Waiting on Wednesday–The Fire Sermon by Francesa Haig

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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.

I’m enjoying having my students choose which book I feature for this post each week, so I’m keeping it up for now. It’s nice knowing which books pique their interest and which covers grab their attention. Today one of my seniors said I should choose “the one with the omega on the cover.” Once he read the description, I think it was the tie to The Road that really won him over.

The Fire SermonTitle & Author: The Fire Sermon by Francesa Haig

Release Date: March 10th, 2015

Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster)

Summary (From Goodreads):

The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in this richly imagined first novel in a new post-apocalyptic trilogy by award-winning poet Francesca Haig.

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that has laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha—physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large. With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

Audiobook Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Prodigy audiobookTitle: Prodigy

Author: Marie Lu

Narrators: Steven Kaplan & Mariel Stern

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Release Date: January 29th, 2013

Interest: Series

Source: Audiobook purchased via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads): June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

Audiobook Review: I really enjoyed listening to Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern narrate Prodigy by Marie Lu.  I’ve decided that I like male audiobook narrators more than female narrators, and I’m not entirely sure why, but it holds true with Steven Kaplan narrating Day’s parts.  He does a nice job differentiating between the characters, even more so than Mariel Stern did.  I liked Mariel Stern for the part of June because she has almost a lilt to her voice that sounds right for June.  The audiobook is a little over ten hours long, but it felt like it went faster than that.  I didn’t listen to Legend, so I’m not sure how I’ll read the third book in this trilogy.  I liked the audio enough that I’d be happy reading it that way.

Book Review: Prodigy picks up right where Legend left off.  I had a hard time getting into it when I was reading it in the traditional sense, which is why I switched to the audiobook.  I don’t know why I was having a hard time reading it because once I started the audio I was really into the story.

We learn a lot more about June and Day and the world is developed even more.  I liked getting more information about Anden, the Republic, and the Patriots.  I’m actually kind of torn about Anden because I didn’t want to like him, but I really do.  He and June spend more time together in Prodigy and their interactions add a great level of intensity to the story.  June and Day are more a part than together in Prodigy, but it made the scenes where they are together even more enjoyable to read.  There’s lots of angst between them in this book.

I didn’t love Prodigy which makes me feel like the only person in the book world who didn’t love it.  I can’t even put my finger on what it was missing.  A few parts kind of dragged, and it just wasn’t as good as Legend.  The end of book is what really saved it for me.  There’s lots of action and excitement towards the end.  The actual ending, however, just about broke my heart.  I have NO idea what to expect in the last book.  I’m hoping that something will miraculously change so the story ends the way I want it to, but right now, I’m not so sure.  What an emotional ending.

Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel MeTitle: Unravel Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Publisher: HarperCollins

Release Date: February 5th, 2013

Interest: Series

Source: ARC gifted from friend

 

 

Summary (Goodreads):

tick, tick, tick, tick, tick
it’s almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

Unravel Me is exhilarating and a nice follow up to Shatter Me, but it didn’t quite meet my expectations.  Since I’m torn about my feelings for this sequel, I’m breaking it down into what worked and what didn’t work for me.

What Worked for Me:

  • Tahereh Mafi once again stunned me with her beautiful, one of a kind, lyrical writing.  Her writing style is so original, I could be handed a page a page from one of her books without knowing the title or author and I’d be able to identify it.  There aren’t as many strike outs in Unravel Me, but the sections that are tell us so much more since there are so much fewer.  I think it would be an excellent way to teach the idea of revision during a writing unit.
  • Here are a couple of my favorite passages from the ARC **Note–Since these are from the ARC, they are subject to change**
    • “Synonyms know each other like old colleagues, like a set of friends who’ve seen the world together.  They swap stories, reminisce about their origins and forget that though they are similar, they are entirely different, and though they share a certain set of attributes, one can never be the other.  Because a quiet night is not the same as a silent one, a firm man is not the same as a steady one, and a bright light is not the same as a brilliant one because the way they wedge themselves into a sentence changes everything.”
    • “I wonder at my incapacity for easy banter, smooth conversation, empty words to fill awkward moments.  I don’t have a closet filled with umms and ellipses ready to insert at the beginnings and ends of sentences.  I don’t know how to be a verb, an adverb, any kind of modifier.  I’m a noun through and through.”

    Isn’t her writing fantastic!  Not only do these two sections create clear images, they’re sections that I’d love to use in my classroom when discussing writing and grammar.  Tahereh Mafi has such a wonderful way with words.

  • Many of the characters in Unravel Me have been developed so much more; I really like the depth.  We learn so much more about Adam’s ability and past (there are some Ohmygosh! moments).  Kenji and Castle are developed in such a way that I kept wavering between liking them and questioning their motives.

What Didn’t Work for Me:

  • I had a really difficult time liking Juliette in Unravel Me.  I understand that she’s still adjusting to being around and trusting people, but I lost my patience with her being so doubtful all the time.  It felt like her only care/focus in this book was making a love interest decision and coming to grips with her power.  There’s was too much drama between her and Adam and Warner.  I love drama, don’t get me wrong, but scene after scene of it annoyed me.
  • Unravel Me is 465 pages long and not that much really happened, at least in regards to situations outside of Juliette/Adam/Warner.  It’s exciting to learn more about characters’ powers and abilities and backgrounds, but I wanted to see more happen with the war.  So much time and focus was dedicated to Juliette being insecure and battling her emotions.  I just needed something more, something with more substance.

The Farm by Emily McKay Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

The FarmTitle: The Farm

Author: Emily McKay

Publisher: Berkley Trade

Release Date: December 4th, 2012

Interest: Post-Apocalyptic / Blog Tour

Source: Finished copy received from the publisher

The Farm Website

Summary (From Goodreads): Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race…

I honestly had mixed reactions when I started reading The Farm.  The concept is cool which is why I decided to try it and join the blog tour.  I’m not really big on vampires, but I like post-apocalyptic books.  My students still like reading paranormal vampire novels and the post-apocalyptic genre is a big hit with them as well.  Emily McKay’s debut is another book that I need to break down into what worked and what didn’t work.

What Worked For Me:

  • The multiple points of view–The Farm is told from Lily, Mel, and Carter’s points of view told in alternating chapters.  My favorite chapters are Mel’s because she’s autistic and has a really unique perspective and understanding of the world around her.  The story works with this format because there’s so much going on and the characters are so involved.  I learned more about Carter and his history during his chapters than in any of the other chapters, and I really don’t know how we could have learned as much about him without this format.  Overall it added more layers to the story and really defined the characters.
  • Lily–I like what a strong heroine she is.  She’s quick on her feet and stands up for herself and her sister.  Her sense of humor, despite how horrible her life is, is witty and snarky.  I really think teens with siblings who they’re close to or protective of, will connect with Lily and enjoy her character.
  • The pacing & action–The Farm is full of suspense, twists, and action.  Emily McKay did a nice job balancing The Farm’s character development and plot development; it doesn’t feel like one more than the other (character driven or plot driven).  I enjoyed the suspense and wondering how new developments were going to come to light.  The pacing it great and will keep my students interested as they read.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

  • Vampires–I’m over vampires.  I don’t have much else to say on that topic.
  • I tried to keep an open mind on the vampire front, but some of the background storyline didn’t work for me.  I don’t want to ruin anything because much of that isn’t revealed until 100+ pages in, but when I came to that story I sort of cringed.  I had to start thinking of the book as more of a book for my students than for me at that point.  And sometimes that’s what I really need to do when I read a book outside my comfort zone; I need to think about the students in class who will like it more than me.
  • I really liked Lily, Mel, and Carter, but I didn’t find myself connecting to them and their story until 75 or more pages in.  I needed more earlier than that.

The Farm Blog Tour Exclusive Content

Lily is such a strong main character. How did you decide to give her this fierce identity as opposed to the weak female characters that are so often present in books?

To be honest, I don’t know any weak teen-age girls.  The teen-age girls I know are strong and smart and giving and determined and I just drew on that to create Lily.  Years ago, I taught in a lower-income area and one of the things that I still remember from that time is how tough the girls I taught were and how devoted they were to their families.  I wanted to channel some of that into Lily, and hope I succeeded.

Tour Stops:
Yesterday–Actin’ Up With Books
Monday–Addicted to Novels

Giveaway Details

Giveaway sponsored by the publisher
Open to the US only
One lucky winner will win a copy of The Farm + “Vampire Apocalypse Survival Kit”
Must be 13 years or older to enter
Giveaway ends January 4th, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST
Only one entry per person
Winner will be emailed and given 48 hours to respond
No extra entries required, but spreading the word is appreciated 🙂

Book Trailer Thursday (93)–Legend & Prodigy by Marie Lu

This book trailer is more of a “combo” trailer than an individual trailer for Prodigy, and I have no idea if an individual trailer for Prodigy will be made, but I like how both books are combined in this trailer.  I like this angle of advertising because it allows readers who haven’t started the trilogy the chance to see what the story is about and where it’s going.

Yesterday I saw someone tweeting about the Prodigy trailer which is why I was looking it up.  I’m not sure if that person was watching this trailer or another one, but either way the comment made applies.  The person tweeting mentioned that she thought Day is Asian, which he is.   Since Day is of Asian descent, shouldn’t the actor portraying him in the trailer be as well?  This is timely considering the article from The Hub (YALSA) that just released on Monday.  Any thoughts on this?  Is this another example of whitewashing?

LegendSummary of Legend (From Goodreads): What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

ProdigySummary of Prodigy (From Goodreads): June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

Book Trailer Thursday (92)

I decided to keep the book titles out of the blog post title since I’m featuring two titles; the post title becomes too long when I include both.  Little, Brown posted the trailer for Zom-B by Darren Shan on Facebook, which is where I discovered the trailer.  After watching that trailer, I saw the trailer for Adaptation by Malinda Lo, so I guess this post is offering some Little, Brown love 🙂

Summary of Zom-B (From Goodreads): When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B’s racist father thinks it’s a joke– but even if it isn’t, he figures, it’s ok to lose a few Irish.
B doesn’t fully buy into Dad’s racism, but figures it’s easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. And when dodging his fists doesn’t work, B doesn’t hesitate to take the piss out of kids at school with a few slaps or cruel remarks.
That is, until zombies attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers.

