Waiting on Wednesday–Run by Kody Keplinger

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

I’m so excited to read a new Kody Keplinger novel! My students and I love her books, so much so that a couple copies of her books have gone missing from my classroom library. Run sounds like it will be just as entertaining to read as the rest of her novels. And I really appreciate that the girls on the cover look more like high school students than most YA cover models.

RunTitle & Author: Run by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: June 28th, 2016

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Summary (From Goodreads):

Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter — protect her from what, Agnes isn’t quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and — worst of all — confronting some ugly secrets.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood

I’m so happy to be part of this blog tour for a historical fiction, kickass book! A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers, and Other Badass Girls was edited by Jessica Spotswood and includes short stories from a variety of female YA authors. Three questions were asked of all contributing authors; today I’m featuring answers from Leslye Walton, Elizabeth Wein, and Jessica Spotswood.

A Tyranny of Petticoats

Also available as an e-book and in audio

Summary (From the publisher): Crisscross America, on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains, from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own courses. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They’re making their own ways in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

Our authors are as diverse as their characters. To give readers a better sense of their diverse processes and experiences writing for this anthology, we asked three questions of each contributor:

  1. What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
  2. What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
  3. Who is your favorite woman in history and why?

Here are their answers:

Jessica Spotswood is the author of the Cahill Witch Chronicles, a historical­ fantasy trilogy, as well as the contemporary novel Wild Swans. She grew up near the Gettysburg battlefield but now lives in Washington, D.C., where she works for the D.C. Public Library system as a children’s library associate.
Twitter: @jessica_shea, Facebook, Instagram

Jessica_Spotswood credit C.Stanley Photography (1)

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
I’ve been fascinated with New Orleans since my first visit when I was twelve. The city was French, then Spanish, then French again briefly, was sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase, seceded to join the Confederacy, then became part of the United States again. The architecture, food, and music all reflect this unique history as well as Creole, Cajun, and Haitian influences. By 1826, there was a large number (according to the census, perhaps as many as twelve thousand recorded in a city of forty-six thousand) of gens de couleur libre, or free people of color, which made New Orleans unique among antebellum Southern cities. Most free blacks were mixed-race; some were descended from slave mothers and white fathers, and others emigrated from Haiti after the revolution. They were educated property owners, a thriving middle class of businessmen, shop owners, and tradesmen who went to mass at Saint Louis Cathedral, attended the theater and the French opera, and sometimes had slaves of their own.

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
In 1786 Governor Miró passed the tignon laws, which required women of African descent — slave or free — to cover their hair and refrain from excessive attention to their dress. In response, women of color began to wrap their hair in beautiful, colorful scarves called tignons and were still as beautiful and eye-catching as ever. The law was basically to preserve racial and class distinctions, because some free women of color were so light-skinned and richly dressed that they were mistaken for white.

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
I’m fascinated by Nellie Bly, who was an intrepid lady reporter. She wrote about the problems of poor working girls and called for the reform of divorce laws. She was a foreign correspondent in Mexico, but the editor of her Pittsburgh paper kept assigning her stories for their women’s section about fashion and flower shows, so she resigned and moved to New York. Most famously, she feigned madness while working undercover to write a series on the abuse of institutionalized women at the asylum at Blackwell’s Island. In 1888, she also tried to recreate Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days and filed dispatches to her paper via telegraph. She only took seventy-two days, like the boss she was.

 

Leslye Walton is the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, which was a 2015 Pacific Northwest Book Award winner, as well as a 2015 YALSA William C. Morris YA Debut Award finalist. She lives in the Pacific Northwest but has recently been finding her dreams filled with vast desert skies and the gorgeous pink flowers of the prickly pear cactus. Her short story is the result of those dreams.
Twitter: @LeslyeWalton, Facebook

Leslye_Walton

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
I was interested in exploring the juxtaposition of power and limitation, a blurred line that has defined the lives of women throughout history. I wondered what it might have been like to live as a young teenage girl during a time of upheaval and change in American history, while also capturing a time and place where cultural and national identities felt at odds. I suppose these thoughts wove themselves together, because suddenly I had Valeria, Rosa, and Maria Elena, three immortals sent down to live as Mexican-American sisters during the years after the Texas Annexation.

