Monthly Archives: June 2013

Blog Hop: Unleashing Readers Launch Week

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I am so excited to be part of a blog hop to introduce Unleashing Readers, a new blog collaboration with Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsberg. Their goal “is to be a go-to resource for all levels of teachers to find resources for utilizing the best pieces of literature and nonfiction in their classroom,” and I cannot wait to be inspired by their insights!

When reviewing books, their goal is to recommend books for a specific purpose in classrooms: read alouds, close read/analysis, literature circle, and classroom library. To celebrate their launch, I am sharing my favorite books for each of these categories.

Favorite Read Aloud Book

Boy21  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. (via Goodreads)

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I have some students tell me, “I really don’t like sports…why would I want to read that?”

My response is that it is so much more than a book “about basketball.” If you’re a Friday Night Lights fan (Texas Forever y’all!!), this book is as much about basketball as the show is about football. The sports aspect is secondary to the exploration of friendship, loyalty, family, and selflessness vs. selfishness, which leads to great discussions and writing.

My students quickly realize this, and they all end up absolutely loving this book. Even after we’ve shared it as a read aloud, students will check it out to reread on their own. I recommend you have a coupld of copies handy!

Favorite Lit Circle Book

Mexican WhiteBoy Danny’s tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile per hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.

But at his private school they don’t expect much from him. Danny’s half Mexican. And growing up in San Diego means everyone else knows exactly who he is before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes. And that’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. To find himself, he might just have to face the demons he refuses to see right in front of his face. (via Goodreads)

This book became a lit circle book because it was so popular in my classroom. It seemed if anyone was reading it, others wanted to talk with them about it. The majority of my students are Hispanic, so most of their conversation was about how true (or to some, untrue) the story was. The fact that it’s a semi-autobiographical story seemed to spark their conversation even more. There was so much discussion, it was a natural fit to move this into our lit circle rotation so that more (organized) discussion could take place.

Favorite Classroom Library Book

Okay, so here is an area where I just cannot limit myself to just one book 🙂 Below are some of the most popular titles in my classroom library–the books that I just could not keep on the shelf. (Clicking the cover will take you to Goodreads where you can read a synopsis and put the book on your to-read shelf!)

Boy21  Mexican WhiteBoy  What My Mother Doesn't Know (What My Mother Doesn't Know #1)  Runner  Smile (Smile, #1)

Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper  Jumping Off Swings  Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry, #1)  The First Part Last (Heaven, #2)  If I Lie

In Honor  Twisted  Make Lemonade (Make Lemonade, #1)  The Fourth Stall  Legend (Legend, #1)

My Favorite Book

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1) His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn’t shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn’t seem human….

Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.

Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.

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In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away…a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. (via Goodreads)

This book is so amazing, and it completely changed my thoughts about my stance on high fantasy. I had always skimmed over this genre, thinking I didn’t really like it, but Graceling showed me just how wrong I was! I buy this book as a gift and recommend it as a great read any chance I get!

Many of my students still with realistic fiction and are scared of fantasy (like I was), but I always recommend this when they’re ready, and it finds a new audience every year.

So what are you waiting for? Add Unleashing Readers to your “blogs I must read list” to receive great book recommendations all the time!

BookFlix Friday (11) — Crown of Midnight

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BookFlix Friday is a meme started by David Etkin of {Eat the Book} where we post book trailers that we plan to share with our students to get them reading.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)

An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?(Goodreads summary)

Book Trailer

My Thoughts


I shared this title in my Waiting on Wednesday post this week, and I had to share the trailer today because I think it’s one that will really grab the attention of my students. I mentioned in my WoW post that I think the anime-ish quality of the cover will entice more of my male readers to pick up the series, and I think that the trailer only helps that cause.

I had a student last year who always wanted title suggestions for books with “action, stealth, and a warrior’s heart,” and I think this year I will start him out with this series!

My only complaint about the trailer are the blurbs. My students don’t really care if a book received a starred Kirkus review, and even if they did, the blurbs move too quickly for them to read it. I would rather see that time used to talk more about the book and drawing us in to the story. Just my 2 cents!

What do you think of the trailer? Does it make you want to read the book? Would you share this with your students?