 

Summary of Adaptation (From Goodreads): Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

Book Trailer Thursday (89)–Reached by Ally Condie

My students are really excited about the release of Ally Condie’s final book in the Matched trilogy.  Is anyone else excited about the release of Reached?!

Summary (From Goodreads): After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times-bestselling Matched Trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

Waiting on Wednesday–Vortex by S.J. Kincaid

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 know, I know, Vortex doesn’t release for almost a year, but I’m super excited about this sequel!  Plus, none of my friends on Goodreads have added it which means I should help draw some attention to it 🙂

If you know anything about me and my blog, then you know that finding books with guy appeal is really important to me.  Insignia impressed me and entertained me as a book with awesome guy appeal and as a fantastic debut.  It wins over the guys in my class on a regular basis.  If you haven’t read it, you have lots of time to do so before Vortex releases!

P.S. How cool is that cover?!  I really like the bold color choices for this series.  They’re vibrant and gender neutral.  Fantastic!

Title & Author: Vortex by S.J. Kincaid

Release Date: July 2nd, 2013

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Summary (From Goodreads): The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom Raines and his friends are mid-level cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom’s loyalties are again put to the test.

Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process.

Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer he is—or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything—and everyone that matters to him?

Filled with action and intelligence, camaraderie and humor, the second book in S.J. Kincaid’s futuristic World War III Insignia trilogy continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty, and friendship.

Review: The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse

Title: The Forsaken

Author: Lisa M. Stasse

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: July 10th, 2012

Interest: 2012 Debut Author / Dystopian

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads): A thought-provoking and exciting start to a riveting new dystopian trilogy.

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse is a cool new addition to the dystopian YA genre.  It’s fast-paced, and while there are comparisons to The Hunger Games, The Forsaken is its own book.

Lisa M. Stasse’s debut is full of non-stop action.  Within the first few chapters readers are taken to The Wheel with Alenna and thrown into a precarious situation.  Teen readers looking for a book that’s adventurous and fast-paced are going to love The Forsaken.  So many of my students will stop reading a book because of “the slow parts.”  There aren’t any slow parts in this book.  It actually felt like the story had a rhythm; there would be an intense scene full of flight-or-fight scenarios and then there was a more subdued scene after that.  I’m really expecting my students to enjoy this one, and I’ll be sure to hand it to those looking for something that’s “like The Hunger Games.”

I like the premise of The Forsaken as well.  No one really knows why these kids, like Alenna, have been shipped to The Wheel.  There’s plenty of speculation, but nothing is really understood until the last couple chapters.  There’s also the feeling that everyone on The Wheel is being watched, but no one knows who’s monitoring them or where they are.  The premise and setting made me think of Lord of the Flies and also Variant by Robison Wells.  I haven’t read The Maze Runner by James Dashner, but I think they might be comparable also.  There’s just something intriguing about leaving teenagers to their own devices without any direct adult supervision, especially when they’re stranded on an island.

While I enjoyed the fast pace of this book, the beginning needs more world building and character development.  We’re given a glimpse of what the country is like and how the government has taken over, but we don’t know many details about it.  More are revealed at the end, but I needed something extra to get me more invested in the story.  I also need more time with Alenna before she’s sent to The Wheel.  We barely get a chance to know her before she’s sent there.  The whole process happened in a blink of the eye, although much of that is part of the story and the mystery behind why certain kids are sent away.  The Forsaken felt very plot driven to me and I usually prefer character driven stories.  I want to feel like I connect with the character(s) and I didn’t feel that way at all while reading this.

As a reader, I wanted a little more from The Forsaken, but as a teacher I know many of my students will enjoy it.  The students in class craving an action-packed adventure will love every page of Lisa M. Stasse’s debut.

Other Reviews:

Fountain Reflections

Literally Jen

What My Students Read From March-June

Many of my freshmen felt like all they did this past school year was read since our curriculum is so heavy in reading (not a bad thing at all!).  The last trimester of English 9 is especially heavy in reading because they read Romeo & Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, and just this past year we added a YA thematic unit connecting with To Kill a Mockingbird.  I went through my class library check out binder and tallied up all the books that were borrowed and read during the months March through June (our last trimester) to see which ones were the most popular.  I think the numbers would have been higher in a different trimester, but I’m still impressed with my students 🙂

From March through June, my students read 261 different titles from my class library.  Most of those titles were read more than once which summed up to 472 books read during that time period!  I know my numbers aren’t exact because many of my students forget to check out books when they borrow them, and many of them grab books from friends in class without me always knowing about it.  This also doesn’t include the required books they read for the trimester.

**You can click on the cover image to get to the Goodreads page**

Most Popular Book (Borrowed 10+ Times)


I’m not really surprised by this.  Living Dead Girl is always a favorite, every trimester.

Borrowed 6-8 Times


Borrowed 4-5 Times


 

  Borrowed 3 Times






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