Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Memes: The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.


The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner. 279 p. St. Martin's Press, September, 2016. 9781250095527.

Publisher synopsis: On the morning of September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first twin tower come down from the window of Stuyvesant High School. Moments later, terrified and fleeing home to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge, he stumbles across a girl perched in the shadows, covered in ash, and wearing a pair of costume wings. With his mother and sister in California and unable to reach his father, a NYC detective likely on his way to the disaster, Kyle makes the split-second decision to bring the girl home. What follows is their story, told in alternating points of view, as Kyle tries to unravel the mystery of the girl so he can return her to her family. But what if the girl has forgotten everything, even her own name? And what if the more Kyle gets to know her, the less he wants her to go home? The Memory of Things tells a stunning story of friendship and first love and of carrying on with our day-to-day living in the midst of world-changing tragedy and unforgettable pain—it tells a story of hope.

First Line: I move with the crowd, away from downtown Manhattan.

Page 56: And, suddenly, I'm glad the girl is here. Someone else, at least, who can walk and talk and hang out with me, while I wait for the phone to ring.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we can't wait to release.



Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han. 320 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, April 4, 2017. 9781481430487.

Publisher synopsis: Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.


Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.
But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Jenny Han's debut, Shug, is one of my most favorite middle grade novels. Then she made the switch to YA where my eighth grade girls love our library copies of The Summer I Turned Pretty and their sequels to death! The Lara Jean books are equally popular. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Fall TBR Pile!

This week's TTT theme over at Broke and Bookish is top ten books on the fall tbr.

Oy! Choosing just ten?



Memory of Things by Gae Polisner.



The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.



Strange, Unusual, Gross and Cool Animals by Charles Ghigna.



Crow Smarts: inside the brain of the world's brightest bird by Pamela S. Turner.



Revenge of the Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen.



Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson.



Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly.



Still a Work in Progress by Jo Knowles.



Radical by E. M. Kokie.



Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Happy Book Birthday! Arc Review: Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick




Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick. 261 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., September 27, 2016. 9780545863261. (Review of arc courtesy of the publisher)

I have a list of authors who are automatic purchases no matter what. I become so confident in them that I stop needing to read reviews and/ or the book to make sure each new book is the right fit. This isn't a long list. Jordan Sonnenblick is on that list. He's also on a much shorter list of authors whose work I will not only automatically buy but also make sure I read. I always approach a new Sonnenblick book with the predisposition toward liking it and usually end up loving it. He has never disappointed nor does he here. In fact, with this book being his first in which the narrator is a girl, Falling Over Sideways is a delightful surprise.

Which is not to say there will be no tears. We fans know to expect much humor and many tears. Claire is our goofy, sarcastic, smart and talented, with a side of clueless and selfish, narrator. She's a dancer about to be left behind by her dancing bffs when they are placed in an advanced class and she is not. She's a saxophonist who's happy to play second chair except that the first chair saxophonist, Ryder takes sadistic pleasure in constantly, well, riding her about it. And then there's the pressure of living up to her perfect older brother, Matthew's, reputation. Her parents can drive her crazy but they're pretty good as parents go and she can always count on her father to jolly her out of a bad mood with his trademark humor.

All the drama and angst suddenly seem insignificant after her father suffers a stroke one Saturday morning. One moment, he and Claire are sitting at the breakfast table amiably ignoring each other, the next her father is acting bizarrely and unable to speak. Claire's quick thinking helps to save her father's life and possibly minimize the brain damage from the blood clot. But her father is a writer. Words are important to him. What will he do; what will he be if he loses his words permanently?

Just like Steven, in Sonnenblick's debut, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, Claire keeps her family's emergency and her father's condition a secret as long as possible. Understandably, this poses some unique and sometimes hilarious problems. Sonnenblick's years as a middle school language arts teacher may have honed his ear for authentic middle school, tween/ teen dialogue and drama but his compassion and affection for middle school students shines in each of his books. Life lessons great and small are seamlessly woven into compelling storytelling. His characters could step off of the page and fit in in nearly any middle school.

