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)


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


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


Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (Goodreads)

Shut Out

Crank by Ellen Hopkins (Goodreads)


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.


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!

Book Trailer Thursday (86)–The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I loved The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, so I’m super excited about the release of the sequel, The Evolution of Mara Dyer.  I would like this trailer if there was less making out and more scenes related to the conflict outside of Mara and Noah, but I’m still okay with it.  I really want to find out what Michelle Hodkin has in store for Mara, but I’ll have to wait until I get The Evolution of Mara Dyer back from a very excited student (I bought my copy on its release day and gave it to her the following day to read).

If you haven’t read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, or if you haven’t seen the trailer for that book, here’s a link.

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?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Can’t Wait To Read This Fall

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Fall is one of my favorite seasons.  I start the school year feeling refreshed and energetic, I get to wear hoodies again, and the trees turn vibrant colors.  I also love getting cozy on the couch and reading a good book.  Actually I do that all year long, but don’t we all?  I’ve listed some books I’m looking forward to reading during this lovely season.  I only have eight today, so it’s not a true top ten, but that’s the best I could do for now.

Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt (Goodreads)–I’ve been reading lots of good reviews for this one.  It sounds like a tear-jerker, but I’m okay with that.

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (Goodreads)–Thanks to NetGalley I’ve already read this one and loved it.  I’m adding it to my list because I’m excited to buy a finished copy and share it with my students.

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (Goodreads)–Besides absolutely LOVING this cover, this book sounds awesome.  Is it November yet?

The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima (Goodreads)–This is one of my favorite fantasy series.  The books are really long, but they’re so much fun to read.  Can’t wait!

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (Goodreads)–I just read The Girl of Fire and Thorns a few weeks ago and loved it!  Thankfully I only have to wait a couple more weeks to find out what’s happened with Elisa 🙂

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Goodreads)–It’s been over a year since I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.  I seriously can’t wait for this book.  Michelle Hodkin left us with such a cliffhanger that I absolutely need to know what the heck is going on with Mara.

Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (Goodreads)–I hope the audio for this book releases on the same day as the book.  After listening to Beautiful Chaos on audio I’ve decided that there’s no other way to read this series.  If you like audio, you really have to listen to this series.

Through to You by Emily Hainsworth (Goodreads)–I’ve been reading some positive reviews for this one, so I’m really excited for it.  It sounds like a cool mix of sci-fi and paranormal.  One of the reviews on Goodreads said it’s really fresh which is always something promising to read.

Students Want to Know: Michelle Hodkin

A new school year has started, so it’s time to bring back my Students Want to Know feature.  I’m very excited to start the fall interviews with Michelle Hodkin, the debut author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

Summary (From the publisher):

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

** Michelle’s Website **
** Michelle’s Blog **
** The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer releases on September 27, 2011 **
** Find out why I LOVED Michelle’s book–My review **


  • What does it feel like to have people raving about your book?
    Every time I hear that someone, anyone, has even read my book, I feel pretty stunned. This whole roller coaster ride was completely unexpected; I never really planned on writing a book, let alone having that book published. And once I was published, I didn’t expect the book to have the kind of support that it has had, from the amazing team at Simon & Schuster to the awesome teenagers who have managed to snag Advance Readers Copies to book bloggers to New York Times bestselling authors who have read it and shared their thoughts with their readers. I am deeply humbled and extremely grateful. 
  • How do you think it will feel to see it in book stores?
    It’s still a few days before I’ll be able to find the book on shelves, but I know it’s going to be surreal. I can’t even get used to the sight of the finished copies on my own shelf!
  • Do any of the characters’ emotions reflect your own? At certain times while you were writing the book?
    I tried really hard to honestly portray the characters’ emotions no matter what they were going through at any point in the book, even though I’ve never been through a lot of their experiences myself. So I started by trying to put myself in a similar mood; If I needed to write an angry scene, I’d listen to angry music. If I had to write something scary, I’d set aside time when I’d be home alone in the middle of the night to write it. 
  • At book events, do you find it nerve-wracking to have people lining up to meet you?  Or do you feel like a star in those moments?
    Since the book isn’t out yet, I’ve only done a handful of signings for pre-publication events, but I can say that it wasn’t nerve-wracking—it was AWESOME. The hardest part was not spending hours talking to each person who came to get the book! I was a reader long before I was a writer, so getting the chance to meet people who love books enough to take the time out to go to signings and events is the ultimate for me. Can’t think of anything I love more.


