Summer Beach Reads: Wrap-Up Post

Phew. What a great summer that was, right? I mean, there was sun and fun and great books to be read. Too bad it's over. Also ending is the Summer Beach Reads Challenge. If you remember, this challenge asked participants to select a range and then try to read as many books as possible. Here's a refresher:

* Tadpole - Read 4 books in this challenge.
* Minnow - Read 8 books in this challenge.
* Dolphin - Read 12 books in this challenge.
* Shark - Read 16+ books in this challenge!
I predicted that I would read somewhere between 8 and 12 books for this challenge. And, I was right! I read a total of 12 books. Well, I actually read a few more, but have yet to write reviews. But, not enough to put my total in the next category. I've linked all of my 12 reviews at this site. Feel free to check out what everyone read!

But, this was a great way to keep me reading and to challenge myself. I'll definitely seek out more opportunities like this one to whittle down my stack of ever-growing TBR books!

Special thanks to:
Linna @ 21 Pages

From Dusk Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: Wrap-Up

This Read-A-Thon, hosted by the YA Addict and Book Crazy book blogs, was super successful for me. I had planned to read three books, which I did. I didn't read the exact books that I had planned to read, but I knocked some heavy-sitters off of my To Be Read shelves just in time for school. Here's what I accomplished:

-Completed Hunger by Michael Grant (I had read about 100 pages of it before the Read-A-Thon)

-Completed Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

-Completed I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (No review yet; it's in the works!)(Loved it!)

-Read 250 pages of The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (Completely devouring it!)

And, I participated in a whole host of challenges and am following a whole slew of new-to-me blogs. Lots of accomplishments and fun! Thanks, ladies!

From Dusk Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: Challenge 6

Jenn from Book Crazy is the host for one of the final challenges in the From Dusk Till Dawn Read-A-Thon. She's asking participants in this challenge to think of a world created in a book that they'd give up their life to live in.

I have to admit that this was not an easy answer for me. I love my life and most of the books I read are filled with disturbing worlds. Some of my most favorite books have the worst life situations for the characters in the book.

So, I thought about a time period that I might like to live in more than the one I'm currently a part of. I'm choosing the Victorian Era because it seems so romantic and fancy with a twinge of mystery. I'd also love to live in London during this time period much more than in America. So, the book world that I'm going to choose to live in is the one created by Cassandra Clare in The Clockwork Angel. This would be especially true if I could get in on the action in the book--and survive for the entire Infernal Devices series!

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Spoiler Free)

I've waited five days and am now joining the fray. I'm posting my review of Mockingjay. I know that many of you have probably not finished this book yet, but some of you have. I have held off on reading many reviews of this book because I didn't want the opinions and words of others to influence my review. Because when I did peep at a few, I saw some negative reviews. And that's just not how I feel about this book.

I think that I've never looked forward to anything like I've looked forward to the release of this book. Maybe my wedding. But, I knew what was going to happen at my wedding. The end result was marriage. I wasn't so sure about Mockingjay. I was full of nervous thoughts going in: Would Katniss die? Would Peeta be turned into a droid of some sort? Is Haymitch going to betray Katniss? Would the ending be satisfying or would my final moments be spent in disbelief and anger?

Well, I wasn't let down. There was action, passion, sabotage, betrayal, war, chaos, love, underhandedness, happiness, and resolution in the last installment of this series. There were answers to most of my questions.  I'm not going to talk about any of the specifics of the plot, because with a series this mysterious and unpredictable, any reference to plot is a spoiled experience.

I am simply going to say that I loved this book and am hoping (against hope) that Suzanne Collins will revisit this storyline someday. Maybe a prequel? She could go back to the formation of Panem and tell the stories of those rebels who fought against the government and caused their citizens to be plagued with the Hunger Games? Just an idea. It'll probably never happen, but I really wish it would!

Book Review: Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

This review isn't going to make a super lot of sense if you haven't read the first book in this series. So, if you haven't read the first book, I highly recommend that you do if you're a fan of dystopian lit and series books. Because this series is four books long and (so far) it just keeps getting better and better.

Scott Westerfeld's Pretties is the second installment in the Uglies series. It picks up a few weeks after the Uglies ended, with Tally a new Pretty. Because she's so new, Tally's life is filled with New Pretty craziness: fashion and parties and binge eating followed by pills to take away the effects of all the partying, eating, and drinking.

Soon after Tally turns pretty, she starts to have experiences where she becomes more and more "bubbly," aka aware. When she's aware, Tally has memories. Memories of the Smokies and David, the love that she betrayed when she was taken from the encampment in the woods. But, these bubbly moments are few and far between, so Tally cannot really put together much thought about the mission she'd planned before turning Pretty: to escape back to the Smokies and to be with David, her Smokie boyfriend.

At a party one night, Tally is having a great time. Until she is pursued by a masked stranger. When the stranger turns out to be a Smokie returned to remind Tally of her mission, will she listen? Can she listen? Or will her new Pretty brain override all of the individuality and free thought she had before the doctors put lesions on her brain?

I am a fan of this series. It's not super heavy or complex, but there are twists and turns that will keep you wanting more. There are some flaws in the plot, I think, but not so many that I can't overlook them. I am a huge fan of the dystopian genre, so this series appeals to me. I definitely plan to read the third book in this series, Specials, as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.

From Dusk Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: Progress Update

Last night was not productive. At all. Well, it was actually pretty interesting and entertaining, but not in a bookish sense. Because I go back to school this Monday, my husband and I decided to hang out with some friends and have a bonfire and cookout. It was great to hang out with friends, so not much reading happened!

Tonight, though, I am hoping to put in lots and lots of reading time. I love reading and it relaxes me, so what better way to get ready for a hectic bacl-to-school week than by reading?

I hope to finish Scott Westerfeld's Pretties tonight and start on another dystopian read so that I get as many entries into Presenting Lenore's Dystopian Reading Challenge as possible.  I will start reading at 8pm. I read 165 pages of Pretties on Thursday night, and that's where I'll pick up reading tonight!

From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: Challenge 5

For this fifth challenge that I'm participating in, Supernatural Snark is asking Read-A-Thon participants to choose a couple (from different books) and pair them together.

I'm going to choose a character from my current read and pair him with a character from one of my favorite series. I'm reading the Pretties by Scott Westerfeld right now, and though he hasn't appeared right now, I'm going to set up David (a Smokie born and raised in the "wild") with Ms. Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games.

