Sunday, July 21, 2019

Fantasy Pick: The Oddmire: Changeling (Book One)

The Oddmire: Changeling
by William Ritter
Algonquin
264 pages
ISBN: 9781616208394

Expert storytelling by New York Times bestselling author of the Jackaby series, Changeling is book one in a new series and it's a hit!

Cole and Tinn are brothers; twins, really. But they're not. One is a changeling left by a goblin who was supposed to spirit away the other boy. Kull was interrupted and the baby goblin changed. Now the boys look like exact twins, and Kull slips away into the night without his prize.

Although Annie knows she gave birth to one son, she raises both boys as twins. She is aware of of the town folk who whisper that she's raising a goblin, but they're her boys and her sons. She loves both of them. Kull keeps a close eye on the boys for years, and now that they're thirteen, he plants a note for them to find. It's a tough job for a goblin to learn human language. Tougher still to learn to write human language, but he does.

The boys find a note that tells them to come to the Wild Wood or all the goblin world will die including the changeling. Both boys are curious and agree to go together since they're brothers. Neither wants to be a goblin, but they don't want their twin to be a goblin either. Their adventure begins on a journey to find their truth.

The antagonists they meet along the way are fantastic creatures and great characters. Ritter writes a solid middle grade fantasy tale that readers will love. Changeling is magical fun!

Highly recommended for all middle grade readers. A MUST READ for fantasy fans.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Picture Book Pick: Don't Call Me Bear!

Don't Call Me Bear!
by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic
2019
32 pages
ISBN: 9781338360028

Warren, the Koala, wants readers to know that koalas are NOT BEARS! He is a marsupial. Those darned tourists get it wrong all the time! Australia doesn't have bears he says, and you should know about its marsupials like kangaroos.

Blabey doesn't disappoint with another cute character (like Pig the Pug) and effective art. Warren is a lovable, angry bear (don't tell him!) Back cover art is genius. A cute way to introduce Australian animals and marsupials.

Back cover in which Warren is NOT having fun! Surrounded by Koala "Bears," he's still telling readers Koalas are NOT BEARS!


Recommended early readers and kids who love animals!


Friday, July 12, 2019

Picture Book Pick: The Squirrels Who Squabbled

The Squirrels Who Squabbled
by Rachel Bright
Illustrations by Jim Field
Scholastic Press
2019
32 pages
ISBN: 9781338538038

Spontaneous Cyril is a fun loving squirrel who lives in the moment, throws caution to the wind, parties like it's 1999, and does nothing to plan for winter. When he realizes he'll go hungry, he chases down the last pinecone he can find. Too bad Plan-Ahead Bruce has his eyes on that same lone pinecone.

It'a a all out race and pinecone war to grab the last one! As they race to beat each other, they struggle in the water and go over a ledge. The art follows them as readers will tilt the book sideways to read on. On the next page four panels of art tell the story of the hard fought race. The book is interactive for the young readers when they have to turn the book and view the art from different angles, and that's why this story is more fun!

When the squirrels break out in giggles, they realize they are having a great time and could be friends, and readers will learn, "The best thing to share is a laugh with your friend."

This playful story comes to life with prose by BRIGHT Rachel Bright and hilarious art by Jim Field. I love the nod to strange character names kids may not have heard before: Cyril and Bruce. Kids will learn at least two new vocabulary words: squabbled and spontaneous which show that young learners can understand and use multi-syllable words in speech.

A true keeper of a story! This is a must-have for every young reader's collection.

Highly recommended early readers pre-K and up.




Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Creepy Pick: Creep

Creep
by Eireann Corrigan
Scholastic Press
2019
304 pages
ISBN: 9781338095081

Available October 1, 2019

Haunting and eerie, an abandoned mansion holds secrets and terror. The last family (the Donahues) who lived there moved away in the middle of the night and no one knows why. When Olivia takes an interest in her new neighbors and becomes friends with Janie, the new girl who lives in the spooky house, a mysterious letter soon appears.

The letter is threatening, and the writer claims to be the sentry of the house, and states no one can live there. If they do, "the ceilings will bleed and the windows will shatter..." Janie and Olivia soon join forces with  Janie's troubled and brooding brother. The three kids set out to solve the mystery: why did the family before them move away, and who is the Sentry and what does he, or it, want?

