Thursday, October 23, 2014

Non-Fiction Pick: 77 Things You Absolutely Have To Do Before You Finish College

77 Things You Absolutely Have To Do Before You Finish College
by Halley Bondy
Zest Books
2014
191 pages, with resources
ISBN: 9781936976003

Informative and insightful, this book will give college bound grads some ideas what their future will be like. The book is divided into seven sections: Around the Pad (dorm room or apartment), Getting Out and About On Your Own, Taking Advantage of School, Being Social, Body and Health, Spoil Yourself, and For the Future.

Renting an apartment for the first time is a scary adventure. The author warns readers to take an experienced person with you--someone who has rented or bought property before (like a parent, older sibling or friend) will know what questions to ask, will point out faults and weaknesses of the property and its condition, and will be able to "translate" the lease agreement. This is sage advice even for young people who think they know everything. As a licensed realtor myself, I see how some apartment managers/property management companies can take advantage of the young, the inexperienced, the na├»ve, or the just plain ignorant lessee.

Other entries are  creating  a photo collection, joining a political campaign, joining  a college group, eating  all alone at a restaurant, trying  some weird kind of food like squid ink pasta and volunteering  at a shelter. "Learn Self Defense" does not show up until mid-book, but I think it should have been the #1 entry. College age students, primarily girls, should be aware of national statistics and take pro-active steps to avoid dangerous situations According to a report from the CDC, "In a study of undergraduate women, 19% experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college." That is a staggering number! At my daughter's university, incoming freshmen and transfer students are given a lecture by campus police at orientation. The police warn to walk in groups and there is an app to contact campus security. The all call system warns students of dangerous situations such as a campus lock down or severe weather.

This book is the ideal going away gift for high school seniors and graduates. Although the cover is underwhelming to say the least, the information is valuable and well-organized. The cover should have been more colorful, maybe with a collage of college (haha, see what I did there?) symbols--a few mascots (made up ones, of course so the publisher does not have to pay for them), car keys, textbooks and a bill from the book store for over $1000 for just 3 textbooks, a microscope, pom poms, a football field, and a bowl of ramen--the staple of dorm rooms worldwide!

Recommended for any high school senior--either going away to college or commuting.

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


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

YA Pick: Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words
by Katie Alender
Point
2014
320 pages
ISBN: 9780545639972

PRAISE FOR FAMOUS LAST WORDS (from the author's website)
 
“Gothic horror meets Hollywood glamour in this satisfying mystery-thriller with a supernatural twist.” ~ Booklist
 
“Romantic, suspenseful, and so L.A — Katie Alender spins palm trees and movie magic into a killer ghost story that will haunt your heart from first page to last.” ~ Margaret Stohl, NYT bestselling author of the Beautiful Creatures series
 
“This fun, creeptastic book is a thrill ride that kept me guessing until the last moment. Nobody does ghost stories like Katie Alender.” ~ Cynthia Hand, NYT bestselling author of the Unearthly series
“Gothic horror meets Hollywood glamour in this satisfying mystery-thriller with a supernatural twist.” ~ Booklist
 
“Teens will keep the lights on all night to finish reading, but leave them on, just in case.” ~ VOYA
 
“A compelling supernatural thriller.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
 
 
Spooky, supernatural, surreal, and sensational! Famous Last Words will have readers turning pages at breakneck speeds racing to find answers to the mystery and a string of lurid murders.

Willa and her mother have just moved to sunny California. She has a new step-father who just so happens to be a fancy Hollywood director and lives in a  McMansion  in sunny  California. The mansion is well-known in Hollywood as it was built by a once famous actress of yesteryear. Soon, Willa begins classes at a Hollywood high school with the sons and daughters of the  rich and famous.

Willa's real father died two years ago, and she feels responsible for his death. If only she hadn't had a fight with him, he might be alive today she thinks. She tries to contact her  father's spirit every night.

Jonathan, Willa's step-father, tells her about a notorious serial killer who has been striking fear in Hollywood. The Hollywood Killer--as he is known--always kills young, single, pretty wanna-be actresses. He stages each body in a pose from a scene in some famous Hollywood movie. 

