A bit of news and a guest post!

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Hi reader friends!

Wow, I cannot believe the summer is half over already! This blogging break has taken a bit longer than I had hoped for, but don’t worry, I’m still reading. My book pile has been constant, and it is continually growing.

I have been so busy with life lately that I just haven’t had time to sit and review books, only read then. But, it’s because I’ve been elbow deep in planning you see. Last week I officially signed my new teacher contract, and I’ll be a Junior High English Language Arts teacher this fall! I am so excited to be in the classroom with 6th through 8th graders!
My hope is to be back blogging as the fall hits, probably on a much smaller scale but still full of lots of recommendations.

Until then, I’m a guest blogger on The Nerdy Book club today!

This last year has been a hard one for me life-wise, and it was in many moments that I turned to the power of story. Today, I’m sharing a top ten list of the books that helped me to heal hoping that they find their way into a reader’s hands who simply needs the words.

I hope your reading life is fabulous! I’ve read so many books in the last few months that I cannot wait to share them with you!
What have you been reading lately? I’d love to know!

 

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A blogging pause…

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Hi friends!

I know–I haven’t been around for weeks. Wow. It’s hard to believe I’m actually saying that, especially with all these fun plans I had for the blog this year!
But, in January I started my student teaching and I knew life was going to get busy. My hope was to continue blogging, at least with Judging Genres, while I lived it up in the classroom.
Needless to say, that didn’t happen. In fact, besides becoming an almost-real teacher for the last ten weeks, I’ve had my own homework to complete for school/licensing, a whole bunch of other life stuff, and have fallen into a major reading slump. I’m reading–just not any MG/YA besides what I’m teaching.

So, I just sort of took a step back from blogging. I didn’t mean too, but it happened.
I wanted to check in with you so as to not leave you hanging and wondering if I’m ever going to come around again.
My hope is that, yes, I’ll get back to book blogging soon, but the truth is that soon might not be as soon as I like.

Right now, I’m sort of up in the air with this whole teaching thing and as much as I love blogging about books and talking about them with you, my heart just isn’t in it right now. There is so much transition in my life going on, not to mention a writing project I’m whole heartily jumping into, that there just isn’t enough time in the world for me to sit down and read a slew of MG/YA lit to review and go graphic-crazy with.
Now, if this was a decent money maker, I’d be all over it. But it’s just a passionate hobby that’s lacking in the passion right now.

For now though, I’m going to keep the blogging break going. I hate that I just dropped off the planet suddenly, but life is like that sometimes. If I make it to a classroom this fall, The Hopeful Heroine will be up and running just probably on a much smaller scale.

So, until this slump passes, keep reading friends. I’ve got a stack of books calling my name for someday soon and when they do, I’ll be back.

Until then,

Hopeful reading!

-Cait

Marvelous Middle Grade (Tuesday): The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen

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Author: Jennifer Nielsen |Website | TwitterRelease Date: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press | Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy | Pages: 336 |

So, I’m deviating from #SciFiMonth  for a moment because I was able to get my hands on an ARC copy of today’s read, and I simply devoured it.
Remember last month when I started in on Sage’s world, and simply fell in love with it? Well, as always I was behind the times in discovering the read but thankfully the final book of the trilogy comes out TODAY! This is one of those books where not only did I have all. the. feels. but wow–I think I have a new favorite middle grade series.

I was provided an ARC copy from my NetGalley.
I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted every Monday at author Shannon Messenger’s blog

Summary

War has come to Carthya. It knocks at every door and window in the land. And when Jaron learns that King Vargan of Avenia has kidnapped Imogen in a plot to bring Carthya to its knees, Jaron knows it is up to him to embark on a daring rescue mission. But everything that can go wrong does.

His friends are flung far and wide across Carthya and its neighbouring lands. In a last-ditch effort to stave off what looks to be a devastating loss for the kingdom, Jaron undertakes what may be his last journey to save everything and everyone he loves. But even with his lightning-quick wit, Jaron cannot forestall the terrible danger that descends on him and his country. Along the way, will he lose what matters most? And in the end, who will sit on Carthya’s throne?

