Saturday, May 31, 2014

Taking Stock - May

Oh gee. May just flew by in the run up to the last day of school. Three more weeks left. Phew! It has been a busy month at school and therefore not too busy on the blog.

Total posts: 14
Total books this month: 25
Total books this year: 149

Audio: 3/21
Debut: 1/3
Mount TBR: 0
Picture books: 3/37

The Good: Considering how busy I was what with a grad class condensed into two weekends plus a paper and a crammed school schedule, I did okay.

The Bad: Reviewing suffered. Greatly. I'm especially sorry that I haven't gotten around to reviewing Tracy Holczer's luminous debut. And I still haven't decided whether I want to go to Las Vegas for Annual. The cheap airfare I found disappeared but I have some miles I can use. Hm.

The books: * indicates a favorite
125. Angel Island: gateway to Gold Mountain by Russell Freedman (5/1)
126. Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (5/2)
127. Odd Duck by Cecil Castalucci and Sara Varon (5/3)
128. Jasper John Dooley Left Behind by Caroline Adderson (5/4)
129. Beyond Magenta: transgender teens speak out by Susan Kuklin (5/4)
130. Chicken Boy by Frances O'Roark Dowell (5/7)*
131. Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams (5/8)
132. Weird Insects by Michael Worek (5/8)
133. The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer (5/9)*
134/ Before the World was Ready: stories of daring genius in science by Claire Eamer (5/10)
135. The City of Death (Ash Mistry Adventure #2) by Sarwat Chadda (5/11)*
136. The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain! by Tom Angleberger (5/14)
137. Does It Really Rain Frogs? by Thomas Canavan (5/16)
138. Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys (K-8) (5/18)
139. Connecting Boys with Books 2 by Michael Sullivan (5/18)
140. The Guy-friendly YA Library by Rollie James Welch (5/18)
141. Patti Cake and Her New Doll by Patricia Reilly Giff (5/19)
142. The Secrets of Stonehenge by Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (5/19)
143. Missy's Super Duper Royal Deluxe Field Trip by Susan Nees (5/19)
144. Champion by Marie Lu (5/20)*
145. Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems (5/20)
146. First Team by Tim Green (5/21)
147. My Life as a Joke by Janet Tashjian (5/25)
148. Discover More: Ancient Egypt by Penelope Arlon (5/27)
149. Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey (5/30)

Discover More: Ancient Egypt by Penelope Arlon

Discover More: Ancient Egypt by Penelope Arlon. 80 p. Scholastic Inc., June 24, 2014. 9780545627399. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher)

I was so tickled to see a new Discover More book when I opened the box from Scholastic. And doubly so to see it was about ancient Egypt. Fifth and sixth graders study ancient civilizations in social studies and I can never keep enough books on my shelves. My love for this series is no secret. They're just about an automatic purchase for me and especially loved by my browsers and fact hounds.

The cover is bold and enticing with the iconic image of King Tut's golden visage dominating. The book is divided into three sections: Discovering ancient Egypt; Everyday life; and Afterlife. Tidbits of information float on collages of captivating images. One might be brought up a bit short by the up-close and personal photograph of a partially uncovered, unidentified mummy. I was brought up a bit short while poring over the photos of tomb treasures. The ornate scarab beetle piece is intricate. Even everyday objects, such as drinking cups and bowls are beautifully crafted. There's a photo of a baboon mummy's coffin, a golden mummy mask, and even a wrapped cat mummy. But I was a bit disappointed to see that a painted coffin or sarcophagus was labeled, "mummy." I can't say whether the piece is a coffin or a sarcophagus because I don't know what it is made of but I do know it's not a mummy. It may contain a mummy and I'm not sure why the picture is labeled so when the above mentioned baboon coffin and cat mummy were correctly labeled. 

The use of the "Nile River" as a timeline was graphically interesting if a bit difficult to follow. The double-page spread of ancient inventions juxtaposed with their modern counterparts was rather cool. I might've arranged those in chronological order rather than the pyramid of images though. There were also times when I would've appreciated a sense of scale, most notably in the line-up of the great pharaohs. There's Khufu's statue, which the caption claims to be the smallest royal statue ever found that appears to be larger than the statue of Pepi II directly to the right. Each pharaoh sculpture rests on a base containing bits of information about dates, periods and significance and captions for each float above their heads with a short description. Cleopatra, the final pharaoh and intriguing ruler in her own right (Thank you Vicky Alvear Shecter) has a caption that reads, "Cleopatra was regarded as a great beauty." Really? That's all?

