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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Anxiously Awaiting... Ironskin!



















Ironskin
by Tina Connolly

Publication date: Oct. 2, 2012

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a "delicate situation"—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio...and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discover just how far she will go to become whole again.


Anyone else loving this Jane Eyre/Fae storyline??? I think this sounds so intriguing. I can't wait til this comes out...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip



















Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip
by Jordan Sonnenblick

Sometimes, the greatest comebacks take place far away from the ball field.

Meet Peter Friedman, high school freshman. Talented photographer. Former baseball star. When a freakish injury ends his pitching career, Peter has some major things to figure out. Is there life after sports? Why has his grandfather suddenly given him thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment? And is it his imagination, or is the super-hot star of the girls' swim team flirting with him, right in front of the amazing new girl in his photography class? (description from Amazon.com)

I loved this book. I love all of Jordan Sonnenblick's books!

This book had sports, it had photography, it had the ups and downs of a new relationship...it had family drama (and tons of family love)... it pretty much had it all!


I so thoroughly enjoyed this book that I am giving it a GOLD STAR review!!

I thought that Peter was a great character. I loved his relationship with his grandfather and the one that he develops with Angelika.  I also enjoyed his best friend and thought that it was interesting to see the dynamics of their relationship. 

This is one of those books that I believe has something for everyone to enjoy.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Anxiously Awaiting...Days of Blood and Starlight!



















Days of Blood and Starlight 
by  Laini  Taylor
Sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Publication date: November 6, 2012

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed "Daughter of Smoke and Bone," Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.(description from Goodreads)

I love this cover! Laini's been really lucky with her covers...they always match her books really well. Her  writing is such a lush mix of dark and fancy. I can't wait for this sequel!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Movie Trailer: The Great Gatsby

Have you ever read The Great Gatsby? It's a classic...and they're making it into what looks like a great movie version...



I love the casting and the feel of the movie. I think it's going to be epic!

Anxiously Awaiting... The Dead and the Buried


The Dead and the Buried
by Kim Harrington

Publication date: January 2013

Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.
Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school -- until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?


*I love Kim Harrington's books and I can't wait for this one!*

Anxiously Awaiting... Dark Star



















Dark Star
by Bethany Frenette

Publication date: Oct. 23, 2012

Audrey Whitticomb has nothing to fear. Her mother is the superhero Morning Star, the most deadly crime-fighter in the Twin Cities, so it’s hard for Audrey not to feel safe. That is, until she’s lured into the sweet night air by something human and not human—something with talons and teeth, and a wide, scarlet smile.

Now Audrey knows the truth: her mom doesn’t fight crime at night. She fights Harrowers—livid, merciless beings who were trapped Beneath eons ago. Yet some have managed to escape. And they want Audrey dead, just because of who she is: one of the Kin.

To survive, Audrey will need to sharpen the powers she has always had. When she gets close to someone, dark corners of the person’s memories become her own, and she sometimes even glimpses the future. If Audrey could only get close to Patrick Tigue, a powerful Harrower masquerading as human, she could use her Knowing to discover the Harrowers’ next move. But Leon, her mother’s bossy, infuriatingly attractive sidekick, has other ideas. Lately, he won’t let Audrey out of his sight.

When an unthinkable betrayal puts Minneapolis in terrible danger, Audrey discovers a wild, untamed power within herself. It may be the key to saving her herself, her family, and her city. Or it may be the force that destroys everything—and everyone—she loves.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Have You Heard of ABNA?

Have you ever heard of the ABNA contest?

No?  It is an annual contest hosted by Amazon.com, CreateSpace, and the Penguin Group (USA) that honors one previously unpublished work of general fiction (adult) and one of young adult fiction. This is my third year participating as a judge (not a final judge...but in an earlier round...) and I am SOOOO excited that a book I pushed through is actually one of the three contending for the prize for young adult fiction!!

As you can see below in the info I pulled from one of their press releases, it is a big deal prize! The winner gets their book published by Penguin and they get a $15,000 advance!!

