Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The WAKE Trilogy by Lisa McMann

Title: WAKE / FADE / GONE (trilogy)
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: 3/4/08, 2/10/09, 2/9/10
Number of Pages: 210, 248, 219
Source of Book: Had the first one on my shelf and bought the next two at an author signing event.
Author's Website:

Goodreads Summaries:
     For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime. 
     She can't tell anybody about what she does they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can’t control.
Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant.

      For Janie and Cabel, real life is getting tougher than the dreams. They're just trying to carve out a little (secret) time together, but no such luck.
      Disturbing things are happening at Fieldridge High, yet nobody's talking. When Janie taps into a classmate's violent nightmares, the case finally breaks open -- but nothing goes as planned. Not even close. Janie's in way over her head, and Cabe's shocking behavior has grave consequences for them both.
      Worse yet, Janie learns the truth about herself and her ability -- and it's bleak. Seriously, brutally bleak. Not only is her fate as a dream catcher sealed, but what's to come is way darker than she'd feared....

     Janie thought she knew what her future held. And she thought she’d made her peace with it. But she can’t handle dragging Cabel down with her.

     She knows he will stay with her, despite what she sees in his dreams. He’s amazing. And she’s a train wreck. Janie sees only one way to give him the life he deserves: She has to disappear. And it’s going to kill them both.
     Then a stranger enters her life — and everything unravels. The future Janie once faced now has an ominous twist, and her choices are more dire than she’d ever thought possible. She alone must decide between the lesser of two evils. And time is running out. . . .

I decided to talk about the whole WAKE trilogy together because I read them in such a short span of time. I started the first book knowing that I was going to see Lisa McMann speak, and I very quickly got hooked into the story. I got the next two books and flew through them as well, finishing the last one in under four hours. A combination of the writing style, the pacing and suspense of the plot, and the length of the books led to them being fast reads for me.

One of the things I liked the most, but took me a little bit to get used to when I started, was Lisa's use of a spare writing style that was a little bit jumpy at times (in a good way) and almost had a free verse feel to it in various parts. They are written in third person but sometimes switch perspectives from Janie to what the other characters would be thinking. When I heard her talk about her books, she said that her own daughter was a reluctant reader, and so that was her audience for this series, and I think the writing style fits that really well. She also uses date and time stamps to separate the progressing events in the stories, which I liked, although sometimes I had to look back to see what day I had been on to see how much time had passed to the next one.

I really liked Janie and Cabel quite a bit. They are both scarred characters who need someone who can be there for them, but each struggle with being that person for each other as well. Their journey and maturity is one of my favorite parts about this series. These books also have a portrayal of a child with an alcoholic parent, and the stress and responsibility that puts on Janie. Parts of the books in the dreams of others can be a little creepy, but the uniqueness of the ability and how it is used to help for good was very interesting to read. There were some great supporting characters as well that added to the story and showed that family isn't always made up of those you're born with.

I really enjoyed the first book as Janie figures out her abilities and things with Cabel, there are some pretty mature scenes and content especially in the second book, and the third book did not have as much action, but led up to a necessary conclusion for Janie's story with Cabel and puts them in a good place by the end.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mara Mondays - Author Interview with Michelle Hodkin

Welcome to the last of the Mara Mondays posts 
(honestly, I'm kind of sad it's over, but excited for more people to read the book!)
You get to meet Mara & Noah tomorrow!!! 
And today, right here, you get to meet Michelle Hodkin, gracious and fabulous author of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER, who answered a fast five questions about Mara and her writing. A little something to tide you over until you can read Mara's story tomorrow.

What prompted you to write this story?
The short answer is that I was inspired by true events. The long answer is going to be posted on Until then, all I can say is: :) 

Did anyone or anything in your own life inspire any of your characters: Mara, Noah, Daniel, Jamie?
But bits of myself definitely make it into each of the characters. I’d have to say, though, that I’m probably the most like Jamie. Foul-mouthed, brutally honest, and pretty obnoxious. But a super loyal friend. 

How long did it take for Mara to go from idea to book? How many revisions did you go through?
Ten months from the first words until the day I submitted it in late March. Probably two significant rewrites and three additional significant revisions before my editor even got her (capable and brilliant) hands on it. 