Willa meets dark and mysterious Wyatt who has been following the Hollywood Killer case on his own. She accidentally picks up his notebook and sees notes about the killer. Why would Wyatt have such detailed notes? How does he know so much about the case? Only someone close to the killer or the killer himself could know all the things in that notebook. Willa decides to steer clear of Wyatt.

When Willa  starts getting strange visions and having nightmares, she pretends nothing is wrong.  Sometimes she hears water dripping in the house, but after checking all the faucets realizes that there is no water running. Strange warning words appear on the walls of the house, but no one but Willa can see them. Willa is afraid she's going insane, either that, or there's a ghost haunting the mansion.

The visions get worse and more frequent and Willa begins seeing death scenes of the Hollywood Killer's victims. She gets more and more information from each vision and is close to solving the case. The closer she gets to answers, the more dangerous it becomes.

Famous Last Words is an exciting YA read. Katie Alender just keeps getting better and better. She is one writer who can write a great ghost story!

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. No sex. Murder and serial killer.

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


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Monday, October 20, 2014

Early Reader Pick: How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe?

How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe?
by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Mark Teague
The Blue Sky Press
2014
40 pages
ISBN: 9780439241045

The charming cover says it all! Kids of any age will smile when they see the giant dinosaur trying to balance his humungous body on a small bicycle while  Mama frantically waves her arms and shouts in the background and the dog happily runs alongside and seems to be enjoying every precious minute. Illustrations by Mark Teague shine throughout the book and each dinosaur is labeled in every two page spread. Dinosaurs featured on the endpapers are having a rocking-saurus great time, and kids will want to point at each of them and recite their names.

Jane Yolen has a knack at captivating young readers with her prose. The playful book teaches kids some general rules of safety: how to dial 9-1-1, to be sure and take a bottle of water on a hike, always wear a bike helmet when riding a bike, hold hands to cross the street, always cross with the light, and never climb too high.

The book shows attention to detail:  the parents depicted are sometimes papas and sometimes mamas.  Kids will beg to read this dinostory again and again. It's so great, parents will find themselves smiling along with their children.

Yolen and Teague have a library of dinosaur books, and kids will want to collect all their titles.

Highly, highly recommended for everyone and dinosaur lovers everywhere.

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


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Giveaway and Blog Tour: Code Busters Club

 I have 4 FREE books for one lucky winner! Simply post a comment to the blog and please be sure to include first name, city, state, and email. The winner will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Deadline for posts is October 21 at noon MST. Please check your email on that date. The winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email. The books will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont. Good luck and start posting! Pamela
The Code Busters Club – giveaway is Books #1-3 in paperback and Book #4 in hardcover (4 books to one person)
The Code Busters Club series by Penny Warner
Ages 8-12
“[A] fun series sure to appeal to graduates of Encyclopedia Brown and Ivy & Bean.”—Shelf Awareness
“This intriguing tale has vivid characters and such a tantalizing cliffhanger that readers won't be able to resist cracking the next Code Busters.”—Kirkus Reviews
The Code Busters Club, Case #1: The Secret of the Skeleton Key
978-1-60684-390-1
Trade Paperback
2011 Agatha Award Nominee
The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse
978-1-60684-455-7
Trade Paperback
Winner of the 2012 Agatha Award
The Code Busters Club, Case #3: The Mystery of the Pirate's Treasure
978-1-60684-517-2
Trade Paperback
2014 Agatha Award Nominee
2014 Anthony Award Nominee
The Code Busters Club, Case #4: The Mummy's Curse
978-1-60684-459-5
On Sale: 10/14/2014
Hardcover

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tales from a Not-So-Happily-Ever-After (Dork Diaries, book 8)

Tales From a Not-So-Happily Ever After
Dork Diaries, book 8
by Rachel Renee Russell
Aladdin
2014
295 pages
ISBN: 9781481421843

Read an excerpt

Fans of this series will be excited to get the newest book. The cover has massive tween girl appeal with its overload of pretty glitter and the eye-catching purple (lavender?) color will help the book fly off the shelf.

