2013 Challenge Preview

I can't believe that I'm already thinking about 2013 challenges! Wow... where did 2012 go?

In 2012 I joined in a few challenges- some were a month or so in length, like RIP7... while others were months, like the Harry Potter Reading Challenge.. and some were year-long ventures, like the Dystopia Challenge. This post is a round up of my anticipated year-long challenges. I am sure I will join up with smaller month-long challenges throughout the year as well.

I am going to be a bit ambitious with my year-long challenges in 2013. I don't often take on many year-long ventures, but these ones just seem like challenges I would really enjoy.... so without further ado:

Challenge #1 {and the one I am most excited about!}
Challenge Goal: 
Read 1 book each month that has one of the 10 keywords in the title
** there are some allowed tweeks to keywords- check the challenge post for the specifics **
Challenge Timeline: 
Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013
Challenge Keywords:

Challenge #2 {and the one I'm most nervous about}
Challenge Goal:
Read 9 books with colors in the title
Challenge Timeline:
Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013

Challenge #3 {and the one that is completely necessary}
Challenge Goal:
Read a specified amount of books from your TBR pile
Challenge Timeline:
Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013
Challenge Level Choice:
Pikes Peak -- 12 books from my TBR

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Crossed by Ally Condie

Well guys, I promised this review some time ago... better late than never right?

In my review of the first book of this series, Matched, I swooned over the characters and the world that Ally Condie created. The same holds true for Crossed. Characters continue to grow and the world of the Society shifts.

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake. 

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

Ally Condie ended Matched with the promise of a new future. Things shifted rapidly in the ending of Matched for Cassia, Ky, and Xander. They must forge a new path for themselves. Crossed primarily follows Ky and Cassia... Xander takes a backseat for this part of the trilogy. He appears intermittently throughout Crossed and we see bits and pieces of him that we had yet to recognize. Xander may not be a major player, but he is not forgotten. Condie also changed the format- the chapters are now written from specific perspectives, switching between Ky and Cassia. New characters are also introduced in Crossed. Eli, Indie, and Vick all come into play in this novel. They are developed and are key players in the story. Each new character brings out another dimension in Cassia and Ky. As they struggle to find one another, uncover the truth, and break away from the Society, the reality of the Rising begins to unfold. 
The ending to Crossed is a major cliff-hanger. I'm talking "oh my god where is my copy of Reached?!" status. There is no closure to this one. Crossed sets serious anticipation for Reached. Thankfully for me, I had my copy of Reached in the mail when I finally closed Crossed. I was practically salivating when it showed up (late!) in my mailbox.

Up next: Reached - the conclusion to the Matched Trilogy.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Matched by Ally Condie

I cannot swoon about Ally Condie's Matched Trilogy enough. I loved the first two installments, and the conclusion comes TOMORROW with Reached. I am desperately waiting for the mailman to deliver my pre-order copy tomorrow. Yes yes yes!

So, what it this trilogy all about, you ask? Well, let's just say that in this dystopian society, nothing is as it seems. Statistics and control are the name of the game for The Society. Cassia Reyes, Xander Carrow, and Ky Marckham are the main players in the Official's game of chess.

From Ally Condie's Matched Trilogy website:

In the Society, Officials decide.
Who you love.
Where you work.
When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It's hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when he best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one... until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.  Now Cassia is faced with the impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path no one else has ever dared follow - between perfection and passion.

Check out the Matched book trailer below:

Ally Condie created another universe with the Society. A look into a not-so-distant future, the Society is based on statistics. They know who you are and how you are likely to react to anything they throw at you. They tell you what to read, what to listen to, what to watch and when to watch it. The Officials have it all planned out for you.
The structure of the Society's government is well developed. Condie clearly put a lot of work into setting creation. While reading Matched, I felt like I knew what drove this Society and how our world turned into the structured and overbearing government that it is.
I also was quite drawn to the characters. Cassia is easy to fall in step with. You can see yourself in her, both in her obedience and her rebellion. Xander and Ky are less developed, but this isn't their story.. yet. Cassia is the focus of Matched and she is clearly portrayed in writing.
Condie fabulously developed the two most important aspects of a novel's backbone- the setting and the characters. As a reader, you want to feel in tune to the place and the people. Condie did just that. She created a world that was both understandable and terrifying. She formed characters that you can find within yourself and in your life. The backbone of this trilogy is well formed.
Beautifully depressing, Matched has an amazing story that swiftly pulls the reader in. Stunning in her prose and her thoughtfulness, Ally Condie created a story that I feel all humans can relate to on some level.

Since Matched is the first novel in this trilogy, it needed to pull us in and not let go. It did just that. Barely able to put it down, by time I reached the end I was craving more. I knew that this trilogy would be this way- that is why I held off on reading it until I could time it just right for the release of Reached. I began the journey with Cassia in Matched and followed her into Crossed. The ending of Matched is amazing, by the way. Part of me feels that it can stand alone. The ending allows closure, while opening up a whole new can of worms at the same time. It left so many doors open after shutting one. Condie did a fabulous job of making the reader want more.

