Sunday, April 12, 2015

From What I Remember, this book is phenomenal!

Book:  From What I Remember
Authors:  Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (Hey Disney!  This book has movie adaptation written all over it! And you already have the screenplay writers, so get on that!)
Source: My library
My grade: A+

KYLIE: Mexico? What a nightmare! I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY! Wait! Is this a wedding band on my finger??

MAX: It started with Kylie's laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics and it ended in Ensenada. It was hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we're stranded here, with less than twenty-four hours before graduation.

WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border but there's no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.

LILY: This cannot be happening. It's like some cruel joke. Or a bad dream. I close my eyes and when I reopen them, they're still there. Max and Kylie Flores, freak of the century. In bed together. If Kylie thinks I'm giving him up without a fight, she's dead wrong. 

Initial reaction
What a SWEET kick-off to my summer reading season! I really did not expect this book to be THIS good! Why did I wait this long to read it?

Cover storyOk, this cover is a little too cutesy for me, but at least it matches the story. This is the paperback cover. I like the hardback cover a little better, but not much.

What’s the story?
I don’t even know where to start since everything about this book rocked! So, let me start by saying that I loved Kylie! Girlfriend has got it going on! In fact, I would say that the characters are one of the great strengths of this book. They could have easily been flat, one-dimensional cliches, but somehow they weren’t. I mean, I’m not saying that they didn’t at times delve into that territory, but they always bounce back as MORE. I loved being able to see this story from so many of their points of view and I think that’s actually what helped them be more than just “the school hottie”, “the valedictorian”, “the gay best friend” and “the mean girl”.

One caveat on the characters--Jake’s point of view was interesting, but a little jarring. I have to say that it was the only thing that I found to be anywhere close to a flaw in the novel. While it was interesting to see what the little brother with Asperger’s was like, sometimes it messed with the flow. But not enough to keep me from ripping through this book as fast as humanly possible.

The story was fantastic. It was non-stop, over the top action that was pure entertainment! After reading the book, I read the author bios and I was not surprised to see that they both write for film and TV. This book has “awesome movie” written all over it! I also enjoyed the movie quotes at the beginning of each chapter--it was a total bonus and a really nice touch.

Obviously, this is a happy book with a lot of fluff, but sort of like a Snickers bar, there is some substance hidden in with the sweet. In fact, I am finding it hard to tear myself away from this world and this story. I just love these characters so much! I kept waiting to reach a point where my brain said “Ok, enough is enough! This is too unrealistic/cliched/sweet/predictable/etc., etc.”, but that moment never arrived. Every time, there was an interesting twist or turn or one of the characters said something or did something I wasn’t expecting. Sometimes it was crazy and sometimes it was downright normal, but it always seemed to just fit.

I could sit and wax poetic about this book all day. Just suffice it to say that this was one of the most enjoyable and entertaining books I’ve read in a while. Do yourself a favor and read it too!


Don’t judge me for this soundtrack, ‘kay?

Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin

Sorry about this one, but this book is about a straight-laced girl who gets her crazy on during a trip to Mexico with the resident school hottie. Couldn’t be helped!

Last Friday Night by Katy Perry

Roar by Katy Perry

Good girls by 5SOS

Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran

Glitter in the Air by Pink

Loca by Shakira

Brave by Sara Bareilles

The Words by Christina Perry

The Final Grade
My final grade is an A+.  This book shocked the hell out of me and completely knocked my socks off!  I would LOVE to see this one as a film adaptation, but regardless, I'm pretty sure I'll not only read it again, but I'll start  handing it out like candy in my library!

Friday, April 10, 2015

I'm positively glowing In the Afterlight of this book!

Book: In the Afterlight
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (Hey Disney, since you own this book, why don’t you get busy turning this series into a movie??)
Source: Purchased then borrowed from my library
My grade: A+++++

Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

Initial Reaction
Oh book, how I love and hate you at the same time! I love you for being so wonderful and I hate you for ending! Why hasn’t everyone in the world read this series????!!!!!!

Cover Story
I love the covers in this series. They’re attractive and they don’t scream paranormal teen romance or anything like that. I can happily read this book in public and proudly display the cover…….as I wax poetic to random strangers about how freaking good this series is!

I do need to add, however, that I’m not crazy about the titles. It’s a little cheesy how you can put them all together. But that’s just a thing……

What’s the Story?
I don't know whether I should leap for joy because this book was so good or weep tears of sadness because the journey is over.........this book was a perfect end to what has turned into one of my favorite series ever. No lie. I try to make every kid that walks in to my library check this series out. I don’t know what I need to do to make them understand! The ones that take my advice come back just as excited as I am!

There are so many things that I loved about this book, but it’s going to be hard to get them here without spoilers, so I may not be able to adequately express the greatness of this book. Alexandra Bracken is a genius. This book has a kick-ass plot with tons of action, but it also has fantastic characters. Ruby and Liam are incredible, but the supporting characters are just as great! The characters were still wonderful in this book and the action was non-stop! I was sitting on the edge of my seat for most of this book. And I loved it!

