Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Favorite Reads Giveaway Hop

 My Favorite Reads Giveaway Hop
Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Rachelle's Writing Spot 
June 1st - 6th

One of my favorite books of last year was Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. I will be giving away a copy of the paperback version from the Book Depository.
 




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Frequent Traveller Book Blast


From the blue oceans of Antigua to the bustling streets of Vietnam, the racing adrenaline at the Green Hell, the devastating natural disaster in Japan and the stunning architecture in Germany, Cathy Dixon finds herself in a whirlwind of fine dining, plush clothes and sheer extravagance.

But is perfection a mask for untold disaster? What is Cathy's secret and how will her world change when the world knows? Will her secrets ever catch up with her or will Cathy continue to sail alongside perfection in the world she has created for herself as a Frequent Traveller?

In conjunction, with the launch of MoonStar Luxury's new website (http://moonstarluxury.com/), we invite you to step into Cathy Dixon's world where more goodies, surprises and a little mystery awaits.


Frequent Traveller, the first book in the Cathy Dixon series will be free from 31 May to 4 June 2012. (Amazon link http://www.amazon.com/Frequent-Traveller-Cathy-Dixon-ebook/dp/B0067BKK6K)


Giveaway Details - 11 winners
Grand prize 1 x $50 Amazon.com voucher
10 x $5 Amazon.com vouchers


Terms and conditions
Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood


Bliss 
The Bliss Bakery #1
by Kathryn Littlewood
374 pages
Library
Tween Fantasy
2012

Book Jacket Summary
Rosemary Bliss’s family has a secret. It’s the Bliss Cookery Booke—an ancient, leather-bound volume of enchanted recipes like Stone Sleep Snickerdoodles and Singing Gingersnaps. Rose and her siblings are supposed to keep the Cookery Booke under lock and whisk-shaped key while their parents are out of town, but then a mysterious stranger shows up. “Aunt” Lily rides a motorcycle, wears purple sequins, and whips up exotic (but delicious) dishes for dinner. Soon boring, nonmagical recipes feel like life before Aunt Lily—a lot less fun.
So Rose and her siblings experi-ment with just a couple of recipes from the forbidden Cookery Booke.
A few Love Muffins and a few dozen Cookies of Truth couldn’t cause too much trouble . . . could they?
Kathryn Littlewood’s culinary caper blends rich emotional flavor with truly magical wit, yielding one heaping portion of hilarious family adventure. 

My Thoughts
I love books about baking and magical baking it just that much better! Rose is not as attractive as her brother Ty, not as funny as Sage, or as adorable as Leigh but she is the person that holds the family together. Only she doesn't know this, she feels like she does not belong in a family of magical bakers. When her parents are called out of town she has the chance to prove that she is responsible enough to cook out of the Bliss Cookery Booke. This ancient cook book holds recipes that will cure ailments, bring out hidden passion, and silencing spells. Then Aunt Lily came... All thoughts of responsibility flew out of Rose's head as Aunt Lily charmed and coerced every last secret out of the Bliss children. Can Rose set things right? Will Aunt Lily get her hands on the cook book? 
Littlewood sets up a charming story filled with magical baking and a family that is a bit strange but still loveable. Rose feels like she is not special in her family because of how the other children can charm or humor their way through town. Rose is known for her baking but in a family of bakers that does not make her that special. Aunt Lily makes her feel special and daring, like she could do anything. Rose fights with her trust of Aunt Lily through the whole book, trying to decide if Aunt Lily is just there to steal the cook book or if she really cares about the family. 
I really liked this one. It was a bit of a slow start but once the children start baking and making the Love Muffins and Cookies of Truth it picks up and it is a wild race to set things right. Rose grows as a character and learns to trust her judgement. I would recommend this one to tweens who love cooking or some light-hearted fantasy. Especially if they enjoy towns filled with kooky characters. This town is filled with them but adds to the story's charm. I cannot wait for the next book in the Bliss family series.       

Book Pairings
Enchanted Glass by 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bluefish by Pat Schmatz


Bluefish 
by Pat Schmatz
226 pages
Library 
Tween
2011

Book Jacket Summary
Travis is missing his old home in the country, and he’s missing his old hound, Rosco. Now there’s just the cramped place he shares with his alcoholic grandpa, a new school, and the dreaded routine of school. But that’s before Travis meets Mr. McQueen, who doesn’t take "pass" for an answer—a rare teacher whose savvy persistence has Travis slowly unlocking a book on the natural world. And it’s before Travis is noticed by Velveeta, a girl whose wry banter and colorful scarves belie some hard secrets of her own. With sympathy, humor, and disarming honesty, Pat Schmatz brings to life a cast of utterly believable characters—and captures the moments of trust and connection that make all the difference.

