Sunday, July 31, 2016

Taking Stock - July - 2016

Total posts this month: 25
Total books read this month: 45
Total books read this year: 234

Audio: 16/60
Debut: 2/10

The Good: 45 books! 

The Bad: Still not reviewing everything I'd like.

The Books: * = favorite
190. (9) The Name of the Blade by Zoe Marriott (7/2)
191. (10) Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (7/2)
192. (11) Tombquest Book 3: The Valley of the Kings by Michael Northrop (7/3)
193. (12) Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin (7/3)*
194. (13) Red: the true story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff (7/5)*
195. (14) You Can Fly by Carole Boston Weatherford (7/6)
196. (15) Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray (7/6)
197. (16) On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen (7/6)
198. (17) Cleopatra in Space: the thief and the sword by Mike Maihack (7/7)
199. (18) When We Was Fierce by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo (7/8)*
200. (19) Frederick's Journey: the life of Frederick Douglass by Doreen Rappaport (7/9)
201. (20) Jazz Day: the making of a famous photograph by Roxanne Orgill (7/9)
202. (21) Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes (7/9)
203. (22) I was Here by Gayle Forman (7/10)
204. (23) Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman (7/11)
205. (24) Arcady's Goal by Eugene Yelchin (7/11)
206. (25) Ghosts by Reina Telgemeier (7/12)*
207. (26) Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (7/15)
208. (27) Hotel Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins (7/15)*
209. (28) No Fair! No Fair! by Calvin Trillin (7/15)
210. (29) Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole (7/15)
211. (30) Duck on a Tractor by David Shannon (7/15)
212. (31) Queen Dog by Bridget Heos (7/15)
213. (32) Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (7/16)
214. (33) The Curse of the Were-Hyena by Bruce Hale (7/17)
215. (34) We Will Not be Silent by Russell Freedman (7/18)*
216. (35) Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant (7/18)*
217. (36)The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas (7/18)
218. (37) Lift Your Light a Little Higher: the story of Stephen Bishop: slave explorer by Heather Henson (7/19)*
219. (38) When Andy Met Sandy by Tomie dePaola (7/19)
220. (39) I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy (7/19)*
221. (40) Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy (7/20)
222. (41) The Curse of the Boggin by D.J. MacHale (7/21)* (SLJ review)
223. (42) Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder (7/22)*
224. (43) Listen to Our World by Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson (7/22)
225. (44) Rain Fish by Lois Ehlert (7/22)
226. (45) The Night Gardner by the Fan Brothers (7/22)
227. (46) It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton (7/22)
228. (47) Nine, Ten: a September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin (7/25)
229. (48) Standoff by Andrew Smith (7/26)*
230. (49) The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (7/27)
231. (50) Being Jazz: my life as a transgender teen by Jazz Jennings (7/28)
232. (51) Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (7/31)*

233. (52) Juba! A novel by Walter Dean Myers (7/31)
234. (53) Ugly by Robert Hoge (7/31)

Saturday, July 30, 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.

I found a package from Candlewick in my school mailbox this week that looks promising:

The Catalyst by Helena Coggan. 426 p. Candlewick Press, October 11, 2016. 9780763689728.

Publisher synopsis: Eighteen years ago, a dimensional break ripped open the sky, drawing humans into an ancient conflict. Otherworldly souls rained down and fused with those of people, dividing the population into the green-eyed, magical Gifted and the dark-eyed, nonmagical Ashkind. A devastating war followed, and the Gifted have managed a fragile peace ever since, largely through a brutal law enforcement organization known as the Department. Fifteen-year-old Rose’s father, David, has a leading role in the Department. Rose and David are Gifted, but they are also something else — something terrible. Their lives depend on keeping it secret. But when a mysterious murder threatens to tear Rose’s world apart, forcing long-buried secrets into the open, her loyalties are put to the test. How much does Rose really know about her father’s past? How far is the Department willing to go to maintain order? And, when the time comes, who will Rose choose to protect?

This is a debut by a sixteen-year-old author!

