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Finally!

20111130-194450.jpgToday, at a Media Specialist meeting, a friend loaned me a copy of Matched by Allie Condie! Yay! I can finally read it and remove it from my list of books everyone has read but me!
I’d been holding off buying it for my media center because sometimes I forget that I work in a middle school and that I can’t fill my shelves with ONLY YA and stuff I like; I need to save some space for those middle grades titles too. But I’m going to do some weeding soon, so that will open some space up for books like this one!

In other news I finally got some more books in the Drama High series by L. Divine. Ever since I bought four of them in the Border’s Liquidation sale my kids have been begging for more in the series. So I picked up eight more today. My only complain is that they’re not published in hardcover; my kids will tear these up literally and figuratively !

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books It Seems Everyone Else Has Read But Me

I was off of work last week and enjoying a whole week of Thanksgiving (Yay education!).  So, because of that, my mind ran off and I completely forgot about Top Ten Tuesday.  I must have been swimming in a world of friends, family, books, free time, and good food!  It is what it is!

Since I’ve been blogging on YA and Middle Grades Fiction (almost a year!), I’ve noticed that there are some titles it seems everyone in the YA fiction blogging world has read.  I keep hearing people talk about but I haven’t had the chance to read yet. Too many books and not enough time!  This week’s Top Ten are books everyone else had read but me!

Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Matched by Ally Condie

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

The Fallen series by Lauren Kate

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I’d better get working on reading these; lots to read…lots to read…

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Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: The Vampire Stalker by Allison van Diepen

Imagine your favorite fictional hero has left their fictional world and walked straight into yours?

Teenager Amy has a major book crush on a fictional guy; Alexander Banks, the gorgeous vampire hunter in the wildly popular Otherworld trilogy. Her love is so deep that she even writes fan-fiction about Alexander.  Even her screen name,  “MrsAlexanderBanks8021″ is an homage to her obsession!  Amy pretty much spends much of her time wishing and dreaming that Alexander Banks was a real person. (le sigh)

Then late one night, as Amy is walking home alone she is saved from a violent attack by a boy who looks strangely like Alexander Banks.  Amy soon realizes that he is in fact the real Alexander Banks; her love from the books and he needs her help!  The evil and unstoppable vampire Vigo has mysteriously entered Amy’s world and Alexander is determined to stop him from destroying Chicago like he has done to Otherworld.  Together, Amy and Alexander must track Vigo and figure out how and why Alexander crossed over into her world and time.  After chemistry seems to spark between her and Alexander, Amy questions whether or not she even wants him to return to the world of fiction.

I first noticed The Vampire Stalker in our school’s fall book fair, when all of my girls wanted it; it was the best seller of the week.  Once I took the time to read the summary on the back cover, I was hooked immediately while visions of my favorite fictional crush (Mr. Darcy- how ardently I admire and love you!) danced through my mind; I could totally relate to Amy and the premise behind the novel.  What female reader wouldn’t be drawn in by this?  Amy is a teen version of myself and I couldn’t help but love her for it.
So, I totally enjoyed the story and thought it was really fun and creative.  There were some flaws, however.  I wasn’t crazy impressed with the character development.  I felt like there were pieces missing.  As much as I like Amy I felt like her anger towards her father and her frustration with her little sister ran a little flat.  I would have liked Van Diepen to flesh Amy out a bit more.  Additionally, things just seemed to move to fast and I wasn’t scared of Vigo like Amy and Alexander suggested I should be; I wasn’t worried about the safety of the characters while Vigo was on the loose.  I guess the length of the book didn’t allow for more of what I was hoping for.
Plus, literary physics?  Is this a real theory?  If not, totally creative and unique.  Even if it is a preexisting theory, it’s a great idea.  I’ve decided I want it to happen to me. Now.
Despite the flaws mentioned above, I am  incredibly intrigued by Otherworld, the fictional world Alexander Banks hails from.  I really hope that Van Diepen will write a sequel or companion novel to share more of Otherworld with us.  All in all, The Vampire Stalker was a fun and entertaining read for middle grades readers and up, although it’ll probably appeal most to younger teens (and anyone who has been crushing on fictional guys for years).
PS…sorry for the strange formatting issues. WordPress has a mind of its own tonight I see.
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Weird, But In A Good Way: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

The only word I can think of to describe Incarceron by Catherine Fisher is weird

Incarceron is a vast prison, sealed away from view.  It was supposed to be a utopia, but now the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark malicious work full of savagery and survival.  Incarceron is part high technology and medieval torture chamber. Incarceron is alive and keeps a watchful eye on all its prisoners.

