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Showing posts from February, 2013

The Runaway King

Man oh man can Jennifer Nielsen write a story that captures you and won't let you out of its grip until it's done. That was the case with last year's The False Prince (my thoughts) and its sequel, The Runaway King, has the same effect.

**Spoilers for The False Prince ahead. If you haven't read that one, read it, then come back and read this.**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

The Runaway King starts fast and doesn't let up t…

The Nightmare Affair

When I discovered there was a book coming out about a girl who was a literal Nightmare I was super excited. The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett has a great concept. When I began reading it I was afraid the execution would not quite live up to it. I'm glad I stuck with it though because I thoroughly enjoyed the second two thirds.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.
Literally.
Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.
Then Eli’s dream comes true.
Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the kille…

When Someone Asks You to Pick a Favorite Book...

“Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you'd most like not to lose.”-Niel GaimanI love this quote because it is true. If you are a book lover this question should cause  you to panic a little. I try to never answer it. Yet for some reason I was thinking about it one night. Maybe it was reading Fahrenheit 451 with my high school students this year. Or maybe it was reading Inside Out & Back Again with my 4th-6th grade students and the part where Ha has to choose just one thing to take with her from her home. Do you know how many books I own that I would want to take? Whatever prompted the wondering there it was: If I HAD to choose...If I was told I could only own ten books what would they be?...Which books would I be heartbroken to have to live without? Deep thoughts we have while taking showers...
In a strange coincidence my sister emailed me the very next day and asked me this very question. She said, "I know it will be hard but I need you to pick…

Odette's Secrets

Odette's Secrets by Maryann Macdonald is a historical fiction novel based on facts from the life of a real girl who fled Paris and lived as a hidden child during the Nazi occupation because she was Jewish.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
For Jews in Nazi-occupied Paris, nowhere is safe. So when Odette Meyer’s father is sent to a Nazi work camp, Odette’s mother takes desperate measures to protect her, sending Odette deep into the French countryside. There, Odette pretends to be a peasant girl, even posing as a Christian–and attending Catholic masses–with other children. But inside, she is burning with secrets, and when the war ends Odette must figure out whether she can resume life in Paris as a Jew, or if she’s lost the connection to her former life forever.

 Stories of the many Jewish children who hid within other families and pretended to be some one they aren't are fascinating to me. Odette's story is no different. The first person narration helps the reader really s…

Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality

Why did I want to read Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg? The title was a huge motivating factor. Then I found out beauty pageants were involved too and couldn't resit. It's a good book, though not entirely what I expected it to be and I was a little disappointed as a result.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny...but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).
Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wa…

Jepp, who defied the Stars

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh would not have been a high priority read for me were it not chosen to compete in this year's SLJ Battle of the Books. The premise intrigued me, but I probably would have waited until my library received a copy. BoBs prompted me to buy it and push it to the top of my TBR. I'm grateful for this because I LOVED it. (BoB, this more than makes up for making me buy Life: an Exploded Diagram last year.)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Fate: Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born?
Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands?
Jepp of Astraveld needs to know.
He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them; but it breaks…

2012 Cybils Winners!!!!

It is Valentine's Day and you know what that means! BOOKS! This is the day the Cybils are announced and it's International Book Giving Day. I always take my kids to the bookstore and they get to pick out any book they want. Then we go to are local cupcake bakery and get cupcakes. Good day all around.

I was most excited to wake up this morning to see what books had won the Cybils. After months of hard work and reading by so many bloggers the results are in. You can see the full list here.

Here are some I'm particularly excited about!

Fiction Picture Book Winner: A Home For Bird by Philip C. Stead
This makes me so  happy. I love this book. My kids love this book. It is just utterly perfect in so many ways. I love Stead's artistic style and the story is the right mix of sweet and humorous.

Nonfiction Picture Book Winner: Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Another truly excellent choice. I never knew this story before reading the boo…

Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities

Countless people have praised high and low Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung. So many people I know and trusted recommended this book that by the time I finally acquired a copy my anticipation level was pretty high. And it totally lived up to it.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Can knowing the most superhero trivia in the whole school be considered a superpower?
If so, Vincent Wu is invincible.
If not (and let’s face it, it’s “not”), then Vincent and his pals Max and George don’t get any props for being the leaders (and, well, sole members) of the (unofficial) Captain Stupendous Fan Club.
But what happens when the Captain is hurt in an incident involving BOTH Professor Mayhem and his giant indestructible robot AND (mortifyingly) Polly Winnicott-Lee, the girl Vincent totally has a crush on?
The entire city is in danger, Vincent’s parents and his friends aren’t safe, the art teacher has disappeared, and talking to Polly is REALLY, REALLY AWKWARD.
Only Vincent Wu has what it…

Favorite Kissing Scenes

When thinking of a favorite things post I could do for February I decided it would have to be kissing. I've already done couples and I was feeling in the mood to do something fluffy and Valentine's related. So kisses it is. I read more MG than YA, and the YA I read tends to not focus on romance so this was actually harder than I expected it to be though a few jumped into my head right away. (And one of my choices does actually come from a MG book. One is adult. Gasp!)

The actual scene from the book is quoted followed by my thoughts.

The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and a groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day
.-The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Turner doesn't write these scenes of…

Quicksilver

R.J. Anderson is a favorite of mine. I love everything she writes, whether it is fantasy about butt-kicking faeries or mind blowing science-fiction. And boy oh boy is her latest novel, Quicksilver, mind blowing. It will mess with your head in a way only the best books can.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenaged girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it.
Now she’s left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can’t escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual... talents.
Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn’t escaped her past. In fact, she’s attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a g…

A Song for Bijou

I found A Song for Bijou by Josh Farrar one day on NetGalley and was immediately intrigued. I had not heard about it prior to that and after reading the synopsis I knew I had to read it. A contemporary book about a Brooklyn boy who falls for a newly arrived Haitian immigrant? We don't get many of those and I am happy to say that it is a good one.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Life for Alex Schrader has never involved girls. He goes to an all-boys prep school and spends most of his time goofing around with his friends. But all that changes the first time he meets Bijou Doucet, a Haitian girl recently relocated to Brooklyn after the earthquake-and he is determined to win her heart. For Bijou, change is the only constant, and she's surprised every day by how different life is in America, especially when a boy asks her out. Alex quickly learns that there are rules when it comes to girls-both in Haitian culture and with his own friends. And Bijou soon learns that she doesn'…

Beswitched

Beswitched by Kate Saunders has two elements I love: a boarding school and magic. It made it on to my TBR for that reason. It moved its way to the top when it was shortlisted for this year's Cybils.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
A magic spell has spun Flora into the past. She's mysteriously swapped lives with a schoolgirl in 1935! No iPod? No cell phone? No hair products? How will she survive?
Now Flora's a new girl at St. Winifred's, where she has to speak French at breakfast, wear hideous baggy bloomers, and sleep in a freezing dormitory.
But lots of adventures in the past are amazing even if they are not forever. How will she find her way back to the 21st century?


Flora is a behaving like a spoiled brat at the beginning of the novel though in a way most MG readers will be able to identify with. She does improve, but it took a little too long for me to ever really warm to her as a character. The story is an interesting one and I like the contrast between modern life…