Friday, May 31, 2013

Read in May

This month I read the following the books:

1. Shades of Earth - Beth Revis
2. Vibes - Amy Kathleen Ryan
3. Meant to Be - Lauren Morrill
4. The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
5. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom - Christopher Healy
6. I'm Going to College, Not You! - Jennifer Delahunty, ed.
7. Allegiance - Cayla Kluver
8. Claim to Fame - Nancy K. Wallace
9. Out to Lunch - Nancy K. Wallace
10. The Mystery of the Golden Key - Nancy K. Wallace
11. Freakling - Lana Krumwiede

Picture credit: Reading Time by Vladimir Volgov

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dust Girl review

Dust Girl
by Sarah Zettel
Random House Books for Young Readers
June 2012

First line: "Once upon a time, I was a girl called Callie."

I was highly skeptical when I heard about this faery-inspired alternate history that takes place in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. I had trouble imagining how heartless foreboding faeries (which I always picture as woodland dwellers) would fit into the dry and dusty climate of 1935 Kansas. It turns out Zettel did an amazing job - the malevolent otherworldly creatures are masters of illusions, and are fond of extracting promises which they honor to the letter if not the spirit.

Callie LeRoux is growing desperate as her mother has disappeared and money and supplies at their bed and breakfast are running perilously low. Naturally, no new business is forthcoming, as the remote village of Slow Run is quickly becoming a ghost town. People are abandoning their lives, picking up and moving away in the night, in hopes of finding any kind of relief from the crushing poverty they face in Kansas.

Callie's certain the sudden arrival of the haughty and demanding Hopper family, clearly well-to-do, is just the stroke of luck that will help her pull things together. Unfortunately, she couldn't be more wrong. She and hobo runaway Jack end up fleeing for their lives, as Callie struggles to hide her biracial heritage from both humans and fae. I loved the imagery of the evil fae as locusts over the land. Much of the book feels lonely as Callie flees across the empty Midwest towards California. You know that dream you have where you're being chased and you're running and running, but just can't seem to get away? It feels like that. This book was a lot scarier and less romantic than I had thought. I'd recommend this for mature middle-grade and teen readers who enjoy a bit of a scare along with their history.

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

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dragonswood review

by Janet Lee Carey
Dial Books
January 2012

First line: "I am seven years old. My father takes me to a witch burning."

This story has a strong sense of the medieval time period... if faeries and dragons co-existed in an uneasy truce with humans. Seventeen year old Tess lives in a small peasant cottage with her mother and abusive stepfather on the edge of a tiny village. She fights her compulsion to explore the nearby cursed Dragonswood on a daily basis, but gives in nearly every night, sneaking out to enjoy nature and spy on dragons. Tess lives in terror of being married off to a gross wealthy old man chosen by her father, or worse of being accused of witchcraft - she didn't ask to be gifted with fire-induced visions.

Following the death of her infant brother, and the arrival of an aggressive witchhunter, Lady Adela, who seems eager to fill a quota, Tess and her two best friends, Meg and Poppy, make a run for it. It takes Tess a long time to warm up to Garth Huntsman, a ranger they encounter in their travels. Of course, he turns out to be the same man from Tess's visions. As various elements from an ancient prophecy begin to come together, Tess finds herself negotiating between Onadon, the former fey king, Lord Kahlil, a very senior dragon and the (mostly) human royal family. A nice treat for fantasy fans, Carey skillfully weaves several mythologies seamlessly together into a rich and complicated world.

Compare to:
Dragon's Keep - Janet Lee Carey
Seraphina - Rachel Hartman
Firelight - Sophie Jordan
Alchemy and Meggy Swann - Karen Cushman

I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, May 24, 2013

5 Apples Felt Board

I've been seeing this felt board around for a while, and finally decided to make my own version. I love it! I start out with the pieces turned around, and flip them when they get "eaten." Easy to make, and the kids go wild over the "bites" in some of the apples.

I modified this rhyme a bit:

Five little apples
Hung in a tree
The farmer wasn’t looking.
So guess who came to eat?
A worm! Munch munch munch!

Four little apples... (etc.)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Top 10 Covers

This week's Top 10 Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top 10 Favorite Covers of books you've read. Here are mine:

Wow, I guess I have a thing for dark blue covers with a splash of red! One important thing about a cover is that it promises what kind of story lies within, and I think all of these do that very well. 

