Tuesday, April 7, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Where Are They Now?

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's topic is: Top Ten Characters I’d Like to Check in on...

One of the reasons I love reading so much is the relationships I build with characters. That probably sounds lame, as it’s really difficult to have a relationship that only exists on the page, but, nonetheless, characters help shape my life. They teach me life lessons, help me develop compassion for others, and introduce me to worlds beyond my imagination. When I finish a book, there’s always a feeling of melancholy that creeps over me, because I know I’ll never see these characters again. Here’s a list of characters I’d like to check in on, a sort of “where are they now”:


  1. Mara Dyer and Noah Shaw from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer series: Are they happy? Are they alive? Is Noah still as irresistible as he was in the books?

  1. August Pullman from Wonder: What a kid! I’d love to know how many more lives he’s touched since his story ended. I wonder how he liked middle school and high school. Is he still friends with Jack Will?

  1. Hazel Grace Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars: This is probably a cliche pick, but I want to know that Hazel’s okay (okay? okay). I hope she’s beaten her cancer, I hope she’s found love again (without forgetting Augustus, of course), and I hope she’s happy.

  1. Day and June from the Legend series: Maybe I don’t want to check in with them; if they didn’t fall in love all over again I think I’d be heartbroken.

  1. Aria and Perry from the Under the Never Sky series: Perhaps it’s because I just finished this series, but I really want to know how the Still Blue turned out. Did Aria and Perry get to spend their days laying in the loft looking at the clear, blue sky?


  1. Eleanor and Park from, well, Eleanor & Park: I’m glad this wasn’t a series, but at the same time I wasn’t ready for their story to end. Even more than a year after finishing this book, Eleanor and Park still stick with me. Please, please, please tell me they are still together in some capacity (even if they aren’t in love, they need to be best friends or something).

  1. Ryan Dean West from Winger: I just loved this character’s voice - his humor, particularly.

  1. Celeana and Chaol from the Throne of Glass series: Again, another series I’m working on. This one probably shouldn’t count considering their story isn’t over yet (book four later this year), but I’m dying to know how they end up (please be happily ever after).

  1. All of my Harry Potter friends: I know we see how they end up in the future, but I want the story of how they got there. Even though there were thousands and thousands of pages, seven books just isn’t enough for these characters.

  1. The Lord of the Flies boys: A nod to my English teacher side - what happened to the boys when they returned to society? Did they suffer from post-traumatic stress? Did Jack get what he deserved? I’ve always wondered how their story really ends.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's topic is: Top Ten Books Recently Added to My TBR List...

This is somewhat of a daunting topic for me, because my TBR list is ever growing, especially lately. I don’t read NEARLY as much as I used to, but I still come across books I want to read just as fast. I’ve definitely changed as a reader in this past year - if a book doesn’t grab my attention I abandon it (in the past I stuck it through until the end). It took me awhile to get used to that mindset, but now that I’m only reading books I REALLY like, I’ve finally become a reader again...woohoo! So, here are some of the books that recently caught my eye:


  1. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira - I’ve had an ARC of this for awhile but never really paid attention to it. Recently, however, I’ve seen it on a few book lists, and I’ve become intrigued.

  1. Butter by Erin Jade Lange - This is one of the 2016 Abe books, which is where I heard of it. It sounds twisted in that this is definitely something I can see our society coming to - social media...yikes!

  1. The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi - This is going to be a hit or miss read for me. I’ve only heard great things about it, but I’ve never been extremely drawn to Middle Eastern settings.

  1. How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon - A black teen shot and killed by a white man; a societal uproar occurs. Sound familiar? I’m intrigued to see the angle of this story. And, could it be any more relevant for America today?

  1. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas - I NEED this book! This series drew me back into voracious reading...please give me more!


  1. The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen - This is another book that’s been on my shelves for awhile. I used the first few pages in an activity a few weeks ago and became hooked. Too bad a student borrowed it before I could snatch it!

