Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold

Title: Strands of Bronze and Gold
Author: Jane Nickerson

Publication: March 12, 2013

Source: NetGalley

Publisher Summary:

A sweeping Gothic thriller based on the spine-chilling "Bluebeard" fairytale

17-year-old Sophia Petheram has been sheltered by her doting family all her life, until the day her father dies. It's 1855, and with no money and few options, she goes to live with her guardian, the mysterious Bernard de Cressac, at the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey in Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it's as if thread by thread, a silken net is woven around her. And when she begins glimpsing the ghosts of his former wives (all with hair as red as her own) in the forgotten corners and dark hallways of the Abbey, Sophie knows she's in de Cressac's trap.
With enchanting romance, chilling suspense, and dashes of the supernatural, Strands of Bronze and Gold is a compulsively-readable debut.
My Thoughts:  I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson.  Let me just say that I LOVE 19th century literature...I gobbled up the Romantic novels of that period when I was younger.  Gothic novels were so popular during this time period in literature and I have read every last one I could get my hands on.  Had I gone on to get a PhD in English, this would have been my focus for research and publication.  Jane Nickerson wrote a book that could fit right in with the classics such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights for the Gothic elements included.  This book is a retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale and is told in such a way that it made me immediately want to dig out my copy of Jane Eyre to reread that classic.  Not everybody is going to love this book as much as I did, nor will everyone appreciate the gothic elements as I did when reading, but I think this author deserves recognition for what had to be a very intentional decision to write using these elements.  I will absolutely be buying this one when it comes out and sharing it with everyone I know.

What I really appreciated about this book is how quickly I empathized with Sophie, and how desperate her situation became.  It would not be difficult to isolate someone like this even today if someone wanted to hold them captive.  The mind games that Bernard de Cressac plays throughout the book are stunning.  I have to admit that I am not familiar with the fairy tale so I am unsure about which details the author might have embellished, but this book is fabulous and not to be missed!

I would recommend this one to teens and adults alike, but especially to fans of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and other Gothic classics.

5 out of 5 Stars

Review: The Runaway King

Title: The Runaway King
Author: Jennifer Nielsen

Publication: March 1, 2013
Source: Netgalley ARC
Goodreads Summary:

A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen's blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE!

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!

My Thoughts:  I have to admit that although I liked The False Prince, I didn't love it as much as many of the bloggers, teachers, and librarians that I follow.  I think I expected something different and that colored my opinion of the book.  So, when I picked this one up I was expecting to like the story but not to love it.  I was wrong.  I LOVED this one!  I was sucked in immediately by the circumstances that seemed impossible to figure out.  Prince Jaron is a clever and brave character and I loved every second of this one.  It made me want to go back and read The False Prince again, because obviously I missed something in that story.  This one kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the book and I will anxiously await the third book.  There is so much romantic tension (but not too much for the boys) and I am ready to figure out how things will work out for Jaron.  I would highly recommend this one to boys and girls alike...and I know of a few students that are anxiously awaiting our Scholastic order to get their hands on this one!  

Since elephants are my second favorite thing after books, they are helping me with my rating system. 

4 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 25, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? 2/25

This weekly meme is hosted by the lovely ladies at Teach Mentor Texts.  Head over there for more great ideas of kid literature and young adult books to add to your TBR.

Books I Read This Week:

Period 8 by Chris Crutcher was an excellent book.  It combined mystery and realistic fiction in such a seamless way and will definitely appeal to teens.  The author left enough clues that it was pretty easy to figure out some parts of the mystery but left enough intrigue and surprises to keep me wanting more.  I have read Staying Fat for Sarah Barnes but have not read anything else by Chris Crutcher.  I absolutely have to remedy that soon.  A special thanks to Jennifer Fountain who lent me her ARC of this one.  I will have to buy a copy when it comes out later this spring!

Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur came in one of those special free packs of books in my Scholastic order.  The cover looked interesting and the story sounded intriguing but I didn't plan to make this one a priority until one of my students came to school RAVING about it.  My student told me I HAD to read it, so I did.  I was really touched by this story.  The characters in the book were all lovable and I could really connect with Elise, the protagonist. The book is about Elise, who has been raised by her uncle and aunt because her parents both passed away when she was very young.  Her father, who had a terminal disease and knew he was dying, set up eight rooms of memories for her to discover and unlock when she is ready.  Throughout the course of this book, Elise opens the rooms as the keys mysteriously appear for her.  She learns about her parents and is given the treasure of advice from a father who is no longer there.  I wept through this book, not because it was sad but because it was touching (especially since I lost my own father when I was thirteen and was connecting with how amazing it would be to suddenly get a message he had left me).  I wrote more about the book HERE.  I would highly recommend this one to grades 5 and up.

