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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books Read in 2012

Hello and Happy Tuesday everyone!

Every week I participate in the Top Ten Tuesday, which is hosted by The Broke and Bookish. A theme is posted each week and book bloggers near and far create lists centered on this theme. This week’s theme is Top Ten Favorite Books Read in 2012.

This is hard. I read so many entertaining, fun, well-written books this past year! Narrowing these all around good reads is extremely difficult and I know I’ll revisit this list in a few months wishing I had included, or not included, a specific title. Knowing this I am trying to do my best in selecting books that stuck with me for some reason.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater1. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Beautiful. This book was simply beautiful. If you haven’t read this fantasy you must! It may in fact, be my favorite read of the year.

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine2. A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

This fairy tale meets murder mystery was fun and I’d like to see more of this genre mashup.

Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby3. Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby

My favorite Florida Sunshine State book of the year.

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier4. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Retold fairy tales get me all the time and this once was lush and well written.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth5. Insurgent by Veronica Roth

A highly anticipated sequel that did not disappoint!

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale6. Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

I prefer this gothic novel-esque sequelover the first book, Austenland! (Not YA or MG)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer7. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Adored this futuristic (and slightly Firefly-ish) spin on the classic tale Cinderella.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hirandani8. The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani

Beautifully well written middle grades fiction dealing with some serious family issues.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner9. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

This is book two in the series but I prefer it to the others in the series because Thomas’ world opens up a lot more.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher10. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This book is hauntingly well done.

Are you like me and have a difficult time choosing?!  Well, here are some Honorable Mentions for 2012:

a. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

b. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (Yes I finally read this!)

c. Saint Louis Armstrong Beach by Brenda Woods

What were some of your favorite reads of 2012? Are any of your selected titles on my list?

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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: Books That Made Me Ponder the Deeper Things in Life

Welly howdy!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by the lovelies over at The Broke and Bookish.  Every week they post a list theme for book bloggers to participate in.

This week’s theme is Books That Made You Think. So, I have a list of books that made me ponder the deeper things in life. Now, I will say that I tend to prefer books on the lighter sides because I don’t like books that make me cry!  I’m such a crier in normal life that when I read books I like happyish endings.  But, I have read some books that fit this category.  So, here they are! (Sorry no pictures this week my internet at home is down so I’m posting at work and the connection is slllooow…) 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This book is centered around bullying and teenage suicide. Working with teens, especially those labeled ”at-risk” made this book so meaningful to me. It is an intense read, but is also worth the emotional rollercoaster ride.  If you haven’t read it, you should.

2. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Park weaves together two stories of African youth affected by difficult times.  One is the story of a boy trying to survive in the face of civil war in his homeland, while the other tells of a young girl who has the responsibility of providing water for her family every day. Civil war? Poverty? The reality of life in a third world country? This one definitely made me think.

3. The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Such an amazing true story of a German teen in the 1930s/1940s who grows to reject Hitler’s teachings and eventually takes a stand against them.  It was interesting to get the perspective of one who had originally been a member of the Hitler Youth because you rarely get to see that point of view.

4. May B by Caroline Starr Rose

A novel in verse about a girl living on the prairie struggling to survive a harsh winter.  The book also deals with dyslexia and made me, as an educator, wonder how students with disabilities fared in school during past eras. It must have been isolating, and confusing to not understand why everyone else was “getting it” while you were having trouble.

5.In Too Deep by Amanda Grace

 about a girl who does nothing to counteract the false rumors that a boy from school raped her, is so incredibly thought-provoking.  It made me think of lies, even those of omission, and the effects and consequences they can have in our lives.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Herandani6. The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani

This debut middle grades novel deals mainly with the idea of identity. The main character, Sonia,  is of both Jewish-American and Indian heritage and is struggling to figure out where she fits in her new school and in life altogether.  Sonia is also dealing with an out of work father who is struggling with depression and goes missing. I’d never read a middle grades novel displaying a parent with depression before. 

