Saturday, May 23, 2015

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:
When I started reading the email asking if I would be interested in Foulsham, book 2 in the series, I nearly stopped reading. I was about to beg off because whenever I haven't read a series from the beginning, I feel compelled to read the first books before reading the book I've been asked to review. I am so booked that I didn't think I'd have the time or energy. But then I read the synopsis and it sounds like the kind of book I'd enjoy. When the rep offered to supply book one along with the arc of book two, how could I not?

Heap House written and illustrated by Edward Carey. Iremonger series #1. 405 p. The Overlook Press, January, 2015. 9781468309539.

Publisher synopsis: Welcome to Heap House, the sprawling, slipshod maze of a mansion, built on the “Heaps,” a collection of forgotten trash and curios.
Young Clod Iremonger and his eccentric family, the “kings of mildew, moguls of mold,” made their fortune from this collected detritus. The Iremongers are an odd old family, each the owner of the birth object they must keep with them at all times. Clod is perhaps the oddest of all—his gift and his curse is that he can hear all of the objects of Heap House whispering.
Yes, a storm is brewing over Heap House and the house’s many objects are showing strange signs of life. Clod is on the cusp of being “trousered” and married off (unhappily) to his cousin Pinalippy when he meets the plucky orphan servant Lucy Pennant, with whose help he begins to uncover the dark secrets of his family’s empire.
The first installment of the Iremonger Trilogy, Heap House introduces readers to a gloriously imagined dark world whose inhabitants come alive on the page—and in Edward Carey’s fantastical illustrations. Heap House is a book that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl and Mervyn Peake, young and old alike. Mystery, romance, and the perils of the Heaps await!

Foulsham written and illustrated by Edward Carey. Iremonger series #2. 325 p. The Overlook Press, July 7, 2015. 9781468309546.

Publisher synopsis: At the Iremonger family offices in the aptly named borough of Foulsham, London's great repository of filth, Grandfather Umbitt Iremonger has found a way to make objects assume the shapes of people, and how to turn people into objects. Clod, whom he sees as a threat, has been turned into a gold coin and is being passed as currency from hand-to-hand through the town. Meanwhile, Lucy Pennant has been discarded as a clay button, abandoned in the depths of the Heaps. Will they be found and returned to human form? Enter Binadit and Rippit...Meanwhile Umbitt builds an army of animated objects to retrieve the missing gold coin. All around the city, thing—ordinary things—are twitching into life, and the reader is held in breathless suspense as questions of life and death, value and disposability, rumble through this dark and mesmerizing world.

Purchased: I know, I know I should not be spending any more money on books! Especially when I have so many to read for review!

Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone. 311 p. Sourcebooks Fire, May, 2015. 9781402291500.

Publisher synopsis: WHAT IS NORMAL?
For Trevor, normal was fast guitar licks, catching game-winning passes, and partying all night. Until a car accident leaves him with no band, no teammates, and no chance of graduating. It's kinda hard to ace your finals when you've been in a coma. The last thing he needs is stuck-up Everly Jenkins as his new tutor-those beautiful blue eyes catching every last flaw.
For Everly, normal was a perfect family around the dinner table, playing piano at Sunday service, and sunning by the pool. Until she discovers her whole life is a lie. Now the perfect pastor's daughter is hiding a life-changing secret, one that is slowly tearing her family apart. And spending the summer with notorious flirt Trevor Lewis means her darkest secret could be exposed.
This achingly beautiful story about two damaged teens struggling through pain and loss to redefine who they are-to their family, to themselves, and to each other-is sure to melt your heart.
I can't remember where I read a review of this and it seems a tad old for my crowd; but there was something about it that called to me. 

Galgorithm: a guy. A girl. A formula. by Aaron Karo. 310 p. Simon Pulse/ Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, May, 2015. 9781481440639.

Publisher synopsis: A romantic comedy about high school, heartbreak, and having all the answers.
What if the secrets of dating and love were revealed in one simple formula? That’s the tantalizing proposition high school senior Shane Chambliss offers the hopeless and hapless guys who come to him for relationship advice.
After the girl of his dreams breaks his heart, Shane devises a mysterious formula called the Galgorithm and establishes himself as the resident dating guru at Kingsview High School. But his attempts to master the art of romance go outrageously awry.
As Shane tries to navigate the ensuing drama, he must follow his heart, abandon all the rules, and ignore his own advice in a quest for true love. What he discovers, no formula could ever predict...
I really enjoyed an earlier book of his called Lexapros and Cons. While the description somewhat evokes John Green's An Abundance of Katherines, I am eager to be delighted and surprised

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Memes: The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy

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

The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy. 244 p. Delacorte Press/ Random House Children's Books, May, 2015. 9780385739436.

