Monday, May 16

New Look, New Name - Come Check Out the New Site!

Along with getting a new blog design, I decided to change the name and location of this book blog. Please come visit me at Heise Reads & Recommendsto see the new look and follow me there. After this, no more updates will be coming on this site. Thank you for making my first months of blogging so much fun!

Monday, May 9

A Change Will Do You Good

Changes are good and are happening right now, so I have made the decision to streamline some things with my blog and professional social networking. Thus, the blog will be getting a redesign sometime this summer (can't wait!) and a new name and address (and slightly different look) right now.

Announcing..... Heise Reads & Recommends which can be found at http://heisereads.blogspot.com

All of the old posts are there, and that is now where I will be posting any new items from this date on. Thanks for coming along on this YA book blogging journey with me - I hope you'll continue on (don't forget to bookmark or follow on the new page)!

Wednesday, May 4

Book Trailer: FOREVER by Maggie Stiefvater

One of the books I'm most excited to read this summer is the concluding book in Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy which began with SHIVER, then LINGER, and finally FOREVER. This is a fabulously lyrically written romantic series with a unique werewolf mythology, characters you want to be around, amazingly beautiful cover designs, and Maggie is always entertaining on her blog (http://m-stiefvater.livejournal.com).

Here is the book trailer for the book to start building your excitement. I highly recommend that you read SHIVER and LINGER soon so that you can be caught up in time for FOREVER on July 12th!

You can preorder a signed copy of FOREVER here: http://www.fountainbookstore.com/autograph-maggie

Friday, April 22

Spring Blogging Break

For the next week I'll be relaxing on a beach for spring break, which also means I'll be taking a break from posting on the blog since I won't be able to access internet. Of course, it wouldn't be a very fun time on the beach if I didn't take good books along with me to read,  especially as the beach is one of my favorite places to read - the sun, the surf, the relaxation - perfect for book reading (or maybe that's just me)!

So, after much deliberation and bargaining between desperate to read and good for beach reads books (I needed to step away from dystopian for this trip), these are the books (paperback only-I need to conserve packing weight/space) that made the cut for the trip while trying to save space but also having enough to read for the hours on the plane and the days on the beach:

WOLFSBANE by Andrea Cremer ARC
THE LIAR SOCIETY by Lisa & Laura Roecker (2011 DAC)
THE LATTE REBELLION by Sarah Jamila Stevenson (2011 DAC)
A KISS IN TIME by Alex Flinn
CALEB + KATE by Cindy Martinsuen-Coloma
A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL by Kristin Walker
CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS (The Mortal Instruments Book 4) by Cassandra Clare (OK, broke my no hardcovers rule, but honestly, did you expect me to wait any longer to read it?)

Of course, that also means you'll be getting a bunch of blog posts with my thoughts on these books (and some others I'm behind on posting about) when I get back. Happy reading & relaxing! See you in May!

Sunday, April 17

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (20)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting idea run by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've gotten that week to help publicize as many titles as possible. IMM is a semi-regular feature here on Teach 8 YA Book Blog to let my students know the books to be looking for on the classroom shelves and for blog readers to know what book reviews to anticipate along with building excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

This week is the OMG-I'm-so-excited-I-literally-screamed-and-did-a-happy-dance-when-this-ARC-showed-up-in-my-mail-and-I-can't-believe-I-have-to-have-the-will-to-wait-until-I'm-done-grading-essays-before-I-read-it IMM edition...all because I got an ARC of:

Original & ARC Cover


WOLFSBANE (sequel to NIGHTSHADE) by Andrea Cremer
Thank you, thank you, thank you Philomel/Penguin Teen & Andrea!!!

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about this book - especially since I really don't like the new cover design they've changed to, so I now have a copy with the original cover (I mean, really, the cover on the first book is what made me pick it up in the first place and led to it becoming my new book obsession). 
Newly Designed Cover

WOLFSBANE comes out July 26th, and if you haven't yet read NIGHTSHADE, you must go immediately and get yourself a copy to read!

Saturday, April 16

Interview with Chris Rylander author of THE FOURTH STALL

I was lucky to be offered a copy of THE FOURTH STALL by Chris Rylander from the publisher as one of my Debut Author Challenge 2011 books I wanted to read. Even better, I was asked to be part of Chris' blog tour for the book. I love it because first of all, the book was great; second, Chris is a hilarious, fresh new voice in middle grade books; and third, it's a book that gets boys hooked and I was able to get my students involved by having them ask the questions. If you're looking for a funny, boy book with heart - go get THE FOURTH STALL. You can read my review post here.


