August 21, 2016

Blog Tour: My Thoughts: The Secret Sea by Barry Lyga


4 yummy frosted maple cookies.

Cover Love:
I really like this cover, I think it would make kids want to pick up this book.

Why I Wanted to Read this:
I really like a good alternate universe book and the synopsis of this one seemed right up my alley.  Here it is from GoodReads:

Twelve-year-old Zak Killian is hearing a voice. Could it be a guardian angel? A ghost? No, that's crazy. But sometimes the voice is so real. . . . It warns him of danger.

One day Zak is standing on the subway platform when the tunnel starts to fill with water. He sees it before anyone else. The voice warns him to run. His friends Moira and Khalid believe this is more than a premonition, and soon all three find themselves in an alternate universe that is both familiar and seriously strange. As Zak unravels the mystery behind the voice, he faces decisions that may mean the end of their world at home--if they can even get home!

My Thoughts:
Overall this was a great read.  There were a few things in the beginning that made it a little hard fro me to get into but once I was over that hump, the book flew.

One of the things that bothered me a ton were Zak's parents.  They were so frustrating.  They were convinced that Zak was doing "bad" things so rather than talk with him, they ground him.  Then they get him a psychiatrist, but are more into blaming each other for his behavior than really getting him help. It was very hard to get over this because every scene with them made me want to throw the book!

After a pretty slow start a little twist happens that caught my interest.  Once that came about, I was much more into the book.  Once they got to the alternate universe, I was very into the book.  The author set up a great world with the alternate universe.  There are a lot of similarities between our world and the one that Zak and his friends get to, but enough differences that cause them to be very lost and confused.  The rules of the new world and society are very different than ours and they don't have a lot of time to learn them.  The author did a great job of conveying their confusion and fear.  This new universe is very technologically advanced to us and open to a lot of new ideas, but they are also very backwards in some issues.  I was glad that Khalid was able to find an ally once they got to the alternative universe and thankfully it was one willing to believe and help out.  Giving them a guide was very important.

From the start of their time in the alternate universe I felt something was off in the story Zak was being told.  I'm not sure if this was because I'm an adult and I consume a lot of content, so I'm pretty quick to develop theories, or if it was easy to deduce.  I would like to chat with someone from the target audience after they read it to see if they jumped to the same conclusion that I did.

There is a lot of action and I guess what I would call "speculative science" in the alternate universe.  None of it was over my head and the story moved along very quickly.

To Sum Up:  I think this is going to be a big hit with middle school readers.  I will be buying a copy for my library and book talking it this fall.  I already have my first reader for this story picked out and I know he will love it.

Macmillan is giving away a finished copy of The Secret Sea to one of my readers.  US only, winner will be announced on August 29.  

August 20, 2016

Weekend Reading #12


This weekend I am giving myself reading time.  I am finishing up The Secret Sea by Barry Lyga for a blog tour (see my post and giveaway of a finished copy tomorrow!).  Then I am starting Stray by Elissa Sussman.  This is a book from my library that I brought home for the summer (along with about 40 others).  I need to get some of them read before school starts so I'm starting with thi one.

What are you reading this weekend?

August 1, 2016

Obsessing Over #6: Furthermore



I have been seeing this pop up on blogs and twitter and it has peaked my interest.  First off, this is a dynamic cover.  Second, it sounds like such a fun play on words type of book.  I think this is going to be an awesome read and I can't wait to get a copy for myself and for my library!

July 22, 2016

Weekend Reading #11

I will admit that a couple of things have really slowed down my reading this summer.  
First of all, Stranger Things on Netflix completely captivated me.  I binged on that really hard this week.
Secondly, I am playing Pokemon Go.  I adore this game, but my very favorite thing is that my son will ask me to drive him and his friends around to play.  When your 18 year old, about to go to college son wants you to go out and play a game with him, you go out and play that game!

Anyway, I am going to focus on some reading this weekend.  These are the two books I am currently reading.  I am participating in a blog tour for The Secret Sea in August.  I like the alternate reality aspect of this book.  I also received The Gallery in the mail and this cover is so gorgeous I bumped it to the top of my TBR.  I love the feel of this book in my hands.
(I am also going to Star Trek this weekend, can't wait!!)
What are you reading this weekend?

July 15, 2016

My Thoughts: Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

4 spicy & soft ginger cookies.

Cover Love:
I LOVE this cover. You have to see it in person to see how beautiful it is, but it's like  rose gold and shimmery and gorgeous.  So eye catching!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I had been hearing a lot of buzz about this book, even before it was released.  I was lucky enough to get an ARC in the mail, but it still took me a few months to get it read.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.
Romance?: Nope, not that kind of book.

