Tuesday, November 30, 2010

MATCHED by Ally Condie

MATCHED (out today) by Ally Condie is a book about a dystopian society that thinks it is utopian. In the same vein as The Giver and The Hunger Games, there is a main character who has bought into the way society has been made better, but through the course of events in the story, begins to learn that her society isn't all it's cracked up to be. I loved the characters, the plot, the society/world created, the conflict, the writing - I LOVED this book! This has definitely become one of my favorite books I've read this year, and the trilogy will be on my must-read list for my students!

In Cassia's society, everything is highly controlled by the government: where people live, what they can do, when they can marry and have children, where they can go, information available to them, and who they can be with. On their 17th birthday, the people go to a Matching Banquet where they receive the person that the computer system and technology have found to be their perfect match for their future. At that point, they get to start dating and when they are older, they can choose to marry that person or be single. This is a society in which the government doesn't make mistakes because they have systems that they have found to be better than information that was available in the past.  However, on Cassia's matching day, her disc reveals her best friend as her match, but also shows the face of another boy that Cassia wasn't meant to see. What she chooses to do with this information, how the two boys involved react to it, her family's secret knowledge revelations, her interactions with the officials at the matching department, and the way her world is shown to her once the haze of perfection has worn off become the push for moving this intriguing story forward.

The plot of this book was fast-moving with many events happening that made me want to know what would happen next. It also had great thoughtful and thought-provoking moments. One of the most interesting aspects of this book was the idea of this society that felt that the world had gotten too complicated and busy which affected people in a bad way, so they took the 100 best of everything: poetry, books, songs, etc. and that is all the information/learning people had access to anymore. Ally Condie created a world in this book that I want to keep reading about. The way that Cassia's journey of discovery happens throughout the story made me want to root for her to rebel against what the society has told them. I wanted to root for her to find her own path and to find ways to work against the society as she discovered more about Ky and Xander and what role they both play in her overall view of her society. I also felt they were both represented true feelings and choices for Cassia.

This book is the first in a planned trilogy, and I for one, am anxious to find out where this story will go. Just as anxious as I was to find out what would happen to Katniss, Peeta, and Gale in Catching Fire, I can't wait to see where Ally Condie takes Cassia, Ky, and Xander in the next book in the series. One of the best things about this book though, is that there is a clear resolution at the end for the first part of the story for these characters, and as much as I'm looking forward to what will happen next, I still felt fulfilled by what I was given. It's not a cliffhanger of an ending and it's very satisfying.

I'll definitely be first in line to buy the next one in the series!

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of this book from a giveaway on whatchyareading.net which they received from the publisher. I was not compensated or persuaded in any way for this review.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (7)

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, since I was at ALAN, I actually got so many books I haven't had time to inventory all of them yet; however, there are a couple I got other places that I did want to mention. So here is my short list for this week - expect a much, much longer list next week!

Book I Won

FREEFALL by Mindi Scott
Won from The Contemps Challenge (see my previous post)
Mindi sent me a signed copy of her book - and since she knew I was a teacher - a stack of signed bookmarks for her book to give to my students also! Thanks so much Mindi!!!

Book I Bought

THE ETERNAL ONES by Kirsten Miller
Thanks to Borders for the 50% off pre-Black Friday coupon! Although I had two boxes of books being shipped back from ALAN, I couldn't pass up a coupon that good for a hardcover I'd heard great things about and been wanting to read.

Authors I Heard at ALAN

When I went to the ALAN Workshop early last week, I was lucky enough to hear a wonderful lineup of YA authors talking about their books and writing related to the theme of the workshop: Looking for the Real Me: The Search for Self in Young Adult Literature

I haven't had time to inventory the multitude of books I got yet (there are a lot!)...that will be coming in my IMM next weekend; but I did want to put the list of authors that I heard out here.  It was such a phenomenal experience at this year's ALAN Workshop and I was using twitter throughout the two days to share the nuggets of wisdom from the authors as I heard them - so I wouldn't forget!  You can check out all of my ALAN posts on my twitter page or the #alan10 hashtag stream to see my thoughts along with others who attended. Technology made it so easy to get thoughts out there right away before they were lost - and there was quite a bit of deep thinking going on and being shared by these fabulous authors!