Revenge of the Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen. 277 p. Candlewick Press, February 14, 2017. 9780763688288.

Back jacket: Last fall, Cynthia Rothschild saved her best friend (as well as the entire student body) from demon librarian Mr. Gabriel, all wile executing the most awesome set design for the school production of Sweeney Todd. But now all that demon stuff is behind her, and Cyn is going to have the best summer ever at theater camp with her former-crush-now-boyfriend Ryan Halsey. Once she gets to camp, though, Cyn realizes that this summer might not be all she's been hoping for. First, Ryan's best camp friend is a girl (which Ryan never mentioned before), and she just happens to be ridiculously pretty. Plus, it appears the demon stuff is not entirely over as Cyn had hoped. At least any new demons that show up to ruin her summer can't possible be as evil as Mr. Gabriel. It's not like he could somehow come back to life to seek his terrible revenge or something. 

Evil Librarian is buried somewhere on TOM, my tbr pile. Better dig it out!

MWD: Hell is coming home by Brian David Johnson and Jan Egleson. Illustrated by Laila Milevski and Karl Stevens. Candlewick Press, February 14, 2017. 9780763657062.

From the jacket: Liz served in Iraq with her trusty military working dog, Ender, by ther side. But now that her tour is over, she has to readjust to life in her small New Hampshire town. Despite being surrounded by people she's known her whole life, Liz feels entirely alone and soon gets trapped in a downward spiral of flashbacks and blackout drinking. Things seem destined for a bad end, but when her on-again, off-again boyfriend Ben, almost hits a stray dog while Liz is in the car, things start to change. Brutus, as Liz names him might just be the only thing that can bring her back from the brink. 

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

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Memes: Ugly by Robert Hoge

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

Ugly by Robert Hoge. 200 p. Viking/ Penguin Young Readers Group, September 6, 2016. 9780425287750. 

Publisher synopsis: “We all have scars only we can own.”
When Robert Hoge was born, he had a tumor the size of a tennis ball in the middle of his face and short, twisted legs. Surgeons removed the tumor and made him a new nose from one of his toes.  Amazingly, he survived—with a face that would never be the same.  
Strangers stared at him. Kids called him names, and adults could be cruel, too. Everybody seemed to agree that he was “ugly.” But Robert refused to let his face define him. He played pranks, got into trouble, had adventures with his big family, and finally found a sport that was perfect for him to play. 
Then Robert came face to face with the biggest decision of his life.
This life, this funny, moving, and true story of an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face is perfect for fans of Wonder and shows how what makes us “ugly” also makes us who we are.

First Line(s): Chapter 1, entitled, "The Art of Being Ugly."
Imagine you're in art class. The teacher drops a lump of wet, sticky clay on the bench in front of you.

Page 56: Chapter 8, entitled, "It's All Downhill from Here."
I wanted to ride a bike so much, I thought I'd burst into flames if I didn't.
     One day Catherine, Paula and Gary were playing outside. I asked Gary if i could try riding his bike.
     "Sure," he said. "But you'll need your legs on."
     When I was wearing my artificial legs they helped me interact better with the big, wide world. I was taller when I had them on, and could walk around like other kids. But that didn't come without a cost. My prosthetics were cumbersome and heavy, and wearing them often made my real legs hot and sore. Imagine wearing a big boot that goes all the way up to your knee, and you'll get a sense of what it's like.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

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

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet. 176 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 4, 2016. 9780544319592.

Publisher synopsis: “SOME PIG,” Charlotte the spider’s praise for Wilbur, is just one fondly remembered snippet from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. In Some Writer!, the two-time Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. Budding young writers will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. This authorized tribute is the first fully illustrated biography of E. B. White and includes an afterword by Martha White, E. B. White's granddaughter. 

Oh! How I loved Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan. I liked Stuart Little, though not near as much as the other two. I also adore Melissa Sweet's art and am really looking forward to reading this!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday:Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them

This weeks TTT theme over at Broke and Bookish is top ten things books have made me want to do or learn. Here are eight I could easily come up with:

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park made me want to learn more about Africa, water and genocides.