As the kids navigate interviewing neighbors, they learn the Donahues received menacing letters from the Sentry as well. Could this be the reason they moved? Why does the Sentry want this house?

Creepy enough to interest middle grade and middle school readers. Tame reading for YA fans of horror. Reluctant readers will find this an enjoyable book. This is a Scholastic Book, so you will likely find it on fall's Scholastic Book Fairs.

Recommended grade 5 and up. Scholastic says ages 12 and up, but Creep is tame enough for younger fans.

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


Friday, June 28, 2019

YA Pick: This Might Hurt a Bit

This Might Hurt a Bit
by Doogie honer
Simon Pulse
2019
328 pages
ISBN: 9781534427174

Kirby Burns is dealing with life, sort of. Since his sister's death a year ago, his family has moved to Upper Shuckburgh, a town so small, there's more cows than people. Kids who live on the rural route ride the bus to school, as Kirby does. Neighbors are distant, but the nearest neighbor owns three "horse dogs" which terrorize Kirby as he waits for the bus each morning.

Lucky for Kirby, two nearby boys become his friends. The three friends get into mischief and teen vandalism. One night when they are attempting to paint a farmer's cows, they almost get caught. They get away, but someone recognized Kirby.

That minor event sparks revenge and wrath unleashed on Kirby and his friends. He's so busy running from bullies, he doesn't deal with his grief. His parents give him an ultimatum: let read them read his notebook or he can read it to them. He has a deadline to decide.

When Kirby finally breaks, his grief spills out and the family begins to heal.

This Might Hurt a Bit begins as a cheerful romp of teen shenanigans and slides into bullying, fighting and assault. Finally, Kirby faces his sister's death, and the subject of grief which is beautifully handled by the author.

Kirby's friends PJ (the stealthy ninja with a mad backpack full of tricks, a la "The Goonies" and Jake, the dark goth loner kid, are memorable characters readers are unlikely to forget.

Highly recommended grade 9 and up. Profanity, teen behavior, vandalism, underage drinking, bullying, violence, death.

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


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Picture Book Pick: STEM: Tangled

Tangled
by Anne Miranda
Illustrations by Eric Comstock
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2019
40 pages
ISBN: 978481497213

Available June 25, 2019

Clever, fun illustrations teach pre-school readers about shapes and geometry. In this  "tangled" tale, the shapes get stuck in a jungle gym until a smart line figures out how to free his friends.

Endpapers contain all the shapes and their names. The youngest of learners will know all their shapes by first grade!

Rhyming fun by Anne Miranda will keep the pages turning and the readers giggling.

A MUST buy for all parents of pre-school age readers. Picture books are one of the best tools for teaching concepts in middle school and high school! Tangled would be a great addition to every math teacher's book shelf and is a must for geometry classes.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Summer Camp Pick: Camp Shady Crook

Camp Shady Crook
by Lee Gjerstsen Malone
Aladdin
2019
276 pages
ISBN: 9781534422261

Archie Drake has the perfect scam at summer camp: pretend to somehow be related to THE Archie Drake, a famous billionaire. All the campers whisper and think he is the son or grandson of the guy
anyway, so why not just play along? Rich kids will give him money, candy, clothes and luggage if they think he's rich, too. The truth is: Archie is there on scholarship, but he's not fessing up to that.

When smart aleck girl Vivian shows up and threatens to ruin his scam, Archie cuts her in for a piece of the action. Secret partner Oliver doesn't want a girl to be part of their team, but Archie convinces him it's better to keep her close where they can watch her.

Camp Shady Brook is the worst summer camp on the east coast, maybe even in the entire nation. Ms. Hess runs it like an evil prison matron. The owners haven't spent a dime in upkeep on the camp and it shows. Screen doors hang loose on cabins, the lake is polluted, decks are full of splinters and shaky, the food is worse than slop, and the kids have nothing to do. Archie and Vivian make it their business to find out where all the tuition money goes, and they suspect Miss Hess of stealing it.

Camp Shady Crook is a delightful middle grade romp perfect for readers who love summer camps and cons. Even reluctant readers will find the short chapters an inviting and entertaining read.