My Thoughts
 Struggling with reading still comes with a stigma and Travis knows this better than anyone because he is unable to fully comprehend the words that lie in in books. After moving to a new town, Travis tries to control his anger and grief when he cannot find his dog, Roscoe. This dog was everything to Travis and the disappearance shook him to the core. Travis meets Velveeta at his new school and they form a strong bond.
This is more than a book about a boy struggling to read but a wonderful story about connecting with others. Travis and Velveeta connect, Travis and his Grandpa, Velveeta and Calvin, Travis, Velveeta, and Bradly. These are all important connections for our two main characters. Travis and Velveeta are practically broken when they find each other and find out how to help each other. Travis is dealing with the loss of his beloved dog, moving to a new town, and his Grandpa's new found sobriety. Velveeta is dealing with the loss of her best friend and pseudo-care taker Calvin, her mother's general drunkenness, and trying to escape the white-trash reputation following her around.
I found this book to be quite moving. The two lost souls find someone to trust and open up to. It is sad but hopeful. If you are looking for something deeper than the usual tween fare, pick up this one! It tugged at my heart strings and I really felt for the two main characters. Schmatz writes a great story.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak lays a large role in the story. Velveeta reads it though out the book and pick ups on the technique that Mr. McQueen is using to teach Travis. It was a clever insert and I hope the readers of this book will be intrigued and check it out.

Book Pairings
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Okay for Now by Gary D Schmidt
Mousetraps by Pat Schmatz

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Locked in Time by Lois Duncan


Locked in Time
by Lois Duncan
narrated by Jaselyn Blanchard
Library
Audiobook
2011 (1985)

Book Jacket Summary
Nore Roberts didn't ask for a new life, but now that her mom is gone and her dad is newly married, she has to settle in at Shadow Grove, the old Civil War mansion her stepfamily calls home. When she meets her stepmother, Lisette, Nore is shocked by her youth and beauty that gives her chills- and a hint of something sinister. There's hope of becoming friends with her stepbrother and sister, until Nore realizes they're hiding something. When she begins to feel like the target of a deadly plan, Nore starts digging into her stepfamily's past. The skeletons in their closet are more real than she ever imagined. Can Nore expose her stepmother's dark secret before an old and evil magic swallows her up?

My Thoughts
Nore is to stay at Shadow Grove with her father over the summer but must also meet her new step-mother, Lisette Berge and her step-siblings, Josie and Gabe. Nore has reservations from the start but keeps them in check, thinking they are due to her fathers hasty marriage only a few months after her mother tragically died. She instead starts to spend time with Gabe and Josie, not always seeing how they might be so different from her. Josie is a flirt and wears way to much make-up for her thirteen years. She also always complains about being stuck in her awkward years for such a long time. Gabe is also different but alluring and Nore has a hard time staying away from him. The book slowly build tension and it feels taunt, almost like the whole story will snap. Duncan does such a good job with atmosphere and isolation of an old plantation, cut off from the rest of the world. Nore is not sure what is real or not being so cut off with only this new family to care for her. The secrets come to the surface and Nore must fight for her life against a family who has everything to lose.   
Jaselyn Blanchard did a good job with the narration and I was able to tell each character apart. The southern accent is difficult to do, especially with all the different dialects. I think Blanchard did a good job with the Louisianan drawl and seems to match several of my friends from the area. It may be a bit exaggerated but that is how people seem to think everyone talks south of the Mason-Dixon line.
This book was originally published in 1985 but it seems to have had a complete overhaul of dated reference and had new one inserted. Nore has an ipod and a cell phone in the story but I am sure this was different in the original. I enjoyed this audio-book and recommend it to those who like a suspenseful book filled with attempted murder and people who may live forever.   

Book Pairings
The Forbidden Game by LJ Smith
Shadowland by Meg Cabot
Wait till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sea of Dreams by Dennis Nolan


Sea of Dreams 
by Dennis Nolan
Library
Picture Book
2011

Book Jacket Summary
On a beautiful sunlit beach, a girl builds a magnificent sandcastle. As night falls the girl heads for home. Waves move ever closer to the castle, threatening its survival. Suddenly, in one of its windows, a light comes on . . .

My Quick Thoughts
Just beautiful. This book will delight everyone, adults and children, with its wordless story. 
I was told I had to read this by a coworker because her three year old love it so much. He was entranced by the pictures and would turn the pages when his mom would hesitate and build the suspense. There is so much to notice on every page and Nolan uses the entire area to tell the story. 
It opens on a girl making a sandcastle and having to go home once the sun starts to set. You see a light turn on in the castle once the waves start to lap up and take away part of the castle. Little people, much like the Borrowers, emerge and set sail on the sea. There is adventure as they sail for a new home and it amongst the rocks on a neighboring island. 
My summary does not do this book justice and I insist that you check this book out! It is beautiful and so creative!