Frederick's Journey by Doreen Rappaport. I am going to read Douglass' autobiography.

Doreen by Ilana Manaster sent me back to reread The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe. I had never heard of Jean-Michel Basquiat until listening to Steptoe talk about his process in writing and illustrating this picture book biography. Now, I want to visit museums to view his work.

Ada's Violin by Susan Hood. After reading this luminous story, I went right to the Internet to find videos of the orchestra.

Bird & Diz
by Gary Golio. Of course, I had to look up a recording of Salt Peanuts to play while I shared this incredible book. 

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler
by Phillip Hoose. This prompted me to check out 

We Will Not by Silent by Russell Freedman. The two work really well together if you teach history.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Arc Review: The Curse of the Were-Hyena by Bruce Hale

The Curse of the Were-Hyena by Bruce Hale. Monstertown Mystery, Book 1. 204 p. Disney/ Hyperion, July, 2016. 9781484713259. (Review from arc courtesy of Blue Slip Media.)

Carlos and his bff and fellow comic nerd, Benny are rocking fourth grade because they have Mr. Chu, the coolest of the cool teachers, one who doesn't mind jumping on desks and dressing in costume to make his lessons interesting. Only, ever since he got bitten by a weird dog, he has been acting stranger and stranger. In addition to growing hair on his bald head, he has taken to alternately growling and giggling and can sometimes be downright scary. Carlos and Benny decide they need to do some research and so, after school, they head to the...comic book store! The proprietor is a former lady wrestler who is now confined to a wheel chair and who takes Carlos' and Benny's concerns very seriously.

Bruce Hale has a keen eye for humor and action aimed at the middle grade readers, especially reluctant middle grade readers. Hale has a mystery series (Chet Gecko) and a spy/ thriller series (School for Spies) under his belt. With this new horror/ mystery series, he seems poised to write something for every kind of reader. 

A nicely diverse cast of characters people the pages. There's plenty of action, humor, red herrings and plot twists to keep the pages flying and the reader guessing. The Monstertown Mysteries series is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Just gory enough to satisfy the young reader who wants scary.

Friday Memes: Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder

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

Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder. 240 p. Capstone Press, August 15, 2016. 9781623707491.

Publisher synopsis: After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Wren finds her life thrown into upheaval. And when her mother decides to pack up the car and forces Wren to leave the only home she's ever known, the family grows even more fractured. As she and her mother work to build a new life, Wren struggles to discover the person she's meant to be without her father by her side. Along the way, she must cope with the difficulty of forgiving those who don't deserve it and discover what it means to be a family-and the secrets and lies that can tear one apart.

First line: This one was still intact. No innards splashed out or bloody tire tracks on the asphalt. (Prologue)

It wasn't the crash that killed my dad when his plane went down over the Atlantic. (Chapter 1)

Page 56: But to attract Carrie's light, I had to get to school early so she could copy my homework.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Bird & Squirrel on Fire by James Burks

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

Bird & Squirrel on Fire by James Burks. 128 p. Graphix. January 31, 2017. 9780545804295.

Publisher synopsis: It's been a long, crazy trip arount the world. Now the duo is back in their beloved forest, and Bird wants to throw a party! But Squirrel isn't in the mood to celebrate. his house needs a good cleaning, the river has been dammed up by a pesky beaver, and the forest animals are jittery about a growing menace. Will the dam dry out the forest?  Will the mysterious new danger ruin the party/ Will Bird finally convince Squirrel to let go and just have a good time? Find out in their hilarious new adventure. 

I adore these graphic novels and can't wait to read the next installment. I learned of its release through the author's FB page. Pre-ordered!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside the U.S.

This week's TTT theme over at Broke and Bookish is Books Set Outside the U.S.

I'll start with the one I am reading right now: 

(Afghanistan) Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy. Unabridged audiobook narrated by Arianna Delawari. Scholastic Audio, 2013.