As far as The Selection goes, there are dozens of "girl in a pretty dress" covers, but I really do love this one. Sidekicks, written by the same guy responsible for the Word Girl tv show really grabs your attention with that roundhouse kick. Bunheads and Lost Voices - no secret as to what those books are about: ballerinas and mermaids, respectively. The thing that I like about Divergent's cover is that it very subtly reminds readers of Catching Fire - you know it's going to be an exciting dystopian right away. 

I like the swirling red effect on Vesper. The Raven Boys is one of those covers that the internet simply cannot do justice to. You must see it in person! The white background has a light pearlized effect, and the darkness of the raven's wings hides all kinds of details. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one cover that I didn't know what to make of, at first. I wondered if it took place in New Orleans, since the mask reminded me of Mardi Gras. What you can tell from this cover is that the book is going to have secrets (it totally does) and that it's going to be awesome (it definitely is.) 

I like that The Time-Traveling Fashionista features an illustration, not a photo, and that she looks so carefree. It's right on the edge of being a mature middle-grade read, or a young YA and I think that comes across. Finally, Pink is another cover that grabbed my attention because of the stark contrast between the pink and black - a lot like what the main character goes through in the book!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Spoiled review

by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
June 2011

First line: "Arugula, put them down. You know thigh-high sandals give you cankles."

Sixteen year old Molly Dix is shocked to discover that her biological father is actually Brick Berlin, a rich and famous Hollywood movie star. Molly is overwhelmed after the loss of her mother to cancer and even more stunned when she moves from her small town in Indiana into her father's mansion. Brooke Berlin is the bratty shopaholic half-sister that she's never met and is none too pleased at this sudden intrusion into her domain. Meanwhile, Brick's heart is in the right place, but he's never been the sharpest knife in the drawer and cluelessly thinks that the girls will quickly become the best of friends.

It takes Molly and Brooke a long time to settle their differences and realize that the real enemy is a catty "friend" of Molly's who's been pumping her for info to sell to gossip magazines.

Cocks and Morgan, the creators of the, deliver plenty of typical Hollywood shenanigans including run-ins with the paparazzi, exotic health food diets, celebrity children with "unique" names such as Arugula, wild house parties, cute boys and a social scene with plenty of backstabbing young starlets. 

Compare to:
Gossip Girl - Cecily Von Ziegesar
Private - Kate Brian
L.A. Candy - Lauren Conrad
The Princess Diaries - Meg Cabot

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

Friday, May 17, 2013

Picture book mini-reviews 29

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
May 2012

Litwin and Dean can't go wrong! A funny, catchy book, easy to sing, popular at storytime, teaches subtraction, and a great message: don't cry over spilled milk (or missing buttons, as the case would have it.) Pete's trademark grooviness is evident as he waltzes past a beach and an ice cream truck, losing buttons all the way. When all the buttons are gone, there's one more surprise... Pete's still got his... bellybutton! Don't miss out on this wonderful crowd pleaser.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Creepy Carrots!
by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
August 2012

What a sublime book. It's just a touch creepy, but the the hilariously inspired silliness of a carrot actually being terrifying prevents things from getting too serious. I loved lines such as "terrible carroty breathing" and the "soft.. sinister... tunktunktunk of carrots creeping." as the main character, a bunny, fears he's being stalked by ill-intenioned carrots. There's a limited palette of black, white and orange, which makes reading this book feel like watching an old horror movie. Plenty of carrots on the end pages, too. Creepy Carrots would be great for Halloween or anytime.

I borrowed this book from the library.
Squid and Octopus Friends for Always
by Tao Nyeu
Dial Books for Young Readers
June 2012

Squid and Octopus are wonderful and charming in this collection of short stories of two best friends with a gentle sense of humor. Each of the stories emphasizes how the two have got each other's back for encouragement and support. I like the limited palette of white, blue, green and yellow and the cute artistic style. Squid and Octopus are sure to join the ranks of other dynamic duos such as George and Martha, Frog and Toad, and Bink and Gollie.

I borrowed this book from the library.
Everything Goes: In the Airport
by Brian Biggs
Balzer + Bray
September 2012

Busy detailed pages, some in graphic novel format feature plenty of sidebar info and speech bubbles. Think Richard Scarry's insane labeling crossed with the humorous hidden details of Martin Handford's Where's Waldo series with a decided transportation bent. This is sure to be endlessly pored over by young airplane fans.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spring Clean-Up on the TBR

As always, my list of things "to be read" seems hignormous. That's a word I just made up to mean "huge and big and enormous."

I'm cleaning it up - removing duplicate titles, deleting things that should have been deleted long ago and so forth.

