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…

 

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?

Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

The Beginning of EverythingTitle: The Beginning of Everything

Author: Robyn Schneider

Publisher: Katherine Tegen

Release Date: August 27th, 2013

Interest: Contemp / 2013 Debut Author

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

I’ve been sitting on this review of The Beginning of Everything for months now. I had mixed feelings about it when I finished reading and wasn’t sure what to say in my review. Now that it’s months later, I’m still not sure what I want to say, so this may be a short review. Before I get into my actual review, I will say that I plan on reading more of Robyn Schneider’s books, even if her debut wasn’t one that I loved.

While I didn’t love The Beginning of Everything, I did enjoy Ezra’s story. It’s an engaging read and one that I liked. The issue I have with it, is that it’s too similar to Looking for Alaska. I try not to make comparisons to John Green’s work, especially with debut authors, but sometimes it’s impossible not to. While I read Schneider’s debut, all I could think was that she read Looking for Alaska and wanted to write her own version of it. Is there a great tragedy in The Beginning of Everything? No. Does it take place at a boarding school? No. But the characters are written quite similarly, especially Cassidy. And the same kind of pretentious attitude from other characters is present as well (think Weekday Warriors).

I’d describe both Alaska and Cassidy as manic pixie dream girls, but while I loved Alaska, I grew tired of Cassidy and her whims. I liked Ezra and think some of my guys in class would like him and his story, but Cassidy, while being smart and unique, bored me. I think that if she wasn’t written so similarly to Alaska I would have liked her character more.

I think if The Beginning of Everything wasn’t written so similarly to Looking for Alaska I would have liked this book more. But like I said, I enjoyed reading it. I’m disappointed that it isn’t more of its own book. Maybe if I didn’t teach, and read, and discuss Looking for Alaska every year, I would think differently. But I doubt it.

I know some of my students will love this. When I was reading it, I read the first few pages to my class and hooked a few of my students. I’m sure I’ll be able to do that again with this new group of students.

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

 

 

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.

Review: Winger by Andrew Smith

WingerTitle: Winger

Author: Andrew Smith

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Release Date: May 14th, 2013

Interest: Contemp / Guy appeal / Humor / Illustrated

Source: Borrowed from the library

Summary (From Goodreads):

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

Right now I’m having a difficult time figuring out what I want to say about Winger because Andrew Smith left me heartbroken and hopeful at the same time.  I can say that Ryan Dean West is now one of my favorite characters and Winger is now one of my favorite books.

I absolutely love finding books with guy appeal.  Winger falls into this category perfectly.  Ryan Dean’s voice struck true from the first to the last page.  He’s a fourteen-year-old boy and he talks, thinks, and acts like one.  Believe me, I’ve taught freshmen boys for the past six years.  There’s bathroom humor and humor from things that probably aren’t supposed to be funny, but Ryan Dean’s reactions and thoughts make this a laugh out loud book.  For the first 4oo pages I was constantly laughing and smiling.  Andrew Smith’s writing in this book made me think of Geoff Herbach’s writing in Stupid Fast.  Both stories are funny, include sports, and will get guys reading, but they also delve into a deeper story.

When I read that this is heartbreaking, I kept waiting for something heartbreaking to happen and wondering what it would be.  I was both prepared and unprepared for the moment.  I’m not going to go into too much detail because I don’t want to take away from that experience for you when you read Winger.  I read the page and sighed because I expected something like that to happen.  I turned the page, let the moment and scene hit me, and then I cried.  Not long after I finished reading this I still had to keep taking deep breaths.  I wasn’t sobbing or anything, but I had to let myself digest what I read.  I spent so much time loving this book and getting to know the characters that this moment felt like a punch in the face.  And I mean that in the best possible way.  I have mixed feelings about where this scene is placed, but I understand the reasoning for it.  When you read it, which I hope you will, we should discuss it.

Now, on to the whole John Green thing.  I can already see the comparisons to John Green’s writing and one of his books in particular.  I get it.  BUT, Winger is not that book and Andrew Smith is not John Green.  I love John Green and all, but I don’t think I’ve ever read one of his books and thought, “Yeah, my kids are just like (insert character name).”  I’ve read his books and thought of students who would like reading them, but I’ve never been able to picture one of my students as a character.  The characters in Winger are REAL.  I pictured a number of former students and others when I was reading this.  I’m confident that my students will appreciate this when they read it.

