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Mar 2, 2018

My Thoughts: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Cover Love: I do love the fairy tale elements of this cover. I think it's so pretty!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The synopsis just made me really curious. And I am glad it caught my eye! There hit a point where I just could not put it down. Here's the synopsis from Good Reads:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

My Thoughts:
First off, I want a book of truly dark fairy tales like this. I know that most of the true Grimm fairy tales have darker endings, none of them have the feel of Tales from the Hinterland. This is a world I would like to visit from time to time. It's probably because the author did such a good job weaving these tales into the overall story. It was just well done.

I didn't love Alice or Ella (her mother) but understood them more and more as the story went on. They had never had a chance to put down roots, which was what made them as flighty as I felt they were. I guess we never really get to know Ella besides Alice's memories of her, but she just wasn't my favorite. I know there is going to be a second book and maybe it will explore Ella's relationship with Hinterland--that would be very interesting to me. I would like to know more about a lot of the Hinterland characters!
I don't want to write too much about the story because it would give a lot away and I think it needs to get discovered on your own. One thing I do wish was longer was the climax. Alice worked so hard to get where she was and then a few pages later it was over. There was so much build up into this world and who she was and looking for her mom that it felt a little rushed and unsatisfying to me.

I am going to buy a copy for my library even though it is mature and dark, I know several readers that would love this book!

To Sum Up: Give me more dark fairy tales, I love them! Great setting and lots of interesting imagery. Well done!

Feb 22, 2018

Currently Reading February 21, 2018

I am kind of in a pattern of reading a middle grade or young adult book, an adult book and a Harry Potter (I am re-reading them this year). It's working for me so I am keeping at it. One of these is always on my Nook so I can read when I wake up at night without waking up my husband.

I started The Hazel Wood today at school (I am thinking it's a little mature for my middle school library, but perfect for high school), I am really liking it so far, but I am worried about what direction it might go.

After seeing The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine on many blogs and bookstagrams (I just don't love that word) I felt I needed to give it a try. It has sucked me right in; I think I am really going to enjoy it.

I am very happy I am re-reading the Harry Potter's, I have been meaning to for a few years. There are a lot of little details I have forgotten about that I love discovering again.

Feb 15, 2018

Obsessing Over #8: The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

I am so excited for the third book in the Charlotte Holmes series to come out!
Less than a month now.
I have adored this series, it's pretty mature but I do have it the first two in my library.
You can read my reviews of the first book, A Study in Charlotte, here.
This looks like it will be the last of the Charlotte Holmes books, but I will keep my fingers crossed for more. I love Jamie and Charlotte (but mostly Jamie).

It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken. Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for. Until strange things start happening to him. Strange things that might mean nothing at all—or that someone is after him again.

Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex. Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows that her Watson can’t forgive her.

Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but there is someone who wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time. Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.

In this final explosive book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy, Holmes and Watson face the ultimate test: they must unravel the case of their lives without unraveling each other.

Feb 14, 2018

Added to the List #28

Recently I was sent three lovely middle grade books, two from Random House and one from Penguin (thank you so much!). Each one of their descriptions made me tear up a little bit. I haven't read any of them, but will be doing so soon! I'll also be ordering a couple of copies of each for my library because all of these books deal with different issues, and middle graders love to read issue books!

The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller

How do you grow a miracle?
For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific method. But Natalie's botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that's important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has hope.

Eggs are breakable. Hope is not.
Natalie has a secret plan for the prize money. She's going to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids--flowers that survive against impossible odds. The magical flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. Because when parents are breakable, it's up to kids to save them, right?

The Ostrich and Other Lost Things by Beth Hautala

Eleven-year-old Olivia Grant has a knack for finding lost things. She can find lost rings, pets, and even her elderly neighbor's misplaced glasses. There's only one thing Olivia has never been able to find--her brother Jacob's toy ostrich. It wasn't until the day Jacob lost his ostrich that Olivia noticed how different he was: Jacob is autistic, and though she's his little sister, Olivia often feels like the older of the pair, his caretaker. And with her parents so heavily focused on maintaining status quo for Jacob, it's Olivia who has stagnated in his shadow--unable to explore new opportunities, or to be her own person. In fact, apart from being Jacob's sister, Olivia's not really sure who she is.