7. The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Peterson

More civil war and ethnic killing…The Day of the Pelican tells the story of a young girl and her Muslim Albanian family trying to survive in the middle of the Kosovo War.  Talk about a perspective adjustment for those of us who have never experienced war on our own soil.

8. Across the Universe by Beth Revis

I loved this YA sci-fi story filled with themes of genetics and ethics. It had the “whoa thats cool!” factor but also made you realize that meddling in genetics has major ethical consequences.

9. Matched by Ally Condie

The dystopian world Condie creates has immense restrictions on creativity. The governmentMatched by Ally Condie has deleted all but a hundred songs, a hundred paintings, a hundred books etc… from the world’s memory.  People are not allowed to create new songs or books or paintings either.  With these type of restrictions the ability to create anything (words for example) gives power.  As the wife of a musician I can’t even imagine a world without creativity!

10. A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this one before (it’s not YA or MG though) but this book blew my mind when I read it in my senior AP Lit class eleven years ago! I had never read anything like it in my life.  Chalk full of a dystopian society run by religion that puts restrictions on everything including sex and child-bearing.  Talk about making me think!

So there you have it- books that really made me think! What are some books that made you ponder the deeper things in life?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Book Talking this Month at School

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A book talk is simply a way to get someone (mainly students) interested in reading a particular book. The goal is to create excitement for the book by telling the listener just enough about the book to whet their reading appetite! Teachers and librarians give book talks all the time – they’re a major tool of the trade! The main way I do book talks is over the school’s morning announcements, and I usually do one or two a week.

Today’s Top Ten list is centered on ten books I’m book talking this month at school. Since my book talks are a bit too long to add to this post, a brief summary of each book is included under each title.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George1. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie’s favorite days. That’s because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it’s up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle’s never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick2. Wonder Struck by Brian Selznick

Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother’s room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Ripple by Mandy Hubbard3. Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. Each day she goes to school like a normal teenager, and each night she must swim, or the pain will be unbearable. She is a siren – a deadly mermaid destined to lure men to their watery deaths. After a terrible tragedy, Lexi shut herself off from the world, vowing to protect the ones she loves. But she soon finds herself caught between a new boy at school who may have the power to melt her icy exterior, and a handsome water spirit who says he can break Lexi’s curse if she gives up everything else. Lexi is faced with the hardest decision she’s ever had to make: the life she’s always longed for – or the love she can’t live without?

Heist Society by Ally Carter4. Heist Society by Ally Carter

For as long as she can remember, Katarina has been a part of the family business—thieving. When Kat tries to leave “the life” for a normal life, her old friend Hale conspires to bring her back into the fold. Why? A mobster’s art collection has been stolen, and Kat’s father is the only suspect. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help. The only solution is to find the paintings and steal them back. Kat’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history—and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

The Underdogs by Mike Lupica5. The Underdogs by Mike Lupica

Will Tyler can fly on a football field. He may not be the biggest running back around, but no one can touch him when it comes to hitting the hole and finding the end zone. And no one can match his love of the game. When Will has a football in hand, he may as well be flying for real because life can’t touch him – his dad isn’t so defeated, his town isn’t so poor, and everyone has something to cheer for. All of which does him no good if the football season is canceled. With no funding for things like uniforms and a cared-for playing field, with seemingly every other family moving to find jobs, there simply isn’t enough money or players for a season. Unless one kid can rally an entire town and give everyone a reason to believe . . .

The Maze Runner by James Dashner6. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko7. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Moose Flannagan moves with his family to Alcatraz so his dad can work as a prison guard and his sister, Natalie, can attend a special school. But Natalie has autism, and when she’s denied admittance to the school, the stark setting of Alcatraz begins to unravel the tenuous coping mechanisms Moose’s family has used for dealing with her disorder. When Moose meets Piper, the cute daughter of the Warden, he knows right off she’s trouble. But she’s also strangely irresistible. All Moose wants to do is protect Natalie, live up to his parents’ expectations, and stay out of trouble. But on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell8. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a truly extraordinary Viking hero known throughout Vikingdom as “the Dragon Whisperer” … but it wasn’t always so. Travel back to the days when the mighty warrior was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. Can Hiccup capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb?

