12.07.2014

New Books for Teens and Adults

New Books for Teens and Adults - Popular Fiction

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If you are having trouble finding books for your classroom, or books to buy for your teenager, or if you are a teen who is looking for a new book to read: you've come to the right place.

The following list includes the hottest titles in young adult literature right now. They are also some of the most popular books in my high school classroom. Half of the list contains books that are sequels or part of a book series (they will be clearly labeled, though).

Each book is linked to its page on Amazon.com if you wish to purchase, wishlist it, or whatever. I always hunt for the cheapest prices and many of these are not out in paperback yet, so I will try to update them when they are.

Books NOT part of a series:

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Anyone who has been through school and felt like an outsider (haven't we all at some point?) will relate to this book. It's especially true for younger siblings who have lived in their older siblings' shadows. It covers divorce, death of a sibling, young love, finding yourself, and so much more. There is something in here every teen (and adult) will connect with. And I haven't even mentioned the fact it is written as letters to Kurt Cobain, Amelia Earhart, River Phoenix, and Jim Morrison. So very cool how author Ava Dellaira weaves music, history, and pop culture into this sad, suspenseful novel. (Grade 7 and up)

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
I loved Anderson's novels Speak and Twisted, and this one was pretty good. Many of my students like it and that is what really matters. Teens definitely connect with her characters. It's almost 400 pages, yet many of them fly right through it: passing the test of a good book. (Grade 8 and up)

Atlantia by Ally Condie
I really liked Condie's novel Matched but was not impressed with the other two books in the series. What she does so well is bring in the English-teacher appeal with allusions to art, literature, and heavy-laden with symbolism.  Though I haven't read Atlantia yet, it sounds much more interesting than the Matched series. The setting alone is cool: under the sea. Plus, the theme of sisterhood is very appealing. I know it's a book I'll have students lined up to read. (Grade 7 and up)

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A. S. King
Students will relate to Glory, who has no idea what she wants to do after graduation. It's a captivating read with some magic (magic doesn't seem the right word here, though) mixed in. It's deep, it's smart, it's heart-breaking. (Grade 8 and up)

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer
Combine poetry, reality TV, high school, and a gerbil, and you get a memorable, realistic, and humorous story. Excellent read. (Grade 7 and up)

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
A moving book with two perspectives: twins, who barely speak to one another. Though some may not want to pick it up for its controversial themes (sexual identity), it's so beautifully written and insightful, readers who are conservative in nature will find it hard to be offended by anything in the novel. It shows teens as they really are, and that speaks volumes. (Grade 9 and up)

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Though the narrator is hard to sympathize with, it's definitely a book that was haunting and sad and stuck with me for a while after reading. I'm glad I read it and I have several students who really like it. I also have a number of them that hated it and gave up reading it, too. It is slow at first and if they can get through the first half, the rest will be worth it. (Grade 7 and up)

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Rumors, bullying, social media, high school clich├ęs: this book, with its multiple point-of-views, covers it all. High school students will definitely relate with the themes and narratives. (Grade 9 and up)


BOOKS IN A SERIES

The Young Elites (A Young Elites Novel) by Marie Lu
This is the FIRST book in the series, so you can get hooked on Marie Lu's second series right from the get-go. The bad thing: you'll have to wait on the second book. It's an excellent opener (her Legend trilogy is a great series if you haven't read it yet) and sure to be just as popular. (Grade 6 and up)

The Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
This is the third book in the Raven Cycle series. I have several students dedicated to this series and they said this was such an excellent book--their favorite so far. (Grade 7 and up)

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Though this book is the conclusion of stories that started with Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, it–like the other two works–stands alone on its own, as well. Fans of the other two romance novels will enjoy the cameos of their favorite characters weaved into this story. So many girls shrieked when I brought this book into my classroom. And I mean literally shrieked–the kind of noise only a 15-year-old girl can make–with joy. It made my day, despite the noise. (Grade 8 and up)

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maurine Johnson
Anything written by Cassandra Clare is GOLD in my class. Her books fly off the shelves. I always have a waiting list for her newest books and I keep several copies of her Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series because so many want to read (or re-read) them. This is a collection of short stories that allow readers to get to know warlock Magnus Bane a little better.  (Grade 8 and up)

Sinner (Shiver) by Maggie Stiefvater
Fans of the Shiver series were rejoicing when I brought a copy of Sinner into my classroom. There's still a waiting list for it. (Grade 7 and up)

