Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Waiting on The False Prince

I'm hearing lots of great things about this book. Kind of a bit Prince and the Pauper inspired.

The False Prince
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
April 2012

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Goose Chase review

Goose Chase
Patrice Kindl
March 2001

14 year-old Alexandria Aurora Fortunato was a simple goose girl, until the day she kindheartedly helped a ragged old beggar woman, who "rewarded" her with gold dandruff in her hair and diamonds that fall from her tears. Now she finds herself locked in a tower as various unsavory princes and kings fight over her hand. (Only desiring her money, of course.) She engineers an escape with the help of her geese, who manage to fly her out of the tower. Have you ever spent time with a flock of geese? The geese in this story - a little bossy, full of personality, mostly loyal, are delightful.

Goose Chase is true to the title - there is a lot of travel, and chasing throughout the story. Soon after making her getaway from her prison tower, Alexandria finds herself enslaved by a family of dim-witted ogresses, Nellie, Lucinda and Tessie. Bumbling Prince Edmund attempts to come to her rescue, but ultimately Alexandria must rely on her own wits, her magical hair, and her loyal geese to save the day.

There's a wonderful lost fairy tale feel to this story. Alexandria's magically growing hair and tower imprisonment remind one of Rapunzel. The diamond tears seem inspired by The Fairies by Charles Perrault. There are enough thee's and thou's to give the story a old-timey, medieval feel without being too inaccessible for young readers. Fast-paced, funny and witty this was a quick read. I'd recommend this for 4th and 5th graders.

Compare to:
The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler
The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

I borrowed this book from the library.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reducing the TBR list

Word Canyon by Magic Madzik
I think it's fair to say that my To Be Read list is reaching truly monumental proportions... I'm hovering at somewhere just under 700 books that I have my eye on.  I won't deny that I'm an eternal optimist. I am just the kind of person to check out a stack of eight 300-page novels from the library on Friday with every expectation that I'll surely have them read and ready to return on Monday morning. There are only two ways that I know of to reduce the list of Things to Be Read, 1) Read faster! or 2) Take some things off the list.

As painful as it it to admit, there are quite a number of books that I just don't think I'll be getting to anytime soon. So, here's my list of books that I'm giving up on. Let me know if you think there's anything vitally wonderful that should go right back on the list, won't you?

  1. Young Fredle - Cynthia Voigt
  2. Red Moon Rising - Peter Moore
  3. The Year We Were Famous - Carol Estby Dagg
  4. Rival - Sarah Bennett Wheeler
  5. Guardian of the Dead - Karen Healey
  6. Book of the Maidservant - Sarah Barnhouse
  7. Wake Unto Me - Lisa Cache
  8. Toads and Diamonds - Heather Tomlinson
  9. Ghostgirl - Tonya Hurley
  10. Plain Kate - Erin Bow
  11. Immortal - Gillian Shields
  12. Turtle in Paradise - Jennifer L. Holm
  13. Warp Speed - Lisa Yee
  14. The Body Finder - Kimberly Derting
  15. Notes from the Blender - Trish Cook, Brendan Halpin
  16. The Day Before - Lisa Schroeder
  17. Just Your Average Princess - Kristina Springer
  18. A World Without Heroes - Brandon Mull
  19. Watersmeet - Ellen Jenson Abbott
  20. Shadows on the Moon - Zoe Marriott
  21. The Boyfriend List - E. Lockhart
  22. The Adventures of Hotsy Totsy - Clive Cussler
  23. The Adventures of Nanny Piggins - R.A. Spratt
  24. A Million Shades of Gray - Cynthia Kadohata
  25. Bitter Frost - Kailin Gow
  26. Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick
  27. Bamboo People - Mitali Perkins
  28. Diary of a Parent Trainer - Jenny Smith
  29. Vintage Veronica - Erica S. Perl
  30. The Princess Plot - Kirsten Boie
  31. The Radleys - Matt Haig
  32. Mockingbird - Katherine Erskine
  33. Artichoke's Heart - Suzanne Supplee
  34. Fablehaven - Brandon Mull
  35. Love, Aubrey - Suzanne LeFleur
  36. Dark Song - Gail Giles
  37. The Pull of Gravity - Gae Polisner
  38. Through Her Eyes - Jennifer Archer
  39. You are My Only - Beth Kephart
  40. Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress - Tina Ferraro
  41. Getting Caught - Mandy Hubbard
  42. Better Latte Than Never - Catherine Clark
  43. Tattoo - Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  44. Losing Faith - Denise Jaden
  45. Invisible Things - Jenny Davidson
  46. Crossed Out - Kim Baccellia
  47. OyMG - Amy Fellner Domini
  48. Jessaloup's Song - Hester Velmans
  49. Hickey of the Beast - Isabel Kunkle
  50. Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready
  51. The Pearl Wars - Nick James
  52. The Blackhope Enigma - Teresa Flavin
  53. Tyger, Tyger: A Goblinwars Book - Kersten Hamilton
  54. Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Book Wedding Dress

    Hunting around for the creator of the last book dress I featured, I ran across this amazing wedding dress also made out of books. Check out Jennifer Pritchard Couchman's website for more photos.

