Contest Craze: Mini Challenge 2

 For this super-fun challenge, Contest Craze participants are charged with creating a dream date. We choose a celebrity and imagine the perfect date with said unattainable famous person. And, creativity in describing the date is encouraged. (Not that I need it.)

So, my first inclination for choosing a dream date would be to select someone that I am genuinely attracted to, like Johnny Depp. But, I've never been good at making conversation with men like Depp. Too intimidating. Therefore, I decided to choose a man that I'm only sorta crazy about. My pick is:

Matthew Morrison

But, I choose him on one condition. He cannot be himself. I don't really want to date an actual person with needs and interests. I want to date Mr. Schuester--nix that--Mr. Schue. Here's the plan for our romantic evening out:

We'd go somewhere low-key and chill. We wouldn't order full dinners, but lots of appetizers. Our conversation would consist of lots of trash talking about the Cheerios and Sue Sylvester. In fact, I'd help Will, ahem, Mr. Schue, plan his next move against Sue and the Cheerios. And, he'd probably want to sing to me. A ballad. I'm thinking something semi-corny but made better a cappella (not to mention the fact that a hot guy is singing to just me right in the middle of the restaurant). Maybe "Lost in Your Eyes" by Debbie Gibson. Yes, that'd be perfect. 

The date would end with Mr. Schue and I both seeing how late it is...We really did lose ourselves in conversation. And, we both have to teach tomorrow. And what will the kids think if we're both tired? So, we say our goodbyes. No kisses. Romantic tension--That's the way to go. 

But, before I could drive home, I'd want to go to the ladies room. Mr. Schue would have already left. As I go to wash my hands, who would I see but Sue Sylvester with her arms crossed and that knowing smirk spread across her face. She would say that she snapped a picture of me and Mr. Schue holding hands. It wouldn't be incriminating, but she'd say that she's not afraid to photoshop it. And spread it all around school. If I didn't agree to follow her evil plan, she's promises that she'll ruin my career. And end Glee Club once and for all.

It was the perfect date...until it turned into a perfect disaster. Dundundun. Next episode!

Thanks for humoring my inner Gleek!

Literary Gems: Banned Books Week

As part of my being a quirky English teacher, I wear lots of book-related accessories. Some of these are silly, others are more serious. This week, I am sporting a few items that I purchased recently in my efforts to promote Banned Books Week.

Here are the items that I now own and am wearing/ bringing to school:

Banned book covers bracelet from the American Library Association store

Banned Book Week tote from the American Library Association store

Here are some other items related to Banned Book Week:

 List of Banned Books bracelet from Cobweb Corner on Etsy

     Banned Books pin from Zazzle

Cool interchangeable magnet reading/ I read banned books necklace from Polarity on Etsy

If you don't have any fancy Banned Books Week baubles, don't fret. The best accessory to carry around this week is an actual banned book!

Author Interview: Mindi Scott, Author of Freefall

I am so very excited to have had the opportunity to interview Mindi Scott, whose gritty new novel Freefall, is due to hit stores early next month. It's about a teen boy who finds his best friend dead and the aftermath of this discovery. I haven't read it yet, but have heard tons of stellar reviews, comparing this new voice to the likes of John Green. And I love John Green. Here's what Ms. Scott had to say:

The main character of Freefall is a male. You're (obviously) not. How did it feel to write from the point of view of a teen boy? 

At first it was harder than writing a girl and I had to revise every single sentence to get it right. But over time, it became very natural.  The whole process helped me realize that when I’d written girls before, I’d relied a little too much on my own perspective.  With Seth, I couldn’t ever do that.  Writing a character who was so different from me has really changed my approach to voice and point of view.  For the better!

 I'm a high school English teacher, so I'm always wanting to know whether or not authors have been inspired to write by someone or something that happened in high school. Any positive or negative school experiences that have influenced your writing? 

Mrs. Zbaraschuk, an English teacher I had during my senior year, was very complimentary of what I turned in for her class, which inspired me to want to keep writing!  Also, I will say that the content of my writing is constantly inspired by things that happened while I was in high school.  There were a lot of highs and lows for me in those days and I never run out of ways to use those emotions for my fiction.  