Overall, this book is phenomenal. I loved the premise and the amazing depth that was within the pages. Ally Condie wrote an amazing story that plays out beautifully on paper.
Crossed in the second book in this trilogy, and I will post my review of that later in the week. Crossed is a stunning read as well. The final installment of the Matched Trilogy reaches up tomorrow, November 13th. Reached will be released in hardback and I will be anxiously awaiting my copy.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Book Sale!

Last night Bear and I went to the annual Penguin Book Sale. Like I said this weekend, I have been every year for ages. I've stocked my classroom library, personal library, and get awesome Christmas gifts every year with these amazing closeouts. 

For those of you living near upstate NY, here is the schedule for the warehouse sale:

I started going when I was in high school... knowing back then that I wanted to teach, I purchased hundreds of books and class sets for my future classroom. Now I have bins of elementary school books and sets in my  garage (I teach middle school now) and an amazing middle school library here in my classroom.

Back in the day, I used to wait in the long line to get in on Saturday... I no longer do that. It is cold and always super busy on Saturday, since that is the opening day. Now, that isn't to say that it is calm and collected on the other days- BUT it is noticeably less packed on the weeknights. For instance, it was busy last night but I didn't need to wait in a line outside to get in and I waited only 10 minutes in line to purchase my items, and it was only that long because the woman in front of me was paying by check. Also, I know a lot of people think going on the first Saturday gets them the "better" books- NOT true. The books are stocked constantly and on a rotating basis. Plus, there are hundreds of each book. So, no matter what day you go, you will get great books at amazing prices and you can expect to run into crowds regardless.
People checking out the book selection, and our haul as we wait in line.
This year, I elected not to purchase books for my classroom- for the first time in years. Instead, Bear and I brought $50 and two reusable grocery totes and purchased books for us and for our nieces and nephews. We got 34 books and spent $46 in an hour- I walked in at 5:06 and left by 6:10. We got plenty of sticker books for the young ones and Marvel Superhero books for the boys. We also always purchase Madeline some books- this year we scored a beautiful hardcover Disney Princess book, 'Madeline in London' (because she is obsessing over London right now & loves looking at my parents photo album from their trip there), a few Ladybug Girl books (she loves her!), and some great Disney & Pixar movie tie-in books. I also purchased a bunch of books for myself. I scored some sweet Lego Harry Potter books (yep- total geek) and a few good YA books I have been holding out for. In all, I think I purchased 9 for myself... looks like I've got a lot of reading and reviewing to do this month!

Our book haul - on the left, books for me (except the Star Wars Lego) and on the right, the Christmas collection for the kiddos

You'll notice in my pile that I got the critically acclaimed Fault in Our Stars by John Green ($2), Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson ($1), and The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler ($1). All three of those books have been on my TBR list and I was holding out the hope that they'd be at the sale. So happy I scored them! The rest of my collection are books that sounded interesting to me, some are YA dystopian and some are mysteries. In all, I am super happy with my book sale haul. I can't wait to dive into my new books!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Coming Soon

Hello All! Hope you had a spooktacular Halloween and a wonderful weekend. How are you feeling with that amazing extra hour of sleep?! I'm certainly happy about it, but that earlier darkness for now. Boo.

Any-who, I have plenty coming up on the blog. I'm currently reading the Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie. I got the first book, Matched, when it first came out in November of 2010. Then I never read it- it sat on my TBR shelf and soon Crossed (November 2011) sat with it. Finally I picked them up, since the third installment, Reached, is released this month. I have my order in for Reached and will be thrilled when it comes in! I've finished Matched, so look for that later this week. Crossed and Reached will follow later this month.

I also received my updated & revised version of Harry Potter Film Wizardry when it came out last month. I love Amazon for delivering items on the day they are released! I am super happy that I waited to get the updated version, instead of buying it when it was originally released (with only Deathly Hallows part 1). Be on the lookout for plenty of pictures and my thoughts on Film Wizardry soon!

With the film release of 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I decided to revisit the story on my Kindle. It was as stunning as it was the first time I read it. I plan to compare it with the movie if I make it to see it before it leaves theaters. If not, I will post that review & comparison when the movie is released to Netflix or RedBox and I pick it up.

This coming week will also feature some photo-posts. Tomorrow Barrett and I will be going to the Penguin Putnam Book Sale. We go every year... I've been going since I was in college, and know NOT to go on Saturday. WAY too crowded. I like to go on the weeknights. This year will be one trip for personal books & Christmas gifts for my nieces & nephews. Typically we both get books for our classrooms, but this year we are electing to skip out on the class books and just do a smaller book haul for us. For those of you who haven't been, I will post pictures so you can see the amazingness that is the book sale! I'll also post some Halloween photos, basement workout room additions, and maybe a few funny work photos.

Oh, and a quick update on The Casual Vacancy- I started it and was interested, but other books tore me away. I am going to give it another go-round later this month. I need to pull my mind away from JK Rowling and Harry Potter so I can truly enjoy the book for what it is.

I may also be updating the look of my blog this month... is it too early to change to a Christmas theme?! This snow & promise of an upcoming Nor'Easter are getting me in the (early!) spirit! 

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow