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Allegiant (Divergent Series)
Allegiant (Divergent Series)
by Veronica Roth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.74
223 used & new from $9.98

5 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bravery, Love, Wisdom, Deception, Heartbreak, October 22, 2013
I know some people may not like events that happen in this book, and as devastated as I may be about certain things, I know that I trust authors to do what's right by the characters and the stories they create. I've loved their books and writing for a reason, so even if it's not what I might have hoped for, I know that it's being true to what has to happen to tell the story completely. Especially in dystopian books, these are harsh times and bad/sad things have to happen. I think this book will require some processing time and stepping back to appreciate it for what it is, without gut reactions of not understanding why certain choices were made. But here's the thing: If I didn't care so much, I wouldn't be upset or in tears or in disbelief, and it's because of what the author has written that I care so much. I've always thought: I may not always get a happy ending in a book, but it's the hopeful ending I really want so I can feel comfortable leaving these characters behind and knowing they're going to be okay (even if it might take awhile). After this long with these characters and this world, I'm so glad I got to finish my time with them in one big stretch like this, and that I was left with some hope at the end.

Happy Book Birthday ALLEGIANT and Veronica Roth! Thank you for the memories and emotions and experience I got to have reading your books, and especially for the connections I've been able to make with students through your words and stories.

Starry Nights
Starry Nights
by Daisy Whitney
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.78
96 used & new from $1.69

4.0 out of 5 stars A magical novel in a magical setting, September 9, 2013
This review is from: Starry Nights (Hardcover)
First Thought: I got to spend a little more time in Europe - the setting reigns in this book!

In STARRY NIGHTS Daisy Whitney has written an ode to artists and their famous artwork, to those who are well-loved and to those who just love to create. It instantly transports the readers to the streets of Paris, the museums housing the masters, and the heart of the pieces they lovingly created. It's a touch of whimsy, a touch of romance, a touch of friendships, a touch of secret underground societies, a touch of travel guide, a touch of art history, a touch of unrequited love, a touch of kisses, a touch of mystery, a touch of art heists, a touch of a tour of the greatest art museums around the world. The twisty bits as we uncover what is really going on as Garnier races to figure out how to fix these most famous art pieces before they are destroyed adds an element to the plot that kept me turning the pages. Some of my most favorite parts of the story were the after-hours in the museum with the artwork coming to life elements along with how real the setting became for me. I love Paris and Daisy Whitney transported me right back there with this novel. STARRY NIGHTS is a fun read with a sweet romance and a mystery to figure out that will keep readers intrigued and looking up artwork from the Masters. It's a bit Night at the Museum + Heist Society + some kind of romance story.

Final Thoughts: Daisy Whitney is one of my favorite authors, and STARRY NIGHTS doesn't disappoint. Although very different from her previous books, it's a whimsical read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Infinityglass: An Hourglass Novel
Infinityglass: An Hourglass Novel
by Myra McEntire
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.62
70 used & new from $1.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just right ending to an entertaining & swoonworthy series, August 17, 2013
A just right ending to the INFINITYGLASS series. Wraps up all of the confusion/loose ends and clarifies what has been building since the first book. I love all of the books in this series (HOURGLASS & TIMEPIECE), especially that each book focuses on/is narrated by a different couple. I adore all of the members of the Hourglass organization, and seeing them all find their perfect match in this science-fiction/time-travel series has been a thrill. Getting to hear Dune's voice, and meeting Hallie in this third book, highlights once again how highly entertaining Myra McEntire writes her characters. They have sass and snark and are damaged, yet hopeful, and them meeting their match is a joy to read. I'm hoping for more to read from Myra McEntire soon!

The Testing
The Testing
by Joelle Charbonneau
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.16
80 used & new from $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Next Big Dystopian Series, July 15, 2013
This review is from: The Testing (Hardcover)
First Thought: Oh my goodness! SO good! An engrossing, thrilling, intriguing, suspenseful story set in a well-built future world.

I really enjoyed reading THE TESTING. I was engrossed it in from the start. At first, I was a little worried that it would be too reminiscent of THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT, but as I got into it, I realized that it was completely it's own creation of this world, while maybe feeling like an homage to those great dystopians that have come before it.

It was so hard to put THE TESTING down. Joelle Charbonneau wrote a well-paced plot, and once I got to certain parts throughout, it was impossible not to keep reading so that I could find out what would happen and who would survive. I very much liked the main character, Cia, and was pulling for her throughout the book. She is smart, while still being young and sometimes making decisions that made me want to yell at her, but her intelligence and insights are what keep her going. In a game of who can you trust, she learns to really think through all situations, but that doesn't mean she figures all of it out. In a contest of who can make a great leader, it is difficult to know exactly what the officials might be looking for, but staying true to oneself and one's upbringing can always been seen as the right path. Cia's path is not easy, her decisions are not easy, her ability to live with herself after what she has to do to survive will not be easy, but she stays true to herself which is an admirable quality.