My Thoughts:
This was a great read.  The only reason I gave it four cookies was because I had a hard time getting into the story.  I feel like this was my fault.  Reading the synopsis made me know there was going to be a lot of times my stomach would be in knots while reading this book.   It made me a little hesitant about diving right in, so I took my time.  When I let myself go, I realized that my fears came true, but the way the author handles it all made it an easy read.  There was a lot of tension and my stomach was in knots, but one reason I was too upset while reading this is that Annabelle always has someone on her side.  People, her parents, believe her.  Having someone in her corner the whole time gives her the confidence she needs to stand up for the innocent and for herself.

I love the setting. This was set at the start of World War 2, in a rural area.  Annabelle goes to school in a one room schoolhouse, but there are also cars.  It's like the cusp of the technological revolution. Annabelle's parents are hard working farmers, but also very much devoted to their children. Annabelle's grandparents and an aunt live with them as well.  These things are during a time that always fascinates me, there is such an innocence about the world still.  And that's what makes this book so powerful.  We see a little girl on the verge of growing up who loses her innocence pretty quickly.  What happens to her and her world changes her, makes her see how the world really is, but it doesn't destroy her.  The author does a great job of walking the fine line between destroying Annabelle and using the situation to make her stronger.

One of my favorite parts of this book is how much takes place in the family kitchen.  Most of Annabelle's confessions to her family happen around the table or when she is helping her mom cooking and baking.  I love that!  This is what happens in my family, the kitchen is the heart of our home and some of our best times are when I am cooking or cleaning up and my kids are doing homework and my husband is helping them or me and we are all just enjoying being together.  Even though the events that happen in this book are serious, you just know that their kitchen is the room that has the most love and trust.

To Sum Up: This book didn't turn out to be the hard read I had expected. It was innocent and interesting and a little disturbing.  It would be a great read for a middle school book club!

Book sent to me from Rachel at Penguin.  Thanks Rachel!

July 13, 2016

Obsessing Over #5: The Littlest Bigfoot


 
 
I love the synopsis for this book.  I love the author and have read many of her adult books.  I love the cover.  Right now, I think this book is at the top of my WANT list.  It comes out in early September and I will be pre-ordering a copy for myself and a copy or two for my library. 

Also, I have a certain fascination with Bigfoot.  When my oldest son was first diagnosed with Crohn's disease he had to spend about a week in the hospital.  He wasn't overly sick, he just needed to be on an IV because he was pretty malnourished, so he was really, really bored.  One of the things we discovered was the TV show Finding Bigfoot.  For some reason there was a marathon on and we spent one whole day and evening watching that show.  It was a lot of fun and a good memory during a bad time.  Ever since then we have lots of Bigfoot discussions, even though he's 18 now.  It is something that bonds us a bit, and makes me even more excited for this book.

Any upcoming fall releases catch your eye yet?

July 11, 2016

My Thoughts: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

5 yummy chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love:
This one is ok.  It's not my favorite, but I do love the colors.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I just loved the concept--descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in a modern day boarding school.  I just couldn't wait to give it a try! Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.
Romance?: A little.

My Thoughts:
I love this world--one that actually had Watson and Holmes.  One that has descendants of both of them.  Jamie Watson had daydreams about meeting up with Charlotte from the time he was young and realized that there was a Holmes his age in the world.  When they finally meet up at an American boarding school it's not a match made in heaven.  A murder at the school brings them together especially when it looks like they are being framed.  They start working together and the rest goes down in Holmes/Watson history!

This author nailed Holmes personality in Charlotte, but she also gave her a little vulnerability.  This book is written from Watson's point of view, which the author also nails.  She did her homework.  The murders all have elements of cases from famous Sherlock Holmes/John Watson which is what brings Charlotte and Jamie together.  They work on finding the culprit, but in true Holmes fashion, Charlotte only tells Jamie the barest minimum of what he needs to know.  She makes him figure a lot out on his own.

While there isn't a romance, Jamie definitely has a crush on Charlotte, but it's born of respect, not lust. I just loved the dynamics between these two.  The mystery is also strong, I didn't have it figured out at all.  There were a lot of twists and turns.

To Sum Up: This was a really fun read and I look forward to the next two books in this trilogy.  Because of some mature subject materials I will be book talking this one for my older readers this fall.

July 9, 2016

Road Trip Reading #2 & Weekend Reading #10


This weekend we are driving three hours away to watch our son play in a senior showcase soccer game.  It will be a down and back in one day trip and my husband is driving, which means I am going to be reading!  

What are you reading this weekend?

July 7, 2016

My Thoughts: Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins

3 chocolate whoopie pies.

