Monday, December 16, 2013

Action Pick: The Loop

The Loop
by Shandy Lawson
Hyperion
2013
208 pages

Wildly unique and highly riveting, The Loop will take readers on a thrill ride. Teens Ben And Maggie are stuck in a time loop. Each time they meet, they try to outrun bad guy Roy, a killer with a bad attitude. He will stop at nothing to catch the teens and kill them. He wants their gambling winnings that they used him to collect. As underage betters, the kids couldn't cash in their ticket at the race track; they needed an adult. And, boy, did they pick the worst adult.

The events of two days happens over and over, each time with Roy killing both Maggie and Ben. In one loop, Ben meets Steve, a guy who recognizes Ben and tells him about his loop. At first, Ben doesn't believe it, but he does have that deja vu feeling, and he realizes he has been repeating his own history over and over.

Ben and Maggie work at changing just one little thing to try to bend the loop. They figure if they can change enough little things, they may get to live and break the loop. Roy is hot on their trail, and they leave New Orleans and try to get as far from Shreveport as possible. Fate just keeps dealing them blows. They end up in a car accident and are airlifted to the hospital, where they will be sitting ducks for Roy to kill. Ben sneaks Maggie out of the hospital and they are on the run again.

Maggie and Ben are falling in love, but there's no time for romance. Trying to stay alive is a full time job. Maggie makes a couple of brilliant decisions, hoping to change their outcome.

The Loop is perfect for the reluctant reader; it is a quick read --only 208 pages.

Recommended grade 7-up. No language. A couple of sweet kisses, oh, and outrunning a killer.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC of 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)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fashionista Pick: Tales From My Closet

Tales From My Closet
by Jennifer Anne Moses
Scholastic Press
2014
304 pages

Available January 28, 2014

Vibrant, vivacious, fun, flirty and fabulous, Tales From My Closet is seriously entertaining.

Justine is the new girl in town and she hates it. Her dad works all the time, her mom gave up her dream to be a dancer and acts like a hover mother, the town of West Falls is boring and Justine's new bedroom is puke pink. She wants to meet new people but just doesn't want to be forced into a friendship with her neighbor the long legged, lithe goddess, popular girl Becka.

Beautiful, headstrong Becka is in love with an older man she met when she went to Paris. It's a secret she keeps from her psychologist/writer mother who happens to be obsessed with Becka's life, writing bestsellers about teenage woes and angst, much to Becka's chagrin. Becka feels like a lab rat or an experiment. About the last thing she wants is to meet the new neighbor and pretend to be friendly.

Robin is wardrobe obsessed. She will spend her last dime to own something fabulous and her serious shopping addiction is getting her into hot water and rising debt.

Polly likes the new girl's style. She thinks Justine's paper dress is fun and fashionable. She likes that Justine is not just a follower but a leader.

Ann has problems of her own. She's always being compared to her uber-smart older sister. Ann wants nothing to do with a Princeton education, and fears telling her parents that she wants to go into fashion. When she sees a trunk full of her grandmother's clothes, she knows she will be a fashion diva. Ann causes a sensation with her vintage look, and the girls notice.

Justine and Ann are the most developed characters, and Polly seems to get lost in the mix. Perhaps there should have been at least one less character and more interaction with fewer characters. Readers may not empathize with Becka when she is heartbroken. She seems clueless--has she never seen a Lifetime movie?

The fun cover and fabulous fashion will attract fashionistas and fashion wanna-be's.

Recommended grade 7-up. No language. "Going to the next step..." is mentioned but it doesn't happen. Justine is in over her head and offers to have sex with her French "boyfriend," but is laughed at.

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, December 9, 2013

Book Giveaway: The False Princess

A Royal Birthday
by Files O'Neal
Egmont USA
25 pages

Available December 10, 2013
Price:$1.99

The publisher calls A Royal Birthday "a short prequel to The False Princess." See details here

Win a hard copy of The False Princess from my blog. I have ONE copy of The False Princess up for grabs. For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog and include first name, city, state, and email contact. Deadline for posts is December 13 at noon MST. The winner will be selected by Randomizer and notified December 16. The book will ship from New York.

Good luck and start posting! And don't forget to check out the ebook prequel A Royal Birthday.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pamela's Pick's: The Best YA Books (and others) of 2013

Best Early Reader: Year of the Jungle by Suzanne Collins


This is an important book and will resonate with young readers (and any age child) who has a loved one in the military. One librarian wrote me that she used the book on Veteran's Day to illustrate the meaning of what a veteran is and why we have Veteran's Day. What a great idea!

Best Early Reader/ Poetry: The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Verses by Lisa Wheeler


Illustrations by Zachariah Ohora

Whimsical and fun, sure to entertain and enlighten, this is a gem of a book!


Best Children's Book: Fraidy Zoo by Thyra Heder

Fraidy Zoo is charming and ingenious. Clever writing and witty, winsome illustrations will amaze young readers. Children will love guessing what animal Little T's parents and sister are trying to act out. This is an alphabet book, but so much, much more. This is the best children's book I've read in years. Kudos to Thyra Heder. This one's a winner!




Origami Pick: Art2-D2's Guide to Folding and Doodling by Tom Angleberger


Who isn't a fan of Tom Angleberger's fun series of Origami Yoda books?! Great for reluctant readers and Star Wars fans. This book is always checked out!

Best YA of 2013:


Contaminated by Em Garner

Heartbreakingly real, Contaminated should scare you to death!


The Prey by Andrew Fukuda

Fukuda continues the story of Gene and a few other surviving humans in book 2. Fukuda is riveting and his prose is tight and highly readable. One student commented: "I like his writing style. It is so approachable!" I couldn't agree more!


Unfed by Kirsty McKay

Unfed is book two. Zombies are on the loose in Scotland and the teens continue fighting to stay alive. Who knew zombies could be this much fun?


The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Fans of The Hunger Games will be astounded by this book! The Testing is the true battleground for the human species. The plot races rapidly along and readers will be caught up by the story and the premise of survival. The Testing is fierce, ferocious, fantastic and fascinating.


The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Paranormal with a twist. The Archived is genius! The Archived is a real treat for readers who love a captivating story, a feisty female protagonist and a charming, almost alarming and totally disarming male love interest.


The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

A survival story at its best. Readers won't anticipate the shocking secret revealed at the novel's end. Bodeen proves she can write just about anything!


Winger by Andrew Smith

Winger is a book for the underdog in all of us. You will never forget Ryan Dean West, aka Winger. This book will resonate with readers long after the last page.


Money Run by Jack Heath

Buckle your seatbelts. Money Run is a serious adrenaline rush from the first page. Kids + crime = caper. Money Run will give you a run for your money.


Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs

Spy Camp is book two in the series, and it's great. Teenage spies in training versus evil bad guys. Great fun!


