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Showing posts from January, 2013

Cover Love: Hero's Guide to...

Cover Love is hosted by Bookshelvers Anonymous and is for the purpose of sharing the love of amazing and wonderful covers.

Today I am featuring Christopher Healy's Heros Guide books. These covers are some of my favorites to show up in the past couple of years. As a bonus the cover is even better when you spread the whole jacket out and see it in its entirety. (At least it was with book 1, hoping for the same with book 2.)
 I adored The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom cover from the first time I saw it. Then I read the book and loved it even more because it just nails the whole things so perfectly. Characters, story, ambiance. It gets it right. The fierce defiant look on Ella's face. The sneering bratty face on Briar Rose. Liam's face and the what-is-wrong-with-you-girl-why-would-I-want-to-marry-someone-like-you expression he's giving Briar Rose. Perfect.

I really didn't think they would be able to match that first cover. But they did. The Hero's Guide …

First Light

Being greatly fond of both When You Reach Me(my thoughts) and Liar & Spy (my thoughts) I thought is was high time I read Rebecca Stead's first novel First Light. I am very glad I did.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Peter is thrilled to join his parents on an expedition to Greenland, where his father studies global warming. Peter will get to skip school, drive a dogsled, and–finally–share in his dad’s adventures. But on the ice cap, Peter struggles to understand a series of visions that both frighten and entice him. Thea has never seen the sun. Her extraordinary people, suspected of witchcraft and nearly driven to extinction, have retreated to a secret world they’ve built deep inside the arctic ice. As Thea dreams of a path to Earth’s surface, Peter’s search for answers brings him ever closer to her hidden home. 

Like Stead's other works First Light is a mystery of sorts. I love the way she writes, creating a tone of uncertainty and yet connecting the reader to the chara…

And The Winners Are...

Newbery
Honors:
Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal-the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

My Thoughts: I really like this group. Bomb was my favorite going in and I'm happy to see that it won an Honor. I like that this is a diverse group of books with many different strengths and a wide range of appeal.

Printz
Honors:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Dodger by Terry Pratchett
The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna

My Thoughts: As usual when confronted with a Printz winner all I can think after reading the synopsis is, "Wow that sounds hopelessly depressing." Some of the Printz Award winners have surprised me (two actually). I'm really disappointed Code Name Verity didn't win, but at least it won an Honor.

Caldecott

Honors:
Creepy Carrots! illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynol…

Monday's Award Announcements

Monday is the day that all kid lit lovers look forward to with bated breath. After months of reading, analyzing, discussing, and rooting for our favorites we will know the winners of the 2013 Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz medals. Exciting stuff. As always I have some thoughts. And they are MY thoughts. I don't do predictions.

The Newbery is the award I'm the most familiar with both in terms of past winners and current contenders so we will start there.

I will be over the moon with happiness to see any of these win:

I will be almost as pleased to see a host of other books get that shiny gold sticker: The One and Only Ivan, Splendors and Glooms, Starry River of the Sky,Crow, (though I would like to see another genre than historical fiction win the day this year). I may cry if Wonder (which I liked but think is far from the most distinguished book of the year) or Summer of the Gypsy Moths (which I neither liked nor found distinguished) wins. I think it would be tremendous if the…

SLJ's Battle of the Books 2013

The contenders for School Library Journal's Battle of the Books has been posted. This should give everyone plenty of time to read all the books. I am excited because I only have three to read. The list this is year is the top notch. Monica, Roxanne, and Jonathan did a great job as usual.

