Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NIGHTSHADE by Andrea Cremer

I have to start off by saying that I loved, loved, loved this book. NIGHTSHADE is absolutely making my list of favorite books for this school year.  The cover design is gorgeous, the concept is unique and intriguing, the fantasy world created is fascinating, the plot is fast-paced, the main character is a strong female, the boys she’s involved make are both feasible options, the secondary characters are entertaining, the side story about acceptance of gay friends is handled realistically and well, the (Wisconsin!) author’s knowledge of historical lore is apparent, the secrets make you want to know more, and the writing is engaging.  It was just released last week and I had heard so many positives about it, but when I went to the store to pick a book and saw the cover, I had to pick it up. So I decided to read the first chapter right there to see if I wanted to buy it, and I was instantly pulled into Calla’s world and left the store with the book – finishing it in three days. The book is well over 400 pages, but flies by, especially since the plot pacing is such that I couldn’t stop reading because I wanted to find out what would happen next.

Calla is a Guardian in the Nightshade pack. They are a pack of werewolves who work for the Keepers protecting something hidden. Calla is the daughter of the alpha wolf and she is a month away from a union with Ren, the son of the alpha wolf of the Bane pack. Once Calla and Ren unite, they will be the alphas of a new pack of this younger generation. Unfortunately, since the two packs are rivals, she’s never spent much time with Ren, except to see him dating lots of different girls at their school. This is interesting because as we get to know Ren more, we see why Calla is drawn to him - he's more than just his reputation - and we start to really like him as well for his sense of duty, protectiveness, and heart. Ren and Calla have to start spending time together to prepare for their union and combining their two packs into one. What no one knows is that Calla has already broken a major pack rule, when she saved a human boy from a bear attack in the woods – something forbidden for the Guardians to do.  When their first order as a combined pack is to protect Shay, the new boy, Calla knows she’s in trouble because he’s the boy from the woods. As she spends more time with him she realizes how much she wants to spend more time with him - and so do we - he is caring, honest, and wants to see the best in people. Calla learns a lot about the research Shay has been doing, which is related to the history of her people Calla has been forbidden to read because it is very different from the stories she has always been told.

This book is about Calla finding her way past the order and rules she’s always followed into being her own independent, free-thinking person.  Yes, the Ren-Calla-Shay love triangle is the main conflict in the story, but the reason it’s so important is because it represents two very legitimate choices for Calla: stick with being a Guardian, under the rule of the Keepers, with Ren and be a Guardian and live with her pack as she’s been preparing for all her life - or go with Shay, who thinks she is being treated like a slave, and run for her life to get away from this life that may not be what she always thought it was. The reason both are legitimate choices is because of all of the other family and pack characters in the book – and the fact that there is a feeling that Calla truly cares for both Ren and Shay, but in different ways.  Her ultimate decision is made based on the information she has at the time, and her desire to protect those she loves.  Calla thinks it’s about survival, but Ren counters, “This is only about love.”  And it is because you will end up loving this book!

I can’t believe I have to wait until next summer to read book two: WOLFSBANE (you can preview chapter 1 on the series website at! This is a planned trilogy.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (5)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting concept/listing from The Story Siren for YA book bloggers to share titles that have been arriving and will be showing up in reviews soon (read about what it is and how it got started here: In My Mailbox).
This will be a semi-regular feature on Teach 8 YA Book Blog. 

I only got one book this week, but wanted to make sure to thank Penguin Young Readers Group!  The Penguin Books 4 Boys website is a great resource for middle grade and young adult books that will grab the interest of our boy readers, and they do an ARC giveaway every month for the first 100 people to send them an email request. Great resource!

Advanced Copy from Penguin's Books 4 Boys  
I know some of my boys will be really excited for this newest one as they've read the whole series.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Suggestions Needed

I need to go buy some books at Borders tomorrow to use a coupon and get to the next reward level. I'm limiting myself to three books. I can't decide which ones to get. Any suggestions?

