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


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:

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!

May 5, 2014

Added to the List #8: Summer Reading

I know that summer is still a ways off but I have been finding so many good summer romance books and it is making me long for summer. But, seriously, don't you feel like there are more upcoming summer romance books than usual?  There are so many!  Here are some upcoming ones and some already published ones that I really want to read--soon!

Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt.  Out July 18 from Simon Pulse.
*I really like Lauren's contemporary romances!

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols.  Out May 20 from Simon Pulse
*Another author of contemporary romances that I have really enjoyed.  This one looks darling!

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson.  Out April 29 from Scholastic.
*movie making comes to a small town!  Romance abounds!  It's like every daydream/fantasy I had as a young teen!

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by  Katie Finn.  Out May 13 from Feiwel & Friends.
*I have an ARC of this and had one of my eighth grade girls read it--she adored it!

Love, Lucy by April Linder.  Out January 15, 2015 from Poppy.
*I probably won't get this one read because the publication date is so far away, but maybe. It looks like an adorable summer romance!

Nantucket Red by Leila Howland.  Out May 13 from Disney-Hyperion.
*Sequel to Nantucket Blue which I really liked.  Excited to start this one!

Pulled Under by Michelle Dalton.  Out May 6 from Simon Pulse.
*Michelle writes darling, sweet, innocent first love summer romances.  Many, many of my younger readers have fallen under the spell of her books.  This is the third one but they are not a series.  Love these!

Second Star by Alyssa Sheinmel.  Out May 13 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
*Contemporary Peter Pan romance?  Yes please!

Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana.  Out June 17 from Simon Pulse.
*Disney, 1980's and summer romance--how much better can it get?!

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick.  Out now from Dial Books for Young Readers.
*I loved, loved My Life Next Door, Huntley's first book.  Can't wait to read this one--its gotten good reviews!

On the Fence by Kasie West.  Out July 1 from HarperTeen.
I adored The Distance Between Us, another contemporary romance from Ms. West.  And I love the cover on this one!

The Geography of You & Me by Jennifer E. Smith.  Out now from Little Brown.
*Jennifer Smith has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary romance writers--excited to give this one a chance!

Contemporary teen romance books are like M&Ms for me, I read them quickly and can't ever just stop at one!  Any that you are looking forward to reading this summer?

May 2, 2014

Talk Nerdy To Me...

I wish I was clever enough to come up with something like this!

April 30, 2014

Added to the List #7: Harper Reads!

I was alerted to two awesome sounding HarperCollins books today:
Exile by Kevin Emerson and
The Thickety: a Path Begins by J.A. White.

Check out the book trailer for The Thickety: a Path Begins here!  It sounds like it will be an excellent fantasy story for a middle grade novel.

Check out Exile here!  Romance, bands and mystery--Sounds like an awesome summer read!  Check out the soundtrack for this book on the Epic Reads website here.

April 29, 2014


I have mostly kept this blog all about books, but I think that every now and again I am going to branch out.  You see, I LOVE TV and movies.  Just completely adore them.

Once after taking my boys to see Iron Man (on the day it opened) I was talking to a friend who has little boys much younger than mine.  She asked me how I handled having to go to all those superhero action-y movies all the time.  I told her that I am the one dragging my boys to those movies.  I love blockbusters and summer movies and all of it!

Anyway, this past year has been really cool in my family because my older son has started watching some of the kind of TV I like.  It started last summer when he discovered Teen Wolf.  He has a group of friends who get together on the nights when new Teen Wolf episodes come out and they watch them together.

I love to see this kind of thing because it didn't happen for me when I grew up.  I grew up without TV.  It wasn't a moral issue for my parents, just more of a financial one.  They had just sunk a bunch of money into buying land and building a house out in the country and at that point, cable TV was a little harder to come by in my area.  So, they just decided not to have any.

Yes, I acknowledge that this is probably what made me into the reader I am today, and it did not make me feel I grew up missing something.  But I will tell you what, I have made up for those TV-less years with a ferociousness that even I can't comprehend!