-via Goodreads

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Judging Genres: Middle Grade Guide to Sci-Fi

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Ok–I know I’m late in posting (it’s this whole school gig) but I am so excited about today’s topic. It’s another little bit of help to break you out of your reading box! In fact, I wish I had had this made at the beginning of the month so I could have explored MORE MG sci-fi.

That’s righ!l–I have another guide for you! I hoping you enjoyed my fantasy field guides so much, that you’ll pair them up with this one! I’ve decided someday I have to figure out how to print this out in giant form,and then laminate it because it is totally going up in my classroom. Once again, it doesn’t list every middle grade sci-fi out there, just the ones I ran across that I thought might be interesting for younger readers!
Without further adieu,  I give you–The Hopeful Heroine’s Field Guide to MG Science-Fiction!!

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Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

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Author: Rick Yancey |
Website | Twitter |
Publication Date: May 7th, 2013 |
Publisher: Putnum Juevenile |
My Interest: Sci-Fi month, Hype |
Source: Library|
Age Group | Genre: YA| Sci-Fi |
Series: Yes | The Fifth Wave
Pages: 457 |

What. The. Heck.

Firstly, this story. I have no words.

No words for why I waited so long to read this.
And, how did I just discover (as in literally as I was collecting info from the Goodreads page) that this is a series?

 

I checked out a copy from my local library. I was not compensated in any way for my words (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine.

The Story

“After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. 

-via Goodreads

My Thoughts

So. We finally meet Story That Will Blow My Mind.
Or at least that’s what I’m dubbing The 5th Wave.

Here’s the thing with me and YA. Apparently, I like to wait until a story has been around for about a year before I decide to give it a go. You know, let all the hype die down, pick up the book when it’s no longer “hot,” and then proceed to FALL IN LOVE WITH IT.

The 5th Wave has definitely made it on my list of “read and reread again” which I find interesting because I am not a fan of alien stories. Usually, alien stories drive me crazy or annoy me because I just don’t find them believable–unless they are the little, three-eyed, green Martians found in a claw game or eating Reese’s Pieces and phoning home. Then I love them.
So you can see why I have been hesitant to pick up this book even though there was a huge marketing campaign last year, and it seemed as if everywhere I turned the book was on someone else’s blog. Jumping out of the genre box has been really good for me so far this year. I’m discovering some great reads I might not have picked up otherwise, and you guys, I am so glad I picked up The 5th Wave.

I connected with Cassie a lot. Here’s this girl who has seemingly lost everyone she loves, and might just possibly be the last human on a planet invaded by aliens. She struggles hardcore which makes her completely real in my perspective. I love how she is a typical post-apocalyptic strong heroine, yet there are times she breaks and her vulnerability shows through. It makes her human which is probably a really good thing in this story. (Plus her name is short for Cassiopeia which is only my favorite constellation ever!)

But let’s talk about the non-humans because really, I know that’s what you’re dying to know about.  As I said before, I have a hard time believing in alien stories. So many times they are violent, oppressive, and just want to eradicate humans. I mean, really? Aren’t there any good aliens out there? (Perhaps just one, and it’s because he has two hearts.) As much as I love fantasy stories, I would much rather escape to a medieval-like kingdom than gallivant off to space with weird creatures. In that instance, I really like how The 5th Wave is set on Earth even if it is a new and strange Earth. I also like how there’s something different about the aliens. (If I say more, I’ll spoil it.) I feel as if Yancey is giving a little different perspective on the ‘ole alien tale, and that’s what made the story exciting for me.

I will admit there were a few things I figured out early on–this was not a book of surprises for me–but the story was so action packed that I really did not want to put it down. I found myself absorbing it in two days and talking it up to my students who all thought I was a huge Geek by my second day in the classroom because I was so absorbed in an alien story. But now we’re writing about aliens and they are loving it, so who’s laughing now?