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
I loved learning all the intricate details about the family ranchos of that time and the lush Rio Grande landscape of yucca plants, honey mesquite trees, and prickly pear cacti.

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
Oh, this is an impossible question! There are so many admirable women in our world’s history, all with incredible and oft times terrible stories; it’s virtually impossible to pick a favorite. I suppose, though, if I had to choose one, I’d have to admit that I am currently infatuated with Petra Herrera, a revolutionary war hero who led over four hundred female soldiers during the Mexican Revolution, if only for the sole reason that she proved that women could be just as effective as men in the art of combat.

 

Elizabeth Wein is the New York Times best­selling author of Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire, and, most recently, Black Dove, White Raven. All three feature women as pilots in the early twentieth century — such rare birds in their own right that a black woman among them is a veritable phoenix. “The Color of the Sky” is a closer look at one of the real pilots whose life inspired a character in Black Dove, White Raven.
Twitter @EWein2412

Elizabeth Wein_credit David Ho

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to become a licensed pilot, inspired me!

I earned a private pilot’s license late in 2003. That year also happened to be the one hundredth anniversary of the Wright brothers’ historic first powered “heavier than air” flight. I took part in a worldwide celebratory fly-out on December 17, the exact anniversary. But I was also the only female student pilot on the airfield where I learned to fly, so I became interested in flight, the history of aviation, and women in aviation all at the same time.

Bessie Coleman is one of the most amazing early female aviators. She got her international pilot’s license in 1921, and she was not only the first black woman to do so, she was the first American to do so — male or female, black or white. No one — of any color — would teach her to fly in the United States, because she was black and/or because she was a woman; so she took some French classes, found some sponsorship, and went to France to learn to fly. I am in awe of her initiative, her positive outlook, and her determination.

Though she died young, and tragically, in a flying accident (which is what my story in A Tyranny of Petticoats is about), Coleman was committed to opening a flying school that would allow young people of all races and sexes to learn to fly. Until her early death she traveled around the United States giving lectures and film presentations in schools to encourage young people to learn more about aviation, as well as fund-raising for her flight school dream.

The time and place of my story was dictated by the focus on Bessie Coleman — but to make it authentic, I ended up finding out quite a bit about Jacksonville, Florida, in the 1920s — its schools, churches, neighborhoods, and transportation systems!

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
It was undoubtedly the amazing real historical characters I discovered as I was peopling my fictional tale. I want to write stories — books, even! — about all of them.

Except for my main character Antonia and her family, most of the named characters in “The Color of the Sky” are based on real people. In addition to the obvious — Bessie Coleman herself — I also had to find out more about the lives of Myrtle and Henry Wade Vencill, Louis Manning, William Wills, Robert Abbott, and John Thomas Betsch. I desperately hope I’ve been respectful of their historical counterparts — especially Betsch, who is in jail when my story ends!

The week following Bessie Coleman’s death in April 1925 must have been a heartbreaking time in John Thomas Betsch’s young life. He was only twenty-one at the time. College-educated, Betsch was the publicity chairman of Jacksonville’s Negro Welfare League and an aviation enthusiast; he was also a strong advocate for racial and sexual equality in Florida and continued to be so throughout the first half of the twentieth century. His legacy is evident in the lives of his children: MaVynee Betsch, who graduated from Oberlin College with a double major in voice and piano in 1955, sang with the German State Opera, and then devoted her later life to conservation; Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, who became the first female president of Spelman College, president of Bennett College for Women, and co-author of Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities; and John Thomas Betsch, Jr., a jazz musician who has lived in Europe for the past thirty years. It makes me happy to know what a better world John Betsch helped to create for his own children and for generations to come. I’d never have known about these people if I hadn’t been digging for information about the circumstances surrounding Bessie Coleman’s fatal accident.

Another fascinating woman I learned more about while writing “The Color of the Sky” is Willa Brown. I’d known about her because she turned up in the research I did for my novel Black Dove, White Raven, and I like to think that the life of my original character Antonia will closely follow that of Willa Brown. Brown graduated from Indiana State Teachers College in 1927 and went on to help establish the Coffey School of Aeronautics in Chicago. Willa Brown was the first African-American woman to earn a private pilot’s license (which had not been established when Bessie Coleman earned her international license). During World War II, in addition to training black pilots and flight instructors, she joined the Civil Air Patrol and became its first African-American officer. Throughout most of the twentieth century, Willa Brown was a tireless activist for racial and sexual equality, both on the ground and in the air.