The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington

The BEST ghost story of the year, hands down. I loved this book!






Adult Best Book of 2013:


Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach

Life Among Giants is on my Best Books of All Time list which also includes To Kill a Mockingbird and The Shadow of the Wind. This book is a magnificent achievement--the characters real and meaningful. Life Among Giants is recommended for all book clubs. It will give readers plenty of food for thought and will lead to deep conversations and musings. In fact, I may have to reread this right now! I loved Life Among Giants--best book EVER!

That's it, my Best Books of 2013. It was a great year. Thank you for your love of reading and the written word. Please give the gift of reading to a child. It is truly magical and inspiring. It will change both of your lives forever.

Pamela



Book Giveaway: Fraidy Zoo


I have FIVE copies of this amazing and amusing new debut book by Thyra Heder. I found it charming and ingenious. Clever writing and witty, winsome illustrations will amaze young readers. Children will love guessing what animal Little T's parents and sister are trying to act out. This is an alphabet book, but so much, much more. This is the best children's book I've read in years. Kudos to Thyra Heder. This one's a winner!



Fraidy Zoo
by Thyra Heder
Abrams
2013
48 pages

See praise from the publisher's website:



Praise for Fraidyzoo
STARRED REVIEWS
"WARNING: Expect riotous buffoonery after reading this clever and original alphabet story, as kids will definitely want to “parrot” the examples."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Debut talent Heder comes up with a wildly imaginative idea for an alphabet book/animal guessing game, elaborates it with smartly drafted ink-and-watercolor spreads, and seasons it with plenty of family warmth and hullaballoo."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The cut-and-paste, handmade look and feel of this picture book underscores its thematic ode to creative problem solving... The charming, detailed watercolor and ink illustrations really tell the story, and children will relish poring over them to guess the animal costumes and identify their construction materials."
—School Library Journal

"Heder tells a child-relevant story about facing your fears with a light hand and zippy prose, but it’s her art that dials the zippiness up to 11, as her warm and humorously realistic figures gallivant alongside some remarkably envisioned handcrafted animal puppets."
—Booklist

"This book does the impossible, taking one of the oldest children’s book conventions, the zoo alphabet, and completely reinventing it. It’s a story about a family helping one of their own overcome fear by being utterly silly and completely loving. The whole thing is done with such a confident and lively style, it’s hard to believe that this is Heder’s first picture book. Fraidyzoo is funny, original, and announces Heder as a force to be reckoned with."
—The Atlantic Wire

For your chance to win a copy, post a comment to the blog and be sure and include your first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for posts is December 16 at noon MST. Winners will be notified on that date; please check your email. Winners are selected randomly by Randomizer. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Abrams.

Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Thursday, December 5, 2013

YA Pick: Midwinter Blood


Midwinterblood
by Marcus Sedgewick
Roaring Brook Press
2013
262 pages

Magical, mysterious, macabre, and mesmerizing, Midwinterblood tells seven stories that are intertwined with the quiet island of Blessed and its strange curse. Powerful and commanding storytelling by Marcus Sedgewick will have readers completely enraptured by his captivating spell.

Journalist Eric Seven travels to a remote Scandinavian island for a story. The islanders, it is said, live forever and never age, but there are not children anywhere. Eric falls for the enigmatic Merle, a woman who seems so familiar, yet he knows he has never seen her before...or has he? Tor, the island's leader, allows Eric to stay and finds a cottage for his use. As Eric explores the island, he is sure he has been there before. Everything is new and strange, yet feels old and familiar. Eric is bone tired and soon dreams haunt his sleep, and a painting hides the secret of the island.

Other stories revolve around the painting and the island. The story of a plane wreck and a pilot. The story of an archeologist who discovers ancient bones from the Viking era. The story of a painter, the story of a vampire, the story of brothers who both loved the same woman, the story of children sired by another, and the story of the island's curse.

Midwinterblood is a beautifully crafted novel that showcases Sedgewick's talent as a storyteller and a magician--he is able to weave separate stories of each individual into the larger story of the island and of lives relived. Love is stronger than the bonds of time and stronger still than the evil curse. The island cannot hold true love prisoner and eventually the right individual will arrive and change the island forever.

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. Average readers may struggle with the concept of the seven stories, but good readers will love this novel. Midwinterblood will surely be on everyone's must reads and favorites lists and is likely to be nominated for many state's awards.

Some violence.

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, December 4, 2013

Book Giveaway: Trouper

Trouper
by Meg Kearney
Paintings by E.B. Lewis
Scholastic Press
2013

I have FIVE copies of Trouper up for grabs!!!

Trouper is a stray who runs with a pack of dogs until he's picked up by the pound. There he watches as one by one, his friends find homes, but Trouper is always left behind. Until, finally a little boy sees Trouper's inner beauty. This beautiful picture book is bound to become a bedtime favorite loved by animal lovers everywhere.

For your chance to win, post a comment to the blog. Be sure and include your first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for posts is Monday, December 16 at noon MST. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified on that date; be sure and check your email. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email.

Books will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont and Laura. Thank you. Good luck and start posting!
Pamela

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Blog Tour Pick: Samantha Sutton

Samantha Sutton and The Winter of the Warrior Queen
By Jordan Jacobs
 
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
January 2014 ISBN: 978-1-4022-7563-0
Trade Paper/$6.99 Ages 9+
 
Another thrilling adventure awaits this bold heroine…
 
Samantha is hesitant to join Uncle Jay on a second archaeological excavation. But the marshes near Cambridge, England, sound harmless after the sinister perils she faced in Peru. Or so she thought...
 
During the excavation, Samantha realizes the site could be the ancient fortress of Queen Boudica, who led an uprising against the Roman Empire. An amazing find! But Samantha’s crucial discovery threatens to halt construction on a nearby theme park that will make millions for English Lord and eccentric landowner Cairn Catesby. Unfortunately for Samantha, Catesby is also the scheming head of Cambridge University's Archaeology Department, making him Uncle Jay's current boss. Catesby will stop at nothing to discredit Uncle Jay’s theories about the excavation site’s royal ties. When Samantha is entrusted with the protection of an artifact that undeniably links the site to the Warrior Queen, she becomes the target of unscrupulous men determined to get their fortune by any means necessary.
 
On the run through the snowy English countryside, Samantha must muster the strength and wit to protect the treasured artifact—with her uncle’s professional reputation hanging in the balance.
 
Jordan Jacobs’ career as an archaeologist began with a love of mummies, castles, and Indiana Jones. He journeyed to his first archaeological excavation at age 13 in California’s Sierra Nevada. A Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge-educated man, Jordan has worked as an archaeologist at world-class institutions such as The Smithsonian and The American Museum of Natural History in New York.
 