So when summer break begins, and the local community theater announces auditions for an all children's production of her favorite show, Peter Pan, Olivia jumps at the chance to claim something for herself. But what begins as a promising opportunity and a wonderful escape quickly becomes pure chaos. The visiting zoo with an odd assortment of animals--including an ostrich that causes even more trouble than Jacob's missing toy--only make matters worse, as Olivia's summer is shaping up to be just as consumed by Jacob's needs as the rest of her life has been.

In time, and with the help of some unlikely alliances, Olivia must learn what it means to be separate from her brother and still love him, how to love herself in spite of her own flaws, and that not all lost things are meant to be found.

Sticky Notes by Dianne Touchell 

Foster Sumner is ten years old. He likes toy soldiers, tadpole hunting, going to school, and the beach. Best of all, he likes listening to his dad’s stories.

But then Foster’s dad starts forgetting things. No one is too worried at first. Foster and Dad giggle about it. Dad would go out for milk and come back with cat food, when the cat had been dead for five years. But then the forgetting gets worse. And suddenly no one is laughing anymore.

A heartbreaking story about what it means to forget and to be forgotten, as well as the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s and the strong families behind those who suffer from it.

Feb 9, 2018

Movies From Books I Am So Excited To See

I know most true readers do not love when their favorite books are turned into movies. I am not one of those people. Mostly that is because I love with three people who do not love reading (and will proudly tell you that, although I am holding out hope that my youngest son will decide he likes it...).
So when a book I love is being turned into a movie I get excited to share the story with the people I love.  Here are three I cannot wait for and I think I can get someone in my family to go with me to each of them. One of my favorite memories was when my oldest son went with me to The Duff, I think he was 16. He wasn't embarrassed to be with his mom, even when a big group of younger teens came into the theater, and he totally loved the movie. I think either of my sons will go to Love, Simon and Every Day with me.

Simon is my favorite. I have read this book probably four times since the first time and then flipped through to my favorite parts several other times. From the looks of the previews I think they are trying to be really faithful to the story. But what will make or break this is the actor playing Simon, he totally has to make you want to be his best friend. If you have not read this, please do before the movie comes out, you won't be sorry! (They have renamed this to Love, Simon for the movie title)

I just finished reading Every Day. When I got a copy of this book before it came out, it just didn't interest me. It sounded kind of confusing. It wasn't until I saw the preview for the upcoming movie that the whole premise made sense. I knew it would be popular in my library so I bought a few copies and picked one up as soon as they came in. One day later I had it finished and just loved it. So excited for this movie, it looks like they have done a great job adapting it for the screen.

This is one of my all time favorite books, I just love it. And I have gotten several other people to read it who have also loved it. and this is the movie I am most nervous about. My husband and sons will go with me to this one, and if it's not as good as I hope then I will be disappointed. Already the previews are not the best, the AR world is not at all like I imagined it. But the author helped a lot on the screenplay and Steven Spielberg is directing it, so I am very willing to give it a chance.

What upcoming book adaptions are you looking forward to this year?

Feb 5, 2018

Currently Reading February 5, 2018

I barely read last year. Actually, the past two years. I kind of consider them my lost years. My goal in previous years was always to hit 100 books and sometimes I did, but I always came close. Until the past two years. So this year I decided to just make my goal 52 books, one a week.  I am happy to say I am on my way!  Probably because I'm branching out a bit. Adding some adult thrillers, mysteries, books I am seeing other people post about in instagram, etc... Still reading middle grade and young adult, but not as exclusively. It's helping, I think.

Anyway, I am in the midst of three books right now.

I am loving The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. Such descriptive, beautiful writing.
Another reading goal this year is to re-read all the Harry Potters. I am so happy I am doing this. There is so much more to the books that I have forgotten about!
And, I didn't ever realize that The Last Unicorn was a book! Had to give it a try. 

What are you currently reading?

Apr 19, 2017

Obsessing Over #8: The Song from Somewhere Else by AF Harrold

This book caught my eye when I was prepping book orders for this fall.  It comes out this summer and I have already preordered my copy.  I think it sounds so amazing!  I am not sure what appealed to me the most, but since I read the synopsis it's become one I can't stop thinking about!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

Frank thought her summer couldn't get any worse--until big, weird, smelly Nick Underbridge rescues her from a bully, and she winds up at his house.