Thousands of entries poured in for the fifth annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest – and after several rounds of judging, six finalists have just been announced in the international competition sponsored by Amazon.com, CreateSpace and Penguin Group (USA). From now until May 30, Amazon customers can read excerpts from the finalists’ works and vote for their favorite novel to determine the winners in both the general fiction and young adult fiction categories at www.amazon.com/abna. Based on customer votes, two grand prize winners, one in each category, will receive a publishing contract from Penguin Group (USA) which includes a $15,000 advance. This year’s ABNA winners will be revealed at a special awards ceremony in Seattle on June 16, 2012.

Check it out and think about voting for one of the nominees!  I'm planning to vote for the book I nominated, On Little Wings, but don't let me sway you if you like one of the others better!

Brave New Love



















Brave New Love
ed. by Paula Guran

Young love has always had its challenges, but even so, the world falling apart at its seams is a pretty big obstacle. This stellar collection of YA dystopian tales explores survival of the fittest in terms of love, passion, and humanity. When the survival of the human race is at stake, what will it take for the bond between two people to hold strong together?

Featuring some of the most well known and best-selling names of the dystopian genre, as well as the hottest up-and-coming authors, this anthology includes works from Jeanne DuPrau (City of Ember), Kiera Cass (The Selection), William Sleator (Interstellar Pig), Jesse Karp (Those That Wake), Diana Peterfreund (Secret Society Girl), Carrie Vaughn (The Kitty Norville Series), and Carrie Ryan (New York Times bestseller The Forest of Hands and Teeth). (description from Amazon.com)

I enjoyed each of the stories that I read in this anthology separately, as their own entities. Each was interesting, creative, and engaging.  I'm going to break it down and tell you about some of the ones I liked the best... I do want to note, though, that overall I felt the tone of this book was depressing! I do not think I would ever recommend that anyone read this book straight through in one shot.  This is a book to read one story at a time...to parse out between other books...trust me.


The Stories:
In the Clearing by Kiera Cass - I liked this short story about a society where people are drugged into complacency through their food.  I thought it was plausible and intriguing. I liked both main characters and thought the romance built well.

Now Purple with Love's Wound by Carrie Vaughn - I thought this story was really powerful.  I loved the concept, even as it totally creeped me out. It gave me chills to think of a society where girls were drugged into feeling lifelong love for someone who claimed them.  Short, but extremely effective.

Berserker Eyes by Maria Snyder - This had the feel of a longer dystopian novel excerpt...or maybe it was just that I wanted it to be... I would read a whole novel set in this world.  I also loved how the romance built through their quest to beat the government that was abusing them...

Foundlings by Diana Peterfreund - Oooh! The perfect example of when "helpful" government agencies go wrong.  WOMB is supposed to protect babies and their mothers...but then it begins to help babies at the cost of their mothers.  This was a story I could actually see happening in our distant future. 

The Dream Eater by Carrie Ryan - This story broke my heart.  I felt bad for *everyone* involved and wanted to rail out at the city that allowed this poor girl to sacrifice herself for thier happiness. I loved how Ryan kept the absolute realism that I love in her zombie books, even as I felt so sad reading the story...

Those were the standout stories for me, though as I mentioned I would not read them all in a row...it might make you want to close your eyes and pretend that there is no future!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mindblind



















Mindblind
by Jennifer Roy

Fourteen-year-old Nathaniel Clark lives in two worlds—the outside world of his family and friends and his own, special, inside Aspie world, where he’s not forced to interact with people or worry about wearing his clothes right-side out. The world where he can solve mathematical problems that elude even the brightest graduate students. The world where he feels he can find his own inner truth. People say he’s a genius, but Nathaniel thinks differently. According to a book he once read, a true genius uses his talent to make a contribution to the world. Nathaniel takes the definition literally, and begins his quest for genius status. (description from Amazon.com)

I really enjoyed this book.  I thought that it was a really accessible glimpse into the mind of someone with Asperger's Syndrome. Nathaniel's mind worked very differently from say, mine, but the author took pains to write so that it was not so foreign that it would be off-putting as a reader to try to understand.