Any advice for teen writers?  

think that reading books in a variety of genres to learn what you enjoy writing is a great way to get started.  That’s what I did! 
What is your favorite YA book right now? If there's more than one, I completely understand! 

I really, really love THE DEATHDAY LETTER by Shaun David Hutchinson. 

Three words that best describe Freefall are:  

Honest, emotional, exhilarating.  (I stole all of those descriptions from reviews of the book!)

 *  *  *
Want to see more? Here's a book trailer for Freefall:

Find out more about Mindi Scott:
Her Website
On Twitter
On Youtube

Amazon Pre Order

Thanks, Mindi! I can't wait to read this book! And, it counts toward the Contemps Reading Challenge, of which I am partaking. And, I know that a bunch of you are, too.

Giveaway: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

A Dr. Seuss giveaway might seem a little out of place on my blog, but I assure you that it makes perfect sense to me. I use Dr. Seuss books and political cartoons in my high school classroom every year, and throw a huge birthday party for him every March 2nd to commemorate his life.

Why teach Dr. Suess? I use The Lorax when talking about the environment and censorship. I read Oh, The Places You'll Go to my seniors every year before they graduate. And, I use his political cartoons every year when teaching about the United States and WWII. Many students are surprised to learn that Seuss penned dozens of cartoons to raise awareness about fascism, the overblown fear of communism, the absurdities of racism and segregation, and the reality of what was happening to Jews in the Holocaust.

My point point in bringing all of this up is that Dr. Seuss is a writer for all ages. His books are not just for kids. So, when Random House contacted me about hosting a giveaway of Green Eggs and Ham, I was thrilled! And, there's an amazing contest going on at Random House where you can win $2,000 dollars and several other prizes. (I have at least one group of students who have planned a super funny and creative entry).

To enter my giveaway of a special edition of Green Eggs and Ham, all you need to do is leave a comment with the title of your favorite Dr. Seuss book. (I'll reveal my favorite when I announce the winner.)

Make sure that you leave an email address with your comment, or I will not be able to find you! 

This giveaway ends on November 3, 2010. (This is also the deadline for the contest on the Random House site.)

Blog Tour & Charity Auction: Swati Avasthi's Split and National Domestic Violence Awarenss Month

To honor National Domestic Violence Awareness month, author Swati Avasthi has combined a blog tour for her debut novel, Split, with a charity auction. Over 40 authors, agents and editors have donated manuscript critiques, personalized books, and more to an online auction that anyone –reader, writer, booklover -- can bid on and buy.  All proceeds go to the Family Violence Prevention Fund.

In addition to the auction, Avasthi is donating $1/comment on her 26-stop, month-long blog tour, coordinated by Kari Olson at Teen Book Scene. If she reaches her goal and cap of $250, she will double the donation.

Follow the tour, get stuff you want, and make a difference.

Make sure to stop by this blog on October 14th for an exclusive interview with Jace, the main character of Split. I am full of nervous anticipation about this post. He's definitely one of the most realistic characters I've ever read and I have a bunch of tough questions prepared for him.

For more information about this tour, visit Teen Book Scene.

Book Review: Fallout by Ellen Hopkins

Fallout is the third book in the Crank series. For those of you who have dutifully read Crank and Glass, you may be sad to learn that Kristina is not the central character in this last book. Instead, this poignant third book revolves around Kristina's three oldest children: Hunter, Summer, and Autumn.

Though Kristina's story is no longer the focus of this story, she is everywhere. She is present in the shattered lives that she created in her drug-induced haze. She's present in the addictive personalities and in the poor choices her children make while searching for someone to care for them. She's there when they are trying to make it through the day-to-day struggles that are sometimes too much to bare.

I love that Ellen Hopkins took Kristina and put her in the background. As every family member, friend, or lover of an addict knows, the person with a drug habit is not the only one to suffer the consequences of a drug affair. Certainly, Kristina's children have done well to overcome the huge obstacles placed in their way by their never-there mother, but this book also shows just how deeply these children are scarred because of their parents' choices.

