Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

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

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm. 208 p. Random House Children's Books, August 26, 2014. 9780375870644.

Publisher synopsis: Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?
Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?
With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility. 

Holm is a favorite of mine. Her characters are so achingly vivid and there's always a bit of humor to leaven the heartache. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Non-Fiction Monday: Hades Speaks! by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Hades Speaks! A Guide to the Underworld by the Greek God of the Dead by Vicky Alvear Shecter. Illustrated by J.E. Larson. Secrets of the Ancient Gods series. 128 p. Boyds Mills Press/ Highlights, September 1, 2014. 9781620915981. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

Poor misunderstood Hades. He invites the reader to join him on a tour of the Underworld but warns those with a fear of the dark away and recommends sturdy walking shoes. Then he whines a bit about his little brother Zeus cheating him out of his right to choose his domain. He has no love for Zeus' son Herakles either. Not only does he lament the fact that temples are never built in his honor but that modern day children think that Homer is Homer Simpson and not the famous Greek poet. 

Never mind, he is here to set us straight as he guides us through the Underworld and patters on snarkily while pointing out landmarks of interest. Persephone even makes an appearance. Atmospheric black and white illustration pepper the text, backmatter includes a map, a glossary, guide to gods and heroes and suggestions for further reading in print and on the web. 

I hope there are more of these nifty guides planned. Hades Speaks and the earlier, Anubis Speaks are both wonderful additions to the 292 section of the collection. Your myth-o-philes will just eat this one up! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen. Illustrated by Scott Bakal. 371 p. Schwartz + Wade Books/ Random House Children's Books, August 26, 2014. 978-385371032. (Review from arc courtesy of Books, Bytes and Beyond)

Riddles, ravens and writing desks. No, we have not wandered into Alice's Adventures in Wonderland but a unique and wholly original story of parallel universes and human/ bird bonding. Twelve-year-old Gabriel Finley lives with his Aunt Jaz in Brooklyn ever since his father disappeared without a trace three years earlier. Fledgling raven, Paladin lives in a nest not far from Gabriel with his mother Endora, who is constantly vigilant against attack by nefarious valravens. The walravens wish to kidnap Paladin for Corax, who also happens to be Gabriel's uncle. Gabriel has never met the man as he disappeared long before Gabriel was born. He is pure evil, half-man, half-valraven and intent on obtaining a magical torc, necklace, which grants the wishes of its handler. 

Gabriel is bright and likes nothing better than a good riddle. Indeed, he wishes he could make a living solving riddles. He is also a bit of a bully magnet. Well, one bully actually, Somes seems intent on making his life miserable. He's also bummed to learn that his best friend, Addison is moving. He's startled to discover that he can communicate with ravens. He learns from his father's diary that his dad too, was a raven's amicus. Upon his twelfth birthday, Gabriel receives a key. He also receives some unwelcome roommates. But the girl who moves into Addison's house seems a promising friend.

It seems that Gabriel and Paladin were destined to bond and Corax knows that they are the key to obtaining the torc. The story shifts points of view and with that and Mr. Finley's diary entry, the reader slowly puts the pieces together.

Unbearably suspenseful and utterly captivating, middle grade fantasy lovers will just eat this one up chuckling at the riddles, word play and rambunctious writing desk along the way. This story is compared to The Phantom Tollbooth in the publisher's online description. A blurb by Norton Juster graces the front cover. I can sort of see it. To me, it has a more sinister Alice in Wonderland vibe. Fans of Gregor the Overlander will enjoy it as well even though Gabriel and his companions don't spend that much time in Aviopolis.

Speaking of covers, it initially didn't appeal. It grew on me a bit though. When I featured it on a Friday meme, most of the comments complimented the cover, so I am in the minority. It certainly lends itself to the possibility of a remarkable book trailer. I hope one is being planned. This is the author's children's debut. Here's a link to his website.

Thanks to Mary and Trish from Books, Bytes and Beyond for the opportunity to read this arc. You ladies are always spot on. This is a 2014 favorite.