Frank quickly realizes there's more to Nick than meets the eye. When she's at his house, she hears the strangest, most beautiful music, music which leads her to a mysterious, hidden door. Beyond the door are amazing creatures that she never even dreamed could be real. For the first time in forever, Frank feels happy . . . and she and Nick start to become friends.

But Nick's incredible secrets are also accompanied by great danger. Frank must figure out how to help her new friend, the same way that he has helped her.

Paired with gorgeous black-and-white illustrations from Levi Pinfold, acclaimed author A. F. Harrold weaves a powerful story about unlikely friendship, strange magic, and keeping the shadows at bay.

And yes, I am back. There are a couple of reasons for this that I will get into in a future post. I am not sure how steady I will be but, I just want to share my love of books with everyone and that's what it is all about!

Feb 10, 2017

My Thoughts: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

4 chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love:  Meh.  Pretty normal looking for a mystery book.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I discovered this instagram account that makes me want to sit and drink coffee and read books all day.  She reads thrillers and I started really wanting to read a a good thriller.  This one came to my attention from an email I got from the publicist.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father's identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother's best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother's killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she's secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she's close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it's too late.
Romance?: Yes.

My Thoughts:
This is a great, suspenseful mystery.  In the middle I really wanted to read the end to find out who the killer was.  There were so many suspects surrounding Erin!  I sat there one night after I stopped reading and just went through who I thought did it.  One of the good things about reading a digital book is that it's not very easy to skip to the end.  (I was RIGHT!!)

There were a lot of suspects and a few red herrings.  I liked the romance between Erin and Journey, a lot.  They have chemistry!  What bothered me so much as it does in a lot of these books, is how nobody, including her friends, took Erin that seriously.  She wasn't a drama queen, she didn't have a history of that.  And she'd just found the body of her teacher.  I just think people should have given her a little more credit.

And her guardian was AWFUL.  I mean, she took Erin in and made her her own, but the way she would shut Erin down at every turn when she wanted to know about her mom was unhealthy, for both of them.  That is the one part of the book that made me uncomfortable to read.  

The mystery wrapped up pretty neatly, with both Journey and Erin in peril at points during the book.  This has all great elements for a suspenseful read. 

To Sum Up:  Great mystery, action and danger.  I will be buying this for my library and I hope the author writes another one with Erin, Journey and her Uncle Victor (along with all the secondary characters).  This is a fun read!

Jan 24, 2017

Obsessing Over #7: York: the Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby

This book seems to have it all.

Gorgeous cover, proven author, an alternate world, action, and a massive puzzle to solve.  

I cannot wait to get my hands on this one!

Here is the synopsis from Edelweiss:
It was in 1792 that twin architects and engineers Tess and Theodore Morningstarr arrived in New York with a vision for the most complex and magnificent city the world had ever seen: a symphony of towering skyscrapers, the world’s first mass public transportation system winding amongst them, and a dazzling array of buildings and parks, all of which ran on technology no one had ever seen before. Sixty-five years later, they disappeared, but not before giving the city a parting gift: the Old York Cipher. A puzzle laid into the very city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By 2017, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is considered little more than a tourist attraction.

Tess and Theo Biedermann, twins named for the enigmatic architects, and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment house in Manhattan—but their home is threatened when a real estate developer announces that the city has finally agreed to sell him dozens of original Morningstarr buildings. For millions of people, the sale and likely destruction of the Morningstarrs' vision means the end of the dream of the Old York Cipher. For Tess, Theo, and Jaime, it means the loss of their home. And they decide they’re not going to just stand by while their families are evicted. If they want to save they building, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. And there’s only one way to do that: They have to solve it.

Jan 12, 2017

Currently Reading

I am doing it again, starting books without finishing the one I had already started.  Because of that, right now I have four books I am currently reading:

1.  Shadows of the Dark Crystal by JM Lee:  This was previously a books I posted an Obsessing Over post about. I bought it as soon as it came out and started it over Christmas break. I am really liking it and being in the world of The Dark Crystal again, it's just that other things keep pulling my attention away.

2.  Ana of California by Andi Teran: This is similar to a modern version of Anne of Green Gables. I am reading this on my Nook so mostly my reading of this takes place right before bed or when I wake up and can't fall back to sleep.

