October 21, 2014

Gasp Part 2

Last Wednesday I came home to a package from Random House.  I hoped against hope that it would contain a copy of FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson, a book I desperately wanted.  And it did!  I was so excited and kind of shocked.  I don't really have a contact at Random House but had emailed a few people hoping against hope that it would get to someone who could help me (or not).
Finally, I connected with Rachel who forwarded the email to someone who was able to help me and Viola!  I got myself a shiny new copy.

I am still buying a few copies for my library but I can't even have this copy here at school because there are a few readers who would happily pry it out of my hands--and I am not done yet!

October 14, 2014

My Thoughts: Second Star by Alyssa Sheinmel

3 frosted maple cookies. (click for the recipe, so good in the fall!)

Cover Love:  It's okay, but with the themes of this book I think they could've done a lot more.

Why I Wanted to Read this:
This was brought to my attention on Edelweiss earlier this spring.  I "flipped" through the egalley, and then bought it for my library.  My son is in a production of Peter Pan right now and it brought this book back to mind, so I picked it up!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.
Romance?: Yes

My Thoughts:
I have to admit, the way they talked about how surfers will give up everything to chase waves left me uncomfortable.  I am not sure why because I live by very popular ski hill so I have seen people who feel that way about skiing.  I raft with people who would rather be on the river than anywhere else in the world and my husband would fish everyday if he could.  I just have never felt that way about anything in my life--except reading.  It's truly a passion.  I guess I just get irritated with people who refuse to have any responsibilities because they are always chasing their passion--they refuse to grow up.  Ah, that's the theme of the book!

There was a lot left unanswered with this book is one reason I didn't give this more cookies.  And neither Peter and Jas were that  wonderful.  I understand why Wendy fell for both of them, but they just weren't great YA boys.  She fell for them because they were a connection to her brothers and each offered her something different that she was searching for, but neither of them were good for her.  And I imagine that they were both quite a bit older.  For all that Jas told her he did I would put his age at least at 23 or more.  I just don't get their attraction to Wendy either!

I did like this book, the writing caught me early and was the reason I kept going.  Plus I wanted resolution for Wendy. 

To Sum Up:  I will get this book for my library because I think many of my readers would like the romances and the updated version of Peter Pan, but overall this hasn't been my favorite read or YA romance.

October 10, 2014

Truths About Book Blogging

I have been around book blogging for a long time.  I started this one in 2006, but didn't post really regularly until about 5 years ago.  It still ebbs and flows, but I have also seen a lot of blogs come and go during that time.  If you are starting one or thinking of starting one here are some things to think about.  (I have done a post like this before but not for awhile and I have more!)

I started mine as a way to keep track of what I read.  Seriously, when I started it was just a list of books.  Then I discovered the world of book blogging and decided to up my content a bit.  When you are first getting started try and post four to five times a week.  Seriously, if you have something new everyday on someone's feed they are more likely to check one or two of them out.

Page views and followers are important but NOT VITAL.  I know my blog itself doesn't get tons of views, but I have some loyal readers.  I do promote myself and my blog a bunch, but still not as much as I could.  I tweet my posts and send links to publishers.  I should start just a blog instagram but I haven't, I have a personal one that I use to post about books and a library one.  I truly feel like promotion is key.  If a publisher gets you a book do what you can to get the word out about that book. 

(Just so you know, I know that I get a lot more privileges because I am also a middle school librarian, so if I had ever felt like I wasn't getting the word out enough I would have done more.)

You will probably get ARCs, but it might take a long time.  I am at the point now were I get ARCs and finished books in the mail a lot.  Not everyday or every week but more than I need.  This is something I struggled with because I want to read and review everything I get but I still have books in my school collection and just others that catch my interest.  So my rule of thumb is if I request it and get a copy, I read and review it.  On both my Edelweiss and NetGalley profiles I am very upfront about letting publishers know I might not get them read, but I like to "flip" through every egalley I get approved for so I can see if it would be right for my library and the ages of kids I work with.

Sometimes I get surprise books and I don't feel as bad about not reviewing those.  But I normally do a post about getting them (some call it Staking the Shelves, some call it In My Mailbox, I call mine Added to the List) and a thank you tweet to the publisher or person who sent it my way.

It can be overwhelming and a lot of work.  I went through a time where I posted something every day.  I tried a lot of different things to see if they would catch on, and sometimes they would, sometimes they wouldn't.  I am just not the type to go and comment on other people's blogs for the sake of commenting or to get them to come and comment on mine.  I also don't follow blogs anymore unless I really like them.  I also take breaks.  This has become more important as my life has gotten busier.