Publisher synopsis: Zulaikha hopes. She hopes for peace, now that the Taliban have been driven from Afghanistan; a good relationship with her hard stepmother; and one day even to go to school, or to have her cleft palate fixed. Zulaikha knows all will be provided for her--"Inshallah," God willing.
Then she meets Meena, who offers to teach her the Afghan poetry she taught her late mother. And the Americans come to her village, promising not just new opportunities and dangers, but surgery to fix her face. These changes could mean a whole new life for Zulaikha--but can she dare to hope they'll come true?

(England) The Name of the Blade by Zoe Marriott. Candlewick Press, 2014.

Publisher synopsis: When Mio sneaks the family’s katana — a priceless ancestral sword —from her parents’ attic, she just wants to spice up a costume. But the katana is much more than a dusty antique. Awakening the power within the sword unleashes a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. But it also releases Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, from the depths of time. He helps to protect Mio — and steals her heart. With creatures straight out of Japanese myths stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life . . . but the love of a lifetime.

(Scotland) Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray. Unabridged audiobook narrated by Bruce Mann. Random House Audio Publishing Group, 2010.

Publisher synopsis: Ross is dead, and Blake, Sim, and Kenny are furious. To make it right, they steal Ross's ashes and set out from their home on the English coast for the tiny village of Ross in southern Scotland, a place their friend had always wanted to go. What follows is an unforgettable journey with illegal train rides, bungee jumping, girls, and high-speed police chases--all with Ross's ashes along for the ride. As events spin wildly out of control, the three friends must take their heads out of the sand long enough to answer the question: What really happened to Ross?

Keith Gray is an award-winning author from the United Kingdom, making his U.S. debut with this action-packed and darkly humorous novel about friendship and loss.

(England) Half Bad by Sally Green. Half Bad Trilogy #1. 432 p. Penguin Young Readers Group, March 2014.

Publisher synopsis: In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

(England) Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher. 272 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, November, 2013.

Publisher synopsis: Dear Mr. S. Harris,
Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner. It's jam, not blood, though I don't think I need to tell you the difference. It wasn't your wife's jam the police found on your shoe. . . .

I know what it's like. 

Mine wasn't a woman. Mine was a boy. And I killed him exactly three months ago. 
Zoe has an unconventional pen pal—Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two boys, betrayed one of them, and killed the other.

Hidden away in her backyard shed in the middle of the night with a jam sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other, Zoe gives a voice to her heart and her fears after months of silence. Mr. Harris may never respond to Zoe's letters, but at least somebody will know her story—somebody who knows what it's like to kill a person you love. Only through her unusual confession can Zoe hope to atone for her mistakes that have torn lives apart, and work to put her own life back together again.

Rising literary star Annabel Pitcher pens a captivating second novel, rich with her distinctive balance between humor and heart. Annabel explores the themes of first love, guilt, and grief, introducing a character with a witty voice and true emotional resonance.

(Africa) The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John.

(Various countries in Europe)Vango: Between Earth and Sky by Timothee de Fombelle. Brilliance Audio, October, 2014. 

Publisher synopsis: In a world between wars, a young man on the cusp of taking priestly vows is suddenly made a fugitive. Fleeing the accusations of police who blame him for a murder, as well as more sinister forces with darker intentions, Vango attempts to trace the secrets of his shrouded past and prove his innocence before all is lost. As he crisscrosses the continent via train, boat, and even the Graf Zeppelin airship, his adventures take him from Parisian rooftops to Mediterranean islands to Scottish forests. A mysterious, unforgettable, and romantic protagonist, Vango tells a thrilling story sure to captivate lovers of daring escapades and subversive heroes.

(Australia) I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak. 368 p. Random House Children's Books, February, 2005.

Publisher synopsis: Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.
That's when the first ace arrives in the mail. That's when Ed becomes the messenger. Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?

(England) The Marvels by Brian Selznick. 672 p. Scholastic Inc., September, 2015.

(Ireland) Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan. 304 p. Candlewick Press, August, 2014.