What do you hope readers take away from this book?
Honestly? I just wanted people to have fun reading it. But I wouldn’t be sad if it made even one person re-think the (silly) idea that pit bulls should be banned from towns, cities, states, and even countries. That will seem kind of random if you haven’t read the book :) 

What's next for you as an author?
The sequel to THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER, which comes out in Fall 2012!

Thank you so much, Michelle!!! 

Don't forget to check out this week's other Mara Mondays offerings and comment away to be entered in Lori's contest at Pure Imagination. And get make sure you get to the store to get your hands on Mara tomorrow!
Vy's Blog 
Pure Imagination

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (37)

In My Mailbox is a posting idea run by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've gotten that week to help publicize as many titles as possible. It's a little preview on what book reviews to anticipate along with a way to build excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

This week I bought quite a few books because of author signings/events I went to (Lisa McMann-who is so nice and fun & Anderson's YA Lit Conference). It's always good to support the bookstores bringing in these authors!

Of course I had to get the pretty finished copy of this one! It officially releases on Tuesday, but because the fabulous Michelle was at the conference, they had signed copies available. I can't wait to read this one again and see if I can spot the differences from the ARC, but mostly, I'm excited to go back into this world that I loved so much the first time around. You're aware of my obsession with it greatness, right? (If not, this might be the first time you're visiting my blog, so peek around a little bit:))

FADE (DreamCatcher #2) by Lisa McMann
I started reading the first book, WAKE, before I went to her event and got hooked (and kind of adore Cabel) and had to read through the rest of the series in a couple of days!

GONE (DreamCatcher #3) by Lisa McMann

CRYER'S CROSS by Lisa McMann 
I've heard a lot of positives about this one, and now that I know a bit of the story behind it, I'm even more intrigued to read it.

Her middle grades dystopian/fantasy (I'm partway into it and it's fabulous!). Actually bought one for myself/classroom and one for my nephew!

SECRET SATURDAYS by Torrey Maldonado
This one sounded like a really good middle school appropriate book.

ONLY ONE YOU byLinda Kranz
Really sweet picture book I've read before and saw on the shelf, so wanted a copy to share with my students.


CLAIRE DE LUNE by Christine Johnson
I actually won one of the door prizes at the conference and this was the book in my bag. I've heard it's a good werewolf story, so I'm excited to have it to read.

Friday, September 23, 2011


I know you're all very aware of my love for THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by the fabulous debut author, Michelle Hodkin, and now I have this to share with you: the very cool book trailer put out by MTV Crush today. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Oh, and stop back on Monday for the final installment of Mara Mondays for my interview with Michelle! By the way, don't forget to go buy your own copy of Mara on Tuesday!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mara Mondays - Review of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin

Welcome back to the second installment of Mara Mondays! 
Don't forget to pre-order THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER from your favorite book seller, or make plans now to go to the store next Tuesday to get your hands on this incredible book!

And remember to check out this week's other Mara Mondays offerings and comment away to be entered in Lori's contest at Pure Imagination.
The Secret Life of a Avid Reader - Miami post
Greads - Quote graphics post

It's been three months since I first posted my review/thoughts on THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER, so I wanted to share it again for those of you who may have missed it, and to remind you of all of the reasons that you want to get your hands on this book when it releases next week!
  *This review originally posted in June. 

Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Number of Pages: 464
Source of Book: Borrowed the ARC from Sarah @ Y.A. Love

Publisher Summary:
Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
     It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
     There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
     She's wrong.
OK...I know this is a really early review, but I needed to process my thoughts about this book - and that's why I have a book blog - to share my thoughts! :)

I should warn you now - you're in for high amounts of gushing about this book (but no major spoiling!). I had seen the gorgeous cover, read the summary, then read the first chapter preview and I was hooked and knew this was a must-read book for me.

THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER is one of the most interesting books that I have read in awhile. It blew my mind, kept me on my toes, crawled under my skin, tugged at my heart, and won't get out of my head. It is a multi-layered story: part psychological thriller, part epic teen romance, part high school story, part mystery, part family dynamics, and part suspense. Oh, and I can't forget the slight paranormal tendencies (in the mental sense not creatures) underlying the events of this book. It is a page-turning, hard to put down, want to know what will happen and how the main character will figure it all out kind of book. It starts with a note from Mara setting up the premise that she's going to be telling you her story (under a pseudonym) of why her life is not normal. It's definitely a book you have to read with an open mind so you can just go with it. At times I thought, "oh, this is like ___" only to find out I was wrong, but I could definitely see the influences of other YA books, but done with unique twists. There are lots of "what is going on?!" and "did that just happen?!" moments, but that's what made it so much more readable.

