Monday, May 2, 2016

Book Release and Blog Tour: Anything You Want

Anything You Want
By Geoff Herbach
May 3, 2016; Tradepaper, ISBN 9781402291449

Book Info
Title: Anything You Want
Author: Geoff Herbach
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Summary:

Expect a bundle of joy—er, trouble—in this hilarious, heartwarming story from the award-winning author of Stupid Fast

Taco’s mom always said, “Today is the best day of your life, and tomorrow will be even better.” That was hard to believe the day she died of cancer and when Taco’s dad had to move up north for work, but he sure did believe it when Maggie Corrigan agreed to go with him to junior prom. Taco loves Maggie—even more than the tacos that earned him his nickname. And she loves him right back.

Except, all that love? It gets Maggie pregnant. Everyone else may be freaking out, but Taco can’t wait to have a real family again. He just has to figure out what it means to be dad and how to pass calculus. And then there’s getting Maggie’s parents to like him. Because it’s would be so much easier for them to be together if he didn’t have to climb the side of the Corrigan’s house to see her...



Buy Links:
Barnes&Noble-  http://ow.ly/4nkqH2
BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/4nkrdo 
Indiebound- http://ow.ly/4nkrrI

About the Author:

Geoff Herbach’s books have been listed in the year’s best by YALSA, the American Booksellers Association, and many state library associations. They’ve won the Cybil and the Minnesota Book Award. Geoff grew up a very nerdy jock in Southern Wisconsin and now teaches creative writing at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @geoffherbach

Excerpt from Anything You Want:
When did this start? Duh, dingus. Last spring.
Last spring, I decided I was completely emotionally ready for her, so I asked Maggie Corrigan to prom and she said, “Boom,” and poked her finger into the middle of my chest.
I said, “Boom? That’s good, right? That’s a yes?” Maggie Corrigan is intense. She’s wild and crazy and intense and I had to be prepared.
We stood in the hall at school, leaned up against her locker as a bunch of freshmen, a total wad of screaming monkeys, ran by on their way to gym.
Maggie shouted, “Yeah, for sure, Taco! Boom!” She poked me again.
“What?” I shouted back, because I couldn’t hear over the freshmen.
“I totally want to go to prom with you!” she shouted.
“Really?” I shouted back
Then she grabbed my face and she pulled my ears so my head came down to her face and she French kissed me right there in front of all those freshmen. She, like, kissed my ass off. My shoes and pants almost exploded from my body, because she kissed me so hard.
She’s spontaneous like that. I knew that then, but not like I know now. And, you know what, dingus? Doesn’t matter, because I love her. I think I’ve loved Maggie Corrigan since before time. In a past life, I was probably the court clown and she was probably the Crazy Queen of Holland, and I’m pretty sure we were doing it behind the king’s back. If we weren’t doing it, we were probably going on long naked walks in the forest where we stroked unicorns and lay upon the dewy moss to gaze upon the sky.
All the freshmen monkeys in the hall shouted stuff like, “Get a room,” and “More tongue,” etc. Freshmen are pretty funny. I’ve always liked them.
That day will go down in history, for sure. I really needed Maggie Corrigan’s intensity, energy and love right about then.
The year before Maggie kissed my ass off, Mom died. Six months after Mom died, Dad took a job driving truck at a mine up north, because we needed more money to float the boat. Two months after Dad left for the mine, Darius, my older brother, got a drunk driving ticket, which he said he didn’t deserve, because he only had like two beers after work—it’s just that his blood doesn’t register alcohol like normal peoples’ blood, because it’s a mix of O+ and A -, which is rare, so the cops didn’t know what they were doing when they gave him the breathalyzer. Okay, dingus, that didn’t exactly make sense to me, but that’s good old Darius! Anyway, he lost his Pepsi product delivery route and went to work at Captain Stabby’s, this fish sandwich place, for about half the money. Dude smelled like fish 24/7.
So things were crap and I began to lose the pep in my cucumber. I was seriously beginning to think my mom was wrong about everything, and maybe life really is terrible, like Darius always says. But then I spent a few weeks following Maggie Corrigan around school and saw how she laughed until she fell on the floor, screamed when she got mad at her friends, cried when she was sad about the basketball team losing, and smiled so hard it looked like her face might break when I told her I liked her handwriting. After that I thought, “That’s what Mom was talking about! Life is beautiful!” and so I summoned my good feelings and my optimism, and I asked Maggie to prom. A week later, we were boyfriend and girlfriend and going at it in the hall between every class period.
Literally. Going at it!
Dr. Evans, our principal, had to bring us into the office to ask us to stop all the public displays of affection, (she called them “PDAs”) because our exhibits of love made some people uncomfortable—like those going through hard break-ups or maybe the divorce of their parents.
Maggie and I tried, but we couldn’t stop going at it. Sometimes, to hide from people who might feel sad, we climbed into the costume loft behind the auditorium. Sometimes we took our clothes off, mostly so we could try on costumes, but also because it was pretty great to get naked. Maggie would hang out up there in her underwear, pretending she had to find the perfect costume on the rack–but really she just liked being naked with me.
Right on. I liked it, too. See why I love Maggie?

Rafflecopter Giveaway Link for 2 Finished Copies of Anything You Want (Runs May 1-May 31; U.S. & Canada only):

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/54ca7af7342/" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="54ca7af7342" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_5xnrmqvg">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dystopian Pick: The Big Dark

The Big Dark
by Rodman Philbrick
Blue Sky Press
2016
178 pages
ISBN: 9780545789752


Set in a small town in New Hampshire, The Big Dark tells the story of an electromagnetic pulse so strong that it knocked out all  power, including batteries. How will humans react when suddenly faced with a world that seems so different? A world without heat? A world without wi-fi?

Facing the remaining  months of winter, the town must cut enough wood to keep the fires going.  Conspiracy theorist and local loudmouth U.S. government hating  compound owner  Webster Bragg has his own ideas how to handle the outage. He feels like survival of the fittest. Why waste good food and good fire wood for  old or sick people? He plans to take care of his compound and hoard weapons and goods. He's sure the government caused the black out and he says he knows for a fact that there is no more government  left.

School janitor and part time volunteer police officer Reggie Kingman takes his duties seriously. He is able to calm the crowds and helps to silence Bragg. When their only grocery store burns down, the townspeople are distraught. All this hardship and now no groceries?

A medical emergency forces Charlie Cobb to risk his own life by heading to a nearby town to find medical supplies.

Philbrick makes dystopian fiction approachable for middle grades in The Big Dark. Similar to Bick's Ashes and Stephen King's The Dome, the townspeople drive the plot. There is a good versus evil fight and issues are  raised for book clubs to debate.

The Big Dark is likely to earn Philbrick many state recognition lists  and possibly another coveted Newbery Honor. Clever cover design helps market this title.

A quick read (178 pages) for reluctant readers. This book is available on Scholastic Book Fairs and at Scholastic warehouses. Recommended grade 4-up.

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

An Interview With Goldy Moldavsky, Author of Kill the Boy Band

I was lucky enough to sit down with Goldy Moldavsky, debut author of wildly entertaining and wickedly satirical Kill  the Boy Band at the Texas Library Convention in Houston, Texas. It was Goldy's first visit to Texas, but by the looks of her popularity and the book's sales, she will be callin' Texas her second home soon, ya'll. Welcome to Texas, Goldy!

I asked Goldy about her book, YA authors, charity and celebrity interviews.

P: Pamela (me)
G: Goldy (the one and only)

P: Since you interviewed celebrities in college, who is the most memorable and why?
G: I saw Katie Holmes, Amanda Bynes, Sarah Michelle Geller and Kristen Bell. The interview that is most memorable was Joaquin Phoenix. He was openly rude.

P: Who is the friendliest YA author you've met?
G: They are all so friendly, but I'd say Aimee Friedman who is sweet and Adam Silvera.

P:  Who is the funniest?
G: Libba Bray
P: I agree! So funny!

P: Who is the shyest?
G: Nicola Yoon

P: Kill the Boy Band is a funny look at the mania of fans. Do you think boy band enthusiasts will think it's funny? Or mean? Will they recognize themselves as behaving this way?
G: Those who read the book will find it funny if they have a sense of humor. It's about 50/50 for those who haven't read the book. Yes, (Laughs) they will recognize their behavior.

P. Your main character is never referred to by name, yet readers know the other girls' names. What was your motivation in not naming her?
G: I think she's a coward. She's telling the story but not telling on herself. She gives up her friends but not her own name.

P: You tweet inspirational quotes about writing. Do you do this for self-motivation? Or to motivate others?
G: Totally my own. I wouldn't know how to give any advice to others.

P: What is your favorite charity and why?
G: Chai Lifeline. It's a Jewish charity that provides summer camp for children who have cancer.

P: What one YA author do you admire?
G: Libba Bray

P: Name your top children's book of all time and why.
G: Do picture books count? (I nod yes) I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. It makes me laugh every time I pick it up!

P: What is on your reading list now?
G: David Levithan (with Nina LaCour)  You Know Me Well, Jeff Strand's  A Bad Day for Voodoo and Two Summers by Aimee  Friedman

P: If you could give your 15 year old self advice about life, what would you say?
G: Be patient. Keep at it!


