Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading?

Jen and Kellee at host a weekly meme entitled "It's Monday! What are you Reading?"  This is a chance for people to share the books that they have been reading throughout the week, especially focused on kid lit and YA lit. 

This week I spent a lot of time in meetings and trainings so it didn't quite feel like summer vacation yet.  I managed to get quite a lot of reading in but not so much writing for the Teachers Write camp.  I am hoping to turn that around this week while still making the time for reading.  

Books Finished this week:
Brody's Ghost byMark Crilley--a graphic novel that was okay.  I had a student begging me to find the sequel earlier this school year so I know that some 8th graders will like it.  
Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block--I am not sure I know why people seem to like this book so much.  I know that there will be some students who will enjoy the unconventional style of the book.  I need to read more of the books before really passing judgement...perhaps Weetzie will grow on me.  
The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting--I just began with the Newbery challenge so I am woefully behind anyone who started in January but I will plug away at these books.  I went through the list this week and realized I have already read quite a few in the last ten years or so.  I am planning to reread the books I read as a child and don't really remember but may not reread books that I have read more recently...especially ones that I have used for teaching and have read multiple times in the last five years.  This book was pleasantly surprising and entertaining after suffering through some of the last one.  
Babymouse: Burns Rubber, Babymouse: Cupcake Tycoon, Babymouse: The Musical, Babymouse: Dragonslayer by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm--I am almost embarrassed to say that I had never read any of these graphic novels before.  I really enjoyed the quick and easy reads and was astonished at all of the literary references.  I loved that the musical one referred to so many musicals also.  I could see using one of these fun scenes as a lesson about allusions for my 8th graders.  I am definitely going to try to get some copies of this series for my class library.  
Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles--Participating in Teachers Write has given me so many great ideas for my writing, but it has also exposed me to a number of excellent authors.  This book was riveting and I stayed up way too late reading it and didn't do anything the next morning until it was finished.  
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater--I have been waiting to read this book for a long time now.  I finally ordered it from Scholastic this Spring and opened the box while my students were in the room...long story short, I had to wait until summer to read it as it circulated the room to my Shiver series readers.  I like this conclusion to the trilogy and felt satisfied by the way everything was resolved. 
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green--This book is heart-wrenching and I spent the last 50 pages or so sobbing.  However, I would never have wished back the time that I spent reading and loving those characters.  The voice of the main character is so candid and I truly wished throughout the whole book for a miracle cure for everyone.  
See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles--I connected with this book on a very deep level.  I lost my father when I was thirteen and I remember the moments in the ER when we found out.  I felt exactly the way Fern describes feeling.  Her grief in this book reminded me of my own grief at that age and I spent yet another morning crying through a book.  (My husband thinks I am nuts at this point I am sure) I will be ordering multiple copies of this one for my class library.
50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James--This one is most definitively NOT a book for young adults.  I was curious about it and knew it was trashy but wanted to indulge in a little guilty pleasure.  Holy naughtiness, Batman!  Enough said.  

Books I am Reading:
The Glass Maker's Daughter by V. Briceland--So far it is entertaining.  I have not gotten very far in the book.  
Last Train to Paradise by Les Standiford--I am slowly but surely plugging along in this non-fiction book.  It is interesting but slower going than my usual choice of novels.  

The CAFE Book--I love the ideas that the two sisters have about literacy instruction.  Although I teach 8th grade, I am enjoying reading about this assessment system and imagining how to alter it for my grade level.  

Books to Read this week:
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia--this one is calling to me from the tbr shelf

I will be picking up holds from the library tomorrow: The Dark Frigate and Tales from Silver LandsI will try to get through at least one of these if not both
I am also planning to read a few picture books from my pile of potential mentor texts and will probably pick up and start another professional book.  

Lastly, I have to say that I love the book a day challenge.  I have been doing this challenge for 12 days and have read 17 books already.  It makes it easy to give myself permission to sit and read because I am accomplishing a goal :)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Reading

     This summer I am participating in the book a day challenge.  I have made it a goal to read at least 1 book a day this summer so that at the end of the summer I will have read at least as many books as I have days off.  I am starting off the summer way ahead of my goal which is great because then I might be able to pick up one of the books that I need to sink my teeth into later this summer while still meeting my goal.  I have to warn you reader, this may be a long post because there are a lot of great books to talk about. 