Now for my students' questions and Chris' answers:
- What inspired you to write this book? What made you think about the idea of this book?
Well, I wish I had a cool story of some sort to answer this question, like that it came from a dream, or that it really happened to me in middle school, or that this talking tree in a park near my house told me to write it or that an alien and Mickey Mouse visited me one night and implanted the idea into my brain against my will.  But, in fact, it was nothing quite so interesting.  Basically it was just me sitting there, thinking, “Hmm, what would make a really cool middle grade story?  What adult genre could I put a kid-friendly spin on that I haven’t seen done before?”  Of course it has been done before, but I didn’t know that at the time.

- Where did you get the idea for Mac's office to be in a bathroom?
Really, it just seemed like the most logical place for his to office to be located.  I mean, it’s the one place in a school where the teachers almost never go.

- Why did you choose to put the story in a middle school instead of a high school?
I just thought that doing a kid-friendly take on organized crime would lend itself better to middle grade.  For YA, I think it would need to be even grittier and therefore would end up being a lot more of an imitation that its own thing.  That’s not to say that it can’t be done well for YA. I also felt like middle grade would offer me the chance to be a little wackier and that it might serve my humor better.

- Why did you pick Illinois as the setting for your story?
I never did actually ever pick an exact setting.  I like to keep that vague for some reason.  However, I do know that I wanted it to be somewhere in the Midwest because that’s where I was raised and went to school and so it’s what I’m familiar with.  Also, I felt like it should probably be near Chicago to help explain why there are so many Cubs fans in the book.

- What did Staples do to become bad?
He didn’t really do anything to specific to become bad.  Sometimes the situations people grow up in can lead them to do bad things.  And also some people are just born with a bigger mean streak than others.  But I don’t really see him as a totally bad guy… he’s not very nice, and he does some bad things, sure, but he’s not totally evil.

- Where did you get the ideas for all of the characteristics of the nine bullies?
I’m not even sure!  Sometimes things just come to me and I don’t really ask why or how, but instead just start writing!

- How did you think of all the funny stuff that went into making the book?
That’s similar to my previous answer.  As for being funny, that’s something that’s hard to try to do and be successful.  I mean, I think humor comes naturally.   If you’re trying hard to be funny, then chances are you’re probably not being funny.  I usually just write stuff that makes me laugh, and then I can only hope it will make other people laugh as well.

- What was your favorite part in this book?
My favorite part is probably Mac and Staples first meeting in Mac’s kitchen, or the introduction of all of the bullies.  But it’s so hard to pick favorite parts!

- Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
This is the same… it’s so hard to pick favorites.  I really like the bullies because they’re so weird.  Great White because he’s British and Kitten just because he’s such a psycho.  I think it’s funny for such a little and well-mannered kid to be a complete whacko.  I also really like Mac and Vince of course, because they’re the most like me, and I even Staples because the “bad guys” are really fun to write.

- Can you tell us anything about the sequel?
Well, I can say that it involves a mysterious girl.  And a whole bunch of other mysteries.  And also it directly involves the school itself, a lot of strange things are happening at Mac’s school.  You’ll have to read it to find out more, I don’t want to spoil anything!

- How many times did you have to revise your book (gee, can you tell we talk about this a lot in class)?
A lot.  Probably five or six times.  But I didn’t mind doing it because I knew that with revision the book was only getting better and better.


THANK YOU SO MUCH CHRIS!!! I know my students were excited to get to "talk" to you!


Check out Chris' other Blog Tour Stops to read more of his perspectives on writing and THE FOURTH STALL and watch our for his sequel coming soon!

The Fourth Stall Blog Tour: Second Week Stops:
Monday 4/11 – Review and Giveaway at A Reader’s Ramblings
Monday 4/11 – Review and Giveaway at Kid Lit Frenzy
Tuesday 4/12 – Guest post at Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading
Tuesday 4/12 – Giveaway at Alison’s Bookmarks
Wednesday 4/13 – Interview at Alison’s Bookmarks
Thursday, 4/14 – Interview and Review at Eve’s Fan Garden
Friday 4/15 – Review and Contest at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Friday 4/15 – Interview at A Reader’s Ramblings
Saturday 4/16 – Interview at Teach 8 YA book Blog
Saturday 4/16 – Review and Giveaway at Tracey Edward Wymer’s Blog
Sunday 4/17 – Interview at Kid Lit Frenzy
Monday 4/18 – Review and Giveaway at Read Now Sleep Later


The Fourth Stall Blog Tour - First Week Stops:
Monday 4/4 – Interview at Cynsations
Tuesday 4/5 – Guest post at My Friend Amy
Wednesday 4/6 – Review at There’s a Book
Thursday 4/7 – Review/Giveaway at 5 Minutes for Books
Thursday 4/7 – Interview at Anita Laydon Miller’s Middle Grade Blog
Friday 4/8 – Fourth Stall editor Jordan Brown interviews author Chris Rylander at Alice Pope’s SCBWI Children’s Market Blog
Saturday 4/9 – Review at Bri Meets Books
Sunday 4/10 – Guest Post at 5 Minutes for Books
Sunday 4/10 – Review at Alison’s Bookmarks

Thursday, April 14

YALSA Teens Top Ten Nominations

Today, in honor of Support Teen Literature Day, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) announced the Teen's Top Ten Nominations. Teens will vote August through September, and then during Teen Read Week in October, the final list of the 10 most popular books voted on by teens will be announced.  I've always thought this was a great list to share with my students, and to see how many I've read/listed as my favorites also. I've only read 8 of the 25 nominated books - I'd better get going!

