Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

emmy and oliver

I laughed, I cried, I swooned (a lot), and I totally ignored my students the morning after I started reading Emmy & Oliver because I couldn’t wait to finish reading.

The storyline was intriguing, but I think what I loved most about Emmy & Oliver was the incredible quality of the characters. Emmy and Oliver were great, in fact I’d go so far as to say that I think Emmy’s one of the best protagonists I’ve ever read, and their cast of supporting characters was awesome.

Emmy & Oliver would make a great choice for any summer reading situation, whether it be a day at the beach or a day spent curled up in bed. Go check it out Emmy & Oliver. And, on a side note, Robin Fenway’s other titles are different in style and genre but are also fun reads, if you find that you like this title and want more from the same author!

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The Six by Mark Alpert – new book trailer release!

Check out this trailer, then scroll down for an excerpt and a chance to win a copy of The Six!

 

the six mark alpertThe Six

By Mark Alpert

Sourcebooks Fire

July 7, 2015

Advance Praise for Mark Alpert

“Adam is an unusual hero—and he faces a frightening question: Computers can’t kill—CAN they? I’m still shaken by the answer. Will the near-future really be this terrifying?” —R.L. Stine, bestselling author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series

“An exciting action story chock-full of characters you’ll love. The Six is full of big ideas, big questions, real science, and things that will make you think and wonder and lie awake late at night.” —Michael Grant, New York Times bestselling author of the Gone series 

“The Six are introduced as terminally-ill teens, but there’s plenty of high-speed action in which they engage. Their physical disabilities and limitations through disease are forgotten as the teens’ hearts, minds, and personalities shine through…questions of principle, power, and possibility keep this look at our modern, hardwired existence fresh and fascinating.” STARRED Booklist

“Alpert’s exploration of neuromorphic electronics raises interesting questions about ethics, technology, and human nature…a haunting ending scene will leave readers pondering the line between progress and loss. A thought-provoking clash between humanity and machinery.”- Kirkus Reviews

“A well-researched, hardcore science-fiction joyride, great for fans of first-person shooter video games like Halo and Destiny. Highly recommended” –School Library Journal

“Do not just read The Six; make your friends read it too.” –VOYA Magazine

Goodreads Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23354348-the-six?from_search=true&search_version=service_impr

Avatar meets The Terminator in this thrilling cyber-tech adventure…

Book Info:

Adam’s muscular dystrophy has taken his motility, his friends, and in a few short years, it will take his life. He takes solace in playing video games he’s programmed to reflect the life that he used to have. Virtual reality is the one realm where he can be the hero, and it’s where he chooses to spend his time, until an entity called Sigma tries to kill him.

A dangerously advanced artificial intelligence program created by Adam’s computer-genius father, Sigma has escaped its cyber prison and is threatening global destruction and domination. But Adam’s father has a plan. He will stop Sigma by using the technology he developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son.

Adam’s consciousness is uploaded into the body of a weaponized robot, along with a group of five other gifted teens who are terminally ill. Together, they must learn how to manipulate their new mechanical forms and prepare for combat before Sigma destroys humanity. Adam can finally play the hero for real, but will his new body be worth the sacrifice of his human existence?

This innovative and thought-provoking young adult debut, from the critically acclaimed author of adult thrillers Final Theory and The Omega Theory, questions what it means to be human and whether we are destined to be defined by our physical bodies or our intellect.

Amazon | AppleB&N | BAM | !ndigo |  IndieBound | Kindle |  Nook

 

Mark Alpert:

Mark Alpert is a former editor at Scientific American, and the author of several adult thrillers. He’s been praised by Douglas Preston as the “heir to Michael Crichton.” Visit Mark online at markalpert.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Excerpt from The Six:

Shannon rears back in her seat as if she’s been slapped. “And where are you going to store the copies of our brains?” Her voice is furious. “In a supercomputer? A big electronic prison?”

