Monthly Archives: June 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

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Waiting on Wednesday in a weekly meme, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that lets us gush over books we just can’t WAIT to get our hands on!

I can’t wait for…

Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)

The only thing I dislike about reading a series as it is being written is the wait time between novels. I read Shatter Me (released November 2011) a couple of months ago, and wanted the next book *rightthatsecond* But Unravel Me isn’t released until FEBRUARY 2013!!

When I saw Tahereh Mafi at an author event at Blue Willow Bookshop, she announced that an ebook (Destroy Me) would be released this fall to kind of fill our wait time. Destroy Me is basically book 1.5 in the series and told from Warner’s point of view.

Destroy Me (Shatter Me, #1.5)

Yay! This was good because I wouldn’t have to wait AS long for a fix of the story while I waited for book 2…but it still felt so far away.

Fast forward to this weekend. I’m reading through my Twitter timeline when I see that Jillian at Heise Reads and Recommends mentioned that she picked up an ARC of Unravel Me at ALA. After some of us gushed a bit about how lucky she was, she was generous enough to mail out her copy on an #ARCminitour! I’m the first stop on the tour, so I should have Unravel Me in my hands ANY DAY NOW!!!!

Now the only bad thing is that I’ll have EVEN LONGERRRRRR to wait for book 3! Agh! Oh well, I’ll just buy my own copy of Unravel Me when it’s released and reread it 🙂

This series has a new look on the covers, and I’m digging it! For comparison, heere is the old version (left) and new version (right) of book 1, Shatter Me:

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)   Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

(1) I cannot even express how lucky I am to have such great Twitter friends!! Jillian, you rock!
(2) If you couldn’t tell, I’m excited to read book 2!
(3) If you have the chance to see Tahereh Mafi at an event, DO IT. She is super cute, and so funny. I love her! Also, do yourself a favor and follow her on Twitter!

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Top 10 Tuesday (5)

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This is a weekly meme hosted by the good folks at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is…

Top Ten Characters Who Remind Me Of Myself Or Someone I Know In Real Life

So here’s the thing. I think I’m pretty lame, and I’m always finding myself wishing I had this or that quality in a bad-mama-jama character rather than patting myself on the back because I have the same qualities. So I’m kinda mixing this Top 10 list up a bit and looking at…

Top Ten Heroines Who I Admire Because They’re Bad2TheBone!
(In no particular order) 

1. Katniss from The Hunger Games (series) — Um, duh? Of course Katniss is a badass. She keeps her family together when her dad dies. She volunteers her own life to save her sister. She goes through the game kicking butt and taking names. She’s fierce and loving and isn’t afraid to speak her mind or act on her convictions.

2. Kelsey from Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters — I love Kelsey because she was so real through the whole book. She kept looking like an absolute fool, but she would just keep on keepin’ on. She didn’t care that her (embarassing) picture wound up in the school newspaper (repeatedly). Had that been me, I would have been mortified to even show my face. (You can read my review here.)

3. Tris from Divergent (series) — Tris is brave enough to leave her family behind and join the faction where her heart lies. She selflessly stands up for her friends and puts herself in danger to save others.

4. Katarina Bishop from Heist Society (series) — Even though she is trying to break away from her thieving family and be her own bear, Kat is drawn back to help clear her father’s name. She’s a thief with a conscience. She can plan heist jobs and pull them off without a (life-ending) hitch. And somehow she manages to not lose herself around Hale, which has to be a hard task in itself!

5. Katsa from Graceling (series) — Katsa is graced with being able to demolish any and everyone she must. When she gets tired of her thug uncle using her as his personal assassin, she calls him out. She sets up an underground council to help those in need. She learns that she is not cold or cold-hearted and allows herself to grow.

7. Anne Frank from The Diary of a Young Girl — Anne has to leave everything she has ever known and go into hiding from Nazis. She must live the life of basically have no life. Being in this type of situation is unimaginable to me, and I would hope that I could handle it with the grace and dignity that so many people displayed during the Holocaust.

8. Frankie Landau-Banks from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks — Frankie secretly infiltrates an all-boy secret society. She masterminds the best pranks the school has ever seen and pulls them off without the boys knowing that it is her. Girl power!