There was a time when I wold see a new book blog pop up everyday.  I am a little out of touch with that part so I don't know if that is the case anymore but I know that if you have just started know that it takes time and patience.  Enjoy telling people about awesome books and have fun with blogging! 


October 9, 2014

My Thoughts: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

5 sweet and tart lemon bars.

Cover Love:  It's ok.  I like contrast between the black cover and the colored font.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The synopsis of this book made me want to read it.  Here it is from GoodReads:
When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, who she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that's as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her archnemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). But just when Alice's scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she's said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she caused irreparable damage to the people around her—and to the one person who matters most?
Romance?:  Yes.

My Thoughts:
The synopsis for this makes it sound like a comedy, but it is so not.  This is a deep, emotional book, so well written that you can get inside and feel everything from both Alice and Harvey.  The chapters go back and forth between Harvey and Alice and the past and the present.

Harvey will break your heart the whole book.  He is so in love with Alice and even though he acknowledges that she is using him and he knows it, he doesn't have the strength to step away.  But this book is as much a Harvey coming of age story as it as an Alice coming of age story.  He grows, he gets a backbone, but he always remains sweethearted Harvey.  I just adored him.  The tough part is that even though you know Alice is using him and will probably break his heart you can't help rooting for them to be together.  Mostly because you know how very good and healing Harvey will be for Alice.

When I first started this book I read some Good Reads reviews and a few of them didn't love the book because Alice is so awful.  And she is, she is a straight up bitch.  But, she admits it, she knows it and she owns it, until she decides she wants to change.  But it takes a lot before she decides she wants to change.  I didn't love Alice, but I rooted for her to heal--not just her cancer, but her heart and her soul.  The biggest problem is that she won't talk to anyone.  If Alice was my daughter and I saw how she reacted when she was told she was in remission I would put her in counseling ASAP.  That is probably the one thing that I disagreed with because when you are told you are going to die at 16 and then all of the sudden the sudden you aren't you probably need some help getting through that.

This book made me cry and made me read late into the night.  It's was just the kind of book I wanted to read right now.

To Sum Up:  This was a great emotional book.  Probably a little too deep (mature) for my middle school library but I think many young adult readers could get a lot out of this story.

Book checked out from public library after egalley expired.

October 8, 2014

Sometimes When I Open a Surprise Package I Gasp

It happened to me last week.  I got a package that was obviously books so I was very excited to open it.  The return address was from Penguin, and since I hadn't requested anything from Penguin this was truly a surprise book.  When I opened it I GASPED. Inside were two Nancy Drew books:
  (this picture does not do them justice--go here and here to check them out)

You may recall that in August I had raved about the new Nancy Drew covers that I had spied at Target.  I was also depressed because my Target only had the first two and I knew there were four.  I wrote that post and them emailed a contact I had used at Penguin before.  I just wanted them to know that these new covers did exactly what they were meant to do--catch someone's eye enough to have them buy them and want to read them again (I think the last time I read Nancy Drew was fourth grade).  

In the package with the two new Nancy Drew books was a lovely letter from the book designer Mallory Grigg.  I think being a book designer would be one of the best jobs around.  And from what I can tell, Mallory has got it down!  The illustration was done by Sabrina Gabrielli whose work you can check out here.

It was so sweet of Mallory to take the time to write me and so amazing of her to send me the two books I was missing from this new set of Nancy Drew books.  And she let me know they are also doing books 5-8 and they will be published next fall!  (Can you imagine getting an assignment like redesigning such iconic books?  I bet she was so excited and so very nervous.)

So, thank you so much Mallory, for the books, the nice letter and for your beautiful, inspiring work!

October 6, 2014

Added to the List #9

I have been getting a few books in the mail lately and a few have caught my eye...
I am going to tell you about the two Nancy Drew books I got in a post tomorrow so stay tuned!

I bought The Inifinite Sea for my library, but checked it out first because I am the librarian, that's why!
Mister Death's Blue Eyed Girls just always catches my eye when I check it in or am shelving so I grabbed that one too.

I got The Terrible Two and Nuts to You as surprises in the mail.  The Terrible Two came in the coolest package!  And the cover for Nuts to You is just a pretty fall scene that makes me want to read it.


Dearest was one I requested because I read and really enjoyed the first two in this series.

Lots to read, but lots to enjoy as well!

October 2, 2014

September Means Action!