I can tell you I wasn’t a huge fan of how the romance played out in this book only because it seemed very unbelievable at times. However, after finishing the book and letting my mind settle around it several of the romance issues began to make sense. I was still a bit torn with the way they played out, but seeing as how I just discovered this is a series perhaps there will be redemption.

Even if you don’t typically like alien stories, I highly recommend this book–not only for Sci-Fi month–but to just read. Yancey’s writing is fabulous, full of action, description, and mind blowing moments. He’ll take you on an adventure with The 5th Wave and leave you having for whatever wave is going to hit next.

Pick this read up if you like…

Aliens, Apocalypse stories, post-apocalyptic worlds, kick-butt heroines, military, having your mind blown, survival stories,

Then when you’re finished, try….

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

  

The Ward  by Jordana Frankel

Book Talk: Have you read The 5th Wave yet? Um–did you find it crazy and action packed like me? Were you curious around every corner? Or were you fed up with the storyline?

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What I’ve {not} Been Reading Lately: Exploratory Middle Grade Worlds

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*Note: This column comes from the fact that I truly do believe in the power of story, and I know there is a book for everyone. So even if a book may not be the right book for me, that doesn’t mean it might not be the book that makes you become a reader.

How’s Sci-Fi month coming along for you? I’m hoping that you’re discovering a BUNCH of new and exciting reads and breaking down some barriers of the genre.
We all know I’m pretty honest on here, so if you noticed yesterday, I did not have a Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday read to share with you because the sci-fi MG book I had planned to feature has unfortunately found its way onto this post.

Welcome to today’s edition of

notbread*may contain spoilers

My current {not} read this week is
The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi
Published: September 21st, 2010 |
Publisher: Simon & Schusters |
Age Group: MG |
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Adventure|
Series: yes  | WondLa
Pages: 484 |

Why I picked it up: It seemed like a ringer for sci-fi month, AND it was a middle grade read. (I’ve found sci-fi to be rare for younger readers.)

How far I got: Page 112, Chapter 11

The story so far: Eva Nine has lived her whole life underground in her subterranean home, the Sanctuary. Muthr–her robot caretaker–has been training her for the day she’ll be able to visit above ground. Unfortunately, her wish comes true in the way she least expects it. Eva Nine makes it to the above ground only to be captured by a scary creature–but then she finds a few new friends.

Why I put it in the drop box: I’m a little bit more busy with school than I expected so my reading quota is low. I have a stack of books I would like to get to in the next few weeks, and after starting this one and then not picking it up for about a week, I decided it just wasn’t sitting with me. It was a good story, but I just found the opening slow going.

Will I pick it back up?: Perhaps. I found the story to be curious and different in the such a neat sci-fi way. I’m really trying to like sci-fi more, and I think this is one story that could interest me should I give sci-fi a bit more time. DiTerlizzi’s illustrations are spread throughout the book and done in such a beautiful, old fashioned way that they really helped me get into the story better. I’d like to finish the story if at least to have viewed all his drawings!

Book Talk: Have you read The Search for WondLa? What was your take on the novel? Did you enjoy the world-building and interesting creatures?

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Judging Genres: Sub-Subgenres of Sci-Fi

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Last week, when I introduced Sci-Fi for the month, I talked about all the elements that qualify a story as science-fiction, and even gave a little break down of why I classify some stories as sub-subgenres. Like fantasy, I’m dividing the world of sci-fi into even smaller classifications.

But after taking a closer look at all of the elements of sci-fi and the way Wikipedia divides it, I’ve decided I don’t really think sci-fi has as many sub-subgenres as fantasy does subgenres. (Again–for me sci-fi is a subgenre of fantasy so if I’m going to take it a step further and break down sci-fi, then it has sub-subgenres.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that every sci-fi story can be classified as one out of four groups: alien, dystopian, time travel or metal men.

