February 28, 2013

Cover Crush: Then You Were Gone

I love book covers. Love love love them! I've been known to drag my sister around Barnes and Noble and show her all the covers I like. I'll hunt down certain students in the morning because I know they'll love a cover as much as me. I really think I develop a crush on certain covers!

Today I'm crushing on:

I'm seeing more covers in this style - back lit with the title covering the whole page. But this one stands apart.  I love the coloring of it.  It seems like many in this style are going towards the blue hues, so I like that this is more purples.  Plus the shadow of the girl is great.  You don't see much of her, so you're left wondering who she is, why is she there, is she the one gone???
Well done!

Two years ago, Adrienne’s best friend walked out of her life. One week ago, she left Adrienne a desperate, muffled voicemail. Adrienne never called back.
Now Dakota is missing. She left behind a string of broken hearts, a flurry of rumors, and a suicide note.
Adrienne can’t stop obsessing over what might have happened if she’d answered Dakota’s call. And she’s increasingly convinced that Dakota must still be alive.
Maybe finding and saving Dakota is the only way Adrienne can save herself.
Or maybe it’s too late for them both.

February 27, 2013

Book Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Monument 14
Author: Emmy Laybourne

Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner. Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus. But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran. Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. 

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

I loved this book! What I really loved is how the action kicks in right away - you are barely into the book and BAM! action.  And it's not a little bit of action.  It's a crazy amount of scary, thrilling, life or death action.  Lately I've had a hard time getting into books, so it was perfect for me.  Plus all I could think about was how it would completely grab my middle schoolers - especially the ones who need action in order to really stick with a book.  I was worried though - what if the rest of the book didn't live up to the dynamic beginning?  I didn't need to worry.

I've read a lot of dystopia over that last few years, so it really takes something more to excite me when it comes to the genre.  I found it in this book.  I've been thinking about what exactly set it apart from some of the others.  I think a good part of was the fact that it's not just one or two people - it's a group of people including little kids.  It was a big more rounded for me.  I liked seeing how the addition of little kids into a group of teens trying to survive changed the play of events and their behavior.  It added a level I hadn't really seen yet.  

Although the pacing didn't stay has fast as it started, it was still good.  I never really felt like the story was dragging.  Mainly because, even though they were relatively safe, they still had conflicts and problems come up that had to be solved.  There wasn't much down-time.  What I liked too, about this pacing was that each problem was new and realistic.  I could see how teens (or anyone) trapped in this situation would have this conflicts.  They kept me reading because I wanted to know how they would deal with something I could see really happening.  Would it be how I would see people dealing with it.  I did also like that each conflict was dragged on and on.  It was there, dealt with and moved along.  I appreciated that.

As for the characters.  I pretty much liked all of them.  I mean a few did get on my nerves, but that was intentional because they were designed to get on the nerves of everyone.  I like the main character, Dean.  He was a likable kid wanting to do what was right, but caught in a horrible situation.  I really liked how he was with the little kids.  How he reacted and dealt with them, the situation and the other teens was realistic.  He wasn't perfect but he tried.  I found each character unique with his/her own voice.  Sometimes in a book with this many characters they start to muddle together.  I didn't have this problem - even the little kids were clear.  

Ok one side note: The whole time I was reading it I kept picturing Target and how the story would work there.  It was perfect!

The ending.....ARG! is all I can say, and I cannot wait to read the next installment!!!

Final Thought: Grabs you right away and never lets up!
Best stick-with-you image: The bus at the beginning - well done.
Best for readers who: Like action
Best for ages: 13+

For the Guys? For sure!!! I think it's a book for boys and girls.  There are enough characters of both to interests anyone reading it.  

February 26, 2013

Reading Snapshot

This post is inspired by the meme It's Monday. What are You Reading hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  The only real difference is I take a pic of my current read and post it - nothing more! 
Trying to keep it short and simple.  
That's my motto these days! 


First Line: My mother hid the knife block.

February 20, 2013

Up Close and Personal - Books in the Wild

Seeing books on blogs is fun but seeing them in
 the wild rocks!!!!

Let's get Up Close and Personal with some YA books. 

by Suzanne Marie Phillips
I love this cover in person! So pretty!
The Bourne Identity meets I Am the Cheese in this taut thriller
Even though Micah’s a star pitcher, his older sister Lindsey is the real deal—a runner so good, she has a shot at the Olympics. The two of them urge each other on, and are each other’s best support. Then the unthinkable happens: Lindsey is murdered, and Micah may have been the last person to see her. But he can’t remember what happened, no matter what their parents tell him, no matter what the police say. Did he witness his sister’s murder—or commit it? Can he recall the truth before his life is sentenced to end, too?

by Katie Alender
My students LOVE this series.