Thank you. Thank you. Goldy was an inspirational interview and person. You  radiated warmth and intelligence. I am your fan girl forever, Goldy. But not in a creepy way....


Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Booked

Booked
by Kwame Alexander
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2016
314 pages
ISBN: 9780544570986


Following his Newbery Medal winning book  The Crossover, Kwame Alexander returns to the world of sports--this time soccer--where protagonist teen sports star Nick Hall  loves soccer, daydreams in school, and thinks about having a girlfriend. Everything turns upside down  for Nick when his parents tell him they are getting a divorce. Worse still, Nick's mother is taking a job in another city, leaving him alone with his father. Nick's dad pushes him to study and learn new words, saying that he will have to cram for college in order to make something of himself. Nick has other ideas. He hates all this word study and he hates that his dad is always carping on him.

Nick is going to have to make some grown up decisions. If he wants to continue to compete in soccer, his father insists that Nick read and  study. Lucky for Nick he has a best friend who shares his enthusiasm for soccer.

One thing I loved about Booked is the compassionate and COOL librarian who leads Nick to great reads and gives him advice. Kwame Alexander gives a  shout out to YA title Rhyme Schemer, when the Mac (Nick's librarian) gives Nick one last book before he tells him goodbye. Mac won't be returning to Nick's school the following year as he is dating fellow teacher Ms. Hardwick and transferring  to a new school. I loved the relationship between a teen sports fan and his ex-rapper librarian.

I love the clever placement of words on the soccer ball on the front cover and the larger ball on the back cover.

Recommended for sports fans and fans of books in free verse. Grade 6-up.


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

Monday, April 18, 2016

Feel Good Pick: The Lion Inside

The Lion Inside
by Rachel Bright
Illustrations by Jim Field
Scholastic Press
2016
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545873505

Available May 31, 2016

The Lion Inside is magical, whimsical, and funny! 


A loud and boisterous lion lives atop a giant rock while  his mouse neighbor  lives in a little "tinyful house." The lion lords his loudness and strength over all the other animals and they LISTEN to him. The mouse longs to be heard by the other animals, and one night he  gets a brilliant idea: he will learn to roar like the lion. If he had that kind of roar surely others would be his friends. The mouse sets off to talk to the lion to ask him for lessons in roaring. "It was time to be strong, take a chance...' and then the mouse feels, "It felt like the scariest thing he could do...but if you want to change, you first have to change you." ( My favorite wisdom right here in this book!) The mouse climbs the rock and the lion is terrified of mice! The mouse reassures the lion that he comes in peace as a friend and the two become inseparable buddies, "..that day they both learned that, no matter what your size, we all have a mouse AND  a lion inside."

Green and gold illustrations capture the magic of the African plains. Funny illustrations of the mouse reading a book "How to Roar" and the mouse struggling not be be stepped on by giant animal feet will delight young readers. The best children's books have whimsy, tell a story and teach a lesson without being preachy.  The Lion Inside teaches readers that even if you are small, you can still be heard. The character and fun of the animals is captured by each of Jim Field's brilliant illustrations. This is a true story of an unlikely pair who become friends forever.

Rachel Bright's writing is kid silly and parents will smile as they read that the lion is "toothy" and that on top of his rock it's "LION o'clock." He is also described as "SHOUTY and PROUD." Made up words like "weeniest" and "tinyful" add to the whimsy feel of the rhyming text. I love the fact that the lion's rock is nicer now that he has a friend to share it with. The lion forgets to roar and laughter now comes out when he opens his mouth. What a wonderful concept! 

This little book will be a childhood favorite and on top of the must read before bedtime lists. If you have a child or grandchild, this book is a sure keeper and a gem. The lessons of friendship, bravery, charity, and love are timeless and this book is so much more than a children's book.

Recommended ALL AGES. We can all learn something from this treasure!

Highly, highly recommended. So highly recommended I wish I had a little one to read this to!

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

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Series Pick: A Cold Legacy ( A Madman's Daughter, Book 3)

A Cold Legacy (A Madman's Daughter novel, Book 3)
by Megan Shepherd
Balzar + Bray
2015
388 pages
ISBN: 9780062128089

The third and last book of the Madman's Daughter trilogy ties up loose ends and story lines. Juliet and company are on the run after a bloody massacre in London. They have half of the police force looking for them as they flee north to the badlands of Scotland. Elizabeth Von Stein invited Juliet to her family's castle  on the moors, and Juliet arrives with Lucy, Montgomery, a delirious Edward who is fighting the Beast part of him and losing it seems, and Balthazar, their faithful servant.

