Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of The Universe

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This book was published in Feb 2012, and it flew under my radar, but not the radar of the award committees. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe has won numerous awards, including the Lambda Literary Award and Stonewall Book Award for LGBT fiction, an Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award honor, Pura Belpré Narrative Medal for Latino fiction, and Michael L. Printz Award honor for Young Adult fiction. (information taken from wikipedia)

I cannot say this with any more sincerity, if you are struggling to discover who you are, you need to give this book a try.

Named after two great philosophers, Aristotle and Dante are two loners who, like their namesakes, find themselves thinking about pretty much anything and everything. What they aren’t so great at is talking. Aristotle, or Ari as he calls himself, has a gift of silence. A trait he learned from his father, a Vietnam veteran.  Ari has so many word inside of him, but no way to get them out.

During the summer between his sophomore and junior year of high school Ari meets Dante at the pool. Dante is nothing like Ari, he is caring, open, naturally friendly, and never shuts up. Dante isn’t afraid of all of the feelings he encounters. He isn’t even afraid of his parents, in fact he is crazy about his parents, and his biggest fear is having them be disappointed in him.

Ari and Dante become fast friends. they spend the summer swimming in the El Paso heat, and playing in the summer rain storms. Dante is always looking for ways to destroy his shoes, he hates shoes.

Over the course of two summers, we get the distinct opportunity to watch Ari learn to deal with his family issues, his brother is in prison and he doesn’t know why, and his heritage, Mexican-american. Dante isn’t sure he likes being Mexican, and he pushes back on the expectations of a Mexican son. His parents though, are not the stereotypical Mexican’s they aren’t farm workers or maids. Dante’s father is a professor is in fact a professor who gives him a love of poetry.

Dante then passes that love of poetry to Ari, and shows are that he has the heart of a poet, the heart of a writer.

Ari is a perpetually angry teen. He tells himself he likes to fight, and maybe he does. He is fiercely loyal to Dante, even when Dante tells him that he enjoys kissing boys, Ari does’t change his opinion of his best friend. His loyalty is so strong that he puts those fighting skills to use on behalf of his best friend.

This book is not a quick read, nor is it fast paced. What will get you through this novel is the amazing writing. Benjamin Alire Sáenz has more heart wrenching quotes in this novel than a normal YA novel.

I want to make posters of quotes from this book for the library. He truly portrays the voice of the Mexican-American teen. The struggles of growing up, and not knowing who you are or how to become who you will be. Those in between moments are so vital to Ari and Dante. The moments when you are not who you once were, but not yet who you are becoming. That is the sweet spot where this novel lives.

This book was recently acquired for the library, so any students reading this, please consider picking it up the next time you visit the library.

On a side note, this was one book that I started and finished this book in audio book format. Mainly because it was voiced by Lin Manuel Miranda. Who wouldn’t want the Broadway star reading them this touching story?

Which ever format you decide this book is definitely worth your time.

If you are still unsure if this is book is for you, click the excerpt link below and read a part of this book and see what you think for yourself!

Excerpt

If you are interested in an interview with the author, NPR has a really good one about discovering sexuality through YA lit. Check it out here.

Happy Reading,

Katie

 

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Wrapping up The Lunar Chronicles *No Spoilers*

So, earlier this week Marissa Meyer released the last installment of the best selling hit The Cinder Chronicles. I was lucky enough to meet Ms. Meyer last year at Yallwest, the first book festival of its name on the west coast! My team totally kicked her butt at Trivia 😉 (not kidding actually, that is a true story!)

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I was so excited about this upcoming book that I purposefully didn’t do much digging about it. I wanted to be fresh and open minded for this last book. I re read the three books leading up to it, Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, and I was totally ready!

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This book did not disappoint! If you are looking to read this one, be ready for over 800 pages of awesome!

The uprising has been building for three books now. Alliances have been formed, and all the characters are in place for the final show. Now this is a precarious place to be, many times this is when authors slip up and rush us to the end. Thankfully Marissa Meyer is not one of those authors. In no way did I feel like a plot line was rushed heading towards this ending. Each character gets nicely wrapped up, and while not everyone is safe, overall you will close this book with a smile on your face!

