Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: Strong Female Protagonists

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

It has been a LONG time since I’ve written a Top Ten Tuesday post! I love that today happens to be a freebie because I’m working on a new bulletin board for my classroom. Four out of five of my classes are seniors and since they’re gone for the school year and I’m going to be on maternity leave at the beginning of next school year, I want to use some of my extra time putting together bulletin boards for next year. I really doubt bulletin boards are going to be a high priority when I’m ready to pop. :)

Anyway, in April I posted the survey results about whether my girls see themselves in what they’re reading. One of the questions I asked them is what they’d love to see in the books they’re reading and a majority of them wish to see strong female characters (their definitions of this vary). Back in February I created a bulletin board featuring book recommendations based on what my students are reading and interested in reading. I’ve decided to merge these two ideas; one section of the bulletin board will feature some strong female characters that my girls are searching for. I’m also thinking about adding a section that features girls in YA who play various sports. Of course, those two ideas can easily be one in the same.

1. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Goodreads): Elisa isn’t your average royal YA fantasy character. She’s a little bit insecure, she’s very religious, and she’s fat (she describes herself this way). What I love about her, however, is that throughout the first book and the series itself she becomes increasingly self-reliant and a strong leader.

2. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Goodreads): A.S. King is one of my favorite authors for reasons like this book and Astrid’s story. Astrid is a character who sees beyond labels, especially those that label sexuality, and simply wants to find herself and where she fits in the world. Plenty of readers will be able to connect with her.

3. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Goodreads): Frankie is still one of my favorite characters and for good reason, too. She’s smart, independent, and full of spunk. I also like that this book features a strong female protagonist and is light-hearted at the same time.

4. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Goodreads): One of the things I like about this book is that while there’s a romance, it’s not the center of the story. The main focus of the story is how Hayley is dealing with her father’s PTSD and in turn her own PTSD from dealing with her father. She’s self-reliant almost to a fault. Her journey through this story is touching.

5. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Goodreads): I can’t imagine growing up with a prostitute as a mother, especially living in a brothel. Like many of the characters on this list, Josie is independent, smart, and strong-willed. This is an excellent piece of historical fiction and example of how strong a YA character can be.

6. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (Goodreads): Tana’s wakes up as the only one living after vampires attack a party she attended so she takes a huge risk by entering Coldtown to save a few of the other survivors. Tana is tough, resourceful, and resilient. This is a vampire book and Tana is no Bella Swan.

7. We Are the Goldens by Dana Rheinhardt (Goodreads): This just released today and thankfully I had the ARC to read already. This is a great story about the power of sibling relationships. Nell is extremely close to her older sister Layla, but because of a secret Layla’s keeping, Nell is being pushed away and is forced to figure out who she is without her sister.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (Goodreads): I really like Piper. I like that she’s deaf and managing a band. I like that she’s looking out for her little sister and trying to connect with her family. This is a fun, engaging, heartwarming book.

9. Sold by Patricia McCormick (Goodreads): Surviving being sold into prostitution. Enough said.

10. Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu (Goodreads): Have you seen the show Hoarders? Reading Lucy’s story is like watching an episode of Hoarders. Her mom has suddenly died in their home and Lucy feels it’s up to her to keep her mom’s secret and clean up their home before anyone arrives to get her mother’s body. Talk about strong and independent.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books of 2013

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Normally I write out reasons why I’m including each book on this list, but I’ve reviewed these books and mentioned them on so many lists that I feel like it’s not really necessary at this point. But believe me, creating this list was HARD. At the end of every year I feel like I haven’t read enough books, nor enough books that really wowed me. Do any of you feel that way at this time of year? I guess I’m not reading to be wowed, but I certainly like discovering new favorites. The books on this list are here because they’ve stayed with me this year (characters, plot, writing style, twists, etc.). I’d love to know which books are you favorites this year!

My favorite books of 2013 in no particular order…

1. Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (My review)

2. Winger by Andrew Smith (My review)

3. Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (My review)

4. Golden by Jessi Kirby (My review)

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (My review)

6. Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler (My review)

7. I’m With Stupid by Geoff Herbach (My review)

8. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (My review)

9. The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine (My review)

10. Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting (My review)

My favorite backlist titles read in 2013 (I couldn’t help but cheat)…

1. One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (My review)

2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (My review)

3. Recovery Road by Blake Nelson

4. Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2013

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

This post is actually difficult to write because despite my list, many of the books I read this year are written by authors I’ve read before. I consider that a good thing because it means former debut authors and new-to-me authors have continued to impress me. I’d love to know which authors are on your list! Hopefully we’ll share some similarities. Hopefully I’ll discover even more authors!

Top Debut Authors:

Hilary T. Smith–Wild Awake has engaging characters and beautiful writing. I hope she writes another book soon!