I can think of no better book to offer to a student or adult child who is dealing with a family member or loved one who is lost to drugs. I know that I have several students who are already clamoring to read this book. I don't blame them. The narrative verse in this book is outstanding. It is sure to pull in even the most reluctant of readers. I have already ordered an extra copy for my classroom. I have a feeling that I'm going to need it.

**Read as part of a tour from Around the World ARC Tours**

Halloween Read-A-Thon: Sign-Up

Though this Read-A-Thon takes place during the weekend of a huge graduate symposium during which I need to present a huge paper, I'm thinking that my addled brain might need a little break from all of the research about literacy and such. So, I'm going to sign up for the Halloween Read-A-Thon that's being hosted by Young Adult Books Reviewed.

Want to join? Sign-ups started today! Don't know if you can participate? That's okay, because it's more than two weeks away. There will be mini challenges and giveaways for those who join and read, so it'll definitely be worth your efforts!

Just Released: The Final Cover in the Linger Series

Oh my. Isn't it gorgeous? And, the title implies that we have a happy ending on our hands. But, I' learning to not put too much faith in my predictions where happy endings are concerned.

This book is now available for pre-order. It does not come out until June, but maybe you are the type who pre-orders waaay in advance, just so you know that it's coming to you. Like me pre-ordering Mockingjay the day the cover was released. Months and months in advance. And then I kept ordering copies because I was getting all fidgety. That's probably what'll happen with this book, too!

Visit Maggie Stiefvater's site for more info and some crazy/cool contest info.

Contest Craze: Mini Challenge 1

Princess Bookie is hosting a wild and wonderful Contest Craze. There is still time to join in the awesomeness, so feel free to get inspired and create your own mini challenge post!

For this first mini challenge, participants are creating posts with five of their most-anticipated reads for 2011.  I chose to highlight five of the dystopian reads that I cannot wait for. I love this genre and the creative plot lines that come along with it. Already, I cannot even wait for 2011 because it feels like there are going to be so many great new worlds to lose myself in!

Here are the top five dystopian reads on my wishlist:

What's on your wishlist for 2011? Make sure to tell me if there's a great dystopian read coming out that I should know about!

Fall Catch-Up Read-a-thon: Update

This is my first update for the Fall Catch-Up Read-A-Thon. I have been reading quite a bit considering the hectic week that I've had. Want to see what has distracted me from posting on this blog? Here are links/ images:

 The Farmington Fair: I go every year, if only to eat a dough boy (fried dough) and see where all of my students are disappearing to for an entire week of school. It's good rural Maine fun.

It's Homecoming week, which culminated last night with our big game against Lawrence. Go Cougars!

Today, I am headed far, far away to another fair. This one is completely different from the Famrington Fair. It's called the Common Ground Fair. It's an organic fair, filled with yummy food, political booths, and handmade clothing and accessories. It's something that I look forward to experiencing every year. I actually starve myself for about a day so that I can fill up on the amazing food.

And (finally) I am headed off to go apple picking and to (hopefully) survive a corn maze tomorrow. I've never attempted a corn maze (or any other really). If I never come back, it was nice knowing all of you!

And, I have read two books for this Read-A-Thon. They are 13 To Life and Sleepless. I have also read about half of Ellen Hopkins's Fallout and have started two other books. So, it's been a fairly productive week!

Book Review: 13 To Life by Shannon Delaney

Jessica is having a rough year. Her mother has just died in a horrific car crash and she can't seem to get her life back together. Even worse, she's assigned to show the new guy, a cute Russian boy, around the school. And he won't leave her alone.

Jess has been crushing on a football player, who's way out of her league for some time. Finally, he starts to pay attention to her, but his ex-girlfriend, the head cheerleader is having none of it. To top this off, the new Russian guy, Pietr, keeps showing up whever Jess goes.

There are many layers to this novel. There is a paranormal element--Werewolves have invaded the woods surrounding the town. And there's a cultural element--The Russian mafia has supposedly come to town. It's a little bizarre at times, but ultimately fairly engaging.

I put off reading this book because I was a little tired of werewolves, but I did like it. I read it pretty slowly, but not because I wasn't invested in this story. The end is a bit of a cliffhanger, but there's a sequel to this book that promises more action and (hopefully) answers.