I have to admit that I thought You Gotta BE the Book by Jeffrey Wilhelm would be a more practical book with strategies and lessons to immediately apply in my classroom.  I liked the book and appreciated learning about his teacher research and really thought about my own classroom throughout my reading, but this one was very scholarly and dense compared to many other professional books I have read lately.  I just kept waiting to get to the chapter that would take this research and translate it into strategy ideas for me.  It's not that there aren't ideas, they just aren't really laid out in such a way that I could take those ideas and use them tomorrow.  This is one I would recommend to reading teachers, but maybe it is more of a summer read when you can really take your time and process the ideas.

I cannot believe that this is my whole list.  I think it has to do with the fact that the professional book really took some focused reading on my part.  Also, there was another book I started to read but really didn't love it so I stopped.  That doesn't happen often, but it does happen.  I am just glad that I didn't buy that one.  I might go back to it sometime, but probably not.  There are too many other great books out there!

What I am Currently Reading:

I decided to read Teaching Literacy for LOVE and WISDOM: Being the BOOK and Being the CHANGE by Jeffrey Wilhelm and Bruce Novak because I was intrigued by Wilhelm's talk at WSRA13.  The book is another one that is full of theory and teacher research, but this time I am ready for it.  I am also about a third of the way through Grave Mercy and a few chapters into Finnikin of the Rock.  I will be finishing The Selection on audiobook is getting so exciting that I will probably do an extra long workout tomorrow just so I can finish!

What's Next:

I would like to get The Night Circus on audiobook.  I really want to read that one and have heard that this is a good audio.  I also will read Shooter and Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers.  I want to get those ones to school because I have some students who I think would really like them.  I have Hide and Seek from Netgalley as well and Prodigy is calling my name.  For professional books, I think I will read Opening Minds by Peter Johnston next.  I also have Invincible Microbe from the library and would like to make my way through that one.  I will most likely not get to all of these books but a girl can hope, right?

What are you reading this week?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Review: Eight Keys

Title: Eight Keys
Author: Suzanne LaFleur
Publication: July 2012

My Summary: Elise and her best friend Franklin have always been friends.  They have a blast together and know each other well.  But when Elise has to start middle school with scabs all over her legs, and Franklin reveals to everyone that it was because of a game they were playing, she starts to be embarrassed by her friend.  Then, she starts to have a hard time with the girl who shares her locker.  Elise is bullied by this girl and starts missing the bus so she doesn't have to go to school.  In the meantime, Elise turns twelve and receives her annual note on her birthday.  Her father, who passed away when she was very young, has left her a legacy in the rooms that he prepared for her before he died.  She discovers the treasure room by room and learns a little more about herself as she does so.

My Thoughts: I read this book because I had a student who absolutely raved about it.  That made it move to the top of the to-read pile.  Let me just start by saying that having lost my father at thirteen, this type of story is much more likely to make me weepy than other people.  I was tearing up throughout the book because of the touching ways the adults in the book interacted with this young girl.  I was able to feel for Elise throughout the book, and wanted to reach out and help her.  I loved the details of the rooms her father left for her.  What an incredible treasure it would be to be able to learn from your father even though he is long gone.  She finds out so much about both of her deceased parents and learns to love her aunt and uncle even more throughout the process.  This is a beautiful story about treasuring life and loving your friends and family.  I would recommend this one to kids and adults grade 5 and up.

5 Stars 

Monday, February 18, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? 2/18

This weekly meme is hosted by the lovely ladies at Teach Mentor Texts.  Head over there for more great ideas of kid literature and young adult books to add to your TBR.

This was a very busy week for me.  I volunteered to be the Student Council advisor this year so my week was filled with way too many hours of helping sort out the flowergram and candygram sale for Valentine's Day.  So, this weekend I did a read-a-thon of sorts because I wanted to take the weekend off.

Books I Finished This Week:

Book Love by Penny Kittle is a must-read for all teachers of reading, especially middle school and high school teachers.  I was able to immediately tweak some of my procedures to incorporate some of the author's amazing ideas.  I really appreciated the way that Kittle gave those of us that believe in reader's workshop some solid reasons to continue to fight for the importance of independent reading and student choice.

