Thursday, February 28, 2013

REQUIEM by Lauren Oliver

Due to being incredibly busy lately, I'm going to be doing reviews a little differently for awhile. I'm bullet pointing my thoughts for you instead of constructing lengthy paragraphs. We'll see how this goes. 

Title: REQUIEM (Book 3 in the DELIRIUM series)

Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Number of Pages: 400
Source of Book: ARC from publisher (Thanks HarperCollins School & Library!)
Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.
First thought: Satisfying ending to this series
-Different from DELIRIUM and PANDEMONIUM, I loved the dual perspective voices of Lena and Hana - gave a great insight into what was going on outside the walls in the Wilds and inside the walls with the Cureds.
-The way Lauren Oliver used the length of chapters to enhance the suspense and urgency in climactic parts or the complacency in other parts was masterful...also the way the chapters end and the next one starts is seamless and helps the story flow so well.
-Lauren Oliver's writing style is beautiful and literary and pulls me into the story and the setting.
-I've enjoyed this entire series and the whole idea of this society and amor being a disease...it's an interesting commentary on the way feelings can interfere with thinking.
-The way the whole storyline comes together in the end and we see how Lena and Hana learn the lessons they learn and have their new perspectives on the world and their lives was great...especially in thinking about the choices we make in life and what those may mean for us.
-You know going into it that hearts might get broken, but the whole time you're a little unsure of whose hearts those may be and some may surprise you---of course, that's what happens when you choose love over a lobotomy.
-Dealing with very broken characters here who have had their worldview completely shaken and they have to figure out how to survive in a new world.
Final thought: The things we would do for those we love...

Monday, February 25, 2013

LET THE SKY FALL by Shannon Messenger

Due to being incredibly busy lately, I'm going to be doing reviews a little differently for awhile. I'm giving you a list of my thoughts after finishing instead of constructing lengthy paragraphs. We'll see how this goes.


Title: LET THE SKY FALL
Author: Shannon Messenger
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Number of Pages: 416
Source of Book: ARC from publisher at NCTE
A broken past and a divided future can’t stop the electric connection of two teens in this “charged and romantic” (Becca Fitzpatrick), lush novel.

Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.
You can see the just released book trailer here.

First thoughts: Loved this book! Action, romance, snark, caring, excitement, entertaining writing, and a unique twist on mythological/paranormal add up to one awesome book.
- Love, love, love Shannon Messenger's writing style and the attitude she brings to her characters. It's like I'm talking to a friend.
- I so enjoy dual perspective POV books and this one is no different. Multiple perspectives are important for this story, and the guy voice is really well done. Vane brings sarcastic humor and Audra brings the kick-butt-ness.
- The mythological aspect of the sylphs who are Windwalkers is unique and intriguing and something I haven't read about before. Fascinating how they can talk to the wind and have it do things for them.
- As the story goes on, it becomes more and more clear what Vane and Audra's connection is and why it is inevitable. It was fun to follow along with their back-and-forth dynamic and learning their story along the way as Vane learned his history with Audra.
- Family is at the heart of this book and finding one's own strength through connections with others.
- Characters were relateable in their situations and why they built the walls they did.
- The action scenes with the way Windwalkers battle and fight were exciting.
- Ending is where it needs to end, but leaves it open for the next book. The biggest battle is not yet through. They need to find their own strengths first before it can really come to a head with the villains. 
Final thoughts: I adore Shannon Messenger's writing and her books and look forward to much more from her!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

REVENGE OF THE GIRL WITH THE GREAT PERSONALITY by Elizabeth Eulberg

Due to being incredibly busy lately, I'm going to be doing reviews a little differently for awhile. I'm bullet pointing my thoughts for you instead of constructing lengthy paragraphs. We'll see how this goes. I needed to make sure to tell you about this fantastic book coming out next week though!

Title: REVENGE OF THE GIRL WITH THE GREAT PERSONALITY
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Number of Pages: 261
Source of Book: ARC requested from publisher at NCTE
A hilarious new novel from Elizabeth Eulberg about taking the wall out of the wallflower so she can bloom.

