Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Memes: The Sun is Also a Star by Nikola Yoon

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

The Sun is Also a Star by Nikola Yoon. 349 p. Delacorte Press/ Random House Children's Books, November 1, 2016. 9780553496680.

Publisher synopsis: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

First Line(s): since this is a dual-narrative, here are the first lines from both Daniel and Natasha (and the prologue).

Prologue: Carl Sagan said that if you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

Daniel: Local Teen Accepts Destiny, Agrees to Become Doctor, Stereotype
     It's Charlies fault that my summer (and now fall) has been one absurd headline after another.

Natasha: My mom says it's time for me to give up now, and that what I'm doing is futile. She's upset, so her accent is thicker than usual, and every statement is a question.

Page 56: Would-Be Casanova Shakes Cute Girl's Hand, Offers Her Home Loan with Reasonable Interest Rate
     I shook her hand. I'm wearing a suit and a tie and I shook her hand.
     What am I? A banker?
     Who meets a cute girl and shakes her hand?
     Charlie would've said something charming to her. They'd be having a cozy coffee someplace dark and romantic. She'd already be dreaming of little half-Korean, half-African American babies.

While I enjoyed Ms. Yoon's debut, Everything, Everything, I am absolutely in love with this smart, funny romance and am not rushing to finish it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Playbook by Kwame Alexander

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

The Playbook: 52 rules to help you aim, shoot and score in this game called life by Kwame Alexander. 176 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, March 7, 2017. 9780544570979.

Publisher synopsis: You gotta know the rules to play the game. Ball is life. Take it to the hoop. Soar. What can we imagine for our lives? What if we were the star players, moving and grooving through the game of life? What if we had our own rules of the game to help us get what we want, what we aspire to, what will enrich our lives?   

Illustrated with photographs by Thai Neave, The Playbook is intended to provide inspiration on the court of life. Each rule contains wisdom from inspiring athletes and role models such as Nelson Mandela, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Carli Lloyd, Steph Curry and Michelle Obama. Kwame Alexander also provides his own words of inspiration and uplift, as he shares his stories of overcoming obstacles and winning games.  

Saturday, August 20, 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:

The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White. 370 p. Little, Brown and Company, September 13, 2016. 978031630573.

Publisher synopsis: A thrilling debut novel where fantasy and science fiction meet, dragons aren't as innocent as they look, and nothing is quite what it seems.

Anne has spent most of her thirteen years dreaming of the day she and her best friend Penelope will finally leave Saint Lupin's Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children. When the big day arrives, a series of very curious happenings lead to Anne being charged with an epic quest. Anne, Penelope, and new questing partner Hiro have only days to travel to strange new locales, solve myriad riddles, and triumph over monstrous foes--or face the horrible consequences.

Packed with action, humor, and endless heart, this debut novel marks the first volume in an irresistible and original fantasy series.

Purchased: I took a spur of the moment trip to Massachusetts Thursday to Friday. My husband put together a shelf unit for #4 son, who lives in Somerville. I had not yet seen his apartment and the Eric Carle Museum had two exhibits that interested me; so, off I went to deliver the shelves. 

I bought Harold and the Purple Crayon as part of a book-themed baby gift at the museum shop, then trekked to Blue Bunny Books in Dedham to browse and check out whether Water Princess might be available early at the store.

It was not. I pre-ordered it to be autographed and sent to me and picked out a tee shirt for the hubbins and three prints. One of which I gifted to son and his girlfriend for their apartment. Isn't it cute?

I received a gift as well!

So Few of Me by Peter H. Reynolds. 32 p. Candlewick Press, August, 2006. 9780763626235.

Publisher synopsis: Leo's list of things to do keeps growing, until one day he wishes, "If only there were two of me." Just as the words are out of his mouth, poof! Another Leo appears! Two Leos become three, three become four, and four become more . . . but Leo can't help but notice that he has even more to do than before. As he struggles to deal with his overcomplicated life, Leo realizes that there may be a simpler solution to his overscheduling woes. Peter H. Reynolds, the award-winning author-illustrator of THE DOT and ISH, returns with an important message for readers of all ages: stop and take a little time to dream.

Once in Somerville, I took #4 son & J out to eat then had a terrible time falling asleep. Honestly, with all the driving I did I should've dropped right off!

