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

Book Trailer Thursday (161)–Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Book Trailer Thursday

I’ve seen multiple five star reviews on Goodreads for Mosquitoland by David Arnold, so my interest is definitely piqued. Penguin recently sent me an ARC and the audio; I’m really looking forward to diving into this March 3rd debut.

MosquitolandSummary (From Goodreads):

“I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.”
After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, “Mosquitoland” is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

Blog Tour + Character Interview: The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe

Stephen Metcalfe’s debut novel The Tragic Age is set to release from St. Martin’s Griffin on March 3rd, 2015 and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to interview the main character, Billy Kinsey. He’s a unique character with a unique story. Enjoy!

The Tragic AgeSummary (From Goodreads):

This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.
 
Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul. 

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It’s the age he’s at.  The tragic age. 

Stephen Metcalfe’s brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.

You’ve brought up the absurd and that you’ve read some works by Albert Camus. Have you read The Stranger as well? If so, what do you think of Meursault’s attitude and way of life?
It’s been awhile.  In retrospect, I’m not so thrilled about old Meursault.  He’s kind of a dick.  I mean, trying to go through life feeling indifferent to the universe because you think it’s indifferent to you is pretty stupid and boring actually.  Also it’s pretty much  impossible (I failed at it miserably).   I mean, all you do is compartmentalize.   Feelings and emotions don’t just go away.  They’re still there, boiling and brewing underneath, waiting to burst out.  And for Meursault they finally did.  And let’s face it, he goes to the guilotine feeling pretty meaningless.  Which frankly, would suck.  I’d like to be a little more proactive with my life than settling for getting my head chopped off.

There are moments in the story when you think one thing and say or do another, or don’t act at all. What’s holding you back?
I actually think I’m doing the best I can in the given moment.   My problem is I’ve seen all these stupid movies and lame TV shows and so my brain keeps flashing on all these idiotic things that I could be doing or should be saying in certain situations – “cool” or “dramatic”or  “witty” things – but don’t.  Maybe I just have an over active imagination.

Do you have any advice for other teens who are dealing with loss?
Maybe embrace it so as to understand it?  It’s sort of part of life, isn’t it.  To paraphrase, Frank Herbert in his semi-interesting novel, Dune –  I will face my loss. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the loss has gone there will be healing” This comes under “the do as I say, not what I do” heading of teenage advice.

You’ve mentioned that you spend quite a bit of time in the library. What’s your favorite book?
Usually the one I’m currently involved with.  At the moment I’m totally smitten with Michael Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White. 

 Interesting facts are prevalent in your story. How have you accumulated so much knowledge about such intriguing trivia?
I wish I knew.  I’m just curious about things.   Something interests me and I want to know about it.  And so I look it up and I read about it.  (That’s one thing the internet is good for.)  And reading about it usually suggest other things that sound interesting and so I read about them.  But when it comes to really knowing something, I’m a jack of all trades, master of none.  I should probably go into politics but I still have this crazy idea I might do something meaningful with my life.  Also I’m not so good at lying with a straight face.

Book Trailer Thursday (160)–Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin

Book Trailer Thursday

Meredith Zeitlin made my evening when she sent me an email today about this book trailer. Her debut Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters is one of my favorite books, so Sophomore Year is Greek to Me has been on my reading radar for some time now. I can’t wait to read it when it releases on April 21st!

Sophomore Year is Greek to MeSummary (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.

Newbery Award Winner Book Review: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Cover of The Crossover by Kwame AlexanderTitle: The Crossover

Author: Kwame Alexander

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Release Date: March 18th, 2014

Interest: Verse novel / Guy appeal / Diversity

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads):

“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander (He Said, She Said 2013).

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

This is the first year that I’ve read many of the books honored and awarded by the ALA Youth Media Awards. To say I was thrilled by this revelation is an understatement. I’m incredibly behind on my reviews, so I’ve decided to *finally* write the reviews for the books which won or were honored.

Newbery contenders aren’t often on my radar since I teach high school students, so the fact that I read two out of the three books blew my mind. I was sitting in my pajamas watching the live stream since we had a snow day and I threw up my arms and cheered when The Crossover was announced as the winner.

Kwame Alexander’s newest release has been on my radar for quite some time for many reasons despite its younger audience. I adore novels written in verse and have been waiting to find one that appeals to boys. The Crossover is the book I’ve been waiting for. It doesn’t matter if I’m teaching freshmen or seniors, the boys in those classes often want to read a book with a story line revolving around sports. The fact that I can now offer them a “sports book” that’s written in verse is really exciting. The Crossover will hopefully be the exposure to verse novels that these students need.

Speaking of the verse, Kwame Alexander’s verse impresses me just as much as Lisa Schroeder’s does. It’s rhythmic and smooth and even visually appealing. The verse in Brown Girl Dreaming is beautiful, but the writing in The Crossover bowled me over. It’s playful, it’s poignant, and at times it even rhymes. It’s a prime example of why I love novels written in verse.

In years past I’ve noticed that many of the books honored at the ALA Youth Media Awards aren’t always books that my students will immediately gravitate to. The books honored this year are more accessible. The Crossover may have won the Newbery, and Josh may be a twelve year old character, but this story is one that appeals to a wide range of readers young and old. Many readers will connect with Josh and his close relationship with his twin brother. Readers will empathize with Josh as he faces the dilemma of choosing between family and sports. As he realizes how truly important family is. I can’t wait to share this with my students.

Book Trailer Thursday (158)–All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Book Trailer Thursday

I just finished the audio for All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and am so excited to have found a book trailer for it! I think it captures Finch really well, but I wish it also included Violet in the trailer. I’ll hopefully get my audio review written and posted soon!

All the Bright PlacesSummary (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.

Waiting on Wednesday–Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash

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 asked my students again to pick this week’s WoW post. I love seeing which books they’re drawn to when I show them my 2015 release shelf on Goodreads. My seniors looked at a few books that they want to read, but this upcoming release by Jennifer Banash is what they said I should highlight.

Silent AlarmTitle & Author: Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash

Release Date: March 10th, 2015

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile 

Summary (From Goodreads):

Alys’s whole world was comprised of the history project that was due, her upcoming violin audition, being held tightly in the arms of her boyfriend, Ben, and laughing with her best friend, Delilah. At least it was—until she found herself on the wrong end of a shotgun in the school library. Her suburban high school had become one of those places you hear about on the news—a place where some disaffected youth decided to end it all and take as many of his teachers and classmates with him as he could. Except, in this story, that youth was Alys’s own brother, Luke. He killed fifteen others and himself, but spared her—though she’ll never know why.
 
Alys’s downward spiral begins instantly, and there seems to be no bottom. A heartbreaking and beautifully told story. 

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