Nathaniel was interesting and driven. I love that he truly strived to become a positive addition to society.  He longed for nothing more than to become the true definition of a "genius" - someone who produced something incredible. *Spoiler* I love that his passion drives him not only to become enrolled at MIT, but also to balance that with a "fun" part-time job at a grocery store. 

I loved that Nathaniel also had "normal" friends and that he was so high functioning.  Being in a band and going bowling or playing video games with friends seem to be things that a lot of autistic/Aspie kids can't do and it was heartwarming to see a character that was inspired to participate so much by his family.  I loved the relationship he and his mother had...and while I didn't like his relationship with his father, I understood how it could have developed and thought it was very realistic.  It was nice to see his loving stepmother, too. 

All in all, I thought this book was very well done and I recommend it anytime you are looking for something a little bit different!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kick



















Kick
by Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman

Kevin Johnson is thirteen years old. And heading for juvie. He's a good kid, a great friend, and a star striker for his Highland, New Jersey, soccer team. His team is competing for the State Cup, and he wants to prove he has more than just star-player potential. Kevin's never been in any serious trouble . . . until the night he ends up in jail. Enter Sergeant Brown, a cop assigned to be Kevin's mentor. If Kevin and Brown can learn to trust each other, they might be able to turn things around before it's too late. (description from Amazon.com)

I did not really enjoy this book. I wanted to, but there were a lot of things about it that actually bothered me.  I could see that it would appeal a lot to other readers, but it just didn't work for me.

Good things I saw:
*It's a quick read.
*Kevin is relatable and has a great family.
*Sgt. Brown was overall a good mentor to Kevin.
*It gives a good lesson about watching your temper and finding other ways to solve problems.

Things I didn't like:
*Sgt. Brown calling his wife (whom he supposedly loved very much) "Woman," constantly saying he wished she would stop talking at him and just "Shut Up." Grrr... As much as he was good with Kevin, I HATED the example he set as a husband.
*The sub-plot about the illegal immigrants being exploited was tied up too neatly and without a lot of explanation.
*Kevin's almost trip to perma-juvie was tied up way to easily in what I thought was an improbable fashion...

Overall, I had wanted to like this story, but I just found that I couldn't get past what I disliked. I will be recommending this to reluctant readers, though, and pointing out to teens that Myers' co-author is actually a teen himself!

Anxiously Awaiting... Perfection



















Perfection
by J.L. Spelbring

Publication date: May 2013

The personification of Aryan purity, Ellyssa's spent her whole life under her creator's strict training and guidance; her purpose is to eradicate inferior beings. She was genetically engineered to be the perfect soldier: strong, intelligent, unemotional, and telepathic.

Only Ellyssa isn't perfect.

Ellyssa feels emotions--a fact she's spent her life concealing. Until she encounters the epitome of inferiority: a dark-haired boy raised among renegades hiding since the Nazis won the war a century ago. He speaks to her telepathically, pushing thoughts into her mind, despite the impossibility of such a substandard person having psychic abilities.

But he does.

His unspoken words and visions of a place she's never visited make Ellyssa question her creator. Confused and afraid her secret will be discovered, Ellyssa runs away, embarking on a journey where she discovers there is more to her than perfection.


Okay. Generally I purposely shy away from World War II based fiction. I just do...it's a personal preference, I'm not sure why it really developed, but this... this sounds SO intriguing. I love the idea of exploring how the world would be totally different if the Nazis had won the war... I'm pretty sure I'll be reading this one next year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ender's Game Movie Blog!

So, I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before, but... Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is my ALL.TIME.FAVORITE.SCIENCE.FICTION.BOOK....EVAH!!


I LOVE Ender's Game. It is an amazing book with great characters and a cool concept.

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.


If you've never read it, I HIGHLY recommend you give it a shot. You don't like Sci-Fi, you say... I will prove you wrong. Try this book. It will change your life.

So. Why am I gushing at you like this??

Well...they are currently filming the Ender's Game MOVIE!! *squee!!*

They've lined up an awesome cast and they've even created a really cool blog that lets you see stuff from the movie sets. 