It's been three months since Alexis helplessly witnessed Lydia Small's violent death, and all she wants is for her life to return to normal. 
But normal people don't see decaying bodies haunting photographs. Normal people don't have to deal with regular intrusions from Lydia's angry ghost, sometimes escalating to terrifying attacks.

At first, it seems that Lydia wants revenge on Alexis alone. But a girl from school disappears one night, and Alexis spots one of Lydia's signature yellow roses lying on the girl's dresser the next day. Soon, it becomes clear that several of Alexis's friends are in danger, and that she's the only person who can save them. But as she tries to intervene, Alexis realizes that her enemy is a much more powerful ghost than she's ever faced before... and that its fate is tied to hers in ways she couldn't possibly imagine.

Not even in her worst nightmares.

by Amy McNamara
I wish this had photgraphed better.  So pretty!
A resonant debut novel about retreating from the world after losing everything—and the connections that force you to rejoin it.

Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s studio in the far-north woods of Maine. Somewhere she can be alone.

Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. When the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her.

by C.K. Kelly Martin
Very cool looking
 THEN: The formation of the UNA, the high threat of eco-terrorism, the mammoth rates of unemployment and subsequent escape into a world of virtual reality are things any student can read about in their 21st century textbooks and part of the normal background noise to Freya Kallas's life. Until that world starts to crumble.

NOW: It's 1985. Freya Kallas has just moved across the world and into a new life. On the outside, she fits in at her new high school, but Freya feels nothing but removed. Her mother blames it on the grief over her father's death, but how does that explain the headaches and why do her memories feel so foggy? When Freya lays eyes on Garren Lowe, she can't get him out of her head. She's sure that she knows him, despite his insistence that they've never met. As Freya follows her instincts and pushes towards hidden truths, the two of them unveil a strange and dangerous world where their days may be numbered. Unsure who to trust, Freya and Garren go on the run from powerful forces determined to tear them apart and keep them from discovering the truth about their shared pasts (and futures), her visions, and the time and place they really came from.

by Kristen Tracy
Really like the look of this cover and the sound of the book.

At sixteen, Molly is a girl who's just started living--at last she's popular. But for a girl who has everything, Molly feels like she never has enough. So she steals. At least there's plenty of time to fix this last little problem. Except Fate has other plans for Molly. Like death. Suddenly dead and in denial, how can Molly move on when life was just looking up? Can she abandon her earthly ties or will she jeopardize her soul to stay close to her loved ones? From critically acclaimed author Kristen Tracy, Death of a Kleptomaniac is the heartfelt story of one girl's search for redemption, a family's encounter with grief, and love's power to rise above even the most final of boundaries.

by Kelly Barnhill
So so pretty in person!
The end of their world begins with a story.
This one.

In most fairy tales, princesses are beautiful, dragons are terrifying, and stories are harmless. This isn't most fairy tales.

Princess Violet is plain, reckless, and quite possibly too clever for her own good. Particularly when it comes to telling stories. One day she and her best friend, Demetrius, stumble upon a hidden room and find a peculiar book. A forbidden book. It tells a story of an evil being -- called the Nybbas -- imprisoned in their world. The story cannot be true -- not really. But then the whispers start. Violet and Demetrius, along with an ancient, scarred dragon, may hold the key to the Nybbas's triumph . . . or its demise. It all depends on how they tell the story. After all, stories make their own rules.

by Jane Higgins
I hadn't seen this one before.  Looks good.
 The City is divided. The bridges gated. In Southside, the hostiles live in squalor and desperation, waiting for a chance to overrun the residents of Cityside. 

Nik is still in high school but is destined for a great career with the Internal Security and Intelligence Services, the brains behind the war. But when ISIS comes recruiting, everyone is shocked when he isn't chosen. There must be an explanation, but no one will talk about it. Then the school is bombed and the hostiles take the bridges. Buildings are burning, kids are dead, and the hostiles have kidnapped Sol. Now ISIS is hunting for Nik. 
But Nik is on the run, with Sol's sister Fyffe and ISIS hot on their trail. They cross the bridge in search of Sol, and Nik finds answers to questions he had never dared to ask. 

So many books.  So little time!

