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?

First Marking Period Favorites

We’re nearing the end of our first marking period (how did that happen?!), so I decided to make a list of the books my students have been reading the most. I have four sections of seniors (with class sizes around 34) and one class of sophomores (35 students).

My seniors in particular have been voracious readers. It’s been exciting watching them recommend and share books during class. Some of my sophomores have even come into class looking for particular books because they heard seniors talking about them. I hope all of this continues throughout the school year!

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga: This is one of the most popular books among my seniors right now. Our media specialist ordered three copies to try and keep up with the demand. She also ordered some copies of Game (the sequel) since it’s being read so much.

Divergent by Veronica Roth: This title started off pretty popular but once I came in with my copy of Allegiant and told them my reaction to it, my waiting list for Divergent grew even more.

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak: I never expected this to be so popular but after one of my seniors walked into class saying that it changed his life, interest was immediately sparked.

Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles: A couple of my senior girls picked this one up, but after I recommended it during Banned Books Week, even more students wanted to read it. Jumping Off Swings has been equally popular.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake: I love how popular this book has become this year. One of my seniors just recommended it to another student in class and pointed out the Kirkus review blurb (“Stephen King ought to start looking over his shoulder.”) on the Girl of Nightmares cover.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: Nothing about the popularity of this title surprises me. :)

Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick: My sophomores are loving this book right now.

In Honor by Jessi Kirby: I added this title to my road trip book display a few weeks ago and watched it become a big hit. I’m glad I have three copies of it because my senior girls LOVE it.

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr: I’ve noticed that a few of the books that aren’t my favorites (Shut Out by Kody Keplinger, Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen) are often my girls’ favorites. Sweethearts was good, but I didn’t love it. My senior girls adore it. I think it’s been read by five or six girls already. Once they finish it, they usually pick up Story of a Girl or How to Save a Life.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott: I book talked this during Banned Books Week and all five of my copies were borrowed by my sophomores.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller: A couple of my senior boys read this at the beginning of the year (One was put off by the cover and felt awkward about it so we discussed it as a class) and enjoyed it. A couple of my senior and sophomore girls have read it now as well.

Eon by Alison Goodman: Eon has been read by a group of senior boys in one of my classes. In this class I have a large group of fantasy lovers and they’ve been passing books to each other as they finish them and move on in each series. So far they’ve been reading the Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld series, The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima series, and this one.

Ellen Hopkins and John Green: Pretty much all of the books by both authors have been huge hits this marking period.

Dead to You by Lisa McMann: My mystery fans have been all over this book. I have three copies and haven’t seen any of them for a while.

More Popular Titles:

  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  • A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
  • Every Day by David Levithan
  • You by Charles Benoit
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  • Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen
  • Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
  • Things I Can’t Forget by Miranda Kenneally

 

 

What Should I Read Next?

I need your help. I’m currently suffering from Too Many Books to Choose From syndrome. I’m currently reading and about to finish Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder. I started Reality Boy by A.S. King and stopped mid-way so I could read a few NetGalley books before they archived. I’m probably going to finish that next, but I’m wondering what I should read after that. I’m including a few of the books I’m considering, so I’d love to know which book you think I should pick up next!

Smoke

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

**Beware of spoilers in the summary!**

Summary (From Goodreads): Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated. Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life, but is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?

I went to Ellen’s signing for this in Ann Arbor this week. I’ve been hoping/waiting for a sequel to Burned for years now. One of my seniors just read Burned and made sure I knew that he gets to read Smoke after I finish it.

How to Love

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Summary (From Goodreads): Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

This is an Edelweiss title I have on my Kindle so I feel obligated to read it soon, although I really do want to read it (not just because I requested it and need to write a review).

The Space Between Us

The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez

Summary (From Goodreads):

From the author of Virtuosity, a novel about two sisters and the secrets they tell, the secrets they keep—and the secret that could tear them apart.