3.  Day Shift by Charlaine Harris:  Charlaine Harris has published three books in her Midnight Texas series. I read the first one, Crossroads, before Christmas and really enjoyed it.  Good mysteries and interesting character. this is also being made into a series that will be on NBC this spring.

4.  The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: I am not sure why I never read this before by it's being made into a series that will be on Hulu starting in April. The trailer looked so intense that I had to pick it up and read it. It's really good and I am having trouble focusing on anything else.

I am reading too many books at the same time for sure, but I want to finish all of these and am liking them. The interesting thing is that they are all different genres so I am not getting storylines crossed!

Nov 29, 2016

Blog Tour: A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

4 yummy avalanche cookies (recipe below!)

Cover Love:  Yes, I love this cover.  Whimsical and fun, just like the book.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I was invited to participate in this blog tour and since this book was one I had ordered for my library I was happy to read and review it!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

Eleven-year-old Nikolas—nicknamed “Christmas”—has received only one toy in his life: a doll carved out of a turnip. But he’s happy with his turnip doll, because it came from his parents, who love him. Then one day his father goes missing, and Nikolas must travel to the North Pole to save him.

Along the way, Nikolas befriends a surly reindeer, bests a troublesome troll, and discovers a hidden world of enchantment in the frozen village of Elfhelm. But the elves of Elfhelm have troubles of their own: Christmas spirit and goodwill are at an all-time low, and Nikolas may be the only person who can fix things—if only he can reach his father before it’s too late. . . .
My Thoughts:
This book was such a fun read.  The whole time I was reading it I thought what an awesome read aloud it would be for elementary and young middle schoolers.  Actually, it would be a fun read aloud for almost every age.

This has all the elements of a good classic, an "orphaned" child (well, his dad is missing anyway), and evil auntie (how can these aunts always be so mean to their nephews?!) animals and a quest. I have to say that I was reminded of Roald Dahl the whole time I was reading it and it put a smile on my face. Sometimes if an author writes a whimsical, quirky story, the resemblance to Dahl is too much, like they were trying too hard.  This one was just right.  But there was some fantastical elements that made this book all the author's own.

This was such a fun read and put me in the mood for Christmas! Pick this one up today, you won't be disappointed!

Avalanche Cookies:
This is a no bake recipe I discovered a few years ago and has become one of our favorite Christmas cookies.  I always make a ton and give them to lots of people.  You can print the recipe out here, or see the blog where I discovered it here.

What is your favorite Christmas read or goodie?

Nov 21, 2016

Added to the List #27

I was listening to a podcast this week that talked about this series of graphic novels, so I went to our public library to check them out.  This is the first one, which I have started but am not too far into.  I did check out all the other ones I could so that I could whip through them during Thanksgiving break.

I got a few books from Simon & Schuster and some from my public library this week. 
From Simon & Schuster:
Mars One by Jonathan Maberry: one of my favorite authors, this one I am very excited about reading. 
Baseball Genius by Tim Green & Derek Jeter: I am not a big fan of baseball stories so I will be handing this off to one of my students who does love baseball stories.
Confessions of a High School Disaster by Emma Chastain: This one looks darling.  Might be a perfect January read to get me through a cold winter day!
At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson: I think this one sounds so interesting. I haven't read anything by this author yet, so this one will be my first.
From my public library:
Raging Sea by Michael Buckley: This is the second in a series, I really enjoyed the first one but kind of forgot about continuing in the series until the third one popped up on Edelweiss. I hope to get this one read over Thanksgiving.
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott: I don't read a ton of adult books, but I consider Megan Abbott to be more of a crossover author. Her books are always fascinating and quick reads. This one sounds especially good.
The Mirk and the Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson: I had this one checked out awhile ago but didn't get it read in time. It came back to my attention a bit ago and I decided to check it out again. I will get it read this time!
This past week the filming of A Wrinkle in Time was brought to my attention by this video. A Wrinkle in Time was a book I didn't get read until I was in my 30s, but I think that made me love it all the more, because I understood it better. Then I discovered that Chris Pine would be playing the father in the movie!  I adore him.  My excitement went through the roof but since I have to wait over a year for the movie, I decided to re-read the book!

 What have you added to your list this week?