Bloggers Speak Out: Links to Giveaways, Authors, and Articles

Bloggers Speak Out is a movement sparked by the recent article, "Filthy Books Demeaning to Republic Education" by Dr. Wesley Scroggins that was published in the Springfield, MO News-Leader on September 18th. In this article, Scroggins vehemently advocates the censorship of books in schools, and specifically requests that the following books be removed from the Republic school system: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. To show our support of these authors and to fight against book banning and censorship, we have decided to take action and speak out. 

Below is a list of links of bloggers speaking out against book banning and censorship--in the form of giveaways, posts, and reviews. Some are "officially" participating in what we're calling Bloggers Speak Out, and others are posts that we've found around the blogosphere. If you get time, you should definitely check them out!

Giveaways of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
**All giveaways will end on 10/3, unless otherwise noted**
Other Giveaways
**All giveaways will end on 10/3, unless otherwise noted**

Other Posts Against Book Banning and Censorship
Important Articles on the Subject
"Filthy Books Demeaning to Republic Education" (the article that started it all)
"Republic School Book Choices under Fire" (Springfield News-Leader)

Bloggers Speak Out: Event Info & Giveaway!

Bloggers Speak Out is a movement sparked by the recent article, "Filthy Books Demeaning to Republic Education" by Dr. Wesley Scroggins that was published in the Springfield, MO News-Leader on September 18th. In this article, Scroggins vehemently advocates the censorship of books in schools, and specifically requests that the following books be removed from the Republic school system: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. To show our support of these authors and to fight against book banning and censorship, we have decided to take action and speak out. 

Readers and bloggers can still join in by emailing Natalie from her blog, Mindful Musings. There will be events running from Tuesday, September 21st through Sunday, October 3rd (the end of Banned Books Week).

*  *  * 

To support my fellow bloggers, Laurie Halse Anderson, and the students and teachers who have learned from the book Speak, I am giving away a copy of this book. This contest is open internationally. Everyone is invited to enter! This giveaway will end on Monday, October 4th. My freshman, sophomore, and junior students, who are either reading or have read Speak will choose the winner. If I have more than fifty entrants, I'll add in another prize. And I'll add a prize for every fifty entrants thereafter. So enter!

To enter, simply leave a comment that answers this question:

What is a cause that you are willing to SPEAK OUT for? 

Be sure to leave an email with your comment so that I can reach you if you win!

Book Review: Sleepless by Thomas Fahy

Thomas Fahy's Sleepless has plauged my dreams ever since I started reading it. I finished it in  a hurry last night, thinking that I might escape the vivid nightmares that have followed me since I started it last week. No such luck.

I am just like the characters in this book. The sweet and generous students who went to New Orleans to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. The same innocent teens who went there came back to their hometown completely changed. And not for the better.

You see, while they were in New Orleans, some crazy voodoo stuff started to happen. And then a minister was murdered. And when the students come back, the have horrific dreams. Death, murder, blood, killing. When they wake up, it turns out that they have actually committed the violent acts from their dreams. But they have no memory of actually hurting anyone.

Thus begins the horror story that has left me sleepless. This is a fast read and I recommend that you not take your time in reading it--Because they dreams will only worsen as you procrastinate! This is a perfectly scary book for Halloween. I read this book as part of the Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge, which is hosted by the Stainless Steel Droppings book blog.

Fall Catch-Up Readathon: Starting Line

I am in need of a read-a-thon. I have piles and piles of books that I want/ need to read and I am kinda lost in fall. This is a busy and exciting time for me, and I've noticed that reading has taken a back seat to all of the other fun options that are going on around me. Hiking, fairs, apple picking, corn mazes, and shopping have taken up the precious hours that I usually reserve for reading.

I still hope to do all of that, but to also make a firm commitment to reading at least three or four books this week. I want to put some fresh titles on the free reading shelves for my students. Lucky for me, The True Book Addict is hosting a Fall Catch-Up Read-A-Thon this entire week. There are prizes and blogs to be discovered. I just can't wait to read!

Feel free to join. The read-a-thon started today, but there's still time to sign up!