The story (sadly) does not live up to its packaging. The previous Dork Diaries were cute, funny, snarky, and fun to read. Tales From a Not-So-Happily Every After falls flat. Brianna is still a pain in the neck, Mackenzie is still a mean-girl diva, Brandon is still swoon-able and Nikki is as dorky as ever, but the story veers off into fairy-tale land. When Nikki is hit in the head during a brutal game of dodge ball, she blacks out. During her blackout, she "dreams" of every child's fairy tale imaginable: Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Cinderella, and many others.

I wish this Dork Diaries had more of a creative story. I felt a bit cheated that the author used well-known tales to tell a new??? story.

The book will probably have good sales and may make it to the bestseller list on the strength of the titles that came before. Readers may choose to skip the next book (if there is one). It is a shame that the latest in the series is the weakest one of all. The previous Dork Diaries--Tales From a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker--was Russell at her best; too bad the newest title followed such a strong book.

Recommended for fans of the series. Grade 4-up.


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Trilogy Pick: The Infinite Sea (book 2, The 5th Wave)

The Infinite Sea
by Rick Yancey
Putnam
2014
300 pages
ISBN: 9780399162428

Gripping and desperate yet hopeful and healing, The Infinite Sea will have readers whipping through the pages to find out if this is truly humanity's last stand! Rick Yancey is a masterful storyteller who knows how to captivate. The only downside to The Infinite Sea is the sometimes confusing POV and figuring out which character is telling the story. The story jumps around a bit, so read carefully to make sure you don't miss plot points.

Cassie Sullivan and her close band of humans stick together; they are all they've got. The rest of the human race has fallen, and the Others won't stop until they have annihilated the Earth of every last human being. Cassie, Teacup, Zombie, Ringer and Poundcake want to wait for Evan Walker, but they know that time is running out before winter is upon them, or worse, before the aliens find them and kill them.

The group decides to move out. Cassie realizes that the aliens could have killed all of them  by now and wonders what they are waiting for. They should all be dead, yet she is in control and able to outsmart them and matches their every move with calculated chess moves of her own.

There is nothing the Aliens won't do to win, and that includes turning human toddlers into walking bombs. Cassie is horrified and vows to stop the aliens at all cost. Cassie begins to wonder if she is all human. She knows Evan is an alien but he has lived with humanity too long. Evan is beginning to turn human, but Cassie still doesn't completely trust him. Evan has a bad habit of disappearing when the humans need his help, but he promises Cassie that he'll always find her. Are the aliens really behind this Earth takeover? Or could it be someone even more insidious? Maybe all will be revealed in book 3; until then, I can only think, "Wow!"

Cassie is one human girl full of kick-@$$! She isn't about to let aliens win and she won't stand idly by and watch her friends murdered one by one. Note to self: in case of alien invasion and the 5th Wave, find a friend like Cassie and stick to her like glue.

Highly recommended for grade 7 and up. 

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



This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)



Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Giveaway and Blog Tour: BZRK Apocalypse (book 3)

BZRK – giveaway is Books #1 and #2 in paperback and Book #3 in hardcover
BZRK series by Michael Grant
Ages 14 and up
 
I have 3 books for one lucky winner up for grabs! Post a comment to the blog and please include first name, city, state and email. The winner will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Deadline for posts is noon MST on October 15. Please check your email on that date. The winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email. The books will ship from NYC courtesy of Egmont. Good luck and start posting! Pamela
 
BZRK
978-1-60684-418-2
Trade Paperback
2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults
“With simmering pots of sexual tension, near-nonstop action, and the threat of howling madness or brain-melting doom around every corpuscular corner, Grant’s new series is off to a breathless, bombastic start.”—Booklist, starred review
 
BZRK Reloaded
978-1-60684-504-2
Trade Paperback
VOYA Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror 2013
“The graphic descriptions of what the real and artificial creatures . . . Add in some discussable ideas on the ethics of human experimentation and a smart, simple explanation of the potential in nanotechnology . . . . Round out the experience with realistically unpredictable characters and blockbuster action sequences to complete this thoroughly enjoyable, incredibly disturbing story.”—VOYA, perfect 10 review
 
BZRK Apocalypse            
978-1-60684-408-3          
On Sale: 10/14/2014      
Hardcover
★ “A great choice for readers with a strong stomach, an interest in the future of biomedical technology and the essential ethical debate, or anyone willing to embark on an unnerving, frighteningly plausible thrill ride all around the globe.”—VOYA, perfect 10 review
 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Giveaway and Blog Tour: Temple Run

I have one copy of the new Temple Run book up for grabs! One winner wins all 3 books! For your chance to win, post a comment to the blog and please include your first name, city, state and email. The winner will be picked randomly by Randomizer. Deadline for posts is September 25 at noon MST. Please check your email on that date. Winner has only 24 hours to respond to my email. The book will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont.
 