Jordan is passionate about public awareness for the illicit looting of artifacts at globally important archaeological sites. He works with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), where his recommendations have helped to protect historic sites and to alert agents around the world about precious artifacts smuggled on the black market. Jordan is currently a senior specialist at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. http://j-jacobs.com/   @JordanNJacobs

I asked Jordan how he came up with the idea of Samantha. He wrote this for the blog:

"As I suspect is the case with most authors, I have a hard time accounting for my characters’ origins. One day they don’t exist, and the next they do: bursting fully to life in my head and revealing themselves--slowly, painfully, inaccurately at first--in the harsh black and white of a document in Word.


Where do they come from? In most cases, it’s some subconscious machination. From people I've met in real life, I’d guess, or some fragment of my own personality, or--an unavoidable truth--from unconsciously remembered characters in other peoples’ books or movies.


But Samantha Sutton is a little different. I can account for her.


At first, I thought she was just some projection of me as a kid: obsessed with archaeology, studious--but not self-conscious about it--and very self-consciously small. For some reason, the fact that she was female when she sprang to mind wasn't particularly noteworthy. That’s just what seemed to make sense.


It took an old home movie to realize that I was wrong. Samantha isn’t me, at all. Samantha is my wife.


We watched the video at my in-laws, in the midst of my work on Labyrinth of Lies. The video shows my wife’s five-year-old birthday, just as the scheduled festivities--a performing miniature pony--wrap up. While the other kids are content to mill around, my future wife sees the need to structure the rest of the day.




“We can either play tag in the backyard or hide-and-seek inside,” she announces. “Or, we can pretend to be horses.”




And that was all I needed. That was Samantha: serious, meticulous, disciplined in the face of chaos. So Samantha was my wife, all along.


There’s some weird (slightly uncomfortable) psychological goings-on here, I admit, and I’m not even going to begin to go there. But the realization has helped my writing. Because while facing new dangers in Winter of the Warrior Queen, Samantha gets to draw from other strong women I’ve known in my life -- and from my own personality, as well -- it’s my wife’s personality that forms her disciplined core."

Monday, November 25, 2013

Classic Pick: Aesop's Fables


Aesop's Fables
retold by Ann McGovern
Illustrated by A.J. McClaskey
Scholastic Inc.
2013
80 pages

Over 60 of Aesop's stories retold by Ann McGovern will explain the fables for a new generation of readers. Stories include the old stand-bys like "The Tortoise and the Hare" and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." Lesser known fables are included, too: "The Farmer and the Stork," "The Two Travelers and An Axe," and "The Playful Donkey."

Illustrations by A.J. McClaskey depict each tale and add visual interest for reluctant readers. The slimness of this little treasure is bound to appeal to the reluctant club. Even the most reluctant of readers will not be intimidated by the short fables and the "lesson" each fable teaches.

This version of Aesop's Fables is a no-brainer for any literature class. The stories are concise and complete. Learners will come away from the book with a good understanding of fables and the famous and not so famous stories.

Recommended for all learners grade 3-up. Easy to read and understand. Non-intimidating for reluctant readers.

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)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dork Diaries: OMG! All About Me Diary!


Dork Diaries: OMG! All About Me Diary!
by Rachel Renee Russell
Aladdin
2013
265 pages

Tweens and fans of the series will love filling in the pages of their very own diary. Funny and unstoppable Nikki Maxwell leads readers to write with prompts like, "Have you ever told someone a personal secret and the THEY told someone else? What was the secret and WHO told it?" and "OMG! You're working at a KISSING BOOTH to raise money for CHARITY? Name the first six people in line for kisses!"

Readers also get Nikki's comments on a variety of topics including: boys, of course, school, friends, food, fun, music and more. Russell's illustrations are spot on and bring Nikki to life. Each day of the year gets its own entry, so readers become writers! There are blanks for Year 1 and Year 2, so readers/writers can keep their diary and work in it for two years. Nikki says, " Maybe one day your diary will become a really popular book series! How cool would that be?"

Highly, highly recommended for any fan of the series. This is a great Christmas or birthday gift that will keep girls writing all year long. Grade 4-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)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Picture Book Pick: Trouper

Trouper
by Meg Kearney
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Scholastic Press
2013
32 pages

For the inspiring book trailer


From Kirkus: "Sure to tug at the heartstrings, this is a lovely and satisfying book."

Christian Science Monitor names Trouper one of the season's best picture books.



Inspiring, uplifting, courageous, and heroic, Trouper is the ONE dog story for everyone. Trouper is based on a real life dog adopted by author Meg Kearney. Kearney, an adopted child herself, felt a familiar kinship when she saw photos of Trouper. She fell in love with his face and his inspiring spirit. He hadn't been adopted yet, and Kearney just knew that he hadn't "...because he was waiting for me."

Trouper travels with a pack of dogs and lives a free life, until the day they are captured by the dog catcher and taken to a shelter. He watches as all his friends are adopted and feels sad because no one is ever at the shelter to adopt him--until one day a friend comes along and takes Trouper home. The child saw Trouper's inner spirit and looked past his stump.

Be sure and watch the inspiring book trailer about the real Trouper. If you are thinking about getting a pet, please choose to visit a shelter and give a great dog a home. I have always rescued shelter dogs and each shelter dog has become a crucial member of our family.

Kids are sure to love this book and this dog with a big heart and even a bigger spirit.

Illustrations by Caldecott award winning artist E.B. Lewis evoke empathy for Trouper and his story. Lewis used Kearney's dog as a model for his artwork, and he truly captures Trouper's joyful spirit.

Highly, highly recommended ages 4-up and any dog lover.

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)


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Horror Pick: Doctor Sleep (The Shining, book 2)


Doctor Sleep
by Stephen King
Scribner
2013
528 pages

Spooky, scary and creepily grotesque doesn't begin to describe the terror of Doctor Sleep. Somewhere out there on America's highways and byways, you might see a convoy of Winnebagos driven by baby boomers and elderly retirees. You may not think anything of it, unless you've entered the terrifying world of Doctor Sleep.

Dan Torrence (the child in The Shining) is now all grown up. Having survived the nightmare that was the Overlook, Dan has spent years lying to himself and relying on the bottle for solace. He finally turns to AA for help, and the shining is quiet for a little while. He is still in touch with the Overlook's cook Dick Hallorann who has helped him understand the shining and his powers since childhood. When Dan is summoned by a young girl named Abra, he turns to Dick again for help.

Abra has the shining, too, and it's strong. That's what attracts Rose and her group of life-sucking vampires who feed off the shining from children. The True Knot travels from campground to campground feeding off the shining of tragedies. When 9/11 happened, they fed well off the steam of the dying. Since then, their canisters of saved "steam" is dwindling, and Rose is getting nervous. What will happen to her band of paranormal gypsies if there is no more steam? She will lose her power and die. Rose can't let that happen. She feels a strong presence somewhere on the east coast and sends her scouts out to search for this young beacon of hope.

Dan and Abra are connected, and she reaches out to Dan though messages on a chalkboard and later, she is able to connect telepathically. Sometimes Abra feels someone else besides Dan is in her head and she is afraid. Dan teachers her how to set traps and scare to intruder off, but Rose is powerful. Abra has a vision of a young boy she calls "baseball boy," and she knows he is somehow the key to destroying the True Knot.

As the True Knot moves closer to Abra, Dan and Dick hatch a plan to save her and unravel the True Knot (yes, pun intended) and destroy them. It will take all three of them...and then some...to face the demons and win. Like The Stand, Doctor Sleep is the ultimate good versus evil battle.

Doctor Sleep is King at his masterful best; no one can build suspenseful excitement and fearful anticipation like King. He even takes a playful jab at fellow horror genre writer Dean Koontz--just for grins.

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves a great story and every Stephen King fan grade 9 and up. Language, mature situations, violence, alcoholism, sobriety issues.

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)



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Action Adventure Pick: The Sultan's Tigers


The Sultan's Tigers
by Josh Lacey
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
2013
298 pages

Fast-paced, high octane, perilous action will thrill teen readers who love an action adventure story with a gritty young hero. The plot rollicks on at a breakneck pace. VOYA says, "Non-stop action...This is a fine choice to add to a 'Guys Read' list."

Tom Trelawney's family tree is not impressive, in fact, he states, "...I come from a long line of liars, cheats, crooks, bandits, thieves, and smugglers." From the opening line, this book draws you in, hook, line and sinker. When Tom is held captive and threatened, he decides to find the secret hidden somewhere in his grandfather's house. He remembers a visit when his grandfather showed him a hiding place. Sure enough, Tom finds a secret cache of letters.

He realizes that one of his ancestors hid a great treasure in India and left clues how to find it. Tom enlists the help of his slightly unbalanced Uncle Harvey and off they jet to India. They are looking for the last of the "Sultan's tigers," a statue encrusted with jewels that will make them both rich. That's the trouble with treasure, the more it's worth, the more people are willing to kill for it.

The Sultan's Tigers is a great book for reluctant readers. It will keep them entertained and reading, wondering what will happen next. When they're up against a vicious mercenary who will stop at nothing and an ego-maniac billionaire who plans to horde all the tigers, Tom comes up with a plan to steal the tiger and help others.

Don't worry though. Tom doesn't become a "goody two shoes," soon he's sneaking out of the house and looking for trouble.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves a fast-paced adventure with globe-trotting appeal. For grade 7-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)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Book Giveaway: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck (Book 8)


I have FIVE FREE copies of the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid up for grabs!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck (Book 8)
by Jeff Kinney
Abrams
2013
217 pages

You KNOW you'll want to win a copy of Greg Heffley's latest (mis) adventures! Hard Luck is laugh-out-loud funny as Greg tries to find a new BFF and navigate the eccentricities of his weird extended family.

For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog. Be sure to include your first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for posts is Wednesday, November 20 at 12:00 noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer and notified by me on November 20. Please check your email on that date in the afternoon. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Amulet Books. Good luck and start posting. What are you waiting for? Pamela

Non-Fiction Pick: The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest--and Most Surprising--Animals on Earth

The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest--and Most Surprising--Animals on Earth
by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2013
208 pages with glossary
 
 
 
 


Colorful illustrations pair with informative text to entertain and enlighten readers about animals of all kinds from the mosquito to the colossal squid. The table of contents is helpful--dividing the book into 8 sections including a section for More Information which maps out the author's process from idea to finished book. It is fascinating to see how Steve Jenkins illustrated this book using cut or torn paper collages.

The Animal Book is not just a collection of animals; it is a beautiful example of an artist capturing wildlife in his artwork. Readers will learn the definition of an animal, about different animal species, animal behavior and family life, predators, animals' defenses, animals' poisons, the theory of evolution, animal life spans and much, much more.

Did you know that for the first year of its life, a baby giant anteater stays close to his mother--in fact, he rides on his mother's back. Did you know that anteaters have only one offspring at a time? Did you know that the lifespan of an elephant is 70 years but a housefly only lives 15-30 days? Did you know that the dog is one of the most deadly predators to humans? Worldwide, more than 50,000 people die from rabies each year. Who knew man's best friend could be so dangerous?

The Animal Book is a fine addition to any non-fiction collection. It is sure to be widely read and wildly (yes, pun intended) loved.

Highly, highly recommended grade 1 and up. The text is easy enough for middle grades, but the information and art can be enjoyed in upper grades.

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, November 6, 2013

Early Reader Pick: How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad

How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad?
by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Mark Teague
The Blue Sky Press
2013
40  pages

Remarkable, inspired  illustrations by Mark Teague will keep young readers entertained. No child will be able to resist Teague's dinosaurs and their bad behavior. Jane Yolen once again crafts an amazing story this time to help kids deal with anger. Even though kids and adults get angry, they can learn to count to ten and calm down.

Young readers will learn the names of each type of dinosaur, too. Yolen's fun rhymes come to life with entertaining and colorful art by Teague. "When Papa says, 'No!' does he (dinosaur) grumble and pout?/When Mama says, 'No!" does he throw toys about?" Not a good dinosaur who has control over his temper. A good dinosaur calms down and says, "I'm sorry."

This quick read is bound to become a bedtime (or anytime) favorite. How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad? is a must have for every child's favorite book shelf.

Highly, highly recommended ages 2-up and anyone who loves dinosaurs.

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)



Wimpy Kid Pick: The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck (book 8)
by Jeff Kinney
Amulet
2013
217 pages

Official Wimpy Kid page

Endearing, innovative and downright laugh out loud funny, the latest book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is a riot! Jeff Kinney keeps getting it right, and Greg Heffley is entertaining and unflappable as the ultimate Wimpy Kid.

Greg is going through a rough time. Best friend Rowley has a new girlfriend and has changed completely. He no longer sits at the "boys' table" but with girlfriend Abigail. Greg feels at loose ends and can't decide what group to join. He realizes he's grasping at straws when he even considers weird kid Fregley as his new BFF. Greg is down on his luck but willing to try anything.

When he finds an old Magic 8 ball under his brother's bed, Greg begins to depend on the 8 ball to make decisions for him. He decides the 8 ball is really good at decision making and even tries to use it to finish his math homework. That's when Greg realizes the 8 ball is limited on giving answers to all questions.