For some weird reason the last few years I have read mostly action books in the fall.  I think it started way back with Catching Fire, then Mockingjay the next year.  There was I Am Number Four and The Power of SixRot & Ruin came out in September and I read The Paladin Prophecy and Steelheart.  So, right now I want to read ACTION!  I just got The Infinite Sea for my library but I think I will be reading that first.  I also just read The Only Thing to Fear which was good and fulfilled some of my action craving.  I cannot wait for Firefight (and neither can some of the kids in my library).  What are some good action books you've read recently?


September 24, 2014

Added to the List #8: 2015 HIGHLY Anticipated Books



*Probably one of my most favorite 2013 reads. CANNOT wait for this sequel*
*Always love The Penderwicks*

*These are all sequels or continuations of series and they all make me SO excited!*
March is going to be a great reading month!

September 23, 2014

My Thoughts: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

4 soft and spicy frosted gingersnaps.

Cover Love:  It's pretty good but a pretty typical contemporary romance cover.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I had an egalley of this that expired last spring but I was in the mood for a contemporary romance.  So I checked it out from my public library before I went on a weekend vacation and whipped right through it.  Here's they synopsis from GoodReads:
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.
Romance?: Yes.

My Thoughts:
This was not a deep romance, but not too light and fluffy either.  Reagan had a lot to figure out in her life.  She was a very likeable protagonist, until the typical misunderstanding late in the book.  Then she reverted too much into the whiny, "he did me wrong" type of YA romantic lead that drives me nuts.  Luckily the author didn't keep her that way for long.

I adored Matt and Dee (that is what Reagan calls Lilah).  Reagan has a lot of support in her life and the drama that she is trying to escape from is very much of her own making.  But, she does recognize that for what it is and knows she needs to fix that part of her life.  Dee is a great best friend and never pushes Reagan to the side for her fame.  She always there to help out or just be someone to lean on.  She is practically perfect.

And Matt is an amazing book boyfriend.  So sweet and earnest, but with a few of his own demons he is struggling with overcoming.  Reagan and Matt are very good for each other.

One of my favorite scenes, the kind that brought tears to my eyes, is one between Reagan and her step-mother at the end of the book.  I think it was just what Reagan needed to put her past finally behind and take steps towards her future.

To Sum Up:  I am going to buy this for my library.  There are a few mature things for middle school readers, but there is a lot that can be learned by a protagonist like Reagan.  Mostly that you can overcome your past.  It doesn't have to always define you!

September 22, 2014

Snapshot Monday

I am currently reading SECOND STAR by Alyssa B. Sheinmel.  It's a modern retelling of Peter Pan.  I am really enjoying it so far!  (I started it because my son is in a local production of PeterPan and after watching some rehearsals decided to give this story a try!)

September 16, 2014

My Thoughts: The Swap by Megan Shull


5 warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  Simple yet eye catching.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I was first made aware of this book thought Edelweiss, where HarperCollins had it up for review.  I downloaded it then, but it took me until almost the expiration to get around to reading it.  Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:
“YOU BE ME...AND I'LL BE YOU.”

ELLIE spent the summer before seventh grade getting dropped by her best friend since forever. JACK spent it training in “The Cage” with his tough-as-nails brothers and hard-to-please dad. By the time middle school starts, they’re both ready for a change. And just as Jack’s thinking girls have it so easy, Ellie’s wishing she could be anyone but herself.

Then, BAM! They swap lives—and bodies!

Now Jack’s fending off mean girls at sleepover parties while Ellie’s reigning as the Prince of Thatcher Middle School. As their crazy weekend races on—and their feelings for each other grow—Ellie and Jack begin to realize that maybe the best way to learn how to be yourself is to spend a little time being someone else.
Romance?:  Nope. But lots of talk of middle school type crushes.

My Thoughts:
When I first met both Ellie and Jack I thought there was no way this was going to work.  They were WAY too different.  There was a moment where I didn't know if I liked Ellie and really didn't like Jack's dad, even thought about giving it up.  But I wanted to see how the author would make the switch work, so I kept reading.  So glad I did!  The author handles it well and both characters are better versions of themselves and each other when they inhabit the others body.

Ellie starts out the book as a very typical, insecure middle school girl who is being dumped by her best friend who prefers to be a mean girl.  Ellie is also the target of much of the meanness and it has really knocked her for a loop.  She is short with her mother and only wants to desperately hold onto this friendship with a really horrible person.  She can't see any of the positives in her life and is even thinking of giving up soccer--something she is good at and loves to play--to avoid her ex-best friend.  She made my heart ache for every middle school girl who has these types of issues!