Cover Love:  Yes, I love this cover.  I love that it looks like a summer camp and that each picture is a couple from the story.  I love these short story collections!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I LOVED My True Love Gave to Me, which was a short story anthology of holiday romance stories.  I was very excited when I saw that this one was coming out and super excited to read it.  Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Romance?: Of course!

My Thoughts:
I didn't love this book as well as My True Love Gave to Me.  These stories weren't bad, but they didn't have the same feel to me as the holiday stories.  I can't put my finger on it, but I just didn't love it.  My favorite story was the one by Cassandra Clare, Brand New Attraction.  I liked Leigh Bardugo also, Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail.  Both of these had a supernatural element, which made them fun to read.  (Actually, a lot of these stories had supernatural elements).

I read Souvenirs by Tim Ferdle around the same time my oldest son (who just graduated from high school) was deciding to break up with his long term girlfriend.  There were a couple lines in that story I quoted to him because it was hard on both him and her when they broke up.  I don't think the lines helped them, but I felt they were perfect for the situation.

I also liked that there were stories by authors I have never read yet.  That's one thing I really like about these new anthologies.

This book just didn't give me quite the same feeling as the holiday stories book.  I didn't get that feeling of being young and in love and in the summertime that I was hoping for.  But, I know that these stories will be very popular with younger readers who will get that feeling.

To Sum Up:  I will be buying this for my library and encouraging the girls looking for something a little different to give this one a try!

June 30, 2016

Added to the List #25


Earlier this spring I received a wonderful box of books from Simon & Schuster.  This was an amazing box with the majority of the books already on my radar!

I squealed when I opened this one, especially when I saw The Unexpected Everything.  I love Morgan Matson!

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love is another one I am super excited about.  Teen contemporary romances are my favorites!  Some hot weekend soon I am going to spend time by the lake reading these two.

Three Truths and a Lie sounds like such a tense thriller.  Another great summer read!

This is Not a Werewolf Story was already on my order for the fall.  I think it looks adorable and perfect for a middle school library.

Savage sounds so different than anything out there.  I am going to order this one this fall as well!

Girl About Town is probably the one I was most excited about. I LOVE old time stuff, old time radio, old movies, all of it.  This book looks awesome and it takes place during the start of the golden age of movies!

Thanks so much Simon & Schuster for the awesome box of books. 
Reviews to come!



June 28, 2016

My Thoughts: A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff

3 peanut butter cookies.

Cover Love:  YES! I love this cover, it is darling.  It makes me think of summer camps and lakes and fireflies and fun.  Wonderful cover!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this in the mail and after I read A Tangle of Knots I knew I had to read this one.  While it's not quite a sequel, it should definitely be read after A Tangle of Knots. Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:
In this companion to A Tangle of Knots, it's summertime and everyone is heading off to camp. For Talented kids, the place to be is Camp Atropos, where they can sing songs by the campfire, practice for the Talent show, and take some nice long dips in the lake. But what the kids don't know is that they've been gathered for a reason--one that the camp's director wants to keep hidden at all costs.

Meanwhile, a Talent jar that has been dropped to the bottom of the lake has sprung a leak, and strange things have begun to happen. Dozens of seemingly empty jars have been washing up on the shoreline, Talents have been swapped, and memories have been ripped from one camper's head and placed into another. And no one knows why.

Romance?:  Nope.

My Thoughts:
While I enjoyed this read, I didn't like it as much as A Tangle of Knots.  Part of the reason is that in Knots, the Talents that people had were kind of normal things.  Things that a lot of people might be good at, just enhanced for different people.  I enjoyed that idea a lot.  It's not like people were superheroes, they were just enhanced.  The Talents that some of these kids had in Jars were more...powerful.  Not all of them, some of them were normal, but they just seemed more impressive.  I didn't really like that change.

This was also a darker book.   The campers were in real danger in this book and a lot of the campers were desperate about their Talents or lack of Talents.  The camp director was one of the most desperate and the desperation leads her to doing some pretty awful things.  I didn't feel like anyone was in true danger, and I hoped everything would be tied up nicely, but I was antsy while reading a lot of this book.

However, I liked the setting a lot.  I always wanted to go to a summer camp like this one, on a lake.  I always went to sports camp that were hot and dusty, not on a lake.  I liked most of the kids in this book and how they worked together to figure out what was going on and how to fix it.  And I did like being back in the same world as A Tangle of Knots.  It's really fun and there is a lot of possibilities.  Also, I love how easily the author writes other points of view.  She can slip in and out of characters so smoothly the story just flows!

To Sum Up:  Love this world and these are two awesome middle grade books.  I will be book talking them a lot in the fall and recommending them for a lot of my 6th grade readers!

