Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Club Pick: The Watchmaker's Daughter: A Memoir

The Watchmaker's Daughter
by Sonia Taitz
McWitty Press
243 pages

Poignant and sweet, The Watchmaker's Daughter is a loving tribute from a daughter to her hard-working parents who lived through Hitler's death camps and Nazi Germany to immigrate to America and start a family and a small business. Theirs is the true American dream story. Poor immigrants who through hard work and determination escape poverty and attain home ownership and send their offspring to shining American institutions of higher education.

Gita, Sonia's mother, never questioned her lot in life. She worked alongside her husband in the shop for decades and raised two children on next to nothing. Gita put food on the table in the most frugal way. She didn't move to the suburbs and buy a mink coat like all the other ladies of her generation once they had a few dollars.

As a young girl, Sonia longs to move to a house with a yard. A house where she could have a dog. Her parents' friends all have fancy cars and large, impressive homes. Sonia is embarrassed by her parents who seem so old-fashioned and religious. Her father celebrates his Jewish religion and the high holy days. He goes to synagogue and reads the Torah. He eats a kosher diet. Gita belittles their Jewish friends who eat shrimp cocktail--that it's not kosher. Sonia just wants to fit in with the upwardly mobile middle class.

There is so much to love about this book. Sonia Taitz has captured 1960s New York and its Jewish community. Her father's watchmaker's shop comes to life. Her mother's love is apparent in every action. Even when her mother tears up the letters from Sonia's ex-flame Paul, hiding the fact that he is trying to stay in touch, Sonia knows her mother did it out of love for her. Sonia is able to forgive her mother and reconnect with Paul, finally marrying the love of her life.

Sonia has always thought of her father as old-fashioned and kind of uptight, but she sees his greatness one day when a stranger approaches them on the street. The stranger thanks Simon Taitz for saving his life. Simon tells Sonia that because the Nazis valued promptness, they valued his watchmaking skills. He had his own workshop in the camp and was able to save many men by teaching them his trade. One man--her own father--was a hero and saved many lives.

This is the story of one famly, but it will resonate with all families. This is a book of the human condition and survival.

Highly, highly recommended grade 9 and up andfor any history buff and anyone who likes to read memoirs from another time. Highly recommended for book clubs; this is one book that will get members talking. Some mature content.

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Raft

The Raft
by S.A. Bodeen
231 pages

2013 Tayshas Reading List (Texas)
Nominee for the 2013 ALA Quick Picks and 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults

Taut and gripping, The Raft will capture teen readers and take them on a scary adventure at sea. Imagine being all alone on a raft with no food or water stranded somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and afraid every minute.

Robie knows a lot about the Pacific and marine life. She's lives on Midway, a small atoll in the Pacific Ocean, where her parents are research biologists. She hops flights on small supply planes to Hawaii to visit her aunt all the time. She's in Hawaii with her aunt when her aunt has to leave the island for business. She agrees to let Robie stay at her apartment if her friend Bobbi checks up on her on a daily basis. Bobbi calls later and cancels and suddenly Robie is alone in Hawaii. A run-in with a local bum frightens Robie and she decides to hop a supply plane home to Midway.

Almost home, the plane experiences engine failure and they have to land at sea. Max, the new co-pilot, helps Robie exit the plane and into the life raft. He's been hurt and he sleeps most of the time. Days and nights pass. Hunger and thrist become unbearable. On top of it all, there seems to be a hole in the raft. Robie keeps bailing water to no avail. She knows she'll have to put Max in the water in order to fix the raft and save them both. She carefully puts him into a life vest and puts him in the water.

After many days, Robie spots land. It's a small island but she's not sure which one it is. She wakes up on the beach after a rough landing. The island is uninhabited but at least Robie is on dry land.

No one knows where she is and no one will be looking for her. She found the plane's manifest in Max's travel bag. Everything on the plane is listed on it except for her name. No one will know she was ever on that plane. She didn't call her parents on Midway before leaving Hawaii because phone communication is almost always down.

Can a 16 year old girl survive with no supplies whatsoever? Can she nurse Max back to health? Will they ever be rescued?

A shocking twist--that readers will never see coming--delivers a knock-out punch near the ending of the story.

Readers will admire Robie's tenacity and grit. She faces uncommon odds and beats them. She is a true surivivor and would undoubedly "outwit, outplay, and outlast" any other contestant of television's "Survivor."

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. No language. Some "ick" factor when Robie is forced to eat raw meat to survive and when she clubs a seal--the seal is woulnded and in pain, so Robie is forced to do the only humane thing she can think of.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Reveal: Stained

Book Description:
In this heart-wrenching and suspenseful teen thriller, sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port-wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that—or succumb to a killer.