Amelia is used to being upstaged by her charismatic younger sister, Charly. She doesn’t mind, mostly, that it always falls to her to cover for Charly’s crazy, impulsive antics. But one night, Charly’s thoughtlessness goes way too far, and she lands both sisters in serious trouble.
     Amelia’s not sure she can forgive Charly this time, and not sure she wants to . . . but forgiveness is beside the point. Because Charly is also hiding a terrible secret, and the truth just might tear them apart forever.

I loved Jessica’s debut Virtuosity so I automatically want to read this one. I finally bought a copy today when I found it at a library sale.

More Than This

More Than This by Patrick Ness

Summary (From Goodreads):

From two-time Carnegie Medal winner Patrick Ness comes an enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life — or perhaps afterlife — of a teen trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world.

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . .

I love Patrick Ness and this book sounds great.

Stock Your Shelves: Class Library Must-Have Titles

The start of a new school year is just around the corner, although for many of you it’s already started.  Whenever this time of year approaches I’m always making a list of books I need to buy for my classroom library.  I figured I’m not the only one, so I decided to make a list of books that I want to buy and that I recommend for a classroom library.  If you’d like additional title recommendations feel free to leave a comment.

Summer/Fall Releases:

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle (Goodreads)–This releases on August 20th August 27th (edited on 8/20, sorry for the mistake!), so I’ll have a review up shortly. Basically, this is all-around wonderful.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (Goodreads)–This releases on Sept. 24th. I’ll have a review up on the Nerdy Book Club blog before the release and that same review will post here on the release date.  Trish Doller writes magic, people.

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon (Goodreads)–Think The Fault in Our Stars from a funny guy’s point of view, yet totally standing apart from John Green’s hit. I know that might be confusing. This releases on Sept. 3rd.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider (Goodreads)–It’s an awful lot like Looking for Alaska, but not as sad (or at least I didn’t think so). Still, it has a different kind of voice and will appeal to teens.  This releases on August 27th.

Books with Guy Appeal:

Winger by Andrew Smith (Goodreads)–I want to buy multiple copies of this.

Swim the Fly by Don Calame (Goodreads)–A lot of my boys really like this book and the companion books. It’s a really funny, quick read.

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (Goodreads)–I’ve been raving about this book since before it was released in 2011.

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker (Goodreads)–I still haven’t read this, but I have multiple copies because my boys in class LOVE it.

Kindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman (Goodreads)–This is a fantastic and realistic book about a boy in juvie.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Goodreads)–This is mysterious, funny, and features the son of a serial killer trying to help the police find a serial killer. Yep, it’s a hit with all of my students.

Verse Novels:

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder (Goodreads)–I recommend buying all of her books. This and Chasing Brooklyn are two of the most popular books in my room.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones (Goodreads)–This title has been around for a while. Every year it becomes a new favorite for many of my students.

Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams (Goodreads)–This is a great title to recommend to your Ellen Hopkins fans.

Ellen Hopkins–ALL of her books are huge hits with my students.

Oldies by Goodies:

Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Goodreads)–This released in 2007 and became popular again when its sequel Unwholly released last fall. The final book in the trilogy, UnSouled, releases on November 7th.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Goodreads)–Every time this releases with a new cover I buy it. It should be in every library.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (Goodreads)–This originally published in 1974 and I hook some pretty reluctant readers with it.

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr (Goodreads)–This was my first Sara Zarr book and my favorite until I read How to Save a Life. Sara Zarr writes wonderfully realistic stories.

Forever by Judy Blume (Goodreads)–For many of my girls, this is the book that turns them into readers.

Sci-Fi/Dystopian:

The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman (Goodreads)–Time travel, ghosts, and so much more. This is science fiction at its best.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Goodreads)–I recommend this every year, multiple times a year. It’s amazing.

Legend by Marie Lu (Goodreads)–I love that this has two points of view and appeals to guys and girls. I’m planning on reading it to my seniors while we read 1984.

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid (Goodreads)–Gamers will love this.

“Quiet” YA:

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (Goodreads)–This wonderful book may not have received a lot of hype from its publishers, but so many of its readers love it. Plus it pairs perfectly with Of Mice and Men.

Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia (Goodreads)–The main character is pregnant, but it’s more than a book about a pregnant teenager.