Dad doesn’t take offense. He answers her calmly. “The scanning process converts human intelligence to a digital form, allowing it to run on any neuromorphic computer that has enough memory and processing power. But in the initial stage right after the transfer, we believe it’s important to connect the intelligence to a machine that can move around and sense the outside world. A human intelligence is accustomed to controlling a body, so if we want to preserve its sanity, we’d better give it something to control. Here, let me show you.”

He puts the vial of nanoprobes back in his pocket and pulls out something else, a small remote–control device. He points it at the doorway beside the stage, and a moment later I hear a loud clanking. The noise startles the soldiers standing by the doorway. They step backward, flattening themselves against the wall. Then a seven–foot–tall robot emerges from the doorway and brushes past them.

The robot strides across the stage. It has two arms and two legs, but otherwise it isn’t very humanlike. It has no head or neck. Its torso is shaped like a giant bullet, with the rounded end on top. Its legs angle downward from the base of its torso and rest on oval steel–plate footpads that clang against the floor.

The machine marches briskly past the podium and stops in front of my dad, who presses a button on his remote control. This command extends the robot’s arms, which telescope to a full length of six feet. They look like multi–jointed tentacles. The machine’s hands, though, resemble human hands, with dexterous mechanical fingers and thumbs.

Dad presses another button, and the robot’s rounded top starts to turn like a turret. “The cameras and acoustic sensors are up here,” Dad says, pointing at the top end. “But the neuromorphic electronics are deep inside the torso, encased in armor plating. These robots were originally designed for the war in Afghanistan, so they’re pretty sturdy.” He raps his knuckles against the torso. “All in all, it’s an excellent platform for a newly transferred intelligence, but really it’s just the beginning. The whole point of the Pioneer Project is to bridge the gap between man and machine, and that means the human intelligences must explore their new environment. The Pioneers will have to learn how to use their new capabilities, and that includes transferring their intelligences from one machine to another.”

His voice grows louder again, full of enthusiasm. “Once the Pioneers have mastered these tasks, our hope is that they’ll be able to establish a connection with Sigma. If all goes well, they’ll start communicating with the AI before it launches any of the Russian missiles. And then the toughest challenge will begin. At the same time that the humans are learning how to be machines, they’ll have to teach Sigma how to be human.”

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway Link for Sourcebooks Fire Sci-Fi Book Pack including a copy of The Six by Mark Alpert (Runs June 11-June 23rd) US and Canada only:

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Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

serafina and the black cloak

 

With all the hype leading up to the release of Serafina and the Black Cloak, it’s pretty clear that Disney’s looking to discover and be a part of the next big book franchise. I think they may just have found it.

Well-written and intriguing, Serafina and the Black Cloak feels like something wonderfully familiar and new all at once. In the vein of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, Beatty has written the beginning of a great hero journey series for middle schoolers, but with one major difference… The hero is a girl. And, not just any girl, but a truly unique one for reasons that I won’t tell because it’ll spoil parts of the book for you. Throughout the book, Serafina goes through the process of questioning who she is and what her purpose is, and she comes out on the other side of it as an admirable and strong young woman. Set during the time of the Vanderbilt family and the Biltmore House in the mountains of North Carolina, historical and factual details are woven into the narrative seamlessly, which creates a fascinating delve into historical fiction for middle grades readers. The supporting cast of characters are remarkable, too; they include the Vanderbilt family, a wide variety of people who have come to stay as guests in their home, and the large staff that kept a place like the Biltmore House running.

There’s a battle between good and evil here, and good wins out just as we’d expect in an MG title, but it’s done in a fresh way and comes across as something different. The book never really fully delves into witchcraft (portrayed as evil) or paranormal stuff, but there are touches of it that make the story mysterious and a little spooky. When the evil force driving the antagonist is finally defeated, it’s with something clearly good, which makes me comfortable with recommending this for school reading for grades 4 and up.

Serafina and the Black Cloak comes out on July 14th, and it should be everywhere when it comes out… But, click here to see it on Amazon (where it’s already listed as a #1 New Release) if you’d like to preorder it, or check with your favorite local bookseller to order it.

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

hello i love you

 

I loved this. And, since there’s so much going on in it that I can’t possibly explain any better than the official blurb does, read this:

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can’t stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can’t deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she’ll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.