The Rule of Thoughts (Mortality Doctrine, Book Two) (The Mortality Doctrine) by James Dashner
This is the second book in the Mortality Doctrine series. The first is The Eye of Minds (Mortality Doctrine, Book One) (The Mortality Doctrine). I haven't read either, but I know many boys who have and love them. Great choice for those reluctant readers. If they liked the Maze Runner series, they will love this one, too. (Grade 6 and up)

Finale (The Hush, Hush Saga) by Becca Fitzpatrick
This series is definitely popular with teenage girls. The third book in the series went missing from my classroom at the beginning of the year and it's driving a few of my students nuts. (Note to self to order another: I don't think it's coming back.) (Grade 8 and up)

You can purchase the complete Hush, Hush saga by clicking on the image:



Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) by Laini Taylor 
This is the third and final book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and oh. my. word. is it awesome! This series is very close to being my favorite. I think only The Hunger Games trilogy and Harry Potter series come close. It's too hard to explain what it is about (there's sooo much), but you will be hooked. It's fantasy but in the present like Harry Potter. (Grade 8 and up)

You can purchase the complete Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by clicking on the image:

 


Additional NEW books not pictured above:

The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson (All ages)



The Heir (The Selection series) by Kiera Cass - released May 2015 (Grade 7 and up)



I Was Here by Gayle Forman - released January 27, 2015 (Grade 7 and up)



Looking for Alaska 10th Anniversary Edition by John Green - released January 13, 2015
Fans of John Green will love this new edition with an introduction by the author, deleted "scenes" from the original manuscript, updated "backmatter," and a Q&A with the author. (Grade 9 and up)



Ignite Me (Shatter Me Book #3) by Tahereh Mafi - the paperback edition will be released Dec. 30th, but the Kindle and hardback copies are available now (Grade 8 and up)



For additional titles, see my post about popular books in my classroom:



Or my Pinterest pin boards for YA and adult literature:

YA Lit
New Books
All Things Books
Books Worth Reading
Books for Boys
Books for Girls

What are your favorites this year? Comment below and share in the discussion!





11.22.2014

Mockingjay Part 1 Movie Review & Predictions for Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Movie Review

Here's my non-spoiler immediate review after seeing "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1":
Mockingjay Part 1 No-Spoiler Movie Review
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"Incredibly intense, less disappointing, amazing acting (Hoffman+Moore=Wowzers), sadness squared, and Oh. My. Peeta. Stay through the credits. They take forever, but you'll get a tiny reward for sticking around." - Hunger Games Trilogy Teaching Resources (a.k.a. HungerGamesLessons.com via Facebook)

Considering the material the movie makers had to work with (the first half of Suzanne Collins' novel Mockingjay), it was much better than I anticipated. I expected a movie with little action, lots of depressing scenes and crying, a messed-up and drugged-out Katniss Everdeen, a war-mongering Gale, and an evil President Coin. That's not really what we got. 



Warning: The rest of this post contains SPOILERS...
Favorite Scenes
Top 8 Scenes from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Here were my favorite scenes from the movie, in no particular order:
1. The uprisings in Districts 7 and 5: All I kept thinking about during those scenes was the sacrifice those people were making for their cause. Those on the "front lines" who willingly acted as human shields for the others who held the precious explosives. Very powerful, very moving. I also appreciated seeing things outside of Katniss' narrow lens in the novels.
District 5 Uprising from Mockingjay Part 1
Image courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment®
2. The Hanging Tree song: The song in the novel is so creepy and haunting. I never could figure out the melody of the tune. The way Jennifer Lawrence sings it is perfectly haunting, creepy in a cool way. It becomes the song of the revolution, inspiring the District 5 citizens to bomb the dam, allowing the rebels to take advantage of the loss of power in the Capitol.
Listen to Jennifer Lawrence sing "The Hanging Tree" song HERE.