This book is exciting and suspenseful, it pulls at your heart strings, and makes you gasp in horror. I was just so darn glad it was so long! I loved the descriptions of the lunar world, the clothing and the aristocracy. I want to tell you so much more, but for anyone who hasn’t read the series, I would just be giving away huge spoilers!

I hope the next time you find yourself wondering what you should read, you think about picking up this series. The Cyborg Cinderella tale that is so much more. It deals with themes such as mental illness, discrimination, first love, relationships, family, and more.

Also I cannot stress this enough, if you are anywhere near the west coast you need to make the trip to Yallwest in April. April 30-May 1 to be exact!

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Happy Reading Yall!

Katie

No New titles in the Library, so you should read this!

Since becoming a Teacher Librarian, I think my favorite part is giving book reviews. I didn’t realize that for years all of my reading was actually research for a future job I didn’t know I was going to get. I have always had a love for young adult fiction, and now I get to put that to good use everyday. Plus I think I am getting a reputation for giving good book recommendations, because I get kids standing in line to get help picking a good book! I call that a success.

Now, the biggest problem with this is that my library doesn’t get new books very often. So many books that are coming out that would be beneficial to my students, aren’t available to them on my shelves. Books like Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, or even Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

This predicament is making me think outside the box, and recommend books that I DO have. Don’t worry, we have the essentials, like John Green, and Harry Potter. But the books that are really going to make a difference are definitely on my wish list, because I want to add them to my shelves as soon as I can. (if anyone has any ideas on how I can do that, please share!)

What I want to do today, is start a review series on books that I actually have on my shelves, in hopes that some of my students may actually start reading this blog to help them choose a book.

I’m calling it No New Titles, so you should read this!

And I am going to start with one of the most popular books of my students right now, easily on the top ten most checked out. The book I want to review for this purpose is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

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I wont be going too in depth about this one, because I really don’t want to give anything away, but I think a teaser review would be good for everyone to get interested in this book.

Hannah Baker kills herself. She is gone, but she left something behind. Well, 14 somethings, in a box. Hannah has left 14 tapes telling the story of her life, and she wants the 13 people who are the reason she decided to do what she did to know it. They all play their part, and we get to relive that story. Why did Hannah kill herself? Who is on the tapes? Who is going to get them next, and who got them first. What did these 13 people do or not do to take Hannah Baker for granted?

This book will change the way you see the world, your interactions with your peers, and how your actions or non actions can make a person feel. Bullies have more power than they realize. And Hannah is going to show them exactly what they have done.

You can check out the recordings of Hannah’s tapes here! (this is a huge spoiler, so click on it at your own risk)

If you want to search for this book in our library its under FIC Ash.

Check it out 😉

Happy Reading,

Katie

If you are feeling generous and wish to donate books to my school’s library please contact me. 🙂

The Night Circus

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If you are looking for a book that will pull you under like a spell, look no further than the novel The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

I am writing today’s blog post about this book for two reasons, one because I absolutely LOVE The Night Circus, and two because of a fun thing called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Which is November. If anyone is interested in sitting down and pounding out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, NaNoWriMo.org is a wonderful place to start. It gives you the support to actually finish that novel you have had in your head for all those years, without judgement.

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The Night Circus is actually a product of NaNoWriMo, and proof that when you sit down and do something, you never know what will be created when you are done.

Erin Morgenstern used the month of November as a deadline to get those words out there, and when she started writing about the circus, she found the circus more interesting than the characters. You can read more about that on her blog here.

I personally have started a NaNoWriMo novel, but I am so far behind on it, that I am worried I will never catch up. Small victories though, besides this blog, I never considered myself a writer, and I am excited to at least work on an idea I have had for years.

Now, back to The Night Circus.

The circus, Le Cirque des Rêves, arrives with no fanfare. In a place where yesterday there was nothing, now stands the most intricate black and white striped tents you have ever seen. At the gates a sign that says open at sunset to sunrise. The Circus is an anomaly within itself. No one knows how it gets there, or what they will see once they enter its gates. A group of fans, dedicated to the Circus, call “rêveurs” or dreamers, begin to follow the circus around the world. Identifying themselves by wearing a splash of red against an otherwise monochrome outfit of black and white.