Don't mess with a girl with a Great Personality.

Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny...but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).

Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection.

The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren't going to know what hit them. Because Lexi's going to play the beauty game - and she's in it to win it.
First thought: I so adore Elizabeth Eulberg's books and this newest one hits the right notes once again.
- Elizabeth Eulberg is one of my absolute favorite contemporary writers!
- Her books are sweet and meaningful and have real characters who are finding their true selves and how to be who they really are.
- Lexi learns to stand up for herself even in a dysfunctional family.
- Seeing the inner workings of the pageant life was entertaining throughout.
- Lexi becomes her own person, not what others say she should be...juxtaposed with the world of child pageants where it's all about what others say about a girl.
- Has true-to-life, relatable, honest characters.
- Great best friends. One is gay, which has it's own side story that is a nice counterpoint and instigator to what Lexi is dealing with, and both are there for her always.
- Idea: Not necessarily meant to be with the one you might think, but have to go through it to really find out about yourself.
- The drama of high school popularity politics is alive and well, and will hook my student readers.
- Some guys are truly good...even if it takes the girl a little while to see what's there in front of her.
- Loved the fact that Taylor Riggins appears as one of those good guys (and if you don't catch that reference, you haven't watched enough of that amazing TV show).
- Left with hope at the end, but also at a point where Lexi realizes that she needs to work through becoming her best self before being with a guy.
- Good message for real girls.
Final thought: Is it all about looks? Who says you have to be with someone to be you?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why So Quiet on the Blogging Front?

You may have noticed the book recommendation posts have been sparse since 2013 started. That doesn't mean I haven't been reading, and it doesn't mean I haven't been reading good books, but there's something else major going on that is taking my time I would normally spend on writing blog posts.
I am currently pursuing National Board Certification in Early Adolescence English/Language Arts. It is something I have thought about for a few years, and due to numerous circumstances, last fall it became apparent that it was time to do it. Luckily, I have some fantastic supporters in my local and virtual community, so I know I can do this; however, it is not a quick and easy process at all. Nor should it be. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has thoughtful and thorough standards, and the process of pursuing certification is rigorous, arduous, and intense. When I get though it, there is no doubt in my mind that the reflection, analysis, and introspection I have done will have improved my practice, whether I certify on the first try or not.

This all brings me to why the blog has been quiet. My time is devoted to teaching and analyzing my teaching and watching my teaching and reflecting on my teaching and writing about my teaching...all while still actively teaching. None of that leaves much time left for blogging about books. I'm reading books. I'm sharing books. I'm talking books. I'm tweeting about books. I'm recommending books to students and teachers and friends. I will be back blogging books soon...but likely very sporadically until I finish my National Board Certification Portfolio. This process will take me until mid-April, so if you don't see me here often, find me on twitter or goodreads, and know that I will be back to recommending books here as soon as I can.

Thanks for visiting! See you soon!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Student Recommendation: OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper

Today's student review is from one of my 7th graders. She read a book that I still really need to read, and am looking even more forward to getting to soon based on her response.

Title: OUT OF MY MIND
Author: Sharon M. Draper
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 9, 2010
Number of Pages: 295
Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write. Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you'll never, ever forget.

Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper is honestly my favorite book that I have read so far.  It is a very powerful book and has such so much feeling in it. I personally like Melody and Mrs. V. Melody is such a strong hearted girl; even though she basically gets bullied everyday at school and has a disease, she still stays strong throughout the whole thing and situation. Now Mrs. V reminds me of me. I don’t let anyone mess with my friends or with someone close to me and that’s exactly what she did. When I read other books, I usually don’t connect with them. But this book, I made a connection with. If there ever was a sequel I would want to most definitely read it to see how Melody is doing and how she is with her friends.  I recommend this book is EVERY 7th and 8th grader, and I can guarantee you won’t want to stop reading it, just like I didn’t. I rate this book 5 stars!
 
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