Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banned Book Showcase: Unwind by Neal Shusterman



Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Publication Date: November 7th, 2007

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives. The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Why I'm Showcasing This Book:

...Mostly because I can't get past the absurdity of this book having been banned. A Montgomery County, KY high school removed this book from classroom discussion and curriculum because, "Some parents have complained about five novels that contain foul language and cover topics - including sex, child abuse, suicide, and drug abuse - deemed unsuited to discussion in coed high school classes. They also contend that the books don't provide the intellectual challenge and rigor that students need in college preparatory classes.". Have any of these parents actually read this book? Lacking intellectual challenge? This is one of the most thought provoking YA books out there!!! As far as the content matters, these are high school kids! Oh my gosh! I don't know if high school kids should discuss *gasp* sex, or suicide, of abuse, or *hushed tones* drug abuse. It might warp their impressionable young minds... Are these parents THAT delusional? It's a good thing for these people that intelligence is not a requirement for having children. I really have no more to say...
Review:

This book is so well done, I barely have words. Not only is it thought provoking on so many levels (medical ethics, abortion, government, religion), it is thrilling and action packed. The characters are great; there is at least one that every type of kid can relate to. The story is plausible; I could very well see war erupting in the future over the abortion and stem-cell debates, and drastic measures being taken to end it. This book is chilling with the ideas presented, and it's hard to choose sides if you really think about each side carefully. I actually think that this is one of the BEST books out there for classroom discussion. If you have followed my blog long, you know that Neal Shusterman is my favorite YA author, and this, by far and away, is his best book. Everyone, teens and adults, need to read it!


My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★+++

Grade Level Recommendation: This book deals with some sensitive issues, but I don't believe it is anything that the average middle school aged kid could not grasp. However, I think that the more mature a kid is, the more thought provoking it will be. Grades 7+ (ages 12 and up).

**Don't forget to enter my giveaway for the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop HERE**

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banned Book Showcase: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date: April 26th, 2005

In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango's family is not like any of the others. This illustrated children's book fictionalizes the true story of two male penguins who became partners and raised a penguin chick in the Central Park Zoo.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Why I'm Showcasing This Book:

Because, SERIOUSLY?  This children's picture was the MOST Banned book in 2008 for it's depiction of homosexual penguins.  Riiiiight.  First of all, this book never says anything about the penguins being gay or homosexual AT ALL.  It says that they enjoyed each other's company more than that of the female penguins, but to a small child, that really isn't any different than "Daddy wanting to watch football with Uncle Eric instead of hanging out with Mommy."- only an issue if it's made an issue by grown-ups.  Second of all, why would it matter if it did?  Personally, I would rather my kids learn that homosexuality is something that while different from what they are used to, is not abnormal.  I would rather they learn this from a picture book at age 3 or 5 than by inadvertently seeing two guys making out in the park.  It's there and it's not going to change.  If we teach children from a young age about tolerance and the fact that families come in all shapes and sizes, whether people think it's right or not, they will not grow up with hateful hearts.  If their book-challenging parents teach them that a book should be banned because it's sheds a positive light on something that really happened, they learn not only that something that is all around them is "wrong" and "unnatural", but they learn that their ideas are the only ones ones that should be heard and if they consider something wrong, it shouldn't be voiced- Constitution be damned!  This book is beautiful, and this far-from-liberal, Christian mother of three is proud to call it a part of our family library!

Review:

I probably got this point across in my reasoning for showcasing this book, but I loved this book.  It is sweet and touching, totally real, and most important, it puts forth a very wonderful message; "God does not make mistakes!".  I believe that God is about love and tolerance (he certainly tolerates enough nonsense from the human race!).  These penguins had love in their hearts for each other and when Tango's egg needed care, they were there to nurture it.  Because of their nurturing, what would have been a discarded egg, became a life.  They were a true family, even if they weren't what some consider a "conventional" one.  This story is great way to introduce small children to the fact that love is what makes a family, and that just because something is different from what you are used to, doesn't mean it's wrong.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Grade Level Recommendation: Obviously, this book is for all ages!


