Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WHEN YOU WERE MINE by Rebecca Serle

Title: WHEN YOU WERE MINE
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 304
Source of Book: ARC from NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Convention
Author's Website: rebeccaserlebooks.blogspot.com
*There is no cover for this book yet, so no picture is included, but will be added once the cover is revealed.

Goodreads Summary:
Rosie knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. They are best friends, next door neighbors, and the soon-to-be cutest couple in their senior class. Rosie has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her--and when he finally does, it's perfect. But just before their relationship becomes completely official, Rosie's cousin Juliet moves back into town. Juliet, who used to be Rosie's best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn't even stand a chance.

Rosie is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet's instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rosie starts to fear not only for Rob's heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends.

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I was really excited to see an advanced reader copy of this book at the convention because I had heard about it/seen the summary, and it sounded really good. It ended up not being exactly what I was expecting from the summary that I had read, but I did like it; although, I was a little bit unsure in the beginning. We all know Shakespeare's version of Romeo & Juliet, but this book says Shakespeare may have gotten it all wrong because it's really a drama, and Rosaline who loved Romeo is kind of an overlooked character once Juliet shows up - in fact, she may be the wronged party in this whole equation. So in this book, we get Rosaline's side of the story. Intriguing, right? But, what I didn't realize, was that this book would be told as a completely contemporary story.

In Act I, I was a little unsure because it was feeling a little bit like a generic high school drama/popularity book, but once we got into the later acts, I started to feel the need to keep reading and not stop until I finished four hours later. I almost put it down after Act I, but still felt there was something about this book that I was really going to like, and needed to keep reading to find it. So, what I'm saying is, if you aren't sure of it in the beginning, keep going because it gets really good.

This very contemporary high school romance book has the obvious (and some more subtle) references to Romeo & Juliet which makes it a great tie-in to hand to students to compare and spot the connections. I can see it being very popular in high schools. It was a fun read, a little angsty, but it's Romeo & Juliet, so that's expected. However, Juliet in this book, is not the same Juliet you remember from the original version! And, this is actually a good story on friendship and family, which at the start I didn't think it would be, but ended up being my favorite part of the story.

Overall, it was feeling a little surface level to me in the characters - maybe because there were so many secondary people (and I found it jarring to my reading each time they used the first and last names of all these people), but as the book continued, we got to delve deeper into the motivations of these characters later in the book. That's when it turned really good to me. When we found out more about Len, and some of the reasons the girls were acting how they were, it started to get way more interesting to me.

Towards the end, there were some really strong themes and messages as Rosaline starts to move beyond her feeling that Rob is "the one" for her. It talks about reacting to what happens in life because we can't control it and having choices and needing to make them and that is what determines how we look at life. By the end, in Acts 4 and 5, I was really into it and felt it evolved beyond the typical and was something deeper that I was really enjoying reading. So, give this one a shot in May, you'll find a fun read with a sweet boy and a girl who has to go through some deep looking at herself to come out on the other side realizing what's really important in life and how to make the most of it.


Monday, November 28, 2011

THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy (an imprint of Little, Brown)
Release Date: January 2, 2012
Number of Pages: 256
Source of Book: ARC from NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Convention

Goodreads Summary:
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

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I don't know if I can adequately express how much I adored this book. I was super-excited to get an advanced copy (and in fact waited in a line for 45 minutes to pick just this one) as I had heard the title (and seriously, how cute is that title?) and read the summary and it sounded just like the kind of book I would want to read - and it was! I started it just to get a feel for the author's writing style, intending to just read the first few pages as I was in the middle of another book, and I ended up finishing the book that night - I couldn't convince myself to go to sleep (no matter how tired I was or how early I had to get up the next morning) until I read all the way through to the end of this endearing story.

This book is a "one day in the life of" kind of story. Hadley is on the way to London for her father's wedding to a woman Hadley has avoided and never met. Hadley is still not over her parents' divorce and is not accepting of this new woman. When she misses her flight by a mere four minutes, she knows she'll be stuck in the airport for awhile. Everything is going wrong for her that day, and then Oliver steps in to help her with her suitcase. It turns out Oliver is a student at Yale, but is also returning to his hometown of London for something to do with his parents as well. Hadley and Oliver seem to hit it off right away, but neither one is really sure exactly of the other person. There are moments in the airport, moments on the plane, and then a moment in the customs line in London. And then each has to get to where they're going, but neither can stop thinking of the other. And then, someone says something to Hadley, and as she's trying to process through this wedding that is happening that she doesn't like, she realizes something about why Oliver might be in London, and she tells her dad she has to leave to go take care of something and she heads out to find the guy from the plane.

This story is somewhat told in alternating viewpoints, but in third person, so it's a little different than what I'm used to reading, but I really enjoyed the writing style. It kept moving in large and small ways that made me keep turning pages to find out what would happen next and how it would all end. I was just drawn in to these characters and what they were dealing with in their lives. I felt for them and the difficulties they were going through, and their draw to each other. It's a love story, a romance, and a story of healing through the support of others. This story has a lot of heart.

Hadley is processing through her issues with her father and her parents' divorce, and meeting Oliver and what she goes through seems to give her a journey to the healing and acceptance that she needs. Oliver was a character whose humor and heart and personality I really enjoyed. Hadley was a realistic portrayal of someone who has been hurt and a teen who is rebelling in her own way. I think that's what I liked most about it - I really cared while I was on this journey with these characters - and I felt like I was there on the sidelines rooting them on and hoping they could end up finding each other again in London. And they felt real to me. This book reminded me of some other books and movies that have the same "one night in the life of" type of meeting situations, and it was just a comfort to read and an endearingly heart-warming story. Since it's coming out in January, it will be a great post-holidays, cold weather, curl up in front of a fire with a good book read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Friday, November 25, 2011

THE RIVALS by Daisy Whitney

Title: THE RIVALS (sequel to THE MOCKINGBIRDS)
Author: Daisy Whitney
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 6, 2012
Number of Pages: 352
Source of Book: Requested ARC from publisher
Author's Website: daisywhitney.com

Goodreads Summary:
When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn't do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that's been given to her, she's now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.

It isn't rape. It isn't bullying. It isn't hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don't add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.

As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected.

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THE MOCKINGBIRDS was one of my absolute favorite books of last year, and I absolutely recommend it to everyone if you haven't read it yet (which, if you haven't, you need to go do immediately!!!)! And, Daisy is really fabulous - she even did a skype visit with my students after I was raving about her book on twitter. So, I was really excited to get an advanced copy of this sequel to read the continuation of Alex's story after the events she went through in the first book. Now, as the leader of The Mockingbirds (since she was helped by them in the first book) she has a whole new set of struggles to deal with.

Alex is a great teen girl character. She has a lot of integrity, but is still a real girl with doubts, insecurities, hopes, mistakes, and the desire to do right. She stands up for what she believes in no matter what and is a truly loyal friend. Her honesty and desire to do what's right is inspiriting. It was great to read this book and get to watch Alex continue her recovery from last year's (book's) date rape and rediscover and recognize the strength she has in herself. It's not an easy journey for her, but with the help of true friends and others who are willing to stand up to those who are wrong, she makes the right choices in the end.

The Mockingbirds is an evolving entity in this book, as it needs to be. It is the only organization that is providing a safe outlet to those who have been wronged. There are interesting lessons on government, power, and human nature in this book. It really delves into what can students do when they feel adults won't help them - and I appreciated the message that there are some adults who will stand up and do what's right when they see kids needing help - even if the kids don't see it at first. It's an interesting journey of realizing you don't have to go it alone.

Although it deals with some heavy topics, Daisy Whitney's writing is the comfort food of my reading life. There's just something so comforting in her contemporary style imbued with profound lessons in a non-preachy way, oh, and there's always kissing thrown in. It's all about who we choose to be in these books and how to find the courage to change our ways, be who we should, and do the right thing. That is true strength, bravery, and justice. It's about integrity, standing up for what's right, going for what you believe in, and doing right even in the face of adversity. All strong messages for teen girls.

I highly recommend Daisy Whitney's books if you haven't read them yet, and I'm so excited to know that she has several more different books in the works so we'll be able to continue reading her books for a long time.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

INSIGNIA by S.J. Kincaid

Title: INSIGNIA
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (A HarperCollins imprint)
Release Date: July10, 2012
Number of Pages: 464
Source of Book: ARC sent from editor
Author's Website: sjkincaid.blogspot.com

Goodreads Summary:
IT'S WORLD WAR III.
THE ENEMY IS WINNING.
WHAT IF THE GOVERNMENT'S SECRET WEAPON IS YOU?

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid’s futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.
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INSIGNIA is one of those books that was really hard to stop reading at night to go to sleep-I never wanted to stop turning the pages as it was a nonstop thrill ride in a virtual reality, corporate-sponsored, dystopic future.  At first, I was a little intimidated by the world the author created – because there are some corporations and sponsors and military terms that I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep track of, but it ended up being surprisingly easy to follow. This is definitely a plot-driven book, and at 464 pages, there’s a lot of plot. I was worried I’d get to parts where I didn’t really care or they felt slow, but that never happened! There was always some sort of action (either virtual or real) that kept the pacing moving forward at a perfect speed. The descriptions of the settings were perfectly done, and I especially liked all of the historical (including mythological) references in all of the virtual reality training scenarios. It was such fun to see how the characters interacted with these simulations, and nicely provides some subtle history lessons for students reading this book as well.
This book has elements of a fish out of water story (kind of in a Harry Potter way of discovering a new “school” and people and how you’re changing because of it), corporate and political intrigue, an awkward teen wanting to be accepted, friendship, power, control, life or death fights, and the fate of multinational corporations and alliances hanging in the balance (no pressure there!). The author wielded a deft hand at balancing the action, technological, and teen self-esteem/friendship elements of the story in a way in which none felt over or underdone. There were also some great comedic moments to balance it all out as well.
The characters really make this book though. All the action and excitement and plot an author could add, won’t make a difference if I don’t care about or like the characters. And in this book, I loved the characters. I adore Tom and was rooting for him the whole way, and the secondary characters who are his friends were so entertaining. There were some great teen girl supporting characters as well, and what I really liked was that they were actually some of the better computer programmers. And Vik, as Tom’s roommate at the new school, provides great comic relief in the midst of serious situations.
INSIGNIA is just an exciting book, and a scary look at a future that might not be too far off. I absolutely loved it and can't wait for more people to read it and start talking about this fabulous debut! This is a book that my students (especially boys) who are into gaming or computers will love. I will be adding it to my “you liked this, try this...” list with BRAIN JACK by Brian Falkner, TEEN, INC. by Stephen Petrucha, and EPIC by Conor Kostic. I’d also recommend it to those who liked DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth (both books have the same editor at HarperCollins!). I'm so glad to hear this one is going to be a trilogy because I can’t wait to see what happens after the big finale of this one (but thankfully, no cliffhanger ending)! Make sure to add this one to your list of July releases you’ll want to read!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Book Birthday to SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi

In celebration of SHATTER ME's Book Birthday today (meaning you can read it, today!), I wanted to re-post my review from August 4th. This is one of those books that was an instant favorite of the year for me, an absolute surprise, an "I want to be able to write so amazingly" unique writing style for a debut author, and a fall must-read for all of you! Enjoy reading my thoughts on the advanced copy I was lucky enough to read and then go buy yourself a copy of SHATTER ME!
Goodreads Summary:
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old-girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.


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Juliette is alone - and can't be touched. She is deadly - and lonely and neglected. All she wants is to feel human again and know that she has a choice in what she does and how she's treated, but with her abilities, it's not meant to be. Once people realize what she can do, they're going to try to use here. They're going to try to sway her to their side. They're going to try to make her do what they want. Juliette's journey through this book leads to a growing strength and conviction as she figures out what she really wants and who she wants to be. Along the way she discovers a strength she never knew she had - in more ways than one.

Tahereh's writing is really, really unique. It's a little bit reminiscent of a Laurie Halse Anderson style with a not completely linear writing quality-there are poetic parts to it and repeated lines and an interestingly effective use of the strikeout tool that I've never seen before amazing incredible entrancing. It took me a little while to get used to it, but once I did, I was hooked. Oddly, I noticed the use of the word "shatter" quite a bit throughout, and I'm not sure if it's because I knew the title so it stuck out to me more, or if it was a bit overused, but overall, a slight quirk in an otherwise extraordinary story.

The first part of the book is really about Juliette and her solitary confinement, but then a boy shows up. Adam was unexpected. Adam turns out to be different than he seems; although, he does have his secrets. I loved Adam though - he is the kind of sweet boy character who has always been out for good that I like to read about in YA books. He's probably one of my favorite boy characters I've read (he's kind of in the vein of a Peeta-type of love interest) recently. There are some definite scenes of romance in this book-nothing too graphic, but definitely there.

Once you get to a certain point, it's a can't-put-it-down read and the action kicks in. Up until then, it's a more subtle kind of book. It's a dystopian, but you don't really get the world building until the last part of the book; it's much more character driven up until then. It doesn't really all come together for the reader to understand what's actually happening until the last part of the book - and by then you care so much about the characters that your heart is breaking for them. But, we get Kenji then - and oh how I loved Kenji and the comic relief he provides when it's most needed. I hope we get more of him in book two!

There is an overall feeling of a slow exposition and then a lot of the action happening in the later half of the book. By the end, I was left with a Hunger Games-ish feel. In the last quarter of the book - all of a sudden the game was changing with much bigger stakes and I was even more intrigued by what was going to happen. I very much feel like the ending was left open for a series and can't wait to find out what's going to happen next now that Juliette knows what she does. I do think this will be a much talked about book come November!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (42)

In My Mailbox is a 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. It's a little preview on what book reviews to anticipate along with a way to build excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

For Review
INSIGNIA by S.J. Kincaid
Coming in July 2012, this sci-fi dystopian by a debut author sounds like it could be a big hit with my students. And, I'll get to meet the author at NCTE next weekend, so I'm anxious to start the book and see how it is so I can talk with her about it to bring some perspective back to my students. Oh, and it's edited by the same editor who did Veronica Roth's amazing DIVERGENT, so I'm even more excited to read it! Thanks HarperCollins!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

THE UNWANTEDS by Lisa McMann

Title: THE UNWANTEDS
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Aladdin
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Number of Pages: 390
Source of Book: ARC sent to me from fabulous high school teacher/blogger Danielle at Mercurial Musings
Author's Website: lisamcmann.com

Goodreads Summary:
     Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths.
     Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret—behind the mirage of the "death farm" there is instead a place called Artime.
     In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it's a wondrous transformation.
     But it's a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron's bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.
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THE UNWANTEDS was an absolute joy to read. I think every middle school teacher should have this book in his or her classroom. In fact, just reading the first chapter to my own students had them clamoring to get their hands on a copy to find out what happens next. This middle grades dystopian-fantasy is about friendship and loyalty and family ties and creativity and trust and working togther and discovering what's important in life and fighting for it. Lisa writes this book in a third person narrator style along the lines of classic fantasies like Narnia.

The creepy dystopian world that Lisa created in this book is frightening in the fact that any child who is creative in any form or way, is considered Unwanted and sent to their deaths. Unbeknownst to any of them, they actually enter the world of Artime, where creativity is supported and encouraged and thrives in this fantastical world that is hidden from the Wanteds and Necessaries in Quill. It takes the Unwanteds awhile to learn to trust that they are able to be creative and don't have to hide it and can thrive there. It's a wonderful message to send to children that they should embrace their creativity and there can be many different types of strengths in the world. There are pieces of this world (the chalkboards!) that are so creative and entertaining that they made me wish I could visit Artime. The fantasy elements of this story are wonderfully balanced with the political intrigue elements of the dystopian world that keeps the two sides at odds with each other and suspensefully moves the plot forward.

This all leads to a battle at the end, which is entertaining in the ways that the fighting occurs on the side of the Unwanteds and the way they use their art, music, and acting skills against the Quillitary. There are many secrets and surprises that come out in the end, and everyone learns that there are those who can't be trusted, but there is a positive resolution. The way to winning this battle is through teamwork and trust and working together creatively and helping each other. The book leaves an ending that shows there will be another. This feels to me like it can be another epic fantasy adventure over several books and I look forward to seeing where Lisa takes these characters and this world next.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (41)

In My Mailbox is a 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. It's a little preview on what book reviews to anticipate along with a way to build excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

Bought



OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy
Have heard great things about this one and the premise sounds so good, plus the author is a former teacher. Can't wait to finally read it.




For Review



CHAINED (ARC) by Lynne Kelly
A multicultural middle grades title releasing on May 8th that will be part of my Class of 2K12 review/author interview series coming next year.




Picture Books
Since it's National Picture Book month, I thought I'd highlight a few I got this week.


BOOKSPEAK! Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas
Recommended on twitter by @donalynbooks and I loved it! All poems about books and I can't wait to use it with my students!





I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen
Had fun reading this one with students and debating my conflicted feelings on twitter with @colbysharp and @mentortexts who made the recommendation to get it





GIRAFFES CAN'T DANCE by Giles Andreae
This is an older one that I discovered and it just seemed so cute-with a nice anti-bullying message and great rhyming

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Looking Ahead to NCTE & ALAN

One of my favorite experiences over the last three years has been my yearly attendance at the ALAN Workshop in November. This workshop is the highlight of my year and reinvigorates me as a teacher (and I get a box full of books to bring back to my classroom). ALAN is the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (the National Council of Teachers of English) so it happens right after the NCTE Annual Convention. I first attended in San Antonio in 2008, then Philadelphia in 2009, and Orlando in 2010. This year, it's pretty much local, as the 100th anniversary of the NCTE Annual Convention is in Chicago - and that means I not only get to attend my fourth ALAN Workshop, but also get to go to my first NCTE Annual Convention, which I am so looking forward to.
The chance to see nationally-renowned speakers, the best in the business of English education, a slew of authors, and meet so many of the teachers I've been growing my personal learning network with on twitter, all makes this a super-exciting event to look forward to for me. I can't wait to see what NCTE has in store for us.