They arrive at the Frankenstein (Elizabeth Von Stein's) castle and are rudely greeted by sullen servants who grudgingly allow them to stay. Lucy and Juliet take turns nursing Edward, but his outcome is grim. Elizabeth finally comes home and shows Juliet her father's secret workshop and library. Taking pieces of the Mary Shelley story, Megan Shepherd weaves together The Island of Dr. Moreau and Frankenstein.

There are secrets in the castle that Elizabeth is not willing to share with anyone: the strange servants and their near worship of Elizabeth, the bodies in the basement, the strange pale boy who travels through secret passageways and a gypsy troupe that seems to always be nearby.

If reanimation is possible, should it ever be used? Juliet struggles with ethical and moral dilemmas and questions her own ability to do good. She is, after all, her father's daughter, a fact that Montgomery seems to keep reinforcing. 

There's just enough gore to balance out the romance here. Readers of the series won't be disappointed with this last book.

The cover art is once again ethereal. The gothic castle looming over the girl, the long gown, the beautiful red sash, the color of the stormy sky and the red title lure readers to this read. The art marketing team has done a great job with all three of the covers in this series.

Some early reviews gave the cold shoulder about the medicine/science facts/nonfacts of the book, but don't let that bother you. One pointed out, "That's not how science works!" Well, Mary Shelley didn't care about science and neither did H.G. Wells. It's a work of science fiction and should be enjoyed as that, not as a medical textbook.

Highly recommended for fans of the series and others. If you haven't read book 1 and 2, A Cold Legacy will be confusing. I highly recommend the first two books. Grade 7-up. Gore, guts, grisly operations, on their wedding night, Juliet and Montgomery have a "moment," fade to black. 

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for the library. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.








Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Come Home, Angus
by Patrick Downes
Illustrations by Boris Kulidov
Orchard Books
2016
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545597685

Available July 2016

Angus wakes up angry. He is quite the personality! He tells his dog to walk faster, he yells at his bird for singing too loudly, and scolds the cat for purring. When he refuses to eat breakfast because his pancakes are too thin, his mother admonishes him to apologize to the pets. Angus refuses and talks back. His mother tells him that there are rules. She reminds him that being angry is not reason to be rude, and Angus decides it's high time he left this house and all its rules. He packs his bag to run away. I am pleased to say he remembers to pack  a favorite book!

Angus sets off and as he walks we see his figure get smaller and smaller on the page. In the angry pages, the figure of Angus takes up the entire page dwarfing his animals and even his mother. His anger is a giant. He walks many blocks and realizes that he's in a part of the city that he doesn't recognize. He sits down and watches people all the while feeling more lost and more afraid. He realizes he forgot to pack a lunch. He turns back home and when he gets there, he is greeted by his happy pets and is handed a  sardine sandwich from his smiling mother.

This little charmer of a book  has a decidedly British feel. The names of the pets: Clive, Pennycake, Arthur and main character's name  Angus are all names that children may not be familiar with. Also, the idea of a child craving a sardine sandwich is whimsical, although sardines are a popular deli choice. Young readers will love Angus and his temper, his meltdown and the realization that home is where the love is: the pets, his mother, and sustenance.

Highly recommended for pre-school and anyone who's ever thrown a temper tantrum or left home for a few minutes. This one is a ton of fun.

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


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

This Is Why Libraries MATTER...This Is Why Reading MATTERS...This Is Why Books MATTER

I think it'd be great to have a moment for those who want to...reflect on one moment this year that they thought....this is why libraries MATTER....this is why reading MATTERS....this is why books MATTER....

Here's mine, just happened....

I just had a I Love Libraries moment.


2 of my super great readers were discussing Anna Carey's Eve series. One girl explaining to the other girl the cliffhanger at the end of book 2...conversation went on over ten minutes as I eavesdropped. They were both so into the book, they didn't notice me. When they looked over, I had my hands in a heart and said, "This is why libraries MATTER!"


I wish I had it on video...we may have to reenact it....pure gold....


Post your comments here or Tweet to #NLW16 #LibrariesTransform and #SISDheartsLibraries

I hope to hear your shares!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Memoir Pick: Dimestore: A Writer's Life

Dimestore: A Writer's Life
by Lee Smith
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
2016
200 pages
ISBN: 9781616205027


Lee Smith's collection of personal essays embeds her as  the voice of Appalachia. Her life story reads like a country song of religion, love, life, birth, death, pain, suffering, and joy. She grew up the only child of a hard working shopkeeper and his wife. Smith's town was full of kin: cousins, uncles, aunts, and twice removed more distant cousins. Everybody who wasn't related to each other at least knew each other. There were no secrets in town...at least no long kept secrets. Church was the center of their lives: revivals, services, church suppers, prayer meetings, funerals, and baptisms.