This was a really cute picture book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it for students in grades 1-4.

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard is an incredibly powerful book.  A novel-in-verse written in the memory of a young college student who was brutally murdered in the nineties, this is a riveting read.  I love how the author experimented with different types of poems and then explained those forms at the end of the book.  Another thing I liked about this book is how the author experimented with perspective and wrote poems from the point of view of the inanimate objects involved in the story.  This is a book that all teens and adults should read.

This is a very interesting book.  I loved how the authors played with the concept of a graphic novel but used photographs and postcards to tell the story.  It is a modern love story and immediately made me want to read it again to catch all the nuances in the story.

This is another great graphic novel.  It gives students a perspective into the early career of Ameila Earhart.  Students in grades 4 and up would enjoy this one.

This one was deserving of all the awards it received this year.  It reads as a spy story and tells the fascinating story of the race to develop a nuclear weapon.  I know there are students in my classroom that will be lining up to get ahold of this one.

I loved Dodger by Terry Pratchett.  It was so much fun getting an imaginary glimpse into the life of a beloved character.  This was part-mystery and part life story a la Charles Dickens.  It made me want to dig out the Dickens stories I haven't read in many years.  I would highly recommend this one especially to English literature nerds like me :)

Books I Am Currently Reading:

I am listening to The Selection by Kiera Cass and really enjoying it.  I am also reading You Gotta BE the Book by Jeffrey Wilhelm.  I enjoyed his presentations at the conference I went to and am really curious about the things he has to say in his books.  This one is really full of research and it is fascinating to read about what he discovered by studying his students who were avid readers.  I hope that there are more practical suggestions later in the book.

What's Next:

I will be reading Period 8 this week for sure.  Other than that, I am not sure what I will grab off the shelf.  I have a couple Walter Dean Myers books that I want to read so I can get them to school and they usually go quickly so those may be the next picks.  I also have Grave Mercy which I am excited to read so I might start that one.  I also have a pile of professional books to get to.  I most likely will read Notice and Note if I get done with the Wilhelm book.   Really, I will just play it by ear as always...we shall see next week.

Monday, February 11, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? 2/11

This weekly meme is hosted by the lovely ladies at Teach Mentor Texts.  Head over there for more great ideas of kid literature and young adult books to add to your TBR.

This was a slower reading week for me because I attended the Wisconsin State Reading Association conference on Thursday and Friday.  It was a busy few days and you can read more about it here. The beginning of the week was busy with getting sub plans ready and keeping up with grading.

Books I Finished This Week:

This was a quick read and I can't wait to book talk it to my class on Monday.  I have talked about it before but had not read it yet.  Now I know that my middle school students will love it and I know I will be able to sell it better.  I love the way the book is like a case study.  What a fun book!

I LOVED this book.  I tell you why in my review of the book here.  Gayle Forman is quickly becoming one of my absolute favorite authors.  Her prose is so beautiful and there are so many lines that resonated with me and made me slow down to reflect.  I highly recommend this one.

This one was a fun and quick read.  It is definitely one that younger middle school students would enjoy.  I really loved the voice of the narrator.  What if you could suddenly hear dead people?  How would that change your life?  This was an interesting exploration of how that would affect a young girl.  I would absolutely recommend this one as well.

Books I am Currently Reading:

I am reading Book Love by Penny Kittle.  It is a must-read for all secondary teachers.  It is reminding me of why I work so hard to give students the time to read in my classroom and the support in finding books they will love.  I also am reading Bomb by Steve Sheinken.
I also just started listening to The Selection by Kiera Cass.

Books I will read next:
There are so many books in my TBR pile that I can't think straight sometimes.  Of course, while I was at the conference I ended up buying multiple books.  I also had a bunch of the books that I requested at the library come in this week.  I feel a little insane right now because I can't seem to stop acquiring books.  I think I will probably pick one of the multiple books on my Kindle to read.  There have been a lot of good daily deals lately so there are many books on there that I am excited to read.  I also will probably read Prodigy before taking it to school...although I might take that one to the student I know is waiting for it.  I will probably also start reading one of the Jeff Wilhelm books I picked up this weekend.  His ideas sparked a lot of thought for me so I want to get more information to be able to apply them asap.

