#IReadYA Week WoW: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

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.

Here are a few reasons I look forward to reading this upcoming YA release:

  • Jessica Verdi is the author.
  • I’m a fan of pregnancy stories told from the guy’s point of view.
  • There appears to be a slight element of mystery.

What You Left BehindTitle & Author: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Release Date: August 4th, 2015

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Summary (From Goodreads):

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

Waiting on Wednesday–George by Alex Gino

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 excited about today’s featured upcoming release for a couple reasons. First, I don’t know of too many middle grade novels that have an LGBT protagonist. Second, a few of my friends have already read George by Alex Gino and are raving about it. I’m suprised more of my friends haven’t added this to their Goodreads TBR lists, so hopefully now it will be on the radar of more readers.

GeorgeTitle & Author: George by Alex Gino

Release Date: August 25th, 2015

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Summary (From Goodreads):

BE WHO YOU ARE.

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.  

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Review: Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin

Sophomore Year is Greek to MeTitle: Sophomore Year is Greek to Me

Author: Meredith Zeitlin

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Release Date: April 21st, 2015

Interest: Author / Contemp

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

A laugh-out-loud high school adventure set in Greece, perfect for fans of Meg Cabot.
 
High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she’s devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona’s mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks… but no thanks. 
 
In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary.

I adored Meredith Zeitlin’s debut, Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters, so I was thrilled when I learned about her sophomore release, Sophomore Year is Greek to Me. Zona Lowell charmed me just as Kelsey Finkelstein did.

I want to quickly note that Zona attends the same school as Kelsey, and Kelsey does make a brief appearance, but you do not need to read Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters before reading Sophomore Year is Greek to Me. I do, however, strongly recommend that you read both books!

Zona is a character with goals and plans, both revolving around her role with the school newspaper. Her driven personality was one of my favorite parts of this book. Being part of our high school’s newspaper and yearbook classes is basically the equivalent to having a part-time job. By the time those students are seniors, they are more talented, goal-oriented, and career focused than I could have ever dreamed to be when I was their age. Zona is a character that these students will respond to quickly for those reasons. She’s also enjoyable because her life in Greece forces her out of her comfort zone which in turn helps her learn how to handle life’s hiccups.

I’ve always wanted to visit Greece; reading Sophomore Year is Greek to Me allowed me to live vicariously through Zona. She travels to different towns, experiences the night life, and even has a rustic “old country” experience. Admittedly, I would have spent much more time at the beach than Zona did, but I loved seeing more of Greece through her eyes.

The summary says this is a book that will make you laugh out loud. I giggled a few times, but I think readers will be disappointed if they’re looking for a “funny” book. Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters made me laugh out loud and is one I had to students who want to read something funny. I wouldn’t hand this to those students necessarily. It has it’s funny moments, but I think this is more fitting for readers who want a story about a character finding herself.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sophomore Year is Greek to Me and hope you’ll enjoy it as well. I’m looking forward to reading Meredith Zeitlin’s future books.

Blog Tour Book Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

All the Rage pub coverTitle: All the Rage

Author: Courtney Summers

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: April 14th, 2015

Interest: Author / Contemp

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From the publisher):

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything-friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time-and they certainly won’t now-but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

Where do I possibly start with this review? All the Rage by Courtney Summers is a book just about everyone should read. Are you a girl? You should read it. Are you a guy? You should read it. Are you a teacher? Are you a counselor? Are you a parent? You should read it. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.

Courtney Summers addresses an important issue–rape culture (and much more, actually)–and she doesn’t sugar coat it. Rape isn’t described in detail or anything, but it doesn’t need to be because this is more than about the act of rape. Readers understand how horrific rape is without “witnessing” it. Those who read Romy’s story will understand that, but (more?) importantly they will also experience the emotional trauma after rape and the backlash from a community who refuse to believe the truth.