So, I would imagine that I’m not the only one who didn’t know anything about K-Pop before reading this, but after some googling (oh my goodness, fandom insanity) I got a pretty good feel for the K-Pop culture. It made for a fun setting for Hello, I Love You because it’s not just set in Korea but also sort of within this subculture that I found fascinating. As a character, Grace is flawed and very human, and as a result of recent tragedies doesn’t start out this book as a very likable person. By the end, though, Grace’s transformation is realistic and hopeful. I loved Jason and Grace together and rooted for them the whole way through.

In a word, I thought is was wonderful. Check it out here on Amazon or get it from your favorite book store!

What should you binge-watch this summer?

I’m a serious fan of TV with smart writing, and the best-written show I’ve seen in a very long time is Jane the Virgin. Now, had I judged the series by its title, I never would have watch it. But oh my goodness I’m so glad I saw the original trailer that got me hooked on it. Every episode makes me laugh out loud, but the protagonist (Jane, who is in fact a virgin even though she’s pregnant) is a seriously strong young woman with an admirable set of morals and dreams she’s not afraid to go after. Find some episodes on The CW’s website, or watch the series from the beginning on Monday nights on The CW, or just give in and stream the entire first season on Amazon for less than twenty bucks. It’s really good stuff.

 

A Dedication to My Students: “This Time of Year”

It’s the middle of the last week of school, and I’m finally sitting on my couch at 9:30 at night – the first time I’ve had all day to just sit and be still. And, what I can’t get off my mind is how I’m actually kind of sad that the school year is already over.

Don’t get me wrong… I love summer vacation. Like, I REALLY love it. Because my husband and I are both teachers, we have a whole lot of fun family time during the summer, which I would trade for the world. My own kids will only be kids once, and I maximize every moment of available time with them. So, yay summer and all that.

However, this time of year is also very difficult for me. I spend a ridiculous number of hours each week with a group of 80+ teenagers starting in August. So, by the time we arrive here in the first week of June, we all know each other pretty well. Really well. I’ve spent the school year finding every possible thing there is to love about them (that’s the key to teacher sanity and effectiveness, by the way) and then, suddenly, they’ll just be gone. We’ve laughed together, learned together, and had adventures together. I’ve listened to them when things were going badly, held them accountable when needed, and they’ve given me grace on my bad days (and in the mornings in general because I’m a horrible morning person). When they’re suddenly gone, moving on in their school careers as they absolutely should do, it’s like losing a whole bunch of friends all at once.

It’s a bittersweet time – one in which you remember the good times more than the bad, because who wants to focus on the bad anyway? You encourage them to go on and succeed and do big things, but also try to let them know that you don’t really want them to go away. I’m grateful for social media (they’re telling me to get snapchat… I’m too old for that, right?) and texting and all the ways I get to keep up with my students, but it’s just not the same.

Because I’m a product of the 90’s and my love of Better Than Ezra was (and still is) fierce, these happy but sad feelings always send “This Time of Year” running through my mind. I think the lyrics are perfect for the end of the school year for a teacher, and also for 8th graders as they get ready to graduate. There’s so much to look forward to and enjoy, but also so much to look back on and miss.

So, this one goes out to all my students, past and present. I miss you guys for real!

 

“This Time Of Year” – Better Than Ezra

Well, there’s a feeling in the air
Just like a Friday afternoon.
Yeah, you can go there if you want
Though it fades too soon.So go on, let it be.
If there’s a feeling coming over me,
Seems like it’s always understood this time of year.[To Chorus:]
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.Well, there’s a football in the air,
Across a leaf blown field.
Yeah, and there’s your first car on the road,
And the girl you’d steal.

So go on with yourself
If there’s a feeling that there’s something else.
Seems like it’s always understood
This time of year.

[To Chorus:]
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.

Well, there’s a feeling in the air
Just like a Friday afternoon.
Yeah, you can go there if you want
Though it fades too soon.

So go on, let it be.
If there’s a feeling coming over me,
Seems like it’s always understood this time of year.

[To Chorus:]
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.