9. Melinda Sordino from Speak — You’re a freshman and everyone at school hates you before school even starts? That’s how Melinda starts her year. You experience a tramatic event? That’s what Melinda experienced at end of summer. You tuck everything inside and face the people who hate you? That’s what Melinda does. I would do everything in my power to leave town, change schools, fake sick…anything! But Melinda faces everyone around her and carries on as best she can, with no one knowing how broken she is inside.

10. Mia from If I Stay (series) — After her family dies in a terrible accident that leaves Mia stuck somewhere between life and death, she has to decide which path she’s going to take: join her family or regain her life. I can’t imagine being faced with that decision and having to strength to choose either of the paths. Both are scary and hold the unknown. Neither will give her all that she wants. Yet she does make the decision, and she has to live (or die) with the consequences.

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I noticed that a lot of these characters are from a series of books. I think that’s the testament of a strong, lovable (or hatable…is that a word?) character…that we want to know more about them and follow their journey even longer.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (8)

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Mon Reading Button PB to YA

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys where you can recap what you’ve read this week while planning ahead on what to read next! Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts added their own twist by focusing on kidlit, from picture books up to YA.

Clicking the covers will take you to the Goodreads page for that book, where you can add it to your “To Read” list!

Last week I read

   Snitch    Boy21  A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom   Enclave (Razorland, #1)  Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy

I read about half of the books I said I would read last week, which is pretty good! I’m bad with sticking to a list because I’m mostly a mood reader…whatever is calling to me at that moment is what I’ll pick up.

Snitch was good. Gangs, absent parents, love story. I can see why it appeals to my students (urban and at-risk academically as well as socially) so much. The writing won’t win any literary awards, but that (I believe) was the author’s intent. She wanted to write a book for her students, who are very much like the ones I teach.

Give A Boy A Gun was pretty interesting. It’s told through short interviews with witnesses of a high school shooting, and it includes factual information about different school shootings as sort of footnotes at the bottom.

Boy21 was fabulous, and I posted a review of it here.

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl is another I read because it gets passed around between my students a lot. Girls probably like it because it’s about learning from a relationship that hurt you. Boys probably like it because they thing Bad Boy is a player. It’s written in verse and has multiple POV (whoop!) of 3 girls who were played by Bad Boy. Reference to Judy Blume’s Forever in the book!

My son (9 years old) loves Frankie Pickle, so I’m catching up with him on that series. I paired that with Stuck in Neutral (#nerdprintz book) because they were both very short, and I needed to read 150 pages to mark a point in our Librarians vs. Teachers summerthrowdown!

Stuck in Neutral was pretty interesting. It’s told from the POV of a boy who has cerebral palsy and can’t speak or move at all. Everyone thinks he’s mentally retarded and can’t process information, when in reality he’s a very smart person trapped in a body that can’t communicate. It’s a *very* short, quick read.

Enclave was great. Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic novel where people have moved underground to tunnels and subway systems because the world has been destroyed “Topside.” When Deuce is forced to go Topside, is it really as bad as her Enclave has been telling her? Can’t wait for Outpost ARC mini-tour from Kathy at The Brain Lair!

Stop Pretending is another quick verse read that is based on the author’s experience when her older sister had a nervous breakdown. Sonya Sones is a great verse writer; I started another of hers that I hope to finish this week.

This week I’ll read:

I’m leaving Thursday for Chicago, and I have to clean house/pack before we leave, so I won’t have much reading time this week. I do hope to read:

                                                  What My Mother Doesn't Know (What My Mother Doesn't Know, #1)  Legend (Legend, #1)

And these e-books from the library:

And hopefully fiiiiinally finish this audiobook:The Book Thief

I just realized I said I won’t have much time for reading, then listed a million titles to read! I know I won’t finish them, but they’ll be there if I have the time!

I’m still logging my books for the Librarians vs. Teachers #summerthrowdown. Go #teamteacher!!

What about you? What are YOU reading this week?

Review: Boy21

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Boy21Title: Boy21

Author: Matthew Quick

Pages: 250

Released: March 5, 2012

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Source: Bought

Goodreads Summary: Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in gray, broken Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish Mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, he takes care of his disabled grandfather, and at school he’s called “White Rabbit”, the only white kid on the varsity basketball team. He’s always dreamed of getting out somehow with his girlfriend, Erin. But until then, when he puts on his number 21, everything seems to make sense.
Russ has just moved to the neighborhood. A former teen basketball phenom from a privileged home, his life has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he now answers only to the name Boy21—his former jersey number—and has an unusual obsession with outer space.
As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, “Boy21” may turn out to be the answer they both need.

