Thursday, December 11, 2014

Books of Influence by Dorothy Hearst - Guest Post - December 2014

Hearst, Dorothy. Promise of the Wolves. Simon and Shuster, 2009. 363p. $16.00. 978-1416569992.

What is the promise of the wolf? Never consort with humans. Never kill a human unprovoked. Never allow a mixed-blood wolf to live. At least that's what the wolves of the Wide Valley believe. Until a young wolf dares to break the rules--and forever alters the relationship between wolves and the humans who share their world.

Read below to find out what book inspired a young  Dorothy Hearst and how that influenced her series.

There were so many books that influenced The Wolf Chronicles that I could never list them all. 

Here are some of the books I read as a pup—between the ages of eleven and thirteen—that I know led me to the wolves.

The magic of what if:
Madeleine L’ Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time and Peter Dickinson’s Changes trilogy

I remember finishing A Wrinkle in Time, setting it down and thinking “I didn’t know you could do that.” I didn’t know that people were allowed to write about what was known, then—when arriving at what wasn’t known—make stuff up. I knew I wanted to do that. Peter Dickinson’s Changes trilogy is the story of England thrown back into the Middle Ages. I don’t want to give away the ending, but there’s a huge “what if” that drives the story. I had the same reaction at the end of it that I had to A Wrinkle in Time. You can do that? 

“What ifs” ended up at the center of The Wolf Chronicles. What if wolves domesticated us as much as we domesticated them? What if this story was told through the eyes of a young wolf who saves the life of a human child? And then there were all these wonderful gaps in our knowledge about wolf and human evolution that I could fill in with the story.

The animal’s perspective:
Richard Adams’ Watership Down 

When I set out to write about how the wolf became the dog from the wolf’s point of view, I wanted my wolves to be fully-drawn characters, and also realistic wolves. The first book I thought of was Watership Down, which a cousin had given me when I was eleven. I’d gobbled it up. When I started writing about Kaala’s adventures, I remembered how Adams had written his rabbits so that their needs and goals were as important as any human’s, and I modeled the wolves on that. I’d also been miffed that Adams’ female rabbits were so passive, so I got to set that right with Kaala.

Interspecies devotion
Anne McCaffrey’s dragons

I read the first four Pern books the summer I was thirteen. I was entranced by the relationship between the riders and their dragons and, even more so, fifteen-year-old Menolly’s love for her fire lizards. To this day I can feel how much I wanted a fire lizard. The dragons and fire lizards had very clear personalities, but they were definitely not human. The connection between human and nonhuman stayed with me.

A young female character in the center of a complex world 
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The cousin who gave me Watership Down gave also gave me A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I loved how Francie moved through a complex world with clear vision and a solid sense of herself. There was no breathlessness or silliness about Francie like there was in so many girl characters I’d read. I skipped through much of the adult perspectives and kept coming back to Francie and how she quietly, but steadily and firmly, found her way in the world.

About the Author
Before the wolves barged in the door, demanding that their story be told, Dorothy Hearst was a senior editor at Jossey-Bass, where she published books for nonprofit, public, and social change leaders. She currently lives, writes, and plays with dogs in Berkeley, California. Spirit of the Wolves, the third and final title in the Wolf Chronicles, will be released December 2. For more information, and to download free CCSS-aligned discussion questions for all three novels, visit her website:

Check out all the stops on the Wolf Chronicles blog tour!
Mon, Dec 1             Novel Novice                
Tues, Dec 2            The Book Monsters       
Wed, Dec 3             SLJ Teen                       
Thurs, Dec 4           I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
Fri, Dec 5                I Read Banned Books   
Mon, Dec 8             Library Fanatic             
Tues, Dec 9             YA Book Nerd             
Wed, Dec 10           Read Now, Sleep Later
Thurs, Dec 11         The Brain Lair              
Fri, Dec 12              Unleashing Readers     
Sat, Dec 13             The Children's Book Review

Tune in tomorrow for a review and a chance to receive all 3 books in the series!

Monday, November 3, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? November 3, 2014

What I Purchased
The Rookie (Galactic Football League, 1) by Scott Sigler

What I Read
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Jackaby by William Ritter
Princess in Black by Hale and Hale
Rain by Amanda Sun
Accidental Highway by Ben Tripp
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Shouldn't You Be in School? (All the Wrong Questions, 3) by Lemony Snicket
And Two Boys Booed by Judith Viorst
All That Glows by Ryan Graudin
Promise of Shadows by Justine Ireland
The Hit by Melvin Burgess

Public Library - I must say my local library is super fantastic when it comes to finding #Cybils nominated titles. Of course, these holds come faster than I can read! I have over 50 items checked out at the moment!

Lemony Snicket, redux - For some reason I'm loving this prequel series. It's less punny than the Series of Unfortunate Events and the story seems to progress faster also. The students don't seem as enthralled as I am sadly.

CYBILS - have come across some titles that I may have missed if it wasn't for the #cybils. Can't wait to purchase some of these titles for the school library. We are still furiously reading and assembling our own personal shortlists.