Publisher synopsis: In a heart-pounding, atmospheric ghost story, a teenage boy must find the resources within himself to save his haunted twin brother.

After their nan accidentally burns their home down, twin brothers Pat and Dom must move with their parents and baby sister to the seaside cottage they’ve summered in, now made desolate by the winter wind. It’s there that the ghost appears — a strange boy who cries black tears and fears a bad man, a soldier, who is chasing him. Soon Dom has become not-Dom, and Pat can sense that his brother is going to die — while their overwhelmed parents can’t even see what’s happening. Isolated and terrified, Pat needs to keep his brother’s cover while figuring out how to save him, drawing clues from his own dreams and Nan’s long-ago memories, confronting a mystery that lies between this world and the next — within the Grey. With white-knuckle pacing and a deft portrayal of family relationships, Celine Kiernan offers a taut psychological thriller that is sure to haunt readers long after the last page is turned.

(Australia) Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. 419 p. HarperCollins Publishers, March, 2010

Publisher synopsis: In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Non-Fiction Monday: We Will Not be Silent: the White Rose Student Resistance Movement that defied Adolf Hitler

We Will Not be Silent: the White Rose Student Resistance Movement that defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman. 104 p. Clarion Books/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May, 2016. 9780544223790. (Review from finished copy borrowed from public library)

Right up front, I will admit my ignorance of the White Rose Movement though it did ring some bells. The arresting cover photo caught my eye on the "New Non-Fiction" shelf at my favorite library and seeing that it was written by Russell Freedman just sealed the deal. Before I even cracked the cover, it went into my book order for the coming school year because anything by Freedman is basically an automatic purchase for me.

In 1943, Hans Scholl was a medical student at university in Munich. He was a former Hitler Youth and regularly needed to leave his studies in order to serve the German military in a variety of capacities, as did his younger sister, Sophie. While initially an enthusiastic participant, he soon became disillusioned with the lock-step order and demand for blind allegiance. An older brother was already serving in the military. He too was critical of Hitler. Scholl formed the secret society and, with the help of a professor, set about printing anti-propaganda leaflets which exhorted the German populace to wake up and take a stand against Hitler's atrocities. 

Succinct and exquisitely written in just over one hundred pages, Freedman weaves an inspiring tale of student activists. It is eerily timely considering the current political climate. He focuses on the Scholl family, specifically Hans and Sophie and their small circle of co-conspirators. He provides historical context. With each step the students take against Hitler, they take one step closer to being caught and tried for treason. Freedman's writing conveys that suspense. The bravery of the three that were captured, Hans, Sophie and Christoph Probst was quite moving. I read the final pages through tears.

Gorgeously designed with plenty of archival photos; meticulously sourced and with plenty of suggested books and films for further reading. We Will Not be Silent is a first-purchase that I cannot recommend enough. This one I will be booktalking frequently. I see a display featuring this, sitting next to The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose and Courage & Defiance by Deborah Hopkinson when we return to school.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Audiobook Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. Unabridged audiobook download. 9 hours, 19 minutes. Read by Philip Church. Listening Library, 2014. (Free download courtesy of

Because Grasshopper Jungle reviews indicated a mature audience and I work in a 5th through 8th grade middle school, my copy of it languished on my tbr since it pubbed. I wanted to read it, but kept moving more age-appropriate books ahead. I tend to read more mature YA books with my ears so when audiobooksync offered it (and many other fantastic titles) this summer, I marked my calendar. 

Toward the end of this past school year, two eighth graders, a boy and a girl, who are vociferous readers were combing my shelves in search of a book to read. It really became a long and rambling book talk as titles were recommended but one or both had already read them. Somehow Andrew Smith came up. The boy threw his hands over his eyes and staggered back saying, "Grasshopper Jungle! Oh my god! That book traumatized me! I am scarred for life!" He would not elaborate when I asked what he meant. The girl, an aspiring actress, with sophisticated and eclectic taste, rolled her eyes and asked me if I read it. When I responded that I had not but wanted to, she told me that it was intense and mature but pretty good. 