Saturday, July 26, 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.

For review:
Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Brian Biggs. (Frank Einstein series #1) 180 p. Amulet/ Abrams, August 19, 2014. 9781419712180.

From the back cover: Frank Einstein (A) is a kid-genius scientist and inventor. Klink (B) is a self-assembled artificial intelligence entity. And Klank (C) is a mostly self-assembled and artificial almost intelligence entity. Together they create an Antimatter Motor using the three states of matter: solid (D), liquid (E), and gas (F). Their plans to win the Midville Science Prize are all but guaranteed-until Frank's classmate and archrival T. Edison shows up!

Hm, not sure I get the multiple choice options but it's a new Scieszka and that's all I need to know.

Fly Guy Presents: Firefighters by Tedd Arnold. (Fly Guy Presents series) Scholastic Inc., July, 2014. 9780545631600.

Publisher synopsis: Come ride the fire truck with Fly Guy!
Fly Guy and Buzz are off on another exciting field trip. This time, they're visiting the fire station! There, they will learn all about firefighters, fire trucks, and fire safety. They'll even get to zoom down the fire pole and try on a firefighter helmet! Come along to learn all about firefighters in this fun nonfiction reader. Award-winning author/illustrator Tedd Arnold really brings nonfiction to life!
Memory Maze by Gordon Korman. (The Hypnotists #2) 233 p. Scholastic Inc., July, 2014. 9780545503297.
Publisher synopsis: Jax Opus knows he's not like other kids. And it isn't his skill on the basketball court or his test scores that set him apart. No, Jax is different because he can hypnotize people. In fact, he might be the best hypnotist the world has seen in a very long time.
You would think Jax would be happy about this. But really? It's ruining his life. He and his family are hiding from a master hypnotist who wants Jax out of the picture . . . forever. And the FBI is also starting to ask questions about Jax and his abilities.
Jax thinks life might be getting a little better when a very rich, very powerful man asks him to help out with something. The reward will be great. And the price -- well, the price is that Jax starts taking on the man's memories. And some of them are pretty deadly. 

Paper Airplanes by Dawn O'Porter. 272 p. Amulet/ Abrams, September 9, 2014. 9781419711848.

Publisher synopsis: Renée and Flo are the most unlikely of friends. Introspective and studious Flo and outspoken, wild, and sexually curious Renée have barely spoken in their years of going to school together in Guernsey, a small British island off the coast of France. And yet, when tragedy strikes, it is only wild child Renée, who lost her mother at a young age, who is able to comfort a grieving Flo. The girls form an intense bond that sees them through a host of deeply relatable, wince-inducing experiences—drunken snogging; a séance in which clueless friends offer to summon Renée’s mother; dating a guy for free fish and chips. But toxic mean girls and personal betrayals threaten to tear the girls’ delicate new friendship apart.

In this gripping debut, Dawn O’Porter shines an unflinchingly honest, humorous light on female friendship, lost innocence, and that moment when you are teetering on the threshold of adult life.

What's new with you?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Memes - Loot: how to steal a fortune by Jude Watson

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

Loot: how to steal a fortune by Jude Watson. 266 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., June, 2014. 9780545468022.

Publisher synopsis: On a foggy night in Amsterdam, a man falls from a rooftop to the wet pavement below. It's Alfie McQuinn, the notorious cat burglar, and he's dying. As sirens wail in the distance, Alfie manages to get out two last words to his young son, March: "Find jewels."
But March learns that his father is not talking about a stash of loot. He's talking about Jules, the twin sister March never knew he had. No sooner than the two find each other, they're picked up by the police and sent to the world's worst orphanage. It's not prison, but it feels like it.
March and Jules have no intention of staying put. They know their father's business inside and out, and they're tired of being pushed around. Just one good heist, and they'll live the life of riches and freedom most kids only dream about.
Watch out! There are wild kids on the loose and a crime spree coming . . .
First line: No thief likes a full moon.

Page 56: Darius tilted his head. He regarded March the way a lion might eye a gazelle, planning the fun of running it down before ripping its throat open.

