Sunday, December 30, 2012

Read in December

This month I read the following books:

1 Chime - Franny Billingsley

2 Witch Eyes - Scott Tracey
3 Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone - Kat Rosenfield
4 Spark - Amy Kathleen Ryan
5 Incarnate - Jodi Meadows
6 Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver
7 Better Nate Than Ever - Tim Federle
8 Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder
9 The Magicians - Lev Grossman
10 How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You - Matthew Inman
11 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot
12 It's the Little Things - Lena Williams
13 The Other Normals - Ned Vizzini

Picture credit: The New Novel by Winslow Homer

Friday, December 28, 2012

Picture books mini-review 24

Laundry Day
by Maurie J. Manning
Clarion Books
April 2012

This picture book is in a graphic novel format for very young readers. In a turn of the last century New York tenement, a Jewish boy tries to find the owner of a red scarf in his diverse neighborhood. There's a nearly wordless flow to the story, as he makes his way through alleys and across rooftops with agile grace and greets neighbors from Poland, Ireland, and Jamaica, among other places. The book is appended with a set of vocabulary words from many cultures.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Good News, Bad News
by Jeff Mack
Chronicle Books
July 3012

Compare this funny title to the classic Fortunately, Unfortunately by Remy Charlip. It's mostly wordless - kids will have to puzzle out the "good" news and "bad" news as it happens in the cartoon-like pictures. Rabbit and Mouse go on a picnic... but it rains... but they have an umbrella, etc. etc. Funny and clever.

I borrowed this book from the library.
Zayde Comes to Live
by Sheri Cooper Sinykin, illustrated by Kristina Swarner
Peachtree Publishers
October 2012

Stunning, sad and wonderful. Zayde comes to live at their house... but the unspoken truth is that it won't be for long. He's very ill - and this is a book about preparing a child for the idea that our elders won't be with us forever. The grandfather in the story is pictured with oxygen tubes in his nose. A moving story. I cried!

I borrowed this book from the library.
The Lonely Book
by Kate Bernheimer, illustrated by Chris Saban
Schwartz & Wade
April 2012

The life cycle of a library book! From much sought after "new" status, to regular old shelfer, to hidden gem... to forgotten, beat-up old book, this storybook gets a second chance at the library booksale, to go home with a little girl who cherishes the book, even though it's worn-out and dusty, with the final page ripped out. Watercolor and colored pencil illustrations have a softly smudged gentle quality.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Waiting on Level 2

I guess I'm on a sci-fi kick lately. This looks great.

Level 2
by Lenore Appelhans
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
January 2013

In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Eyes Have It

Couldn't help but notice... a number of cover designs that employ an eye on the spine of the book, staring out at the reader.

Here's the list:

Zero - Tom Leeven
Extras - Scott Westerfeld
Breaking Up is Really, Really Hard to Do: A Dating Game Novel - Natalie Standiford
Bound - Donna Jo Napoli
The Tension of Opposites - Kristina McBride
Last Sacrifice - Richelle Mead
Ask Me No Questions - Marina Tamar Budhos
Dawn - Kevin Brooks
Candor - Pam Bachorz

Friday, December 21, 2012

Picture books mini-reviews 23

Fox and Crow Are Not Friends
by Melissa Wiley, illustrated by Sebastien Braun
Random House Books for Young Readers
August 2012

What starts out as an Aesop's fable inspired story goes in a different direction, in this beginning reader collection of funny short stories about the enmity between Fox and Crow. Longer sentences, with simple vocabulary and a "chapter" organization make this book perfect for kids who aren't quite ready for chapter books yet. As Fox and Crow squabble over cheese (their favorite snack) readers will be surprised and pleased to see them both get their much deserved comeuppance from Mama Bear.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
by Jane Cabrera
Holiday House
August 2012

Just beautiful! Cabrera extends the traditional song into many new verses. The pictures are colorful and appealing. There's a hint of gold foil on the cover, which I know always catches children's attention. End pages include a silhouetted forest of animals and sheet music for the song. I have not felt quite confident enough to sing this one in storytime - I think for the right group, especially babies or smaller size groups this would go over very well indeed. The pace of the song would seem to demand a slow and gentle reading, just right for very young children.

I borrowed this book from the library.

What Can a Crane Pick Up?
by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Mike Lowery
Knopf Books for Young Readers
September 2012

Cute! This book was a hit at storytime. It's a wonderful truck book at a rarely looked at kind of truck, with a good sense of humor. Things get wacky when the cranes lift... other cranes! Or boxes of underwear! Plus, there's a super ending, with a crane that might pick up you, and you, and YOU!

I borrowed this book from the library.

Oh, No!
by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
Schwartz & Wade
September 2012

What a great book! I read this with one year olds, and they enjoyed the repeating phrases - and finding the hidden tiger on every page! A storytime success.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Waiting on Shades of Earth

I love this series so much. Can't wait to find out how it ends.

Shades of Earth
by Beth Revis
January 2013

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceshipGodspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience. But this new Earth isn't the paradise that Amy had been hoping for. Amy and Elder must race to uncover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. But as each new discovery brings more danger, Amy and Elder will have to look inward to the very fabric of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been meaningless.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chance Fortune and the Outlaws review

Chance Fortune and the Outlaws 
by Shane Berryhill
July 2006

First line: Joshua Brent Blevins had wanted to be a superhero for as long as he could remember.

14 year-old Joshua isn't about to let the small fact that he doesn't happen to have any superpowers stop him.  Rejected from the superhero academy, his mentor, Captain Force, forges him a new identity, "Chance Fortune" whose (difficult to prove, and subtle) power is "good luck."

Once he's at school, "Chance" spends a lot of time hoping desperately not to get caught.  Even as a "superhero" he's classed among those with lesser abilities.  He attempts to make up for this by suiting up with as many high-tech gadgets as allowed.  I loved the scenes where Chance first gets to school and gets to pick out his superhero outfit which was a cross between meeting with a fashion consultant and weapons expert.

The students at Burlington Academy for the Superhuman spend a good deal of time in mock battles preparing themselves for their lives of crimefighting.  Chance is soon teamed with Psy-Chick, Gothika, Iron Maiden and Private Justice who find themselves squaring off against the school champions led by Superion, a real bully.  I was reminded a lot of the Harry Potter "purebloods vs. mudbloods" conflict. 

This was a fun campy read.  Some of the battle sequences got a bit long, I thought, but on the whole, I very much enjoyed it.  It ends on a huge cliffhanger, a certain set-up for more in the series.

Compare to:
Sidekicks - Jack D. Ferraiolo
Rise of the Heroes - Andy Briggs
The Rise of Renegade X - Chelsea Campbell

I borrowed this book from the library

Friday, December 14, 2012

Picture books mini-reviews 22

Tell Me About Your Day Today
by Mem Fox, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Beach Lane Books
September 2012

Hurrah! A bedtime picture book from Mem Fox. This one starts out, "There once was a boy who loved bedtime." Ha! Way to hoodwink 'em! When the boy settles in to bed, he shares stories with his stuffed animals. "The who, the what, the why, and the way... the whole thing... turned out okay." Marvelously soothing repetition creates a calming effect. In a roundabout way, we learn of the boy's adventure jumping in the rain, repairing his stuffed bunny's damaged fluffy tail, and a picnic under a blanket fort in his living room. Acrylic illustrations feature lots of dark blues and oranges. The endpages include the same sun pattern from the boy's favorite blanket. Add this to your repertoire of goodnight stories... it'll have kids nodding off in no time.

I borrowed this book from the library.

My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs and High Fives
by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell
September 2012

Funny, messy, exuberant and sometimes a little gross, this picture book details many "firsts" of a first grade girl: first day at school, first new friends, first horse-riding lesson, first library card. I didn't love this book as much as Curtis' earlier efforts, but it still makes a nice addition to any "first day of school" collection.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Bailey at the Museum
by Harry Bliss
Scholastic Press
September 2012

Bailey the dog is excited to head out to the Natural Science museum on a school field trip. He's a bit naughty (goes to chew on a dinosaur bone!) but pulls himself together by the end of the story and saves the day by sniffing out the rest of the group when they get lost. The thing that struck me the most about this book was that all the characters loved to read! All the kids are reading graphic novels and comic books on the bus ride. Even the museum guard whips out a book about how to guard things during his lunch break. Easy to read with large illustrations and clear speech bubbles, this is a nice selection for kids who aren't quite ready for graphic novels yet.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Stephen and the Beetle
by Jorge Elias Lujan, illustrated by Chia Carrer, translated by Elisa Amado
Groundwood Books
August 2012

A thought-provoking take on an everyday event. A little boy notices a beetle, and is just about to squash it, when he decides to slow down and watch where the beetle is going instead. What a great way to open a discussion about mindfulness of nature and the creatures in it. The foreign language translation works beautifully - the text flows very well. Collage illustrations featuring acrylic, ink, pencil, oil pastel set a somewhat serious tone. This is a contender for the Batchelder award for sure.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Waiting on Revolution 19

I'm in the mood for something science-fictiony. This could fill the bill!

Revolution 19
by Gregg Rosenblum
January 2013

Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on us.

Only a few escaped the robot revolution of 2071. Kevin, Nick, and Cass are lucky —they live with their parents in a secret human community in the woods. Then their village is detected and wiped out. Hopeful that other survivors have been captured by bots, the teens risk everything to save the only people they have left in the world—by infiltrating a city controlled by their greatest enemies.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Goddess Interrupted review

Goddess Interrupted
by Aimee Carter
Harlequin Teen
March 2012

First line: "Calliope trudged through the sunny field as she ignored the babble of the redhead trailing behind her."

Kate Winters' adventures as the newest member of the immortal group of Greek Gods continues in this sequel to The Goddess Test.

