Review: Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry

Look Both WaysTitle: Look Both Ways

Author: Alison Cherry

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: June 14th, 2016

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Interest: Contemp

Summary (From Goodreads):

The story of a girl hoping she’s found a place to belong . . . only to learn that neither talent nor love is as straightforward as she thinks.

A summer away from the city is the beginning of everything for Brooklyn Shepard. Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is a chance to prove that she can carve out a niche all her own, surrounded by people who don’t know anything about her or her family of superstar performers.

Brooklyn immediately hits it off with her roommate, Zoe, and soon their friendship turns into something more. Brooklyn wants to see herself as someone who’s open to everything and everyone, but as her feelings for Zoe intensify, so do her doubts. She’s happier than she’s ever been—but is it because of her new relationship? Or is it because she’s finally discovering who she wants to be?

I’ve been in kind of a reading funk lately because I’m so focused on my 21 Day Fix journey. Most of my non-work related focus and energy has been on eating well and working out. Over spring break I tried reading a few different books, but none of them were holding my attention the way I needed them to. On a whim I picked up my copy of Look Both Ways.

I can’t say exactly what it was that did it, but I was hooked instantly. It was fun being thrown into Brooklyn’s theater-driven family right away. It really set the stage (see what I did there? ;)) for the novel. Even though Brooklyn’s family appears very open and accepting, it was immediately apparent how much pressure she’s under to measure up to them. These expectations haunt and affect Brooklyn throughout the novel.

Reading Alison Cherry’s novel made me realize that I haven’t read many books about drama kids. I was never involved in theater, so it’s fun reading from this perspective. The school where I teach has an excellent drama program, so I know my theater kids will eat this up.

Look Both Ways is a well-balanced novel. So much ties in with Brooklyn accepting and discovering who she is. This part of the story came through with her relationship with Zoe and her understanding of herself as a person and thespian. I was afraid her blossoming relationship with Zoe would overshadow the rest of the novel, but it never did. Almost every scene with Zoe led back to Brooklyn working through her own worries about being inadequate and what her family and friends will think of her true passions. Teens, regardless of their participation in drama, will enjoy Cherry’s novel because it deals with real teen concerns and trials. Actually, much of it reminded me of Ask the Passengers by A.S. King. I can see a lot of teen girls appreciating Brooklyn’s gray area when it comes to her friendship/relationship with Zoe and how she often tries to visualize what she wants to happen.

I blew through Look Both Ways. It kept me up late as I told myself “Just one more chapter.” I can’t remember the last time a book did that to me! I’ve never read any of Alison Cherry’s books before; after reading her upcoming release I’m going to remedy that.

Here’s a list of some other positives about the book:

  • The summer setting
  • A boarding school feel since it takes place at a summer camp
  • Fun characters
  • A fresh story

What I’m Reading Next: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

Last year a student named Ari was in my Literature & Composition I Honors class. She is an avid reader, borrowed some of my books over the summer, and even though she isn’t in any of my classes this year she still stops in on a regular basis to borrow and/or discuss books. This morning before school began she brought back The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord (Lord’s second novel) and told me she loved it.

22429350Ari recently read and enjoyed When We Collided after I recommended it, which is why she wanted to read The Start of Me and You next. It didn’t take much prompting on my part to find out why she loved Lord’s sophomore release. She was smiling from ear to ear as she explained to me that she felt like she was the character. That even though she can’t relate with Paige’s grief, everything else about Paige was just like her. She found herself within the pages of this novel and she loved it. Ari told me all about how she spent the majority of her Memorial Day tearing through this story.

One of her favorite aspects of The Start of Me and You is that Paige didn’t need to rely on a love interest to help her find herself or solve her conflict(s). In fact, once we were done discussing the novel and how amazing it is to find ourselves within the pages of books, she asked me if I could recommend any books with similar characters/situations to Paige. I admitted that might be difficult for me since I haven’t read it yet, but I did my best and she chose a novel by Sarah Ockler.

So with that much enthusiasm and joy, how could I not instantly start reading The Start of Me and You? I’ve read both of Emery Lord’s other books and loved them. But it’s more than that. I love how Donalyn Miller says that students will read the books we (teachers) bless, but it ends up being even more powerful when we (teachers) read the books that students bless. And that’s why tonight I’m diving into a novel that Ari blessed.

Which books have you read and loved that students recommended? I’d love to read about it!

 

Blog Tour Book Review–Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

Summer Days and Summer NightsTitle: Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories

Editor/Author: Stephanie Perkins

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: May 17th, 2016

Interest: Short Stories / Authors

Source: e-ARC provided by the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

To start, I’m not well-versed in short story anthologies, but after reading Summer Days and Summer Nights, I am eager to read more! Not only are the majority of the stories in this anthology absolutely delightful, it was so liberating being able to bounce from story to story and still feel that sense of accomplishment when I was done even though I skimmed over a couple stories that weren’t really for me.