**Don't forget to enter my giveaway for the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop Where You Can Win A Copy of This Book HERE**

Banned Series Author Showcase: Internet Girls (ttyl, ttfn, & l8r, g8r) by Lauren Myracle

I know this is a day late, and I know in my giveaway post I promised a showcase of the Internet Girls series that I'm lovingly giving away (much to my own daughter's- who wants them badly for herself- chagrin), but the more I thought about it it, the more I had to, like with Ellen Hopkins, showcase the author.  Like Ellen, Lauren  is one of the most challenged authors of this decade, and definitely deserves a personal showcase!

My Baby with Her HERO, Lauren Myracle.
I didn't realize how much I loved Lauren Myracle's writing until early this year when I read her most recent YA book, Shine.  A couple of years ago I read her MG novels ahead of my own (8 year old at the time) daughter and thought they were very cute.  She is Emma's favorite author/literary hero (she said it was the "highlight of her life" to meet her in person at this years DBF) and she constantly and anxiously awaits news of new books.  When she got word that Shine was coming out, she asked if she could read it, and I told her that I had to first.  It is still NUMBER ONE on my list of Top Ten YA books of 2011, but I had to tell my 10 year old that she needed to wait a couple of years.  Does that mean I'm in favor of censorship? Abso-freaking-lutely NOT.  I am in favor of responsible parenting, and I know Lauren would agree with my decision to read it myself, make an INFORMED decision in what's right for MY child, and leave it at that.  I still love the book and not only believe it has a very real place in every library in this country, but I think it should be required reading for all students 8th grade and up.  I'm sure many book banners would say otherwise because it delves into very real and very tough issues... Now I will get of of my soapbox in favor of Shine (read my review HERE if you want to know about why I love it with all my heart), and I will get into my reasons for learning more about this amazing author and person.  

<3 <3
I will start with my first personal experience with potential censorship of her books, which happened to be LONG before I read Shine.  I was a co-chair for the book fair at my daughter's former, very-well-reputed, private school here in the Atlanta area.  My job was essentially to hand pick the books offered up to the 4th-6th graders.  I chose about 1,100 titles in the end, and among them were Luv Ya Bunches and Violet In Bloom by none other than Lauren Myracle.  I knew there had been controversy over Luv Ya Bunches the previous year, causing Scholastic to pull it from their shelves at school book fairs, so I had to read it for myself.  Why the controversy?  Because one of the 5th grade protagonists had two mothers.  WHAT? We're focusing on that minuscule part of the book instead of the fact that this book was about a group of girls who were as "culturally" different as could be, yet still able to form strong bonds of friendship and love?  I thought it was a beautiful book written in a very age-appropriate way, so I presented it to my co-chairs; there was some uneasiness about parental reaction.  So... What did I do?  Anticipating the likelihood that some psychotic overly conservative parent might make an issue of the two mom thing, I went to the administration and made a case for the books being on the shelves.  I told them what is "issue" was and why I thought it still belonged in the hands of the kids at our school.  Guess what?   I got it on the shelves, and we couldn't keep it in stock.  I felt like I did a great thing fighting for it, and I think that many girls who bought it learned valuable lessons on friendship in spite of differences.  We need more books that focus on this.  My blood boils to think that a book like this is challenged/banned, while books that glorify "mean girl" behavior are not even given a second thought.


Cue my next experience... My daughter brings ttyl home from a trip to our fabulous (props to Gwinnett County Public Libraries) public library.  Okay- I had heard some buzz about outrage over this book and I was also well aware that Lauren writes MG and YA fiction.  Being the ever-responsible parent that I am, I said, "Emma, I need to read that first. I know she writes for a broad age range, and you are only 9.".  I read it, and loved it.  It was funny, witty, and dead-on in it's portrayal of teen girls- the way they talk, think, bicker with one another, their insecurities in some areas and total lack of fear in others.  Yes, they curse (so did I from about 6th grade forward).  Yes they talk about sex.  Yes there is a frat party and a drunken mistake.  There are loads of stupid things the girls do, but that's what girls at that age DO.  For a would-be banner to call that inappropriate material for a teen to read is laughable!  I did deem it inappropriate for Emma at 9.  Every few months she asks if it's time yet, and every few months I tell her "7th or 8th grade".  I know that as soon as I say, "OK" she will be all over it and I think she'll feel the laughs were well worth the wait.  My point is, I didn't ask my library to remove it from circulation or restrict it, I did what responsible parents should do... I was aware of what she was reading, did my homework, and firmly said "not yet".