Anyway, the whole point of this is now there are two shows that my 16 year old son and I watch together.  In fact, he waits to make sure he watches them with me:  The 100 and Star-Crossed, both on The CW.  I cannot even begin to describe how cool it is that a 16 year old BOY wants to watch teen TV with his mom.  If you have a teenager, or a boy, you do know how awesome this is.  And even if I begin to not really enjoy either show, you can be sure that I will still sit down and watch them with him every week!  (And we have great discussions, like why all teenage boys don't look like the aliens on the show--because the actors who play them are not teenage boys, etc...)

And my younger son has gotten into Supernatural, one of my very favorite shows, so we have that in common too!  He is only on season 2 on Netflix, but hopefully by next fall he will be caught up and we can have appointment TV together too!

And I understand how people can dislike TV or want to limit it for their families, and I am totally fine with that.  But, when it brings me closer with my kids, I sometimes think some of those families are missing out!  (Of course, if I told them we were going to play a game in the evening they would be up for that also, I have really cool sons).

April 28, 2014

My Thoughts: Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague

4 soft chocolate whoopies pies with frosting.

Cover Love:
I love this cover.  There is a lot going on, but the image of the of the girl is simple.  I love the colors as well.

Why I Wanted to Read This:  The synopsis gave me goosebumps when I first read it.  That was good enough for me!  Here it is from GoodReads:
When thirteen-year-old Margaret's father is unfairly sentenced to death by the cruel Judge Biggs, she is determined to save him, even if it means using her family's secret-and forbidden-ability to time travel. With the help of her best friend, Charlie, and his grandpa Josh, Margaret goes back to a time when Judge Biggs was a young boy and tries to prevent the chain of events that transformed him into a corrupt, jaded man.
Romance?: Nope, but a very strong, sweet friendship.

My Thoughts:
This books started out similar to Holes for me.  There was the current story and the past story.  But the twist is that the time travel piece of this story was actually pretty small.  It was part of the story, but truly not the major part of the story.

And I am glad it was that way.  It made the story more believable and less magical, however, that's what I went in expecting so there was a little disappointment for me.

I really, really enjoyed Grandpa Josh's story in the past.  I could've read a whole book on that.  In fact, I would've liked to read more about Luke's transformation than have it hurriedly told by Josh to Margaret in the present.

The authors did a great job with the different points of view.  It was done very naturally.  I loved Charlie and Margaret's friendship and how close she got to Grandpa Josh.

There was a great lesson here about not focusing on the past but changing who you are in the here and now.

I really liked how this book doesn't fit into any one specific genre.  There is a mystical element, a great friendship, a mystery and an adventure element.  It works on so many levels!

To Sum Up:  This will be a fun book to book talk to my middle schoolers. I think it will appeal to many readers!

eGalley requested and received from HarperCollins via Edelweiss.  Thanks!

April 22, 2014

My Thoughts: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

5 warm chocolate chip cookies dunked in cold milk.

Cover Love:  It's fine.  Not my favorite, but it is gender neutral so boys wouldn't probably mind being seen with this one.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I have already written about my feelings about cancer books, so I wasn't going to read this.  But then two things happened.  First of all, I went to Divergent and developed a little crush on Ansel Elgort, who plays Augustus Waters in the movie version of this book.  Secondly, I convinced a girl who had read the book to tell me how it ends.  Those two things convinced me I could read this book.  In case you don't already know what this one is about, here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
Romance?: Yes, pretty much what this book is about.

My Thoughts:
This is the first John Green book I have ever read.  I know, I know, how could that happen being that I am a librarian for teens?  But, I have always thought his books were a little old for a middle school library.  I do have this one in my library, though, mostly because I knew it was being made into a movie. And its been very popular, constantly checked out.  Kids are loving this book!

My partner librarian and I were discussing the appropriateness of this book in a middle school library. I know many people will be upset by the language and the sex stuff, but really, its not gratuitous and it is well within context.  It's not put in there just to be there.  And truly, if you had a child dying of cancer, wouldn't you want them to experience that?  And wouldn't you be a little ok if they swore every now and again?

I loved the characters--even the minor ones are written so well.  There were a few scenes that gut punched me, like when Hazel says the worst thing than dying of cancer is having a child who dies of cancer.  But, it doesn't focus on the parents and I do think that both sets of parents we get to know are more typical of parents whose kids are very sick.  They have accepted what is happening the best they can, they fight for their kids health and they try to make their child's life be as happy as they can for what time they have left.

Augustus and Hazel were wonderful, and there is nothing better than this quote from Hazel, "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly and then all at once."  Swoon!

You will cry and you will feel very sad.  Like I said before I had a girl tell me if someone dies in the end because I didn't want to be blindsided, I wanted to be prepared for the eventuality.  It really helped.  Another thing I was able to do was really focus on Hazel and Augustus.  I didn't look at the book from a parent's point of view, I looked at is as a young girl falling in love.  So, the crying was at a minimum.  I do expect I will bawl at the movie though!

To Sum Up:  Reading a book about teenagers with cancer is no small thing.  You will cry and you will fall a bit in love.  Enjoy the ride as much as you can!

April 14, 2014

My Thoughts: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

4 peanut butter brownies.

Cover Love:
Yes!  It fits the tone perfectly!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
Jenny Han is a master of contemporary romances.  I loved Shug (which is a middle grade romance) and her Summer trilogy (The Summer I Turned Pretty, It's Not Summer Without You, We'll Always Have Summer).  So of course I wanted to read this one!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Romance?:  Yes!

My Thoughts:

The thing that fascinated me the most and what made for a fully developed character was the relationship between Lara Jean and her sisters.  She is the middle of three sisters.  Their mother died when they were young (their youngest sister doesn't even remember her).  This event defined their roles and relationships in their family.  When Lara Jean's oldest sister goes off to college it's up to Lara Jean to be a better big sister and the organizer of the house.  She truly comes into her own in this new role, but its so subtle in the book that you don't realize it until she is spelling it out for her older sister towards the end.  I loved this dynamic!

There are two guys for Lara Jean.  The author made them both such good guys it's hard to have a favorite.  The interesting thing is that the boys are both suspicious of each other, but I think they are truly both good guys.  They both make a few mistakes, which is perfect because they are just teenage boys.  There isn't a perfect one out there!

The romance is really secondary in this book.  Like all good coming of age stories this is about Lara Jean coming into her own.  I think we will see a much stronger Lara Jean in the second book, one who isn't afraid of giving her letters to the boy she loves!

To Sum Up:  I will read any contemporary teen romance Jenny Han writes!

ARC requested and received from Simon & Schuster. Thanks Venessa!

April 2, 2014

The Power of Re-Reads

It seems like only last summer that I read The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, but it was actually four summers ago. I convinced a young reader at my school to read them and he whipped through them so quickly and would come in so enthusiastic about them that I decided to reread them.  I just finished The King of Attolia, after finishing The Queen of Attolia the day before.  I read them so fast and just could not put them down.  They are amazing.

And that got me thinking, I need to reread more books.  I don't do it nearly enough.  I loved revisiting these characters and this world.  And it was relaxing!  It was nice to just read and enjoy.  Not that I ever read to not enjoy, it's just that sometimes I feel rushed.  Rushed to get the next book read to review here or to booktalk at school.  It was nice to go back to a world I love and just read to read.

I vow to reread more.

What series would you go back and reread today if you had time.  For that matter what series that you loved would you not go back and reread because it was too emotional for you?  (For me, I don't think I would ever reread the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness.  So amazing, so emotional)

March 31, 2014

My Thoughts: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

4 chocolate, chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love:
Yes!  I love this cover so much.  Even if I wasn't overly interested in the book I would read it simply because of the cover!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
Well, the cover, for one.  But the synopsis, wow.  How could anyone who has grown up watching The Wizard of Oz not want to read this?  Here it is from GoodReads:
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!
Romance?:  No, but Amy develops feelings for a couple different people who help her along the way.

My Thoughts:
First of all, read the novella.  If you don't have an ereader, buy it and read it on your computer.  It's really good and gives you a lot of understanding as to why Dorothy is evil in the first place.

Second of all, by the time Amy gets to Oz you know for certain, this is not your technicolor Oz.  This is a dark, place full of evil and there is no one you can trust.  NO ONE.

Amy lives in our reality, in Kansas, growing up watching The Wizard of Oz, knowing all about Dorothy.  But beyond enjoying it a little when she was younger she doesn't give Oz or Dorothy much thought.  But, like Dorothy a cyclone sweeps her up and brings her to Oz.  I say "brings her" because everyone in Oz feels that someone or something is responsible from bringing Amy (and Dorothy) to Oz.

There are so many forces at work in Oz it's dizzying--there are the Wicked Witches, who are now Good?  There are the Good Witches and people (like the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion and Glinda) who are now Wicked?  There are Winged monkeys and Wingless monkeys.  There is literally NO ONE for Amy to trust, but she does enter into some uneasy alliances and I hope, in the long run, that Amy will be successful for herself, not for anyone else.

This is a very visual book.  The author does a fantastic job turning Oz into something dark and twisted and gross.  And Dorothy's three companions are also dark and twisted and gross and evil and violent.  And they are also supremely loyal to Dorothy.  But they are all also still the insecure characters we met in The Wizard of Oz.  Despite having a heart, the Tin Man doesn't know how to love; the Scarecrow, with his brain, still doesn't think he's smart enough; and the Lion still gets scared.

Also, the Wizard is still around and even though he's not in the book long, I really liked his character.  Not sure if I can trust him, but I really liked him.

There were a few slow parts, one right in the middle, but  first third and the last third are a thrill ride that you will have a hard time putting down!

To Sum Up:  This might be a bit old for the my library-with it's swearing and imagery, but I think it will hit big with a lot of young adult readers--both young and older adults!

Book begged for and received by HarperCollins.  Thanks Alison!

March 27, 2014

My Thoughts: The Riverman by Aaron Starmer

3.5 chewy snickerdoodles.

Cover Love:  Not sure.  I don't hate it, but I don't love it either.  I worry it would turn middle school readers off because it looks too young.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The week before this was coming out Macmillan Kids put quotes from the book on their Instagram account (if you aren't following them you should be).  It really whet my appetite for reading it.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here's the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair's doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there's a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there's a creature called the Riverman and he's stealing the souls of children. Fiona's soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else...something even more terrifying.

Romance?:  No, but Alistair certainly feels something for Fiona.

My Thoughts:
This is a fantastically written book.  It moves so fast and quickly catches the reader.  There is magic and emotion and it is vividly written.  Whether it's the time (early 90's) or Fiona's world in Aquavania you feel like you are there.  I read way too late every time I picked it up.

Here's why I didn't give this book five stars, or even four.  There just wasn't enough resolution for me.  I felt like this was a book that should give the reader more of a tying up, but it just wasn't.  However, I think this is something that appeals to many readers.  The fact that they can draw their own conclusions and can turn it over and over in their head.  It's a brave choice by the author.  He definitely doesn't write down to his audience.

It's hard to think that all Fiona tells Alistair isn't true, it's so magical and the world looks like so much fun!

A lot of reviews I read have a hard time deciding whether this is a flat out middle grade book (as it is being marketed) or more of a young adult book (because of some older ideas).  I think it is just fine for middle graders and I know several readers who will eat this up and will love that they can discuss things with me.

I truly adored Alistair.  He is one of those kids who is not the most popular, and doesn't even have a lot of friends, but he is well liked.  He's quiet and good-hearted.  He's also willing to step outside of his comfort zone when his curiosity gets the best of him or he needs to help someone he cares about.

All of the characters are so well written.  Fiona, Charlie, even Kyle.  So well done!  This author doesn't mince words, but brings to these people to life.  I looked forward to visiting them every night when I picked up the book.

To Sum Up:   Well written, lots to discuss.  It will be a big book for middle graders for sure!

eGalley requested and received from Macmillan through NetGalley.  Thanks!

March 26, 2014

Food From Fiction: Peanut Butter Brownies from To All the Boys I've Loved Before

There is a scene in this wonderful new contemporary romance by Jenny Han where Lara Jean, the main character, makes peanut butter brownies for a study date she has with Peter.  They sound amazing.  I mean, I like brownies and I like peanut butter, so I would just love peanut butter brownies, right?  Sadly, I discovered I didn't have a peanut butter brownie recipes.  I had many peanut butter cookie recipes, but no brownie recipe.  Time to turn to pinterest. 

There are a lot of Peanut Butter Brownie recipes out there, but I think that this one looks the best.  I will be reporting back when I actually make them!

Have you ever made Peanut Butter Brownies?