 
Check it out sometime if you get a chance! Let me know if you think they're going to do a good job with the movie...

Mini Reviews: The Graphic Novel edition (2)












Smile
by Reina Telgemeier

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there's still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly. (description from Amazon.com)

I actually really liked this graphic novel. It was interesting because not only was it a good story with a character that was very relatable, but it turns out it's a memoir! The events really happened to the author.  Cool.


Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty
by G. Neri
illus. by Randy Duburke

Eleven-year old Roger is trying to make sense of his classmate Robert "Yummy" Sandifer's death, but first he has to make sense of Yummy's life. Yummy could be as tough as a pit bull sometimes. Other times he was as sweet as the sugary treats he loved to eat. Was Yummy some sort of monster, or just another kid? As Roger searches for the truth, he finds more and more questions. How did Yummy end up in so much trouble? Did he really kill someone? And why do all the answers seem to lead back to a gang-the same gang to which Roger's older brother belongs? Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty is a compelling graphic dramatization based on events that occurred in Chicago in 1994. This gritty exploration of youth gang life will force readers to question their own understandings of good and bad, right and wrong. (description from Amazon.com) 

I didn't really enjoy this graphic novel all that much.  I think it's an important topic, and one that many children/teens in urban areas will relate to, but I just didn't connect to it all that much.  I didn't really like the illustration style and found Yummy to be a character I couldn't really muster all that sympathy for...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Council of Mirrors



















The Council of Mirrors
by Michael Buckley
The Sisters Grimm, book nine

In the final volume in the Sisters Grimm series, Sabrina, Daphne, and the rest of the Grimms and their friends must face off against the Master to decide the fate of Ferryport Landing—and the world. When Mirror fails to escape the barrier using Granny Relda’s body, he turns to his plan B: killing all the Grimms so that the magical barrier collapses. In the meantime, Sabrina has gathered the other magic mirrors as advisors on how to deal with their mortal enemy. They tell her to join forces with the Scarlet Hand against Mirror, in exchange for offering all the citizens of Ferryport Landing their freedom. (description from Amazon.com)

This is one of my all time favorite series! I love, love, love Sabrina and Daphne. I love that they interact with fairy tale characters. I love everything about this series. :)

While I am extremely SAD that this series is over, I also thought it ended in just the most perfect way. The villians are finally tamed, families are reunited, friends have come back together, and love wins out in the end.

Since this is the last book, there's not a lot that I can say without giving everything away, other than... if you've never read this series and you love fairy tales, you should try them...but definitely start with book one, The Fairy Tale Detectives!!

Have you seen the trailer for Revolution, yet??

So, um, there is this new show coming out this fall called, REVOLUTION, and it looks...EPIC. I cannot wait. Really. I want it tomorrow!  Check out the trailer:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Insurgent

Insurgent
by Veronica Roth
Divergent trilogy, book two

*CAUTION - This description/review contains spoilers if you have not read Divergent...*

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so. (Description from Amazon.com)

It is no secret that I LOVED Divergent.  It was amazing...and while I really enjoyed Insurgent, it just didn't have that same magical *spark* that Divergent did...

One of the things I liked the most about this book...and simultaneously cursed, was that it broadened our world-view and gave much more depth to whole story. Readers got to learn more about each faction - how it was developed, who runs it and where, what are its principles - and how they interact with each other. It was really cool to see how the entire city worked as a whole. 

The world-building felt much more developed here, but in Roth's feeding us so much information, you lose the magic of living directly in Tris' head. As such, I felt that the first half of the book developed very slowly... it was not until midway through that I became really solidly invested in the characters again.

And what Tris and Four go through... I just wanted to reach through the book and hug each of them... There are betrayals, there are massive secrets revealed, there are deaths.  I cannot say more without getting all spoiler-y.

Now... all that being said...the end of this book goes out with a BANG! I love where Roth took this, though I was left with some burning questions that I can only hope get answered in the final book. For a variety of reasons, book three is a must read!