Shine was my next experience, which I told you about above.  When the line-up for this year's Decatur Book Festival was announced, Emma and I were both ecstatic that Lauren was to be on the agenda.  What I loved even more was that she was doing two talks, one for Shine and one for her newest MG book, Ten.  Emma and I went to both and Emma got her first real look at censorship.  Lauren talked about her experiences with it and also about the book And Tango Makes Three (which is a favorite of mine that actually caused me to tear up as she spoke about the story).  I had her sign the three Internet Girls books for my giveaway this week.  I wanted to do this giveaway because I believe she is a true champion for free speech and she is a personal hero for not backing down to her critics.  She understands the kids that she writes about, and she shouldn't be chastised for depicting them in an honest light.  She writes about things that aren't necessarily easy topics, but does it in a way that is honest and relateable.  I am HAPPY that my daughter is such a big fan because not only is she a great writer, she is a stellar role model and I am as proud as a parent could be when my child says she wants to be just like her.  In fact, at DBF, I ran into her parents after her first talk and I felt compelled to tell them what an awesome job I thought they had done raising her to be the person that she is.  I only hope that my girls make me as proud as she has made them.

Lauren Signing ttyl, ttfn, and l8r, g8r for one of YOU!  :)
Again, I recognize that not ALL of Lauren's books are appropriate for ALL readers.  Are James Patterson's?  How about John Grisham? Clive Barker? Carl Hiaasen? Ridley Pearson? (In case you missed why I am asking this, all of the above authors write for kids AND adults.)  My point is, the responsibility should NEVER fall on the libraries to censor what kids read; that is the sole responsibly of the parents.

Since I'm not actually going to review the books as promised (although I might later on), I am going to say that I give them all 5 stars.  Lauren gets it!  She gets what teens are all about.  I had almost forgotten, and she has certainly made me remember! Teens will love them, and see themselves in them for sure!  ttfn!

**Don't forget to enter my giveaway for the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop where you could win SIGNED copies of all three Internet Girls books HERE**

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banned Book Showcase: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott


Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2008

Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.
When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.
This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

This book has been both challenged and banned for being "inappropriate".  Disturbing? Yes.  Inappropriate for teen readers? No.  Yes, this book is graphic; everything about it is just wrong, but these types of things happen in real life and just because we don't want to acknowledge them doesn't mean they aren't.  Perhaps a teen who had read this at a point in life where he or she can relate to the protagonist, won't turn a blind eye later on in life if they come across a child who is in a situation that is "not quite right".  Actually, I think the part of this book that I found most disturbing was not the despicable actions the abuser (although they were BEYOND disturbing), but the utter lack of initiative on the parts of the adult bystanders who knew something wrong was happening to this girl, but did NOTHING about it.  This book was horrifying and it was not one I enjoyed reading, but it was well done and it wasn't sugarcoated.  One challenger did so because it had an "unsatisfactory ending".  I don't want to spoil here, but these type of stories don't usually have satisfactory endings.  This story was gritty, raw, and entirely realistic; I honestly don't know how Elizabeth Scott was able to write it so well.  I rate it highly because of how well it is done and how engaging it is, but for the record, I hated this book every minute I was reading it.  My stomach stayed in knots the entire time because all I could think about was, "This could be my daughter.".

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:  On one level I say that this is a high school book.  It is very complex despite it's small page count.  It is graphic and horrifying.  On another level I think to myself that if the protagonist had read this at 11, when she was abducted, she probably would not have been.  I can't really make a call on this one.  Like many of these books on sensitive topics, I feel that the parent should read it first, and decide when the right time for their kid to read it is.  For my kids, I lean toward 8th or 9th grade.


**Don't forget to enter my giveaway for the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop HERE**

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Book Author Showcase: Ellen Hopkins


Why I'm Showcasing This Author:

I was going to review Impulse by Ellen Hopkins as my second showcase book this week, but after giving it more thought, I decided that the author should be the subject of this showcase instead.  Although Impulse HAS been challenged/banned, it isn't her only book to have been a target; ALL of her books have been.  In fact, not only have her books been challenged/banned and criticized, but she, personally, has been.  So...  I will be reviewing Impulse in this post, as it relates to my giveaway (a hardcover copy of Perfect, it's companion), but I wanted to shed light on Ellen and the respect and admiration I have for her for not only writing about the tough stuff, but also for the grace and dignity she has shown in facing the critics of both her work and her person.