I don’t really know what else to say here, people. If you have not read this series, run right now to get the first book.


Hurt by Johnny Cash 

I’m in Here by Sia

Breathe Me by Sia

I Will Remember You by Sarah McLaughlin

You and Me by Lifehouse

We Are Pilots by Shiny Toy Guns

The Final Grade 
My final grade for this book is an A+. I loved this ending and I loved the whole series. I’m serious about Disney getting this thing made as a movie. And I can’t wait to see what Alexandra Bracken has in store next. Although I must say that I wouldn’t cry if she decided to write more about Liam……..I mean, The Darkest Minds world. Just sayin’......

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. 

This week's topic is:
Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Haven't Read or That I Want To Read

I realize that YA is not technically a genre, but I’m going to just pretend that it is, ok?  Here are some of the books that make my students gasp when I tell them that I haven’t read them:

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak  This one is really embarrassing.  Don’t tell the English department at my school.  They won’t be my BFFs any more.

2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson  Thank goodness book club is reading this one next, so this little problem will be rectified!

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky  I know it’s not an excuse, but I did see the movie……..::hides face in shame::

4. Paper Towns by John Green  At least this is the only John Green novel I haven’t read.  Sorry John, I realize this probably dashes any hope I had of being able to marry you some day.

5. Almost all of Sarah Dessen’s novels  It’s a good thing they didn’t ask this question on the Library Science Praxis.  Otherwise, I would never have received by School Librarian certification

6. Monster by Walter Dean Myers There is no excuse I can offer for this one. I have got to get it read this year, just sayin'.......

7. Eragon by Christopher Paolini  This one makes my students gasp aloud when I admit that I haven’t read it.

8. Crank by Ellen Hopkins  All the kids that I give this book to absolutely adore it, but the thought of tackling that much poetry makes me almost break out in hives.

9. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher  There is one word that will explain why I have not read this book-- suicide.  Although I avoided The Fault in Our Stars forever because of one word and I regretted that decision…..

10. Maximum Ride series by James Patterson  I really have to tackle this series.  I know it’s supposed to be great.  I just wonder how I will find the time to read the whole thing since there are sooooo many of them!

So here is my horribly shameful list.  What’s on your list??

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. 

This week's topic is:

Top Ten Books I'd Like to Read with My Book Club

As a high school librarian, I actually DO run a book club.  When we choose books, I make a list of 12-15 books in a particular genre and then all the kids vote on the top 3 they want to read.  The book with the most votes is the one we read.  Sometimes, though, I really wish they would choose something different from what they do, so here are some that I would love to read with them.  I'm dividing it into 2 sections:  book I've already read and I want to talk to someone about them and books I'm dying to read so book club would give me the nudge to read them.

Books I've Already Read

1.  The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

I love this series so much and even though I have read all 3 books, I really want to fangirl about it with a large group of people, so I wish they would choose it!

2.  Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Love, love, love this book!  I think this book would be fabulous for an "academic" style discussion with students.

3.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
This is one of the best books I've ever read.  I recommend it to perfect strangers.  I wish they could teach this book at my school, but since they can't, book club would be the next best thing.

4.  This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
I really want to read this book with the girls in my book club so that I can squeal like a 14 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  Without being completely embarrassed about it.  An alternate to this one would be Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill.

5.  Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
This would best be read and discussed with an Honors English class actually because I think it's such a great example of satire.  I would love to compare this novel to Jonathan Swift and discuss it with a group of kids who can understand the brilliance of this book.

6.  Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I really want to share the awesomeness of this book with lots of people.

7.  Anything by Gayle Forman
I would re-read any of her books with great joy and then fangirl in ways that a 45 year old woman probably shouldn't in public.  Just sayin'...........

Books I Really Want to Read

1.  Wither by Lauren DeStefano
I have been wanting to read this book forever, so doing this book with my book club would give me a chance to read it. Also, I'd like to discuss the whole thing with teen girls to get their perspective on it.

2.  The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford Wong by L. Tam Holland
I hope t his book is very funny yet deep in the way of Sherman Alexie.  I mean, I know it won't be as wonderful as Alexie's book, but I want to read it and find out.

3.  The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
This book has been on my TBR list for a while.  I don't tend to read lots of mysteries and thrillers, so I think a book club choice would get me to read this one sooner.

4.  I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
I hand this book to kids all the time, so it never seems to be checked in!  If I had to read it for book club, I could justify buying a copy of it for myself!

5.  Paper Towns by John Green
I am dying to read a John Green book with my book club and since this is the only one I haven't read AND it's in movie production, it seems like the perfect choice.

So, my slightly more than ten Top Ten Tuesday list!  What do you think?

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?  is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  It's designed to let readers know what books you have just finished reading and what books are next on your TBR pile.

As part of my great catch-up attempt of 2015, I am going to really try to get these regular features up and going again in my blog.  So here goes nothing!