J. had to work on Friday so #4 and I had breakfast out and walked around his neighborhood, which included walking past Candlewick Press (they live down the block) and stopping by Porter Square Books. It had a delightful children's and YA section. I picked these up:

My Miserable Life by F.L. Block. Illustrated by Edward Hemingway.184 p. Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), June, 2016. 9780805096286.

Publisher synopsis: Ben Hunter has a miserable life -- M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E! His sister will only talk to him through text messages, his mom won't let him eat sugar or even go for a bike ride unchaperoned, and a bully at school steals all of his friends. Told in Ben's voice, through entries from his school journal with commentary from his teacher, this very funny and often poignant narrative chronicles an eventful year in the life of a thoughtful fourth grader.

Draw the Line by Laurent Linn. 520 p. Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster, May, 2016. 9781481452809.

Publisher synopsis: After a hate crime occurs in his small Texas town, Adrian Piper must discover his own power, decide how to use it, and know where to draw the line in this stunning debut novel exquisitely illustrated by the author.
Adrian Piper is used to blending into the background. He may be a talented artist, a sci-fi geek, and gay, but at his Texas high school those traits would only bring him the worst kind of attention.
In fact, the only place he feels free to express himself is at his drawing table, crafting a secret world through his own Renaissance-art-inspired superhero, Graphite.
But in real life, when a shocking hate crime flips his world upside down, Adrian must decide what kind of person he wants to be. Maybe it’s time to not be so invisible after all—no matter how dangerous the risk.

The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen. 144 p. Dark Horse Comics, May, 2016. 9781616558741.

Publisher synopsis: Master storyteller Jane Yolen (Owl Moon, Sword of the Rightful King) and celebrated fantasy artist Rebecca Guay (Swamp Thing, Magic: The Gathering) weave a textured and lyrical tale of adventure, homelands, and heroism the hard way.
Two hundred years ago, humans drove the dragons from the islands of May. Now, the last of the dragons rises to wreak havoc anew—with only a healer's daughter and a kite-flying would-be hero standing in its way.
The hardcover edition of The Last Dragon made the YALSA 2012 Great Graphic Novels list and was named #31 of 50 best new comics from Sequential Tart!

I hit the road around 11 because I hoped to stop at Jeff Kinney's book store, An Unlikely Story on my way home. I also wanted to hit the Tappan Zee before rush hour. 

My purchases were mostly non-book. If you are ever in the area, this is definitely worth a detour. The building is quite beautiful and the inside is gorgeous with exposed beams and lots of reclaimed wood. The cafe featured lots of interesting food. 

There's  a book in the bag about North American Birdsongs in there along with a Wimpy Kid Tie (the last one) that I learned about when Cynthia Lord posted on FB about the one she bought when she visited. I also purchased an adorable food truck bird feeder. I do not need another bird feeder! And another Little Prince coloring book which I am sending to my Somerville hosts. 

All-in-all, this was such a fun, lightning-strike of a trip. Oh! I nearly finished an audiobook too! I have one disc left on The Last Star by Rick Yancey. As soon as I schedule this post, I plan on sitting down and listening.

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

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

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen. 240 p. Random House Children's Books, February 21, 2017. 9780553496901.

Publisher synopsis: Beware: Life ahead. 
Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde is anything but wild. A former crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula shut herself off from the world after a family tragedy. She sees danger in all the ordinary things, like crossing the street, a bug bite, or a germy handshake. She knows: life is out to get you. 
The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class with a small group of fellow misfits. Then a new boy, Jacob, appears at school and in her therapy group. He seems so normal and confident, though he has a prosthetic arm; and soon he teams up with Petula on a hilarious project, gradually inspiring her to let go of some of her fears. But as the two grow closer, a hidden truth behind why he’s in the group could derail them, unless Petula takes a huge risk. . .

I learned about this when a FB friend posted a pic of the arc he scored. I have read two of her books, The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen and We are All Made of Molecules

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Settings

 This week's TTT theme over at Broke and Bookish is favorite settings.