Off for more reading with my eyes and ears! Hop on over to TeachMentorTexts for more reading ideas!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WTF Did I Read? AKA Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Smith, Andrew. Grasshopper Jungle. Dutton (Penguin Group), Feb 2014. 388p. $18.99.

Affiliate Links: Amazon | Indiebound

Genre: Science Fiction (mutant grasshopper soldiers)
Cover Appeal: Plain green with yellow pages (if you are lucky) will appeal to all with its brightness. Very eye-catching in its simplicity.

Weird. From beginning to end. And yet, I couldn't stop reading. This is my second Andrew Smith book and both were different. Grasshopper takes you through an incident of bullying, a breaking and entering, an attempt to get drunk, an underground lair, and some mutant grasshoppers who hatch from inside some randos throughout the story. The grasshoppers are key since they are pretty much impossible to stop. Or Unstoppable.  Throughout this crazy story, Austin Szerba is constantly questioning his sexuality since he's attracted to both his girlfriend, Shannon, and his best friend, Robby. I had pretty much been dystopiad/post-apocalypticed out until I read this book. I'm hoping that more authors step out the box because I am tired of the same-o, same-o. Maybe not as crazy as this one.

I recommend this for 9th and above.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dragon Slaying 101 AKAThe Story of Owen by EK Johnston

I always carry my sword in my backpack.
Johnston, E.K. Story of Owen, The (Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, 1), Carolrhoda Lab. 2014. 302p. $17.95. 9781467710664.

Affiliate Links: Amazon | IndieBound

Genre: Fantasy (dragons and dragon slayers)
Cover Appeal: I think the front works better without the dragon on the cover. It's a cover students will look over because it's not bright and eye-catching.

This is actually the story of Siobhan McQuaid, bard to Owen Thorskard, high school student and dragon slayer-in-training. Siobhan is the first person to befriend Owen when his family moves to Trondheim. Owen's family is special, his aunt Lottie is the most famous Dragon Slayer of this time and his dad, Aodhan, is no slouch either. They also bring with them Hannah, the best swordsmaker. They have raised Owen in a loving and kind household. Siobhan's family are no slouches either.

As Owen and Siobhan's friendship grows, the family asks her to be Owen's bard. They want to shape the story of dragon slayers. There's a lot of talk about who controls the message and how. It's like you are reading two stories at once. And therein lies it's excellence.

"This is pretty much entirely not exactly what happened." 199

I recommend this for 7th grade and up.

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? October 26, 2014

What I Purchased
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page

What I Read
Chasing Before by Lenore Applehans
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
The Ghosts Go Haunting by Helen Ketteman
Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
First Halloween
Teeny Tiny Ghost by Kay Winters
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender - 25%
Endgame by James Frey - abandoned
Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch - abandoned
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page - 50%

Singsongy Picture Books - Big Pumpkin is one of my favorite books. It was a joy to share it with students again. The repetition and rhythm make it fun to read aloud.  The Ghosts Go Haunting is thisclose to the tune in the Ants Go Marching. The beauty here is you don't have to sing the whole book - I modified based on grade but we all heard the book this week. It was fun flapping, clomping, and WOEing through the library.

Halloween is coming - I read First Halloween with kindergartners and we discussed similarities and differences. We also read The Teeny Tiny Ghost and talked about how Halloween can be scary and fun.  We also watched the first minute or two of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and talked about pumpkin carving.

CYBILS - wowza - Seems like I'm pretty much reading my backside off. Because I'm sitting on it. Reading. Constantly.

I have to go read now.  If you want some reading ideas - check out TeachMentorTexts and don't forget to link your reads to her blog! Happy reading.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Writing Great Books for Young Adults - Excerpt and Giveaway

Just in time for NaNoWriMo! 
Are you looking for some inspiration to write your own novel? 

Check out the newly updated
Writing Great Books for Young Adults
Brooks, Regina. Sourcebooks. $14.99. 
ISBN: 9781402293528

from the publisher:

With an 87 percent increase in the number of young adult titles published in the last two years, the young adult market is one of the healthiest segments in the industry. Despite this fact, surprisingly little has been written to help authors hone their craft and truly connect with the young adult audience.

Writing Great Books for Young Adults gives writers all the advice they need to tap into this incredible and innovative market. Literary agent Regina L. Brooks shows writers how listening to young adults will help them create characters their audience can identify with.

Topics covered include meeting your protagonistengaging your readers,, trying on points of view, and many more.


Open to US Residents only. 13 years of age and older. 1 entry per person/email.
Closes October 24, 2014 , 11:59 pm. EST. Winner announced October 26th.
UPDATE: Congratulations, Stephanie.  Expect your book directly from the publisher.

About the Author 
Regina L. Brooks is the founder of Serendipity Literary Agency and has been developing award-winning authors and books for over a decade. She has been highlighted in several national and international magazines and periodicals, including Poets and WritersEssenceWriter’s Digest, and Sister2Sister,Forbes, Media Bistro, Ebony, and Jet. She lives in New York City.