The world-building was done well in giving the reader enough information when necessary, but also keeping us guessing about some things. The scenes of explanation are smoothly entrenched in what is happening in the story and propel the plot forward, but also give us enough insight into how things might have come to be this way. The overall idea behind The Testing is so smart, and so manipulative, and scary at the same time. I just hope all of the characters that I have come to like will make it through this series.

And, yes, there is an element of romance, but in a brutal contest that is set up to kill off candidates who are not worthy, and a system that is set up to make you question the ulterior motives of everyone around you, and in a world in which all may not be as it seems, how can one be sure of anything that happens during The Testing or trust one's own memories? That remains to be seen.

Final Thoughts: I'm calling it now - I think this is going to be the next big dystopian will at least fill that hole left behind from the end of the The Hunger Games and the upcoming end of the Divergent series.

*Review originally posted on Heise Reads & Recommends

The Distance Between Us
The Distance Between Us
by Kasie West
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.31
65 used & new from $5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty In Pink meets Pride & Prejudice? Enough said. Loved it!, July 15, 2013
First Thought: Hello? Pretty in Pink meets Pride & Prejudice? Sign me up!

I LOVED Kasie West's debut book, PIVOT POINT, so was extremely excited to hear that she had a second standalone book coming out in the same year. When I read the synopsis for THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, I knew it sounded like my kind of book. I was thrilled when an advanced copy showed up on my doorstep, and 36 hours later I had finished the book. I am in love with this story!

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US is an engaging, sweet story with heart and snark. It's a story of romance and family and honesty and looking beyond the obvious. I thoroughly enjoyed Kasie's development of the quirkiness of the setting and the likeability of the characters. Kasie West writes some of the most charming guys in YA today - and I've officially declared her the Queen of the First Kiss Scenes. But it takes awhile to get to that point. Caymen and Xander have quite a bit of figuring each other out and introspection and learning to do before they can get together - and that's part of what's so great. Although they're both intrigued when they start talking, it is a slow build up of their relationship, which I appreciate because it allows them to get to know each other first. The way in which Kasie writes their relationship has me rooting for them to get together and figure their differences out. I especially loved some of the cute things that happen as they build their friendship. I absolutely adore Xander. He is charming and sweet in a real way and it is obvious how much he cares. And Caymen is dedicated and supremely sarcastic (which I love!) adding quite a bit of comedic relief to the story, but Xander calls her on it - part of the reason he's so good for her and leading to some laugh out loud moments. There is such an adoring element to their relationship that I was really drawn to in addition to their chemistry. They're looking out for each other and supporting each other and helping find the best in each other. They have the kind of sincere, real relationship that I like to read about in light-hearted contemporary books.

Early on I was hooked, and although I was a little worried that it was going to be predictable, it ended up not being too much so. It definitely fits the formula of a rich boy/poor girl contemporary romance story, which is part of why I liked it so much because it's familiar in a good way, but the setting is interesting, the characters are endearing, and there are enough real motivators and surprises (hello family secrets) along the way to keep it feeling fresh. THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US is a sweet story that warmed my heart and was so much fun to read. After I finished, I wanted to go right back and read it again.

Final Thought: I seriously need more Kasie West books in my life! For real.

Student Thoughts: I had numerous students (7th & 8th graders) read this one at the end of the year and they all loved it.

*Review originally posted on Heise Reads & Recommends

When You Were Here
When You Were Here
by Daisy Whitney
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.00
62 used & new from $4.81

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An achingly, heartbreakingly, healingly incredible novel that hits just the right notes, June 6, 2013
This review is from: When You Were Here (Hardcover)
First Thoughts: WHEN YOU WERE HERE is an achingly, heartbreakingly, healingly incredible novel. It ripped me apart and stitched me back together one small piece/scene/conversation at a time.

I adore Daisy Whitney, and I loved her debut, THE MOCKINGBIRDS, and it's follow-up, THE RIVALS, so I was anxiously awaiting her next book. I knew this one would have a different tone than her others, and I was intrigued by her writing in a teen male's voice. I'm so glad to be able to say that I loved this book. In fact, I'm not sure that's even a strong enough emotion for what I feel about this story.