  1. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson - I know, I know. How is this just know making my TBR list? Honestly, I forgot about it. My aide just read it and told me I need to read it too. Plus, it’s an Abe book next year.

  1. Threatened by Eliot Schrefer - This book sounds so different from everything out there. I’m either going to love it or abandon it (hopefully not), but I can see the topic drawing in a lot of my student readers.

  1. Positive by Paige Rawl - Another Abe book (are you sensing a theme?). This one’s a memoir about a girl who was bullied. I remember the twitter campaign from a few months ago, but never really checked the book out until now.

  1. Fat Boy vs The Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach - This sounds quite entertaining and funny, something a lot of my boy readers are looking for. My reluctant boys definitely fall into my reading gap, so hopefully this one will help fill it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

REVIEW: Boy21 by Matthew Quick

Title: Boy21
Author: Matthew Quick
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 5, 2012
Pages: 250
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in gray, broken Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish Mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, he takes care of his disabled grandfather, and at school he’s called “White Rabbit”, the only white kid on the varsity basketball team. He’s always dreamed of getting out somehow with his girlfriend, Erin. But until then, when he puts on his number 21, everything seems to make sense.

Russ has just moved to the neighborhood. A former teen basketball phenom from a privileged home, his life has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he now answers only to the name Boy21—his former jersey number—and has an unusual obsession with outer space.

As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, “Boy21” may turn out to be the answer they both need.

Review: This book has been on my radar for awhile - I’ve seen it on other bloggers’ lists, I know of other teachers who use it for a read aloud - and, yet, I’ve never picked it up. When I saw it on the 2106 Abe Lincoln list, I decided now was the time to read this book - I am SO glad I did! Since having Ella, reading hasn’t been a focus for me; Boy21 is the first book I’ve read, start to finish, in one day since becoming a mom.

I’m not quite sure what it is that drew me so completely into the story: the characters, the storyline, or the ease of the writing. I know I started the book because of the plot. I have a lot of boy readers that always want sports books. Admittedly, this is a reading gap of mine. When I saw Boy21 focused on basketball, I knew this could be a great recommendation for some of my students. Yes, it is about basketball. It’s a common thread throughout the book. But, really, this book goes WELL beyond sports (like how Winger isn’t really a book about rugby). As a reader, you feel compassion, you feel uncomfortable, you feel stunned...it’s all there.

Quick gets the reader to feel so many feels through his beautifully developed characters. I know I want a friend like Finley. Someone who will do anything for you even when he doesn’t want to. Someone who is unspeakably loyal and loves what he loves so fiercely. And, Russ/Boy21? My heart breaks for him. When you see his heartbreak on the page, you can’t do anything but want to reach in and wrap him up in a hug.

So, even though this book appeals to the sports crowd, it goes well beyond that. It teaches the reader about people, about how we handle tragedies that might come out way. Would you be like Finely and erase them from your memory, or would you be like Russ and create another world for you to exist in? Either way, we need to think about what those around us are going through before we jump to conclusions - that’s what Quick teaches us through his novel.

Who Should Read It? This book appeals to many different readers. I know my sports readers will pick this one up because of the basketball thread, but I also know fans of realistic fiction (like myself) will fly through this book. It has tension (you don’t really know Finley’s story until the very end), it has great characters, and it is a quick read - a perfect combination for readers of all kinds.

Friday, March 20, 2015

2016 Abe Lincoln Book List

It's here! Next year's Abe Lincoln book list is out...yay! Every year I look forward to this list; it guides my reading for the year. I haven't ever finished a list, although it's been a goal of mine every year. There are always a few books on the list that just aren't for me - usually the zombie ones.

I love this year's list, at least the 7 books I've already read. I've checked two more out to read over spring break (for some reason I still think I finish books quickly, when really I read like a sloth these days). Like I tell my students, if you're looking for something to read, start here.

What I've already read:


The rest of the list (Goodreads links):

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick (spring break read)
Butter by Erin Jade Lange
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
If You Could be Mine by Sara Farizan
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (I can't believe I haven't read this yet!)
One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard
Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales (spring break read)