Connect With the Author
Twitter: @serendipitylit

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? October 20, 2014

What I Purchased
Shadow of Night (All Souls, 2) by Deborah Harkness
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle, 2) by Maggie Stiefvater

What I Read
Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus, 5) by Rick Riordan
Infinite Sea (the 5th Wave, 2) by Rick Yancey
Warrior Heir (Heir Chronicles, 1) by Cinda Williams Chima
Fall Leaves by Loretta Holland
Ball by Mary Sullivan
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems
Emily's Blue Period by Cathleen Daly
Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House by Eric Litwin
Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli
Ling and Ting Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin
Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka
Cats by Seymour Simon
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Button by Eric Litwin
Pete the Cat and his White Shoes by Eric Litwin
The Story of Owen (Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, 1) by EK Johnston
Dangerous by Shannon Hale
Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
Little Elliot, Big City by
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds
The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, 4) by Rick Riordan

Picture Books - I've always read picture books but usually just for myself or to promote to teachers for writing mentors. Now I'm reading them as possible readalouds for my younger students. By far our favorite of this group was Creepy Carrots. Loved by all from K - 3. Great for leading up to Halloween and can be enjoyed on different level.  We enjoyed the Pete the Cat videos more than the books - basically because we love music. And you must read Ball. That was ingenious! But Fall Leaves, Number One Sam, nor Nuts at Bedtime ever made it to a classroom audience.

Re-Read - Finished my reread of The Heroes of Olympus series and devoured the final book, Blood of Olympus. I think Riordan left just enough open to re-visit in the future but answered enough questions to feel like a satisfying ending. I look forward to his Nordic Adventures.

Book Clubs - Next book club reads are Graceling by Kristin Cashore, which will be a re-read for me, and The Bully Pulpit which is so long and not one I'm looking forward to reading. I may not make that book club meeting!

CYBILS - The nominations are closed. We are furiously reading these titles and I will try to write a word or two about some of the ones I read as I go along. Lots of reading ahead!

Need more reading suggestions? Check out Teach.Mentor.Texts and don't forget to add your link while you are there!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Hale, Shannon. Dangerous. Bloomsbury Publishing, 4/2014. 416p. $17.99. 9781599901688.

Affilitate Links Amazon
| Indiebound

Genre: Science Fiction (aliens taking over, superheroes created)
Cover Appeal: Nothing sets this apart from any other science fiction title out now. I do like the purple and gray though. I also like the font used for the title.

Maisie Danger Brown is tired of her boring life. She's homeschooled with her best friend, Luther and both her parents work from home.  They never go any where or do anything exciting.  She figures it's because they don't have enough money.  Along comes a sweepstakes to win a trip to astronaut camp. Now Maisie has a chance to live up to her middle name. She becomes part of an elite team who isn't sure what their purpose is but are sure they need to work together.

For the most part  the book is all about the science of space travel and gadget building with moments of romance and intrigue thrown in.  I was happy to see Maisie pull herself from the brink of losing her sense of self over a boy though she was aware that it could happen and she fought it. She was a strong character who thought carefully about how her actions affect others. I enjoyed seeing her thought process. The aliens were bit underwhelming and the rest of the characters, Jacques, Mi-sun, and Ruth, could have used a bit more depth. Luther, even though he was only in the book a short time, was one of my favorite characters.

I recommend this one for 7th Gr and above.

Monday, September 29, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? September 29, 2014

What I Purchased
Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
The Thirteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
Blessing The Boats by Lucille Clifton
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
El Deafo by CeCe Bell
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (was so mad I never bought this one - even though I read it!)

What I Read
Ninja! by Arree Chung
Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Ninja Boy Goes to School by ND Wilson
The Dot by Peter Reynolds
Iggie's House by Judy Blume
Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Spy School by Stuart Gibbs
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
El Deafo by CeCe Bell
This One Summer by Mariko Tamiki
Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm
Winger by Andrew Smith
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Herbie Jones Sails Into Second Grade by Suzy Kline
Third Grade Angels by Jerry Spinelli
Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt
The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems
Hooray for Hat by Brian Won
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides

These pictures lead to nowhere. Just here to help those of us who like a visual reference.

The Great Re-Read.  5th Graders are reading Chasing Vermeer so I went back to read it and found it more boring than I remember. Way too contrived.  The 4th graders are apparently competitive readers and are trying to all get through the Heroes of Olympus before the final book is released October 7th.  I remember racing through these and decided to listen/read to them so I not only have something to discuss - though they are already on House of Hades and I'm still finishing Mark of Athena - but I can refresh my memory too!

Adult Book Clubs. As part of my almost an empty nester phase, I decided to fully participated in both book clubs I'm attached to. One is a group of school teachers and the other a group of librarians. Win-Win. The librarians read Harold Fry and I we had a lot to discuss! The teachers read the Tropper book in anticipation of the movie. It was fun deciding whether the book and movie characters matched.

