Friday, December 14, 2012

A Plethora of YA books to try out over break

I have been reading...honestly, I have.  It's just trying to keep up with the blogging that's been bogging me down a bit.  So here are a few titles you may want to pick up while on vacation.  So, we have some classic retellings, a supernatural and a survival story.  Interestingly enough, all of them are set on islands.  This wasn't done on purpose...I just now saw the connection!  Hmmmmm...island fun in winter can be a good thing!  Well. these islands are definitely not daquiris and beach volleyball.  Read on for the reviews: 

Going back to the classics:
Two books came across my desk that I thought were fascinating.  I admit, I picked them up because the covers were fantastically done, but then I realized I picked up two that were re-mixes of great classics! 

Ten by Gretchen McNeil (Balzer & Bray, 2012) is today's YA version of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  Ten teens are invited to a remote island outside of Seattle by the most popular girl in school.  All are instructed not to tell anyone about this party, and that's exactly what Meg and Minnie do when they set down on the island.  They see people they know (including TJ whom both friends like) and some they don't.  Then the worst happens... a storm blows in right after they watch a strange and creepy DVD (think the video in the movie, The Ring) and one teen shows up dead the next morning.  Then another....then another....
This book, although not quite up to Christie's literary standards, has the potential to steal the reader's attention and try to figure out if there is such a thing as true coincidences.  In true mystery style, the twist isn't revealed until the very end, so don't cheat! book trailer:

The Turning by Francine Prose (HarperCollins, 2012) is the retelling of Henry James' Turn of the Screw.  Jack has an unusual job over the summer....after talking to the uncle to two children whom he's guardian to, Jack accepts a job taking care of them over the summer.  In order to do that, Jack has to move to a private island, inhabited only by the two kids and Linda, their housekeeper.  It's when Jack gets there and meets the kids that he notices something creepy going on.  Miles and Flore aren't your typical happy summer kids...more like a throwback from the 1800's.  The house is dark...painted black with the curtains drawn.  The only sunny place is the kitchen and Linda.  With no phone, wi-fi, or television, Jack's only communication with the outside world is through letters, and it's those that the reader glimpses Jack's mental descent into his own dark world...
Even though the prose may not quite match that of a teenage guy, the letters are a great vehicle to tell the story.  The sign of a good re-telling?  Now I want to read the original!

And then there's the great supernatural read:

Zom-B by Darren Shan (Little Brown, 2012) Tired of zombies yet?  You shouldn't be only because the best of the dead is still to come!  B's parents think it's a joke.  Yeah right...a zombie outbreak in Ireland.  Even though there is video showing the destruction, B's father (part racist, part wife-beater, all around bad person) thinks i'st all a hoax by the government.  So B continues to lead her tough-girl life of beating up the weaker ones, taking money, and causing trouble.  She's never been shaken up before, but one day her father has a visitor...a very strange visitor, who predicts B be able to make it alive.  And the zombie apocalypse begins....
Leave it to Darren Shan to write a action-packed, bloody zombie novel complete with pictures.  Move over Demonata series...Shan is beginning another great one!  booktrailer:

Let's wrap up these quick reviews with a little survival fiction, why don't we?

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen (Fiewel and Friends, 2012).  Robie is the unfortunate daughter of two environmental scientists, whose latest job keeps them on a remote island not far from the mainland of Hawaii but far enough.  In order to ensure her life as a teenager, Robie often goes there via a supply plane to visit her aunt.  But her last visit is cut short, when her aunt needs to go out of town.  Robie begs to stay alone, and for once, she's granted this extravagance and her aunt won't even let her parents know.  It's only for a harm no foul.  Robie loves her independence until it's shatterred by a violent incident, which leads Robie back to the supply plane and home.  But she never makes it...the supply plane has crashed in the ocean and only she and the co-pilot survive.  The hardest part is yet to come.  No one knows where Robie is, and time is running out...
Bodeen creates a psychological survival novel that fans will enjoy.  Quite like her previous book, the Compound, the psychology of the event is more in the forefront that the plot itself.  It was a quick read, with some predictability, but one that readers won't put down until they find out what happens to the main character. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Young Adult Common Core Pairs