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard (Goodreads)–This book will resonate with so many teenage girls. It’s fantastic.

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson (Goodreads)–All it took was one of my girls to read this and rave about it for it to become an instant hit in my classroom.

So. Much. Hype!:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Goodreads): I’ll admit it, I didn’t want to like this. But I really did and my students adore it. My students who didn’t like Looking for Alaska at all loved this.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Goodreads): I’ve replaced this book multiple times because it’s gone “missing” so often.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Goodreads)–One of my boys in class read this and loved it; one of my girls who reads “edgy” books read this and loved it. It’s an all-around winner.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Goodreads)–I haven’t finished reading this yet, but it went around my room a couple times before the school year ended. The boys who read it said it’s awesome.

Cover Excitement Galore!

I had another post idea planned for today until these covers were revealed this week.  I’m so excited about them, I had to share!

Original Post Links:

Where the Stars Still Shine (reveal link + giveaway)
Smoke (reveal link)
Isla and the Happily Ever After (reveal link)

I’ve been eagerly awaiting for the cover reveal of Where the Stars Still Shine for months!  I’m a HUGE fan of Something Like Normal, and after meeting Trish and reading the summary for Where the Stars Still Shine and falling in love with Trish’s writing, I simply can’t wait to read her sophomore release.  (Phew, that was a long sentence…)  And this cover?  SO.  BEAUTIFUL.  Have you ever seen a book cover and feel the need to hang that cover up in a frame on the wall?  No?  Well, this one is worthy of that.

Where the Stars Still Shine

Summary (From Goodreads): Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love–even with someone who seems an improbable choice–is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

I really like Ellen Hopkins’ covers because they all have a similar look despite not all sharing the same characters, settings, etc.  My copy of Burned is pretty beat up, so I’ll need to buy a fresh new copy before buying a copy of Smoke because I know my students will be all over this when I add it to my classroom library.  The cover is eye catching and slightly unsettling, which I love.

**Note, this summary has Burned spoilers**

Smoke

Summary (From Goodreads): Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated. Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life, but is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?

My students and I simply adore Stephanie Perkins’ stories.  She writes fantastic love stories that are full of swoon, while featuring strong characters and solid settings.  I was expecting that the cover for Isla and the Happily Ever After would be similar to the covers for Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door since they’re all companion novels, but I guess I should have expected something different since Penguin is the publisher.  (If you aren’t familiar with this, Penguin has become known from changing cover designs mid-series.)  I have to admit that I really like this new look.  I shared the new covers with my students and the majority of them agreed.  They described the new covers as “dynamic” and “more appealing.”  What do you think?

Isla and the Happily Ever After

Summary (From Goodreads):  From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

Anna and the French Kiss NCLola and the Boy Next Door NC

2nd Hour Book Love

Yesterday I posted the results from my 1st hour Honors Sophomore Seminar class, and today I’m posting the results from my 2nd hour Honors Sophomore Seminar class.  This is the smaller of the two classes, and I have a nice mix of both avid readers and revitalized readers.  When I went over the results with them, some were surprised by the favorites and others were excited about them.  I’m kind of surprised that so many backlist titles made the list, to be honest, but I’m happy they’re still so popular.

Top Choice: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games

What students said about The Hunger Games trilogy (Goodreads):

“I really like the idea and concept of the trilogy.” -Jenna
“It has a great combination of action, comedy, drama, and romance.” -Hannah

Honorary Titles:

Crank by Ellen Hopkins (Goodreads)
**Side note–Ellen Hopkins’ school visit really made an impact on my students :) Reading Crank was a different experience for them after hearing Ellen speak about her life and the story behind the book.**
“Meeting Ellen Hopkins in person really made a difference.” -Hallie

crank

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (Goodreads)

“It’s a really fast read that’s intense and depicts a harsh reality.” -Sophie

livingdeadgirl

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn (Goodreads)
**Side note–I don’t like this new cover at all, but I’m using it in case you’re looking for a copy at the store.**

“I like the way it’s written in reverse order and that we get to read Nick’s journals.” -Hannah

Breathing Underwater Paperback

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (Goodreads)
**Side note–This just released in paperback!**