Book Pairings
Wave by

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mimi by John Newman


Mimi
by John Newman
186 pages
Library
Elementary
2011

Book Jacket Summary
Mimi’s life is off the rails since the sudden loss of her mother. What will it take to pull her and her family together? A spot-on, witty, and genuinely moving novel.
One hundred and forty-nine days ago, Mimi’s mam died. Everyone’s given up. Dad keeps burning pizzas, and he doesn’t smile anymore. Sally wears only black now and has a terrible secret. Conor plays the drums all night and keeps the neighbors awake. The dog, Sparkler, hasn’t been walked in months. And that’s not even counting how terrible things are at school. But Mimi isn’t one to give up. In his solo novel debut, John Newman has crafted a story both touching and comic— a portrait of loss, compassion, and the power that comes from sticking together.

My Thoughts
This was a book with many layers in it. I especially appreciated the fact that Mimi was adopted but they did not make it the focus of the book, instead it was woven into the story. Mimi speaks of not growing up to look like her mom or the fact that she doesn't have blond hair like her sister but she is family and it is not the sole purpose of the book. There is one situation that Mimi has to deal with when someone at school bullies her about being adopted but she puts an end to that right away. Mimi is protective of her family, even though it may be slightly broken. We are viewing a family in crisis and how they are reacting to the death of their mother and how the siblings are dealing with their grief. The father is absent through the first part of the book, lost in his own grief. He serves burnt pizza every night and checks out for most of the day. 
It is the extended family that Mimi spends most of her days with and the ones she turns to in her grief. Mimi does take advantage of the situation though, she doesn't do her homework, turns up late to class, and expects free candy from a shopkeeper. She is just a child though and sees the world as a child does. That is very refreshing. She is not a smartalec but a shy girl that does not understand her best friends jokes. She even gets words wrong or out of context. I would recommend this book to a child dealing with grief or looking for a book about an adopted character where that is not the entire focus of the book. It is a book about family. 
Plus it is set in Ireland and there are some fun expressions that we do not use here in America. I think the funniest phrase was cracker-bums (farts)! You learn something new every day! There are references to Euros and football (soccer), so an adult might need to explain what those are to a youngster.

Book Pairings
The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng
Pearl Versus the World by Sally Murphy

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott


Shadows on the Moon 
by Zoë Marriott
464 pages
ARC from TLA
YA Fantasy
2012

Book Jacket Summary
Sixteen-year-old Suzume is a shadow weaver, trained in the magical art of illusion. She can be anyone she wants to be  —  except herself. Is she the girl of noble birth, trapped by the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama? A lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Land? Even Suzume is no longer sure of her true identity. But she is determined to steal the heart of the Moon Prince and exact revenge on her stepfather for the death of her family. And nothing will stop her. Not even her love for fellow shadow weaver Otieno, the one man who can see through her illusions.
Set in a fairy-tale version of ancient Japan, Shadows on the Moon shakes up the Cinderella story with its brave, resourceful, and passionate heroine.

My Thoughts
This is a very long book but it does not feel like a long book. Suzume's story is fascinating and complex. Marriott took the simple Cinderella tale and turned it into an epic story about a girl who must overcome many trials to have the happily ever after. Suzume's father and beloved cousin, Aimi, are killed early in the book and she finds herself hiding in the fireplace covered in ashes. The cinder man, Youta, finds her and trains her in the art of shadow weaving. Illusion and concealment are Suzume's weapons as she goes throughout the book. 
Her mother marries Teryama-san and Suzume can feel that something is not quite right with the situation. I do not want to give away to much of the story because it is excellently told but Suzume does end up with two other identities, Rin and Yue. Suzume's ultimate goal is to become the Shadow Bride of the prince and ask for revenge on the person who had her father killed. There are many steps to this process and along the way she meets Akira who can help her make all this possible. I really liked Akira and all that she did to train Suzume in the art of being a Shadow Bride. Akira has her own story as a male who grew up to become the most sought over actress/Shadow Bride. Just like in Shakespearean times where boys played women's roles, Akira played the beautiful women on stage but decided to stay that way off stage.  
Otieno is the love interest and all around great guy. He teaches Suzume what it is to love after her mother abandons her for Teryama-san. He is almost too perfect and I felt relieved when he turned out to not be the perfect prince we sometimes see in fiction. He has his faults but this makes him a stronger character. I love the interracial couple and hope that this tend continues!
Marriott also introduces cutting into her book and is well portrayed with Suzume trying to deal with her inner turmoil by cutting her arms. This was a surprise for me because usually these are more of a theme book about just that subject but Marriott made it flow within her story. It was more than just a lesson story but a girl dealing with survivors guilt and the pain of loosing her family. I would highly recommend this one to those who may be dealing with such a problem because she realizes that she is only hurting herself and trying to fell in control. Suzume wants revenge for her family but also has to let go of the pain she causes herself over and over again. 
This review is a bit longer than my normal ones but I have a lot to say about the book! I hope you read it and enjoy it as much as I did! Definitely recommend this one! 

Book Pairings
Silver Phoenix by

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng


The Year of the Book 
by Andrea Cheng
illustrated by Abigail Halpin
143 pages
ARC from ALA
Elementary 
Release Date: May 22, 2012

Book Jacket Summary
In Chinese, peng you means friend. But in any language, all Anna knows for certain is that friendship is complicated. When Anna needs company, she turns to her books. Whether traveling through A Wrinkle in Time, or peering over My Side of the Mountain, books provide what real life cannot—constant companionship and insight into her changing world. Books, however, can’t tell Anna how to find a true friend. She’ll have to discover that on her own. In the tradition of classics like Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books and Eleanor Estes’ One Hundred Dresses, this novel subtly explores what it takes to make friends and what it means to be one.
 
My Thoughts
Anna is a reader and would rather stay at home with a good book than hang out with the girls in her class. Her complicated relationship with Laura, who seems to only want to hang out with Anna when the other girls are busy, makes Anna anxious. She would willingly stay lost in the adventures of the characters in her books than get tangled up in real relationships. Slowly Anna realizes what true friendship means as she really gets to know the people around her.
I can really relate to Anna because I was the same way in elementary school. I was scared of even trying because I was scared of being hurt again. Cheng does a great job of making Anna a well balanced character. Anna has to find her balance and that can be very hard on a kid.
The subplot of Laura's family problems and how Anna becomes a supportive friend is well handled. It is very scary when a friend might be in danger. Anna also goes to Chinese school to learn the language and becomes friends with Camille. Anna is glad to have a friend in, what she feels, is a boring setting. Anna also deals with having other students ask her about Japanese items when she is Chinese. She feels this very deeply. Anna is a great character who has deep feelings but does not always know how to express them and retreats into books to help her deal with the world. I would highly recommend this book to shy kids or children having trouble with friendships. Sometimes you have to be a good friend to find a good friend.

Book Pairings
Henry and Beezus by


Monday, May 21, 2012

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century



My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century
by Rachel Harris
Release Date: September 11th 2012 
by Entangled Publishing 

Book Jacket Summary

On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic
amore.

Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?



 
Never-Before-Seen Excerpt from MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY:

“I thought I’d teach you a dance from where I come from,” I tell him. “One that’s much easier than that multi-step mess inside.”
            I place my left hand on Lorenzo’s shoulder and slip my right one into his. I pause to listen to the music floating over the tinkling voices and bubbling fountain, and begin counting the three-beat tempo. “One, two, three. One, two, three.”
            I stand still, only my head moving, slowly nodding with my words so he can hear the rhythm.
            When his head begins subtly bobbing with mine, I show him how to add his feet. He takes a tentative step forward with his left while I step back with my right, then we side step, close, and repeat the steps with our other feet, all while I lightly whisper the beat count.
            The breeze picks up, blowing my skirt and skimming my veil across the back of my neck. Chills run down my spine, but the warmth coursing through my veins from being in his arms provides a delicious contradiction.
            Lorenzo continues nervously darting his eyes to our feet, but he is dancing. As he relaxes into the movement, his shoulders rising and falling with the steps, the confidence he always seems to exude creeps back on his face, and he tightens the hold around me. Our faces are kissably close, our lips a hairs breadth away from touching. I stare into the chocolate depths of his eyes and the rest of the ball fades away. The only music guiding our steps is my light whisper and the erratic rhythm of our breathing. Time slows. Lorenzo grins.
            “I think you got it,” I say breathlessly, running my hand along the soft fabric of his shoulder, feeling the rock-hard muscles underneath.
            My body curls inward, pressing against his. The proper form for the waltz is a straight spine and shoulders back, but if there was ever a time to break the rules, this is it.
**************************************************************************

As a teen, I threw raging parties that shook my parents’ walls and created embarrassing fodder for future YA novels.

As an adult, I read and write obsessively, rehash said embarrassing fodder, and dream up characters who become my imaginary friends.

When I'm not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, you can find me homeschooling my two beautiful princesses, hanging out with my amazing husband, or taking a hot bubble bath…next to a pile of chocolate.


MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY is my first novel. I did have my own fantabulous Sweet Sixteen in high school. Sadly, it wasn’t televised.




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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tallis Blog Tour: Excerpt


 Tallis by M.C. Rae
Release Date: March 26, 2012
Book Jacket Summary
The Empire of Andresium is threatened by the corruption of the immortals, ancient beings given the gift of eternal life after the death of the last reigning empress. A prophecy speaks of their eventual downfall at the hands of one of their own, however. Tallis is known by most simply as "The Loren," and seeks to avoid her destiny while trying herself to remain untainted by the decaying morals and indifference to the fates of men that plague her kind. As the events of the prophecy begin to unfold, Tallis finds herself conflicted between upholding her dedication to justice, and falling victim to the ramifications of following the desires of her own heart.


Excerpt
           Tallis’s hand was laced in his own, but it was unusually warm. When she spoke, he wasn’t sure the words were meant for him. “I hope this errand proves itself worthy.” 
“How so?” 
She turned, and again that smile, once so foreign as to be almost mythic, danced across her face. “I am not customarily given to use such strong magic for such selfish ends. I keep telling myself that sleep does them no harm, but still, to have stolen from them for so fleeting a task... To open this portal takes a tremendous amount of energy.” 
"For example, might it take the energy of a whole hall of apprentices?” Tarameen asked, quickly connecting the event with the undertaking.
"Indeed. In truth, we could have escaped tonight into the meadows as we have been doing simply enough, but I committed to a course of action as I sat in my meditations today. I dedicated myself to undertake it before I had the opportunity to change my mind. I wanted us to have the benefit of every afforded moment, so I usurped Lenu’s dreary prattle in order to steal you away.” 
Tarameen chuckled. “You have this intriguing streak of manipulative diplomacy.” 
“You forget, I was to be, am to be, Empress.”




M.C. Rae (aka Killian McRae) is a cross-genre author whose works include elements of history, fantasy, science fiction, and romance- sometimes all in the same novel. She hails from the midwest but currently makes her home in Northern California. She is  a devout student of history,a podcaster, an amateur graphics and web designer, a coffee enthusiast, and has an unhealthy obsession with world music.

Friday, May 18, 2012

TGIF (5): A Book Blogger is Born


TGIF is a weekly meme created and hosted by Ginger of GReads! that recaps the week's posts and has a different question each week.

Question: What made you decide to start your very own book blog?
I started my blog during my MLS class Children's Literature on September 1, 2009. It was a class assignment and I just continued it afterward. I really liked to write down what I thought of a book for future reference and as practice for when I became a librarian. It was more for me than for networking but now I like sharing my thoughts with the blogging community and finding out what other people think. I was in class with GreenBeanTeenQueen and she was incredibly helpful when I first started. Now I have no idea what I would do without my blog and the friends who I have made through it! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop


Love in Bloom 
Giveaway Hop

Featuring Lighthearted/Contemporary Young Adult Romance
& Sweet, Clean Adult Romance


May 18th to 23rd


Teen Idol by Meg Cabot

Book Jacket Summary
High school junior Jenny Greenley is so good at keeping secrets that she's the school newspaper's anonymous advice columnist. She's so good at it that, when hotter-than-hot Hollywood star Luke Striker comes to her small town to research a role, Jenny is the one in charge of keeping his identity under wraps. But Luke doesn't make it easy, and soon everyone -- the town, the paparazzi, and the tabloids alike -- know his secret ... and Jenny is caught right in the middle of all the chaos.
 
 
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Three Thieves: The Sign of the Black Rock by Scott Chantler


The Sign of the Black Rock
Three Thieves: Book Two
by Scott Chantler
Library
Tween Graphic Novel
2011

Book Jacket Summary
Young readers (and adults, too) will feel transported by the clever, intricate plotline and superb, sweeping illustrations of this second title in the Three Thieves series. The action resumes as our three goodhearted fugitives stop at a roadside inn during a ferocious thunderstorm. Narrow escapes ensue as Grig, the scheming and selfish innkeeper, endeavors to capture the trio and secure a reward from the Queen. Tensions mount further as the Queen's Dragons arrive at the tavern, hot on the trail of the fugitives and immediately suspicious of the smarmy Grig. Will Grig get his due? Will the fugitives escape? And why hasn't Grig's gentle wife spoken a word in ten years? You can bet she's got a secret.


My Thoughts
Our thieves are on the run from the Queen's Dragons after escaping from the dungeons. They come across an inn but it seems everyone is converging there for the night. There are smugglers, guards, and the Queen's Dragons. Dessa has to use all her acrobatic skills to stay out of the way of Captain Drake and a greedy inn keeper but she also finds a helper in a mute woman. Will Dessa, Topper and Fisk get caught and escape? Of course, but it is a fun ride. I could not help but giggle because every time they think that the coast is clear a few more guards show up. 
I really like the beats that Chantler uses between characters talking and making a point. It really gives the feel of comedy! He uses black and white for flashbacks, which really helps! It is like using italics in a book. Gives the section definition and helps the reader process the shift. The illustrations are still excellent and I like a lot of the details of lighting in the rain or the darkened barn.
I hope that book three comes out soon but I do not see a release date. I love graphic novels but they do take a while to be released! I would recommend this series for the reluctant reader or someone who like a fantasy with a fun chase element to it!

Book Pairings

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby


Wonder Show 
by Hannah Barnaby
274 pages
ARC from ALA
YA/MG Historical Fiction
2012

Book Jacket Summary
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends and neighbors, allow me to change your lives! Step inside Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show! You’ve read about them in magazines, these so-called human curiosities, this tribe of misfits—now come and see for yourselves. We’ve got a gent as tall as a tree, a lady with a beard, and don’t miss your chance to see the Wild Albinos of Bora Bora! Ask Madame Doula to peer into your future (only two dollars more if you want to know how you’re going to die).

