Sunday, April 29, 2012

You Can Now Find This Blog On Facebook

Like following my posts, but wishing you could see them on your facebook newsfeed? Well, now you can! Heise Reads & Recommends now officially has a facebook page! So, head on over and "Like" the page if you want to see updates there as well.
Just click on that cute passport button over there on the right under "Where to Find Me" --> 
It's making it's home with my twitter, goodreads, and email buttons (designed by the wonderful Lori of Imagination Designs - if you want a custom blog design, she's fabulous!)

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dystopian Unit Books Choices List

For the second year in a row (yet at a new school/grade level), I'm starting an end of the year dystopian unit with my middle schoolers. Last year I shared the list of books I had on the blog, and with my renewed focus on dystopian and the plethora of new titles released or come to my attention since then, my list of possible dystopian titles has expanded exponentially. I figured it was worth sharing again for anyone else who is a dystopian lover (or teacher) and wants a fairly up-to-date list of titles. As you can see, I still have quite a few to read myself!

This is the list of dystopian titles (in no particular order) that will be shared with my class for them to choose from to participate in the dystopian book club. (all titles link to goodreads so you can add them to your list)
~~~Books I've read - Ask me about them!~~~
THE GIVER by Lois Lowry
MATCHED / CROSSED by Ally Condie
EPIC by Conor Kostick
SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi
UNWIND / UNWHOLLY by Neal Shusterman
LEGEND by Marie Lu
EYE OF THE STORM by Kate Messner
UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi
SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi
CINDER by Marissa Meyer
INSIGNIA by S.J. Kincaid
BRAIN JACK by Brian Faulkner
NAUGHTS & CROSSES by Malorie Blackman
LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow
SURVIVING ANTARCTICA: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White
GIRL IN THE ARENA by Lise Haines
INCARCERON / SAPPHIQUE by Catherine Fisher
BLACK HOLE SUN by David Macginnis Gill
RASH by Pete Hautman
CANDOR by Pam Bachorz
FEED by M.T. Anderson
GONE by Michael Grant
CITY OF EMBER by Jeanne DuPrau
MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert
GLOW by Amy Kathleen Ryan

~~~Books listed below are ones I haven't read yet~~~
POSSESSION by Elana Johnson
BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young
THE LIMIT by Kristen Landon
SKINNED by Robin Wasserman
INSIDE OUT by Maria V. Snyder
EMPTY by Suzanne Weyn
THE LINE by Teri Hall
AMONG THE HIDDEN by Margaret Peterson Haddix
ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card

NOMANSLAND by Lesley Hauge
ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre
THE ROAR by Emma Clayton
TRASH by Andy Mulligan
ROT & RUIN / DUST AND DECAY by Jonathan Maberry
ASHFALL by Mike Mullin
A LONG, LONG SLEEP by Anna Sheehan
DARK PARTIES by Sara Grant
STARTERS by Lissa Price
WITHER by Lauren DeStefano
SOLSTICE by P.J. Hoover
PURE by Julianna Baggott
EVE by Anna Carey
DARK LIFE by Kat Falls
AWAKEN by Katie Kacvinsky
THE WAY WE FALL by Megan Crewe
THE PREDICTEDS by Christine Seifert
PARTIALS by Dan Wells
SCORED by Lauren McLaughlin
VARIANT by Robinson Wells
EPITAPH ROAD by David Patneaude
ARTICLE 5 by Kristen Simmons
UNISON SPARK by Andy Marino
THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting

FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
1984 by George Orwell
BRAVE NEW WORLD by ALdous Huxley
ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell

~~~Books coming out later this year, and will possibly be added for next year's list~~~
CHOSEN ONES by Tiffany Truitt (June)
THE FORSAKEN by Lisa M. Stasse (July)
GLITCH by Heather Anastasiu (August)
YESTERDAY by C.K. Kelly Martin (September)
CREWEL by Gennifer Albin (October)ELEMENTAL by Antony John (November)
LEVEL 2 by Lenore Appelhans (January 2013)
FROZEN (THE OTHER LAND CHRONICLES) by Melissa de la Cruz (2013)

Comment away if I've missed any titles that I missed that should be included or if there are any you recommend I put at the top of my to-read pile!
I'd love to hear what your favorites are or which ones you're most looking forward to reading as well!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Waiting for INSURGENT? Read Free Four!

INSURGENT is less than a week away now! 
While you're waiting for it to get into your hands so you can finally read the next part of Tris and Four's journey (which is so, so good - read my spoiler-free review), you can get a peek at a key scene from DIVERGENT from Four's perspective!
Because they hit their goal of at least 35,000 pre-orders of INSURGENT, Veronica Roth and the kind people at HarperCollins have given us this gift to make the waiting a little easier and to whet your appetite for more. So, go check it out on facebook's Divergent page, & gain a little perspective on what's going on inside Tobias' head during the events of DIVERGENT.
Enjoy - I know I did! :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mara Dyer Cover Reveal

So I think my love of/obsession with THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin was no secret. Feel free to reference these Mara Mondays posts: author interview, book trailer, top ten reasons to preorder Mara, or my gushing review. Really, if you haven't read it yet, you must not have been reading my blog last fall, and if not, go get it now and read it - you won't regret it.

For a Mara lover like myself, today held an exciting surprise...the cover reveal of the sequel, THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER. Love these gorgeous covers! Now, this is exciting for many reasons, but most of which is that it means we're getting closer to actually being able to read the book! Well, as close as October 23rd (six months from now!) can seem anyway.

But in addition, we're getting some info! I was lucky enough to meet Michelle a couple of times when she was in Chicago for events, and she is one of the nicest people I've ever met, and also very good at keeping secrets. Every time I would ask (in as many subtly different ways as I could) about what comes next, her response was, "All I can say is that there will be a Mara 2." And that's it! So for me, any information is good information to keep the anticipation and excitement going to Mara Dyer.

And here's a clue what we'll get with The Evolution of Mara Dyer:
Two days after Mara walks into a police station in Miami at the close of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, she is committed for psychiatric treatment for what her parents believe is a mental breakdown. But what seems like a hallucination to everyone else is a chilling reality for Mara. Someone from her past has discovered her strange, disturbing secret and that someone wants her to pay. But she's about to discover that the price is more than she can bear.

Dark and thrilling, suspenseful and passionate, The Evolution of Mara Dyer will have readers breathlessly turning pages to find out what will become of Mara Dyer next.
 I, for one, can't wait to get my hands on THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week #49

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.

I'm supposed to be on a book buying ban until after the Scholastic Warehouse Sale, IRA Convention, and ALA Convention; however, I really wanted to read both of these, and I've had students bugging me about the sequel and asking for more free verse, so I broke down and got them.



PERCEPTION (sequel to CLARITY) by Kim Harrington

Thursday, April 19, 2012

INSURGENT by Veronica Roth review

Title: INSURGENT (sequel to DIVERGENT)
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: May 1, 2012 (not too far away!)
Number of Pages: 544
Source of Book: ARC from Editor of Awesome, Molly O'Neill, Thank you!
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

I feel the need to release a deep breath after reading INSURGENT. The whole time I felt breathless and nervous and anxious and tense and completely engrossed from start to finish. INSURGENT moves at a breakneck pace with constant twists and turns from the very beginning, starting mere hours after the first book ended (which I loved!) and with a sense of urgency to the writing and plotting that makes absolute sense for the literal life and death situations these characters find themselves in. This book is just as fast-paced and action-packed as the first, with moments of comedic relief and sass, but then the next page smacked me across the face with an unexpected twist. Veronica Roth is a creative and talented writer in the ways she keeps the reader guessing, and I think this book was stronger than the first. It was also interesting because of the look we get inside the other factions that we didn't see as much of in the first book. The events at the end of DIVERGENT changed their world completely, and now they all have to figure out how they will deal with it (and by the way, I did reread DIVERGENT right before I read this one, and I was glad I did). And we are again taken back to landmarks in Chicago that we know, but are seen through a slightly different lens of this dystopic future. We still don't totally know how it became this way, but there are more clues in this second book, and I can only imagine the third will be even more eye-opening.