Children ran though the hills, swam in the river, caught fish in the stream, played up and down in  all the hollers, and came home with a hand full of wildflowers or a jar of lightning bugs. Smith conjures up the magic and wisdom of a time and  a place so distant that most of us can't recall. Folks went to church on Sunday or faced the rest of the town's scorn. People stood at attention for the pledge and celebrated being American and free.

Mothers cooked three meals a day, kids ate a lunch packed in a brown paper bag, fathers sometimes sat down to dinner late, but they always had their dinner at the table. Main street consisted of the dimestore, the post office, a movie theatre, a fire house and not much else. Some topics were never talked about. Mental illnesses were called by gentler terms, "a bout," "an episode," "kindly nervous."  When someone died, the whole town took notice and brought dishes of food. Think "Mayberry RFD" with Loretta Lynn thrown in. The town of Grundy doesn't exist anymore having been flooded by the Army Corps of Engineers, but Lee Smith's love letter to a bygone town and time live on as an endearing place of love and family.

Smith pays tribute to writing and the love of reading. She includes passages of fiction and poetry written by some of her adult students. She celebrates the life and poetry of Lou Crabtree and spoke at her funeral. Lou was an elderly lady when Smith met her at a writing workshop she was teaching. Lou had suitcases full of poems and fiction and she wrote to please herself never once thinking of publishing. She wrote to soothe herself, to calm herself, to see something on the page that made her happy. That is what writing should be! Later, Smith includes a quote from Anne Tyler who said, "I write because I want more than one life." Not to get rich, not to be famous, not to travel or to be on television. Writing for the people in Smith's essays is the essence of their being.

Thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining, this short read (200 pages) is satisfying for the soul. Smith presents a simpler way of life in the glowing halo of wistful nostalgia, but it's beautiful and ethereal.

Highly recommended for adult and mature readers and all book clubs. Anyone who loves small town America, the South, and Appalachia will love this book.

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



Friday, April 1, 2016

Book Giveaway: The Kid From Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton

 
I have THREE FREE copies of this great title up for grabs! For your chance to win, post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for posts is April 11, 2016, at noon MST. Winners are selected randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified via email on April 11. Please check your email on that date. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York. Good luck and start posting!
 
Here is a quote from my review:
 
Fascinating, full of facts, well researched, easy to read and understand, and entertaining, this story of a girl who dared to love the game of baseball and break that "grass ceiling" gaining access into an all male sport is an incredible read and fine addition to any sports section or women's section of your collection and is a must read for sports fans and all young girls.  
 
 
What Reviewers are Saying:

    "An engaging story that reminds readers that “baseball isn’t just numbers and statistics, men and boys. Baseball is also ten-year-old girls, marching across a city to try out for a team intended for players twice their age."
–Horn Book

"Salerno's illustrations, variously rendered in charcoal, ink, and gouache, as well as digital color, lovingly evoke the time period and the settings. Much fascinating information about Edith's long and adventurous life is added in an author's note. A forgotten star shines anew."
–Kirkus Reviews

"[The Kid from Diamond Street] should especially appeal to those who enjoyed Vernick and Salerno’s Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team. The compelling story and energetic illustrations make this an excellent addition."
–School Library Journal

"Salerno’s mixed-media illustrations are a lively amalgam of action and scenic panorama..."
–Bulletin

"Choice quotations from [Edith] Houghton bring her personality and love of baseball to vivid life, while Salerno’s mixed-media artwork channels the footloose energy of the Jazz Age..."
–Publishers Weekly

"This timely message about playing simply for the love of the game, as opposed to personal glory or celebrity, comes through loud and clear."
–Booklist


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I Nearly MIssed This One! YA Pick: Trouble Is a Friend of Mine

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
by Stephanie Tromly
Kathy Dawson Books
2015
334 pages
ISBN: 9780525428404

Watch a teen review

Praise

Praise for Trouble Is a Friend of Mine:
“In what reads like a combination of Veronica Mars and The Breakfast Club, debut author Tromly creates a screwball mystery with powerful crossover appeal.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This is one of those rare books that promises something unique and actually delivers beyond expectation. At least one copy belongs in every young adult collection—maybe even two or three. Once the word gets out, this book will fly off the shelves.”—VOYA, starred review

“Fast-talking, suit-wearing Digby is an exasperating teenage Sherlock—sharply observant, impatient with social niceties, and unafraid of authority figures….Fans of Veronica Mars and Elementary will find much to like here…Zoe’s sarcastic first-person narration is fresh and funny…an offbeat and entertaining caper.”—Kirkus