Here are most of the books I'm removing. If anyone sees anything that looks like a terrible tragedy to miss, let me know in the comments, and I'll (sigh) add it back to the list.

The Book of Tomorrow
Hunting Lila (Lila, #1)
Addison Blakely:  Confessions of a PK
Geek Fantasy Novel
Half-Blood (Covenant, #1)
Fairy Bad Day
Hidden Wives
The Thing About the Truth
Sirenz (Sirenz #1)
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues (Darcy & Elizabeth, #1)
The Amaranth Enchantment
Ashes (Ashes Trilogy, #1)
Zombies Vs. Unicorns
Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
The Raft
Unforgotten Coat
Jefferson's Sons
Future Imperfect (Future Imperfect, #1)
The Demon's Lexicon (The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy, #1)
Abandon (Abandon Trilogy, #1)
The Story of Us
So Close to You (So Close to You, #1)
Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress (Ash Mistry Chronicles, #1)
A Thief of Nightshade
Don't You Wish
A Weekend with Mr. Darcy (Austen Addicts #1)
When You Open Your Eyes
Unraveling Isobel
The Sky Always Hears Me: And the Hills Don't MindThe Last Princess (Last Princess, #1)
The Magnolia League (Magnolia League, #1)
Witches of East End (The Beauchamp Family, #1)
Night School (Night School, #1)
Angel Eyes (Angel Eyes, #1)
Out of My Mind
Drink, Slay, Love
The One That I Want
Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)
The Boy at the End of the World
The Butterfly Clues
Forgiven (Faithful, #2)
The Possibilities of Sainthood
Spirit's Princess (Spirit's Princess, #1)
All That Bleeds (Etherlin, #1)
The Unquiet
How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else
When Rose Wakes
Cross My Heart (Cross My Heart, #1)
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre
Blood Magic (The Blood Journals, #1)
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading (Charlie Joe Jackson, #1)
The Julian Game
Bad Taste in Boys (Kate Grable, #1)
The Sphinx Project (The Chimaera Chronicles, #1)
Falling Under (Falling Under, #1)
Department Nineteen
The Eleventh Plague
The Trouble with May Amelia (May Amelia, #2)
Tangled Tides (The Sea Monster Memoirs, #1)
Hereafter (Hereafter, #1)
Crush Control
If I Lie
Skin Deep
Pure Red
Awaken (Awaken, #1)
The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Griffin Rising (Book One: Earth) (Griffin #1)
Lexapros and Cons
Darkness Becomes Her (Gods & Monsters, #1)
Amplified (Amplified, #1)
Wildefire (Wildefire, #1)
The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
This One Time with Julia
Human.4 (Point 4, #1)
Epic Fail
Sean Griswold's Head
Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories
Shadow's Edge (Shadow's Edge, #1)
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)
Dark Angel (Dark Angel, #1)
The Sweetest Thing
Eyes Like Stars (Théâtre Illuminata, #1)
My Beating Teenage Heart
One Moment
The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon
Hourglass (Hourglass, #1)
The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind
Marty McGuire

Cleopatra Confesses
The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary Queen of Scots (Young Royals, #7)
The Fires Beneath the Sea
From Then to Now: A Short History of the World
Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)
Getting Somewhere
Firespell (Dark Elite, #1)
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
Ghetto Cowboy
Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever.
When Life Gives You O.J.
Rampant (Killer Unicorns, #1)
Blood Wounds
Around the World
Dreaming Anastasia (Dreaming Anastasia, #1)
The Vinyl Princess
Jane Austen: A Life Revealed
Withering Tights (Misadventures of Tallulah Casey, #1)
So Shelly
Someday Dancer
Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell
Shooting Stars
Past Perfect
Various Positions
Once in a Full Moon (Full Moon, #1)
Child of the Mountains
Alice in Zombieland (The White Rabbit Chronicles, #1)
Spellbound (Spellbound, #1)
The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy
Just Your Average Princess
The Romeo And Juliet Code
Ladies in Waiting
Imaginary Girls
Fallen Angel (Fallen Angel, #1)
Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality
Ashes, Ashes
Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale
Hound Dog True
Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries, #1)
The Temptation (Kindred, #1)
Putting Makeup on Dead People
Crashed (Cold Awakening, #2)
The Queen of Kentucky
The Other Life (The Other Life, #1)
My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me: And Other Stories I Shouldn't Share with Acquaintances, Coworkers, Taxi drivers, Assistants, Job Interviewers, Bikini Waxers, and Ex/Current/Future Boyfriends but Have
The Luck of the Buttons
Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters


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