June 23, 2016

My Thoughts: A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

4 yummy yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

Cover Love:  I love this cover, it's colorful and whimsical and includes so many elements from the book.  I adore it!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
When this book first came out, I saw a lot of comparisons to Savvy, which was a book I adored.  It went on my TBR list, but I wasn't able to get it read until now.  Wish I had started sooner!  Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever. However, these encounters hold the key to Cady's past and how she became an orphan. If she's lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent. 
Romance?: No.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book.  The style it is written in makes for a quick and easy read:  short chapters told from different points of view.  The author nails all of the characters voices.  I love that the Talents each person can be simple, like accurate spitting, or more advanced, like baking the perfect cake for a person.  I bet the author had a great time deciding how people in this world can be Talented.

I loved little Cady and rooted for her through the whole book.  But while Cady felt like the main character, this was a book with multiple characters whose storylines are woven together so smoothly.  It was easy to keep track of who was who and what each one was doing.  And while I was able to make some educated guesses about where the story was going to end up, I was constantly and pleasantly surprised by the turns in the story.  And I LOVED how everything was woven together so beautifully at the end!

And all the recipes!  I am going to try some of these cakes.  Look for a future "Food From Fiction" post on that!

To Sum Up:  Awesome middle grade read.  This one is easy to get into the hands of the younger readers in my school!

Remember to enter my giveaway for a pack of Lisa Graff paperbacks!  Check out this post to enter.

June 9, 2016

Added to the List #24 & Road Trip Reading #1 & Weekend Reading #9 & Giveaway



Last week I was so excited to get this pack of Lisa Graff books in the mail.  She is a staple here in my library, perfect for middle school readers.  I read Umbrella Summer years ago and enjoyed it greatly.  I haven't read any of hers so this weekend, while I am at my sons' soccer tournament (a three hour drive away).  So I am taking A Tangle of Knots and A Clatter of Jars with me on the trip.  And, I already had Lost in the Sun checked out from my library to read over the summer, so I was very excited to get my own copy.  I will be reading that this summer as well!


Penguin has graciously offered to let me giveaway a set of Lisa's paperbacks:  A Tangle of Knots; Lost in the Sun; and Absolutely Almost.  Fill out the form below if you'd like to win your own copies of these awesome books!


May 31, 2016

My Thoughts: Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

4 fulfilling blondie brownies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  I think this cover is very eye catching!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The synopsis was intriguing to me, it made me want to more as soon as I could so I read it!  Here's the synopsis from Good Reads:
Seventeen-year-old David Sullivan’s life is about to change—all because of one tiny, priceless item found in the murky bottom of a Brooklyn water tower.

Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make rent.

No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the more expensive—and the greater the improvement.

When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.

There’s no question the Gold is worth millions, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.
Romance?: Yes. Sully and Hunter have some good chemistry.

My Thoughts:
This book was a really good read:  quick and interesting.  The author did a great job doling out information slowly, but not too slowly.  Just enough to keep you going to the next page to get more about the world Sully lived in.  The most interesting thing is that this world is one that is everything like ours, except there are these spheres that enhance the people who use them.  There are spheres that enhance hearing or make you faster. Sully is a sphere dealer.  He sells them, but has never used them himself.  However, he is famous because he found the most rare sphere ever, a Cherry Red.  He sold it to a collector for two million dollars, but when this collector "burned" them (you need two of the same color to use them) and they didn't enhance anything for him, he voided the check he had given Sully.

Nobody knows where the spheres had come from, but everyone tries to get their hands on them.  This is a very interesting world the author has created.  There are super common spheres and really rare spheres.  There are books about what spheres can do what and how much the rare ones are worth.  Sully is an expert on spheres so when he meets up with a girl, named Hunter, who wants to hunt spheres with him, he jumps at the chance.  And soon they find the most rare sphere of all, a Gold.  Having this very rare sphere makes Sully and Hunter a target from powerful people who will stop at nothing to get this sphere.

I liked the pacing of this book.  Once the Gold spheres gets burned the information comes quick and I liked how the "climax" of the story is not drawn out page after page.  I also appreciated the ending because I don't mind a neatly tied up finish to a book.  And I know that my middle school readers will appreciate it as well.  This will be a great book to hand to a reader who just wants something "different."

To Sum Up:  I am excited for next fall to get this book into the hands of readers who want something interesting with action but don't want to commit to a series or one with a lot of pages.

Book bought for my school library collection.

May 2, 2016

Added to the List #23


The other day I was lucky enough to get a finished copy of Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle in the mail.  This is a book that was high on my TBR list for this spring so I squealed a bit when I opened my package.  Thanks so much Katherine Tegen Books and Harper Collins.  Here is the synopsis:

On the third night of the third month after a girl’s thirteenth birthday, every girl in the town of Willow Hill makes three wishes.