Jack is a very typical middle school boy.  He is darling, athletic and has a good group of friends.  He is also very shy and no good around girls, even though every girl at school has him at the top of their list.  His nickname, given to him by all the girls, is The Prince.  He also has four older brothers and an ex-military dad who they call The Captain, whose expectations for Jack and his brothers are so incredibly high that he has forgotten how to just relax and show his boys he loves them.

Ellie's' mom is divorced and Jack's dad is a widow.  Although this is not a plot of the story, the whole time I kept hoping their parents would meet and fall in love.  But this truly is Ellie and Jack's story, not their parents. 

When the swap happens they both handle it very well.  I think that there is some relief about not having to live your own life for a few days, and what they learn about themselves and each other makes them so much better after they switch back.  I love how the author handles the switch and what each character goes through.  It's all done very well and even though this is light and ties up very neatly with a bow, I couldn't have liked it more.

To Sum Up:  Great story for middle schoolers about never assuming someone else has an easier life and about listening to others when they say good things about you!

eGalley downloaded from Edelweiss.  Thanks HarperCollins!

August 26, 2014

Help Me Out of My Slump

I am in a huge reading slump.  One of the worst in my life.  Even SSR is not working.  I am reading, but I am not reading.  You know what I mean?  I have more than a few books I have started that I am liking, just not really loving.  So, please recommend me a book, one of the best you've read in awhile.  I would like to keep it in the young adult/middle grade level but if you have read a fantastic adult book give me the title.

Labor day is coming up and I would like to spend a little bit of time reading!

August 18, 2014

New Nancy Drew Covers

The other day I was doing some book shopping at Target to get a few new releases to have ready on the first day of school.  While I was there I saw two books that stopped me in my tracks.  The new Nancy Drew reissues. 

I did not buy them right away.  But, I took a picture and went home and reflected on the picture.  By the time the evening rolled around I knew THEY HAD TO BE MINE.  I could just see them displayed on my bookshelves.

I love the colors.  I love, love the fonts.  I love the illustration of the fashionable young detective.  I love the label thingy on the side.  

I have a crush on whomever designed these!!

Had you seen these yet?  What do you think?  What is a favorite re-issue cover of yours?

(I think these are amazing and just a home run.  So much better then the supposed reissue of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I am still hoping is a joke).


August 14, 2014

SSR

Edit: I wrote this last night and then read this article this morning which has a section that sums up pretty perfectly why I get into a reading slump.


You have heard me whine about the lack of reading I have been getting done the last few years and I have to point to two things as the cause--mobile devices and netflix.

I love my mobile devices (ipad and smartphone) and I love binge watching, but it takes a toll on my reading time.  When I am in a great book, I have no problem, I can read anywhere, anytime.  But when I am in lackluster books (and I do not mean bad books, I just mean books that haven't truly hooked me, but that I am still enjoying reading when I do pick them up), I might read for a minute or two or bypass the reading to play another game on my ipad or watch anther episode of whatever.

So, I have imposed a daily SSR on myself.  (That stands for Sustained Silent Reading).  I am going to find a half hour everyday to read, it might not be all in one stretch, but I am going to do it.  Right now I have four books started.  FOUR!  and I am not starting a new one until I get them finished.  So SSR it is!

How do you get out of your reading slump?

August 11, 2014

My Thoughts: What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

4 fudgy double chocolate cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes, I do love this.  Romantic and sweet.  Just like a summer romance should be!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I loved My Life Next Door by this author and was excited when I heard she had written another contemporary romance.  And it is set on a small coastal tourist town, my favorite setting for a summer romance read!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Gwen Castle's Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.
Romance?: Of course!

My Thoughts:
This was such a good story, it caught me quick and I was satisfied through most of the book.  I adored Cassidy and Gwen, and was so happy to see her get over her issues to find a way back to Cassidy.  But there was another aspect I enjoyed.

This book talks a lot about teenage sex.  Gwen has had it and does regret some of what she has done, but not all.  There is a point where I felt like part of her issues with Cassidy were low self esteem and some of that might have been from one of her escapades, but there was also a lot of other issues in her life that could've added to this.  Gwen does have a bit of a reputation, but she doesn't let it define her, which I was glad to see. She does realize she is worthy of more than a bad relationship or one night stands and I was glad to see a teenage girl written this way.  I think that Gwen would be a good character for many young girls to read about.