Why? Well, I got to know David pretty well in the first book in the Uglies series. He's strong and a revolutionary and smart and subversive, but not in a showy way. He's actually a lot like Gale, but he doesn't have the history with Katniss that Gale does. So maybe she'd look at him more like a boyfriend and less like a friend. Together, these two could whip up some series trouble in both of their dystopian worlds.

Friday's Fab Five (7)

Friday's Fab Five is hosted by Froggarita's Bookcase. It's a way for us crazy book bloggers to get to know one another a little better. Feel free to join in!

1. What is your favorite tree?

Hm. This is a toughie. There are so many. But, I live in the Northeast and own heavily forested land, I'll choose from the selection that we have here on our property. I think that it'd have to be the white birch trees. They are just beautiful.

2. What is your astrological sign?

Aries. March 30th. And, I'm such an Aries. Fiery and crazy and fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. Yup. No dull moments here!

3. How long does it take you to do your grocery shopping?

Not long. I rush in and rush out. Why? Because I live in a small town, which is surrounded by other small towns. So, I pretty much know everyone and have to engage in several conversations whenever I go out in public. It can be pretty time consuming.

4. How often do you ride a bike?

So funny! I just went on an awesome bike trek today in Portland, Maine. (About 2 hours from where I live.) My mother and I biked the Back Bay Cove. It's right on the Atlantic ocean and gorgeous! (My buns hurt!)

5. Who is your role model?

My father. He's the best person I know. I respect him for his hard work, his patience and his love. He's just amazing. I love you, Dad!

From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: GIVEAWAY!

As part of the From Dusk Till Dawn Read-A-Thon, I'm hosting a giveaway! And, I'm so excited!

When thinking about this giveaway and the challenge that I'd want to host, I really wanted to do something that revolved around music. I don't know about all of you, but I love music. When I read a book, I am constantly thinking of songs that would go with it. The book that I'm reading right now is no exception.

For this challenge, I'd like you to think of one song that would appear on the soundtrack (if there were such a thing) for the book that you're currently reading. You may either leave a link to a video or lyrics in the comments section of this post, or you can create a blog post and use Mr. Linky. Make sure to leave an email if you're just commenting!

The winner of this challenge will receive an ARC of A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley. Here's a little picture, because the cover is so darn pretty!

And, for inspiration and because I'm a total nerd, here's the song that I'd choose to be on the soundtrack for Scott Westerfeld's Pretties. It's by Courtney Love and it's called "Doll Parts".

From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: Challenge 4

This is an interesting challenge. Carina from Reading Through Life has asked participants in the From Dusk Till Dawn Read-A-Thon to imagine that they are fasting through the dusk-till-dawn hours as part of Ramadan.  Then, when we emerge from this fast, what would we want to eat?

I have to admit that I know nothing about Ramadan. So, just thinking about this post has been educational for me. I'm not someone who is a compulsive eater who who needs to eat a lot, but I don't sleep more than 6 or 7 hours a night and like to have a little something after I've been up for an hour or two. But, this is where my extraordinary powers of imagination come in! I imagine that after fifteen-ish hours of fasting, I'd be FAMISHED!

And, when I'm super hungry, what do I like to eat? There are two foods that come to mind.

First, guacamole. I eat this quite a bit. It's simple and easy to make and it's good if I'm alone or with others. I like to eat it with blue corn chips. Yum. Here's what I put in my homemade guac:

-An avocado or two
-A semi-ripe tomato (I like my guac chunky and firm)
-A clove of minced garlic
-A quarter lime, squeezed

And that's it!

The second food that I would crave would be a dish that I have to frive more than an hour to get. It's so yummy...It's pad Thai with tofu and vegetables. My mouth is watering.

I would make it myself, and I've tried. But, I have never been successful. So I just drive a long, long distance to eat it. It's always worth it.

From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: Progress Update

Well, I am just getting started on tonight's reading for the From Dusk Till Dawn Read-A-Thon. Last night, I managed to read about 400 pages from about 8:30 to almost 2am, with some breaks. Actually, lots of breaks. I'm big on those!

Tonight, I'm staying at my mother's house. We're going on a huge bike trek through the city of Portland, Maine tomorrow. So I probably won't be staying up too late. But, I can still get in a couple of hours of reading. And, since I finished Hunger by Michael Grant, I get to move on to another book. What am I going to read? This book (which I went out and bought this evening so that I could have something dystopian to read):

 I've only read the first book in this series. Have any of you read more? Is it worth getting the next two books? Let me know!

From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: Challenge 3

This next challenge in the From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon comes from the Young Adult Books Reviewed blog. I just finished a great read this morning (after hours), so this challenge is perfect for me.

The challenge asks that we choose a favorite character from our current (or in my case, finished) book and find a picture of someone that you think looks like the character. I have a whole host of characters to choose from because there are so many in Hunger by Michael Grant. There must be twenty or so main characters. I'm going to choose a character who's kind of on the periphery. That's just how I roll.

My character is Duck Zhang. He's a mutant character who is not very social. He does not love his superpower, but it turns out to be more useful than he (or anyone else) thought. Here's his picture:

 He's a little too cute, but he'll do. Go Duck!

Book Review: Hunger by Michael Grant

This book is the second in the Gone series. This is a six-book series; so think about this carefully before you start reading the first in the series. Because you can't stop. Or at least I can't!

Granted, it's been a while since I read the first book. I was honestly emotionally and mentally scarred a little by the first one. I'll recap quickly for anyone who needs it. In the first book, all adults over the age of 15 disappear. Instantly. Gone. The children who are left quickly fall apart into a chaotic mess. Within a matter of days, two leaders emerge. Brothers. One is good. His name is Sam. The other is evil. His name is Caine.

Hunger picks up right where Gone left off. There are no resolutions between good and evil, though "good" won round one. Hunger is the story of round two. And it's a doozy.

This second novel is aptly titled because most of the children are starving to death. There are serious food shortages and food is strictly rationed. Also, more and more kids are finding that they have special abilities (dream reading, flight, super-human strength, etc). This is probably caused by the nuclear power plant in town. Which is still running, still providing power to the kids of the FAYZ.

To add to the drama, because Michael Grant is some sort of evil sadist, there is an evil demon-like voice invading the minds of some of the kids. It's telling them to feed him. It's calling them to serve. For evil purposes. It's name is Gaiaphage. 