2011 TTT Nominations

Drought by Pam Bachorz
I am J by Cris Beam
You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin
Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Love, Inc. by Yvonne Collins
Matched by Ally Condie
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Lies by Michael Grant
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal
Angel by James Patterson
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Tuesday, April 12

WILL WORK FOR PROM DRESS by Aimee Ferris

Title: WILL WORK FOR PROM DRESS
Author: Aimee Ferris
Publisher: Egmont USA
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Number of Pages: 240
Source of Book: Book Divas review
Author's Website: aimee-ferris.livejournal.com

Goodreads Summary:
Quigley Johnson has, reluctantly, given up the rest of her last year of high school to take part in her best friend Ann's Betterment Plan, which will turn them into the best-dressed, most sought-after, most admired girls at their senior formal. Because - hey - who doesn't want the perfect prom, complete with a dream dress and a devastatingly handsome date?

But the prom costs money - lots of money - and even though the girls could easily have Ann's mom design their dresses (she's only Victoria Parisi, one of the most famous designers in the world), Ann insists that they pay their own way.  And that's how Quigley gets stuck making artistic topping masterpieces on frozen pizzas canvases, before becoming a live model for Ms. Parisi's fashion design class, where she meets Zander.

He's cute, and cool, and funny, with a killer design sensibility (even if he can't sketch).  But is he too good to be true? And what about David, the hot, talented artist at school, who's also kind of a jerk, but won't leave Quigley alone? And Ann - she started the Betterment Plan to improve Quigley and herself, but it seems like it's ripping their friendship to shreds.

This road to the prom dream may just end in disaster.

*************************
WILL WORK FOR PROM DRESS was a really cute, fun read. It ended up having more heart than I expected, but it did take a little while to get to it. This book has elements of celebrity and fame; friendship and honesty; figuring out what's important in life; choosing which direction to go with life's path; learning to like oneself as is and learning to like others for who they really are. Ferris did a great job of adding humor and comedic misunderstandings into this story and creating ridiculous working situations for these two girls as they try to find jobs to earn money for their prom dresses. They're working on bettering themselves to find dates to prom, and numerous antics happen along the way that take them a direction they didn't expect with boyfriends and family and school.

I really appreciated the message that comes at the end of the book when Quigley makes decisions about her life that relate to her realizing what home and family really means. It was a light, cute book with some good messages; however, it was a little bit predictable and I felt it lacked some character depth in places. One thing I noticed also was the "YA pet peeve" of the missing parents - Quigley's parents are mentioned, but never appear in the book; however, Ann's mother is well represented and serves as a mother-figure in many senses. The romantic subplot is enjoyable as well especially because Zander is a really good and sweet guy and nothing goes too far, something which can sometimes be missing in books like this. Also, it is a very honest relationship beginning/progression as it's not lust at first sight. It's a very real growing of feelings based on how he treats her, while she is confused and doesn't know where she stands with him. Their relationship also endures a major conflict that is resolved in a good way. Overall, I enjoyed the book for the plot, humor, unique take on celebrity, realness of the relationships, and the relationship between Quigley and Zander, and I think many teen girls will as well.

3.5 STARS for WILL WORK FOR PROM DRESS

Monday, April 11

WHERE I BELONG by Gwendolyn Heasley

Title: WHERE I BELONG
Author: Gwendolyn Heasley
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Number of Pages: 289
Source of Book: Bought the paperback
Author's Website: www.gwendolynheasley.com

Goodreads Summary:
Meet Corinne. She's living every girl's dream in New York City—shopping sprees at Barneys, open access to the best clubs and parties, and her own horse at the country club. Her perfect life is perfectly on track. At least it was. . . .

When Corinne's father is laid off, her world suddenly falls apart. Instead of heading to boarding school, she's stripped of her credit cards and shipped off to the boonies of Texas to live with her grandparents. On her own in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the life she's supposed to be living. She doesn't care who she stomps on in the process. But when Corrinne makes an unlikely friend and discovers a total hottie at work, she begins to wonder if her life B.R.—before the recession—was as perfect as it seemed.

