Thursday, March 28, 2013

Middle School Pick: Cloneward Bound

Cloneward Bound (The Clone Chronicles, book 2)
by M.E. Castle
Egmont
2013
259 pages

Fisher Bas is witty, intelligent and sarcastic and he's going to need to use all his talents to locate Two, his self-made clone who has gone to Hollywood in search of his mother. Fisher used some of his scientist mother's accelerated growth hormone to clone himself; he figured he could get more accomplished if there were two of him. What he hadn't counted on was that Two became a "rock star" at school. Suddenly, nerdy Fisher Bas becomes  cool Fisher Bas. As Two gains more fans, he develops his own personality and decides he has a mind of his own.

Fisher is now in more trouble than he thought he was. Now government types are asking a lot of questions at his mom's work; they want to know what happened to the missing ACH (accelerated growth hormorne). When Fisher's class has a chance to visit the set of "Strange Science" in Hollywood, Fisher jumps at the chance! He will use the opportunity to look for Two.

As the students are boarding the bus, Fisher throws out this random thought, "'School bus' is the normally used term because "asylum on wheels" is considered impolite." It is observations like this that young readers will love.

Amanda Cantrell starts stalking Fisher and soon he spills his secret. Together they snoop around Hollywood. Fisher swears that someone is spying on them; he's worried about the government discovering his clone before he can get to him. Who are the people following Amanda and Fisher? Where is Two? Just who is Dr. Devilish anyway? Can Fisher and Amanda clear Fisher's mom's name?

You don't have to read book one to understand book two, but really, why would you want to miss it? Both books are clever, quirky and fun. Castle mixes weird science with snark and playful middle school mirth.

Highly recommended grade 5-up.

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



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Giveaway: Winner Bakes All (The Cupcake Club)

Winner Bakes All
by Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk

I have ONE copy of this sweet treat up for grabs! Win a free copy for the cupcake queen in your life!

For your chance to win, simply post a comment on the blog. Be sure to include your first name, city, state, and email contact. The winner will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Deadline for posts is April 11 at noon MST. The winner will be contacted via email by me on April 11. Please check your email that afternoon. The winner has 24 hours to respond to my email. The book will ship from New York courtesy of Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Cupcake Pick: Winner Bakes All

Winner Bakes All
(The Cupcake Club series)
by Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
2013
136 pages

Fluffy with fondant, sweet with sugar, cute with cupcakes, Winner Bakes All is a big winner! The Cupcake Club girls of Peace, Love and Cupcakes are at it again and up to their elbows is flour and fondant.

Sadie is having trouble in math class but shines on the basketball court when she's not worried about her parents fighting or wondering whether they will end up divorced. The only thing that takes her mind off her troubles is baking cupcakes with friends Lexi, Kylie and Jenna. The girls need to grow their business and they come up with the perfect idea of Cupcake Points--which will work like a frequent shopper card. The more cupcake orders a person places, the more cupcakes she will earn as a reward.

They are enthusiastic until a huge snowstorm destroys the roof of the local bakery---where the owner always orders their latest creations. What will they do now? The girls send in a video to be contestants on Battle of the Bakers and are picked by the producers to compete. May the best cupcake win!

Readers who love a sweet story about cupcakes and competition will love Winner Bakes All. There are recipes for the cupcakes that Peace, Love and Cupcakes bakes and some helpful tips on how to hold a friendly cupcake challange of your own. Sprinkles, anyone?

Highly, higly recommended grades 4-up and for serious foodies and cupcake queens! If you haven't discovered this series, do yourself a favor and stock up on all the books. They are well worth it!

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Giveaway: Art2-D2's Guide To Folding and Doodling


Art2-D2's Guide To Folding and Doodling by Tom Angelberger. I have FIVE copies of this little beauty to give away! This fun book is a how-to book every kid is dying to get his/her hands on! It is packed with drawing advice, origami folds and includes a fun lesson teaching readers how to talk like Yoda!

For your chance to win, simply post a comment on the blog and be sure to include your first name, city, state, and email contact. Deadline for posts is April 11 at noon MST. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified after 12:00 noon on April 11. Be sure and check your email on that date. Winners have 24 hours to respond to an email from me. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Amulet (Abrams).

Start posting, and good luck. May the folds be with you, Pamela

Fun Pick: Art2-D2's Guide To Folding and Doodling

Art2-D2's Guide to Folding and Doodling
by Tom Angleberger
Amulet Books
2013
163 pages with origami sheets for folding

Tommy and friends Keelen, Sara, Caroline, Cassie and Lance are back, and this time with an interactive activity book! Fans of Angelberger's Origami Yoda series will want to get their hands on a copy. The kids' quips and drawings are cute and funny and this book is  bound to find even more thrilled new fans.

The kids each teach beginning doodlers how to draw, how to fold Origami Yoda characters, how to draw faces, and even how to talk like Yoda!

The directions and illustrations will help beginners learn easy folds and breaks down drawing figures and faces to a fun science. Angleberger is spot-on with his "kidspeak" and the snarkiness and fun digs the characters engage in will delight young readers. The book is packed with more than 75 actitities and a 16 page color insert with 10 pages of perforated origami paper. "May the doodles be with you!"