February 19, 2013

Book Review: Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Title: Liar & Spy
Author: Rebecca Stead
Copy Obtained: ARC from Publisher

When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

Ok what did I think of this book? Let me start with some background. I LOVED LOVED LOVED When You Reach Me by the same author.  It was one of the first books I read when I got into blogging and I loved it.  It literally made me gasp and has won a special place in my heart.  So with that I was very excited to read another book my Rebecca Stead.  My expectations were so high, that I think there was no choice but to feel some let down.  It just didn't have the same punch as When You Reach Me.  

I really liked Georges.  He was great - the kind of kid I'd love to have in my class.  Smart.  Kind.  Nice.  Respectful.  All those things.  If it wasn't for him I might not have finished the book, but I wanted to see what happened with him.  Plus I knew things weren't happening with him at home, so I was curious to see what it was.  In the end I was glad I found his whole story.  It made me like him even more.

As for Safer......Um I struggled with him.  I didn't particularally like him, so it was hard for me to trust him or want Georges around him.  I can't pinpoint exactly what it was, but there was something about him that just didn't work for me.  I mean in the end I got him and understood, but it was tough getting there.

As for the ending - Many pieces come together that I hadn't seen coming and that was nice. So many thing because clear, and I understood each character so much better.  It also reminded me to never think I know someone just by what I see of them - that there are tons of other things going on that I many not be aware of.  That is what I'm thinking Rebecca Stead might have had in mind when writing it.  It's something we all need to be reminded of.

Final Thought: Good - my expectations were way too high
Best stick-with-you image: The scrabble tiles
Best for readers who: Can handle slower moving books
Best for ages: 9-12

For the Guys? Yes I think so.  The two main characters are boys, and they might be able to relate to one or the other. 

February 18, 2013

Snapshot Reading: What I'm Reading

This post is inspired by the meme It's Monday. What are You Reading hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  The only real difference is I take a pic of my current read and post it - nothing more! 
Trying to keep it short and simple.  
That's my motto these days! 


First Line: Some days, you just want to let the bad guys win.

February 13, 2013

Book Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Title: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Copy Obtained:  Librarything Early Reviews

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.

I'm surprised at how much I liked this book! It's the first YA realistic fiction book I've read in a long time, and I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it.  But I found myself completely drawn into Allyson's life and wanting to know how she would be.  Many people refer to this as a love story or "travel" book.  I guess you could say that, but honestly I see it as so much more.  Yes it was a day spent with a boy that pushed Allyson, but I don't honestly see the "love story" part as the main focus.  I see the main focus on a girl finally knowing who she is.  You see Allyson has always been the good girl - doing what her parents laid out in front of her.  But then one day (just one day) is the catalyst to change all of that.  For one day she becomes someone else.  It fails she thinks but then is in a tailspin because she doesn't know what to do now. That is really what this book is about  - what do you do when everything you thought was true about yourself isn't really true.  And that story I loved.

I really liked Allyson.  Ok I'll admit when she gets back to college in the fall I didn't really like her. I understood why she was acting that way, but I didn't like her then!  But I also knew that deep down she'd find her path and follow it.  It was amazing to watch her grow and change and strengthen.  I found myself cheering her on! And every success she had made me proud of her (Ok ok so I had to remind myself she wasn't a real person!).  It was so nice to see a realistic girl character learn to navigate her world on her own two feet and be confident in herself.  I think it's something many girls can struggle with.  

Ok about Willem the love interest......I don't have a lot to say about him because for me it was so minor a character.  Yes he's all over the book and in her thoughts all the time.  But I wasn't focused on whether they'd end up together etc.  Did I like him?  I guess.  Did I dislike him? I didn't think enough dislike him.  He was what he was.  I am curious though about the book Just One Year that tells his story because I'm thinking it'll show his growth as well.  

As far as the ending.  I liked it.  It seemed way more realistic that other endings that could've happened.  I was definately satisfied with where Allyson was as a person.  Her journey was incredible, and I'm glad I went along.  

Final Thought: Well done! 
Best stick-with-you image: So many! But many when Allyson started taking control.
Best for readers who: Are in high school
Best for ages: 16+ This one is definitely for older teens

For the Guys? Nope not at all :)

February 11, 2013

Book Review: Away by Teri Hall

Title: Away
Author: Teri Hall
Book Obtained: Bought

After crossing the Line, Rachel finds herself in a world where survival is never guaranteed - a world where bizarre creatures roam the woods and people have strange abilities. Everything has gone to ruin Away and the survivors have banded into warring clans. Rachel finds her father being held prisoner by a tribe of Others, and she and her new friends set out to rescue him. But when they cross back over the Line, Rachel and Pathik make a foolish decision, bringing them into further danger that can only be resolved with an unthinkable sacrifice.