I also love how the book is dedicated: "To bad children everywhere."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

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

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. (Heroes of Olympus #5) 528 p. Disney-Hyperion, October 7, 2014. 9781423146735.

Publisher synopsis: Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen-all of them-and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood-the blood of Olympus-in order to wake.
The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it mightbe able to stop a war between the two camps.
The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

This series is still going strong at my school. I'm wondering if this is the concluding volume.

What are you waiting on? Leave a link to yours in the comments section.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. Unabridged audiobook on 10 compact discs, 12 hours. Read by Christine Lakin. Hachette Audio, September, 2013. 9781478924692. (Purchased)

Tana awakens in the bathtub the morning after a wild party at which she downed a few too many shots. The house is eerily quiet. This is because it is filled with corpses. Apparently, the party was crashed by marauding vampires and somehow, Tana escaped notice having been passed out in the aforementioned bathtub. She needs to leave. Quickly. As she searches for her stuff, she discovers her ex-boyfriend tied to a bed and a chained vampire near him. Her relationship with Aiden, the ex, is complicated and, while he has been bitten and surely infected, she cannot bring herself to leave him behind. Her relationship with Gavriel, the chained vampire is about to become very complicated since she saves him as well. From what? Apparently, there are an unknown number of vampires waiting for the sun to set to kill Gavriel.

Tana has no choice other than to load them up in her car and head to the nearest Coldtown, a walled off city where humans, possibly infected humans and vampires live quarantined from the rest of the population.

No sparkly, stalkerish vampires here (thank goodness). This is purely predator and prey, violence and blood and gore. That a romance could arise in such an unforgiving atmosphere is testament to Holly Black's storytelling. Through the narration by her kick-ass heroine, Black paints a wholly believable, terrifying world. The performance by Christine Lakin is pitch perfect. She gives Tana that slightly monotonous, tough girl tone, a charming accent to Gavriel, and an appropriately bad-boy whine/cajole to Aiden. Other characters receive individual voices as well. I was so totally swept up by this story that I actually hoped for traffic since I was listening to it in my car. And it was one where I frequently lingered in my driveway to listen longer. 

Had I been reading this with my eyes, I might have swallowed it in one big gulp. Reading with my ears, while excruciating because I couldn't hurry up the narration, allowed me to appreciate the worldbuilding, setting and character development in a way I might not have had I barreled on reading with my eyes.

This is a new favorite and one I will recommend to my more mature, thoughtful readers.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan. unpged. Arthur A. Levine Books/ Scholastic Inc., April, 2014. 9780545639125. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review)

Rules for reading Shaun Tan:
1. Always expect the unexpected.
2. Never skim.
3. Therefore, always leave a chunk of time to pore over the book.
4. Prepare to think.
5. You might just feel a bit uncomfortable.
6. Plan on rereading and finding something new each time that you do.

This is definitely a "never too old for picture books" picture book. There is a universality in the theme that should speak to any generation of siblings. I am the oldest of six (five girls). Were it not for the fact that I went on to birth four boys, this peculiar world might be totally alien to me. Might be. But on second thought, not really. (note rule #4)

As the oldest, I was tasked with "watching" my siblings most summers that I can remember. I remember longing for freedom, to go to camp, to go anywhere really. I remember utter fury at being yoked to this passel. Sure, we all had some fun but I truly resented having to be responsible. 

I remember racing my next younger sister around the block on bikes. She was beating me and when she looked back to see where I was, her foot slipped off the pedal and into the spoke of the front wheel. The result was that she pitched over the handle bars bringing the bike with her. I am loathe to admit that I raced right past her. Only when I "won" did I turn my bike around to check on her. Wonder why this long buried memory surfaced while contemplating my review of this book? That is the evocative power of the images. (note rule #5)

At first glance, what with the winsome little guy in the foreground sporting a weird helmet and the cheery palette, one might be lulled into thinking this a nostalgic reminiscence. Upon closer inspection, one might notice the scowl on the face of the older boy and the industrial background. Don't skip the end-pages and the jacket flaps. (note rule #2) Surreal, provocative and disorienting might be words used to describe the illustrations. (note rule #1) Any one of them would make for a great VTS (Visual Thinking Strategy) exercise or writing prompt in the classroom. (rule #3) The entire book could be used as a mentor text at any level.