Chopsticks



















Chopsticks
by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

After her mother died, Glory retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her as a piano prodigy, with a rigid schedule and the goal of playing sold-out shows across the globe. Now, as a teenager, Glory has disappeared. As we flash back to the events leading up to her disappearance, we see a girl on the precipice of disaster. Brilliant and lonely, Glory is drawn to an artistic new boy, Frank, who moves in next door. The farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness. Before long, Glory is unable to play anything but the song "Chopsticks."

But nothing is what it seems, and Glory's reality is not reality at all. In this stunningly moving novel told in photographs, pictures, and words, it's up to the reader to decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along... (description from Amazon.com)

This is actually a really cool book. It's a quick read because it's all done in ephemera... meaning, postcards, pictures, newspaper articles, IM conversations.  It's a breeze to flip through, but it builds a really intriguing story.

I loved how every time you turn the page another little layer of the story, or Glory or Frank's story, gets peeled away and the sequence of events builds... is Glory going mad? Is she plotting to run away?  Is her Dad holding her captive?  What is really happening?

I love how in the end, you think you know what's happened, but maybe not... It's ambiguous, just like real life.  There are so many mysteries out there and it's truly impossible to know everything that goes on with everyone around us...

I'm really glad I picked this one up. (Though definitely a library book, not one to buy...)

Friday, May 11, 2012

172 Hours on the Moon



















172 Hours on the Moon
by Johan Harstad

It's been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA's unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space--and change their lives forever.
 
Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band's ticket to fame and fortune.

Midori believes it's her way out of her restrained life in Japan.

Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.

It's the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space... no one is coming to save them. (description from Amazon.com)
 
I was very impressed with this science fiction thriller.
 
Though it is a little slow starting, the tension eventually builds into a spine-chilling ending.  This is the book for someone who doesn't need a happy ending.  This is the book for someone looking for realism and just a touch of horror.
 
This book has many characters and changes perspectives quite frequently, though you could say that Mia could be considered the "main character."  It actually makes it a little easier as the story goes on to be not quite invested in any specific character...
 
Whatever your suspicions may be along the way, the author manages to surprise readers with a bleak ending that will give you just the hint of nightmares for a few days...
 
Full disclosure: ARC received from Little, Brown books for Young Readers; Audio book received to review for AudioFile

The Selection



















The Selection
by Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. (description from Amazon.com)

I really enjoyed this book.  America is an interesting character. I liked her spunk and her honesty...with both herself and the men in her life.  I felt like she was someone I'd like to be friends with, you know?

I thought this was a really interesting world.  It has a caste system and a very rigid set of rules about etiquette and defining what life choices you can make. I, by no means, would want to live there, but it was an intriguing world to read about!

As more and more secrets became revealed, my interest became more and more peaked.  This is a book that, unfortunately, leaves a lot of questions unanswered at the end (it's the first in a trilogy) and my final thought when I finished it was..."HOW long do I have to wait for book two??"

Sadly, book two will not be available until Spring 2013, which feels so far away!!
On the plus side, though...this series is being turned into a TV show that will be airing on the CW later this year! I'm stoked. :)  Correction - there was a pilot made for the CW, but they decided not to make the show, after all. I'm so SAD!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The BEA countdown begins!

I just realized...in exactly four weeks from today, I will be posting this year's BEA recap. I am super excited for this year. I'm going to the Children's Author Breakfast for the first time and I've already started planning out all the author signings I want to try to attend.  I've got a list of ARCs I'd love to take home and I just can't wait for that whole over-awed book love *feeling* that a day at BEA brings!!

Countdown: 27 days to BOOK CHRISTMAS!

Mini Reviews: The Picturebook edition












Pinkalicious
by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann

Pink, pink, pink. More than anything, Pinkalicious loves pink, especially pink cupcakes. Her parents warn her not to eat too many of them, but when Pinkalicious does . . . she turns pink! What to do?

This sparkling picture book, filled with such favorites as pink bubble gum, pink peonies, pink cotton candy, and pink fairy princess dresses, celebrates all things pink while showing that being yourself is best of all. (description from Amazon.com)

To be totally honest, I read both this and Silverlicious and I did not really care for either one. I found Pinkalicious to be a bratty little girl that is not really forced to learn any lessons. I understand that the books are fun and cute, but I think they inadvertantly send some poor messages...