Books I'm Considering:
Bright Young Things
Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters
The Replacement
Girl Parts
Brain Jack
Black Hole Sun
Virgin Territory
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else
Infinity: Chronicles of Nick
The Line
The Gardener
For the Win
Thirteen Reasons Why (a second copy since I can't keep it on the shelf in my classroom)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Giveaway: Signed ARCHVILLAIN by Barry Lyga ARC

Welcome to Teach 8 YA Book Blog's first giveaway!
I have a SIGNED ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) of Barry Lyga's new middle grades book, ARCHVILLAIN to for this contest.  It seems appropriate to read a story like this away around Halloween, so you have until October 23rd to enter.
Summary from back of the book:
Sometimes it's good to be bad.
Kyle Camden knows exactly where he was the night Mighty Mike arrived: sneaking around the fallow field behind Bouring Middle School, preparing one of his most ingenious pranks yet.
Which is why he couldn't tell anyone where he was.
Or what he saw.
Those lights everyone saw in the sky weren't tiny meteors burning up in the atmosphere. They were some kind of strange, supercooled plasma that bathed the entire field-including Kyle-in alien energies.
Unfortunately, the energies also brought Mighty Mike to Earth.
Kyle is the only one who knows that Mighty Mike is an alien. Everyone else thinks that Mike is just some kid who stumbled into the field, got beefed up on meteor juice, lost his memory, and decided to start rescuing kittens from trees. But Kyle knows the truth.
And he'll do anything in his power to stop Mighty Mike, even if it means being an Archvillain.
Giveaway Contest Rules:

  • You will receive a signed Uncorrected Proof of ARCHVILLAIN by Barry Lyga. 
  • Contest is only open to US addresses. 
  • Following this blog, commenting on a post, and promoting this contest will earn extra entries. 
  • Winner will be randomly drawn after contest ends on October 23, 2010 at 11:59pm. 
  • Winner will be notified via email and have 72 hours to respond or I'll draw a new winner.  
  • Must be at least 13 years old to enter. 
  • Only one entry form per person please.

Fill Out Form to Enter
*Book was provided by Barry Lyga and Scholastic for the purposes of hosting a giveaway on a book blog.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Oh, how happy I am that Rick Riordan is back with some more Greek mythology stories. I've missed percy Jackson since he finished his quests, saved the gods on Mt. Olympus, and completed his prophecy. Although he is not in THE LOST HERO, other than just his name being mentioned, he still plays an integral role. I loved being taken back to Camp Half Blood, and some familiar characters, as we met three new demigods who we learn are incredibly important to the world as the gods have set it up now.  THE LOST HERO has it all: adventure, battles, comedy, friendship, family drama, mythology references, saving the world urgency, excitement, mystery, and a little teen romance thrown in for good measure all in a quick read book.

In THE LOST HERO we meet Jason who doesn't remember who he is or where he's from - he just pops up one day on a school field trip. He's sitting next to Piper, who has her own issues because she keeps stealing things to get her famous father's attention and also thinks Jason is her boyfriend. Sitting near them is Leo who brings most of the comic relief to the story. When the monsters attack, we come to find out that Jason can speak Latin and refers to the gods by their Roman names. When the three are rescued and taken to Camp Half Blood, we meet up with lots of familiar characters and hear a new prophecy, and find out the parentage of the three new characters and what their quest will be. Along the way we meet new minor gods and goddesses, lots of mythological animals and people, and go along on their journey to building the friendship of Jason, Piper, and Leo and saving a major goddess.

The thing I really love about Rick Riordan's writing is that it's pretty straight forward and written at a great middle grades level.  That means it will be easily accessible/readable to all of my eighth grade students; however, as Percy's fans have grown, so has the size of the new series of books - this one tops out at 553 pages. The beauty is that because of the excitement and pacing of the story, I never wanted to stop reading it or put it down.  Another change that was made for this series, that I really enjoyed, is that it is actually told from three different character's points-of-view.  The book is written in third person, but when we first meet the main characters, we're reading from Jason's perspective, then after two chapters we move to Piper's, and then after another two chapters we get Leo's.  I liked that the timing of the change was consistent throughout the book allowing me to know what was coming, but also each chapter was titled the character's name from whose perspective it was written. 

This book nicely sets up the larger premise for this new series by Rick Riordan - but I won't give that away here because I don't want to spoil the story!  Luckily, we'll be getting new Rick Riordan books every six months alternating between The Kane Chronicles series and The Heroes of Olympus series - with the next heroes book, THE SON OF NEPTUNE coming out in a year.

THE LOST HERO is a must-read book for everyone who loved the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: The Lightning Thief, Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, Battle of the Labryinth, and The Last Olympian.  You won't be disappointed and will be so happy to be back in this world again. And if you haven't read the others yet, you need to!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (4)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting concept/listing from The Story Siren for YA book bloggers to share titles that have been arriving and will be showing up in reviews soon (read about what it is and how it got started here: In My Mailbox).  This will be a semi-regular feature on Teach 8 YA Book Blog. 