The ALAN Workshop 2010 Author Line Up:
Day One: Carlos Eire, Darren Shan, David Levithan & Rachel Cohn, Rebecca Stead, Sarah Mlynowski, Sara Holbrook, Michael Salinger, Allan Wolf, Matt de la Pena, Jesica Warman, Sigmund Brouwer, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Lisa Yee, Art Corriveau, Laura Resau, Frank Beddor, PJ Haarsma, Megan Whalen Turner, Siobhan Vivian, Abby McDonald, Tricia Rayburn, Sneed B. Collard, IIII, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Jeannette Ingold, Beth Kephart, Ned Vizzini, Han Nolan, Janette Rallison, Carolyn Mackler, Lauren Myracle, Cinda Williams Chima, Sarwat Chadda, Cindy Pon, Rita Williams-Garcia, Dana Reinhardt, Ellen Hopkins, Jane Springer, Jon Lewis, Kristin Cashore

Day Two: Ruta Sepetys, Laban Carrick Hill, Barry Deutsch, George O'Connor, David Macinnis Gill, Robin Wasserman, S.A. Bodeen, Ally Condie, Rene Saldana, Derrick Barnes, Brent Crawford, Martin Chatterton, Tom Angleberger, Robin Brande, A.S. King, Lisa McMann, Alyson Noel, Bill Konigsberg, Malinda Lo, Michael Cart, Holly Black, Carrie Ryan, Marlene Perez, Andrea Cremer, Hilary Wagner, Judy Blundell, Amy Gordon, Ally Carter, Heather Brewer, Melissa de la Cruz, Adam Rex, Lauren Oliver, James Lecesne, S.L. Rottman, Lisa Klein

Sunday, November 21, 2010

ALAN Here I Come!

I'm super excited to be heading to the ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE) Workshop for the third year! 
My first year was in San Antonio and I met Rick Riordan, read Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, and discovered e lockheart and her fabulous book The Disreputable History of Frankie Landeau-Banks.  My second year was in Philly and that's where I got the amazing book Thirteen Reasons Why and an ARC of Linger and met and discovered my love of Maggie Stiefvater (she's hilariously awesome to listen to). 

This year it's in Orlando - and I can't wait to see what new YA authors/book discoveries I'll make. This workshop is always an invigorating and inspiring two days of listening to young adult authors talk about their books and the impact they have on adolescents in today's society. It focuses on what the new trends are in young adult literature and the motivations, inspirations, and processes of the authors who write them. I also get a box full of new books from the wonderful publishers who help sponsor the workshop. It's always fun to walk in the first morning and see a room full of adults (teachers, librarians, professors, etc.) tearing into boxes full of books and exclaiming over the contents. It's like Oprah's Favorite Things, but with YA books! I'll be posting a list when I can (probably after Thanksgiving), but that's where I'll be for the next few days...immersed in celebrating young adult literature.

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (6)

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.

Sent to Me

SPRAY by Harry Edge
Middle grades adventure book that sounds great for boys.
Thanks to Macmillian!

THE EMERALD ATLAS (The Books of Beginning, Book One) by John Stephens
New middle grades fantasy/magic trilogy releasing in April, 2011
Thanks to Random House!

Won from the Contemps Challenge

Got it the day it was announced that I won!  Thanks so much to The Contemps authors - I'm so excited for the 21 books I have coming my way - especially this one that I've heard so much good stuff about and have been waiting to read!


PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White
Thanks to Borders for the free $10 in Borders Bucks!

Scholastic Book Order

Starcrossed: ARIES RISING by Bonnie Hearn Hill

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Contemps Challenge Winner-ME! New Books Coming Soon

I'm soooooooo excited right now!  I found out that I am the winner of The Contemps Challenge. That means I'm getting 21 new books - what's better than new books to read and bring into my classroom?!?  The Contemps is a group of 21 contemporary realistic fiction authors who got together and created a website to promote their books and the love of reading their genre. They had a contest to get people to take the challenge to read as many of their books as possible. When you accepted the challenge, you also were entered into the contest to win all of the books. I can't believe it, but I won!

Thanks so much to The Contemps: YA Authors Keeping It Real!  Visit their website for more information from all of the authors: The Contemps

This is the list of books I'll be getting as they're published (with publisher and release date):
Losing Faith by Denise Jaden (Simon Pulse, September 7, 2010)
The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger (Little, Brown/Poppy, September 7, 2010)
Girl, Stolen by April Henry (Henry Holt, September 28, 2010)
Freefall by Mindi Scott (Simon Pulse, October 5, 2010)
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney (Little, Brown, November 2, 2010)
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler (Little, Brown, December 15, 2010)
Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers (St. Martin's Press, December 21, 2010)
Trapped by Michael Northrop (Scholastic, February, 2011)
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer (HarperTeen, February 15, 2011
Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt (Bloomsbury, March 1, 2011)
Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard (Random House/Delacorte, March 8, 2011)
Family by Micol Ostow (Egmont USA, April 26, 2011)
Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith (Dutton, April 28, 2011)
Pearl by Jo Knowles (Henry Holt, Spring, 2011)
Saving June by Hannah Harrington (Harlequin Teen, May, 2011)
Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott (Simon Pulse, May 24, 2011)
The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder (Simon Pulse, June 28, 2011)
Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker (Bloomsbury, July 19, 2011)
The third book in the Carter series by Brent Crawford (Summer, 2011)
Sharks & Boys by Kristen Tracy (Disney-Hyperion, Summer, 2011)
Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman (Scholastic Press, August, 2011)