And between these covers behold the greatest act of our display—Portia Remini, the strangest of the menagerie because she’s a ‘normal’ among the freaks, searching for a new beginning on the bally, far away from McGreavey’s Home for Wayward Girls, where Mister watches and waits. He said he would always find Portia, said she could never leave . . .

Oh, it’s not for the faint of heart folks. If you’re prone to nightmares or you’ve got a weak ticker, you’d best move on. Within these pages lies a tale of abandonment, loss, misfortune for the rich and glory for the poor (and a little murder doesn’t hurt). It’s a story for the ages, but be warned: once you enter the Wonder Show you will never be the same.

My Thoughts
More of a character study than a plot driven book. It was fascinating to see inside of a late 1930's side show act and see what life musty have been like for these people. The book does not go into to much detail but does have some insight into the people thoughts and histories. The author's notes points out that the characters are based on actual people who were in the carny business. However, the book centers around Portia and her life as her family slowly abandons her, until she is ultimately on the run to join the circus. The Wonder Show is a backdrop and a rather good one, especially after Portia's stay at McGreavy's Home for Wayward Girls. Portia's choices give her no choice but to run from Mister, the guardian of the girls, and make way for the circus to try to find her father.
The book is odd but in a way that slowly creeps up on you and makes you slightly nostalgic.This is a coming of age story. Portia is constantly asking herself, "who am I?" She is looking for her family and past but in doing so looses focus of her present and future. She has to go back to go forward.
This was a more thought provoking book and a nice change of pace from the more action oriented literature that is more popular at the moment. Be sure to check this one out.

Book Pairings
The Unrivalled Spangles by Karen Wallace
 Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dead to You by Lisa McMann

Spoilers in the review. You probably do want to read this unless you have already read 
Dead to You.


 Dead to You 
by Lisa McMann
Library
YA
2012

Book Jacket Summary
Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It's a miracle... at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn't going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he'd be able to put the pieces back together. But there's something that's keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable...

My Thoughts
***SPOILERS***
I don't think I can review this without spoiling some of it for you but I was looking on Goodreads and it seems some people have no qualms about saying something. I am saying it here. This review may contain spoilers. Okay, on to the "review".

GAAAAAHHHHHH! Lisa McMann, how could you?
I was so into this book and then the last three pages changed it all for me. What happens?! The only thing I can say is...

Dear Lisa McMann,
  I hate you.
Love,
Karen

Now go and read the book. It is awesome.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman


Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature 
by Joyce Sidman
illustrated by Beth Krommes
Library
Picture Book
2011

Book Jacket Summary
A Caldecott medalist and a Newbery Honor-winning poet celebrate the beauty and value of spirals.What makes the tiny snail shell so beautiful? Why does that shape occur in nature over and over again but also celebrate the beauty and usefulness of this fascinating shape.

My Thought
Joyce Sidman must really love writing books about shapes and I do not blame her. Her book Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night used a concrete poem with an owl shape. The spirals are everywhere, even the copyright page is written in a swirl (which makes it harder to catalog but it is really cute). The illustrations are amazing and I am still looking through this book looking for things that I missed the first time around. Krommes really put a lot of effort into each page by making it flow. Other illustrators might have made it to busy or overwhelming but I really like the effect that the illustrations brings. The muted colors really lends this book a unique flair. The words almost feel like on of Sidman's free formed poems and makes it really easy to read aloud. A story time can go really well with asking children if they see the chipmunks curled up tight underground. I would recommend this one to anyone who wants a beautiful book about nature.

Book Parings

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek


My Favorite Band Does Not Exist 
by Robert T. Jeschonek
324 pages
Library
YA
2011

Book Jacket Summary
Sixteen-year-old genius Idea Deity believes that he exists only in the pages of a novel written by a malevolent, omnipotent author . . . and that he will die in chapter 64. Meanwhile, an older teen named Reacher Mirage sings lead vocals for the undercover rock band Youforia . . . a band that exists in Idea’s world only as an Internet hoax that Idea himself perpetuated. Then there’s beautiful and mysterious Eunice Truant, who links their destinies. When Idea and Reacher plunge into the reality of Fireskull’s Revenant, the twisted epic fantasy novel they’ve both been reading, chapter 64 bears down on them like a speeding freight train on an unstoppable collision course. Being trapped in a bad book can be a nightmare. Just ask Idea Deity.