I Don't Want to Be a Pea!
by Ann Bonwill
illus. by Sam Rickerty

Hugo is in no doubt as to what he and Bella should go as to the Hippo-Bird Fancy Dress Party. They will go as the princess and the pea and he will be the princess (of course!) leaving poor Bella to be the pea. Indignant, Bella refuses. She has a better suggestion - they will go as a mermaid on a rock and she will be the mermaid (of course!) leaving a huffy Hugo to be the rock. Hugo is not happy. But neither is Bella. They just can't decide on a costume and things reach a crisis when they both flounce off saying they don't want to go to the party at all. After time to consider, both Hugo and Bella calm down and (privately) both choose to dress as a pea as a gesture of making it all up to each other. So when they both arrive at the party as peas, Hugo and Bella announce proudly that they are 'two peas in a pod, just as it should be' underlining the message of the book that friendship is all about give and take. (description from Amazon.com)




 
 
 
 
 
With fabulous illustrations and a simple story about what it means to sacrifice for friendship, I thought this book was a real winner. It's simple enough (and somewhat silly!) for preschoolers to understand, but also helps them to grasp a great concept about friendship.
 
Cloudette
by Tom Lichtenheld

Sometimes being small can have its advantages. If you’re a little cloud like Cloudette, people call you cute nicknames, and you can always find a good spot to watch the fireworks. But what about when you want to do something big, like help a giant garden grow, or make a brook babble? (description from Amazon.com)

This was another gem of a book. It is a cute way for little children to understand that even though they are little, they can make a difference in the world, too! It had really cute illustrations. 


Press Here
by Herve Tullet

Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey! Each page of this surprising book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next! Children and adults alike will giggle with delight as the dots multiply, change direction, and grow in size! (description from Amazon.com)


This was a really fun book to "read!"  Basically, you (or a small child) read the directions on each page, complete the action, turn the page...and voila, it appears you made something new happen!  It was a real hoot.  Cool concept...we get asked for this book a lot!!
 

Happy 10th Birthday to CORALINE!!


Today is the tenth anniversary of Neil Gaiman's creepy, cool story, Coraline. If you've never read it, you totally should. It's only barely over 200 pages long and the story will suck you right in...

"Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house. . . ."

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous.

But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

This book has also been made into a movie and a graphic novel. No matter what way you want to get it, the story will be sure to make the hair rise on the back of your neck...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

If I Stay



















If I Stay
by Gayle Forman

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. (description from Amazon.com)

Oh! This is one of those books that I'm really kicking myself for not having read *ages* ago!! Not only was every review I ever read positive, but I got several personal recommendations (shout out to, hmmm...let's see, Danielle, Kim, the Roecker sisters, and Melanie!!) that couldn't stop crowing about how good it was...

I really need to start trusting my friends more.
Well, that and I really need to get over my *thing* about sad, contemporary fiction. 

It's true. I tend to knowingly stay away from really great books like If I Stay or Before I Die because I can't stand the idea of choosing to read something so realistic and heartbreaking.  And, yet, every time I do, they turn out to be fantastic reads!

Well...enough of that. On to this specific book... what can I say? I loved it.  It was sad. Heartwrenchingly sad.  I listened to the audio version of this and basically cried my way to and from work for three days.  Sucky on the makeup, but totally worth it!

I hadn't realized that this book takes place so much from Mia's point of view as she's in a coma.  It reminded me of The Lovely Bones, another *great* book.  I love getting to experience that kind of outsider perspective, but with tons of insider insight. It's a really neat device in stories.

Plot-wise, obviously this book is terribly gutwrenching.  I think that Forman managed to make the whole scenario even more devestating after she solidly introduces Mia's fantastic family.  They truly are one of the coolest families I've read about in YA in quite a while.  It was so sad to think of the tragedy that befell them. 

My one and only complaint about this book was how abruptly it ended.  Now, don't get me wrong. It was beautiful. It was right. *BUT* I immediately wanted more!! Thank goodness, not only do I know there's a sequel, but it's already out so I can read it ASAP!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Just Announced - Prodigy by Marie Lu!



















