Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Zombie Pick: Red Hill

Red Hill
by Jamie McGuire
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)

by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Simon & Schuster
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
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
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

"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

by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Simon & Schuster
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

by Kirsten Smith
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
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?