Falling Over Sideways is highly recommended and a 2016 favorite of mine. Don't miss it!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

What's New? Stacking the Shelves


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review:

Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion. Illustrated by Joyce Wan. unpgd. Beach Lane Books, September 27, 2016. 9781481420662.

Publisher synopsis: An unlikely pair—a pug and a pig!—realize that it’s better to be together.


Pug is a very happy pup. He has his own yard, his own bowl, and even his own cozy bed! That is, until Pig moves in and starts eating from Pug’s bowl, interrupting Pug’s routine, and, worst of all, sleeping in Pug’s bed. Will Pug and Pig ever learn to live together as friends?
This sweet and silly story about a darling duo celebrates the timeless themes of embracing change, being kind to others, and finding friends in unlikely places.



Meet the Bobs and Tweets by Pepper Springfield. Illustrated by Kristy Caldwell. Bobs and Tweets #1. 80 p. Scholastic Inc., June, 2016. 9780545870726.

Publisher synopsis: ...the Bobs, who are messy, and the Tweets, who are neat. How can these two strange families get along in the same neighborhood? And are all the Tweets really neat and all the Bobs slobs?
This is the first book in a brand-new series of full-color, illustrated high-interest rhyming stories that's just right for reluctant readers. It's Dr. Seuss meets Captain Underpants wrapped into one zany adventure. Get ready to read...and laugh!


Transcendent by Katelyn Detweiler. 433 p. Viking/ Penguin Random House, October 4, 2016. 9780451469632.

Publisher synopsis: A timely work of contemporary magical realism, about a a world plagued by violence, and the girl called upon to be a hero.
 
When terrorists bomb Disney World, seventeen-year-old Iris Spero is as horrified as anyone else. Then a stranger shows up on her stoop in Brooklyn, revealing a secret about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Iris’s birth, and throwing her entire identity into question. Everything she thought she knew about her parents, and about herself, is a lie. 
 
Suddenly, the press is confronting Iris with the wild notion that she might be “special.” More than just special: she could be the miracle the world now so desperately needs. Families all across the grieving nation are pinning their hopes on Iris like she is some kind of saint or savior. She’s no longer sure whom she can trust—except for Zane, a homeless boy who long ago abandoned any kind of hope. She knows she can’t possibly be the glorified person everyone wants her to be… but she also can’t go back to being safe and anonymous. When nobody knows her but they all want a piece of her, who is Iris Spero now? And how can she—one teenage girl—possibly heal a broken world?


Kenny Loggins - Footloose Illustrated by Tim Bowers. Music & Lyrics by Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford. 28 p. Moondance Press, October 11, 2016. 9781633221185

Publisher synopsis: Have a rockin' time introducing children to Footloose, rewritten for children by the one and only Kenny Loggins himself. Features a bonus CD with the new children's "Footloose," performed by Kenny Loggins.

Time to cut loose! Have a rockin' time introducing children to the fun of Footloose, rewritten for children by the one and only Kenny Loggins. As a zookeeper named Jack joins the zoo animals in an all-night dance party, this new original story from Loggins is sure to get your feet moving. Little ones will love the cast of characters, including the rockin' chimp Louise ("Geez, Louise"), Mister DJ Elephant, the lemur Marie ("Oo Wee, Marie"), Milo the wombat, Luke the funkiest cat in the zoo, and so many more rocking, bopping, boogeying, tangoing, shaking, rattling and rolling animals!

To add to the fun, the book includes a CD with new recordings by Kenny Loggins. Kids and parents can sing along to the classic hit with new lyrics, as well as a three-song medley families will love.

Purchased:

The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner. 280 p. St. Martin's Griffin/ Macmillan, September, 2016. 9781250095527.