Temple Run: Run for Your Life: Jungle Trek
by Chase Wilder
Egmont
2014
Ages 8-12
 
Temple Run Book One Run for Your Life!: Jungle Trek
Chase Wilder    
978-1-60684-571-4          
On Sale: 09/23/2014      
Trade Paperback
You're a lucky kid--for your birthday, you're having a destination party: a campout and scavenger hunt in an exotic locale. Depending on the choices you make, you will reach safety in time to enjoy your party, or you will be kidnapped and held for ransom, buying Guy and Scarlett time to make off with the treasure. You decide!
 
Temple Run Book Two Run for Your Life!: Doom Lagoon              
Chase Wilder    
978-1-60684-572-1          
On Sale: 09/23/2014      
Trade Paperback
You are an intern and will be accompanying the curator of an antiquities museum during school vacation on a dive to a newly discovered historic shipwreck. Depending on the choices you make, you will either be stranded at sea, drown, explore the wreck, or discover buried treasure. You decide!
 
http://sites.egmont.co.uk/templerun-usa/images/cover-temple-run-downloaded.jpgTemple Run Downloaded Apptivity Book
978-1-60684-573-8          
On-Sale: 09/23/2014      
Trade Paperback
Temple Run Downloaded is a cool, fast, addictive mobile game, and fans can relive the excitement with this activity book shaped like a tablet. Race down ancient temple walls, along sheer cliffs, and avoid evil monkeys as you challenge your brain to solve these fun puzzles. Temple Run Downloaded includes mazes, brain teasers, puzzles, 4 gatefold pages, and 4 sticker pages, with exclusive info about this favorite game and characters. Full color illustrations throughout.
 
 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Horror Pick: Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes
Stephen King
Scribner
2014
436 pages
ISBN: 9781476754451

Master of the macabre, slayer of sanity, wizard of witticism, and maker of mirth, Stephen King is just having fun now.  He even pokes fun at himself and his  earlier books and films--recalling shades of "Christine" when investigating the, "...cops expected the big gray sedan to start up by itself, like that old Plymouth in the horror movie." When the police find a mask worn by the killer, they both note that it's creepy not unlike Pennywise, King's creepy clown from "It."

Not only is it King's job to scare us, he has taken on the responsibility to show us what humans are capable of. And not good humans. Oh, no....not the good ones. He wants us to see the grim and grisly, the evil and egotistical, the broken and the bigot, the narcissist and the narc. King's characters get to say things that no American--at least not during these days of p.c.--- could say in public or polite conversation. But King's characters do! And they do it with a vengeance!

A madman in a Mercedes plows down  a crowd of people in the early morning hours as they line up for a job fair. Police are faced with  the impossible job of finding the car, identifying the driver, and figuring out why anyone would want to kill innocent strangers. Newly retired cop  Bill Hodges is bored and depressed. He watches game shows and inane talk shows and wastes each day, that is until he gets a letter from someone claiming to be the killer.

Now it's a game of cat and mouse, and Bill gets a new lease on life. With the help of a much younger neighborhood computer geek and good kid Jerome, Hodges realizes that in order to catch a rat, you have to set a trap---but a rat as smart as this one is going to take the world's greatest rat trap, and Hodges is nothing if not patient and thorough.

Stephen King tells an epic tale of a madman and the forces of good out to stop him.

 King has become almost Will Rogers-esque with his keen observances of the American culture--however depraved it  has become. This is no small town story. This is no fond remembrance of  times gone by. This is no Garrison Keiller and  Lake Wobegon. King's America is in-your-face, violent, sick and creepy. We have plenty to fear and the madness is everywhere.