I would love to go on — every single one of the characters who appear in “The Color of the Sky” has a fascinating history — but perhaps these brief portraits will inspire readers to do some digging for themselves!

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
This isn’t a question I’ve thought about before — I don’t have a tried and tested answer that I give. I have many favorites, for different reasons at different times in history and at different times in my own life. If you’d only asked me to name “my favorite woman of all time,” I’d have said my grandmother, Betty Flocken.

But I’m going to go with Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906–2001), because her voice as a writer and a pilot sings to my soul. I knew and read her written work long before I became a pilot myself. Her inspirational Gift from the Sea, which has never been out of print since it was first published in 1955, has been my guide throughout my adult life — as it was to my grandmother fifty years ago. Indeed, it was my wonderful grandmother who introduced me to Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s writing.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of Charles A. Lindbergh, the early aviator who’s best known for his pioneering flight across the Atlantic in 1927. As a couple they skyrocketed into the media in 1932 when their infant son was kidnapped and murdered. Charles Lindbergh bordered on being a Nazi sympathizer in the years leading to World War II and, though he flew fifty combat missions in the Pacific for the United States and finished his life as an environmental activist in 1974, his image never entirely recovered in the public eye. Anne Morrow Lindbergh soared to fame on her own as a gifted diarist and travel writer, managing to transcend the brightness and shadow that her husband cast. Her clear-sighted and lyrical voice is one of the most prolific and honest of the twentieth century.

She was the first American woman to earn a glider pilot’s license and accompanied Lindbergh on early global exploration flights as his radio operator as they attempted to discover the best long-distance routes for future commercial airlines to places like South America and eastern Asia. She was a friend and deep admirer of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, another of my pilot-writer heroes (and author of The Little Prince). Despite the tragic loss of her first baby, she went on to raise five children, a free-thinking collection of writers and aviators in their own rights.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a quiet, private, shy, and privileged woman and didn’t have to do the kind of groundbreaking work that Bessie Coleman had to do. But her dedication to her craft, her prolific life’s work, and her ability to recover and forgive make me strive to be like her.

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Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the tour so you can learn more about each author!

 

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Successful Book Talks

I set a teacher resolution for myself this semester. My goal is to book talk a different book every day and every class period for the rest of the semester. I started out the school year book talking a book every Tuesday, but because we’re on a block schedule I was only drawing attention to a specific book for my A day and B day classes twice a month (we meet every other day). Also, I have an expansive class library and too many books sit on the shelves unread. I can remedy that with an occasional book pass, but that can take up an entire class period, which I don’t have time to do on a regular basis. I can, however, make time for a couple minute book talk each day.

After our read aloud I choose a book to tell my class about before we start SSR. Sometimes I choose them ahead of time for the day, and other times I get distracted and find a book on the fly. Lately I’ve been asking my students what type of book they’d like to hear about. My freshmen want endless mysteries, which has been difficult because so many of my favorites are already checked out and I haven’t read as many mysteries as I apparently need to. Another class told me that I haven’t book talked enough dystopian. One of my senior classes said they like it when I choose which book because they know I’m choosing ones that they’ll enjoy and they trust my opinion. It’s been a really fun process these past weeks. I’m bummed that once May hits I won’t be able to book talk anything to my seniors since our entire class period will be dedicated to Senior Exit Presentations, but at least I know they’re hearing about great books until then.

In this post I’m going to focus on which books have been successful, meaning which books have been borrowed after the book talk. If you’d like to see the books I’ve highlighted this semester, you can follow the Pinterest board I created for this to help me keep track. I’ve been focusing on a lot of backlist titles because they’re new to my students even though it’s maybe been years since I’ve read them. It’s also my hope that even though I’m featuring a different book in every class, the word will spread to other students/classes about the books they’re picking up and reading.

If you need some tips on how to do a book talk or some ideas to make yours more successful, I suggest reading Erica Beaton’s post. I’ve taken a few ideas from her post to improve my own, particularly the idea to ask my class a question to pique their interest (the emotional hook).

I’m only featuring a handful or so of the successful book talks simply because I’m short on time. I’d love to know what your book talk strategies are and which books have been picked up after a book talk.

 

Swim the Fly by Don Calame (Goodreads): I book talked Swim the Fly earlier this week in one of my freshmen classes because they requested a book with humor. I hooked them when I admitted that I enjoy dumb humor/bathroom humor, which is embarrassing to admit. I referenced movies with that type of humor like Step Brothers (they love that movie) and said girls appreciate that type of humor like in Bridesmaids for example. One of my boys borrowed it right away, especially after hearing another boy in class state how much he loves this series of books.

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (Goodreads): I have a class of seniors this year that love edgy books, so I hoped The Spectacular Now would be a winner for that group. It helped that I showed them the movie trailer after I finished my talk. One of my seniors who keeps bouncing from book to book decided to read this, and so far she’s been sticking with it.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis (Goodreads): I think I won over my students when I said they’ll read about characters being cryogenically frozen. It also helped that this book is written from two points of view, which I know my students enjoy.

Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl (Goodreads): Honestly, this book wasn’t for me because I was listening to it via audio and Paige Rawl was narrating it; she is not a stellar narrator. But I know it’s a good book for my students to read. One of my seniors borrowed it and came into my room the following day to tell me how quickly she’s reading it and how much she loves it. She said she isn’t a big reader, but Positive has her hooked.

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (Goodreads): I don’t know exactly what piqued my students’ interest when I book talked this, but it hit a nerve because at least four or five freshmen from that class have read it. I think they liked the idea of reinventing oneself, reading from a gay teen’s point of view, and that I focused on how much I loved the writing.

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson (Goodreads): I can’t remember if I originally book talked If I Lie in a senior or freshman class, but it has been extremely popular in both classes. One of my seniors kept talking in our class about how much she loved it and how she was reading more outside of school than she ever has before. What I loved the most about this is that another girl in her group (my students sit in groups of six) started recommending books for her to read next. Which leads me to my next book…

A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy (Goodreads): A senior was reading this last semester and she loved it so she recommended it to the student who was reading If I Lie. I book talked A Matter of Heart with my freshmen and it wasn’t picked up right away, but I could tell they were interested. That was confirmed when one of my girls in that class borrowed it after she finished reading the book she was in the middle of reading. She read it quickly and loved it. The girls have enjoyed the love story and the swimming/heart problems storyline.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Goodreads): Many of my students love mysteries,  Criminal Minds, and the I Hunt Killers trilogy, so book talking The Naturals was an instant winner. One of my senior boys borrowed this right after I finished my book talk and has been speeding through it. I need to buy the other two ASAP.

Book Talks Collage

Book Trailer Thursday (183)–If You’re Lucky by Yvonne Prinz

Book Trailer Thursday

Psychological mystery for the win! So many of my students want more mysteries to read so I need to get a copy of If You’re Lucky for my classroom pronto. I’m confident that once I show them this trailer they’ll ask me if I have a copy for them to read. I’m surprised Yvonne Prinz’s book slipped past my radar until now.

If You're LuckySummary (From Goodreads):

Is Georgia’s mind playing tricks on her, or is the entire town walking into the arms of a killer who has everyone but her fooled?
 
When seventeen-year-old Georgia’s brother drowns while surfing halfway around the world in Australia, she refuses to believe Lucky’s death was just bad luck. Lucky was smart. He wouldn’t have surfed in waters more dangerous than he could handle. Then a stranger named Fin arrives in False Bay, claiming to have been Lucky’s best friend. Soon Fin is working for Lucky’s father, charming Lucky’s mother, dating his girlfriend. Georgia begins to wonder: did Fin murder Lucky in order to take over his whole life?  

Determined to clear the fog from her mind in order to uncover the truth about Lucky’s death, Georgia secretly stops taking the medication that keeps away the voices in her head. Georgia is certain she’s getting closer and closer to the truth about Fin, but as she does, her mental state becomes more and more precarious, and no one seems to trust what she’s saying.

As the chilling narrative unfolds, the reader must decide whether Georgia’s descent into madness is causing her to see things that don’t exist–or to see a deadly truth that no one else can.  