Prodigy
by Marie Lu
sequel to Legend

Publication date: Jan. 29, 2013

The Elector Primo of the Republic has died, with his son assuming power over what's left of the USA's West Coast as it teeters on full-blown chaos. June and Day join up with Patriot rebels so they can rescue Day's brother and head east for the Colonies. In order to help, though, the rebels want June and Day to kill the new Elector, who may be a step up from his dad.

I know you Hunger Games fanatics must have found Marie Lu's Legend by now. It's another great dystopian story. Well, if you haven't yet...go check it out!! And if you have, this is the info on its sequel... I know I'll be reading it when it comes out! :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A World Away



















A World Away
by Nancy Grossman

A summer of firsts
Sixteen-year-old Eliza Miller has never made a phone call, never tried on a pair of jeans, never sat in a darkened theater waiting for a movie to start. She’s never even talked to someone her age who isn’t Amish, like her.

A summer of good-byes
When she leaves her close-knit family to spend the summer as a nanny in suburban Chicago, a part of her can’t wait to leave behind everything she knows. She can’t imagine the secrets she will uncover, the friends she will make, the surprises and temptations of a way of life so different from her own.

A summer of impossible choice
Every minute Eliza spends with her new friend Josh feels as good as listening to music for the first time, and she wonders whether there might be a place for her in his world. But as summer wanes, she misses the people she has left behind, and the plain life she once took for granted. Eliza will have to decide for herself where she belongs. Whichever choice she makes, she knows she will lose someone she loves. (description from Amazon.com)

When I picked this book up, I wasn't sure how I was going to like it.  For some reason I associate all books about the Amish with school reading.  Why, I'm not exactly sure...since I never actually read any for school...but that's how they stack up in my head.  I was *SO* pleasantly surprised in A World Away.

I thought this was a really well done story. It totally pulled me in and I was so invested in Eliza's story that I found myself crying or laughing out loud in several different spots. This is a book that I think I will read again sometime down the road...and I'm already trying to pass it on to other readers!

This was a book that manages to teach about Amish culture without overwhelming the reader.  It has a strong main character that has to make a very tough decision, and it's handled in a very realistic way.  As Eliza experiences her Rumspringa, she ends up discovering things about herself, her place in society, her values, and her faith.  She never really loses herself, even as she experiences a whirlwind of "firsts." Even more than that, Eliza learns about family.  What it really means, who it can include, and how her particular family fits into the larger "English" and Amish societies.  

This book was able to cover so many fantastic topics in a serious way without ever verging into "preachy" territory.  SO well done.  I highly recommend checking this one out!

Full disclosure: ARC received to review for VOYA

Mangaman



















Mangaman
by Barry Lyga
illustrated by Colleen Doran

Ryoko, a manga character from a manga world, falls through the Rip into the “real” world—the western world—and tries to survive as the ultimate outsider at a typical American high school.
When Ryoko falls in love with Marissa Montaigne, the most beautiful girl in the school, his eyes turn to hearts and comic tension tightens as his way of being drawn and expressing himself clashes with this different Western world in which he is stuck in. “Panel-holed” for being different, Ryoko has to figure out how to get back to his manga world, back through the Rip . . . all while he has hearts for eyes for a girl from the wrong kind of comic book. (description from Amazon.com)

This was actually a really difficult read for me.  I sort-of enjoyed the plot and felt that the concept of the two styles of graphic novels colliding was cool...but, *sigh*.  I never really got into it. 

I had a hard time with the American style graphic novel drawings.  Stylistically, I actually enjoyed the Japananese manga-style drawings a lot more, but they also looked somewhat ridiculous next to the more western style. 

As I said, conceptually, I thought the book was great.  In actuality, I didn't really enjoy reading it.  I'm glad I did and I can say I have, but I would not pick it up again. 

Anxiously Awaiting...Splintered!




