In Other News. We LOVED Hooray For Hat and I can't thank my twitter friends enough for pointing it out to me. Don't miss Half a King if you like epic middle grades fantasy, it reminded me of Heroes of the Valley. I listened to The Marriage Plot solely because the narrator does the 39 Clues Series and I love his voice.

Looking Ahead. I'll try to hit as many of the CYBILS spec fic nominated books as I can, albeit in an abbreviated manner! Nominations open October 1, 2014! Here's a description of the Young Adult Speculative Fiction Category.  I am also very interested in The Geisel Awards so look for a few of those to pop up.

Head over to Teach Mentor Texts for more Monday reading fun!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Volunteer! - CYBILS Round 1 Judge

Hooray! I was named a CYBILS (Children and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards) Young Adult Speculative Fiction Round 1 Judge!

That means that I will be on a team that will be reading and judging HUNDREDS of  nominated Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy titles that were published between October 16, 2013 and October 15, 2014.  Nominations open October 1, 2014!

So excited to serve with:
Sheila Ruth
Wands and Worlds@sheilaruth
Karen Jensen
Teen Librarian’s Toolbox@tlt16
Kim Baccellia
Kim Baccellia@ixtumea
Allie Jones
In Bed With Books@wearedevilcow
Maureen Kearney
Confessions of a Bibliovore@mosylu
Kimberly Francisco
Stacked Books@kimberlymarief


Monday, August 18, 2014

Back To School Readaloud Suggestions

I'm starting a new job this fall at a preK-8 independent school. I'll still be the librarian but I have some new duties. The K-4 students will come to the library weekly and I get to do readalouds! I asked twitter for help!

Back to School ReadAloud suggestions for K-4 (via Twitter @MrSchuReads @MyTweendom @CPPotter @Utalaniz @MTechman @ClassicSixBooks @MeganGraff @Librarian_Tiff @StrohReads)  :

  • Incredible Book Eating Boy by 
  • Story of Fish and Snail
  • Little Elliot, Big City
  • My Teacher is a Monster (No, I am Not)
  • Louise Loves Art
  • Pete the Cat and his School Shoes
  • Library Lion
  • I'm Going on a Book Hunt
  • Gingerbread Man Loose in the School
  • Bailey (Bliss) 
  • Library Dragon
  • Librarian From the Black Lagoon
  • Froggy Goes to School
  • Library Lil
  • Tomas and the Library Lady
  • Biblioburro
  • Miss Brooks Loves Books But I Don't
  • Shelf Elf
  • Shelf Elf Helps
  • Number One Sam
  • What Happened to Marian's Book? 
  • Curious George Visits The Library
The suggestions were coming fast and I tried to favorite them all! Thank you, twitter friends, for your generous help!

I'm going to review the curriculum guide to pick some longer readalouds for Grades 3 and 4.  I'm hoping I can do something with genres for either 3rd or 4th and get into a Mock Newbery Club with 4th - 8th. What are your suggestions? How can the library support the classroom with readalouds and other lessons?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? August 11, 2014

Books I Bought
The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness by George Saunders
The Naked Roommate for Parents by Harlen Cohen
The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research by Stephen Krashen

Books I've Read
Chasing The Milky Way by Erin E Moulton
Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbran
Alanna by Tamora Pierce
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
The Hear and Now by Ann Brashares
Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
She Loved Baseball by Audrey Vernick
The Adventures of Beekle by  Dan Santat
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Tap, Tap, Boom, Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle
The Glass Sentence by SE Grove
The Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson
In Bed With a Highlander by Maya Banks
Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Comic Squad: Recess! by various awesome graphic novelists
Peanut Butter and Jellyfish by Jarrett J Krosoczka
Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black
Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Camp Rex by Molly Idle
Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
How To Train a Train by Jason Eaton
Naked! by Michael Ian Black
The Runaway King (Ascendance Trilogy, 2) by Jennifer Nielsen
The Qwikpick Papers by Tom Angleberger
Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack
Chu's First Day by Neil Gaiman
Daisy Gets Lost by Chris Raschka
Going Places by Peter Reynolds
I'm Here by Peter Reynolds
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Curious George visits the Library by HA Rey
H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden
Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer
The Shadow Throne (Ascendance Trilogy, 3) by Jennifer Nielsen
The Vanishing Coin (The Magic Shop, 1) by Kate Egan
Ashfall by Mike Mullins
Mission Unstoppable (Genius Files, 1) by Dan Gutman
Unmade (Lynburn Legacy, 3) by Sarah Rees Brennan

Haven't blogged in awhile. Lots of stuff happening.  These are the books I've read in the past month and half! A fair amount but nothing like the good old days.

Some don't miss books were Secret Hum of a Daisy, Sisters, Absolutely Almost, and Naked! I was happy to finish the Ascendance Trilogy and can't wait to talk it up at the new place.

I need to re-read Chasing the Milky Way by Erin Moulton so I can do a proper review.

Will be moving to a new job so will talk about that in upcoming issues. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beyond The Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning - #bookaday 12

Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlanders, 1)
Karen Marie Moning
Genre: Historical Fantasy

I was looking for a book similar to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, but shorter. The description of this one sounded like it would work - girl goes back in time and meets a ruggedly handsome Highlander.  This was included the Fae so I thought, yeah, this could work.

