Monday, July 29, 2013

Shards & Ashes edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

HarperCollins, 2013

This story collection features some of YAs most popular authors of supernatural and dystopian literature.  Nine short stories + nine amazing authors = a book you'll read cover to cover. 

The best part of any story collection is that when one of them captures the reader's attention, it becomes a bridge into other novels written by that particular author, which can became a gateway into a genre they can revel in.  All it takes is about 40 pages per short story and the hook is cast.  And these short stories have some excellent authors luring readers into a world of dystopic proportions. 

Below is a short synopsis of all of the stories within this collection.  The best part?  Asking the students which stories they liked best...

Also, think of the pairing and even book displays you can create around a story collection like this!  Ideas are churning....
Recommended for JH/HS

Hearken by Veronica Roth: Darya has to make a choice in a post-apocalyptic world to be a Hearkener, listening to people's life or death songs in a world struggling to survive.  It's her decision, but will she make the right choice?

Branded by Kelley Armstrong: Inside the walls you're safe, but The Outside is where the unnatural try to survive amid the ruins of the Old World.  Braeden was found guilty, and Priscilla will stop at nothing to find him again.  He can survive outside, but can she?

Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl: If you live hard and fast enough, you will be dropped.  Everyone only has so many credits until it's their turn and living beyond the safety net requires more credits.  Jai has lost her brother to the drop, and now faces the cruel reality that Z, the one she loves most, will be next.  Jai must choose between loving and trusting someone so reckless.  But at what cost?

Dogsbody by Rachel Caine: Corporate handed out free tickets to those lucky enough to get them from the lower levels, but Zay saw the horrible slaughter that occurred when the train stopped.  The only way against the Corporate is to infiltrate it from within.  Little does he know about political maneuvering and how truth is told through lies.

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder: Dana scavenges as much as she can from the debris of the city.  Alex knows the life of expensive cars and jet planes.  Together, the two possess a power they don't understand, but will lead them to the border or magic and reality.  Is it too late, or has the border been breached?

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr: Harmony's sister was killed by the Others, and now she has taken her place, along with Chris, to destroy as many corpse eaters as they can.  But a traitor will rock their world and place them in the path where they become the hunted.  They have survived so much loss and death, are they ready for theirs?

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia: Phoenix and Sky live inside the Dome where the UVA rays can't scar their skin as much.  Everyone has scars, but Phoenix has protected her little sister, a rarity with blond hair and blue eyes.  Now Sky is missing and Phoenix goes down into the Abyss and finds out the awful truth of what happens in the Dome.  Is Phoenix too late in saving her sister and can she battle the Protectorate to do so?

Love is a Choice by Beth Revis: He narrowly escaped death by the hands of the Eldest and now hides in the Recorder Hall, where the long forgotten literature of the Sol-Earth resides.  Mag finds him there and joins him in pursuit of the truth, but at what cost?  Will she be the end of him or his strength in time of rebellion?

Miasma by Carrie Ryan: Frankie saw the doctors and their beasts arrive.  They came to sniff out those who have lived too near the decaying and rotting ruins of the Old World in the miasma.  The only way to save her sister from death is to steal from the wealthy she works for.  But when she's caught,  Frankie knows all hope is lost.  Can she outwit the dark arrivals in their beaked masks or will she become their victim?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey and Throwback Thursday Steampunk list

Simon Pulse, 2013

London, late 1800s....
Meg is still in mourning.  She lost her family, her life, everything she's ever known to a devastating fire.  After this tragedy, she only has memories of her parents and grandfather (who passed away not so long ago) and one memento from her father's workshop...a filigreed locket .

Her life doesn't get any easier either.  Without her parents, Meg was certain to be an orphan, but a kind  and mysterious benefactor has taken her under his wing.  Now, she serves as a housemaid on an estate of a man who knew her father, but regardless of past affiliations, Meg doesn't really like or understand her new position.  Tip a glass of wine over, don't disturb the vase shards on the floor, never replace the burned down candles...She feels like she works and is trapped in a mausoleum.  But one event and person changes it all.

Meg soon learns her locket is more than it appears.  It's a key to some very mysterious places and things.  The clock she unlocks on the estate leads to a very odd room, filled with incredulous inventions.  But it's her covert encounter with a stable hand named Will  that becomes a coincidental relationship with side effects.

Small clues, including a letter from her grandfather, leads Meg down a path of danger and death, only if she can avoid it.  First in a series.

It's been awhile since I read steampunk, and this novel deftly implements modern technology in a Victorian world.  Not only does Kristin Bailey add elements of technology, but with forward thought, she also begins to slightly alter social roles within the cast of characters along the way that reflects new thought in an age full of tradition and modicum.  Once I began, this book quickly became a fast read, only so I could find out the secrets the characters encounter and the traitor within the story.  As a YA reader, I found this novel more appropriate at a middle school setting, but fans of steampunk and Victorian England can enjoy this regardless of higher grade levels. 

Need some more steampunk?  Try this YA titles from the past!  Regardless of when steampunk books are published, they are timeless because of their historical fiction background and elements of steampunk continue to defy age because of their quirky inventiveness:

The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld
The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare
Airman by Eoin Colfer
Incarceron and Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Steam on!!!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Digital Curation presentation

This is another presentation I'll be doing this summer for professional development.  It's all about digital curation but more than that, it's giving educators some tools before school starts so they can begin to explore the possibilities, get hands-on learning, and think about incorporating projects into lessons or even begin to collaborate with others to think above and beyond

If you can't see this, try the link:

Monday, July 8, 2013

Looking Back: My Year of Technology in Review

Every year, I am always eager to try something new, learn something different, and really know a  new site or app that I can tell teachers and students about.  This year has been no different, and I am excited about the possibilities of teaching and learning more about them!  Here are the sites/apps I looked into from August 2012 to June 2013.  Some of them are pretty commonplace now and I'm on the prowl for new sites and apps for next year . I recommend any and all of these :)

Apps:                                                              Sites:
Doceri/Reflector                                             EdCanvas
Haiku Deck                                           
Vine                                                                 Piktochart
Smart Office 2                                                 Smore
Pic Collage                                                      StudyBlue

Doceri and Reflector are two great ways to show your ipad or desktop via data projector through tandem connections between the two.  Of course, the paid apps are much better than the free, but both are top-notch.  If you like to walk around and talk with an iPad, check into these.