This is book, like the first in the series, is a wild ride. There are no stops, no getting off. It's tension and drama and chaos and stress. And I'm loving it. I need to read book three (of six!), but I need to take a deep breath first. It's like I've just left a live-action soap opera where people are killed right in front of me. And those people are kids. And they're vicious. It's disturbing and awesome all at the same time. 

From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: Challenge 2

The Unread Reader is hosting an awesome challenge with a great reward for one lucky winner. She's asking that participants in the From Dusk Till Dawn Read-A-Thon remake a cover from the Hunger Games series. The prize: A complete boxed set of the books in the Hunger Games series. There's still time to join in on the Read-A-Thon and enter this contest.

Since I've already remade the cover of Mockingjay eariler this week for another challenge, I'm going to choose Catching Fire as my next remake victim. I decided to go with a symbolic sort of cover for this remake. I chose an image with fire to stand for the rebellion that's heating up in the districts as the book goes on. And, the rose? Yes, that's for President Snow. I'm not a huge fan, but he is admirable as an out-and-out villain.

Here's what I came up with:

Whatcha think?

From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: Challenge 1

Jami at the YA Addict is hosting a little challenge to get the From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon started. She's already provided us some music, and I've seen all sorts of other bloggers who are posting pics of their comfy reading spots and snacks. I'm going to read on my red leather recliner, which is a favorite spot of mine. This is what I'm going to start with:

It's a thick one. Luckily, it's one that I've already started. I'm on page 104--Still hundreds of glorious pages to go!

From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: Goals + Starting Line

The From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon is about to begin. I've been thinking about what I'd like to read and accomplish in these next four evenings in terms of reading. I have a few books on hand that I'd like to read, but I'm really bad at sticking to a reading plan. I'm a little more spontaneous than that, y'know?

Here's what I think I might read during this Read-A-Thon:

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin: It's an ARC that I need (and want) to read as part of an ARC tour.

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan: It is a dysoptian read, and I'm trying to get as many entries in the Dystopian August Challenge as possible. I have four already submitted, plus Mockingjay. I really want to win this prize!

Hunger by Michael Grant: See above. This could help me win six fabulous books!

After this, I'm not sure what I am going to read. I think that I might need to take an emergency trip to the bookstore (or library...less costly!) to secure lots of great reading choices!

(And, psst! I'm hosting a little challenge/ giveaway on this blog on Friday! Be sure to check back!)

Book Review: The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

This second book in the Chaos Walking series is absolutely riveting. There is just no other way to say it. The first book was great and original. This one is brilliant. So awesome that I had to order the third book in the series before I finished this one. I just had to.

There are some series where it doesn't matter if you've read the first before you read the second.  I don't think that this is one of them. I would definitely recommend that you read before reading The Knife of Never Letting Go before reading The Ask and The Answer. This second book will just make much more sense if you do.

And, onto the plot of this second book. It picks up right where the first book left off: Viola has been shot and Todd is helpless to save her. The Mayor of Prentisstown and his army have invaded Haven and are planning to dominate the entire planet.

Because Todd is held in captivity, he does not know what the mayor is doing to or with Viola. He does not know the extent of the cruelty that he has unleashed on the survivors of Haven. He has no idea. Until he starts to play along with the Mayor's (now President) plan. Convinced that Viola is no longer on his side, Todd actually works to aid the President in his evil plan. He even starts to believe that the President is actually on his side. And that Viola has abandoned him. But, when a mysterious rebel group called The Answer starts an uprising, who will Todd choose?

There are so many valuable lessons to be learned/ thought about/ discussed in this dystopian novel. There are obvious connections to the treatment of Native peoples everywhere, the Holocaust, and revolution. This series is very teachable. I've had several students read (and love) the first book in this series. I can't wait to go back to school (eeks. I said the "s" word!) and show them that I have the second book.

Now, if the third would only show up in my mailbox sometime soon...Finishing Mockingjay has made me a very impatient reader!

And The Winner Is...

Though I haven't posted the results of the Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton + Split by Swami Avasthi giveaway, I have already emailed the winner and heard back from her. I'm posting her winnings here, just to give her a little online shout and to announce the winner of the Tyger Tyger bookmark swag.

The winner of the two-book prize is: 

 Ashley of Books Obsession

The winner of the Tyger Tyger bookmarks are:

Jan Van Hartz of Eating YA Books

Thanks to all who participated in these challenges and a HUGE thanks to Kersten Hamilton, who is nothing short of awesome. Tyger Tyger hits stores this November!

Mockingjay Countdown: Mini Challenge 3-5 (Day 3)

Thanks to Morgan at Smitten With Books for hosting this awesome Mockingjay Countdown challenge! It made the wait go by so much faster, and I've loved thinking about my favorite characters in new and different ways!

Here are my responses to parts 3-5 of today's challenges:

Challenge 3: For the third mini challenge of the day, I want you to name your favorite Hunger Games character and why you like them or admire them the best.

I'm going to skip over Katniss as my favorite character and head for someone else. I do love Katniss, but I'd like to give someone else a little more limelight right now. 

One of my favorite characters through out this series has been Peeta. I know that I always say that Katniss should end up with Gale, but I need to give Peeta some credit for how brave and reliable he's been to Katniss. From the time they were children, Peeta seems to have had a love for Katniss that has just grown and grown. Though I don't know that they'd make the perfect couple, they certainly make the perfect team. And that's why I love him. 

Challenge 4: For the fourth challenge, I want you to state which one of the hunger games books you liked the most. All you need to do is put the title of the book (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, or Mockingjay).

I'm a little torn with this question, but I think that I'm going to say that my favorite book in this series is the first. I only bought this because my local bookseller promised that it was going to be the most fantastic book that I could possibly read and share with my students. So, I bought it. I didn't really want to, but I did.  I will forever trust that man!

I think that I'm choosing the first as my favorite because it was the one that hooked me initially. If it hadn't been so provocative, so profoundly different from any other YA I'd read, and has included such a strong main character, I doubt that I'd have read the others in the series. The first is where my love for the citizens of Panem formed, and that's why I'm choosing it as my favorite. 

Challenge 5: For the fifth and last challenge, I want you guys to state the one thing you love most about Katniss. I know everyone has a special spot in their heart for the character, and I want to know why. Please explain your answer.

I actually realized why I love Katniss so well this afternoon as I was reading Mockingjay. She's been threatened, attacked, almost killed, used as a pawn, lied to, and put on an impossible pedestal, but she genuinely cares about people. She'll come to the aid of anyone who is suffering and does not take her own well-being into account when she does. It's like she doesn't think--she does. Others around her might be playing some sort of game, but she's not. She's all about helping others and keeping those that she loves and who she feels are innocent safe. I admire this. 