“A remarkable page-turner . . . Keep[s] readers wondering, twist by twist, if Georgia’s universe will simply burst apart.” —Andrew Smith, author of Grasshopper Jungle

 

Waiting on Wednesday–Dan Versus Nature by Don Calame

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

I have an unexpected snow day today so I’m taking advantage of it and putting this post together (and hopefully a few more!). My students and I are BIG Don Calame fans, so we’re super excited about his April release, Dan Versus Nature. I actually just book talked his book Swim the Fly yesterday and one of my freshmen borrowed it after my book talk and hearing another freshmen in class reaffirming what I was saying. So yeah, we’re fans and this is going to be a must-buy for my classroom.

Dan Versus NatureTitle & Author: Dan Versus Nature by Don Calame

Release Date: April 12th, 2016

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Summary (From Goodreads):

From screenwriter Don Calame comes another outrageously funny and raunchy tale of teen boys whose plans go awry — this time, on a survivalist camping trip.

Shy and scrawny Dan Weekes spends his time creating graphic novels inspired by his dream girl and looking out for his mom as she dates every man in the state of California. Then his mom drops a bomb: she and her latest beau, Hank, are engaged, and she’s sending her “two favorite men” on a survivalist camping trip to “bond.” Determined to trick Hank into showing his true — flawed — colors on the trip, Dan and his nerdy germaphobe best friend, Charlie, prepare a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks. But the boys hadn’t counted on a hot girl joining their trip or on getting separated from their wilderness guide—not to mention the humiliating injuries Dan suffers in the course of terrorizing his stepdad-to-be. With a man-hungry bear on their trail, no supplies, and a lot of unpleasant itching going on, can Dan see his plan through now that his very survival depends on Hank?

Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the SeaTitle: Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Philomel Books

Release Date: February 2, 2016

Interest: Author / Historical Fiction

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

I finished Salt to the Sea Saturday morning and I really have no idea where to begin this review. Simply put, it’s tragic and amazing.

A couple weeks ago I listened to Ruta Sepetys speak about Salt to the Sea at her book signing at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor. I was in the middle of reading another book, which I’ve been thoroughly enjoying, but after listening to her talk about this maritime disaster and the research she did, I knew I had to read it right away. So I set my book aside that night and started reading her third novel.

Let me tell you, I cried and gasped multiple times while reading this novel. The tears weren’t always full-fledged, but I certainly sniffled and wiped my eyes a time or two. And then of course the end really got to me, but I knew that would happen considering the story. Ruta Sepetys is a passionate writer and it comes through in her stories. So many of the images she created were vivid and often shocking. Also, this was a tough read as a mom considering how many children were lost and the idea of having to choose which children would live and if they’d live at all.

Another part of the Salt to the Sea that really worked for me was the short chapters and the multiple character points of views. It took me a little while to get into the rhythm of the characters switching and hearing their voices, but once I did it made for smooth, quick reading. I was attached to all of them, even the characters who didn’t have their own chapters. Although, I never really connected with Alfred; he rubbed me the wrong way.

I feel like I’m moving through this review too quickly, but it’s because my thoughts are still all over the place. I’m still picturing those last scenes; my heart is still heavy. It doesn’t matter that these are fictional characters because I know they’re based on real people who suffered the way they did. And it’s even harder thinking about the Syrian refugees who are suffering today. Salt to the Sea is a book that I want my students to read and teachers to read as well. I wish I could bring Ruta Sepetys to school because I know she’d inspire my students to not only read this novel, but to also become passionate about research and finding stories.

Waiting on Wednesday–Saving Red by Sonya Sones

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

I wouldn’t normally write a Waiting on Wednesday post about a book with a release so far away, but I just saw Saving Red pop up on Goodreads and I love Sonya Sones. I’m not sure if this is another book written in verse; I hope it is! Regardless, I know my students are going to be excited to read this since I have so many fellow Sones fans in my classes. And don’t you love that striking cover?!

Saving RedTitle & Author: Saving Red by Sonya Sones

Release Date: October 18th, 2016

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary (From Goodreads):

Right before winter break, fourteen-year-old Molly Rosenberg reluctantly volunteers to participate in Santa Monica’s annual homeless count, just to get her school’s community service requirement out of the way. But when she ends up meeting Red, a spirited homeless girl only a few years older than she is, Molly makes it her mission to reunite her with her family in time for Christmas. This turns out to be extremely difficult—because Red refuses to talk about her past. There are things Molly won’t talk about either. Like the awful thing that happened last winter. She may never be ready to talk about that. Not to Red, or to Cristo, the soulful boy she meets while riding the Ferris wheel one afternoon.

