Book Trailer Thursday (144)–Elusion by Claudia Gabel, Cheryl Klam

I have to admit that the cover for Elusion drew me in first. It’s so pretty! Thankfully the premise sounds promising and intrigued me enough to add it to my TBR list and feature it today. I’m looking forward to what my students will say about the trailer. If you’re interested in reading Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam’s book, it’s set to release on March 18th.

ElusionSummary (From Goodreads):

Soon, Elusion® will change the world and life as we know it.

A new technology called Elusion is sweeping the country. An app, visor and wristband will virtually transport you to an exotic destination where adventure can be pursued without the complications—or consequences—of real life.

Regan is an Elusion insider. Or at least she used to be. Her father invented the program, and her best friend, Patrick, heir to the tech giant Orexis, is about to release it nationwide. But ever since her father’s unexpected death, Regan can’t bear to Escape, especially since waking up from the dream means crashing back to her grim reality.

Still, when there are rumors of trouble in Elusion—accusations that it’s addictive and dangerous— Regan is determined to defend it. But the critics of Elusion come from surprising sources, including Josh, the handsome skeptic with his own personal stakes. As Regan investigates the claims, she discovers a disturbing web of secrets. She will soon have to choose between love and loyalty…a decision that will affect the lives of millions.

Suspense, thrills, and romance fuel this near-future story about the seductive nature of a perfect virtual world, and how far one girl will go to uncover the truth behind the illusions.

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New Release: The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu

A new book is on my reading radar: The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu. It’s a contemp dealing with being a teenage undocumented immigrant. I don’t believe I have any students dealing with this issue, but based on the summary and some of the early reviews I’ve read, this is a book that will resonate with my readers for a variety of reasons. I think they’ll connect with the character’s high school-related conflicts while learning what it’s like to be an undocumented immigrant. I haven’t read anything like this before, so I’m really looking forward to reading Maria E. Andreu’s debut.

The Secret Side of Empty releases today, March 11th, from Running Press Kids.

The Secret Side of EmptySummary (From Goodreads):

As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant. 

But it’s harder to hide now that M.T.’s a senior. Her school’s National Honor Society wants her to plan their trip abroad, her best friend won’t stop bugging her to get her driver’s license, and all everyone talks about is where they want to go to college. M.T. is pretty sure she can’t go to college, and with high school ending and her family life unraveling, she’s staring down a future that just seems empty. In the end, M.T. will need to trust herself and others to stake a claim in the life that she wants.

Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience as a (formerly) undocumented immigrant to explore an issue that affects over one million children in the U.S. But while the subject matter is timely, it is M.T.’s sharp, darkly funny voice and longing for a future that makes this story universally poignant.

Blog Tour: The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle Read Alikes

I’m happy to be part of Rebecca Serle’s blog tour for her sophomore release, The Edge of Falling. I love a good contemp and love it even more that Rebecca agreed to compile a list of read alikes for her newest book. I’m halfway through her book right now and I’m already thinking of students who will enjoy this.

The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle releases on March 18th and is published by Simon Pulse. I’m including the summary so you can learn a little more about it before reading  Rebecca’s list of read alikes.

The Edge of FallingSummary (From Goodreads):

Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included. Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumours are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realises that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well.

List of Comps for The Edge of Falling 

So, you’ve just finished reading The Edge of Falling, and you want to know what to read next? Or maybe you want to know what books are similar to The Edge of Falling so you’ll know if it’s your type of book? No worries, I’ve got you covered! Some of these books are in a similar genre, some deal with issues like grief or hidden secrets, and some actually inspired ME to write The Edge of Falling! So let’s jump in:

  1. Speak- Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak is a beautiful book about Melinda, a girl who is alienated from her friends and suffering the burden of a huge secret. Caggie still has her voice in The Edge of Falling, but her journey is similar to Melinda’s because she is plagued by the things she can’t say out loud: her grief about the role she played in her sister’s death; the separation she feels from her family; and the one big secret that, if revealed, would cause everyone to call her a liar instead of a hero. I highly recommend Speak if you’re looking for a book about family, grief, and overcoming silence.

2. Gossip Girl- Cecily Von Ziegar

Yep, you read right- the Gossip Girl books! These books (and the TV show, of course) inspired the world of The Edge of Falling. I wanted to write about the privileged elite of the Upper East Side, and their complex relationships with their finances and their feelings. Caggie comes from a privileged family as well, but sometimes instead of opening doors, privilege closes them: the doors of communication and intimacy, the doors of honesty and forgiveness. Caggie seeks these things from her family, but in their time of grief they depend more on material things than on each other. The characters in Gossip Girl go through their fair share of grieving as well, but beneath the lens of the paparazzi and the public eye, even their private suffering becomes public scandal.

3. This Song Will Save Your Life- Leila Sales

Ok, so, full disclosure: this next book was written by my BFF Leila Sales. But I am not remotely alone in thinking it is one of the best YA books not just of last year, but of all time. This Song Will Save Your Life tells the story of Elise, a girl who just wants to have friends, and feel loved, but who is bullied mercilessly in her school. After she self-harms and ends up in the hospital, Elise feels more trapped than ever: but now by uber-watchful parents who don’t trust her. Everything changes the night she discovers  START, an underground disco club, and ends up in the DJ booth. Elise finds her place making people dance—and meets a pretty cute boy along the way. Caggie and Elise come from two very different worlds, but they both discover that loving yourself gives all other kinds of love meaning. Plus Leila and I wrote This Song Will Save Your Life and The Edge of Falling sitting across from each other—true story!

4. We Were Liars-E Lockhart

Okay, I confess: this book hasn’t even come out yet. But I read it and loved it, so I’m putting it on my list! We Were Liars is the story of a girl who comes from a prestigious, wealthy family (like Caggie’s) and the life-changing events that happen to her on the private island where her family spends every summer. It’s a literary, dark, poetic book about first love, the bonds of family, and the fragility of secrets. I was told to lie about the ending, so…I will just keep quiet J

5. The Catcher in The Rye- JD Salinger

I’m closing out my list with this classic novel, because not only is Caggie descended from the Caulfield family, which JD Salinger famously fictionalized, but because Holden and Caggie have more in common than their last name. Holden’s journey in The Catcher in the Rye is a coming-of-age story: he is disillusioned by wealth, jaded by the inconsistent and seemingly false bonds of family, and feels uncomfortable in his own skin. He, like Caggie, lost a sibling, and spends time reflecting on the cruelty of his world changing and progressing so much over time, while his lost loved one never will.  The Catcher in the Rye is one of the books that inspired me to write The Edge of Falling and I would definitely recommend you read it, if not re-visit it after you read Edge.

Rebecca Serle has a fantastic blog tour set up (with some of my favorite blogs!), so make sure to check out these upcoming posts to learn more about Rebecca, The Edge of Falling, and much more!

March 11- Fangirlish
March 17- Forever YA
March 20- Cuddlebuggery

Pink or Blue? Either Will Do :)

I’ve been keeping a pretty big secret since the beginning of January. My husband and I are expecting our first baby! We couldn’t be more thrilled. :D As the announcement says, the baby is due September 9th. Next month we’ll be able to find out if we’re having a boy or a girl if the baby cooperates. I sure hope it does because I can’t wait to find out!

Pink or Blue

Right now I’m really grateful to be past the first trimester (although I’m grateful to have even experienced a first trimester). I had zero attention span (what was I just doing?), was extremely exhausted (taking three hour naps like they’re going out of style), and dealt with nausea in the evening and before I went to bed (such a miserable experience). I barely read any books because they either weren’t holding my attention or I couldn’t stay awake long enough to read them. Already, though, I’ve been feeling more energized and more focused. I’m hoping this will last for a while so I can get some more books read and start keeping up with my blog again.

To be honest, I don’t know what all of this means for my blog. I’m going to do my best to balance everything, but if it comes down to choosing to read a book or writing a blog post, I’m probably going to choose to read my book because that makes a greater impact in my classroom. But like I said, I’m going to do my best because this blog is important to me. Hopefully all of you will understand :)

March is Reading Month

Just a warning–this post might be lengthy and might be all over the place. I have a lot of ideas and lots of excitement about this month.

If you aren’t aware of this, I started my 7th year of teaching this year in a new district. My new district has a certified media specialist whereas my last district lost ours and decided not to replace her. Working in a district again with a media specialist has been really nice because she and I work together to encourage reading.

I’ve been encouraging my students to read since the beginning of the school year like I usually do. This year my students, my seniors in particular, have responded really well to my efforts. A friend of mine who teaches math in my building approached me about helping her promote literacy in her math class. She’s reading Subjects Matter by Harvey Daniels and wants to incorporate his ideas. I love her enthusiasm, but I also understand how tough it is to get students and teachers alike to see literacy as important outside of an English classroom. This is incredibly disappointing, but it’s also something that I’m trying to conquer because literacy is important in every aspect of school and life. I gave her some ideas to get started and also asked one of my friends, Brian Wyzlic, for ideas as well since he’s promoting literacy in his math classroom.