You know, I've been working on book pairs for a long time (probably since 2007) and now that it's coming to the forefront with Common Core, I thought I'd publish the ones I've paired.  Going over my book pairs, I noticed I not only paired non-fiction with fiction, but also classic with modern fiction.  I won't mention the latter, but here's the non-fiction/fiction list:

They Called Themselves the KKK by Susan Bartoletti Campbell

The Guardian by Julius Lester

Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes –Courter

Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe

Blizzard by Jim Murphy

Trapped by Michael Northrop

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Killer by Seth Graham-Smith

Close to Shore:  The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzzo
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Guinea Pig Scientists: Bold Self-Experimenters in Science and Medicine by Leslie Dandy and Mel Boring

The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen

Hitler Youth:  Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Bartoletti Campbell

Daniel Half Human and the Good Nazi by David Chotjewitz

No Choirboy by Susan Kuklin

Rikers High by Paul Volponi

Portrait of a Killer:  Jack the Ripper, Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Secret Subway by Martin Sandler

Ripper by Stefan Petrucha

Trapped:  How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2000 feet Below the Chilean Desert by Marc Aronson

What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles

Yummy:  The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by Greg Neri

The Brothers Torres by Coert Vorhees

Witch Hunt by Marc Aronson

The Minister’s Daughter by Julie Hearn

A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

The Boy From the Basement by Susan Shaw; or
 When Kambia Elaine Flew in From Neptune by Lori Aurelia Williams

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larsen

Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi

Hidden Evidence:  40 True Crimes and How Forensic Science Helped Solve Them by David Owen

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt

Breaking up is hard to do : stories about falling out of love by four incredible authors

written by Niki Burnham ... [et al.].

Trial by Ice:  A Photobiography of Sir Ernest Shackleton

Surviving Antarctica:  Reality Television 2083 -  Andrea White by Katherine Tarbox

Exposed by Susan Vaught

I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree by Laura Hillman

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Visit Sunny Cherynobyl by Ed Blackwell

They Came from Below by Blake Nelson

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Candlewick, 2008

I should've read this when it first came out, and I don't know why it slipped through my radar.  I'm just glad I did!  And what a great time to start this!!  The sequel, Froi of the Exiles came out this year, and the third book, Quintana of Charyn, comes out April 2013.  Excellent timing on my part :)
I looked through youtube and found a few trailers on Finnikin, but decided I couldn't let this one was screaming at me to make a trailer.  So here it is!

If you don't get Youtube, it's also on Schooltube:

It can also be downloaded from the NHS library website (look for the Digital Booktalk section):

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Eve and Adam by Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate

published by Feiwel and Friends, 2012

Eve has lived a life of privilege and loss. She has no boyfriend, hardly any friends, and her focus is on school.  Her father died in a tragic accident, leaving her only with her mother.  Her only friend, Aislin, couldn't be more opposite of her and needs Eve to rescue her.  The two are ying and yang, but in a very good way.  The only thing that has ever come between them is the cold and untouchable Terra Spiker....Eve's mother. 

Terra is a brilliant scientist and the brains and power behind Spiker Biopharmaceuticals, a cutting edge medical industry melded with technology.  And it's there that Eve is sent after she is in a fatal accident that crushes her leg and leaves her comatose. 

When Eve finally wakes up bandaged but functioning, she is told by her mother that she is to stay at the Spiker complex for a few weeks to recover.  Eve is cut off from her best friend and has no one to interact with...until she meets Solo...

Solo lives at Spiker Pharmaceuticals and has only known the complex.  He knows the reasons he's here - more a charity case than a legal guardianship to Terra Spiker.  He's never really known the outside world, and when Eve comes to the complex, his life takes on a decidedly different turn.  He's curious about fact, she's the only person his age he's ever really come into physical contact with.  Solo has secrets, but more than that, he knows secrets....

In order to ease the boredom of recovery, Eve's mother introduces her to an advanced genetics video game that is under consideration for marketing.  The game allows the user to create their own human from the ground up, selecting DNA and genetics to create perfection.  Eve sets to work, and Solo silently watches the progress.  Little do they know what's truly being put into Eve's hands or the mastermind behind what Spiker Pharmaceuticals is hiding.