I do really like the characters in this series. Tris is so strong and so determined, but she's still a 16-year-old girl who has just lost both of her parents and saw a lot of hard to process events. INSURGENT is about her trying to find her strength again, and who she wants to be as a Divergent, and what's really important to her integrity, and how to deal with everything that happened to her in the first book, and she does it all with a determinedness that matches and meshes her three factions qualities together, making her stronger in the end. I really like the relationship between Tris and Four and the way they look out for and support each other, but there are some struggles for each of them to be true to the other. That doesn't mean it's easy though because there is quite a bit going on. Tris has a lot of focus on their relationship as it factors into all of the decisions she makes, but when you've lost everything else, you have to worry about holding on to one thing that can keep you together and it makes sense for her to want to have some constant in her life, but to be worried about being able to trust herself with all the deception going on around her. I care about these characters, and I really want things to work out for Tris and Tobias, and I want them to figure things out because they seem so made for each other - they're so brave on their own, but they still really need each other, and I appreciate the strength they find in each other. Some of the secondary characters really stepped into the spotlight more in this book too, along with some new characters, and I really enjoyed that and getting to know them better; although, their actions weren't always what I expected. It's really hard in this book to know who or what to trust, even from characters we thought we knew - and they don't all stay consistent throughout - adding to the intensity of the book.

INSURGENT was an incredibly strong second book. It did not at all fall into the dip that some second books in trilogies do with too much exposition or explanation or not enough happening and seeming to just set up the third book. There is an intelligence (thanks Erudite) to this book and the political upheaval that is going on, and it's interesting to see how the factions play into the behaviors of the people. This book never stops, and just enough information is released as we need to know it, and it definitely feels like a strong book in it's own right. There were so many moments where I couldn't put it down or stop reading because I had to know what was going to happen next. The ending is a game changer-what is revealed in the last few pages is going to affect this entire world, and I, for one, am really excited to have that little clue to what is coming in book three, and can't wait to see how Veronica Roth writes the rest of Tris and Four's strength and story in this world. Although it is shocking and unexpected, it is done in such a masterful way because of Veronica Roth's deft hand at giving us a sense of closure to the major questions for this book, but leaving us with a hint of what is to come in the next one, and yet everyone is at a place that I feel that I can leave them while I wait for the next one to come out (although I wish I didn't have to!). I feel a sense of a progression happening with the DIVERGENT being about Tris figuring herself out, INSURGENT being about Tris figuring her society out, and I'm guessing the third will be about Tris figuring the larger world out - all within the context of her place within them and who is important and trustworthy to her. I will be eagerly anticipating news of the last book in this trilogy, as I'm sure so many of you will be as well. Enjoy the ride with INSURGENT on May 1st!

For another perspective (that I completely agree with), that basically says exactly what I felt, but more coherently and eloquently, check out Anna Reads' spoiler-free review.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

In My Mailbox - New Books This Week #48

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.

It's been a little quiet around here for the last week since I was on spring break and I traveled to South America to help my mom celebrate starting her next decade with a culinary and wine tour through Chile and Argentina. I just got back to the States this morning and had some exciting packages waiting for me, so wanted to share, and let you know why it's been so quiet. 

For Review

INSURGENT by Veronica Roth 
ARC sequel to DIVERGENT, which, hello?!, if you haven't read it yet, why not?!) So, so, so excited for this one and thankful to HarperTeen and the lovely editor for this one (who, by the way, also edited INSIGNIA by S.J. Kincaid coming out in July-you can read my review here) who is showing her talent at finding great authors and putting out action-packed books!

RED KNIT CAP GIRL by Naoko Stoop
F&G Galley of a new picture book - I'm hoping to start adding a monthly-ish picture book review of titles I love to use with my students.  Thanks Little, Brown School & Library!


THE VICIOUS DEEP by Zoraida Cordova
A mermaid tale from a male point-of-view. Looking forward to reading this one. Thanks to SourceBooks!