The first wish is an impossible wish.
The second is a wish she can make come true herself.
And the third is the deepest wish of her secret heart.

Natasha is the oldest child in a family steeped in magic, though she’s not sure she believes in it. She’s full to bursting with wishes, however. She misses her mother, who disappeared nearly eight long years ago. She has a crush on one of the cutest boys in her class, and she thinks maybe it would be nice if her very first kiss came from him. And amid the chaos of a house full of sisters, aunts, and a father lost in grief, she aches to simply be...noticed.

So Natasha goes to the willow tree at the top of the hill on her Wishing Day, and she makes three wishes. What unfolds is beyond anything she could have imagined.

April 29, 2016

Finish It May

My brain has been occupied with many, many things.  I have found it hard to focus on much of anything so my reading has fallen by the wayside.  I have a lot of books that I have started but not finished so my goal for May is to finish books I have started.  Here are four that I need to finish in May.  I would like to go into summer with a clean slate because I have a lot of books I want to read this summer!

April 22, 2016

Obsessing Over #4


I know that the reason I am obsessing over this book so much is because of the cover.  It just appeals to me so strongly!  The synopsis isn't that bad either, but it's a book I know that I want to hold in my hands.  I have ordered a few copies for my library and can't wait until they come it.  This is going to be a must read right away!  Here's the synopsis:

When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz's only hope is to learn from the island's hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot's mysterious past comes back to haunt her.

April 20, 2016

Added to the List #22


Last week I got a fun pack of middle grade books from HarperCollins.  There were a few in here that had escaped my attention so it was nice to see them in person!

I have but haven't read the first Ivy Pocket.  The covers are amazing, a little bit of goth and whimsy mixed.  And they look like such fun reads.  I need to read the first one soon!  I put them both on my last book order of the year.

This one also is the second book in a series.  The Backyard Witch is such a fun character, can't wait to see what is happening with her in this story!

Eleven and Holding by Mary Penney:
 This is a middle grade book that had escaped my attention before I got it in the mail.  It looks so good and like it would be such a good addition to any library.  I might not be able to read this one yet because of emotions, but I will hopefully sometime this summer.  Ordered it for the fall for my library.


5 Times Revenge by Lindsay Eland
Another one that had escaped my attention until now!  Looks like such a fun middle school romp, can't wait to give it a try!

April 18, 2016

My Thoughts: The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

4 Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cover Love:  To be totally honest, I don't love this cover.  But I know it appeals to young readers because when I display this book it gets checked out a lot.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
This is one of those books I bought when it first came out because I knew I would want to read it myself (one of the biggest benefits of being a librarian).  Then it got buried in my immense TBR pile.  I have had quite a few students check out this and book #2 (The Mad Apprentice), but I still hadn't gotten around to reading it until I was contacted about book #3 and taking part in Penguin's blogging event around the release of book #3 (The Palace of Glass).  I read The Forbidden Library and am hooked on this series!  Here is the synopsis:
Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.
My Thoughts:
This was such an inventive idea.  There is a little of Inkheart, in that a person can read themselves into a book.  But it's not like they go into the story, it's like they become the story, or a big part of the story.  These people are called Readers.  And they can't go into just any book, it has to be special books.  Alice discovers she is Reader quite by accident.  But, as you get to know Alice you realize, SHE CAN HANDLE IT.  She is amazing, on the level of Hermione Granger.  She is practical and smart and keeps her head about her.  I LOVED Alice!  She is a problem solver and that makes for the best kind of Reader.

The catch with this awesome ability is that the books that Readers can enter are basically prisons for all manner of creatures and the only way for a Reader to get out is for another Reader to get them out...or they can defeat the creatures.  Along the way Alice meets Ashes, a talking cat, Isaac, another young reader and her "uncle" Geryon.  There are several other characters as well, and you just know that nobody is telling Alice the whole truth and that everyone has different motives for using Alice and her powers.  There is also a little of a "there can be only one" attitude by some of the older and more powerful Readers.

Alice has her own mystery to solve, that of what happened to her father.  This world she is thrust into would me many a person curl up in a corner and wait for death, but no Alice.  She takes it on and makes it her own.

To Sum Up:  Great middle grade fantasy book with interesting characters and an awesome premise.  I will be finishing this series soon!

Penguin has offered up a copy of each of the books in The Forbidden Library series including the third book, The Palace of Glass, which was just published.  Please enter below (US only).  I will pick a winner on Saturday April 23.

April 12, 2016

Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary

Yesterday was Beverly Cleary's 100th birthday!  So amazing.  I have written about my love for her work numerous times on this blog so I thought I would link up some of my previous postings about her.

