Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens!

Project Mulberry
by Linda Sue Park
Public Library

Book Jacket Summary
Julia Song and her friend Patrick would love to win a blue ribbon, maybe even two, at the state fair. They’ve always done projects together, and they work well as a team. This time, though, they’re having trouble coming up with just the right plan. Then Julia’s mother offers a suggestion: They can raise silkworms, as she did when she was a girl in Korea.
Patrick thinks it’s a great idea. Of course there are obstacles—for example, where will they get mulberry leaves, the only thing silkworms eat?—but nothing they can’t handle.
Julia isn’t so sure. The club where kids do their projects is all about traditional American stuff, and raising silkworms just doesn’t fit in. Moreover, the author, Ms. Park, seems determined to make Julia’s life as complicated as possible, no matter how hard Julia tries to talk her out of it.
In her first novel with a contemporary setting, Linda Sue Park delivers a funny, lively story that illuminates both the process of writing a novel and the meaning of growing up American.

My Thoughts
Another multicultural book for class but this is one that I wish I had read sooner! Julia Song and Patrick are neighbors and best friends. They want to come up with the best project for their Wiggle Club show. The WGGL or Work-Grow-Give-Live! Club is like 4-H and they want to be in the Husbandry Section that takes care of animals. When Julia's mom suggests silkworms as an animal to raise Julia thinks that it is to Korean and not American enough.
Little brother Kenny annoys Julia throughout the book and is always looking for ways to antagonize her. He often places Kimchi in her rice- Julia hates Kimchi and not just because of the taste. It reminds her that she is different from the other American children. However, Patrick loves it and it makes them stronger friends because of it.
I noticed that I was riveted to the author and character exchanges that happened in between the chapters of the book. It was an extra look into the character and the feelings she has to explore within herself. Julia would question and pester Park about why she chose to write the different directions the book took. Julia questioned everything from why did you create my little brother to how did you know that a character was black. The inclusion of her mother’s “perfect face” and how she views African Americans gave the book a ring of truth because no matter how we like to try to quell it we all have our prejudices based on past events. Julia explores this in her life and does not have the same experiences that her mother had. It is something to think about as the book progresses and I like that it was never resolved. Not everything gets resolved in neat little bows in real life and sometime a story thread just needs to hang. The exchanges help Julia take a tough look at herself and essentially Park must look into why she created such a powerful character. I really liked these exchanges because there are so many times I wonder why an author included something in a novel and this was a great look into Park’s writing process. It is not something that I would like to see in every book I read but it gave this book an extra edge that I had never seen before.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia A. McKillip

The Bards of Bone Plain 
by Patricia A. McKillip
Personal Library

GoodReads.com Summary
Scholar Phelan Cle is researching Bone Plain-which has been studied for the last 500 years, though no one has been able to locate it as a real place. Archaeologist Jonah Cle, Phelan's father, is also hunting through time, piecing history together from forgotten trinkets. His most eager disciple is Princess Beatrice, the king's youngest daughter. When they unearth a disk marked with ancient runes, Beatrice pursues the secrets of a lost language that she suddenly notices all around her, hidden in plain sight.

My Thoughts
Althougth The Bards of Bone Plain is shelved in the adult section in libraries and bookstores, it will also delight teens with it's complex characters and weaving storylines. I have always said that reading one of McKillip's books is like reading a dream. You are not always sure what is going on at all times but you know you like it! This books take a bit more of a linear approach to her usual dream-like quality. Instead of not really remembering everything that is going on I was able to follow Phelan, Beatrice, and Jonah throughout the story. I really liked the alternating timeline chapters and the poetry throughout is excellent.

Phlen Cle does not really want to be a bard but he certainly has talent. He is about to graduate from the Bardic School at Caerau but is stuck on what thesis subject to focus on. He focuses on the Bone Plain because it has been done so many times that it will be an easy subject to write. Boy was he wrong. Instead he get tangled up in the history of Nairn, the Wandering Bard and when the present starts mirroring the history he is researching long hidden truths must be revealed.

