Thursday, February 28, 2013

Taking Stock - February

Total Posts: 20
Total Books Read this Month: 39
Total Books Read this Year: 74

Audio Books: 5/ 9 ytd
Debut Author: 0/2 ytd
Mount TBR Challenge: 5/5 ytd

Picture Books: 6/15 ytd

The Good: According to Goodreads, I am right on track for my 2013 Reading Challenge.

The Bad:  I did not read a debut this month. My posts fell way off (9) from last month and the number of books I got around to reviewing also fell. I read 39 but reviewed only 8. Yikes! There was a time when I reviewed every book I read and I'm still making my peace with not being able to do so.

The list:
36. Nic Bishop Snakes by Nic Bishop (2/1)
37. Harlem's Little Blackbird by Renée Watson (2/1)
38. The Skull in the Rock: how a scientist, a boy and Google Earth opened a new window on human origins by Marc Aronson and Lee Berger (2/1)
39. Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall (2/3)
40. Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld (2/3)
41. Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins (2/4)
42. The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Neilsen (2/5)
43. Like Bug Juice on a Burger by Julie Sternberg (2/6)
44. Choosing to Read by Joan S. Kindig (2/6)
45. The Midnight Charter by David Whitley (2/6)
46. Electric Ben: the amazing life and times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd (2/7)
47. Iva Honeysuckle Meets Her Match by Candice Ransom (2/9)
48. Zom-B by Darren Shan (2/10)
49. Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2/11)
50. Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill (2/11)
51. Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (2/11)
52. Eternal: Zachary's Story by Cynthia Leitich Smith (2/11)
53. Middle School: My Brother is a Big, Fat Liar by James Patterson (2/15)
54. In the Line of Fire: presidential lives at stake by Judith St. George (2/15)
55. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (2/16)
56. A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff (2/16)
57. Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr (2/19)
58.  Ungifted by Gordon Korman (2/19)
59. Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel by Diana Lopez (2/19)
60. How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor (2/20)
61. The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor (2/20)
62. Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson (2/22)
63. Polar Bear Morning by Lauren Thompson (2/22)
64. Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore (2/22)
65. Aces Wild by Erica Perl (2/23)
66. True...Sort of by Katherine Hannigan (2/23)
67. After: nineteen stories of apocalypse and dystopia edited by Ellen Datlow (2/24)
68. Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the dawn of liberty by Tonya Bolden (2/25)
69. America the Beautiful: together we stand by Katharine Lee Bates (2/25)
70. The Granddaughter Necklace by Sharon Dennis Wyeth (2/25)
71. Dogs on Duty: soldier's best friends on the battlefield and beyond by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent (2/27)
72. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen (2/27)
73. The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech (2/28)
74. Free-Fire Zone (Vietnam #3) by Chris Lynch (2/28)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill (Middle School series #4) by James Patterson/ Chris Tebbits. Illustrated by Laura Park. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, June 24, 2013.  9780316231756.

Publisher synopsis: Rafe Khatchadorian, the hero of the bestselling Middle School series, is ready for a fun summer at camp—until he finds out it's a summer school camp! Luckily, Rafe easily makes friends with his troublemaking cabin mates and bunkmate, a boy nicknamed Booger-Eater, who puts up with endless teasing from the other kids. Rafe soon realizes there's more to a person than a nickname, though, and Booger-Eater might be the kind of friend you want on your side when the boys from the Cool Cabin attack.
This fourth book in the massively popular Middle School series is an unforgettable summer of hi-jinks, new friends, and surprises, all told with the hilarity and honesty readers have come to expect from blockbuster author James Patterson.

