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Tough Girl Loves Nerd? Accidental Love by Gary Soto

Marisa is a Latina teenage girl with a volatile tempter. She goes to a rough school, can’t keep her mouth shut, and usually solves problems with her fists. While visiting her friend, Alicia, in the hospital, Marissa picks a fight with Alicia’s no-good, cheating boyfriend, Roberto and another guy who is with him. Somewhere in the brawl the other guy and Marissa accidentally take home each others cell phones. In order to get her phone back, Marisa has to call the guy who was hanging out with Roberto, only to discover he’s not Roberto’s friend, but is instead his math tutor. Marisa is intrigued by this nerdy guy, Rene, and agrees to meet him to exchange phones.

Once Marisa and Rene meet, however its obvious they’re drawn to each other and they become fast friends. Soon that friendship turns into romance as Marissa and Rene become inseparable. In order to bring up her grades, and improve herself overall (in addition to seeing Rene more), Marisa convinces her parents to let her transfer to Rene’s academically focused school by using her aunt’s address to register. Both Rene and Marisa have big plans to improve themselves culturally, they both try out for the school’s production of Romeo and Juliet; physically, Marisa strives to lose weight and Rene starts strength training; and emotionally, Marisa wants to work on her anger issues while Rene just wants to be cooler.

Although Rene and Marisa seem like such polar opposites they are good for one another and seem to balance each other out. But these differences (in addition to some outside forces) also cause some conflicts and issues in their budding relationship.

All in all this was a cute and meaningful read. Marisa and Rene are pretty realistic teenagers dealing with their own struggles and desires. The story is told through Marisa’s point of view, so you tend to see how multifaceted a character she is; feminine yet tough, vulnerable yet cynical, funny yet serious. Rene is also likeable, but you don’t see as many sides of him as you do with Marisa. The setting in which these two young lovers are placed in is also realistic; the starkness of Marisa’s high school versus the abundance in Rene’s.

I also loved the Spanish terms used throughout the novel. It helps you see how true to form the dialogue is. It’s common to hear Hispanic teens at my school using a mix of English and Spanish terminology, which is why I loved Soto’s use of it in Accidental Love. I haven’t read a lot of teen fiction that focuses on young Hispanic characters, other than books by Gary Soto. I know there are some more out there, I just haven’t encountered them yet. (If you can recommend others let me know please!)

The only thing I thought was slightly unrealistic was how easy it seems to be for these characters to transfer schools. In real life, would these characters get what they wanted most (to be with each other?). I don’t know, but I must sometimes remind myself that realistic fiction is still fiction. And that’s my only complaint!

Recommended for middle school aged readers and up.

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Book Trailer of the Week: Only the Good Spy Young

I know, I know I recently posted a review about one of Ally Carter’s books. I guess I’ve been on an Ally Carter kick lately! Her books are really fun though. They make me wish I was a teen spy!

Only the Good Spy Young is one title in the Gallagher Girl series (about teenage girl spies!). I really think this trailer is incredibly well done. See if you think so too.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Urban Fiction Titles

I work with awesome kids.  They’re creative, smart, hilarious (sometimes unintentionally so), and just generally good kids.  And just like me, they want to read books with characters they can relate to.  Because our school has really been promoting reading (more so than in the past) over the past two years, I’m having to work hard at keeping current with their reading desires.  What do a lot of my kids want?  Realistic books with characters who look and sound like they do.  What are some of the books they’re devouring and begging me to buy?

The Drama High series by L. Divine

The Bluford High series by various authors

The Good Girlz series by Reshonda Tate Billingsley

Adios to All the Drama by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

The So For Real series by Nikki Carter

At the Crossroads  by Travis Hunter

The Kimani Tru series by various authors

The Perry Sky series by Stephanie Perry Moore

The Hazelwood Trilogy by Sharon Draper

The Jericho Trilogy by Sharon Draper

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Movie Update: The Official Hunger Games Movie Trailer

This morning Lionsgate premiered the official trailer for The Hunger Games movie on Goodmorning America. If you haven’t watched it yet, go for it!