*************************
So...I didn't love it, but I liked it (and a few of my students have already read it and really liked it).This is a really light-hearted book that's not too deep and a little predictable, but it's entertaining. It's a familiar storyline - city girl out of her element in the country learns to like the people and not be so shallow and becomes more likable in the end. I think my biggest struggle was that I really didn't like Corinne throughout much of the book - and I find it tough to get through a book where I don't like the main character, even if I know that they're going to come around in the end (although, Corinne's letter to the reader at the start of the book warns that you're not going to like her very much - cute idea!). And I did really like where Corinne ended up at the end of the book. I do think this book has the potential to become dated pretty quickly because there are a lot of brand names and pop culture references thrown in throughout the book and they're very current right now. I also thought it wrapped up pretty fast - I was finally liking Corinne and where she was headed, so I wanted a little more of the story with her at that point.

It was a fun book with the Texas themed stuff and the small town setting. One of the best parts of the book was the secondary characters - I loved the little brother, new best friend, the jock boy who we're not sure about in the beginning, etc. I thought they were the most entertaining part. It's a little stereotypical, but it's exactly what you might be looking for in this kind of book - and it delivers for that expectation. There were two main themes for this book that hit home with me: "The company you keep is the most important part of life." and love is "the ability to go away and to come back again as if nothing has changed even though everything has changed." Those two ideals are something Corinne has to learn and the reader enjoys her journey getting there.

3 STARS for WHERE I BELONG
Book 8 of 12 for DAC 2011

Saturday, April 9

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (19)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting idea run by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've gotten that week to help publicize as many titles as possible. IMM is a semi-regular feature here on Teach 8 YA Book Blog to let my students know the books to be looking for on the classroom shelves and for blog readers to know what book reviews to anticipate along with building excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

Won


WHERE SHE WENT by Gayle Forman
I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this sequel to IF I STAY (one of my all time favorite YA books) from ifistaynovels.com. Thanks!







Bought

CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS by Cassandra Clare
The newest in The Mortal Instruments series that started with CITY OF BONES, CITY OF ASHES, and CITY OF GLASS. I'm very excited that this trilogy is going to be made into a six book series so we get to live in the world of the Shadowhunters for even longer. Plus, there is a movie in the works for the first book. Lots of excitement!




BRAIN JACK by Brian Falkner
Last week it was on my library checkout list, but it was such a good techno-thriller dystopian (and perfect for my students), that I had to buy my own copy to have available in my classroom. You can read my review here.

Thursday, April 7

THE ANTI-PROM by Abby McDonald

Title: THE ANTI-PROM
Author: Abby McDonald
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: March 8, 2011
Number of Pages: 288
Source of Book: ARC from Star Book Tours
Author's Website: abbymcdonald.com

Goodreads Summary:
Three unlikely allies team up for a night of rebellion, romance, and revenge in a high-stakes dramedy from acclaimed young author Abby McDonald.

They’ve spent years at the same high school without speaking a word to one another, but that’s all about to change. Popular Bliss was having the perfect prom until she found her BFF and boyfriend making out in the back of a limo. Bad girl Jolene wouldn’t be caught dead at the prom, yet here she is, trussed up in pink ruffles, risking her reputation for some guy - some guy who is forty minutes late. And shy, studious, ├╝ber-planner Meg never counted on her date’s standing her up and leaving her idling in the parking lot outside the prom. Get ready for The Anti-Prom, Abby McDonald’s hilarious, heart-tugging tale about three girls and one unforgettable prom night.

*************************
I ended up really enjoying this book, although I wasn't sure if I would when I first started reading it. It ended up being much more meaningful and deeper than I expected from the beginning, so I was happily surprised by the time I got to the end.

This story is told from three different perspectives - that of Bliss, Jolene, and Meg in alternating chapters - throughout prom night. The opening scene of the book starts off with Bliss catching her boyfriend cheating on her with her best friend - at prom. This leads to the unlikely alliance between the three girls who would never have spoken to each other if not for the circumstances that led to them meeting up that night. This turns out to be one of the best things for them. I didn't care for Bliss very much at the beginning because she was a stereotypical, shallow, mean girl type character - and I never relate to them very well, but she came around in the end, but it took awhile.

I so enjoyed the journey of this story. It was written in a classic - tale of one night - type of plot where one thing after another happens throughout just that one night that brings the characters closer together, to a deeper understanding of their goals, and shows them the type of people they want to be. It's one night that leads to self-discovery and inner changes that changes the direction of their lives. It's about getting out of bad situations, needing to accept oneself first before being able to open up to others, and not judging people. These three girls go on an adventure that shows them that opening up to others does not make them weak, but instead can create better relationships.

