Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - Hellhole by Gina Damico

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles of books whose release we are eagerly anticipating.

Hellhole by Gina Damico. 368 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 6, 2015. 

Publisher synopsis: A devil is a bad influence . . .
There was a time when geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore would never lie or steal or even think about murder.
Then he accidentally unearths a devil, and Max’s choices are no longer his own. The big red guy has a penchant for couch surfing and junk food—and you should never underestimate evil on a sugar high. With the help of Lore, a former goth girl who knows a thing or two about the dark side, Max is racing against the clock to get rid of the houseguest from hell before time, and all the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos this side of the fiery abyss, run out.
Gina Damico, author of the Croak series, once again delivers all the horror, hilarity, and high-stakes drama that any kid in high school or hell could ever handle.

Learned about this one through an SLJ webinar called Teen Book Buzz. The elevator pitch was Beetlejuice meets Hellboy, neither of which I've seen. It kind of made me think of Soul Enchilada by David Macinniss Gill, a book which I recall quite fondly.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Non-fiction Monday: Chasing Cheetahs: the race to save Africa's fastest cats by Sy Montgomery

Chasing Cheetahs: the race to save Africa's fastest cats by Sy Montgomery. Photographs by Nic Bishop. 70 p. Scientists in the Field series. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April, 2014. 9780547815497.

Chasing Cheetahs is another spectacular collaboration by Montgomery and Bishop in the Scientist in the Field series, which just keeps getting better and better. The two veterans traveled to Namibia to the Cheetah Conservation Fund's African headquarters to interview Dr. Laurie Marker, a renowned expert on cheetahs. This former grape farmer made a serendipitous career switch some thirty-plus years ago when she visited a local zoo, Wildlife Safari, with the intention of donating a pair of goat bucks from her farm. She eventually worked her way up to director of the clinic and fell in love with cheetahs when she cared for a pair born in captivity. Under her direction, Wildlife Safari became so successful at breeding cheetahs in captivity that she was hired by the National Zoo to help set up other captive breeding programs.

In the early 1990's, with the status of cheetahs in the wild becoming increasingly threatened, Laurie realized that someone needed to stop the slaughter of cheetahs in Africa. As the world's fastest animal and smallest of the big cats, cheetahs were often blamed by farmers for preying on their livestock and were hunted relentlessly. Laurie realized that she was that someone and set up shop, first in a borrowed home. Using four "ambassador" cheetahs and a dog breeding program, Laurie and her team educate farmers and school children about the plight of the cheetah. "Laurie's maverick approach to conservation is changing minds and turning heads. She's using dogs to save cats and convincing farmers that killing predators doesn't protect livestock."(p. 13)

Ms. Montgomery uses a conversational manner to make the science of conservation accessible, even exciting to young readers. Mr. Bishop's plentiful and gorgeous full-color photographs provide the wow-factor. He carefully documents the field work of the scientists and teen volunteers and the photos of the cheetahs in action and at rest are just spectacular. Pages containing fast facts about cheetahs, the role of predators and the like are interspersed throughout the narrative, ending with one entitled, "Laurie's Advice for Saving the World." A short bibliography containing some fairly old titles and one website, The Cheetah Conservation Fund's, conclude the volume. The website is worth a visit, particularly the "About the Cheetah" for kids page.

This is a much-purchase series on its own, but if you need added incentive, it fills the careers in science section of the curriculum quite nicely.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

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

For review: Two debuts from Llewellyn.

Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett. 354 p. Flux/ Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd., Sept. 2014. 9780738740294. 

Publisher synopsis: Anna O’Mally is a born writer—gifted, perceptive, headed for the stars. Or she was, until the tragic death of her uncle Joe. He was barely older than Anna herself, and she worshipped the ground he walked on. Best of all, Anna got to live in the glow of knowing that she was the most important person in his world, too.
Anna has promised everyone—her shrink, her parents, her best friend—that Joe’s one-year “deadaversary” will be the end of her period of mourning. But when a strange note suggests that her saintly uncle had deep secrets, Anna stumbles into a chain of events that changes everything she thought she knew about the past, the possibilities of love . . . and origami.

Sweet Unrest by Lisa Maxwell. 324 p. Flux/ Llewellyn Worldwide, October, 2014. 9780738740812.

Publisher synopsis: For as long as she can remember, Lucy Aimes has been plagued by a dark, recurring dream of drowning. But when her family moves to an old plantation outside New Orleans, she starts having intense new dreams, vivid scenes of a bygone era filled with people she shouldn't know but does. Searching for answers to her haunting visions, Lucy reluctantly descends into the city's mystical culture.
What she finds is Alex, a charming but mysterious boy who behaves as if they've known each other forever. Lucy shouldn't be so drawn to him . . . but she is. As she tries to solve the mystery surrounding Alex, a centuries-old vendetta unspools around her, resulting in a vicious murder. Now trapped in a dangerous crossfire, Lucy must act fast to save her future—and everyone she loves.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Memes: Death Coming up the Hill by Chris Crowe

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

Death Coming up the Hill by Chris Crowe. 204 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October, 2014. 9780544302150.

