Monday, July 10, 2017

McLeod Thompson YA Contemporary

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to my YA books blog where I review the best in YA with some tech thrown in!

Right now I'm up to my eyeballs in Pitch Wars. You'll want to visit the #pimpmybio Blog Hop.

Pitch Wars is an online forum/contest where writers (hopefuls) connect with others and enter their completed manuscripts in an attempt to be chosen as one of the lucky few who will go on to the mentor and agents rounds. You can read about the rules here. This year, I have decided to step up and be noticed. #pimpmybio tells you about how to do one of these posts. Here is my #pimpmybio:

Pimp My Bio


I'm McLeod Thompson.This beautiful American bulldog is Beaudacious.

 Sabotaging Reality is my YA manuscript that mixes reality television, teen snark, mean girls, a pop princess, a boy from Montana,  a genius tech best friend, the Teen Choice Awards, Hollywood, a secret millionaire, a buried family secret, a Caribbean island, a three week competition, a category 5 hurricane and sabotage.  It is a cross between "Survivor" and 'Big Brother.'





I am having AHA moments every day in this writing competition. Other times I have, "OMG" moments. Then I have work to do. 

The critique partners have been a huge help with pointing out strengths and weaknesses. I would suggest every writer have several critique partners. One just is not enough. My manuscript has been a work in progress for over a year (hey, I work full time and review/blog) and my forever CP has been my BFF who is writing her own novel. We have read every word of our work, but we have still missed things until Pitch Wars. Pitch Wars has brought out the best voice of our characters.

If you are thinking of writing a novel or have been, I suggest you head over to #pitchwars to see all the fun/tears. Wish me luck, friends. This is no easy task. It is a toil. It is enlightening. It is draining. It is worth it.



Weird facts about me: 

1. I won a jalapeno eating contest while pregnant by devouring 21 whole raw jalapenos. The baby is now 22 years old and hates spicy food.

2. I collect bizarre kitchen tools like pizza shears
and pie birds.

3. Growing up with gear heads disguised as human brothers, I was forced into racing motorcycles and drag cars. I have a lifelong love of anything on two wheels and sometimes four.

4. I was a lifeguard--still love the beach, hate the ocean.

5. I am a secret kitchen ninja and have won large online recipe contests.
The recipe for the grilled cheese sandwich is yummy and full of awesome delishousness that your doctor warns you about.


6. I rescue dogs. U  currently have eight rescues: 3 boxers, 1 American bulldog and the rest are a gaggle of yippy little creatures. Dog names: Beaudacious, Bongo, Berkeley, Bronco, Bon Jovi, Bandit--I see a trend developing here you may be thinking--Smeagle and Ozzy, oops! Broke the trend. Actually many of them had other names when we rescued them, but I renamed them their forever names. Don't listen when people tell you that you can't rename a pet. Yes, you can! 

6. Pitch Wars has made me bake more than I ever have. For inspiration, I bake a cobbler or cookies or whatever. My husband is happy about that!


I LOVE:

Reality tv, of course. I'm a sucker for all the Real Housewives shows. I don't care. I think they are hysterical!
I love rock, Pearl Jam, Metallica, and Billy Idol.
Country: Toby Keith, Hank Williams, Jr., Keith Urban, George Strait
YA novelist: Libba Bray and Andrew Smith 
Films (not movies): To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, The Goonies
Comedy move: It still makes me laugh, so when I need laughter, I see "Dumb and Dumber"--comic genius.
Adult novels of all time: Life Among Giants, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikrey, The Shadow of the Wind, A Man Called Ove 
Best Rock Song of ALL TIME: "Sympathy for the Devil"--the Rolling Stones

Good luck to everyone. You are all amazing and helpful, and I'm so glad I have decided to enter. Who knows. My next BFF might just be one of you! That's all the warning you'll get.





Thursday, June 29, 2017

Middle Grades Pick: Quicksand Pond

Quicksand Pond
by Janet Taylor Lisle
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
2017
240 pages
ISBN: 9781481472227


Quicksand Pond is the story of two strangers, young girls who meet on a pond in New England one summer. Jessie's family (minus her mother) travels to Rhode Island for the summer renting a decrepit cottage on the shore of Quicksand Pond and steps away from the Atlantic shores. Older sister Julia is not thrilled to be carted off to the backwoods where wi-fi is a joke. She soon discovers the beach and the local kids. Jessie finds a raft at the pond's edge and like a true adventurer, she pushes off on it to the middle of the pond. Without a pole or paddle, the raft is nearly worthless. Jessie uses reeds to pull herself back to shore hours later.

Local kid Terri Carr makes her presence known from the start. She tells Jessie about old stories that have become legends in the town. A husband and wife murdered in the big house on the pond years ago, the crime never solved. People drowning. Another house burned to the ground. Folks around there know who is responsible but Terri is not saying. Terri has her own baggage--her father has a mean temper and a quick hand.