There's so much to love about this book! There's family drama when the extended family comes for a visit for Easter. Greg's mom's cousin Gerald creeps Greg out when he declares, "I used to change your diapers." The ick factor alone would creep out any kid. More family drama is centered around Meemaw's missing wedding ring. Everyone is looking for the missing ring, and soon accusations fly.

One laugh out loud moment comes when Greg refuses to taste  his mother's potato salad. He won't try it because she makes it in the bowl she gives to  them when they have the flu. His mother tells them, "If you have to throw up, do it in here." No potato salad, thanks anyway!

Greg will go to any lengths to pass his classes so he doesn't have to attend summer school. The way he hears it, they turn off the air conditioning in the summer and they don't even use real teachers. Last summer, Greg heard that the janitor was a teacher.

This little gem of a book is sure to appeal to any reluctant reader and to readers of all ages. I found it charming. Readers will laugh out loud at Greg's antics and woes. Thank goodness for Jeff Kinney who speaks to  the wimpy kid in all of us.

Highly, highly recommended for all ages!

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)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mystery Pick: Spies and Prejudice

Spies and Prejudice
by Talia Vance
Egmont
2013
296 pages

Charming, captivating, and cute, Spies and Prejudice will thrill teen and tween readers who like a  light romance mixed with a mystery for good measure.

Working as an undercover spy, Berry's job is to gather "dirt" on cheating husbands and insurance frauds. She stakes out her "marks," and shoots photos as evidence in divorce hearings or for insurance companies. While working on her latest case, Berry meets drop dead gorgeous Adonis-like Tanner Halston. Berry doesn't have time for a boyfriend, and even if she did, it wouldn't be Mr. Universe.


Berry spots her friend's father in the parking lot and notices he has a letter about her  mother. What would Mr. Moss be doing with a letter about Berry's mom? Her mother has been dead for eight years--her death ruled an accident. Now, Berry wants answers. And she's a girl trained in covert operations.

With the help of Drew, a quiet, brooding friend she met at the library, Berry sneaks into Mr. Moss's home office. The deeper Berry digs, the more confused she gets.

Tanner works to get Berry to give him a chance, and their funny banter is utterly charming. Every time Berry gets a dig in, Tanner makes points. Berry finds herself liking Tanner more and more even though she won't admit it...even to herself.

Berry will do anything to find out how her mother died. She will sacrifice friendships and make a deal with the devil. In over her head, it's hard for her to tell who is a friend and who is an enemy.

Readers will want more, and the ending certainly leaves the door open for a continued series. Talia Vance has written a winning novel that is sure to entertain.  Clever cover art is designed to draw in teen readers--who doesn't love a spy in a trench coat?

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-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, November 4, 2013

Book Giveaway: Spies and Prejudice

Spies and Prejudice
by Talia Vance
Egmont
2013
296 pages

I have FIVE copies  up for grabs!

Thoroughly charming,  Spies and Prejudice is a must read for fans of romance and fun banter. Berry (Strawberry, I know...right?) Fields is a super-sleuth who works undercover for her father. When she's not tailing a cheating husband or trying to get photos of insurance cheats, she really has no life. She's not into hair, make-up, fashion or dating. In fact, she literally has no interest in flirting at all. That is, until new guy Tanner shows up. The harder Tanner tries to endear himself, the more of a fight Berry puts up. You're going to LOVE this book!

For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog. Include your first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for posts is noon MST on December 2, 2013. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer and notified just after 12:00 MST on Dec. 2. Please check your email at that time. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont and Michelle.

Don't miss this one! Start posting and good luck! Pamela

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Zombie Pick: Red Hill

Red Hill
by Jamie McGuire
Atria
2013
356 pages

Utterly enjoyable, unputdownable, and hugely entertaining, Red Hill is an adult zombie book that you can really sink your teeth into! (pun intended)



Scarlet drops off her daughters at school and heads to her job at the hospital. She had no way of knowing if she would ever see them again. Suddenly, the hospital is overrun with sick people. The news reports begin coming in from all over the world. There is an outbreak of some kind and the infected are contagious. Scarlet knows enough to flee the hospital and try to find her girls.

Nathan flees the city with his young daughter Zoe. Sisters Miranda and Ashley are supposed to meet their dad at their country getaway, Red Hill. They grab their boyfriends and head to the countryside encountering hordes of sick "people."

Scarlet prays that her girls will remember the Red Hill location where she did some cleaning for a doctor at work. The girls made up a song about the directions, so she's banking on the fact that they will remember that song. Joey, just back from Afghanistan, joins Miranda, Ashley, Bryce and Cooper as they all head for sanctuary.

Can a group of strangers work together to survive the zombie outbreak? Will Scarlet ever find her daughters again? Will romance blossom amid terror?


Recommended for mature readers high school and up. Language, mature situations, zombie gore and guts.

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


Monday, October 28, 2013

Book Giveaway: Runt (middle grades)


Runt
by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Simon & Schuster
2013
middle grades

see my review here


I have FIVE copies of Runt up for grabs. Simply post a comment to the blog and please include your first name, city, state, and email contact. Deadline for posts is noon MST on November 14. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer on that date shortly after 12:00 noon. Please check your email after that time on November 14. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Simon & Schuster and Ebony. Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Book Giveaway: What I Came To Tell You

Book Giveaway: What I Came To Tell You
by Tommy Hays
Egmont 2013
304 pages

I have FIVE free copies of this poignant new middle grades book up for grabs!

Publishers Weekly says:

"Though the book spans just a few months, it's packed with incident and complex connections between a range of characters. Hays is especially strong at depicting the network of people, old and young, who help Grover and his family move through their grief and, along the way, save his beloved forest." --Publishers Weekly, STARRED review


For more information about the book

For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state and email address. Deadline for posts is November 5 at noon MST. Winners will be randomly chosen by Randomizer. Please check your email the afternoon of November 5. Winners have 24 hours to reply to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont and Michelle.

Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Foodie/Koodie Pick: So, You Want To Be a Chef? How To Get Started in the World of Culinary Arts

So, You Want To Be a Chef?
by Jane Bedell
Beyond Words/Aladdin
2013
224 pages

Entertaining, noteworthy, informative, and just plain fun, So You Want To Be a Chef? is a must have for anyone with a passion for food.

Foodies and Koodies(kids with a culinary flair) everywhere will be clamoring to get this book. Filled with advice, this little gem tells passionate young cooks/chefs/koodies all the information they will need to decide on a future in the culinary industry. Cooks will need to have a passion for cooking, good management skills and "...an artist's eye is required" in this industry.

Bedell lists 25 Places Where Culinary Professionals Work including: airlines, hotels, hospitals, spas, resorts, and military bases. Young bloggers and writers offer their insight, too. Thirteen year old Dominick Cura, owner of the website Eternally Gluten Free and writer of a cookbook was first diagnosed with Celiac disease when she was nine years old. She turned around and focused on making good food that wouldn't make her sick and helping others like her. Michael Prados, age 12, is a food blogger and attended the first White House Kids' State Dinner.