I would high recommend this one to anyone who likes fantasy filled with poetry, riddles, mystery, and magic!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WoW: Nightspell

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

by Leah Cyrpess
 Release Date: May 31, 2011

Here be ghosts, the maps said, and that was all.
In this haunted kingdom, ghosts linger—not just in the deepest forests or the darkest caverns, but alongside the living, as part of a twisted palace court that revels all night and sleeps through the daylight hours.
Darri's sister was trapped in this place of fear and shadows as a child. And now Darri has a chance to save her sister . . . if she agrees to a betrothal with the prince of the dead. But nothing is simple in this eerie kingdom—not her sister, who has changed beyond recognition; not her plan, which will be thrown off track almost at once; and not the undead prince, who seems more alive than anyone else.
In a court seething with the desire for vengeance, Darri holds the key to the balance between life and death. Can her warrior heart withstand the most wrenching choice of all?

Now this looks good! I always love books and movie that use the term "Here be monsters" because it means they have gone off the map. Here be ghosts is just as good. Plus I love court intrigue and this looks like it might be teeming with it! The cover is also soooo cool with the castle sitting on top of the hill. Gorgeous!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Foiled by Jane Yolen

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens!

by Jane Yolen
illustrated by Mike Cavallaro
Personal Collection

Aliera Carstairs just doesn’t fit in. She’s always front and center at the fencing studio, but at school she’s invisible. And she’s fine with that . . . until Avery Castle walks into her first period biology class. Avery may seem perfect now, but will he end up becoming her Prince Charming or just a toad?

My Quick Thoughts
Another graphic novel but this time by a favorite, Jane Yolen. This graphic novel seems to have it all- fencing, fairies, trolls, school, angst, and maybe love. I really liked this graphic novel and had to add it to my personal collection! Aliera guards her heart but when she aquires a new sword the cutest guy in school wants to hang out with her. Is it true love or something a little more sinister? I like Aliera because she thinks she is apart from everyone and a social otucast. She only feels really alive when she fences. You can tell that Yolen did fencing in real life because of the passion that is felt. In fact, Yolen fenced through college and her granddaughter inspired her to write the graphic novel. The art is amazing also! Filled with monochrome colors until Aliera puts on her fencing mask in Central Park. The world burst with color for the first time and the fairies are flying around for her eyes only. Yolen does what does best, a strong female character with a fantastical setting. I highly recommend it for tweens who love anything fantasy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Multicultural Picture Books: Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Native American Literature Picture Book
I am currently taking a class in multicultural books for children and we had to go searching for books that were not on our reading list. I found a few and would like to share them with you over the next few weeks. Starting with...

Jingle Dancer
by Cynthia Leitich Smith
illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright
 and Ying-Hwa Hu
(Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000)

Book Jacket Summary
Jenna, a contemporary Muscogee (Creek) girl in Oklahoma, wants to honor a family tradition by jingle dancing at the next powwow. But where will she find enough jingles for her dress? An unusual, warm family story, beautifully evoked in Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu's watercolor art.

My Thoughts
Water-color illustrations show a modern day member of the Muscogee, or Creek Nation tribe practicing for her first jingle dance. Smith shows a contemporary girl who is longing to do the jingle dance in the powwow. The women she encounters are from different generations but all have jingles that Jenna can borrow. Their heritage is important to them and Jenna only borrows enough so that their dresses will not lose their own voice. The book includes an Authors Note that explores the history and modern transitions of the jingle dance which is a great tool in showing how traditions can still be important.
I realy liked this book because it shows a modern girl showing a love for her heritage! It was actually rather hard to find a book for a school project that shows a contemporary child that is Native American. Does anyone have anyother suggestions?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: 5/20-5/23

Book Blogger Hop
As Crazy For Books says:

Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!