Publisher synopsis: On the morning of September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first twin tower come down from the window of Stuyvesant High School. Moments later, terrified and fleeing home to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge, he stumbles across a girl perched in the shadows, covered in ash, and wearing a pair of costume wings. With his mother and sister in California and unable to reach his father, a NYC detective likely on his way to the disaster, Kyle makes the split-second decision to bring the girl home. What follows is their story, told in alternating points of view, as Kyle tries to unravel the mystery of the girl so he can return her to her family. But what if the girl has forgotten everything, even her own name? And what if the more Kyle gets to know her, the less he wants her to go home? The Memory of Things tells a stunning story of friendship and first love and of carrying on with our day-to-day living in the midst of world-changing tragedy and unforgettable pain—it tells a story of hope.



The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. The Magisterium series, book 3. Unabridged audiobook on 7 compact discs, 8.5 hours. Read by Paul Boehmer. Listening Library, August, 2016. 978084122689.

Publisher synopsis: Magic can save you. Magic can kill you.
Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.

But now the chaos is fighting back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer . . . and risk their own lives in the process.
As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm—unless it is stopped in time.
In this striking third book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare present us with a school where anything—good or evil—can happen, and the only way to unlock the truth is to risk everything to find it.

Finally, I was so excited to open the bubble-envelope that was to my mailbox at home to find this:


The Water Princess by Susan Verde. With Georgie Badiel. Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. unpgd. Penguin Young Readers Group, September, 2016. 9780399172588.

Publisher synopsis: With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. And try as she might, Gie Gie cannot bring the water closer; she cannot make it run clearer. Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot on her head to collect the water. After the voyage home, after boiling the water to drink and clean with, Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own.


Inspired by the childhood of African–born model Georgie Badiel, acclaimed author Susan Verde and award-winning author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds have come together to tell this moving story. As a child in Burkina Faso, Georgie and the other girls in her village had to walk for miles each day to collect water. This vibrant, engaging picture book sheds light on this struggle that continues all over the world today, instilling hope for a future when all children will have access to clean drinking water.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Blog Tour - Arc Review: Truth or Dare by Barbara Dee


Truth or Dare: five girls, one summer, many secrets by Barbara Dee. 256 p. Aladdin, September 20, 2016. 9781481459686. (Review from arc courtesy of author.)

One of the things I love about writing reviews to my blog (or Goodreads) is that I can get really personal. As I sat at my computer pondering what I would write about Truth or Dare, a memory burst unbidden. Gym class at my catholic school: fifth or sixth grade. We girls (boys took gym with the school's lone male teach downstairs) were all lined up for some activity when Mary Margaret burst into tears. The teacher took her aside whispering. Mary Margaret left the gym. Judy, a girl a year older than us because she was left back (those were the days when kids were retained), sagely commented, "Mary Margaret has her friend." Thinking I misheard, I asked, "What's wrong with her friend?" Judy sneered, "Don't you know what a friend is?"

Now, Judy terrified me. She always seemed angry. I didn't make the connection then what the impact of being in the same grade as her younger sister had on her. She was tough, cool and had a posse of followers. Thankfully, she did not announce it loudly. She whispered it to the girl on the other side, who whispered it to the girl next to her. Soon every girl in my gym class knew that I had no idea what a friend was. 

So I asked my mom when I got home. I am the oldest of six. I remember my busy mother stopping whatever she was doing and inviting me to sit on the couch, where she explained everything, to my absolute horror. I recall vaguely noticing that a sprinkling of girls in my class were sprouting breasts while my own chest remained flat as a board. If sprouting breasts meant monthly bleeding? No thanks. 

Thankfully, I had a mom I could ask, which is a good segue back to the book. Which is the point of this post, so get to it already, Brenda. I'd like to point out, though, the universality, at least among the females of the species of this rite of passage. If reading this book brought back my own ancient memories, then the book is that good.

Lia has been motherless for two years. She has a posse of best friends led by Abi, whose own mom has stepped in big-time as Lia's surrogate mother complete with regular home-cooked meals for her, her brother and father. Plans are set for most of the group to head to camp for the summer. Only, at the very last minute, like in the parking lot ready to board the bus last minute, Lia begs her father not to send her. She just doesn't want to deal with her own lack of action in the puberty department around all those girls.