I first learned of this series two Septembers ago when most of the kids in Ms. Frazer's class listed Middle School Worst Years of My Life as one of their favorite books. Apparently, it was Ms. Frazer's first read aloud of the year. I had never heard of it; went out and bought it post-haste and, was highly entertained.
Imagine my surprise when, upon reorganizing TOM, my tbr "pile," I discovered an arc that I picked up at ALA Annual the previous June. Sigh. In my defense, there was no cover art, but still! Geesh!
I didn't enjoy the second book, Middle School Get Me Out of Here, as much. Not so, my fifth graders as neither book sits on the shelf much. I read a spin-off, I Funny, in December of 2012, but didn't get around to reviewing it. Huh. My bad. It was fun.
I recently read the third installment of the Middle School series, My Brother is a Big, Fat Liar (due out March 18), and am reviewing it for School Library Journal.
Okay. I admit it. I'm hooked. Can't wait to read more about Rafe and summer camp. I just hope there are no more manufactured "secrets." The stories are good enough without them, though I must admit that Georgia's surprised me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What's on Hold at Your Library?

I am very happy to put items on hold for my students. I don't have an actual "Hold Shelf," because I deliver the books as the hold notification pops up since I have a flexible schedule and don't see students with predictable regularity. Thus, I have been unable to participate in the "What's on Your Hold Shelf" meme hosted by Travis Jonker, of 100 Scope Notes and John Schumacher of Watch. Connect. Read., aka, Mr.SchuReads.

Today, possibly due to the full moon or a strange alignment of the stars, I had a stack of three holds to deliver and two unique situations. So I put them on the shelf behind my desk where I usually keep the books I'm cataloging, and snapped this:
Hooray! My "Hold Shelf." The three books on the right, The Last Olympian; Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane; and 11 Birthdays, were traditional holds in that a student requested the title while it was checked out to another. The Ask and the Answer is my own personal copy. An eighth grader checked out The Knife of Never Letting Go recently, loved it and asked for the sequel when he returned Knife yesterday. I hadn't bought the sequel for my library even though I loved them and had the trilogy in my personal library. It just didn't go out that much despite book talk love. And finally, The Name of This Book is Secret got a Post-It Note slapped on it before it was even cataloged when a sixth grader spied it on my desk and begged for it.

Top Ten Tuesday

This week's TTT theme is "Auto-buy," authors whose books you buy automatically. As names began to pour into my head, I started to think I would have to make two lists, a middle grade and young adult list. As I clicked around the linky thing on Broke and Bookish, I realized that many of the listed authors were authors of series and so were many of mine so I decided to limit my list to authors who write mostly stand-alone novels...

I know!

There are A LOT of series out there!

Okay, here goes:

Jerry Spinelli
Sharon Creech
Gary Paulsen
Walter Dean Myers
Patricia MacLachlan
Nancy Farmer

What's that you say? D'uh? Yes, these are tried and true authors and all have been around for awhile and won multiple awards. Okay, I'll make a new list.

In (mostly) alphabetical order:
Laurie Halse Anderson: searing contemporary fiction (Speak; Wintergirls; Twisted) and superb historical fiction (Fever, 1793; Chains; Forge), not to mention picture books and series. Seriously. What can't this woman write?

Libba Bray: this is more an automatic purchase for me rather than my library, since most of her stuff is a bit sophisticated for middle school. This woman is brilliant with a dash of insane. I do occasionally have that sophisticated eighth grade reader ready for Bray's mind-bending.

Carl Deuker: when students want an intelligent sports novel, I hand them Deuker.

Frances O'Roark Dowell: Chicken Boy; Dovey Coe; The Secret Language of Girls; The Kind of Friends We Used to Be; Shooting the Moon, Falling In; Phineas L. MacGuire to name a few. Great fiction for middle grade.

Shannon Hale: Goose Girl remains one of my all time faves. My go-to gal for my girls who love intelligent fairy tale type stories.

Carl Hiaasen: I adore his stuff for grown-ups as well as his books for kids. His books are hardly ever on the shelf.

Wendy Mass: her books are wildly popular in my library. I haven't read everything she has written, but have loved everything I've read by her. Another middle grade dream author.

Matt de la Peña: another author that pushes the readiness of my particular audience, but man, this kid can write.

Jordan Sonnenblick: no one gets into the head of a middle school character the way Jordan does.

Sherman Alexie: Yeah, I know Alexie belongs at the top, alphabetically, but the guy has written only one YA book! I believe I heard rumors of a sequel to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian a few years back. He WOULD be an automatic purchase if he wrote some more YA. I did read some of his "grown-up" stuff after reading Absolutely True Diary, but it's really grown-up!

