Sunday, October 30, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (40)

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

This sequel to THE FOURTH STALL releases February 7, 2012. I know my students are really excited for this one as they loved the first! Many thanks to Walden Pond Press for this ARC!

Friday, October 28, 2011

SHUT OUT by Kody Keplinger

Author: Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: September 5, 2011
Number of Pages: 273
Source of Book: ARC from Little Brown School & Library
Author's Website:

Goodreads Summary:
Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention

Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling...

OK, so the cover of this book grabbed my attention and the premise sounded intriguing to me - I love girl power books - so I knew I wanted to read this one, and I'm so glad I did. I really enjoyed this book. Yes, it has mature content, but I didn't feel it was too overly graphic (actually less than I expected). And, yes, it was a little bit predictable at times, but, knowing the premise and type of book it is, I expected a little bit of that. This book was like comfort food - just what I was in the mood for and made me feel good. I still haven't read Kody's first book, THE DUFF, but now I'm going to move it up on my list. She is a great contemporary writer; this book was just an easy, enjoyable read. I had fun reading it - even literally laughing out loud at some parts!

The rivalry was dumb between the boys' sports teams, and the way it works out in the end is entertaining, but along the way, some really important things are learned. Lissa grows quite a bit in this book into knowing herself and being stronger in order to do what's right. Lissa's character, and in fact some of the secondary characters as well, is pretty multi-layered. She's dealing with the sudden death of her mother, and because of that, has some definite control issues. Cash's character also has more to him than originally meets the eye, and I absolutely appreciate a respectful, caring, good guy character in young adult books.

Overall, I think this book can be empowering to younger readers in some ways. The way it handles the idea of girls being ashamed of, embarrassed by, afraid of, or wanting to do sexual activity is treated in such a non-preachy way. It shows that everyone feels differently, and that's all okay. Not everyone is actually having sex or, in some cases, anything close to it. It's ultimately about doing what's right for you as an individual based on your feelings and beliefs, and it shouldn't matter what other people have to say. Seems to be a pretty good message for young girls to get in my opinion. Do what's right for you and don't let anyone pressure you into something you're not ready for. The boys who are pressuring girls are shown in a bad light in this book, and I'm glad that happens. When they go on the strike, and some girls mention a concern about their boyfriends cheating on them, it's put right out there that if the guy is going to cheat on you because of this, he wasn't a good guy to be with in the first place. There are a lot of misunderstandings and missed connections, but ultimately, the good guy with good, honorable intentions who wants to take care of the girl the right way, is noticed in the end. But, that only happens because the characters choose to finally sit down and talk with some straight-forward, honest communication with each other. It shows how much easier and less dramatic things can be if we just talk about them. The messages are all subtle, but they're really honest too, and that's why I think they'll be easy for teens to accept.

One of the things I liked the most was actually the elements of the girl friendships throughout this book. As the girls spend more time getting to know each other and get more honest with each other, they realize that there's more to each of them than they maybe had realized. The development of the friendships, and rekindling of others, and the way they stick up for and support each other is one of the most powerful parts of this book. It's not about mean girls; it's about girls standing up for each other and doing what's right to help each other out. As I was reading SHUT OUT, I was reminded of two other books that would be great to hand a girl who liked this one: NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL by Siobhan Vivian and THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB by Elizabeth Eulberg.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

CROSSED by Ally Condie

Title: CROSSED (sequel to MATCHED)
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Books (a Penguin imprint)
Release Date: 11.1.11
Number of Pages: 384
Source of Book: ARC from Heidi @ YA Bibliophile
Author's Website:

Goodreads Summary:
In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.
There is something so subtle and layered and soft-spoken and quiet about Ally Condie’s writing that I first enjoyed in MATCHED and now appreciated all over again in reading it’s sequel, CROSSED.  There’s almost a poetic quality to the softness of her writing, and as poetry is interspersed throughout her story, it seems fitting. There is a beauty to her descriptions (and she lives in Utah so sees the beauty all the time that inspired the setting for this particular book) that allows us to actually feel like this book is an escape, for the reader and the characters, from the Society and world that she has built. This is a second book in a trilogy, and it is more about setting up these characters for what I imagine will be a heroic stand in the final book. The first book was about Cassia discovering that the Society isn’t what she really thought, and this one is about her discovering that there might be more to her than she really thought – all with Ky being her central guiding light. But, there is always Xander in the background.

This is the story of a journey: a journey for Cassia to find Ky, a journey for Cassia to discover the strength she needs and who she can really be, a journey for Ky to discover what matters the most, a journey for the whole group to discover their paths and get to where they need to go.  It’s a physical journey to get from Society to the rebellion, but while on that physical journey through the canyon, it’s also an internal journey for each of the characters to make to find out what their true path will be.

