Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Waiting on Days of Blood and Starlight

Daughter of Smoke and Bone has to be one of my favorite books of all time, so naturally, I am ridiculously excited for the sequel. Squee!

Days of Blood and Starlight
by Laini Taylor
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
November 2012

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween reviews

Trick or Treat
by Leo Landry
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
August 2012

 Just a fun party, hosted by a ghost! Witches unwittingly provide broom rides, and skeletons provide the music for two unexpected guests: two kids dressed as a cow and a jack o' lantern for Halloween. Nice and simple, this book should get you in the mood for Halloween.

I borrowed this book from the library.

The Monsters' Monster
by Patrick McDonnell
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
September 2012

This is just about the cutest Frankenstein I've ever seen. Hoping to make the biggest, baddest, scariest monster of all time, Grouch, Grump and two-headed monster, Gloom n' Doom fashion a huge monster, bringing it to life in an electrical storm. Problem is, (just like the original Frankenstein's monster) this guy is nothing but a gentle giant who enjoys sunshine, jelly donuts and days on the beach. Perfect as a not-too-scary Halloween story, or any time of year.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book Cupcakes

Books have a kind of sustenance to them. I often think of a novella as a "light snack" where a lengthy epic is more of a hearty meal.  What could look tastier than this? Book cupcakes! Nom, nom, nom.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Picture book mini-reviews 16

Dream Big: Michael Jordan and the Pursuit of the Olympic Gold
by Deloris Jordan, illustrated by Barry Root
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
May 2012

Michael Jordan's mother offers her perspective on Michael Jordan's athletic success in this lengthy picture book. Her emphasis on "homework first!" felt a bit didactic, and seeing his Olympic dream far outweigh thoughts of a pro-basketball career seemed a little artificial, but no matter. Michael Jordan fans and kids looking for sports books will gobble this one up. Full-color watercolor and gouache illustrations by Barry Root (known for his book covers on sports chapter books by Tiki Barber) elevate would could have been an otherwise dull read.

I borrowed this book from the library.

My Teacher
by James Ransome
Dial Books
April 2012

"Maybe that's why she keeps teaching"

Old enough to retire, and having taught three generations of students at the school, a little girl's teacher tirelessly continues to charm, delight, inform and inspire her students. Keep an eye out for the Folkmanis bee puppet which makes an appearance on the 3rd page! The story is long, and a bit on the overly-sentimental side, but I'd bet there are plenty of educators who won't be able to read this without getting a little verklempt. The illustrations appear to be watercolor and pencil, and portray a diverse, friendly urban neighborhood.

I borrowed this book from the library.
Martha Bakes a Cake
by Susan Meddaugh
HMH Books
April 2012

Martha (of Martha Speaks fame) stars in this beginning reader title. Endpapers feature scrambled alphabet soup letters. This is an adaptation from the Martha Speaks TV show. When Helen (the little girl that Martha lives with) is bummed about not winning a contest, Martha takes it into her head to bake a cake to cheer her up. Martha asks for help from the neighbor and the postman, but she and Skits, the large brown dog of the house, do most of the work themselves. Predictably, they come up with a lumpy, messy cake, littered with dog hair. Thank goodness dad has brought home a fresh cake from the bakery! Short, static sentences that do not use contractions make this an approachable book for young readers.

I borrowed this book from the library.
Marley: The Dog Who Ate My Homework
by John Grogan, Richard Cowdrey and Rick Whipple
May 2012

This book is very typical of any of the books in the Marley beginning reader series. Marley gets a little carried away and eats Cassie's science project: a mobile of the planets made of fruit. What kind of dog eats fruit, I ask you? Anyway, just when everyone thinks that Marley's ruined everything, Marley saves the day, by bringing the family balls to make the solar system with instead. Cue the 1950's laugh-track! The watercolor illustrations featuring a happy Caucasian family, wearing conservative clothes (especially Cassie's pinafore dress) give this a mildly Dick and Jane feel.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Waiting on The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart

I loved Darker Still, so it will be interesting to see how things pick up in the sequel.

The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart
by Leanna Renee Hieber
Sourcebooks Fire
November 2012

For Natalie Stewart, a normal life has never seemed so far away. Her only solace, Lord Jonathan Denbury, is wanted for murder. To clear his name, Denbury must return to England and assume the role of his demon doppelganger. But Natalie begins to doubt his true motives, especially as a new gentleman begins whispering in her ear. Natalie and Denbury may be able to visit each other in their dreams, but they can't escape the darkening shadows. Amid spontaneous explosions, friends turned enemies and dangerous secrets revealed, there's still a demon who has Natalie's scent, and someone is trying to resurrect the ultimate evil.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Awesome Book video