And, she kicks some serious butt. 

Thanks again to Morgan at Smitten With Books; this has been a fun set of challenges!

And The Winner Is...

I can't take it anymore! Mockingjay is so good that I have to share all of my excitement with at least one other person! So, I am going to announce the winner of the Release Day Giveaway for Mockingjay!

Here is the prediction cast by the winner:

"I think that District Thirteen will hatch an assassination plot on President Snow and maybe even some of the gamemakers (that aren't against the rebellion)."

I'm not going to say if this is a correct prediction or not, it is simply a pick. Totally unbiased, no hidden clues. And, I've only read a little over 100 pages so far. We all know with Suzanne Collins that you really don't know what's going to happen until the entire book series is finished!

So, the winner of a Mockingjay order is:
@lex from Geek on the Brink

Please email me with your full name and address so that I can order this ASAP!

For those of you who did not win, I will be hosting a giveaway later this week as part of the Dusk Till Dawn Read-A-Thon. So, be sure to check back!

Mockingjay Madness (Update 16)

Okay. The wait is over. Sort of. I am waiting, rather impatiently, for my local bookstore to open (at 10am!) so that I can go and buy my copy of Mockingjay. I had nightmares that I was late and didn't get a copy, but I'm sure that my bookseller wouldn't so that. Hopefully.

So, I am going to continue to post some links to contest and such that might be of interest, but I am not going to post any spoilers or reviews. Even though I'll probably finish reading mine today, I'm not going to post a review for a few days. But there will be NO SPOILERS on this list or in my review. I promise!

Here are a few million links that I've found thus far (I've bolded the new entries for today, 8/24):

Explain which "team" you're one, Peeta or Gale, and win a copy of Mockingjay from Market My Words! Closes tonight at midnight, 12 PST.
Haven't read any of the books in this series yet? Not sure if it's right for you? Well, here's your chance to join Team Hunger Games! Crazy-For-Books is giving away a COMPLETE SET of this series to someone who's never read any of it! What a great opportunity!

The League of Extraordinary Writers has done their research. Maybe Ms. Collins was inspired by the past in her planning of the future?

Want to win a boxed set of the Hunger Games series? Check out this contest on LibraryThing. 

Paperback Dolls are hostng a MEGA Mockingjay Giveaway. Seriously. Tons of books and clothes and other merch. It's pretty crazy.

Angela of Dark Faerie Tales is holding a Mockingjay giveaway--There are two copies up for grabs!

SUZANNE COLLINS READS ALOUD CHAPTER ONE OF MOCKINGJAY! Thanks to Ladybug from Escape in a Book for this link!

The League of Extraordinary Writers posted a poll: What do you predict for Mockingjay? Will *gasp* Haymitch die? Is Cinna a secret agent? Find out what others think!

Presenting Lenore is hosting the District 10 stop on her blog. And--get this--She's giving away a Hunger Games ipod. That's right. An ipod with a Hunger Games logo. I didn't even know there was such awesomeness.

Day two in the Mockingjay Countdown from Smitten With Books is starting! Rev up your creativity--Here comes another day of cool challenges!

Tynga from Tynga's Reviews is offering up a copy of  Mockingjay to two lucky winners! This is all courtesy of Scholastic.

Novel Novice has compiled a list of lesson/ discussion ideas for teachers and fans. This is a great resource to have!

The ParaJunkee's View blog is offering up a chance for two lucky entrants to win a copy of Mockingjay! Scholastic is providing the copies and all you have to do to enter is comment on this post! Ends 8/31.

Lucky Librarian earned her name! She met and interviewed Suzanne Collins! Read all about it here!

The Bibliophilic Book Blog is offering up a copy of Mockingjay to two lucky winners! Enter here.

The bloggers at Reading Teen are gearing up for their Mockingjay Read-A-Thon. They've decided to start by reviewing the Hunger Games. Make sure to check out their site tomorrow for the Read-A-Thon!

Melinda Lo explains why she's firmly planted on Team Katniss. Which is awesome. Because she's right, though I hold no grudges against anyone who takes sides about Peeta v. Gale. I just happen to like Katniss whether she's romantically attached or not. Single. Refreshing.
Books Obession shares a few Mockingjay Ramblings...Which include opinions about the No-ARC policy for this book, Team Peeta v. Gale, and predictions for book three. Interesting reading!

Chick Lit Teens offers up some ideas as to how you can show Mockinjay love!

The First Novels Club posted a video of Suzanne Collins answering 5 questions. Ever wondered if any of the characters are drawn from real life? What her strategy would be in the Games? Does she have any other works planned? Find out with this video!

Steph Su offers up some pretty interesting Mockingjay predictions at her blog. Only 2.5 days (kinda) until we find out is she's right!

Lori at Pure Imagination has posted a group of songs that are Required Listening for the Hunger Games. Check out her list and add to it if there's a song missing.

WriterGirl cooked up an awesome stew in honor of Katniss's favorite Capitol dish. There's a great vlog, recipe, and even step-by-step pics at her site. I might have to try this on say, the 24th of this month! That is, if I can pull myself away from Mockingjay long enough to cook/ eat.

Novel Novice has collected an awesome cache of shopping sites and links for all of your Hunger Games needs. Everything from jewelry to a board game to a stamp. I'm going to have to explore this later and order my release-day outfit!

The Compulsive Reader is holding a contest to win an awesome Hunger Games jacket. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Extreme Reader Book Reviews is offering up a copy of Mockingjay (among other titles) to a lucky winner. Check it out!

Novel Novice has some gorgeous Mockingjay desktop wallpaper for you! Time to redecorate.

Steph Su shared her Mockingjay release day plans with her readers on her blog.  Sounds like fun! And, she has her outfit all picked out. I need to get going on that...

The Eclectic Book Lover posted a bunch of great predictions for Mockingjay.  I bet she's right on a couple of these!

The folks at Novel Novice are asking for help in creating the best cast for a HG movie. Vote here!

Smitten With Books is hosting a Mockingjay Countdown Event with lots and lots of great prizes and contests. Can't wait!

Forever Young is offering up a Mockingjay Pin to folks who support Team Katniss (of which I am clearly a member!). She also has a couple cool badges for your blog. I'm going to get one!