Honorable mentions: No less worthy, but had to choose 10.
Gordon Korman
Chris Crutcher
Terry Pratchett
Nora Raleigh Baskin
Suzanne LaFleur
Michelle Kwasney

Non-Fiction auto-purchases: can't leave informational literature out!
Nic Bishop
Tonya Bolden
The Fradens
Russell Freedman
Kathleen Krull
Steve Jenkins
Sy Montgomery
Jim Murphy
Steve Sheinkin
Tanya Lee Stone

Honorable mention: The Scientist in the Field series by various authors, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

So, okay, a top 25 plus one series. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Non-Fiction Monday

Yikes! I'm reading like crazy but not blogging like crazy! Here are two quick reviews of some non-fiction that I've read recently.

In the Line of Fire: presidents' lives at stake by Judith St. George. 144 p. Holiday House, 1999. 9780823414284. (Part of school library collection)

I came across this while I was reading my shelves at school and pulled it out to read. Four U.S. Presidents were assassinated and seven survived assassination attempts. This oversized, well-designed volume features compelling narratives detailing the assassinations and attempted assassinations along with information about the assassins and the vice-presidents who were suddenly thrust into the role of president. Over-sized, with lots of white space and plenty of photos, this is sure to please that history buff student.

Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the dawn of liberty by Tonya Bolden. 120 p. Harry Abrams, January, 2013. 9781419703904. (Purchased.)

Beautifully designed, brimming with photographs of paintings, lithographs, political cartoons, tracts, as well as photographs of actual documents. The narrative is written from a collective "we" in two of parts. Personally, I didn't care for it and would've preferred a more objective third person; but I don't think that will pose a problem for young teen readers. This book is challenging but fits perfectly into the eighth grade social studies curriculum, making it a must-purchase addition to middle and even high school libraries.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Pop on over there to share your new books and ogle what other bloggers got.

For review:

Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan. 354 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Reader's Group, June 27, 2013. 9780399161124.

Publisher synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Habo has always been different—light eyes, yellow hair and white skin. Not the good brown skin his family has and not the white skin of tourists. Habo is strange and alone. His father, unable to accept Habo, abandons the family; his mother can scarcely look at him. His brothers are cruel and the other children never invite him to play. Only his sister Asu loves him well. But even Asu can't take the sting away when the family is forced from their small Tanzanian village, and Habo knows he is to blame. 
Seeking refuge in Mwanza, Habo and his family journey across the Serengeti. His aunt is glad to open her home until she sees Habo for the first time, and then she is only afraid. Suddenly, Habo has a new word for himself: Albino. But they hunt Albinos in Mwanza because Albino body parts are thought to bring good luck. And soon Habo is being hunted by a fearsome man with a machete. To survive, Habo must not only run, but find a way to love and accept himself.
This is the author's debut.

I had almost forgotten that I had missed out on a goodie bag from Scholastic back during Midwinter. I wrote about it here. Scholastic didn't! Thank you, thank you! A box was waiting for me outside the main office at school on Friday. Not only was if filled with the books from the preview, but posters, and Scholastic's signature red bag was wrapped around this: 
How adorable is this? I drink hot water all day and have several mugs to choose from at work, a red ALA READ mug, a blue, "Don't judge a book by it's movie" mug and a green, "Read a latté books" mug. I think this will be my new favorite.
And of course, my new favorite picture book will be displayed prominently in my picture book nook:
! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld. 56 p. Scholastic Inc., March 13, 2013. 9780545436793. 

Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson. Illustrated by Stephen Savage. 32 p. Scholastic Inc, January, 2004. 9780439495240.

Polar Bear Morning by Lauren Thompson. Illustrated by Stephen Savage. 32 p. Scholastic Inc., January, 2013.  9780439698856.

Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore. Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Scholastic Inc., February, 2013. 9780439448611.

America the Beautiful: together we stand. Katherine Lee Bates. With illustrations by Bryan Collier, Raul Colon, Diane Goode, Mary Grandpré, John Hendrix, Yuyi Morales, Jon J. Muth, LeUyen Pham, sonia Lynn Sadler, Chris Soentpiet. 