An old woman lives in the huge mansion still. She was a girl when the family was murdered--they were her parents and she witnessed the crime. Now she's an old lady subject to flights of fancy. According to her nurse, the old lady never makes sense. But....what if Miss Cutting isn't just babbling? What if she carries the clues to solve the old cases?

Quicksand Pond has all the elements that make a strong middle grade read--an old unsolved mystery, a couple of drownings, a town rife with rumors, family money and family secrets, a rural setting far enough away from city life, a father who has failed, a family in ruins, two very different girls who meet and become friends, and an unknown villain who wants to keep the past buried forever.

A quick and enjoyable read!

Highly, highly recommended grade 4-up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Monday, June 26, 2017

YA Pick: A Short History of the Girl Next Door

This book makes me
A Short History of the Girl Next Door
by Jared Reck
Knopf Books for Young Readers
2017
272 pages
ISBN: 9781524716073

Move over, Sarah Dessen and John Green. Make way for Jared Reck. A Short History of the Girl Next Door is the most promising book of 2017.  Reck has captured unique characters who will resonate with readers. Teen voices are pitch perfect, spot on, memorable and lovable.

Matt (Matty) Wainwright grows up with Tabby who seems more like a sister than a neighbor. Tabby's mother walks away from the family leaving Tabby with a working father who can barely deal with himself. Matt's family steps in and raises Tabby as the daughter they never had. Tabby and Matt share every day together for years until high school. Tabby begins to drift away and into the arms of a senior basketball star.

In high school, Matt realizes he  has "feelings" for Tabby. She has always been there--his partner in crime--the kid he could always count on. A girl, yes, but most of all a friend. Suddenly,  he sees how the light shines off her hair, how the way she moves is like no other girl, how she walks into the room and the atmosphere changes. She is the Halloween Nerds for Matty--"...so good, so amazing, they're not even part of the rankings...You're the Nerds, Tabby," Matt tells her. This line, like the ubiquitous, "You had me at hello," from movie "Jerry Maguire" will be quoted forever. It is the most perfect line of YA prose--capturing both the promise of something indescribably sweet and the youthful innocence of first love.

Besides falling for Tabby, Matt has a fierce love of basketball and his drive to make the varsity team is intense. Teammate and best friend Trip is the perfect sidekick for Matt--bright, hilarious and under it all, deeply caring. All the characters in this YA are so well developed that it is hard to close this book--and readers won't want to!

Make no mistake, this is not a simple love story. It is not a sports story. It transcends both those labels and all others. It is that ONE book you will FEEL long after you finish the last page. A Short History of the Girl Next Door will cause laughter and tears. I wept buckets as I kept turning the pages. Bring your BOX of tissue; you will need the entire box. This YA debut is my early pick for TAYSHAS.

Brilliant cover design and a title that is the best in YA debuts. The marketing department gets kudos for this one!

I see this one as the next big Hollywood teen film! Jared Reck, quit your day job and please write faster! I cannot say it loud enough--this is a MUST READ.

Highly, highly recommended! Put this on your order form NOW. Publishing drop date is September 26, 2017--make sure you reserve your copy!

Grade 9-up. Some language that is "normal" for high school students.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Picture Book Pick: Bad Guy

Bad Guy
by Hannah Barnaby
Illustrated by Mike Yamada
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2017
32 pages
ISBN: 9781481460101


Devious, dastardly and devilish, Bad Guy is a delight! A young boy has great adventures being a bad guy. He is a pirate and treasure hunter, he captures superheroes, he goes to space and swallows astronauts and on Friday, he even eats his sister's brain! Bad Guys always get in trouble, and when Mom lays down the law, even a Bad Guy can turn Good.

Mom takes the children to the library where the Bad Guy gets books with all kinds of ideas and he begins to plot his Bad Guy strategy. But sometimes even Bad Guys are outsmarted! Readers will love the unexpected and fun plot twist. This is a book that both young boys and girls will cheer for!

Smart illustrations with inside jokes are sure to please adult readers. The book Alice is reading is titled Eat, Prey, Love (wink)! This author and illustrator team is a winning one!

Highly, highly recommended ages 1-up. Great fun and sure to be Audrey-approved! (Audrey is my 2 year old niece who KNOWS what she likes!)

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Best New Titles 2017- Pamela's Picks

I presented these new YA, early readers, middle grade and adult titles at the LEND conference 2017. These are AWESOME and some early medal winners picked (by me)!