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin (my review)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (my review)

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (my review)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (my review)

Jepp Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (my review)

Moonbird by Philip Hoose (my review)

No Crystal Stair by Vauda Micheaux Nelson (my review)

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (my review)

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (my review)

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (my review)

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin (my review)

Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery

Three Times Lucky by Shiela Turnage (my review)

Titanic by Deborah Hopkinson 

Wonder by R.J. Polacio (my review)

I would be happy …

Hattie Ever After

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson is the sequel to her incredibly popular much beloved Newbery  Honor book Hattie Big Sky. It's been a while since I read the first book. I remember enjoying it, but I enjoyed Hattie Ever After even more. Probably because I am a city girl and my eyes sort of glaze over reading anything about the prairie. Also Hattie Ever After is really well crafted.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
After leaving Uncle Chester's homestead claim, orphan Hattie Brooks throws a lasso around a new dream, even bigger than the Montana sky. She wants to be a reporter, knowing full well that a few pieces published in the Arlington News will not suffice. Real reporters must go to Grand Places, and do Grand Things, like Hattie's hero Nellie Bly. Another girl might be stymied by this, but Hattie has faced down a hungry wolf and stood up to a mob of angry men. Nothing can squash her desire to write for a big city newspaper. A letter and love token from Uncle Chester&#…

The Boyfriend List

There are several YA titles that came out when my daughter was first born that I missed out on and I have wanted to read for ages. I decided that I should probably do something about that rather than just thinking about it. I started with The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart. I read the much acclaimed The Disreputable History of Frankie  Landau Banks by Lockhart and had mixed feelings overall, but liked the writing so much that I really wanted to give one of her other books a go. This one I enjoyed oh so much.


Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Fifteen-year-old Ruby has had a rough ten days. During that time she:
   * lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list)
   * lost her best friend (Kim)
   * lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
   * did something suspicious with a boy (#10)
   * did something advanced with a boy (#15)
   * had an argument with a boy (#14)
   * had a panic attack
   * lost a lacrosse game (she's the goalie)
  …

The Order of the Phoenix

Featuring Bit (Age 8)

Bit and I are continuing our slow reading of the Harry Potter books. (This journey will be coming to an end this summer as I have promised to read books 6 & 7 back to back. I'm really kind of sad about this.) I was nervous about The Order of the Phoenix because aside from the first book and last book it is my favorite. I didn't have as many issues reading this one aloud as I did with The Goblet of Fire (our thoughts).

The Story
Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected...

Bit's Thoughts
I really liked The Order of the Phoenix, but I think Harry is getting too obnoxious. He's whiny and spends too much time feeling sorry for himself. Now I wish it didn't have t…

Scarlet

I enjoy a good Robin Hood retelling. I truly do. And because I don't have a great love for the source material I don't really care what people do to it. I was looking forward to reading Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen. Unfortunately the experience did not quite live up to my expectations. It is a good swashbuckling adventure story. But I had some issues.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.
It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.


Scarle…

Goblin Secrets

Goblin Secrets by William Alexander came on to my radar via Betsy Bird at Fuse 8. When it was named as a National Book Award Finalist I moved it up the TBR. When it actually won the NBA I figured it was time to get serious about reading it. Two months later...It took me longer to get to this than it should have. My experience reading it has some resemblance to this. I was intrigued by the beginning but found myself easily distracted and not overly interested so it took me longer than it should have to finish it too.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
In the town of Zombay, there is a witch named Graba who has clockwork chicken legs and moves her house around—much like the fairy tale figure of Baba Yaga. Graba takes in stray children, and Rownie is the youngest boy in her household. Rownie’s only real relative is his older brother Rowan, who is an actor. But acting is outlawed in Zombay, and Rowan has disappeared.
Desperate to find him, Rownie joins up with a troupe of goblins who skirt t…

Favorite Settings (non-fantasy)

Back in November of 2012 (remember that far?) Stacked did a week on Contemporary YA. Molly Backes wrote a post on the importance of setting during that week. It was followed by a post with a list of Contemporary YA with stellar settings. This had me thinking about the subject of setting, which honestly I give little thought to. I am a character then plot girl. Setting is seemingly less important, yet when it is done wrong it screams out at you. Likewise when it is done right it can entice you. The best authors will make you want to go where there book takes place. I wrote a My Favorite Things post on Fantasy Worlds a long time ago. I figured realistic fiction settings that inspire should get the same treatment. Why is it two months after the inspiring post from Stacked? I already had all my Favorite Things posts scheduled for 2012. Better late than never right?