Library Check Out

POSSESSION by Elana Johnson
I'll be starting my dystopian unit with my students soon, and I was asked to be on a blog tour for the sequel, SURRENDER, so I needed to get this one to the top of my to-read pile.

Monday, April 2, 2012

ECHO'S REVENGE by Sean Austin

Title: ECHO'S REVENGE: The Ultimate Game Book 1
Author: Sean Austin
Publisher:  AAA Reality Games
Release Date: May 2012
Number of Pages: 281
Source of Book: ARC from Publisher

"Echo's Revenge: The Ultimate Game" is the story of 2 brothers, online game masters, who discover that the game creature which they have repeatedly killed while gaming online- "ECHO"- is alive and pursuing them in real life. Through their experiences engaging with this overwhelming opponent, they discover the power of their loyalty to each other as they defeat this seemingly invincible predator. This novel series is part of the on-going investigation taking place at, which also features science, technology and engineering issues related to reality games.

Reggie Stone, age 14, and Jeremy Stone, age 11, are accomplished game masters. These 2 brothers prefer to live in the online world of gaming which they can control, rather than the explosive, unpredictable world of their mother and her boyfriend. In the online game world, Reggie and Jeremy battle monsters and can easily control their destiny- or so they think.

While participating in a focus group for AAA Reality Games, Reggie meets the top players of the online game "ECHO'S Revenge". What the gamers don't know is that during the focus group the latest evolution of the legendary shape-shifting game monster- ECHO-7- has become a sentient creature who closely monitors all of the game masters' self-admitted fears and weaknesses. When Reggie returns home, his mother's boyfriend has a dangerously violent outburst which forces Reggie and Jeremy to flee from their home. Unknown to them, the outburst is a blessing in

As the boys start on their cross country journey to find their father, they begin to notice frequent Amber Alerts. What surprises them is that they recognize the kidnap victims in the alerts- they are all top gamers from the focus group. During their cross country journey, the boys hitch-hike with a variety of colorful characters and compile their own street code of life and ethics.

When ECHO tries to capture them outside a 7-Eleven convenience store in San Francisco, it finally reveals itself and the boys realize that it is the kidnapper of all of their fellow gamers. Confident after evading this terrifying enemy which knows far too much about them, the brothers arrive at their father's house only to be ambushed, kidnapped, and taken far away to be imprisoned in an abandoned mineral mine in the Mojave Desert. It is here, in a cauldron of underground enslavement with the other kidnapped game masters, that the boys are challenged beyond their physical and emotional limits as they learn the full impact of what ECHO-7 has become: an omnipotent God-like power.

Although face with probable death, the brothers decide to challenge ECHO. They engage the creature, and in doing so discover the power of their loyalty to each other as they defeat ECHO at its own game. In the creature's final moment of sentience, it realizes it's fatal error, and that it has "lost the game", but manages to commit one final act which haunts all of the gamers forever.
I was contacted by the publisher and asked to do a review of this book, especially because of it's appeal for boys and the recent educational interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curriculum. I was intrigued; however, was not able to find time to fit it into my review schedule. But, it sounded exactly like the type of book some of my students would love, so I read the summary to two of my boys who have read books like INSIGNIA, BRAIN JACK, THE MAZE RUNNER, EPIC, etc and loved them. They insisted that I had to accept the request and get this book for them to read. I agreed to do so under the stipulation that they had to write their thoughts afterwards, and the publisher was happy to send an advance copy for student-written reviews. After hearing what they had to say, I'm planning on adding this one to my to-read stack for the summer.

What follows is my students words and thoughts about ECHO'S REVENGE after they read it (and they loved it and are adamant that I need to get the next book if/when it comes out). ***Possible spoilers as written by students***
Student 1: There are only three books that I admire. The books are THE HUNGER GAMES, PERCY JACKSON, and ECHO'S REVENGE. ECHO'S REVENGE has a lot of action, adventure, and mystery. The action and adventure keep you at the edge of your seat wanting to read more. How would you like to be in a car going really fast or see a farting dog? Or what about a crow 33 feet in the air gliding towards you? What about two brothers fighint a 35 foot tall deadly creature and pushing it into a bottomless pit? This is why I can't wait till the next book!!
Student 2: ECHO'S REVENGE was a great book and definitely makes my top 10. I liked how the book kept you guessing. Most of the time I didn't know what was going to happen next. My favorite part is when all of the Echo gamers rebel against Echo in the Cauldron. I thought there were some slow parts such as when Jeremy and Reggie were planning to escape. But overall it is a great book and I would recommend it to anyone. The way it ends makes me want to read the next one. I never saw the whole virus thing coming.