The writing just wasn't the same. The take just wasn't the same. I guess I wasn't looking for a similar book, but the same book! I do own Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in Gabaldon's series, so I will just go with that one instead.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mistwood by Leah Cypess - #bookaday 11

Leah Cypess
Genre: Paranormal

I'd read this one a few year ago. It was long enough ago that I'd forgotten much of it outside of vague notions and ideas.

It's time for Rokan to be king and he's afraid for his life. Many years ago the crown was protected by a Shifter but there was a tragedy involving the last royal family. This creature was said to be born of mist and fog and could shift into any animal including a human being. Rokan travels to Mistwood to find his Shifter and binds her to him using a special bracelet.

The Shifter, Isabel, is finding it hard to shift and doesn't really understand who or what she is though she feels it's her duty to protect Rokan. She just has to figure out who exactly is threatening the crown.  She is finding it more and more difficult to do her Shifter job due to emotions clouding her judgement. Though the Shifter is supposed to be less than human.

I liked this one because it's more of a character study instead of the relentless action you find in many books of this genre.  I would have liked to see more romance but I enjoyed what was there.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer - #bookaday 10

Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
Kate Hattemer
Genre: Realistic

I've been trying to get back into our Goodreads Mock Printz which I co-moderate. Honestly, Whitney has been running the board alone since last year when I stepped down to be on the Excellence in Nonfiction Committee. She has diligently scoured reviews, posted polls, e-gathered books on the shelf, and started numerous discussions. There would not be a group without her.

The group is currently reading We Were Liars, which I read back in February, and The Vigilante Poets.

The poets, led by Luke, though story is told by Ethan, take offense at the continued presence of the For Art's Sake reality show. They feel the corporate greed actually hampers the art and using the work of Ezra Pound, take a stand to get the show ousted.

Throughout the book, I loved the voice of Ethan, though I times I questioned a teenaged male would spout those words. This was based purely on the brothers I grew up with and the teenagers present in my daughter's life. I enjoyed all the lit talk as the daughter just finished an AP Lit class. There were several instances where I thought about looking things up but was too lazy. Despite the cop-out ending, I thought this was fun. Which also means, I don't see it winning the Printz. Also, not a fan of that cover.

True Love by Jude Deveraux - #bookaday 9

True Love (Nantucket Bride, 1)
Jude Deveraux
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Not my usual fare. It's been a billion years since I read any Jude Deveraux. I'd been looking for a romance and I also wanted to read about Nantucket (never been but makes me think of summer) and someone on Goodreads had just finished this one. Luckily, they had it at the public library - on Overdrive.

Alix is an architect student who gets sent to live in the Kingsley House on Nantucket as part of the will of one of her mom's closest friends.  She can live there for a year and work on her culminating project for architecture school.

Kingsley House happens to belong to Jared Kinglsey Montgomery - a famous architect whom Alix admires and would love to have look at her drawings. (snicker). Jared would rather not, especially since he knows a great deal about Alix that he needs to keep secret.

Another resident of the Kingsley house is Jared's grandfather, Caleb. His five-times great, dead grandfather.  Caleb can only be seen by certain family members and he is hoping that somehow, he can connect with Alix and she can help him move on.

Despite the contrived storyline of past and present overlapping, this was fun.  I will actually read the second book.

Monday, June 30, 2014

It' Monday, What Are You Reading? June 30, 2014

Books Purchased
Mistborn: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Books Read
Obsidian (Lux, 1) by Jennifer Armetrout
The Girl With The Windup Heart (Steampunk Chronicles, 4) by Kady Cross
Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, 3) by Leigh Bardugo
The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, 1) by James Patterson
Drift by MK Hutchins
Only Everything by Kieran Scott
True Love (Nantucket Brides, 1) by Jude Deveraux
Mistwood by Leah Cypess
Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer
Beyond The Highland Mist(Highlander, 1) by Karen Marie Moning
Loot by Jude Law

There is something about summer that makes me want to just read romance and fantasy books. Hopefully combined into one awesome package. I often pass over books I need to read in search of books that have that magic ingredient that is designed to transport me into the book as a side character. And while I've found some decent romance novels and some good fantasy, these aren't the books I'm looking for.

That aside, I did have some good reads these past two weeks.  Loved the ending to Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy, all the while she had me thinking she was bringing me to one place and we ended up somewhere far better.  I was pleased at having so many questions answered as lately it seems series novels either don't want to end or the author wants you to decide what happens to the characrer. While I'm all for inference and predictions and some ambiguity -  I want a mostly complete story - especially if it's the last book in the series.

We continue our quest for a book to use for our One Book program in February - hence the James Patterson novel.  And #WeNeedDiverseBooks (still) so check out MK Hutchins book Drift and read here as she talks about Obsidian and how it's used in her novel.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo - #bookaday 6

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, 3)
Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy

The end of a trilogy is always sad. This one had me tossing aside my chores (kidding, that's all books really) and glued to the pages. Last year, I re-read Shadow and Bone before Siege and Storm came out but I neglected to re-read Siege and Storm this year.  No matter.