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block is a book that I have been curious about for a couple of years.  Earlier this week I saw a new Weetzie Bat book in the library and was reminded that this was a series I wanted to read.  I found the first book in this series to be quite interesting.  There are many people who simply rave over the style of Francesca Lia Block's writing and I can see how it would appeal to people.  This book is a poetic and modernized fairy tale and the characters are fun to read about.  I would recommend it to teenagers as it deals with some fairly tough issues in a very light-hearted way, but I am not sure I understand why it is so well-loved. 

I read The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting this week as part of the Newbery Challenge.  It was a different story from what I thought I would read, but I enjoyed the book.  It is obviously written in the 1920's and if I were to read it with students there would be some race issues to talk about since the thinking at that time was quite different from now.  All in all, I found this to be a fun adventure book and I enjoyed reading it. 

I had some students in fifth grade a few years ago that thoroughly enjoyed Babymouse books.  At the time there were only 1 or 2 of them, but I never picked them up to read.  This week I decided to remedy that situation and discover what my students had seen and what Colby Sharp kept raving about on Twitter.  The four different books I read from the Babymouse series were all fun reads.  I loved the many literary references that were made throughout the books and enjoyed Babymouse's exploits in each book.  I will definitely pick up some of these for my class library to recommend to students who need a quick and light read some days.  Although they seem to be written more for students in middle grades, I think young adults would also be entertained by Babymouse. 

Forever by Maggie Steifvater is the third book in a trilogy about the wolves in Mercy Falls.  I love all the books that I have read by this author and really enjoy the depth of the characters.  Sam and Grace have gone through so many ups and downs throughout this trilogy and they seem to be star-crossed in so many ways.  The end of the second book in this trilogy was quite a cliff-hanger so I was excited to read this one to find out how everything is resolved.  There were many people who did not give this book very good reviews on Goodreads and I couldn't disagree more.  I think the author did a brilliant job of wrapping up this complex plot in a way that really helped me to suspend my disbelief and jump in to the story.  I enjoyed getting to know two more characters in this book and I love the way she switches point of view so the reader can see the depth in all the characters.  I would highly recommend the whole series starting with Shiver.

     One of the things I have been doing for the last few weeks is an online writing camp for teachers and librarians called Teachers Write.  There are assignments and prompts throughout the week and plenty of opportunities to post writing and give feedback to others on their writing.  One of the organizers who has been extremely generous in giving her time and talent to this program is Jo Knowles.  I am ashamed to say that before this program I had not heard of her before...and, boy, was I missing out!  This week I read two of her books and realized just how talented she is. 
     The first book I read was Lessons From a Dead Girl.  This book was a haunting tale told from the point of view of Laine, a teenage girl who is telling about the complicated relationship she had with a girl who has just died.  Laine recounts how much she wanted to be friends with Leah Greene and how excited she was in fifth grade when Leah seemed to choose her as a friend.  Things quickly become strange for Laine when Leah makes her do things behind closed doors that she says are just practice.  This book really dives into the difficult topic of abuse and victimization from an original point of view.  When I started reading this book I could not put it down and ended up staying up until the wee hours of the morning (way too late in other words) to finish it. 
     The other book I read this week by Jo Knowles was See You at Harry's.  This week the book had recognition as an editor's pick in the New York Times and it is well-deserved.  I read this book in one sitting riveted to my spot by the powerful narrative voice.  The protagonist Fern feels invisible to her family and annoyed by her baby brother Charlie.  Her parents are busy with the family restaurant, her older siblings are wrapped up in their own lives, and it seems like Fern is always stuck watching Charlie, who is three-years-old.  All Fern wants is for her family to understand her and for her mother to show some of the affection to her that she seems to reserve for Charlie.  Then, tragedy strikes this family and leaves everyone reeling and grieving in their own way.  The author captured the moments when tragedy strikes in such a realistic way.  Fern's thought processes as she grieves are laid bare on the page and echo the way I was thinking when my father died (I was 13 at the time).  The descriptions bring the reader into the moment and help her to see and feel what is happening.  I highly recommend this book, just make sure to have some tissues at hand.