Nov 1, 2016

Obsessing Over #7: Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull

I am in my 9th year as a school librarian.  I did two years at an elementary school and am in my 7th at a middle school.  One of the continual favorite series in all those years has been Fablehaven by Brandon Mull.  The original series is 5 books long and is just an awesome middle grade series, I highly recommend you to read them if you haven't already!

(One of the reasons they were really popular early on was that Brandon Mull came to our school district on an author visit (before I was a librarian) and he enjoyed the area so much that his characters make a brief stop in our town in book 4!  Kids love reading that!)

I was so excited to see a continuation of this series is coming out this spring (I already ordered 3 copies for my library and one for me)!  Here's the synopsis from Dragonwatch:

In the long-awaited sequel to Fablehaven, the dragons who have been kept at the dragon sanctuaries no longer consider them safe havens, but prisons and they want their freedom. The dragons are no longer our allies....

In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.

No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help.

As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities.

How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it?

I was able to download a review copy and plan to get it read and reviewed before the publication date. So excited when that works out!!

Oct 28, 2016

My Thoughts: Shuffle Repeat by Jen Klein

4 sweet frosted sugar cookies.

Cover Love:  Darling!  I don't think they needed to add the illustration at the bottom with the car and the road, but I like the photo of the guy and girl holding hands, I wish that was bigger, more of the focus.  But I know it will be eye catching on display in my library.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
This came in my first book order of the fall and I was looking for something light and fun.  I started this right when I pulled it out of the box!  Here's the synopsis:

June wants high school to end and real life to begin. Oliver is soaking up senior year’s glory days. They could have coasted through high school, knowing about—but not really knowing—each other.

Except that their moms have arranged for Oliver to drive June to school. Every. Single. Day.

Suddenly these two opposites are fighting about music, life . . . pretty much everything. But love is unpredictable. When promises—and hearts—get broken, Oliver and June must figure out what really matters. And then fight for it.
Romance?: Yes, of course.

My Thoughts:
To be perfectly honest, I almost gave up on this book.  June was so closed off and judgemental and righteous in the beginning that I had a very hard time liking her.  She was just so certain that Oliver and his group of friends were awful and she and her group of friends were right to dislike everything and everyone. I was afraid her attitude would last too long in the book and turn me off on it completely.  However, I stuck with it and her attitude didn't last too long. She started to see that there was some value in most people and while some people are exactly what they appear to be, a lot of people aren't, including some of her "non-conformist" friends.

I LOVED OLIVER.  Seriously, new book boyfriend.  He's such a good guy.  And I know he does give off a certain type of attitude with his appearance, he's just so much more than that.  He is who I would totally have crushed on in high school, especially once I got to know him!

I would like to give this book to all the girls who judge people before they can be judged, that put up that wall to protect themselves.  I work in a middle school and there are A LOT of girls like this who I want to read this book, but most of them wouldn't read a romance because it's not dark enough!

To Sum It Up:  Darling romance that could teach people a lot about judging others before getting to know them!

Book from school library collection.

Oct 21, 2016

Road Trip Reading #3

This weekend is a four day weekend for schools in our state so we are going to visit my oldest son in college! I will have to be driving, though, so I won't get a lot of reading done in the car.  Hopefully I will have time to read while I am away.  I am in the middle of reading Scary Out There and am loving it!  I am also reading Shuffle Repeat because it just came in with our latest order at school.  Fingers crossed that I come back having finished both!

Oct 19, 2016

School Library Issues

I am going to try and write this without naming the book or the author, just talk about the issue.  I am sure that other librarians have had this issue and am wondering what they do with it.

So, we have a series in the library that is pretty popular with our readers-young and old (we have a few teachers that love it as well).  The author has started a second series, which the second book for recently came out.  One of our teachers was very excited to read it so she took it home over the weekend before I had it cataloged for our collection.  When she came in on Monday she told me she didn't think it was appropriate for a middle school library.  I kind of rolled my eyes, knowing how conservative this teacher tends to be.  But, I started reading on the page she told me to and holy cow!  It was such a steamy sex scene.  Like, WAY above what should be in a book for a middle school.  I pointed it out to the high school librarians, just to get their opinion and they both agreed it was too steamy for their libraries too. I didn't feel too bad because this was only the second book in so we hadn't invested too much money.