Rainbow Rowell–Eleanor & Park is Rowell’s debut YA release which rocked my world. Seriously. I LOVE that book.

Hollis Seamon–Somebody Up There Hates You surprised me in a great way. It was fun to read despite being a “cancer” book.

Robin Constantine–As soon as I finished reading The Promise of Amazing I wanted to read another one of Robin Constantine’s books. It’s too bad this hasn’t even released yet because that means I have to wait even LONGER for her next book.

Jessica Verdi–She tackles a big issue in My Life After Now without getting preachy. Plus, it’s an issue not enough found in YA. Win, win.

Aaron Hartzler–Rapture Practice is a great example of YA memoir while also being a fabulous and relevant story.

K.A. Barson–45 Pounds is a fun book that many of my readers will relate to. Plus, K.A. Barson is a Michigan author!

Top New-to-Me Authors:

Benjamin Alire Saenz–I can’t begin to explain how beautiful Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is.

Jo Knowles–So technically Jo Knowles isn’t new to me since I read Lessons From a Dead Girl a few years ago. I’m including her on this list because I read three of her other books this year and loved all of them. I feel like I truly discovered her this year.

Amy Reed–I loved reading Over You and now want to read everything Amy Reed writes.

Top Ten Books in My Winter TBR Pile

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Normally I would have a winter TBR list full of books that will be releasing this winter. This year I’m serving on the Michigan Reading Association’s Great Lakes Great Books Award committee, so I’m trying to read as many 2013 releases as I can. I’ve received quite a few recommendations from friends and I always like adding to my already long list of books to read. Today’s post consists mostly of books I still want to read and consider for the award along with a few 2014 releases that I picked up at NCTE.

I’d love to know what’s on your list! If you’ve read any fantastic 2013 YA releases this year please tell me about them in the comments!

P.S. Sorry this isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing or informative post; I have poetry presentations to grade so I’m rushing. :/

2013 Releases TBR…

The Paradox of Vertical Flight by Emil Ostrovski (Goodreads)

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (Goodreads)

Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi (Goodreads)

Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell (Goodreads)

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards (Goodreads)

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff (Goodreads)

2014 Releases TBR (My ARCs from NCTE are tempting me away from my committee reading…)

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Goodreads)

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (Goodreads)

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale (Goodreads)

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer (Goodreads)

Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations for Divergent/The Hunger Games Fans

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

This year more than any other year, my students have been voraciously reading dystopian stories. It only took a couple of readers and my fangirling over Allegiant to turn Divergent by Veronica Roth into a huge hit in my classroom and throughout the high school. I have a very long list of students waiting for all three books, so I’ve been busy recommending other titles that might help them get through the waiting period for Divergent. I also have quite a few students asking for books that are like The Hunger Games trilogy.

Since today’s Top Ten Tuesday post is all about recommendations, I decided to compile a list of books I’ve been recommending to my students who are looking for book like Divergent and The Hunger Games.

For the students who want an awesome heroine…

Enclave by Ann Aguirre (Goodreads) & Blood Red Road by Moira Young (Goodreads)–Both heroines are tough and all-around awesome. I’ve gone so far as to say that Saba from Blood Red Road makes Katniss look like a wimp.

For the students who crave adventure & suspense…

Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Goodreads), Legend by Marie Lu (Goodreads), Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Goodreads)–I haven’t recommended Legend as often this year as I normally would because I’m going to read it out loud when my seniors are reading 1984. Quite a few of my seniors have been racing through the Unwind series.

For the students who want to experience a futuristic world gone wrong…

Memento Nora by Angie Smibert (Goodreads), Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Goodreads), The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey (Goodreads)–Showing the trailers for The Fifth Wave made this an instant hit.

For the students who want some romance…

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Goodreads), Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Goodreads)–Some of my students have a tough time with the writing style in Shatter Me, but most of them can’t get enough of this series.

Top Ten Tuesday: Contemps I’d Love to Teach

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

I’ve been really fortunate in the past few years to teach some great young adult novels. I’m teaching in a new district this year, and as far as I know, we don’t teach any young adult novels. Hopefully I can change that in the future :)  This list is going to be based on what I have taught and what I’d like to teach.

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (Goodreads)–This is a great book to pair with Of Mice and Men which my former district started doing a couple years ago.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (Goodreads)–This is a fabulous book. Marcelo has Aspergers and sees the world in a completely different light than the average person. We paired this us up with To Kill a Mockingbird since both are coming of age novels.