A later section about the other famous female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, contains a confusing paragraph. While I appreciate the challenges of distilling a subject's influence into two pages, the final paragraph says she disappeared mysteriously; asks if she was murdered; then states that her successor, Thutmose III had her mummy moved. Was she found or was her body found? The disjointed details annoy and do not illuminate. Sure, this overview is meant to tantalize and spur further reading but the tidbits should satisfy somewhat as well.

Thankfully, the double-page spread on mummies in the Afterlife chapter correctly identifies coffins and mummies. Unfortunately, the spread entitled, "How to build a pyramid," is woefully short on details. Basically, it says to cut big stons and build it. The photograph of the Great Sphinx of Giza is at odds with the statement that it is the biggest statue made out of a single stone. It sure does look like bricks make up its legs and haunches. There was some room in the description for an additional sentence explaining how the Sphinx was uncovered. Given that this series does not supply resources for suggested reading, I would've appreciated that. I could not access the bonus ebook. Perhaps it's not uploaded as yet since the book releases next month. 

Individually, these are quibbles. Collectively, they disappoint a bit. Still, I look forward to future installments but will read them with a more critical eye hoping this was just a blip.

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.

For review:
I attended the Little, Brown fall preview in April and the arcs I requested came this week! Happy dance.

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Shane W. Evans. 324 p. September 2, 2014. 9780316247818.

Publisher synopsis: 
"Amira, look at me," Muma insists.
She collects both my hands in hers.
"The Janjaweed attack without warning.
If ever they come-- run."
Finally, Amira is twelve. Old enough to wear a toob, old enough for new responsibilities. And maybe old enough to go to school in Nyala-- Amira's one true dream.
But life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey-- on foot-- to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind-- and all kinds of possibilities. 

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper. 403 p. September 23, 2014. 9780316404518.

Publisher synopsis: A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.
Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.
We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist. 290 p. December 23, 2014. 

Publisher synopsis: Josh Sundquist only ever had one girlfriend. 
For twenty-three hours. 
In eighth grade.
Why was Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down the girls he had tried to date and asked them straight up: What went wrong?
The results of Josh's semiscientific, wholly hilarious investigation are captured here. From a disastrous Putt-Putt date involving a backward prosthetic foot, to his introduction to CFD (Close Fast Dancing), to a misguided "grand gesture" at a Miss America pageant, this story is about looking for love--or at least a girlfriend--in all the wrong places.
I'm not sure how this connection came about but I got asked to participate in a blog tour by a publicist awhile back and every couple of months I get an email asking if I'd be interested in a book. Yes, thank you. These came my way this week.


Kelsey Green, Reading Queen by Claudia Mills. Illustrated by Rob Shepperson. Franklin School series #1. 122 p. Square Fish/ Macmillan, March 2014. 9781250034052.

Annika Riz, Math Whiz by Claudia Mills. Illustrated by Rob Shepperson. Franklin School series #2.120 p. Margaret Ferguson Books/ Farrar Straus Giroux, May 13, 2014. 9780303358.

What's new with you? Leave a comment and I'll visit your stack.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Memes: Storm by Donna Jo Napoli

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

Storm by Donna Jo Napoli. 350 p. Paula Wiseman Books/ Simon & Schuster, February, 2014. 9781481403023.

Publisher synopsis: A sixteen-year-old stowaway discovers her destiny on Noah’s ark in this riveting reimagining from award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli, available in time for the March 2014 major motion picture Noah.
The rain starts suddenly, hard and fast. After days of downpour, her family lost, Sebah takes shelter in a tree, eating pine cones and the raw meat of animals that float by. With each passing day, her companion, a boy named Aban, grows weaker. When their tree is struck by lightning, Sebah is tempted just to die in the flames rather than succumb to a slow, watery death. Instead, she and Aban build a raft. What they find on the stormy seas is beyond imagining: a gigantic ark. But Sebah does not know what she’ll find on board, and Aban is too weak to leave their raft.
Themes of family, loss, and ultimately, survival and love make for a timeless story. Donna Jo Napoli has imagined a new protagonist to tell the story of Noah and his ark. As rain batters the earth, Noah, his family, and hordes of animals wait out the storm, ready to carry out their duty of repopulating the earth. Hidden below deck…is Sebah.

First line: Each row has exactly as many pods as my fingers-ten.

Page 56: Queen and The Male don't understand a word I say-I recognized that immediately. I suspect they are smart creatures, but limited. Queen seems interested in everything. But The Male wants only to mate, and to please the Queen.

I enjoy Donna Jo Napoli's storytelling. A while ago, I was on a fairy tale novel tear and discovered her. I really enjoyed Magic Circle, which relates the Hansel and Gretel story from the witch's POV; Breath, which retells the Pied Piper story; Bound, a Cinderella story; Zel, Rapunzel; Beast, Beauty and the Beast set in the Mideast; and Crazy Jack, an interesting riff on Jack and the Beanstalk. There are others to check out as well as two wonderful collections of retold myths - Greek and Egyptian - published by National Geographic. And don't forget the incredible historical fiction.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spirit Animals Series

Scholastic rules the roost with multi-author, multi-platform series. The newest one to come down the pipes is Spirit Animals. Seven books are planned, each written by a different author. Click here to read the line-up of authors. I read the first three pretty much in a row and am reviewing them together.

Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1) by Brandon Mull. 224 p. Scholastic Inc., September, 2013. 9780545522434. (Purchased).
Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1) by Brandon Mull. Unabridged audiobook on 5 compact discs. Read by Nicola Barber. Scholastic Inc., September, 2013. 9780545600385.

Hunted (Spirit Animals #2) by Maggie Stiefvater. 185 p. Scholastic Inc., January, 2104. 9780545522441. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

Blood Ties (Spirit Animals #3) by Garth Nix & Sean Williams. 186 p. Scholastic Inc., March, 2014. 9780545522458(Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

In the world of Erdas, there is a rite of passage for every child, regardless of class, around their eleventh birthday. They must drink the Nectar provided by a Greencloak in a public ceremony to determine whether the child will summon and bond with a spirit animal. Four different children, two girls and two boys, in four different parts of Erdas summon the Four Fallen, the four animals who sacrificed their lives defending Erdas against the Devourer and his followers many years before. It seems that the followers of the Devourer are rising in power again and the Four Fallen have returned to assist the Greencloaks in a new battle. 

Conor, servant to Devon, the son of the earl, summons Briggan, a wolf. Devon is furious and embarrassed because he did not summon a spirit animal as he expected. Rollin is a jailed orphan and totally uninterested in the Nectar ceremony or becoming a Greencloak, yet he summons Essix, a hawk when the Greencloak insists. Meilin, disciplined warrior-daughter of a general, is disappointed to have Jhi, a peaceful panda as her spirit animal. Abeke, thought she would become her tribe's rainmaker. Instead, she summons Uraza, the leopard and unknowingly spends time training with some minions of the Devourer before being rescued by the Greencloaks.

I listened to books one and two. The narration by Nicola Barber was measured. The pace was almost leisurely despite the increasing conflict and number of battle scenes. 

In book 2, each of the four have inner conflict added to their quest to obtain some talismans before the Devourers. They also have to improve the bond between themselves and their spirit animal as well as learn to trust each other. Unfortunately, they need to do this without the guidance of their adult mentors for the most part. Conor and Meilin make crucial decisions that put the needs of their family before the needs of Erdas

In book 3, there is some dissension in the group as Meilin has left to aide her father and Abeke and Rollin's trust in Conor is gone. The four are at their most vulnerable just as The Devourers seem to be strengthening.

While some of the action seems a bit predictable and slightly repetitive, there has been enough character development and interesting twists to ensure that readers (at least this old fogey) stay invested in continuing the story. Readers who visit the series website can create their own spirit animal, play games and join forums. Book 4, Fire and Ice by Shannon Hale is due out June 24.

Waiting on Wednesday - Vietnam #5: Walking Wounded by Chris Lynch

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

Vietnam #5: Walking Wounded by Chris Lynch. 208 p. Scholastic Inc., October 21, 2014. 9780545640138.

Publisher synopsis: Morris, Rudi, Ivan, and Beck were best friends. So when one of them was drafted into the Vietnam War, the others signed up, too. They promised to watch out for one another. They pledged to come home together.
Now, that pledge has been broken. One of the four has been killed in action. And the remaining three are the only men alive who know the awful truth about their friend's death.
Each is left to deal with their secret in his own way. One of them will accompany his friend's body home to Boston. One of them will defy orders in an act of protest. And one of them will decide it's up to him to single-handedly win the war.
In the end, Vietnam may claim more than their lives. As the war grinds on, their very souls are at stake. And their shattered friendship will prove either their salvation . . . or their ruin.