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    Cover Trend: Globes

    The Other Side of the Island
    by Allegra Goodman
    September 2008

    In a post-apocalyptic future, Honor thinks she's being sent to an island paradise in the sky. Could this book be ever so slightly similar to The Time Machine by H.G. Wells?

    The Patron Saint of Butterflies 
    by Cecilia Galante
    Bloomsbury USA
    April 2008

    Agnes and Honey, two best friends, have been raised on a religious commune. What happens when their families try to leave the cult?

    by Gabrielle Zevin
    Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    September 2005

    A girl finds herself in heaven, where life is lived backwards, until one is reborn on Earth.

    The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball
    by Risa Green
    Sourcebooks Fire
    August 2010

    Contemporary fiction about a girl who is bequeathed a magic (or is it?) crystal ball when her aunt passes away. It reminds me, just a little bit of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

    Are We There Yet?
    by David Levithan
    Alfred A. Knopf
    July 2005

    Estranged brothers are forced to take a trip to Italy together.

    by Ally Condie
    Dutton Juvenile
    November 2010

    In a dystopian future, Cassia starts to question if she wants to continue to live by the Society's rules.

    by Julianna Baggott
    Grand Central Publishing
    February 2012

    A disturbing dystopian future, where citizens must either be trained as soldiers or serve as live target practice. Meanwhile, a group of "pures" have hunkered down inside a dome. Sounds riveting!

    Any that I missed? Let me know in the comments.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Waiting on Balthazar

    Can't wait to read Balthazar. Sorry to say, this series kind of petered out for me by the end, but I really liked this character, so I'm eager to give it another try.

    by Claudia Gray
    March 2012

    Haunted by memories from his first days as a vampire, Balthazar has spent hundreds of years alone—without allies, without love. When he emerges from his isolation to help Skye Tierney, a human girl who once attended Evernight Academy, Balthazar has no idea how dangerous it will be. Skye’s psychic powers have caught the attention of Redgrave, the cruel master vampire responsible for murdering Balthazar and his family four centuries ago. Having learned of Skye’s powers and the remarkable effect her blood has on vampires, he plans to use her for his own evil purposes. As they stand together to fight the evil vampire, Balthazar realizes his lonely world could finally be changed by Skye... just as Redgrave realizes that he can destroy Balthazar once and for all by taking her for his own. 

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Book Dress

    I found this floating around on the internets. Who made it? Does anyone know? I've tried to track down who to give proper credit to with no success. It's stunning!

    Sunday, February 19, 2012

    Cybils Winners 2011

    Right! So the Cybils winners have been announced for 2011!
    Let's see how things look. I could be a completist, and cover every category, but instead, I'll only mention those of particular interest to me.

    Book Apps: The Monster at the End of This Book
    Look, I have to admit, I haven't really tried very many book apps - so I didn't have any "favorites" I was rooting for. But I loved this book - I can see it working very well in an interactive context. So, hurrah!

    Fiction Picture Books: Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell
    I like this book. I don't have anything against it. But, I have to admit, I didn't expect to see it garner so many awards.

    Easy Readers: I Broke My Trunk! by Mo Willems
    Elephant and Piggy never fail. A sure bet for a win.

    Early Chapter Books: Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus! by Atinuke
    I am so excited for this! Amazing!!! I nominated this book, and it's so gratifying to see it make it all the way to the top! *swoon* I am on cloud 9 over this one.

    Graphic Novels: Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
    What a great book. I would have nominated it myself, if it hadn't been nominated already.

    Middle Grade Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Chesire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright
    What a surprise. I didn't see this one coming, mainly because I hadn't realized that The Chesire Cheese Cat counts as a fantasy book. For me at least, anthropomorphism alone isn't enough to elevate a book to fantasy status. But it's nice to see a local author honored - this is Carmen Agra Deedy's first chapter book and I'm glad she won.

    Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction: Blood Red Road by Moira Young
    Hurrah! I haven't finished reading this one yet, but what I've read so far is fantastic.