All the Rage quoteAs I said, Summers doesn’t sugar coat anything in this story and Romy being written as a flawed character highlights that fact. Romy is suffering deeply after being raped by Kellan Turner and being relentlessly and mercislessly bullied by her former friends and community. She has become withdrawn, angry, and self-conscious. She’s afraid to grow close to anyone again and let her guard down. Consequently, she’s put in situations and gets herself into situations that made me cringe and feel a multitude of emotions. Courtney Summers is often brutal when she writes her characters, and with good reason. If Romy did everything “right” after her rape, I don’t know if this story would have affected me as much. First of all, what is the “right” thing to do in the aftermath of a rape, especially when no one in your town, especially the sheriff, believes what you’re saying? What is the “right” way to act towards kids in school who slut-shame you because you were raped at a party where you were drinking and having a good time? I wanted Romy to tell that sheriff what-for and I wanted her mother to demand she be treated like a victim. I wanted Romy to stand up to her former friends. But that’s not really what happens (in All the Rage and in real life). And it’s hard to read.

I do want to stress, however, that Romy is a fighter. She has a hell of a time figuring it out and helping herself, but she’s trying nonetheless. Her relationship with Leon is a prime example of how much she wants to get her life back. I’ve read a review or two where this relationship was criticized, but I like the addition of the Leon and what he adds to the story. Romy has a difficult time letting herself relax around him and allowing him to see who she really is. She’s so guarded and wounded, Romy can’t understand why he wants to be close to her. Unfortunately this causes additional conflict for Romy, but it’s a conflict that truly illuminates her pain, fear, and trauma. Readers gain an understanding of how rape affects inter-personal relationships.

I did at times have a tough time following the organization of the story. I love how captivating the beginning the book is, but it leads to “Two Weeks Before” and eventually jumps back to the present. For about 60 pages or so I was trying to get my footing and figure out exactly what was going on. My “got it” moment came during SSR in class one day and from that point forward I didn’t want to put the book down.

All the Rage is Courtney Summer’s first hardcover published book and it’s worth every cent. I encourage you to read this, buy this, and share this with others. It’s been added to my classroom library and already been borrowed by more than one eager reader.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada, where she divides most of her time between a camera, a piano and a word processing program. She is also the author of What Goes Around, This is Not a Test, Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, and Please Remain Calm. 

BOOK LINKS

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/125002191X

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/all-the-rage-courtney-summers/1119182775?ean=9781250021915

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/All-Rage/Courtney-Summers/9781250021915?id=6229825482952

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250021915

Indigo: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/all-the-rage/9781250021915-item.html

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/all-the-rage/id921442373

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Courtney_Summers_All_the_Rage?id=UyudBAAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/all-the-rage-12

AUTHOR LINKS

Website: http://courtneysummers.ca/

Tumblr: http://summerscourtney.tumblr.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CourtneySummersAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/courtney_s

Instagram: https://instagram.com/summerscourtney/

Review: First There Was Forever by Juliana Romano

First There Was ForeverTitle: First There Was Forever

Author: Juliana Romano

Publisher: Dial Books

Release Date: April 14th, 2015

Interest: Contemp / Debut Author / Friendship

Source: Finished copy received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Prettyand Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door, Juliana Romano’s expressive debut is an absorbing and bittersweet story about first love, first loss, and the friends that carry us through it all.

Lima and Hailey have always been best friends: Lima shy and sensitive, Hailey funny and free-spirited. But Hailey abandons Lima to party with the popular kids and pursue Nate, her disinterested crush. As their friendship falters, Lima and Nate begin spending more time together. And before Lima knows what she’s feeling, she and Nate do something irreversible. Something that would hurt Hailey….if she knew it happened.

Lima thinks she’s saving her friendship by lying, but she’s only buying time. As the secrets stack up, Lima is forced to make a choice: between her best friend forever, and the boy who wasn’t meant to be hers.

A number of my students will ask me to help them find books that deal with friendships, and I often struggle to think of titles worth recommending. Usually when my students are inquiring about a friendship book, they aren’t looking for a book heavy with romance. Many of the contemporary titles I read feature friendships, but many of those titles are also heavily focused on a romance.

I appreciate how much emphasis Juliana Romano puts on Lima and Hailey’s friendship. They’ve always been best friends, but their paths are veering away from one another and consequently their friendship is falling apart. This is common in friendships and consequently something many teen readers will identify with. This part of the story line was frustrating for me to read at times, however, because Lima keeps trying to retain her friendship with Hailey even though Hailey begins to treat her poorly. I wanted Lima to stand up for herself.