It's a great story about friendship and not bowing to the stereotype of high school groups and being open to understanding the experiences that others may be going through. This book does it in such a fun way with an endlessly turning plot and all-night adventure to get what each girl wants. It's about finding one's own way and deciding what kind of person you want to be and how you want to be seen by others. And that is a great message to send to teen girls. I'll definitely be putting this one into my classroom and am sure the girls are going to love it.

4 STARS for THE ANTI-PROM

Tuesday, April 5

RIVAL by Sara Bennett Wealer

Title: RIVAL
Author: Sara Bennett Wealer
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Number of Pages: 336
Source of Book: Won from The Contemps Challenge
Author's Website: www.sarabennettwealer.com

Goodreads Summary:
What if your worst enemy turned out to be the best friend you ever had?

Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she’s the “It” girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota. Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star.

Now meet Kathryn: An overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she’s been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship.

The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition. Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabotage her with one last public humiliation.

As pressures mount, Brooke starts to sense that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?

*************************
All right Gleeks - this is your book (and you've got two more weeks until a new Glee episode - just enough time to read RIVAL!) Before I start raving too much about the book, I just have to share that I read this book on a plane flight, and I am now typing my review based from my notes on airplane beverage napkins as I didn't have any paper with me (what was I thinking?!)

I ADORE this book about the roots of friendship, and popularity, and the fleetingness of acceptance in the high school social hierarchy. It's about figuring out what one really wants, what's really important, and who really matters. Both of the main characters have voices that were so true and honest. It was refreshing that they were both well-rounded and the focus wasn't on boys (although boys do, of course, play a secondary role to the main point of the story-this is YA after all!), but it was refreshing that wasn't the main focus - it was about this friendship, why it started, why it failed, and if it could be saved. It was about girls and the pressures they feel about friendships and rivalries, even if they don't want them that way. It was one of the most interesting contemporary books that I have read recently and the vocal music piece added another level of sophistication to it and heightened the drama.

I love that we get to hear the story from both Brooke and Kathryn's points-of-view in alternating chapters, and that it alternates sections from senior year and junior year (when it all went down). It was a very effective way to tell this story (instead of strictly chronologically) to leave the reader in a bit of suspense as to why these two girls are such staunch rival - and then to find out that they were friends at one point. Tension built throughout the story as we get clues and eventually get the full story of what happened and what turned these two girls into friends and rivals. The big competition looming at the end adds the perfect prize at the end. Wealer writes in a straight-forward and engaging style as we see into the minds of both girls and how they perceive the same situations so differently. One of my favorite lines from this book highlights the writing style and voice and gets to one of the themes in this book about rivalry, "But I don't shatter; I'm not made of glass. Anyway, the parts that break aren't on the outside."

Ultimately, this book shows that sometimes you really don't know someone else, nor can you see yourself clearly as others do. It's a fascinating look into perceptions and intentions and misperceptions and true desires. This is a fantastic new addition to the contemporary genre - and a great YA book! I highly recommend getting this one - it will be a quick read because you won't want to stop until you find out who wins the big competition at the end.

4.5 STARS for RIVAL

Monday, April 4

Book Birthday - THE EMERALD ATLAS by John Stephens

Happy book birthday (April 5th) to THE EMERALD ATLAS!  
This is a fabulous new middle grades fantasy series, THE BOOKS OF BEGINNING, for those who love an epic series with great characters, magical elements, and entertaining writing (this is one for both boys and girls) with a touch of sibling relationships thrown in. In case you missed my 4 star review, you can read it here. And go celebrate this great book's birthday tomorrow by getting a copy for yourself or a young reader you know.

Sunday, April 3

Have You Heard? YA Bloggers Book Battle

Have you heard about the YA Bloggers Book Battle 2011 - Best Overlooked Book yet? I just discovered it today, and it sounds like so much fun! I always hear about the School Library Journal's Battle of the Children's Books, but it's never anything I'd be able to be involved with myself. It's an NCAA-style bracket for books - what could be better? Well...now there's a chance to be involved, and to give some input into the books selected for the brackets.

The YA Bloggers Book Battle is hosted by Alyssa at theshadyglade.blogspot.com and there's still time to nominate books for the Best Overlooked Book of the last ten years and have book bloggers (including me!) judge the brackets for the battle. This will be going through July as books are narrowed down to the final rounds. Get into the excitement now - go nominate a book or volunteer to be a judge - and keep checking back for updates on her site as the Battle continues.

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (18)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting idea run by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've gotten that week to help publicize as many titles as possible. IMM is a semi-regular feature here on Teach 8 YA Book Blog to let my students know the books to be looking for on the classroom shelves and for blog readers to know what book reviews to anticipate along with building excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

Blog Tour (Star Book Tours)


 THE ANTI-PROM by Abby McDonald
Sounds like a good girl-power book and timely









Bought (Couldn't resist one last trip to Borders or using a B&N gift card! And added a couple more to my dystopian list)


ENTWINED by Heather Dixon
Sounds like an interesting mythology-ish tale and has a gorgeous cover!