    Last, but certainly not least, is the book The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  It is the story of Hazel, a girl who is living with cancer and her struggle to come to terms with dying.  One day at her support group Hazel meets Augustus Waters and the two of them are kindred spirits.   The kids in this book have jokes about cancer and understand one another because of the common experience of cancer.  I found the voice of Hazel to be honest and witty and just the way I would imagine a teenager with cancer to react to her world.  This book is a tough one to read because it is a star-crossed relationship story if I ever read one, but the uplifting power of love is really at the heart of this story and the ending, though not a happy one, leaves the reader feeling satisfied and not completely devastated.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I will avoid a sad story like the plague because I just don't want to be brought down by the stories I read.  This sad story, however, is one that I am glad I read.  I will certainly recommend this book to all my students in the fall and would highly recommend it to all my friends as well.  Beware when picking up the book that you will most definitely need a box of tissues by you.  I sobbed for the better part of 50 pages at the end of the book, but would still recommend the experience to everyone. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading? 6/18/12

Jen and Kellee at host a weekly meme entitled "It's Monday! What are you Reading?"  This is a chance for people to share the books that they have been reading throughout the week, especially focused on kid lit and YA lit.

This week I did a lot of reading since I did not have to plan for students.  I was working on packing up the classroom but was able to use my evening hours for reading rather than planning.

I was excited on Monday to go pick up a stack of books that I had requested at the library.  I have been busy requesting books that have been recommended by fellow teachers and that have been written by the authors participating in Teachers Write this summer.

I finished: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Fallen by Lauren Kate, Sidekicks by Dan Santat, The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner, Wonder by RJ Palacio, Brody's Ghost by Mark Criller, and a grown-up book Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson.

I decided to do the Newbery challenge and started to read The Story of Mankind but I will take Mr. Schu at his word and make this a non-stress challenge for me.  I cannot get through this book and I don't want to waste precious reading minutes on it any longer.  If someone were to ask me about the book, I have read enough of it to give them the gist of what it is about and I do not see recommending this book to anyone anytime soon. I am counting it finished and moving on to The Journeys of Doctor Doolittle.

This week my tbr pile includes: Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles,  The Fault in our Stars by John Greene, Babymouse (multiple titles are waiting for me at the library), Forever by Maggie Stiefvater, Weetzie Bat by Francseca Lia Block and Last Train to Paradise by Les Standiford (This one is a non-fiction book about the building of the railroad from Miami to Key West--not YA or kid lit but one from my tbr shelf)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Wonder of Wonder and Ivan

     As promised, I am back to day to talk about the two last books I read.  These two books are amazing stories and I hope to see both on the short list of Newbery nominees this year.

    Wonder by RJ Palacio is a fabulous book about a boy who is seriously disfigured.  August Pullman had the complete bad luck of losing a genetic lottery and has spent his life going through surgeries to make it possible for him to eat without a feeding tube and to have a jaw bone, etc.  Because he was constantly having surgeries and recovery time, he has been homeschooled his entire life.  At the beginning of the book Auggie finds out that he will be going to fifth grade at a regular school and he is not very thrilled about the idea.  He knows how people stare and shy away from him in public and he is reluctant to go to school because it will happen there as well.  This book follows August through the entire fifth grade year, telling a remarkable story of bravery.  I love the way the author switches narrators throughout the book so the reader can get the perspective of more than one character.  One of the most touching things in this book is the incredibly tight-knit family and how the parents and August and his sister Olivia really love each other and support each other.  This is an uplifting story that sometimes made me laugh and sometimes made me cry.  I think every kid should read this book and understand that people are more than just their outside appearances.

     The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate tells the story of a gorilla living in a circus mall.  It is based on a true story of a gorilla in similar circumstances.  I love how the author gives us the animals voices and narrates this story from their perspectives.  When a baby elephant comes to live at the mall, Ivan finds that he is sad for her and wishes she had a better place to live.  He works hard to send this message to the people surrounding him.  I was touched by the relationship that Ivan had with the small dog that was there and with the groundskeepers daughter.  Children sometimes have a more perceptive way of looking at the world and in this world that is definitely true.  As I was reading, I made a few connections to one of my favorite kid lit books Charlotte's Web.  Ivan's attempts to gain attention reminded me of Charlotte's messages in the web to save the life of Wilbur.  I am really interested now in reading more about some of the gorillas that have lived in captivity throughout the years.  Perhaps I will look for some of Jane Goodall's books.  I would highly recommend this truly unique book to everyone.  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Heading into Summer

Summer vacation is finally here and I am so excited to be able to have time to read more amazing books!  I did a lot of reading this week because I came home so exhausted from packing up my classroom every day that I didn't really feel like doing anything else.