Publisher synopsis: It’s 1968, and war is not foreign to seventeen-year-old Ashe. His dogmatic, racist father married his passionate peace-activist mother when she became pregnant with him, and ever since, the couple, like the situation in Vietnam, has been engaged in a “senseless war that could have been prevented.”
     When his high school history teacher dares to teach the political realities of the war, Ashe grows to better understand the situation in Vietnam, his family, and the wider world around him. But when a new crisis hits his parents’ marriage, Ashe finds himself trapped, with no options before him but to enter the fray. 
First line: Ah, here's a tough one. The book is written in hiaku. 976 haiku to be exact - 16592 syllables. One for every soldier killed in Vietnam in 1968. Do I post just the first line of the the first haiku?

There's something tidy

Or, does the first line end with the first period? That would be nearly the first "chapter" of the book and ends in the middle of a haiku, which would be unkind not to finish. Right?

There's something tidy 
in seventeen syllables,
a haiku neatness

that leaves craters of
meaning between the lines but
still communicates

what matters most. I
don't have the time or the space
to write more, so I'll

write wat needs to be
remembered  and leave it to
you to fill in the

gaps if you feel like
it. In 1968
sixteen thousand five

hundred ninety-two
American soldiers died
in Vietnam, and

I'm dedicating 
one syllable to each soul
as I record my

own losses suffered
in 1968, a 
year like no other.

Page 56:

Her glistening  lips
formed a smile. "That is a good
question, Ashe, the right

question." For a few
awkward moments no words passed
between us, and my 

heart thudded so hard
I was afraid she'd hear it.
"Someone said there's a

Sadie Hawkins dance
in two weeks. Are you going?"
"Haven't been asked," I

replied. Then her smile 
widened, brightened, and she said,
"What about going

with me?" A wave of
heat flowed up my neck, and I
felt my face redden.

Intrigued? The symbolism is quite powerful. I've been eagerly anticipating the release of this one since I learned of it this past summer.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Friends for Freedom: the true story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade

Friends for Freedom: the true story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade. Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell. unpgd. Charlesbridge Publishing Inc., September, 2014. 9781580895682. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

During a time when friendship between men and women was rare and friendship between a black man and white women was unheard of, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass maintained a lifelong friendship based on a mutual passion for freedom and equality. The repeated phrase, "There friendship lasted..." is used to great effect here as the two endured criticism, ridicule and even death threats in their fight for equality. Neither one was deterred and though they had a brief and public falling out when the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, the two soon reconciled and remained friends for forty-five years. 

The pale, watery illustrations convey the intensity of the two friends. There is both an Author's Note and a note from the author on research at the end, along with an illustrator's note. Detailed source notes, a selected bibliography, and timeline conclude this unique and interesting picture book biography. This could be a nice addition to either an elementary or a middle school library.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, in which we share the titles of new releases we are eagerly anticipating.

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. 480 p. Random House Children's Books. March 10, 2015. 9780375866579.

Publisher synopsis: Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.
The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.
As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?
I really enjoyed Hartman's debut, Seraphina and am quite excited for this sequel. Not only did it earn a ton of stars, but was a BFYA Top Ten and also won the Morris Award.

What are you waiting on? Leave a link in the comments.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

This week's TTT theme at Broke and Bookish is "places books made us want to visit."

The very first book to pop into my head was:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. The fictional island of Thisby is a character in this memorable book. I've read it both with my eyes and ears and look forward to reading it again. The audiobook has music composed and performed by the multitalented author.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. For some reason, I have to work so hard to read Marchetta's books but they always, always pay off in the end with memorable characters and strong settings. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Another vivid worldbuilder, Taylor's descriptions of Prague made me feel I was there. Ditto the otherworldly, Elsewhere.

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke. I've always wanted to visit Venice anyway but I really loved the setting here.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I just adored the worldbuilding in the debut. I just found out that there's a sequel coming in March of 2015! Holy moly, I just went back to my post on the book and found that I mis-named the author. Head-desk.

The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Beginning with The False Prince right through the concluding, Shadow Throne, the kingdom of Carthya was real in my mind's eye.

The Raven Boys Tby Maggie Stiefvater. Raven Boys series #1. I so want to visit Blue's house, have tea with her aunts, and hang out in Henrietta, Virginia and Aglionby Academy.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia. Even though I found the story to be a bit overwrought in the end, I was captivated by Gatlin County and its environs. Very atmospheric.

Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan. Speaking of atmospheric, that was the word I used to describe this ghost story set in Ireland in the 1970s in my post about it. 

For my tenth place, I give a two way tie to worlds of The Lord of the Ring and Harry Potter, with LOTR having a slight edge.