Set in today's time in San Francisco, this book is a science thriller from start to finish.  The two dominant voices written by two distict authors creates a layer of intrigue for the reader because that is the only one who knows the thoughts and actions of Eve and Solo.  This type of book is rare to come by...not quite dystopia but with the elements for the possibility of that kind of society...a pre-cursor, if you will.  The other characters in the book create a rich backdrop for the action and relationships that soon start to form and each character begins to unpeel the layers surrounding Eve and Solo as well as their involvement in the entire plot.  Although I'm not a huge reader of science-based fiction, I devoured this one.  Loved it!  If you like books such as Werlin's Double Helix. Bodeen's The Gardener or Brooks's Being, this is one to pick.  Recommended for high school. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Before You Go by James Preller

Feiwel and Friends, 2012

Jude is starting summer off like any typical teen...finding a job.  And lucky him, he lives close to the beach and employment opportunities at the food stands are abundant.  What Jude really wants is what most guys want before their senior year - to hang out, find a girl, go to good parties. 

He's coming out of a long downward spiral, starting with the death of his little sister Lily, who died when Jude was nine.  His mother still hasn't let go, and his father runs, literally and figuratively, from home.  The only light in his life is his best friend Corey, and the "brodowns" they have when they hang out.  Jude is starting to come back to life.  His new job is part of living again in the real world.

It doesn't take long for Jude to understand the role he has in the business of schlepping burgers, pretzels and sodas to the teeming throngs of beachgoers.  His job is made better by Roberto, a guy he meets on the job and shares an instant brotherhood with.  And then there's Becka....beautiful Becka.....

Then, tragedy strikes Jude's life again, and when it does, it hits him hard, strong and fast.  He's managed to survive and get through one he'll never forget, but is this one too much for him?

Preller begins this book with a powerful scene and ends it with one as well.  What makes this book a recommended read is not necessarily the characters or the style of writing but the book itself.  With short chapters, it's easy to digest and an excellent pick for a reluctant reader.  Jude's character is one that guy readers will relate to, from the video games to music to his conversations and interactions with his friends.   This, too, makes it the perfect book for a guy.  I could relate well with the characters and the plot without becoming overwhelmed with intentional theme.  This is a book that could be read in a day or two...quick, fast and pretty tasty.
Recommended for reluctant readers upper JH to HS.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Going down technology memory lane can be painful....

Yesterday, I was searching for a website I used last year to create an online button/logo and couldn't for the life of me remember what it was.  So I used the good ole standby website Delicious.  And I was virtually slapped in the face....

There used to be a time when I was excited about the newest and best out there, using the programs and huge creativity of people's minds to share web 2.0 content and how it could be utilized.  But then the inevitable happened - I began to focus on what could be used in the classroom and library and the edges got blurry.  No longer did I need to know more, I needed to use more of what I already knew!

And the pool of web content and tools for the classroom began to grow stagnant.  It was a slow and gradual process until I looked down one day and saw the green and realized I needed some!  My Delicious pool is getting green!!

So, what are those websites I focused on to create that stagnancy?  You know them....Prezi, Animoto, Voicethread, Glogster, Wix, Weebly.  The bookends of excellent educational technology, as well they should be.  They've earned the right to be there.  But what do I have between those bookends that I can pull from and train, teach and expand student engagement and teacher knowledge? 

So I went  to get the best of the best for web tools, and here are some sites I'll be using that showcase those sites on the cusp of grandeur:

AASL Top Twenty Five Best Websites:

Larry Ferlazzo's Best Web Apps in 2012:

Digital Goonies: Creative, outside of the box thinkers on web tools:

I need to fill in the bookends with new ideas and technologies to pull, learn and teach the campus I work with so I don't have to sit and watch the millionth Animoto or the two millionth Prezi....know what I mean?

And thank you Kristin Fontinchiaro for reminding me:  It's about focus and balance, not about creativity and a project done.  Educational technology should showcase the learning, not the product.

Sites I'm really enjoying right now?  Tripline, Symbaloo, Jux, Haiku Deck....:)
And yeah, I'm reading some good YA novels too!! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Off the beaten YA track - Adult book reviews (for YA of course)

I love YA lit....but there are times when I need a break from the same reading diet I consume on a normal basis, and that's where adult books come in.  You can only think of the analogies I have running through my head :)
With that said, I will tell you I didn't read anything deep and literal, more like the popular thriller on the New York Times Best Seller's List for Fiction (it spent four weeks on the top 10).  The other one was in a box, where the title jumped out loud and clear.  So here's a brief review of both with my professional opinion and yes, they can definitely be put in a high school library.