The book includes fun, little-known facts about food: did you know that almonds, cashews and pistachios are not nuts, they are really seeds? Did you know that the tomato is defined in botany as a berry?

Recipes are included as well. There is a delightful recipe for an easy potato soup. The five "mother" sauces are covered, too. Any chef (or cook) will have to master: Hollandaise, Veloute, Tomato, Bechemel and Espagnole to command a kitchen.

A goldmine of information is found in "Resources for Chefs and Cooks," cooking terms are defined in the glossary, helpful cooking websites and a bibliography of articles and books will keep young culinary wanna-bes busy for a long time.

If you know a young foodie (Koodie), you will want her/him to read this book. Young cooks everywhere are using You Tube to deliver cooking how-to videos to their followers. Sharing sites are making it possible for young koodies to start their careers as children.

Highly, highly recommended age 8-up. This is a must-have.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this 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)


Book Giveaway: My Basmati Bat Mitzvah



My Basmati Bat Mitzvah
by Paula J. Freedman
Amulet
2013
256 pages

Read more about the book


From the publisher's website:

Praise for My Basmati Bat Mitzvah
"In my opinion, My Basmati Bat Mitzvah shows that everyone is different in their own way and some get the advantage of being culturally diverse. I rate the book 5 stars!"
—Shivani Desai, age 13

STARRED REVIEW
"The latest spunky heroine of South Asian–Jewish heritage to grace middle-grade fiction, Tara Feinstein, 12, charms readers from the get-go in this strong, funny debut."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Tara’s inquisitiveness, openness, and determination to chart her own path stand out in this warm story of family, faith and the ways people are unique yet intertwined."
—Publishers Weekly

"With a conversational and authentic tween voice, Tara invites readers into her world as she explores the larger issues of faith, compassion, and tradition while confronting the awkwardness that is puberty—her questions regarding God are poignant and relatable while her opinions on training bras are simply spot-on..."
—The Bulletin of The Center for Children’s Books

"Authors often mention but then shrink from exploring in depth their characters’ mixed religious heritage; it’s a sensitive subject that demands close scrutiny. Freedman bucks that trend, avoiding didacticism by portraying broader issues through Tara’s personality and unique circumstances. As Tara learns in this skillful exploration, an important source of her special strengths—questioning spirit, empathy and strong ethical compass—is her mixed heritage."
—The Jewish Daily Forward

I have TEN free ARCs of this title up for grabs! Yes, that's right; TEN winners this time. Simply post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state, and email contact. Deadline for posts is Tuesday, November 5 at noon MST. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified the afternoon of November 5. Please check your emails on that date and time. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Amulet and Laura.

Good luck, and start posting! Pamela

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Book About Bullying: Runt

Runt
by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Simon & Schuster
2013
208 pages


Shy and guarded Elizabeth becomes a target for bullying from a group of popular girls led by Maggie. Elizabeth's mother runs a boarding kennel in their home, and Elizabeth always has dog hair on her clothes. Everyone teases her about it, but only Maggie claims that Elizabeth smells. Maggie oversteps the bullying boundaries when she posts a fake web profile of "Smelly-Girl" with Elizabeth's picture.

All of the sixth grade class is having trouble with middle school. The boys have to navigate their way through gym class, sports teams, talking to girls and bullying. Matt has a terrible time and he's kicked out of school when he stands up to a bully. The girls have an equally difficult time. Broken friendships, gossip, cruel taunts and jokes hurt all of them.

Runt will resonate with tween readers. Every tween has doubts and fears. They question themselves and their place in the school.

In Runt, Elizabeth spends so much time with dogs that she sees the "pecking order." There's always an alpha dog and the others let that dog be in charge. Sadly, Elizabeth didn't realize that middle school has a pecking order, too.

The adults in this novel are clueless, and the good kids do nothing to stop mean kids from bullying others. While this surely happens frequently in real life situations, as a middle school librarian, I see more and more students sticking up for the weaker ones or refusing to go along with a bully's taunts and teasing. In some cases, I've seen students quit hanging around with a friend who is a bully.

Around the country, districts and schools have adopted anti-bullying campaigns. Students are aware of bullying and are aware that it will not be tolerated, yet we see the news and are saddened by students who take their own lives--many times as a result of bullying.

Books about bullying are important to allow tweens and teens to see that bullying is (an has been) a fact of life (sad, but true) and that they are not alone.

Recommended for tween readers grade 6 and up.


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)



Thursday, October 17, 2013

High School Pick: Trinkets

Trinkets
by Kirsten Smith
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
2013
288 pages

Surprising, stunning, and super, Trinkets is a cross between "Mean Girls," "The Breakfast Club," and "Beverly Hills, 90210." The teen set will fall in love with the three female characters: Tabitha, the beauty queen who seemingly has it all, Elodie, the shy newcomer, and Moe, a gothy free spirit.

The high school they attend is clique-ish (like every high school), so these girls would not likely cross paths, but their shared passtime has forced them into weekly Shoplifters' Anonymous meetings. All three girls steal and they're really good at it. They don't need to steal jewelry or clothing; their parents have money. They steal for the high; they steal to fill a void.

The girls decide to hold a contest; the one who outsteals--over the top---theft, wins. Through their escapades, they bond and share their secrets and vulnerable sides.

Writer Kirsten Smith has an ear for teen dialog, and her background in writing and producing ("Legally Blonde," "The House Bunny") has served her well. Ellen Page (actress, "Juno") says, "Trinkets is a beautiful creation. It is raw and full of heart, honest and open."

Older readers will likely remember fond (and not so fond) memories of their own high school years and high school readers will see glimpses of themselves or people they know on the pages of Trinkets.


Recommended grade 9 and up. Bad girl behavior, adult situations, language.

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

Authors Lisa McMann and S.A. Bodeen

                                                       Author Lisa Mcmann (Crash, Bang) at
                                                      the Austin Teen Book Festival, Sept. 28



Author S.A. Bodeen (Compound, Fallout, The Raft)
at the Austin Teen Book Festival, Sept. 28

Three Talented YA Writers You Need To Know!

I had the most amazing opportunity to meet and greet and get to know a couple of authors and listened to the Keynote Speaker at the Austin Teen Book Festival in Austin, Texas. The festival in its fifth year of existence is held every year in downtown Austin where teens from nearby cities like San Antonio and Fredricksburg pile in and teens from Texas as far away as El Paso (like my daughter Shelby) and from out of state come to hear the latest from panels of exciting YA voices.