As I mentioned, Ellen Hopkins deals with the tough stuff; drug addiction, suicide, sexual abuse, teen prostitution. Real issues that real teens struggle with every day.  She doesn't beat around the bush, she doesn't sugar coat anything, and she raises awareness in adolescents about topics that they will likely face whether their parents want to believe they will or not.  Her first book, Crank, along with it's successors, Glass and Fallout, chronicle the struggle her own daughter faced with meth addiction.  Beautifully written in verse, these books delve deep into the horrors faced by not only the addict, but the countless people touched by association with her.  It is an eye opening account, and one that SHOULD be read by all kids before graduating middle school.  Hopkins's daughter wasn't a clich├ęd inner-city "tough case", exposed to the streets; she was a middle-class teen who, by chance, got involved with something she had no awareness of.  Ellen Hopkins has done parents everywhere a SERVICE by writing these books, and I am utterly appalled that they would want them pulled from shelves.  Yet, this is exactly what has happened in many middle and high school libraries with these books, as well as her others; parents and school officials consider them inappropriate.  I consider them essential!  They will be REQUIRED reading for my children in middle school.

As bad as the book banning is, what I find even more deplorable is the attacks on Ellen Hopkins as a person and writer.  She has suffered serious backlash for tackling issues that should be tackled.  In Oklahoma and Texas, Hopkins was actually banned from speaking to kids about her books and the issues represented, as if she were going to promote these behaviors rather than speak to the dangers of them.  I've read countless articles, reviews, and forum posts from or citing teens who, through Ellen's books, have either come to grips with and turned around their own issues, or not done something they otherwise would have because of the awareness they gained.  Ask any teen who has read her books and they will not tell you that they attempted suicide, became a teen prostitute, or started doing meth because Ellen Hopkins's books made it seem attractive; you will find quite the opposite.  You will find the girl who stopped experimenting with drugs because she read Crank; you will find the boy who sought help instead of killing himself because he read Impulse; you will find the girl who finally found the strength to report the person sexually abusing her because she read Tricks...

To me, Ellen Hopkins is a true literary hero.  She manages to write impressionable books without moralizing them.  She doesn't sound like a preachy parent or teacher, lecturing on the dangers of sex, drugs, and rock & roll, but rather a person in the know who can offer a cautionary tale.  I was no angel in my teen years; far from it actually.  Had meth been around when I was in high school, I would have no doubt been addicted to it.  Fortunately for me, it wasn't.  Sure, I got the lectures on all of the dangers of this, that, and the other from grown-ups, but books were where I got my "real" info- books were what swayed me one way or another; books were the reason I wasn't sexually active in HS, books were the reason I didn't ever drink and drive, if there had been a relevant book about drug abuse (my fundamentalist Christian parents forbade me to read Go Ask Alice and it was not allowed at my HS), I might not have gone down that road....

So- this post is my love letter of sorts to Ellen Hopkins.  I believe she has done more in her "fictional" accounts for the mental health, stability, and overall awareness of her readers than any health class or drug awareness group could ever do.  I thank her for giving me a jumping off point when it comes time to address these sensitive issues with my own children.


Review:


Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: January 23rd, 2007

Aspen Springs Psychiatric Hospital is a place for people who have played the ultimate endgame. The suicide attempt survivors portrayed in this novel tell starkly different stories, but these three embattled teens share a desperate need for a second chance. Ellen Hopkins, the author of Glassand Crank, presents another jarring, ultimately uplifting story about young people crawling back from a precipice.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

There aren't really words to do this book justice.  Like all of Ellen Hopkins's books, this is beautifully written in verse.  I'm not necessarily a fan of books written in this format, but I love all of hers because she does it so well.  She is a pro.  I dare anyone to even try to find fault in her writing.  As far as reviewing this book is concerned, this review will not be a traditional one because I can't find the right words.  Here is my attempt...

Tony, Connor, and Vanessa all end up in a facility after trying, unsuccessfully, to off themselves.  As the book progresses we learn about their reasons, their feelings before, during, and after the fact, and ride along through their ups and downs.  I connected in such a painful way with these kids that I hesitate to even call the "characters".  They were too real to me.  I read this book in May and I am getting knots in my stomach and my eyes are welling up as I remember the depths of my feelings toward these kids.  I think they will be with me always.  Their stories changed me as a person.  I give people the benefit of the doubt more; I try to recognize that with all people, you never really know what kind of hurt is lurking under the surface.  I would never want to, even unknowingly, be the final straw for someone because I lacked compassion or understanding that I didn't realize they needed. 