Visit Sunny Chernobyl by Andrew Blackwell, Rodale Books 2012
Just when you think man has conquered all imaginable places to be explored, there is more...and these new landscapes keep on a'comin.  Instead of calling it exploration, it is now referred to  as pollution tourism and the author of the book does just that, becoming a tourist to some of the filthiest and toxic places in the world.
In this particular non-fiction book, Blackwell discovers the beauty of nature at Chernobyl, one of the deadliest radioactive areas in the world.  Oh yes, the Geiger meter still goes off, but the awesomeness of standing so close to that famous nuclear reactor trumps all danger of getting your organs cooked.
Then there are the other places... perhaps you've heard of them, perhaps not.  Come and breathe the toxic air of beautiful South Port Arthur, Texas, where petroluem plants are king.  Visit the amazing vistas of the Alberta Oil Sands and witness the vastness of the machinery looking like Tonka trucks compared to the earth they're digging, not to mention the dead ducks in the process.  Want something with a little more tang to it?  Go to China and visit the town known for taking old computers and technology and refurbishing, melting, and scrapping them in order to make a living in a town that reminds me of Jacob Riis photographs of NYC at the turn of the century. 
Let's not forget about going on a refreshing dip in the Yamuna River in India, where you can dive for treasures but need to watch out for the turds...literally.  And then there's the enigmatic Garbage Patch, a floating flosam of the world's waste comingling somewhere out there in the Great Pacific....
This is a book that had me scrambling to the internet everytime I finished a chapter to look for pictures, more information, and the facts about these places Blackwell visited.  Now that's a sign of an excellent non-fiction book.  And what makes it even better?  Blackwell is a master of humor in the midst of a serious topic.  You'll laugh and be aghast at the same time.  HIGHLY recommended.

Zoo by James Patterson, Little Brown 2012
Jackson Oz knows something's wrong.  He knew it before anyone else, but the scientific community shunned his theories as ludicrous.  So his life of recluse in New York City is filled with monitors and video documentation, a blog, and his companion Atilla, who is a rescue chimp from a facility.  The only bright spot is his relationship with his girlfriend but things gets out of control when he travels to Botswana to help a friend out.
The animal anomalies are unprecedented...lions killing in packs, dogs from all over running amok, all types and species of animals killing humans from the remote locations to the urban cities.  Jackson knew this would happen, but doesn't know the reason why....
Flash forward three years, and the United States is in total chaos.  People are hiding, afraid of what could happen.  The government is now taking the threat more seriously, and Jackson stands on the brink of an incredible discovery.  Too little too late?
 Patterson is known mostly for his murder mysteries, but of late he's been writing novels with a definite dystopian flavor to them (I also read Toys, which has that same flair). And it's a book like this that will divide readers into really enjoying it or not.  Despite past reputation, Patterson writes a novel that is page turning, making the reader hope for the best, but knowing it may not happen.  This may be the first time a YA reader will pick up Patterson (I know mine was well over fifteen years ago) and be hooked by his new approach.  Regardless, I enjoyed the read and his departure from the killing sprees of the past.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Trailer: Miracle by Elizabeth Scott

Somtimes, I feel like my booktalk on a particular book wouldn't justify how good it is.  Such is the case with Elizabeth Scott's newest book.  So, what to do instead?  Tell it by book trailer :) 
Here's the newest one I've created:

You can also view it on Schooltube:

And download it from the NHS Library homepage book trailer list (under the Mighty Red N!)


Friday, October 26, 2012

Need a YA themed Halloween costume?

With a little creativity, it can happen!  My library aide is Tris from Divergent and this is how you make the t-shirt:
1. Must be a black t-shirt
2. Using a cutout, she made the letters and fire using cardstock
3. Place these on the shirt and spritz with a spray bottle of 1/2 bleach, 1/2 water
4. To make the ring around the fire, put a lid from a cup around the fire and dip a Q-tip with bleach water and trace around it.
And there you go!  Accessorize with some dystopian boots, belt, and jacket with accoutrements, and you're ready to rock and roll!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Club has begun!