Then the fifth book in her more popular series came out.  And again, there was a pretty steamy sex series in this book.  It's like this author is writing herself out of YA!  We kind of use the barometer of "would a student see this on TV."  And both times we had to say NO.  Not broadcast TV anyway.

So, here's my concerns.  I haven't seen anything on any blog reviews that talk about this.  I realize mot blogs aren't written by librarians, but nobody even mentions the sex scenes.  I read a lot of YA books and I haven't ever read anything in any YA book that matches this.  I have in adult books, but not YA (honestly, not even in "new adult" book, it's that steamy).  I don't shy away from putting books on our shelves that has swear words or talks about sex, but this is way more than talking about sex.

I feel like I am self-censoring and I hate that, but I also feel that school libraries have to have a different standard for what goes on their shelves, especially a middle school library.  And it makes me so sad because it this is the way YA books are heading I will have less of them on my shelves.  I love YA books, I think is great for kids to read about issues they will soon be facing or are already facing.

(It should be noted that I have not read any of the books in either of these series, but my partner librarian has as well as a few other teachers)

What are your feelings about sexual books on school library shelves? 

Oct 4, 2016

My Thoughts: Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

4 bittersweet chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love:
Yes, the image of the bike and balloon combined with the tag line "Ethan went on a bike ride. Four years later, he came back," are very striking.  Good stuff!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I was in the mood for something different and I needed a book I thought I could get done quickly.  I have read Jennifer Mathieu before and knew I liked her writing so I gave this a try!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

When Caroline's little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can't help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can't see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend--and their best option just might be each other
Romance?: Not really, but a pretty strong friendship develops.

My Thoughts:
This was a powerful book.  The author wrote it from the alternating points of view of Caroline and Ethan.  She did a great job with each of their voices.  I can't imagine the research she must have done to write Ethan so well!  I'm sure that kids coming back from that kind of trauma display all types of behavior and the way she wrote Ethan seems so real and true.  His chapters were particularly moving and engaging.

And Caroline was every bit as messed up because she blamed herself for Dylan's abduction.  Although Dylan wasn't gone nearly as long as Ethan, because he was autistic his recovery was very stalled.  That was one of the most interesting contrasts in the book:  Ethan's parents had money to get him (and them) help, Caroline's family did not.  However, Caroline's mom also kind of wanted to act like it didn't happened, which didn't help anyone in their family.

I liked how Ethan's flashbacks were handled.  Even though the what happened to Ethan was totally disturbing, the author leaves it to our imaginations.  She isn't graphic with his memories, what comes back to him truly is what he can handle in his recovery.  However, it's very clear the kind of abuse and trauma he had to deal with during his four years.  It was just so well done.

I loved how the book ended, there was hope for both Caroline and Ethan and their families.  It was a good ending and really the best one for this story.

To Sum Up:  This would be a powerful read for many ages.  I am going to get it for my library because it gives students a glimpse into stuff that is very real, but rare.  Just the kind of book I loved to read when I was a young teen!

Book requested and sent from Macmillan for review.

Sep 27, 2016

My Thoughts: We Know it Was You by Maggie Thrash

4 yummy frosted ginger cookies

Cover Love:  I'm not sure.  I don't hate it, but I don't love it.
I just don't feel it is very eye catching nor does it fit the tone of the book, however, I like it as a cover.  I like the font and the huge, accusatory title.

Why I Wanted to Read This:  I was in the mood for a suspense book and this one sounded like it fit the bill.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

It’s better to know the truth. At least sometimes.

Halfway through Friday night’s football game, beautiful cheerleader Brittany Montague—dressed as the giant Winship Wildcat mascot—hurls herself off a bridge into Atlanta’s surging Chattahoochee River.

Just like that, she’s gone.

Eight days later, Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds will be the only ones who know why.
Romance?: Not really. There are a lot of romances that happen or were already happening in the book (it's set at a high school), there just isn't any romance for or between our main characters.

My Thoughts:
I really liked this book for several reasons.  First off, it takes place at a boarding/prep type school.  Although there is a dorm, there aren't a lot of "boarders" and they are kind of looked down upon by the local kids who attend the school.  I like this reversal for a prep school type setting.  Normally, the local kids are the ones looked down upon, rather than the boarders.  Because of this setting the population of kids is pretty small, everyone knows everyone and the class lines area kind of blurred.  Seniors are friends with lower class men and pretty much everyone knows everyone else!