Part of the reason, I think, that Lima has a difficult time standing up to Hailey is because of her growing feelings for Hailey’s long-time unrequited love, Nate. Lima can’t get over the guilt she feels for developing feelings for him and that he may have feelings for her, too. This part of the story is where the majority of the focus falls, and that disappointed me. Conflicts like this happen in friendships, so I think it deserves to be part of the story, but I wanted there to be more focus on Lima and Hailey. I didn’t want the Lima-Nate dynamic to overshadow the problems in Lima and Hailey’s friendship because there was already enough there without focusing on the love triangle. It would have been interesting to see Lima discover herself without Hailey and without a love interest.

I did, however, really enjoy the setting. Juliana Romano created a captivating California setting for First There Was Forever. At times it felt like the setting was a character in the novel because it was so vivid.

The blurb says First There Was Forever is perfect for fans of The Summer I Turned Pretty and My Life Next Door, but I don’t know that I would hand this to readers who just finished either of those books. This debut fits better with Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer and Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti.

Book Trailer Thursday (165)–99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Book Trailer Thursday

I was going through my “Releases in 2015″ list on Goodreads with my students a month or so ago and students in every one of my classes pointed out 99 Days by Katie Cotugno because they wanted to know more about it. The synopsis grabbed my attention right away and I like the book trailer as well. I’m looking forward to April 21st when this releases!

99 DaysSummary (From Goodreads):

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

Book Trailer Thursday (164)–Paper Towns by John Green Movie Trailer

Book Trailer Thursday

Many of my students are John Green fans, so I’m excited to share this movie trailer with them. Not as many of them have read Paper Towns yet since The Fault in Our Stars has been so popular. Thankfully the students who have discovered John Green through TFiOS are now discovering Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns. I’m looking forward to this movie even more after watching the trailer. A few of my friends aren’t thrilled about the casting, especially the casting choice for Margo, but I’m okay with it as of right now. The actors look more like teenagers than I’m used to seeing in movies, and I appreciate that.

According to IMDB, the release of the movie is set for July 24th, 2015.

Paper TownsSummary (From Goodreads):

Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

 

Student Book Review: The Law of Loving Others by Kate Axelrod

The Law of Loving OthersTitle: The Law of Loving Others

Author: Kate Axelrod

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: January 8th, 2015

Student Reviewer: Cory

Student Review:

The Law of Loving Others is about a girl named Emma who when she comes home from boarding school she finds her mom acting weird. When she finds out that her mom is schizophrenic, she starts to wonder if she could be too. She confides in her boyfriend, Daniel, and wonders if he would still love her is she was schizophrenic. But when she meets Phil, a guy who understands what she is going through, she wonders if everything could be the same again.

I really enjoyed The Law of Loving Others, Kate Axelrod lets you put yourself into Emma’s shoes. I really felt Emma’s emotions through the book, and I could really relate to Emma’s feelings of realization and questioning her childhood. She was losing her innocence in just a matter of a few days.

This book was very realistic in all of the characters and their emotions. Emma feels confused when her mom was acting weird, and sad when her mom wasn’t getting better fast enough. She wasn’t overly dramatic, very believable.

I didn’t like the ending because it was a cliffhanger, and I like closure when reading books. I feel like Kate Axelrod could easily write a sequel, and maybe she did that on purpose. Also, there were drugs involved, so this is not a book for people who are offended by drug use.

This book is a great read for people who love realistic fiction, and for people who enjoy some tears along with a few laughs. The Law of Loving Others will put you in Emma’s shoes, so be ready for an emotional rollercoaster.

Audio Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

 

Audio Review

All the Bright PlacesTitle: All the Bright Places

Author: Jennifer Niven

Narrators: Kirby Heyborne & Ariadne Meyers

Publisher: Knopf

Release Date: January 6th, 2015

Interest: Contemporary / More than one point of view / Depression & mental illness / Debut author

Source: Audio received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!
 
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
 
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
 
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
 
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Includes a PDF Help Line Resource Guide and a Note Read by the Author.