So, I kicked off the first meet and greet with the kids who wanted to do a book club, and I was quite surprised that I had 24 interested in doing this!
I told them that this wasn't going to be the "traditional" book club where we read one book and talk.  It was going to be so much more.  So I gave them all a glance at what we'll be doing, and thought I'd share them with you:

So now I'm thinking about December and what we'll be doing as crafty.  I went to a friends house for a party and saw this amazing wreath and thought, "Yup...that's what I'll be doing!"  So here's the link on how to create it.  I'll put these on display in the library before they take them home for the holidays :)

Now to think of a catchy name

Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price

Razorbill, 2012

Zoe doesn't remember much about the trip to Twin Birch.  All she knows is that she doesn't want to be there...but more than that, she doesn't want to be separated from Elise, her best friend.  But for the next thirty-six days, that's what's going to happen, whether she likes it or not.

When she finally makes it in, she sees the five other girls already there, and believes she doesn't belong.  Zoe doesn't have spindly arms, jutting bones, or sunken cheeks.  She sees herself as perfectly fine.  All Zoe wants is to go home, see her best friend again....but she has to first get through this "treatment."

Life at Twin Birch consists of therapy, downtime and the most dreaded part of all - the meals.  The girls not only have to make them, but they have to cook and garden as well.  It doesn't make it easier for Zoe, and the calories going in one meal is something she'd eat during three days.  She can feel the fat gelling on her body.  She also sees the circles forming between the girls.  Zoe is roomates with Caroline, but they haven't gotten along as well.  In fact, there is nothing by animosity between them. No matter where or who Zoe is with, it just doesn't seem like she belongs...

Alexandra is the therapist for Zoe, and together they begin the path toward healing.  But something is missing.  Alexandra suggests writing letters to Elise telling her about the importance of their relationship, and letting her know about her stay at Twin Birch.  Still, there is a lot Zoe needs to uncover about herself and the true reason she's here.

I've read my share of books on this disorder, but Nora Price's work strikes a different chord altogether.  The setting of the book is far different from others, as is the treatment the girls go through to get healthy.  One of the most interesting differences is that within the storyline about eating disorders, menus and recipes are scattered in the pages.  The book is written in first person, where Zoe is writing in a journal or writing letters, which gives play to the reader stepping into her shoes.  Although the storyline is somewhat predictable, the writing overcomes this and the characters and psychological look into them and the eating disorder is spot on.  Recommended. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Booktalking 101- Make it Relevant!

Fresh off my booktalking week, I was exhausted by happy.  Most of the books I talked about are checked out and a waiting list is growing.  Always a good sign! 
One thing I usually do before each booktalk is get audience participation by asking about something relevant going on in news or culture that can connect teens to the books.  So here's a list of the books and the tie-in I found for each one.

172 Hours on The Moon by Johan Harstad:  Neil Armstrong death, Moon landing controversy, aliens
Leading question: If given the opportunity, would you want to travel to the moon and live on a space station for a month?

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons: Presidential election, due process of the law
Leading question: Name a society dictated by soldiers and a police state.  Would you want to live there?

Ashfall by Mike Mullin: name some world famous volcanic eruptions
Leading question: Did you feel the tremors caused by an earthquake two weeks ago in the DFW area?

Audition Stasia Kehoe: different types of dance from ballet to Gangnum style
Leading question:  What does it take to be a famous athlete or dancer?

Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson: effects of meth on a person
Leading question:  What are some physical traits of a person on meth?

Blood Red Road by Moira Young: preciousness of water in Texas, the twin bond
Leading question: Have you ever been around twins that were super close? **trailer

Dead to You by Lisa McMann: Jaycee Dugard story
Leading question: How would your life change if you were abducted but brought back?

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel: Victorian England
Leading question:  Do opposites attract?  Why? **trailer

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: cancer in a family
Leading question:  Name some of the saddest movies you've ever seen

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral: Romeo and Juliet
Leading question: Have your parents ever made decisions for you that you didn't agree with?  How about who you date?

Dark Eden by Patrick Carman: human experimentation debate, deprivation chambers
Leading question: Think about one of the worst fears in your life.... ** trailer

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts: epidemics, West Nile virus in our area
Leading question: Movie Contagion, pandemic and pandemonium ** trailer

Trafficked by Kim Purcell:  story of domestic near Mexico found tied to a tree
Leading question:  Why people get trafficked into the land of the free, home of the brave

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting: the most common languages on Earth. story of the Tower of Babel
Leading Question: Which language would be most beneficial to use?  Why?