And even though Gwen has a bit of a reputation, there is no slut shaming going on in this book.  And the boys around her don't see her as an easy mark, which I liked. 

Gwen's cousin and her best friend, Viv and Nic, are also a couple and have been for a long time, but their sexual history is a little more special being that they are so committed to each other.  I actually like seeing two different types of relationships in this book.

I do really like Cassidy and Gwen and found this to be a happy and satisfying  romance!

To Sum Up:  There is a lot to like and learn about with this book.  I think many young teenage girls could get a lot out of this story!

August 7, 2014

My Thoughts: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

4 soft, frosted sugar cookies.

Cover Love:  Meh.  Don't hate it, don't love it.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks quite awhile ago and really enjoyed it.  I haven't read any of the Ruby Oliver books, but this synopsis caught my eye so I decided to give it a shot. Here it is from GoodReads:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
Romance?:  Yes, a little one.

My Thoughts:
One thing that really impresses me about E. Lockhart is that even though she writes contemporary, she doesn't really stick with just one kind.  This book has a little romance, but also a mystery and also has a lot about family.  I like it when an author pushes their own comfort zone.

The writing.  Oh, the writing.  It just got under my skin and is so smooth that I was reading pages upon pages without looking at a clock.  It just flowed so well.  Yes, the story was intriguing and yes, I wanted to find out what happened to Cady, but I know that the style the author used is one reason I was caught so quickly.

This is a book that you can't review too thoroughly because you really wouldn't want to know, you really wouldn't.  But, it's a twist I never saw coming and it's heart breaking.

One other note, when you read the author's acknowledgements at the end it's like a Who's Who of  YA authors.  This is quality stuff people--read and thought about by many authors I enjoy!  How could it not be good?!

To Sum It Up:  This is a quick, intriguing read.  I am pretty sure you will enjoy it, so give it a try!

ARC won from a Shelf Awareness giveaway.  Thanks!

August 6, 2014

Publisher Snob...

I find that I am a bit of a publisher snob and I don't like it. 

I have read books from smaller publishers and sometimes I like them.  But lots of times I don't.  I am not sure if I don't like them because of preconceived notions about smaller publishers or if they really aren't that great. 

This is not to say that every book I read from one of the major publishers is amazing, but for some reason I find myself going back to those books that have a big name behind them.
When I am looking over egalleys, or catalogs for ordering I just really tend to stick to the big publishers. 

So, do you find that who published a book is important to you?  Or do you even look at who published a book? 

Do you have a favorite smaller publisher?  Or a wonderful recommendation from a smaller publisher or published independently?  Let me know!

July 9, 2014

I Am Not Crazy!

Have you seen the preview for The Boxtrolls?  It's a new stop motion animation movie that they have been teasing about for a good year now.  The last preview I saw I thought, I swear that is like a book I read.  I was not crazy.  It is based on Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow.  Looking back at my GoodReads record I see I gave it only two stars.  I do remember not loving it, but the movie sure looks fun. 

July 7, 2014

Summer Report

I have been doing a lot of stuff so far this summer, but not reading much.  Here's what has been capturing my attention:

The World Cup:  We are a big soccer family and have been loving the games so far.  So sad the US is out, but now I am free to root for Germany!  Man, there are some really good looking soccer palyers out there.

Haven:  My sister had been after me to watch this series for awhile so when school got out I gave it a try.  LOVED it!  Went through all four seasons (they are shorter because it's a Syfy series) in record time.  Great show!  I have also been catching up on shows I DVRed this spring--like Orphan Black and Penny Dreadful. 


Tattoos:  I got a new tattoo (my sister and I got matching ones).  Because of this, I haven't been able to take a bath, which is something I do once or twice a week and a place I get a lot of reading done.  In fact, I went rafting yesterday and the scab came off before it was supposed to on account of it being wet a lot so I am hoping I didn't wreck it!  I will go in Monday and see if I did and if they can fix it. 

Salmon River:  We are part of a group going to raft the main stem of the Salmon River in Idaho this summer.  It takes a lot of planning because we will be on the river for six days and five nights.  I am not a huge fan of camping, but my family is so excited and they give me the courage to step out of my comfort zone.  

ADD:  I know I shouldn't make light of ADD but I feel like I have it lately when it comes to books.  I have a huge stack that I brought home from school and more on my Nook.  I am so excited about reading most of them so I have a hard time staying focused on one.  I did read Half Bad pretty quickly (reviewed that last week) but other than that I just always feel like starting a new one, even if I just started a new one!

How is your summer going so far?!