This book also changed me as a parent.  I became more aware of how everything I say to or about my kids effects them, ESPECIALLY the things I don't realize they are hearing.  I think every parent needs to read this.  I would hope that it would make them cherish their children more; make them understand how fragile kids are, even those who appear tough on the outside.  This book does have some graphic and mature content, but it is essential in knowing these teens.  Parents who want to extract these things without reading this book are doing their children, and even more, themselves, a huge disservice.  Everyone should read this book, at the very least, as a lesson on how to be a part of the human race.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★++ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  I'm going to make a blanket grade level recommendation for all of Ellen Hopkins's books, or rather, not make one at all... All kids should read them when they are APPROACHING emotional readiness.  They need to be shocking and appalling to them.  They are graphic.  They are all about tough subject matter.  Her books will include things like bad language, sex, drug abuse, rape, incest, suicide, alcoholism, homosexuality, prostitution, and exploitation.  They should still be books that parents encourage their children to read.  My kids will read them in middle school.  I only hope that in terms of some of these things, middle school is not too late.


**Don't forget to enter my giveaway for the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop, including a copy of  Perfect, the companion book to Impulse HERE**

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Banned Book Book Showcase: Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen


Publisher: Vintage/Random House
Publication Date: April 19th, 1994

In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele- Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles- as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.

Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Why I'm Showcasing This Book:

This book has been challenged in several high schools over the years since it's publication.  There are some rather graphic descriptions, foul language, and sexual content and parents and school officials at these high schools deemed these things "inappropriate"; they wanted this book removed.  The most obnoxious of these cases was in 2008 when school officials at New Rochelle High School in New Rochelle, NY actually tore the "offensive" pages out of the school's copies of the book, then returning them to the students; all so that the students would not be exposed to this content while discussing the book in their (12th grade) English classes.

Censorship of books pisses me off, but this type of censorship makes my blood boil.  What right do those officials have to desecrate the work of an author?  Do they believe the author would have written those pages had she thought they were unimportant?  Would they break the penis off of the statue "David" by Michelangelo because of the nudity?  Censorship is a bad enough, but actual destruction of the person's work is disgusting and unacceptable.  Schools have a choice whether or not they want to teach a book; if they don't like the content, DON'T TEACH IT! 

Later that year, after much media attention and public outrage over the matter, the school board announced that they disagreed with censorship and replaced the school's copies of this book with new copies that included the pages.

Review:

I thought this book was excellent!  It is the riveting and poignant account of a girl who was institutionalized, at at the age of 18, fro mental illness. She talks about the year and a half she spent at McLean Hospital and the other young girls who shared this time with her.  What is so surprising is the lucidity with which she writes, giving us a very clear picture of her experiences.  This is because she was actually not mentally ill; she was a sullen, misguided teenager (actually shudder to think about how many of today's teens would be institutionalized if the standards for "mental illness" were the same).  It's true.  There are some graphic accounts, but they are nothing that the average high school aged  reader could not handle. 

My Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  Because mental illness is a rather heavy topic, I would recommend this to readers aged 14 and older (9th grade+).  The "objectionable" content is really probably okay for grades 7 or 8+, if it's read in context, but I think a slightly older reader would get more from this book.  I think it is a great option as a classroom book for high school English classes.


**Don't forget to enter my giveaway for the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop HERE**

Friday, September 23, 2011

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop (September 24th-October 1st, 2011)

Welcome to the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop!  


This hop is hosted by two awesome bloggers; Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Jen over at I Read Banned Books.  You should be grateful!  Not only are they raising awareness for a very important annual event, but they are offering up a way for you to enter a slew of great giveaways in the process!

