Tuesday, July 18, 2017

All Things New: A YA Must Read

Publication Date: 
August 01, 2017

My thoughts:
The power of Miller's prose is her ability to create characters that we care about. 17-year-old Jessa Gray should have everything, and to those on the outside, she looks like she has everything, but she is just very good at hiding what is is broken inside of her. It takes an accident to force her to literally reveal what is broken inside of her as she now has to carry her scars on the outside. The accident also allows her to see the scars that others around her carry as a way to seek answers for herself and be able to reach out to others who need her help and empathy. It doesn't hurt that she falls for indefatigable Marshall who uses his own brokenness as a rally cry to embrace life and love fully. 

Miller takes these realistic issues and infuses it with very tangible chemistry between characters as well as humor and even some divine intervention. This is a devour-worthy read and puts Miller on the radar for YA authors that write movie worthy hits.

An advanced copy provided in return for an honest review by Net Galley.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What are YA reading?

I moved from teaching language arts to teaching general education courses, from introduction to teaching as a career to student teaching so I am out of the language arts daily game. However, this fall I finally get to teach my middle/secondary language arts methods course so I need to get back into reading YA.

What are the new must read YA books?
Who are the authors to follow?

I am starting with the Summer 2017 YA Book Club offerings by Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy. I read two of them already but I would like to hear what other educators are saying.

Also, if you don't already read her blog, check it out. For the most part, being in this business for 26 years, I agree with pretty much everything she has offered and I have used them in my own classrooms so I share her blog and podcast as a resource for my students because it is something I would love to have time to do but I don't so I'm thankful for this resource.

Other suggestions?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Manga Perspective: Beauty Vol. 1 + Beast Vol. 2

Everyone knows this "tale as old as time," and if you have not seen the Disney live version of their animated version, get to the theatre! However, what Tokyo Pop does with this manga is different in that we finally get to see the separate points of view of the two characters. By moving beyond the known tale through the use of manga, the Mallory Reaves offers up a new tale for a new time and a new generation. 

For the most part, the movie focuses on Belle's point of view so the manga version does not share any kind of new insight, but volume 2 from the Beast uses the genre of manga to fully exemplify Beast's fear, depression, anger and self-doubt through its darker drawing style and uneven shaped panels.

Another plus for the manga version is that I was not disappointed by the transformation of the Beast back to human form. He is a typical manga stylized hero. This type of hero does not usually translate well on screen, either animated or live. 

Finally, the "artist" notes at the end of the books are always a nice breaking of the third wall that appeals to me as a teacher who is interested in process as well as reflection on process. 

An advanced copy provided by Net Galley.com and the publishers for an honest review. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Sneak Peek: Once and For All

From the Publishers:
From Sarah Dessen, the beloved New York Times bestselling author of SAINT ANYTHING and JUST LISTEN, comes a new novel set in the world of wedding planning!
Is it really better to have loved and lost?  Louna's summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically.  But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged now that he's met the one he really  wants.  Maybe Louna's second chance is standing right in front of her.

 Sarah Dessen’s many fans will adore this latest novel, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story with humor, romance, and an ending that is so much more than happily-ever-after.

My Thoughts:
This is just a sneak peek so know that I am just providing my thoughts on the excerpt provided, but before I say that, let me tell  you a little bit about why I am even willing to read excerpts.

1. I have read Dessen before and think that she is an easy airplane read. Those kinds of reads are great to give my students who like to read fast and dirty, immerse quickly and then go searching hungrily for the next "ride." In other words, Author Recognition.

2. I live here:
Not literally homeless on the beach at Makena on Maui, but I live in Hawaiʻi. In fact, I live on the outer islands (outer islands just mean any of the islands that are not Oahu). What we lack on the outer islands are chain bookstores like Barnes and Noble. We had a Borders in Hilo, but you know how that story ends. Yes, we have multiple public libraries that offer both e-books and book books, but do you know how we get to live here? We work all the time. Availability.

3. Don't you miss the days when you could read for pleasure, under a tree or a large red umbrella and no one would look for you or bother you? Yeah, I don't have those days anymore and you would think that after my doctorate I could read for pleasure because my formal education is done, but no. That is not how it works. No one told me that being a lifelong learner and reader does not mean that you actually are given time to read what you want to read. What I have learned, though, is that the flight from Honolulu (Oahu) to my home in Hilo (Big Island) is 40 minutes long. With the new regulations that allow passengers to keep their electronics on as long as they are on airplane mode, I find that I can actually finish an excerpt on one leg of a trip. Instead of playing games on my iPad, I now read.  Effective Use of Captive Time.

Back to my thoughts. The main character, Louna, has a summer job working for her mother and her mother's partner as part of a three person wedding planner team. Something happened to Louna's first love but it's not in the excerpt. The result is she acts young, as in not confident and she acts old, as in bitter towards love. This is the biggest issue I have with a story that I really want to get into except for this one flaw. I don't know if I was reading too fast and missed it but I cannot settle on an age for this character. She is both immature or girlish and old and jaded at the same time. If she is right out of high school, is this first love tragedy really a tragedy? Even if she is in college, is this first love tragedy really a tragedy? I am not sure and of course the excerpt ends before anything gets revealed.

What is going for this book though is that it will suck readers in. Dessen has a writing style that is easy on the eyes (and the brain) so the immersion into these people's lives are swift. 

Would I read it when it comes out? Probably. I wouldn't write about it if I did not think I would continue reading. 

Publication date: June 6, 2017

Excerpt provided by Net Galley and the publisher Penguin Young Readers Group

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Real Friends: Mean Girls for Tweens

From the publishers:

When best friends are not forever . . .
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.
Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?
Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it's worth the journey.

My thoughts:

The pairing of words by Shannon Hale and illustrations by LeUyen Pham gives this novel that awkward, lonely, confused feeling that dredges up my own tween years when my own friendships started to change and drift away and I was left a little confused by my changing hormones, and the way I was very out of sync with my childhood best friend based on the rate of our maturity. This is a kinder, gentler Mean Girls, but it brings up emotions that all these years later still can come back through this book. 

In the Author's Note section Hale says she never thought she would write a memoir, but in some ways it is. The honesty and truth of this and the illustrations that are able to deftly illustrate awkward, confused and unsure states just in the character Shannon's face created an emotional roller coaster of a ride for me. 

This book is for those upper elementary girls who feel lost and misunderstood and abandoned and confused. The creators have a message. Things do get better. 

Publication Day: May 02, 2017
First Second Books

advanced copy made available by the publisher and Net Galley (.) com


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