Michelle Hodkin (a debut author!) has an engaging writing style that is a nice balance of descriptive, exciting, humorous, suspenseful, sarcastic, and intelligent. It just draws you in without even realizing it and you find yourself negotiating "just one more chapter before I go to sleep" fifteen times in a row until you can't keep your eyes open anymore. Parts of this book (especially the dialogue) were so smile to myself entertaining I found myself rereading them just to soak them in more and deeply process the subtle references and entertaining quality.

And the main character Michelle has written in Mara? Not the most reliable, or most sane, but she's got an awesome sass to her that I love, and underneath her insecurity and unsureness has a strength and integrity that drew me to her even more. Mara doesn't remember what happened the night the building collapsed and her friends were killed. One of the best parts of this book is the way that Mara's memories of that night start to come back to her. We get flashbacks through her dreams as she gets them - leaving us feeling as unsure as Mara does about what's going on - but eventually we finally get the whole story of that night and the story comes together really well. It's written in the way that makes you feel like the character is feeling at that point in the book - you'll be scared, hopeful, worried, confused, happy, and freaked out when Mara is feeling that way as you go through the story with her.

Should we talk boys now? How about my newest (and quite possibly best ever) literary crush - Noah Shaw. Really, after reading it, I sigh just hearing his name. I love, love, love Noah's character. He's got a great way of talking (and lots of hidden secrets to come) and interacting and being that is just captivating. The parts I found myself rereading the most were the interactions between Mara and Noah. Now, I should warn you, at first I was a little skeptical because he seemed like the stereotypical bad boy, insta-crush, jerk to girls, love interest character, but there's much, much more than meets the eye (or rumor mill as the case may be) with Noah Shaw. Don't let his early interactions fool you - there is an epic sort of romance that develops between Mara and Noah that will have you swooning by the end.

Secondary characters deserve a mention too - maybe because I have two brothers myself and am the middle/only girl, I really enjoyed Mara's relationship with her brothers - especially her older brother Daniel. He's great. He watches out for her, covers for her, protects her, and pushes her to get out there. I want a big brother like him. We also see Mara at her new school after they move out of state and meet her new friend Jamie. He is awesomely sarcastic and witty and good comedic relief. He also serves as commentary to set the stage for what's going on in the new school's dynamics. I enjoyed reading both Daniel's and Jamie's characters; I would have liked a little more of Jamie though.

This book all leads up to an ending that is unexpected and left me wondering What?! How did that happen?! It made me want to go back and reread the whole book with that new perspective and see if it changed my thoughts on earlier parts of the story. It ends at a point that added a final cliffhanger of a twist and left me hoping that there would be more - and there will be a sequel (thank goodness because I need answers!) You may feel a little off balance at the end of this one, but I truly think that's part of the reason that it is so good. I want my stories to surprise me once in awhile and this one was definitely surprising. Be on the lookout for THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER in stores on September 27th!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (36)

In My Mailbox is a posting idea run by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've gotten that week to help publicize as many titles as possible. It's a little preview on what book reviews to anticipate along with a way to build excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

Sometimes being a teacher/blogger has it's upsides, like when I get some books from the school/library divisions of publishers to share with my students like I did this week. Unfortunately, the downside is that being a teacher, I haven't had much time to read so far in the first 2 1/2 weeks of school, but I'm hoping to change that trend soon. I'm guessing some of my students will be getting their eyes on these books before I will.

I went to a local indie bookstore for a Simone Elkeles signing (awesome!), and since I already had all of her books, I made sure to buy some others to help support them bring in authors.

I loved THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA and it's a fantastic humorous middle grades book, so I'm definitely looking forward to reading this sequel and then passing it right on to my students.

This one just sounded really good and was on the recommendation shelf at the store. When I went up to the counter, the bookseller told me it will be great.

For Review

BOY21 (ARC) by Matthew Quick
Releasing March, 2012. Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers School & Library!

WHY WE BROKE UP (ARC) by Daniel Handler
Releasing in January, 2012. This one sound really intriguing and unique & came with fun postcards! Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers School & Library! 

Middle grades debut and scrabble? Sounds interesting. Thanks to Penguin Young Readers Group School & Library!

Love when they send a title I haven't heard of that sounds like it will be a good middle grade story. Thanks to Penguin Young Readers Group School & Library!