If you know an aspiring artist or someone who loves origami, this is a must-have!

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves the series and who loves Star Wars and/or origami and drawing. Recommended grades 4-up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensationfor 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, March 25, 2013

Guest Post: Anna Staniszewski

Anna Staniszewski, author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life and My Epic Fairy Tale Fail talks about her writing in a post she calls Fantasy Recast:

"Fantasy Recast






When I first started writing about Jenny the Adventurer several years ago, I discovered that her opinion of magical creatures was very different from mine: she thought they were pretty darn annoying. As I started sending Jenny on adventures, I realized why these creatures drove her nuts: they were nothing like fairy tale creatures were supposed to be. Unicorns that like to stab you, gnomes that only think about candy, brave knights that won’t stop saving you from absolutely everything. No wonder they made Jenny crazy!





If I had to choose which creatures I liked re-imagning the most, I would have to say the villains. In the first book, My Very UnFairy Tale Life, the bad guy is a sorcerer…and a clown…and a mouthless one at that. Don’t ask me where the idea for his character came from (perhaps from a nightmare?) but I loved taking readers’ ideas of what a sorcerer is and twisting them.





I used the same approach in the second book, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail. The villain in that story is an evil witch. I bet you’re imagining warts and all, right? Well, Jenny is surprised to learn that the witch in this story wears sparkly sweaters and gaudy earrings—in fact, she totally reminds Jenny of her math teacher.





And finally, in the third book, My Sort Of Fairy Tale Ending—which I’m working on right now—the villain is a fairy queen. Wings? Nope. Wand? Nope. I won’t spoil too much, but let’s just say her character was influenced by her obsession with a particular Disney cartoon.





Working on this series has allowed me to combine my love of fairy tales with my wacky sense of humor. I love traditional tales because they feel so comfortable and familiar, but when it comes to Jenny’s stories, I enjoy twisting her (and our) expectations and seeing what happens."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Break for spring break

I'm taking a break for spring break, but have been busy reading.

Read A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick for a savory and suspenseful romp

For tweens, read the newest confection from The Cupcake Club, Winner Bakes All by Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk

For a taste of New Orleans and its surrounding parishes from the incomparable James Lee Burke, read Creole Belle--a crime novel so good, it will haunt you!

Have a great spring break! Pamela

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Blog Tour/YA book Giveaway: My Epic Fairy Tale Fail

My Epic Fairy Tale Fail Blog Tour! Join the Fun!


Check out the book trailer

My Epic Fairy Tale Fail
by Anna Staniszewski
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
2013
224 pages

I have ONE FREE copy of each book (that's TWO books!)for one lucky winner. Simply post a comment to the blog. Be sure to include your first name, city, state, and email contact. Sorry, only U.S. and Canada addresses. The winner will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Deadline for posting is Thursday, March 28 at noon MST. The winner will be contacted by email by me on March 28. Please check your email that afternoon. The winner has 24 hours to provide me with her/his mailing address. I will give this information to the publisher. The books will ship courtesy of Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.


Read Chapter 1 here

Get your free book club packet here (courtesy of Kidlit)


Read Chapter One from My Very UnFairy Tale Life here


Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Club Pick: Heading Out To Wonderful (now in paperback)

Heading Out to Wonderful
by Robert Goolrick
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
2013 (hardcover edition 2012)
292 pages

now in paperback

Poignant, passionate, and perfect, Heading Out to Wonderful weaves a cautionary tale for young men who dare to dream and young women who reach for the blazing stars.

Charlie Beale arrives in sleepy Brownsburg, Virginia, with a dream, a past, and a ton of money. He is a stranger to the people here, and they don't trust strangers. He buys land down near the river and keeps to himself. Charlie takes a job at the local butcher shop and becomes friendly with the butcher, his wife and young son. A single, good looking young man in a small town becomes fodder for the town's gossip mills; there are whispers about what Charlie does and what he really  wants.

Charlie just wants to buy land...a lot of it. He has a yearning to own property--a need so deep that even when he owns more land than anyone, he is not sated. Charlie doesn't have a name for what bothers him...until he sees...her. Sylvan Glass, the wife of the town's richest and most powerful man.

Sylvan is a country girl; she is a hillbilly with no education, but she has dreams. She always wanted to be a movie star or live like one. She is infatuated with movie star glamour and hires the best seamstress in town to sew her Hollywood style outfits. Sylvan dreams of money, glamour and romance. Through her rose colored glasses, anything is possible.  Charlie becomes her movie star and she becomes his muse.

It is only natural for masculine speciman Charlie and beautiful, dreamy Sylvan  to fall hopelessly in love. They share a bond so deep, so tangible, that it can only result in trouble. The duo is destined for tragedy from their first encounter.

Goolrick builds a great story layer upon layer, deftly telling the story of Charlie and Sylvan's star-crossed romance while he builds the back story of a young boy's coming of age story--where the boy has to accept that his hero is not perfect.

Heading Out to Wonderful will resonate with  readers. The setting of small town post-war Virginia harkens back to Mayberry RFD, and you expect Gomer or Andy to wave hello to you. This is Anywhere, USA--1948--and it couldn't be more nostalgic.