Tag Line:
Sometimes you have to be your own hero.

Release Date:
Nov 19, 2013

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

From the author:
Like I did with SCARS and HUNTED, I drew on some of my own experiences of bullying, abuse, and trauma to write STAINED and to give it greater emotional depth. Like Sarah in STAINED, I experienced abduction, imprisonment, periods of forced starvation, mind control, and having my life threatened. And like Sarah, I tried hard to fight against my abuser, keep my own sense of self, and escape. I hope readers will see Sarah's strength and courage, and appreciate her emotional growth as she reclaims herself.

Available For Pre-Order on:
Amazon Amaazon (kindle) (hardcover) (ebook) (hardcover) (ebook)

The Book Depository


Books a Million

Monday, January 28, 2013

Spooky Pick: Forevermore

by Cindy Miles
279 pages

Part romance, part ghost story, part Gothic, part mystery and part magic, Forevermore is an appealing new title in YA lit.

Ivy Calhoun finds herself on her way to the wild moors of Scotland where her new stepfather Naill is the Laird of Glenmorrag, a huge Scottish castle that seems to come out of Edgar Allan Poe's menacing prose or a horror movie set.

Ivy's father died some years before and Ivy never thought her mother would remarry, but she seems truly happy and in love, so Ivy's trying to make the best of the move from Charleston.

The castle is creepy, cold, dark, menacing and drafty. Ivy's step-grandmother is almost as spooky as Glenmorrag. Meals are expected to be served on time and Ivy is expected to dress accordingly. Four servants stand by to serve them at mealtimes, and the air is thick with Grandmother's disdain.

Maybe it's her imagination, but Ivy senses a presence. When her violin and bow hang in the air all by themselves a voice keeps warning her to leave the castle, Ivy has no doubt that there's an evil ghost haunting her.

Imagine her surprise when she comes face to ghost with Logan Munro, and 18 year old ghost who's been trapped wandering the moors for two hundred years. He doesn't know why he's tied to Glemnorrag or how he died, but Ivy promises to help him find answers. Logan tells Ivy it's not just him haunting the castle--there is something else--a dark presence, and Logan fears for Ivy's safety.

Logan is a tragic hero stuck between two worlds and wandering the Scottish countryside searching for answers. It isn't until he meets Ivy that he realizes the answers he seeks have been within his reach all along.

The author uses Scottish brogue when her locals speak, but I found it quite distracting. Logan says "gell" for girl and "aye" for yes. I realize she was trying to capture the local dialect of her characters but I feel the story could have been stronger without it. The Scottish countryside comes alive for the reader--its menacing storms, battering winds, lonely moors, steep cliffs, and sea air are the perfect setting for a ghost story.

Recommended grade 7-up. Anyone who loves a ghost story with a little romance will be a fan.

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

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sci-Fi Pick: When We Wake

When We Wake
by Karen Healey
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
304 pages

check out the book's playlist

Available March 5, 2013

Compelling and sleekly sick (in a bad way), When We Wake is a nightmarish view of the near future that will make readers think about the future of science, medicine, politics, and government intervention in citizens' lives.

Tegan Oglietti is having a great day. She's off to a rally with her politically inclined pals and new crush Dalmar. But what starts off as a promising day ends with Tegan's death! She is hit by a sniper's bullet and dies at the rally.

Tegan wakes up 100 years later in a controlled experiment. She has been chryonically frozen for the past 100 years. Her past is gone--her friends, her boyfriend, her parents, her home. She longs to talk to someone her own age. She begs the doctors to let her live a "normal" life. There are some people who aren't so pleased that Tegan has survived. They consider her an illegal alien--someone who immigrated illegally to Australia. The citizens believe she doesn't belong in her own country.

Operation New Beginnning is the government's attempt to save the future's soldiers. Tegan will make this possible, the doctor explains. Tegan is allowed to move in with Marie (the doctor) and begin to attend school. Her life is anything but normal as for her own safety she must always travel with bodyguards. There is danger everywhere.

Tegan and her friends discover the government's terrible secret. Operation New Beginning isn't just about freezing someone. It's got a darker side, and Tegan wants to uncover its dirty secrets and show them to the world.

How far will the government go to hide its secrets? Will it kill off its own Living Dead Girl? Tegan is forced to make a tough decision to save Marie's life.

Recommended grade 7-up. I liked that each chapter name was a Beatles song like "Yesterday," "Revolver," and "The Ballad of John and Yoko," and that Ringo is Tegan's favorite Beatle.