“With snappy prose and wry humor alongside the gritty crime, this nod to noir moves as fast as Digby talks… An engrossing and satisfying read…[that] encourages readers to dig between the lines and see truths that even Zoe and Digby, in all their sardonic observations, can’t quite spell out.”—BCCB, starred review

“A fast-paced story….Readers will find a sharply drawn character in the irrepressible Zoe, who’s as dubious about Digby’s methods as she is curious about whether or not she can live up to his daredevilry.”—SLJ

“With acerbic banter and a healthy dose of high-school high jinks, screenwriter Tromly weaves together traditional elements of teen stories to create a Breakfast Club for a new century.”—Booklist



My Review:


Trouble Is a Friend of Mine was marketed as a cross between Veronica Mars, Sherlock and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," so I was intrigued right away and had high hopes for a great read. I wasn't disappointed and readers won't be either!


Philip Digby is that weirdly cool nerdy kid who everyone knows but isn't exactly close friends with probably because they couldn't keep up with his intellect. They admire his aplomb, his ability to finesse a situation, his benign smile, his ability to tell tall tales and get away with them, and his audacity to fight authority and win before authority  even knows they were in a fight.Whip smart, ever so random in his observances and utterances, Sherlock Holmes smart, utterly devilish,  charming, and dazzling in his brilliance, Digby befriends Zoe. Actually befriends is not the right word. He wiles his way into her life and Zoe, a little bored and a lot friendless, is confused as to why she's suddenly Digby's sidekick and a willing if confused  Dr. Watson to his witty and biting Sherlock Holmes. A cute football playing jock named Henry joins the two and soon the  trio are searching for a missing girl.  Eight years  earlier, Digby's younger sister vanished, and he's hoping if he finds what happened in the recent disappearance, he can find his sister.


I can't say enough about Digby;  he is an enchanting fellow. He is masterful at controlling the situation and keeping things on a strictly need to know basis. He has a plan to bust a drug ring and find out where the missing girl or girls are. Digby is he master of the understatement and a genius at linguistics. He takes jibs at Zoe, aka Princeton, teasing her for her clothing choices, her lack of friends, her boring life, and her wanting to attend an expensive private school. Readers later learn that Digby's home life is...well...strange!

As Zoe crushes on cute Henry, who has a mean girl cheerleader girlfriend, she realizes her feelings for Digby are more than friendship. Zoe has her share of funny lines. When she sees Henry's toned stomach, she says, "Who knew a sixteen-year-old boy who wasn't a werewolf fighting sparkly vampires could have a six-pack of abs?"

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine has a great trio of characters and lead "actors"  Digby and Zoe are sheer comic gold. After finding the bad guys, not alerting the cops, getting taken hostage, being thrown into a cellar, being held at gunpoint, finding tons of explosives and Zoe coming face to face with her biggest fear: her mother's new sleepover boyfriend, Zoe and Digby make a plan to free themselves from a car trunk. When bad guy Ezekiel opens the trunk, Zoe will stab him with an epi-pen and Digby will take the gun. While that plan sounds like it will work, what really happens is: the trunk opens, Zoe stabs the bad guy, the bad guy screams, Zoe screams, Digby screams and the trunk is slammed shut again. Zoe tells Digby that he was supposed to get the gun, but Digby says that Zoe grossed him out and he froze. Zoe hit Ezekiel directly in the eyeball with the epi-pen. Laugh out loud funny!

More surprises at the end will leave readers speechless but wanting more of Digby and Zoe.  It's great news that this book is only book one of a trilogy. Readers will have to wait until November for book 2, Trouble Makes a Comeback. What are you waiting for? Grab a copy of Trouble Is a Friend of Mine.

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. Some adult situations: Zoe's dad cheated on her mother and leaves her for a much younger woman, no profanity, no sex, a "hint" of romance.