It is obvious that King had help with the technical aspects of computers, Internet security and hacking, and computer platforms, and in the author's note, he gives credit to various individuals including two of his sons. It comes in handy to have a few digital natives close by.

Highly recommended for mature readers grade 9-up. If you love King, you will love Mr. Mercedes.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my own reading.  I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)










Wednesday, September 17, 2014

YA Book Giveaway and Blog Tour: Tabula Rasa

I have five copies of Tabula Rasa up for grabs. For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog. Include first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for comments is at noon MST on September 24. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer and will be notified on September 24 by 2:00 p.m. MST. Please check your email on that date. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York.

visit the next blog on the tour A Bookish Escape
"This is a snap-the-whip story, dark and fast. The sparks of humor in the voice won me over. Bottom line: I think the cocktail of suspense and believable smart-assery adds up to an addictive dose of reader appeal."—Blythe Woolston, author of the William C. Morris Award winner The Freak Observer
"A very entertaining game for thriller fans . . . . Both Sarah and Pierce are layered and appealing characters who don’t get too caught up in their own drama—the mayhem around them is excitement enough."—Publishers Weekly
 Publication of Tabula Rasa (September 23, 2014)
About Tabula Rasa
The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this action-packed debut thriller with a Katniss-esque heroine fighting to regain her memories and stay alive, set against a dystopian hospital background.
Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction?
The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she'll need the help of the teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that's blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why . . .
About Kristen Lippert-Martin
Kristen Lippert-Martin has an MFA from Columbia University. She's worked at Time, the world-renowned Brookings Institution, and even had a stint as a stand-up comic before turning to writing full-time. She was awarded the SCBWI's Work-in-Progress grant in 2010. She can be found online at http://kristenlippertmartin.com/.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Crime Pick: The Body in the Woods

The Body in the Woods
(A Point Last Seen Mystery)
by April Henry
Henry Holt
2014
272 pages
ISBN: 9780805098525

An unlikely trio of teens band together as a team after a horrifying encounter in the woods. Alexis, Nick and Ruby are part of a teen Search and Rescue Team who help Portland police search and locate missing people. Their first call is to find a missing autistic man. While searching the forest, Alexis happens upon a grisly discovery--a body in the woods. Ruby and Nick call for help. The crime scene is disturbed when a footprint is accidentally ruined by a medic.

Ruby goes into full crime scene detective mode--this girl is a walking encyclopedia of CSI and forensics television trivia. She notices the smallest details no one else does and carefully explains  them to the other kids and the reader. She realizes that this isn't the first body in the woods--there was another murder of a woman earlier in the year. Ruby takes her suspicions to the police--who shoot down her theory.

Ruby convinces Alexis and Nick that there is a serial killer on the loose in Portland.  As the kids close in on his trail, the killer speeds up his spree. Not only are the kids on a path to destruction, each must deal with his/her  own demons. Alexis deals with her mother's bi-polar personality, Ruby sneaks around to avoid her parents' ultimatum and Nick deals with his feelings of inferiority and missing his dead father.

When the police won't listen, the kids turn to each other and their detective skills. Ruby has an inquiring mind and loves solving a puzzle. The trio realizes that although they are very different, they each contribute to the team and their friendship grows.

This is a quick read and should draw in reluctant readers.

Recommended grade 7-up. Mature subject matter. Serial killer. No profanity.

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


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)










Monday, September 8, 2014

YA Blog Tour and Book Giveaway: Of Monsters and Madness

Of Monsters and Madness
by Jessica Verday
Egmont
2014
281 pages
ISBN: 9781606844632
(page count from publisher's webpage)

I have FIVE free copies of Of Monsters and Madness up for grabs! For your chance to win, simply post a comment tot he blog and be sure and include your first name, city, state and email. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Deadline for posts is September 15 at noon MST. Winners will be notified by 2:00 p.m. MST on that date. Please check your email. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York. Good luck and start posting! See the guest blog post and my review below.