Bardugo helped us pick up pretty much where we left off. This installment had more of the Lantsov Prince, thankfully. I love his character. The wit and cunning, oh how I wish he and I were friends. And he was real, of course.

There was a moment when I had to put the book aside when I could NOT believe what happened.  My heart stopped.

This was a (mostly) satisfying end. I would love to read a follow-up but it will not be necessary to the story - just to my heart.

Angel Experiment by James Patterson - #bookaday 5

The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, 1)
James Patterson
Genre: Paranormal

The Angel Experiment has been suggested for One Book consideration by students for the past 4 years. I've always said no way.  This year, I decided to put it in front of the committee, in the hopes that they would see it my way.

I started this one on audio.  Usually I go back and forth between the audio and the physical book if I have lots of books to read. Unfortunately my audio version was not only abridged but the narrator was not that great.

Not the best book I've read but I can see students enjoying this one. Lots of action and moves quickly. The writing style isn't my favorite and I can't see myself reading beyond this first one, though.  Also, a little concerned about the random violence even though it doesn't seem to keep anyone down. Maybe that's it - the violence doesn't seem to matter and that's my issue.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tools of the Trade by MK Hutchins - Guest Post - June 2014

Hutchins, M.K. Drift. Tu Books (Lee and Low), 2014. 392p. $19.95. 978-1-62014-145-8.

Pick up your copy of Drift (affiliate links) Amazon | Indiebound and stop by tomorrow for my review.

Drift follows Tenjat, 17 as he tries to carve out a life for his sister Eflet and himself. They lost their parents five years ago as they were escaping their previous island home, Island Ita.  Tenjat is determined to escape the life of a farmer hub and become a Handler on Island Gunaji to give Eflet the future she deserves. The future he promised his father he would give her.
Read on as M.K. Hutchins talks about flintknapping obsidian and how that helped define her worldbuilding in Drift.

Years ago I sat in a room with a tarp-blanketed floor, holding a chunk of obsidian in my hand. Some of the exterior of the rock remained – gray and pitted like a crumbling piece of city sidewalk. Inside, though, the obsidian gleamed: black as ink, glossy and glittering as polished jewelry. The stuff is practically magic.
Using a piece of antler or a round, smooth stone, I struck at the obsidian, trying to fracture off a long flake in a process known as flintknapping. Any badly-angled strikes could produce a bad flake or – worse – cause imperfections inside the stone that would make further flintknapping difficult. My protective leather gloves were soon spiderwebbed with thin cuts, even though I worked with care. Freshly flintknapped obsidian is far sharper than surgical steel scalpels. When the class was over, we gathered up those tarps and safely disposed of the obsidian in accordance with hazardous waste regulations.
Beyond the beauty and the skill and the danger, I also admired the technology I was trying to learn. It would be wasteful to take one chunk of obsidian and knap it down into a single tool. Ancient peoples figured out how to make cores. They looked somewhat like tapering cylinders with a flat striking platform on top. From that platform, an experienced flintknapper could knock of blade after blade, utilizing almost every bit of the beautiful stone.
And the Classic Maya were virtuosos of flintknapping. They didn’t just make tools and weapons, they made art, called flint eccentrics. By striking off flakes, they crafted delicate, graceful patterns and profiles of human faces. Every time I look at one of these, I think of how one misplaced blow during the manufacturing process could have snapped and ruined the entire thing. The technology to create these is lost – modern flintknappers can’t recreate them.
I never became a great flintknapper, but I’m still a little obsessed with obsidian. Fantasy is a genre defined by setting. It’s part of the reason that I, at least, read fantasy. I want to become immersed in a world, in the smells and sounds and tastes.

Drift was largely inspired by Maya mythology, and I wanted to pay homage to that. Often, fantasy is a realm of swords, blacksmiths, and horses, but I wanted to step away from that. I wanted jungles and plaster, howler monkeys and turkeys. And I wanted obsidian – with all its danger and beauty. In the novel, the use of stone tools is just one aspect about the world, but it made the world more real to me.
Sample Chapters of Drift
MK Hutchins blog
MK Hutchins Twitter

Blog Tour
June 19: John Scalzi’s Whatever Blog - M.K. Hutchins on worldbuilding and cultural ecology here
June 20: Supernatural Snark – M.K. Hutchins on being inspired by Maya mythology here.
June 23: It’s All About Books – M.K. Hutchins’ top 5 most influential books here.
June 25: Read Now Sleep Later - Drift GIVEAWAY here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Girl With the Windup Heart by Kady Cross - #bookaday 4

The Girl With the Windup Heart (Steampunk Chronicles, 4)
Kady Cross
Genre: Science Fiction

I've been waiting for this book for a year. I loved The Strange Case of Finley Jayne, The Girl in the Steel Corset and The Girl In the Clockwork Collar. I thought the Girl With the Iron Touch was good, but not as good as the others.  I wanted to know more about Mila. I was happy to hear Windup Heart would be about Mila!