Currently reading:

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

I love this series!  It's so different!  So far, I'm enjoying this one, but I really need a big chunk of uninterrupted time to sit down with it.  It weighs in at a whopping 624 pages, which is great, but it also means I need a whole day to really get somewhere with it.  If only I could get a snow day.......

Just finished:

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST SERIES EVER!!!!!  I fangirl over this series so much and I try to send it out with every kid in my library.  I loved this book and I will post my review soon!

Up next:


I love both of these series, so I can't believe I've waited this long to finish them.  I'm looking forward to reading both of them!

What are you currently reading?  Any thoughts on the books I have here?

This whole Marie Lu series is a Champion!

Book:  Champion
Author:  Marie Lu
Publisher:  Putnam Juvenile
Date:  November 2013
Source:  My library
My grade:  A+

He is a Legend.

She is a Prodigy.

Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

Initial reaction

::sits down to calm heartbeat::  The feels, people, the feels!!  At my age, the angst at the end of this series could have caused a heart attack!

Cover story

This is the only part of this book that doesn’t just bowl me over.  I mean, the cover is ok.  It’s not horrible, but it’s not anything special either.  It certainly doesn’t reflect the awesomeness of the story held within its covers.

What’s the story?

This series is just your average boy meets girl, boy loves girl,girl loves boy but girl still tries to kill boy, boy and girl try to overthrow evil totalitarian government story…………

Not exactly.  Of course, all those things happen, but the complexity of these characters and the nuances of this story make this series so much more than your average dystopian fare.  I love the characters in this series.  Marie Lu has done such a great job of making everyone so believable.  Also, I love that there are no absolutes in this story.  No one was purely evil and no one was wholly good.  At times, I sort of wanted to everyone to win.  Except for Captain Jameson.  She was actually evil.  But it turns out that the Republic, the Colonies, Day, June and even Thomas are more gray than black and white and I really liked that.

The story had me sitting on the edge of my seat throughout the entire novel.  There was a ton of action and plenty of heart fail to be had.  I just sat in my reading chair and raced to the end in about a day.  I couldn’t put it down because I had to know what was going to happen.

I love the world that Marie Lu created in this series.  It was fun to see Antarctica and Africa as major world powers.  I think that Lu has a lot of timely warnings for us in this book as well, without being preachy and in your face.  The fact that empires rise and fall is a nice warning to those folks who think that western civilization is invincible.  Of course, the environmental cautions are there and I love the way she works in some cautions about powerful corporations with the Colonies.  All in all, she does a great job of working in some very timely issues without being preachy.

So, I’m rolling along, just loving the book and then I reach the end and it’s like…..pow!

Thank goodness I turned the page and found the epilogue and then I was more like:

I closed the book totally satisfied with the series and the ending.

The Soundtrack

Mad World by Gary Jules

Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve

So far Away by Avenged Sevenfold


The next 2 songs come from Marie Lu’s playlist.  You can find the whole thing here.

She by Abney Park

Copper Down by The Boy Who Trapped the Sun

The Final Grade

My final grade for this novel and this series is an A+.  In a sea of dystopians, I think this series really stands out.  It’s a fast-paced, thrilling story with a host of complex characters and a great ending that doesn’t feel forced by isn’t completely tragic either.  It also serves as a pretty decent cautionary tale dealing with some timely issues.  I highly recommend it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Series Enders Challenge 2015

I am soooooooooooooooooo behind in blogging and series reading, so I have decided to try and catch up  in both areas!  How, you might ask?  By signing up for a challenge, of course!  Here it is:

This wonderful little challenge showed up on my Bloglovin' page as a suggestion, so I clicked on it and discovered the goodness!  This is hosted by Somewhere Only We Know and Words Fueled by Love.  Go check out their blogs!  Interested in signing up yourself?  Here's the sign-up page!  You don't have to have a blog, you just have to link to books you review on Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, Amazon or wherever....

I'm going for the Level 4 challenge which is 15+ series enders!!!  Here's my list:

  1. In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
  2. Champion by Marie Lu
  3. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
  4. Boundless by Cynthia Hand
  5. The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa
  6. Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
  7. Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood
  8. Of Neptune by Anna Banks
  9. Infinite by Jodi Meadows
  10. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  11. Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
  12. Specials by Scott Westerfeld
  13. Unhinged and Ensnared by A.G. Howard
  14. The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  15. The Heir by Kiera Cass
  16. A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd
  17. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
  18. Opal, Origin, Opposition by Jennifer Armentrout
  19. Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
  20. Beat the Band, Call the Shots by Don Calame
  21. Awkwardly Ever After by Marni Bates

Only the last book in the series counts, so on a couple of them, I have to read the previous books to get to the ender, but that's cool. I have already completed the first two on the list and I'm working on the third! Go me!!!!

I'll post reviews soon for the first two and I'll try to make them as spoiler-free as possible. I'm really excited about this. I had already decided that I wasn't starting anything new until I caught up with all these series. So the only new books I will be reading will be the ones that my book club chooses. Otherwise, I'm tackling this massive list of books!

Leave me a comment and tell me what you think about any of these. Also let me know if any of you decide to join the challenge!