See, last week I talked about all sorts of elements that are involved in a sci-fi story, but I really think all of those elements can fit one of these groups. Quantum physics? Usually time related. Space life? There’s bound to be an alien involved and if not, then it’s set in a weird future so it’s definitely dystopic. Alternate history or timelines? Once again a time issue. Space opera or western? I’d venture to say an alien is going to show up–or the words is some weird colony which definitely makes that world a dystopia. What about superhhumans or cyberpunk? I’d call those elements metalmen. Even militaristic sci-fi (think Ender’s Game) might have aliens show up or be set in an imperfect world where something has been colonized and a person [aka the main character] is going to rebel.

I figure–why cause even more confusion with a million different classifications of sci-fi when stories all boil down to one or two elements that end up setting them apart from other genres.

Still following my crazy organized brain? If not–I have this super spacey infographic that lays it all out for you!

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Here’s my breakdown…
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Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kauffman & Meagan Spooner

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Author: Amie Kauffman |
Website | Twitter | Meagan Spooner |
Website | Twitter
Publication Date: December 10th, 2013 |
Publisher: Disney Hyperion |
My Interest: Sci-Fi month, Hype |
Source: Literary Lushes, Library|
Age Group | Genre: YA| Sci-Fi | Romance
Series: Yes | Starbound series
Pages: 374 |

Sci-Fi month is growing on me. I actually read this book back at the very beginning of the year in anticipation for this month, and I had heard a lot of hype for this story. I was a huge Titanic fan as a kid, so for a story marketed as Titanic in space, I totally had to see what was up.

I was first loaned an ARC from Literary Lushes, and then checked out a copy from my local library. I was not compensated in any way for my words (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine.

The Story

“It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it. 

-via Goodreads

My Thoughts

Well Sci-Fi. We have an interesting relationship. I love you at times (ahem Doctor Who) and then other times I find it hard to be interested in you.

This was kind of one of those times. I blame part of that reason on the fact that I first received an ARC of this book while I was visiting my best friend whom I hadn’t seen in three years. Needless to say, my mind was NOT on any sort of reading.
But in fairness to the game, I sent off the ARC to the next lucky reader just in time, and immediately queued up the read at my library. I wasn’t about to let this story go unfinished, and I’m really glad I didn’t.

I was intrigued by the story. A whole bunch of people in the future on this gigantic “unsinkable” space liner, and then suddenly it becomes sinkable. I remember thinking this story is the epitome of sci-fi: outer space, weird planets, whispers. I found myself turning the pages one right after another simply because I had to know where the plot was going. It seemed like These Broken Stars was holding secrets for me–I ended up anticipating something really big for the ending, and then it just wasn’t quite what I wanted. BUT, this is the first in a series so who knows what the next book holds.

To be honest, I also had a hard time getting into Lilac and Tarver’s story. I just couldn’t connect to either one of them as a character–but I did enjoy the love connection between them. It reminded me of Darcy and Elizabeth, and I’m all for some P&P romantic tension. I found myself hoping for them to fall in love more so than I hoped for them to get off the planet. I know–terrible.

Despite my troubles getting into this story, I thought it was wholly original and definitely a page turner both in conflict/plot and action-wise. As a reader, I simply struggled with connecting to this book most likely because I’m not a huge sci-fi nerd. Sci-Fi is a very new world for me (pun intended) so I’m trying to keep an open mind this month. Normally, I would have tossed this book into the What I’ve {Not} Been Reading Lately pile, but after making it to the end (AND boy—what a little twist there!) I’m anticipating the next book! I really want to connect to Lilac more, and even see what happens between her and Tarver. After all, I  do enjoy a swoon-worthy read, and this relationship was definitely Jack and Rose worthy.

Pick this read up if you like…

Stars, Sci-Fi, a little bit of mystery, The Titanic, Darcy/Elizabeth-like romantic tension, strange worlds, outer space

Then when you’re finished, try….

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

  

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Book Talk: Have you read These Broken Stars yet? What did you think about it? Was it as exciting as you thought? Or were you a bit let down like me?

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