Audio review: I decided to listen to the audio for All the Bright Places because my friend was listening to it and enjoying it and because I don’t always have time to sit and physically read a book. I’ve discussed this lack of time to physically read here at the Nerdy Book Club blog. Anyway, overall I enjoyed the audio. Both narrators sound like teenagers–which is something I’m often critical about–and I felt their emotions. This is a very emotional debut novel and I think the narrators’ ability to convey these emotions so vividly is a large reason why I enjoyed this book so much. Finch and Violet are suffering deeply and I empathized with them so much that I ugly cried on my way to work one morning while listening to this. I’ll admit, though, that I wasn’t sure how much this book was pulling me at the beginning. Thanks to the publisher and Listening Library, I have an excerpt of the audio for you.

Book review: First, I commend Jennifer Niven for writing a book that deals with mental illness, depression, and suicide. These topics simply aren’t openly discussed enough when they should be. Niven has included a wonderful author’s note at the end of the book where she writes about her personal reasons for writing All the Bright Places. I wish this note was at the beginning of the book, even though I understand why it isn’t, because I don’t think students will read it. They too often ignore important additions like this, often because they simply don’t realize that they should pay them any attention. But this is a note that they should pay attention to, especially if they’re suffering or know someone who is.

Finch’s suffering, especially, broke my heart. Niven takes us through his cycle of depression and his efforts to avoid it. Violet is suffering at the beginning of All the Bright Places, and she is for much of the novel, but while Finch is falling deeper and deeper, we watch Violet begin to climb out of her depression. I was concerned about the depiction of their relationship, though, and whether it’s a misleading portayal because of how light they are. The tone didn’t seem to fit the seriousness of the situation, but my mind did change as I continued reading. And really, there isn’t any reason why someone suffering from depression can’t have moments of lightness with another person, right?

The reason I didn’t give All the Bright Places a five star rating, however, is because I couldn’t look past some plot holes. Finch’s mother and family are the biggest problems I have with the story. They’re just so absent and oblivious. I know that not all families are aware or choose to be aware. I get that. But some of the inaction seemed more like it was included to drive the plot forward more than anything else. I want to say more, but to say more, I would have to spoil the book and I don’t want to do that. I had a conversation about this yesterday afternoon with Jenn Fountain as she was finishing the book, and I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. It made me SO ANGRY that I was yelling out loud at the book while driving to work on the same day that I was ugly crying. It wasn’t pretty when I pulled into work that morning.

Anyway, I highly recommend reading All the Bright Places. There are flaws, but overall this is a book that should be read and discussed. I don’t think the comparison to The Fault in Our Stars is very accurate, but I agree with the comparison to Thirteen Reasons Why. If I’m only thinking about characters, then I guess Eleanor and Park is a good comparison, but I’m not sure that I would hand this to a student who just finished Eleanor and Park and was looking for something just like it.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books From the Past 3 Years

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Even though this is still a tough list to narrow down, I’m happy this TTT topic isn’t simply my all-time favorite books; I would never be able to narrow it down! I’d love to know which books have been your favorites over the past 3-5 years; maybe I’ll be able to add more to my to read list.

I’m focusing my list on what I read and loved between the years 2012, 2013, and 2014. Since there’s still so much to read this year I’m not including it.

Favorites read in 2012:

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick (My review): This book will forever be a favorite of mine. It fits so many categories and no matter how many times I’ve read it (and I’ve read it a lot courtesy of reading it aloud) it pulls on my heart strings EVERY TIME.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (My review): The fact that I considered naming my first child Travis should be explanation enough, right?

Easy by Tammara Webber (My review): Easy was one of the first New Adult books I read and it caused a book hangover. I had to read a few books after finishing this one before I got over it.

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (My review): This is Miranda’s debut and it’s still my favorite of the five books she’s published so far.

Favorites read in 2013:

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (My review): A beautiful cover, quote-worthy passages, and an imperfect character make this a winner.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (My review): This is such a beautiful story of friendship and love.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (My review): Speaking of a beautiful story of friendship and love, I couldn’t get enough of Eleanor and Park’s story. I’m still wanting more.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (My review): Trish Doller is on this list twice; you’ve read these books, right?!

Winger by Andrew Smith (My review): It’s not very often that a book makes me laugh and cry within a few pages. It’s no wonder Ryan Dean’s story is one of the most popular titles in my classroom library this year.

Favorite read in 2014:

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay (My review): Reading in 2014 was off for me, but this debut stands out more than all the rest. The slow burning relationship between Josh and Nastya is perfect and moving.

Top Ten Tuesday Collage

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