Behind the scenes we know that there is a naturally talented magician, Celia, performing nightly within the tents of the Circus. But what she doesn’t know is who her competition is. The Circus itself was developed to become the stage to showcase a secret competition between two magicians. One was born with talent Celia, the other was cultivated to be a magician Marco. Each is highly skilled, and as they create new and more exciting magic, ice gardens, and rooms full of clouds for patrons to explore, they fall deeper in love, unaware that they are each others competition. Marco is the secretary of the Circus’s patron.

Each tent at the circus is more magic than illusion, capes that turn to ravens, and a fortune teller who truly can read your uncertain future. There are even twins who were born the night of the Circus’ opening who have developed their own magical powers.

This books takes you on twists and turns, with new revelations in every chapter. So much is tied in to the circus, you must get to the last chapter to see how everything turns out.

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This was one of my favorite summer reads. I simply couldn’t put it down.

if I gave star ratings, The Night Circus would get 5 stars!

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Let me know if you get a chance to pick up this book!

Happy Reading,

Katie

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

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For those of you who haven’t been exposed to Rick Riordan, I am going to  preface this post by saying that you should probably start with one of his other series, either the Percy Jackson Series, or the Heroes of Olympus Series. Both are awesome, but Mr. Riordan has shown that he likes to link together all of his separate series. Kind of like in the Marvel universe, you find more Easter eggs when you have as much background knowledge as you possibly can. Things will make more sense for you.

Now, after saying that, this first installment of his newest series was not a disappointment. Riordan’s previous books focused on the Greek and roman gods, but Magnus Chase is focused on the Norse gods of old. You might think you don’t know of any Norse gods, but I am sure you have heard of Loki or Thor? Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have helped this book in more ways than they can possibly imagine!

I personally have only a limited understanding of the history and myths surrounding the Norse gods. Thankfully, this book was very good at explaining the important parts of history that I was unaware of!

Magnus chase has been living on the streets for years, ever since his mother was murdered in their apartment. He has been living on the streets with two others, Blitz and Hearth, looking over him. (of course they aren’t exactly who them claim to be) The book opens up on his 16th birthday, when all hell breaks loose. He must claim his birthright, a sword buried in time and a bridge, in the heart of Boston. But once the sword is in his possession Magnus is faced with an even dangerous foe, and a battle he doesn’t survive. But the Norse have a place for warriors who died bravely, and from his death his life truly begins.

Doomsday, called Ragnarok is coming. And the sword of summer, the sword Magnus released from its resting place before his death, is the only thing that can save the world.

This book is a wonderful beginning, I cannot wait to see how Magnus and his friends save the world, and with teasers, like Annabeth being Magnus’ cousin, we know that the worlds Rick Riordan has created are going to collide in the best possible ways!

I also really loved the deaf character, Hearth. He is a deaf elf who is one of the most powerful magicians with the knowledge of runes. He is easily one of my favorite characters, and definitely one of the most interesting, he can only communicate in American Sign Language, but knows how to read lips. I have never seen a deaf character written so well, and all the signs that are mentioned are actually correct! His companion, Blitz is a dwarf who doesn’t want to make weapons, he wants to design clothes. Neither Blitz or Hearth are what their parents hope to be, but they prove themselves in the end.

If you like books with historical or mythological twists, this is a fun one to read.

Below you will find a super helpful picture of the Three of Life or Yggdrasil.

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If you have any suggestions for books you would like me to talk about on this blog, please let me know!

Happy Reading,

Katie

Being a Teacher Librarian

The last couple of months has been a huge change for me, as far as my career. I went from teaching, to being a librarian. I wish I had considered this job when I first went to school! I can not think of another job that is truly better suited for me.

I feel like I have been training for this position my entire life. Every day I make new connections with students based on books we have both read, or on recommendations I am giving them now. I used to think that I needed to make more of an effort to read adult fiction, but now I realize that I was ALWAYS meant to keep reading Young Adult! What a relief that is!

Some things on this blog with probably start changing a bit. I want to write more reviews for books that are actually in my library currently. So that way, if students actually ARE reading this, they will be able to come check out whatever books I mention here. Don’t worry, I will still tell you all about the current reads I have, and as soon as I get some fundraisers going, I hope to fill these shelves with new books that are current and relate-able in today’s book world! But that is going to take some time, and I hope you all bear with me.

If you have any suggestions for book reviews that you want to see, any classics that I should be recommending to students, please share! I would love to hear it. I will get down to writing soon! So hopefully you will be seeing more of me.

Happy Reading,

Katie