Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Book Read Alike Recommendations on Nerdy Book Club Today

I'm the guest poster on the Nerdy Book Club blog today. Instead of just reviewing/recommending one new book, I'm giving 8 recommendations for newer books in an "If you liked this, try this..." read alike format.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

TWO BOYS KISSING by David Levithan

Title: TWO BOYS KISSING
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (a Random House imprint)
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Number of Pages: 208
Source of Book: Book provided by the publisher to Book Divas for review

        New York Times  bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. 
        While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

TWO BOYS KISSING is the story of the modern day gay teenager told through the collective voice of the past generation of gay men who came of age during the AIDS epidemic. It is the story of Craig and Harry attempting to break the world record for the longest kiss, over 32 hours, even though they are no longer in a romantic relationship. Interwoven around that main storyline, it is also the story of other young men having their own personal experiences with their significant others, their family, their friends, and the accepting and non-accepting world around them. It is also the story of Peter and Neil who are a couple struggling with how to keep the spark alive after being together long enough to know each other so well. It is also the story of Avery and Ryan who have just met and are forging their way through the beginning stages of getting to know someone you are drawn to. It is also the story of Cooper, who is alone after running away from an angry father who discovers he is gay. Indelibly, it is also the broader story of the generation of gay men who have passed, and their observations, their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their voice putting into context what today's youth experience, and the realization that as much as it may be better, there are still some in society who will make it more difficult for this generation of kids.

Through this unique narration voice, David Levithan has created a poetically lyrical honesty. It is the story of one, the story of a few, the story of many, the story of those who came before and the story of those yet to come. It highlights this unique period of time where the voices of the past are in awe of, wistful for, and fearful of the experiences today's gay youth have available to them. In this short period of time in which this book takes place, the weight of the past and the present and the future is felt strongly and honestly. They say, "Trust us: There is a nearly perfect balance between the past and the future. As we become the distant past, you become a future few of us would have imagined." By juxtaposing the feelings of the narrators' experiences in the 80s and their need to hide with the openness of this generation's gay youth, who may still at times feel the need to hide, it creates a level of suspense and hope for the future. There is a medley of voices showing a variety of experiences, but ultimately it comes down to the individual experience of just one. Each individual one. Through coming out, growing relationships, getting past hurt, beginning flirtation, facing hatred, and feeling lost, each character's journey is unique and develops at a different pace, while all living intertwined narratives. The point is obvious, "The minute you stop talking about individuals and start talking about a group, your judgment has a flaw in it." It is a moving story. It is a story of hope. It is a beautifully written story of beautiful moments and horrifying ones as well. It is a story set against the backdrop of an image of two boys kissing and the reactions to that image. If Avery's feelings are true, "...he doesn't feel anyone can be a true part of his story until he or she hears it and accepts it," then the reader gets a chance to be a part of this story by hearing and accepting the experiences of these characters representing what life might really be like for this generation. This is a books of truths, and as Levithan writes, "The first sentence of the truth is always the hardest," but "Saying the truth out loud makes it more real." TWO BOYS KISSING says the truth out loud, even if it is hard to do.

*As some scenes and moments are graphic in physical description or mature in emotional nature, this may not be an easy book for all, but it is an important book. Teens need to know that there is a voice that speaks for them, and I think this book can be that voice for many.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

TTT: Top 10 New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2013
Some of these authors are newer this year, but I honestly can't believe it took me this long to finally read a book by a few of these authors.

Jessica Verdi
MY LIFE AFTER NOW

Trish Doller
SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL
WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE

Jennifer Salvato Doktorski 
HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES
FAMOUS LAST WORDS

Jo Knowles
JUMPING OFF SWINGS
LIVING WITH JACKIE CHAN
SEE YOU AT HARRY'S

Ruta Sepetys
OUT OF THE EASY

A.S. King
REALITY BOY

Jennifer Brown
THOUSAND WORDS
PERFECT ESCAPE

Lauren Myracle
SHINE
THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US

Jennifer Lynn Barnes
THE NATURALS

Courtney Summers
SOME GIRLS ARE
CRACKED UP TO BE

Bonus: 
Kasie West
PIVOT POINT
THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US
Although I first read an advanced copy of PIVOT POINT at the end of 2012, Kasie debuted in 2013 with that one, plus a second contemporary that is one of my (and my students') favorites. I will read any book she writes. She's one to watch for!



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Giveaway: THREATENED by Eliot Schrefer (Signed ARC)

ENDANGERED by Eliot Schrefer was my favorite YA book of 2013. When I heard that he was going to be writing a whole series of books on the four great apes, I was so excited because I love his writing so much. I was able to get an early copy of the second one about chimpanzees, THREATENED, at the NCTE Convention, and then they had copies available at ALAN also since Eliot was on a panel there. Hearing him speak about his research process for his books, I was inspired to tweet this thought:
After the panels at the ALAN Workshop, the authors are available for silent signings. Since I had two copies of THREATENED, I asked Eliot to sign the second one for a giveaway on my blog, which he was happy to do.

A bit about THREATENED...and the entry form below.

