Waiting on Wednesday–Violent Ends by Shaun Hutchinson

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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.

A blogger I follow on Goodreads posted about Violent Ends and as soon as I saw the author compilation I knew I had to read it! Shaun Hutchinson has included Trish Doller, Courtney Summers, Neal Shusterman, Beth Revis, Kendare Blake, and even more of my favorite authors in one book. I know this is going to be a powerful book, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it, tear through it, and share it with my students in the fall.

Violent EndsTitle & Author: Violent Ends by Shaun Hutchinson

Release Date: September 1st, 2015

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Summary (From Goodreads):

It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others.

But this isn’t a story about the shooting itself. This isn’t about recounting that one unforgettable day.

This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, played saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.

Each chapter is told from a different victim’s viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he’d become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties.

This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA’s most recognizable names.

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/

I May Need Additional Copies of These Books

Some school years certain books are more popular with my students than others, but no matter the year, the popularity of specific books among my students prompts me to buy more copies of those titles. It’s expensive, and sometimes a gamble (The Hunger Games trilogy isn’t so popular anymore that it requires me to have 4+ copies of each book), but I’m always happy to provide these books for my students when I know they really want to read them (and they want to read them now!).

I started thinking about writing this post after my principal observed me one morning and watched some of my students giving book talks. He asked me if I’ve noticed any changes in their reading habits because of the book talks, and I have. My students are discussing their books and making recommendations to each other much more often since we’ve started book talks. Our news cast teacher has even started a book talk feature for the news cast that features his reporters interviewing students about a book they recommend. It’s exciting watching my students pick up a book after a classmate has discussed it.

So as I watch my “Book(s) Waiting List” grow each day, I contemplate which books I need double and even triple copies of. I’m listing some of this year’s titles that I’m considering buying more copies of.

My list (in no particular order primarily because I’m typing this on my iPad and I’m lazy ;)):

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (and pretty much every single one of Miranda’s books)–I can’t keep track of how many times I’ve replaced a copy of one of Miranda’s books  and how often there’s a waiting list for her books.

Winger by Andrew Smith–I already own three copies and those aren’t enough to keep my students satisfied. They all want to read this and they all want to read it RIGHT NOW.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith—This isn’t my favorite book, but since I book talked it the day after the ALA awards my kids have been fighting over my ARC.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky–I have a feeling this is a class favorite in many classrooms. I have two copies and that nevers seems to be enough. I didn’t respond the same way to this book that my students have, but I think that’s because I’m an adult. The movie, however, moved me to tears.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick–For a while I had at least three students waiting on this one after a freshman book talked it in class. I think a student found it through a book pass at the beginning of the year and it’s been making the rounds since.

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers–I usually have two copies of this in my class library, but every year one goes missing and I need to buy another replacement. One of my freshmen girls book talked this last week and she instantly hooked a few students in class. One of my boys requested that he reads it next since it sounds so realistic.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson–Right now a few students are waiting for my one copy to return. I spent time book talking it after it won the Printz award and one of my seniors also book talked it. Her book talk won over more students than mine did which is one of the reasons why I require my students to do this; they often listen to each other more than they listen to me. 😉

 

 

Audiobook Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Some Girls AreTitle: Some Girls Are

Author: Courtney Summers

Narrator: Katie Schorr

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Interest: Author / Contemporary

Release Date: July 11, 2011 (audio format), January 5, 2010 (paperback)

Source: Purchased audio via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads): Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend… if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

Audio Review:

I have more to say about the actual book than the audio, so this portion of the review will be short.  Overall, I liked it.  It’s not the best audio performance I’ve listened to, but it’s still good.  I don’t want that part of the review, however, to keep anyone from reading the book.  Katie Schorr is a good choice for Regina, but she isn’t as talented at changing her voice for different characters.  Considering the amount of character interaction in Some Girls Are, this became an issue for me because I had a hard time distinguishing when Regina was talking and when, say, Michael or Kara were speaking.  I also don’t know if this is the best choice for audio because of how clipped some of the narration and dialogue are.  I think hearing it, as opposed to seeing it, took away from the effect the clipped, sparse lines were supposed to have.  I recommend reading Some Girls Are traditionally over listening to it.