This week's question is:
"If you were given the chance to spend one day in a fictional world (from a book), which book would it be from and what would that place be?"

I would spend one day in Narnia because I used to imagine I was there as a child. I would chat with the talking animals, dance with the fauns and dryads, and sail on the Dawn Treader. I gues I am just old school like that.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith

Little Mouse Gets Ready
by Jef Smith
Library Book

Book Jacket Summary
There's lots to do before Little mouse is ready to go visit the barn. Will he master all the intricacies of getting dressed, from snaps and buttons to Velcro and tail holes?
Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Jeff Smith and his determined Little Mouse reveal all the smallest pleasures of this daily task.

My Quick Thoughts
Oh little mouse, you are just too darn cute!
This book is great for reading with a little child about putting on your clothes. Little Mouse is running about when his mother calls for him to get ready and join his brothers and sisters. He immediately starts putting on his clothes. Little kids will get a laugh as he puts on his underwear with a hole for his tail. He puts on all his clothes concentrating on buttons on his shirt, the zipper on his pants, and the Velcro on his shoes. There is a fun twist at the end that everyone will enjoy!
The artwork is very cartoonish and Little Mouse is very expressive as he struggles with his clothes. A great "toon" book to add to a personal or library collection. You can find lesson plans from the publisher website. Where they use visuals as prompts for the oral delivery of a first-person narrative can be a powerful way to build vocabulary and speaking skills. Quite a bit for such a little book. I really enjoyed this toon book and passed it on to co-workers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WoW: The Pledge

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Pledge
by Kimberly Derting
Publication Date: November 15th, 2011

Summary from Goodreads

Words are the most dangerous weapon of all...
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.
Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

I have been seeing this book all over the book blogs and must say that it looks amazing! Linguistics and social hierarchy in a YA book? Oh yeah, this looks like my kind of book. Language is such a barrier in so many ways and this book looks like it will explore it in a great fantasy setting. I just wish we did not have to wait for November!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens!

Zita the Spacegirl 
by Ben Hatke
Released: 2010
Checked out at Work Library

Book Jacket Summary
Zita’s life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of  an eye.

When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don’t even phase her. Neither do ancient prophecies, doomed planets, or even a friendly con man who takes a mysterious interest in Zita’s quest.

Zita the Spacegirl is a fun, captivating tale of friendship and redemption from Flight veteran Ben Hatke. It also has more whimsical, eye-catching, Miyazaki-esque monsters than you can shake a stick at.

My Thoughts
Zita the Space Girl is pure fun and I enjoyed every panel of this graphic novel! I have been reading through graphic novels lately because I can get through them quickly and with a Maymester that requires thirty-three books to get through they are my only hope of "fun" reading.
Zita is a spirited girl that has to push buttons, even if they fall from the sky in a meteor rock. When she does pushes the button on the strange device that fell from the sky her best friend, Joseph, gets sucked into a vortex. Zita initially runs away but then resloves to find him and follows him into the strange world. This is where it gets fun! Zita runs into robots, a giant mouse, and a cult that thinks Joseph is the savior of their world. Tweens will enjoy this journey story and all the friends Zita makes along the way.
The drawings are more cartoonish in appearance but I like my graphic novels that way. It is in color and the characters are quite expressive. Zita's resolve to find her friend is quite stunning and you rely on the panels to see how she goes from scared to determined without dialogue.
I would agree with the description that it is Miyazaki-esque due to a strong heroine thrust into a fantasitical situation and must learn to deal with crazy events. However, Hatke makes his own world in such an SciFi that it does not seem as fantasy driven. I really like all the robots and strange aliens that Zita encounters along her travels in the foreign world. It actually reminded me more of Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi and would be a great go to collection for tweens who want more graphic novels like this one.
This is a first book in a series and I hope Hatke draws the next book quickly!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bone by Bone by Bone by Tony Johnson

Bone by Bone by Bone 
by Tony Johnson
Read for Multi-Ethnic Materials for Children and Young Adult 
Checked out from Public Library