*I wrote a series of post called "Books I am Thankful For" and Ramona the Pest was at the top of my list!

*After my boys and I listened to all of the Henry Huggins books on CD one spring we made a pilgrimage to the Beverly Cleary Tribute Garden in Portland Oregon over spring break.  Such a fun memory!  (By the way, the BEST part of listening to Henry Huggins is that Neil Patrick Harris does the narrating.  He is amazing!)

*Ramona the Pest and Henry Huggins are on my Top 10 List.

*I used to do a Tween Tuesday feature and I wrote about Henry Huggins one day.

*Another Books I Am Thankful For post but this one about Henry Huggins.

Share some of your fondest memories of Beverly Cleary books with me!

April 5, 2016

Added to the List #21

Yesterday I got such a nice surprise in the mail!  WOLF HOLLOW by Lauren Wolk is a book I have had my eye on for sometime.  It's got a gorgeous cover and the synopsis wounds wonderful.  I will be reading this one soon for sure!  

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

March 9, 2016

Update

Just a quick update:

My life is crazy busy and I have a lot of brain power being occupied with the other things that are happening.  So, my posting here will be very sporadic at least through April.  I am not giving up my blogging, just not finding the time to get any done.

Hope you are all having a fantastic spring and reading a ton!

February 4, 2016

Blog Tour & Food From Fiction: Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg


Today is my stop on the SWEET HOME ALASKA blog tour.  I adored this book and will be reviewing it in a couple days.  Today I am welcoming the author to my blog for a Food From Fiction post.  The main character, Terpsichore, loves to cook and bake and when we meet her she is the main cook for her family due to a deal she made with her mom.  A lot of food is mentioned in this book and more than once I got to thinking about making cookies after reading a few chapters.  I asked for a recipe from the author and she provided one that is discussed in the book.  Thanks for visiting today Carole!
Since the old-timer, Mr. Crawford, recommended this recipe and it is the star of Terpsichore’s best-selling cookbook at the Palmer Fair, the obvious choice is Jellied Moose Nose. 
After all, in the wilds of Alaska, you don’t want to waste a smidgen of the moose you just shot. 
If you actually make it and eat it, you will have earned the right to milk and cookies for the rest of your life. 

From the Recipe Book of Terpsichore Johnson 
Jellied Moose Nose 
Put a large kettle of water on to boil. 
Hack off the upper jawbone of the moose just below the eyes and boil it for forty-five minutes. 
Dip the jawbone in cold water and pluck the hairs from the nose. 
Wash the nose thoroughly. 
Boil the nose again in fresh water with chopped onion, garlic, and pickling spices until tender. 
Cool overnight in the water it was boiled in. 
The next morning, remove the meat from the broth and remove the bones and cartilage. 
Thinly slice the meat, pack it in a glass dish with high sides, and cover with the broth. 
Season with salt, pepper, or vinegar to taste. 
Refrigerate. 
As the mixture cools, it will jell so it can be sliced. 
P. S. I’m a pescatarian, so that’s my excuse for never having tried it.
 
I am not a pescatarian, but I still don't think I would try it because I am also not an adventurous eater!
Pick up a copy of Sweet Home Alaska today. You will enjoy thoroughly enjoy Terpsichore and her adventurous, positive spirit!
Be sure to learn more about the author, Carole Estby Dagg at her website, or on Twitter!

February 3, 2016

Obsessing Over #3: The Last Place on Earth


This book hit my radar about two weeks ago.  The synopsis really caught my eye and I wanted to read it ASAP.  I checked to make sure it wasn't for download on edelweiss.  It wasn't so I wrote the release date in my calendar.
Then, one night before bed I was looking over my "to read" shelf and I discovered that I already had an ARC of it!  Macmillian does a great job of having bloggers request ARCs, but for some reason this one just went right on my shelf and I hadn't posted and "added to my list" about it.  So here I was, obsessing over this book when I had it already to go!
It is next up when I finish SWEET HOME ALASKA and THE YEAR WE FELL APART!

February 1, 2016

My Thoughts: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

4 yummy ice cream sandwiches.

Cover Love:  I do love this cover!  I love that it celebrates the friendship that is a focus of the book rather than the romance.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I have had this as an ebook for awhile, but hadn't taken the time to read it.  Then this week, this book was available during my library's book fair. Everyday I would pick it up and read a little bit.  Finally I just gave in and read it all!  Here's the synopsis from Good Reads:
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um...

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait...what?
Romance?: Yes!

My Thoughts:
I liked the romance in this book, but the memories of Sloane and Emily's friendship is really what drives this book.  Emily is so sure she is lost without Sloane, but when she opens herself up to a world without Sloane she learns she is not lost, she is fun and worth knowing.