I am so emotionally invested in these boys. Here's a link to a double review of the first two. I guess I never got around to reviewing the second two. The series is quite popular at my middle school.

I looked the series up yesterday because I wanted to feature it in a Top Ten Tuesday post and discovered this new one. I'm so glad that I stumbled upon it because I've seen nothing about it yet. Honestly, we are all drowning in a sea of information!

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Ash Mistry Adventures by Sarwat Chadda


The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda arrived in my Junior Library Guild subscription sometime during the 2012-2013 school year. It looked interesting to me but I didn't have the time to read it then so I shelved it and there it sat. When book 2, The City of Death, released and it arrived in my subscription, I was reminded that I never got to read the first. Coincidentally, a student came in asking for an adventure book so I showed him The Savage Fortress. In a few days, he came back asking if there was a second book. He also brought a friend who wanted the book he was returning. And so began brisk circulation. The student also told me that I should read them. I always try to read the books students recommend to me. Since the books were always out, I ordered the audio from my amazing library cooperative and listened in the car.

Both books are productions of Listening Library and narrated by Bruce Mann, a new narrator to me. Wowzers! Why had I not heard more about these enthralling books? I'm embarrassed to admit that I missed the starred review in SLJ.  I digress.

Ash Mistry is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed nerd who freely admits he's a bit pudgy, soft around the edges and bully bait. He doesn't care all that much. He has his gaming mates and is enjoying his crush on Gemma. He and his sister, Lucky are spending the summer holidays with their aunt and uncle in India. He loves his uncle, who sacrificed much for his father, but the oppressive heat and relative lack of technology is making Ash pine for London. 

When his uncle is hired by the rich and powerful Lord Savage to translate some ancient parchment for a million dollars, Ash is happy for his uncle. But then he inadvertently overhears something ominous and realizes that Lord Savage's intimidating henchman is really a demon. Later, he accidentally stumbles upon the very item Lord Savage is seeking - the Kali aastra. Lord Savage wants to use it to awaken Ravana, who will rule the world and destroy the humans. 

There's plenty of death and destruction thanks to Lord Savage and his rakshassas. It's pretty gruesome actually. Action, danger, suspense, betrayal, beating hearts ripped from chests. It appears that Indian mythology is not for the faint of heart. This will definitely appeal to Riordan fans and I hope the books inspire requests for Indian mythology.

Ash is an intelligent kid with a good heart and a sense of loyalty. He understands the sacrifices his uncle made and loves his sister dearly, but they both can get on his nerves. And he's not so keen on this super-hero business.

The Savage Fortress ends nicely with a hint of a sequel. The City of Death has a twist at the end that has left my students (and me) panting for the next book. The third book, The World of Darkness is already out in paperback in the UK. When I found nothing here about a U.S. release, I queried the publisher and was given this response, "There are no firm plans for the third book yet." Ack! That just cannot be! I may have to make a transAtlantic purchase.

The audiobooks are spectacular. Mann employs an arsenal of accents and maintains a good pace. I highly recommend adding them to your collection along with the books.
Visit the series website for more information. It's a gorgeously designed site and explains the gods and monsters in a bit more detail. The covers shown are the British covers. 

Top Ten Tuesdays - Friendships

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Broke and Bookish. This week's TTT theme is friendship. I chose 5 YA and 5 MG novels and later noted that almost all of them deal with male friendships. 4 are boy/ girl friendships.

We Were Here by Matt de la Peña. Random House Children's  Books, October, 2009.

I have written about this on TTT often. It is one of my favorite books. I recently reread this one with my ears and I still cried. de la Peña beautifully depicts male friendship and their attempts to connect emotionally.

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth. Scholastic Inc., July, 2013.

Loved this one in every way but especially the friendship between Lewis and George.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, February, 2012.

This beautiful story of two loners who make tentative steps towards friendship and self-discovery won multiple awards. It is also a great audiobook.


The Vietnam Quartet by Chris Lynch. Scholastic Inc. Various release dates.

This series is great for middle grade boys looking for war books. They are gritty but pretty clean. I'm glad I had the opportunity to look these up because I learned that there will be a book 5! (Guess what my Waiting on Wednesday post will be tomorrow?)

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner. Candlewick Press, February, 2013.

This was one of the first books I read in 2013 and it is unforgettable. I was so thrilled that it won a Printz Honor. I recently learned that an audiobook is available and plan on rereading it with my ears.