Julie at the Book Hooked Blog posted pics of a reenactment of the Hunger Games, complete with t-shirts and fake blood. Pretty spectacular!

The Hunger Games is the top YA read, according to Adele of Persnickety Snark and her readers. And me. And lots of other people, I bet.

Adele of Persnickety Snark penned (keyed?) a break-up letter to Team Gale. It's awesome. And funny.

Novel Novice posted a collection Hunger Games book trailers. All of the trailers are made by fans and they're pretty awesome!

Sara of the First Novels Club went through the Disney Princesses, predicting which one could survive in the Hunger Games. Check out her blog to see which one she thinks has a shot!

Julie at the Book Hooked Blog created an entire cast for the movie version of the Hunger Games. Check it out!

The Lost Entwife is holding a Mockingjay giveaway--Just visit her facebook page and RSVP for the giveaway.

Novel Novice is holding a vote: What song best represents Hunger Games? Catching Fire? Put in your two cents at their site!

Check out these awesome Hunger Games Ts made by the students of Lenzi Likes It! I'm totally stealing this idea when we get back to school.

Novel Novice just kicked off their thirteen day (13 Districts= 13 Days) countdown to Mockingjay! They're going to have tons of info and giveaways and special features, so be sure to check it all out.

Jacki of the Lovely Little Shelf blog is giving away a Mockingjay pin (Just like Katniss's!) to one lucky person. I'm hoping that person is me, but will be happy for whoever wins!

The League of Extraordinary Writers is offering up TWO Mockingjay pre-orders for lucky fans. So, if you don't win my giveaway, maybe you'll be lucky there. And, you should just know about their site because they're all awesome and stuff. 

Read sarahem's review of Catching Fire and check out her awesome Hunger Games T! I love it!

The Book Hooked Blog is collecting Hunger Games Haikus. Head on over to add yours to the mix! Here's mine:

Just two weeks away--
Gale and Peeta and Katniss
Hope they are ready.

Hot Topic is now carrying Hunger Games T's. And, they're actually pretty cool. 

Book Club Girl asks some great discussion-style questions in her review of the first book in the Hunger Games series. Thought provoking!

Tired of peace and happiness? Watch your most beloved YA characters fight to the death, Hunger Games style in the YA Fantasy Showdown (Starts 8/10).  Maybe we, like the citizens of Panem, will fear revolt by watching our favorite friends drop like flies? Or, maybe we'll storm Scholastic headquarters and take what's ours...All of those Mockingjay pre-orders! Just kidding. Geez.

April of Good Books and Wine shares her thoughts on Catching Fire and her predictions for Mockingjay. Some pretty interesting ideas in that post!

The Official Mockingjay 13 District Blog Tour Schedule: Make sure to check out each of these blogs as they are all hosting separate events. Pretty darn exciting, if you ask me!

Erika of Erika Breathes Books has created an awesome cast for the movie version of this series. I am in love with several of her choices, including her Rue and her Peeta.

The Smitten With Books Blog is going to host a three-day celebration with giveaways and such. There's still time to join forces with this blog and add to the giveaway.

Do you "like" this series?  Well, I love it, but on Facebook that's not an option. Join me in "liking" it on Facebook!

And, make sure to enter my giveaway of this book. It's international and all you need to do to enter is to leave a prediction for book three. I've loved reading what you all think is going to happen so far. I have my own predictions that I'll share before the 24th.

Here's a link to my post of the Official Mockingjay trailer, which doesn't reveal all that much. But, I've still managed to view it about 30 times looking for hidden clues. None so far; I'll keep you posted!

Haven't read the books in this series yet? You're not alone! There are others! Join them at the Book Club Girl Blog and read these books together. There's definitely time to catch up.

Emily of Emily's Reading Room is looking for bloggers/ librarians/ readers/ writers to create vlog predictions for Mockingbird. Check out her original post for more details.

The Secret Adventures of a WriterGirl blog offers up a bunch of suggestions for Mockingjay release parties. I love the Haymitch cocktails, cupcake decorating, and trivia ideas.  Here's hoping that my local bookstore does something fun...Hint, hint! (Already emailed the link for this post to the owner : )

Book Review: The Dead and the Gone

How is it that every time I read a book by Susan Beth Pfeffer I start counting the number of canned good I have on hand? Oh, right. Because she makes me believe that the world is ending and that I'm going to starve to death at any moment!

Don't get me wrong. It's weird and twisted, but I love the fact that she is able to convince me that I have a matter of weeks before I'm gone. Her writing is so convincing, and her characters are so believable that you can't help but feeling like you need to rush through the pages to find out whether they survive or not. And, not everyone survives.

The plot of the book is this: The moon has been hit by an asteroid. It is now much closer to the Earth, so there are lots of tsunamis and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The natural world no longer behaves (if it ever did). People panic. They start hoarding food and there are shortages of the basic necessities all over.

This book takes place in New York City, which is about the last place that I'd want to be if a disaster such as this struck. I wouldn't want to be in any city for that matter. Way too many people and way too little natural resources.

But, the main character of this book, Alex Morales, has a large network of family, friends, and church members who are willing to support him and his two younger sisters. But, his mother hasn't returned from work and his father is stuck in Puerto Rico. He wants to step up and take care of his siblings, but he's only seventeen and doesn't feel like he can live up to the example set by his loving father.

Whether he likes it or not, Alex is in charge. He has to find a way to keep himself and his sisters alive until his mother and father return. And, with every day bringing a new problem, a new unknown, this task will become less and less simple as his story progresses.

If you are at all a fan of dystopian literature or the author or of the environment, you should read this book. There is a first book in this series, but you don't have to have read it (for real) to enjoy this one. Apparently, the two stories converge in the third book, but not until then.

September Spectacular Reading Challenge + Giveaway: Sign Up

Steph at Thoughts of a Book Junky is hosting a month-long reading challenge and offering up some great books as prizes for those who participate. Here is her explanation of this challenge:

  • It will start September 1st and go on through September 30th.
  • There will be a 5 book reading challenge, ( one book a week) that you will have to read. Which books? Any 5 you want. Its your choice... Easy huh. At the end of that week you will post your review on your blog and add your link to the Mr. Linky at the bottom. ( If you don't have a blog you can either post a comment, letting everyone know what you think about the book or sent me an email with your review) * Sept first starts on a Wednesday so you can start your first book on Sunday the 29th if you want.
  • At the end of each week a giveaway will be posted. That's 5 giveaways!! The only thing you have to do to enter is, link your review on that weeks Mr. Linky. Plus get an extra entry if you add the September Spectacular button to your post or sidebar! ( Open Internationally  
I know that most of you are going to read at least one book per week in September, right? So now you can sign up for this challenge and have a chance to meet new bloggers and win some cool books. I can't think of a better way to take my mind off the fact that school has started and summer is over!

