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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books with Male Narrators

Top Ten TuesdayHello friends!

This week, my theme for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and Bookish) is Favorite Books with Male Narrators. It’s just a thing with me, I’m usually not drawn to books with male narrators, but I make myself read one once in a while and I do usually end up enjoying them. I just have a difficult time relating to male narrators, but all the titles on the list below are those with male narrators who I feel are simply compelling characters. They defy my assumptions about male narrators!

The Maze Runner by James DashnerThe Maze Runner series by James Dashner

This story is just fabulously creepy and Thomas has so much perseverance.

The False Prince by Jennifer A NielsenThe Ascendance trilogy by Jennifer A Nielsen

Sage/Jaron is sarcastic and snarky and I love him.

Airborn by Kenneth OppelAirborn by Kenneth Oppel

Matt Cruise is just the kind of boy you’d want to be friends with.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina MarchettaFinnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Finnikin is stubborn beyond all measure, but he’s also brave!

Okay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtOkay for Now by Gary Schmidt

Doug Swieteck is so lovable and loyal!

Beautiful Creatures by Kami GarciaBeautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia

Ethan is a breath of fresh air in a world dominated by female narrators!

How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal AllenHow Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen

Lamar is hilarious and remind me of some of my past students!

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack GantosDead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Jack is so funny!

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay is sweet and in so much pain.

Eighth Grade Bites by Heather BrewerThe Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer

Vlad is the coolest teen vampire ever!

And there you have it! Each of these books come to you with the BookTasty stamp of approval so you should definitely check them out if you haven’t already!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite New-To-Me Authors In 2012

Welcome back!

Every week I participate in the Broke and Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday event. Each Tuesday the lovely people at Broke and Bookish post a theme to create a list by. This week’s theme is theme is My Favorite New-To-Me Authors of 2012.

Well, 2012 is almost over! Can you believe it?! This year has gone by so quickly! I read a lot of books this year and a lot of them were by authors I hadn’t read before. Some I loved and some I wasn’t a huge fan of. Below you’ll find a list of the ten new-to-me authors that I whose work I really loved!

Kami Kinard (The Boy Project)

James Dashner (The Maze Runner series)

Veera Hiranandani (The Whole Story of Half a Girl)

Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Jack Gantos(Dead End in Norvelt)

Juliet Marillier (Wildwood Dancing)

Ginny Rorby (Lost in the River of Grass)

Tera Lynn Childs (Forgive My Fins)

Linda Sue Park (A Long Walk to Water)

Maureen Johnson (13 Little Blue Envelopes)

P.W. Catanese (Happenstance Found)

I hope that if you haven’t yet read any of these authors you try to soon because they’re all talented storytellers and their books are so worthwhile! Were there any new-to-you authors that you discovered in 2012?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Fictional Settings or Worlds

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovelies over at The Broke and Bookish.  Each week the post a topic and everyone creates their own top list based on that specific topic.

This week’s topic is officially titled “Most Vivid Words/Settings” but I’m just making it my favorite fictional worlds or settings.  There are so many awesome book settings out there, but obviously there are some I love more than others.  Today we’ll be taking a look at some of my favorite settings although there are so many others I love out there. Here we go!

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen1. Bath circa Regency England (1812-1820ish) 

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

So I’m already starting my list of favorite fictional settings off with a setting that is NOT fictional.  Yes, I  am aware that Bath is a real place.  But I was not lucky enough to have experienced Bath during its Regency hay-day so it’s pretty much fictional to me. I know Austen wasn’t a fan of Bath, but I love seeing it through Catherine Morland’s eyes in Northanger Abbey.  So much bustle, glamor, fun, and excitement!  I would have loved to have been there with Catherine so I could experience the Pump Room, and all dance in the assembly rooms.  Le sigh…

Austenland by Shannon Hale2. Austenland  

Austenland and Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Strange how numbers 1 and 2 are connected….No not strange at all! I love Jane Austen.  I love her novels (even the uncompleted Sandition), her heroines, her heros (hubba hubba) and yes even her “villains” and rakes!  So when I read Shannon Hale’s Austenland in which she created a story set in a Jane Austen resort (where its Regency England all day, every day!) of course I automatically fell in love.  Wealthy resort creators, PLEASE PLEASE create a real live Austenland for me?! And please make it affordable for someone on a teacher’s salary.  Thank you.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen3. Colby

Sarah Dessen’s Along for the Ride

I just love the idea of Colby.  Colby is this cute little fictional beach town in Along for the Ride.  It has a boardwalk with fun boutiques and it seems like everyone knows each other.  If Colby (not a place like Colby but actually Colby as described in the book) were real, I’d visit every summer.  We’d rent a house on the beach and stay for, like, the entire month of July.  Yes. I like Colby.

The Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling4. Hogwarts

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Do I really even have to say explain why I like Hogwarts?  It’s Hogwarts! Moving staircases, sorting hats, paintings that talk and hidden passageways. Oh and magic.  Yes! I have always been intrigued by the idea of boarding schools, and Hogwarts has that coolness factor plus magic! How cool can you get? Rowling’s attention to detail when creating Hogwarts (and the other places in her books) is just out of control amazing.  I want to get sorted and actually take up residence in one of the houses. Oh and take classes with Hermione.

I'd Tell You I Love You but then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter5. The Gallagher Girl Academy

The Gallagher Girls series Ally Carter

The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a boarding school…FOR SPIES! I know I’ve said it on this blog before but I wish The Gallagher Academy was real and it would accept 29-year-old students. The mansion has all these hidden sublevels underneath it and even has a secret entrance through a lake.  Yea.  A lake. It even has security measures that turn it from a spy school into a regular girls boarding school.  It’s pretty awesome.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale6. Bayern

The Books of Bayern series by Shannon Hale

Bayern is like magical fairy tale land.  Girls have special powers that let them talk to animals and control the wind, while others control fire.  You know, just your average day in Bayern.  No biggie.  There are castles, princes, wars and magic.  I love fairy tales and would love to live in one.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher7. Incarceron 

Incarceron and Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Incarceron is a prison.  It’s also alive.  It’s also in a different plane of space and time…kind of…  Incarceron actually scares the living you-know-what out of me.  It is ruthless and dirty and just plain creepy.  But Fisher was so creative in imagining it that there is no other setting like it.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go to Incarceron. I’m just find with reading about it.  It’s cool, but horribly scary too.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos8. Norvelt 

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Norvelt is a small mid-western town and it’s pretty much full of crazies! Seriously, the main character, Jack, is surrounded by kooky seniors, a dad who mows down his wife’s corn field and a weird guy who rides a tricycle.  Norvelt is just so fun in its quirkiness.

The Parting by Beverly Lewis9. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Every book by Beverly Lewis 

Confession time. I really love Christian Amish Fiction.  I KNOW! I KNOW!  But I love it so much! I’m so intrigued by the Amish and their way of life.  I’d love to go see Amish country, and hope to one day.  It seems so idyllic with the rolling hills, creeks, and farms.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray10. The Spence Academy

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray

Another boarding school!  This one is set in Victorian England and has some strange supernatural connections. I’ve always been interested in Victorian England, and I would have loved to be a student at Spence.  Although I could have done without the creepy happenings!

A Rather Lovely Inheritance by CA Belmond11. Europe

The Rather series by C.A. Belmond

In these books you get to see Europe and the Mediterranean from snazzy sports cars and yachts,  experience the lovely perfume fields of France, and lounge in the glamorous Monte Carlo. Ohh to be an heiress with a cute English love interest!

So, those are my ten favorite fictional settings.  What are some of yours?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Fiction Titles I’ve Read and Enjoyed

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish to showcase book and help other book bloggers get to know each other better.  This week’s theme was supposed to be “Books I’d Play Hookie With” but I just couldn’t get into it, so I went a different route.

Did you know I was a history major in college?  Yes, its true!  I love learning about different time periods and thinking about what life must have been like during those particular times. I also really enjoy historical fiction, but I tend to read less of it than any other genre because it doesn’t circulate at my school.  I try to focus on reading those things that my students will check out, so I can be informed on their tastes.   Because of this I haven’t been able to read a lot of Young Adult or Middle Grades historical fiction, but I decided that I’d let you know which ones I have read and have enjoyed.  So, this week’s Top Ten is focused on ten Historical Fiction titles I’ve read and enjoyed (in no particular order).

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell BartolettiThe Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti 

Based on the true story of teenager Helmut Hubner, who dares to tell the truth about Hitler in a World War II Germany.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy BlundellWhat I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

A coming of age story of age story involving a girl and the scandal that surrounds her family’s vacation to Florida in a Post World War II United States.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack GantosDead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (MG)

Part fiction and part memoir, Jack Gantos tells the story of one  strange, mysterious and humorous summer in his childhood.

Woods Runner by Gary PaulsenWoods Runner by Gary Paulsen (MG)

On the cusp of the American Revolution young Sam must rescue his parents when they are kidnapped by Red Coats.

Cross My Heart by Sasha GouldCross My Heart by Sasha Gould (YA)

A girl navigates life in Venetian society while trying to discover the secrets surrounding her sister’s mysterious death.

May B by Carolyn Starr RoseMay B.: A Novel by Carolyn Starr Rose (MG)

A girl struggling with dyslexia on the prairie is sent away to help a newlywed couple only to be abandoned in the middle of an extremely harsh winter.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'DellIsland of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (MG)

Karana is the Indian girl who lives alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins where she struggles to survive and undergoes personal discovery.

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and TR SimonZora and Me by Victoria Bond and TR Simon (MG)

A fictionalized tale of the childhood of writer Zora Neale Hurston in which she and her friends uncover a mystery in their hometown of Eatonville, Florida.