I liked how the author kept the story fast paced and moving forward, giving us new characters and giving Emily new experiences, yet slowly doling out information about Sloane.  Sloane was the catalyst for Emily's story, but she wasn't the focus.  The book really focused on friendship.

I didn't love the absent parent aspect, why do young adult books always have to invent a way for parents to not be present?  Although Emily's parents are around, they aren't available.  But, they don't sound like horrible parents, just really caught up in their work.  I think this story would have been fine if they had been present, just working normally.

The author did a great job of giving us a picture of the girl Emily was before she met Sloane and the girl she thought she became when she had Sloane with her.  Emily had no confidence or strength of character on her own, she thought she got it all from  Sloane.  She did a great job of taking steps to realize she was strong on her own and she was also different than Sloane.  She didn't need to be a copy of her.

I adored Frank!  Perfect book boyfriend and one that I was glad to see developed a friendship with Emily before it went anywhere.

To Sum Up:  A great summer novel about friendship and romance.  Fun read!

January 29, 2016

Weekend Reading #8


I am finishing up SWEET HOME ALASKA.  Next week I will be part of the blog tour for that book.  So excited for that post (on February 4!)

THE YEAR WE FELL APART has gotten good reviews and I love a good contemporary romance.  This is the physical book I am reading right now.

I started THE CRESSWELL PLOT the other day and am not quite sure how I feel about it yet.  Castella seems really immature, but then again, she has been raised in the woods by a crazy father.

I am enjoying all three of these books and am looking forward to getting some reading time this weekend.  I might have to enforce some SSR on myself!

What are you reading this weekend?

January 24, 2016

Currently 1-24-16

Currently:

Watching:  Schitt's Creek.  This is a Canadian comedy that I have been waiting to watch since I first heard about it last spring.  Right now the first season is on Amazon Prime Video and it's hysterical.  Seriously.  Give this one a try.  It's only 13 episodes and I predict you will find yourself watching them more than once.

Listening:  A friend of mine recommended this podcast and I am really enjoying it.  It's just two next door neighbors sitting around discussing a topic of the week.  Since I am in the car more and more by myself (Max got his license, by the way) I have more time for podcasts.  I love discovering new ones to enjoy!

Reading: I was invited to be part of a blog tour for this book, Sweet Home Alaska.  It's actually a very fascinating book.  It takes place at the end of the Great Depression and is the story of a family that takes part in an Alaska settlement program.  I had no idea this even happened so I am learning new things as I read!

What are you currently enjoying?

January 21, 2016

Added to the List #20


Over the past week I have picked up and been sent a lot of new books, it's been exciting.  Here are my first impressions of the ones I was sent and the reasons I checked out the ones I did.

Jacob Have I Loved:  I am working on filling some gaps in my reading of YA/MG "classics."  This one has been on my list for a long time so I grabbed it off my library shelves and am going to read it next month.

Henry Cicada's Extraordinary Elktonium Escapade:  This one was a surprise mailing from HarperCollins (thanks!)  Haven't heard much about it but the cover is darling and it looks like it would be a fun read.  If I don't get around to reading it, I will put it in my collection and have a few of my middle schoolers read it.

Finnikin of the Rock:  I told my partner librarian to read this over the summer because I had always heard good things about it and she loved it.  We have since bought the whole trilogy and several other teachers have read them as well.  I don't want to be left behind so I pulled this one off to read this winter.

Sweet Home Alaska:  I am reading this one for a blog tour.  I was so excited to be asked to be a part of this because this book was one I was really looking forward to reading!

The Treasure of Maria Mamoun:  This looks like such a fun adventure/mystery for middle schoolers.

The Secret Sea:  I really enjoyed Barry Lyga's Jasper Dent series so I was excited to get this one.  Looks like a suspenseful and intriguing read.

All the Feels:  Love those teen contemporary romance type books.  This looks like it will be a fun read about a girl who is a fangirl whose favorite character in a movie series dies.

A Week of Mondays:  This one caught my eye when it was described as a Groundhog Day for teenagers.

Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions Book Two: Gorilla Tactics:  I am not sure why the first book in this series was never on my radar, but these look so cute!  I put them both on the most recent order for my library!

Welcome to Night Vale:  This is one of my favorite podcasts! So excited for this book to enrich the story of Night Vale. Checked it out from my public library.


What have you gotten recently?

January 15, 2016

The Hunt for Books

Lately I feel like I am back in high school.

I was the type in high school that loved to flirt and loved to have crushes and loved the hunt.  But shortly after the object of my affection started paying attention to me, my interest would wane.  And I would slowly back away and move on to someone else.  This cycle repeated itself a lot.