FURY (ARC) by Elizabeth Miles
Heard a lot about this one, and now have to tie in mythology with my reading class, so look forward to reading this one. Won from Sash & Em.

The next four are all from Farrah Penn's Epic ARC Giveaway.

WITHER (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano
I've wanted to read this one for awhile, so I was excited to win one


JUNONIA by Kevin Henkes


Thursday, September 15, 2011

AMEN, L.A. by Cherie Bennett & Jeff Gottesfeld

Title: AMEN, L.A.
Author: Cherie Bennett & Jeff Gottesfeld
Publisher: Ember (a Random House imprint)
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Number of Pages: 256
Source of Book: Book Divas for review
Author's Website:

Goodreads Summary:
When Natalie Shelton and her family move from Minnesota to Beverly Hills, more changes than their zip code. Natalie's mom accepts a position as pastor with the Church of Beverly Hills—and Natalie's along for the ride. Before she can blink, she's living in a mansion once owned by Ricardo Montalban, going to school with hot young Hollywood stars, and partying in the park with kids who know no limits. It's an amazing new life—but if she doesn't watch out, Natalie could find herself seriously messed up. Natalie has values . . . but how long can she hold on to them?
When Natalie Shelton's family moves to Beverly Hills from Minnesota, they don't really know what they're in for. Why the move? Because Natalie's mother is a well-known church pastor. During the family meeting to decide whether to go, Natalie is the only one who voices a no vote. When they arrive they find they're unexpectedly living in a former star's mansion, partying with kids who have very different values, going to school with Hollywood royalty, and her mom is heading a church with people used to throwing their money around and getting their way. Natalie doesn't know how to feel - until she meet a girl from church who could be a friend - and then meets another girl who is a friend, although she has a disreputable past. Natalie meets more kids from schoool, including a boy who she's not sure about, and her Midwestern views about people start to change. When Natalie's friendships test her faith, trust, strength, and morals - and her family members start to get corrupted by the Beverly Hills lifestyle, the choice comes down to staying to see it through or heading back to the familiar back home.

Based on the premise of this story, I thought it had a lot of potential, but only lived up to some of it. Personally, I wasn't a big fan of the writing style - there was lots of name/label dropping, at times it turns to second person as Nat talks at the reader, and there seemed to be many instances of telling so the setting was not an naturally developed. Every time there was a new setting, the story seemed to pause to explicitly describe all of the details (maybe because the author has a screenwriting background?). As a midwesterner myself (Wisconsin), I felt that the Minnesota references were a little cliche and overdone. Unfortunately, for me, the good messages from what Nat learns and how she decides what kind of person she wants to be (and whose opinions she should trust) get lost a little bit because of feeling out of touch with the writing style. There were, however, some things that I really liked: the mother as a pastor aspect juxtaposed against Beverly Hills values, Nat's relationship with her parents, their parenting style, and the authenticity of Nat's relationship struggles and beginnings with both her developing girl friendships and the boy romantic interest. I liked Nat a lot though - she's genuine, smart, non-judgmental, thoughtful, and caring as she looks for true friends and real relationships in a sometimes inauthentic city.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

GLOW by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Title: GLOW (Sky Chasers #1)
Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Number of Pages: 307
Source of Book: Won ARC from publisher giveaway
Author's Website:

Goodreads Summary:
What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

So here's the thing: When a book is promoted as being "the most riveting debut since the Hunger Games" I'm expecting quite a lot - and I just didn't feel that it lived up to that. I almost wish that books wouldn't be promoted as the next _____ because I always feel like I am more disappointed than excited as I would have been if I had just picked the book up without that. 

GLOW was exciting and full of adventure, and it was good, it just wasn't amazing. A couple of things that I really liked were the action and adventure and themes, along with the dual gender points-of-view, which I think will connect with many readers. A couple of things that threw me off were the influx of names throughout - I think they were in there to help show the multiculturalism present on the ships, but the full names that I didn't necessarily need to know later took me out of the story a little. The other aspect of the writing that pulled me out of the story was the way that the third person point of view was written in which it felt like first person at times and didn't distract me at all, but every so often it switched to pronouns instead of names and for some reason it just didn't flow for me.