When Molly realizes that the friends who Red keeps mentioning are nothing more than voices inside Red’s head, she becomes even more concerned about her well-being. How will Molly keep her safe until she can figure out a way to get Red home? In Sonya Sones’ latest novel, two girls, with much more in common than they realize, give each other a new perspective on the meaning of family, friendship, and forgiveness.

Audiobooks Round-Up

Audio Review

The end of the first semester really wore me out and stressed me out, so I fell behind on my book reviews. I’ve listened to a few audiobooks since then, so I’m putting together a few quick reviews since I promised myself and my readers that I would be better about posting reviews this year. I plan on writing full reviews of the other audiobooks I’ve listened to lately as well.

Instead of posting all of the summaries, I’m linking to them via Goodreads.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapien AgendaSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Goodreads):

Becky Albertalli’s debut has received numerous accolades and rightfully so. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is so sweet and so authentic. I really felt for Simon while I listened to this and often wanted to give him a good nudge in the right direction while simultaneously giving him a hug. I hated that he was being blackmailed and felt like he was being forced to come out before he was really ready to. I loved his supportive family and friends, however. This is a story that will appeal to a vast variety of readers because many teens, despite their sexual orientation, go through rough patches in friendships, want to fall in love, and have had secrets brought out in the open. I highly recommend reading this. In fact, I book talked this when I finished reading it and it was instantly borrowed.

The Last Leaves FallingThe Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell (Goodreads):

Sarah Benwell’s debut is about a Japanese teenager, Sora, who suffers from ALS. I was really excited to read this because I haven’t read a book about a teenager diagnosed with ALS and it’s not often that I read a book that takes place in Japan. Sora’s story is certainly about ALS, but it’s also about friendship, family, and bravery. Sora feels alone because of his illness and finds friendship online. I was left disappointed, however, because I wanted more Japanese culture woven into the story. It didn’t help that the narrator is British and not Japanese. I don’t recommend the audio at all, but I do think The Last Leaves Falling is worth reading, it just didn’t please me as much as I wanted it to.

This Raging LightThis Raging Light by Estelle Laure (Goodreads):

I enjoyed Estelle Laure’s debut much more than I thought I would. A while ago I started reading the ARC during SSR, but it wasn’t holding my attention for whatever reason. That’s why I tried the audio. It’s only 5 hours and 36 minutes long and narrated by Sandy Rustin. The audio was able to hold my attention better than the physical book. I was intrigued by Lucille and Wren and also really disturbed by their mother abandoning them. This Raging Light is a story of sisterhood, friendship, love, loyalty, and strength. I was often reminded of Laurie Halse Anderson’s The Impossible Knife of Memory because Lucille, like Hayley, is forced to act as an adult/parent before her time. The writing in this novel is wonderful and I’m looking forward to reading more of Estelle Laure’s novels.

Book Trailer Thursday (182)–I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

Book Trailer Thursday

I didn’t know about the book trailer for I Crawl Through It by A.S. King until Gae Polisner posted a Facebook status about the book the other night. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read A.S. King’s most recent release, especially since I adore her novels, but I’m still excited to share this book trailer with my students because I think it will really grab some of them. She’s an incredibly smart and talented author that I want more of my students to discover and appreciate. Also, it’s awesome that e.E. Charlton-Trujillo created this trailer.

I Crawl Through ItSummary (From Goodreads):

Our big explosion is coming any day now. Can’t you hear the ticking?

Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening.

Tick.

So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away…but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it.

Tick.

The genius of acclaimed author A.S. King reaches new heights in this groundbreaking work of surrealist fiction; it will mesmerize readers with its deeply affecting exploration of how we crawl through traumatic experience—and find the way out.

Tick.

Book Trailer Thursday (181)–Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Book Trailer Thursday

Ruta Sepetys is one of my favorite authors because she’s a fantastic writer and storyteller, but also because she writes about untold stories. I love learning something new and exposing those stories to my students. I can’t wait to read Salt to the Sea!

Salt to the SeaSummary (From Goodreads):

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

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