Waiting on Wednesday (32) — Crown of Midnight

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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…

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)

An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for? (Goodreads summary)

I absolutely LOVED Throne of Glass when I read it earlier this year, and I have been waiting (ok, ok, impatiently waiting) for the second book ever since! I love how the covers have gone kinda anime/graphic novelish. I hate to get into the whole “girly” cover debate, but I think this cover will entice a lot more of my boys to read the series rather than having a cover more similar to the original Throne of Glass cover.

I’m so excited to see where the story goes from here. I’m anxious to see how Dorian matures, if Chaol continues to be a rock, and how Calaena responds to the king and his tasks. Agggh!!! Luckily, a friend picked up a copy for me while at a conference, so I’ll get to find out pretty soon (like…hopefully this weekend soon)!

Releases: August 27, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday (30) — Top 10 Reads So Far In 2013

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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 10 Books I’ve Read So Far In 2013

It’s no secret that I can never keep a T10T post to only 10 books, so I split my choices between two lists: what I’ve read so far in 2013 that was published in 2013, and what I’ve read so far in 2013 that was published before 2013!

Clicking the book cover will take you to Goodreads where you can add the book to your TBR list.

Published During 2013

Arclight (Arclight, #1)  Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)  When You Were Here  The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)  Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Golden  Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2)  Going Vintage  The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns, #3)  Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)

Published Pre- 2013

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)  Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)  Poison Study (Study, #1)  The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda #1)  The One and Only Ivan

We Were Here  The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things  Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)  If I Lie  The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1)

So what about you? Any titles that you’ve also read? Any titles you’ve never seen before but you think look intriguing! The best part of T10T is adding to your TBR 🙂

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (43)

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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, where you can add it to your “To Read” list!

Last week I read:

MG/YA Books

Five Summers  Going Vintage

If you follow me on twitter (wait, you don’t? Why not?!), you know I’ve had a hellacious experience teaching summer school this summer. I finished Going Vintage on June 6, during the last week of school, and I have literally finished TWO other books since then. So sad! Thankfully, this is the last week of summer school, so I can get some good reading in during July!

Five Summers was a touching read about summer camp friends who are reunited after years apart. I loved how the story was told through a mesh of different POVs and flashbacks to the girls and their experiences throughout their summers. I went to summer camp for a week during one summer, and this book made me wish that I had gone to camp and had summer friends. It also made me think about my high school best friends, and how we’ve grown apart as our lives have led us in different directions. Definitely relatable!

I absolutely lovvvved Going Vintage! The main character, Mallory, had a great voice, the idea was fabulous, and I loved that she grew in her independence as the story moved along. She thinks that her grandmother had it so easy back when life was “simpler,” but she definitely learns a “grass isn’t always greener” type lesson through her experiment.

This week I plan to read/continue:

Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3)  Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)

Insignia

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I can’t wait for this week of reading! What about you?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (42)

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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, where you can add it to your “To Read” list!

Last week I read:

MG/YA Books

Gimme A Call  Don't Breathe a Word  Ashen Winter (Ashfall, #2)

Gimme A Call was an audio book that just really annoyed me. The premise is cute (a senior drops her phone in a fountain right after wishing she could warn her freshman self about a boy and the only number the phone will now call is her freshman self), but Ivy (the nickname for the senior version of Devi) was driving me insane! She kept harping on Frosh (freshman Devi) to work harder because she wanted to get into a good school. I’m sorry…that wasn’t important to you before, why is it suddenly “someone elses” (really her past self?) responsibility now? Ivy wants to Devi to change, but she gets mad when the future changes in a way she doesn’t like. What does she expect?! And when you get to the end, what was it all even FOR?! Agh! Maybe if I had read it instead of listened to it…

Don’t Breathe a Word was so strong! I loved it. As I was reading, I kept thinking of the book Hold Fast. This is a MUCH gritter, older book, but for students who are in high school, these two books could pair well together for a hard look at homelessness. I want to read Holly Cupala’s debut, Tell Me a Secret, (below) this week!

Ashen Winter was a great sequel for Ashfall. There were quite a few spots where there was description of building contraptions to use in escape/car repair/survival, and I found myself skimming those parts to get to the good parts…the ACTION!! There’s one final book. Sunrise, that is supposed to be out next year.

This week I plan to read/continue:

Five Summers  Going Vintage  Tell Me a Secret

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I can’t wait for this week of reading! What about you?