    I will start with my reviews of a couple graphic novels I read.  These books are quick to read and will be great additions to my class library.  I witnessed the power of the graphic novel this year when the only time I had no trouble at silent reading was when I had a new GN to give one of the boys in my class.  I will be pushing this genre next year and am really excited about the idea of helping students see the inferences they have to make when reading these books.

The first GN to talk about is Nightschool: The Weirn Books Vol. 1 by Svetlana Chmakova.  This graphic novel was reminiscent of Manga for me.  I don't think it is classified as such but there were many Manga like faces drawn that conveyed certain emotions of the characters.  This is a book about vampires, witches, and other supernatural forces.  There is a school that serves as the Nightschool campus and the woman that is the director of this school is a new employee there.  There seems to be all sorts of evil and danger lurking about which I am sure the reader finds out more about in the next book.  This is an intriguing first book in a series and I will be interested in finding out more about the story in subsequent books.  I would recommend it to students that are more into fantasy because I don't see it necessarily appealing to all audiences.

The second GN that I read this week was Sidekicks by Dan Santat. This is a fun story about a superhero who is searching for a new Sidekick.  In the past he has used his pets as sidekicks but this time he wants to find someone else because he does not want to put his pets in danger.  The pets have something to say about this and go out to train so that they can audition for the part.  Meanwhile, there is a new superhero on the scene and mayhem is about to break out.  I love superhero stories and this one was a fun one.  I would recommend this for kids from 4th grade-adult.

On to the other books for this week.  The only strictly young adult book I read this week was Fallen by Lauren Kate.  I have had this book in my to read pile for a couple months since I found it at HPB one day.  I enjoyed this book, but I felt that the action was dragged out.  It might just be because I have read so many of these paranormal romance books, but I felt a little tired of the whole "does he like me or not?" back and forth that was going on.  I did think the setting of a boarding school for court-ordered youth was an interesting twist.  This book reminded me of Hush, Hush because of the rough treatment of the main character by her love interest and Evermore because of the story of generations of the same doomed love story.  If I had read this book first maybe I would have liked it more, but I couldn't muster the same enthusiasm for this one as I have for others in the past.  I am going to read the other books in this series because I am intrigued and I do like the characters.  I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoyed the other paranormal romance books.  I don't think anyone will be disappointed by this one.

The other three books I am reviewing here were books I read because of the blogs I have started following thanks to Twitter and Teachers Write.  I am participating in an online writing camp this summer and I have been very inspired by book recommendations and writing that is occurring there.

The first book is one I looked up because the author is one of the people who founded our writing camp, which actually has over 1,000 participants at this point.  Gae Polisner is very active in commenting on Facebook and providing feedback to everyone who posts.  I really enjoy reading her comments and answers to questions.  I requested her book The Pull of Gravity from my library and devoured it almost in one sitting.  Her characters jump off the page and come to life in this story.  When Nick's neighbor and best friend the Scoot asks him to take a book back to his father, he finds himself compelled to comply with the request.  It doesn't help that his new friend Jaycee seems to be plotting along with the Scoot to get Nick to help out.  Scooter has a very rare condition and is dying and this is a request that Nick cannot refuse.  Nick and Jaycee end up on an adventure to remember at a time in his life in which his family seems to be crumbling before his eyes.  I very much enjoyed this story.  I found myself making connections to the book Freak the Mighty.  Both Scooter and Freak had a condition that seemed to be similar, if not the same condition.  I enjoyed the references to Of Mice and Men throughout the book and now find myself inspired to read this classic and a little embarrassed that I haven't read it yet.  I would highly recommend this book to all students and I will be seeking out a copy to add to my class library this year.

Since this post is getting extremely long, I will reserve my reviews of the following books for the next post.  These are the other books that I would highly recommend reading and please come back tomorrow for their reviews.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Wonder by RJ Palacio

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading?

     Last week I picked up the book El Asedio by Arturo Perez-Reverte and made a whole-hearted attempt to get into the book.  My mind was elsewhere and the dense Spanish filled with technical terms just wasn't sinking in.  I decided to abandon that book for now and try again when I have less other business to attend to.  I did read Eona last week.  That was a great book and series that I will recommend to my 8th graders next year.  I also read This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen which went much faster for me than I thought it would.  This weekend I read If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko.  I have read Al Capone Does my Shirts multiple times...the last time as a read aloud that my class really enjoyed.  I really like Choldenko's style.  She is able to write about things that are really difficult things for any kid to handle and she does it with humor.  I like the really short chapters in this book and I can definitely see using it as a read aloud.  I also read The Robe of Skulls by Vivian French.    It was a cute story and would make a quick read for a student who enjoyed Tim Burton's movies, but I am not a huge fan.  Finally, I read two graphic novels that I have for my class library.  Bad Island is a weird story but I enjoyed it and Nightschool was also entertaining.  I am sure I will be able to find just the right students to recommend these books to next year.