Available September 9, 2014

What others are saying (from the publisher):



“Verday offers a haunting portrait of a lonely, intelligent girl, while serving up gore and abundant references to classic Gothic horror stories. A monstrous mashup . . . inventive and engaging.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Verday’s novel . . . hooks readers into the mysterious and gothic atmosphere of Annabel’s Philadelphia. The plot is thrilling . . . . Annabel is a strong character.”—School Library Journal
“The result is thoroughly dark and ominous, with a secret romance adding delicious tension.”—Booklist
“Lots of good characters and an in-depth plot will keep readers engaged. Pairing classic literature and modern paranormal fiction is very appealing.”—VOYA
I have FIVE free copies of Of Monsters and Madness up for grabs! For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state and email. Deadline for posts is September 18 at noon MST. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified on September 18, so please check your email. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York.
Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Guest Post: Jessica Verday

Finding Your Place - OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS
 
When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to go to Thailand. But it wasn’t meant to be, and I found out at the last minute that instead, I was going to London. (Which was completely amazing in its own right.) But ever since then, I’ve had a fascination with Thailand and everything I missed. From the achingly gorgeous scenery, to the friendliness of the people, to the vibrant culture. So when I realized that I was going to need a place for Annabel to have called home before she moves to Philadelphia, Thailand was my first pick.  And to be historically accurate, I went with what Thailand would have been called in 1826 -- Siam.
 
In Siam, Annabel lived with her mother who was a doctor’s assistant, and she grew up with a love of medicine. Siam was home and the people there were her family and Annabel was happy. But when her mother becomes ill and eventually dies, Annabel is summoned from Siam to go live with the father she’s never met in Philadelphia. Leaving everything and everyone she’s ever known behind.
 
With Philadelphia and Siam on opposite sides of the globe, I had to make sure my readers felt every mile between them. Annabel’s new home is nothing like her old one. It’s cold and dark and miserable. Once comfortable in trousers and a shirt while helping her mother care for her patients, Annabel must now learn what it’s like to suddenly be squeezed into corsets and dresses and taught the socially acceptable behaviors of a young lady.
 
The most frustrating part of these rules is that Annabel is expected to give up her dreams of becoming a surgeon. Annabel struggles with finding her place in this new world and learning to live with a future that has such limitations. But one of the reasons why I love to write all of my leading ladies as strong, independent young women is that they will always find a way to claim their power and fight for their dreams.
 
And above all else, Annabel is most definitely a fighter. (post from the author)

My Review:

Madness most magnificent! Jessica Verday takes a vulnerable innocent and ships her halfway around the world from her home in exotic Siam to the bustling city of Philadelphia--a place she's never been.  Annabel is surrounded by a family she has never known, a creepy house that is ghostly and Gothic, a strange, demented father, his tall, dark and handsome assistant, and a string of grisly murders gripping the city in terror.

Annabel's maid Maddy is her first friend and confidant. Strange goings-on in the middle of the night cause fright, and Annabel is concerned with her father's weird behavior and strange appearance. The cooks warn Annabel to stay away from her father's lab, but Annabel is curious and suspicious. Annabel has no fear of the dark; she continually seeks out danger in the dark of night. Armed with only a candle and her own strong resolve, she wanders the expanse of the mansion searching for answers.

The mysterious murders continue and this has everyone in Philadelphia on edge. Annabel and Allan share a few fleeting moments, and she realizes that she is deeply, hopelessly in love. The house continues to hide its secrets, until one fatal night when Annabel sees too much.  Discovering her father's secret will change everything. Or will it?

Of Monsters and Madness is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde meets Frankenstein meets Gothic horror meets The Island of Dr. Moreau meets Edgar Allan Poe. Verday seamlessly blends the old with the new and teens will love it! Verday assures readers that there will be a sequel. She writes, "Don't worry! I won't leave you hanging."

Highly, highly recommended for any fan of Poe's works and for those who love a Gothic tale. I truly enjoyed this mash-up, and so will you. Great fun!

Grades 7 and up. Some steamy kisses, some gore. No profanity.

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


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Visit the next stop on the blog tour here


Author's Bio:
Jessica Verday is the New York Times best-selling author of The Hollow trilogy. She wrote the first draft of The Hollow by hand, using thirteen spiral-bound notebooks and fifteen black pens. The first draft of The Haunted took fifteen spiral-bound notebooks and twenty black pens. The Hidden took too many notebooks and too many pens to count. She lives in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, with her husband.  You can visit her online at www.jessicaverday.com.
 