This is not an action-packed book, but the thoughtful pacing does keep it moving forward through the alternating perspectives/chapters of Ky and Cassia. There are moments of suspense, mostly as we wonder if everyone will survive the journey – and not everyone can, but there are also moments of suspense as Ky and Cassia try to discover if their love for each other will line up with their individual needs and keep them together or tear them apart. Secrets abound from Xander to newcomer Indie, to Ky and Cassia as well. The book reads as a slow unfolding of information from their past lives and what got them to this point, that will eventually guide their ultimate decision in the end. Vick and Eli and Hunter are secondary characters introduced in this book that I grew to enjoy, and hope some might make a reappearance in the final book as well.

If you enjoyed MATCHED and want a thought-provoking, quiet look into what Cassia and Ky will go through and ultimately find to be most important in their lives, and to set yourself up for the final book in the trilogy, get your hands on CROSSED on November 1st.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

LEGEND by Marie Lu

Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (a Penguin imprint)
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Number of Pages: 336
Source of Book: Borrowed ARC from Heidi at YA Bibliophile
Author's Website:

Goodreads Summary:
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

LEGEND was a book that I couldn't put down. I do love dystopian books, and this one was a fresh concept of a no longer United States divided into the Republic and the Colonies. There wasn't much to go on as far as how we got to this point, although there were little clues along the way that make me think we could get more backstory in the next book - and I do hope there will be a next book! In some books, it would bother me that I didn't know how they got to this point, but in this one, I barely even noticed it because I was so wrapped up in the action-packed, suspenseful, intrigue aspects of the story. I appreciated debut author Marie Lu's writing style. It was very straight-forward and focused on the action and details of what was going on, constantly moving the pacing forward with little clues for both the reader and the characters. 

Speaking of characters, I was hooked on both Day and June, which was good because the story unfolds from alternating points-of-view (clearly noted in chapter title, text font, and color). I appreciate the complexity of stories written from multiple perspectives, and it really works for this case and is so necessary for discovering the whole truth of what's happening. Day and June both have heart and want to do what's right for their families, and they both have big brothers to be admired. I'm a sucker for a great big brother in a story (probably because I'm the only girl with an older and younger brother myself), and this one has two to love! Day and June are believeable in their actions and intentions, and they're smart, but young. It's all of that that helped me to root for them both to figure out the political situation, work together, and succeed. The romance elements are there, but don't take over the focus of the story; they were written with a deft hand. Secondary characters abound and we get to know their role in the story as it unfolds - some become even more important than I could have thought.

I ended this book with a feeling of contentment, hope, not wanting it to end, wanting to go back and re-read it, and desire to read the next book! I was definitely emotionally invested in this book and these characters. LEGEND is perfect for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT. I will absolutely be passing this recommendation on to my students.

Read An Excerpt at

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Welcome to another stop for the second annual YASpooktacular, hosted by Frenzy of Noise and Wicked Awesome Books.

This year, there are three stories written by some of your favorite authors that will be posted throughout the week. Each story is a choose your adventure, where you get to decide what path to send the character down. Sometimes you live, sometimes you die, and sometimes you fall into a pit of no return.

There are also some TRICKS or TREATS scattered throughout the story, where you can enter to win prizes and get bonus points toward the prize packs. The prize pack for THE POND IN THE FOREST will be up tomorrow! On Halloween day, the grand prize pack will be posted. You can click the banner above to see a full list of the YASpooktacular prize packs!

About the author:
Kate Kaynak was born and raised in New Jersey, but managed to escape. Until recently, she lived in Istanbul with her husband and three kids. Kate enjoys traveling, reading, writing, photography, drawing, movies, and fighting crime with her amazing superpowers. Her novel, Minder, Adversary, Legacy, and, most recently, Accused have all been published by Spencer Hill Press. This series, the Ganzfield books, will have at least six installments.
You can find Kate on Twitter, on her blog, on Goodreads and you can order her books here.

All of Kate’s links are here: (blog/twitter/goodreads/SHP/facebook)

You can pick the story up at the beginning by clicking on the image!
Laura glanced around, desperate to find something—anything—that could be used as a weapon. A rack next to the fireplace held a glint of bronze. She grabbed for the protruding handle and pulled out the poker. She turned and swung wildly as the squelching footsteps drew closer. The poker whipped around, and a dark figure jumped back with a hissing gasp as the point brushed a fingerwidth from his head.

Laura's heart beat rabbit fast within her chest as she held the poker between them. "D-don't come any closer."

The dark room filled with the sounds of their breathing—hers shaky and fast, his with a moist hiss—as they faced each other. A hood kept his features in shadow, but his eyes seemed to glow silver, like a cat's. "Put that down," he rasped.

"No way. Let me go!" Laura brandished the poker in what she hoped was a menacing manner.

"Put that down or I will make you put it down." The figure took a step closer, and Laura backed up. The light in the room seemed to slip away from him and hide as he towered over her. "Don't make me hurt you… yet."