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

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Beauty Pageant Pick: Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality

Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality
by Elizabeth Eulberg
272 pages

Available March 2013

Lexi is sick of her pageant-ly obsessed mother who parades seven year old MacKenzie in every "Little Miss Somebody" Pageant she can find. Lexi doesn't want to be part of "Team MacKenzie" anymore. Her mother is spending thousands of dollars on gowns and costumes for the Toddlers and Tiaras circuit, and they are in danger of losing their home.

Lexi is pretty and smart but she's never been that "girl-y" girl. She's been told that she has "a great personality." Just what every girl longs to hear! Her friend Benny tells her to start glamming it up--wear some make-up, dress like a girl, put on earrings. When Lexi follows his advice, suddenly people notice. Even Logan (her secret crush) finds her "suddenly" attractive. Looks can certainly be deceiving.

Lexi hasn't changed; her personality hasn't changed; she hasn't suddenly become the "nice" girl, but because of her appearance, people are inviting her to parties.

After a huge blow-out with her emotionally empty mother, Lexi puts her foot down. Her mother has robbed Lexi of her life savings and Lexi is not only furious but feels violated. She has to stop the pageant madness at all costs. Even MacKenzie is tired of performing for the judges. She wants to quit pageants but is afraid to tell her controlling mother. She wants no more of her "Honey Boo Boo" moments.

When Lexi realizes that people aren't always who they seem and that building up the dream of someone never matches the real someone, she is okay with having a great personality.

My favorite part of the book is the last. Lexi's mantra, "'s only a matter of time before the Beautiful People will be wishing they had great personalities, too. Good luck with that, oh Beautiful Ones. Because we Great Girls are the rarest breed."

I loved Lexi and teen girls will relate to her. She is spunky and outspoken, snarky and quirky, fun and sweet.

Receommended grade 7-up. Lexi's friend Benny is not "out" yet but he does like the same boy bands that Lexi does and they have a sweet talk about what it means if Benny does like boys. Not sexual, just matter of fact. Benny states the facts, "I'm fat and gay in live in the heart of football-loving Texas. Me finding love or respect ain't gonna happen in this high school life." Readers will empathize with his struggle to feel okay about himself. Anyone in high school has the same struggle--trying to find their inner voice.

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Horror Pick: The Madman's Daughter --A Must Read!

The Madman's Daughter
by Megan Shepherd
Balzer + Bray
432 pages

Available January 29, 2013

Author Megan Shepherd takes on the classic The Island of Dr. Moreau giving it a sexy Gothic YA romance spin and knocks it out of the park!

Juliet Moreau works as a cleaning girl at the university's medical school. Her infamous father has fled London when his grisly experiments and medical ethics are questioned, leaving Juliet and her mother to fend for themselves. Juliet has always wondered whether her father is innocent or not and aims to clear her family name.

Following a clue, Juliet discovers her childhood friend Montgomery is in London. She begs him to take her with him to a faraway island. She has no future in London and no way to attract a good marriage. He reluctantly agrees to take her with him back to the island. After weeks at sea, they find a nearly dead man on a small boat and bring him on board. Juliet is strangely attracted to both Montgomery and her new friend--mysterious castaway Edward.

Juliet is thrilled to see her father alive, but he does not share her enthusiasm. His island is creepy and dangerous--full of weird creatures and plants. Even the natives are strange and quiet, following Dr. Moreau's rules and commandments.

Her father has continued his work in medicine away from medical ethics and manmade laws. Montgomery acts as his assistant and Juliet makes it her business to figure out just what is really going on in her father's workshop. When she finds answers that she doesn't want to believe, Juliet will have to make life changing decisions.

Henri Moreau is an evil genius with a God complex. He believes in his research above all else and will take human life if it gives him scientific answers. Everything in Juliet's life has been a lie; her father has controlled her very existence. Juliet plans to escape the island and her father if it's the last thing she ever does.

The Madman's Daughter delivers the perfect suspenseful tale. Shepherd's carefully controlled pacing, the creepy, humid wild island setting, hot and smoldering Montgomery, dangerous and mysterious bad boy Edward, spunky and wild child Juliet, Gothic appeal, rich romance, and horrible experiments make this YA novel a gem. This one's going to be HUGE!

This is a planned trilogy and the ending sets up the story flawlessly for book two. Film rights have already been sold to Paramount, so look for the YA movie in the near future.

Highly, highly recommended grade 9-up. The medical experiments done by the doctor are quite disgusting. There are some steamy kisses and embraces.

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mystery Thriller Pick: Ten

by Gretchen McNeil
Balzer + Bray
294 pages

Creepy, chilling, cunning, and clever, Ten is a knockout mystery.

BFFs Meg and Minnie are sneaking off for a weekend of partying on a remote island off the coast of Washington. They get an invitation from popular girl Jessica and can't wait to have a blast without the watchful eyes of adults. The ferry deposits the girls on Henry Island and promises to come back for them Monday. The girls scan the beach and see two figures walking toward them.