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hirandani9. The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hirandani

After her father loses his job, Sonia Nadhamuni, half Indian and half Jewish American, finds herself yanked out of private school and thrown into the unfamiliar world of public education. For the first time, Sonia’s mixed heritage makes her classmates ask questions—questions Sonia doesn’t always know how to answer—as she navigates between a group of popular girls who want her to try out for the cheerleading squad and other students who aren’t part of the “in” crowd. At the same time that Sonia is trying to make new friends, she’s dealing with what it means to have an out-of-work parent—it’s hard for her family to adjust to their changed circumstances.

No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman10. No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman

Wallace gives a thumbs-down to a book much to the chagrin of his English teacher, who sentences him to help with a stage version of the book. Wallace is unaware that his improvement suggestions will wind up changing the entire production and his life as well.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish!

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Already On My To Buy List: The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani

Hello!  I read this book as part of the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera HiranandaniAfter her father loses his job, Sonia Nadhamuni, half Indian and half Jewish American, finds herself yanked out of private school and thrown into the unfamiliar world of public education. For the first time, Sonia’s mixed heritage makes her classmates ask questions—questions Sonia doesn’t always know how to answer—as she navigates between a group of popular girls who want her to try out for the cheerleading squad and other students who aren’t part of the “in” crowd.

At the same time that Sonia is trying to make new friends, she’s dealing with what it means to have an out-of-work parent—it’s hard for her family to adjust to their changed circumstances. And then, one day, Sonia’s father goes missing. Now Sonia wonders if she ever really knew him. As she begins to look for answers, she must decide what really matters and who her true friends are—and whether her two halves, no matter how different, can make her a whole.

I have to say that I was captivated with this story from the start; I started it and didn’t want to put it down (although work, and real life actually did force me to!).

The Whole Story of Half a Girl is a coming of age story centered around a girl in middle school at a point in her life when everything (and I mean everything!) gets turned upside down. Sonia’s father looses his job, she has to go to a different school, her mother has to work more, her father is struggling with depression, she is trying to make new friends, and all while kids at school are making fun of her.

Hiranandani writes a story so real that it hurts at times.  The more I read, the more my mind was flooded with my own memories from this age.  Kids are not just dealing with one problem, but  are often blindsided by a multitude all at once, making the transition from child to teenager that much more challenging.  I appreciate the way this book illustrates the complexity of family issues, relationship struggles and the difficulty that comes with discovering one’s own (ethnic/religious) identity. There was potential for Sonia’s story to be easily clichéd or stereotyped, but Hiranandani manages to keep the story balanced and realistic while at the same time incredibly touching. And I think that Hiranandani does a wonderful job of writing about such deep issues, while also maintaining the middle grade appropriateness.

As a main character Sonia is both likable and easy to connect with.  In the midst of all the changes, Sonia is really trying to make sense of everything the best she can.  I especially like how realistically flawed Hiranandani writes Sonia, as exemplified in how she handles her new friendships at her new school.  Through much of the book, Sonia puts real friendship on the back-burner, instead turning her attention to the more superficial and in turn hurts some people.  Although its a mistake I understand why Sonia would do this; her life is so much upheaval she just focuses on whats easy for a while; going with the flow.  Eventually, however she realizes that going with the flow isn’t always the healthiest of practices, especially when it comes to who you spend your time with. Who, when faced with such difficult times, wouldn’t make the easy choice for a little while?

Overall, I was impressed with how moving Sonia’s story was and highly recommend it to any reader preteen and up.   The Whole Story of Half a Girl is already on my Too Buy list for my Media Center!