Book Jacket Summary
When David is born, in the 1940s in Tennessee, Dr. Franklin Church, his daddy, hangs a skeleton from his crib saying, "You, baby boy, gonna be a doctor." With Daddy's help, David starts studying the human bones.
Aside from doctoring, the most important thing in David's life is his friendship with a black boy named Malcolm. David and Malcolm try out for baseball. They make rubbings from gravestones. In a secret ceremony inside a cave, they become blood brothers. And all the time, they are on a relentless search for a ghoulish relic, the stuffed arm of a Civil War Rebel.
David and his fiercely racist father are involved in a war of their own. In a rage over the boys' playing together against his wishes, Dr. Church forbids Malcolm to ever enter their home--or he will kill him. David tries to change his daddy's mind. But when Malcolm crosses the line, Dr. Church grabs his shotgun.

My Thoughts
I just started a Multi-Ethic Materials for Children and YA and there will be plenty of books that will stretch my thinking and understanding. One of the first ones I read off our list was Bone by Bone by Bone and that was an emotional roller coaster. David Church is best friends with Malcolm during the 1950's, now this would not normally be a problem but Malcolm happens to be black and David's father is one of the biggest racists in town. Instead of an idealistic childhood of the usual 50's era books, Johnson shows the racial underbelly of everyone during that time. With a generous use of the n-word and other cussing, Johnson holds no punches when it comes to the truth of real racism. This is the first day of my class and I am looking forward to our discussions about this book. Especially when discussing the author.

The author's note at the beginning of the book says, "Though some people may be offended by it, I do not apologize for the raw language used in this book. It is my father's language and reflects a thinking that has troubled me my whole life." This should tell you about the pain and struggles of this book. It does not hold anything back and I respect Andy Johnson for that. The small town Tennessee seems so real through David's young eyes. Taking place between David's 9th and 13th year it walks a careful line between innocence and understanding. I would pair this book with To Kill a Mockingbird because it shows racism through the eyes of a child. David is trying to grasp why his father hates but cannot see why when there are friends like Malcolm around. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Book Blogger Hop 5/13-5/16


Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!

This week's question is:
 "Are you going to Book Expo America (BEA) and/or the Book Blogger Convention (BBC) this year?"

Nope. I am not going but I was able to go to TLA (Texas Library Association) earlier this year. Picked up some great books and met some amazing authors. I really wish I could meet some of the great bloggers that are going but I can't afford it and I have very little vaction left (after an amazing trip I will be taking in June).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WoW: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
Haunting Violet
by Alyxandra Harvey
Release date: June 21, 2011

Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.
Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

I saw this at TLA and was drooling over it but they were out of the ARC. So I have to wait for the release date. Hopefully time will fly and I can get my hands on this book! I really like ghost stories and after reading the first few pages this one is right up my alley.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens!

When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
Checked out from Work library

 Summary from Author's Website
Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.
By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.
But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:
I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.
The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that haven’t even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

My Thoughts
I adore well thought out time travel books and this was a very well thought out time travel book. The book is tightly written and does not have many of the loop holes that many time travel shows typically set up, if anything they poke at that concept. I especially like how they incorporated A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'engle in to kick-starting a discussion on time travel and how it could possibly work.
Set in 1979, this book does not feel like you typical historical fiction. Instead it reads like any other contemporary- without the constant texting. It made you feel like this time was not unlike our own. Mother's were scared for their children's safety and children have their emotional dramas. The characters feel real and are typical kids who are trying to define the world and their place in it. I really like Miranda because she has many faults. She is jealous of the rich Julia, she is scared of the homeless man who lives on their cornor, and she is ashamed of her apartment when her friend AnneMarie come over for a sleepover. However, she is a good friend, loves her mother very much. I also like how her friendship with her best friend Sal evolves over time. She honestly grows as a person and becomes a well-rounded character that I believe in.
I can see why this won the Newberry and Stead uses a stream of consciousness effect that did not annoy me. However, I am not sure a tween would look at the cover and say, "I must have that book!" Overall I really enjoyed this book because it brought back a lot of nostalgia but I am not sure how tweens would react to the cover. I would love to hear what your experiences have been!