This just gets me so excited; everything looks amazing! First the characters, Jennifer Lawrence just looks amazing and I get goosebumps when she volunteers to take Prim’s place at the Reaping (and I’ve seen it like six times now!). Elizabeth Banks’ Effie Trinket looks and sounds perfect; the over-the-top hair and make up with the obnoxious sing-song voice are exactly what I’ve imagined!

I LOVE the scenery! District 12 looks just as it should, like a dingy and poverty stricken mining town. And the extras at the Reaping? The 1940s style clothing brings images of Europe during Nazi occupation to my mind, which makes so much sense!

I’m impressed that they didn’t show us too much of Katniss in her Girl on Fire costume and I’m hoping they won’t so we can be just as awe struck as the people of the Capitol when she enters! Plus I’m glad that this trailer doesn’t pay much attention to the romantic triangle, because although I love that piece of the plot (LOVE!) it’s not the thing that makes the story as great as it is.

Now that you’ve seen it, what do you think?

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Currently Reading

This weekend I am celebrating my birthday on a mini vaca to Disney with my Husband! He an I are still listening to The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

On my own I’m listening to Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, which is so strange and dreamlike that I like it!

And I’ll be reading these two down by the pool (or in a coffee shop if it’s too cold).

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What are you reading?

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Book Trailer of the Week: Sunrise Over Fallujah

In honor of Veteran’s Day the Book Trailer of the Week is Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers.  Some of my 8th grade boys have read this one and really liked it a lot.  I showed the book trailer last year on the morning announcements and had ten boys (who rarely read) come to the Media Center to request it (luckily we have 2 copies!).

So, thanks for all who give of themselves to serve our country!

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Can I Please Be a Gallagher Girl? Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

I’ve always had a secret dream that I could one day be a spy.

You know, if I was braver, less clumsy and physically stronger; pretty much a completely different person.

That’s what I like about Carter’s Gallagher Girls series. I could be a spy! Cammie and her friends are just regular girls like me.

Winter Break is over and the girls of the Gallagher School for Exceptional Young Women are gearing up for a new semester. Sophomore Cammie Morgan is ready to move on and put her ex boyfriend and the unfortunate events surrounding their relationship behind her. Ready to focus on school and her future as a spy, Cammie overhears the school’s headmistress (her mother!) and another teacher secretly discussing something called “Blackthorn”. Of course Cammie and her best friends are intrigued and are immediately on mission to find out what “Blackthorn” is and why a section of the school is suddenly off-limits. Then Cammie and her classmates get a huge surprise as the headmistress makes a special announcement. Cammie always says, the Gallagher Girls are trained to be prepared for any situation, but this one is not what they had expected.

So, back to what I said about Cammie and her friends being regular girls. They are. The whole time I was reading this book, I thought I really like Bex, Liz and Macey! I want these girls to be my friends. I want to go on covert operations with them! What girl wouldn’t want fun, smart and loyal friends like these?I especially love the fact that in this second Gallagher Girls book, we’re starting to see more of the personality differences between the girls. I was impressed with Carter’s choice to have Liz take the research track of study rather than the fieldwork track with all of her friends. I think its good to see characters can still be friends despite different interests (that’s the middle school teacher in me).

Another aspect I enjoyed about this book was that the reader gets to see the bigger picture; that there is more going on in the world than just the Gallagher Academy. This is the same reason why I loved Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Catching Fire, and Breaking Dawn better than all the other books in their respective series! It is in these titles that the story zooms out a little and you meet characters from other locations. So, I’m super excited to know more about Zach (You’ll have to find out for yourself…) and the possibility of even more spy schools.

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy was a bit faster pace than I’d Tell You I’d Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You, the first in the series. The more I read Ally Carter’s books, they more I completely love them. They’re fun, fast reads; the perfect way to spend an afternoon (or morning or evening…or late night). A highly recommended read for middle schoolers and up.

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Movie Update: New Hunger Games Still

Yesterday Lionsgate released a new still from The Hunger Games movie! They are so stringing us along with this one; tossing little tidbits our way every month or so.  My head might actually explode whenever the official trailer is released!

So, here she is…Katniss Everdeen!

Jennifer Lawrence looks great!  She is seriously the only actor I can imagine as Katniss.  I usually have issues with movie casting of my favorite characters, but not with this one.

The real question is who, or what, is Katniss aiming at?!