    This week I have not completely decided what's on deck.  I have a bunch of books on hold at the library ready to pick up so I am sure my reading will include those books.  I am currently reading Fallen by Lauren Kate and The Story of Humankind since I decided to do the Newbery challenge.  I also might pick up Cutting for Stone which has been on my to read shelf since last summer.  Thursday is the first day of my #bookaday challenge and I can't wait to be done for the school year.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer...Here I come!

      I am so excited to be wrapping up this school year.  I have found solace in my reading throughout this year and I cannot wait to start my #bookaday challenge later this week.  Having finished my report cards last week, and having little to do for planning because of all the 8th grade graduation details, I found myself with more time to read than I thought I would have.  There are quite a few titles to review this week.

    The first book I finished was Eona by Alison Goodman.  This book is a sequel to the book Eon in which the reader is introduced to a world in which there are 12 dragons of power and each year an apprentice is chosen for the ascendant dragon.  In the first book it comes out that Eon was actually a girl posing as a boy and she has been chosen by the female mirror dragon to be a dragoneye (dragon warrior).  Since this dragon had been missing for a long time there was not a dragoneye in place already so Eona did not become an apprentice, but was given the status of dragoneye right away.  At the end of the first book there has been great devastation and Eona has escaped.
     I was excited to read this sequel but unsure what to expect since a colleague told me she liked the first book better.  I have to say that I disagree about this.  I really enjoyed this book and felt that there was much more internal conflict to this plot. The second book picks up the story right where the first one left off.  Eona is traveling with members of the resistance and they are hoping to rendezvous with other resistance fighters and find the prince who is rumored to be alive.   Along the way, Eona is trying to find out more about her ancestors and the book that connects her to her dragon in some mysterious way.  Since she is the only dragoneye warrior that they have, the resistance is relying on her powers, but she is having a hard time because she has not been trained to use the power.  Enter a love triangle and we have a book that is intriguing and surprising right up until the very last page.  I could not figure out how the numerous conflicts in this book would be resolved and I had doubts that the author would be able to tie up the story in such a way that it would not be outrageous.  I was wrong to doubt her.  I loved the way this book ended.  I would definitely recommend this book as a great example of a strong female character.

     Since I have been more active on Twitter, I have been quite entertained by Sarah Dessen's tweets that seem to narrate her daily life.  I had read one of her books a while ago and was not that impressed and frankly didn't see what people liked about her books.  However, not one to judge to harshly by one example, I decided to pick up This Lullaby from my to read shelf and give her another shot to impress me.  It worked!  I really enjoyed this story and whipped through it.  Remy is such a believable 18 year old.  Remy has just graduated high school and is starting the summer before college.  She has recently reformed her bad girl ways and is looking to have a fun summer before moving across the country in the fall.  Her mother is getting married for the fourth time and Remy has become a cynic when it comes to love.  This book follows Remy and her friends through their summer full of romance and big news.  I understand now why so many people enjoy Sarah Dessen's books and am looking forward to reading more from her.  On a side note, it was fun to read about Remy's mother who is a writer and the weird writing habits that she has.  I wonder if Dessen has any of those same habits.  I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys a good love story.  

     I have made it a point to read more graphic novels and to acquire more for my class library.  This is one that I got because one of my 8th graders wanted to do his author study about this author.  He had enjoyed Ghostopolis so much that he begged to be able to do the author study about Doug TenNapel so I went out and found this other graphic novel by him.  Bad Island is a fun story about a family vacation that becomes disastrous when the family boat crashes on a mysterious island.  There are weird plants and creatures on the island and the family has to work together to solve the mystery so that they can find their way off the island.  I really enjoyed this story and would definitely recommend it to my students.  I will look forward to finding more books by this author in the future.  

     More to come over the summer about the fabulous books I am reading.  I have decided to join the Newbery challenge so I will be sneaking some of those books into my to read pile throughout the summer.  Happy reading!

Monday, June 4, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

    I am still in school so I am a little slower in finishing books than I will be this summer.  I cannot wait to do the bookaday challenge and have a bookshelf full of books to read.  (Of course, I will also make trips to the library and Half Price Books which makes the shelf fill up again...but that cannot be helped)  

   This week I finished The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Insurgent by Veronica Roth, and The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes.  