Book Review:

Courtney Summers is an author who deserves more attention and more of a fan base because she is seriously talented.  I still have to read This is Not a Drill, but I’ve read all three of her other books and in each one she develops characters who are both hard and easy to like.  Regina is the epitome of this.  I did not want to like Regina or feel sorry for her because to some degree she doesn’t deserve pity.  She’s not a nice person–at all.  But I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her because she is treated horribly by Anna, Kara, and all of her old “friends.”  Still, Regina doesn’t completely learn from this because the cycle continues as Regina retaliates and is equally brutal.  It’s alarming how much this hate spreads from person to person in the book.  It’s alarming because this actually happens outside of books.

At times, I wondered what else could possibly happen to Regina.  What more were Anna, Kara, and the rest going to do to her?  How was the story going to end?  But it still went on.  Summers creates this slow, bubbling of brutality on every page.  One question I kept asking myself is “Where are Regina’s parents?”  They are so completely oblivious and out of the picture, it’s sickening.  I want to say it’s unrealistic, but I know that’s  not true.  I can’t tell you how many times I started saying things out loud to Regina like, “Tell your principal!”  These characters are ruthless and horrible and need to be punished by an adult.

I know Regina isn’t forthcoming with her parents because she is embarrassed, but I’m not completely sure why she doesn’t go to another adult or principal or something.  Yes, she fears retaliation, but I think she also fears that no one will believe her.  It’s messed up that we preach against bullying, yet there’s still this fear that no one will believe it when someone accuses another of bullying, especially when the bully is a “good kid.”  I have a lot of say about the reason why Regina is thrown from the group, and I’m not sure if I should say because it’s slightly spoilery, but it’s also right at the beginning of the book, but I’m saving those thoughts for another post I’m currently drafting.  Anyway, Some Girls Are brings up so much about school culture that needs to be addressed and changed.

I’m simply not doing this book justice, but it’s a book that needs to be read and discussed with other people who have read it.  It’s hard to write a review for it because there are so many layers and feelings to discuss.  I hope you read it.  I hope you read all of Courtney Summers’ books.

Similar Books: Speechless by Hannah Harrington, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish People I Want to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

The YA book community is pretty darn fantastic, and over the past couple years I’ve come across some wonderful authors/teachers/librarians/bloggers who I would love to meet!  This post is all about them and my list is in no particular order.

Matthew Quick–I’ve only read his most recent book, Boy21, but it continues to make me happy every time I read it aloud to my students.  If an author has written a book that I want to read and share with my students over and over again, then he/she is worth meeting.

Gae Polisner–I’ve done everything short of meeting Gae in person since I “met” her a couple years ago.  We’ve emailed, we’ve Facebooked, we’ve Twitter(ed?), and we’ve even Skyped.  I even teach her debut novel, The Pull of Gravity.  Can I meet you in person already, Gae?! 😉

Amy Fellner Dominy–Her books make me smile.  OyMG and Audition & Subtraction are both adorable and so worth reading.  I love chatting with Amy on Twitter and Facebook, so it’s about time I get to meet her! 🙂

Geoff Herbach–Are you sensing a trend here?  I kind of love the Class of 2K11.  Stupid Fast has turned so many of my male students into readers.  I want to meet him in person so I can thank him for his book and what it does for my students.

Courtney Summers–She’s another author who hooks my students within the first few pages of her books.  Her writing is engrossing and her stories are heart-wrenching.  I really hope I get to meet her one day.

Lisa Schroeder–I’ve loved every single one of her verse novels.  They’re engrossing, beautifully written, and almost always hook my reluctant female readers.  Plus, she lives in one of my favorite areas, the Pacific Northwest, so it would be super cool to meet her out there.  If you haven’t read I Heart You, You Haunt Me or Chasing Brooklyn or any of her other books, then you’re really missing out.

Allison R (@reader4evr)–I can’t remember how Allison and I started chatting on Twitter, but I love talking books with her.  She’s one of my go-to people when I need a good book recommendation, so I know we’d have fun if we met in person.