What are you reading this week?  Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

WSRA Convention Wrap-up

     It is entirely due to my Twitter account that I ended up attending the Wisconsin State Reading Association conference this week.  Over the summer, I decided to participate in Teachers Write which was started by Kate Messner, Jen Vincent, and Gae Polisner.  I will have to admit, I was a bit more of a lurker and did not quite get as much writing done as I had hoped, but it did strengthen my commitment to writing and writing instruction.  Through this amazing experience, I got to "meet" two incredible authors as well as reading insights from a plethora of wonderful writers.  Towards the end of the summer, on one of the last discussions, I noticed another teacher saying that they would be seeing Kate Messner in February in Wisconsin.  I immediately looked it up and found this awesome convention!
    Let me just say that this conference was FILLED with big names in education.  For each session there were AT LEAST 4 sessions that I would have loved to go to (and only 2 sessions to sign up for).
Each day, I narrowed the choices down to these presenters and then had to pick from there.  I would have loved to go to all of their sessions:
On Thursday: Donalyn Miller, Aimee Buckner, Ellin Keene, Georgia Heard, Jeff Wilhelm, Doug Buehl, Chris Tovani
On Friday: Kate Messner, Jack Gantos, Douglas Fisher, Peter Johnston, Jeff Anderson, Linda Hoyt, Richard Allington
*This is the short list! There were several more big names in reading education that I ruled out for a variety of reasons.

At least on Thursday I could pay a little extra and have lunch at a smaller setting with some of the Rockstars!  I was able to eat with Donalyn Miller and loved our excellent table conversation about reading.

   On Thursday, the whirlwind day started out with finding and meeting Erin (@teachandgolf).  We sat together with one of Erin's colleagues for the day's keynote with Jeff Wilhelm---who actually did some of his graduate work in Wisconsin.  His talk was really based on the ideas in his book Teaching Literacy for Love and Wisdom: Being the Book and Being the Change.  It was a heartfelt message and I felt myself tearing up during sections of his presentation.  Of course, I immediately bought the book.  I love the way Wilhelm makes the case for units that teach kids about how to be in this world.  This is the kind of teaching I want to do and I cannot wait to apply this concept to my planning.  My biggest a-ha was the idea of turning essential questions into existential questions to deepen the students' awareness of their world.
    The first session I attended was Aimee Buckner's session about Nonfiction notebook writing.  Her ideas were applicable and got me thinking about the informational writing that I am working on right now with my students.  Many of the strategies she presented will fit right into the research unit I am working on with students and I loved the practical ideas.  I loved Notebook Know-How and am excited for her new book that will be coming out soon.

     Not only did I get to meet and talk to Donalyn Miller (@donalynbooks), I also got to meet Tom and Leah Whitford.  I just recently "met" Tom on Twitter but it has been great to connect with more Wisconsin educators and I am so excited to have met them in person.  I may be a shy member and kind of quiet about it but I am a card-carrying member of the Nerdy Book Club tribe and I was so happy to have this small pocket of time to have that conversation.  (I also got to be a fangirl and I am not ashamed to own up to being a bit of a groupie)
   The two afternoon sessions I attended were also great.  First, I went to see Chris Tovani.  She was presenting ideas from her newest book on assessment, So What Do They Really Know? I read this book over the summer and it was great to be reminded of some of her excellent ideas for feedback.  The way she stressed the idea of feedback being most important from the student to the teacher really got me thinking about my classroom.  I know I will be going back to her book soon to apply some more of her great ideas about assessment.
   Jeff Wilhelm presented the last session I attended on Thursday.  He talked about the idea of using drama in the classroom to motivate students and set them up for success in reading.  I absolutely loved the activity we did and now am a proud owner of You Gotta BE the Book.  I know that these strategies will start to work themselves into my classroom as well.
     Friday started out snowy.  I thought I was going to be late to the morning keynote because of all the snow removal necessary.  I got there right in time for the keynote and found out that Linda Darling-Hammond had not been able to get to Milwaukee.  Thank goodness for technology!  She did her entire presentation through video conference and I was really amazed.  It is so nice to learn about the research which supports the efforts of teachers to make schools more effective.  I wish the policy makers would listen to these statistics and understand that what is being done to our schools will not make us more competitive in the world.  Rather, it is widening the gap in our country.
    Friday morning I went to Kate Messner's session.  After all, she was the reason I signed up for this conference in the first place!  I was so glad to be able to see her TED talk in person.  The idea of building an imaginary world is so important in writing fiction.  I have some strategies that I can immediately apply.  Plus, I met Kate Messner!  If you haven't read her books, you should.  She has some great titles for all ages.  Also, she is just a really great person who gives back to the world in a big way.
   In the afternoon I attended a session about literature circles.  The teachers presenting had some great ideas about how to take literature circles online and give kids online tools for responding to books.  I definitely did some thinking in this session about how I could incorporate their great ideas next time I do literature circles.  The best takeaway for me was the use of a digital recorder to record the group conversations.  This is great for accountability and discussion standards as well as a good way for absent students to make up the work.  So simple but absolutely brilliant!
   The last session, but certainly not the least, was with Jeff Anderson.  He was talking about the ideas in his new book 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know.  I read this book during the summer and was almost overwhelmed by the abundance of great strategies for teaching writing.  It was nice to have some time to remember the ideas and see them in action.  I will definitely dive back into this book to go slower and savor the ideas so I can start to apply them in my classroom.