But, it wasn't. Not really. Mila's story was interspersed with Griffin's story but I felt his took precedence. There seemed to be much repetition and things moved pretty slowly. I felt as if I was reading what was intended to be two short e-novellas.

I did like seeing Jack in action and seeing how much he'd grown to care for Mila. The introduction Finley's father was also a welcome addition. I would recommend reading at least the first two but not necessary to read the rest to feel satisfied.

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout - #bookaday 3

Obsidian (Lux, 1)
Jennifer Armentrout
Genre: Paranormal

This was a recommendation to me from a friend. Weirdly, I have a hard time taking recommendations even though that's part of my job. Sometimes it's because I have a lot to read already and sometimes I wonder what I will say if I don't like the book. I encourage students to tell me when they don't like something because it helps me advise them better the next time. I always try to get particulars so I can refine their choices.  I wish there was a way to add notes to their records instead of trying to keep track of it in my head.  If only there was an easy way for them to add reviews to our system.

Let's start with the cover.  I don't think the guy is attractive and he looks to old to be in high school. The author tells us over and over how hot he is and what a jerk he is. And yet ?, the main character, still liked him. I probably wouldn't have so much of a problem with it if she hadn't kept harping on it - like you can't be attractive and not be a jerk. Though of course, he has his reasons for being a jerk.

I never connected with any of the characters in this. I didn't feel an of the urgency or have a sense of foreboding. I did like the sense of humor and that Katy was a blogger. I enjoyed hearing her talk about doing her Waiting on Wednesday posts and other blogger memes. Other than that, not for me.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - #bookaday 2

The 5th Wave (1)
Rick Yancey
Genre: Science Fiction

Our goal for our One Book, One School program is to encourage students to choose reading as one of their recreational activities.  We look for books that make students want to turn the page and read on, and if there is a second book, to want to read that book also.

In the 5th Wave, aliens are invading the earth and killing off the population. They are doing it in waves and four waves have passed already. The few people who are left are trying to survive and plan for the 5th wave.  Cassie is hiding out in the woods, trying to make her way to Wright-Patterson where she believes her little brother, Sammy, has been taken.

Although Cassie's is the main story, we also hear from Evan, another survivor who helps Cassie out, and Ben Parrish, a soldier. Their stories overlapped in a way I predicted but the outcome is not one I suspected.

One criteria we have is the book we choose should hook you within the first 75 pages.  This is not that book. No matter how much I enjoyed reading The 5th Wave once I got hooked, it won't work for our purposes.  Though, I can't wait to pick up The Infinite Sea in September and this time I won't wait a year to read it!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Throwdown Year 3 - Librarians and Teachers READathon

Do you love reading?
 Is part of your job getting books into the hands of youngsters? 
Well, get ready to decrease those TBR Piles!

Brian (@BrianWyzlic), Jillian Hiese (@HeiseReads) and Sherry Gick (@LibraryFanatic) are excited to welcome you back to The Third Annual #SummerThrowdown!

Summer Throwdown is all about reading as much as you can so that you can bring new titles to your students in the fall. It started out as a contest between School Librarians and Teachers and just evolved!

The rules are simple:

  • Every book you read or listen to counts as 1 book. Every.Book.Counts!
  • Set your goal and enter it on the #SummerThrowdown Spreadsheet
  • Each time you read a book, enter it on the spreadsheet.
  • At the end of the month, let's see how you did!
An Optional Challenge
In order to satisfy those with a friendly competitive spirit (ME!) - we are encouraging you to do Callout Challenges!  Choose a friend and challenge them to read a certain number of books.

Then, over the course of July, let them know how many books you are reading and give them a little ribbing! This is totally optional! I've been called out by non other than Sherry (@LibraryFanatic)!

I accept Sherry's challenge to read 30 books and offer her one of my own - NO PICTURE BOOKS! What say you Sherry?? 

Again, this challenge is optional! 

The only thing you need to participate in #SummerThrowdown is a willingness to read and record your reading!

We do ask if you are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ or other social media - you use it as you are reading and add the #SummerThrowdown hashtag!

So, what are you waiting for?? 
Head on over to the #SummerThrowdown Spreadsheet to sign up! 

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson - #bookaday 1

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)
Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Science Fiction

As a fan of Brandon Sanderson and his extensive world-building (see my attempt to catalog The Way of Kings here, here, here, and here) I was eager to find out how his earlier writing compares to his more recent work. Mistborn is his second published work after Elantris, which I have around here somewhere too.

As much as I can tell, there are two major types of magic in Mistborn, Allomancy and Feruchemy.

Allomancers gain power by downing metals.  They can increase their vision by burning tin or their strentght by burning pewter.  Some Allomancers can only use one type of metals (there are at least 10, possibly 11) but Mistborns can use them all. Feruchemists use their own bodies to gain power, which they store in metals until needed. They can store up youth when they want to appear younger or strenghth when they need muscle power.