  • Have you ever had really bad writer’s block?
    There have definitely been times where I wasn’t sure what would happen next in the story, but as the infinitely wise Cassie Clare says, writer’s block is a symptom that there’s something wrong with the manuscript. So whenever I get stuck, I try to think about why I’m stuck and in the meantime, work on something else
  • When did you come up with the idea for your book?
    Funny thing? I know the exact day: May 15, 2009. The full story of how that idea came about (and why it specifically happened on that day) will be posted on www.maradyer.com. And the very first emails I sent to friends telling them I had an idea for a novel are posted on my blog: michellehodkin.blogspot.com.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Michelle Hodkin The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

464 pp.  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers  2011

Interest: 2011 Debut Author

Source: ARC received from publisher

Release Date: September 27, 2011

Summary (From Goodreads):

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

This debut has received a ton of hype in the past few months and it completely lives up to the hype.  I absolutely devoured this story; I couldn’t put it down.  I stayed up late and read until my eyes were so heavy I had to close them, then woke up early enough to pick it right back up and finish it (thank goodness for the weekends!).  Michelle Hodkin is most certainly an author to watch because she not only weaves an engrossing tale, but she incorporates the perfect mix of mystery, snark, romance and humor–extra emphasis on mystery.

Michelle Hodkin hooks us with an eerie letter from our main character, Mara Dyer, only Mara says “My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something.  A pseudonym.”  The letter goes on to mention murders and warning us so we’re not next.  Talk about grabbing our attention, right?!  The thing is, now that I’m done reading this book, I’m wondering what her name really is because everyone calls her Mara.  This is part of what I love most about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer–the mystery.  I know readers are calling this paranormal, but I’d rather call it magical realism or something. There are some strange things happening to and around Mara, many of which we don’t fully understand until the end or are still left wondering about until the next book.  Normally I prefer an ending that leaves the book feeling like it could be a stand alone, even in a series, but this ending worked for me.  Was I confused and did I want answers immediately?  Yes.  But the ending kept me thinking for days.  I let one of my students borrow my ARC so I could discuss it with someone.  An ending like that is worth the mystery and me eagerly waiting for the second book, even though the first hasn’t even officially released.

I’m a big fan of the characters in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.  Mara Dyer isn’t a reliable narrator, but she’s snarky, mysterious and just as confused as I was.  I love that I, as a reader, am on the same page as Mara when it comes to the confusion over everything.  She doesn’t remember much of the accident when her friends died and she lived.  She and her family move to Florida to get away from everything which is when life gets a little weird for Mara.  This is also when she meets Noah, who I adore.  Oddly enough, some of the strange events happen whenever Noah is around.  There’s something unique between these two that I can’t wait to learn more about in the second book.  At first I didn’t think I was going to like Noah because he came off as the typical bad boy.  That’s not the case.  Just like Mara, there are some complex layers to Noah’s character that make him stand out from the rest of the paranormal genre love interests.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to write a review for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer without giving away major plot points.  There are scenes with dogs, alligators, a gun, and a guy named Jude I want to talk about.  But if I do, you’d be mad at me because I’d give away all the good parts, or at least some of them.  This is a book that needs you to suspend your disbelief, and if you can then you’re sure to enjoy it.  I flat out love it.  I don’t say this very often, but I would re-read this debut because it’s that good and I want the answers to my questions.  I definitely recommend getting yourself a copy, and make sure a friend reads it as well so you can try to work out the details and mystery to Mara’s story.

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