Panels this year included: "Powers Strange and Perilous" featuring Maggie Stiefvater, Melinda de la Cruz, Lisa Mcmann and others, "Into Hearts of Darkness" with Holly Black, Victoria Scott and Robin Wasserman, "Truth and Consequences" with authors Rob Thomas, Jenny Han, and Sean Beaudoin and panels "I Made You a Mixtape," "Tales of Tomorrow," "Fierce Reads," and "Dark Days." Over 250 authors vied for 42 coveted spots in the festival.

Keynote speaker Maggie Stiefvater opened the event. She was self-deprecating and funny when describing herself as a young girl. Stiefvater told the crowd that she always wanted to be a writer and her dad's reaction to her choice of was, "Oh, and you want to be poor?" (Laughter throughout the audience). She admits, "I was a fearful child...nothing was impossible."

She said, "I have fears...it's just that they are not important." Authors have to play the "What if?" game according to Stiefvater. If you can think of it or dream it, it is possible. She believes as a creative person, "You can imagine all things, both dreadful and creative."

She joked about naming the third book in her series, "Shiver....(long pause), Linger....(another longer pause) Bieber!"

Panels met with teens throughout the day with a lunch with authors Sarah Dessen and Rob Thomas in the Exhibit Hall.



I met up with writer Lisa McMann (Crash and Bang) in the morning. She gave me the scoop on the third book in her series. She said, "I don't think I've told anyone...you're the first to know. It's titled Gasp!" I asked Lisa about her novels. She has written about fantasy, paranormal, visions, dream stealers in novels and short stories. I asked what type of book she would like to do. She said, "I don't think I can write a romance..." She would like to write something with a mystery or a detective type of book.

I asked "What do teen readers tell you/write you/tweet you, that makes you a better writer?" She replied," It inspires me to hear from a teen who says that I wrote a character who has a lot of problems at home. They tell me it makes me feel like I'm not alone...like I belong...I'm not a bad person." With this as inspiration, it's easy to see why Lisa is so successful.

I asked Lisa's opinion why paranormal and dystopian fiction is so popular, and she replied that if a book is about vampires but it still "wows," it will sell. Dystopian fiction is popular because, "...it's a little normal...it's relatable."

I asked Lisa, "Besides writing, what is your next adventure?" She admits her love of cooking shows and she has seriously thought it would be fun to be on a competitive food show like "Master Chef." Lisa's television secret vice is "Survivor" (I guess it's no secret now).

Lisa was charming and gracious. This is one YA writer with personality plus! No wonder teen readers are drawn to her.

Later in the day, I met with S.A. Bodeen (Compound, The Raft, Fallout). S.A. are her initials; she introduced herself as Stephanie. I asked Stephanie why she hadn't written a trilogy or series (like so many others). The sequel to The Compound, Fallout, is just out. Stephanie admitted that she never had planned to write a sequel, but everywhere she went, readers would ask her the same thing, "What happens next?" Stphanie wondered, too. The result is Fallout. She is currently working on a book that is a bit Swiss Family Robinson mixed with "Survivor." I asked her what her next adventure would be, and she said she has a couple of things in the works and will be writing for at least two years.

Three fascinating YA authors--talent to spare--a number of great YA books and many more in the works, what could be better?





Monday, September 30, 2013

Early Reader Pick: Hiding Phil

Hiding Phil
by Eric Barclay
Illustrated by the author
Scholastic Press
2013
32 pages

Eric Barclay has illustrated four books; this is his first as author and illustrator and he knocks it out of the park!

Three children and their dog find a loveable blue elephant at a bus stop. They ask him to play with them and take him home. Phil and the children jump rope, play on the see-saw, and the kids give Phil a bubble bath in their baby pool (it's a large baby pool, indeed).

It suddenly dawns on the kids--maybe Mom and Dad won't be so happy to see their new LARGE playmate. They try to hide Phil but find out the hard way that it's difficult to hide an elephant. Mom and Dad find Phil and take him back to the bus stop but then give Phil a second chance.

Hiding Phil is cute, clever, and contagious. Young kids will love Phil and the kids' attempts at hiding him. The captivating artwork brings Phil to life and the expressions on the kids' faces tell the story. Even the small dog is perfect on every page.

Highly, highly recommended ages 3-5 and older. This is the perfect bedtime story and one sure to make little ones giggle (okay, and parents, too).

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)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Austin Teen Book Festival

I'm off to Austin for the Austin Teen Book Fair. More information and a list of authors.

It's huge attracting YA authors from around the country. We plan to see as many YA authors as possible. My daughter and I were able to get media badges and will be able to interview a couple of exciting authors. Then we plan to go on the Austin Duck Adventures. It's a tour that takes visitors all over downtown Austin including the capitol (in the background of the picture above) and the famous music venue, Sixth Street, where more musicians have been discovered that any place (well, almost), then the bus becomes a boat and takes tourists on Lake Austin! More information about the Duck tour

Later, we plan to eat at the world renowned Ruth's Chris Steak House. I've always wanted to eat there but never had the chance before. They are supposed to have the best steaks in the world. I will be the judge of that!

I'll post about the festival and all that was seen and heard upon our return.
Pamela

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Giveaway: Hiding Phil

Hiding Phil
by Eric Barclay
Illustrated by the author
Scholastic Press
2013
32 pages

I have FIVE copies up for grabs!

Playful illustratons match the winsome children and loveable blue elephant Phil. Early readers are sure to giggle at the children's whimsy and ask for you to read Phil's story again and again and again...you get the picture.

For your chance to win a copy, Post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state and email. Deadline for posts is October 14 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Please check your email in the afternoon of October 14.

Books will ship from Texas courtesy of Scholastic. Good luck and start posting!
Pamela

Book Giveaway: Year of the Jungle

Year of the Jungle
by Suzanne Collins
2013


I have FIVE copies of this fantastic memoir from YA author Suzanne Collins. Collins draws from her childhood memories of her father going off to a war. She knows he is in the jungle and that he will return in a year--two abstract concepts to small child.

Anyone who has ever had a parent, sibling, son or daughter in active duty will love this book.

For your chance to win: Post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state and email. Deadline for posting is October 14 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified by email on the 14th; please check your email that afternoon. Books will ship from Texas courtesy Scholastic.

This is a great book; don't miss your chance at winning a copy.
Good luck and start posting!
Pamela

Book Giveaway: BZRK Reloaded

BZRK Reloaded (Book 2)
by Michael Grant
Egmont
2013
432 pages

Available October 8, 2013

I have FIVE copies of the ARC of BZRK Reloaded up for grabs!

Talk about mind-bending! The Armstrong twins have plans to rule the world, but not if Noah and Sadie can help it. Science fiction, mind-blowing action and a thrilling plot will keep teen readers turning the pages. 


Post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state and email. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Deadline for posts is October 14 at noon MST. Check your email on that date after 12:00 noon. Winners will be notified by email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont and Margaret.

Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Series Pick: Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere

Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere (Book 3)
by Richard Paul Evans
Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink
2013
307 pages

Riveting, rollicking, and rocket paced, the third book in the series will hold readers on the edge of their seats. Michael wakes up in a Peruvian jungle surrounded by stangers. The tribe nurses Michael back to health after his escape from the Elgen. The rest of the Electroclan are nowhere to be found. After destroying the Elgen's Starxsource Plant, they have gone into hiding.

Michael meets another electric teen named Tesla (Tessa). Dr. Hatch kept her as a prisoner for two years. She managed to escape and the Amacarra tribe has kept her hidden in the jungle. The tribe takes the two of them down the river where they meet up with Jaime, Michael's friend in Peru. Jaime warns them that not only is the Elgen after them, the entire Peruvian government is hunting them. They are now considered dangerous terrorists for blowing up the country's electric plant.

Michael plans to find the Electroclan and his mother. He needs Jaime and he needs Tessa's help; she is able to multiply electricity, something that is sure to come in handy in overthrowing the Elgen and rescuing his friends. Meanwhile, the Electroclan are planning their escape from the authorities. Ostin, super rocket scientist geektastic nerdster figures out how to rewire the RESAT machines they are forced to wear.

The teens are on the run from the authorities and the Elgen. Jaime is contacted by the Voice who tells them that the best time to strike the Elgen is when they dock their ships in port. The Ampere is the Elgen's finest "fortress" ship. Evil Dr. Hatch takes over the ship imprisoning the council.

Michael knows that they have to sink that ship. Once again he turns to his friends. Who will join him on his dangerous quest? Who is the Voice and why is he helping them? What does Jaime really know? Where is Michael's mother and why are the Elgen holding her?

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves a great adventure. Michael Vey is captivating and fun. Fans of the series will HAVE to have this one, and if you've never read this series, what are you waiting for?

Grade 6-up. Teens acting like 007; what could be better?

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)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Giveaway: Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere (book 3)

I have FIVE copies of the third book in the exciting Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans up for grabs!!! Battle of the Ampere is thrilling!

More information on Michael Vey

see the thrilling book trailer

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Early Reader Pick: Year of the Jungle

Year of the Jungle
by Suzanne Collins
Illustrations by James Proimos
Scholastic Press
2013
40 pages

A New York Times Editors' Choice

“In this picture book, Collins sensitively examines the impact of war on the very young, using her own family history as a template."


--Publishers Weekly,STARRED REVIEW





“With a notable lack of patriotic rhetoric or clich├ęs about bravery and honor, Collins holds firm to her childhood memories, creating a universal story for any child whose life is disrupted by war. Important and necessary ."

--Kirkus Reviews,STARRED REVIEW


“Collins’ unflinching first-person account details the fears and disappointments of the situation as a child would experience them. And where more realistic illustrations would feel overwrought and sentimental, Proimos’s flat, cartoony drawings, with their heavy lines and blocky shapes, are sturdy and sweet, reflecting a child’s clear-eyed innocence."

--Booklist,STARRED REVIEW


“But though post-traumatic stress disorder is often spoken of these days, the more subtle effects of war on the children of men and women serving abroad are less well known. ....While Sue is not able to formulate her feelings in words, James Proimos’s excellent illustrations capture her confusion....'Year of the Jungle” may take place in the late 1960s, but with more than 2.3 million Americans deployed abroad between 2001 and 2012, the mixture of anxiety, excitement, fear, boredom and confusion Sue experiences on the home front will be sadly familiar to many children. For them, Collins’s picture book may be a good tool to discuss the complex feelings war brings into a household ."

--The New York Times



A father goes to war, a child is at home wondering if she will ever see her father again. She knows the jungle is where her favorite cartoon character lives so it can't be that scary. They tell her Viet Nam is where her father is and he is going to be away for one year. The child is unsure how long a year is. Her father sends her postcards from the jungle and photos, too. Christmas comes and her father sends her Vietnamese doll. It's winter and snowing outside when she receives a birthday card, but her birthday isn't until summer. Her mother tells her the card is probably for Joanie, her sister, and that her father is "...busy and just got confused." The child worries that her father makes "...such a serious mistake"--he must be very busy and confused. Television news shows scare her; there are men dying in Viet Nam, and her mother rushes to turn off the t.v. After a long time, the father finally comes home, but he acts a little strange at first.

Like Suzanne Collins, my father fought in the Viet Nam War. In fact, he spent three tours there since he was a real adrenaline junkie. Each time he left, we saw my mom worry. We saw the news every night on television. We wondered why my dad was in the jungle. We wondered when he was coming home. He sent home movies to us. My dad standing by his tent, my dad on a boat traveling up a yellow brown river, monkeys fighting and rice paddies. My dad waving and flexing his muscles with his buddies and everyone smiling. My dad always came home, but thousands of young Americans didn't and their kids were forever scarred. Today, thousands more American children have a parent or sibling on active duty either at home or in a war zone. The impact of Year of the Jungle will be felt by any child who has experienced a loved one in combat.

Illustrations by James Proimos are light-hearted and even whimsical even when depicting a helicopter or tank. The story may be frightning and awful, the main character worried and lost, but the artwork takes the painful story of Viet Nam and makes it tangible even to very young children. When the father returns, the girl says, "...I stand in the doorway watching him. He stares into space. He is here but not here. He is back in the jungle."

Highly, highly recommended for everyone. This book should have a place in every library and on every book shelf. It is an important book and will likely begin conversations about war and military service.

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)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Prince of Denial

The Prince of Denial
by Doug Wilhelm
Long Stride Books
2013
212 pages

Available October 7, 2013 (tentative date from publisher)

Casey is hiding a secret. He's keeping it together for himself and for his dad. If he can run home and clean things up...if he can make dinner and do his chores...if he can get his homework done...if he can go to school on time and keep up his grades...if he can wear a false smile and pretend nothing is wrong...then everyone will believe it, right?

When his best friend Oscar pushes him, Casey gets defensive, claiming he has "stuff to do." Oscar wonders why Casey can't hang out anymore. Why does he always have to rush home?

Casey is beginning to show cracks in his put on fascade. He's getting short tempered. He's yelling at friends. People are beginning to notice. When his aunt Julie asks him to help her, Casey doesn't know what to do. Should he rat out his dad?

The Prince of Denial shows how families can get damaged by substance abuse. One member may be the user, but the use affects the entire family dynamic.

I was surprised there were no hotline phone numbers for alcohol abuse or Al-Anon listed in the back of the book. Teens who are drawn to this story may be searching for answers. It would be helpful to have some links to helpful information sites and hotline numbers.

Recommended grade 8-up. Although Casey is in middle school, his problem/solution is for more mature readers.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book 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)