T.J. Fletcher and new guy Ben help the girls find White Rock House where the party is supposed to be in full swing. They are fearful of the rickety land bridge they have to cross through rough surf but have no choice but to use it. Other kids are already at the house.

Ten is the new teen answer to Agatha Christie's classic And Then There Were None. The kids play a DVD they find and it's chilling. It contains cryptic messages and ends with "Vengence is mine." The kids are understandably spooked, but when a severe winter storm knocks out the electricity and Internet; they can't get cell reception as the island is too far from any cell towers. Cut off from the world and stuck together on a deserted island in the dark puts them all on edge.

As the bodies start piling up, the kids come to the conclusion that there is a killer in their midst and everyone becomes a suspect. T.J. and Meg form a close alliance due to their past "near" romance; Meg tries to keep her distance because she knows that her BFF Minnie is in love with T.J. Meg is always looking out for Minnie's feelings and well-being. Minnie is on bi-polar meds, but when they disappear, Meg knows Minnie may flip out.

The storm knocks out the footbridge, so now they are cut off from the other side of the island. They will have to weather the storm alone stranded with a malevolent killer. T.J. and Meg brave the elements to check out the boathouse. There is a boat, but the radio has been stripped from it and the keys to the boat are missing. Someone took the radio and the keys!

Who will survive? And who is the killer? Why is the killer after them? Can Meg save Minnie from a total meltdown? Can they outlast the storm?

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Some language, some talk of sex and cheating, murder.

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

Friday, January 18, 2013

Action Pick: Money Run

Money Run
by Jack Heath
Scholastic Press
256 pages

Available March 2013 (the arc has the publication date March 2013, but Amazon has April 1, 2013 as the release date). I will update available date as I get more details.

Watch the book trailer here

Fasten your seat belts for a high-octane adrenaline boost of explosive non-stop action, riveting adventure, daring stunts, and "Mission Impossible" style intrique and superspy antics.

Ash and her bff Benjamin originally began stealing to help Ash out. Her father's meager salary just didn't pay for everything and Ash was just hoping to eke out enough money to get by, but then each job got more thrilling and Ash becomes addicted to the rush of almost getting caught each time.

A mysterious person or persons named The Source contacts them through Benjamin's gmail account and sends them lists of locations, dates and links and each link has something valuable that Ash and Benjamin could steal. The pair continue pulling off jobs happily along until they are offered $200 million that is located at the Hammond Buckland building. They have never done a job this big and the plan is actually no plan at all.

Ash and Benjamin enter an essay contest sponsored by the company and Benjamin's essay wins. It was written under Ash's name and she has to appear at the company's headquarters to collect the $10,000 prize. She and Benjamin plan to steal the hidden $200 million after Ash's interview.

When Ash begins her search of the offices, she realizes that she's not the only one who wants that money. There's an evil hit man prowling the building and now he's after her. She'll not only have to outsmart security guards, cameras, and heat sensors, but she'll have to do it while outrunning an armed assassin!

The police arrive when a body is discovered in the alley and someone has called in the Terrorism Risk Assessment team. They cordon off the block and won't allow anyone enter or leave the perimeter. This is a problem for Ash--even if she escapes the psycho-hit man assassin and finds the money, she can't leave the building undetected.

Ash is a super cool action heroine with moxie and Benjamin is the voice on the other end of her earbuds. Ben is at home and runs the operation from his computer. The two are a dynamic duo and are unstoppable as teen uber-thieves.

I LOVED this book! I raced through each chapter wondering what would happen next and as each obstacle appeared in front of Ash, I wondered how she would ever overcome it. Benjamin is her hilarious tongue-in-cheek computer geek sidekick. The ending sets up flawlessly for a sequel. Jack Heath is at the top of his game and the best YA action writer out there. Money Run has it all: adept storytelling, hold your breath action, dead on dialog, non-stop tension and unrelenting pace. This slam bang yarn will captivate teen readers looking for adventure.

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. No language. No mature subject matter. Younger readers who are fans of James Bond-like action books may be able to tackle this one.

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

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sci-Fi Thriller Pick: Nobody

by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
400 pages

Available January 22, 2013

Read the prologue

Read Chapter One

Clever and creepy, Nobody is a sci-fi action thriller that is sure to satisfy fans of the genre.

Trained assassin Nix has never known his family or his past. He has been raised and trained (brainwashed) by the Society, a shadowy organization of an elite few who have power over even the President. The Society keeps the Normals safe from the Nulls. Normals are "normal" people who can feel pain and happiness, love and loss. Nulls are void of any feelings at all, and surprisingly (or not) many of them hold government office. The Society takes care of Nix and molds him into a killing machine who has no emotion; Nix is Nobody.