Brilliant cover art and art continues on spine to make this book attractive in a book case or on a shelf in the library or retail book store.

Here is the spine art



Recommended grade 5 and up.

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




































Camp Shady Brook









anyway, so why not just play along.


Archi Malone has the perfect

ISBN:

Saturday, June 8, 2019

YA Pick: The Voice in My Head

The Voice in My Head
by Dana L. Davis
Ink Yard Press
2019
308 pages with Questions for Discussion
Resources
ISBN: 9871335998497

The Voice in My Head is a WINNER!

Twins Violet and Indigo have always been close, but since Violet's diagnosis, Indigo feels pushed away. Her pretty, popular, perfect twin is dying. There is no cure, and worse, Violet has decided to die on her own terms: with dignity. Choosing assisted suicide and her death date puts her twin Indigo into a panic. How can Violet  think about leaving her? And why would she choose death? How will she (Indigo)  navigate without her sister? Feeling lost, Indigo climbs a building, considering suicide herself. Before she lets go, she hears a voice in her head. She realizes she doesn't want to die after all. Choosing life, Indigo tries to save herself but falls.

Waking up in the hospital, Indigo tries to make her family see it was an accident. As the voice in her head keeps her company, Indigo decides to take Violet to The Wave, a remote rock in Arizona where the voice tells her Violet will make the trip and live. Violet has her own rules. The entire family packs up with the help of a preacher and the church bus and travels to the desert. The family each reads Violet a letter, and little brother Alfred asks Violet (when she dies) to promise to be his best ghost IRL (Alfred talks in text lingo!)

The voice in Indigo's head is comic, irreverent and sounds just like Dave Chapelle. The voice tells Indigo that God is omnipotent and can do what she wants. She can make a bet if she wants because she's God. At one point, God responds, "duh." Indigo tells the voice there's no way God would say Duh, but the voice retorts that it invented language and it can say whatever it wants.

Alfred, Indigo, Violet and God (Dave Chapelle) are characters that will stay with readers long after
closing the pages. The bond between sisters and the entire familial vibe is so perfect that Davis better be looking to bring this story to screen, and no one is better at it than her! (Dana L. Davis is an actress and Hollywood insider).

The Voice in My Head is on its way to award season! I predict several state awards including Texas Lone Star list (grades 6-8) and/or Texas Tayshas list (grade 9-12). I predict The Voice in My Head will be on @Cybils Fiction shortlist and top 10 Teen Fiction (and I'm never wrong)!

Highly, highly recommended grade 7 and up. Suicide, assisted suicide, and death. Discussion questions are included as are resources for suicide prevention. The family is religious and God plays an important part in this book. The Voice in My Head is perfect for private and parochial schools and church reading groups. No profanity, violence or sex.

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


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Club Pick: Lie To Me

Lie To Me
by J.T. Ellison
Mira
original copyright 2017
Paperback available September 2019
407 pages
ISBN: 0980778330950

A twisty, dangerous psychological thriller is just right for a summer beach read.

"Moves at a blazing-fast pace and smoothly negotiates more twists and turns than the backroads of Tennessee. It will keep you guessing every step of the way to the surprise ending." --Lisa Scottoline, NY Times bestselling author of One Perfect Life 

Dark psychological marriage noir, Lie To Me will leave readers breathless and exhausted. Once a reader begins this book, it's impossible to stop reading. Page-turning action and twists within twists within an enigma are fast paced and tragic.

Married literary giants Sutton and Ethan Montclair's life is idyllic--from the outside. They are each accomplished writers earning big paychecks and hordes of fans. When Ethan has trouble writing, and Sutton wants out of a publishing deal, their finances take a downturn. They welcome a new baby boy that Sutton never wanted. Ethan tricked her into having the baby, and she still blames him. When their baby dies, their entire world unravels as they blame one another and lie about everything.

When Sutton suddenly disappears, friends and family whisper that Ethan must have something to do with it. He swears he knows nothing about his wife's disappearance and turns to the bottle for solace. Suddenly, Ethan has found his muse and begins writing the best prose of his entire career. The police build a case against him, and an unknown narrator drops in here and there to warn the reader that someone is pulling the strings. Just when it looks like Sutton may have been found or Sutton is to blame, other strings are pulled.