Haikudeck started out as a simple presentation app that included CC images from Flickr.  Since its debut, it has become so much more, including private and public notes and other enhancements.  Easy to use, free....what could possibly be better?

Vine is a quickie six second video.  If you have creativity and imagination, you can make six seconds really count.  I was blown away by the amazing things people created!  Hmmmmmm....I've been thinking about a Vine book trailer....

Smart Office 2 is a paid app but if you were lucky, you got onto this one when it was offered free.  iPad doesn't come with an office suite, but if it were to, this one would be THE one to use.  Includes Word, Powerpoint and Excel.  There are so many suites out there to choose from, but this one works

Pic Collage is an app where the sky's the limit.  You can collage pics together to send out, but more than that, you can also use this to make a quick and handy infographic.  This is a product driven by your creativity.

Videolicious is an app I came across as I was looking for an alternative to create book trailers using an iPad that I didn't have to pay for.  Simple and easy, this will do the trick for that project and so many other ones from different curriculum areas.  Point and shoot with built-in music so all is fair use.

Educreations is the to-go whiteboard.  Draw and record, use voice over, and share.  It'll also add text to the page.  Think about the flipped classroom for this tool or use it with Doceri or Reflector to real-time teaching and archiving


Edcanvas is the tool I think about when I think digital curation in the classroom.  It truly is a white canvas that you paint how you'd like by adding video, text, links, websites, quizzes and uploads.  Compartmentalize, collaborate - this is a curation tool that can do no wrong. is another curation tool I've come to love.  Although it only gives you five topics, that's more than enough to curate on different ideas, thoughts, technology, professional sites and so much more.  Follow those  who have the same passion as you, curate through personal searching or recommendations, and leave feedback and comments to make each "scoop" timely.

Piktochart is the infographic tool I fell in love with.  While the free site is great, the paid site is even more excellent! Use this to create an eye-popping infographic from any source.  With your thoughts and creativity in condensing information and pairing it with graphics, it becomes a tool to use in any professional situation.

Smore is another excellent infographic tool.  Simple and easy to use, an infographic is just minutes away from creation.  Share, post, watch your analytics built into your much you can do with this.  Although  images are not part of the package, you can upload them onto your infographic (just make sure you teach CC and copyright free image searching!)

Study Blue is a site I stumbled on when searching for infographics, but it's so much more than that.  Create a class and add materials such as flashcards you create or uploads for students to access.  Search the archive for lessons already created or classes you can join.  If you need something free to create an online class, try this one.  You can also upgrade to a Pro account if you like it.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Unremembered by Jessica Brody AND Throwback Thursday!!

Macmillan, 2013
She woke up in a sea of dead people, clinging to a piece of debris.  The only survivor of Flight 121, she was rescued and taken to California.  People wondered how she survived with barely a scratch on the surface.  But under the surface, there is damage.  She can't remember her name, where she lives....nothing.  Her memories have all disappeared.  There is one thing that survived with her.  A pendant with nothing in it, but a piece of paper with strange markings, numbers she can't decipher, and the word "trust."

They dubbed this beautiful girl Violet because of her eyes.  Amidst the paparazzi, she tries to cling to reality and hope, but without any memories to aid her, Violet is hopelessly lost in re-learning things that should come naturally.  When Violet is finally released from the hospital, Social Services puts her in the care of a foster family, remote from all cameras and hubbub.  Violet enjoys her family, especially Cody, her 13 year old "brother."  She is struggling to remember her past, and with the help of Cody, she begins down a journey of discovery.  First the airport and the reason why her name wasn't on the manifesto.  Then the internet and conspiracy theory sites.  But nothing seems to jog her memory...until she meets Lyzender.

He calls her Sera and tells her to trust no one except him.  Although she doesn't want to, Sera can't help but feel a connection, both physically and emotionally, with him.  How does he know about her locket?  What else does he know?

Soon her life is turned upside down.  At first she notices subtle things, such as her ability to speak many languages and solve extremely difficult mathematical equations.  But when strangers begin chasing her, her only instinct is to run...  Will she ever be able to understand her past, her future, and her present?

Jessica Brody writes an incomparable science fiction book blended with a sense of mystery.  The beginning of the book will grab the reader simply because they will want to know who Violet is, and why she survived.  The more you read, the deeper the intrigue becomes, and that is what compels the reader forward.  Brody handles the nuances of science fiction well without being over the top.  Like the main characters, the reader will not know who to trust and not trust, which builds a memorable relationship between author and reader.  This is great science fiction writing teens will gravitate to. This first in a series and recommended

And what better way to re-introduce the past than by pairing it with another excellent science fiction book by Mary E. Pearson.  Written in 2008, this book has a lot of the same characteristics as Brody's but with a completely different spin.  Pearson has since rekindled this book by writing a sequel, The Fox Inheritance (2011, Henry Holt) as part of the Jenna Fox Chronicles.  Below is a book trailer I created back in 2008 for Pearson's book....this is definitely a throwback to my early days of book trailer creations!