I love that Stephanie Perkins included a range of authors who write different genres and that some of the stories include not only racially diverse characters, but LGBT characters, too. Because of this range, I know I can hand this book to a large variety of readers in my classroom.

And speaking of LGBT characters, Nina LaCour’s addition to the anthology was one of my favorites. She drew me in right away with Flora in “The End of the Love.” It impressed me that within such a small span of time I knew so much about Flora’s troubled life at home and also saw a relationship blossom. I would love it if Nina LaCour turns Flora’s story into a novel.

When it comes to wanting more, I need more of “In Ninety Minutes, Turn North” by Stephanie Perkins. I already know that I’m feeling lost without a new Perkins novel to read, but that feeling intensified while I read Marigold’s and North’s story. I’m not sure how many pages this story is since I read it on my Kindle, but seriously, I fell in love with both of them and it couldn’t have been more than thirty pages long! This is another one that I hope to see as a complete novel one day. They’re both so earnest and real and sweet.

Overall, I highly recommend reading Summer Days and Summer Nights, especially if you want to expose yourself to some new authors. I haven’t read anything by Tim Federle (yet) and thoroughly enjoyed his short story. I also discovered that I really like Brandy Colbert’s writing as well. This is not only a good addition for a class library, it’s an excellent anthology to read while enjoying the sun this summer.

Book Trailer Thursday (186)–Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Book Trailer Thursday

I’ve read mixed reviews for Wink Poppy Midnight, but I’m still interested in reading it because my students and I love a good mystery. It will be interesting to hear what they think about the book trailer after showing it since it’s so simple compared to other book trailers. If you’ve read this already I’d love to know what you think!

Wink Poppy MidnightSummary (From Goodreads):

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

Book Trailer Thursday (185)–Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Book Trailer Thursday

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley released yesterday, May 10th, and it has already received many positive reviews and quite a bit of buzz. I haven’t been able to read it yet, but there is an audiobook that I plan on listening to soon. Julia Whelan, who is one of my favorite audiobook narrators, is one of the narrators which is an automatic win. I’m looking forward to showing my students this trailer and buying a copy of the book so they can read it as well. If you’ve read Whaley’s latest release, I’d love to know what you think of it.

Highly Illogical BehaviorSummary (From Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?

Solomon is the answer.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.

Waiting on Wednesday–When We Was Fierce by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

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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.

The book I’m spotlighting today not only has an attention-grabbing cover, it has an attention-grabbing title. I love the bold splash of red against the black and white. I also like that the title isn’t the standard; it reflects the characters and their voices. I’m also excited that this is a novel in verse! More of my friends should have this on their Goodreads TBR.

When We Was FierceTitle & Author: When We Was Fierce by e. E Charlton-Trujillo

Release Date: August 9th, 2016

Publisher: Candlewick

Summary (From Goodreads):

In an endless cycle of street violence and retribution, is there any escape? A powerful verse novel by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo.

We wasn’t up to nothin’
new really.
Me and Jimmy, Catch and Yo-Yo.
We just comin’ down the street keepin’ cool.
We was good at stayin’ low
Especially around the Wooden Spoon.
Guys hang around there, they got teeth on ’em
Sharper than broken glass.
Words that slit ya’from chin to belly. And that’s just their words.

Fifteen-year-old Theo isn’t looking for trouble, but when he and his friends witness a brutal attack on Ricky-Ricky, an innocent boy who doesn’t know better than to walk right up to the most vicious gang leader around, he’s in trouble for real. And in this neighborhood, everything is at stake. In a poignant, unflinching novel of survival told largely in street dialect, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo enters the lives of teenagers coming of age in the face of spiraling violence among gangs, by police, and at home.

Waiting on Wednesday–The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

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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.

Why am I so often drawn to books featuring grieving characters? I know I’m not purposely seeking them out, but I have read and loved so many! Regardless, The Square Root of Summer really grabbed my interest because there’s also a time travel element. And I’m extra excited because as I was looking for more audiobooks to listen to via Audible, I discovered that Roaring Brook Press had an audiobook made for Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s debut!

The Square Root of SummerTitle & Author: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Release Date: May 3rd, 2016

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Summary (From Goodreads):

This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.

Trending Books

Jack’s playing and distracted at the moment, so I’m taking advantage of it to write a quick post. I’m trying my best to carve out more blogging and reading time at this point in my crazy school year.

Anyway, as always I’ve been working hard to draw my students’ attention to more books. I’ve been keeping up with my daily book talks, which has been a huge help in this process. Earlier in the school year I decided to use my display book case for student recommendations. I encouraged students to place a book they’ve enjoyed on the shelf along with a notecard with a brief recommendation. It didn’t go as well as I hoped. I mostly had to specifically ask students to place something there because for some reason they weren’t doing it on their own. I grew tired of seeing the shelf which quickly became wallpaper in my room, so I decided to change it a couple weeks ago.

My students often read the same books as friends pass one book to another. They also often ask me what other students are reading. So I decided to use my display shelf to feature “trending books” in my classroom. It’s already been much more successful than when it featured student recommendations; I’ve already switched out many of the books because they’re so often borrowed by students.