The List by Siobhan Vivian: school traditions, October national anti-bullying awareness
Leading question:  What makes a girl pretty or ugly?

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga:  America has most serial killers than any other country
Leading question:  Can you name any famous serial killers in our country's history? ** trailer

In Too Deep by Amanda Grace: the facial signs a person may be lying
Leading question:  Have you ever lied?  Have you ever tried to cover it up but the hole kept getting deeper? ** trailer

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay: stats of divorce in America; long distance relationships
Leading question:  How would you feel if you were forced to move across the country your junior year?  How would you keep in touch with your friends?

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler: History of the Internet
Leading question:  If you could see yours and your friends' Facebook 15 years from now, would you want to know? (Non-fiction pair: Friend Me! 600 Yearsof Social Networking in America by Francesca David DiPiazza)

Quarantine by Lex Thomas:  ebola virus; biological weapons and the government
Leading question:  Have you ever read Lord of the Flies?  How would you feel locked in high school is no adults around? ** trailer

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne: world disasters (tsunami, Japan nuclear meltdown)
Leading question:  If a major disaster happened and you had to stay somewhere for six months or more, where would you want to be?

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz: Malls around the area, which ones are best
Leading question:  If, all of a sudden you were in lockdown at the mall and saw Hazmat suits come in, what would your reaction be?

Ripper by Stefan Petrucha: Most famous mystery in history.  What happened to him?
Leading question: Would you want your parents to be famous?  What happens if they were infamous? (Non-fiction pair:  Secret Subway by Martin Sandler) ** trailer

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

One + One = Fabulous Sequels!!

I got the chance to go to Barnes and Noble to do some shopping, and came across some sequels I had no idea were out!!!  So, with that in mind, I thought I'd share with you some of the latest sequels to fab YA books already out and about!  I knew a few, but with the help of some fabulous librarians from yalsa, I got a more extensive list :)

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson (sequel to The Adoration of Jenna Fox)

Unwholly by Neal Shusterman (sequel to Unwind) 

Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts (sequel to Dark Inside) 

Outpost by Ann Aguirre (sequel to Enclave) 

Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel (sequel to This Dark Endeavor) 

Shadows by Ilsa J Bick (sequel to Ashes) 

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin (sequel to Ashfall) 

Seconds Away by Harlan Coben (sequel to Shelter) 

Feedback by Robison Wells (sequel to Variant) 

Following Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci (sequel to The Body of Christopher Creed) 

Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh (sequel to Nevermore) 

Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel (sequel to Dearly, Departed) 

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns) 

Prized and Promised (two books) by Caragh O’Brien (sequel to Birthmarked) 

Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh (sequel to Nevermore) 

Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel (sequel to Dearly, Departed) 

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns) 

Passenger by Andrew Smith (sequel to the Marbury Lens)

White Glove War by Katie Crouch (sequel to The Magnolia League)
Scorch by Gina Damico (sequel to Croak)
Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride (long awaited sequel to Hold Me Closer Necromancer)
Island of Silence by Lisa McMann (sequel to The Unwanteds)
Life Happens Next by Terry Trueman (sequel to Stuck in Neutral)
Thumped, sequel to Bumped by Megan McCafferty
The Torn Wing by Kiki Hamilton (2nd book in a planned quartet, The Faerie Ring)

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Heroes of Olympus) 

Scorch by Gina Damico (sequel to Croak)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Fiewel and Friends, 2012
Dean didn’t say goodbye to his mom that morning.  He watched is brother Alex, in eighth grade, get on his bus and he got on the one to high school in Monument, Colorado.  It was an ordinary day for Alex – avoid the popular kids in back and try to be invisible. 
But then the hail began….