Speak Out Against Censorship

This post is in response to an opinion piece written by Dr. Wesley Scroggins. I plan to post more after telling my students about this letter. I'd like to gather their thoughts (and more of mine) and write more. I do teach Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and have taught Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut in the past. I have not read Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, though I do have it and plan to read it this week only because this man seems to suggest that it be removed from his school's library.

Tomorrow morning I will go to work. And I will start my day by teaching Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak to my freshman students. I always start the year with this novel because the book starts in the fall of the main character's ninth grade year. I think it's fitting to introduce my freshmen to my classroom, the one where we're going to talk about real-life issues and serious topics, by talking about bullying and rape.

Always, I begin this unit with guest visitors. Our local organization SAVES (Sexual Assault Victims Emergency Services) sends in our school-based advocate to talk with my students about rape and sexual assault. My students participate in activities where they learn about statistics, ways to help a friend who's been a victim of sexual assault/ rape, and what rape actually is. As it turns out, my freshmen are usually pretty surprised at how high the stats are for our area.

When I teach this book, does it feel like I'm reading aloud pornography? Absolutely not. I read this book aloud to my students so that we can have in-class, in-the-moment discussions. It is always interesting to hear what students are thinking and feeling while reading this book. When I get to the rape scene (after they've had several visits from our guest visitors), the room is silent. I get a little choked up. Even after students are told that this is going to happen, it is obvious that they feel the weight of Melinda's rape. It is serious. They take it seriously.

Like me, they want to help Melinda. Some want to shake her--wake her up. Others want to hold her, to be there for her. All of them want her to speak. To stand up for herself. To find her voice. And when she does, they applaud. They smile. They feel the victory that she has won by opening up and advocating for herself.

There is no pleasure reading about Melinda's rape. The definition of pornography does not allow for the feelings of urgency that my students and I feel as Melinda is raped. We want to scream for her; we want to help. Like Melinda, we are powerless. Until, of course, Melinda emerges from her hiding spot victorious against her rapist when he brutally attacks her for a second time. It is then, and only then, that we cheer. Not as she's being raped, but when she stands up for herself and speaks.

Rape is not sex. Melinda did not consent to having sex with Andy Evans. He raped her. And, unfortunately, this happens to girls (and boys) a lot. Too often. Too often to not talk about it. And, whether those conversations are happening around the dinner table, or in an English class, or at a church group, they need to happen.

Tomorrow, I will go into school and I will teach my students to speak. Because I can think of nothing more "demeaning" than to pretend that my students don't live in a world where they need to know how and where to get help. "Demeaning" is to think that my students are not capable of learning about rape and assuming that they'd look at a rape scene in a book as if it were pornographic. That's demeaning.

Here are some links to other posts that I've seen around the blogosphere. Feel free to let me know if you've written one that you'd like me to include in this post.

Bloggers Heart Books

Mindful Musings
Laurie Halse Anderson's Page

Babbling About Books

Giveaway Alert: Contest Craze

 Apparently, Princess Bookie is having a huge giveaway that she's calling the Contest Craze. It sounds like it's going to be huge and fun and awesome. Here's some more info from the Princess herself:

Guess what, Contest Craze Will be starting a week from Monday (September 27th)! It will last two weeks this year with the major blowout contest day on October 9th. Each day there will be a special contest or a little mini challenge to participate and win!

So, what are you waiting for? Head over to her blog to check out who else is participating and join us! 

Friday's Fab Five (7)

Friday's Fab Five is a meme from the Froggarita Book Blog. It's fun and silly and designed to allow book bloggers to get to know one another better. Feel free to join in the fun!

1. What is your favorite disco song?

Probably "I Will Survive". There's something irresistible about the beat that makes me wanna dance. It's great at weddings.

2. What is your favorite soft rock song?

I'm definitely not a fan of soft rock. That's a bit of an oxymoron to me. I actually had to google the term "soft rock" to see what came up. Immediately, I saw Fleetwood Mac. I love them. So, I'm going with "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac. Apparently, Stevie Nicks wrote that song in ten minutes. Genius. 