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








Monday, March 28, 2016

Baseball Pick: The Kid From Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton

The Kid From Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton
by Audrey Vernick
Illustrated by Steven Salerno
Clarion Books
2015
40 pages
ISBN: 9780544611634

What Reviewers are Saying:

    "An engaging story that reminds readers that “baseball isn’t just numbers and statistics, men and boys. Baseball is also ten-year-old girls, marching across a city to try out for a team intended for players twice their age."
–Horn Book

"Salerno's illustrations, variously rendered in charcoal, ink, and gouache, as well as digital color, lovingly evoke the time period and the settings. Much fascinating information about Edith's long and adventurous life is added in an author's note. A forgotten star shines anew."
–Kirkus Reviews

"[The Kid from Diamond Street] should especially appeal to those who enjoyed Vernick and Salerno’s Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team. The compelling story and energetic illustrations make this an excellent addition."
–School Library Journal

"Salerno’s mixed-media illustrations are a lively amalgam of action and scenic panorama..."
–Bulletin

"Choice quotations from [Edith] Houghton bring her personality and love of baseball to vivid life, while Salerno’s mixed-media artwork channels the footloose energy of the Jazz Age..."
–Publishers Weekly

"This timely message about playing simply for the love of the game, as opposed to personal glory or celebrity, comes through loud and clear."
–Booklist

My Review:
 
Fascinating, full of facts, well researched, easy to read and understand, and entertaining this story of a girl who dared to love the game of baseball and break that "grass" ceiling gaining access into an all male sport is an incredible read and fine addition to any sports section or women's section of your collection and is a must read for sports fans and all young girls.  
 
In the early 20th century, baseball was an all male sport, but that didn't stop ten year Edith from joining the neighborhood games with her brothers and loving the sport. Edith didn't care that girls weren't allowed to play, she loved the game and would do anything to play. When Edith heard that there was a professional women's team being formed in her hometown of Philadelphia, she tried out for the team. Although only ten years old, Edith outperformed other players. She was added to the team roster as shortstop and played with the Philadelphia Bobbies. The team played in Philadelphia and as far away as Virginia, but Edith didn't care where they played, as long as she could play.
 
Edith's father was so proud. The press was constantly writing about the Bobbies and the talented "kid." By 1925, the team had gained international attention and they were invited to play against a men's team in Japan--halfway around the world! The team set off by train from Philadelphia to Washington, playing men's teams along the way. They boarded a ship in Seattle and set off for Japan. Talk about culture shock! This was Japan in 1925. Kimonos were worn daily and people traveled by rickshaw. The Bobbies played teams all across Japan for two months, becoming quite famous.
 
They finally arrived home, and Edith continued her love of the game, playing for other teams and later becoming a major league scout for the Philadelphia Phillies, where owner Bob Carpenter was amazed by her encyclopedic knowledge of the game and players. Edith's jersey and cap from her Japan games are displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame in the Diamond Dreams exhibit.
 
Mixed media art by Steven Salerno captures the era and the game. Ten year old Edith on the cover captivates  as she rests on the bat, glove in hand, suitcase with travel stickers at her feet. Edith has what my grandmother used to call, "gumption," and that's the finest compliment anyone can receive.
 
Highly, highly recommended for all collections, sports and otherwise. Early readers-grade 4 and up, and sports fans of all ages.
 
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
 
 
 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Magical Storytelling Pick: Wink Poppy Midnight

 
Wink Poppy Midnight
by April Genevieve Tucholke
Dial Books
2016
247 pages
ISBN: 9780803740488
 
 
 
 
"Tucholke walks a fine, spine-chilling line. . .  An eerie, tangled story with plenty of questions: Who can be trusted? Who—or what—pulls the strings? . . . The book keeps readers wondering. Nicely constructed and planned, with unexpected twists to intrigue and entertain.”  

—Kirkus starred review
“A dark, unpredictable mystery that . . . shimmer[s] with sumptuous descriptions and complicated psychologies. . . . Occult accoutrements, descriptions of the wild landscape, and a twisting-turning plot create an uncertain atmosphere that constantly shift readers’ perceptions of who is trustworthy.”
 —Publishers Weekly
 
From the author's website:

 

Spring 2016 Kids’ Indie Next List

 

Amazon Editors' Best Books of the month, March 2016
 
A Junior Library Guild Selection
 
Teen Vogue’s Best New YA Books of 2016
 
PureWow's Best of Spring
 
Wink Poppy Midnight is that rare book: equal parts magic, mystery, romance and intrigue. Textured and rich, the prose sings off the pages. Tucholke is one fine storyteller; she pulls you in, makes you believe in magic, throws crazy plot twists at you, adds a few red herrings for spice, plays you like a fiddle and then leaves you breathless, confused and delighted. "Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain. Every story needs a secret." (from the inside cover). Readers will not see this story's ending coming, and believe me, there's no way to prepare for it--any of it.
 
Wink is a masterful storyteller who believes, truly believes--to the depths of her being--in fairy tales. Poppy is a mean girl; the girl who seemingly has no heart. She cares nothing for any one and she only acts in her own self-interest. She's a true sociopath. She plays with both Midnight and Wink, toying with their hearts and heads until Wink can bear it no more. Wink convinces Midnight of a plan to bring Poppy down a notch or two.