Monday, May 9, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What Happened to Goodbye
by Sarah Dessen
Release Date: May 10, 2011

Book Jacket Summary
Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?

My Thoughts
This Review is based on an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy). The final text may be different.
Sarah Dessen has done it again! This book tugged at my heart strings, made me laugh, and made me tear up. McLean feels so real that I want to pluck her out of the book and just give her a big hug. She is lost but slowly finding her way back. She is furious with her mother for leaving her and her father their hero- the NCU basketball coach. He was their biggest hero and now her biggest shame. I can understand all of the anger and bitterness built up in McLean towards her mother because she feels betrayed. Needless to say, Dessen can make a character grow and change like no other. I related to McLean on so many levels, including wanting to change her identity with each move. It is much easier to play a part than having to deal with all the emotions that are still raw.
The side characters are great too! Deb really needs her own book! I love her socially akward self! Her strange acronyms and model building skills. And Dave. What can I say about Dave, except... Where can I find one of these Dessen guys? He falls righ in as a cute, geeky guy that has his own problems to dealwith but is willing to help McLean find herself and open up to someone.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially teens who are dealing with divorce or abandonment. However, like the rest of Dessen's books there is something for everyone and she is the master of contemporary fiction. She makes it feel timeless and can transition to teens ten years from now. I have the ARC (advanced reading copy) but I also will be buying the beautiful hardback to add to my Sarah Dessen collection.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Blogger Hop Friday

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!

This week's question is:
"Which book blogger would you most like to meet in real life?"
Right now there are two book bloggers that I would love to meet up with...
The first is DJL because she is one of my best friends and I haven't seen her in months! Miss ya girl!
The second is GreenBeanTeenQueen because I have had several online classes with her and I admire her blog. In fact her blog is the first I ever read! She posted it as an example for our class and it is (in my opinion) one of the best out there! I would love to finally meet her face to face and  pick her brain over tea one day. She always has such great ideas for working with teens!

Added Note* I would also like to say that I would love to meet all of y'all! (Can you tell I'm from Texas?) I love talking about books with just about anyone! Let me know if you are ever in the North Texas area and maybe we could get coffe/tea and chat!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Strange Angels by Lili St Crow

Strange Angels
by Lili St. Crow
Personal Collection

Book Jacket Summary
Dru Anderson has been “strange” for as long as she can remember. She travels from town to town with her father, hunting the things that go bump in the night and eat the unwary. It’s a weird life, but a good one–until it all explodes and a zombie busts into her new house.
Alone, terrified, and trapped in an icy town, Dru’s going to need every inch of her wit and training to stay alive. Can she trust the boy who is just a little too adult–and just happens to get bit by a werwulf? Or the strange blue-eyed boy who tells her she’s heir to a long-forgotten power? Can she even trust her own instincts?
Because Dru is not the first in her family to be killed by the darkness of the Real World. The monsters have decided to hunt back–and now Dru has to figure out who to trust, who to fight, and when to run. And not incidentally, she has to figure out how she’s going to get out of this alive.
And she has to do it by sundown, or it’s all over…

My Quick Thoughts
Dru Anderson is not used to sticking around town for long, usually just enough time for her father to clean out the latest paranormal outbreak and then take off to the next city. This time they are in way over their heads and when dad comes back as one of the undead Dru has to deal with it fast or be killed.
Her only chance is to get out of town quick and her new friend Graves might be slowing her down- with the Wulf bite and all.
This book is pure adrenaline and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading the action scenes. I respected Dru and the tough choices she had to make. I also liked the fact that she was not a perfect shoot with her fathers gun. She was good but realistically good. Fast paced and has some really good action packed chase scenes. I will be reading the rest of this series! If you like paranormal girls who kick-butt Strange Angels is right up your alley. Just make sure it isn't a blind alley or the Suckers might get you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

WoW: Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

a Heist Society Novel
in stores June 21, 2011

Summary from author's website

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.
There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.
Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.
Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

I enjoyed Heist Society last year and I cannot wait to read Ally Carters latest installment. I love con jobs and this one looks like a lot of fun! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Shifter by Janice Hardy

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens!