Author: Veera Hiranandani

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Format: Advanced Reader Copy (e-book)

Pages: 224

Series: Stand alone debut

YA/MG: Middle Grades

Buy the Book: The Whole Story of Half a Girl

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Currently Reading

Oh so many books! Its like I just keep adding and adding to my To Read stack building it higher and higher every day.  I really think that I should get a few hours in my work day allotted specifically reading.  Seriously, then the kids would actually see my reading not just hear me telling them about the books I read.  But alas, I have to get creative with my personal time so that I don’t neglect my relationships with real people, despite the fact that sometimes book relationships are just easier.

In fact, no one ever said it better than librarian lover Ryan Gosling:

Okay, so in between having a normal healthy life (and not obsessing with my books…I mean I’d never do that!)  I have a few items on my currently reading list:

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera HiranandaniThe Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani (ebook, ARC)  Very good so far, even though I’m only four chapters in.  Part of the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge.

Sapphique by Catherine FisherSapphique by Catherine Fisher  (audiobook) I’m just as entranced as I was with the first book, Incarceron.

Halflings by Heather BurchHalflings by Heather Burch (ebook ARC)  Liking this supernatural fiction read more and more. Also, part of the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (library bound hardcover) I have been waiting to read this one for a while and so far it’s not disappointing!

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Bookish Goals for 2012

It’s always good to have goals, right?

I tend to stay away from making “resolutions” in the new year because I think its silly to resolve to be better or give something up just because its January.  I’d rather make a goal to try to reach.  So I am making some bookish/blogging goals for 2012.

Now, as an educator I know a goal has to be specific, measurable, and realistic.  So, lets see if my goals fit the description.

2012 Debute Author ChallengeGoal #1: Participate in and complete the 2012 Debut Author Challenge

Kristi at The Story Siren hosts this challenge and it sounds like a good way to discover new authors and meet some new book bloggers. All I have to do is read and review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels between the dates of January 1, 2012 – January 31, 2013.  Sounds good!  NetGalley is helping me out with the Advanced Reader Copies  (thank you NetGalley!) so I can get my hands on some of these titles.  Here are the books I have e-book copies of and plan on using in the 2012 DAC:

  • Halflings by Heather Burch
  • Don’t You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  • The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani
  • May B. by Caroline Rose
  • Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould
  • After the Snow by S.D. Crockett
  • The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark

So, thats already 8 titles I plan on counting towards my goal. Specific? Yes.  Measurable? Yes. Realistic?  I think so.  That’s 1 book per month or more if I’d like. I can spread them out however I like. Don’t forget I have two and a half months of summer break to look forward to!

Goal #2: Read 90 Books

This sounds pretty big for some people.  However, I read 69 books in 2011 so I think that 90 is a pretty good goal.  I think I could have read that much in 2011 if I had started the year with the same momentum I have now.  At the start of 2011 I was just trying out this YA/MG book blogging thing and wasn’t as purposeful about it.   So, specific? Yes. Measurable? Yes.  I keep track of all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads profile. Realistic?  Possibly.  Can I increase the number of books I read by 21?  Hopefully!!
Goal #3: Host 1 Giveaway

I’ve had the chance this past year to win a few giveaways hosted on other blogs.  I’d like to be able to do something similar and give away books as prizes.  I would have loved to do one to commemorate the one year anniversary of BookTasty, but I don’t think I can get it all set up in three days.  So, I’ll wait until another opportune time this year.  I will need some help with this though, so any other book bloggers out there who have hosted a giveaway before please feel free to send advice!  Specific? Sure!  Measurable? Yes.  Realistic? I think it is.  Remember I have until December 31, 2012 to achieve this goal!

So, there you go!  My goals for the new year!  Will I keep you posted?  Oh most definitely!

It seems that everyone else is making goals for 2012, what are some of your bookish or blogging goals for 2012?