Middle Grade:
Chicken Boy by Frances O'Roark Dowell. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007.

I recently reread this favorite with my ears. The narrator was spectacular! He really brought the book to life, especially the unique friendship between Tobin and Henry. Often laugh out loud funny but eyes will fill as well.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. Scholastic Inc., February, 2014.

This remarkable debut features a lovely friendship between a girl and a boy who happens to need a wheelchair.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, February, 2013. Also, Five, Six, Seven, Nate, January, 2014.

Federle's adorable and funny debut won a Stonewall Honor and his narration of the audiobook won an Odyssey Honor. Nate and Lizzie are the best kind of best friends.

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci. First Second, May, 2013.

Two quirky folks find friendship in this sweet story of accepting differences.

Doll Bones by Holly Black. Margaret K. McElderry Books, May, 2013.

I did not love this Newbery Honor the way that many did but I did love the depiction of changing friendship.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Non-Fiction Monday: The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the advent of the Civil Rights Movement

The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the advent of the Civil Rights Movement by Teri Kanefield. 56 p. Abrams/ Harry N., Inc., January, 2014. 9781419707964. (Purchased.)

In 1953, Barbara Rose Johns, a quiet, studious junior at got fed up over the conditions of her high school. The walls were covered with tar paper and the roofs leaked so badly that students sat under umbrellas when it rained. Attention to the substandard conditions was brought to local board of education along with the observation that the area schools were separate but not equal. The board's promises to look into the matter dragged on and on. Ms. Johns understood that nothing would happen so she organized a student strike and sought help from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). 

This moving and suspenseful story is told exceptionally well - clearly and simply, yet not overly simplified. Historical context is supplied and plenty of black and white archival photographs enhance the telling. Occasional text boxes provide additional information. A timeline concludes the volume, followed by endnotes, and sources, which include Ms. Johns' handwritten memoir. The Girl from the Tar Paper School is a must-purchase addition to the Civil Rights collection.

Saturday, May 17, 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 blogger's got.

For review:

The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain by Tom Angleberger. 134p. Amulet Books, May 20, 2014. 9781419704253. 

Publisher synopsis: This hilarious, highly original series, which so astutely captures the odd preoccupations of middle schoolers, will appeal to the many fans of the Origami Yoda series and such gross-out classics as How to Eat Fried Worms andFreckle Juice.
Lyle Hertzog and his friends Marilla and Dave expect to spend another dull holiday passing time at the local Qwikpick convenience store. Then an article in their hometown paper catches their eye—the sludge fountain at the nearby sewage plant is being retired. With this news, the three friends decide they’re not just normal kids who don’t have Christmas plans: they’re the Qwikpick Adventure Society. Their first mission: to see the “poop fountain” before it fades from glory.
Told with the mix of journal entries, doodles, and handwritten notes that has made the Origami Yoda books so appealing, this is another great series from a master chronicler of middle school.


The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems. unpgd. Disney/ Hyperion, April, 2014. 9781423190875.

Publisher synopsis: The Pigeon really needs a bath! Except, the Pigeon's not so sure about that. Besides, he took a bath last month! Maybe. It's going to take some serious convincing to try and get the Pigeon to take the plunge.

One is never too old for picture books and I will never tire of the Pigeon books.

My Life as a Joke by Janet Tashjian. Pictures by Jake Tashjian. 252 p. Christy Ottaviano Books/ Henry Holt and Company (BYR), April, 2014. 9780805098501.

Publisher synopsis: Derek Fallon discovers all the angst that comes with being twelve—he just wants to feel grown up, but life gets in the way with a series of mishaps that make him look like a baby. He passes out during a worm dissection in science class, falls flat on his face in gym class and gets a fat lip that causes him to lisp all day, and his plans for a monster-truck party turn into a bouncy house disaster. Why isn’t being in middle school as great as Derek imagined? Thankfully, with a little help from his friends—and, ironically, a Toys for Tots fundraiser—things seem like they could start shaping up at last.

I picked this one up to add to my school's collection before the end of the year. I'm out of money but a student really loves these. 

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to (Not) Reading by Tommy Greenwald. Illustrated by J.P. Coovert. 220 p. Square Fish/ Roaring Brook Press, May, 2012. 9781250003379.