Nobodies are rare; in fact, Nix believes he is the only one. He is on his twelfth kill when he realizes his target can see him. This isn't supposed to happen; Normals and Nulls can't see Nix once he goes into the fade. The Society studies energy and Nix has a special gift that can make him invisible and stealthy. When he tries to take the kill-shot, the girl looks directly at him. He's shocked and wants to know why.

Claire sees the boy with the gun and realizes he was going to kill her, yet she wants to see him again (okay, this part is kind of cheesy, but bear with me). Nix captures Claire yet keeps her alive. They have a heated discussion and realize that Claire is not a Null after all; she's not a normal either. Claire is an untrained Nobody and the Society wants her dead.

The two agree to break into the Society's headquarters and Nix steals the folders of all his targets. Together they hope to find out a pattern in the killings. Why these targets? What do they have in common?

Nix and Claire realize that the Society is playing politics at the highest level. Not only that, there is a secret serum they have developed to make Normals act like Nulls, and the Society can shape their power by using it. They have been experimenting on children, developing new Nobodies. Claire and Nix have to save the children, destroy the serum, and wipe out the Society and still get away with it. Will they be able to destroy malevolent Ione and escape?

I was drawn to Claire's personality at the beginning of the novel but after she met Nix she seems to lose some of what I liked about her. She seems to be his carbon copy. After they meet, I feel more compassion for Nix than for Claire. I wish Claire had been a tougher girl; even though she grew up feeling invisible, she had a strong personality at the beginning.

Recommended grade 9-up. Lots of sleeping together and melding as one...but no details. No language. Violence. Assassinations.

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

YA Book Giveaway: Nobody

by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I have FIVE copies of this exciting new sci-fi/romance pick up for grabs. All you have to do is post a comment here on on the review for Nobody. Please include your first name, city, state, and email contact. If I don't have your email, I can't contact you if you win. Deadline for posts is January 30 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be contacted on January 30; please check your email on that date (after noon deadline, of course). Winners have 24 hours to provide me with the mailing address. I will notify the publisher. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont and Katie. Thanks, my bff, Katie!

Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Giveaway: The Dead and Buried

I have TWO copies of this exciting new ghostly mystery/romance The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington!

The Dead and Buried
by Kim Harrington

Don't miss out on a chance of winning a free copy of The Dead and Buried! I couldn't put this book down. I was totally hooked from the very first page and it was fast paced and exciting.

Simply post a comment here or on my review of The Dead and Buried. Please include your first name, city, state and email contact. If you don't include your email, I can't contact you if you win. Deadline for posts is January 30 at noon MST. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified by email on January 31 after twelve noon; check your email then. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Point and Lauren. Thanks, Lauren!

Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Ghostly Pick: The Dead and Buried

The Dead and Buried
by Kim Harrington
304 pages

The Dead and Buried is a spooktacular mystery with a sweet swoon-worthy boy who has secrets of his own and a smart heroine who refuses to let a mean ghost take over her house and her life.

When Jade and her family move into town and to a posh neighborhood, she questions (to herself) how her family can afford the house, but it's soon forgotten. She's excited to attend a new high school; her last school was small and everyone knew everyone. She can't wait to have new adventures and meet new friends.

Pretty soon, Jade notices other kids staring at her and whispering behind her back. Jade does some digging and finds out a teenage girl was found dead at the foot of the staircase in Jade's new house. Her parents "forgot" to tell Jade this little detail. The kids at school say that Kayla was pushed; others say she simply fell to her death.

Little brother Colby tells Jade he sees a girl in his room and she doesn't talk to him but she "glimmers." Jade thinks Colby is making the girl up, but when Jade keeps finding her belongings moved around, she realizes that an angry ghost might be haunting them.

Kayla (the ghost) is as angry in death aa she was angry and mean in life. Jade has to figure out who pushed Kayla to her death or Kayla will harm Colby. Kayla's diary holds the key to the mystery and the murder. If only Jade can decipher it in time to save her brother.

This is the best ghost story I've read in a long time. It has all the elements of a great story: a large haunted house, a mean and angry ghost who keeps her own secrets, a hidden diary written in "code," a murder mystery, a love triangle or two, a secret about the ghost's family, a nice guy who's as haunted as the house, and a light romance. Kim Harrignton keeps getting it right. Fans of her Sleuth or Dare series will enjoy The Dead and Buried, and anyone who loves a ghostly mystery will race trhough this book.