The Granddaughter Necklace by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. 32 p. Scholastic Inc., January, 2013. 

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

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

279 p. Candlewick Press, February 12, 2013. 9780763665531. (Borrowed)

In an alternate London of 1956, where the outcome of an un-named war was different, Standish Treadwell lives with his grandfather in an awful neighborhood called Zone 7, misses his parents and is barely surviving at school. He is not just dealing with bullying classmates, but brutish teachers who not only routinely cane their students, but one beats Standish's classmate to death in a harrowing scene. Thankfully, the repressive government does not stand for it. Unfortunately, the punishment is meted out in front of the class. (Shudders.)

When Standish's best friend and protector, Hector, goes missing and he is done with his grandfather's peculiar ways, Standish starts to seek his own answers. He may be labeled a dummy due to his dyslexia and a freak due to his heterochromia (two different eye colors), and, as such, at risk for removal due to the government's standards, but he is an astute observer and possesses a strong moral compass as well as great courage.

I read this disturbing, utterly brilliant novel in one sitting and it absolutely shredded me. The suspense is nearly unbearable, the world-building is vivid and if you don't read the final chapter through tears, you have no heart. I highly recommend this alternate history/ dystopia. I won't soon forget this one.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles of books that we can't wait to be released. 

Fox Forever (The Jenna Fox Chronicles #3) by Mary E. Pearson. Henry Holt & Company (BYR), March 19, 2013. 9780805094343.

Publisher synopsis: Locke Jenkins has some catching up to do. After spending 260 years as a disembodied mind in a little black box, he has a perfect new body. But before he can move on with his unexpected new life, he’ll have to return the Favor he accepted from the shadowy resistance group known as the Network.
Locke must infiltrate the home of a government official by gaining the trust of his daughter, seventeen-year-old Raine, and he soon finds himself pulled deep into the world of the resistance—and into Raine’s life.
Mary E. Pearson brings the story she began in The Adoration of Jenna Fox and continued inThe Fox Inheritance to a breathtaking conclusion as Locke discovers that being truly human requires much more than flesh and blood.
What are you waiting on?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga of Tynga Reviews. Pop on over there to share your new books and ogle what other bloggers got.

In last week's StS post, I mentioned that a pre-order arrived, but the post got a bit long and I forgot to edit that sentence out. Indeed, I didn't really proofread, since I just reread the post and found a typo.

Leftover and purchased:

Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu. 374 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, January, 2013. 9780399256769. 

Publisher synopsis: The highly anticipated second book in Marie Lu's New York Times bestseller, LEGEND—perfect for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT!
June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.
It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long. 
But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?
I thought that Legend was brilliant and am quite psyched to read this one.

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer. 454 p. Feiwel & Friends, February, 2013. 9780312642969.
Publisher synopsis: Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.  
Scarlet is another highly anticipated sequel for me. I found Cinder absolutely riveting.

Yoko Ono: collector of skies by Nell Beram & Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky. 177 p. Amulet Books, January, 2013. 9781419704444.
Publisher synopsis: This lyrical biography explores the life and art of Yoko Ono, from her childhood haiku to her avant-garde visual art and experimental music. An outcast throughout most of her life, and misunderstood by every group she was supposed to belong to, Yoko always followed her own unique vision to create art that was ahead of its time and would later be celebrated. Her focus remained on being an artist, even when the rest of world saw her only as the wife of John Lennon.
Yoko Ono’s moving story will inspire any young adult who has ever felt like an outsider, or who is developing or questioning ideas about being an artist, to follow their dreams and find beauty in all that surrounds them.
I can't remember where I read about this one. This was an impulse purchase. I don't know that much about her or John Lennon or the Beatles, really, other than a slightly more than passing familiarity with their songs.