I had read The Line awhile ago, so it took me a bit to get around to reading Away.  Away picks up pretty much right where The Line left off.  The first issue Lina has to deal with is how some of the Others think of her and how she thinks of them.  Remember these are people she has been taught to fear!  With the help of some of the Others she learns to not fear them, but at times there is still tension between her and the Others.  

What I liked most in this book was the description of what life was like for the Others.  In The Line you get a really clear picture of what life was like on Rachel's side of the line.  Now in this book you get to see the other side.  And I liked that.  I'm always fascinated by the "what if" worlds.  What if this happened - what would life be like.  It was interesting to see the piles of what was once technology just tossed off because they don't matter anymore.  That made me look at my smartphone and really wonder what my life would be like without it! Shallow I know, but it did give me pause! I do wish there had been more about how the world on this side of the line fell apart.  What was the process etc.

I also liked the development of Rachel.  I found her very sheltered in The Line.  It was great to see her gain strength and confidence in herself.  Thankfully this happened because if she had turned into a weak, whiny girl I could not have continued reading! Instead she really showed her strength especially when she helped with her father.  Her courage really came out there.

The last thing I liked was how the "powers" of the Others were explained. This was a minor part of the first book, so it was interesting to learn more.

The only thing I didn't like was the length.  I wish the book had been longer!  It's a short read, and I do think some things could've been explored more or the story could've been extended.  It feels like a long time until I'll get to hear more!

Final Thought: Good but short
Best stick-with-you image: The piles of discarded technology
Best for readers who: Read The Line and like dystopia
Best for ages: 12+

For the Guys? I think so.  Yes the main character is a girl, but there are many many guy characters like Pathik that make is good for guys too.

February 8, 2013

Cover Crush: Pulse by Patrick Carman

I love book covers. Love love love them! I've been known to drag my sister around Barnes and Noble and show her all the covers I like. I'll hunt down certain students in the morning because I know they'll love a cover as much as me. I really think I develop a crush on certain covers!

Today I'm crushing on:

I love the coloring of this cover.  And of course the floating tree gives me pause, but what does more is that the tree still has it roots.  What does that mean??  Also look - all the houses are perfectly the same.  Why???? It just makes it look like a freaky "get me out of here" setting. 
And lastly - the tag line at the top. "Everyone has a heartbeat. Few have a pulse." Wow!
Need to read :)

February 6, 2013

These Look Good!

I've been looking around to see what books are out there that I haven't seen or heard of yet.  These are some that I've found that look good!

House of Secrets
 by Ned Vizzini

The Walker kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games . . . but everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by Denver Kristoff, a troubled writer with a penchant for the occult.

Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff’s dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Walker family’s secret history and save their parents . . . and maybe even the world.

The Haven
by Carol Lynch Williams

For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories. 

But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they’ve been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?

Period 8
by Chris Crutcher

In this full-length novel from Chris Crutcher, his first since the best-selling Deadline, the ultimate bully and the ultimate good guy tangle during Period 8.

Paul "the Bomb" Baum tells the truth. No matter what. It was something he learned at Sunday School. But telling the truth can cause problems, and not minor ones. And as Paulie discovers, finding the truth can be even more problematic. Period 8 is supposed to be that one period in high school where the truth can shine, a safe haven. Only what Paulie and Hannah (his ex-girlfriend, unfortunately) and his other classmates don't know is that the ultimate bully, the ultimate liar, is in their midst. 

The Winter of Robots
by Kurtis Scaletta

Jim is tired of being the sidekick to his scientific genius, robot-obsessed, best friend Oliver. So this winter, when it comes time to choose partners for the science fair, Jim dumps Oliver and teams up with a girl instead. Rocky has spotted wild otters down by the river, and her idea is to study them. 

But what they discover is bigger—and much more menacing—than fuzzy otters: a hidden junkyard on abandoned Half Street. And as desolate as it may seem, there's something living in the junkyard. Something that won't be contained for long by the rusty fences and mounds of snow. Can Jim and Rocky—along with Oliver and his new science-fair partner—put aside their rivalry and unite their robot-building skills? Whatever is lurking on Half Street is about to meet its match. 

17 & Gone
by Nova Ren Suma

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And . . . is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

What have you seen lately that looks good???