First off, I admired the dedication that Finley and Erin (his girlfriend) have towards becoming better basketball players. While Erin is a naturally talented basketball player who is the star of her Varsity team, Finley lacks the natural talent and works hard to be the best point guard that he can. Finley’s father tells him that he can always “outwork talent,” and that is exactly what he does, training with Erin before school even starts. I wish I had that kind of motivation in my body!

Finley lives with his dad and his Pop in a town pretty much ruled by the Irish Mob…a fact everyone knows and no one talks about. If you’ve ever seen the movie Gone Baby, Gone, that’s pretty much what I pictured when I pictured this town in my head. In a town where no one asks questions, Finley has learned that it’s best to just keep quiet…and that’s just what he does best.

When his coach asks him for a favor — to help basketball star Russ/Boy21, the son of a former friend — Finley does everything his Coach asks him to with no questions asked. Russ uses the persona Boy21 to hide from the real-world after experiencing a huge tragedy. Boy21 is a creature from outer space who is sent to “observe human emotions on Earth,” and he likes spending time with Finley since his quiet has a “calming presence.”  But Coach wants Finley to get Russ away from the Boy21 persona and back into life, especially basketball. I thought it was unfair of Coach to put so much pressure on Finley. I mean, it’s his senior year, he’s been training so hard, and he’s just supposed to step aside and let a stranger take his spot? That’s a difficult pill to swallow in the first place. Add to it that the person taking your place acts like he’s from crazy-town, and it’s that much harder.

Coach tells Finley that he chose him to help Russ because they have a lot in common, but it’s not really until the end (when both boys are ready to let go of the silence of their tragedies) that you find out not only what they have in common but why Finley holds so tightly to his cocoon of silence.

When tragedy strikes Erin, Finley is completely lost. I almost felt worse for Finley than Erin because of how helpless and hopeless he feels at first. It has been their goal all along to escape from Bellmont and start a fresh life together. But he is left wondering if they’ll ever make it out. And more importantly, if they will make it out together.

I was torn between liking/disliking Finley’s Coach. While I think he wanted Finley to truly be a friend to Russ and help him become grounded again, I couldn’t help but wonder if Coach was a little motivated by the selfishness of wanting such an amazing ball player to help his team. After Erin’s accident, it didn’t seem like Coach was there for Finley like he should have been, especially after putting such a large responsibility on him with Russ.

I would recommend that you have a tissue handy (just in case) for the last 20 pages or so. My heart just broke (even more!) for Finley, and I was rooting with all of my heart for him to be able to find some happiness!

I’ll be adding this to my classroom library, and I can’t wait to get it into the hands of my students. I know this book will appeal to boys and girls, but it has a great cover and story to really draw in some of my more reluctant boy readers. I’ve added Matthew Quick’s Sorta Like A Rockstar to my summer TBR, and I’ll be anxiously looking forward to his next book!

Top 10 Tuesday

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This is a weekly meme hosted by the good folks at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is…

Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR List

Everybody Sees The Ants by A.S. King — I saw lots of talk about this title on Twitter in the fall. It’s almost always checked out from the public library, and my school didn’t have a copy. I’ve already put in my request on the waiting list at my public library; shouldn’t be too much longer!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor — There was some talk of this potentially winning the Printz award for 2011. I’ve only heard great things about it!

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – This sparked a huge Twitter chat amongst people that I follow on Twitter, causing people to declare their allegiance with #TeamBear, #Team Rabbit, or other animals from the book. This summer is MY time to read it!

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch — I will be listening to this audio book this summer, thanks to the Sync giveaways this summer. Each week you can download a free current YA and classic YA audio book. The books for June 14-20 were The Eleventh Plague and The Grapes of Wrath.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness — Another book with rave reviews that has been on my TBR forever. This series gets a lot of love from fellow teachers and librarians.

Babymouse (all!) by Jennifer Holm – I read Babymouse: Monster Mash last week and fell in love. Now I need ALL THE BABYMOUSE!!