So, in anticipation of being there in only two short weeks, I wanted to share the list of authors (from the ALAN website) that will be speaking at this year's ALAN Workshop. It is an amazing list, and I am so excited to meet so many of them (and I always discover some authors I hadn't heard of before, but have great books and fabulous things to say).

M.T. Anderson will deliver the keynote address at the Workshop, and Jacqueline Woodson will serve as the 2011 ALAN Breakfast speaker.

Several fantastic authors will speak on Monday, including Angela Johnson, Walter Dean Myers, Janet Tashjian, Sean Beaudoin, John Green, Matt de la Peña, Leslie Margolis, Jennifer Nielsen, Sarah Weeks, Rita Williams-Garcia, Sarah Dessen, Lauren Myracle, Cheryl Rainfield, Andrew Smith, Paul Yee, Kazu Kibuishi, Elizabeth Scott, Abby McDonald, and Laurie Halse Anderson.  The evening will conclude with a reception honoring the finalists for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (AEWA)—Kristen Chandler, Matt de la Peña, Matthew Quick, Jordan Sonnenblick, and Francisco X. Stork.

Tuesday will feature an equally impressive collection of authors, including Chris Crutcher, Cara Chow, Sharon Draper, J.L. Powers, Matthew Quick, Kenneth Oppel, Jennifer Donnelly, Neal Schusterman, Coe Booth, B.A. Binns, Simone Elkeles, Stephanie Perkins, Sara Zarr, Jay Asher, Carolyn Mackler, James Dashner, Megan McCafferty, Veronica Roth, Dom Testa, Katie Alender, Beth Fantaskey, Michelle Hodkin, Thanhha Lai, and David Levithan.

I look forward to sharing some of my exciting author experiences with you when I'm back - and as long as my battery lasts, my twitter stream will have my favorite moments and most inspirational insights.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

OH. MY. GODS. by Tera Lynn Childs

Title: OH. MY. GODS.
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: May 1, 2008
Number of Pages: 224
Source of Book: Bought it awhile ago
Author's Website: teralynnchilds.com

Goodreads Summary:
When Phoebe's mom returns from Greece with a new husband and plans to move to an island in the Aegean Sea, Phoebe's well-plotted senior year becomes ancient history. Now, instead of enjoying a triumphant track season and planning for college with her best friends, Phoebe is trying to keep her head above water at the uberexclusive Academy. If it isn't hard enough being the new kid in school, Phoebe's classmates are all descendents of the Greek gods! When you're running against teammates with superpowers, dealing with a stepsister from Hades, and nursing a crush on a boy who is quite literally a god, the drama takes on mythic proportions!
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I've had this book on my shelf for a few years, since it was blurbed as a Percy Jackson type book for girls who want to read more mythology related book. I finally picked it up because I'm doing a mythology book bin for 2nd quarter this year, so I need to choose titles that will be appropriate for my 7th graders and are mythology related (beyond The Lightning Thief which so many have already read). I've heard praise for Tera Lynn Childs' mermaids series, so I was looking forward to reading this one. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It reads like a contemp, with a full-of-sass main character who is fun to read.

This book is a fun, frothy, light read - I would compare it mostly to those kinds of books I want to read when I don't want to have to think too hard or get too involved, but just want an enjoyable, fun, somewhat predictable story to escape into for a few hours. This one delivers. There was some predictableness in the storyline of girl is friends with boy, boy likes girl, girl likes other more popular boy type of situation, but it was still fun to read. There was nothing too deep in the story, but there were some interesting situations - like her mom being a therapist and Phoebe being a dedicated cross country runner - which were things I haven't seen much of before.

This book had many more mythology references than I even expected. It was funny how the "cliques" in the Academy were based on the god/goddess lineage. There were quite a few references to ancient times/events beyond just the usual gods/goddesses, and there were also references to some of the lesser gods/goddesses beyond the Olympic Twelve. I appreciated that there were references to some of the stories that go along with the Greek mythology as well. I will definitely be adding this one to my mythology book list, and predict that many of my students will enjoy reading this one. I'll also be adding the sequel, GODDESS BOOT CAMP, to my to-be-read soon pile.
 
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