Title: THREATENED

Author: Eliot Schrefer
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Number of Pages: 288

Into the jungle. Into the wild. Into harm's way.
        When he was a boy, Luc's mother would warn him about the "mock men" living in the trees by their home -- chimpanzees whose cries would fill the night.
        Luc is older now, his mother gone. He lives in a house of mistreated orphans, barely getting by. Then a man calling himself Prof comes to town with a mysterious mission. When Luc tries to rob him, the man isn't mad. Instead, he offers Luc a job.
        Together, Luc and Prof head into the rough, dangerous jungle in order to study the elusive chimpanzees. There, Luc finally finds a new family -- and must act when that family comes under attack.
        As he did in his acclaimed novel Endangered, a finalist for the National Book Award, Eliot Schrefer takes us somewhere fiction rarely goes, introducing us to characters we rarely get to meet. The unforgettable result is the story of a boy fleeing his present, a man fleeing his past, and a trio of chimpanzees who are struggling not to flee at all. 
Enter to win a SIGNED ARC of THREATENED by Eliot Schrefer!

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

TTT: Top 10 2014 Releases I'm Dying to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Top Ten 2014 Releases I'm Dying to Read

PANIC by Lauren Oliver
THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME by Jennifer E. Smith
THE YOUNG ELITES by Marie Lu
THREATENED by Eliot Schrefer 

The Series Finales
THE RETRIBUTION OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin
IGNITE ME by Tahereh Mafi
GASP (Visions series) by Lisa McMann
ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Stephanie Perkins
TAKE ME ON by Katie McGarry

EMPOWER by Jessica Shirvinon
     

And a bonus 
Top Ten 2014 Releases I Was Dying to Read 
that I Got to Read Early and Loved!
BETTER OFF FRIENDS by Elizabeth Eulberg
ON THE FENCE by Kasie West
EXILE by Kevin Emerson



INTO THE STILL BLUE by Veronica Rossi
ERASED by Jennifer Rush
UNINVITED by Sophie Jordan

SPLIT SECOND by Kasie West
LET THE STORM BREAK by Shannon Messenger
THE WINNER'S CURSE by Marie Rutkowski
INDEPENDENT STUDY GRADUATION DAY by Joelle Charbonneau


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Student Recommendation: DARK EDEN by Patrick Carman

Title: DARK EDEN

Author: Patrick Carman
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (a HarperCollins imprint)
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Number of Pages: 336

          When Will Besting approaches Fort Eden for the first time, he knows something isn't right. With more terrifying secrets at every turn, he discovers a hidden fear deep inside himself, a dark mystery a thousand years in the making, and the unexpected girl of his dreams. But can he save everyone from the dangers of Fort Eden before it's too late?
          Patrick Carman's Dark Eden is a provocative exploration of fear, betrayal, the power of memory, and the mystery of love.


Many of us have had a fear in our life ranging from many different things. Dark Eden (by Patrick Carman) was a book about fear itself; it had you experience it with the characters in a way that was stunningly realistic. Dark Eden was able to mix horror and mystery remarkably, each page it had you on your heels making you wonder what would happen next.
One thing I think the readers will love about this book is its whole plot; each page will have you wanting more and more of the story because Patrick Carman has a way of wrapping you in the book not wanting to let the book down. I would give Dark Eden a magnificent 5 out of 5 stars; this book would probably appeal to middle school students and older people just because of the horror aspect.         

 All in all Dark Eden was one of the best books I’ve ever read so far this year. Make sure to pick up a copy, I’m sure it will be worth your while.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

TTT: Top 10 Books I'd Recommend to...

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Top Ten Books I Recommend to... my 8th grade girls looking for more mature/edgy contemporary romance books to read next
Typically my students start with PERFECT CHEMISTRY (& the rest of the series) by Simone Elkeles because they end up having it recommended by a friend, and after they read and love it, they ask me for more "books like this one." It's not always easy to decipher what exactly that means, but I've come to realize that in this case they're usually asking me for a more mature/edgy, realistic contemporary romance book. This year in particular, I've had to expand my book knowledge in this subset because I have a core group of girls who are reading tons of books and keep asking for more like these. I can always guide them toward other non-realistic genres for read alikes later, but for now they want the contemps, so here's my go-to list of next read alikes for this specific request. 
*Caution: Know your students well and what they can handle and what their parents would (not) be okay with them reading about before recommending these definitively YA titles. I did not recommend any of these until I had read them first and knew that the particular student reading it would be able to handle the mature content (and it I would rarely recommend to a 7th grader), but there is a reason for each one of these being on this list because they each have valuable messages to offer teen girls along with being engaging reads.

SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL by Trish Doller

PUSHING THE LIMITS (& DARE YOU TO & CRASH INTO YOU ) by Katie McGarry

JUST ONE DAY (& JUST ONE YEAR) by Gayle Forman

JUMPING OFF SWINGS by Jo Knowles
SOME GIRLS ARE by Courtney Summers

SHUT OUT by Kody Keplinger
THOUSAND WORDS by Jennifer Brown

MY LIFE AFTER NOW by Jessica Verdi
RECLAIMED by Sarah Guillory

What would you recommend to readers looking for a mature/edgy contemporary romance book?
 
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