Two excellent readers. Two wildly different reactions. One ready. One not. I happen to know both fairly well. The boy had commented that other books "traumatized" him - usually books with themes of sexual identity. I think he may be struggling. It doesn't stop him from seeking more out.

After reading the mindf*ck that is Grasshopper Jungle, I get it. Crude, lewd, hilarious, complex, loopy, and brilliant. It's a story about friendship, first love, sexuality, politics, unethical scientific research, survival, and the telling of history. It's pretty bloody brilliant but not for everyone.

The new-to-me-narrator's performance was perfectly voiced and perfectly paced. 

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 Curse of the Boggin by D.J. MacHale. Library series, book 1. 256 p. Random House Children's Books, September 6, 2016. 9781101932544.

Publisher synopsis: There’s a place beyond this world, beyond the land of the living, where ghosts go to write their unfinished stories—stories that ended too soon. It’s a place for unexplained phenomena: mysteries that have never been solved, spirits that have never been laid to rest. And there’s only one way in or out.

It’s called the Library, and you can get there with a special key. But beware! Don’t start a story you can’t finish. Because in this library, the stories you can’t finish just might finish you.

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Memes: A Two-fer

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

I have an occasional post called "Cover Coincidence" in which I share covers that are eerily similar, or in one case, identical. This week, I picked up two books that I need to review to peruse and found that their first lines are quite similar.

The Curse of the Were-Hyena by Bruce Hale. A Monstertown Mystery series, book 1. 204 p. Disney/ Hyperion, July, 2016. 9781484713259.

Publisher synopsis: What do you do when your favorite teacher starts turning into a were-hyena?
a) Flee in terror? 
b) Try to cure him? 
c) Bring him carrion snacks?
Mr. Chu, the coolest teacher ever, has developed some very unusual habits, like laughing hysterically for no reason, sniffing people's homework, and chasing chickens. When best friends Carlos and Benny decide to find out what's happening to him, they get caught up in some moonlight madness. And it looks like just the beginning of the weirdness that has arrived in the town of Monterrosa. . . . This first entry in a silly, sassy, and suspenseful new series will leave readers howling with laughter.

First Line: Monsters are all around us. The thing under the bed that kept you up, spooked and sleepless, in first grade? Totally real.

Page 56: After we served our detention, Benny busted out his amazing skills of persuasion. Somehow, he sweet-talked his mom into dropping us at the comics store while she took the chickens and the rest of our gear home. (For the record, my mom would never do something like that unless my little sister, Veronica, was involved. She believes in teaching self-reliance-to boys, anyway.)

Curse of the Boggin by D.J. MacHale. The Library series, book 1. Random House Children's Books, September 6, 2016. 9781101932544.

Publisher synopsis: There’s a place beyond this world, beyond the land of the living, where ghosts go to write their unfinished stories—stories that ended too soon. It’s a place for unexplained phenomena: mysteries that have never been solved, spirits that have never been laid to rest. And there’s only one way in or out.
It’s called the Library, and you can get there with a special key. But beware! Don’t start a story you can’t finish. Because in this library, the stories you can’t finish just might finish you.

First Line: It was under the bed.
     Parent always tell their children there's nothing scary down there, or lurking in the deep depths of a closet, or hiding low in dark shadows. That's what parents always say, and they're right.
     Most of the time.

Page 56: I hesitated. What if Mrs. Swenor was actually there? What would I say to her? She wasn't going to feel like talking to a crazy kid about her husband's ghost. I actually took a step back, ready to run the heck out of there, but forced myself to stop. The fear of not knowing why I was being haunted was even scarier than facing a sad lady.

Funny coincidence, huh?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Tapper Twins Run for President by Geoff Rodkey

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

The Tapper Twins Run for President by Geoff Rodkey. Tapper Twins series #3. 304 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, September 6, 2016. 9780316297851.