3. What is your favorite love ballad?

It's not a traditional love ballad, but the song "Fighter Girl" by Mason Jennings is a song that my husband sings to me all the time. Guess I'm his little fighter girl. Aw, shucks. 

I'm embedding it for your listening pleasure. And cuz I love it.

4. What is your favorite hard rock song?

Probably Nirvana. I remember when "Smells Like Teen Spirit" came out. It was awesome. I was just entering high school and loved the rebellious nature of that song and the "grunge" scene. This made for some interesting times in high school!

5. What is your favorite pop song?

I'm going to give this honor to Prince's "Kiss". That song is just genius. I love it!

BBAW: Future Treasures

Today's prompt from the Book Blogger Appreciation site:

We want to hear all about your FUTURE treasures.  We’ve been visiting each other and getting to know each other better…now is your chance to share what you enjoyed about BBAW and also what your blogging goals are for the next year!

This is my first BBAW. It's amazing what a great community of online book lovers we have. I am flabbergasted that I can write a post about loving (or not loving) a book and can get a ready response from someone who has thought the same things or some very different things. I love that there are people who love books and spend their free time reading and chatting up great reads. It's impressive.

I have lots of blogging goals.  In January, I'll celebrate my first blogoversary for this blog. I want to have some sort of special giveaway like I've seen on other blogs. I have loved this journey and want to keep learning from all of you. You all are truly great teachers--leading by example with your writing and great thinking and creativity.

I also want to read lots and lots. I am so excited about bunches of books that are coming later this year and next year. It is so exciting to have great adventures and stories waiting for me!

Thanks to the organizers and participants of this great event. I had no idea how great it was going to be. I look forward to next year's celebration!

Book Review: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

One of the reasons why I love modern young adult lit so well is that it tackles subjects and issues that teens deal with all of the time without apology. Sure, there were some great YA authors when I was a teen, but there was nothing like Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles.

Every year around homecoming and prom, I become nervous. I know what it's like to be a teen and I know that I made some poor choices when I was younger. But I lived through my poor choices. I worry that my teens (as in my students) will not survive theirs.

Hopefully, books like Leaving Paradise will make their way into the hands of teens and show them the consequences of a seemingly small decision--driving after too many beers--in a way that allows them to work through the after affects without having to go through them personally.  Leaving Paradise is about a boy who makes a life-changing decision after drinking heavily at a party. Because of his choice, which was made in a plot second, he has to spend one year of his life in jail. And the rest of his life will be spent thinking about the girl who put him there.

Her name is Maggie. She was walking home after the party and did not see the car coming at her until she had already been hit. One year later, she is still in pain and her post-surgery gait draws stares and giggles from her classmates. Once popular and athletic, she is now afraid to go to school.

But, when Caleb gets out of jail early, both will have to face each other and the events of that tragic evening. This is a moving book that I won't soon forget. I plan to read the sequel, Return To Paradise, so that I can see what happens with these characters.

BBAW: Forgotten Treasure

Today's blog topic for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is: Forgotten Treasure
Sure we’ve all read about Freedom and Mockingjay but we likely have a book we wish would get more attention by book bloggers, whether it’s a forgotten classic or under marketed contemporary fiction.  This is your chance to tell the community why they should consider reading this book!
 I am going to choose a book that may or may not have been completely forgotten by those who love great historical fiction of the YA persuasion. I teach it every year in summer school and get to fall in love with it all over again. It's something that I look forward to.

 The book that I so look forward to teaching is called I Had Seen Castles and it's by the amazing Cynthia Rylant. It's just plain beautiful. It takes place in two time periods: The 1940's and the present.

It's the story of a young boy named Johnny who desperately wants to enter into WWII after the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Like many others during this confusing time, he feels an urgency to fight for his country that overwhelms his ability to understand that war is about glory and honor. It's about seeing people die and killing. It's about going hungry and being cold. It's about losing friends and feeling the need get revenge. It's about seeing innocent people suffer the consequences of an international battle. It's brutal.

In the present, Johnny is an old man. He lives in Canada, because it was too hard to come back to the US after all he'd experienced in the war. He is happy, but it's a sort of muted happiness. It feels realistic, given the way that many WWII veterans do not discuss their memories of the war. There's a certain silence among older vets. Johnny is like this.