It wasn’t ordinary hail, but huge crushing hail with stones and debris caught within the ice.  It tore up cars and cracked windshields.  Dean’s ride to school is now demolished outside the Greenway superstore.  Kids are dead, and the hail is causing more injuries. Their savior is the bus driver of Alex’s bus, getting the survivors and crashing into the Greenway.
But now, the safety gates are closed, shut down and impenetrable to the outside.  Inside are six high school students, two eighth graders and over a handful of elementary school kids.  The Network is down and there is no communication to the outside world.  First hail, then an earthquake…then the terrible news of a supertsunami…then the worst news of all…

On an old television, news has reached the Dean ,Alex and the others that NORAD’s chemical storage has leaked.  And it’s turning people into monsters, building on their rage to kill.  Other are affected different ways, and all the survivors in Greenway must do everything they can to contain the catastrophe happening on the outside. 
Most of all, they wonder if their parents are still alive…and just how many survivors are left in the world that has come undone. 
This is future survival fiction at its finest!  At first, I was thinking how easy it would be to survive in a superstore, but then everyone knows about cabin fever.  Emmy Laybourne does an excellent job of making sure the reader knows each and every one of the kids in this book and their experiences throughout this disastrous time, but it’s the situation that comes alive.  The reader gets to experience how teens and children work to hold it together with the absence of all adults in a world full of danger and crazy people trying to get in.  This book just works and works well.  Look for a sequel to this incredibly fast read that will take you to the edge of your seat!
Other great fiction read pairings: Susan Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It trilogy; Michael Northrop Trapped;  Lex Thomas Quarantine


Common Core pairing:  Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson
Based on the diaries of Isaac Monroe Cline and on contemporary accounts. Tells the story of Isaac Cline, a weather scientist in Galveston, Texas in 1900, discussing his belief and assertion that nothing in the way of weather could destroy the coastal city; and looks at how Cline dealt with the aftermath of the hurricane that hit Galveston on September 8, claiming the lives of thousands of people.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Razorbill, 2011.

If you had a chance to see your life in the future, would you want to?
It's 1996, and Emma and Josh are your ordinary teenagers.  They've lived by each other for years and have practically grown up together.  But now they're sophomores in high school and things are a little different.  Well, they're WAY different after Josh tried to kissed Emma six months ago - now they hardly speak to each other.  It's what Emma's father sent her that will make a huge impact in their lives...
In Emma's room is a bright shiny computer.  It probably weighs 25 pounds, but it's all hers.  She's heard about people getting emails and sending instant messages, so she's excited about this new prospect of trying it out.  Of course, there's always the problem with sharing the phone line, but she and her mother will work it out.  Josh is the one who hands her the AOL Online CD with 100 free internet hours, but when Emma finally gets online, she's shocked by what she sees.
A page begins to emerge...something called Facebook, which Emma has no idea what it is.  And there on the front page is a woman about 30 years old, who looks kind of like her.  She went to the same high school as Emma, has the same birthday...this isn't coincidence.  What Emma is looking at is her life fifteen years in the future, and she's not quite sure she likes what she sees.  But who can she tell?  The only person who comes to mind is Josh.
He also gets a look at who he is and becomes in the future, but unlike Emma, he definitely likes what he sees and who he gets married to.  His life is amazing!  And what the two quickly realize is that they can send ripples through time from now to Facebook in the future and make changes to their lives and what they see posted on their timeline, in their photos and their comments.  But are those changes dangerous?  What are the repercussions of the decisions they make, create or change not only to them, but to those around them, including their best friends? 
This book is chock full of references from the mid-nineties, but not so much as to bog down the reader that it's "old school."  Emma and Josh's relationship not only with each other but with those in their school, stands out the most and creates their unique personalities the reader can't help but want to know more of.  Teens today were born around this year, so they may not get the 90's references (Wayne's World, Boyz 2 Men, only one character has a cell phone) but the theme and situation remains a popular one.  Asher and Mackler switch voices with the characters they write about, which makes this a book you want to read through to see what happens to the other person....right....NOW!  Recommended.

Common Core Pair:  Friend Me!  600 Years of Social Networking in America by Francesca Davis DiPiazza.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Trafficked by Kim Purcell

2012, Viking.