BABE IN BOYLAND by Jody Gehrman
Just sounds really cute





REAL LIVE BOYFRIENDS by e. lockhart
Needed to complete the Ruby Oliver series (although I miss the original covers!)



PATHFINDER by Orson Scott Card
Sounds like a good fantasy and boy book




STUCK IN NEUTRAL by Terry Trueman
Familiar title and a Printz Honor Book - short and sounds intense



TRASH by Andy Mulligan
Dystopian I've heard great things about




ROT & RUIN by Jonathan Mayberry
Zombie dystopian and total boy book




DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver
Had to get another copy because too many girls want to read it and I didn't have enough to go around - not a bad problem to have!

Saturday, April 2

BRAIN JACK by Brian Falkner

Title: BRAIN JACK
Author: Brian Falkner
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Number of Pages: 349
Source of Book: Library Check Out
Author's Website: www.brianfalkner.com

Goodreads Summary:
In a dystopian near-future, neuro-headsets have replaced computer keyboards. Just slip on a headset, and it's the Internet at the speed of thought. For teen hacker Sam Wilson, a headset is a must. But as he masters the new technology, he has a terrifying realization. If anything on his computer is vulnerable to an attack, what happens when his mind is linked to the system? Could consciousness itself be hacked?

Brian Falkner, author of The Tomorrow Code and The Project, delivers an action-packed and thought-provoking sci-fi thriller in which logging on to a computer could mean the difference between life and death.

*************************
BRAIN JACK is a great boy book, especially for those into computers, code, or the hacking world.  I've always been intrigued by those who have the technological skill to be hackers and this book showcases them in an exciting way. This book is an exciting, don't-want-to-stop-reading, dystopian, techno-thriller full of action. The interesting thing the author did is created the action through much of the hacking moments by writing the coding actions as if they were a battle themselves, thus making it more exciting. This world Falkner created where neuro-headsets are used to make your computer usage faster by skipping the brain to hand keyboard and mouse step, is a scary vision of where technology could go. It's definitely a commentary on how far we should allow technology to go - and is there a time where the technology could get smarter than the people using it? This book has a future world where online gaming is now an addiction as we see drug use in today's society - people can't unplug and it ruins their lives. There are terrorist attacks all the time (in fact Vegas is now a radioactive wasteland) and there are secret and not-so-secret government groups protecting the people and looking for the terrorists - by trying to find the computers from which they are hacking in. It's a book that makes you question who is good and how do you know?

I never knew what was coming next and each time a plot point felt wrapped up and I couldn't imagine where he would take it next, a twist would be thrown in that I was never expecting. It kept is exciting and made me not want to put it down and stop reading. There wasn't too much character development compared to stories that I'm used to, but as far as thrillers go, I think it was fairly typical - this book is more about the action and excitement and suspense. However, I did love Sam and Dodge was great comic relief. This book is one to read, but with the caution that there are some very technical terms, so if you're not familiar with coding/computer technology, it may take a little getting used to, but it's worth the effort.

4 STARS for BRAIN JACK

Sunday, March 27

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (17)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting idea run by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've gotten that week to help publicize as many titles as possible. IMM is a semi-regular feature here on Teach 8 YA Book Blog to let my students know the books to be looking for on the classroom shelves and for blog readers to know what book reviews to anticipate along with building excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

 For Review (reviewing for Book Divas)



THE IRON DAUGHTER by  Julie Kagawa
Book 2 in the Iron Fey series. I really need to get going on reading this series - I've heard fabulous things about it!





WILL WORK FOR PROM DRESS by Aimee Ferris
Sounds like a super-cute read, and we're getting close to that time of year.






Received



WAR AND WATERMELON by Rich Wallace
Sounds like an interesting middle grades historical during Woodstock that should grab boys' attention. Thanks, Penguin Young Readers!




CHIME by Franny Billingsley
Thanks Dial / Penguin Books!

Saturday, March 26

Dystopian Book Club

It's the end of the quarter, and the grading has been piling up, meaning I haven't had much time to read books and write reviews lately.  So...I was feeling bad about the lack of content, and was working on planning for next quarter, so I thought I'd share what I'm doing book-wise.  Starting on Monday, I'll be doing a book club class (I have a period of the day to do curriculum extension work), and since I can't get my hands on enough multiple copies of single titles, I decided to focus on a specific genre that students could all read a book from, they would be interested in, and would prompt rich discussions.