Overall, I left the conference with 4 new professional books and 3 that I want to go back to.  I have some new friends that I will enjoy continuing the virtual connection with, and my brain is still swirling with all of the amazing ideas. I feel energized and ready to jump back in on Monday and continue the work of creating readers and writers in my classroom!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Review: Just One Day

Title: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Published: January 2013

Source: Borrowed this one from my Twitter friend Jennifer Fountain (@jennann516).  Yeah for twitter and book bloggers!

My Summary:
Allyson has always had a plan and is completely organized.  She is the type of girl who goes back to the hotel instead of going out to nightclubs while on a teen trip to Europe.  She is a good girl and does not do spontaneous things.  Then one day at the end of her Europe trip, she meets Willem, who is a very spontaneous person.  He lives his life by letting "accidents" lead him in the direction he might go.  Allyson, or Lulu as Willem calls her, takes off to Paris with him for just one day.  You will have to read the book to find out what happens to Allyson and Willem.  There are too many spoilers that could happen if I keep summarizing.

My Thoughts:
     I absolutely loved this book and the beauty of the writing.  I am tempted to immediately dive in for another read.  The author deals with big topics like the way that relationships between parents and children change when they leave home for college, and the very real physical symptoms of depression, and how lonely life can be sometimes. These things are treated with seriousness but not heartbreaking heaviness.  Allyson is a character that grows exponentially in this book.  I was rooting for her and hoping for her success in whatever endeavor.  My heart kind of breaks a little for her mother who is having such a hard time letting go of the control she had over Allyson's life.  I also am intrigued by the depth of character in Willem hinted at in the book.  I want to know what made him the way he is, although I am pretty sure of my theory from the hints the author gives us in this book.
     As in other books by Gayle Forman, she surprised me with twists and turns that were unexpected.  This book is a book about finding yourself and navigating tricky relationships.  It is also a book about being brave and letting yourself be vulnerable.  Another thing I loved was the way Shakespeare's plays became central to the story.  I am left with the sense that I am missing out and need to go back to reread As You Like It and Twelfth Night.  It is awesome when an author can weave that kind of excitement into a new book so that readers are inspired to read other greats.
     Lastly, I did not have this experience, but I did have a love story that started in the year I was studying abroad and felt those tiny stabs of doubt as Allyson does (mine ended up in the amazing marriage that I have with my Spaniard husband).  I traveled alone in Europe and felt many of the same things that Allyson feels while traveling.  I also have been to Paris, but it was nothing like the Paris Allyson and Willem experience which was off the beaten path and a bit bohemian.  Perhaps this is why I loved this book so much.  I truly connected with the character and felt that some of what was written could have been about me at that age.  I would highly recommend this book to high school students and adults alike and now I will be impatiently waiting for the sequel.


Since elephants are my second favorite thing after books I decided that my ratings would be done in elephants.
5 out of 5 elephants for this most memorable book. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? 2/4/13

Books Finished This Week:

I finished a number of non-fiction picture books that I picked up at the library last week

A Rock is Lively by Diana Hutts Aston is a great book to use as a mentor text.  I am doing a unit right now about research and will be talking to students soon about informational text structure.  This will be one of the examples that I use.  I love how this book helps the reader learn about rocks and makes the information accessible to everyone.