Publisher synopsis: A girl who can see the past tries to save the future in this compelling tween mystery.
A girl is missing. Three girls are lying. One girl can get to the truth.
Emily Huvar vanished without a trace. And the clues are right beneath Raine’s fingertips. Literally. Raine isn’t like other eighth graders. One touch of a glittering sparkle that only Raine can see, and she’s swept into a memory from the past. If she touches enough sparkles, she can piece together what happened to Emily.
When Raine realizes that the cliquey group of girls making her life miserable know more than they’re letting on about Emily’s disappearance, she has to do something. She’ll use her supernatural gift for good . . . to fight evil.
But is it too late to save Emily?
First Line(s): For once I'd like to go to a school with a really unique mascot. Like a garden gnome. Or a three-toed sloth. Or a geoduck.

Page 56: Seriously, guys are so clueless when it comes to social stuff. The Emilys of middle school do not get invited to sleepovers by the Jennifers. That's like saying I'll wake up fluent in Spanish. Or my mother will marry a stable guy with a full-time job and a bank account and live happily ever after in the same house until she dies. Willow even said Alyssa and her friends picked on Emily.

I have enjoyed this author's "I So Don't..." series. I will be posting a review in June as part of a blog tour. I started reading it today while waiting for the medical school commencement of my second son on Thursday. Reluctantly put it away once the ceremony started;-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WoWzers! Scholastic Fall Preview!

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

I usually share just one title per week and have WoW posts scheduled already through June; but I'm bumping the schedule to post this in a timely fashion. I sure am glad I carefully read the items in my spam folder at work, or I would've missed this link to the Scholastic Fall Preview!

I just love these productions. I want every single one of these books! I've already highlighted one, Sunny Side Up, in an earlier WoW. If I had to choose one to highlight today, it would be the second book in the Magisterium series. Every kid that has checked the first book, The Iron Trials, out rushes it back in, breathlessly asking, "Where's the second book?" Then, "What?!?" when I explain that (at the time) there was no release date for it (believe me, I looked).

Click on the link above to view the preview. I watched all 42 minutes of it because I still try to keep up with the picture books. The preview can be viewed by category if you're short on time.

The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. Magesterium #2. Scholastic Inc., September 1, 2015. 9780545522281.

Publisher synopsis: none. This book doesn't need it. We are breathlessly awaiting this sequel to The Iron Trials!
I do feel much cover love here.

What are you waiting on?

Blog Tour: Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash - Bonus! Giveaway!

Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash. 304 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. May 19, 2015. 9781481439312. (Review from arc courtesy of Blueslip Media.)

Three Day Summer actually takes place from Thursday through Monday, August 14 through the 18th,1969, when Max Yasgur rented his farm out for a three day concert known as The Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The actual concert was held in Bethel, New York. The story is told in alternating voices by Michael and Cora. 

Michael hails from a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts and arrives in Bethel on Thursday with his girlfriend Amanda and a car full of friends bent on listening to some great music and getting high. Michael isn't sure which direction his life should be taking. He has no desire to go to college and thereby deferring the draft. Nor does he wish to risk being drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam. His relationship with Amanda is on the rocks; it seems they argue about everything. At this point, his only passion is music and he is determined to enjoy this one-in-a-lifetime music experience. 

Cora is a hometown gal. Her older brother has been in-country for two years now. She is disturbed by his last letter home. She wants him out of there now. Her two-war veteran father is immensely proud of Mark and dismayed by his neighbor's willingness to rent his land to a bunch of war protesting hippies. He's also barely civil to Cora's twin brother,  Wes, who plans on attending the concert carrying signs protesting the war. Cora herself is a bit at sea. She's volunteering in the medical tent because she'll probably go to nursing school, but what she'd really like to do is go to medical school. She's still reeling from a recent breakup with her boyfriend, Ned.

The shifting POV works really well in this story. Cora meets Michael when he is brought to the medical tent after dropping LSD. He's not having a bad trip per se given the fact that he dropped the brown acid. Cora appears to be an exotic bird to him and he's entranced. She nurses him through his hallucinations and they go their separate ways until they meet again. Cora, ever the good girl, begins to question her whole life over the course of the weekend. The concert and Michael help to broaden her horizons. 

This appealing story gives the reader a strong sense of setting.  It would make for a great beach read. The weekend was all about sex, drugs and rock and roll so the content is a bit mature for most middle schoolers. But do give it to serious fans of rock music. Highly recommended for high school libraries. Pair it with Jordan Sonnenblick's Are You Experienced? to give contemporary readers insight into that pivotal weekend. I especially liked how the author ties in Rolling Stone magazine. Ms. Tash provides a playlist of songs on her website. She also guest blogs at several stops on the blog tour. 