For review:
Middle School: My Brother is a Big, Fat Liar (Middle School series #3) by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou. 267 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, March 18, 2013. 9780316207546. 
Publisher synopsis: Georgia Khatchadorian plans to excel at Hills Village Middle School in all the places her troublemaking brother failed. She's even bet him that she'll quickly become one of the most popular girls in school. But Rafe left a big mark at HVMS, and no one will give Georgia a chance! Even worse, Rafe has sneakily signed up her band to play at the school dance, and she's terrified to embarrass herself in front of the snooty "Princesses" who run the school and the boy who's caught her eye. Will she be able to overcome her fears and win her bet with Rafe? Find out THE TRUTH about Rafe Khatchadorian's sister in the first Middle School story from the point of view of the hilarious Georgia--a girl who's ready to speak her mind!
This series is a favorite among my fifth graders. I'm reviewing it for SLJ.

I am swimming in books I can't wait to read! And, just in time for break too! I was supposed to have the next week off, but the break was shortened by two days thanks to hurricane Sandy. I am stuck supervising some work at my mom's house all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. But, I will bring a pile of books and, once the work is done, my sibs and I are done and the house can be put on the market, such as it is.
What's new with you? Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Calling all Okay for Now fans!

I received an email the other day from Clarion with the news that Gary D. Schmidt's book, Okay for Now, has been chosen by NPR as a "Backseat Bookclub" selection at the end of February. Woo-who! Loved Okay for Now and was so disappointed that it didn't get any Newbery love last year. (It was a National Book Award finalist, and the audio version won an Odyssey Honor) Also love NPR, though I have to say I don't listen much since I keep an audiobook going at all times in my car. 

I will most certainly take a listen to the broadcast. Here's a link supplied by the publisher to submit questions. The email also noted that the book is being released in paperback and sports a brand new cover.
It's cool. I like it. I can just hear Doug saying, "Terrific." I like it more than the paperback cover of The Wednesday Wars, 

which was a huge improvement over the hardcover art. Yuck!

My beef with WW ppb cover has to do with the red Cons. I don't believe that they were available in colors in the late sixties, but I could be wrong. Additionally, I don't think many boys then or now would choose to wear red Cons. But, I could be wrong about that too.

I adored both books. Read them if you haven't yet.

Waiting on Wednesday

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine in which, we share the books we are most anticipating! 

I was sitting at my computer desk this afternoon (Tuesday) - er, or should I type yesterday afternoon, since I will be scheduling this to post tomorrow morning, um, I mean today, ah, Wednesday? 


As I was saying, I was flipping through my social media and idly wondering what I would "wait on" tomorrow, um, today, when what should pop into my newsfeed but a link to Maggie Stiefvater's blog with the cover reveal of the next Raven Boys book! 

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. 416 p. Scholastic Press, September 17, 2013. 978054542943.

This news is so hot-off-the-presses that there isn't even a synopsis on Amazon, where I got the publication info. There's no cover posted either. Over at BN, it's shown only as a Nook entry, no cover or synopsis there either. 

Personally, I don't need a synopsis, since I adored The Raven Boys and am totally on board for book 2. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Romance

TTT is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Of course, the theme this week is romance. Valentine's Day is on Thursday. I don't think I've ever shared my opinion about this particular holiday but they are nearly as strong as my opinion about Mother's Day (and Father's by default). It's artificial and an imposition. Firstly, loved ones and moms and dads should be treasured every day. If one is inclined to celebrate on a "special" day, don't spend a ton of money. Make it meaningful with home-made touches and attention, like conversation. Secondly, there are lots of folks without significant others or parents and the other-ness is kind of magnified on days like this.

My snark spills over into the romance novel. While I do love a good romance, my expectations are high and the minute the previously kick-ass heroine becomes an angsty fool, I'm done. Unfortunately, it seems to be the fate of heroines in most of the highly touted romances lately, paranormal and otherwise. As I perused the romance tags in my LJ blog and on Goodreads, I began to think that I ought to do a top ten idiotic romance list because there were more that I rolled my eyes over than thinking, "Oh yeah! That was cool." But I came up with a few.

1. Karou and Akiva in Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I've read some reviews expressing disappointment over the lack of romance in the second book but I thought it was brilliant.

2. Puck and Sean in The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.  I thought this one was epic despite the fact that they barely share a kiss. Two likable, driven people after the same aim. This was a beautiful story.