Jennifer Fountain (@jennann516)–Jenn and I would be super good friends if we could get together in real life.  I just know it 🙂  She and I have so many similar teaching/reading tastes that it would be amazing if we could one day teach at the same school.  It probably won’t happen, but I often dream of the “super school” made up of the fabulous teachers and librarians I follow on Twitter.  You can also keep up with Jenn through her blog, Fountain Reflections.

Crys Hodgens (@thehodgenator)–Crys is another super teacher.  She is full of awesome teaching ideas, she reads great books, and she pins all kinds of cool things on Pinterest.  Plus she blogs about almost all of those things I just listed.  Crys is another teacher I’d want at my dream “super school.”

Kyle (@BookPensieve)–Kyle is a fellow Michigan teacher so there’s actually a pretty good chance we could meet in person.  I love chatting with her on Twitter about books and teaching since we have so much in common and share lots of ideas.  She’s also a blogger at A Reader’s Pensieve.

Book Trailer Thursday (70)–This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

If you know anything about my reading preferences, then you know that I love all of Courtney Summers‘ books.  Thankfully my students have caught the Courtney Summers‘ love as well and have been reading her books non-stop.  I’ll admit I was a little hesitant when I found out This is Not a Test is a “zombie book,” but it’s really more than that.  I’m probably going to finish reading it today and will have a review up soon so you can decide whether it’s a book for you. It released June 19th, so get a copy if you’re interested 🙂

A new book trailer was released for This is Not a Test, but it’s mainly a lot of blurbs about the book; I’m featuring both.  I’d love to know what you think!

Summary (From Goodreads): It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

Book Trailer #1:

 

Book Trailer #2:

Books I’d Play Hooky to Read

Ssshhh!  Don’t let my principal know this (j/k), but I’d definitely play hooky to stay home and finish a book.  Wouldn’t you?  Or maybe skip out on some plans so you can read that last chapter?  This week’s Top 10 Tuesday post is all about being excited for spring and picking the books we’d play hooky to read. I’d love to know which books you’d add to this list!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

Spellbound by Rachel Hawkins (Goodreads)—I <3 Sophie.  The cliffhanger endings at the end of the chapters keep me reading, and I can easily see myself skipping something so I can finish reading this book.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Goodreads)—Is there really an explanation needed for this one? 😉

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (Goodreads)—All I’ve read are positive reviews for this book, so it must be a book worth playing hooky to read.

Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood (Goodreads)—I’m kind of obsessed with Born Wicked. This doesn’t come out until February, but I was so hooked when reading Born Wicked I know I’d skip something to read this sequel. (The cover isn’t available yet.)

Bad Hair Day by Carrie Harris (Goodreads)—I’m not a zombie fan at all, but I’m a big fan of Kate Grable and Bad Taste in Boys. It’s a hilarious book and a fast read, so I expect the same from Bad Hair Day.

Insurgent CoverBad Hair Day Cover

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson (Goodreads)—This book sounds like it has major playing hooky potential.  I love that there are secrets, relationship & cheating issues, a boyfriend serving in the war, etc.

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin (Goodreads)—I skipped yoga so I could finish reading this J  It’s so stinkin’ funny!

Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay (Goodreads)—I didn’t need to skip anything to finish reading this, besides maybe missing sleep because I stayed up until 2am to finish it.  It’s a fantastic book!

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (Goodreads)—Have you read anything by Courtney Summers yet?  If not, you really need to pick up one of her books.  She writes gut-wrenching stories, and I know this one won’t be any different.  Like I said before, I’m not a zombie fan, but I’ll read this simply because it’s written by Courtney Summers.  And if you’re like me, you’ll expect to possibly play hooky to finish reading it because I’ve been in that situation with all of her books.  Every one has been an “I can’t put this down” book.

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (Goodreads)—I skipped doing work during my prep hour so I could finish reading this, and in the teaching world, prep time is vital.  Felton is a character I adore and really enjoyed reading.  I can’t wait to read the sequel Nothing Special.

If I Lie CoverLove & Leftovers CoverThis Is Not a Test CoverStupid Fast Cover

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