Best New Titles 2017 Pamela's Picks 

LEGO Wall Presentation- LEND Conference Presentation

Here's my journey to create our GIANT, EPIC LEGO wall in the library

LEGO Wall Presentation 

MaKe Some Noise In the Library LEND Presentation

If you're not making noise, moving and shaking things up, your program is stagnant! Here are some great ideas to get you started or to enhance what you already have:

Check out this Power Point presentation from LEND 2017 for area and Texas and New Mexico libraries;


Make Some Noise 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fairy Tale Reimagined: Bean Stalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales

Bean Stalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales
by Kiersten White
Scholastic Press
2017
240 pages
ISBN: 9780545940603

Publication date: Available July 25, 2017

Who doesn't love a catty narrator who knows everything and drops hints for the readers along the way? Kiersten White takes mid-grade readers on a romp through some of our best loved fairy tales twisting the stories so that they are darker, gloomier, and scarier and much, much more fun.

Rapunzel with her locks of hair "locked" in a tower awaits her prince. The bumbling prince manages to scale the side of the castle tower and meets a glowering Rapunzel who points out the obvious--there is a door! On the other side of the tower if  the prince had simply walked around it, he would not have  needed to climb her hair!

Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea, Jack and the Beanstalk and other tales are twisted into comedy gold by White. The wood represents everything magical, scary, strange, weird, and possible. The narrator teases the readers, "No? You....want to go into the deepest, darkest woods? But nothing good ever happens there! Fine. Don't say I didn't warn you."  The Huntsman in the Snow White story is as dopey, loopy, and stupid as a comic clown could be.  The queen writes her instructions in a note and gives it to her Huntsman with the hope that he will somehow carry out her wishes to kill the "creature" in the bag (Snow White). The Huntsman nods and smiles and never tells the queen that he can't read. Comedy ensues.

Laugh out loud funny, Bean Stalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales is my early pick for the Texas Bluebonnet List and likely to be in the running for the Newbery. Biting satire, diabolic dialog, hilarious hi-jinks, and cunning characters make this book a true charmer. This is a Scholastic Book and bound to be on fall book fair. It will probably be the bestseller of the year!

The cover design is appealing and a trick for your eyes. What do you see? Look carefully. There is more than one way to "see" this cover. The cover alone will sell this book. Simply brilliant marketing!

Highly, highly recommended grade 5-up. Strong readers grade 4 will also enjoy  this book but may not understand some of the puns or  digs. Pick this one up and be delighted!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Bedtime Story Pick: The Too-Scary Story

The Too-Scary Story
by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic
2017
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545732420

Available June 27, 2017

Bethanie Murguia ( Zoe's Room, Zoe's Jungle) continues to wow the preschool and young readers world! Her clever stories depict  sibling rivalry and family love that adults will remember from their younger years. Little ones will giggle at  the active banter between the younger brother and the older sister.

Grace wants a scary story; Walter wants a story, but not a too-scary story. Papa gamely begins his story, " One night, two brave explorers and their dog were walking through the forest. It was very, very dark." Walter decides dark is too scary, so Papa lightens it up. Each time Papa begins to tell a creepy story, Grace is enamored while Walter is terrified. Poor Papa has to balance the scary elements (dark, forest, shadow) with not too-scary elements (fireflies, bunnies). In the end, the children are snug in their beds and they each got their kind of story.

Illustrations capture the spookiness of the forest, the presence of the animals in the night,  the fear in the children's eyes, and the intelligence and curiosity of their dog who is their constant companion. It is a book like this one that will make city dwelling kids beg for a dog!

Highly, highly recommended for preschool and young readers. This one is sure to be Audrey approved! (My little niece)

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

YA Pick Things I Should Have Known

Things I Should Have Known *
by Claire LaZabnik
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2017
311 pages
ISBN: 9780544829695


What a breath of fresh air! Things I Should Have Known is that rare YA novel that stands out among all the dystopian novels, magical realism (?) novels, urban fiction, vampire/zombie/werewolf/witch paranormal novels, and sweet romantic tales. This novel has not only heart but SOUL, strength and brains!

From the outside looking in, Chloe Mitchell has it all. She's blond, pretty, popular, smart and dating the most handsome jock in school. Girls want to be her, boys want to date her. Chloe's sister Ivy is twenty and is on the autism spectrum. The girls' mother is remarried to Ron, a guy Chloe tries to "tolerate." Chloe's mother tries hard at pleasing everyone which quite simply pleases no one.

When Ivy begins to show an interest in finding a boyfriend of her own, Chloe thinks it is a fine idea and even gives Ivy a makeover. Chloe drives Ivy to her date with Ethan, a boy in her class. Ethan's brother David drove him to the date. Chloe sees DAVID and realizes that she is stuck making small talk with him while her sister and Ethan have their date. Chloe knows David from high school and hates him. He is rude and mean to her. He belittles her for dating James. David' s dry wit and sarcasm will win readers over early on.

Stuck together over several dates, Chloe begins to realize how adorable David truly is. He is sensitive, sweet, smart and a great brother to Ethan. Chloe starts to see all of her boyfriend James's shortcomings.