I had some trouble with this one until I decided to feature books I love with settings so vivid they are almost characters.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. This Printz Honor winner is one of my all time faves. I've read it with my eyes. I've read it with my ears. I wish I could visit Thisby. I highly recommend the audiobook as the haunting music in the production was composed by this multi-talented artist.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Oh how I adored this trilogy and not just for it's truly kick-ass heroine and killer-not-filler middle volume. The settings both in the real world (I want to visit Prague) and Elsewhere are incredible.

Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac. Lozan is another kick-ass heroine. I wrote in my review that I wouldn't mind another book about her and was thrilled learn of
Trail of the Dead at ALA Annual. 

I do have two with the same setting - Woodstock!

Are You Experienced? by Jordan Sonnenblick. I make no secret of my love for this author. I cannot wait to read his next YA offering, Falling Over Sideways due out next month!

Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash. This was the author's YA debut. I really enjoyed it and looked forward to her next offering. When I had the opportunity to participate in a blog tour, I jumped at it and it happens to be another setting winner and my next entry.

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash. I've only been to one ComicCon but I think Tash does a brilliant job of conveying the overwhelming, wild energy.

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee. I adored this book for many reasons, the rural Vermont setting being one of them.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. Another book with a rural setting. Any book Gary D. Schmidt writes has a vivid setting in addition to stunning language. This one may be his briefest, but he does more in 200 pages than many authors do in more.

Free Verse by Sarah Dooley. And yet another book with a rural setting. 

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. I never did get around to reviewing this though it seems I did feature it in two TTT posts (haha- books on my tbr and then books I didn't get to in 2014!). Windsor Estate was so vivid a setting and this tale terrified me.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Non-Fiction Monday: Ugly by Robert Hoge

Ugly by Robert Hoge. 200 p. Viking/ Penguin Random House LLC., September 6, 2016. 9780425287750. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a perennial favorite at my school. If I had a nickel for every time a student asked for a "book like Wonder," I could buy a lot of books for the library. I have a few books that fill the bill but none so perfect as this one.

"I'm the ugliest person you've never met." These words are featured prominently on the back cover of this memoir, which has been adapted for young readers from one of the same name for adults. 

In 1972, Robert Hoge was born in Australia. He was the fifth child. His mother's pregnancy was normal. His birth was supposed to be routine. Only, he had a tumor the size of a tennis ball between his eyes and "mangled" legs. With heartbreaking honesty, he writes that his mother refused to even look at him. She did not visit him in the nursery. She left him in the hospital and returned home to her four children. A doctor told her to institutionalize her newborn. Instead, she and her husband explained the situation to Robert's siblings and asked them if they should bring the baby home. 

Once he was brought home, his mother became his fiercest advocate and strived to make life as normal as possible for her son. He spent a lot of time in hospitals having multiple, sometimes life-threatening surgeries. Despite his loving home life, life outside was often daunting.

Young readers will be captivated by Hoge's compelling story, punctuated with humor and a dash of mischievousness. The chapters are short, with occasional pencil illustrations (Art was not complete in arc). The style is episodic. The tone is conversational. 

This is a worthy addition to the memoir unit and a must-purchase for school and public libraries where those Wonder fans want more. I can't wait to share this with my students come September. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Matylda Bright and Tender by Hollie M. McGhee

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

I learned about this from the author's FB page last week. Is this cover not the most striking thing you have seen? 

Matylda Bright & Tender by Hollie M. McGhee. 244 p. Candlewick Press, March 14, 2017. 97807636889513.

Publisher synopsis: In a courageous debut novel, Holly M. McGhee explores the loss that shakes one girl’s world — and the unexpected consequences of the things we do for love.

Sussy and Guy are best friends, fourth-graders who share their silliest thoughts and deepest hopes. One afternoon, the two of them decide they must have something of their very own to love. After a trip to the pet store, they bring home a spotted lizard, the one with the ancient face and starfish toes, and they name her Matylda (with a y so it’s all her own). With Guy leading the way, they feed her and give her an origin story fit for a warrior lizard. A few weeks later, on a simple bike ride, there is a terrible accident. As hard as it is, Sussy is sure she can hold on to Guy if she can find a way to love Matylda enough. But in a startling turn of events, Sussy reconsiders what it means to grieve and heal and hope and go on, for her own sake and Matylda’s. By turns both devastating and buoyant, this story is a brave one, showing how far we can justify going for a real and true friend.