During state testing a couple weeks ago, our media specialist was in my classroom and saw my display. It made her think about an area in the library that is rarely, if ever, used. She talked to me about it and she’s going to make that space a trending books area as well. I’m excited to see how hers turns out!

How do you draw attention to books in your classroom? I’d love to see your pictures or hear about your spaces!

So far Everything, Everything, Things We Know By Heart, Perfect Chemistry, The Serpent King, Legend, and Ghosts of Heaven have continued to be popular choices. Which books have been trending in your classroom or library?

 

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw Blog Tour + Character Playlist

ScarlettEpstein-BlogTour

Let me first and foremost start by apologizing for this post being a day late. I received my blog contents on Monday afternoon and woke up yesterday morning to create my post only to discover that my internet at home is down (and still is!) and to top it off our internet at school failed. Yesterday in general was a major fail of a day. Anyway, I’m super thankful the internet at school is working and that I have time this morning to compose this post because it’s a fun one!

I have for you today a playlist that Anna Breslaw created for this post with Scarlett Epstein in mind. She is such a fun character to read and this playlist suits her perfectly. At the end of the post I’m also including a few of my favorite funny lines from the book because there were multiple moments that either made me laugh out loud or snort. Gotta love that!

 

 

“Valerie,” Amy Winehouse
Scarlett’s mom blasts this in her bedroom when she gets ready for OK Cupid dates. (Scarlett can hear it through the wall.)

“Why Can’t I,” Liz Phair
And then blasts this in her bedroom when she comes home from a good OK Cupid date. (The walls are thin.)

“Hurt,” Johnny Cash
And then blasts this in her bedroom when he doesn’t text her again. (The walls are VERY thin.)

“Put Yourself First,” Crazy Ex-Girlfriend OST
Scarlett’s getting into this show now that Lycanthrope College has been cancelled—and this song is the perfect mix of cuttingly feminist, funny, and catchy AF.

“Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”
She listens to this on the train back to New Jersey from visiting her dad in Brooklyn.

“Whole Wide World,” Wreckless Eric
Scarlett’s dad and her new stepmom (who is, by the way, far superior to her real mom) danced to this song at their wedding. She now thinks it’s the most romantic song ever.

“A Milli,” Lil Wayne
Scarlett does a stupid dance to this song to cheer up her friend Avery when she gets a B on a test.

“Royals,” Lorde
Singing-in-the-shower song.

“Circumambient,” Grimes
She listens to this when she’s writing.

“A Certain Romance,” Arctic Monkeys
The lead singer’s description of his town reminds Scarlett of her own.

“Hello,” Adele
When she’s sad about Gideon.

“Ghost,” Halsey
See above.

“Going Down For Real,” Flo Rida
I mean, it’s just impossible to avoid this song. This song is everywhere.

“Empire State of Mind,” Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys
When she’s daydreaming about graduating and moving to New York to become a writer.

“Walk On The Wild Side,” Lou Reed
Her dad used to listen to this when she was little, and she puts it on when she misses him.

And here are some of my favorite lines:

“Ave is pretty, too, but she’s like a wilted version of Ashley with braces and slightly duller hair. If they had been fetal twins, Ashley definitely would’ve consumed Avery for nutrients, and all that’d be left of Ave would be a tumor with a few teeth in it.”

(Taken from a conversation between Scarlett and her elderly neighbor)
“What’s your teacher’s name?”
“Mr. Radford.”
“What’s he like?”
“Uh, young,” I thought. “Enthusiastic.”
“You should do him!” She said it with the same tone of wholesome encouragement you’d use to say You should do yoga! or You should visit Lake Placid!
What?!
“Don’t look at me like that. Every great writer has ‘turned the screw’ with a professor. Obviously it would be better if his balls hung a little lower, if he was older, more established, but. . .” She shrugged.

About the novel:
Title & Author: Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw
Release date: April 19th, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Find it: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Scarlett Epstein Hates It  HereSummary (From Goodreads):

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.

Waiting on Wednesday–Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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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.

For the past few weeks I’ve been swamped with grading and planning as I try to recover from all of the snow days we had within a two week timespan, plus I’ve been focusing a lot on my nutrition and fitness via the 21 Day Fix. Consequently, I’m super behind on book reviews and have mostly been posting WoW posts, book trailers, and interviews. I promise to get caught up and let you know my thoughts on what I’ve been reading and listening to!

Anyway, I need to go back to challenging myself with genre binges because I’ve been sticking mostly to contemporary again (it’s my favorite!). If I had a copy of Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake I would be reading it right now. Blake is a talented author and this sounds like a really edgy and engaging fantasy that my students and I would love. I’m certainly in no rush for next school year and skipping over summer, but I’m looking forward to this September release.

Three Dark CrownsTitle & Author: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Release Date: September 20th, 2016

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary (From Goodreads):

Fans of acclaimed author Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Bloodwill devour her latest novel, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen. 

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown. 

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