Billy Creekmore by Tracey PorterBilly Creekmore by Tracey Porter (MG)

An orphan boy  travels from the coal mines of West Virginia in the early 1900s to the world of a traveling circus, in search of his past, his future, and his own true identity.

The Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner DubleThe Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner Duble (MG)

The year is 1692 and witches have been found in Salem, Massachusetts.  Panic begins to spread to Abigail Faulkner’s town of Andover causing life  to quickly and  drastically change for Abigail and her family.

What do you think of the list?  I’m sure there are tons of historical fiction titles I haven’t read yet.  Do you have any recommendations for my future reading?

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Clearly an Award Winner: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Well, it looks like it’s time for a book review and this one is a about a good one.  As a part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge, I recently finished Dead End in Norvelt, a middle grades novel by Jack Gantos which is the 2012 winner of the Newberry Medal for the best contribution to children’s literature and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction.  Congrats Mr. Gantos!!

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack GantosMelding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.

This is my first time reading anything by Jack Gantos, although he has written tons of other things that I was unaware were his books; like the Joey Pigza series.  I received this audiobook from MacMillan Audio (Thank You!!)  and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to author Jack Gantos narrate his fictionalized memoirs.

The picture Gantos paints of Norvelt , a small farming town established by Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1930s, is fabulously sketched.   It seems that small towns always have their fair share of quirky town “characters”, but sometimes the characters’ quirkiness doesn’t always come across the right way.  Well, Gantos doesn’t fail to flesh-out these characters in a way that makes the reader believe that they’re real people.  Real people who you know and love by the end of the story.  My favorite character is the charmingly stubborn and bossy Miss Volker, who hires Jack to help her write obituaries for the local newspaper when her arthritis is too bad.  Miss Volker is charming and crazy  and the warm wax scene where we meet her is absolutely hilarious and I was cracking up in my car while driving home from work.  I love how just as Miss Volker needs Jack to help her with daily tasks, Jack needs her to help him grow up and blossom a bit.

Also, I love the young boy, Jack.  He is your average twelve-year-old boy, wanting to be seen as grown up but still making irresponsible choices and just being a kid.  Jack’s character actually reminds me a lot of Ralphie from the film, A Christmas Story (you know the one with the leg lamp!).  In  A Christmas Story Ralphie is pretty much the king of daydreaming -  it’s very similar to the bookish Jack who has both a lot of smarts and a wildly overactive imagination.

All of the supporting characters are so interesting, humorous and well written.  I feel like I grew up in Norvelt right along the young Jack Gantos and his friends.  The tomboyish Bunny, Jack’s friend and daughter of a funeral home director, is such a good complement to Jack’s more hesitant ways.  And the way in which Jack is often caught between his mother, a life time Norvelter, and father, World War II vet, (and their very different philosophies on life) is both sad and sweet at the same time.

Gantos also weaves small snippets of history through Jack’s reading and love of all things historical or Ms. Volker’s obituaries.  He uses these snippets to help young Jack realize the importance of history. How it’s not just to read it and know it but to use one’s knowledge of the past to prevent one from making the same mistakes again. This history provides and important backdrop to Jack’s journey of maturity.

Once you read Dead End in Norvelt you understand why it is an award winner.  Gantos is clearly an incredibly talent writer specializing in melding the odd with the humorous with regular daily life.  I recommend Dead End in Norvelt to all readers middle grades and up.  Be prepared to laugh!

Author: Jack Gantos

Publisher: Macmillan Young Listeners; Unabridged edition (September 13, 2011)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 7 hrs and 16 mins

Narrator(s): Jack Gantos

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: Dead End in Norvelt

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Currently Reading

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Hola! Its been a while since I posted one of these, so I figured it was time
to inform the world of my current reads!

So, print wise I’m reading Miracle Wimp, by Erik P. Kraft. So far it’s pretty stinking hilarious! Each chapter is a little vignette told by funny and sarcastic high schooler Tom Mayo. There is a drawing to accompany each vignette and I’ve been laughing out loud constantly while
reading it! Think a high school Wimpy Kid book. Fun stuff!

I am also listening to two audiobooks right now. The first one is The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, which is the sequel to The Maze Runner. It’s so much creepier and dangerous than
than the first book, which is fine because my husband and I are listening to it together!

The second audiobook I have going right now is award winning Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, which is also cracking me up! I listen while driving to and from work so people probably can see me laughing with no one in the car! Hehe

So there you have it, my current reads! Please feel free to share what books you’re currently enjoying; I’m always interested in what everyone else is reading!

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Book Trailer of the Week: Dead End in Norvelt

I honestly, hadn’t heard of Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos until it won the 2012 Newbery Medal for the Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantosyear’s best contribution to children’s literature and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction.  So, obviously it has to be good!  I currently have it on order for my Media Center, so when it comes in I’ll try to snatch it up before the kids can (I love being a Media Specialist…I get the books right away!).