Publisher synopsis: Told as a series of interviews, smartphone photos, screenshots, text messages, and social media bursts, The Tapper Twins Run For President is guaranteed to be the absolutely funniest presidential race since 1776.
Claudia Tapper wants to become President of the United States someday, and her political career has begun in earnest at Culver Prep. She's the sixth grade class president, and has every reason to presume she'll get reelected. Reese Tapper could not care less about student government--until his soccer game is banned from Culvert's only outdoor space, and he learns becoming class president is his best shot at overturning the new rule. And thus, the greatest political rivalry in Culvert Prep history is born! In a tangle of evil-genius advisors, meddlesome best friends, negative campaign attacks and outrageously funny missteps, Claudia and Reese duke it out to see who will rule the school.

I love this series and so do my students. I reviewed the first two books for School Library Journal. This third, timely publication is sure to please.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Facts about Moi

This week's TTT theme over at Broke and Bookish is Ten Facts about Moi.

1. School librarianship is my second career. I was originally an ER nurse. I took a job in my kids' school as the library aide. My boss, who was looking toward retirement appreciated my avid interest in children's literature and gave me free rein to order books.

2. I have the world's most amazing husband. When my boss retired, the principal hired me with an emergency certificate. This meant I taught full time and pursued both my alternate-route teaching certificate and my MLS at the same time! It meant coming home with the kids, setting up dinner and dashing out to some class four evenings and every other Saturday for one full year.

3. I have four sons and they're pretty amazing too. I read to them religiously well past when they could read themselves. Interestingly, only one is what I'd call an avid reader. Two enjoy reading and one dislikes it. Ironically, he is the one who scored a perfect 800 on his verbal SAT.

4. I've been blogging since December 10, 2008. I started at LiveJournal but switched over to Blogger in January of 2013. 
A spate of technical difficulties were what drove me to switch. I do believe I get more traffic here at Blogger.

5. I used to review every book I read but writing reviews takes so me much time. I decided that I'd rather use that time to read than write. I don't review as much as I'd like though.

6. I am a HUGE fan of audiobooks going way back and have two bins of books on cassette to prove it. Some of our family faves are E. B. White narrating his own Charlotte's Web and Trumpet of the Swan. My non-reader loved being read to and also loved reading with his ears. Sometimes I think he has/ had an undiagnosed learning disability. He did most of his required reading with his ears all the way through high school.

7. I left a tenured position (and 98 sick days) in 2008. I spent 10 years in a K - 8 school and left to start over at a 5 - 8th grade middle school. While I miss the younger students and their unbridled affection; I do not miss nine preps a week and really love my flexible schedule. Luckily for me, I love every age group! I did my internship at a high school and also worked extensively with pre-schoolers. I have to say though, it takes a certain type of person to appreciate middle schoolers in all their messy glory. 

8. I also review MG fiction for School Library Journal and have to say it still thrills me to see my name at the end of my reviews. It also still thrills when my review is blurbed.

9. I embrace change and try to constantly challenge myself. Last year, I agreed to "teach" my school's first robotics class. It was a challenge. It was amazing. I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I'm done. Next year, I am looking forward to yet another new course, Digital Media Literacy with sixth graders. This is more my bailiwick. 

10. I am fast approaching the third anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. I am appreciative of the fact that despite my disgusting good health, as well as lack of risk factors, I committed to yearly mammograms at age 40. A month or two prior to my appointment (in 2013), I noted a puckering in my breast. I felt a lump on self-examination and after reassuring myself that my yearly mammo was already scheduled, promptly forgot about it. Long story short, I was told that my mammo looked clear and was sent to the PA for a breast exam. She felt the lump and sent me for more views and a fine needle biopsy. Hours and hours later, I left the Breast Center with a diagnosis of breast cancer. One week later, I had the lump removed. I needed a wide excision and was told that I had Stage 2B breast cancer. Luckily, I was able to schedule my chemotherapy advantageously and was able to work through it as well as radiation treatments.  

Ladies, and gentlemen who love ladies, please, please, please perform monthly breast exams and obtain yearly mammograms.  

Et voila! Ten facts about moi.