Take some time this week to peruse the blogs of the 250+ bloggers participating; read their views on censorship in schools and libraries and enter their giveaways.  Also take some time to visit the websites and blogs of some of the authors often banned and/or challenged (for lists, visit ALA's page on the matter HERE).  This hop will run the course of Banned Books Week, beginning on September 24th at midnight, and ending at 12:01am on October 2nd

Prizes Include:

#1~ Signed copies of ttyl, ttfn, and l8r, g8r by Lauren Myracle


LM signing your books!
#2~ Hardcover copy of Perfect by Ellen Hopkins


#3~ Hardcover copy of And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

#4~ Paperback copy of Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen


I will be posting a review every day this week featuring a banned or challenged book, and my thoughts on it.  I hope you all will visit each day and share your thoughts as well (especially if you've read the featured book).  I will also being doing a few posts on how you can involve yourself in the fight against censorship.  I will be featuring the following books/series:

Saturday, September 24th: Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (LINK)

Sunday, September 25th: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins (LINK)

Monday, September 26th: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (LINK)

Tuesday, September 27th:  Internet Girls series (ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r) by Lauren Myracle (LINK)

Wednesday, September 28th: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (LINK)

Thursday, September 29th: Unwind by Neal Shusterman (LINK)

Friday, September 30th: Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern (LINK)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Tighter by Adele Griffin


Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 10th, 2011

When 17-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that precedes her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl—and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly? As the secrets of the house wrap tighter and tighter around her, Jamie must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Brilliantly plotted, with startling twists, here is a thrilling page-turner from the award-winning Adele Griffin.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

I'll readily admit that I picked this book up because of it's creepy cover.  I had never heard of Adele Griffin, and I had no idea- I mean, not even an inkling- what this book was about.  It was a skinny book, clocking in at a mere 216 pages, and it had an awesome cover, so I was going to read it.  What did I think?  Well, whoever said that you should never judge a book by it's cover was wrong in this case.  Wow!

This review will be rather short because I can't really say much without giving the most shocking and spine-tingling parts away.  Throughout the entire book, I thought I was was reading a book about one thing, and then I found out toward the end that I was completely off base.  It was GREAT how I was thrown.  It doesn't happen much and I was thrilled!  I will say that I read this in one night.  I stayed up until dawn because I couldn't put it down.  You see, not only did I have a burning need to know what happened next, but this is not the type of book that you stick a bookmark in and get any sleep (especially if you are kind of scared of the dark like I am).  I don't know if this book is for everyone, but if you like a thriller/mystery that will keep you on your toes, you will love this!

My Rating:   ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:   There is some language, teen drinking, and drug use (the protagonist abused prescription meds).  It is rather scary and the twist at the end is pretty heavy.  I would say this is okay for 8th grade and up (ages 13+).

...And We Have A Winner!!!

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway to win a signed copy of the FABULOUS Across the Universe by Beth Revis!!

 I hope you all will join in the fun next week when I do a super-cool Banned Books Week Blog Hop Giveaway.  It will be announced on September 24th, so stay tuned!

And now, for the winner of the fabulous signed copy of Across the Universe...

Annette from Annette's Book Spot, come on down!

Congratulations!

Please take a minute to check out Annette's blog!  She's a HS librarian who loves her job and knows YA!  She has great reviews, and a blog that is not to be missed!

 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WWW (15) and Waiting on Wednesday (September 21st, 2011) Double Feature

W. W. W. Wednesday is hosted by Should Be Reading a great blog that I subscribe to. Here's how it works... Each Wednesday I will answer the following questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you'll read next?

Ugh. Last week was tough for me books-wise.  I had a book that took me FOREVER to get through, and didn't get as much reading as I would have liked to because of it.  Anyway...

What are you currently reading?


Supernaturally by Kiersten White~  I have finally gotten to this long awaited book.  I'm only a few chapters in, but so far I'm loving it.


Ultraviolet by R.J Anderson~ I've been meaning to read this since I've had the NetGalley for ages.  I'm a couple of chapters in and, OMG!  Stay tuned.  I have a feeling that this will be one I have to post my review on immediately upon finishing!


The Name of this Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch~  My (almost) 7 year old son decided that this would be his bedtime read. I decided I don't mind since I have been wanting to read it for awhile.


The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness~  Amazing first book in an amazing series.  Listening to the audio because I've heard the reader really brings it to life.


Charlotte's Web by E.B. White~ Beloved classic.  Reading it to my (almost) 7 year old daughter at bedtime. I think I love it more every time I read it.





What did you recently finish reading?


Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston~ I've read this to my son several times.  It never gets old.  Dr. Seuss meets Roald Dahl in 192 pages of hilarious rhyming verse.  Do not miss this book!