Check out the other posts:
Mon, May 11
What a Nerd Girl Says
Tues, May 12
Wed, May 13
Mother Daughter Book Club
Thurs, May 14
Curling Up with a Good Book
Fri, May 15
The Compulsive Reader
Mon, May18
The Hiding Spot
Tues, May 19
Adventures of a Book Junkie
Wed, May 20
Thurs, May 21
The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Fri, May 22
Word Spelunker

Sarvenaz Tash was born in Tehran, Iran, and grew up on Long Island, NY. She received her BFA in Film and Television from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has dabbled in all sorts of writing including screenwriting, copywriting, and professional tweeting. Sarvenaz currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. For more information, visit:
Twitter: @SarvenazTash

Finally, thanks to Blue Slip Media, I have a copy to give away. Leave a comment and/ or email me at bkahnlovesbooks (at) gmail (dot) com to enter. (U.S. addresses; please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Starring Jules (Third Grade Debut) by Beth Ain

Starring Jules (Third Grade Debut) by Beth Ain. Illustrated by Anne Keegan Higgins. Starring Jules series #4. 165 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., August, 2014. 9780545113586. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review)

My favorite budding actress, Jules Bloom, is less than enthusiastic about starting third grade. Transitions are hard and, let's face it, Jules has a lot on her plate what with filming her sitcom every day after school. She really, really wishes problems could be solved in 20 minutes the way they are on the show. She also wishes she could be brave and spunky like her character, Sylvie. Plus, she really, really wanted her former babysitter as her third grade teacher; but she's stuck with Mr. Santorini. Mr. Santorini wears Hawaiian shirts and has a star chart and talks like a sea captain and there's a third grade project called Wax Museum and, it's just all too much! 

This is such a sweet series for elementary readers. Jules is a star with talent and aspirations but she's also a daughter, sister, friend and student with very real, relatable worries and hopes. She loves her new best friend, Elinor; is perplexed about her old best friend, Charlotte (and jealous when Charlotte shows up late on the first day of school wearing cool, polka dot eye glasses) and is annoyed by her younger brother, Henry, who is starting kindergarten seemingly without a care in the world. Oh to be a kindergartener again!

The text is punctuated with breezy line drawings. My only quibble is that Jules looks to be a bit older than 8 or 9. The book design is zippy what with the bright yellow cover and red page-edges. 

This series is popular over at the elementary school where my colleague states they are rarely on the shelf. Recommended for anyone, especially fans of Clementine, Junie B. or aspiring thespians.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Non-Fiction Monday: Discover More: Explorers by Penelope Arlon and Tory Gordon-Harris

Discover More: Explorers by Penelope Arlon and Tory Gordon-Harris. Scholastic Discover More series. 80 p. Scholastic Inc., December, 2014. 9780545791229. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

Another excellent entry in the "must purchase" Discover More series. Explorers is sure to ignite the imagination of middle grade readers. Beautifully designed and well-organized, this entry is divided into three sections: Into the Unknown; Voyages of Discovery; and Above and Beyond. And the bonus ebook is not to be missed. That highlights men and women who are 21st century explorers.

Beginning with the essential question, "Why explore?" readers contemplate the challenges and dangers of going where no man has gone before. There's a Hall of Fame and a world map that traces the routes of ten explorers. The section about Voyages of Discovery begins with ancient explorers. Each double-page spread focuses on an individual or group of people who set out for the unknown. Crammed with photos, maps, and artist's renderings, there is plenty to catch the eye.  A glossary and index conclude the volume. A code for the online book is provided at the beginning.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

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 Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke. 341 p. Dysney/ Hyperion Books, 341 p. April, 2015. 9781423159797.

Publisher synopsis: Nere feels more at home swimming with the dolphins her mother studies than she does hanging out with her classmates. Nere has never understood why she feels so much more comfortable and confident in water than on land, but everything falls into place when Nere learns that she is one of a group of kids who-unbeknownst to them-have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of "The Neptune Project" will be able to build a better future under the sea, safe from the barren country's famine, wars, and harsh laws.
But there are some very big problems: no one asked Nere if she wanted to be a science experiment, the other Neptune kids aren't exactly the friendliest bunch, and in order to reach the safe haven of the Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim through hundreds of miles of dangerous waters, relying only on their wits, dolphins, and each other to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids...dead or alive.
Fierce battles and daring escapes abound as Nere and her friends race to safety in this action-packed aquatic adventure.

I also received my finished copy of Tom Gates: Excellent Excuses, which I reviewed in the April issue of School Library Journal. I don't know why I never thought to post these in my Stacking posts. For some reason, receiving this finished copy just tickled me. I think my students, especially those who can't get enough of books with "Wimp-appeal" will like this.

Tom Gates: Excellent Excuses (and other good stuff) by L. Pichon. Tom Gates series #2. 340 p. Candlewick Press, May, 2015. 9780763674748.

Publisher synopsis: Middle-school comedian, homework dodger, rock-star wannabe, master doodler—Tom Gates is back with two more episodes full of visual humor and kid appeal.
No school for two whole weeks! Now Tom has plenty of time for the good stuff, like finding new ways (so many!) to annoy his big sister, Delia. Or watching TV and eating caramel candy. Or most important, band practice for DOGZOMBIES in his best friend Derek’s garage (while not encouraging Derek’s ’60s-music-crazed dad). All that stands between this band and rock greatness is, well, a song (besides "Delia’s a Weirdo"). And finding a drummer. And landing a gig. Will Tom let a killer toothache and pesky overdue homework get in his way?
That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Happy reading!