Thursday, December 19, 2013

YA Book Recommendations for Winter Break

YA Book Recommendations for Winter Break

There are so many great books out there! Here is a list to help you narrow things down if you haven’t a clue where to start. Check out these recommendations to get you on your way to finding a great read this break.

If you like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins check out:
Divergent (series) by Veronica Roth
Delirium (series) by Lauren Oliver
*The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

If you like A Fault in Our Stars by John Green check out:
*Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Looking for Alaska by John Green (or anything by John Green)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (historical fiction)

If you like the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare check out:
*Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices series) by Cassandra Clare
Hush, hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
*Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

If you like Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin check out:
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Dune by Frank Herbert
Need more ideas??

Safe travels to destinations near & far! See you all next yearJ

Only 1 more exam to go!

Pesky wishes everyone the best of luck on their science exams tomorrow!

The last evening of silent study has arrived at the library and students are hard at work.

Keep calm & study on—
almost there!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

YA Book of the Week... The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner / James Dashner

Finally—a male protagonist! Sometimes while reading YA fiction I forget that male characters are something other than foils for the female protagonists to discover themselves through—sad, but true in quite a few YA novels these days. But, here it is—a male protagonist! Reason enough to read this awesome series. But alas, some of you may need more convincing…
Thomas wakes up in an elevator shaft with no memory as to how he arrived there. As he looks upward a group of teenage boys look back at him—he has arrived in a sort of farming commune called the Glade that is situated next to a huge maze. Every morning the doors to the maze open and every evening the doors to the maze close. Of course, if you are a teenage boy living next to a gigantic maze you become curious of its purpose, why you are there, why there are scary monsters inside of the maze at night, etc. Only more questions arise the day after Thomas arrives when a girl pops up in the lift—a GIRL. FYI: This is surprising because she is the one and only girl to have ever entered the Glade.

Of course, Thomas and the others want to know why they are in the Glade, how they ended up there, why they can’t remember anything about their lives before the moment they wound up there. They also want to know what the giant maze all about. My 8th grade physics class went on a field trip to a corn maze once.  The objective: find the most efficient way out. My teacher told us later that if you hold your right hand to the wall and don’t let go you’ll exit the maze in good time. I would have loved to give Thomas and the Gladers this advice, however, every evening the walls of the maze shift. Of course things can’t be too easy.

This book is filled with great characters (I especially love Newt and Minho) who, like in many other YA novels, search for meaning in their dire situations. The Gladers seek an answer to the maze day in and day out—sending “maze runners” into the fray to assemble maps of the landscape in hopes of finding answers. Overall it’s a great book with a great range of characters and storyline.
Did you like The Hunger Games? The Maze Runner is set at a slightly different pace, but HG fans will love it too.

BONUS: The MAZE RUNNER MOVIE comes out 9.14.2014… By the looks of the recently posted photos it’s going to be an awesome adventure—read the books (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, & The Kill Order (prequel to the series)) before the movie comes out!!

Overall: 9/10
Come by Pesky to check out the series-- we have all three books on our new book shelf!
See you next week! Ms. Zephir:)


Thursday, December 05, 2013

YA Book of the Week

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

“Here's one of the things I learned that morning: if you cross a line and nothing happens, the line loses meaning. It's like that old riddle about a tree falling in a forest, and whether it makes a sound if there's no one around to hear it.

You keep drawing a line farther and farther away, crossing it every time. That's how people end up stepping off the edge of the earth. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to bust out of orbit, to spin out to a place where no one can touch you. To lose yourself—to get lost.

Or maybe you wouldn't be surprised. Maybe some of you already know.

To those people, I can only say: I'm sorry.” –Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall

*Before I Fall deals with difficult subjects—recommended for older teens*

Stumbling upon Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall was one of the best things I could have done to expand my scope of YA fiction. I had noticed the title continuing to pop up on Goodreads “best of” lists, but never took the plunge. One day, about a month ago while shelving at a public library, the book landed in my hands and I decided to see what the fuss was about.

The book sets up a grim premise: Samantha Kingston, a popular high school student, dies in a car crash after attending a party with her three best friends. Thing is, she wakes up the next morning only to live the same day over again. Sound like we’re back in 1993 with Bill Murray’s iconic Groundhog Day? We are, but this time it is February 12th and we’re at high school trying to figure out how to end the recurring cycle so this girl Sam can move on, wherever that may take her.

Oliver captures high school angst, popularity, friendships and tackles hard subjects of teen depression, drinking, and suicide in a way that is raw, but real. In this book teens don’t die because of warlocks or dystopian war, but rather because of problems that real teens face. Oliver seems to break through the shimmering fa├žade fantasy YA creates— she deals with tough subjects head on, teens don’t need spells or the looming apocalypse to willingly express their feelings. For me, breaking back into realistic YA fiction from the paranormal was effortless because of Oliver’s care in crafting her story (she has written a  supernatural YA series and I will be getting to that at some point soon…).

Sam Kingston’s transformation from day one through day seven is affected by each character in the world Oliver creates. Oliver doesn’t use fatigued devices even though the setting seems familiar, but rather, creates a pocket where her characters can breathe and remain, seemingly static, but always pushing forward.

This book brought me back to high school. As a reader, you wish you could help Sam. More hauntingly, I felt as though her transformation mirrored what mine or how I now imagine my high school self would have been if I were in her shoes.

I have to admit, I partially listened to the audiobook while reading—I have found that Lauren Oliver’s choice of Sarah Drew (from Grey’s Anatomy, etc.) as voice actor for her books is a fantastic  choice and Drew's take on Elody’s character is truly fabulous.

Overall rating: 9/10—(suggested for older teens 16+)

Check it out at Pesky: FIC OLI
Stay tuned for next week! :) Ms. Zephir