This is a beautiful story. It's rich and complex and vivid and poetic and it's only a little over a hundred pages. I highly recommend that more people read it. Because I love it. Thanks for listening!

BBAW: Unexpected Treasure

Today's prompt for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week celebration is Unexpected Treasures. As in, books that you had no idea that you were going to love.

I have come across so very many treasures since beginning this blog. Connecting with other bloggers and taking risks has allowed me to widen my vision of what "good" YA is, and I am all the happier for having dipped into more genres. The most unexpected genre for me has been the paranormal romance genre. Traditionally, my favorite genres have been realistic fiction and dystopia. I love a great end-of-the-world or real-world-gone-bad read. I'm kinda into tragedy.

And so is the paranormal romance genre! It's all about characters who have made or are making bad choices, who have fallen from grace and are in need of redemption, and the "other" worlds described in these novels are just as messed up as any dystopia.

Here are some of my most (unexpected) favorite reads in this genre:


Hush, Hush

The Clockwork Angel

The Eternal Ones

I can't wait to see what you've all *unexpectedly* fallen in love with!

Literary Gems: Edgar Allen Poe

I am officially addicted to etsy. Maybe some of you understand this, maybe some of you don't. Whether you've been there or not, just be careful when you visit. I just spent two hours looking at all sorts of items, from pottery (for a friend's housewarming party to quilts (because I'm cold) to literary jewelry (because I'm a nerd).

In this lengthy process, I decided that I would purchase something related to Edgar Allen Poe. My students love it when I wear accessories related to bookish things, so why not find something creepy and poetic for Halloween? Two hours later, I have quite a few pieces to choose from. They are (in no particular order):

Poe Earrings

Poe Necklace

Poe Pendant

Poe Locket

These are not all of the Poe-related jewels on etsy. There are dozens more. These are the ones I liked the best. Any ideas on what I should purchase? And, I might do this type of post again. Like around Women's History Month and National Poetry Month. How does that sound?

**Disclaimer: I don't know any of the people selling these goods. In fact, I don't know anyone who sells anything on etsy. I just shop there. A lot.**

BBAW: First Treasure

I did not participate in Book Blogger Appreciation Week last year. At that time, I was unaware of the amazingness that is this book blogging community. Sure, I had a couple of edu-blogs. I talked with teachers about super fun topics like vocabulary instruction and grammar. Super fun.

Little did I know that there was this whole other world happening. A world where grammar and vocabulary are used to describe fantastic, exciting young adult literature. And, who is responsible for showing me the light? Karin the Librarian.

I have no recollection of how I stumbled across her blog. But, I did. And the rest is my book blogging history.  Now, I am feeling like there are others out there. Not just the crazies who want to talk about literacy and education all of the time, but some honest-to-goodness book nerds like me. It's so refreshing and exciting.

So, thank you Ms. Karin. I still read your blog every time you post. You are my unwitting and probably unknowing blog-spiration.

Giveaway Alert!

Psst...I am hosting a little giveaway over at I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read. Kate, the amazing woman behind this blog, is off getting married. Several of her readers have agreed to take on her blogging responsibilities while she's off sipping champagne and being in love.

Help me help her and maybe you'll win a cute little book for your efforts!

Book Review: Blood Roses by Francesca Lia Block

I don't know if you've ever read a book by Francesca Lia Block. This is my third. Always, I am left with conflicting emotions after reading one of Block's books. First, I am disturbed. For real. Her writing is the creepiest, bloodiest, grossest that I've ever read. It's like her words are fermenting on the page.

But, it's also lyrical. And beautiful. And passion-filled.