3. Katniss' visit to the District 8 hospital: This scene was moving. Yes, I got teary-eyed when the D8 citizens gave Katniss the silent salute.
Katniss visits District 8 hospital in Mockingjay Part 1
Image courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment®
4. Rescuing Peeta, Annie, and Johanna in the Capitol: It was satisfying to see how this actually played out and I really liked the change to Katniss and Finnick's propos. I wondered how they would treat Finnick's confessional with a PG-13 rating. Those who read the book knew what he was saying and those who hadn't may not even realized all that he said since they had the dual screens running. 
Mockingjay Part 1: The rescue mission
Image courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment®

5. Peeta's attack on Katniss: We knew it was coming, but it was still shocking and heart-breaking to see Peeta in this role. 
Mockingjay Part 1: Favorite Scenes
Image courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment®

6. "My sister keeps her cat": OK, so it's not a scene but a quote. Still loved that moment when she requests that Coin allow Prim to keep Buttercup.
Reaction to Katniss' demands by Plutarch and President Coin - Mockingjay Part 1
Image courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment®

7. Finnick and Katniss talking in the bunker: Though he doesn't give Katniss some rope, I still enjoyed the moment Finnick tells Katniss he knew she loved Peeta after her reaction when Peeta's heart stopped in the arena. I wrote about that moment being foreshadowed here, and am glad they included it.
Finnick and Katniss in the bunker of District 13 - Mockingjay Part 1
Image courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment®
8. "Always": Another quote, but an additional scene with the old Peeta. It may be a little cheesy but, again, it is foreshadowing how Peeta will be able to reconnect his old memories after being hijacked. 







Top Disappointments
Top 5 Disappointments in Mockingjay Part 1

Major spoilers to the book!

A few of my biggest disappointments with the movie, along with questions and ponderings for Mockingjay Part 2:

1. "Evil" President Coin: What happened to the cold-hearted leader from the book? I found myself actually empathizing with President Coin. Why? We need to see her cruelty. I understand having the prep team in the movie may have been much, but at least give the viewer something that indicates this woman is two-faced. Coin was much too nice in the movie. 

2. “Well, don't expect us to be too impressed. We just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear.”: I have to admit, not hearing Boggs say this line and not seeing Finnick run out to the hovercraft, begging to go to District 8 was disappointing. 

3. The ending: Ugh. Why end there? At least give us some sense of hope for Peeta. Yes, we've read the books, so we know there is hope. But now I worry there's just TOO many scenes from the rest of Mockingjay that will be cut because there's no way they can all fit into one 2 ½ hour movie. Obviously I was way off in my prediction here.

4. Katniss talking about the bread: Though I think the way the rescue of Peeta was portrayed was good, I still wish we could hear Katniss talk about the bread–the moment Peeta saved their lives when she was 11. This probably means that part in chapter 16 when Peeta tells Katniss he remembers "about the bread" will be cut from the movie, huh?

5. "I kill Snow": Why was this major plot point left out when Katniss made her demands? Her entire mission is to get to the Capitol to kill the President. It's the only reason she willingly joins the Star Squad and the only reason she hangs on to life in the novel. Why did they decide not to include it? Well, I have no idea if this is why or not, but every time I read the novel with my classes we always ponder why she would want to kill Snow when she knows that person will never leave her. She has terrible nightmares of killing Marvel and sees his face as her arrow strikes. The aftermath of killing haunts a person forever. So why on earth would she ever want Snow to stay with her?
  Because this plot point was not included, how do you think the "plot twist" will happen when she is supposed to assassinate Snow?





Predictions: What will be cut from Mockingjay Part 2?
("Things That Make Me Go Hmmm...")
Predictions for Mockingjay Part 2 Movie

Because there are so many scenes left in the book, it is realistic to assume quite a bit will be cut. We already know that going to District 2 will be included, so that is not on he list. I've marked those I think will have to be in the movie and those that will probably be cut.

1. Gale and Beetee's death traps: The movie left off at the beginning of chapter 13. Part of the scene, however, isn't in the book (Coin addressing the D13 citizens); the other part of the scene (Katniss watching Peeta through the one-way glass), is in a modified way. But before she watches him, a VERY important part in the book foreshadowed the ending: Gale and Beetee's bomb plans. This is the moment Gale reveals to Katniss the plan to drop small bombs, wait for the medics to go in, then drop larger bombs that kill everyone. I'm pretty sure they'll find a way to get this scene in, right?? How can they not? *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*

2. Delly helping Peeta remember scenes: Because Delly Cartwright isn't credited in the movie, it's safe to say those scenes where she tries to help Peeta and defend Katniss will be cut. *PROBABLY WON'T MAKE THE CUT*

3. Finnick & Annie's Wedding: Will it be important enough to be included? Hopefully. Will Peeta do the icing on the cake? Another hopeful moment. Is it a MUST to have in the movie? Yes. We want the audience to be emotionally attached to the two characters. Plus, considering it will be a PG-13 rating, it's a good idea to have them married then Annie be pregnant when Finnick departs for good... *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*