Mockingjay Countdown: Mini Challenge 4 (Day 2)

For the fourth challenge of tonight's Mockingjay Countdown (hosted by Morgan of Smitten With Books), participants have been asked to choose an actor to play Peeta in the movie version of the Hunger Games.

I have to admit that I don't feel as passionately about casting Peeta as other actors/ actresses. Why? I just think that there are a ton of good Hollywood options for this role. But, then I start to feel badly about my indifference because I really like Peeta. So, I chose an actor that I've enjoyed watching for several years.

His name is Hunter Parrish and he plays Silas on Weeds. (One of my all-time favorite shows.) I think that he'd make a perfect Peeta. He's tall and blond and blue-eyed and charming. And, he's not so many that he couldn't play a baker's son. Here's a visual:

Perfect, right?

Mockingjay Countdown: Mini Challenge 2 (Day 2)

For the second mini challenge of the day in the Mockingjay Countdown, participants are being asked to choose an animal that represents Katniss.

I don't know a whole lot about animals. The first time I saw a moose, I thought that it was a camel. (Friends who were there delight in retelling this story.) But, for some reason, the first animal that came to my mind seems to fit Ms. Everdeen perfectly. And no, it's not a moose. Or a camel.

It's a mink. An American mink to be exact. (Thank you, wikipedia!) Here are the reasons why Katniss would be an American mink (not to be confused with the European variety):

Has been prized for it's use in clothing = Katniss was applauded for her opening ceremony wear

Is hunted = So is Katniss

Needs protection from extinction = Katniss has just been rescued by Haymitch et al

Has found its way into the wild = Katniss knows her way around some woods

Basically killed off their European counterparts = Katniss is deadly in the arena

Small in size = Katniss is admits that she is not a big girl like Glimmer (whom she killed)

Brown to black in coloring = Katniss is from Distrcit 12, and resembles the typical gene pool there

Prey on small mammals, fish, birds, and like cheese and eggs = Is there anything Katniss won't eat?

Seldom found far from waterbanks and rivers = Where did Katniss choose to hide in both Hunger Games? Near water.

Very territorial = Loves her home and family

Most frequently killed by humans, not other animals = Let's hope not!!

If this is not a convincing list, just look at these pictures (my pick for the movie version of Katniss is on the left. A mink is on the right)(just in case you couldn't tell the difference!):

Mockingjay Countdown: Mini Challenge 1 (Day 2)

 Today's first assignment from the Mockingjay Countdown (hosted by Morgan at Smitten With Books) is to choose an actor to play Gale in the movie version of the Hunger Games. Now, I don't take this challenge lightly, as I am worried about the movie version of this book matching the movie I've created in my head. Also, Gale is one of my very favorite characters in this book, and I think that he needs to be perfect.

Why? Because if he's too wimpy-looking or not intelligent looking, why would Katniss ever go for him?  To me, Gale is like Katniss's replacement for her beloved father. He needs to appear as capable and handsome and smart as her father was. So, he needs to look tempting but reliable. This is not an easy look to accomplish, particularly among the existing Hollywood elite. I mean, he's gotta look like he could mine. All day long. That can't be easy.

So, my choice for Gale is Ethan Peck.  I don't know much about him, but he has the right look for Gale. I bet he could pull it off! Here are a couple of photos that reminded me of a brooding, hunter-like Gale (disclaimer: I do not condone cigarette smoking. At all.):

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!

From Dust Till Dawn Read-A-Thon: Sign Up!

This week, the Book Crazy and Book Addict book blogs are hosting an awesome Read-A-Thon with all sorts of great book challenges and prizes. Many other blogs have signed up to host giveaways and challenges, so make sure that you sign up to participate and keep your eyes open!

I love that this Read-A-Thon is asking that we participate from 8pm to 8am. I typically get a lot of reading done in the 8pm-1am hours, so I should be all set! What a great way to clean up some of my TBR shelves before I need to head back into the classroom (eek!). 

I am actually going to be hosting a small giveaway on this blog. It's not going to be too complicated, because I'm getting ready for back-to-school, but it should be worth your while.

Book To Book (6)

Book 2 Book is an idea that I had based on some conversations with fellow educators. Most English teachers that I've talked to do not participate in the YA blogging world and some are not readers of YA to the (crazy) extent that I am. Because they are not as interested or well-versed in this world as some of the bloggers I've met in my travels around the blogosphere, they might not know about the abundance of great YA available. And, so much YA can be used in the classroom because it connects to the classics that we teach.

For this Book 2 Book feature, I'm going to compare/ contrast a standard classic that is taught in many high schools around our country to a new book from a first-time author. I'll start with The Unidentified, which is due to be released in early October. I read it as part of an ARC tour hosted by Dark Faerie Tales

Rae Mariz's The Unidentified looks critically at the consumerism and materialism that has become an obsession in today's world. In a not-too-distant future, Mariz shows us where this devotion to all things "branded" will land us: Schools in old shopping malls, students vying for sponsorships rather than scholarships, and greedy companies who use children as pawns in marketing campaigns.

Even though everyone around her is connected and plugged-in all of the time, Katey (aka "Kid") is feeling like she doesn't belong. She knows that she doesn't have the skill or the inventiveness that it takes to start a new trend or become "branded" (sponsored) at her Game (school). She has a few friends, but doesn't have tons and tons of followers like others in her level. Her mother doesn't make enough money to allow Katey to sport the latest trends, so she is unlikely to go very far in her level.

This starts to change when Katey witnesses something that others don't a prank pulled by a seemingly-subversive group called The Unidentified. As Katey sleuths around, she is pulled deeper and deeper into a world where teens are refusing to play by the rules of the Game. Though she is terrified that she'll disappoint her mother--or worse--end up with "Game Over" (expulsion), she cannot help but be lured in by those who seem as disenfranchised as she feels.

 Ray Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451 tells of a disturbing future where firemen are no longer meant to put out fires, but start them.  In this dystopian world,  average citizens are not allowed to read or possess books, and are encouraged to become mindless consumers. Montag, the central character, is a respected fireman, but starts to question the reasons behind the book ban. After stealing a book from a fire he and his crew started, Montag is drawn into a world where he learns of a network of fellow dissidents.  After learning about this rebellious group and feeling the power of the written word for the first time, Montag sets into motion a plan that will alter the course of his life--and the country's--forever.

Every time that I read Fahrenheit 451, I am struck by the lack of information about the life of teenagers in a book-free, virtual world.  There are a few references to schooling, where students play games all day and to reckless teen pranksters, but there's not much more than this to be found in Ray Bradbury's account of the future. I've often wondered what a parallel text might show about the life of an average teen in the world of Fahrenheit 451.

As I was reading The Unidentified, I felt like I had found some of the essence of Bradbury's vision for schooling in a world where reading and writing were nonexistent. Though books and writing are not forbidden, they are not encouraged in the fast-paced world of The Unidentified.  There is simply no time to read or write between gaming and chatting and inventing and socializing in this world. Sure, students have classes, but they are all about technology and often are related to buying and selling. There is no room for fictional characters or poetry in the Game.

What struck me as most similar is the prediction of the reliance and escapism provided by technology in both books. In Fahrenheit 451, huge televisions became the "family" and dominated daily life. In The Unidentified, constant online drama and gaming replaced actual conversations and relationships. Both books also predict some relationship with drugs as a means of escaping the void of daily life. This was emphasized much more heavily in Fahrenheit, but can be found in The Unidentified as well.

Both books are great separately, but could easily be taught in tandem. The Unidentified will show an aspect of the future that Bradbury gives a brief nod to, without explaining in depth. I recommend both texts highly to any lover of dystopian literature. I will definitely be purchasing my own copy of The Unidentified when it's released!

Mockingjay Countdown: Mini Challenge 5

Mini Challenge #5 from the Mockingjay Countdown asks something that I've wanted to talk about for a while. This challenge, hosted by Smitten With Books, asks participants to name a song that goes with either of the first two books in the Hunger Games series.

I don't know about any of you, but I love music. And I love books. Whenever I listen to a song on the radio or wherever, I can't help but think of connections to books I've read. When I first heard "Fake Empire" by The National, the world of the Capitol and the submissive denial of the citizens in the districts of Panem rushed into my head. In case you're not familiar, here are the lyrics.

In particular, I found that these lyrics tie-in with the first Hunger Games book:

Tiptoe through our shiny city
with our diamond slippers on

These lines remind me of the crazy opulence of the Capitol. The glitzy clean Capitol that thrives on commercialism and vanity as others in the country starve. The Capitol residents don't speak up because they're either unaware of what's going on or they don't care to lose their lifestyle. Either way, they "tiptoe" around.

let's not try to figure out everything at once
It’s hard to keep track of you falling through the sky

These lyrics remind me of the relationship between Katniss and everyone she keeps safe. She's always either supporting or thinking about the safety of her mother, Prim, Peeta, Rue, and even Gale and the other residents of her district.  It also reminds me of Katniss and Peeta's relationship, because there is nothing easy or natural about it. Much of it (especially on Katniss's part) is staged and planned to keep both of them alive.

we’re half-awake in a fake empire

This lyric is repeated throughout the song. To me, Panem is a fake, though deadly, empire. The "President" is not elected, the war that resulted in the Hunger Games and the reaping are unclear and probably falsified, the television and media coverage of District 13 are obviously fake. It seems that the person in power, President Snow, has the ability to manipulate truth and history for his own sake. The residents of this country cannot help but remain half-awake, unless they want to jeopardize what little security and peace they have. They are afraid and their fear keeps them from asking--demanding--access to truth and basic human rights. Until, of course, one little girl from District 12 awakens them...

What do you think? Is there another song that represents either of these books?

Here's the video for this song, if you care to listen:

Mockingjay Countdown: Mini Challenge 2

I love to recreate book covers! And, although I am a huge fan of the Hunger Games series, I have never loved the covers. I mean, I like them, but I don't love them. When the first book came out, my local bookseller promised me that I would like the book. I was not sold by the black and gold cover. It looked to Cold War or something. But, I bought it and read it and the rest is history.

But, now that Morgan at Smitten With Books is asking Mockingjay Countdown participants to recreate one of the three covers in the Hunger Games series. I chose to recreate Mockingjay, though I actually like it the best.  Here's what I came up with, after a couple hours of playing around:

I was going for a darker, more rebellious-looking cover. I thought that including the red "A" would give viewers the impression that it related to the anarchy symbol. I haven't read this book yet (obviously), so I don't know how quickly this cover would stop relating to the chaos that existed at the end of the second book. I have a hunch that the craziness lasts for a while into the third book. We'll see!

What do you think? Too dark? Not positive enough? Feel free to let me know!

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Can you imagine a world where almost every decision, from what you eat to how you dress to the person you marry, is made for you? Where officials choose your vocation, where you will live, and when you will have children?

At first glance, the world that Cassia grows up in is safe and friendly. Everyone in her neighborhood is pleasant and supportive of one another. There is little competition and everyone is accepted. Even when a new boy, Ky Markham, moves in from an outer province, he is accepted into the fold, no questions asked.

But, when Cassia sees Ky's face mistakenly pop up on her informational microchip the day after she's matched with another boy, she can't help but wonder about the strange boy who's been around her for all of these years. Where did he come from? Why is he so quiet? What does he know?

*  *  *
I read this book as part of an ARC tour, but would gladly rush out a buy a copy today if it were available. It is amazing. I loved it. I want my own copy.  It comes out in November of this year.

If you're a fan of dystopian lit, this is a book that you'll want to read. The world that is created within these pages is so eerie, so dangerous, and so complex that you'll want to understand it more. The book leaves off with a serious cliffhanger, so I'm hoping that there will be more books to come.

In the wake of the end of the Hunger Games series, maybe Matched will become a new series to obsess over? That might be a tall order, but this series has potential, for sure. If you at all have a chance to read this book, you should!

Mockingjay Countdown: Mini Challenge 1

In this first Mockingjay Countdown mini challenge,  Morgan from Smitten With Books asks participants to cast a lead actress for the role of Katniss Everdeen.

This is tough. I've read the first and second books in this series several times now, and have even taught them. (Which is a vastly different experience than just reading alone.) I have a firm picture in my head of Ms. Everdeen, but I don't know that this girl exists in real life.