Overall, I left this book with a feeling of the story being cut off right where I wanted to know more. It's the first book in a series, and it had a lot of world-building to do, which it did pretty successfully and this book alone had quite a lot of plot packed into it, but I definitely want to know where it's headed next after the ending it has. The story was told in a really interesting way because there were five parts. We start on the Empyrean and just as we're getting to know Kieran and Waverly, there is an attack from the New Horizon and all of the girls are kidnapped. Then, the story starts to alternate between what Waverly and the girls are experiencing on the other ship, and what Kieran and the boys are having to do to survive on their home ship. I liked the alternating viewpoints and how that paced the plot of the story to have me constantly wondering what was happening to the others and how it would all connect back at the end.

Waverly's experiences are quite different than what Kieran goes through, but they both have to dig deep within themselves to find their strength and faith in different ways, and they both end this story in very different places than where they started. Both find that they are more capable than they may have originally thought, but they come to that realization and grow-up quickly from divergent paths. There are strong themes of responsibility, faith, religion, morality, honesty, friendship, trust, power, leadership, family, and duty prevalent throughout.

If you liked ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis, you'll probably like GLOW.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mara Mondays - Top Ten Reasons to PreOrder THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin

For the month of September, leading up to the release of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER on September 27th, I'll be featuring some Mara related excitement every Monday.

So, today I have for you the Top Ten Reasons to Pre-Order Mara Dyer.

10. You've already heard a lot about it, so you're curious to see what all the buzz is about, but want the chance to go into it with an open mind and have your own experience with it before hearing too many more opinions.

9. Why would you want to wait any longer to get your hands on a copy? I've only been talking about my slight obsession with this one since June!

8. You want to dedicate the weekend of October 1st to reading this book (because you won't be able to put it down once you start).

7. You appreciate complex characters in your books.

6. You're willing to suspend your disbelief and feed a little dissonance in your mind while you read for a quality reading experience of a mystery/psychological thriller - and you don't mind a little magical-paranormal and romance thrown in with it.

5. You're a fan of multi-genre books that keep you on your toes. This one will alternately make you want to rant, rave, yell at, question, shake, and hug the main characters throughout the book.

4. You really want to finally meet Noah Shaw (trust me on this one)!

3. You want to find out who Mara Dyer is, and can get behind an unreliable narrator. Oh, and you appreciate some snark with your main characters.

2. You love reading books that surprise you, make you think, make you smile, make you afraid, make you feel, make you crave more, right?

1. You definitely want to make sure you have this one right away so the shocker of an ending doesn't get spoiled for you!

and a bonus 
1/2. Michelle Hodkin is hosting a pre-order contest where you can win an annotated ARC, t-shirts, signed bookmarks, cover art posters, or a Nook! See all the details on her blog. That is definitely worth a pre-order!

You can pre-order THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER from your favorite book seller today (and you should).

Don't forget to check out this week's other Mara Mondays offerings and comment away to be entered in Lori's contest at Pure Imagination.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Book This Week (35)

In My Mailbox is a posting idea run by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've gotten that week to help publicize as many titles as possible. It's a little preview on what book reviews to anticipate along with a way to build excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

For Review

HALO by Alexandra Adornetto
I got the sequel, HADES, a few weeks ago, but hadn't read this one, so they sent it along for me to read first. Thanks to Feiwel and Friends (a Macmillian Children's imprint)!


DEAR BULLY: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall
My pre-order came this week. This is one of the books that, as a teacher, I have been most looking forward to getting. I've heard amazing things from all of the teachers I know who've read it, and I can only imagine the ways I'll be able to use it in my classroom.

From a fellow teacher/blogger
The awesome Danielle, from the Mercurial Musings blog, who is also a high school teacher, asked me about a book on twitter and because she had it and some other middle level books that weren't quite right for her high school classroom, so she sent a box on to me for my students. Thank you so much, Danielle!!!

My students love THE MAZE RUNNER, so I'm excited to add this one to my classroom library.

I'm always looking to add to my dystopian collection and this is more of a middle grades read that I've heard lots of positive reviews of, so I'm looking forward to reading it.

 The first 4 books in the SECRET series by Pseudonymous Bosch:

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Number of Pages: 402
Source of Book: Bought the hardcover because of the author
Author's Website:

Goodreads Summary:
Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

I can't believe it took me this long to get to one, but this is the first Sarah Dessen book I've read! The reason I didn't start before now is because my students were devouring her books already, so I didn't feel like I needed to read them to promote them to my students. I can see why my girls love her books so much, and I should have started before now; however, it was the premise of this one that really made me decide to finally pick one up for myself.