I thought I knew where this book was headed. I thought I knew what Danny's trajectory would be. He's just shredded when we meet him in the beginning. He's grieving. His father's been gone a long time. His mother is just recently gone. He's lost the girl he loves. High school is over. He's aimless and doesn't know which direction to turn. So he heads to Tokyo, his home away from his California home with his family. He needs to discover why his mom didn't make it to his graduation, why the cancer took her too early. He needs to find a way to feel again, something, anything. He needs to find a way to discover if he can ever not be hurting. He finds Kana, a new friend, and rekindles his love of a city he belongs in. Then, nineteen chapters in, a jaw-droppingly unexpected event is revealed that changed my entire perception of the direction this book was headed. Danny's journey becomes about much more, and it's a true discovery of self and life and love and healing and being at peace with death. And I was enamored with every word of it.

There's something about Daisy Whitney's writing style that I feel so comfortable immersing myself in. She's a fantastic contemporary voice with deep emotion and flawed characters and hope. She deftly created a balance between what is happening in the moment, and flashing back to the events in the past that led to Danny and Holland being at this point. My emotions were in turmoil throughout reading Danny's story. I was so caught up in his emotions, I mostly just wanted to give him a big hug throughout, and by the end, I just wanted to hug the book to me and not let it go. WHEN YOU WERE HERE is one of those books that is going to stay with me. I was feeling so many emotions by the end (and, yes, needed kleenex handy); it touched on nerves deep within my soul, and the journey I took with Danny made a lasting impact on me.

Final Thought: Some books are hard to let go of and forget - this one will be with me for a long time because of its sincerity and how it hits just the right notes.

Review originally posted on Heise Reads & Recommends

by David Levithan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.17
127 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written narrative on loneliness, loss, being found, and what we do for love, May 16, 2013
This review is from: Invisibility (Hardcover)
First Thought: Two powerful writers teaming up created a beautifully written narrative on loneliness, loss, being found, and what we do for love.

New girl and invisible boy meet...and it turns out there's so much more to it in this astonishingly good story. The alternating POVs wove seamlessly together and gave a complete story of an unexpected first love. That continues as the book morphs into a story of an unseen world of magic and curses that is well-developed and deftly explained as to seem completely natural and real.

I appreciated the relationships in this book. Both the romantic, first love relationship, some secondary romances, and the family dynamics relationships. Laurie might just be one of my favorite brother characters I've ever read in a book. I'm a sucker for the good, caring brothers in books - must come from being the only girl with two brothers myself. Another "character" was the setting itself, which was described in a way that becomes a bit of a love story to NYC as well.

Andrea Cremer and David Levithan move the story forward with brilliant pacing. Just as we get complacent, a wrench is thrown in leading to an unavoidable climax. And in true comic-book style, there is a showdown at the end with the master villain.

Final Thoughts: INVISIBILITY left me contemplating what it really means to be alone or to be lonely...and which would be worse.

If I Lie
If I Lie
by Corrine Jackson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.23
131 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing, incredibly powerful debut novel, May 16, 2013
This review is from: If I Lie (Hardcover)
First Thought: Wow! An amazing debut. Incredibly powerful book. I'm emotionally wrecked after the experience of reading this one.

I so feel for these characters and what they've gone through in trying to love and protect one another and keep each other's secrets. I have no idea how difficult it must be to be the one left behind when a loved one goes to war, but this book creates so much empathy for what they must be going through. Add in a misunderstood situation with high school dynamics and a hero mentality with broken families and it's an emotional roller coaster of a book. There's a definite Scarlet Letter feel to the situation Quinn finds herself in, and with the code of military families ethics at play, she's put in an impossible situation. But the entire time I was just feeling for her and wanting to support her.

There were some very interesting secondary characters in this book. Some of my favorite scenes were those with the veteran, George, at the hospital where Quinn volunteers. It is her safe place away from what all the town thinks of her, and he gets her and helps her survive. His scenes also provide most of the comic relief in this emotional journey, but also some of the most emotional scenes. For one to be able to see past all of the gossip, and really see the person, makes such an impact. This story highlights how one small action can affect so many others around you, and how one small kindness can make a world of difference for one who is in a time of struggle. It also touches on bullying and ostracizing, posting of inappropriate text pictures, death, divorce, cheating, war, soldiers missing in action, veterans struggles, and so much more. It's a heavy book, but done so well that I just felt hopeful at the end. But while going through it, I was feeling so much for what she was having to deal with. I also appreciated that she had realistic ways to escape with her photography and that she had something to keep her going when she felt her world was crumbling around her.

The only bit I had a little bit of trouble following where the parts when the story was flashing back to what had happened before and back to the present, but reading carefully or rereading short passages helped me follow along.