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman (Goodreads)–This isn’t exactly realistic fiction since there’s an element of the supernatural, but it’s a fantastic book that I’d love to teach in a unit dealing with empathy.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time  Indian by Sherman Alexie (Goodreads)–This is a great book to teach when discussing racism, coming of age, and more. We also taught this with To Kill a Mockingbird.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Goodreads)–If you haven’t read Wonder yet, I really hope you do soon. This may be middle grade, but many of my sophomores read this last year and loved it. I’m reading it to my seniors and one class of sophomores this year at the start of the year to help build our classroom community. I have a bulletin board in my room with the words “Choose Kind” to add to our read aloud experience. I want my students to think about those two words inside and outside my room, so I have paint chips at the bottom of the board for them to write moments of kindness on and post on the bulletin board.  Wonder could be used in a bullying unit, in a community unit, etc.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Goodreads)–Again, this isn’t exactly realistic fiction, but it’s such an excellent, beautiful book. I’d love to teach this as an introduction to allegory before introducing my students to Lord of the Flies.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Goodreads)–There are multiple possibilities for the placement of Speak in schools. I’ve taught it to freshmen who were repeating a trimester of English 9, which went over very well. I’d also teach it with The Scarlett Letter or use it as a read aloud during that unit.

I would love to create a Young Adult Literature elective in my new district. Here are a few titles I would consider teaching since I love them, they have a strong message, strong characters, etc.

Winger by Andrew Smith (Goodreads)–There are so many reasons that I want to use this in a YA Lit class. So many.

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Goodreads)–Astrid is a wonderful character. I love that this book speaks to the importance of not labeling people.

The Spectacular  Now by Tim Tharp (Goodreads)–I have mixed feelings overall about this book, but it’s an excellent example of a character with addiction. I think it would promote a wide variety of discussions in a YA Lit class.

I Wish These Books Had Sequels

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday post is all about books we wish have sequels.  I’m surprised this list was so hard to compile considering how often I finish a book and think, “What? It’s done? I need more!”  Thankfully I was able to come up with ten books that need sequels.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller–I simply want more from this book.  I’m happy with the ending, but I LOVE this story and am being selfish by wanting more.

Dead to You by Lisa McMann–What the heck happened with that ending?! There should be at least a few more pages, if not an entire sequel.

The List by Siobhan Vivian–Too much happened in a short book that took place in a short time span. Another book would be just fine.

Easy by Tammara Webber–Book. Hangover. I still want more of this story and the characters.

Every Day by David Levithan–The ending left me feeling cheated. There really should be a sequel.

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney–This is just me being selfish again.

 

Warped by Maurissa Guibord–It’s been a long time since I’ve read this so I can’t remember exactly why I think there should be a sequel. If I remember correctly, there’s an open ending that made it feel like a sequel is possible. Plus, I really love this book.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt–I just want to make sure Carley is doing okay.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell–If you’ve read this book, then you understand why this is on my list.

Kindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman–I’m just a little confused about the ending.  It’s not exactly clear what happens to the main character.

Top Ten Tuesday: Words/Phrases That Make Me Not Pick Up a Book

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

This might be a tough list to compile since I’m not usually thinking about what I don’t want to read when I’m picking out a book.  I’m always looking for things that make me want to read one.

1. Vampires–I’m over them.

2. Fairytale Retellings–I still try to give them a chance, but most often they don’t work for me.

3. Fairies–I can’t explain why, but I don’t like these stories. The writing can be amazing, but the stories don’t work for me.

4. “Exciting new trilogy/series”–Is anyone else getting tired of new trilogies and series? I’ll still pick them up, but I’m WAY more cautious to start a new one than I ever was before. Besides how expensive it is, it’s hard to keep up.

5. Steampunk–It doesn’t work for me.

6. “The new _______”–Nothing is the same as The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, etc. and that’s OKAY.  I will look into these books because my students will finish one of the big trilogies or series and want something similar, but I don’t like how blurbs do that. It usually sets unrealistic expectations because while I’ve read plenty of great dystopians, none of them are The Hunger Games.  Although some have been better.

7. Insta-love–This almost never works and drives me crazy. Especially when characters get whiny.

8. Non-fiction–I hate saying this, but I don’t like non-fiction. I don’t completely write it off because plenty of my students love it, but it’s rare that I get excited about a non-fiction book.

9. Cancer books that were written to make me sob–Nope. They hit too close to home.  I’ll consider one when it’s not directly about the person dying from cancer, or if it’s more humorous and not a sob-fest, but otherwise I won’t even bother.  It took me a year to pick up The Fault in Our Stars. It was good and apparently I didn’t cry at the “right” part.  No one actually said that to me, but from what I’ve heard, the big “you’re going to cry” moment wasn’t the moment that made me cry.

10. Fiction written by celebrities–Really? Not going to happen.

Top Ten Tuesday: Intimidating Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Today’s post features books that I’ve been intimidated to read even though many of my friends and reviewers have loved them.  I don’t know if all of these books have been loved by many, but many of them have received awards and starred reviews.