The closet match that I can find is Troian Bellsario. She's pretty, but not ultra-glam. She's confident, but not a show-stopper. She's mysterious and looks a bit sneaky. She has a dark complexion. She's not super buff, but looks like she could pull back a bow. And, probably most importantly, she looks smart.  Here she is:

What do you think? Who would you cast for this important role?

Free Audiobook Serial: Tell Me a Secret

Tell Me a Secret - Free Audiobook PodcastSo, maybe you've heard about this, maybe you haven't. I'm just going to say it in case you've somehow missed this. Because it's awesome.

Holly Cupala is offering up her book Tell Me A Secret in serialized audiobook podcast format.  Every week or so, there will be a new chapter available. I just listened to chapter one, read aloud by Jenna Lamia. It's fantastic. Her voice is perfect, and Lamia's reading is filled with passion and emotion.

I downloaded my copy on itunes, but there is an RSS option for non-mac users. To get your free chapter, visit Holly's site, click on the "audiobook" link in the upper right hand corner (it's a whispy font). There, you'll find more information about this offer.


Friday's Fab Five (7)

Friday's Fab Five is hosted by Froggarita's Bookcase. It's a way for us crazy book bloggers to get to know one another a little better. Feel free to join in!

1. What is your favorite milkshake flavor?

Um, this is boring, but vanilla. I like to have a shake about three times a year. I'm not all that into them.

2. What's your favorite flower?

I have lots, but love lilies. I have tons of varieties at my house. They're gorgeous.

3. What's your favorite candy/ chocolate?

I'm not super into candy or chocolates, but I do have a hankering for a twix every now and again. I like the peanut butter ones, but will settle for the caramel.

4. What's your favorite cereal?

Um, I like the Newman's Own cereals. The honey flax is my favorite. I'm starting to sound like I should move in to a nursing home or something. Geesh.

5. What's your favorite chewing/ bubble gum?

Orbit, green or light blue package. I don't know any more than that but I am never without it.

Character Connection: Haymitch Abernathy

The Introverted Reader has invited us to share our favorite characters. Since I am currently Hunger Games-obsessed, all of my picks are going to come from this series. Check out her blog and share your favorites! **There may be some spoilers in this post, so be warned if you have not read the first two books in the Hunger Games series!**
Haymitch Abernathy is, in my opinion, an underrated character. He is famous for be a drunkard and a rapscallion, but he's no fool.  In fact, I'm going to put it out there: Katniss and Peeta would not have survived the Hunger Games (twice) if not for their mentor. I've not really spent too much time thinking about Haymitch's part in their success, but honestly--without Haymitch Katniss would've blundered her way into an early grave and Peeta would have, well, not been saved by Katniss. 

And, there's a sort of mystery lurking in Haymitch's past. I feel like he's haunted by the years of mentoring and the piles of teenage bodies who he's seen sent off into the arena. He's revolutionary and calculating, but not without heart. In fact, he probably cares more about Katniss and Peeta than himself. That's just how he is. 

I'm not giving away any of my Mockingjay predictions until the day before the book comes out (so, 8/23), but I will say that I think Haymitch will make some sort of sacrifice for the sake of Katniss. That's all I'm going to say about that. 

My favorite actor candidate to play Haymitch is Hugh Laurie. I don't really know anything about this man, and I hate his TV show, but he has the right used-and-abused but used-to-be-handsome look for me. I think he's perfect. 

Any additional thoughts on Mr. Abernathy?

Up For a Challenge? Read the Contemps!

At first, I was a bit nervous to sign up for the Contemps Challenge. It asks that participants read 18 of 21 books. I sometimes have troubles committing, so I was nervous that I wouldn't be interested in enough of the books to warrant reading 90% of them. But, I saw the list of books. And realized that I'd already planned to read most of them. So, I'm committed.

Here are some that I want to read, no matter what:

And, if you sign up to take the challenge you could win a whole bunch of books. There are going to be  giveaways and such through August 2011. That's a long time.

Sound like fun? Join all sorts of bloggers and readers and generally good people in reading some awesome new books!

Young Adult Appreciation Month: Why YA?

 The Book Smugglers have been celebrating YA Lit for almost a month now with lots of great posts and giveaways and interviews. Now, they're turning it back to their readers and asking for a post that is somehow connected to YA Lit. Here's mine.

I get asked a lot by colleagues and students why I read so much YA. From students, it's with a bit of skepticism and incredulity that they ask me this question. Like, is she for real? Or, does she spend all of her free time reading? Yes and yes.

From colleagues, it's a mixed bag. Some seem to not have the time or money to invest in reading YA, which is not a great excuse I think because a little YA can go a long way and we have a great school library that's chock full of excellent choices. There are others who seem to think that YA is not real in the way that Shakespeare and Hemingway and Steinbeck are. Thankfully, there are very few of these teachers left at my school. But, there are still others who feel that kids should not be reading YA. Why? Too sad. Too controversial. Gives them ideas.

So, why do I read YA?

I read YA first and foremost because I love it. Some of the best books I've ever read are located in the YA section. Yes, I am able to read classics and enjoy adult literature. I belong to two adult book clubs. For one, we read a classic every month. For the other, we read a contemporary adult pick every month. But, I read many more YA titles than I do adult ones. This genre offers up so many sub-genres and topics and themes and characters that I just haven't found in adult lit. It's an exciting and dynamic place to be.

And, I do read YA because I teach young adults. I love working with teens. They are an intriguing bunch. I love teaching high school and sharing my love for books and learning with my students. I firmly believe that reading Fitzgerald or Hawthorne or Bronte does not make a life-long reader. There is just not enough pull in say The Crucible for today's average teen to make them excited about reading to the extent where they want to do it all the time. But is there pull in, say, an Ellen Hopkins novel? Absolutely.

It is not that I'm saying that classics are worthless for today's teens. Or for anyone. I love them. They have a place. I just think that teens need time to get there. If their freshman year of high school is filled with classics and no YA, how do they feel that spark, that excitement about reading? I think that they will be more inclined to become lifelong readers if they are allowed first to be teens and read literature aimed at their age and interest level. Those who love classics will still be introduced to them through their English classes and will seek them out as they enter college and through out their adult life.

But, while they are teens? Let them read. No matter if it's about zombies or sports or fashionistas or another planet, they're still reading and talking and thinking about books. And this is where a true lifelong love for reading starts. As an English teacher, I need to be able to converse with my students about what they're reading. It's as plain and simple and complex as this. Hours and hours and many dollars later, there have been conversations and ideas shared and realizations about my students that are just priceless.

That's why I read YA.