I loved the way Kayla's diary was written. Instead of coming right out and naming people, she gives everyone a number. Jade has to study the diary to figure out what number is assigned to each person. I was able to figure it out pretty early on and even knew who the killer was, but that didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying the book.

Highly, highly recommeded grade 7-up. No language. A teen party and a love triangle. Kayla (the ghost) uses boys as her conquests, but no graphic details are spelled out.

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Non-Fiction Pick: Andrew Jenks: My Adventures as a Young Filmmaker

Andrew Jenks: My Adventures as a Young Filmmaker
by Andrew Jenks
Scholastic Press
224 pages

Available March 1, 2013

If you’re under twenty-five and watch MTV, you know who Andrew Jenks is. Jenks is a wonderkid of film and ideas. He started the Hendrick Hudson Film Festival when he was just sixteen years old. By age 24, he had his own documentary series on MTV called “World of Jenks.”

His HBO film “Room 335” captures him moving into an assisted living facility and interviewing its older residents as to what is the meaning of life? Jenks finds that there was nothing to do all day except, “…board games, TV watching, nail polishing, and mealtime. And bingo. Bingo was big.” The movie shoot transforms his thinking. Jenks says, “I thought I was going to make a movie about a nursing home….I thought I was going to make a movie about old people, but left knowing that the movie was about Tammy, bill, Josie, Dotty, Elinor…” He sees them not as old people but as friends regardless the huge age difference.

The New York Post raved about the documentary, “It’s a gorgeous, hilarious, sad, wonderful, unblinking look at the joy of life—even at the end of it.”

This book documents each of Jenks’ endeavors in film and his job as correspondent for MTV covering the 2012 presidential election. Not just a filmmaker, Jenks felt that his job was to “vocalize their (young people’s ) interests.” The statistics are grim for people under 30. An average college student graduates with student debt and no hope of securing a job. 25% of those who had moved out of their parents’ house have had to move back home. Jenks believes that young people are getting the shaft from politicians. Most tax money supports programs for the elderly: Medicare gets $486 billion, yet education only gets $68 billion. And Jenks wants to be a “conduit” for his generation.

The blurb from the back cover says it best, “I want to tell the stories of my generation. I want to be a filmmaker that is able to capture what my generation thinks, how they act, and what they ultimately stand for.” (Andrew Jenks)

Highly recommended grade 7-up. Any future filmmaker/thinker, creator will love this book. Jenks’ book will resonate kids who dream big dreams.

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

Monday, January 14, 2013

Non-Fiction Pick: Breezier, Cheesier, Newest, and Bluest: What Are Comparatives and Superlatives?

Breezier, Cheesier, Newest and Bluest: What Are Comparatives and Superlatives? (Words Are CATegorical)
By Brian P. Cleary
Illustrated by Brian Gable
Millbrook Press
31 pages

Hilarious and colorful illustrations and the vibrant rhyming text guide readers to learn how to use comparatives and superlatives. Who knew learning grammar rules could be this fun?

An easy chart at the end of the book shows how to add –er or –est or –ier or –iest. Some two syllable adjectives use more and most like “more pleasant” and “most pleasant.” Some adjectives are just weird like bad and many. Bad =worse=worst and many=more=most.

Readers will laugh at the text and bold illustrations, “Superlatives are the breeziest and chattiest and cheesiest, funniest and sunniest and quietest and queasiest.” Kid friendly animals demonstrate each rule, and kids will not only learn the rules but be entertained. The cover is appealing and welcoming and should easily sell the book to young readers.
The team of the two Brians (Cleary and Gable) is a match made in publishing heaven.

Highly, highly recommended for all libraries and classrooms grade 2-up. This book is a great teaching tool for any English class regardless of grade (trust me, I taught high school English for 10 years).

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

Friday, January 11, 2013

Graphic Novel Pick :Chickenhare

Author and Illustrator Chris Grine
Graphix (Scholastic)
160 pages

Available February 1, 2013

Two friends—a bearded turtle and a chickenhare—are captured by a bounty hunter and taken to Mr. Klaus who pays big money for rare pets. Since his favorite pet goat Buttons deserted him years ago, Klaus has been stuffing all his animals so that they will never be able to leave him again.

Chickenhare and Abe (the turtle) are thrown in the dungeon with two others—Meg and a monkey named Banjo. The four form a friendship and agree to help each other escape. They defeat Klaus’s guard and butler and take off into the snow.

When they happen upon a cave, they explore. Chickenhare falls into a crevice and is greeted by the ghost of Buttons who explains that he’s happy to see Chickenhare. Buttons remains as a ghost because he had unfinished business and must save other creatures from Klaus’s evil taxidermy.

Spunky and funny dialog will captivate readers and good graphic detail with full color illustrations throughout the text make this a stunning book. I would also recommend this title for reluctant readers.