3. PK and Critter from Jump by Elisa Carbone. This one was spunky and I just loved learning about climbing and the adrenaline rushes that climbers seek.

4. Charlie and Gloria in Freak Magnet by Andrew Auseon. This one is smart and funny.

5. Lennie Walker in The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.

6. Ophelia and Hamlet in Ophelia by Lisa Klein. In this re-imagining, Ophelia's suicide is a ruse. She was actually spirited away.

7. Mia and Adam from If I Stay and Where She Went.

8. Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.


Okay, I'm out of time because I need to get ready for work.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Non-Fiction Monday: Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald

by Roxanne Orgill, illustrated by Sean Qualls. Candlewick Biographies. Candlewick Press, December, 2012. 9780763664596. (Borrowed.)

Ella Fitzgerald was poor but had a rich home life thanks to her mother's love of music. She and her sisters used to dance to her mother's records. Ella discovered that the folks of Yonkers would pay nickels to see her and her partner, Charlie dance on the street corner. She and Charlie even splurged on a trolley then train ride to the Savoy to learn new dance steps. Then, when Ella was fourteen, her mother died and she was sent to Harlem to live with her aunt, who gave little more than a roof over her head. After she ran away from an abusive situation in an orphanage, Ella lived hand-to-mouth and slept wherever a couch was offered. She lived rough. So rough that when she won a talent contest, she didn't get the week's worth of singing gigs because her clothes were dirty and so was she.

Told in prose that pops with rhythm and jazz lingo, this picture book biography is lusciously illustrated in acrylic, pencil and collage in a mostly pastel-ish palette featuring reds and rose. There's a page at the end containing suggestions for further reading, including a discography and a couple of web sites. It's even indexed. 

I'm not sure who the audience for this little treat is without it being introduced by an adult, say a language arts teacher doing a biography unit or a music teacher doing a unit on jazz. But do keep it in mind. 

Apparently, this is a reissue in a different format. It was originally published as a picture book size in 2010. Now, the trim size is smaller and taller and it's part of Candlewick Biographies. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

What's New? Stacking the Shelves - ALAMW Edition Part 3 Young Adult

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga of Tynga Reviews. Pop on over there to share you new books and ogle what other bloggers got.

I am still working through the arcs I found at Midwinter and so am resolved not to buy any books until I make a serious dent in those. I had pre-ordered some items though, and they came this week.


This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. 402 p. Poppy/ Little, Brown and Company, April, 2013. 9780316212823.

Publisher synopsis: If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.
Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

I read and enjoyed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight in spite of myself. It was fluffy fun that definitely required parking logic at the door. This sound like fun.

Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff. 337 p. Little, Brown and Company, June 11, 2013. 9780316199681.

Publisher synopsis: They needed the perfect soldier: one who could function in every situation without fear, sympathy or anger; who could assassinate strangers and then walk away emotionally unscathed. So they made Boy Nobody-a teen with no name or history. The perfect soldier.
Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name, makes few friends and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend's family to die — of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, and moves on to the next target.
But when he's assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter seems so much like him; the mayor smells like his father. And when memories and questions surface, the Program is watching. Because somewhere, deep inside Boy Nobody, is somebody: the kid he once was, the teen who wants normal things like a real home and parents, a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's mission.
I've only read My Life, the Theater and Other Tragedies by this author. Alas, Food Girls and Other Things I Can't Have is languishing on TOM, the tar. This one sounds like a complete departure for the author and this tickles me.
The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr. 304 p. Little Brown and Company, May 7, 2013. 9780516229708.
Publisher synopsis: Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.
That was all before she turned fourteen.
Now, at sixteen, it's over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano — on her own terms. But when you're used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?
National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr takes readers inside the exclusive world of privileged San Francisco families, top junior music competitions, and intense mentorships. The Lucy Variations is a story of one girl's struggle to reclaim her love of music and herself. It's about finding joy again, even when things don't go according to plan. Because life isn't a performance, and everyone deserves the chance to make a few mistakes along the way.
I had a "cover coincidence" moment when I saw the cover of this one. When I researched it, turns out the coincidence goes beyond the cover. Still, it's Sara Zarr and everything I've read of hers is consistently top-notch.
The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. 457 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May 7, 2013. 978-39962411. 
Publisher synopsis: The Passage meets Ender's Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Yancey is one of my go-to authors for my reluctant readers. I adored his Alfred Kropp trilogy and the Monstrumologist books not only caused me to lose my lunch but also scared the pants off me. 