See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles — This is Jo Knowles’ newest release. Thanks to other people’s reactions on Twitter, I know that I’ll need a box of tissues to get through this one!

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein — This book has a 4.40 star rating on Goodreads. That’s pretty incredible. I had to pass up this one in favor of From What I Remember at the bookstore, and it was really hard! I’ve even seen authors raving about this title, so it HAS to be great!

 Snitch by Allison Van Diepen — Every year I have one student check this out in August, and it barely touches the shelf until June. We have about 3 copies in our library now, and they’re always checked out. I hate to take a book that a student wants to read, so this summer is MY turn!

Boy21 by Matthew Quick — Another book with rave reviews from my trustworthy Twitter friends! I started this one today, and I hope to finish it tomorrow!

I know that I’ll be reading a LOT more than just these 10 this summer, but these the books that I absolutely MUST read. What about you? What are you reading this summer?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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Mon Reading Button PB to YA

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys where you can recap what you’ve read this week while planning ahead on what to read next! Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts added their own twist by focusing on kidlit, from picture books up to YA.

Clicking the covers will take you to the Goodreads page for that book, where you can add it to your “To Read” list!

Last week I read

                              From What I Remember...  Babymouse: Monster Mash  To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel  

                                      Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters  Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta (Lunch Lady, #3)  Playground

From What I Remember: Such a great read! The story is pretty crazy (Kylie and Max end up trapped in van of stolen goods, headed to Tijuana), but it was still somehow believable. It was told from multiple points of view, and I think it’s pretty well established that I LOVE books that are told from multiple POV! The ooooonly negative was the cover. It does NOT do the book justice!

 Babymouse: Monster Mash and Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta: These are such great kid/middle-grade graphic novels! I’m working on inter-library loans to get the whole set of each series so I can read them in order now! My oldest son (9 years old) loves Babymouse, even though she’s pink 🙂

To Dance: I thought the graphics were beautiful, and the story was good. But then it just…ended. Abruptly. Would have liked the story to be a bit more complete.

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters: I loved this book! It rang so true for anyone who has been through or is going through high school. I did my first book review over this book, which you can find here.

Playground: I will definitely be buying this book for my classroom. The subject matter (bullying, fitting in with “cool” crown, family issues) is something that a lot of my boys will be able to identify very closely with. The fact that it’s written by 50 Cent will make it that much more enticing!

This week I’ll read:

   Legend (Legend, #1)  Snitch    Boy21

     The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda #1)  Darth Paper Strikes Back (Origami Yoda #2)  Amulet, Vol. 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse

Finish this audiobook:The Book Thief

The Librarians vs. Teachers #summerthrowdown starts today, so I’ll be logging my reads to help the teachers earn a victory in this friendly little contest.

What about you? What are YOU reading this week?

Review: Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters

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Freshman Year & Other Unnatural DisastersTitle: Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters

Author: Meredith Zeitlin

Pages: 288

Released: March 1, 2012 (debut novel)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Source: Public library

Goodreads SummaryKelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.
Things start out great – her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.
Kelsey’s hilarious commentary throughout her disastrous freshman year will have you laughing out loud—while being thankful that you’re not in her shoes, of course…

This book is written in first-person from Kelsey’s point-of-view, and you can clearly and immediately hear her Typical Adolescent voice calling from the pages. Kelsey’s whole world is soooo unfair — her mother is always in her business (she feels), her little sister gets everything she wants (according to Kelsey), and everyone else has is so much better than her (she thinks).

I love the relationship that she has with her best friends. Even when times were difficult, and they didn’t see eye-to-eye, you could still tell that they all truly cared for and loved one another. Cassidy made me agitated for a while, but I was fine by the end of the novel 🙂

There were quite a few instances when I literally laughed out loud. Poor Kelsey couldn’t seem to catch a break sometimes, and her reactions were just priceless. With her wit and self-deprecating humor, she reminds me of Georgia Nicolson from the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Lousie Rennison.

I think the thing that I enjoyed most was that I could look back on my own high school experience and remember feeling all of the emotions that Kelsey felt. When some of my freshmen next school year read it, I’m hoping that they will see a little of themselves in Kelsey’s story and know that they’re not alone.

 I can’t wait to see more books from Meredith Zeitlin!