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):