on April 5, 2011, and am looking forward to revisiting this world when I read that one.
 
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