This is a 2014 favorite. I highly recommend adding it to your collection. I'm going to follow rule #6 now. 

Friday Memes - Gabriel Finley & the Raven's Riddle

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

Gabriel Finley & the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen. 371 p. Schwartz & Wade Books/ Random House Children's Books, August 26, 2014. 9780385371032.

Publisher synopsis: 
“Both startling and moving—a vivid, compelling fantasy that sends you off to a world you will not soon forget.” —Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth
This fast-paced, exciting, and emotionally rich fantasy novel for middle graders reads like a cross between The Phantom Tollbooth and Harry Potter.
How can 11-year-old Gabriel find his missing father, who seems to have vanished without a trace? With the help of Paladin—a young raven with whom he has a magical bond that enables them to become one creature—he flies to the foreboding land of Aviopolis, where he must face a series of difficult challenges and unanswerable riddles that could lead to his father . . . or to his death.
First Line: Ravens love riddles.

Page 56: It was only when he got to his stoop that he remembered it was his birthday. He recalled the brass key and wondered again about where he could find the lock that belonged to.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fire and Ice (Spirit Animals Book 4) by Shannon Hale

Fire and Ice (Spirit Animals Book 4) by Shannon Hale. 185 p. Scholastic Inc., June, 2014. 9780545522465. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review)

Confession time: I must own up to reacting with a bit of yawn upon receiving an arc of Wild Born, book one of this new multi-platform, multi-author series from Scholastic. I did not rush to read it. I found the 39 Clues series to be a bit over-the-top and never read any of its spin-offs as my patrons (middle school) really never asked for them. I read and enjoyed the first book or two of the Infinity Ring series, but they don't circulate either. For some reason, my kids don't find time travel books appealing. I have a few faves that are a really hard sell. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead seems to be the lone exception.

It wasn't until the second and third books came my way for review about the same time a fifth grader came into the library looking for the series that I settled in to read book one. Click here for my review of books 1 - 3.

In Fire and Ice, the four young heroes and their adult companions journey to Arctica in the frozen north in search of the talisman of Suka, the polar bear. I mentioned in my review of the earlier installments that the action got a bit repetitive. 
Not so in Fire and Ice. This one's the best one yet. It's layered, a bit more introspective and, um, obscure. There's a fair amount of description of the seemingly barren, frigid land and the people who inhabit it are rather unique, a bit unfriendly and very difficult to read. Rollin, whose strength is reading people and situations has difficulty sussing out these folks. Some young readers may miss the violent clashes between the Greencloaks and the Devourers but I kind of enjoyed the break. In each book, one of the four seems to confront difficult choices and it's Rollin's turn to keep some secrets here.

If readers up till this point are wondering, as I was, how the Devourers seem to know or anticipate their every move, answers might be due in book five, Against the Tide by Tui T. Sutherland, due out September 30. It seems there is a traitor in the midst. I also discovered that a "special edition," Tales of the Great Beast by Brandon Mull and others is due out in October.  


Waiting on Wednesday - Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

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

Sisters by Raina Tegemeier. 208 p. Scholastic Inc., August 26, 2014. 9780545540605. 

Publisher synopsis: The companion to Raina Telgemeier's #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling and Eisner Award-winning graphic memoir, SMILE.
Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.
Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.

My students and I really enjoyed Smile and Drama. I know this one won't be a shelf sitter, even without seeing that the book has already garnered three starred reviews!