“I loved this book.” -Haylee

The Pull of Gravity paperback

Swim the Fly by Don Calame (Goodreads)

“It’s really funny.” -Emma

Swim the Fly audio

Split by Swati Avasthi (Goodreads)

Split paperback

Tilt by Ellen Hopkins (Goodreads)

Tilt

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (Goodreads)

“It’s freaky to think that’s actually real and that as a kid he did all of that stuff.” -I can’t remember which one of my students said this :/

My Friend Dahmer

Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman (Goodreads)

“Intense, a harsh reality, and I like the multiple points of view.” -Jenna

want-to-go-private

1st Hour Book Love

After reading Cindy’s blog post about the ALA awards, I came up with the idea to ask my students which books are their favorites and deserve awards.  I asked my 1st-3rd hour to list books they read and loved in 2012.  I expressed that it’s great if they’re 2012 releases, but it’s okay if they’re not.  With the help of my fabulous cadet teacher (senior class student who plans on becoming a teacher), Tristan, I have the top books listed for each class.  I’m posting the 1st hour results today, and I’ll post the next two class results over the next two days.

Top Choice: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
**Side note–A few students cheered when I told them this was the top choice 1st hour**

If I Lie

What students said about If I Lie (Goodreads):

“I listed this book because she stayed true to her friend no matter how badly it affected her.” -Trista

“It’s touching and super cute.” -Kaelyn

Honorary Titles:

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Goodreads)

I Hunt Killers final

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (Goodreads)
“It’s just good all-around” -Joe (a very to the point answer :))

Stupid Fast

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Goodreads)
“I love how she slowly uncovers everything.” -Katie

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington (Goodreads)

Embrace

Divergent by Veronica Roth (Goodreads)
**Side note–This class is very excited about the third book releasing & this being made into a movie.**

Divergent

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Goodreads)
“It’s different and not predictable at all.” -Kara

Miss-Peregrines-Home-for-Peculiar-Children

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (Goodreads)

Shut Out

Crank by Ellen Hopkins (Goodreads)

crank

Looking for Alaska by John Green (Goodreads)
**Side note–Announcing this title sparked a lot of debate because some loved it and others didn’t like it at all.**

“I love the Before and After because it allows us to see how Pudge handles everything **avoiding spoiler** after.” -Hannah B.

cover-of-looking-for-alaska

Flash Reviews (18)

Title: Tilt

Author: Ellen Hopkins

Source: ARC received from a friend

Summary (From Goodreads):

Love—good and bad—forces three teens’ worlds to tilt in a riveting novel from New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins.

Three teens, three stories—all interconnected through their parents’ family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the lives of the teens begin to tilt….

Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year—and decides to keep the baby?

Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister’s impending death. Can he accept Alex’s love, knowing that his life, too, will be shortened?

Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Love, in all its forms, has crucial consequences in this standalone novel.

Flash Review: I have to be honest and say that I’m really disappointed in Tilt, which really upsets me because I’ve enjoyed all of Ellen Hopkins’ books.  I was hoping for something new, but Tilt feels like a replay of most of Hopkins’ other books.  Many of the same problems (drugs, sex, sexuality, etc) are focuses again, which I enjoy reading about, but they feel like the same stories in Tilt only with different characters.  The format is difficult to read as well.  At the end of each character’s point of view, a secondary character has a part.  This became confusing because I was already having a hard time keeping track of the main characters.  More than in any of Hopkins’ other books, it was difficult hearing the individual voices of these characters.  I knew them better by their conflict than their actual character.  I hope she’ll go back to writing about one character because her books featuring one voice, one main character have been the strongest.

Title: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads):

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

Flash Review: It’s hard to review a Mara Dyer book because there’s so much to say and so much to wonder at the same time.  I had a number of questions when I finished The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, many of which were answered (thank goodness!), but now I have even more questions after finishing The Evolution of Mara Dyer.  As I was nearing the end I was starting to wonder if some kind of Fight Club situation was playing out, if that tells you anything about how trippy this story becomes.  I do wish the steaminess from book one was just as strong in book two, but I’ll take any amount of Noah steaminess Michelle Hodkin decides to dish out.  This review isn’t saying much because I really can’t say anything without giving away plot points, so just be prepared for more suspense, mystery, and questions when you start reading book two :)

As always, thank you for the Flash Reviews idea, GreenBeanTeenQueen!