And her stories are always bizarre. Blood Roses is a collection of stories that includes:

  • A girl who is so obsessed with an older tattoo artist boy that she starts to grow designs all over her body
  • Sisters who escape a pair of sick child predators
  • A vampire-like, youth-obsessed mother who feeds on her daughter
  • A girl who finds and nurses back to health a boy who's cut off his fairy wings
  • A boy who decides to follow his changeling girlfriend into the otherworld because he can't deal with the pain in his world
  • A girl who keeps growing and growing and growing
  • A girl whose dollhouse was inhabited by Death
  • A horse-loving girl who falls for a Centaur/ gang member
Some of the stories are bizarre. Others are less weird and have more of a message to them. Most include scenes or language that makes me hesitate in recommending this book to a teen under the age of 16 or 17. But, there are pieces that are good for all teen girls.  I particularly loved the story of the girl who was "too much". She is the one who could not stop growing. The story leaves off with this quotation:

"What shall we do, all of us? All of us passionate girls who fear crushing the boys we love with our mouths like caverns of teeth, our mushrooming brains, our watermelon hearts?" 


Life Story Meme

I've seen a few blogs with this meme in the past couple of days. I have no idea where it started, but I'm going to give credit to the I Was a Teenage Book Geek blog, because that's the one that made me break down and write this post.  

If you've already done this on your blog, feel free to link in the comments section of this post and I'll stop by to check yours out. It's pretty fun!

In high school I was: Girl Coming in for a Landing (April Halprin Wayland)
It took a while for me to land. Some days, I'm still flying around up there.

People might be surprised I'm: The Cardturner (Louis Sachar)
I love to play card games.

I will never be: The Unidentified (Rae Mariz)
I may be a lot of things, but anonymous is not one of them!

My fantasy job is: Dairy Queen (Catherine Murdoch)
I'd love to scoop ice cream. Or gelato. Yum.

At the end of a long day I need: Hush, Hush (Becca Fitzgerald)
I love my husband. But he's loud. Really loud.

I hate it when: I Am Number Four (Pittacus Lore)
I'd rather be first in line. Unless I get to read People magazine. Then I'm okay.

Wish I had: The Replacement (Brenna Yovanoff)
As in a body double. Someone to do all of the stuff I don't want to do. Dishes. Dusting. Correcting of papers. Bus duty. That would be pretty handy!

My family reunions are: The Best and Hardest Thing (Pat Brisson)
I love my family, but they all live hours away. So, get-togethers and holidays are complicated by travel.

At a party you'd find me: Linger (Maggie Stiefvater)
I don't like to go home too early!

I've never been to: Planet Pregnancy (Linda Oatman High)
Maybe someday.

A happy day includes: The Eternal Smile (Derek Kirk Kim)
I love to smile. Smiles are powerful.

Motto I live by: The Sky is Everywhere (Jandy Nelson)
I try to think positively. This seems to represent that to me.

On my bucket list: How To Build A House (Dana Reinhardt)
My little house needs some serious renovations. I'd like to see them done before I retire to the next world.

In my next life I want to be: A Great and Terrible Beauty (Libba Bray)
Sounds like fun, no?

Book Review: The Eternal Ones

Holy smokes.

This is one heck of a crazy roller coaster adventure of a paranormal thriller romance. Every time that I thought I'd figured out what had happened and what was going to happen, some other bit of information or idea would totally disturb what I'd thought.

And I loved every second of it.

Th basic plot is this:  Haven Moore grew up knowing that she was meant to be win a man named Ethan. When she was a little girl, she'd tell her father all about Ethan. About their life in Rome and in New York City. She knew a whole lot about New York City, which was many miles away from her home in Tennessee.

Her father took her seriously. He contacted an agency in New York City, The Ouroboros Society, that dealt with people who had memories of past lives. Shortly thereafter, Haven's father was killed in a car accident that devastated her family forever.

Raised by a controlling and uber-religious grandmother, Haven was not prepared for the sultry memories of the romance she had with Ethan. And, she was also perplexed by the knowledge that she and her former-life lover died in a fire. Her whole previous life is very confusing and disconcerting to her. So, after a series of tragic events, she decides to head to New York City in search of Ethan and the Ourboros Society. Haven wants answers, but what she finds is going to shock her.

I read this book for the Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge (hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings). I definitely felt my heart race and my mind was whirling a million beats per second trying to figure out what was going to happen and what did happen to Haven in this life and in her past one(s). I was totally on edge and am thinking/ hoping/ probably dreaming that this is going to be a series and I'll get to spend more time with these characters. We'll see.