    Young Adult Fiction: Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
    I haven't read this one yet, but I've heard great things about it. Now that's it's won a Cybil, I'll be sure to check it out.

    Saturday, February 18, 2012

    One Hundred Candles review

    One Hundred Candles
    by Mara Purnhagen
    February 2011

    I picked up this book without realizing that it was the second book of the series. The story stood very well on it's own though. Seventeen year-old Charlotte Silver is adjusting to her new life to Charleston, South Carolina. Her parents are famous paranormal investigators. The rest of her family is fairly well fleshed out - her older sister Annalise is heading off to college, family friend Shane has been her parents cameraman for many years. Shane is dating Trish, the mother of Charlotte's long-time crush Noah. Dr. Zelden, a renowned demonologist, invites her family to investigate a supposedly haunted insane asylum. After a bizarre attack from Zelden's assistant Marcus, Charlotte wonders if there could be some truth to their paranormal claims, while her parents remain as skeptical as ever. I loved the smirks and eyerolling from Charlotte's family as they dubiously hear one supernatural claim after another. There is a hint of a love triangle between Charlotte, Noah, and high-school football player Harris. As the students at her new school begin playing a 100 candles game (over the course of several nights, a supposedly true ghost story must be told for each candle that is lit) more and more inexplicably strange and creepy things keep happening. It seems as if malevolent paranormal forces are slowly but surely closing in on Charlotte. This was a fast and fun read. I'm a big scaredy-cat, and this book had me on the edge of my seat without being too gory, which I really appreciated.

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    When Animals Get Up in the Morning feltboard

    Here are some new felt board figures I made recently. The thing I love about this is that you could use any animals you happen to have around. Most of these guys are bigger in scale than the rest of my felt collection. I borrowed the chicken from my Little Red Hen set, and I think it's obvious she doesn't match. When I've got the time, I'll try and make a new chicken, more in the style of the duck, to go with the rest.

    Here is the song that I sing with it:

    When dogs get up in the morning,
    they always say hello.

    When dogs get up in the morning,
    they always say hello.

    Woof, woof. Woof, woof.
    That is what they say.

    Woof, woof. Woof, woof.
    That is what they say.

    And so on, and so forth, depending on which animals you've got. I wish I could describe the tune I'm using... but I'm deliriously unmusical!
    You can sing as many rounds as you have felt animals, and/or as many rounds as the kids will sit still for. I always end with this verse:

    When people get up in the morning,
    we always say hello.

    When people get up in the morning,
    we always say hello.

    Hello, hello. Hello, hello.
    That is what we say.

    Hello, hello. Hello, hello.
    That is what we say.

    It's a nice gentle song, I try to keep it pretty mellow and slow-paced. Afterwards, the kids like to point out which animals have eyes, and which ones don't have eyes.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Stuff Book Reviewers Say

    Maybe you've seen it already... but this is cracking me up. I think I may have used a few of these phrases myself.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Waiting on Pandemonium

    by Lauren Oliver
    February 2012

    I'm so excited about this book, it doesn't even really need any introduction, right? I loved Delirium, and I can't wait to read the sequel.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Nice Shot Cupid review

    Nice Shot, Cupid!
    by Kate McMullan
    Stonearch Books
    August 2011

    This fast-paced, breezy slang-filled version of the Cupid and Psyche myth changes plenty of details, but actually stays fairly true to the basic plot arc of the original myth. First, we get a quick rundown on who all the major players are. The story is narrated by Hades, who in this version, is more of a misunderstood good guy who's been given a bad rap. Cupid is an awkward teenager with pimples and braces, accidentally scratching himself with one of his arrows causing him to fall in love with... himself! He sounds like a surfer, peppering his speech with lots of phrases like, "dude" and "man." His mother, Aphrodite, is a bossy, funny woman prone to speaking in Italian, since she rose fully-grown out of the Italian sea. In the meantime, Psyche has been promised to marriage to Cupid, and is goaded by her sisters Muffy and Buffy into finding out what, exactly, her invisible husband looks like. In doing so, she angers Aphrodite, and must out-perform Hercules' labors to get back in Aphrodite's good graces again. The silliness level in this book is easily amped up to 11, what with Hades calling Psyche by the nickname, "P-phone," and plenty of anachronisms like motorcycle riding, WWF-style wrestling and so on.

    This reprint (first published in 2002) is sure to cash in on the Percy Jackson excitement with a lot of young readers. In terms of tone, and reading level, this will appeal to readers who are right on board with goofy humor like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but may find Percy Jackson just a skoche too challenging at the moment.

    I borrowed this book from the library.