Our Ellen Hopkins School Visit

Ellen Hopkins visited our school today!  In September she held a contest for teachers and librarians to enter to win a free visit during Teen Read Week.  Our school was one of four that won a free author visit.  Unfortunately our visit had to be rescheduled due to flight cancellations and issues, so she made time to visit us yesterday (Nov. 5th).  As part of the contest we had to have books available for the students to buy and provide her with two hours of speaking time.  The amazing Schuler Books and Music in East Lansing provided books for our students to buy.  We broke up Ellen’s visit into two one hour presentations so she could reach more students.

Ellen ended up getting to school earlier than she expected, so she hung out in my classroom during my 2nd hour.  The kids were star struck!  She listened to me finish reading a chapter of Unwholly out loud and then told us about her friendship with the author, Neal Shusterman.  She commented on the student-made poster on the wall for Michelle Hodkin’s debut The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.  She told the class about Michelle and how she helped Michelle work on the sequel, The Evolution of Mara Dyer.  Talk about cool!  We also found out that Heather Brewer’s (the author of the Vladimir Todd series) husband is from Clio (the town where our school is located).  Small world, right?!  She took some time to answer my students’ questions and talk to them about the books they’re reading.

Before the presentations, Ellen offered to hang out outside the cafeteria so students could meet her, buy some books, and chat with her in general.  Some of them were nervous to approach her (so cute!), so I nudged them over.  I had a sub in my room at the time who I asked to bring my class down to meet Ellen.  We took some pictures, had books and bookmarks signed, etc.  She offered some writing advice to some of my aspiring authors, too.

Ellen’s presentation was fantastic!  She took time to tell the students about her life growing up, her life as an author, and the inspiration for her books.  The kids loved learning more about her daughter who inspired Kristina’s character in Crank.  Her books have inspired and helped so many of my students, so I know her presentation really resonated with them.  She did get some boos when she told us what a big SF Giants fan she is! ;)  One of my favorite parts of her presentation was how much she stressed that students can be successful writers and make a living.  I really hope the aspiring authors in the room heard her say that.

We had a number of students pre-order books to make sure they received the book(s) they really wanted.  I was amazed how many more students came up to the stage after the presentation to buy a book or two.  Some asked to take a picture with her, which of course Ellen did, and some who didn’t buy books received a bookmark from Ellen which she signed and personalized.  I’m pretty sure Schulers ordered 175 copies of Ellen’s books and that there were only about 50 or 60 left at the end of the day!

**Side note–Ellen signed all of the extra copies, so if you’d like a signed copy of one of her books stop by your local Michigan Schuler Books and Music to get one! :) **

The day was wonderful.  The students were excited and engaged and pretty much everything went smoothly and according to plan.  I couldn’t be more thankful for Ellen and her books; it’s so generous that she did this for us and a few other schools.  A huge THANK YOU, Ellen, from me and the rest of the staff and students; we were thrilled to meet you!

Book Trailer Thursday (82)–Tilt by Ellen Hopkins & Every Day by David Levithan

I love both of these authors big time.  Really, they’re two of my all-time favorite authors.  I love everything they write, and I’ve read positive review after positive review for both Tilt and Every Day, so I know I’ll love both books.  Have you read either of them?  What do you think of these two titles?

Summary of Tilt (From Goodreads): Love—good and bad—forces three teens’ worlds to tilt in a riveting novel from New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins.

Three teens, three stories—all interconnected through their parents’ family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the lives of the teens begin to tilt….

Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year—and decides to keep the baby?

Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister’s impending death. Can he accept Alex’s love, knowing that his life, too, will be shortened?

Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Love, in all its forms, has crucial consequences in this standalone novel.

Summary of Every Day (From Goodreads): In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a “wise, wildly unique” love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan, bestselling co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

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