She spends a rather introspective summer in Maine with her hippy dippy Aunt Shelby instead. She is surprised to learn that Abi's mom bullied her Aunt Shelby when they were kids. When she's reunited with her friends at the start of seventh grade, she discovers that's she's a bit on the outs thanks to the bonding that happened over camp and the girls' fascination with the game Truth or Dare. Lia chooses truth but then proceeds to lie - about getting her period and about kissing a boy. The fragile friendships crumble under the lies. 

This was a fun middle grade read about friendship and puberty told in an authentic tween voice. There's plenty of drama and the tween dialogue is pitch perfect. It's peopled with interesting characters, including the adults who are imperfect but caring and involved in the lives of the young people they love. 

Give this gentle, humorous book to tweens who want a read- alike to Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret or Lauren Myracle's Winnie series. Truth or Dare is Ms. Dee's sixth middle grade novel. I am definitely going to look into the author's earlier titles. Check out the author's website for more information. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - All about Audio

This week's TTT theme over at Broke and Bookish is "All about Audio!"

Hahahahaha! I should've looked ahead when I posted last week and chose audio as the spotlight "genre!" No matter, last week, I shared ten of my favorites but of course, I had a list way longer than ten. 



All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Narrated by Kirby Heyborne and Ariadne Meyer. This is a good example of liking a book more thanks to the audio performances. While this book got a ton of love, I had trouble loving it. Though I can see its appeal.



Winger and Standoff by Andrew Smith. Winger was narrated by Mark Boyett and Standoff was narrated by Kirby Heyborne. I absolutely adored Boyett's performance in Winger and was curious about the narrator change. Heyborne did an outstanding job but it took me a while to get over missing Boyett's Ryan Dean West.


 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children/ Hollow City/ Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs. Here is another narrator switch but in this case, a thankful one. Jesse Bernstein narrated the first ably enough but he's not a favorite of mine. Kirby Heyborne was brought in for the next two and made the listening a total immersion into the world of the Peculiars. BTW, I CANNOT wait for the movie this fall.




A Snicker of Magic and The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd narrated by the author. It is said that an author is not the best narrator for his or her own book. Having listened to many an author read aloud from their work, I tend to agree. When I heard Natalie Lloyd read aloud from her debut, A Snicker of Magic at a Scholastic event, her voice got stuck in my head so that when I read the arc, I heard her voice. I reread it with my ears when the audio came out. 

Any book by Terry Pratchett that is narrated by Stephen Briggs! All five Tiffany Aching Disc World Books, Nation, Dodger plus his adult Disc World books. I have a huge voice crush on Stephen Briggs. Sir Terry's books are dryly hilarious, but Brigg's pacing and accents add so much!


Firefly Hollow by Alison McGhee. Narrated by Jessica Almasey. I have a love/ hate relationship with Almasey's voice. I adored her performance here. The physical book is a work of art - hefty, gorgeous paper, stunning illustrations.



An Ember in Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West. Wow! This book lived up to the hype! Terrific performance bring this nailbiter to life. The only good thing about reading a new series book late is the short wait for the sequel. I'm listening to A Torch in the Night now.


Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk. Read by Emily Rankin. Another extremely hyped debut that I put off reading. Another totally hyped debut worthy of the hype. 


The Name of the Blade by Zoe Marriott. Read by Sarah Coombs. Non-stop action, Japanese mythology and a likable heroine make for a riveting read. So far, the sequel hasn't been made into an audiobook.

 

After by Morris Glietzman. Soon by Morris Gleitzman. Both read by the author. Once is my go-to book for younger readers who want to read a historical fiction treatment of the Holocaust. My students who read Once, usually come back asking if there are sequels and I happily show them Then and Now. Last school year, I learned of After and Soon. I needed to send to Australia for Soon. While these sequels are not middle grade-friendly, they are worthy additions to any library collection.