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    In My Mailbox 20

    I got these books this week from a librarian who picked up these ARCs about 6 months ago... any of them that I don't get a chance to read, I'll give out as summer reading prizes at my library.

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    The Not Quite Perfect Boyfriend review

    The (Not Quite) Perfect Boyfriend
    by Lili Wilkinson
    Allen & Unwin
    January 2012

    Cliques, dating, and the school social scene are the focus of this Australian import. Midge, 16, is embarrassed to be lagging behind her friend Tahni in the boyfriend department, so she invents one on the spot. Her imaginary guy is an Englishman named Ben and before she realizes what she's doing, she's created a whole backstory for him. By complete chance, a transfer student matching this description arrives at school. The real Ben agrees to play along, blackmailing Midge in exchange for homework help. Midge is lovably nerdy - each chapter opens with a dictionary definition, and she obsesses about proper grammar. Über-geek George might seem to be a better match for her, but even she can't lower her standards enough to date a live-action role-player. Her parents' possible divorce amps up the stress before everything is pleasantly resolved. This is a surprisingly lighthearted, funny book, peppered with Australian slang. Teen drinking (legal in Australia) is handled as routine. Fans of Louise Rennison's Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series or Carolyn Mackler's The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things will find a lot to like in this frothy offering.

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
    This review first appeared in School Library Journal.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Waiting on the Fine Art of Truth or Dare

    Oh, I am in the mood for something lighthearted and fun, and I think this may be it. Not too much longer to wait on this one.

    The Fine Art of Truth or Dare
    by Melissa Jensen
    February 2012

    Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    It's Snowing review

    It's Snowing
    by Gail Gibbons
    Holiday House
    August 2011

    It's Snowing is another triumph from reknowned non-fiction picture book author Gail Gibbons, certain to be an instant classic. This volume covers everything one could ever want to know about snow in a very basic and accessible way. With clear, colorful watercolor illustrations, Gibbons takes us through the condensation cycle. Maps of where snow falls around the globe are followed by close-up pictures of snow on each continent. I especially enjoyed the several pages that talk about the difference between flurries, sleet, snowstorms and blizzards. How communities deal with snowstorms, as well as various kinds of snow-related sports including skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and snowshoeing are shared. The book is appended with advice on how to stay warm in the snow, as well as snow-related trivia. The genius of the book is that it is so simple and yet so comprehensive, on a subject that many adults might find self-explanatory, but young children will find fascinating. Highly recommended for all elementary science collections, this is a fine addition to Gibbons' amazing body of work.

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    In My Mailbox 19

    Last month I went to the ALA Midwinter Conference in Dallas. I had most of my ARCs shipped back to me, so here they are now.

    Here are what we call, "F&G's" - meaning, folded and gathered, picture book ARCs.

    Here are books that are currently already out.

    Books being published in February and March.

    Books being published in April.

    Books being published in May.

    Books being published in June and July.

    I'm not sure of the pub dates on these:

    And here's a last minute bonus package of items... These are on the tip-top of my TBR pile.

    NOT PICTURED: Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore, due out in May. I've already read it, but won't post my review until much closer to the release date. And I've already handed it off to another eager reader, who couldn't wait to get their hands on it.

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Feltboard Dragon

    A little late for Chinese New Year, but I've been working on this latest felt project for a while. I borrowed the pattern from Phee McFaddell's craft website. The original dragon was done in green and blue. I decided to try red. I'm not sure about the red color. He looks a bit like a Welsh dragon. (Not that there's anything wrong with that! It just wasn't quite the look I was going for.) This is quite a different style than most of my other felt pieces. I kind of wish that he had wings.  I like the look of layering so many pieces of felt - although it is rather thick, making it practically 3-dimensional. That sounds silly when I put it that way... I mean, everything is 3-dimensional, isn't it? What I mean to say is that it's a heavy piece, I have to hold my felt board at an angle so this guy doesn't fall right off it. It seems as if the original dragon was done on dyed craft paper. Or perhaps very, very, very thin layers of felt. I tried using a fine-tip marker to draw his eyes, mouth and so on, but those details seem quite a bit more blurry on mine. On the whole, I'm really happy with this project though! I haven't thought of any dragon rhymes or stories to share, other than Puff the Magic Dragon. Got any to suggest?

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Read in January

    This month I read the following books:

    1 The Silver Bowl - Diane Stanley

    2 Crave - Melissa Darnell
    3 Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet - Heather Poole
    4 Boyfriend Season: Cali Boys - Kelli London
    5 Glow - Amy Kathleen Ryan
    6 Bitterblue - Kristin Cashore

    Picture credit: The Reading Girl by Johann Georg Meyer von Bremen


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