   I have decided to start El Asedio by Arturo Perez Reverte now, before the challenge starts, because it is a thick book.  Since it is Spanish it will take me longer to finish it and that could slow down my progress this summer.  I will also start Eona this week.  I was ecstatic when I saw this book at HPB last weekend because that means I can read it that much sooner.  I really enjoyed Eon and I hope this book has more of the same.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Inspiration from Twitter

     I recently decided to start exploring more with my Twitter account.   When I came home from the Key West Literary Seminar (a fabulous literary event) in January, I was very interested in the fact that some of these authors of speculative fiction were referring to their social media accounts during their talks.  I don't know why I had never thought about following authors before but this was my "a-ha" moment and I started looking for authors to follow.  Pretty soon I ended up with an account full of authors, both of the fiction books my students and I enjoy, and of professional resources for teachers.  I have now stumbled across blogs of teachers and librarians who are so like me it is scary.  I love reading about other teachers who read as voraciously as I do and enjoy discussing good books with their students and with other teachers.  I have recently been adding books to my "to read" list at an alarming pace. (Especially since I already have an entire bookshelf with to read books at home).   Two of the three books discussed here are books that I have been inspired to read because of Twitter.  I loved the other books I read by these same authors and now am enthralled with the every day posting of each of them.  My summer book a day list will also be full of Sarah Dessen books.  I love the way she narrates her days through tweets.

Jay Asher is one of the authors that I have enjoyed following on Twitter.  I was entertained with his posts about what he was eating and drinking during his recent trip to Wisconsin.  I absolutely loved Thirteen Reasons Why because I believe it is important for every teen to understand the way their actions have ripples throughout many lives.  My copy of that book is quite beat up because it makes the rounds through the class each year as my students discover the power in that story.  The Future of Us will not disappoint those students that were eagerly awaiting another book by Jay Asher.  I love the way Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler mixed science fiction and teen romance in this book.  At the beginning of the book, Emma has just received a new computer as a gift from her father.  The book is set in the late 90's so this is a big deal.  Her neighbor Josh comes over to give her a CD-ROM with 100 free hours of AOL so that she can connect to the internet.  Emma and Josh used to be best friends but things have been awkward between them lately because of some things that happened a few months ago.  When Emma connects to the internet a blue and white screen comes up and when she enters her e-mail and password she is taken to a weird site called Facebook.  The screen that is there is her own profile from the future.  What comes next is a funny and heartwarming account of how Josh and Emma deal with being able to glimpse their futures and how every decision they make can have an effect on the future.  The authors really catch the angst of these teenage characters and the book brought me back to that stage in which everyone is trying to figure out their relationships and how to navigate high school.  I would recommend this book to everyone.  I chuckled many times throughout the book at the attempts of these teenagers in the past to figure out what Netflix, iPads, and many more things could be.

     After reading Divergent not too long ago, I was very excited to start the second book.  Divergent ended with battles and the characters heading for temporary safety and this is where Insurgent picks up.  This book is all about Tris trying to discover why the Erudite attacked the other factions.  Tris is dealing with the grief of losing both her parents in the attacks, and the guilt of having killed one of her best friends when she was faced with no alternative.  Her choices throughout this book start to distance her from Four and we see some conflict arising in their relationship.  This book was full of action and adventure.  I enjoyed the complexity of the characters and the underlying theme that there is no one who is all good or all bad.  Each character has to face that and to decide who to trust in this time of strife.  I cannot wait until the next book is released in Fall 2013.  This is the downside of reading newer series...there is a lot of time spent waiting for the new book.  

     The other author I have enjoyed seeing on Twitter is John Green.  I enjoyed reading Looking for Alaska a few years ago and have spent a lot of time recommending it for my teen students.  Watching the reactions to his most recent book release made me curious to read his other books.  I loved An Abundance of Katherines.  The protagonist, Colin, was a child prodigy and his struggling with his recent break-up.  He feels like a wash-up and does not think that he matters in the world and this bothers him.  His best friend Hassan decides that he needs to take Colin on a road trip and they take off across the country.  I enjoyed reading about this characters quirky way of dealing with life.  It was fun to read all of the trivia in the footnotes.  This book is also a book about relationships and fitting in.  I would recommend this book to teens and adults who are like me...a little nerdy.