Monday, November 8, 2010


A society in which Generation AAA's schools are now in abandoned refurbished malls, run by corporate sponsors, and all of the main communication is done through social networking - how far into the future is this in reality? THE UNIDENTIFIED takes place in a near future in which teens go to school each day in "The Game" where their every move is monitored by the corporations who sponsor their schools and the more popular they are, the more they can get branded and have nicer things. The majority of their interaction is done through facebook and twitter-like status updates on ipod touch-like handheld devices with GPS tracking. The goal is to set fashion trends, score points at the games (classes), and become popular to be "branded" and hang out in the VIP area while becoming a spokesperson for your corporate brand. Kid is not very popular, and she likes it that way, she can just produce her music and stay out of trouble. It's all fine until the day the body falls into the food court in front of her from the 5th floor railing. The body was a dummy, but the note attached was not - it's from "The Unidentified" - those who are rebelling against the corporate sponsors running their everyday school lives - and refusing to be identified by the material things they own. Once Kid starts to look into it more, she actually becomes more interesting to the corporations and as she gets more involved, she finds out more about how the Game really runs. Can she help out her family without losing herself to the corporate game and lose all of her friends? 

Overall I liked this book and the issues it brought up and the movement of the plot; although, I did have a little trouble totally getting engaged with the characters in the beginning, but was intrigued by the mystery. The book moves along with the mystery to be solved - who are "The Unidentified" and what do they really want and why? It also has quite a bit of action with different scenes wondering what will happen to Kid and her friends and the people she knows within the Game. Ultimately this book is about the choices we make, why we make them, and who is watching. This book is about identity - finding your own, keeping it, and portraying it in the face of others who might be looking for something else. It's an interesting commentary on the social networking society we now live in and the choices we make because we know people are watching - are we really our true selves or are we the self we want to portray to everyone who's reading? 

Reminds me of/Other anti-corporate books like this: Teen, Inc - So Yesterday - The Gospel According to Larry 


Saturday, November 6, 2010

CRASH TEST LOVE by Ted Michael

CRASH TEST LOVE by Ted Michael is the story of a boy and a girl and how they become the crash test dummies of high school love. Henry Arlington is a player - he and his best friends crash local Sweet Sixteen parties just to hook up with girls - helping Henry forget his troubles at home with a father who won't talk about his missing mother. Garrett has just moved from Chicago to New York leaving a boyfriend and best friend behind. They meet at a party, talk briefly, and then on the first day of school, they run into each other and aren't sure what to think. Garrett has no friends, has a boyfriend and best friend back in Chicago who aren't talking to her, and doesn't want to be in New York - so she's giving up on boys and focusing on herself. Henry isn't enjoying the party crashing so much anymore and can't stop thinking about Garrett. One day at lunch she is invited to sit with the "J Squad", the most popular girls at school, and is invited to join them on a probationary basis - as long as she can get Henry to take her as his date to the biggest Sweet Sixteen of the year - the one being filmed by MTV. The J Squad has a hidden motive, but Garrett doesn't worry too much about it until she starts to fall for Henry, and Henry has never stayed with a girl longer than one date.

I liked this book, even if it was somewhat predictable at times. It's like a classic teen movie plot, but with characters that I liked and cared about once I got to know them. There was some good character development in how Henry and Garrett grew up through the course of this novel because I certainly didn't like them in the beginning. I thought they were both doing things that didn't make sense, but as I learned more about each of them, I ended up liking both - I didn't agree with all of their choices, but I was rooting for them. It's an interesting and entertaining coming-of-age story for two characters who aren't quite sure how to handle what happens to them, but since we get to hear the story from both characters' alternating points-of-view, it helps the reader care about them. It's a little more mature, but not too graphic in details. I also really liked that this story didn't have the typical happy ending of a romance story, but left me with hope for these characters who would figure it out and have a decent chance for successful relationships in the future.


This book was provided by Book Divas (http://www.bookdivas.com).