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Revenge of the Flower Girls by Jennifer Ziegler

Revenge of the Flower Girls by Jennifer Ziegler. 229 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., May, 2014. 9780545561419. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review)

Dawn, Darby and Delaney Brewster are triplets and history geeks with plans on becoming president, chief justice and speaker of the house respectively. They adore their doting, brilliant, older sister Lily. Their big plans for a summer of doing nothing are derailed when Lily announces her engagement to the armadillo. Really, his name is Burton; but anyone can see that he's just all wrong for Lily. And why the rush? It seems the armadillo's vile mother is behind this mad dash to the altar.

The girls wouldn't mind being the flower girls if Lily was marrying Alex. Everyone knows that they are perfect together. These resourceful triplets take turns narrating their plots to undermine the wedding planning in the attempt to prevent Lily from making the mistake of a lifetime. It's a wild and wacky plot with a Parent Trap vibe complete with rather clueless adults. It's cinematic, fluffy fun. Perfect for summer reading. This one won't be a shelf sitter. Give to your tweens who want romance.

My only quibble is the cover which, while adorable doesn't accurately reflect the girls' decision in the book to wear tuxedos (which is really more adorable). 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer

The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer. 312 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May 1, 2014. 9780399163937. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

The only family twelve-year-old Grace has known her whole life was her mother, who up and moved them whenever she got the itch. Grace was tired of their itinerant ways and told her mother so- the night before she died. She wanted to stay put with Mrs. Greene and her daughter, Lacey, Grace's best friend. Now Grace not only finds herself without Mrs. Greene but in the custody of a grandmother she never knew, a grandmother, according to her mother, who never wanted her.

Oh my. What a lovely, poignant and heartbreaking book this is! There's a beautiful blurb by Richard Peck on the cover and it has received starred reviews from PW and SLJ as well as a warm and positive review from Kirkus. What more can I add? Not much, except that this story and Grace's voice has stuck with me since early May when I first read the book. It has it all - voice, lovely setting, memorable characters, and gorgeous cover. It's perfect. There will be tears, but also a few chuckles and maybe a bit of irritation with Grace along the way to a well and truly satisfying conclusion.

Grace's mother was an artist who loved poetry and imbued a love of poetry into her daughter, who loves to write but finds she can't since she discovered her mother's body down by the river.

     "I noticed you aren't carrying around your notebook. I used to think it was stuck to your armpit," Mrs. Greene said.
     It was too confusing to explain my thoughts on Before and After, since I wasn't real firm on it myself. "I haven't much felt like writing."
     "I don't much feel like taking my fiber in the morning. But I need it." (p. 181)

Mrs. Greene is such a wise and wonderful character in a story filled with vivid characters.

     "You will go your whole life, Gracie May, and every single person in it will fail you in one way or another. It's all about the repair. It's all about letting yourself change those pictures."
     "Maybe the repair is Grandma's job. Maybe that's why Mama never went back."
     "This isn't like a hole in a boat, where you get yourself some wood and some patching and you're good to go. It's a two-person job."
     "So maybe I need Grandma to make the first move."
     "Hasn't she?" (pp. 188-89)

This auspicious debut is a must purchase. It is a 2014 favorite of mine. I would not be surprised to hear about it come next January. Give it to your thoughtful tween readers who love weepies, lovely, layered writing, or who loved Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur. 

Many thanks to Stacey Barney for sending this to me. I'm sorry I took so long to write about it.

Cleopatra in Space - Book one: Target Practice by Mike Maihack

Target Practice. Cleopatra in Space series - Book one.  by Mike Maihack. 169 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., April, 2014. 9780545528429. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

Apparently, even fifteen-year-old princesses hate Algebra. After Cleopatra's tutor falls asleep, thanks to the camomile she slips into his tea, she slips out of the palace and convinces her pal Gozi to cut his class in favor of target practice among the ruins. A stray pellet manages to cause a collapse, which unearths a mysterious door into an artifact-filled chamber, where Cleo finds a tablet that contains a prophecy. Soon she finds herself whisked into the future planet, Mayet, that includes talking cats. Apparently, she is prophesied to save the civilization. But first, she needs to attend school. She does not leave her troublemaking ways behind as she continues to cut school and challenge authority. She does excel in ray gun shooting. After all, how much different is it than a sling shot?