                                                               Jessica Verday





Thursday, September 4, 2014

High School Pick: Grasshopper Jungle

Grasshopper Jungle
by Andrew Smith
Dutton
2014
388 pages
ISBN: 9780525426035

Irreverent, irrepressible, irrational, and irresistible, Grasshopper Jungle breaks the mold for YA fiction. There are no shiny, pretty  vampires or hot werewolves; the protagonist is not a smoldering hunk. The love interest is not a hot, lean, long-legged vixen. The setting is not Gothic--nor exciting, nor metropolitan, nor the least bit "cool." Ealing, Iowa, is probably the most un-cool place on the planet, or so thinks our protagonist Austin Szerba. Austin tells the history of the world according to Austin, and the reader has to trust him because he's the only historian left to tell the tale.

Austin and best friend Robby spend their days chain smoking cigarettes, talking about the town's few people, wasting time before college, and skating (skateboarding). When they go up against a gang of bullies, Robby and Austin lose their boards and have to venture up to the roof to retrieve their shoes. This sets in motion the beginning of the end. Up on the roof, the boys notice a trapdoor  into the store below, and being curious-- and teenagers--they decide it would be okay to go inside the store after hours just to "look around."  Austin had always wanted to see what was in the boss's office anyway. The boys get an eyeful of that strange and weird office of doom. From a two headed baby to a jar of human hands, Austin's boss Johnny McKeon collects bizarre stuff. The boys look around but leave everything intact. If only every burglar left those jars intact, the plague that takes over would never have been set free.

Soon the town of Ealing faces an invasion of giant man-eating grasshoppers and no one is safe. Austin, Robby and Shann go underground...literally...to stay alive.  The trio uncovers the secret of Ealing and its early sci-fi experiments gone wrong. This coming of age story is truly like no other!

Friends Robby and Austin are lovable and laugh out loud funny. When visiting Shann's house, the boys question whether the house has a demonic presence or just smells like people died inside. Robby says, "You should get that kind of air freshener ##@* that you plug into outlets so it masks the scent of death and decay with springtime potpourri."

Smith delivered with Winger, and he continues to capture boyish bad behavior and humorous sarcasm. Austin is a true mess--overflowing with teen angst and ironic wit--he is a character you are not likely to forget...EVER! Andrew Smith may have just written this generation's answer to The Catcher in the Rye, and Austin Szerba will go down in literary circles as the new Holden Caulfield.

The book design is nothing short of genius. The bright neon green cover with even brighter yellow page edges set this book off on any shelf.

Highly, highly recommended grade 9-up. Overflowing with profanity and witty charm, this book is a real hoot! Sexual references and innuendo, mature situations, the end of the world and doom!

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


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Family Pick: My Bibi Always Remembers

My Bibi always Remembers
by Toni Buzzeo
Illustrations by Mike Wohnoutka
Disney Publishing Worldwide
2014
32 pages
ISBN: 9781423183853

Available September 2, 2014

My Bibi Always Remembers is a heartfelt homage to grandparents everywhere. Author Toni Buzzeo weaves a magical tale of an elephant family and their close relationships with one another. Captivating illustrations by Mike Wohnoutka capture not only the magnificence and majesty of the elephants but the nuances of playfulness, joy, love and belonging.

Tembo is the youngest in a family of elephants. Bibi is her grandmother and leader of her  family--in an elephant family, the oldest female is entrusted with keeping them all safe and remembering where to find food and water. Tembo is playful and forgetful, losing her way as she gets sidetracked by the sights. Each time she falls behind, Auntie or Bibi finds her. Bibi leads the family to the water where they drink and rest.

Tembo's expressions and childlike wonder for the world are palpable in each spread. Her sense of whimsy, joy, and fun are infectious and will captivate young readers and parents (and grandparents).
Repetitive phrasing calls for reading aloud and story times.

My Bibi Always Remembers would be a lovely gift for a new grandparent or grandbaby. Grandparents Day is celebrated September 7 this year, so get your copy when the book goes on sale September 2, 2014.

Highly, highly recommended for young readers and parents and grandparents everywhere.

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


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)