Some great books were released this week and we had the Scholastic Book Fair at school, so there are lots of books coming into my classroom library this week!

Books I Bought:
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Sequel to The Maze Runner - Signed after getting to meet and talk with the author!

The Heroes of Olympus: THE LOST HERO by Rick Riordan
Continuation of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians world. I had to get two copies so I could read one and start allowing students to read one. I won't be able to keep this on my shelves!

BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Sequel to Beautiful Creatures I can't wait to read!

I AM NUMBER FOUR (Lorien Legacies) by Pittacus Lore
I've been hearing good things about this one and am always looking for good books for boys, plus it's going to be a movie.

CHANGE UP: Mystery at the World Series by John Feinstein
His sports mysteries are fun and I didn't have this one yet.

IF I STAY by Gayle Forman
Got a paperback to have a second copy of one of my favorite books.

From the Scholastic Book Fair:
A DOG'S PURPOSE: A Novel For Humans by W. Bruce Cameron

DEAD IS JUST A RUMOR by Marlene Perez

TRANCE by Linda Gerber

FRAMED by Gordon Korman

TEARS OF A TIGER by Sharon Draper


NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL by Justina Chen Headley
This is another one I was excited to see at the Book Fair because I've heard that it's a really powerful book.

Books I Won:
MY LITTLE PHONY (The Clique #13) by Lisi Harrison
Thanks YA Books Central!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher

INCARCERON is one of those books that I think boys will really like because it deals with prisons, fights, escapes, mysteries, secret plans, backstabbing, assassination plots, and science-fiction stuff that has action scenes and is intriguing. That being said, I struggled with it because I was really confused for most of the first hundred pages or so, and it wasn't until page 200 that I had that jaw-dropping moment where I started to figure things out and wanted to know what would happen next. At that point I started to care more about what would happen to Finn and his crew that were trying to find a way out of the prison, while I was eager to see if Claudia, the Warden's daughter on the Outside, would figure out what was really going on and be able to rescue Finn from Incarceron. 

They live in a society that has halted progress. The world's technology got so advanced that they created a prison that was a closed system. They would take all of the criminals and put them in there, lock the doors, and never allow anyone else in or out. Then on the outside, they follow Protocol to live as if it is two hundred years ago without the technology that they are so scared of. One thing I really liked was how the story was told - we get to see part of the story from Finn's perspective and the other part from Claudia's perspective. I'm finding I really like the books that give multiple points-of-view to tell the same story; it's especially necessary in this book where the story actually happens simultaneously in two different places. The book deals with a lot of issues of progress in society, the benefit or detriment of technology advances, and if solutions are really good or just another way of putting someone in a prison.

My feelings about INCARCERON reminded me of when I read The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I struggled through not knowing what was going on in the beginning, got further in and started to care and want to know what would happen to the characters, got close to the end when it through me for a loop with a really weird sci-fi/supernatural element, felt like I had finally started to get to the part where I was figuring things out, and then it ended - but left a huge cliff-hanging ending making me reluctantly eager to read the next book.  I know that's not a glowing endorsement, but again, I think it's just not right up my alley as far as genre goes.  I'm not sure if I'll read the next one, as this one's 443 pages took me quite a while to read, mostly because I wasn't dying to read the next pages enough to put aside other things. I will definitely recommend it to my boy students to give it a try.

The sequel, SAPPHIQUE, comes out December 28th.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (3)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting concept/listing from The Story Siren for YA book bloggers to share titles that have been arriving and will be showing up in reviews soon (read about what it is and how it got started here: In My Mailbox).  This will be a semi-regular feature on Teach 8 YA Book Blog. 
This week I got a few books for writing reviews, so I guess those are moving to the top of my to-read list, but I need to get through Incarceron first (which probably isn't going to happen until parent/teacher conferences are over in two weeks)! 

For Review (co-reviewing on Book Divas):
CRASH TEST LOVE by Ted Michael

For a Future Giveaway:
Excited to read this middle grades novel, and it's signed for giveaway! Thanks Barry Lyga and Scholastic!

Pre-Order Arrived:
TORMENT by Lauren Kate, sequel to Hush, Hush

Bought (great deals at Sam's Club!):
RADIANCE by Alyson Noel

I've been hearing really, really good things about this one - book two, Dead Tossed Waves, is out in hardcover now.