Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton


Title: Seeker
Author: Arwen Elys Dayton
Genre: Sci Fi/ Fantasy
Series: Seekers Book 1
Source: Digital ARC Courtesy of NetGalley

Book Summary: Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’.  Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her.

Characters: Quin Kincaid, Shinobu, John, and Maud

What I Loved: I loved a lot in this book.  First I liked the set up of the book.  The chapters are set up so that each character is giving us their part of the story from their point of view and I like that.  It is clearly labeled at the beginning of each chapter who is speaking and more than that, it really works for this story.  I think the story would be confusing or take a lot more explaining (making it extremely tedious).  In this way the story can unfold naturally and often we see an event from multiple points of view which really helps in clarifying some things in the story that are initially confusing.  I also really liked the story.  It was different from what I have been reading and lately and was a welcome change. In its basic sense it is a story about following your dreams these three (Quin, Shinobu and John) are being trained to become a Seeker, something elite are revered only to find that they have been deceived. Now that they know the truth, what will they do and how will they come to terms with their choices.  Which leads to my next love of the story,the action! There was a ton and not all of it was expected or predictable but it was intense and (for lack of better term), hardcore!   There is also the love story part which I am not normally a fan of but for a few reasons ( that I will not elaborate on as to not give spoilers), it totally works (and I know who I am rooting for) and lets be honest, they are teenagers, if there wasn’t a little romance going on it wouldn’t be believable. There are family issues, trust issues, questions of morality and love, which makes it relatable to a lot of different students and I can think of a ton who are going to love this!  

What I could have done without:.  There isn’t much I didn’t like.   The most difficult thing for me is going to be talking about this book with my students without giving too much away!

Final Grade: A

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Author Skype with Ellen Hopkins

At the beginning of the year, I was fortunate to receive an email from a book publicist working for Ellen Hopkins.  She was looking for librarians who hosted book clubs who would be interested in hosting a Skype session with Ellen.  The only requirement, or fee, would be that the book club would have to show proof that they had purchased 10 copies of Ellen's newest book, Rumble. The copies were purchased, a copy of the receipt was emailed, and the date was set for January 8th, after school.

Ten copies of a book seems like a lot for a library to purchase, but I had no qualms about buying that many copies of any Ellen Hopkins book.  Her books fly off of my high school library shelves.  Rumble was extremely well-received by the students, they discussed the book frequently and I couldn't wait to see what questions they came up with for Ellen.

I held the event after school on a Thursday from 3 to 5.  We were to Skype with Ms. Hopkins from 3-3:30, then eat pizza (food is always essential for book club!) and discuss our conversation with the author and Rumble.  

The students were star-struck. Ellen was captivating.  I had suggested questions written out on cards in case any of the students wanted to talk to the author but couldn't come up with something to ask her, but the students never needed any suggestions.  They came up with a variety of questions on their own--everything from specific things from her books, to how she writes, to questions about her personal life.  I had one young lady who had read every one of Ellen's books--she was so excited that she was in tears!

Things that made this successful: 
Planning: I had the Skype account set up ahead of time, the projector ready, and I tested everything before the event.
Food: Always an important element.
The appeal of the author: Ellen Hopkins is one author who is consistently popular year after year!

Things I would do differently next time:
I had each student approach my laptop so as they came up to ask questions.  This created a lull between questions.  Next time, I would like to set up a camera, elevated, so that the author could see the entire group of students.

This was one of my favorite events in the entire history of my career.  The joy and excitement of these kids over the chance to talk to one of their favorite authors... that's the kind of thing that keeps me loving my job!

          Post by Nicky

Book Review: PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles

Title: Perfect Chemistry
Author: Simone Elkeles
Genre: Romance
Series: Perfect Chemistry

Book Summary: (via Goodreads) When Brittany Ellis walks into Chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.

Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more. In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.
Characters: Alex Fuentes, Brittany Ellis are the two main characters and make up the romance element to this book. There are a lot of other “extras.”
Plot: Alex is the bad boy-- a Mexican gang member from the poor side of town.  Brittany is her high school’s golden girl--popular, smart, from a wealthy family, and head of the cheer team. When Alex accepts a bet to get Brittany to sleep with him, and then the two are assigned to be chemistry partners, the obvious happens--they each realize there is more to the other than they first realized.  They fall intensely, passionately in love. Brittany finds out about the bet. Alex cannot leave his gang like Brittany demands. Can this relationship survive? (Do you sense my sarcasm here?)     
What I Loved: Admittedly, very little.  I can tell you, however that there are 2 things I liked about this novel:

  1. I like novels told in first-person from the point-of-view of varying characters. Elkeles writes back and forth between Brittany and Alex. (And, ok, I will admit it--Alex does seem pretty hot, which leads me to…)
  2. The fact that my high school kids (my high school girls) love, love, LOVE this book. Any book that gets my students this crazy and talkative is okay in my book. This one is also an easy sell with reluctant readers.
What I could have done withoutThe reason I read this book was that several girls in my monthly book club asked for a romance novel selection for February. I knew I was in trouble because I’m not a big fan of romance.  Still, I thought I’d give it a shot. Some of the dialog made me cringe.  The whole star-crossed lovers thing was so West Side Story, Romeo and Juliet, Outsiders, etc. etc., and it has been done over and over and over again.  I know Elkeles wanted to make these characters more complex and believable by making Alex close to his family and by giving Brittany a disabled sister, but both those issues seemed a little forced. Finally… the epilogue.  I am not a fan of epilogues, and this is one example of why they make me crazy.  Everything ties up so neatly, and (without giving too much away) a cure for Alzheimer’s?? REALLY??

Final Grade: C

Book review by Nicky

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Club Discussion Questions The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection by Kiera Cass

1.  What did you think of the selection contest?  Did anything strike you as odd or interesting?
2.  What were your first impressions of America (before the selection)?  How about during the contest?
3.  What did you think of her "friends only" approach to the contest?
4.  During the selection there is a constant threat of attack, would you have wanted to be at the castle under those conditions? why or why not?  How does these attacks add/ take away from the contest?
5. What do you think of Maxon?
6.  What do you think of the "friendship of Maxon and America?  How does this affect their relationship?
7.  Towards the end of the book what is your thoughts about Aspen?
8. Team Aspen or Team Maxon?????

7th Grade book club December

Book Clubs

I host two book clubs one for 7th graders and one for 8th graders.  I do these separate because we meet over lunch since it is the one time where everyone is together. In our school we have an activity period at the end of the day for clubs and such but the kids are so involved that it is a nightmare to find a day where everyone can attend.  So I provide the lunch and the kids come and eat and discuss.  First I want to say that I LOVE my book club kids.  I truly love all my students but these are the kids who really get excited about what they are reading and since I do as well...... well you can understand our connection!

7th grade book club
This year I didn't start the book clubs until a little later (which gives me time to get to know my 7th graders).  Our first book we read was (drum roll please......) The Selection.  Now I am not a fan of reality TV so the first time someone compared it to the Bachelor, I was less than excited to read it.  I must say though, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I liked the book (see my book review of The Selection).  My students where in love with the book ( most have finished the series by now).  Our first lunch was walking tacos which are super easy and a favorite for kids.  Needless to say we had a great discussion and good food, nothing could be better.  I have also attached some of the discussion questions I used to "break the ice" here.

Stay tuned for our next book club discussion, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Book Review: The Selection By Kiera Cass

Title: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Genre: Dystopian, Romance
Series: The Selection Book 1

Book Summary: (via Goodreads)
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
Characters: America, Maxon, and Aspen are the main characters. There are a ton of great secondary characters in this book!

Plot:  In this dystopian country of what was once North America is now has a royal family and is ruled by a king. America is living with her family, trying to help support them and figure out to marry the boy she is in love with who is of a lower caste when the Selection is announced. The Selection is a contest where 35 girls compete to win the heart of the prince and become a princess.  All girls of marrying age are encouraged to apply for a part in this contest. From the applications, 35 girls are chosen. The girls live in the castle, and agree to have their lives filmed for TV (think The Bachelor).  Prince Maxon will then narrow the girls down to 10 who will become known as the Elite.  
What I Loved: AMERICA!! I loved, loved, loved her!  Once she becomes part of the Selection she is awesome.  She speaks her mind, (which I can relate to) although she never really thinks of the consequences of some of her opinions (which I can also relate too!).  Without giving to much away I also liked how strong of a character she is, when the time comes for action she willing to to what it takes to help everyone, regardless of level.  I have to be honest I really like Prince Maxon as well.  He is naive, but likeable and the interactions between him and America are believeable which to me is one of the biggest wins for me in this book.  I am not a fan of The Bachelor (or any reality TV really) so I was very hesitant to read this but I found myself completely sucked in and I could not put this book down!

What I could have done without: The love triangle.  I understand why it is there and at the beginning of the book I kind of liked Aspen, HOWEVER by the end ugggggggg!  However, this is my only complaint of the book.  So really if you can get past it, this is definite read!

Final Grade: A

    Book Review by Janine

Monday, December 1, 2014

December Display Ideas

These are my current displays in my library.  My bulletin board is

Stashing Through the Snow
I also have a plastic 8 1/2 by 11 vertical paper holder that I use to promote different books as well as our school calendar so that students are up to date on what is going on. These change monthly so they can be a little time consuming but the students really like them so it makes it worth it!!