She's flung, somewhat prematurely, into a recovery mission that she thinks is a training mission. This sequence rather bizarrely opens the book and is cause for some confusion, until we flash back to ancient Egypt before flashing forward to future Mayet. Still, it's a jaunty romp with an endearingly infuriating heroine and an intriguing premise. Perfect for middle grade graphic novel fans with the right amount of action, snark and humor. The art is energetic and colorful and a variety of panels move the story apace. I'm on board for the next installment as I know my students will be. A fine addition to the middle grade graphic novel shelf.

Saturday, July 12, 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.

For review

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater. Standalone companion to The Wolves of Mercy Falls/ Shiver trilogy. 357 p. Scholastic Press, July, 2014. 9780545654579.

Publisher synopsis: SINNER follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling Shiver Trilogy.
Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get Isabel Culpeper back. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn't just want her. He needs her.
Isabel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles. It's not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes. But what's the point? What is there to win?
Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future. They have the power to love each other and the power to tear each other apart. The only thing for certain is that they cannot let go.
I rather enjoy Maggie Stiefvater's writing. The Scorpio Races is one of my all-time favorite books and I adore her Raven Boys cycle. While I really enjoyed Shiver, the first book in the Wolves trilogy, I confess I liked books 2 & 3 less and less. That said, Isabel and Cole were fun characters, so I'm excited for this.

Friendship Over by Julie Sternberg. Illustrated by Johanna Wright. The Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine - Book 1. 152 p.Boyds Mills Press/ Highlights, October 1, 2014. 9781590789933. 

Publisher Synopsis: Ten-year-old Celie has quite a few things on her mind—fights with her sister Jo, secrets at school, an increasingly forgetful grandmother, and worst of all, a best friend who won’t speak to her. How can a girl who hates change survive, when everything in her life is changing? By writing, of course. Celie’s often comical and always heartfelt diary entries include notes, e-mails, homework assignments, and pages from her top-secret spy notebook.

The author made an auspicious debut a few years back with the elementary verse novel, Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie. She followed that up with Like Bug Juice on a Burger, which I read but did not review and Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake. While I happily passed them on to my colleague at the elementary school, reading them made me wistful for my days at a K - 8 school. Eleanor is such an every-girl.

This one is not in verse. It's diary style. 

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - Fish in a Tree by Lyn Mullaly Hunt

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

I learned about this last week through The Nerdy Book Club.

Fish in a Tree by Lyn Mullaly Hunt. 288 p. Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Group USA, February 5, 2015. 9780399162593.

Publisher synopsis: The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in.

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

So excited for this sophomore publication by Lyn Mullaly Hunt. I adored her debut, One for the Murphys. It's one of my go-to books for students who want sad. I'm also seriously diggin' the cover. Very cool.

What are you waiting on? Leave a link in the comments.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

TTT is hosted by Broke and Bookish an this week's theme is Bookish Confessions. 

1. I used to review every book I read. That was back before I decided to try to read a book a day. Writing is a painfully slow process for me and reviews always take a long time to write.

2. That said though, I am now so far behind in my reviews that I haven't been reviewing books that I have loved. 

3. My treatment for cancer this past year put a severe crimp in my both my reading and reviewing.

4. I usually cringe when I reread my reviews (and always find typos).

5. I rarely abandon books. Many times, it's not the book, it's me, my mood. Sometimes, the book just needs a little time. And sometimes, I just become morbidly curious to find out just how bad the book is. Some folks have chided me, telling me not to waste my time reading something that I'm not enjoying. It's kind of a (silly) badge of honor for me.

6. As a school librarian, I make a concerted effort to read across genres, but mysteries and horror are just not my thing. I'm too much of a scaredy-cat to read horror - have to do it in one sitting, like ripping off a bandaid or jumping into the pool. Mysteries just annoy me. Except Agatha Christie or P.D. James.

7. I have a monstrous tbr pile. Really. I call it TOM, as in The Obscene Monster. TOM fills four bookcases. I will never even make a dent in TOM because there are over 400 books there.