These are in no particular order.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
As Ed and Lucy dash all over Melbourne, Australia looking at t…

Shorter Musings: YA Fantasy

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. Those are the books that are reviewed quickly on Goodreads and then I move on. Some of those are starting to pile up so I thought I would put them all together in one post.

Here are some YA Fantasies I've read recently and my shorter musings on them.

A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix
I don't know what it is, but drop me into an Epic Fantasy world and no matter how odd the names or different the world I'm totally there. Not so much with Sci-Fi. In the first few pages as Prince Khemri was talking about all the different teks I was like-hubba wubba wha??? Still, I settled into the story and really enjoyed the first half. I liked Khemri, ignorant arrogance and all. I loved the world building and politics of the Empire. The second half didn't work quite as well for me as I had a hard time buying any of it. The romance. Khem's turn around. The end. I guess I wanted a diff…

Hokey Pokey

Jerry Spinelli is a prolific and much beloved children's book author. His books have always been sort of hit or miss with me. Loser,Crash, and 2011's Jake & Lily (my thoughts) were hits. Maniac Magee and Wringerwere misses. Spinelli's new book Hokey Pokey falls in this latter category. Those are the books the Newbery committees seem to like though so what do I know? I know that I did not enjoy this book even a smidgen.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Welcome to Hokey Pokey. A place and a time, when childhood is at its best: games to play, bikes to ride, experiences to be had. There are no adults in Hokey Pokey, just kids, and the laws governing Hokey Pokey are simple and finite. But when one of the biggest kids, Jack, has his beloved bike stolen—and by a girl, no less—his entire world, and the world of Hokey Pokey, turns to chaos. Without his bike, Jack feels like everything has started to go wrong. He feels different, not like himself, and he knows something is abou…

Navigating Early

Clare Vanderpool won the 2011 Newbery Award for her debut novel Moon Over Manifest (my thoughts). You can bet that many will be keeping their eyes on her new MG novel, Navigating Early.I personally enjoyed this one far more than the first, though not unequivocally.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
At the end of World War II, Jack Baker, a landlocked Kansas boy, is suddenly uprooted after his mother’s death and placed in a boy’s boarding school in Maine. There, Jack encounters Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as a story and collects clippings about the sightings of a great black bear in the nearby mountains.
Newcomer Jack feels lost yet can’t help being drawn to Early, who won’t believe what everyone accepts to be the truth about the Great Appalachian Bear, Timber Rattlesnakes, and the legendary school hero known as The Fish, who never returned from the war. When the boys find themselves unexpectedly alone at school, they embark on a quest on the Appalachia…

Most Anticipated Reads of 2013

2013 should be another great year for reading. I'm looking to many beloved series and trilogies being continued or concluded, as well as some excellent looking stand alone novels coming out. I'm already saving up money for March and April. Those two months are going to be expensive.

Coming in January:
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (YA): The first in an expected trilogy, this is about the daughter of the infamous Dr. Moreau from H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau. How intriguing. Releases January 29

Coming in March:
The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen (MG/YA): The sequel to 2012's The False Prince, I'm very interested in seeing where Nielsen takes the story she has begun. I was unable to unequivocally love the first book, but the writing and concept have so much potential. I hope this book meets it. Releases March 1 Mirage by Jenn Reese (MG): The sequel to 2012's Above World, I'm beyond excited about this one. Above World was one of my favorite r…

The Cybils Shortlists Are Up!

October when we were nominating the books seems like such a long time ago, and yet it also feels like just yesterday. It's been a strange fall for me.

You can find all the shortlists here.

There are some great books on all the lists and a couple things I was surprised about. Also disappointed with, but that is ALWAYS the case when favorites don't make the cut.