Highly, highly recommended for all graphic collections grade 6-up. Any graphic novel fan will want to read this one.

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

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tween Pick: My Summer of Pink & Green (sequel)

My Summer of Pink and Green
by Lisa Greenwald
272 pages
Available May 7, 2013

Lucy Desberg is back and now she’s helping her family open an eco-friendly green day spa inside their pharmacy. At the end of the first book My Life in Pink & Green, Lucy just won a grant that will finance the spa idea and save her family’s business. She’s happy it’s summer because her sister Claudia is due home from college and Lucy is looking forward to spending hours at the pool with her cool sis. When Claudia shows up with boyfriend Bean and announces that they are in love, Lucy is jealous and hurt. She thought she had the whole summer with Claudia to herself.

The spa was Lucy’s idea, but her grandmother and mother hire a consultant to help them open the spa. Lucy feels underappreciated by her elders and sister. Then Lucy is left out when some close friends begin making plans excluding her. What is going on? The last straw is when investor Gary shows up with his pesky, but earnest daughter Bevin. The summer is going down the tubes, and fast!

It seems the grown-ups don’t give Lucy any credit or want to hear any of her fab ideas. If Anais, the spa consultant, would only listen, Lucy has great ideas for make-overs and make-up. Lucy can set up scheduling and check emails and track new appointments. Lucy can come up with great marketing ideas like giving free two minute massages at the Grand Opening. She says they can pass out samples of make-up and product. No one seems to listen.

Lucy secretly attends a meeting for new business owners at a nearby library. She is serious about learning all she can about business to help her family; even if it means sneaking around behind their backs. The spa finally opens with a full house, Lucy is able to make a few apologies and reach out to people she’s been short with, and old friend Yamir is pleased that Lucy is back to normal.

This tween novel will resonate with any reader who is caught in the middle between being treated like a child, but experiencing the changes and angst of puberty.

Recommended for tweens and teens (grade 5-up) and anyone who loves make-up and spa treatments. Fans of the first book will want to pick up this read.

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

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fairy Tale Pick: If the Shoe Fits (Whatever After, 2)

If the Shoe Fits (Whatever After #2)
Sarah Mlynowski
Scholastic Press
174 pages

Available January 9, 2013

This is the second book in a charming series of fairy tales meet spunky girl Abby and her funny younger brother Jonah. The kids are determined to visit the land of Zamel again and find Snow White and claim Abby’s favorite pajamas. They try the magic mirror in the basement three nights in a row to no avail. On the fourth night, however, they are sucked through the mirror and end up on the floor of a giant coat closet in a beautiful castle. No one there knows Snow White, but the kids soon find out they are in the wrong fairy tale altogether.

Abby realizes they have entered the castle and are attending a ball—it’s the Cinderella story. Abby feels horribly underdressed. She’s wearing pink pajamas with purple polka dots and sees the Floom flag—and finds out she’s actually wearing their flag on her pajamas. The people welcome her to the party.

The ball goes like the fairy tale, Cinderella enters and dances with the prince all night and runs away as the clock is striking twelve. She leaves one glass slipper behind and the kids chase her to her home in the hopes that she might have a magic mirror at her house that will transport them back home.

Cinderella injures her foot and by morning, her toes are swollen. There is no way a glass slipper is going to fit! Her fairy godmother refuses to help saying that if she wants to become a princess, Cinderella needs to gain some responsibility for herself. The kids try to help Cinderella figure out her strengths and what kind of job she can get to please her fairy godmother and marry the prince.

The brotherly/sisterly love and quick-witted banter between Jonah and Abby is sweet and funny. Mlynowski has a great ear for dialog and humor. Spot-on characters of both children make this book a lively, fun read. Funny details like Abby hating to wear her least favorite underwear because they cause wedgies and having to eat pizza three days in a row because her parents no longer cook or do the laundry, make Abby's home life funny and relatable. I hope there are many more fairy tales waiting to be deftly retold by Sarah Mlynowski.

You don’t need to read book 1 to understand book 2, but why wouldn’t you want the first book? Both books Fairest of All and If the Shoe Fits make the perfect gift for any tween reader.

Highly, highly recommended grade 5-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

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

YA Book Giveaway: Splintered

by A.G. Howard

I have 4 SIGNED galleys of this exciting new YA novel. It is the retelling of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland but way creepier and weirder. Alyssa has to go down the rabbithole and right the wrongs of Wonderland to escape the curse on her family and save her mother's life and her own sanity. Read my review from Jan. 7 blogpost.