July 3, 2014

My Thoughts: Half Bad by Sally Green

4 chewy peanut butter cookies.

Cover Love:
I don't really love this cover.  It just doesn't seem very eye catching to me.

Why I Wanted To Read This:
I saw a lot of buzz on this one when it first came out and it landed on a couple "best of 2014 so far" lists, so I decided to give it a try.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy's struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.
Romance?: There is a little one, or the start of one. Not sure if it is in Nathan's best interests though.

My Thoughts:
I whipped through this book very quickly.  In fact, it was the first book I had actually started and finished in a long time.  It held my attention really well.

Your heart just goes out to Nathan.  He is born into a society that does not want him, does not trust him and pretty much wants to wipe him and anyone he is in contact with or related to out of existence.  You just know that nay organization that is that afraid of someone or something and is willing to commit atrocities as a means to an end, is up to no good at all.  I can't wait to learn more about this world.  There has to be some major history and we need to hear both sides.

I really liked Nathan, a lot.  I wanted so badly for him to succeed in his mission to get his gift when he turned seventeen.  But really, that is a very small part of what Nathan needs to do, as he learns.  Not that I think he will follow through with his mission, but he has so much he needs to learn about himself, his world and his father and mother.  This is a journey I want to take with him!

To Sum Up:  I think this might be a little intense for my middle schoolers, but this is a great read and I do think that many young adult readers would love this one!

July 2, 2014

My Thoughts: After the End by Amy Plum

3 chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  I think this cover is eye catching and because it raises questions that make you want to read the book.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The synopsis!  It sounded so good.  Here the synopsis from GoodReads:


World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.
At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
Romance?: Yes.

My Thoughts:
For some reason this book didn't really work for me.   I found it pretty slow moving and I didn't feel the chemistry between the main characters.  However, I wanted to keep reading it because I really wanted Juneau to meet up with her clan and get some answers from the adults.  Unfortunately it ended before that happened.  I am not really sure that I will keep reading to hear the answers that Juneau is looking for.

Despite all that I will be buying it for my library.  I think this is a book that middle grade readers will love.  There is so much to think about as this story progresses--why this group of people chose to move to Alaska, why they lied to their children, what is up with Juneau's eye, why does Miles dad want Juneau so bad, etc...  I think this would be a GREAT book to read for a middle school book club and will probably try to do that this next year.

To Sum Up:  I think this will be big with its intended audience and will be buying a few copies for my library.  It will be fun to booktalk this one in the fall.

June 9, 2014

My Thoughts: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

4 sweet and sugary frosted sugar cookies.

Cover Love:
Yes!  I love the colors and the models.  Eye-catching!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I just love contemporary romances, books that I can whip right through.  This one came in my last book order of the year and was the one I decided to read first!

Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.
Romance?:  Of course!

My Thoughts:
Julia drove me nuts for lots of this book, mostly because she reminded me of one of my friends in high school.  She had heard how her mom knew from the time she was in second grade that she would marry the man that became her husband--even though he was 5 or 6 years older than her at the time.  So, my friend always felt that was the kind of thing that should happen to her.  I didn't mind her thinking this way, but when it wasn't happening, I always felt like she might be missing out on other opportunities. That's the way I felt about Julia, but luckily, she does come to realize this herself, eventually.  

I wasn't overly sold on Jason either.  On one hand, he was totally immature, but sometimes Julia was able to glimpse a really, really great guy.  I guess that's pretty realistic of a teen age boy, but having two such different sides is not my favorite thing in a YA book boyfriend.  I also dislike how he felt he had to push Julia to break rules and allow her to live a little.  Yes, she was a bit of a stickler, but sometimes people need order to thrive.  The teenage years don't always have to be about getting drunk and making tons of mistakes.  

I loved the setting of London and England.  Books set on foreign soil are not my favorite for some reason, but this author did a great job putting us there and having us enjoy the tour along with Julia and Jason.  The problem is that their relationship blossoms on overseas, I hope that it lasts when they get home.  However, you get the impression that Jason has liked Julia for sometime and it just took being partnered together for him to act on his feelings.

To Sum Up:  This is a sweet, fun romance that I will have no trouble getting my middle school readers to enjoy.  There is some drinking and a little bit of swearing but nothing I felt couldn't be included in a middle school library!

Book bought for my school library. 

June 2, 2014

My Thoughts: The Truth About Alice

4 fudgy brownies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  It's very eye catching and thought provoking.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The synopsis made me want to read this one.  Here it is from GoodReads:
Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.
Romance?: Not really, but several relationships are hashed out during the course of the book.