Second Impact by David Klass and Perri Klass. 279 p. Farrar Straus Giroux, August 6, 2013. 97803749964. 

Publisher synopsis: Kendall is football town, and Jerry Downing is the high school's star quarterback, working to redeem himself after he nearly killed a girl in a drunk driving accident last year. Carla Jenson, lead reporter for the school newspaper's sports section, has recruited Jerry to co-author a blog chronicling the season from each of their perspectives. When Jerry's best friend on the team takes a hit too hard and gets hurt, Carla wonders publicly if injury in the game comes at too high a cost in a player's life—but not everyone in Kendall wants to hear it...
This action-packed story will resonate with readers who have been following recent news stories are football injuries.
Of Triton by Anna Banks. 246 p. Feiwel and Friends/ Macmillan, May 28, 2013. 978125000331. 
Publisher synopsis: Emma has just learned that her mother is a long-lost Poseidon princess, and now struggles with an identity crisis: As a Half-Breed, she’s a freak in the human world and an abomination in the Syrena realm. Syrena law states all Half-Breeds should be put to death.
As if that’s not bad enough, her mother’s reappearance in the Syrena world turns the two kingdoms—Poseidon and Triton—against one another. Which leaves Emma with a decision to make: Should she comply with Galen’s request to keep herself safe and just hope for the best? Or should she risk it all and reveal herself—and her Gift—to save a people she’s never known?
Once again, Anna Banks infuses Emma and Galen’s points of view with humor, intrigue, and waves of romance.
I loaded Of Poseidon into my iPad last June for my trip to Annual and read it on the plane. I didn't review it, but liked it enough to pick up the arc to see where the story was headed. Good beach/ vacation reading.

That's all I have time for right now. Been working on this all morning during breaks from shoveling out 8 inches of snow. Heading down to my mom's house soon to shovel out the dumpster and load it up with the last of the "junk" accumulated over 51 years by a lovely woman who never threw a thing away.
Happy Reading! What's new with you?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

331 p. Scholastic Press, March 1, 2013. 978-545284158. Arc from publisher at ALAMW.

Sage, oops, Jaron is barely a month into his reign as King of Carthya before an attempt is made on his life. I won't reveal who the assassin is, but if I had thought about it, I would've come up with the name. What was surprising was the connection this person made in such a short period of time. 

The pirates want Jaron dead. The king of Avenia wants Jaron dead and also wants to annex Carthya. Is anyone on Jaron's side? Apparently not, as the regents, headed by Gregor have decided that Jaron is not fit to rule and are prepared to appoint Gregor as steward until Jaron comes of age. Oh, and Amarinda hates him as well. And, he cruelly sends away one of the few who does not hate him, Imogen. Then, he drugs Mott and ties up Tobias. Oh, Sage/ Jaron, you do have a way with people.

Jaron becomes Sage again in a bid to save his kingdom. Action? Check. Sass? In abundance. Chutzpah? You bet. Sage is back and readers are in for a thrilling ride. No middle volume lull here folks. My only quibble was that there was very little of Mott. I mean, there was no way to have more of him, I just missed him. And Tobias too, but there were some interesting new characters introduced here, and a cliffhanger ending to leave fans panting.

I mentioned in my review of The False Prince that I was a bit reluctant to read it but was encouraged to do so by a fifth grader. She happened to come into the library to exchange books the other day when I happened to be about 20 pages from the end. I couldn't resist showing her the book and, of course, her jaw dropped. I promised her that she could read it when I'm done. I'll pass it on tomorrow, so she will have something to read during our blizzard. I love it when students recommend books to me, especially when I get that nasty knee-jerk reaction to the buzz and am proven wrong. Sometimes the buzz is well-deserved.