Have you seen this Google Chrome ad, featuring An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton? I like the upbeat spirit, and Clayton's hipster vibe.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Picture book mini-reviews 15

by Holly Hobbie
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
April 2012

Here's a book that kept me guessing. Starting out with a lengthy handwritten letter from Gram to her granddaughter Hope, I thought this would be a complex, wordy story. Not so! After the first page, the art takes over, and we follow the wordless adventures of little Gem the toad who survives nearly being hit by a car and being chased by a hungry hawk until he's rescued by a little girl, and set free in a nighttime garden full of flies. The book is appended with a few toad facts. Many of the watercolor, pen and ink illustrations would be lovely as framed art - particularly those scenes featuring Gem happily hidden amidst the greenery.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Olivia and the Kite Party
adapted by Alex Harvey, illustrated by Patrick Spaziante
Simon Spotlight
May 2012

Based on the TV series, this beginning chapter book offers bright, digital illustrations and a fairly prosaic storyline about Olivia's efforts to make her own kite, and then host a kite-flying party. Undemanding fans of the Olivia series may enjoy this easy to read adventure of pig-headed determination to get that kite aloft, but this book has absolutely no comparison to the understated elegance of the original Ian Falconer book that birthed the Olivia franchise.

I borrowed this book from the library.

The Berenstain Bears and Mama for Mayor
by Jan and Mike Berenstain
April 2012

A less than dazzling entry into the Berenstain Bears franchise. Still, this book will be easy to recommend around Mother's Day, or during any election year. Simple, repetitive language and a easy to follow plot make this a good choice for very beginning readers to build confidence. Mama Bear is frustrated by the potholes on the road, and conceives of a plan to run for mayor. After an exciting campaign, where she gets carried away and begins to promise anything and everything, including "honey in every pot" and "salmon in every stream," Mama wins the race! A somewhat cynical ending shows Mama (like many politicians) overwhelmed and unable to make good on her campaign promises.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Two Little Monkeys
by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jill Barton
Beach Lane Books
January 2011

How utterly delightful! This book features a simple rhyming text and two sweet little grey monkeys, Cheeky and Chee who are busy avoiding a jaguar. Lovely, full-color double-spread illustrations feature lots of soft tans, blues and greens. Keep a sharp eye out for the jaguar, hidden on nearly every page! A gentle storybook perfect for the under two year-old set.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Waiting on Rebel Heart

I put off reading the first book, Blood Red Road, for ages, but once I picked it up, I was hooked. Fortunately, I don't have too much longer to wait for the sequel.

Rebel Heart
by Moira Young
Margaret K. McElderry
October 2012

It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Goodnight Dune

Here's a brilliant homage to the sci-fi classic. Goodnight Dune, written by Julia Yu is available to read online. Check it out!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Demons of the Ocean review

Demons of the Ocean
by Justin Somper
Little, Brown, Young Readers
January 2005

First Line:

This book is so ridiculously easy for me to book talk. Typically, I tell kids "
It's about pirates... who are also the undead! It's about vampires... who sail the high seas! It's about... VAMPIRATES!!!" Aaaaand, sold! Who can resist a pitch like that?

In this thrilling action adventure, twins Connor and Grace are devastated when their father dies and leaves them penniless. They quickly make their escape from an orphanage and sail away from the lighthouse island they grew up on. A sea storm later, Connor ends up on a pirate ship, while Grace ends up battling for her life on a vampire ship. Connor soon takes up sword-fighting lessons, which come in handy during several battles. Grace, on the other hand, must use her wits to puzzle out the mystery of what exactly is going on aboard the macabre vessel where she's being held captive. The story is told in alternating chapters, which I absolutely love. This is the first in the Vampirates series. If you like this one, follow it up with Tide of Terror, Blood Captain, Black Heart, Empire of Night and Immortal War.

Compare to these other series: 
Crystal Doors - Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta
The Akenhaten Adventure - P.B. Kerr
The Alchemyst - Scott Michael
The Emerald Atlas - John Stephens

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Waiting on Crewel

This sounds amazing! Can't wait to read it.

by Gennifer Albin
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
October 2012

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Audition Monologues for Young Women review

Audition Monologues for Young Women: Contemporary Audition Pieces for Aspiring Actresses
by Gerald Ratcliff
Meriwether Publisher
September 2011

Ratcliff's latest collection of audition monologues are arranged by "mood" or tone, resulting in chapters such as "Songs of Regret and Romance," "Songs of Faith and Folly," and "Songs of Rage and Retribution." Young actors would do well to study the introduction which thoroughly details audition etiquette and encourages actors to approach auditions with confidence, dignity and professionalism. Most of the audition pieces are original works featuring passionate, high-stakes drama. Extensive background notes which set the scene for each monologue could enable busy actors to jump right in without reading the entire play. While the subject matter of some of the monologues, such as divorce or the death of a child, skew a little too old for most teens to believably play, budding actresses should find plenty of fresh material here.

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

Friday, October 5, 2012

Read in September

This month I read the following books:

1 House of Night: Legacy - P.C. Cast

2 Austenland - Shannon Hale
3 Forgiven - Jana Oliver
4 Ordinary Beauty - Laura Weiss
5 The False Prince - Jennifer A. Nielsen

Picture credit: Reading with Green Umbrella by Berthe Morisot

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Waiting on Mystic City

Sounds a bit like a dystopian Romeo and Juliet. I like the sound of it!

Mystic City
by Theo Lawrence
Random House Children's Books
October 2012

Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself. 


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