My Thoughts
What an odd but fascinating book. It has an original premise and it is rather hard to describe or be placed in one genre. That is why there is only one book pairing below. The only one I could come up with was Going Bovine. I will also leave the plot to the Book Jacket Summary because it is all over the place and quite complicated to try and summarize without going insane. This book is divided up into three realities: Idea Diety's, Reacher Mirage's, and the book world of Fireskull Revenant. Then there is Eunice/Eurydice who seems to bride all realities. That is as far as I am going to go. If you are interested in more, please go read the book.
This book is very different from the books I have been reading lately and it made a nice change. The more "pulp fiction genre" feel of Fireskull's Revenant was fun and so was trying to decipher Reacher's world with its slight changes. I would recommend this one to the guys who are looking for something very different. They will understand Idea's need for freedom and Reacher's fear of failure. I think I like Idea better but many will think that Reacher is cool. Each character compliments the other and it was interesting to see just how Jeschonek made everything come together in the end.

Book Pairings
Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Month of Sundays by Ruth White


A Month of Sundays
by Ruth White
168 pages
Library
Tween Historical Fiction
2011

Book Jacket Summary
When Garnet's mother decides it's time for a change, she drops off her daughter at her aunt June's house in Black Rock, Virginia, while she goes to Florida to find a job. Garnet has never met her Aunt June, so she feels angry and abandoned. But Aunt June thinks Garnet is there for a reason. Each week, Garnet and June visit a different religious service as Aunt June, who has cancer, tries to find God. After a miraculous spiritual healing occurs and an unexpected visitor comes to town, Garnet learns the power of love and forgiveness, and what being a family truly means.


My Thoughts
Garnet feels betrayed when her mom abandons her with relatives she has never meet, to go to Florida to look for work. However, Garnet finds that her Aunt June is loving and the rest of the family slowly warms up to her. She loves the new clothes and a chance to watch a television. She learns that Aunt June has cancer and is looking for God in a different church each week. There she meets Silver Shepard and they quickly fall in love. Talking on the phone and seeing him on Sundays makes her so happy but things get difficult when her mother summons her to Florida. How can Garnet leave the new loving family and the boy she has come to love? White creates a good book that looks at family, love, faith, death, and abandonment.
The historical element is really great and I noticed many nods to the old TV series. I knew about them because my parents watched them as children and collected the VHS's and DVD's of the shows. It was nice to just jump into a different time period without feeling like to much had to be explained to you. White did a wonderful job of making you feel like you were in the 1950's without telling you that the story takes place then. I truly feel that this book should have been another fifty pages longer. The ending felt rushed and many of the events needed to be dealt with a bit more, especially Garnet's reaction to some bad news. I am trying to accurately describe my reactions with out giving to much of the ending away because that is something I try to avoid. There are many issues that I felt needed to be explored but I guess White wanted to end the book with the audience wanting more.
I would recommend this one to tweens who like historical fiction of the 1950's. The remarks about poodle skirts and other references will make those who know about the time period smile. I really liked Garnet and her family. This is a check out of the library book for me but I am interested in more of White's books, especially if they are historical fiction for tweens.

Book Pairings
Pie by Sarah Weeks
Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Monday, May 7, 2012

Children's Book Week Giveaway Hop

Hosted by 
Mymcbooks & I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
What is Children's Book Week?
Established in 1919, Children's Book Week is the longest-running literacy initiative in the country. Each year, books for young people and the joy of reading are feted for a full week with author and illustrator appearances, storytelling, parties, and other book-related events at schools, libraries, bookstores, museums, and homes from coast to coast!
For more information please visit: http://www.bookweekonline.com/ 

I am giving away one copy of:
 The Friendship Matchmaker (ARC) by Randa Abdel-Fattah.

Release Date: July 17, 2012


Book Jacket Summary
Lara Zany is known throughout the school yard as the Friendship Matchmaker—kids call on her expertise and follow her hard-and-fast rules to find best friendships. Lara’s documented everything from friendship categories (the BOBF, or Bus Only Best Friend; the TL, or Total Loner; the LBC, or Loner By Choice) to strategies (BJF, or the Bungee Jump Friend; FTFP, or Field Trip Faux Pas). But when new kid in school Emily Wong questions Lara’s methods, the two decide to compete by each finding a TL a best friend. But Lara, an LBC, doesn’t bank on finding her own best friendship in the most unlikely of places. . . . In the tradition of Clueless, this reimagining of Jane Austen’s Emma for middle school readers is a funny and heartwarming story of celebrating individuality and finding acceptance.



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Crafty Chloe by Kelly D. Pucchio


Crafty Chloe 
by Kelly D. Pucchio
illustrated by Heather Ross
Library
Picture Book
2012

Book Jacket Summary
Fancy Nancy meets Martha Stewart in Crafty Chloe, the adorable DIY star of a new picture book series! When another girl has already purchased the most perfect birthday gift for Chloe’s friend Emma, Chloe decides she’ll make a present—something you can’t buy in a store. But crafting isn’t easy, and it’s beginning to look like she won’t have a great idea in time. Fortunately, with a good doodle session and a whole lot of glitter to inspire her, Chloe figures out just the thing to save the day—and with a little help from her trusty glue gun, she just might save a friendship, too!This inventive and irresistible picture book will have young readers itching to reach for their googly eyes. Check out CraftyChloe.com to learn how to make the cool crafts featured in the book!