So, I thought I'd share my working list of titles I'll be introducing to the class to choose from for our Dystopian Book Club. (no pictures because that would take up too much room, but all titles link to goodreads and are in random order as I could think of them)

THE HUNGER GAMES / CATCHING FIRE / MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins
THE GIVER by Lois Lowry
CANDOR by Pam Bachorz
DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver
DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
THE MAZE RUNNER / THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner
UGLIES / PRETTIES / SPECIALS / EXTRAS by Scott Westerfeld
MATCHED by Ally Condie
THE GARDENER by S.A. Bodeen
SKINNED by Robin Wasserman
INSIDE OUT by Maria V. Snyder
SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi
THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness
THE FOREST OF THE HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan
LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow
RASH by Pete Hautman
FEED by M.T. Anderson
INCARCERON / SAPPHIQUE by Catherine Fisher
THE UNIDENTIFIED by Rae Mariz
BLACK HOLE SUN by David Macginnis Gill
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis
THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson
EMPTY by Suzanne Weyn
BIRTHMARKED by Caragh M. O'Brien
EPIC by Conor Kostick
THE LINE by Teri Hall
GONE by  Michael Grant
CITY OF EMBER by Jeanne DuPrau
AMONG THE HIDDEN by Margaret Peterson Haddix
ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card
THE DECLARATION by Gemma Malley
MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert
UNWIND by Neal Shusterman
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND by Allegra Goodman
THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE by Rodman Philbrick
THE BAR CODE TATTOO by Suzanne Weyn
GIRL IN THE ARENA by Lise Haines
NOMANSLAND by Lesley Hauge
BRAIN JACK by Brian Faulkner
NAUGHTS & CROSSES by Malorie Blackman
THE ROAR by Emma Clayton
SURVIVING ANTARCTICA: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White
TRASH by Andy Mulligan
ROT & RUIN by Jonathan Maberry

Maybe this will give you some ideas for titles to read if you love dystopian books also. If you can think of any other dystopian genre books that would be good for 8th graders, I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Sunday, March 20

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (16)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting idea run by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've gotten that week to help publicize as many titles as possible. IMM is a semi-regular feature here on Teach 8 YA Book Blog to let my students know the books to be looking for on the classroom shelves and for blog readers to know what book reviews to anticipate along with building excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

I bought a bunch of books I'd been hearing good things about with discounts or gift certificates I had this week. Yay!



THE LIAR SOCIETY by Lisa & Laura Roecker
This one sounds like so much fun with a "sasstastic" main character! Can't wait to read it!



HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER by Lish McBride
This is one that I've heard a lot of good things about.




WHERE I BELONG by Gwendolyn Heasley
One of my want-to-reads for Debut Author Challenge 2011



WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE by Caridad Ferrer
Have lots of dancer students, so they'll probably like this one.





POP by Gordon Korman
Love his books for boys.









CRESCENDO (sequel to Hush, Hush) by Becca Fitzpatrick
Had several students looking for this one after reading the first.

Thursday, March 17

BORN AT MIDNIGHT by C.C. Hunter

Title: BORN AT MIDNIGHT (A Shadow Falls Novel)
Author: C.C. Hunter
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Number of Pages: 416
Source of Book: ARC from Publisher for review
Author's Website: www.cchunterbooks.com

Goodreads Summary:
Don’t miss this spectacular new series that will steal your heart and haunt your dreams,  Welcome to Shadow Falls camp, nestled deep in the woods of a town called Fallen…

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever.  Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.”  Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either.  Or does she?  They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason.  As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas.  Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past.  Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

*************************
BORN AT MIDNIGHT is a fun, light read - even though it's a paranormal story. I really enjoyed the story as Kylie goes to camp and it turns out it's a place for paranormal teens of all types (werewolves, vampires, shape-shifters, faeries, and witches) to get together and learn about each other so they can get along and stop all of the infighting. Kylie is a sassy character with vulnerability and a great voice. This was one of those addicting books that I stayed up way too late reading to find out what would happen next. I so enjoyed spending time with Kylie at Shadow Falls.

Don't get me wrong, there is definitely some seriousness to this book too. Sixteen-year-old Kylie is dealing with her parents divorce, friends who are growing apart as they make differing choices, an ex boyfriend who isn't quite out of her mind because of how badly things ended, feeling displaced and lonely and unwanted and left out; however, she really does grow to start deciding things for herself. Kylie becomes stronger throughout this book. She comes into her own as she starts to fight for what she wants and what makes her happy. She starts to discover more of who she is, and if she has special abilities herself, and learns who the people are that she can count on who she would fight to keep in her life. The thing I loved the most about Kylie is the good example that she is when it comes to romantic relationships and not doing anything more than one is comfortable with - it's a great message for young girls. There is also a really great, but subtle, message about getting along with others and not having preconceived notions or prejudices about those who are different. Of course, it's all done in a really approachable, non-preachy way which I think will come across well. All of the secondary characters were intriguing as well, which made it easier to get the message because I really liked all of them and wanted them all to get along too.