Splintered
by A.G. Howard

Publication date: January 2013

For sixteen years, Alyssa Gardner has lived with the stigma of being descended from Alice Liddell -- the real life inspiration for Lewis Carroll's famed novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But cruel jokes about dormice and tea parties can’t compare to the fact that Alyssa hears the whispers of bugs and flowers ... the same quirk which sent her mother to a mental institution years before.

When her mother takes a turn for the worse and the whispers grow too strong for Alyssa to bear, she seeks the origins of their family curse. A set of heirlooms and a moth tied to an unusual website lead Alyssa and her gorgeous best friend / secret crush, Jeb, down the rabbit hole into the real Wonderland, a place more twisted and eerie than Lewis Carroll ever let on.

There, creepy counterparts of the original fairytale crew reveal the purpose for Alyssa’s journey, and unless she fixes the things her great-great-great grandmother Alice put wrong, Wonderland will have her head.


I have to confess...I just saw this over on Stories and Sweeties' Waiting on Wednesday and I loved it soooo much that I had to put it up here, too!! This story sounds amazing! I love whenever authors take on our classics with a dark twist.  I think this one will be great. I just wish we didn't have to wait so long for it...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Future of Us



















The Future of Us
by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Josh and Emma are about to discover themselves--fifteen years in the future

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long--at least, up until last November, when everything changed. Things have been awkward ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD-ROM in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto Facebook . . . but Facebook hasn't been invented yet. Josh and Emma are looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

Their spouses, careers, homes, and status updates--it's all there. And every time they refresh their pages, their futures change. As they grapple with the ups and downs of what their lives hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right--and wrong--in the present. (description from Amazon.com)

To be totally honest, I did not really like this book. I had expected to love it, but it just never really worked for me.  In the first couple of chapters I was totally into the whole nostalgia thing...I loved flashing back to my high school self...but as the story moved on, it just never grabbed me. 

I thought the concept was really cool, but I didn't really connect to either character. The plot didn't seem to move enough for me.  I liked the ending, but knew exactly where it was going almost from the start. 

I just felt, eh, about most of this book.  :/
Did any of you love it?

Perception



















Perception
by Kim Harrington
Clarity, book two

When you can see things others can't, what happens when someone is watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only, Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared. Clare needs to see her way to the truth -- before it's much too late. (description from Amazon.com)
I loved this follow-up to Clarity.
 
I still think that Clare is a fantastic character and I love her power.  It would be cool, interesting, and sometimes creepy to be able to touch things and see visions!
 
I thought that there was a lot of great stuff going on with Clare's family in this book. I love the bond that she and her brother share...and thought it was well tested in this book.  I also love watching Clare and her mother figure things out...
 
I have to confess I was eagerly anticipating the romance element of this book. I could not wait to see what would happen with Clare and her two beaus...I thought that Harrington did great with this aspect.  It was realistic and fun.
 
The mystery in this one was totally creepy. Stalker books always give me the heebie-jeebies.  I will confess that I figured out who the bad guy was just a hair before Clare did...but not by much! I thought the mystery was well done.
 
I can't wait for what happens next. :)
 

What's on My Hold List?



Welcome to the May 2012 edition
of
"What's on My Hold List?"

One of the most beautiful things about working in a Library is that I have the ability to put lots of things on hold and read them *before* I buy!! These are some of the books that I'm currently waiting for, though I may buy one or two of them after reading, as well. 
 
by Randi Reisfeld
 
by Christina Henry
Black Wings, book three
 
by Kiera Cass
 
by Janet Evanovich
Lizzy and Diesel, book two
Publication date: June 19, 2012
 
by Jennifer Bosworth
Publication date: May 8, 2012
 
by Kim Harrington
Sleuth or Dare, book one
 
by Kristin Levine
 
by Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman
 
You can click on each title to go to their Amazon page for a description...
 
So, these are the books I'm waiting anxiously to get my hands on...what are you waiting for??

Happy Insurgent Day!!!



Just because I am so excited I can't even stand it...and I found one of these on my doorstop today (thank you very much, Amazon!)...I wanted to wish you all HAPPY INSURGENT DAY

I know what I will be doing as soon as I finish my current read.  LOL :P