All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin~  Great book!  Audio version was fantastic.  I will be doing of giveaway of the audio, along with my review, starting October 2nd.  Don't miss it!


The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore~ I was disappointed as compared to the first book.  I almost gave up on this.  If I hadn't liked the first book do much, I would have.  It redeemed itself a little in the end, but I'm sorry I bought it instead of getting it from the library...




What do you think you'll read next?


The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp~ I'm co-moderating a challenge and it is the final book on my list to complete it.  I've been putting it off, but I'm running out of time...


Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs~ I had hoped to get to this book this week but stupid The Power of Six took so damn long to read.  Next week, definitely!




Linger by Maggie Stiefvater~ I didn't really like Shiver, but EVERYONE keeps telling me to give the series another chance, so I am going to.  We'll see...




Perfect by Ellen Hopkins~ Long awaited.  It's predecessor, Impulse, is on ALA's Banned/Challenged list, so I'm going to be giving a copy away during Banned Books Week (September 24th-October 1st).  Stay tuned!




"Waiting On" Wednesday is another fun blog event. Hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, this event gives us a chance to talk about the books we anxiously await the release of. Since there is ALWAYS a looooooong list of books I'm waiting on (I actually keep a spreadsheet), I figured this is one that I MUST do.


I've actually learned about a lot of new books through this meme, and although I had planned on doing Insurgent by Veronica Roth now that the cover has been revealed, I have a feeling EVERYONE will doing that one this week, so...


Dead to You by Lisa McMann


Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It's a miracle... at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn't going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he'd be able to put the pieces back together. But there's something that's keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable...
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

I have recently become a fan of Lisa McMann.  I read Cryer's Cross when it came out early this year and thought that it was great.  I decided after reading it that I should give Wake a try.  I read it this past spring, and thought it was very good.  When I got an advance copy of The Unwanteds I read it and decided that it was the best MG book of the year (my 10 year old is reading it for the 3rd time).  When I heard this was coming out and read the synopsis, I was like, "Hell Yeah! This book is going to be GOOD!".  So, I am waiting on Dead to You by Lisa McMann.  What are you waiting on?

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: February 7th, 2012
My Expected Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  

Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer


Publisher: Philomel/Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication Date: July 26th, 2011

When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemies, she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer—one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack—and the man—she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
I want to start with my one and only complaint and get it out of the way... Why the eff did they change the cover of this book?  I adored the early cover that matched Nightshade and I really detest this one.  It looks so grandma's-bad-romance-novel-esque.  Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I can focus on my actual review...

This is a book that earned an honored spot on my Top 10 YA Books of 2011 list because it was awesome!  I put off reading it's predecessor, Nightshade, for far too long, and I kicked myself once I got around to reading it because I loved it so much (read my review HERE).  I was not going to make the same mistake when this book came out!  As soon as I got my hands on it, I devoured it.  It was one of those books that I just couldn't put down until I finished it.

I thought I loved Nightshade, but I felt like this blew it out of the water.  Better story, better writing, better everything!  It pretty much picks up where Nightshade left off, and it turns out that things were never quite what they seemed to be...  I won't give spoilers, but I will say that the world building this time around was spectacular, especially the descriptions of the Searcher compound and their methods of travel.  I also really enjoyed the new characters.  I bonded with them and I felt a solid punch in the gut when things didn't go well for certain ones.  When some of the characters from Nightshade reappeared in the story, I was really thrown for a loop.  Not at all what I expected...  Calla is still kick-ass, and I love her more and more with each book (please don't disappoint me, Bloodrose).  I find Shay as repulsive as ever, although I still can't put my finger on why.  I totally get why people love him, but he rubs me the wrong way;  I'm still solidly on Team Ren.  I have faith in him (plus my imagination says he SO much hotter than Shay).

I cannot wait for the release of Bloodrose on January 24th.  I will devour it as well.  Judging from Andrea Cremer's first two installments, I am sure it will not be a disappointment.  I'm hoping maybe she will have some tidbits for us at YallFest in November.  She is one of the main attractions for me.  Stay tuned!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ++

Grade Level Recommendation: Because I said Nightshade was an 8th grade+ book (ages 14+), I'm going to say the same of this one.  See the Nightshade review for my reasons.