Elena, or Hannah.  It doesn’t matter even if she is the same person.  All she knows is that she is no longer in Moldova but in America, about to live the American dream. 
She saw the poster when she left her hometown…a girl struggling in the fist of a giant hand, the words “You are not a product” written underneath.  Her friend Katya warned her about it, but her babulya told her she should go and be free, and Hannah agrees with her.  After her parents were killed in a bombing of a small cafĂ©, she feels more of a nuisance to her family that took her in.  Hannah knows things are tight, and finding a job as a nanny in America can only help.  That was what she was recruited for from the beginning.
Hannah’s excitement of leaving Moldova for America comes to a halt before she even leaves the country.  Fake passports, handlers taking her to and from places…she doesn’t even want to think about the one in the black car and what he did to her.  Now, as Hannah steps off the plane in Los Angeles, she’s more nervous than happy, and can only hope she can pass immigration without detection. 
When she does, Sergey is waiting for her, ready to take her to her new home.  But is home the right term to use for what she has to endure?  Her treatment, her lack of wages, her work hours….the Platonovs promise one thing, but do the opposite.  Hannah is trapped.  She has no friends, no one to talk to, no one who cares about her.  There is only one person she has barely spoken to and it’s a teenage boy who lives beside them.  Hannah is told she can speak to no one or the police will find out and lock her away.  Hannah feels her only protection is the prison she’s trapped in. 
The Platanovs requested her specifically for a reason.  Why would they do that and treat her the way they do?  What is the reason behind Sergey wanting Hannah?  When the truth slowly begins to leak out, Hannah realizes the connections are only too real and it’s only a matter of time before the truth could destroy  her life and the lives of those back at home.  Will she ever see home again?
Kim Purcell writes a realistic fiction book that will take readers into the dark and mortifying process of human trafficking.  Her character of Hannah takes the readers through the perspective of the victim and how they become entrapped in a country that celebrates freedom and individual rights.  Most people don’t think America could be home to such a travesty as human trafficking, but it could be happening in your own neighborhood.  This book is as much about the story as it is about bringing to the forefront this epidemic of baselessness.  Purcell derives the theme and plot of this book through personal experience and her author’s notes are a must read.   Highly recommended.

Here is the new book trailer just released:

Common Core pairing:  Five Thousand Years of Slavery by Majorie Gann

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My first blog interview! Doing a happy dance (in my chair)

Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels are a group of amazing people who live in Austin and love books, libraries, students, name it!  Every month they post a blog interview, and I (with the recommendation of amazing blogger Pamela Thompson!) am this month's sweetheart....or scoundrel?  Anyway, I thought I'd share this link to my interview :)

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Ember lives in a new United States.  The War ended three years ago, and the government changed.  The strongest arm of the government is the Military Militia.  Their role?  Enforce compliance of the Moral Statutes.  Rumors of mass executions, people disappearing for no reason, prison, deportation….they’re everywhere.  Ember thought they were all rumors until it happened to her.

There are only five articles in the Moral Statutes that citizens need to abide by, but the laws change with the wind.  Ember and her mother live a decent life.  Their only act of defiance is hiding magazines and books from the old days; days Ember vaguely recalls.  She has friends, but the person she misses the most is Chase.  They grew up together since childhood but their friendship turned deeper.  There was no denying Chase and Ember, as teenagers, were meant to be together.  Now, Chase is gone, and Ember misses him.  She remembers those tender moments and always hopes the best for him, wondering if he still feels the same toward her that she does toward him, wherever he may be.

But a knock on her door changes Embers entire life.  The MM (Military Militia) has come to take away Ember’s mother for breaching Article 5, which meant full prosecution by the government.  What was the crime?  Ember doesn’t have a father and Article 5 stipulates that she is to be “rehabilitated.”  What is worse, is that Chase, the love of her life, is arresting her mother.  Nothing Ember does changes Chase – not the past, not their moments together, not their friendship.  He is part of the military machine, devoid of all emotions. 

With her mother gone, Ember finds herself in rehab, the worst possible place to be.  Torture, brain-washing, and hard manual labor are a common part of her day.  Escape?  Punishable by death.  But it won’t stop Ember.  She must get back with her mother.  But can she?  And who will be there to help?
Dystopia fans rejoice!  Here is another book to devour through when you’ve read all the other ones.  Simmons’ book paints the future into a very realistic and bleak novel.  Although the main characters stand out, it’s the role of government Simmons creates as a monster character, along with the men in the Militia and how they’ve evolved.  The evolution of Chase’s and Ember’s relationship takes center stage, but it’s also the minor characters and what has happened to them because of the breakdown of our future country and government that conveys the essence of this novel.   Recommended. 

Common core pair:  primary sources of the Constitution and Preamble