At times, I did feel it was a little too predictable in the love triangle. I didn't totally feel the reason for the attraction to one of the guys, but I could appreciate where their storyline went. The other thing that threw me off a little bit was the places the author chose to end the chapters  - sometimes I felt as if it was right in the middle of a scene, so it wasn't a good ending point to put in my bookmark because I had to know what would happen next.

Overall, this book was quite interactive. I had laugh out loud moments when reading this book. I tried to figure out the mystery of what was going wrong. I felt for Kylie when she was drifting apart from a friend. I smiled when she realized that she had new friends. I melted when the boy was being so sweet to her. I cheered her on when she stood up to others and fought for what she believed in. This book is about friendship and finding oneself and learning to get along and moving on and standing up for oneself and making one's own path. I'm looking forward to seeing where Kylie's path takes her next in the Shadow Falls series.

4 STARS for BORN AT MIDNIGHT
Book #2 in the Shadow Falls series, AWAKE AT DAWN, will be released in October. I'm definitely going to be reading it to see what happens in Kylie's world next!


Book 7 of 12 for DAC 2011

Sunday, March 13

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

Title: DIVERGENT
Author: Veronica Roth (she's only 22!)
Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Number of Pages: 487
Source of Book: Won an ARC from the author's blog contest
Author's Website: veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com

Author's Book Summary:
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris, and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together, they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes-fascinating, sometimes-exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret: one she’s kept hidden from everyone, because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly-perfect society, she also learns that her secret might be what helps her save those she loves . . . or it might be what destroys her.
*************************
A weird thing happened to me when I started reading DIVERGENT. I kept turning pages although I couldn't figure out why. I'm not sure if I went into this with a little bit of a skewed perception. I have already been hearing so much hype for this debut book, and I had just finished another dystopian that was haunting in an entirely different way. But, I just couldn't put this book down. I couldn't quite figure out what it was that was making me want to keep reading because it wasn't feeling mind-blowing to me, in fact, it was seeming a little bit predictable, but in the end, I LOVED it. I read it so fast that when I finished, I wanted to go back and reread the whole thing again to pick up on things I may have missed the first time around. So, I guess what I'm saying is, it took me a little while to feel fully engaged in the characters and this world, but at the same time I never wanted to put it down. DIVERGENT is an engrossing read. It's scary in showing how easy it was to get to this point with a world built of the five factions. It was really interesting to see how the world ended up divided by the five different strengths people valued. It is definitely a book that caused some deep thinking/analyzing (as any good dystopian should!) of our current societal beliefs.

DIVERGENT has a page-turning, action-packed, fast-paced, twisting plot from the very beginning to the very end full of heart-pounding thrills and wrenching shocks of sadness. This book definitely has a thriller feel to the plot as well. Smaller plot points would be important and keep me wanting to read and then the big overall conflict came together at the end in a way that was not totally expected earlier on in the book. I loved how it deals with fear and bravery in interesting, thought-provoking ways. It has lots of commentary on people and perceptions and control and fear and focuses on figuring out what true strength is. Some parts were horrifying in what this world has become (when it started with the best intentions) and shows the worst part of human nature. Other parts were inspiring in how people with the best intentions can use their strength to overcome odds and work for those they love.

DIVERGENT has likeable characters and I enjoyed spending time in Beatrice's head. I did feel that some secondary characters could have been developed a little bit more though. Ultimately it's about Tris' journey to figuring out how she can go against what she's always been conditioned to do/believe. Tris is a strong, kick-butt, take-no-crap character who always does what she thinks is right, but with a caring heart. She's so smart, but doesn't always realize it, but when she finally does, her bravery and intelligence shows through in unexpected ways. Tris struggles in this book between family obligation and what she thinks she wants. She's having to start dealing with the consequences of actions and discovering how she can affect her world. Seeing her insecurities and struggles through her eyes, but most especially seeing how she dealt with them with sass and wit, really made the book for me. Some parts seemed a little predictable - it was obvious who was going to be the love interest, but I still enjoyed seeing how that played out and how they grew closer. I felt that way about most things though - the way everything was tied together in the end made me feel better about the whole book because it all made sense. It was just an exciting book and a fast read - make sure you have time to get through it because you won't want to put it down.

4 1/2 STARS for DIVERGENT
This is the first book in a trilogy and I will definitely be in line to get my hands on the next book in this intriguing dystopian series (although it'll be a really long wait now since I got to read this one early)!

Book 6 of 12 for DAC2011