Publisher synopsis: Charlie Joe Jackson may be the most reluctant reader ever born. And so far, he's managed to get through life without ever reading an entire book from cover to cover. But now that he's in middle school, avoiding reading isn't as easy as it used to be. And when his friend Timmy McGibney decides that he's tired of covering for him, Charlie Joe finds himself resorting to desperate measures to keep his perfect record intact.
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald is the hilarious story of an avid non-reader and the extreme lengths to which he'll go to get out of reading a book.
I've read this one with my eyes and ears. I have multiple copies in my library that get stolen regularly. I had to run out to buy a ppb today because I had a bright idea while writing a paper for a grad class today and the library was closed. 

Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum. 286 p. Merit Press/ F+W Media Inc., April, 2014. 9781449579483. 

Publisher synopsis: Insecure, shy, and way overweight, Colby hates the limelight as much as her pageant-pretty mom and sisters love it. It's her life: Dad's a superstar, running for office on a family values platform. Then suddenly, he ditches his marriage for a younger woman and gets caught stealing money from the campaign. Everyone hates Colby for finding out and blowing the whistle on him. From a mansion, they end up in a poor relative's trailer, where her mom's contempt swells right along with Colby's supersized jeans. Then, a cruel video of Colby half-dressed, made by her cousin Ryan, finds its way onto the internet. Colby plans her own death. A tragic family accident intervenes, and Colby's role in it seems to paint her as a hero, but she's only a fraud. Finally, threatened with exposure, Colby must face facts about her selfish mother and her own shame. Harrowing and hopeful, proof that the truth that saves us can come with a fierce and terrible price, Big Fat Disaster is that rare thing, a story that is authentically new.

I also picked up two yoga books for me and two dog training books for #2 son, who is finishing his third year of medical school and decided now is the time to get a dog. Sigh. 

What's new with you?

Saturday, May 10, 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.

Quiet week, thank goodness, because I'm swimming in books and also have a paper to write for a grad class! Add all the end-of-the-year madness at school and the realization that I had a tick attached to my back for two days and you have one school librarian needing to breathe.

For review:

First Team by Tim Green. 327 p. Harper/ HarperCollins Publishers, September 30, 2014, 9780062208750.

From the cover: Brock is on the run again in NYT bestselling author Tim Green's companion book to New Kid.

Well, thank goodness. I reviewed New Kid for SLJ and felt that there were enough questions left unanswered that I wondered there would be another book.

What's new with you?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - Blue Lily, Lily Blue

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

Found out about this through Maggie Steifvater's blog a couple of weeks ago but haven't found anything else about it in online bookstores.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Book 3 of the Raven Cycle) due out October 28, 2014. Woot! Isn't that cover gorgeous?

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Covers

TTT is a weekly meme over at Broke and Bookish. This week's theme is covers I'd hang as art. Nice.

Starting with a couple of picture books. The first was one of my favorite picture books of 2013. In fact, I would hang most of the paintings in the book as art.
Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb. Candlewick Press, December, 2013. 9780763661304.

I would hang just about any cover by Kadir Nelson on my walls. Scratch that. Make that any painting, sketch or doodle by this incredibly talented artist. Knock, knock, oh Caldecott committee? Will you stop giving him honors please? One of my favorites of his is Henry's Freedom Box.
Henry's Freedom Box: a true story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Scholastic/ 2007. 9780439777339.

A couple of middle grade novels that released this year, which also happen to be distinguished debuts.

Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera. Amulet Books, March, 2014. 9781419710391. I just realized that I never reviewed this one. 

The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer. Penguin Young Readers Group, May 1, 2014. 9780399163937. I'm just past the middle of this one and am loving it so much that I slowed my reading down to savor every last word and character. I really hope the Newbery Committee has this one on its radar.

And one of my favorite middle grade novels of 2014 also happens to have a cover that I'd hang on my walls.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. Penguin Group, August, 2013. 9780803738553.

And now for some YA covers:

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. Viking, January, 2014. 9780670012091. I think I'm in a minority for not loving this book. I generally love everything this fearless author has written and I loved it in the beginning, but not as much by the end. The cover is stunning and the book is well worth the read.

172 Hours on the Moon by Johann Harstad. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April, 2012. 9780316182881.

I had trouble choosing which covers from Matt de la Peña were my favorites. Here are my top two, Mexican Whiteboy and We Were Here (which I recently reread with my ears):


The last two are not even published yet. I adore these authors and try to read everything they write. I recently heard about these and featured one last week and am featuring one tomorrow in a Waiting on Wednesday post.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Simon Pulse, September, 2014. 9781481422345.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Boys #3) by Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic, October, 2014. 9780545424967.