The copy of Winger I read belongs to my local library, but you can be sure that I plan on buying at least two copies of this book for my classroom library.  It’s that kind of book.  Andrew Smith has written something special.

Similar Reads: Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach, Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

Highlight at the end of this for a title rec if you’re okay with a spoiler: October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman

Book Trailer Thursday (115)–The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

The other day John Green tweeted a link to this movie trailer for The Spectacular Now because Shailene Woodley is starring in it and she is also going to be Hazel Grace in the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars.  While watching the movie trailer I thought “Wow, I *really* want to see this movie” and “This sounds like it would be a great book.”  I looked it up on Goodreads and I was right!  The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp was released in 2008.  I’m adding this to my summer reading list.

Have you read The Spectacular Now?  Do you want to?  What do you think of the trailer?

The Spectacular Now hardcoverThe Spectacular Now movie cover

Summary (From Goodreads):

This National Book Award Finalist is soon to be a major motion picture — one of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance 2013, starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller.

SUTTER KEELY. He’s the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

Books I Thought I’d Like Less and More Than I Did

toptentuesday-New

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

It’s always disappointing when I discover that a book I thought I was going to love ends up being a dud.  But it’s really exciting when I’m reading a book that I had minimal expectations for turns into a favorite.  Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about those books.

Books I thought I’d like more than I did:

Splintered by A.G. Howard (Goodreads): I was really enjoying this when I first started listening to the audio.  The entire premise was intriguing and I was drawn in.  But then it turned into a weird, way-too-emo for me story that I couldn’t enjoy.  There’s a really long list of things I really disliked about this debut.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (Goodreads): I’m still disappointed that I didn’t like this book.  I didn’t even finish it!  It didn’t speak to me and I hated the footnotes.

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (Goodreads): This debut had instant action and lots of promise, but ultimately it fizzled about half way through the book.  I never finished it.

Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins (Goodreads): I really expected to like this book.  I like the star-crossed lovers storyline, and I was looking forward to see how the story would play out with one of the characters being Amish.  Unfortunately, the story grew repetitive and stalled out.  I stopped reading it after I discovered that there would be more books.  If I was already bored half way through the first book, I couldn’t let myself invest in yet another series.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Goodreads): I love Lauren Oliver’s writing so I fully expected to love this one.  I was listening to the audio over the summer and made it as far as the second half of the audiobook before I gave up.  I grew bored with the story.  I wanted it to move along faster, and after a while Lauren Oliver’s flowery writing started to sound verbose.  Maybe one day I’ll come back to this one, but it won’t be any time soon.

SplinteredAn Abundance of KatherinesGlowTemptationDelirium

Books I thought I’d like less than I did:

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Goodreads): Two students told me about this during my first year teaching my YA elective.  I was really hesitant to read it because I thought I didn’t like science fiction.  After they told me how amazing it was I decided to give it a shot.  It’s one of my favorites and it even made me cry.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Goodreads): I remember when my high school best friend picked this up when we were in college.  She raved and raved about it, but I wasn’t interested.  One of my students gave me her copy to read during spring break a couple years ago, so I finally caved and read it.  I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner because it’s SO GOOD!  I didn’t want it to end.

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick (Goodreads): I remember seeing an ARC of this in my ALAN box in Chicago and thinking, “What is this?”  I had never heard of Jordan Sonnenblick, and I had never heard of this book.  I don’t know why I was so hesitant.  I can’t even remember how I ended up reading it last year, but I enjoyed every minute of it.  It’s funny and heart-warming.

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima (Goodreads): I tried reading The Warrior Heir during my first year of teaching and really disliked it.  Last year I requested some titles to help me discover more fantasy and this was recommended.  I figured I’d like it, but I had no idea I would love it.  I was completely absorbed in the story and the world.  It’s a long book, and I’m pretty sure I read it in just over a day.  This is a fabulous series.

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Goodreads): I tried reading this in the traditional sense and then a year later I tried the audio.  Both times I had to set it aside.  I finally tried the audio for a second time and I was finally hooked.  I think this is one of those “I need to be in the right mood books” because I can’t believe I didn’t finish it the first time I tried reading it.  It’s such a fantastic book that’s beautifully written.  If you haven’t read it yet, I HIGHLY recommend listening to the audio.