After talking with my friend about this, I spoke with our media specialist, Rachael, about it. I wanted to know if she had any ideas as well. This sparked a conversation about March is Reading Month because she’s been thinking about how to get the school involved. Perfect timing, right? Rachael and I started brainstorming and came up with a list of ideas. She spent the day talking with a few other teachers in our building to see what they thought. More ideas were added to the list. I can’t really explain how excited I am about this month.

My reading life door this year.

My reading life door this year.

Switching gears for a minute. Earlier in the week I spoke with my principal about my Literacy Lockers idea. I wanted to get my feet wet this year before approaching him about the idea and I wanted to give my students a chance to get used to me and get used to doing so much reading. My principal loves the idea and he loves my reading life door (the picture that inspired me to do this). He asked me how we can get more teachers creating reading life doors and posting what they’re reading outside their classrooms. My wheels started turning and I wasn’t even thinking about March is Reading Month. After a department meeting I approached one of my department members who also teaches social studies. He told me that he was already talking to his class about creating a reading life door and loves the idea! He asked me to send him some tips so he can make his similar in format to mine while putting his own spin on it. I then approached two more department members and their responses were positive. Unfortunately, my students aren’t as excited about creating Literacy Lockers, but I haven’t given up on them. Quite a few of them are participating, but I’d love to have more take part. I think once they see their classmates doing this, and if more teachers have their classes do this, they’ll feel more comfortable about it.

Anyway, the reading life door conversations fit in nicely with my conversation with Rachael about March is Reading Month ideas. She included that idea along with the Literacy Lockers idea in her email to the school inviting everyone to participate. We also invited teachers and students to submit their favorite lines from books so we can create twirly things (a very technical term) to hang from the ceiling of the library with the book cover on one side and the quote on the other. We asked the math department to graph the amount of books read and/or the pages read during the month of March that can be scrolled outside the media center. After reading the Nerdy Book Club post about picture books and illustration mentors, I sent the link to Rachael with the idea that the art teachers could do something similar. Or maybe the art teachers could have students recreate book covers. Rachael sent her invitation email at the end of the day on Friday and she received responses right away. Our teacher who runs the news cast wants to run a “Caught You Reading” feature. I’m going to ask our administrators to create reading life doors. We would love to see the secretaries post what they’re reading on their desks or create a reading life space on the outside of their desks.

This coming week may be ACT/MME week (state testing week), but I couldn’t be more excited about it. I can’t wait to find out what other teachers say in reply to Rachael’s email. I can’t wait to talk to teachers and others about their ideas and help make those ideas happen. I can’t wait to hear what my students think about this.

We’r still coming up with ideas and would love your opinions! I hope everyone is gearing up to read and celebrate March is Reading Month! As these ideas come to fruition, I’ll be posting about this again to update everyone.

Bulletin Board Book Recommendations

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have a difficult time switching my bulletin boards throughout the school year. It often becomes one more thing on my never ending to-do list, but I act if inspiration strikes. Yesterday I was inspired.

I only have two mid-sized bulletin boards in my classroom so I try to utilize those spaces as much as possible. On one of my bulletin boards I started the year with a Wonder-inspired Choose Kind board where my students pinned moments of kindness. Since I’m done reading Wonder out loud I knew it was time for a change. The other day I surveyed my students on their favorite books read last semester and the books they’d like to read this semester. There were quite a few common threads between my classes and it’s been on my mind since I have a limited amount of those particular books (think Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars). Anyway, I suddenly thought of an idea to hopefully remedy that situation yesterday during class. I decided to create a bulletin board recommending books.

Of course that’s not exactly a unique idea by any means, but I’m hoping it will be effective. A number of my students love Ellen Hopkins’ books and many have fallen in love with John Green this year. I also have more Divergent fans than I’ve had before. And as usual, I have many realistic fiction fans. So I broke my bulletin board up into four sections: books for Divergent fans, books for Ellen Hopkins fans, resilience lit, and books for John Green fans. I limited each recommendation space to six books. I have leftover paint chips that I used for my Choose Kind board, so I left those on the bulletin board ledge for my students to pin additional recommendations on the board. Already one of my seniors added two book recommendations to the Ellen Hopkins section.

Book Rec Bulletin Board

When I decided on the books to recommend I looked up lists online, asked a few of my students for their opinions, and also used my own book knowledge. My Divergent fans section includes recommendations for Blood Red Road by Moira Young, Enclave by Ann Aguirre, Legend by Marie Lu, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, Variant by Robison Wells, and Feed by M.T. Anderson (this isn’t part of a series, but it’s a good recommendations). My Ellen Hopkins recommendations include Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy, Clean by Amy Reed, Sold by Patricia McCormick, Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman, Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams, and Recovery Road by Blake Nelson. When choosing these books I considered writing style (two of these are verse novels) and primarily similar content. My resilience literature recommendations include Don’t Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles. This was a tough section for me to narrow down because I wanted to include novels written by A.S. King, Trish Doller, David Levithan, and so many more authors. For my John Green fans I recommended Winger by Andrew Smith, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. I was a little uncertain about these recommendations because all of these books are so different. But one of my John Green fans said I should include some of these titles because of the unexpected endings that she’s found in Green’s novels. I also considered similar characters and writing style. Regardless, I hope these recommendations will expand my students’ horizons.

I’d like to switch up this board a couple more times before the end of the school year. One of my classes of seniors has a large group of fantasy fans. I also have a number of students who want to read everything sports. And then there are my romance and mystery fans. And like I said before, I really hope my students will take part and add their own recommendations.

If you’ve created a bulletin board or book display like this one, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section. Was it successful? Did it promote discussion? Were reading ladders created?

Book Trailer Thursday (143)–Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Book Trailer Thursday

I’ll admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of Tahereh Mafi’s second book in the Shatter Me trilogy, Unravel Me. But I loved Shatter Me and because I know quite a few middle-of-the-trilogy books drag, I’m hopeful that Ignite Me will be fantastic. I love Mafi’s writing style and the characters in this trilogy so I’m excited to revisit them and find out how their story ends.

Ignite MeSummary (From Goodreads):

Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she’ll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew – about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam – was wrong.

Waiting on Wednesday–Swim That Rock by John Rocco & Jay Primiano

wow

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 always searching for books that will appeal to my male readers in class; Swim That Rock sounds like a great book for many of them. I’m curious about it being written by two authors when it appears to be told by only one point of view (based on the summary). If you’ve read it already, I’d love to know what you think!

Swim That RockTitle & Author: Swim That Rock by John Rocco & Jay Primiano

Release Date: April 8th, 2014

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Summary (From Goodreads):

 A young working-class teen fights to save his family’s diner after his father is lost in a fishing-boat accident. 

When his dad goes missing in a fishing-boat accident, fourteen-year-old Jake refuses to think he may have lost his father forever. But suddenly, nothing seems certain in Jake’s future, and now his family’s diner may be repossessed by loan sharks. In Narragansett Bay, scrabbling out a living as a quahogger isn’t easy, but with the help of some local clammers, Jake is determined to work hard and earn enough money to ensure his family’s security and save the diner in time. Told with cinematic suspense and a true compassion for the characters, Swim That Rock is a fast-paced coming-of-age story that beautifully and evocatively captures the essence of coastal Rhode Island life, the struggles of blue-collar family dynamics, and the dreams of one boy to come into his own.

Book Trailer Thursday (142)–Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Book Trailer Thursday

I’m sick with a nasty cold, so please excuse the lazy post today and yesterday (my WoW post).

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan released on January 28th from HarperTeen. If you’ve read it, I’d love to know your thoughts. I haven’t read it yet, but one of my students is currently reading my ARC.

UninvitedSummary (From Goodreads):

The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she’s destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton’s tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn’t feel any different, but genes don’t lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he’s not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.

Waiting on Wednesday: There Will Come a Time by Carrie Arcos

wow

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.

Told from a guy’s point of view? Loss and grief? A twin sister? A bucket list? Yep, I’m intrigued!

There Will Come a TimeTitle & Author: There Will Come a Time by Carrie Arcos

Release Date: May 6th, 2014

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Summary (From Goodreads):

Mark knows grief. Ever since the accident that killed his twin sister, Grace, the only time he feels at peace is when he visits the bridge on which she died. Comfort is fleeting, but it’s almost within reach when he’s standing on the wrong side of the suicide bars. Almost.

Grace’s best friend, Hanna, says she understands what he’s going through. But she doesn’t. She can’t. It’s not just the enormity of his loss. As her twin, Mark should have known Grace as well as he knows himself. Yet when he reads her journal, it’s as if he didn’t know her at all.

As a way to remember Grace, Hanna convinces Mark to complete Grace’s bucket list from her journal. Mark’s sadness, anger, and his growing feelings for Hannah threaten to overwhelm him. But Mark can’t back out. He made a promise to honor Grace—and it’s his one chance to set things right.

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