My Thoughts:
This author did a great job finding the voices of the various characters who tell the story.  I especially loved Elaine's voice (but not her character).  She talked the way that teens do, the author nailed this one!

This is such a powerful book about rumors.  One boy says something about one girl and EVERYONE takes it as truth.  Just recently I had this conversation with a few kids from my youth group about rumors and unless you have seen it happen with your own eyes, it is just a rumor. Even if the person swears up and down it happened to them or they did it, unless you have seen it, it might not be true.   Don't spread it around!  But I have to admit I am guilty of this as well and I would assume almost everyone else is!

I truly enjoyed the end chapter where Alice finally told her story, however, we had heard enough of the story from everyone else that hers didn't make as big of an impact on me as expected.

I was very glad that the author didn't wrap this up with a nice and tidy bow, but that some things got resolved, people started moving on and life just kept going.  I think the one who will have the hardest time moving on, though, is Josh.  He has some hard truths he needs to face, about who he is and what he said after the wreck.  He truly has amends to make to many.

This was just such a good slice of life story.  Poor Alice was just a means to telling everyone else's story.  You get the feeling that she will be okay, almost the most okay of anyone, especially if she gets out of that town.

To Sum Up:  While this might be a little too mature for my middle school library, I think it's a very powerful book that can teach a good lesson to many teens!

egalley requested and received from Macmillan via NetGalley.  Thanks!


May 27, 2014

How I Spent My Weekend

This weekend I discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved on YouTube. They are adorable, fun, modern adaptions of Emma and Pride and Prejudice.  If you haven't watched either of these, give them a try, I don't think you will be sorry.  I love that they are so multi-platform--videos, twitter, instagram, blogs, pinterest--it's completely genius--and a huge time suck.
I loved The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and have always loved Pride & Prejudice, but have to say, I like Emma better.  I love that when the story starts Emma is kind of annoying, but as you get to know her, you can't help but love her--she truly has other's best interests at heart.

And Mr. Knightley has always, always been my favorite Austen hero.  Bingley is too nice, Wickham is just gross and I don't like how emotionless Darcy is.  It's always been Knightley for me (with Jonny Lee Miller being my favorite Knightley, so far).

And this adaption of Emma is so completely adorable I can barely stand it!  The actors playing Emma and Knightley are wonderful and play their characters perfectly.  I just can't stop watching! And making Emma  lifestyle a coach was genius.

Emma Approved is in the middle of their series, I think new episodes come out again next Monday.  I wish I hadn't discovered it until the end so I could watch the whole thing and finally see them realize their love for each other.  (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is all over so you can watch that complete series).

(and here's my secret, even though I am a reader and librarian I have never read Austen.  Ever. But have decided that I will read Emma this summer because it's my favorite)

Anyway, I hope you take a look at these shows, they are so good!

Emma Approved Social Sites:
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram
Blog


May 23, 2014

Summer Reading Middle Grade Style

I got this amazing package of books the other day from HarperChildrens:

I am adding a few of them right into my library collection--like THE HERO'S GUIDE TO BEING AN OUTLAW and THE TOMB OF SHADOWS and the BIG NATE book--those series are very popular in my library.

I already read and enjoyed SAVING LUCAS BIGGS, so that is going into my library collection.

I am taking home DREAMER WISHER LIAR because I got goosebumps when I read the synopsis.  Here it is from GoodReads:
When her best friend is moving away and her mom has arranged for some strange little girl to come and stay with them, Ash—who is petrified of change and new people—is expecting the worst summer of her life. Then seven-year-old Claire shows up. Armed with a love of thrift-store clothes and an altogether too-sunny disposition, Claire proceeds to turn Ash’s carefully constructed life upside down.

While every part of Ash’s life seems to be disrupted, she must protect a carefully hidden secret: She has discovered a magical jar in her basement. It’s a wish jar, full of someone’s old wishes—and it has the power to send her back in time and provide a window into another friendship between two girls. Discovering her own connection to the girls’ story shows Ash that her life is full of surprises and friends she never saw coming.
It's always so exciting when I get new books for me and my students! Thanks so much HarperChildrens!!

May 22, 2014

A Zombie By Any Other Name?

At this point in human history, what would you call a being who is technically dead, but still upright and  moving--sometimes slowly, sometimes fast--with no brain function, but an unsatiable hunger for human flesh?

That's right, a ZOMBIE.

So, why is that authors always come up with alternate names for zombies in their books?  It drive me nuts!