The Knife of Never Letting GoWater for ElephantsCurveball The Year I Lost My GripThe Demon KingDaughter of Smoke and Bone

Flash Reviews (21)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseTitle: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads):

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Flash Review:  I wish I would have written a full review of this when I finished reading it, but I really just wanted to sit back and enjoy how much I enjoyed it.  Is that weird?  I had never even heard of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe before it received multiple ALA awards this year.  I’m happy it received so many honors because this book deserves attention.  I have a feeling it will really only speak to specific readers, but it still deserves praise and a wide readership.  I’m going to recommend it to John Green fans, which I realize is a broad scope of readers, but I think those who enjoy the verisimilitude in Green’s books will enjoy it in this book.  The conversations between Dante and Aristotle are simple and complex and beautiful.  Their story is beautiful.  I couldn’t put it down, and then trying to immediately put into words all of my feelings when I was done was nearly impossible.  I read it on my Kindle and when I finished I knew I had to find a way to get a copy with all of the medals in my classroom.  So far I’ve only been able to find a copy with the Printz honor medal.  I know I haven’t really “reviewed” this, but I still hope you read it.  It’s going to be a favorite of 2013.

Blood Red RoadTitle: Blood Red Road

Author: Moira Young

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Source: Borrowed from the library

Summary (From Goodreads): Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.

Flash Review:  There are only a few books I chose for my Young Adult Lit II class without reading them first, which I know isn’t best practice, but I chose them based on LOTS of discussion with trusted teachers and librarians.  I haven’t been disappointed in those choices, and Blood Red Road was one of them.  The first thing that caught me off guard while reading was the dialect.  It was harder for me to read than the dialect in The Knife of Never Letting Go.  And the lack of quotation marks around the dialogue made it even harder, but ultimately I loved it.  I’m still not sure why Moira Young chose to skip the quotation marks, but I think it will make for great discussion when we read it in class.  Saba is a pretty awesome heroine; her bravery and overall hardcore attitude often put Katniss to shame.  The summary’s description of Blood Red Road being an “epic love story” isn’t accurate, in my opinion.  There’s a nice love story, but I would never call it epic.  When I think of an epic love story I think of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor or something sweeping like that.  Overall, I would have liked to know Saba more than I did; I felt like I knew Jack and Emmi better than Saba.  This is a book that will appeal to many readers who enjoy action and adventure with a little bit of romance.

Just One DayTitle: Just One Day

Author: Gayle Forman

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

Flash Review: It seems like everyone absolutely loved Just One Day.  I gave it three stars on Goodreads, but that’s mostly because of a few scenes at the beginning and some with Dee (a character introduced later in the story) in the middle.  If it weren’t for those few things, I wouldn’t have finished this book.  Allyson is one of the most annoying characters I’ve ever read, which makes me feel like a horrible person for thinking that because she’s depressed.  I think it’s more the reasons why she acts the way she does for over half of the book that bothers me so much.  She knew Willem for one day, hence the title, and is completely hung up on him for months.  Really?  Get over it.  Maybe if I was sixteen or seventeen and reading this I would have felt differently.  The big reason behind her feeling so low is her mother, which is why I feel bad saying she’s so annoying.  I simply wouldn’t call Just One Day romantic.  It’s about soul-searching and discovering yourself.  It borders on New Adult since Allyson is away at college and breaking away from her parents.  If I had gone into reading this prepared for all of that, maybe I would have liked it more.  I wish Gayle Forman would just write from a guy’s point of view because I didn’t think If I Stay was so great either, but I LOVED Where She Went.  I’m hoping I feel the same way about Just One Year which is from Willem’s perspective.

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

Student Book Love: The Bigger Picture

For the past few days I’ve been posting the books that three of my classes listed as their award-worthy favorites read in 2012.  I’ve enjoyed putting the posts together because they provide an interesting glimpse at my students’ reading preferences.  After seeing such a wide range of favorites between the three classes I decided to put together a post which includes some of the titles that didn’t “make the cut” and others that I see becoming favorites of 2013.

 

More 2012 Student Favorites (click on the image for Goodreads link)

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Sky is Everywhere paperback

Burning BlueMeant to Be

Cindereasy

The Book ThiefBall Don't Lie

Predicted Student Favorites of 2013 (click on the image for Goodreads link)
*Most of these titles were listed as favorites multiple times but between different classes which is why they didn’t end up on the top 10 lists*

WonderLove and Other Perishable Items

Something Like NormalThe Fault in Our Stars

Every DayBeautiful Creatures 2

UnwhollyDrama

this-is-not-a-drill-coverI Heart You, You Haunt Me

Anna Dressed in Bloodjkt_9780545334747.indd

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