Choose which one of two things will happen next:

If Laura drops the poker, go to Mrs.Readerpants.

If Laura swings the poker at his head, go to Non-Reluctant Reader.
Trick or Treat?
Lucky you...this is a TREAT stop! 
Click on the image below to enter to win ARCs of Shifting and Between!
And tomorrow, make sure you stop by Tangled Up in Words to enter the Story Prize Pack!

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (40)

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

THE RIVALS by Daisy Whitney
ARC releasing on February 6, 2012 - Sequel to THE MOCKINGBIRDS, which was one of my Best Books of 2010 (and one of my students' as well)! Daisy is awesome and entertaining and talented and more people should read her book! I'm excited to get see where she takes this group next.


BEAUTIFUL CHAOS by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Third book in the Caster Chronicles series after BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS, both of which I loved. They are gothic and southern and magical.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (39)

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.


THE SCORPIO RACES (ARC) by Maggie Stiefvater
from the fabulously wonderful Lori at Pure Imagination (who also did my blog design)!

from Beth at A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust (another great English teacher)

EVERY YOU, EVERY ME by David Levithan
from Random Buzzers

A very kind blogger friend offered to let me borrow a couple of her ARCs of some titles I've been wanting to read. Just get bookish people together and the sharing comes out!

LEGEND by Marie Lu
Excited to read this dystopian coming out in November!

CROSSED by Ally Condie
I loved MATCHED, so hope I will enjoy the sequel.

Gifted to Me

THE DEATH CURE by James Dashner
The final book in THE MAZE RUNNER trilogy - my students will be excited! The ARC was given to me by a fabulous new bookish friend who actually works at a local indie - good person to know :)


LIESL & PO by Lauren Oliver
Bought her newest middle grades book at her talk and signing in the area. I love Lauren Oliver's writing! It was so great to see Lauren in person and get to know her a little - did you check out my video interview with her that was posted yesterday?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Video Interview with Lauren Oliver

I have such an awesome treat for you today! Lauren Oliver (BEFORE I FALL, DELIRIUM, and LIESL & PO) came to the Milwaukee area for a talk and signing to promote her newest middle grade book, and was kind enough to spend some time beforehand with two other Wisconsin bloggers (Heidi from YA Bibliophile and Liza from WhoRuBlog) and myself.

Lauren is so sweet and kind and fun in person, and it was an absolute pleasure to get to spend some time getting to know her a little bit better. Each of us videotaped a few questions to create a three-part interview for you to get some insight into the fabulous Lauren Oliver. I was inspired listening to her talk, and can see where her beautiful writing and insights into people comes from! Enjoy!
Don't forget to check out the other two parts of Lauren's interview:
Part 3 was posted on WhoRuBlog on 10/16
Thanks to Liza for organizing this incredible opportunity, Lauren Oliver for being so kind to participate, and Boswell's Books for bringing in some awesome teen authors for us this fall!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (38)

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.

Scholastic Book Order
I did my first Scholastic Book Club order of the year, and my students ordered lots of books! That's always exciting, and they ordered enough to get me so many bonus points that I was able to get a box full of books (25!) to add to the classroom library. Scholastic has some great titles this fall - some that I already knew I wanted and some that are new to me!
The books:
RIP TIDE (DARK LIFE #2) by Kat Falls
THE UNDERDOGS by Mike Lupica (his newest title)
DEADLY by Julie Chibbaro
VIRALS by Kathy Reichs
FIRST KILL: THE SLAYER CHRONICLES Book 1 (The start of the Vladimir Tod companion series) by Heather Brewer
THE LATTE REBELLION by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon M. Draper (This one came highly recommended at the YA Lit Conference, so I was excited to see it highlighted in the Scholastic catalog)
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher (had to get more copies to replace my original ones that were falling apart!)
THE LIMIT by Kristen Landon
SHIMMER by Alyson Noel sequel to RADIANCE
POWERLESS by Matthew Cody
EPITAPH ROAD by David Patneaude
ASHES, ASHES by Jo Treggiari
BRUISER by Neal Shusterman
THE BATBOY by Mike Lupica
THE MEDUSA PLOT: The 39 Clues Cahills vs. Vespers #1 by Gordon Korman

Some preorders arrived this week! It's so fun when I forget that I ordered a book and it just shows up.

THE SON OF NEPTUNE (Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan 
I, and my students, love these books! Everyone wants to be the first to check it out once it's in the classroom - I have to read it first otherwise I won't see it again until June!

VANISH (FIRELIGHT #2) by Sophie Jordan
I really enjoyed the first book in this series on draki, so am excited to see what happens with Jacinda next.

LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins
I loved ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS so much that I will read anything by Stephanie Perkins...and from what I'm hearing, I'm going to love this one more.

For Review

WINTERTOWN by Stephen Emond
This one sounds really intriguing and has a little mixed media with it. Releasing December 5th. Thanks again to Little, Brown School & Library!