This is one wild ride and a great book for adult book clubs who will be talking about it long after they've read it. Pick this one up today for your beach vacation or your home staycation. Good luck figuring out who's to blame!

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Interviewed by Romance Writer Mary Ann Marlowe, Author of Dating by the Book

I was interviewed by Mary Ann Marlowe, author of Dating by the Book. She had questions about bloggers and reviewers and how we affect books and the publishing market.

Her interview is located here 

I loved her book and you will too! If you love Indie bookshops, quaint towns, book clubs, close friends, drinking tea and/or wine, handsome love interests, fun dialog, and some unexpected twists and turns along the way, pick up Dating by the Books. My review is here 

From Mary Ann's blog: 

Six months ago, writer and bookstore owner Maddie Hanson was left at the altar. Since then, she’s had zero interest in romance—despite the fact that she runs a book club full of sexy eligible bachelors. But when her latest novel is panned by an anonymous blogger who goes by the name Silver Fox—and who accuses her of knowing nothing about passion—she decides to prove her nemesis wrong by seeking a romance hero in real life . . .

There’s the smoldering rock musician, the bookish college professor, and her competitive childhood friend who may want to steal her bookstore more than her heart. Even Silver Fox is getting in on the action, sending Maddie alarmingly—and intoxicatingly—flirtatious emails. And that’s not all. Her ex wants her back.
Now Maddie is about to discover that like any good story, life has twists and turns, and love can happen when you least expect it—with the person you least expect . . .

Pre-order now!

Amazon | BN | Kobo | Google Play | BAM!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

YA Pick: In the Neighborhood of True

In the Neighborhood of True
by Susan Kaplan Carlton
Algonquin
2019
320 pages
ISBN: 9781616208608

Don't be fooled by the pretty pink cover and precious corsage; this pink book is one of the most important books of the year. Set in 1958, the message is timely today: love your neighbors. Don't judge people by the color of their skin, their religion, their family lineage, their financial status or their outward appearance. Judge them by the quality of their character. Sound familiar?


When her father dies suddenly, Ruth's family is forced to leave their urban lives in Manhattan and move to her grandparent's estate in Atlanta. The year is 1958 and race relations are at a boiling point in the South. Ruth is enrolled in an exclusive private school where girls of her privilege are given a genteel education.

Debutante season looms, and fish-out-of-water Ruth finds herself in lessons to learn how to be a Southern lady. No one has asked if Ruth is Jewish, and she never mentions it. Her mother is mortified and accuses Ruth of "passing" as a white deb, not a Jewish girl. Ruth wants to fit in and not cause trouble. Ruth joins the "pastel posse" of debs and hopes to be crowned Magnolia Queen like her mother and grandmother before her.

Ruth meets handsome golden boy Davis Jefferson and accepts an invitation to a dance. Soon she's dating him and falling in love. Everything is wonderful, and Ruth loves her new life.

In the "separate but equal" Jim Crow South, Ruth learns that Negros have to sit in the balcony at the movies and drink from different water fountains. She grew up in Manhattan and has never seen this before although she has to admit in her old neighborhood, she has rarely seen a person of color. The rabbi at her temple wants his congregation to support equality for all people, but  talk of politics and racial tension frighten Ruth.

When her temple is bombed, Ruth discovers Davis was there that night. He swears he had nothing to do with it, but Ruth suspects he's telling, "in the neighborhood of true," a lie. Ruth has a decision to make: embrace her religion and family or deny her background to live a lie. If she doesn't speak up, what kind of person is she?

Readers will love "vintage" details that bring the era to life, and cheer for Ruth as she navigates society and religion. Algonquin has another book winner! In the Neighborhood of True is sure to be on the top of every award list this year! The author does a brilliant job of creating unforgettable characters whose everyday decisions are complex and often unexpected.

Kudos to Susan Kaplan Carlton for bringing history to life and telling a story based on the real life bombing of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation (The Temple) in Atlanta in 1958. Five suspects were arrested; one went on trial twice, yet all charges were later dropped.