The author writes from several different points of view during the course of this book, with Benny and Virginia being the main two characters.  One thing I loved was how the author wrote about the perceptions each character had of the others.  Benny constantly was devaluing Virginia in his head and she was constantly thinking about what a nerd Benny was.  Neither of them truly saw what was going on with each other, nor were these perceptions easily changed.  It just felt really true to teenagers and high school because sometimes its so hard to change your reputation.  People don't want you to change who you are!

The mystery was also really well done, a lot of red herrings.  I found the "who done it" to be a little implausible, but overall was keep interested the whole book.  I also liked all the little kernels the author threw out there that didn't get answered.  This book is titled "Strange Truth #1" so I am looking forward to learning more about Benny and Virginia in upcoming books.  There is a mystery involving Virginia that is alluded to several times in the book that I am especially looking forward to learning more about.  I really liked Virginia!

Overall, I liked the setting of a small. elite school and  the mystery.  The smallest thing that kind of bothered me was the ages of Benny and Virginia, they seemed a bit older and more mature than 15.

To Sum Up:  Even though Benny and Virginia are 15 year olds, I feel that there were a few things in this book that make it too mature for my library.  However, it's a great mystery and a fun read so I will recommend our high school librarians buy it for their collections.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the review copy!

Sep 16, 2016

Cover Love #1

 Sometimes I see a cover I love so much I just want to share it.  I want to shove it in front of other people's faces and say, "LOOK!"  So, that's what this new feature is about.  Last week I was doing some book shopping and looking through spring catalogs.  I came across a book that sounds good, but when I saw the cover I knew it was a book I want to read, to hold in my hands, to display at my house!  Just look at it!

And it sounds so good, here's the synopsis:

Sophie Seacove has been abandoned by her parents and sent to work as a servant at a dilapidated house surrounded by sea monsters. (Sophie always suspected her parents hated her.) It’s dangerous work, made worse by the untrustworthy residents of the house: There’s Scree, the creaky caretaker who knows more than he lets on. The Battleship, a widow haunted by her own poor choices. And the Battleship’s twin sons, gleeful sadists who will do anything to be rid of Sophie. When the Battleship’s nephew, Cartwright, offers Sophie an irresistible deal—find the mysterious Monster Box, and he’ll get her off the island—Sophie agrees, opening up a years-old mystery and setting off a deadly chain of events. But everyone is lying to her. The twins are trying to kill her, or at least make her sit through their horrible performance of Hamlet. And Sophie needs to use her brains, her brawn, and her unbreakable nature if she’s going to make it off this wretched island alive.
I just can't wait to see this cover in person. What do you think?

Sep 13, 2016

Added to the List #26

Fall publishing season is gearing up and I have been getting some great middle grade reads in the mail.  One of my favorite things about getting books from publishers is that I get to see some books showcased that I hadn't heard of yet.  I have added all of these to my fall order for my library!
This past week I got:

The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner.  As you recall I have been Obsessing Over this book and was SO excited when it came in the mail.  It also came with a darling stuff bigfoot.  As soon as I finish the two books I am currently reading I will be starting this one.  Can't wait!!

The Girl Who Rode the Wind by Stacy Gregg was one that I had put on my library order for the fall.  Nine years into being a librarian and I am still amazed at how many girls love horse books.  I am going to pass this along to one of my 8th grade girls and have her read it.  She was just complaining about not having anything good to read!

Duels & Deception by Cindy Antesy looks like an awesome period read.  I think I will save this one for this winter!

The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz looks DARLING!  This one is going to be a fun read and I bet I will have a few readers at my school who will really enjoy it.

Jubilee by Patricia Reilly Giff was one that was not on my radar.  Not sure how I missed it, but am really glad it came in the mail.   It sounds so sweet and heartbreaking.  It looks like it will be a quick, but emotional read.  

Moo by Sharon Creech is going to be another popular one in my library.  She is such a strong writer and I have so many kids that read her whole collection here.  She's always popular! 

I also got an amazing pack of YA books from Simon & Schuster that I will highlight later in the week.  What have you added to your TBR lately?

Aug 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.  

Aug 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?

Aug 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!

Jul 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?

Jul 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!

Jul 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?

Jul 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.

Jul 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?

Jul 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!