The Printz Books:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein–I can only think of one person who wasn’t a huge fan of this book; everyone else I’ve spoken with has raved about it. I can’t explain why I’m scared to try reading it.  I’ve had it on my Kindle for over a year, and I have two copies of it in my classroom.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly–I listened to the audio for Revolution, and while the audio was great, I really didn’t like the story. I want to read as many Printz books as I can, especially considering it’s part of the summer homework assignment for my honors sophomores, but I’m scared to try another one of her books.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey–Horror isn’t really for me, unless it’s Anna Dressed in Blood because that book is flat out great.  I sampled the audio for this book, and it sounded pretty good, so I might try it that way.  Maybe even around Halloween!

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta–Sigh. I’ve tried reading this and listening to the audio and neither worked for me.  But I REALLY want to love this because SO MANY of my friends have raved about it.  What should I do??

So Many Series Books:

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand–I’ve tried reading this a couple times and I can’t stick with it.  My mom has read the entire series and loved it.  My students have read these books and loved them.  My close friends have read this series and loved it.  Should I give it another shot?

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore–I absolutely loved Graceling; I flew right through it. I tried reading Fire THREE times and couldn’t finish it.  I’m scared to try Bitterblue because I’ll be really sad if I don’t like it.  And it’s super long.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman–I sat down and tried reading this a few months ago and I couldn’t pay attention.  It’s really dense, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, but I’m hesitant to try it again.  I really should buckle down and do it this summer.

Historical Books:

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman–I own a copy of this, and I have it sitting on my shelf right now.  The summary sounds really intriguing.  Maybe it’s the size of the book, or maybe it’s the historical part of it, but I’m simply intimidated by it.

Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin–I have a copy of this in my classroom library thanks to a Donors Choose project, and one of my seniors grabbed it right away to read.  He’s a huge historical non-fiction buff, and he absolutely loved it.  This book has FOUR medals on it, yet I’m hesitant to read it mostly because I don’t like non-fiction.  It’s hard to admit that, but I really don’t like non-fiction, although I do enjoy memoirs.

Hits too Close to Home:

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult–I’ve read and enjoyed a few of Jodi Picoult’s books.  I tried reading My Sister’s Keeper when I was in college, but I couldn’t get past the first 100 pages.  My dad had leukemia (thankfully he’s been cancer-free for years) a couple years before I tried reading this.  I couldn’t do it.  I kept crying and crying and finally decided to eat the money I spent on the book and put it away.  It’s hugely popular in my classroom and my students want to talk about it with me whenever they finish.  I haven’t see the movie, but I know what happens in both the book and the movie, so I can at least discuss a little bit with them.  I always tell them why I haven’t read it, but I don’t want to not talk to them about it either.

My Sister's Keeper

My Favorite Books of 2013 (So Far)

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

For today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, we’re supposed to compose a list of our favorite books of 2013 (so far).  This was a harder list to create than I thought it would be; it would probably be easier to create at the end of the summer after I’ve been able to catch up on my reading.  Some of these titles will remain on the list at the end of the year, but I know many will be replaced by even better titles.  It will be fun to find discover those books!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Goodreads) (My mini review)–This will remain a favorite at the end of the year.  I hope many of my students will read this in the future.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (Goodreads) (My review)–Not only will this definitely be a favorite at the end of the year, Rainbow Rowell is a new favorite author.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseEleanor & Park

I’m With Stupid by Geoff Herbach (Goodreads) (My review)–What a way to end a truly wonderful trilogy.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Goodreads) (Review posts on Friday)–I just finished reading this and can’t stop thinking about Carley and the Murphys.  Plus, I’m still sniffling.

I'm With Stupid new coverOne for the Murphys

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (Goodreads) (My review)–I love the characters in this 2013 debut, but I think the writing is what really won me over.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Goodreads)–So I’m definitely cheating here because I haven’t finished this yet, but I’m loving the audio and the story way too much not to include it on this list.  It’s fabulous.

Wild AwakeThe Help

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Goodreads) (My review)–I liked this more than Between Shades of Gray.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (Goodreads)–This is another fantastic audiobook that I thoroughly enjoyed.  It’s middle grade, historical fiction, and full of well-developed characters.  Listening to the audio meant I missed out on seeing the different birds from Audobon’s Birds of America, however.

Out of the EasyOkay for Now

Game by Barry Lyga (Goodreads) (My review)–This was even better than I Hunt Killers and it has a crazy cliffhanger!

Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting (Goodreads) (My review)–This is one of my absolute favorite series, and even though I haven’t heard of a fifth book in the series, I’m still holding out hope that this isn’t the last book!

GameDead Silence

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