Highly, highly recommended! You MUST read this book. It is amazing. In the Neighborhood of True would be a great whole class read and YA Teen Book Club read.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Nobody Hugs a Cactus
by Carter Goodrich
Illustrated by the author
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2019
48 pages
ISBN: 9781534400900

Hank the cactus lives alone, and that's all right by him. He doesn't need anyone. Once in awhile, someone will mosey by: Rosie the Tumbleweed, a cowboy, a lizard, an owl, but no one wants to give a cactus a hug.

Hank grumbles at all the visitors and is happy when they leave him alone. Hank is quirky, mean-spirited and rude to everyone.  For a long while, no one comes by. Hank wonders where everyone has gone. A paper cup blows onto Hank, and he can't get it off. Lucky for him, Rosie comes by and helps him.

Hank grows a beautiful flower to give to Rosie the next time she comes by. When he presents his very own flower, Rosie hugs him, and tumbleweed and cactus get stuck in a hug! My favorite line of the book is, "After all, it's better to be stuck in a hug than stuck all alone."

Cover art depicts a scowling Hank all alone in a window. By the last page, Hank and Rosie are hugging and all smiles.

Recommended age 2 and up. This fun read will introduce young readers to the desert and its creatures, and the lesson about friendship and family is a bonus!


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: Caterpillar Summer

Caterpillar Summer
by Gillian McDunn
Bloomsbury
2019
304 pages
ISBN: 9781681197432

Available: April 2, 2019

Caterpillar Summer captures a poignant and honest portrayal of a sibling relationship in which the older sibling must take on the parent role. Cat has never had time to be a kid. She's always taken care of special needs Chicken and talked him out of his "meltdowns." In fact, Cat is the only one who can control him. Chicken needs constant supervision as he is prone to wander off and get lost.

When the siblings have to spend three weeks with their grandparents for the first time in EVER, Cat finally has a summer where she can explore on her own. As she discovers more about the rift between her mother and her grandparents, Cat wonders why the adults can't just fix their differences. She may have to become the CATalyst to heal her own family.

A treasure for middle grade readers who love a story of family ties and sweet sibling relationships. This book is suitable for all school, One School, One Book reads and classroom reads. It would be a great choice for a summer reading book as well.

Recommended grade 4 (good readers), grade 5 and up.




Monday, March 18, 2019

Non-Fiction PIck: Even More Lesser Spotted Animals

Even More Lesser Spotted Animals: More Brilliant Beasts You Never Knew You Needed To Know About
by Martin Brown
David Fickling Books
2019
56 pages
ISBN: 9781338349610

Available: July 30, 2019

Make room for unique and beautiful animals! Martin Brown has done it again! He's knocked it over the fence and out of the park with a brilliant cast of animal characters who will fascinate, educate and enamor children.

From rodents like the giant kangaroo rat to large mammals like the Syrian brown bear (who does not come from Syria at all,) kids will learn about each animal's ecosystem, status of the species (endangered, for example), diet and fun facts. Each animal comes to life in colorful illustrations by Brown. He captures each species' personality in facial expression and body movement or posture.

A title page in the front of the book directs readers to their favorite animals and the helpful glossary teaches new vocabulary terms for budding zoologists and animal fans.

Fans of animals and non-fiction readers will love this book. This book is a great pick for reluctant readers who are sure to find interesting facts and build reading skills. A MUST HAVE for all animal collections.

July is a long time to wait for this book to hit the shelves. Make sure this one goes on your to-order list.

HIghly, highly recommended grade 3 and up and all animal lovers.



Sunday, March 17, 2019

Picture Book Pick: Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas

Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas
by Aaron Blabey
Illustrations by the author
Scholastic Press
2018
ISBN: 9781338297133

From the author illustrator who charmed kids with Pig the Pug books, a new star is born!

Brian is a piranha with an unusual appetite for fruit. Other piranhas laugh at his odd diet and declare that piranhas don't eat fruit. He loves peas, silverbeets, bananas, but doesn't offer them any meat. They tell him they'd rather eat feet or bum!

Children will laugh out loud at clever illustrations and cute, quirky prose. Sure to be a childhood favorite read and will appeal to kids who love odd creatures and sea creatures. Brian is one cool piranha!

Highly, highly recommended for all early readers. Quite the fun read!