In order to enter the giveaway, simply post a comment to the blog either here or on the review for Splintered. Please include your first name, city, state and email contact information. Publishers, writers and I like to see where the readers come from. Deadline for posts is January 17 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified after twelve on January 17. Please check your email on that date. Winners must contact me within 24 hours to claim their free SIGNED galley.

Books will ship from New York courtesy of Amulet.

Start posting and good luck! Pamela

Sci-Fi Thriller Pick: Unremembered

by Jessica Brody
Farrar Straus Giroux
320 pages

Available March 5, 2013

Visit the author's website to see the U.S. and U.K. covers and download the first five chapters here

Author Jessica Brody just keeps getting better. Her earlier novels 52 Reasons to Hate My Father and My Life Undecided were funny and spunky, but Unremembered is taut, thrilling, complex and supercool. The pages practically turn themselves. Don’t sit down with this book if you have anything planned. You’ll be cancelling your plans in order to finish this exciting sci-fi thriller in one sitting.

Waking up in the water seems crazy. The only thing she remembers is “1609.” Is it a year? Or a code? Is it an address? They tell her she’s been in a horrible plane crash and that she’s the only survivor. The doctors and nurses try to help her remember, but she doesn’t remember anything: not her name, not her address, nothing of her past; she doesn’t even know what common items are: a television or a computer, for example. The media covering her story makes her the darling of network television, but no family members step forward to claim her.

She seems to remember a boy visiting her bedside and claiming to know her. He tells her he’s going to get her out of there, but then he vanishes. The nurses begin calling the Jane Doe “Violet” since that’s the color of her eyes. And another thing, Violet is drop-dead--runway model--gorgeous.
Soon, she is well enough to leave the hospital and the state finds a foster home with a family who has one younger son Cody. Violet leaves the hospital with her only belonging: a mysterious locket with the inscription: S + Z = 1609—that’s the number she remembered when they pulled her from the water! What could it mean?

Soon, Violet discovers her real name is Seraphina and that she can do difficult math problems in her head and that she speaks Russian fluently. Is she Russian? Seraphina discovers that not only is she blessed with model good looks she also has super-human strength and speed. She begins to notice her body can do incredible things. Cody tries to help Seraphina discover who and what she really is.

When she visits the airport where her plane took off, she discovers that she was never even on that plane? How did she get in the water? And who are the people who seem to be following her? And where is the mysterious boy who appeared in her hospital room? And why can’t she remember anything in her past?

Don’t miss this exciting new YA thriller. It’s going to be HUGE! And it has already been optioned for film by the producer and screenwriter responsible for the movies The Departed and The Ring.

I can’t say enough about how much I LOVED this book. It pulled me in from the very first page and raced me along at a breakneck pace through the pages. I was only sorry when the thrill ride came to an end. Readers won’t have to wait long though; this is book 1 in a planned trilogy. Fans will be clamoring for more.

Highly, highly recommended for all paranormal romance junkies grade 7-up. Some romance, some sci-fi.

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

Monday, January 7, 2013

Classic Twist Pick: Splintered

by A.G.Howard
371 pages

View the book trailer here

Magical, enchanting, captivating and mesmerizing, Splintered is a new twist on an old tale. Lewis Carroll wrote about Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and a garden tea party he made real for millions of childen.

Generations later, Alyssa is the great, great, great granddaughter of Alice Liddell, the original Alice that Carroll made famous in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa is fearful her family's curse of madness may have finally found her. She has been hearing bugs and plants talk to her for some time but now she's having visions of a dark and mysterious young man who seems to be beckoning her down the rabbithole.

In order to save her own mother's sanity, Alyssa hatches a plan to travel to England, find the fountain that hides the rabbithole and visit Alice's Wonderland. She takes a flashlight and the original text of the book for help. What she doesn't plan for is that her best friend Jeb has followed her and now she's responsible for getting both of them safely through Wonderland and back home.

The original Alice mucked things up in Wonderland and until Alyssa can set things right again, her family curse will never be lifted.

Jeb and Alyssa face monstrous creatures like the octobenus--a weird mutant walrus creature famous for his enormous insatiable appetite, the Mad Hatter--who isn't mad at all but quite a well-respected maker of hats, and a steady stream of Carrollian creatures. Finally, Alyssa meets Morpheus, the dark but fascinating creature who called her to Wonderland. Morpheus agrees to help Alyssa and Jeb and send them both home if Wonderland can be repaired.

What are Morpheus's real intentions? It seems that Wonderland has been corrupted and no one is who they seem to be. Can Alyssa save Jeb and find a way back home? Now that Jeb realizes his true intentions, will he remember Alyssa?

The cover art is both captivating and colorful and sure to draw in legions of teen readers. This one is sure to jump off of store shelves.

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. A few kisses. Some Wonderland violence.

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