When their plan goes off the rails, Poppy disappears. Both Wink and Midnight feel guilt, but Wink knows Poppy is still playing a game with them. Wink knows Poppy like she knows herself. Midnight once loved Poppy, and he still smells her perfume in his room. Is she a ghost? Is he seeing things? If she's alive, why won't she come back?

Someone is pulling the strings and someone is lying, but whom? Is it Poppy manipulating others into thinking she is dead? Or is it Wink, the pixie storyteller? Everyone loves Wink, but with her intelligence and creative, whimsical mind, could she be the mastermind for murder? Or is it someone else behind the scenes? Someone Poppy used to love?

Minor characters are drawn into the mystery and add to the suspense. Wink's younger siblings think Poppy has drowned, and Wink might even believe it.

After a chilling séance, an accidental fire burns down the spooky Roman Luck House and the kids escape, everyone except Midnight. Wink fears Midnight is dead, but (spoiler alert) someone or something pulled him from the house. Only Midnight knows what really happened but he's not talking--he has too much to lose.

Heroes and villains are never truly heroic nor truly evil. Sometimes it's hard to tell the good from the bad--unlike most fairy tales where ugly ogres and cackling witches are bad and beautiful princesses and handsome heroes are always good. Wink needs her fairy tales to make sense of her life and she is such a lyrical storyteller, she has all the other kids  believing in fairy magic and heroic quests. When they listen to Wink, they believe in princesses and witches.

Wink Poppy Midnight will haunt you long after you have finished reading. The only thing missing for me was a more gothic setting. This book could have gone southern gothic or gothic romance, but it didn't. Perhaps that is the way the author intended.

Cover art captures magic elements of Wink's stories: a snake, a full moon, a spider's web, an owl, an apple, flowers, a butterfly.
 
Highly, highly recommended for mature readers. Mature situations. Poppy is quite a seductress.
 
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
 
 
 

 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Prank Pick: Don't Get Caught

Don't Get Caught
by Kurt Dinan
Sourcebooks Fire
2016
336 pages
ISBN: 9781492630142
Available April 2016

Debut author Kurt Dinan entertains with this prank war book that will keep readers laughing. Max is the normal fly under the radar high school boy who is not the cool kid or the smart kid or the athletic kid or the talented kid. He's the average kid. When he receives an invitation to meet the Chaos Club at the water tower and to "tell no one," he is intrigued and a little excited. Why would the epic and super secret Chaos Club invite him he wonders?

Max arrives and sees other students who received invites. As the kids are figuring out what to do next, they are busted for being on school grounds after hours and for defacing the water tower. Max is not going to take this! He's going to fight back. It's the Chaos Club's fault that he was caught. He bands together with the others to form a new prank group designed to upstage and out prank  the Chaos Club.

The team decides to have a prank off and the loser will pay dearly. Max goes along with the other's pranks, and the team becomes legendary. When the odds are upped, Max gets suspended from school.  Outsmarting the vice principal Stranko is pretty easy, and the kids get away with several hilarious pranks that have the school in an uproar.

Just who is the Chaos Club? Max plans to find out and when he does, he'll be surprised.

Classic bad high school behavior, profanity, mature subject matter.

Recommended grade 9 and up.

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

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Passover Pick: More Than Enough (A Passover Story)

More Than Enough: A Passover Story
by April Halpin Wayland
Illustrations by Katie Kath
Dial Books for Young Readers
2016
32 pages
ISBN: 9780803741263


from the Publisher's page:

"This warm, affectionate story embraces Passover in the spirit of dayenu, and offers a comprehensive glossary—it’s a perfect read for the entire family in anticipation and celebration of the holiday."

My review:

Foods make memories. Your grandma's homemade dumplings, her cat head biscuits (because they were the size of a cat's head), Your aunt's favorite beef stew, potato doughnuts, homemade chorizo. Each food brings back a particular memory. More Than Enough celebrates Passover and how it is celebrated in the Jewish synagogue.

The family gathers at the table, the heart of the home. A song is sung, and father reads from the Haggadah. The children listen to the story of the Jews escaping from Egypt, and the family eats food from the Seder plate, each food symbolizing a part of the story. Children will search for the Afikomen, a hidden piece of matzah, that represents a prize.

Complete with glossary this book not only entertains, it educates. Dayenu is the song that the kids sing and its literal meaning is "It would have been enough." The family counts their blessings at the dinner table as one. This is a sweet story of thanksgiving. Illustrations by Katie Kath bring the characters to life.

For Jewish families tradition is important. More Than Enough will help non-Jews and those who do not celebrate Passover understand the customs, language and tradition.