And I feel that's what is happening with books a lot lately.

I really wanted you, book.  I coveted you! I flirted online and obsessed and finally, finally you came around to me.  But now, I think that other book I just got might be better. It's not that I don't like you, book, or am not interested, it's just that this one might be better.

It's driving me nuts.  I am into two perfectly good books, Homecoming and My Diary at the Edge of the World.  I like them both and read for a good chunk of time whenever I pick one of them up.

But this week I got Sweet Home Alaska in the mail (for an upcoming blog tour) and Welcome to Nightvale from the library.  They both look so good!  They just might be better books...

January 13, 2016

Teen Frankenstein Blog Tour: High School Horror Stories & Giveaway!

Welcome to my stop on the Teen Frankenstein Blog Tour!  High school can be one long horror story for some people.  In fact, I am pretty sure I just blurred out my first two years because as I wracked my brain for a horror story I came up with several cringe worthy moments.  Like the time, during my sophomore year, when I finally got some playing time in a varsity basketball game.  I was pretty excited and after our team meeting went bounding up the bleachers to chat with my parents.  Gracefully, I slipped and fell very hard on the old wooden bleachers.  In front of several senior boys, one of whom I had a crush on. Came away with quite the colorful bruises! 

Or the night after a volleyball game, when my parents had finally decided they had enough with my slouching, so my dad came up with a catalog to discuss how many models don't have boobs, so even though I didn't have any, I should still stand straight and be proud of myself.  MY DAD!!  Yes, that happened (Luckily didn't happen in front of any friends or schoolmates, I still cringe, and it still was during high school).

But, I made survived!!  I was given this "horror story" to post by a Macmillan employee who shall remain nameless!  As you can see, we definitely had something in common in high school:
It was 1997 and, for some strange reason, I didn't have a boyfriend. I was confused. If you asked me, I was pretty fly. My braces were color coordinated to match my glasses. My hair was a lovely shade of pale orange (thank you, Sun-In). I owned purple jorts! What more could you want?
'Well,' a friend said after I expressed these doubts at a sleepover, 'it's probably your lack of development...in the chest.' And just like that, my abnormally robust confidence was thrown into a tailspin. It was true. No amount of Bonne Bell lip gloss could make up for the fact that I was as flat as an ironing board.
But I was a woman of action. And if my pituitary glands weren't going to cooperate, I was going to take matters into my own hands. And this began a life of deceit. It started with wads of paper towels, stuffed into the ample space my training bra still provided. When I got tired of that itchy discomfort, I graduated to rolled up athletic socks.
And wouldn't you know it, it worked. Less than two weeks after I 'went sock,' whose attention should I catch, but that of Clive Schindler, one grade below me, but a foot taller, and exponentially more attractive. We met at a roller rink, and one 'couples skate' to KC and JoJo later, we were officially an item. Our relationship mostly consisted of awkward weeknight phone calls and one movie date, chauffeured by my father, who gripped the steering wheel so hard, I thought it might cease to function. Ah, young love was a glorious thing.
And then came the Day of Reckoning. It was actually a day I'd been looking forward to for some time- Trampoline Day in gym class. Unfortunately, it hasn't occurred to me that my, er, 'girls' might need some extra security. As I waited in line for my turn, I had no idea that my life was about to be irreparably changed. When my turn came, I executed my pike jump with enthusiasm that turned to dread as I hit the trampoline...because as I flew back up into the air, so did my carefully placed athletic socks, right out of my shirt. The left one hit poor old Ms. Zazanis in the head.
It was all over. By the last bell of the day, Clive had given me the ‘let’s just be friends’ speech. And while it was in many ways a valuable lesson about self-acceptance, I’ll never look at a trampoline the same way again.
Teen Frankenstein is written by Chandler Baker (who is so darling I  have a hard time believing she ever had a hard day in high school--seriously, check out her instagram--DARLING!).  Here is the synopsis from the Fierce Reads website:

Tor Frankenstein is, let’s call it obsessed, with reanimation or resuscitation, but experiment after experiment with lab rats fails. But on a dark and stormy night Tor hits a boy with her car. And kills him. Instead of calling the cops and ruining all her chances of winning a Nobel Prize by the time she turns eighteen, she decides to try her experiment out on him. It’s a success. But the experiment isn’t over yet. She must incorporate him into daily high school life for it to be a true success, and when students start being murdered, she fears the worst. We’ll leave the rest up to you to find out what happens to Tor and her monster.
Get to know Chandler at her website or on Twitter or Instagram.

I also get to give a copy of Teen Frankenstein away!  If you'd like to win a copy fill out the form below.  I will pick a winner on January 20th after the last stop of the tour. (US only please)!