Dessen's writing takes me back to high school - it's really great contemporary realistic fiction. It felt honest and real and like I could have been living in this town and been friends with these people. I liked this particular book especially because of the dad and his relationship with his daughter. It was interesting to see the side of a divorce where the daughter wants to stay with the dad. It was also intriguing because of the dad's job - as someone who comes in and rehabs failing restaurants (it reminded me of that show, Bar Rescue). I found it really interesting to see some of the behind-the-scenes of the restaurant business.

McLean is a fascinating character who is trying to figure out her real self as she deals with the divorce of her parents while she's in her final year of high school. Because she is with her dad she has a unique situation because he has to move a couple times a year for his job. McLean is able to keep transforming herself with each move, but it is actually a way of hiding from figuring out who she really is/wants to be. She's also a really good/kind-hearted person overall; although, she is struggling with her anger at her mother of her cheating and causing the divorce. McLean does a lot of observing of others and includes those who might be outcasts - and that is a quality I think more people should have because as she finds out, you never know how great that person might turn out to be. I would be happy to have my students read McLean's story and want to emulate her character.

This story is very multilayered with themes about family, divorce, friendship, small towns, and the desire to figure out one's true self and direction in life. The multiple subplots at play are integrated so well into the overall storyline that they just feel like they have to be there to make a complete story. It's one of the things I liked most about Dessen's style of writing - it all flows together but creates a story that is much deeper because it is addressing so many aspects of life, not just the main plot point as some books do. My favorite subplot was related to McLean's inclusion of a supporting character who no one else has given a chance. I was easily able to get lost in the world Dessen created, and her style of writing didn't pull me out of the story at all, it just flowed easily.

WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE is one I will be hand-selling in my classroom for sure. I will definitely be reading more Sarah Dessen books, and encouraging my students to as well!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Get Ready for Mara Mondays!

Today starts the first of four Mara Mondays! 
For the month of September, Mondays will be dedicated to Mara in anticipation of the September 27th release of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin. 
This event was put together by the awesomely fabulous Lori at Pure Imagination (who is also the design genius behind my blog's look). All of us participating have read ARCs of Mara and are slightly obsessed with how wonderful it is and want to share that excitement with you. Oh, and don't forget, there will be a giveaway that Lori is hosting for all of the Mara Monday events, so make sure you check them all out and comment away for extra entries!

September 5:
Pure Imagination -- Kick-off with Pre-order Giveaway (evening post)
Candace's Book Blog - Cover Photographer post
The Secret Life of a Avid Reader - Signed Mara Dyer Giveaway
The Bookish Type
-- Review

September 12:
Heise Reads & Recommends: Top 10 Reasons to Preorder Mara Dyer
The Secret Life of a Avid Reader - Dream Cast
Sophistikatied Reviews - Fan Art
Reading Angel - Review

September 19:
Heise Reads & Recommends- Interview
The Secret Life of a Avid Reader- Miami post
Greads- Quote Graphics post

September 26:
Heise Reads & Recommends- Review
Vy's Blog - Review

Pure Imagination - Mara project post
*Topics subject to change on the whim of the blogger.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (34)

In My Mailbox is a posting idea run by Kristi at The Story Siren (read all about it here: In My Mailbox) for bloggers to share the books they've gotten that week to help publicize as many titles as possible. It's a little preview on what book reviews to anticipate along with a way to build excitement about new titles coming out. All titles link to goodreads so you can add books to your "to-read" list.

For Review

LIE by Caroline Bock
Thanks St. Martin's Griffin!

FAR FROM THE WAR by Jeffrey David Payne
Review requested from Roche Harbor Books.

Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers School & Library!

SHUT OUT by Kody Keplinger
Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers School & Library!

Signed up for Laurel's Skype tour and since I was one of the first 30, I got an advanced copy of the book she'll be talking about. Thanks to Random House!

SUDDEN FLASH YOUTH: 65 Short-Short Stories
I'm looking forward to seeing how I might be able to use these in my classroom as possible read alouds for reader's workshop. Thanks to Persea Books!


WANT TO GO PRIVATE? by Sarah Darer Littman
Won from The Contemps Challenge (have you checked them out yet?) Signed book and bookmark. Thank you, Sarah!


Follow-up book to THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX from a couple years ago. A fantastic book if you haven't read it yet!