Seventeen year old prisoner, Finn, has no memory of his childhood save visions that haunt him during seizures, still he cannot shake the feeling that he was not born in the prison as everyone assumes.  Outside of Incarceron lives Claudia, the pampered and feisty daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, who is beginning to feel the walls of her own prison closing around her as her arranged marriage to a prince she doesn’t love grows closer and closer.

Claudia knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists and her father keeps watch over it, while Finn only hears myths of a world outside of the prison.  This all changes when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, both discover a mysterious crystal key, which allows them to communicate with each other.  Finn is determined to escape the prison and Claudia believes she is the only one who can help him, thus a plot is hatched that will not only save Finn, but also has significant implications for the only world Claudia has ever known.

This book as boggled my mind.  I’ve been rolling around words to describe it in my mind for days now.  Part fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, and steam-punk Incarceron was weird.  But in a good way.  And it was dreamlike; but also slightly nightmarish.  I think the fact that I can’t place the book into one nice, easily contained genre is what makes the book weird in that good way.  I struggle with saying its a fantasy or dystopian (etc…) because it is so much more than that!  Fisher manages to pull the reader inside this garish and fantastical world full of a well rounded group of characters. Both Claudia and Finn are drawn deeper into the web of secrets that surrounds and forces them to discover truths about themselves that both excite and disturb them.  You see that they are well developed characters who you love, despite their obvious flaws.

The prison itself terrifies me.  A prison that is alive?  A prison that watches, provides for and sometimes even protects its inmates, all with a deviousness that makes one not know if they’ll live or die?  The idea of the prison being a major character is so interesting and mysterious, but I still have a lot of questions that I’m hoping will be answered in the sequel, Sapphique.

I also was really intrigued by the whole “which prison is worse” themes?  On one hand you have Finn who is stuck in this dark and twisted prison that forbids him for embracing who he truly was meant to be, while on the other hand you have Claudia prisoner in a world of pretense and false freedom.  Would you rather know you’re a prisoner in a horrible place, or have the appearance of freedom in an otherwise suffocating life?

Catherine Fisher has created very cool stuff for older middle grade readers and up. Lovers of fantasy, dystopian fiction, science fiction and even steam-punk should give this book a try.  You may be pleasantly surprised with how good weird can be!

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Book Trailer of the Week: My Life Undecided

Well I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We did and I am so glad I’m typing this from my snuggly warm bed instead of some line somewhere! But I do hope that all those black Friday shoppers out there get the deal they’ve been hoping for. Buy me some books please?!

As a blogger, the premise of Jessica Brody’s newest book, My Life Undecided, is really appealing. Adding this one to my “to read” list as I type!

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Just Finished

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Incarceron by Catherine Fisher was such a beautifully weird book. I felt like I was in a dream/nightmare the whole time. Review to come!  Plus I just realized (while watching the Ghost Hunters marathon on the SyFy….connection?  I have no clue) that I forgot to post a Top Ten Tuesday post this week.  Oh well, I’m on break.  I’ll get one ready for next week.

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What Next?

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I’m saving my next audible credit for Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Prince which comes out in December (!!!!!!YES!!!!!!!)  . But that means I have two more weeks until that one is released. What should be my next audiobook? I picked these titles up at my awesome public library and need some help deciding:

Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar

Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

Gilda Joyce Pyschic Investivator by Jennifer Allison

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Specials (Uglies #3) by Scott Westerfeld

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I need help with this one…

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Currently Reading

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Being an educator is wonderful during the Holiday Season because we are gifted with long expanses of time where we don’t have to be at work. Time to do whatever we please…like read! So what am I currently reading? Well, I’m still listening to The Maze Runner by James Dashner and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. But I also started Gordon Korman’s Island series Book One: Shipwreck. And at the prompting of a student who told me, “You have to read The Summer I Turned Pretty! I’m pulling it out of the cart for you to read over Thanksgiving!” as we were going through a cart of new books, I’m also
starting that title by Jenny Han. So there you have it; my current reads!