4. Katniss and Johanna rooming and training together: The dialogue between these two unlikely friends is golden; it would be a travesty not to include these scenes. Besides, they show just how deeply the trauma of war affects the victims. But...is it essential to the story? Probably not. But it adds that depth I think should be included. And they owe us more Johanna! I really missed her in Part 1. *PROBABLY A MODIFIED VERSION*

5. Star Squad 451 going to the Capitol: Umm...yeah. This should be a given, right? Will ALL of the scenes from their mission through the Capitol be included? Highly unlikely. But it's safe to say that sending Peeta in after Leeg 2 dies, the mine and black slime that kills Boggs and Mitchell, Castor leading them through the sewer tunnels, the golden pod and meat grinder that takes Messalla, Jackson, and Leeg 1, and the half-human half-lizard mutts that kill Finnick, Homes, and Castor will make it into the movie. *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*

6. Hiding at Tigris': Again, since they have cast her in Mockingjay Part 2, it's safe to say the remaining Star Squad members will hide out in her basement. I do look forward to Gale and Peeta's discussion about Katniss when they think she is sleeping. *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*

7. President Snow's wall of children protection: Since they are the rebel's target for the first round of parachutes, it's safe to say that this scene, as well as the medics arriving and second round of parachutes dropping will make the cut. *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*

8. Katniss' physical and mental trauma from the bombing: I don't think everything from chapters 25 and 26 will make it in. A lot of time passes and for most of it, Katniss is mute. Though it will be necessary to show some of the aftermath, I think these scenes will be greatly reduced. *PROBABLY A MODIFIED VERSION*

9. Finding Snow in the rose garden: Katniss needs to hear from Snow that Coin dropped the bombs, killing her sister. *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*

10. The decision on whether or not to continue the Games with Capitol children: I think this part will be way too confusing to the viewer if they include it and Katniss votes "yes." In the novel, we read her thoughts on how nothing has changed and nothing will change if the Games continue. We know it is a test to see if Coin is as cruel as Snow. But unless she has this conversation with Haymitch beforehand aloud, the movie-goer who has not read the book will be lost. *PROBABLY WON'T MAKE THE CUT*

11. Katniss killing Coin instead of Snow: Essential to the story. *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*

12. Katniss being imprisoned in the Training Center for months while her trial takes place: This probably won't be as long and drawn out as it seems in the novel, but there will have to be some sort of resolution. *PROBABLY A MODIFIED VERSION*

13. Returning to District 12: Katniss becoming her mother: Will Francis Lawrence portray Katniss as the depressed recluse her mother was when we first started this story? Will Buttercup find his way back to Katniss so they can both grieve together? Will Peeta's gesture of primrose flowers help Katniss start living again? Will the memory book project be shown, including pictures of Annie and Finnick's baby? Will they show Peeta and Katniss as a couple and having kids? I really hope all of these scenes make it in there. *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*







Which scenes will be ADDED? 
What will they show outside of Katniss's perspective?
Predicted Additional Scenes for Mockingjay Part 2



1. More Prim: They have to develop her character more, especially as a medic, in order to have the desired impact at the climax.

2. Coin's manipulation: My god, the woman is practically portrayed as a saint in Part 1. We need to see her ruthlessness.

3. Gale's violent tendencies and bomb-making: Gale's gotta turn more bad guy here, too. He wasn't jerky enough in Part 1. Otherwise they're going to have a ton of movie fan girls in an uproar when she ends up with Peeta.

4. Commander Paylor's influence: In the end, Paylor becomes president of Panem through an election. I want to see her more leading the people. In Part 1, she almost acted as a servant for Katniss rather than a Commander of the district. Show us how she wins the people of Panem over. (I am so glad they did not cast a white woman for this role. We need to see more diversity in leadership roles in the movies–and in real life.)

5. Resolve Caesar Flickerman's character status: What happened to Caesar in the end? Suzanne Collins doesn't resolve this for us in the novel, but certainly the movie audience will want to know what Stanley Tucci's character's fate is, right?

I'm sure I've left a lot out. Comment below with your own opinion and suggestions. Did you like the movie? Why or why not?






CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

Ask your students to list their favorite scenes, biggest let-downs, predictions and additional scenes they anticipate in Mockingjay Part 2. Use my guide and handouts, which is on sale through opening weekend:
Mockingjay Movie Common Core Activities

Mockingjay Book vs. Movie Activity Pack

Mockingjay Novel vs. Movie Handouts and Research Projects

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