My Thoughts
Crafty Chloe is a super cute book and perfect for crafters of any age. I wish i had been half as crafty as Chloe when I was her age. But my love was reading and horses. At the office I have a co-worker who is really imaginative with the projects she does with her kids this seems like the perfect book for her son and daughter. I do like that Chloe did attempt many activities, such as soccer, ballet, and even video games. Many books bypass the element of trying something out and stick with what the child does best. Chloe has to deal with doubt about her crafty abilities when another girl scoffs at the idea of a homemade gift. Will she make the perfect gift? Will it compete with a store bought doll? Chloe also gets a chance to help her scoffer, London, and prove that she is a kind person too.
The illustrations are very well done and I laughed at Chloe's dog in almost every picture. That dog has the funniest expressions; especially when Chloe paints her face and claims to have Chicken Pops. Very cute book! I would highly recommend! Plus you can go to CraftyChloe.com to learn how to make the crafts Chloe makes in the book! 

Book Pairings

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist


A Bride Most Begrudging 
by Deeanne Gist
347 pages 
Library 
Historical Fiction 
2005 

Book Jacket Summary 
Any ship arriving from England means, good news for Virginia colony farmers. The "tobacco brides" would be on board—eligible women seeking a better life in America, bartered for with barrels of tobacco from the fields. Drew O'Connor isn't stirred by news of a ship full of brides. Still broken-hearted from the loss of his beloved, he only wants a maid to tend his house and care for his young sister. What he ends up with is a wife—a feisty redhead who claims she is Lady Constance Morrow, daughter of an Earl, brought to America against her will. And she wants to go straight back to England as soon as she can. She hasn't the foggiest notion how to cook, dares to argue with her poor husband, and spends more time working on mathematical equations than housework. What kind of a wife is that? Drew's Christian forbearance is in for some testing. Headstrong and intelligent, deeply moral but incredibly enticing, Constance turns what was supposed to be a marriage of convenience into something most inconvenient, indeed.

My Thoughts
 I have to admit that historical christian fiction is a guilty pleasure of mine. I grew up reading Jeanette Oake's books, like Roses for Mama and A Bride for Donnigan. These were facinationg for me because they took me to the pioneers and how the American west was settled. A Bride Most Begrudging's back drop in 1643 and is set during the tobacco boom of Virginia and the tobacco brides that help "settle down" the farmers. 
This book was fun and I got a few giggles out of it but the language was uneven. Lots of historical speech but then lapsing into a more modern tone. I would suggest choosing one or the other and making it consistent rather than switching. I did enjoy the characters, mainly Constance and Mary but Drew (the love interest) kept making me mad. His constant mood swings and changing his mind every time something came up just frustrated me. The historical elements were interesting and seeing how a tobacco farm would be run in the 1600's was fun to experience but I just thought that the book lacked a bit of polish. This is one of Gist's earlier books and I would be willing to try one of her newer books to see if she worked on some of her earlier flaws. I have Maid to Match (2009) on my Nook and still have the interest to see how Gist may have improved. Plus it is set in a later time period. 
Overall, a cute fast read with romantic entanglements that lead to the two main characters falling in love. Typical stuff but still worth a few giggles from comebacks and witty remarks. Plus Constance has a love of math that is unusual in any book.

Book Pairings

Friday, May 4, 2012

Switched by Amanda Hocking


Switched
by Amanda Hocking
293 pages
Library
YA Paranormal
2012

Book Jacket Summary
When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes.

Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken…though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit. But it isn’t long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home.

Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become…

My Thoughts
Trolls do not have a good rap sheet in fairy tales or popular culture but Amanda Hocking places a new twist on them in her series. I never read a Hocking book before now and was interested in seeing how her books transformed from self-published ebooks to published bestsellers. I found that is was well written and I enjoyed the story. It was a fun fish out of water story about teenager Wendy. She finds out that she is a troll after a life time of feeling out of place. Her mother tried to kill her as a very young child and was raised by her brother, Matt, and Aunt Grace. When she is found by her very attractive Tracker, Finn, she is almost forced to go with him because the opposing clan attack her family.
Wendy is actually excited to meet her real mother, Elora, but is disappointed to find a very cold and distant woman. Instead she must be trained to become the princess of the Tyrlle and rule after her mother.
Wendy is a bit off putting at the beginning because she is a spoiled brat who has her family wrapped around her little finger and always gets her way. She does get better when she gets to the Tyrlle city and must learns to put others before herself. Especially when she meets Rhys, her changeling.
Don't get me wrong, I did like the book but Wendy did get on my nerves at certain times. Her obsession with Finn and not understanding that it could get him in a lot of trouble. However, this is a fun paranormal book and I am so proud of Amanda Hocking and her publishing contract. This gives hope to all the self-published authors out there! 

Book Pairings
Immortal Beloved by
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