Things heat up pretty quickly when Cronus, the Titan father of the original six Gods of the Council has reawakened. His daughter Hera/Calliope is eager to take advantage of his ancient evil powers to finally overthrow Kate once and for all.

One thing that really satisfied me about this book was that finally, the seemingly random renamings of the Greek Gods were explained. Why on earth was Hera called Calliope? And why did Zeus choose to call himself Walter, of all things? Answers were finally forthcoming in a way that at least seemed to make some kind of sense to me.

Henry a.k.a. Hades unfortunately remains as much as a cold fish as ever! If he was passionately interested in Kate... but just too shy, or perhaps too burnt out to try to love again, that I could totally buy. But, poor Kate moons after him, and he doesn't seem to return her feelings. I just want to slap Kate and say, "Girl! Sometimes he's just not into you!"

Okay, I admit it. I'm solidly Team James. What's not to like? Charming, funny, Kate's best friend, James a.k.a. Hermes is perfect for Kate! My main disappointment with the book is that it seems to be discouraging girls to regard the loyal best friend as a romantic choice, and instead encourages girls to throw themselves at the cold, distant, emotionally unavailable, Edward Cullenesque "bad boy." Ugh.

I enjoyed this book, even though I was on the fence about whether or not to continue reading the series after reading the first book which was only ho-hum to me. I wanted to like this series, I really did. And I feel that I've been more than fair - I've really tried to give this series a shot and stuck with it through the second book. But, I don't think I can keep up with it.

Compare to:
Underworld - Meg Cabot
Starcrossed - Josephine Angelini
Fury - Elizabeth Miles
Sweet Venom - Terra Lynn Childs

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

Friday, December 7, 2012

Picture books mini-review 21

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses
by Ian Falconer
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
August 2012

Olivia, that ever sassy pig, returns in this latest installment of the popular series. Olivia, as always, marches to the beat of her own drummer. While other girls are enamored of pink, bejeweled princesses, Olivia is ready to question everything they stand for. ""Why is it always a pink princess? Why not an Indian princess or a princess from Thailand or an African princess or a princess from China?" she cries. "I'm trying to develop a more stark, modern style," she says. As a child of the 70's, this kind of anti-girly-girl feminist message is like mother's milk to me. Melodramatic, endearing Olivia finally declares, "I want to be queen." Pink stars decorate the endpages.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Cecil the Pet Glacier
by Matthea Harvey, illustrated by Giselle Potter
Schwartz & Wade
August 2012

Bizarre, fascinating and strange. This book is about a girl who is so desperate for a pet, she ends up saddled with a mini-glacier. This is so decidedly odd, I wondered if this was a foreign translation! Nope. It's American. Ruby Small likes to think of herself as an aggressively normal kid.It's not her fault that her father is a topiary artist, and her mother is a tiara designer. Relatively flat watercolor illustrations depict a straight-faced family amidst some pretty zany ideas with tongue-in-cheek humor. When Cecil the Glacier appears to imprint on a reluctant Ruby, her first words are, "Oh, no... Please no." I loved the way Ruby's father calls her by the pet name "hedgeling." Poor little Cecil has a lot of personality for a bob of ice. He's devastated when Ruby is picked on at school, "Cecil shed a tear... from the area where his eyes would have been if he'd had eyes, which he didn't." Ruby comes around after Cecil saves one of her three dolls, all named Jennifer. The story ends with a promise of Ruby starting to embrace her inner weirdness.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Annie and Snowball and the Grandmother Night
by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Sucie Stevenson
Simon Spotlight
September 2012

A sweet little beginning reader about a warm and happy family relationship. I always get a little nervous reading books for young children about grandparents - will the grandmother pass away? No, thank goodness! This is a just a light-hearted, enjoyable recounting of all the fun things that Annie does on a weekend visit with her grandmother: baking cookies, watching a movie, telling bedtime stories.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Ten Tiny Toes
by Todd Tarpley, illustrated by Marc Brown
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
September 2012

Sweet and cozy, this is a wonderful celebration of adorably scrumptious babies. A diverse group of families share one thing in common: a deep and abiding connection to their children. Cut paper, gouache and colored pencil illustrations reminded me a little of Brian Karas. End papers show baby footprints walking across the page. Lovely!

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Waiting on Prophecy

Demon slayers? Lady warriors? Cryptic prophecies? Count me in!

by Ellen Oh
January 2013

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Read in November

This month I read the following books:

1 Mystic City - Theo Lawrence

2 50 Shades of Grey - E.L. James
3 So You Wanna Be a Superstar: The Ultimate Audition Guide - Ted Michael
4 The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater
5 Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading - Nina Sankovitch
6 The Third Wheel - Jeff Kinney
7 The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory
8 The Fox Inheritance - Mary Pearson
9 Amulet #4: The Last Council - Kazu Kibuishi
10 The List - Siobhan Vivian

Picture credit: The Missal by John William Waterhouse


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