The novel has a tragic ending, of course, but one I wasn't prepared for. I loved the storytelling and I loved the love story, but it took me two weeks to digest this story. It is a beautiful story and it is a terrible story. There is much to discover here for book club members.

Highly, highly recommended for mature readers and book clubs. Grade 9-adult. Sex and mature situations.

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

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Creepy Pick: The Murmurings

The Murmurings
by Carly Anne West
Simon Pulse
2013
370 pages

Sometimes a book is so strange, so chilling and creepy, it stays with you. The Murmurings is that book. Be forewarned.

Sophie's sister Nell is found dead and Sophie knows it wasn't suicide. Nell kept hearing voices in her head before she was admitted for treatment to Oakside. She ran away  from the hospital and was found hanging upside down from a tree near an old ghost town. Sophie misses her once popular and beautiful sister; she worries that she might be going crazy, too. Sophie is starting to hear the murmurings and she can't concentrate or sleep.

Sophie wishes her mother would snap out of it. Since her sister's death, her mother has turned to alcohol and depression, rarely leaving the house, forgetting to eat, and barely existing. Sophie can't turn to her mother for help because her mother is not cognizant.  Evan, a football player from school, shows interest in Sophie--they study together and have a picnic; Evan reveals he has lost his cousin Deb; she was once a patient at Oakside, too. Evan and Sophie begin to investigate the hospital.

Just what is going on at that "hospital?"What secrets did Nell uncover? Did someone from the hospital kill Nell? Evan show Sophie a blog he's discovered online that explains the murmurings and exposes the hospital and evil Dr. Keller. Sophie decides to get answers, putting herself in grave danger and opening a door for the Takers. When Sophie realizes  the secret identity of a patient  known only as MM, she can't wait any longer. If she doesn't save MM right now, MM may die.

The Taker reminds me of Harry Potter's deatheaters, both in appearance and behavior--the Taker is horribly grotesque and evil. It feeds on the soul and kills its victims.

Recommended for readers who love creepy books grade 9-up. No sex. Some language. F-bomb. Mature situations. 

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, March 6, 2013

Pre-School Pick: I Will Keep You Safe and Sound

I Will Keep You Safe and Sound
by Lori Haskins Houran
Illustrations by Petra Brown
Scholastic Press
2013
32 pages


Loving parents--a brown bear, a rabbit, a robin, an alligator, a dolphin, a squirrel, a beaver, a horse, and a cat-- reassure their babies that even when rain is pouring down or when waves are crashing against the beach, their babies will be safe. "I will keep you safe and sound," is repeated as each creature cuddles its child.

The animals are beautifully depicted by illustrator Petra Brown. Using watercolor, brown pencil and a watercolor method known as gouache--in which an opaque pigment is applied in strokes--give the book a soft and warm appearance. The faces of the animal parents are loving and caring. The baby creatures appear happy and content. One page depicts a "...Kitten in the moonlight, Lost...then found, I will keep you safe and sound." The lost kitten looks fearful, but is greeted by his mother and reassured and lovingly cuddled.

Children will appreciate the rhythm and rhyme of this sweet story, and this book is likely to be their favorite new bedtime read.

I Will Keep You Safe and Sound is a great gift for new parents. This book should be included in the Official Parenting Starter Kit!

Highly, highly recommended for pre-school and bedtime. Parents and grandparents must read this loving and caring book to their little ones and continue to keep them safe and sound.

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

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tween Pick: My Epic Fairy Tale Fail

My Epic Fairy Tale Fail
by Anna Staniszewski
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
2013
224 pages

Jenny is an adventurer--an ordinary girl who just happens to pop into magical kingdoms to right the wrongs of magical and strange creatures. When the Merpeople can't get along, Jenny shows up to save the day; however, things aren't going as planned. Anthony, a garden gnome who is her guide, pops in  and takes her out of there in the knick of time. He tells her that the Committee has other plans for her.

Jenny is being sent to The Land of Tales--where all the magical fairy tales do come true. A wicked witch has stopped the land's magic and the kingdom is suffering. Jenny has to perform three impossible tasks and the witch will give the kingdom back its magic, and Jenny makes a deal with the witch--the witch will tell her where to find her missing parents.

Her friends Trish and Melissa join her in her quest. The girls meet a variety of quirky characters: a wolf who can't catch a giant rooster, the king and queen who have been turned into a chair and a rug, a princess who needs a good night's sleep, angry villagers who want her to leave and blame her parents for bringing the curse upon them, and a brave but silly knight in shining armor who is prisoner to the metal suit. He clangs and clunks throughout the novel offering comic relief.

Jenny is able to complete her tasks and the kingdom gets its magic back but she is not much closer to finding her parents. She has only one clue to go on: they were taken by the fairies, but Jenny has no idea how to find the fairies or how to work with them.

Jenny is spunky and snarky with a fast wit and sarcastic tongue. Readers will like her and admire her tenacity in tough situations.

Recommended grade 5-up. Anyone who enjoys the recent popularity of stories with fairy tale elements will like My Epic Fairy Tale Fail.

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