The Shifter:
The Healing Wars Book One
by Janice Hardy
Released: 2009
Checked out of my Public Library

Book Jacket Summary
A dangerous secret. A deadly skill.
Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers, Nya's skill is flawed: she can't push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden. If discovered, she could be used as a human weapon.
But one day Nya pushes her luck too far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her shifting ability for his own sinister purposes. She refuses—until Tali and other League Healers start disappearing mysteriously. Now Nya must decide: How far will she go to get Tali back alive?

My Thoughts
I plucked this off the shelf because it sounded interesting... Okay, the cover looks really cool and then I looked at the summary. I judge books by their covers.
Anyways, I felt that this was a fun book but I always felt a tad bit confused. It was like I was supposed to know something and forgot to read the first book. I can't quite put my finger on it was exaclty but it was a bit distracting.

However, this book is still a fun read and many tweens will like th interesting twist we see in Nya's healing powers. The "shifting" power comes with a heavy price that Nya must bear and she has to make some difficult decisions because of this ability. We first met Nya when she is trying to steal eggs from a farmer to keep from going hungry. Her country is trying to recover from a war and refugees from other countries are flooding the city. Nya is angry because she cannot find work and is about to be kicked out of her boarding house. Her only thought is keeping her sister safe in the city's healing school. She should be there herself but her special ability of shifting pain to others would make her the perfect target for the Duke's dark army. Her best bet is to keep out of sight and mind of the Snatchers. Nya does not always make the best decisions because she has to think about saving her sister. she is often caught in situations beyond her control and must choose between a leeser of two evils.

Nya is scared of her ability and of being snatched away from her sister Tali because she is all she has left in the world. Until she meets Danello but there is no time for a real romance because things keep happening. Hardy does know how to keep a book suspenseful and to keep the reader guessing. Her friend Aylin is a character I wish Hardy would expand, she really touched my heart with how helpful and kind she was to Nya. She is a bit of a flirt but she is always there for Nya and Tali.

I would suggest this book to tweens who are looking for a different twist on healing and for a world, as Hardy describes, "where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices."

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Story of Saiunkoku by Sai Yukino

The Story of Saiunkoku Volume 1
Story by Sai Yukino
Illustrated by Kairi Yura
Personal Library

Book Jacket Summary
Shurei Hong, destitute but of noble birth, has always dreamed of working as a civil servant in the imperial court of Saiunkoku, but women are barred from holding office. The emperor Ryuki, however, refuses to take command, leaving everything to his advisors. Shurei is asked to become a consort to the emperor to persuade the ne’er-do-well ruler to govern.

My Quick Thoughts
This manga is one that I have been anticipating for a while and it did not disappoint.
The story originally came to the United States as an anime and I must say that it is beautifully done in both styles. The first volume of the series focuses on Shurei Hong, a poor girl who is noble born. When the opportunity to cash in on some money presents itself, Shurei jumps at the chance. However, the exchange is that she becomes the consort to the emperor and teach him court politics. This is a jumping off  point where court politics can kill and Shurei must manage to keep herself and the emperor safe. All the while counting down the days until she can repair the family home's roof.
This is a humorous and beautiful maga (both a plus in my book)! I would recommend it to older teens who are interested in courtly intrgue and burried family secrets. I really enjoyed this one and hope the rest of the series is just as good!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Friend for Einstein Book Trailer

A Friend for Einstein by Charlie Cantrell and Dr Rachel Wagner. Adorable!
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