I was struck by the powerful emotions evoked from this story and Corrine Jackson's writing style. It's in your face and blunt and searing, but there are some beautiful lines of figurative language and description in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and absolutely recommend it to others. I'm only sorry I waited this long to get to it!

Final Thoughts: I'm inspired to hear the stories of our veterans who have fought for our freedoms and too often come home damaged. I would pair IF I LIE with SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL - if you liked one, I think you'd like the other.

I booktalked IF I LIE as I was devouring it during class and shared the synopsis with 7th & 8th graders today, and the second I finished (with tears in my eyes) it was in the hands of students with a waiting list for those who wanted it next.

The Program
The Program
by Suzanne Young
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.19
84 used & new from $3.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could not stop reading this engaging book until I had raced to the finish, May 16, 2013
This review is from: The Program (Hardcover)
First Thought: I could not stop reading this book. It was engaging and I couldn't put it down until I had raced to the finish.

THE PROGRAM is a gripping, suspenseful story set in a realistic dystopic future where you never know who to trust - not even yourself because your own memories may not be real. From the very beginning I was intrigued by the setup for this world where teen suicide is an epidemic and those who are depressed are sent into The Program where any memory related to the experiences or people that made them fall into depression is taken away. This leads to secrecy and bottling up of emotions and a pressure cooker of a high school experience for these teens, especially those who were close to someone who was "infected," who are constantly watched for any signs of needing to be taken away. This is how we meet Sloane and James, as they try to keep the sadness from her brother's suicide from overcoming them and leading to them getting "flagged" for treatment. They have only each other to rely on and be honest with because neither one would ever turn in the other. They have to keep up the façade, but when they're alone together they can let their emotions out. They look out for each other and are madly in love. But when more and more of their friends are being taken away to The Program and returning not remembering them, it boils over into being too much to handle. But after getting the memory treatment, will they remember each other? Will their love surpass all of the memories being taken away?

Suzanne Young skillfully set up this book in three parts: the before, the during, and the after of being put in The Program. Each one building upon the last and to a conclusion that is a game changer. Her writing style has an easy to read contemporary feel and builds the suspense and fear so the reader feels invested in what happens and sympathizes with the characters. The first person narration from Sloane adds an element of feeling all of the emotions as she falls into depression becoming "infected," the fear of having her memories taken away during her treatment and not knowing who to trust, and the confusion and hope of being "returned" to the outside world having been cured but knowing there are pieces missing. And when she runs into James, will she even know who he is? Will he know her? Or is she better off just forgetting about him like everyone tells her she should? Or, no matter what happened to the memories in their brains, will their hearts scream they are destined to be together? How can you trust yourself when you know your memories aren't complete and you don't know what your life was like before?

All of this races toward an inevitable ending that reveals some surprising information. There are little clues along the way, but what is going on with The Program and resistance to it is bigger than Sloane could have imagined, and the information she gets at the end makes for a great setup for where she could head next. I, for one, can't wait to find out how it all works out.

Final Thought: I'm really hoping this one is a series because Suzanne Young sets it up well to have a whole new perspective on things at the end, and I'm dying to know what will happen to Sloane, James, and Realm next. *Note: The author said it will be two books! Thank goodness!

by Elsie Chapman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.01
85 used & new from $4.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Hunger Games to the nth degree meets...something, May 16, 2013
This review is from: Dualed (Hardcover)
First Thought: So much suspense! Could not stop reading until I found out how it would end.

DUALED was an intense, kill or be killed, fight to the finish. I had to keep turning pages to know what was going to happen with West and which Alt would survive the final confrontation. The basis of this world where each is born with an Alt and gets "activated" sometime between 10 and 20, and then has only 30 days to hunt down and kill the Alt, or be killed, or both be destroyed after the time ends lends itself to a ticking clock of suspense in the background driving the momentum of the whole story.

In a world full of killers and surrounded by guns, are you the hunted or the hunter, or both at the same time? Which one will be smarter, stronger, or just luckier in the end? When 50% of the population must be killed off, can you ever feel safe with your family and friends, or know that they'll stay around? All of these drive the plot of this story in this dystopic future, which I want to know even more about.

We're given glimpses into the world, and how it came to be, and what might be outside, and what led to them being there, and who might be against the way they live...which makes me so glad there is a sequel coming in 2014 so we can find out what happens next. Although I figured I knew how the story would have to end, that didn't stop my heart from pounding, my gasping out loud, or my yelling at the characters to stay safe and smart and not give up. I enjoyed spending this time with West and Chord, and although it was frightening at times, it was a well-developed world that was created down to the tiniest details of how things operate for idles vs. actives vs. completes.

Final Thoughts: So glad there's going to be a sequel to this "HUNGER GAMES to the nth degree meets...something" world of this story.

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