I learned so much about Ben Franklin from this book!  Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd is a Sibert Honor book and I can see why.  The book highlights the most important accomplishments of Ben Franklin's life in a simple way and has beautiful pictures to accompany the information.

This book caught my eye when I was at the library.  A book about hair?  So intriguing.  This is a good example of how any topic can be researched and made interesting.  The book is structured like a timeline and tells fun facts about hairstyles throughout history.  I will definitely bring this one in as a mentor text for our research unit as well.  I recommend Big Wig by Kathleen Krull to students and teachers alike.

Professional books finished this week:

Speaking of research, Energize Research Reading and Writing: Fresh Strategies to Spark Interest, Develop Independence, and Meet Key Common Core Standards by Christopher Lehman is a must-read for teachers in grades 4-8.  I was able to apply strategies immediately and am planning lessons for my research unit based almost entirely on these amazing strategies.  I appreciate the way that the author makes the process of researching accessible to students and reinforces the good practice of giving students ownership and independence in their research.  I would highly recommend this book to ALL teachers.

I highly recommend this one as well.  I am working on a unit using American Born Chinese and wanted more lessons that addressed the particular conventions of graphic novels.  I ordered this one along with another book about teaching graphic novels and the book Understanding Comics by Scott McLeod.  Even though this one is written for teachers of grades 3-6, I found plenty of excellent strategies to use with my 8th graders.  I am excited to go in and make a graphic board of our visualizations with The Outsiders which I am reading aloud.  I am also going to use some great ideas for vocabulary instruction this week.  I really liked the way Terry Thompson organized Adventures in Graphica with the comprehension strategies in mind.  The ideas in this book would absolutely work in seamlessly into reader's workshop.

The rest of the books from this week:

When the TinTin movie was released last year, my husband was over-the-top excited.  He grew up in Spain and this was one of his favorite comic series.  I really enjoyed the movie and wanted to read some of the comics after finding out that it was about a reporter who solved mysteries.  I enjoyed this comic, although it is quite racist since it was written so long ago.

I have a confession to make.  I was not as thrilled with The False Prince as many people were.  I thought it was a good book, but it was not one I would rave over.  I think it had to do with the fact that so many people were raving about it that my expectations were so high and the book just couldn't live up to them.  I was thrilled when I was approved on Netgalley for The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen because I wanted a chance to give this series another try.  I am so glad I did because I LOVED this book.  I think I need to go back to read The False Prince again because these characters are amazing and I love the adventure in this book.  Jaron is stubborn, but loving and I can't wait to see what happens for him in the next book.

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate is a moving story about a refugee who has just arrived in the United States.  Kek is trying to adjust to life here while at the same time grieving for his brother and father who were killed in front of him and not knowing what happened to his mother.  I really enjoyed the voice of Kek and the confusion he felt at not knowing some of the things in this culture was so realistic.  This is absolutely one I will recommend to students because it is one that will help them build empathy.  Understanding the immigrant experience is so important and this book is one that will help all readers get it.

I loved The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington.  This was a fun read and a great horror story that I will absolutely recommend to students.  See more in my review here.

What I am Currently Reading:
I started the book Bomb.  After seeing the ALA awards on Monday, I was happy that I had this one sitting on my shelf at home.  So far, I am loving how engaging this story is.

What's Next:
I will read Just One Day by Gayle Forman for sure.  I also will probably start Book Love by Penny Kittle.  I then have literally hundreds of books to choose from so I will just pick based on my mood this week.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Review: The Dead and Buried

Title: The dead and buried
Author: Kim Harrington
Publication: January 2013
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads Summary:  Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.
 Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

My Thoughts: When I was younger, I went through a phase of reading horror books by Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. I loved the thrill of feeling terror at the thought that someone or something was threatening the lives of the characters. I devoured those books and loved the thrill of them. While reading The Dead and Buried, I felt that same thrill. This book is a well-done horror story that kept me up until the wee small hours of the morning. The ghost haunting Jade was just scary enough to keep me turning the pages to find out what would happen.

What I liked about this book was the really well-developed characters. I loved Jade and wanted her to succeed in ridding her house of this ghost that was bothering her little brother. Jade and Donovan are great characters who care deeply about people and want to see the best in everyone. I felt for Jade when she was having a hard time communicating with her step-mom and could feel the pain she must have felt at not being trusted. This story is a believable story (if you believe in ghosts) with a great mystery included.

I would absolutely recommend this book to teens and I will be seeking out a copy to add to my class library.