Things I Should Have Known is a sweet book about friendship, romance and sisters. Chloe, David, Ethan and Ivy are characters that readers will fall in love with. LaZebnik handles the subject of autism with grace, wit, and intelligence. It will open readers' eyes and hearts (I hope) to kids and adults like Ivy and Ethan. Cover art is mind blowing! The play on the title words is nothing short of brilliant. Kudos to the marketing design team.

If you read one YA novel this summer, Things I Should Have Known should be that novel!

Highly, highly recommended grade 9-up. Some mature content (heavy petting, innuendo) and mild profanity by today's standards.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
*I hope I have not offended anyone by using the term autism or autism spectrum. This is an honest and helpful review that I hope shows my love of this book. No offense was intended.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review: Unearthly Things

Unearthly Things
by Michelle Gagnon

Read what I think of Unearthly Things! 

see my School Library Journal published review here 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Picture Book Pick: Egg

Egg
by Kevin Henkes
Illustrations by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books
2017
32 pages
ISBN: 9780062408723

This seamless, striking and sensory picture book by master Kevin Henkes is sure to please young readers. This is one  book that MUST be read ALOUD.

There are four eggs: One pink, one blue, one yellow and one green. The first three hatch and little birds enter the world and fly away. The birds come back to visit the green egg. They examine it, wander around it, listen to it, peck at it and surprise! It's an alligator that emerges the green egg. The birds are excited and rejoice at their new friend, but he cannot fly with them. They realize that they will have to stay earthbound for him. They climb up on his back and go for a ride.

What seems simple in a children's book is the hardest thing to pull off. How do you make a lasting impression with so few words? It is something Henkes should be lauded for.

The perfect book for teaching about eggs and the fact that not only birds lay them! This is one book that I know will be Audrey-approved! (Audrey is my 20 month old niece) To be Audrey approved is strong praise indeed!

Highly, highly recommended for every young reader and all collections. A MUST HAVE.

FTC required disclosure: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.



YA Review: No Good Deed

No Good Deed
by Goldy Moldavsky
Scholastic
2017
352 pages
ISBN: 9780545867511

Available May 30, 2017

No Good Deed is set up around a promising premise. Young activists are chosen by billionaire entrepreneur/do good-er Robert Drill (who is a caricature of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates) to  attend a teen summer camp/activism competition. Gregor Maravilla is excited to get an invitation to attend  his idol's camp. He dreams of winning the internship to work alongside Robert Drill, his long time hero.

Sarcasm and zingers abound but most of the characters never come to life. No Good Deed satirises  activism's flaws and the p.c. fishbowl that we live in.  Gregor keeps getting called "white" and insists he is half-Mexican although no one believes him. Half the humor comes from Gregor trying to direct his inner thoughts to be p.c. He has to keep apologizing to himself for even his own thought process.

Every camper is competing for his/her own cause--the more far-fetched, the funnier. At least that's how the book is supposed to read. The kids are so checked out and into themselves that they don't bother knowing anyone else's real name. They refer to each other by their specific cause. There's I Like Paint, Feed the Children, Men's Rights, Seat Belt Safety, and Diabetes.

Gregor is not excited that teen movie star Ashley Woodhouse is at the camp. Her campaign is Eat Dirt which she insists is a real thing. Eating dirt would save the planet according to Ashley and end world-wide hunger. Gregor keeps trying to avoid Ashley, yet everywhere he turns, she pops up.

Moldavsky's debut Kill the Boy Band is a tough act to follow. Goldy Moldavsky is still funny, but her humor is contagious when her protagonists are female and flawed. In No Good Deed, Gregor never engages as the central force of this novel.

Grade 9 and up. Some humor and funny moments, but this one falls short.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Picture Book Pick: Big and Little Are Best Friends

Big and Little Are Best Friends
by Michael Garland
Illustrations by the author
Orchard Books
2017
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545870979

Big and Little Are Best Friends is a sweet story about friends who like different things yet still get along and love each other. Polar opposites attract in this tale of friendship. Rhyming lines like, "Little's books are scary./Big's books are sweet./ Big likes to nibble./Little likes to eat" with captivating illustrations make this an entertaining and MUST read aloud.

In fact, Big and Little are so opposite, they sometimes do fight, "..But they always make up,/ And it's always all right." The classic pairing of a mouse and an elephant is perfect for Big and Little. Although it's been done before, it has never been done with this exhurberance!

Young readers will see that friends can get mad, but that they do forgive and stay friends.

This one is a sure winner. Michael Garland's illustrations are full of soul! Big comes alive in the pages with his lifelike eyes and facial expressions. He is a joy to behold! Who knew a picture book elephant could be so real? Kids are certain to respond to him.

Highly, highly recommended for young readers and to teach values of friendship, acceptance, and forgiveness.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.