Mistborn follows Vin, a street thief, as she is caught up into a new thieving crew whose goal is to take down the Lord Ruler.  The crew is led by the legendary Kelsier, the only known survivor of the Halthisn Pits.  Vin doesn't trust anyone on the crew.  She goes along with them because she's interested in learning more about the gift of Luck that she has.  It turns out she is a true Mistborn and what she calls luck is a form of changing peoples emotions.  She can Soothe or Riot them. She also has many other powers.

What follows is Vin's take on Kelsier's plan. It introduces us to lots of cool magic, including traveling by pushing off metals, which reminds me of the Lashings in Sanderson's The Way Of Kings. They also read a logbook about The Hero of Ages which is the third book in the series. Can't wait to see how that connects!

So far I've enjoyed Mistborn, Warbreaker, Alcatraz Vs. Evil Librarians, The Way of Kings, The Rithmatist, and Steelheart. Hope to hit Elantris this summer and revisit Way of Kings next summer so I can read the sequel, Words of Radiance.

I am an Amazon and Indiebound Associate.

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? June 16, 2014

I'm looking forward to getting my reading mojo this summer.

Books Purchased
Thrive by Meenoo Rami
Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Books Read
Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
The Prophecy by Ellen Oh
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (17%)

I participated in 48 Hour Book Challenge last weekend, as my schedule permitted. The theme this year was #WeNeedDiverseBooks and I was able to finish Prophecy by Ellen Oh which was ok but a little light on development. I don't see myself going any further in the series but who knows!  I also read, and loved, The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson.  This was a seriously fun read! I will be using it as one of my first book club books for 6th graders.  The pacing was just right and the storyline was fun and easy to follow.  It will be interesting to discuss the reality of some of the pranks and see what we can pull off at school.  I'll be on the lookout for some other heist-type or shenanigan-related reads for a full display.

It was amazing to finish the Harry Potter series back to back. I needed an audio book back in April, picked up #1 and just couldn't stop listening. Though when the audiobook was checked out of the library, I did revert to reading the paper books.  It was so interesting to reread knowing how it all ended, every conversation, every spell, every magical item took on a new significance. Well played, JK Rowling.

It's  Monday, What Are You Reading is hosted by TeachMentorTexts.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

48 Hour Book Challenge - The Beginning - June 2014

Due to senior graduation (I can't believe my baby graduated! :() and many grad parties (I had many of these students in kindergarten!) my goal is to put in 12 hours. I have from now until Monday, June 9th, at 7am.

I have 3 books I would love to finish:

  1. Prophecy by Ellen Oh - diverse author and characters
  2. The Great Greene Heist  by Varian Johnson - diverse characters and author
  3. Tankborn by Karen Sandler (reread) - diverse characters
I have about 2 hours before the next party. Let's get this reading party started!

Monday, May 26, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? May 26, 2014

During the weekend of June 6, MotherReader will host the annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. This year the focus is #WeNeedDiverseBooks.  All books read during the event, whether middle grade, young adult, or adult, should have a diverse focus.
Due to graduation, and grad parties, and snow days, I won't be able to give this my full participation but I'm hoping to eek out 12 hours of reading! I'll post about the books I have on hand next week.  So now you gotta come back! ;)

What I Bought
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

What I Read
More Baths Less Talking by Nick Hornby
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling (audio)
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Super Human by Michael Carroll
The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner
Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling (audio and print) 49%
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst 45%

We are reading furiously to find our next One Book, One School selection. I'm lucky in that our Language Arts teachers choose great books to read and discuss with class and give students some choice also.  Students still look on this as "school reading" and, as such, our goal is to encourage students to read for fun. We have trivia contests, game shows, a book battle, art/writing/music contests, and this past year, a scavenger hunt. The contests are based on the reading, which we divide over a month, and they can win prizes. We use the power of everyone talking about the same book as a way to encourage students to read. In addition, everyone who works in the building gets the book.  We have a "formula" that we believe works, but we are also looking to branch out a bit. Hence, Super Human and Steelheart. I love superhero books. These also have great supervillians and focus on what is good and what is evil.  We are also looking at Harry Potter because we think this group of students we have may have missed out on the books.

I was lucky enough to meet Gae Polisner! Check out her Gae's facebook page for some great photos of the events she did for Reading For Life! I also got to meet Kelly Vorhis (@kelvorhis) and had a visit with the great, Sherry Gick (@libraryfanatic)! We had a great time at our own impromptu After Party!

Maria and I are doing something different for Batty About Books and so far, I don't like it! I miss her forcing me to check in partways through the book instead of waiting until the end!  Though, I think it's the type of book we are reading too. We read scifi or fantasy each time and mostly feel as if our arbitrary divisions hinder our enjoyment because we remove ourselves from the reading to make our posts.  I'm finding that the weekly breakdowns actually served to keep me vested when other chores were calling to me! Also, I miss the feeling of reading with Maria.  Things might change this week when we write about the book.  Can't wait.


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