8. I didn't go to ALA Annual in June, partly because of the guilt I feel about all the books on TOM, but mostly because I had no desire to spend any time at all in Las Vegas.

9. I rarely borrow books from friends because I might not get to it immediately and it will be swallowed by TOM. I stopped borrowing books from the library because of this. My fines probably partially funded the new wing of my local library. I now restrict my library borrowing to audio books, which are usually read promptly.

10. The trend of inserting gifs every other paragraph annoys the heck out of me. One well-placed, apt gif is tolerable, but growing old.

Saturday, July 5, 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.

For review:
A box arrived from Highlights Press:
Hades Speaks: a guide to the Underworld by the Greek God of the dead by Vicky Alvear Shecter. Illustrated by J.E. Larson. 128 p. Boyds Mills Press/ Highlights, September 1, 2014. 978162095981.

Publisher synopsis: Hades, god of the dead, welcomes readers on a dangerous tour of his underworld kingdom, filled with monsters, furies, giants, and vampire demons. Along the way, he reveals ancient death rites and sinister curses, tells hair-raising stories, and cracks jokes to die for. With his witty voice and ghoulish sense of humor, Hades is the perfect guide through this fresh and imaginative work of nonfiction that reads like a novel. Includes a glossary, bibliography, and index.

Ben Franklin's Big Splash: the mostly true story of his first invention by Barb Rosenstock. Illustrated by S.D. Schindler. unpgd. Calkins Creek/ Highlights, September 1, 2014. 9781620914465.

Publisher synopsis: Ben Franklin loved to swim and, at the age of eleven, he was determined to swim like a fish—fins and all! This fascinating and lively account of young Ben’s earliest invention follows the budding scientist’s journey as he tests and retests his swim fins. That first big splash led Ben to even more innovations and inventions. Includes Franklin quotes, a timeline, bibliography, and source notes.

Alone Together by Suzanne Bloom. (Goose and Bear Stories series) unpgd. Boyds Mills Press/ Highlights, October 1, 2014. 9781620917367.

Publisher synopsis: Sometimes Bear likes quiet time by himself. But his friend Fox has a very different idea of what “quiet” means. Can Bear’s quiet aloneness and Fox’s noisy togetherness ever result in a satisfying compromise? This simple and endearing story about friends learning to understand each other’s differences is filled with Suzanne Bloom’s gentle humor and trademark pastel illustrations.

By Day, By Night by Amy Gibson. Illustrated by Meilo So. unpgd. Boyds Mills Press, October 1, 2014. 981590789919.

Publisher synopsis: As profound as it is simple, this universal picture book celebrates people all around the world as they do the same things in different ways— work and play, laugh and cry, and wonder why. The lyrical story takes us from morning to night, as we all wish and dream under a winking sky. A perfect bedtime read, this is a book about the children of the world for the children of the world.

The Problem with Not being Scared of Monsters by Dan Richards. Illustrated by Robert Neubecker. unpgd. Boyds Mills Press/ Highlights, August 1, 2014. 9781620910245.

Publisher synopsis: Who knew there was a problem with not being scared of monsters? The hero of this story knows it—all too well. Because he’s not scared, the monsters think he’s one of them. And now, they’re way too friendly. They want to share everything! Which is, of course, a disaster. Good thing there’s a terrified little brother to come to the rescue. With an understated text and hilarious illustrations, this picture book will have kids laughing away their fears.

This Orq. (he cave boy.) by David Elliott. Illustrated by Lori Nichols. unpgd. Boyds Mills Press/ Highlights, September 1, 2014. 9781620915219.

Publisher synopsis: Meet Orq, cave boy. And Woma, woolly mammoth. Orq love Woma. Only one problem: Mom is not a fan of Woma, who sheds and smells and is definitely not cave-trained. How can Orq convince his mother that Woma belongs with them? Orq has a plan to get Woma back in the cave . . .
A satisfying story about friendship and loyalty, filled with humor and heart.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link in the comments section.