They have been called WALKERS, HUNGRIES, ZOMS (at least this one is close), THE INFECTED, UNMENTIONABLES, and THE UNCONSECRATED.  These are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head, I am sure there are many, many more.

Here's a great list of names for zombies that they use on The Walking Dead that they shouldn't (thank you Buzzfeed)!

I don't know if these authors are trying to set their zombie apocalypse in an alternate reality, but I can tell you that if I see a shambling, dead looking figure coming towards me, I will scream ZOMBIE!!

What are other names for zombies, or other creatures, you have seen that make you scratch your head?

May 20, 2014

Stuck on Books

When I am in a good reading spot--meaning reading book after book, books that I can't put down, that I am so excited about--then I blog more.  I want to tell EVERYONE about these books.

Right now, I am not in a good reading spot.  I am not disliking any of the books I am reading, I am just not voraciously reading any of them. (And I am falling asleep too quickly at night so I haven't been able to spend as much time reading before bed)

Here's my currently reading list:



Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill --this one just came in with my last order of the year and the cover is just so pretty I had to start it right away-even though I have many others I am also reading right now.
The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey--I got an egalley of this one and started it because the reviews are just raving. I think it's going to be a good crossover-YA to Adult type book for older kids.
After the End by Amy Plum--I love the idea of this one that everything Juneau has been told is a lie and I can't wait until an adult explains why they did what they did.
Alliance by Mark Frost--sequel to The Paladin Prophecy which I loved, but I am having a hard time staying in this one.  Still going to finish it though.
Wicked Little Secrets by Kara Taylor--I loved the first mystery that Kara Taylor wrote and have just barely started this one.  I will get back to it when I am done with a few of the others so I can focus better on it.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown--This is a weird one.  I started it so long ago and read it in spurts.  I don't want to give up because I think it will be excellent, but I am taking a break for now.  I will go back to it when school is out.
 So, that's why I am not posting as much right now, I am kind of stuck.  I need to quit falling asleep when I pick up a book to read at night, but I guess that is my body telling me something that I need, right?

What books are you loving right now?

May 7, 2014

My Thoughts: The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

3 soft & spicy snickerdoodles.

Cover Love:  Kind of.  I do think it's eye-catching and makes you want to pick it up, but it also looks kind of like a self-help book.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The blog Teen Librarian's Toolbox was doing a lot posts about sexual assaults in April and one post made me want to read this one.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie's looping scrawl.


Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.
Romance?: Yes, there are a few of them sprinkled here and there.

My Thoughts:
I read The Truth About Alice (which is an upcoming release) first, then this one.  Both are books based on rumors about girls and they are both strong.   However, this one almost read like a thriller, certainly like a mystery and not as true to life as I felt Alice was.  It might not be fair to compare them, but its kind of hard not to.

Angie placed so much of the guilt about what happened to Lizzie on herself, and she did deserve some of it, but not all.  If she'd have just talked to Lizzie after the incident everything would have been different.  I understand the anger and the hurt, but throwing away a friendship without even talking to the person involved was such a knee jerk reaction. So much could have been fixed by talking!

The problem was that Angie let her guilt take her to such a dark place that even when she was offered a lifeline she could barely grab it, let alone hold on to it.  This is where the story went off the rails a bit for me.  She was so focused on revenge and absolution, it was hard to read.  She needed some good counseling to get over this, not revenge.

I don't expect that Lizzie would have committed suicide anyway, but her home life was not stellar.  She might never had been better until she got away from her father.

Everyone was guilty of something in this book, not speaking up, not forgiving, the double standard with the boy involved, like in Thirteen Reasons Why there were many reasons that Lizzie committed suicide and the aftermath of the prom was just one of them. 

To Sum Up:  Another powerful novel about how rumors and gossip can destroy lives!  Many teens need to read books like this to hold a mirror up to their own actions.

Favorite Quotes About Books

This weekend a friend and I were texting about her daughter's Pinterest board.  She pinned a bunch of the "Nerd Girl Problems" saying about books.  So I directed her to my Pinterest board about reading and being a librarian.  My friend eventually texted that she couldn't get anything done because her daughter kept giggling over the sayings about books.  So I went back through and read my Pinterest board about books and picked out some of my favorites. 

May 6, 2014

Empathy For All

A group of 8th graders in my school spent a lot of time this past year talking about empathy and wanted to do a project about what they learned.  What they created is this video, which they wrote and acted in themselves.  Take a look, I think it's pretty impressive for a group of middle schoolers!